August 19, 2011

Sticks & Stones & Rainbows

It has been a busy 12 months for the Batterson family... ever since I returned from my Africa trip last summer I feel like things have been a whirlwind.  First, we found out I was pregnant... then I dealt with all the food issues that accompany that... and I was teaching full time... and doing photography on the side... and then we had family come visit... and then we had more family come visit... and then we had Owen.... and well, then we had a newborn... and then I had to clean out my classroom since I resigned from teaching... and then I had to have two garage sales to try and sell my classroom stuff because I had SO much... and then we volunteered at our church's VBS for a week... so it's been a little, smidgen of crazy around here.  I feel like we haven't had a second to catch our breath!  So I made the executive decision that our family needed a vacation.  Nothing fancy.  Just a day or two to slow down, get away and reconnect with each other and with God. 
So I set out in search of the perfect, cheap getaway to accomplish said mission.  And this is what I found:
This beautiful cabin was situated near the top of a mountain in Todd, NC.  This is the front of it... and here's the back of it:

Not sure if you can tell or not, but there's a fire pit and a bbq grill back there.. but more about those later.  Here's the front 'yard' and the driveway.

The owners have just planted a bunch of new trees in that little hill area - all of which are fruit trees - YUM!
We arrived on Saturday morning around 11:30, and after settling in to this quaint little cabin in the woods, we headed to the nearest city to get some essentials.

 
Kitchen, Dining, Living room... notice the lack of TV :)  YAY for escaping!
And here's the bedroom and bathroom..
   

There was a small TV in the bedroom, but it wasn't hooked up to anything but a DVD player - a good fallback for rainy days. 
After we got back from Boone the skies turned dark and the rain began to fall... lots, and lots of it.  Then in cleared up for a little while and we peeked out the back door to see this:
Can you see it?  Over the driveway? I can't believe we were high enough up to be at the TOP of the rainbow!  How cool is that?!  All I had was the point & shoot to snap a picture with so the photo doesn't do it justice - it was beautiful!  Then the rain came back so we made our bagel pizzas in the oven, rather than over the fire as we'd planned.  And it's a good thing I brought these as a back up incase we couldn't do s'mores :) 

So after Peanut was in bed for the night we played a rousing game of I let my husband beat me in a game of checkers and then chess before turning in for the night, falling asleep to the rain pounding on the roof and the thunder rolling in the distance...

Sunday morning we woke up ready for an adventurous day and headed out back around 7:30am.

Here's the back yard, with the trail that takes you to the top of the mountain. 
It's a pretty steep trail, but it wasn't too bad to get up, and it was a very short walk to the top.  We hiked it after a quick breakfast of blueberry pancakes and turkey bacon.  It was a cool morning and there were low-lying clouds from the thunderstorm the night before.  Everything was crisp and green and wet, but the day was looking promising with those blue skies surrounding us!
  

At the top the property owners had a huge plot of land gated off for their vegetable garden.  These guys were keeping sentry around the perimeter.  On the other side of the mountain, opposite the cabin, was a Christmas tree farm... those are pretty popular in the mountain region of NC. 
On the way back down I spotted this pretty little thing all alone amongst the greenery.
And I looked to the left and saw this cute little thing...
 
... sound asleep :)

 
We're nearing the cabin... can you spot it in this photo?  Love how green the rain makes everything - including the rocky trail.
After a  quick stop by the cabin for a drink, we headed down the driveway and around the bend to this pretty little gem...
Who doesn't love a lake nestled in the mountains?  It was still pretty early and the mist was just rising off the lake.

 
We walked around the lake, Peanut napping in the Moby the entire time, just basking in the early morning sunrise, admiring the dew resting on the plants, and watching the dragonflies dart around the water.

