I wish I could say that we had a great vacation in the mountains this fall, but it was not exactly the experience that we had hoped for. We went to a favorite mountain town of ours called Blowing Rock just south of Boone here in NC. The drive there was beautiful and we stopped along the Blue Ridge Parkway to grab a couple of photos.
On our first full day, the weather was terrible. There was a thick fog all day, rain that went from a mist at times to a downpour at other times, and cold wind. We tried to walk around downtown Blowing Rock, but we were nearly blown away by wind and soaked with rain.
We managed to get some lunch, but Ella screamed through the whole meal. Needless to say, we HAD to get back to our room. We ended up spending quite a bit of time in our "cozy" little room. However, the kids were getting restless so Clint made some hats out of the newspaper to play pirates and princesses with. Thank goodness he is so creative!
I found an advertisement for a local museum in the meantime so we decided to check that out later in the day. We should have known that it would be an overpriced tourist trap, but honestly, I don't think we cared at that point. We needed to get out of that room and do something with the kids! The "museum" had two rooms to play in. One room was designed at a 45 degree angle so you could walk around at an angle and get dizzy and fall down. I guess kids like that stuff. The other room had a couple of puzzles and some bubbles. Was it worth the $22 admission and extra $20 of crap from the "gifts and souvenirs" shop? Probably not. But Sophie seemed to enjoy herself and Clint and I had a good laugh over it :).
That night, Ella would not go to sleep in our room. She fussed and cried. She is used to her own space with complete darkness and soothing sounds to help her fall asleep which was very difficult to recreate. We ended up having to put her in the seat of her swing in the bathroom to get her to fall asleep. Finally we had some peace and quiet around 10pm. However, Clint and I could not sleep because our mattress was so uncomfortable. I was awake every hour in pain as I switched positions. A hard, thin mattress does not go well with being 7 months pregnant. Since Ella was in the bathroom, I had to hold my pee which made me even more uncomfortable. Clint was at least able to go outside to relieve himself. I wanted to cry, but Clint kept me laughing.
Day 1 did not go well, but it ended and I woke up with new hope for Day 2.
On Day 2, the rain finally cleared out late in the morning and we went to Tweetsie Railroad Park.
We did have fun exploring the old West, riding some rides, and riding the old steam train through the mountains, but it was cold and grew colder throughout the day. Clint took Ella back to the car to nap and get warm and Sophie and I stayed to do a couple more activities. We ended up leaving earlier than we wanted to with at least 1/3 of the park left to explore, but it was just too cold and it had started to rain again (and half the family was already waiting in the car). At least we were wise enough to pick up take out food on the way back to the room instead of dealing with a fussy, screaming toddler and leaving half eaten meals at the table that night.
I think I got a few more hours of sleep on the second night, but woke up incredibly sore and with the beginnings of a cold on Day 3. I remember thinking... this is our last day...I hope it is better!
Day 3, our last day, was the best day of the trip. The weather was still brisk, but sunny and we were finally able to take in a little bit of the beauty of the mountains. We enjoyed some Kilwin's ice cream and played at a beautiful park in the center of downtown Blowing Rock.
We did the short hike at Linville Falls later that day. We actually tried to push Ella in the stroller for half the hike, but the tree roots and rocky terrain about took it out so we had to abandon the stroller half way along the path. I can't wear Ella in a carrier anymore since I am so large with child so Clint had to carry her the rest of the way. It took talent, coordination, and sheer strength to hold onto a squirmy toddler while trying not to wipe out on the slippery rocks as we got closer to the falls. I admire my husband for persevering through the adventure! The reward was worth it. The rushing water over the rocks was a beautiful sight!
The last time Clint and I went to the NC mountains together was two years ago. It was a completely different experience because Sophie stayed with my parents for the weekend and Ella wasn't born yet. It was just the two of us. I wanted to recreate that trip because it was refreshing and breathtaking, but a mountain trip with small children is just not refreshing. The trip did manage to take my breath away in a different kind of way since I was exhausted by the time we got home, but I guess that is the season of life we are in. I love my girls and I would rather have them than a nice vacation any day, but I learned an important lesson after this trip: family "vacations" are a lot more work than rest and refreshment. For now, I think we will plan "stay-cations" and enjoy our time at home with the girls while they are little :).