Posted by: SoccerGirl | August 7, 2016

Time Flies when you’re having fun

So another year of mountain living has passed and I find myself catching up on all the happenings from the past year.  It seems that once you have been going to a place long enough things become routine and not that exciting.  We cut grass and pull weeds, plant trees and flowers, go to Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, eat at Boondocks and The Hotel Tavern.  The weekends start to look the same except for a few times out of the year when there’s a new restaurant or some other happening.  That’s where I find myself now.  Not that I’m bored or anything, the mountains are just becoming more like home and the new adventures happen in other places.

The biggest change in the last year has been the completion of the house.  We now have a larger space and have taken full advantage of its completion.  It was a year ago in August that we moved out stuff in and got busy making it our own.  The additional space has provided us with the opportunity to share our love of the mountains with our family and friends.  At Thanksgiving time we had enough space to invite one of my mom’s sisters and her husband to join us.  At Christmas we had our first “real” tree in the house, bought by my brother and sister-in-law at one of the tree farms just down the road.  My parents have brought friends and my Aunt Carol came down from Michigan to spend some time and I’ve been able to have girls’ weekends with two of my friend groups as well.

There’s so much to say about the house but I’ll limit to some of my favorite features, otherwise you’d be reading for a really long time and probably wonder how much longer this post could go on…anyway:

  1. The Covered Porch-I could sit out here all day and all night I think.  When we had just the Garattage (now referred to as the “West Wing”) our outdoor space was limited to the flat part of the meadow and offered no shade except for the umbrella we used.  With the new porch we have shade but also light thanks to 3 skylights.  Air flows through from our normal mountain breezes as well as ceiling fans.  The sound system is wired to speakers outside so you can listen to music as you admire the scenery before you.  And when it gets just a little chilly there is a wood burning fireplace to keep you toasty warm.  Not to mention the comfy chairs that have been purchased for sitting, which are often fought over 🙂
  2. The Upstairs Bedroom (aka my room or the guest room)-When the house was being built one of the decisions to make was the paint color for the walls.  Mom and dad chose one color for the whole place, but I was given the opportunity to chose the color for the upstairs bedroom and bathroom.  I of course took to Pinterest and had in mind a kind of light blue/green type color to make the room feel like part of the sky and just serene and relaxing.  The color I ended up with was Sweet Dreams by Benjamin Moore and every time I walk in the room I just love it even more.  In the bedroom we also built in a twin sized reading nook below two of the windows, which is the perfect place for not only reading, but catching a quick snooze or accommodating an extra guest.  And the final feature of the room I love is the barn door on the bathroom.  Once I saw the plans I thought it made sense to have a barn door versus a conventional door since that would have to open into the bathroom and be right next to the bathtub.  Our builder, George used wood from an old barn and pieced it together to make the door.  Did I also mention the bathroom has a heated floor?  Ahh…the warmth 🙂
  3. The unique touches-houses can be pretty standard when you think about it, sure we add furniture and paint but other than that they’re all pretty much the same.  It’s the unique architectural and decorative pieces that truly make them stand out.  We’re fortunate enough to have a builder that not only knows construction but also design and isn’t afraid to try something new or different.  We have a shelf held up by 4 rhododendron branches, railings on our staircase made from locust tree branches, and an array of rhododendron branches covering the space above the outdoor fireplace.  We also looked to the past to inspire one of our design choices and ended up with 3 stained glass windows above the doors to the porch, whose design came from windows that were in my grandparents’ house in St. Louis.  They really add a special touch to the house and remind me of all our visits over the years.

     

So that’s my little (or not so little) house update.  I know there have been other things that have happened over the last year and probably at the time I was like I should write about this, but then time slipped away and here I am today.  Hopefully they’ll come to me and I’ll be sharing more stories sooner rather than later, but I make no guarantees 🙂

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Posted by: SoccerGirl | June 18, 2015

Summer Time is Here Again

After a busy spring it was nice to start off my summer vacation the first week/weekend of this month with a trip to the mountains with dad.  And wow has a lot changed since my last quick trip in March!  The house is getting closer and closer to being finished and I can’t wait for move in day to arrive!  Since I hadn’t seen the house in awhile, the first thing we did upon arrival Thursday afternoon was take a tour.  It was so cool to see things that had been talked about become reality in the house.  Aside from inspecting the house this trip was a combination of work and play. After our house inspection Thursday it was just about dinner time so we headed in to town to grab something to eat and catch a movie.  We decided on a visit to The Hotel Tavern and since it was threatening to rain choose to sit inside rather than out on the patio.  It was a good thing too, because about 10 minutes after we sat down it started to pour.  It had been awhile since I had eaten there and everything was delicious.  I highly recommend the Hotel Chips as an appetizer, they’re flavored just enough with a herb blend and of course served with ranch dressing for dipping.  After dinner it was still raining a bit so we decided to drive the short distance to the movie theater rather than walk, especially since it could’ve started raining harder again-I know, I know, we could’ve walked, don’t judge 😉  Anyway, the Parkway Theater is right in the midst of town and is such an awesome deal.  They show first run movies and charge only $6 except for the Matinee, which is only $4.  Drinks, popcorn and candy are available too for just as reasonable prices.  They recently installed new seats, which were super comfortable.  There are two screens within the theater and on this night we saw Tomorrowland, which was excellent, I think we would give it two thumbs up, although it’s hard to explain what exactly it’s about.  Feel free to go on Fandango for a synopsis 🙂

Friday morning I woke to the promise of breakfast at a new place prior to having to do the work portion of our trip.  We had read about the re-opening and renovation of the Park Vista Inn & Restaurant so we decided to head down the Blue Ridge Parkway and check it out.  The drive along the Parkway was as beautiful as usual, especially since there were still clouds lingering over the valleys and the mountaintops were just peeking out from underneath them.  You can see the restaurant from the Parkway, so after a quick turn we pulled in the parking lot and were greeted by a building with large picture windows and a wood and stone facade.  Inside we were warmly greeted by the staff and sat at a roomy table.  The inside has lots of natural wood and really looked nice.  The menu had just enough choices and I settled on a 3 egg omelet with ham & cheddar cheese with home fries while dad had the french toast with fresh fruit and bacon (which was really for me since he doesn’t eat meat).  Everything was delicious, in particular the bacon was quite outstanding, it just had a really good flavor.  After breakfast we wandered around the property to check out some of the other buildings, which included an old store/post office and two single story buildings with hotel rooms, some of which have been renovated and some that are still being worked on.  We will definitely be back for breakfast and hopefully other meals when they start serving them. Once my belly was full it was time to head back to the house and get some work done.

