'OBX schoolcation' {respect for the Wrights}

*thursday, october 22, 2020*

On Tuesday we arrived at the Wright Brothers National Memorial just before closing time but when we learned that our admission would be valid for the week, we decided to take a few minutes to look around and explored the first flight path.  Today we went back to get a bit more of the history inside the visitors center.

Each kid (and adult) noted different bits of their persistence and tenacity as we walked through the exhibit.  Words for thought...

Next we took advantage of the beautiful, Carolina blue sky afternoon to walk up to the monument.  

A fast pace on our stroll back gave us just enough time to drive to the December 3, 1097 sculpture before closing time.  

It was a nice afternoon paying respect to two dreamers who changed the world!


social distancing {father's day in the mountains ~ hike to Hebron Falls}

  *father's day 2020*

Sunday we had a slow start to the day.  Turns out teenagers aren't the only ones who like to sleep in...on occasion so do fathers.  I enjoyed my coffee with a view and as kids got up they headed down to play pool.  Finally everyone was up, caffeinated and fed and then the grumblers (again, how did two who love hikes so manage to raise six kids who really don't?) agreed to indulge their daddy in another hike in honor of "his day."  

Thankfully we didn't have to go far before we came to water, water always makes even the 'grumbliest grumbler' less grumbly.  

need pandemic emergency haircuts much?

Finally we came to the best part, the waterfall rock scrambling area.  But of course we had to forge the river before we got to it.

ignore the 80s feathered hair going on...he's still my main squeeze

We had all the fun.  So much so that one little one may have left it all on the rocks.  Thankfully he's not yet 50 pounds so he's a relatively easy carry.  
Even up steep trails.

The path back out provided some parkour entertainment.  You can take the boy out of the gym...

the four main men in my life...

this kid...


social distancing {father's day in the mountains ~ happy hikers}

*saturday of father's day weekend 2020* 

As is often the case, I was the first one up Saturday morning.  That meant an opportunity to sip my coffee while drinking in the peaceful beauty around me.

Ever so slowly the household began to come alive and after breakfast and a few rounds of pool we made our way into Blowing Rock to take on the Glen Burney Falls trail.  Luckily we arrived early enough to secure a parking space in the tiny lot at the trailhead.  Despite being 'right in town,' this trail quickly made its way out into the trees leaving behind reminders that we were not far at all from Blowing Rock's main street and all the buzz that comes with it.

I'm not sure exactly how we've done it, but Ian and I ~ two folks that would happily get lost in the woods any day ~ have raised six reluctant hikers.  This hike had two things going for was Father's Day weekend and so our crew granted Ian's wish to spend time on a trail together AND there were several waterfalls.  

Waterfalls seem to make all the difference.


covid hair don't care...

It was a lovely day in the woods.  We enjoyed the unexpected sunshine on a day with some storms forecast.  That served serval purposes, the most important being crowd control on what we understand is typically a very popular trail.  

It was easy going on the way to the waterfalls.  But a steep downhill start does mean a significant uphill climb back to the car.  Some of us were faster than others.

Which meant one of our littles needed to be a hitch-hiker part of the way out...

We considered ice cream at Kilwin's on main street as a fun treat for the happy hikers, but it was crazy crowded and lined up down the street (with varied levels of social distancing...mostly non-masked people standing right up on groups of masked people who were six feet behind the ones in front of them) so we scratched that idea and headed back to the house instead.  Thankfully the kids (who had not been out much at all in months were shocked at the crowds and content to have some pool/puzzle time instead.

And while they were happily entertained, Ian and I sat again with the views as dinner cooked.

One could get used to this...


social distancing {father's day in the mountains ~ leaving town for the first time}

*father's day weekend 2020*

As Father's Day weekend approached we went back and forth several times about our tent camping reservations at South Mountains State Park.  First there was the issue of sharing a bathroom with strangers and wondering what levels of social distancing folks we didn't know were following.  Second, and perhaps slightly more importantly, the weather forecast was looking dreadful.  While we have weathered ~ literally ~  our share of rain while tent camping, the nearly 24 hours solid of forecast thunderstorms pushed us over the edge on our decision making and we cancelled our campsites.

