Monday, October 29, 2012

Annual Autumn Retreat

For the days leading up to the annual CKS auction this past spring, and then immediately afterward, both the Seymour and Franco kids were anxious to know if we had once again secured a weekend at a mountain home. Happily we had, with the added bonus of booking it when the kids had a three-day weekend. Last year's time flew by far too quickly, and we knew we'd enjoy an extra day. (Props to Tim and Luis, who worked until midnight and all night, respectively, in order to take the time off.)

This year we headed to Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Georgia. This spot is so close to the North Carolina border that on the day we ventured to hike some trails, we crossed the state line about 5 minutes after leaving the house. Fortunately, we enjoyed paved roads the entire time. We traded lofty mountaintop views for a spot right on the lake, complete with a fabulous lawn that saw a lot of football playing, gymnastics and glow-stick glory. In fact, these activities topped the list when I asked Clare and Danny what were their favorite elements of the weekend.

On our first full day, we recalled enjoying a family-friendly hike last year and sought a similar experience. The nearby Jack Rabbit Trails seemed a good option, and we set out on what we thought would be a 3-mile hike. We took a small detour to get us down to the water, and thus it became a 4.1 mile walk that seemed significantly longer. Keep in mind it was a very hilly, tree root-studded trail (and I was pushing a stroller the entire time). Nevertheless, Danny and Gabrielle were intrepid and probably ran half of the way, if not more, eager to stay ahead of the pack and prove their mettle. Their elder sisters brought up a dragging rear, and I must commend the younger kids for not rubbing their noses in it too much!
The fearless hike leaders.

Looking for frogs and skipping rocks.
The next morning the kids asked what we had in store, and I could tell they were wary of any plans for further hiking. We adults had seen a corn maze that we thought would be a good bet, so we ventured out once again. We really had some beautiful weather, and it was glorious to spend time in the fresh air. We managed to solve the "FSI" puzzle as well as make our way out of the maze, enjoyed a hay ride, and the kids couldn't enough of the bed of corn kernels they could wallow in. After lunch we made a quick stop at Goats on the Roof, where there are, indeed, goats walking on the roof. Aside from the option to feed these goats, though, it's really an odd spot...

The bulk of our weekend revolved around football (GO IRISH), food, chilling out, and glow sticks. Deanna and I had both loaded up on them at Target's Dollar Spot, and we definitely got our money's worth. Something about the freedom of running around outside in the dark, unfettered by adults, really struck a chord with the kiddos.

So, I'm pretty sure this is a tradition for our two families. Next year I will work to find the Francos a bedroom that is not subject to the sounds of Laura's early morning wake-ups, and we have decided that we are bringing lots and lots of paper plates. Other than that, we've definitely got a winning formula.

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