View of the Park Vista Restaurant with some low clouds

View of the Park Vista Restaurant with some low clouds

While construction has been underway dad has been making very frequent trips to the house, so he’s been regularly mowing the grass and doing work outside so there wasn’t too much that needed to be done, but we managed to find enough to do to occupy us for most of the day.  I started off on the riding mower, mowing the lower grass area between the road and the creek.  When that was done I made my way up to the apple orchard and some of the other areas we regularly mow.  While I was busy with that, dad started a burn pile to get rid of some of the brush and branches he had been collecting over many months.  Once I was finished with the mowing I took over watching the fire pit and getting all the brush burned.  It didn’t take too long for it all to be reduced to embers. After all the brush was gone and I sufficiently smelled like a campfire, our work for the day was over.  That meant it was time to play.  After surveying the food available at the house I managed to put together a pretty good dinner for us, we even decided to use the remains of the burn pit to cook some shrimp (safely enclosed in a foil packet).  We had been invited by our neighbors to a Pickin’ and Grinnin’ session in town and decided to check it out since we had never been to one before.  We arrived at a former restaurant and once we figured out which door to use were greeted by music.  There were about 6 people sitting around with instruments or singing and a crowd of about 30 or so people listening.  The musicians took turns leading songs and it was a mix of country, bluegrass and gospel.  Several people got up to line dance during the songs.  We even managed to get a swing dance and a waltz in while they were playing, which was fun even if we were a bit rusty.  Overall it was really enjoyable and I’m sure we’ll go back.

Dad getting the burn pit started

Dad getting the burn pit started

Getting ready to mow

Getting ready to mow

Sign on the door at Pickin' and Grinnin'

Sign on the door at Pickin’ and Grinnin’

Since we completed our work on Friday that meant that Saturday was a play day (though we did do a tiny bit of work, but more on that later).  Prior to our trip I had been checking out various events that were happening that weekend at the state parks nearby & came across a hike scheduled for Saturday morning at Mount Jefferson State Park.  I like to get in at least one hike whenever I’m in the mountains and this one was perfect because it was on a new trail they’re building and it was National Trails Day, so of course we had to hike.  We drove up the mountain and waited at the first overlook for the park ranger who would be leading the hike and it ended up just being dad, me & the ranger.  The trail is still partially under construction and not marked yet, so it was especially cool to get to hike on it.  The ranger was really knowledgeable and we did learn some information that will be useful for our own trail building activities.  I’m looking forward to hiking the completed trail and in the meantime will be glad to lead anyone on a secret hike 🙂  After hiking we headed down the mountain and made our way to the Farmer’s Market to see what the vendors had that day.  By this time I had worked up an appetite so I was ready for some lunch before continuing on with some shopping.  We decided on one of our favorite lunch spots, Sweet and Savory Bakery & Deli.  I think my favorite thing about going there is the sides that they offer and the fact that there is usually some type of “fluff” available.  On this particular day it was Orange Fluff so of course that’s what I ordered to go with my chicken salad.  After refueling I headed down the street to visit another favorite spot of mine for clothes shopping, Sophia Grace, to check out what new things they had in stock.  And of course I left with a couple of new items.  We then had some of the usual errands to run, trip to Wal-Mart, trip to Lowe’s, took a visit out to a furniture store to look at a couch before making our way back to the house.  We were leaving earlier than usual on Sunday so I could get back for my 1 year old goddaughter’s birthday party Sunday afternoon, so our option for church was to go on Saturday evening.  That meant a return trip to town and dinner in town afterwards.  With limited options we ended up at Boondocks and since it was such a nice evening we chose to sit outside on the Boondeck.  As usual the food was great and it was nice to sit outside and watch the happenings on the street.  The one piece of work we did have to accomplish was to plant an apple tree that one of our neighbors gave us.  It was still light out when we returned from dinner so we had plenty of time to get it in the ground.  While we were working on planting it, I took the time to do a thorough check of our other trees and we have lots of apples!  It’s going to be a good year for our little orchard, which we hope to expand this fall.  Maybe someday we’ll have our own cider works…

more apples!

more apples!

One of our apple trees, can't wait for these to ripen!

One of our apple trees, can’t wait for these to ripen!

And just like that our trip came to an end 😦  Hopefully in my next post will be to share with you details and pictures of the finished house!  It’s getting sooo close!

Daisies are in bloom

Daisies are in bloom

Posted by: SoccerGirl | February 18, 2015

Snow day like today for an update…

As promised, I am trying to be better about posting updates this year.  We got a mix of snow/sleet/freezing rain Monday night and Tuesday morning, so I’m hanging out at home and thought it’d be the perfect time for an update on construction.  I was last up at the house over MLK, Jr. weekend, when the weather was considerably less cold and less snowy than it is currently.  I knew after that weekend it would be awhile before I would be able to get back up there because of soccer season starting up.

View of the house from across the field

View of the house from across the field

The most exciting update from my last trip was the completion of the timber framing on the front porch.  Our builder, George took on this project and the end result is absolutely beautiful.  Starting around early December there were beams sitting inside the house that he was using to frame the porch.  He fit and assembled everything inside and then once it was completed put it in place on the porch.  Everyone will definitely know this is the front door of the house!  Other notable work done on the house includes completion of the stone work around the foundation and on the chimney.TimberframePorch

In addition to observing the work done on the house since my last visit, we also had some fun while we were up there.  We had the chance to have dinner with our neighbors and a couple of friends at the usual spot in town, Boondocks, on Saturday night.  Since it was a holiday weekend I was able to stay until Monday, along with dad (mom unfortunately had to go back to work).  We took advantage of the warmer than normal weather and abundant sunshine to go for a hike.  We decided to hike at the New River State Park 221 Access on the River Run trail, which we had started to hike a few years ago, but had to stop because we got caught in a major downpour.  We thought it would be a good hike for this time of year because the brush would be gone so we could see the river.  It was a pretty easy trail, relatively flat for a good portion, but then it did start climbing from the river’s edge up the valley to the park road.  We completed the loop by hiking on another trail to get back to the parking lot.  Along the way we saw quite a few birds darting in and out of the low brush and a lone deer.  We also checked out the remains of a building near the trail, only the chimney remained and a few stones marking the outline of the building.

Looking from the back of the chimney towards the New River

Looking from the back of the chimney towards the New River

After our hike we returned home and began the process of packing up and cleaning before heading back East.  Of course along the way home we had to stop at one of our favorite spots for lunch, Little Richard’s BBQ in Yadkinville. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Work of course has continued on the house, with the shingles being added to the roof.  Skylights put in place on the porch, outdoor fireplace mantle and flooring for the interior waiting to be installed.  More updates to follow as work progresses…

Posted by: SoccerGirl | January 1, 2015

Catching Up

Happy New Year!  I resolve to be better about posting blog entries in 2015 🙂

In my last post I concluded by sharing the news that we were getting ready to build the main part of the house and that I would have more frequent updates, well…at least it only took me 5 months instead of 12 to write this post!

