Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Beech Mountain getaway

My family of in-laws just had a wonderful weekend on Beech Mountain in western North Carolina. I have never been to this particular mountain before, but it was beautiful. The drive up was great once we got off of the interstate, as far as scenic views goes. The road we took went through eastern TN, which is the area where my paternal grandparents used to live. I was fairly familiar with this area, as my grandfather loved to take us driving in the mountains nearby and go hiking. So, as we drove through Johnson City, Elizabethton and then over Roan Mountain, it felt almost close to home. :) Then I saw a sign pointing the way to a Rhododendron Garden, and I had lots of memories from that, including the joke we used to always make about how to spell rhododendron.

Anyway, we proceeded up to Banner Elk and Beech Mountain. We weren't really prepared for Beech Mountain to be so large, or for the rental house we were staying at to be at the top of it (the ski lift was right out the front door!). This is a place that my mother-in-law rented...a 6 bedroom house for all of the family to squeeze into..so we didn't know what to expect. I have to say that the views from the house were lovely, and the temperature was unexpected! I had packed clothes in anticipation of summer weather similar to Huntsville...not 60 and 70 degree temps! It was a pleasant surprise, though, and we all enjoyed the break from the heat, regardless of needing a blanket while sitting in the house sometimes..

Beech Mountain is a quaint little town, and they had a small arts and crafts show while we were there. Jamie, the kids and I took a little excursion to Elk River Falls on Saturday. This included a drive back down the mountain and into the nether-lands of western NC. Quite an experience. It was threatening storms on our drive there, but we pressed on and finally arrived at the parking lot for the trail to the falls. It was packed! There were people everywhere, so we set off down the 1/4 mile trail to the falls. It was pretty steep in several areas and it also began to thunder a bit. We eventually saw the top of the waterfall, and decided to proceed down a very rocky/root-filled trail to the bottom for the view. There were LOTS of youngsters on the outcropping of rocks at the top of the falls, and we heard sounds of apparent jumping off the falls. We reached the bottom and walked out to get a good view of the 60-foot waterfall. There were some really intelligent teenage girls standing at the edge of the falls, looking to jump off into the water below. I took a few pictures, we admired the beauty, and then it began to rain. We decided to head back immediately (along with everyone else), and then the sky opened up and the rains came down! Melody was wearing her brand new dress that her Monna (grandmother) had given her, and we all got drenched. By the time we reached the car, Melody was bawling about getting mud on her dress AND she had to go to the bathroom. Luckily, I had beach towels in the back of the van so we got mostly dried off. By the time we got the kids situated and calm, the sun was out and the rain had stopped---gotta love summer storms! It was a great adventure!

All in all, I thought it was a nice way to end the summer before school begins. Melody and Gannon always have a blast playing with their cousins, and it's good to hang out and play games all weekend. I learned how to play Crazy Canasta, and Balderdash is always a favorite! NOW I am ready for school to begin!

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