I've been longing to return to the mountains to admire the beautiful fall leaves. I've checked the weather every day for the past week and a half and today was the clearest weather yet. I was hesitant to take the kids on a day trip by myself, but we have family plans the next several weekends and the leaves are already falling off the trees at higher altitudes. Jackson didn't have preschool today, so we were on the road just after 9 a.m. I hurried about putting dinner in the crock pot, making a picnic lunch, preparing extra drinks, packing the diaper bag, etc. The two hour drive passed by quickly.
Jackson's first request was to get candy. (That was apparently the most memorable part of our trip in June.) There wasn't any parking on King Street so we parked at the library. Knowing that the babies needed a chance to cruise around, I convinced Jackson to go inside the library. Despite living in Boone for four years, I had never stepped foot in the community library until today. I was so impressed. The spectacular kids' area had an amphitheater, stuffed animals, train table, lego table, rocking chairs, and books. It was the perfect opportunity for everyone to stretch their legs, use the bathroom, and play.
After leaving the library we walked straight down the hill to Mast General Store. Jackson was elated to fill his bucket with candy. He even picked out a bag of candy corn pumpkins for his Daddy. The only money we spent all day (besides gas) was $7 worth of candy!
Between the narrow aisles and the lower barrels, Amelia managed to select and distribute a wide collection of candy for herself and her siblings. I caught her halfway down the aisle holding wax lips and giving Maddie a lollipop!
It was nearly 1 pm before we made our way to Valle Crucis park for our picnic lunch. There aren't any signs for the park so I passed the hidden gravel entrance numerous times. The babies devoured their sandwiches. I grew increasingly concerned with the persistent yellow jackets that kept landing on the babies' jelly covered hands. I even asked another mother for help because I was afraid they would get stung if I swatted at the yellow jackets. I overheard other parents complaining about the yellow jackets as well. They weren't swarming the area by any means, but a few kept gently landing on the babies' hands and in the container of peaches. Thankfully no one was stung!
Jackson was too busy to actually stop and eat. He was so happy playing.
Amelia showed off her walking skills, but never more than four steps at a time. She appeared quite proud of herself.
Maddie cracked me up in this picture. James was hiding inside the miniature log cabin. He kept peeking in and out of the window. Each time I shouted "peekaboo", James would reappear, laughing and clapping. All of a sudden Maddie crawled over and covered her face when I said, "peekaboo". These kids are too silly.
After diaper changes and bathroom breaks, I buckled the babies back inside the wagon so we could walk down to the river.
Jackson stopped to play with a wolly worm. I love that we were able to leisurely stop and admire such small things.
I secured the front wheels of the wagon in between large tree roots while Jackson walked ten feet down to the river. The water was cold, so he wouldn't submerge his feet for more than a few seconds.
After the park we strolled around campus so I could take a picture of the kids by the ASU sign. Of course I won't expect our kids to go to Appalachian, but I would love to be able to recreate these pictures on their graduation day.
I had planned for our final stop to be the Moses Cone Center. As I approached the center, I saw dozens of cars haphazardly parked along the side of the Parkway on both sides. Clearly I wasn't the only person who wanted to admire the fall foliage on a perfectly sunny Friday afternoon. Sure enough, the parking lot was completely full. As I turned around, I watched one of the cars start to go completely off the shoulder of the road, then another was stuck in a ditch and looked like it would flip over. I ended up being stuck in a line of cars waiting for the two cars to be towed. Needless to say, we did not bother going to Moses Cone!
Instead we ended up at Bass Lake. The trio had a snack in the wagon while Jack and I walked around the perimeter of the lake. The picture does not do the beautiful scenery justice.
Jackson found himself the perfect walking stick. He kept asking, "Would PaPa love this?" I assured him he would. We even took the stick home so he could show his PaPa.
One of the unexpected joys of the day was watching Jackson play in the leaves. We don't have any trees in our yard, so Jackson has never really had much opportunity to play in big piles of leaves. He slid down a hill into a leaf pile and was giddy. He threw the leaves up in the air, kicked them, and piled them into the wagon so his siblings could play with them.
No one cried or fussed for more than a minute or two the entire day, and that was only during diaper changes and getting strapped into car seats. Jackson wasn't able to watch TV or play with his toys at all. The babies didn't take naps in their cribs or eat in their high chairs. My phone stayed in the van most of the day, until my camera battery died and I used the phone to take pictures. A break from our normal environment yielded more fun today than we've had all week, and that says a lot!
I told Jesse I would be home by six, but that turned into 7:30. I made everyone a peanut butter sandwich at the gas station. (I filled up at $2.79 a gallon!) Then we were back on the road. Poor James cried most of the way home; he was so tired.
It ended up being a beautiful day in one of my favorite places. Of course, I wish Jesse would have been there to share in the kids' excitement and create family memories, but I wouldn't have done anything differently if he was with us. We were still able to enjoy being outdoors in the breathtaking mountains.