When I left the mountains in the summer it looked like this:

View of the Garattage from July

View of the Garattage from July

And when I returned at Thanksgiving it looked like this:

View of the Garattage in November

View of the Garattage in November

Just a little bit different, huh?

It has been really exciting to watch the building process this time around since we have webcams in the Garratage, it’s like we’re right there while everything is happening.  Of course once the walls were closed in the view got really boring…

Anyway, including Thanksgiving I’ve made three trips up to the house and had a few adventures each time.  We decided to have Thanksgiving dinner (or lunch) as the case may be here at home, well we actually didn’t have it at home, we went to a restaurant in Chapel Hill, City Kitchen, for an awesome Thanksgiving buffet.  After filling our bellies with the deliciousness of the buffet, mom, dad & I headed west to the mountains.  This was my first time being able to see the new house, since duties as a soccer coach and other travels kept me away.  It was awesome to turn on our road and see the house up on the hill.  After bringing in our stuff, I wanted to immediately take a tour of the house despite the impending darkness and need for a flashlight.  On Friday, mom and I headed in to town to do some errands and while there we were a little hungry, so we decided to stop in to the People’s Drug Store and check out their lunch counter.  We found two stools at the counter itself and after looking over the menu settled on chicken salad, egg salad, sweet potato fries and onion rings.  The portions of each were just the right size for a lunch, not massive, but enough to satisfy our hunger and hold us until dinner.  Friday night we were joined by Dan, Debi & Jake so the whole family could enjoy time together for the weekend.  On Saturday we did our part to support Small Business Saturday visiting the shops in town and buying a few things here and there 🙂

A walk through the woods

A walk through the woods

My second trip was the weekend right after Thanksgiving.  A friend and I decided to sign up to run a 5K in town, since we hadn’t done one here and thought it would be fun.  It was the Christmas Tree 5K sponsored by the local Lions Club, so we knew that it was for a good cause.  Unlike the previous weekend, the weather was not going to be ideal.  Driving up on Friday night we were expecting rainy and foggy conditions, which fortunately didn’t happen until we were almost to the house.  With the iffy weather we debated about not running the race, but ultimately decided to make the best of it and just go.  It was cold and cloudy when we started, but the rain held off until the last quarter mile or so.  This was definitely the smallest race we had ever run, maybe 40 people were there.  I had looked at the course ahead of time and knew it would be hilly, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how hilly it would be, especially since they changed part of the route from what was originally posted!  We still managed to finish in a respectable time despite the hilliness and enjoyed seeing the Girls on the Run participants as well as the awarding of Christmas Trees to the winners (and the person who came in last place).  We had a chance to visit the Farmer’s Market while in town and returned later to do some shopping at some of my favorite places.  Of course on Sunday when we were getting ready to leave the weather was perfect and not rainy at all, which always makes it much harder to leave.  Since it was so nice we did take a little walk around the property on some of our trails and even made a trail of our own across the old Christmas trees on one of the hills.  We decided to take a little side trip on our way home and visit McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks.  I had purchased a bottle of their cider the previous weekend at Carolina Country Wine and after doing some research discovered their location was more or less on the way home.  We arrived at the tasting room and were able to taste their wine and their hard cider.  We both ended up purchasing some wine and growlers of their limited edition Apple Cranberry Hard Cider.  I think we may have found a new favorite winery/ciderworks!

Trip number three was just recently over the Christmas Holiday.  Mom, dad and I decided to go up on Christmas Eve during the day, which was a great plan, as there was not too much traffic, but the weather was less than ideal, with rainy/foggy conditions for our whole trip.  We arrived safe and sound though and got to the business of unpacking, checking out what was new in the house & making dinner.  Christmas morning we went to church and although we were greeted by sunshine, we were also greeted by cold and a lot of wind, which made it feel even colder than it was.  After church we needed a little something to snack on when we got back to the house, but being a small town and Christmas the only place open was the little Corner Market, which we knew from my brother’s experience the previous Christmas makes doughnuts fresh everyday.  We picked up half a dozen doughnuts and headed home to see what Santa had brought us.  Since it was just the three of us, we invited our closest neighbors over for dinner and enjoyed an excellent meal and good conversation.  Friday brought sunshine and warmer temps plus the opportunity to head in to town and do some shopping (you may notice this has been a theme of all three of my visits).  First though we had to take a little detour to Boone because when we tried to leave the house, my car battery was dead & we had to jump start it.  After that little adventure, we stopped by a couple of antique stores before meeting up with some friends in town for dinner and drinks.  Saturday brought another sunshiny, warm day, which I took advantage of by going for a run & then going for a hike with dad.  We debated about where to go, but settled on part of the Mountains to Sea Trail that runs along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We decided to hike a section and have mom pick us up at a designated time and location.  The trail itself was great, not very challenging, but interesting to see how the vegetation changes and the weather was beautiful!  We made it to our destination in the time we estimated and plan to hike another section in the near future.  We ended up going to church Saturday night and had dinner in town before heading back to the house for our last evening before leaving for home on Sunday.  Since we had so much stuff to take up this trip, we took two cars & on the way home I made a detour to McRitchie so I could re-stock my cider supplies 🙂  It was a great way to end a relaxing few days of vacation and I look forward to my next trip, hopefully not too far in the future.

Post-Christmas Hike completed!

Post-Christmas Hike completed!

Post-Christmas Hike Completed!

Post-Christmas Hike Completed!

Beautiful day on the Parkway

Beautiful day on the Parkway

Posted by: SoccerGirl | July 25, 2014

Summer in the Mountains

I think Summer has become my favorite time to visit the mountains.  Not only can I spend some extra time there since I’m not working during the summer, it is always a great escape from the heat here at home.  We can pretty much count on it being at least 10 degrees cooler up there and at night the temperatures are perfect for sleeping with the windows open.