  

After our walk we headed back to the cabin for a family nap time, enjoyed some tuna salad, fresh strawberries and root beer for lunch, then headed back to Boone to explore the town a little since the weather was so nice.  We were on the hunt for a paved walking trail (similar to Charlotte's Greenway) but weren't able to find it despite our best efforts, so we just walked around downtown Boone for a little while, then meandered our way back to the cabin, taking a quick stop at a new development just down the road with views like this:

We also made a stop at a nearby field that was lined with weeping willows (my favorite tree) and had a little stream running through it.  We relaxed on the blanket for a little bit, and played with Peanut too :)
 
   
 Our time there was short, though because we started hearing thunder and seeing dark clouds roll in... and it was nearing dinnertime, so we headed home.  As soon as we got to the cabin we started building the fire... there was no way we were going to not have a fire the last night in the mountains!  Well... then the rain started.  And we were just SO determined... Bill stood over the fire pit with our big golf umbrella.  Oh how I WISH I had gotten a picture of this.  It was so funny.  The rain was pouring down, and there he stood, umbrella in one hand, matches in the other, keeping the firewood dry, while I was in the cabin entertaining Owen and watching out the windows.  Luckily the rain passed quickly and we were able (I say 'we', but really it was all Bill) to get a decent sized fire to cook our hot dogs on.  We ate a quick dinner in the cabin (since the picnic table was wet) with some pasta salad, more strawberries and some peas.  We ate fast so we could have time for s'mores before the rain came back.  :)  It worked!  We had just enough time to get some s'mores cooked and in our bellies before the clouds rolled in again.  We put Owen to bed and just relaxed with our novels for the rest of the night as the storm rolled in again.  

Monday morning we woke up and leisurely got packed up.  Little man fell asleep while we were eating breakfast :)
After he woke up we headed out, bound for Grandfather Mountain.  Bill & I have been before but we liked it a lot and thought O would like seeing the animals.  On the way we saw this adorable little mountain church so of course I had to stop and catch some pics.  Love the copper roof and red doors.

       
I love the windows!  There was this tiny spot behind the abandoned church with three graves... I loved the way the sun was streaming in through the trees.
As we neared Grandfather Mountain I stopped to catch the vista.

Owen was hungry when we got there, so we stopped in the nature center/gift shop to feed him before going out to the animal habitats.  Couldn't resist the photo-op :)

I love his face in this one, it's like "Um, dad, why are you holding me between this giant bear's claws?"
At the nature center the black bears were up wandering around...
 And the sea otters were frolicking in their pond :)  These guys are so darn cute, I want one. 
 
 There were also some deer in the exhibit, but they were hiding behind the rocks.  We stopped for a break in the shade before heading to the fudge shoppe.  Yum.
 This little baby deer was soooo cute - and SO close!  He was wild and had a sibling with him, but I didn't see the mom anywhere.  After I snapped a few photos a loud car went by and they got spooked and ran off.
 
Next we hopped back in the car and headed to the top of the mountain.
 
What a view!
 This is the famous 'Mile High Swinging Bridge'.  It's called that because it's at 1 mile above sea level, and it used to be a wooden swinging bridge.  In the early 2000's they rebuilt it with steel, and it doesn't really swing anymore.  Below is what's on the other side of the bridge, and those tiny specks you see on top of the rocks are people.
 Shortly after we moved to NC we came here and crossed the bridge... here are pics from our first trip:

We wrapped Peanut safe and sound in the Moby and headed to the top.  Here we are getting ready to head out to the bridge.
And here we are holding on for dear life because the wind was CRAZY!  You know that reflex that infants have when air gets blown in their face?  The way they gulp to catch their breath - yea, that's what poor Owen was doing over and over again because of the wind - and he couldn't catch his breath - he was freaking out!  So I flipped his hood up and cupped my hands around his head and he was okay, but he still didn't enjoy it all that much. 
So we snapped a quick picture by the bridge and headed back inside.
... Where he was more than happy to come out of hiding :)
We made a quick pass through the gift shop before heading back out into the wind and to the car to head home.  I couldn't resist trying on a coon skin cap... I mean, we were in the mountains, it only seemed appropriate. :)
 
 So that was our Mountain Getaway... we love, LOVE, loved it and had so much fun -- just the three of us!