Just a few weeks ago we went to Banner Elk, NC. I admit I was happy to go but wondering what we'd do. I'm a beach bum so the mountains in the summer were throwing me off. Little did I know it would totally make all three of my boys super happy AND bring up so many fond childhood memories spent in the mountains. I even realized that this was our FIRST FAMILY VACATION with just the four of us. That in and of itself was special.
Our first stop was Grandfather Mountain, just 10 minutes away. Cole was especially excited to go see the B-E-A-R-S. Seriously, he
Here we are at the bear exhibit (we visited twice that day)...
Note the sign in the bottom left corner "Do not feed the bears" so this is pretty much how it went down:
Cole: Mom can we feed the bears?
Me: No honey, we aren't allowed.
Me: Because the bears would bite you.
Cole: They'd eat me?
Cole: whyyyy? Can I touch the bears?
Me: No honey, they are dangerous.
Cole: whyyyy? Can I go down there?
You get the picture.
We also went on a little hike while at Grandfather Mountain; a simple 0.4 mile trail that was a good tester. The boys really got in to seeing what was under rocks with daddy, especially when we found a newt or a salamander (I forget the difference).
He carried that rock the entire trail. It's now back home with us because he couldn't bear to part with it. Get it? Bears. Bear to part. I'm so
There was even a "I'm the king of the world!!!" moment. No literally, Charlie screamed this when he was on the rock. And well Cole...he was just happy to be near another big rock.
The next day we ventured to the original Mast General Store just to look around. Here is where we discovered one of Charlie's favorite things: Coke in a bottle. Seriously, it's like crack for him. I understand. Truly I do. If they had had Coke Zero in a bottle, I'd have been there every day.
Oh who am I kidding. Twice a day.
Then there was Tweetsie Railroad. The promise of riding a big train (one of the original steam engine trains). The promise of seeing Cowboys and Indians. The stage was set...
And then we made them ride a ride first. Take a close look at Charlie's face. FOUL would be an understatement in describing his mood.
Finally we made it on the train and it was full steam ahead (no pun intended). They were mesmerized by the skit they do throughout the train ride through the mountain trail. Watching the Cowboys and Indians "fight" and the "gunfire". It was game on.
There was candy...(they tossed these two licks in)
There were animals...
There were snow cones (also a bust)...
And mining for gold...(a huge hit)
And one of my favorites...riding the ferris wheel.
It goes fast giving you a tickle in your tummy since it's also looking over a valley. Perhaps the funniest comment of the entire trip was from Cole as he cackled and said "Mommy! This makes my pee pee laugh!"
Tweetsie brought back memories and flashbacks of when I was a child and our 4-H trips. We'd camp every year as a group and take our horses (yes we brought our own horses) along the trails. So much fun.
There was an abundance of things to do for toddlers and we stayed for f.i.v.e hours. I literally carried Cole out of the park sound asleep. He just passed out.
Then the big hiking came the day before we left. We found a hiking trail just around the corner from our condo that was beautiful and more difficult (difficult = more fun). Cole christened the trail by of course, finding a big rock. Charlie christened it in another way which we won't discuss in a documented way.
And then we hiked...
Surprisingly, this was right up Charlie's alley. I knew he would like it but I didn't realize how much he'd love it. He led the way and we often found him singing to himself looking at nature. Totally and completely content to be in his surroundings.
Made my heart smile! I'm a total nature girl (despite also being a girly girl) and can't wait to do it again with them.
The trail followed a creek for a good bit and of course both boys couldn't wait to get in and throw...wait for it...wait for it....rocks. So in they went.
We could be those parents that say "no you can't get in, you'll get your shoes and clothes wet" but I say "why not?" That's the fun of being spontaneous! Speaking of spontaneous, they also wanted to hike back...in the creek. They saw two other boys doing it so they of course wanted to try. I quickly realized they couldn't really do this safely on their own so...in I went.
The boys had *the best* time hiking in the water. It was a complete adventure and I have to say, I totally enjoyed it too. Reminded me of camping with my extended family at Cherokee each summer and the fun I had with my cousins in those creeks. Although I did forget how cold it is!
The trip wouldn't have been complete until we roasted s'mores in the fire pit. They didn't really care about eating them; maybe each took only one bite. It was more about the fire. I daresay that this might have been
We are so excited to go back again next year (and have Nana and Pop-E join us...or since it's their timeshare maybe I should say join them). A fun new annual family vacation has begun (thanks Nana and Pop-E!)
How about you guys? Where do you like to vacation?