30 June, 2015

Look Back ... 2008 and Now

Do you see those girls?

The first photo Kaija and Nazeriah are 6 and Ilayda is 5. In the second they are 13 & 12. Wow.

We loved getting back to Sandy Hook National Seashore - we've spent many a summer's day here.

Our whirlwind, 1-week visit to NJ was filled with new memories and reminders of old. I'll post more of what happened soon.

18 June, 2015

And away we go!

We've hit the road and are already in Tennessee (after a bit of excitement this morning).

There was the normal "are you sure you packed this?" question asked a thousand times. 

Then the naughtiest cat in the world (that would also be the cutest cat, Emma) escaped from the house and made a beeline for the fence line. Thank goodness for quick thinking and barefoot running by Courtney, it was his fasted 50-yard dash; along with an assist by Kaija - the cat was grabbed and brought back inside. 

Of course, the roofers chose that time to show up to finish the rain gutters. (Our roof was replaced last week.) So now there was the whir of saws in the air and tools and old gutters strewn across the yard. 

And the garden needed watered, and the this ... and the that. All the normal craziness of getting everyone out. 

But we made it. New Jersey here we come!

09 June, 2015

A Look Back at the Hike Inn

 A few weekends ago, we joined our long-time friends Aunt Karen and Uncle Jack on a trip to the Hike Inn.

To get to the Hike Inn, you must complete a five-mile trek that starts at the top of Amicalola Falls, through the mountains in the Chattahoochee National Forest and brings you to the front porch of the Hike Inn. Once there you get a warm shower, hot family-style meals and a bed.

The last time we made this trip with Karen and Jack, Kaija was only 2 years old and was carried in a hiking backpack. (Uncle Jack told Kaija that this time she was going to have to walk by herself.) It's been a long time.

The hike isn't hard, but it's not an easy walk in the park. The majority of the hike up, is well, up. But the trail is good - and the company even better.

Since the forecast called for an afternoon filled with thunderstorms and rain, we met early Sunday morning in one of the parking lots at Amicalola Falls State Park. The idea was that we'd get up there before any of the yucky weather came upon us. We actually had to postpone our first attempt over spring break because of bad storms that spawned tornadoes.

Would you believe it, our plan actually worked? We made it to the inn, ate lunch, got our rooms, THEN the rain came. Perfect.

Look at the lovebirds on the side porch.
The rainstorms provided a great excuse to try out the game room. Like you need an excuse to play Kings in the Corner and Gin Rummy ...

Of course, we took the 5 o'clock tour of this amazing place. There is an interesting history around The Inn - how it was conceived, built, and of course the hikers who have come through. The Inn is also a sustainably designed and LEED-certified Georgia State Park facility - four buildings with 20 private guest rooms that includes solar-powered hot showers and compostable, orderless toilets. 

Plus, WORMS! 
The worms eat all the food that they can to help cut down on waste. Not only did Chayton get a front row seat to see all the worms, he got to hold some, too. There were even baby worms - did you know that those exist? 

Our tour guide was the General Manager of The Inn - she did a great job. After the tour she took time to speak with Chayton about his dream of becoming a park ranger. (She has also been a park ranger.) He asked lots of questions and she patiently and enthusiastically answered all of them. Plus told Chayton that when he was old enough that he had an internship at The Inn. :-)

After the tour it was dinner time. We all sat down family style and chowed down. The only thing - any food left on your plate will be weighed at the end of the meal. If we have too much waste, we get a frowny face. The competition between the tables was fierce, but we all earned a happy face!

The weather cleared up that evening and the kids enjoyed a good game of Cornhole with some of the other kids who hiked up.
 And we tried to catch the image of a wonderful sunset on the mountains. Unfortunately, you can just see Courtney and my face.
 In the morning it was time for more games. This time, Battleship.
 Chayton was invited to ring the breakfast bell.
We're smiling because we earned another smiley face.
 These are our actual faces.
 Too soon it was time to pack up and head back down the mountain.
 This time, we hiked through the clouds. We were lucky with the weather, once again, and didn't get any rain on our hike. But, we did get to see the clouds that were caught in the mountains.
  Break time. Can't you keep your clothes on, Jack?
 All too soon, we were at the bottom. Getting ready to say our goodbyes.
I'm so happy that we finally were able to complete this trip with Uncle Jack and Aunt Karen. Here's to many more adventures together!