Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly Happenings Post #394 (October 17-23)-- Camping, Hiking, and (Mostly) Road Tripping

 [No family picture from this week and actually I'm including very few others because I'm going to do a real picture/reflection post this weekend devoted to the whole camping trip. I'll give the details of each day here and then sort of document my thoughts and feelings and share my favorite shots in that post.]

Anyway, to state the ovbious this was the week during which most of our big Fall trip took place.

Peyton was taking the big kids on a field trip with our homeschool group to the fire academy on Monday morning and he woke me up and got me to help him get them ready. They left and I got on the computer and went through my reader and messaged a friend. I started some laundry, read my N.T. Wright book, and ate breakfast and Sallie woke up. I changed, dressed, and fed her and then straightened a bit in the kids' room and our room. I took some cups and stuff back to the kitchen and collected more laundry. I put up some books in the kids' room and hung up their clothes and some of Peyton's. Peyton and the kids got home and they had media time, he did some planning for the trip, and I tied up loose ends on the computer and talked to Minnie on the phone.

How grown up does Annie look in her skinny jeans and this cute elephant top Minnie got her? And it's the softest thing ever!

I made a list for the day and ate lunch. Peyton took Graves to science with the homeschool group (Annie didn't want to go and I needed to get a good bit done with her anyway) and we got started. She did her Brainquest and then we did her math and she had a bit of a bad attitude. We got half of it done and had a snack and Graves and P got back. I guess she felt a lot better after the snack, because she finished up quickly and we did writing and grammar. After that we did an English assessment and spelling words. Sallie got fussy toward the end and Peyton took her outside.

Sweet Little Sallie Sunshine- she and Annie a great day in our little office schoolroom while the guys did their thing. I could not love Graves more and Annie reminds me often that she presents her own sets of challenges but I enjoy holing up in it with them so much. 

The big kids played Legos and I did some laundry and then Peyton got them supper. I had a bad headache and was fading. I laid down and then fed and changed Sallie and put up my laundry.

 When your sheets are still in the dryer at midnight and your 4T/5T Gymboree parrot costume from eBay comes in and there's no way you can wait til Halloween to wear it.

I got up and read a bunch in our bookclub book and then Peyton and I chatted and went to bed.

Sallie was up so much and my headache got worse and worse. Graves got up around seven on Tuesday and I finally had to wake Peyton up to help me. I laid back down and rested some and he made me a smoothie. I took some medicine and finally got up and read about twenty more pages. P took the big kids to do some errands and I got on the computer since Sallie was sleeping. I went through my email and reader and worked on a few posts. Peyton and the kids got home and we all talked and ate lunch and we cleaned up their room really well which took awhile and then I did some more laundry and got the homeschool stuff I needed for the week packed. I was feeling bad so after visiting with Peyton and getting Sarah Lamar to sleep, I took a nap. I got up and got a good bit more packed and then Sallie and I got ready and headed to bookclub. I grabbed a hamburger on the way. It was so fun but I was so tired when we got home. I talked to P and took another nap and then I mostly finished packing and we loaded up the van. I folded a lot more laundry and did the last bit of packing.

Wednesday was the big day for the start of the trip! We got up around seven thirty and P and I had baths and then I straightened a bit, finished packing a few things from the dryer, and loaded the last bit of stuff in the van. We got on the road around nine thirty.

We decided to take the Trace up to Nashville so we could enjoy the scenic route, even though it added a few hours onto the trip. It was a great trip- Babes did amazing and both the big kids did a really good job, too. We stopped at a couple of gas stations to fill up and to use the bathroom and we also stopped at a couple of scenic places. We listened to a couple of Magic Treehouse books on tape and had lots of snacks.

We got to Cookie's a little after six and they were cooking pizzas. We visited and enjoyed the pizza. Sallie was SO fussy and Peyton left twice- once to get her apple juice for her tummy and then when that didn't work, for a suppository. We finally got her settled and the big kids watched some YouTube videos of Star Wars. We all went to bed around ten.

Since Cookie and Conrad needed to go to work, we got an early start on Thursday. We got up early and Peyton and I took baths and we bathed Sallie, too. Conrad had some clothes he didn't want and was giving Peyton but we didn't really have time for him to go through and try them on. We had so much room in the van so we just put them in the bottom of the trunk and reloaded it. We got on the road a little before eight.

We drove to Mammoth Cave- which was only an hour and a half away. We looked around, got the big kids their ranger booklets, and bought tickets to the cave tour that was later in the afternoon. We drove to an overlook and had lunch there and P took the big kids on a short hike. I stayed in the van since Sallie was sleeping. We we about to leave and a guy drove by and rolled down his window and told us that a convict had escaped from the prison nearby. We quickly buckled up and headed back for our tour. Annie and Graves finished filling out their booklets and got their junior ranger badges and then it was almost time for the cave tour.

