So much good it is hard to include it all! In addition to the train ride, we loved—
- · Visiting the Amicalola Waterfall- the tallest cascading falls east of the Mississippi River. We had to descend over 600 steps to get the full experience, but it was worth it-- gorgeous!
- · Driving the “tail of the dragon”- a road famous (amongst motorcyclists, at least) for its 318 turns in 11 miles. Even in a minivan, Tim said it was fun to drive.
- · Hiking the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and seeing the amazing old growth forest. This was one of the 101 Things You Gotta See Before You’re 12 from one of our favorite books, so we added it to our vacation itinerary just so we could say we did it. It turned out to be a really cool opportunity to see some very majestic trees. It was also a nearly perfect mountain hike for a family- not too strenuous, not too long and we were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather to enjoy the sights all along the way.
|hiking through the old growth forest|
- · Strawberry picking- We could go strawberry picking at home in Florida but we never have and this was a sort of spur of the moment decision on a day we had other plans but weren’t sure the weather was going to cooperate. Looking at the cloudy gray sky, we scrapped the original plan and set off for the biggest apple orchard in Georgia. Since, it was waaaay too early in the year for apples, the orchard was offering strawberry picking along with a tour of the farm. The day turned out to be ideal- the clouds blew over and the sun came out and we thoroughly enjoyed tasting and picking strawberries in the bright green fields. Then we got the chance to visit the tasting room where Tim and I sampled some hard cider and the kids sampled some regular cider. We spent lots of money on treats and souvenirs and took a million pictures and a few days later, I made some delicious strawberry quick bread out of what was left of our bounty.
Not too much to report, our vacation was mostly good.
- · We did find three scorpions in our cabin. Only one of them was still alive at the time but it was still a little unnerving to know they were creeping about….
did not see a bear- or much other
wildlife for that matter. This
may have beenprobably was a very good thing really, but we were disappointed because the idea of coming face-to-face with a real live bear in his natural habitat sounded very cool.
- · On our last night, my oldest got a bit sick. She turned green, threw up once, and then, soon after, started feeling better. She was not quite back to normal when we left for home the next morning but as the day (and the drive) progressed she improved until she was feeling fine when we arrived home.
- · There was one other bad experience but I’ll share on that more later…..
And now, the anxiety—
Since everything on our week away was really pretty wonderful it seems there was no reason to have any anxiety at all and really, there wasn’t. Yet…. for some reason, I was hit with overwhelming irrational anxiety on more than one occasion even as we explored and enjoyed and experienced all the Blue Ridge Mountains had to offer. It was fun and I was joyful and grateful that we were on vacation but there was an unmistakable, unavoidable nagging feeling that something horrible could be lurking in our near future.
- It started with a casual conversation………..One day, as we walked in the woods with the children, Tim and I talked about a family he knew of who had recently lost their vacation cabin in the mountains of North Carolina to a fire. Their cabin, according to Tim, was much like the one we were staying in- tucked far back in the mountains, only accessible through a sometimes steep, always winding, one lane gravel road.
That cabin, once it started burning, had no hope. Emergency vehicles would not even attempt to get to it to extinguish the flames because it was not safe, or even possible, to get fire trucks out on those roads. It burned to the ground, thankfully with no one in it. Suddenly, our remote rental cabin seemed not quite so cozy.
|Our cabin- all made of wood!|
|The winding, one-lane, gravel road to our cabin|
|The steep driveway up to the cabin|
- Then that afternoon, we checked the weather channel to see what the rest of our week would be like and we heard of the horrible tornados that ripped through Oklahoma, leveling whole neighborhoods and killing innocent people. We saw footage from the storms’ aftermath and our hearts broke as we saw the devastation and destruction.
- It was not too long after that that a wicked storm hit. In the pitch black of the middle of the night, thunder boomed loudly overhead and streaks of lightning lit up the sky all around our little log house. I lay in bed for a while with visions of lightning strikes and out-of-control forest fires raging through the woods around us filling my over active mind. I pictured our van slowly rolling down the super steep driveway, gradually gaining momentum until it careened down the side of the mountain crashing violently into the creek at the bottom of the valley.
After that I had to get up.
I checked the car first, but it was sitting securely at the top of the driveway, not budging an inch even in the torrential rain and crazy thunder and lightning. I still couldn’t calm my fears or get those horrific images out of my head though. I turned the T.V. on and watched HGTV until the storm finally subsided and my heart stopped racing. It was after 2 a.m. when I finally drifted off to sleep, only to be plagued by strange dreams the rest of the night.
- Another day just as we set off for a day of fun, I had a minor panic attack prompted by the thought, “What if I forgot to turn off the stove after heating the water for my hot chocolate?!?!?!?!?!” There was no reason to believe that I had forgotten to turn off the stove but, for the life of me, I could not remember doing it. Tim was sure we would have noticed the burner being left on and we were far enough away from the cabin at that point that it would have been terribly inconvenient to go back to double check, so we didn’t. But the rest of that day, as we kept busy with touristy things, I had the nagging worry in the back of my mind—what if?!?!?!?! (Incidentally, when we did return to the cabin that evening, all was fine, the stove was off, the house still stood solid and safe).
I’m not sure where the anxiety came from- was it really just a product of my over-active imagination? Was it the devil attacking and trying to sabotage our week of family fun? Whatever the cause, I did my best not to let it ruin everything. After all, there was no reason to be worried, all was going so well….
at least, until our tubing adventure on the last day of our trip….(more on that tomorrow…)