My first extra long visit over the summer was Father’s Day weekend.  We headed up in two cars for the weekend, Dad, Debi, Jake & I went up early in the day on Friday and Mom followed later since she had to work.  As usual after we got up to the house, dad went to work mowing the grass, while Debi & I relaxed around the house.  Once mom arrived we had some dinner and just hung out.  Saturday morning Dad was of course up early and out working, while the rest of us slept in and enjoyed a lazy morning.  Once we were all up we headed in to town to visit the Farmer’s Market, some of the shops downtown & one of the yard sales that is held regularly just outside of town.  One of the shops I try to visit each time I’m in town is a small clothing store called Sophia Grace/Anna Creek.  They always have really cute stuff and I seem to find at least one new thing each time I visit!  Before we left town for the yard sale we had to refuel and stopped for a bite at one of the great places to eat, Sweet and Savory, they have delicious sandwiches and very tempting desserts.  Some how we were able to resist the sweets on this trip, though I did have some Raspberry Fluff as my side of choice  🙂  After our day of shopping we made our way back up the mountain and collected dad to have some dinner.  We heard about a new place that opened up in Jefferson and decided to give it a try.  Coyote Kitchen has a location in Boone and now was open much closer to us.  In looking over the menu it was pretty perfect for us because of their large selection of vegetarian options to appeal to dad and gluten free options to appeal to me.  It was so nice to be able to order a burger and eat it on a bun since they had gluten free buns, something I definitely miss often.  Everyone enjoyed their meals and we all agreed that we would be back to try more.  One thing that was notable about this visit was the abundance of daisies that were blooming around the house.  They went crazy this year and it was hard to believe that they’re all just wildflowers.  As I have said before it’s always special to come up to the house and see what’s in bloom.

Daisies along the walkway

Daisies along the walkway

Daisies along the front of the house

Daisies along the front of the house

We also discovered that our bird houses were being used, and there were even babies in one that we had to relocate to the back of the house.  Both houses have different types of birds living in them, which is interesting since they’re supposed to be for bluebirds.  We also had birds build a nest under the eaves, above a wasp nest, which has never happened before.  Sadly the bird house down in the orchard had been cleaned out when we arrived.  This has happened a couple of times before & we’re not quite sure what (or I guess who)  is responsible.  We hope that by putting an additional latch on it, the birds will still be able to use it and not be evicted prematurely.

Bird nest under the eaves

Bird nest under the eaves

Baby birds

Baby birds

One of our bird nests

One of our bird nests

The next trip I was able to take was just a few weeks later over July 4th weekend.  This time dad & I went up first (with me driving), on Thursday afternoon, and mom followed on Friday afternoon.  On our way up we stopped for dinner in Wilkesboro, trying out a new place that’s right along 421, Cagney’s Kitchen.  Walking in, the building itself was rather large and most of the tables were filled.  The waitress was very friendly and the menu had a little bit of everything, so there were plenty of options.  Dad decided on a fish sandwich with homemade chips and I had the Chicken Monterray, which came with two sides (btw, they include banana pudding as a side option).  They also serve breakfast all day, something that’s always nice to keep in mind.  The food came out quickly and we both enjoyed our meals, leaving nothing behind.  This is a place we would stop at again.  As soon as we got up to the house and unloaded the car, dad was outside cutting grass, and I was hanging out inside.  Friday morning we decided to go for a hike since the weather was perfect.  There are numerous options for hiking around the garattage, but we went up the Parkway to Doughton Park and took on one of the many trails there.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to hike the whole trail (it was 5 miles one way), but using the directions on the park map, we pulled in to an overlook, found the trail, and headed down for a 3 hour round trip hike.  It was very windy when we first got out of the car, but once we were down the mountain the wind died down and we had a nice, shady hike through the forest and along the ridge.  The trail was pretty easy on our way down, coming back though we realized it wasn’t quite as flat as we had thought…it was definitely a workout.  Of course this workout required sustenance upon completion, so on our way back to the garattage we stopped for lunch at Freeborne’s which also gave me the chance to catch some of the World Cup games.  Back at the house dad continued his grass cutting and I joined in using the riding mower.  Once all our chores were finished for the day it was time to relax and wait for mom to arrive.  Once she arrived we had to make a decision about dinner, whether to stay in or go out somewhere.  The weather was so nice and it was so hard to move off of the chairs outside, but eventually our decision was made for us when we discovered that the power was out, so dinner out it was!  We knew that West Jefferson would be pretty crowded because of the Christmas in July Festival, so we decided to go someplace in Jefferson which would be less crowded.  We were right when we arrived at Coaches Sports Grill and we were the only ones there.  We’ve been there several times and always enjoyed the food, this trip though made us a little worried that they may not be doing so well.  Between lack of people and being out of several items, things just seemed different from when we had been there before.  I hope that they continue to do well and provide another dining option in the area.  We finished our night stopping by some friends’ house for dessert before heading home and watching fireworks over the mountains in the distance.

Fourth of July at Freeborne's

Fourth of July at Freeborne’s

photo 3

Christmas in July Festival

Saturday provided the opportunity to head in to West Jefferson for the annual Christmas in July festival.  We got a bit of a later start than we had planned, which made it harder to find a parking place.  It has been several years since we’ve seen so many people in town for the festival.  As much as we don’t like the crowds, it was great for the local businesses and the various vendors that were set up.  After wandering through the vendor area, buying a few things, and grabbing some snacks of ice cream and kettle korn it was time to run some errands at our usual spots of Lowe’s and Wal-Mart.  By this time we were all hungry and decided to go back to the Coyote Kitchen.  It was just as good as our first visit, but this time was made even better by the fact that they had a gluten free strawberry cake on the menu.  It was delicious and a real treat since I don’t get to have cake very often.  They also have really good sangria, which I had tried the first time we visited and mom had again this time.  I think I may have found my new favorite restaurant in town!

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful.  On Sunday mom had to drive back home since she had to be at work on Monday, but Dad and I were able to stay over and drive back on Monday.  We spent part of our Sunday afternoon working in the apple orchard clearing the weeds out from around the trees and inspecting the trees.  When we were up in April I fertilized the trees and they are doing great, of course that also encouraged all the weeds to grow up around them & removal was quite a task, but a definite improvement.  We also have several trees producing apples!  One was loose on a tree so Dad picked it, but alas it was definitely not ripe yet.

One of our apples

One of our apples

Monday was actually a big day for the mountain house…we’re expanding!  Plans have been drawn up, permits acquired, contracts signed and we’re finally ready to build the main house!  So you can expect many more updates as construction progresses, since more frequent trips will be made and reports will be coming in.  This week they started working on digging out the crawlspace, and of course since we have our web cams, we’re able to watch the whole process live!  Hopefully my next post will be much sooner than it took for me to write this one…until then friends.

Groundbreaking Ceremony

Groundbreaking Ceremony

Posted by: SoccerGirl | July 16, 2013

Here Comes the Rain Again

Ever think that your life should have a theme song?  Well the week of 4th of July I felt like our theme song was “Here Comes the Rain Again” by the Eurythmics, because it just rained and rained and rained while we were up in the mountains.  Now, we did know ahead of time that there would be rain, but I don’t think any of us was prepared for exactly how much rain we got.  We’re talking at least 10 inches of rain in the course of a week.  We’re used to hardly any rain in NC during the summer and things take on a slightly brownish tinge, no worries of a drought this summer!

