Sunday, July 26, 2009

Catching Up

Okay, so better late than never.
I will be trying to blog about our vacation over the next day or two. No promises, but I would like to get it done before I forget!

Then I can catch you up on what we have been doing since we got back! A whole lot of nothing, really, so you ain't missing much.

Vacation Day 10 July 4 Williamsburg

We actually got out of bed today! The girls slept in until 10 or so. They weren't moving too fast. But we showered and left for Williamsburg around noon. We started at the Welcome Center and watched a little film and then took a shuttle bus to the historic district. We ended up seeing a lot, but it was very crowded and kind of warm. Plus the girls were still a bit tired. We saw the blacksmith, the dressmaker, the cabinet maker, the apothecary, the book binder, the brickmaker. . . There are so many things to see and do every day! There were a couple of special Independence Day activities too. Here are the girls posing outside the cabinetmaker's place.
We stayed at the blacksmith's for quite a while. They were demonstration how to make a hammer. Pretty cool.

The girls were happy to do their part to help mix up the clay! It was really stiff and I kept thinking one of them was going to fall over! But no. When they went to wash their feet McKenzie sat in a pile of clay, so for the rest of the day she had a dirty bum.

Trying on a bonnet. Looks kind of funny with the braces, huh?

Little Miss Riding Hood, aka Becca
She totally thinks I should make her a cape like this. And I keep wondering When the heck would she wear it in Florida????
We stayed until 6 and had planned on staying for the 4th of July festivities, but the girls were worn out and wanted to head back to the hotel. So we did. We ended up seeing the fireworks from the lawn in front of the hotel. Not exactly what I had planned, but hey whatcha gonna do?

Vacation Day 9 July 3 In bed!

So we spent the entire morning in bed. No one wanted to get up. Becca was really not feeling well at all and Kenzie was STILL coughing!! So off to the urgent care. It took me forever to find one. I got directions from the desk clerk and never could find it. I called Mike to have him get directions off the internet; he was out on the Atlantic fishing. I called Claudia to get directions and she was at Walmart and not anywhere near her computer. So I finally headed back to my laptop at the hotel and looked up the directions. So we check in at 2 o'clock and we finally got in to see the doctor at 4. Ugh. Sitting in a waiting room for two hours with two sick children is bad enough at home, but even worse when you are supposed to be on VACATION!!!

She prescribed Nasonex for Kenzie and an antibiotic so we headed off to a pharmacy. While they filled the prescription we went to Outback for dinner because Becca really wanted their brown bread. Whatever you want, sweetie. Then we picked up the Rx, and did some grocery shopping and headed back to the hotel. Fun, huh. Worse day of vacation.

Vacation Day 8 July 2 Drive to Williamsburg VA

Mostly an uneventful trip up Interstate 95 except for when we almost ran out of gas. But we didn't, so it is best forgotten!

We pulled into Williamsburg around 3? 3:30 maybe? and checked into our hotel The Best Western Historic Places. It was very close to Williamsburg, maybe a mile and centrally located. On the internet I had purchased Bounce Passes for us all that allowed us to visit Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, WaterCountry USA, Jamestown and Yorktown for seven days. Can you say busy???

So after we unpacked we headed to Busch Gardens. We figured we would ride a few rides, have dinner and stay for the fireworks that evening. Well, we did go on a couple rides, but then realized that Becca was freezing because she was running a temperature. She didn't want to leave though so we stayed and had dinner. By then it was 7 or so and her eyes were just not looking right. So we decided to head back to the hotel. When we got there Becca's fever was 102. Ugh. So we crawled into bed and watched TV for the night!

Vacation Day 7 July 1 Drive to Cameron, NC

On Day 7 we got up early and packed up and headed out. End of the Smoky Mt. portion of our trip! Claudia headed back to Florida and the girls and I headed east, to Cameron, NC to see my high school friend, Lori, whom I hadn't seen since, well, high school!

Lori's hubby is in the military and stationed in Iraq (Bless you Matt!) and Lori and the four kids just moved into a very nice new place! It's a lovely house, four bedrooms, with a fabulous kitchen. I think Lori is feeling very blessed. I can't imagine tackling an undertaking like that on my own. But one thing I remember about Lori after sharing early morning drill team practices for three years, that girls has oodles of energy!! She is one of the cheeriest people I have ever met, always smiling and she is still the same!! Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of Miss Lori, but she looks just the same!

This is what Lori's children look like. Yes, really! They are just like her with boundless energy!!
Ben: Cute but definitely in the Terrorizing Three stage
Becca: I would take this girl home with me in a second. 100% Sweet with the most adorable voice on the planet.

