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


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