Um, the tour was a little different than I expected. The guide explained that it was forty minutes and there was no way out for a medical emergency except the way we came in. Of course, I realized that was going to be the same for a crying infant. Sallie screamed the whole bus ride over and I tried to nurse her and some old people glared at me (I'm not sure if it was the public nursing or they were just worried she was going to ruin their tour). Anyway, I got increasingly anxious. Peyton held her on the tour, though, and she did great. I was glad, anyway, because it was lots of high stairs and slippery ground and tight spaces and he's got better balance than I do. I was a little nervous about Graves, actually. Everyone was fine, though, and Sallie didn't fuss much and Graves was very patient even toward the end when I knew he was sort of over it. It was really neat and beautiful and I was glad we did it. After the bus ride back, we spent a little while in the museum and then got back on the road.

We drove a couple of hours toward our next location and stopped at a motel. We unpacked in the rain and then ate dinner at Cracker Barrel. We got back to the hotel and Annie was supposed to do her math but she threw a big fit. She finally got it done. Then she threw another fit about not having a bed to herself. It was pretty awful. Peyton got Graves settled and they both fell asleep and I got Sallie to sleep. Annie finally made herself a little bed under the desk and fell asleep around midnight. The motel wasn't too bad but the water there tasted gross.

We slept pretty late in the motel on Friday and P and I took showers and bathed the big kids. We packed up and got out of the hotel by eleven. We drove to the Cumberland Gap National Park, which took most of the afternoon, and when we got there we went and walked up to another really neat overlook. It was super cool. We talked to a guy who had his little nephew with cerebal paulsy with him and hiked around a bit. We headed to the campground so that we'd get there before dark. P and the big kids set up the tent and I got Sallie fed and changed and settled. Graves and Peyton settled down and I did some school with Annie. She went to sleep and I ate something and played on my phone and then Sallie had a big dirty diaper. I changed her and got her in her warm clothes for the night and fed her. We actually had a great night and Sallie and I both slept really well in the van.

We got up pretty early on Saturday and packed up the campsite, straightened the van, and got on the road. We took a really nice hike in The Gap and then started driving toward the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 Schoolhouse in the Suburbs on the road-- loved talking to Annie about these animals and people who came through the Cumberland Gap before us!

We stopped at Subway for lunch and a couple of other times and got ice cream that afternoon. It was a pretty long day in the car. Annie got really into her Magic Treehouse activity book and I did get in a bit of school with her (she had mostly not wanted to do it in the van and I sort of found it difficult, too, even though it was much more convenient to do it while driving). We also stopped once for Graves to pick out a snack since he didn't get to pick one at home when Annie did. She got SO upset she couldn't go in the store with them and Sallie started screaming and that was a tough half hour.

We had planned to camp that night in the Shenandoah Valley but the campsite was full. It was also SUPER cold and windy so it worked out well. But then we had a ton of trouble finding a motel. We ended up getting the last room for a hundred dollars at a motel an hour away so we drove back the way we had came. We stopped for supper at Waffle House and then checked in. The big kids played a bit and then we all got settled.

Annie had been a little complainy about the driving part of this trip (which to be fair was a big part of this trip). I found the Magic Treehouse activity book I brought, though, and she worked through it with a headlamp for hours. P said something about how he felt bad we were going to have to drive back an hour to where we'd just been since everyone was so sick of the car. "Actually, the driving isn't bothering me anymore. I'm enjoying my activity book now, she told him. 

The only problem with this room was that there weren't fitted sheets on the bed and the flat sheet they were using in lieu of it wouldn't stay tucked in. But overall, it was a great room. It even had a kitchen range and a pull out couch that the big kids slept on.

Sunday morning, we all got up and had baths and showers and had a leisurely morning. We got on the road and headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove a bit of it. We found a campsite and set up the tent and  Graves spilled chips all in the van. He cleaned it up while Peyton took Annie to the ranger station to get some information. They got back and we headed out on a walk all together. We stopped at the visitor center and looked around and then went to the nature center. I think it was Annie's and Graves's favorite thing on the whole trip. There were lots of animal furs and skulls and a live snake named Green Bean.

a pretty spectacular view of part of the parkway

We headed back to the tent and I fed and changed Sallie and then did some school with Annie and Peyton got Graves settled. Annie had some iPad time and we went to sleep.

I slept really well that night!

Of course the trip will be continued in the next post =)

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