With only a week of school under our belts, we were feeling optimistic about the school year, yet already deserving of a break. We spent Labor Day in the mountains enjoying nature.
I was especially looking forward to apple picking at SkyTop Orchard. We knew there would be crowds since Labor Day weekend is the most popular time at this orchard. The weather was gorgeous. Thankfully the crowds were manageable. Most of the people came the Saturday and Sunday before, taking all the beloved honeycrisp apples with them!
Prior to this weekend, we'd only ever picked apples at local farms where there is a minimal apple selection. I was in awe of the vast orchards, scenic mountains, and variety of apples.
While the apples were still in abundance, the majority were higher up in the trees.
The challenge proved to be an added bonus for Jackson!
The girls were precious, carefully examining each apple and stopping to pose for pictures.
As much as we tried to dissuade James, he felt the need to take a bite out of each and every apple he selected.
Perhaps he learned from his father...
We continued to fill baskets until the kids could no longer carry the weight.
We began our hike back to the checkout area.
While Jesse and Jackson took the baskets to be weighed, I took the trio to the play area.
The trio favored the tiny houses. It's a small miracle that James didn't fall out of the window.
After purchasing the apples, we sampled SkyTop's famous doughnuts, cider, and slushies.
Jesse was content to drive back home, especially considering we had to get ready for school the next day. I encouraged him to stick with the original plan of returning to DuPont Forest, the place we had visited over the summer. This time we came prepared with bathing suits, towels, and a picnic lunch.
As we approached the parking lot to the falls, cars were lined along the road on both sides. We pulled into the lot and watched cars circling to go back on the main road. Jesse still advocated going home. We lucked out by being behind a car backing out in one of the front spaces.
We changed into our suits and began the short walk to Hooker Falls.
The falls was overflowing with happy families--laid out along the rocks, splashing in the water, grilling at the picnic tables, floating, etc. We found a shaded spot and ate our picnic lunch.
The water was an exhilarating cold. The kids' reactions ranged from barely dipping toes in the water to having to hold them back from diving in the falls.
We ventured closer to the falls to get a better look and hop along the rocks.
Jackson and I continued further, making our way to the base of the waterfall.
We walked back towards the van, changed clothes in the porta johns, and headed home. Our drive home was prolonged due to enormous traffic from the Apple Festival Parade in Hendersonville.
The traffic delayed us so much that we weren't able to cook dinner at home at a reasonable time. We stopped on the way in Gastonia for dinner.
Jackson had been asking about his grandma and grandpa a surprising amount, so I decided to show him where they were buried. Growing up, I was forced to regularly visit graves and became very detached from them. Of course, Jackson never met either grandparent so there wasn't any sorrow or longing to the event. His reaction was very literal and childlike.
I wanted to give the kids a final chance to burn off energy since they had been in the van for so long and it would be bedtime when we returned home. We had an impromptu park play date with my sister, niece, and nephew.
We were even surprised with a visit by the ice cream truck.
By the time we got home, we changed the kids into pajamas and went to bed. It was a very memorable Labor Day and a fantastic example of spending a fun day together with the family!