Sam: All boy, not sure what to make of my older girls at first. But then jumped right in. My girls thought he was loads of fun to play with.
After a lovely homemade dinner, Lori graciously put us up for the night. Kenzie was still coughing (in fact, Ben called her "the one that coughs!") and so another rough night of sleep for Becca and I. I hope Lori and her kids did not get Kenzie's cold!! Lori made up delicious French toast for breakfast (Thank you!!!) and then off we went, down the road again. . .

Vacation Day 6 June 30 Horseback Riding

My other vacation posts were written when I was on vacation and saved on my laptop. Inexplicably, I only journalled the first five days. All I can plead is exhaustion! We were very busy and McKenzie's coughing was keeping me up at night so I wasn't getting nearly enough sleep. I will try to piece together the rest of the trip using photos. Let's see what I will be able to remember!!

Day 6 of our trip found us at this beautiful farm in the hills outside of Wayne where Claudia took the girls horseback riding. Because of allergies, I took pictures and then left them to it! I found a little farm store where I found plum butter and pumpkin butter! They had dozens of varieties of homemade jams. They also had fresh local produce so I bought a pint of strawberries and then headed into town. I found a darling little bookstore with internet access and caught up on my email, etc. That is also where I posted my first couple of posts about the trip.

Beautiful North Carolina Hills
Becca, Kace, Carlie, Claudia, and McKenzie riding past the cows. Those cows were very vocal and LOUD!!! I think they wanted some attention.
Here is McKenzie with her horse. She's a natural.
Rebecca takes her horseback riding very seriously! She was so excited to go horseback riding! I heard that her horse was not so excited and would have rather stayed in the pasture.
This little fella took a shine to Becca. He was lovin the attention. He even followed her horse on the trail!

Vacation Day 5 June 29 Biltmore

[Note: Because there are no pictures allowed inside the Biltmore, I didn't take any! We took lots of photos of the gardens and a few at the farm!]

This morning we got up and headed into town to Walmart to grab a couple items before heading to Asheville. While in the parking lot I got a call from Ms. Frederick. There’s nothing I can share at this point, but at least I have a better idea of what to expect when I get back to work in August. Claudia left her cell at the cabin so we headed back there and then back to Walmart to get ???. I can’t even remember. The trips to Walmart are really starting to blur together!!! Claudia gassed up the car and off we headed down the road!

We got to the Biltmore estate around 11 o’clock. What a gorgeous day! Sunny and warm and perfect for exploring. We parked and caught the shuttle up to the house and gardens. We headed for the gardens first, hoping to see them before it got too hot. After an hour the girls were pretty parched and gardened out so we headed back to the house to find some lunch. There’s a little courtyard area next to the original stables and you can go to a sitdown restaurant, a bakery or a little pizza place. We chose the bakery which was a wonderful choice. Their sandwiches were fabulous (I had a sundried tomato and chicken salad sandwich on croissant). Plus we had a strawberry parfait thing that was amazing, McKenzie had an apple streusel coffeecake that was divine, and Rebecca got a peanut butter cookie. After lunch we headed into the main house.

The main house is enormous and doesn’t feel like a “house” at all. It feels like a very decadent resort. It’s something like 180,000 square feet, four stories tall with a basement. We toured through most of the ground floor and select rooms on the other floors. The views from every room are amazing!!! The Asheville area is incredibly pretty, tree-covered hills with mountains beyond. Every room has a story and was decorated by George Vanderbilt himself. Cameras are not allowed inside, so no pictures to share. I guess y’all will have to go visit for yourself! We took a self-guided tour with accompanying audio CD that took about two-and-a-half hours. Around every corner is a new sight to marvel at. Definitely worth the money ($40/adults, kids were free, audio tour $8 per person).

After looking at the house, we headed out for some ice cream and then had to wait a bit for the shuttle to take us back to the car. We finally got back to the car around 5 o’clock. We dropped Claudia off at the Biltmore winery so she could do a little tasting and the girls and I went off to the Farm. We only had enough time to visit the petting zoo and not a lot else unfortunately. Most of the exhibits and demonstrations were over by the time we got there. Great excuse for us to come back another time! I took a few pics of the girls in a wagon and we headed back to pick up Claudia and head back to the cabin.

On the way home we stopped at Walmart AGAIN! My prescription was finally ready to be picked up and we needed some TP. For dinner we made spaghetti and garlic knots. A very yummy dinner. I missed the first 45 minutes of The Bachelorette, but caught the last part. Can’t believe she is holding on to Wes.

Kenzie still has a bad cough and it kept me up until nearly 3 o’clock. Ugh.