Normally our mountain trips are full of outdoor activities: mowing the grass, weeding, hiking, target practice, walking, strolling around town.  This trip however was a little different.  My dad went up on the Sunday before the 4th so he could mow the grass, which was perfect timing because starting on Monday (or maybe it was later Sunday) the rain came down.  This was bad timing for my brother & sister-in-law since they were driving up Monday night and ran into the heaviest rain to the point where they weren’t sure they would make it to the house because the road us partially washed out.  Fortunately they have a tall SUV and were able to make it.  Mom and I headed up on Tuesday and had to go through a driving rainstorm about an hour into our trip.  We had planned to take the convertible, but given the uncertain weather conditions it was decided it would be better to drive my small SUV.

Since we couldn’t spend much time outside we found other ways to occupy our time.  On Wednesday Dan, Debi and I headed up to VA to check out some thrift stores in Independence and Galax.  We found some good stuff and also managed to stop for lunch at a great BBQ place called The Galax Smokehouse, which was the perfect spot for a rainy day lunch.  After a day of shopping we headed home via the Blue Ridge Parkway where we got our wildlife sightings in for the day.  We saw 2 deer, 2 wild turkeys, a rabbit and a turtle.  We stopped on the side of the road to check out the turtle because he was quite a large fellow.  That night we all went into town for dinner at one of our new favorites, Boondocks Brewing Tap Room, which not only has a great beer selection but also great food.  In fact we would return there for lunch on Saturday.

Thursday the 4th brought more rain and we spent the day hanging around inside, amusing ourselves with TV, our computers/tablets and books/magazines.  Unfortunately Dan & Debi had to head home, so we bid them farewell and continued to watch the rain.  Since it was so rainy and cloudy there weren’t many fireworks going off around the house.  In the past we have seen some pretty good ones in the distance over the mountains, but I guess rain changes all that, so it was a quiet night.

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Thought it was so cool that a rainbow appeared up in the clouds, if anything at least we got to see some cool clouds this week

Friday brought, surprise, more rain in the morning, but around noon the sun came out!  At first we thought it was a tease, but it stayed out for like 5 whole hours!  Mom, Dad & I took advantage of this dry, sunny time to head in to town, grab some lunch, and stroll around.  We knew that it would be crowded in town because of the holiday weekend and the Christmas in July festival that started Friday night.  We ended up at the newest restaurant to open, The Hotel Tavern, which we found out from our waitress, had just opened on Wednesday with a partial menu.  We had heard a lot about the place and knew it was in the former Brick Stone Pizza location, so we were curious as to how the inside would look.  Immediately walking up we could see improvements to the patio area, which is a great place to sit when the weather is nice and when there’s music at the Backstreet Park.  Inside you could smell the new wood that had been used in the renovations.  We were led to one of the dining rooms, which used to be the entrance to the pizza place, but now sported comfortable banquette seating and wainscoting.  Several times we heard the staff explain to others that this room could be closed off for private functions, which is nice to know.  While the food took a little while to arrive (new kitchen and all) everything we had was good and we look forward to going back and trying more of their menu items.  After lunch it was still nice enough for us to wander along the shops and of course stop for an ice cream treat at Good Ol’ Days before walking back to the car and making our requisite trips to Lowe’s and Wal-Mart.  Since the rain actually let up and the sun came out I was able to get some pictures in, turns out this was the only day I took pictures the whole week.

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Saturday we knew that we were planning on going into town for the Christmas in July Festival as long as the weather was ok.  It was pretty nice when we got up, so we figured it was best to go ahead and get ready and make our way in to town before the rain came back.  We met up with some friends and wandered among the booths of craftspeople, looking for a few items, but mostly just seeing what there was to see.  After checking out all the booths it was time for lunch and as I mentioned before we ended up back at Boondocks.  Since we weren’t hanging around for any of the music performances we headed back home for a little while.  Dad decided since the weather was still ok he would mow the grass again (it had grown that much in just a week) but mom and I decided we were going to check out the closest shopping opportunities to the house, the Northwest Trading Post on the Parkway and Greenhouse Crafts in Glendale Springs.  Both are places we have been before, but there are new owners for the Trading Post and it had been awhile since we had been to either place.  While we were shopping we figured out what we were making for dinner and that we needed to run back to town and get a few things from the grocery store for dinner as well as some movies from Redbox.

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Dad decided he needed to leave on Sunday afternoon to be back at work on Monday, but mom and I weren’t quite ready to leave yet so we decided to stay and come home on Monday.  Sunday was mostly a rain free day, that is until mom & I decided to go in to town and get pedicures.  When we left the house all was ok, but as we got closer to town the clouds got darker and darker, then the rain came pouring down, we could hear the thunder and see the lightning.  Fortunately the nail place has very close parking so we didn’t get too wet on our way inside.  Since we were in town anyway, we figured we should grab dinner somewhere, which can be a little tricky on a Sunday night.  We thought about going over to Boone, or down to North Wilkesboro, but since it was still quite rainy decided to stay close and try out another place we hadn’t been to yet, Casa Garcia.  Pulling in to the parking lot we weren’t sure they were open, because there was only one car close by, but the sign said they were open so we took our chances.  The food was quite good, probably one of the better American Mexican places I have been to and the prices were very reasonable.  It did start filling up once we were there, and was busy when we left.

Monday morning arrived and of course it was the most beautiful day we had!  The sun was shining, there was no rain, and we were planning on going home.  If you want something to make you less motivated to leave the mountains, a beautiful, sunny day will certainly do it.  We did take advantage of the great weather to do some planting.  We had bought new lavender and rosemary plants and needed to get them in the ground along with some sunflowers we were trying to start from seed.  While I planted, mom enjoyed some time relaxing in the sun.  We debated not going home until Tuesday but decided we should go ahead and clean up and pack up.  We really delayed as long as possible and didn’t end up leaving until 5:00, so I think we took pretty good advantage of the nicest day of our trip.

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Posted by: SoccerGirl | December 31, 2012

Christmas in the Mountains

So the last post I wrote was about summer time and somehow here I am writing about Christmas…where did the time go?  It was a busy fall, which unfortunately meant very few mountain trips were made.  But with Christmas comes time off from school, which means time to head to the mountains!

