You say fall break started the first week of October? Hmm, so it goes with our crazy life, but I want to make sure I write down the details of this fall break roadtrip before I forget them. This was the first road trip we’ve taken with four kids. Years ago when Pippa was three and Sawyer was an infant we dared to drive to Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland to stay in a lakehouse with my inlaws for a week, and then we took the mountain roads down to the NC mountains for a vacation with my family. At the time we didn’t realize the reason Pippa screamed in the car since she was a baby was because she was getting carsick. BUT… all it took was ten hours on winding roads and several stops to clean up puke to realize why that girl hated car rides. Man, that was a BAD road trip.
We have since taken much shorter vacations (to the beach, anyone?) but finally decided to make a longer trek this fall. Remember that we are in year round school, so our fall break is three weeks long. It makes for amazing travel opportunities when the rest of the world is in school! First we headed north to Maryland to stay with my inlaws for six days. We took the kids hiking at Cunningham Falls state park — a place John and I both went to a lot growing up (we’re both MD born and raised).
Then we did something I never thought I’d get to do: visit John’s grandparents house one last time. We went down there to pick up a box of his dad’s things. I have such great memories of his grandparents, because they became my grandparents at a time when all my grandparents were already gone. I lost my last one when I was in college. So all those beautiful moments when we were engaged and we would sit on the couch for hours listening to stories about the war, and how they lived in military housing in Europe, and how they worked in the factories outside of DC. Grandparents have the best stories and I wish my own had been alive when I was just a bit older.
I never thought I’d get to see that house again. And then, we were there. The place was completely unchanged! The walls were still mint green, the original kitchen appliances from the 1940s still in place. I admired how small it was compared to today’s homes and how three kids grew up there, and I felt a little silly for thinking I need a bigger kitchen.
I think of all the places I would love to visit just one last time.
We took the kids to the Enchanted Forest (another place from my childhood – ha!) although it’s been relocated to a farm. The kids rode ponies, played with goats, got foam swords. We went to the local farm – Larriland – to do an awesome hayride and pick out apples. Man do I wish we had stayed just a bit longer to pick pumpkins and apples from the fields. Sometimes being a slave to nap times makes me a grouch.
Pippa and Sawyer spent countless hours riding skateboard scooters down my inlaws’ driveway, and honestly I’m surprised it didn’t end with a trip to the ER with how fast those wild things went! Wish I had a video of that.
We left Maryland and drove the mountain road through Shenandoah, and guess who didn’t get sick! Three cheers for a car trip without puke!!!! We stopped in Luray at the cutest deli for lunch, then took the kids on a tour of the caves. When you have four kids, you worry that the oldest will miss out on fun things if you always wait for the youngest to be age appropriate for something. So the heck with it, we thought. Pippa and Sawyer will love to see a cave! So we signed up for the tour. And then there we were… stuck with a group of 60 year olds on a one hour tour where we couldn’t leave the group behind for fear we’d get left in the dark in a cave. Larkin was laughing hysterically. So much so that we couldn’t hear the tour guide. We faded to the back of the group when Bodhi started fussing, because EVERYTHING ECHOES. It was bad. Then they went to play this underground organ that echoes over three miles of caves, and THAT is when Larkin decides to scream and run away down a side cave. It was super embarrassing, but we were stuck. Those poor people. We won’t be touring anymore caves for a few years!
Watauga Lake, TN
After Luray, we drove south and stopped approximately every 20 minutes so that Larkin could use the bathroom. PS: don’t take a long road trip with a potty training toddler. YOu’d think we’d have learned that by kid #3! At dinner time we decided to stop and grocery shop, because the cabin we rented was in the middle of nowhere. We grabbed a rotisserie chicken, chips, and veg tray and headed to a park for a picnic. Then after two more hours in the car (and a total of 12.5 hours from Maryland where we started our trip) we arrived at this super cute cabin.
The owners lived down the lane, and their four sons had built this cordwood cabin from scratch. How cool is that? It was beautiful and rustic and the kids loved climbing up to the loft and playing in all the secret nooks. We were there while Hurricane Michael was coming up the east coast, and of the four days we spent here it rained three of them. We lost power the first day and those sweet owners invited us down to their home to play with toys. They had chickens, peacocks, miniature horses (which we spent the better part of three days feeding), and a dog named Lollipop (which Larkin talked about non-stop for the rest of our trip). We cooked dinner on the charcoal grill in the rain until the power came back on.
Day two we drove to Johnson City to a children’s museum. Finally the rain stopped enough for us to have a campfire, so the rest of the nights we ate s’mores for dessert looking up at the mountain. The kids played nonstop in the mud puddles and we took lots of baths! The last day here we were supposed to go to Tweetsie Railroad, but the weather was going to be super cold and windy! So instead we drove to Roan Mountain and hiked up to the grassy bald. It was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on in the Smokies, but it was about 35 degrees with constant wind. It was so gusty that Larkin kept getting blown over. We didn’t have winter coats with us so we were bundled in 3 pairs of pants and blankets to make the half mile hike up there. The kids were such good sports! And afterwards they agreed that it was a really cool hike. We hit up the state park playground after and warmed up.
Then, because we are crazy, we decided to make up our trip to Tweetsie (that the kids had been bummed to miss) by stopping at Carowinds amusement park on our way home… which really was 2.5 hours out of our way. The day was beautiful, but it was so dang crowded! I think everyone was there for the fall festival stuff they had going on. And watching three kids (wearing Bodhi in a carrier) was super stressful. We waited about 40 minutes per ride, which we thought was long and torturous. Is Disney this bad? Hmm….
The highlight of the day for the big kids was definitely riding on the wooden “kiddie” roller coaster. I had fun on it, so it wasn’t so little 🙂 We didn’t realize how early the park closed for their scary nighttime event, so this mama was bummed to not get to hop on just one big roller coaster. Next time, right? Ha! We drove 2.5 hours home and got home well after bedtime, which brings me to the worst greeting ever upon returning from a road trip….
Mold in our House
Yep. We had lost power for 48 hours because of the Hurricane, and before that I had set our AC to come on at a higher temp THAT OUR HOUSE NEVER REACHED. Then we got all the rain and no power for two days. Anyway, everything felt damp. We went right to bed, and the next morning as I was sitting on the couch nursing Bodhi I noticed that everything was GREEN. Mold was everywhere. We spent a crazy two days cleaning everything in sight and renting the upholstery cleaner… the whole nine yards. It was terrible. As if gobs of laundry isn’t enough to handle after two weeks away!
Wow, that was a long post. I’m trying to be better about documenting things like this, because it is so fun to look back on all the details. Thanks for joining the journey!