Friday, August 31, 2012

Boogerman Loop

Who names these trails?  I can just imagine the comments we would have gotten if we had taken this trail 10-15 years ago!  But this was a nice relaxing one compared to climbing to the top of Mount LeConte.  And we picked the correct direction (counter-clockwise) to hike as far as the ups and downs went.
Start at the Caldwell Fork Trail - in the Cataloochee section of the park.

We hadn't gone far when we noticed this warning sign!
The sign was correct - the bridge was down!  But we decided to cross anyway.
Over the years the creek will get wider and deeper, and Michelle will always be indebted to Jeff for carrying her across!!!
Lots of shade!  It was a gorgeous day.
And the scenery was beautiful as well.
Final count - 6 people and 16 bridges.  This trail isn't nearly as popular as some others in the park!
Final step of any hike: highlighting the map to record that it's completed!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

Hike #2 - Alum Cave Trail - 10 strenuous miles (although we figured it was really 11 miles round-trip according to the signs we passed) - 18 bridges crossed and 168 people passed - It's a popular trail!

Making our way through Arch Rock
Beautiful views along the way
The best-dressed hikers color-coordinate their shoelaces and hairbands!
Alum Cave really isn't a cave but a bluff
Almost there!
We weren't expecting to see "civilization" at the top of the mountain!
We made it!!
Resting at the bluff on the way down
and taking a picture looking the other way.
Still smiling!
Beautiful Alum Cave Creek

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Albright Grove Loop Trail

Hike #1 for the week - Albright Grove Loop Trail which followed the Maddron Bald Trail to an "old-growth" forest.  (6.8 miles - moderate)
Ready for a pleasant stroll!
Beautiful scenery, quaint bridges, plenty of rest spots, and wonderful company - what more could you want?
"Old-growth" tree
The Willis Baxter Cabin
The Smokies are filled with beautiful rushing streams.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Camping can be Relaxing

Relaxing is only allowed AFTER you've set up camp!
AND used Dad's new tool to prepare wood for the fire.
Then you can relax by the campfire.
And put your engineering skills to use to make the best S'more possible.
Unless, of course, you like it charred.
Eating is always relaxing, no matter how the food's cooked.
Don't forget that playing video games is relaxing too!
And so is reading.
Ultimately, though, it doesn't get any better than just sitting and staring into the fire!

The Trip to North Carolina

There's always something interesting to see when you're traveling more than a few miles.  This time it was a helicopter being towed on a trailer, along with the usual road signs outside and sleeping kids inside.

We decided to take a small detour to southern Virginia so that Jeff could say hello to Aunt Holly, and Steven could say good-bye.  Holly still loves her purple room!  (That's her in the back waving to you all.)

We even managed to get "cousin" picture.

Steven, Jeff, Michelle, Shane, Nicole, Phillip
Holly's been working hard at improving her swimming skills.  We all went along so she could show them to us.  I was impressed with the fancy machine that helps her get into the water.

 And even more impressed with her walking, swimming, and breathing skills.
Afterwards we went back home for a wonderful brunch before heading off to the campground.  Thanks, Mom and Dad for a wonderful morning.  Maybe next time we'll be able to stay longer!

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's a Rainy Day!

The eye of Tropical Storm Isaac passed hundreds of miles to the west of us, but it's a big storm and we've been getting rain from the outer bands for almost 48 hours. That makes it the perfect day for staying inside and trying to get caught up on the computer!  So, here's a quick recap of our busy, eventful August.

It's hard to tell, but our canal is overflowing and our private island is no longer an island, but a lake.  
Doing something for the second year in a row makes it a tradition!  The kids were happy to satisfy Dad's desire to have dinner at Okeechobee Steakhouse as a reward for a summer of hard work.
We've loved having a house full of wonderful young adults.  We'll miss them as they go off to school and missions! 
There aren't any picnic tables at "Field of Dreams" park, so after quickly walking around the perimeter we tried another one for our lunch.
The "boat launch park" has a picnic table, and nothing else!
Once we were done with jobs and saying good-bye to friends, it was time for one last family camping trip.
We got home a week later at 4 AM and Steven was set apart by our stake president at 9 AM that same day!
For dinner that day we decided to use some McDonald's coupons before they expired, and that gave Steven the opportunity to finally try a  Cherry Berry Chiller, and for the rest of us to see where Jeff spent his summer working!
After that it was time to head to Utah to see these cuties in person!
So, it's been an eventful summer.  Now it's time to figure out our new routine, but hopefully it will include some time to share more detailed posts of these fun trips.  Enjoy your new school year, and stay dry!!