But that left us with six squirrelly kids...and if I'm being honest, two equally squirrelly adults...who hadn't been more than ten miles (and not inside any building besides our own house with exception of me braving the grocery in the early mornings once a week) in over three months.  Desperate to get out of town, we checked around with a few friends we know with mountain houses to see if they had availability and would be willing to rent to us on a three day notice.

We have some amazing people in our lives and were blessed to hear, "yes, the house is open and we'd love for you to go have some relaxing family time there!"  Spirits were quite high to be going to see some different walls as we loaded the Transit early on Friday afternoon and headed west.  Our route to the house took us on the Blue Ridge Parkway and of course we simply had to stop at Grandview Overlook as we passed.

nearly 22 years ago my life changed at this spot when he dropped to one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him!

With exception of that quick stop at Grandview Overlook, we made the trip without stopping and quickly settled in to our beautiful 'home away from home' for the weekend.  (We had to laugh a little when kids exclaimed with a combination of incredulity and surprise that the bathrooms in the mountain house were the first they had used outside of our own since March 13 when they came home from school.)  With the views provided I could have stayed in the kitchen all weekend and been happy...

Right next to the kitchen was a large deck with a backdrop just begging for photos to be taken.  

note i said the backdrop was begging, not the teen...

Before dinner we decided to stretch our legs after being in the car for a few hours and explored the neighborhood.  At the bottom of the road we found a small creek and pond perfect for reflection and skipping rocks. 

Dinner was enjoyed al fresco on the deck.  

Tacos finished, the kids headed down to the game room to play pool and work on a puzzle we brought with us while Ian and I enjoyed sunset.

I'm pretty sure we could have gone home in the morning and been happy for the walls and scenery were refreshing for everyone's soul.  But the mountains mean hiking and so the weekend was to offer much more!


'our' nights in Rodanthe {plan b on jockey's ridge}

Hang gliding may not have been in the cards for the day, but that didn't mean we had to leave the sand...

 I don't know if it is standard for Kitty Hawk Kites to offer complimentary sandboard rentals when hang gliding lessons get cancelled or if they just felt sorry for telling six super excited kids that it wasn't going to happen, but when we turned in our harnesses and helmets and went in to rent boards, they offered us four and didn't charge us a thing.

Wolf recommend a particular ridge with a decent slope and lots of sunshine to keep the sand loose.  So armed with four sandboards we headed back out to the dunes.  And true to our 'big family' style, we had some 'big fun!'

There were races and multiple wipe outs.  
(hint, hint, kids weren't the only ones to take a tumble in the sand, but I'm nice and will keep the photo evidence to myself...)

While the sandboards were a huge hit, just the sand is enough to make some of our kiddos happy.  Give this kid a handful of sand and I'll guarantee a smile!

And those same wind gusts that tanked our dreams of flight were perfect for the stunt kite!

Just when we thought we had all perfected getting to the bottom of the hill without wipeouts, some  decided it had gotten too easy.  
So they piled up a ramp of sorts.

Because boys...

Before we knew it, several hours had passed and we had all managed to work up a pretty impressive appetite.  While the local burger joint wasn't yet open for the season, we lucked out with Kill Devil's (who literally had just opened for lunch today) and devoured burgers, 'que and hot dogs.  

Bellies too full to enjoy frozen custard from Kill Devil's just yet, we headed across the highway to the beach for a few minutes.  
It was a lovely afternoon and the sea was beckoning, but we'd already learned from experience that the Atlantic in early March is rather frigid.  That said, Daniel and I decided to have a chicken contest to see who would flinch first as the cold water approached our feet.  
I should have known better than to challenge my bull hearted son, not backing down required me to get wet up to my knees. 

We took walks, tossed the frisbee and football and played in the sand until everyone declared themselves 'custard ready.'

And then we went back to eat our feelings about not getting to hang glide.  Ice cream makes everything better...

(of course they had all done pretty well in the first place, so maybe we were getting ice cream to celebrate their flexibility to change plans on a breeze.  or maybe we were just enjoying kdc because it is so darn good)

All in all it was a near perfect day.  
And just because we could finish it with one more sunset, we did.  

What a wonderful week we've had!