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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