Since we built the garattage we have always headed up after Christmas, but this year we decided we wanted to be there on Christmas, so on the 23rd we all packed up and headed west.  Mom, Dad and I arrived first, after an early morning start and the surprising discovery of a nail in one of our tires when we made a pit stop.  Fortunately it was wedged in pretty well and the tire didn’t seem to be losing any air, so we continued on our way.  After the usual taking stock of what we had in the house and getting everything set up, mom and I made the customary run in to town for supplies and a few last minute Christmas items.  We made the rounds of Wal-Mart, Lowe’s & Ingles and after a couple of hours were back home.  As we pulled back in the driveway we were greeted by dad and Jake out for a walk.  We settled in for the evening with Dan making us dinner which was delicious as usual.

Our mini-tree, perfect size for the mountains (we have plenty of big trees outside!)

Our mini-tree, perfect size for the mountains (we have plenty of big trees outside!)

Since Monday was Christmas Eve and quite a foggy day we spent our time hanging out at the house, minus a run in to town by Dan & Debi for a few things so Dan could make some Gingerbread cookies.  While they were gone, mom & I took some time to make another cookie batter, for French Cookies, a traditional cookie that my mom’s family makes.  They look like mini waffles and are made 2 at a time in a special waffle iron heated on the stove.  It’s just not Christmas time without them.  Since the batter had to chill for awhile, we saved the cookie making for the next morning.  When Dan returned he got busy making gingerbread men, he even made a glaze to put on top,  They turned out very good and we all happily ate them for dessert that night.  We decided we were going to church on Christmas Eve, so about 3:30 we headed in to town since we thought the church would be quite crowded for 4:30 mass.  Turns out it was not the popular mass we thought it was going to be.  We arrived a little before 4 and were the only car in the parking lot, it almost seemed like there was no mass going on.  Soon though another car pulled up and we went inside.  The church was decorated very nicely for Christmas, with a beautiful tree right up front covered in white lights.  After church we went back home and enjoyed a low key dinner of minestrone soup, salad and cornbread.  As we munched on our Gingerbread men we enjoyed watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (classic 1960s version) before heading to bed to await Santa’s arrival 🙂

Santa will be needing Rudolph to make it through this!

Santa will be needing Rudolph to make it through this!

Christmas morning we woke up to bright sunshine, presents under the tree and stockings filled-hung by the roaring TV fire courtesy of Netflix:)  Since we are just a bit older there wasn’t a rush to open presents and we were all moving at our own pace getting up and ready.  I started my morning by making the French cookies since the batter was well chilled.  Once we were all gathered and ready we opened our presents, with some assistance from Jake the dog who was anxious to remove any wrapping paper for us.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing and hanging out together before we all headed home on Wednesday.  There were a few activities for the day, a little target practice with Dad and Dan, Dad and I took a hike across our neighboring properties, and the annual Christmas Vacation viewing as well as The Grinch (cartoon version).

View of the grattage from across the way

View of the garattage from across the way

Wednesday morning we were greeted with rain once again and the possibility of sleet/freezing rain/snow, so we decided to quickly pack our things up and make our way home.  Before we left we were treated to a brief snow shower, which was nice to see especially since it lasted only a brief time and didn’t interfere with our travel.  It’s always just a little bit easier to leave when the weather isn’t bright and sunny.

Posted by: SoccerGirl | June 12, 2012

Unofficial Start to Summer

Even though technically summer doesn’t start until near the end of June, Memorial Day weekend is known as the unofficial start to summer, especially for me as a teacher, since my students are finished with their exams and all I have left are a few workdays to wrap things up and then I am officially on summer vacation.  We took off for the mountains as soon as I was free to leave school on Friday.  Since this was a bit later of a departure than usual, we knew that we would need to come up with a plan for dinner that didn’t involve cooking.  We settled on stopping in Yadkinville and trying out Yadkin Valley Seafood, which always seems crowded each time we pass by.  We were a little wary that we might have to wait since it was Friday night, but we were seated right away and our waitress brought a basket of hush puppies when she came to the table to greet us.  The menu featured the typical fried seafood items as well as some broiled selections.  Everything we ordered was good, and the portions were definitely large, both Dad & I had shrimp left over that we took with us.  One of the nice things about traveling west this time of year is the fact that it doesn’t get dark until later, so you don’t feel the need to rush to get up the mountains before darkness and possible fog set in.  Upon reaching the driveway, we were greeted by the latest wildflowers to appear, the daisies,  they seem more abundant this year and were even growing in the middle of some of the plants right by the house.  Even though it was still light outside when we arrived it was a little on the late side so we didn’t do any work, just the usual unpacking and opening up of the house, there would be plenty of time for work the rest of the weekend.

Saturday was our main work day on this trip.  Item number one of course was the grass mowing.  Dad, as usual took charge of that and once he was finished with his part I took over and did my usual part around the orchard and down in to the woods.  While I was out mowing dad showed be an animal skeleton that they had found on their last trip.  It was really well intact, and being the science teacher that I am, I had to take pictures.  I think it is a raccoon, but am not 100% sure.

The animal skull we found (click to enlarge)

While we were out working our neighbors who had come up from Florida in their RV stopped by for a visit and invited us over for dinner that night.  We decided to just spend the day around the house since we didn’t need anything from town and the weather was too nice not to spend time outside.  We were able to break out the chairs, chaise lounge, and umbrella to enjoy the weather and watch the birds that have made their nests in our bird houses.

A new bird trying to take over the house? (click to enlarge)

Once our work was done for the day, dad & I decided to take a walk up to the parkway, which was a pretty pleasant walk and gave us a chance to see things along the road that we don’t usually get to notice in the car.  We even got a chance to visit up close with some cows and horses along the way.

One of the horses on our walk (click to enlarge)

It was about a 3 mile round trip walk and by the time we got back to the house it was time to get ready for dinner.  We enjoyed a very nice dinner with our neighbors and their two golden retrievers.  While we were sitting at the table a wild turkey decided to make an appearance in the meadow, causing the dogs to chase after it.  Apparently the turkey was not too bright, because it kept walking back and forth into the open meadow tempting fate, which provided some good entertainment for both the dogs and us.

Sunday was our day for an adventure.  It started out like a typical Sunday for us, with a trip in to town for church.  We then went to explore new places.  I had read about a restaurant that opened a few years ago near Todd, which is on the opposite side of the county from us, and decided this would be a good weekend to go check it out for brunch.  It’s called the Riverside Restaurant at Brownwood and is in a historic building right beside the New River.  We thought it might be a bit crowded since there were a number of cars in the parking lot, but we walked right in and found a place to sit.  The menu featured typical breakfast fair and we soon decided on our dishes.  Our food ended up taking awhile, since as the waitress explained they only have one chef who wants everything to be perfect.  Once our food came everything was perfect, and delicious.  I had ordered a sausage and egg biscuit, which was quite large.  Dad had blueberry pancakes, which I sampled a bit of, and Mom had poached eggs along with biscuits and gravy.

