Staying with Aunt Julie and Uncle Ted has been great! And so was the Bar-B-Que…
We drove about 30 minutes out to Chimney Rock Park; it was quite a treat! After parking near the base of the Chimney Rock itself, we saddled up the kids in backpack and hiking gear, and took the elevator up to the top. The gift shop was helpfully built around the top of the elevator, directing exiting tourists through the knick-knacks and then the cantina.
We climbed up to the top and snapped off a few photos and let the kids get a dose of the dizzying heights (more-so for Da-da than the kids), then proceeded down the staircase to the parking lot where we could set off for Hickory Nut Falls Trail, at whose end lies, as you might guess, a beautiful waterfall. After a brief interlude of lunch, we pushed on.
Lucas chuffed his way (scuffing the gravel as a train without tracks or wheels might) along, alternating eroding the gravel path and running down it, taking the occasional tumble, until we got to the falls. Merrill made encouraging noises to me, important, as her litter was getting quite heavy along the way. Once we reached the falls, it was apparent that not enough water made an impact to do any damage to someone wishing to splash their feet in the water and on the wet, flat rock at the bottom. So this is what most of the younger set were doing when we arrived. Lucas said “Are those mermaids?!”, and Jean had to let him know they were not. He thought about splashing around himself, but decided better of it.
We returned (more chuffing) and drove back down the mountainside to the Great Woodland Adventure, a very short (not short enough by that time of day, as we turned around some ways in) nature trail aimed at teaching kids and making nature more interesting by putting fake plastic and metal things into it. Indeed, there was a 10x scale replica of an Agriope Spider (Garden Spider) and it’s web (both metal), along with plastic toy shop salamanders and such. We assured Lucas that these were pretend.
A good hike under our belts, we felt prepared for the wedding (both kids had taken quite a good nap in the car and hotel room) that evening. We dressed up, even the kids. The ceremony was beautiful and speedy, though I had to dodge out because Merrill was being insistently verbal. Excellent couple, great food, good times. We wish all the best to Megan and Schorr.
The next day we pushed off, powered by hot Krispy Kreme donuts resting in our bellies after a healthy continental breakfast, courtesy of the hotel. Our drive was incredibly speedy, as we made our way across Tennessee in under eight hours (some 500 miles), including an hour lunch break for McD’s (they had a playground) and Starbuck’s (My Venti iced coffee made for easy driving all afternoon).
Living at The Wilson’s has been roughing it. The first evening, we all swam (nearly) to our heart’s content and then Ted and Julie fed us pulled pork shoulder and let us sample a variety of local sauces. Then checkerboard cake. The next day’s lunch was (followed by more swimming) left-over heavenly pulled pork…and more cake.
Yesterday evening: ABSOLUTELY delectable ribs cooked (8 racks!) in Ted’s Backwoods Smoker…oh, I can’t forget the venison saugage flavored with diced bits of jalapeño and cheese…and more cake 🙂
Matt, Kim, Ben and Lizzie were able to visit yesterday afternoon, and Lucas and Merrill enjoyed playing with them in and around the pool. Lucas is quite taken with Lizzie.
Today we drove out to Matt and Kim’s house some ways out of town. We fished in their ponds, and Lucas caught his first fish! Five of them (or more?) in fact. There are quite a few little bluegill in his ponds. Afterwards, Jean, Julie and Merrill came back to nap Merrill, while Lucas, Lizzie and I took a few rides in the paddle boat. Lucas managed to act boyish, throwing a knick-knack of Lizzie’s into the pond, much to her dismay. Once I compared it to throwing his rocket ship into the pond, he got it though, and tried to make it up to Lizzie by offering her a peppermint (nevermind it was from the Wilson’s own stock). After the fishing and boatride, Matt and Ted took Lucas and I out to Matt’s office to view the trophies and Bar-B-Que equipment. Matt’s contracting company is made up of several people who have competed in Memphis in May (and won no less) and several other competitions having to do with smoking whole hog or pork shoulder and such. They’ve even made up a sauce and had it bottled, though never sold a bottle (never tried anyway). The Curly Tail Smokers should be featured on the food network’s coverage of Memphis in May this year – check it out.
Tonight (following more swimming and a nap) we’re having beer can chicken…and probably more cake 🙂 Oh, and beer. Beau and Ronnie, and Jack and Sam are stopping by after driving around to Beau’s various job sites (for inspection on progress) to visit for dinner and talk. Like I said, roughing it.