Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Boone Bound

On my short list of things-to-do this summer was to take a family trip to Boone. It's only a two hour drive, but we thought it would be better to spend the night rather than cram everything into a day trip. Jesse and I spent our first four years together attending ASU. It is where we met, fell in love, and married. We've taken Jackson to Boone when he was an infant, but hadn't yet taken the triplets.

We began our journey with a trip to the park, in hopes of exhausting the kids before the long ride. It worked well since the babies were asleep before we got on the interstate. It was an easy drive with quiet, sleeping children. A college friend had graciously contacted me about giving us several  containers of formula she no longer needed. We met her off the interstate to pick up enough formula to last us the next 2-3 weeks (aka the one year mark! Did I really just write that?)  

The babies required a pit stop another hour later. It began to downpour, so they had a diaper change and bottle in the back of the van. 

Jesse and I used an Olive Garden gift card for lunch. It was our first restaurant outing as an entire family. Everyone was well behaved and fairly clean. Lunch began an unofficial 36 hour wheat and sugar binge for Jesse. I decided to be less restrictive, but still try to select the best option with each meal and refrain from wheat. As we were leaving the restaurant, it began to torrential downpour. The staff escorted us out individually with umbrellas.

Random fact: the couple in the background were awkward over-sharers. 

We arrived in Boone earlier than our hotel check-in time. With an hour to spare, we walked around ASU campus. Walking around campus was nothing like what I experienced as a student. We had to push strollers up and down ramps that were a quarter mile out of the way from the direct staircases.

The kids played in the library. As an elementary ed major, I spent a significant amount of time in the basement (aka children's literature section) of the ASU library. I never thought I would return to the carpet with big books and read to my own children.

We walked around King Street and surprised Jackson with a special treat at the Mast General Store. Jackson literally picked a piece of candy from every single barrel he could read. I followed behind him and put most of them back. We let him have a lot of freedom, but he was stocking up on licorice, gum, and other candies that he wouldn't eat.

Jesse found a cheap hotel the night before using a "flash discount" on Priceline. We usually stay at a very cheap hotel but it would not have been able to accommodate three cribs. Actually, the hotel we did stay at didn't even have three cribs available, even though we called ahead to request three cribs in our room. The hotel staff scurried around bringing up ancient cribs from the basement and a pack-n-play.

Attempting a nap was a lost cause. The babies were way too excited! We found out quickly that the hotel room was not baby proof. James pulled the batteries out of the carbon monoxide detector. The girls climbed on the cooler and dumped ice water out. Amelia smashed her fingers in the dresser drawer as she pulled up to stand. Lamp and telephone cords were beyond tempting. It was a mess!

After a failed attempt at downtime, we decided to have a picnic dinner on campus. I raided our pantry and refrigerator before leaving and thought ahead enough to bring the griddle for quesadillas and grilled cheese.

The plan was to have a picnic at Duck Pond and let Jackson feed the ducks. As soon we laid the blanket out and began to get settled, dozens of ducks aggressively approached us. We ended up feeding the ducks first, then finding a new picnic spot.

Jackson was initially scared, but he laughed when the ducks stole the bread directly from his fingers.

Despite grey clouds looming, we walked further from the van for a new dinner destination. We stopped to take silly pictures with Yosef, the bizzare Mountaineer mascot.

The rain held off while we ate dinner and played.

The big boys splashed in the creek,

while the babies and I checked out the gazebo.

James was so proud of himself for taking steps while holding onto the bench. I should probably start making the babies (especially James and Amelia) wear shoes.

We tested our luck by walking a bit further to the campus sign, where a random dog-walker took our picture. Ideally, we'll recreate this picture with the kids in their caps and gowns one day.

We escaped any meltdowns, rain drops, and meltdowns. Praise be to God! Once back at the hotel, we rushed through the bedtime routine. It took longer than usual for the kids to settle down, but they slept well. Amelia and Maddie had adjacent cribs in the corner. James was in the pack-n-play. Jackson and I shared a bed. Jesse got a bed a to himself. 

Wanting to take advantage of every minute, we were all up and dressed by 7:30 a.m. the next morning. The continental breakfast was grain-heavy. The babies and I ate yogurt and oatmeal. Jesse and Jack ate waffles and pastries.

Every time I visit Boone, I like to walk around campus and drive on the Parkway. My favorite spot is the Moses Cone Center. This is the same place where Jesse and I went immediately after our wedding ceremony for pictures. We took a few family pictures against the breathtaking back drop.

We made a quick stop at a park to let everyone expend some energy. Unfortunately, most of the slides were wet. Jackson and I attempted to rock climb.

Jesse and the trio tested out the swings.

We went back to the hotel for another failed attempt at napping. We gave up after an hour of the babies laughing, yelling, and standing up in their cribs. We cleaned and packed up, made lunch, then checked out of the hotel.

Our good friend from college, Caroline, happened to be in town while we were there. I was so glad we had a chance to cross paths, and even more grateful that she is understanding of our crazy life right now.

Seriously, can you think of any better place for kids to run (or crawl) free and simply play? It is just stunning. My love for the mountains only increases every time I go back. Unfortunately, this picturesque scene was disrupted by steady rain.

Thankfully we found refuge under a picnic shelter and were able to wait out the rain. I spent most of lunch trying to redirect the babies from eating unfortunate findings (fake fingernails, pine needles, bird poop, etc).

Alas, the rain cleared and we were able to go rock hopping along the river.

Caroline kept an eye on the babies while Jesse and I were able to spend a few quality minutes with Jackson.

The kids crashed on the ride home. 

We had many adventures during our short getaway. It was very challenging to keep James, Amelia, and Maddie on their napping schedule and give them a safe space to crawl around. I can't wait to return each year and provide fun opportunities for the kids as they get older and are able to do more. I envision hiking, paddle boating, checking out waterfalls and caverns, etc. Mostly, I want the kids to develop their own love for the beautiful NC mountains.

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