Riverside Restaurant (click to enlarge)

We left full and ready to continue on our adventure.  Before we got too far though we paused for a photo opportunity of a really cool barn with a Barn Quilt hung on one side.  I think the picture turned out quite lovely.

The Barn

There’s an elk in Banner Elk! (click to enlarge)

The main goal of our Sunday trip was to go to Banner Elk for their Herb Festival.  I had read about it in the paper before the weekend and knew that mom wanted to add some more herbs to our garden, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity and a chance to visit someplace new.  It’s about an hour drive from our house to Banner Elk, passing through Boone and several small towns along the way.  The drive was broken up a bit though since we left from the restaurant in Todd.  We arrived in Banner Elk and easily found the festival location.  They had quite a few vendors set up selling crafts as well as tables of herbs.  After picking out some for the garden, and picking out a Catnip plant for my cat we wandered through the other vendors and then made our way back to the car.  After a stop at Lowe’s (a trip to the mountains wouldn’t be complete without it!) we headed back toward home.

A suggestion was made to go by the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, which I had never been to.  There are actually two parts to the store: the original location, which has home goods, some clothing and shoes, and the Annex, which features the Candy Barrel and larger clothing/outdoor gear selection.  I managed to find a couple of things to buy at both locations and mom made sure we had a candy supply courtesy of the Candy Barrel and their $6.99/pound assortment of candies.  Overall it was a fun day and one of the few that we have spent almost completely away from the house & property.

Mom & I in front of the Mast general Store

Monday it was back to work for a little bit before heading for home.  On one of his previous visits, Dad had a load of mulch delivered to put on the back hill where we had some trees and bushes planted near the house.  Aside from the mowing, one of the other goals of this trip was to continue working on spreading the mulch.  On Saturday when Dad started digging around the pile he came across two salamanders that happened to make their home there.  He put them in a jar for me to take a look at before I released them back in to the wild.  When Monday rolled around and we hadn’t tackled the mulch pile yet, I decided to take on the task of weeding the area and putting the mulch down.  Pulling the weeds out was definitely the hardest part of the job, good thing I had a couple of shovels to help out.  While I was working on the mulch dad did some final mowing and mom worked on weeding another part of the hill.  They took a little break when our neighbors that live in the old farmhouse came up for a visit.  After awhile I had enough of working and decided it was time for some lunch and a shower.  Before long we were all packed, the house was closed up, and we were headed back East.

One of the salamanders dad found in the mulch pile

Posted by: SoccerGirl | May 25, 2012

Easter in the Mountains

Now that spring is in full swing, it makes it much easier to take trips up to the mountains, and for the first time we decided to spend the long Easter weekend there.  Mom, dad & I left on Friday morning and planned to come back sometime on Sunday since both mom & I had obligations on Monday morning.  We left a cool, cloudy Raleigh and made our way west.  It was supposed to be kind of a cloudy/rainy day in the mountains too, but by the time we arrived the sun was out and it was quite a nice day, although a little on the cool side.  Once we arrived it wasn’t long before we settled in to our usual routines.  Mom and I started thinking about what food and other things we needed for the weekend, while Dad started working outside.  The first order of business for him was cutting the grass for the first time this year.  He got the mower started and soon was mowing back and forth in front of the house.  While he was busy working, mom & I put together our shopping list and headed in to town for the customary trek to Wal-Mart.  After a few hours we returned home with our purchases and soon set about making dinner.

Saturday morning I, of course, slept in.  After eating a little something for breakfast I took my turn with the riding lawnmower and cut the grass around the orchard and down the road in to the woods.  The weather was so nice I felt like we needed to take advantage of it and get at least one hike in for the weekend.  There are several places we have been hiking around the area, but I always like to find somewhere new.  After a little bit of debate and estimate of how much time we had to spend hiking (we were having friends over for dinner), we decided on one of the trails at the New River State Park, Wagoner Rd access that we hadn’t hiked before, the Running Cedar Trail.  Dad had seen it when Debi & I took our eventful canoe trip ( see entry from Sept 2010 for details on that).  It was really an easy hiking trail, which led us away from the river, through the woods.  We even had to go through a couple of fences along the way.  One of the interesting sites along the hike was what we dubbed the “Trinity Tree” (appropriate for Easter weekend), which had a single trunk at its base, but then split in to 3 separate trunks.  I decided it was the perfect tree to climb up in and take a picture.  Of course I had to be careful to avoid the poison ivy vine growing up one side, one thing I have learned from my time outside: avoid any hairy vines!

Me sitting in the “Trinity Tree” (click to enlarge)

After our hike we headed back home to start dinner preparations.  We decided that since we would be driving back on Sunday we would have our Easter dinner on Saturday night.  Mom and I started making everything, while dad was in charge of getting the charcoal grill fired up, a feat that we have come to discover can be somewhat challenging.  We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and ended the night with a little Wii Wheel of Fortune fun.

One of my favorite sites each time we go up in the warm months is the return of the wildflowers!  One that stood out on this trip were these clumps of yellow flowers that lined the driveway almost like a hedge had been planted there.  We hadn’t noticed them before, Dad thought they were just weeds and wanted to pull them out, but  before he did that I tried to identify them online, without any luck.  Luckily, dad and I happened to mention them to one of our neighbors, who immediately knew their name: Creasy Greens.  Turns out they are edible and are very popular, especially in the winter time when not much else is growing.

Some of the Creasy greens growing along the road (click to enlarge)

While walking through the woods I noticed a good size field of Bluets in bloom around where dad & I built our bridges.  They are one flower I can easily identify thanks to a trip with the Museum of Natural Sciences to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Bluets blooming in the woods (click to enlarge)

Down in the orchard, our apple trees had also started blossoming, a welcome sight since it means that the fruit will be following!  We also discovered that a bird had finally made a nest in the house we provided by the orchard and there were eggs inside!

One of our apple trees with flowers! Fruit won’t be far behind (click to enlarge)

Bird eggs in the house by the orchard (click to enlarge)

Along the walkway from the driveway to the front door some of the flowers my mom planted were also in full bloom, their bright pink flowers attracting butterflies.  I look forward to seeing what new things are blooming the next time I go up!

