Last year we had done a day trip to Sliding Rock and the kids were begging to go back. Andrew has been anticipating this trip ALL YEAR LONG. He seriously wrote every free subject choice paper at school about Sliding Rock and Coon Picnic Site the entire year of second grade. He even turned our day trip from last summer into a chapter book. Ryan wrote about it too, but since he was in Kindergarten, his papers weren't quite as long. :)
It was the first time the entire family had camped anywhere besides our backyard. However, it will not be the last. I am not sure who had more fun, the grown ups or the kids. For me, I was just so grateful to have a moment to breathe, away from all technology. There was absolutely zero signal where we were. No phone or internet access. We also banned the use of all electronic devices. No one asked me if they could watch tv or play a video game for our entire stay. It was HEAVENLY. I am seriously considering relocating our family to the middle of the wilderness and living like the Swiss Family Robinson. The only problem with that would be that I am terrified of wild animal encounters. And I don't know how to train an ostrich to let me ride on him.
As we approached the mountains, we encountered torrential rain. I have never driven in a storm that bad. We could not see anything. The roads were flooded and I was truly afraid we were going to be swept off the mountain. I posted on facebook that I was pretty sure our first night camping would be at a hotel. The weather forecast said 75% chance of thunderstorms all night long. Then we drove into Brevard and it stopped. Completely. We were so grateful for the reprieve to set up our tents. And it didn't rain again the entire night.
The kiddos helped us set up the tents.
No one in the campground seemed to be able to start a fire that night because of the rain, so we sang songs and told stories around the empty fire ring. We all slept comfortably through the night, and it did not rain again that first night.
Ryan has been begging to go fishing again. We walked down to the river after breakfast to try our luck.
Andrew learned to bait his own hook. It started to rain, but it didn't put a damper on our fun. And the mist on the river was lovely. We still didn't catch any fish. Which was fine with me. We played in the river and mud all morning.
We stopped to see Looking Glass Falls. Chad and Andrew wanted to see how close they could get to the falls.
Right after I took this picture, I climbed down to help Molly get back up from playing in the rocks by the river. I asked her to stay where she was for a moment. I guess the roar of the waterfall was too loud and she didn't hear me. Instead she lunged towards me, knocking me forward flat onto my knees and collar bone, and then stomach. I lifted her up at the same time to try and protect her. I screamed. She screamed. The entire three levels of platforms of spectators viewing the waterfall watched me fall. As I limped up the mountain back to the car, I was stopped by dozens of people inquiring if I was okay. I am sure there is an excellent youtube video out there of the fall. :)
Our next stop was at Coon Picnic Site. It was a place we discovered last year when we stopped for lunch. It is hands down my children's favorite place in the mountains. Probably Andrew's favorite place in the world. There is a pool of water deep enough to jump into from a cliff. All three children and Chad took turns jumping over and over again. I love how strong and brave they all are. I have never been daring. I am still not daring. I did not jump once. But I enjoyed watching them plunge over and over again into the water.
When the kiddos were tired out, we headed back to the camp site for showers and dinner. Chad was able to get a campfire started, and we roasted hot dogs and made s'mores with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. We sang songs around the campfire, and went to bed.
In the morning, we packed up our campsite. The children helped as much as they were able, but there was a lot they couldn't help with. So they spent the morning catching bugs and frogs. And of course, having light saber battles.
We asked the children where they would like to spend our last morning in the mountains. The vote was unanimous. We went back to the Coon Picnic Site and spent the rest of the morning there cliff jumping again. We picnicked and headed down the mountain.
Our last stop was at the WNC Natural Science Museum. The children loved seeing the wild animals. Andrew and Ryan loved the wolves. While we were there, an ambulance went by causing all of the wild dogs to howl. It was the highlight of their day, to see real live wolves howl! Seeing wolves was on the bucket list. Molly loved the cougars and bobcats the best. She actually had "see a white tiger" on her bucket list, but I am not sure where to take her to see those. These wildcats had to sub this summer. She didn't seem to mind.
After the museum, we drove the rest of the way home. It was a fabulous trip! I cannot wait to take them camping again.