Vacation Day 4 June 28 Whitewater Rafting

Another good night’s sleep! Woke up to birds chirping and the sun shining. What a beautiful day! Today we were off to Bryson, NC and the Nantahala River for a day of adventure! We left the cabin around 9:45 and drove along the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway to Bryson. We arrived around 10:45 to The Paddle Inn Rafting Co. parking lot. For $25 each we got ourselves an 8-mile trek down the river with an experienced guide named Dustin. Well, he had been there a week, so compared to us, he was experienced!! We were fitted with life jackets, handed a paddle and loaded onto a bus for a short trip down the road to the drop off location. Once there our boat (#703) was unloaded we took it down to the river’s edge. I can just imagine what our guide was thinking. . . “what did I do to deserve this?? Why do I get stuck with 6 girls???” He was a good sport though and we had a fabulous time!! The river was 55 degrees so it was pretty invigorating when we got splashed. The sun was out though and the temp was in the high 80s. Claudia and I sat in the front, Carlie and McKenzie in the back, with Kacey and Becca in the center. Our trip started out almost immediately with a class III rapid so I got soaked right off the bat! After that it was mostly class I rapids with a few rocks to paddle around and sometimes over! Kacey and Becca got out of the boat a couple times just for the fun of it. The second time Becca went in the guide left here out there for about 3-4 seconds instead of pulling her right in. Her face was classic!! Wish I had been able to bring the camera! Right at the end we ended up getting beached TWICE!! Each time was only for a minute or so but it was, shall I say, fun?? I thought the first time we might actually tip because we were all to one side and the guide was bouncing up and down on the other. I thought it was possible that when we finally unbeached we’d flip right on over, but we didn’t. For large stretches the river was only a foot or two deep although the parts where the girls went over the sides was deeper, maybe 5 or 6 feet. On a scale of one to ten the girls gave it an eleven! We bought some photos from the trip that I will add to the blog if I can.

For lunch we ate at a pizza joint right on the river where we watched dozens of rafts, kayaks and canoes go by while we watched from our picnic table. Amazing!

We took the long road back looking for a place called Soco Gap which I had heard had very nice views. The GPS lead us to somewhere close but not quite there. On the way we stopped to explore Soco Falls and ended up taking the Blue Ridge Parkway back home. So amazingly pretty.

The girls played in the yard for a bit while Claudia made us dinner. Kenzie was tuckered out and stayed in to hang with me. Her fever is down pretty much but she has started to cough. Hopefully she will not keep us all up all night.

Vacation Day 3 June 27 Sliding Rock

Apologies! I can't seem to move the photos around. So I guess the photos will just have to stay at the top and the commentary will be at the bottom!

I woke up early and decided to go back to sleep!! I had all the windows open (no a/c here) and the birds are rather boisterous in the morning, but I tuned them out! I woke up again around 9:00. Claudia was on her cell and the girls were all asleep. I took a shower and the girls started to move around. Kenzie still had a fever and was very stuffy and had a “weird” feeling in her throat. We ate leftover pizza for breakfast and the girls ran outside to enjoy the weather. At 11:30 we gathered the troops and headed to Walmart again. I checked on my prescription (they hadn’t heard back from Dr. Singer’s office) and we picked up Subway sandwiches and then headed down the road. We went through some very pretty area on Pigeon Road, orchards and pretty houses and little churches on all sides nestled into beautiful trees on steep hillsides. I can’t even imagine what this place looks like in the fall. We stopped to have a picnic at a little park along the road and then continued on to Sliding Rock.

Sliding Rock is a 60 foot long natural “waterslide” that ends in a seven feet deep pool of water. The water is around 50 degrees so it’s a refreshing break from the heat of summer. We weren’t the only ones who thought so!! The temps were in the high 80s so didn’t feel too bad to us Floridians! We arrived to long lines and no parking spaces! While Claudia found a parking spot I took the girls down the path so they could line up for their turn to slide. There were about 50 people in line in front of them so it took maybe 30 minutes for them to go. They came out cold and exhilarated and ready for another trip down! When they were on their third turn in line a big group of kids came in, maybe another 50 or so, making the wait closer to an hour, so we decided that was the end of the sliding. The girls played in the water of the creek for another 30 minutes or so and we headed back to the car. An hour later we arrived back to the cabin and after starting some laundry we all headed out to explore the neighborhood. We headed further uphill than the girls had gone previously and found a paved road and some very nice homes. These homes had big lawns with fewer trees, and nice views of the surround tree-covered hillsides. The roads were also very steep in some places requiring us to use long-dormant muscles! The road made a nice loop and we headed back to our side of the mountain, the one with the dirt roads! After another dinner of leftover pizza we settled in for a quiet evening of watching TV. Kenzie still had a fever and needed some cuddle time. After showers for all, it was time for bed!!