A butterfly found some tasty flower

On Sunday morning we went in to town for church as usual and then decided to go out for breakfast.  After considering our options, we decided on one of our favorite breakfast spots, the Hillbilly Grill.  Breakfast was wonderful and we all left fully satisfied.  After breakfast it was time for a little work.  As you may remember from my last post, Dad & I started a little stream clearing project to get rid of dead vegetation around the creek at the bottom of our property.  This weekend I decided we needed to continue the project before the grass got too tall and it was too hard to reach the creek.   We may not have seen any crayfish this time, but we stumbled upon quite an interesting collection of trash partially buried along the banks fo the creek.  Among our finds, several bottles and various metal items, probably the most interesting of which were springs that were from a mattress that long ago disintegrated.  After working for a little over an hour or so we were ready to quit and start the packing and cleaning up process before leaving for home.  You can see in the pictures below the difference our efforts made.

Creek before phase 2

The creek after phase 2

The end of another fun and beautiful weekend once again came too soon as we pulled out of the driveway, as always looking forward to our next visit.

Posted by: SoccerGirl | April 11, 2012

Spring Break Escape!

The middle of March brings about one of my favorite times of the year…spring break!  For the second year in a row that meant an extended trip to the mountains.  Unfortunately mom had to work, so it was just dad and I to make the trip.  We went up on Friday afternoon, arriving just before dark.  After settling in for the evening I made some dinner and we watched some of the opening games of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament0we won’t talk about who won and who lost, but it was not a happy night.

Saturday morning dad was of course up early and outside, while I slept in.  We had several projects in mind for the weekend, so it wasn’t long before we started on our first one.  One of my ideas for a project was to clear out the creek at the bottom of the meadow by the driveway.  It isn’t a very big creek, usually you hear the water running, but just can’t see it very well when all the vegetation grows up around it.  Dad was a bit hesitant to clear it out because there is supposed to be a buffer around streams, but I won out and we set off down the hill, Wellies and tools in hand.  Armed with gloves, rakes, long handled clippers and a trash can to put the cuttings in we started our work.  To preserve the buffer around the creek as much as possible, I focused on only clearing out the dead vegetation.  Dad worked on clearing out rocks that were piled up from the driveway construction and pulling out trash, old fence posts and barbed wire.  At one point I heard something stir in the brush and saw a small flash of brown fur scurry for cover, a small mouse I assumed, it didn’t deter my work though, I pressed on.  Later as I was standing in the creek I saw a flash of reddish pink go by and before I realized it, a crayfish had swum past me.  If I had been paying closer attention I would have grabbed him, but I know to be on the lookout now!  We worked until we reached a tree one of the trees along the bank then headed inside, which turned out to be good timing, because no more than about 10 minutes had passed when it started pouring down rain.

Creek Before...(click to enlarge)

Creek After (click to enlarge)

Working in the creek (with my stylish pink Wellies)

Our afternoon plans involved a little educational opportunity and a visit to the other side of the county.  I am always looking for a bit of science education to include in our trips,and this time I saw there was a program on salamanders at Elk Knob State Park.  This was our first trek over to Elk Knob, which is located on the other side of the county from where we are, well technically it’s in the next county, but still it’s about a 45 minute drive from our house.  We made the drive over and arrived in the park office for the program.  When we got there no other cars were in the parking lot, but apparently everyone else heard we were going to be there and several more people showed up.  The ranger was very excited to have so many people there.  It was an interesting talk, I knew some of the stuff already since I teach about salamanders in my Zoology class, but I did learn some more specific information for NC.  While we didn’t have time to hike I am sure we will plan a return trip, especially since the park ranger said the views from the summit are amazing. After stopping to check on the house of some friends, we drove back towards town and talked about what to have for dinner.  We finally decided to try a place we hadn’t been before: Bantam Chef.  From the outside there’s nothing spectacular about it, stepping inside you immediately get the sense that this is an old school fast food place. Dad and I both ordered burgers along with drinks, I chose an order of tater tots and dad got onion rings.  Our total bill was $10, a pretty good deal for dinner for two.  Everything tasted good and overall it was a satisfying meal.  Since it was St. Patrick’s Day we decided to follow our dinner with a couple of Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s.  We needed to stop by Wal-Mart before heading home and as we were driving over there we were surprised by the appearance of a rainbow.  How perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!  Since we had been out and about I had my camera with me and snapped a bunch of pictures, none of which I think truly captured the beauty of the rainbow.  I decided that since we saw the rainbow, we should buy some lottery tickets…but alas, we didn’t win a thing.

Half of the Rainbow (click to enlarge)

Sunday morning we headed back in to town for church and the customary trip to Lowe’s.  We were contemplating building a second bridge across the creek, but the fact that it would have to 14-16 feet long, made us reconsider.  We decided to put off that project for awhile, at least until we could get the boards delivered.  We did get some additional gravel to use on the steps leading to the bridge though so it was not a wasted trip.  After fueling up on a homemade brunch of chocolate gingerbread pancakes and bacon, we set to work on the day’s projects.  Since the long bridge idea didn’t work out, dad decided to work on constructing a small bridge to go over a muddy drainage spot next to our original bridge.  He had a bunch of boards left over from other projects, so he started working with those to put it together.

Fog lifting on Sunday morning

While he worked on that, I worked on a painting project.  Awhile back we found a great table at one of the antique stores in West Jefferson, the only issue was that it was bright yellow, which was nice, but didn’t really go with our color scheme.  I set about sanding it a little and then priming to cover the yellow.  Of course, painting takes a awhile since you have to wait for it to dry before putting on the other layers, so I only got as far as priming it while we were there.  It is still a work in progress so I don’t have an after picture to post yet.  Dad also decided to work on perfecting his log steps to make them a little more even.  He searched out the perfect diameter trees and used the handy chainsaw to cut what he needed.  After a day of projects we relaxed with grilled steaks and a movie courtesy of Redbox (The Adventures of TinTin)

Table before (click to enlarge)

One of the best parts about this trip was not only the escape from all the pollen in the air back home, but the fact that we could stay an extra day and didn’t have to rush back on Sunday.

Monday morning we didn’t have too much to do.  Our main goal was to get the small bridge in place and finish up the steps.  Dad carted the wood down to the woods and once again I was in charge of nailing down all the boards.  This time I didn’t have quite as many to do, which was nice, but the boards themselves were thicker and also were laid on top of 4 supports so I had to use more nails.  I got all the boards laid in place and discovered that we were about half a board short.  We went ahead and nailed all the others down and will add the final board in at some point.  Once the work was done it was time to shower, clean up the house and leave.  We decided to leave from town, since we had trash & recyclables to drop off at the convenience center as well as a movie to return.  This also provided an opportunity to eat lunch before hitting the road.  We paid a visit to a place that we have been to many times –Smokey Mountain Barbecue to enjoy some  pork barbeque sandwiches.

The small bridge-minus one board (click to enlarge)

Dad and the bridges/steps (click to enlarge)

It was another fun trip to the mountains with projects mostly completed and lots of ideas for others on the horizon.

Monday morning fog & sun

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