Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Harry Potter Halloween

Most Halloweens I can take little to no credit for the boys' costume choices. This year, however, they were both drawing a blank when it came time to decide on their disguise. Ninja? Been there. Knight? Done that. Jedi? So 2009...

So, one night as we were cuddled up watching "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" it came to me. Seth = Harry Potter. Reed = Draco Malfoy. Not in character, of course, but in looks...yes!

Reed was sick all day, but he rallied for the Trick or Treating (imagine that). Here are pictures from our Hogwarts Halloween:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Smoky Mountain High

On Saturday of fall break we returned home the long way. Tim loves to meander on the road less travelled, but I don't often let him. I was feeling generous I suppose or inspired by the fall foliage, so we drove home through Cherokee, North Carolina past Sugarlands Visitor Center and then through Townsend.

It was a beautiful day, and luckily most of the traffic was coming the other way, so we were able to keep our slow but steady pace through the mountains. Here are our pictures from one of the scenic overlooks:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trip Down Memory Lane

On Saturday of fall break we drove to Black Mountain, North Carolina, to visit Camp Crestridge. My sister, Beth, and I attended this girls' camp four summers during our childhood, but I hadn't been back in probably 26 years. Camp was empty, so we were able to explore on our own and enjoy a lovely fall day here.

Our first stop as we climbed the hill into camp was the stable and riding ring. Beth spent many hours here during her camping days. Me, not so many...

Luckily the chapel was unlocked, so we were able to go inside. The green stained-glass windows brought back a sense of familiarity that the hilly terrain hadn't. However, the more we walked around the camp, the more my memories stirred.

I began attending Crestridge as a Chickasaw (the youngest campers were the Chippewas; the oldest the Cherokees).

Whenever I've told Tim about Crestridge, I've mentioned the many, many steps leading up to my cabins during my second and third summers. He teased me, believing this hill had grown higher and higher in my memory. He wasn't teasing me any more when he tackled Choctaw Hill himself. As you can see, the railroad-tie steps look unending. They feel that way too as you are climbing them!

They have recently renovated the cabins at Crestridge. I was happy to see they kept evidence of the original walls with our shoe-polish graffiti inside (areas covered with plexiglass showing the original walls with signatures of campers).

We ended our day at the open-air pavilion. To the left is the lake, which I avoided at all costs when I was a camper. My childish mind couldn't understand that "manmade" meant the creatures it contained were limited. It looked much less scary void of its murky waters.

It was such fun to return to Crestridge and remember the summer days I spent there as a child. It was also fun to share it with Seth and Reed, who now have "summer camp" memories of their own.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beautiful Day at Biltmore

Thanks to Tim's generous employers (and my stellar performance in a "dance-off" at the annual company picnic...yes, you read that right!) we won two tickets to the Biltmore Estate. Perfect timing since fall break was just around the corner. So, on Friday we enjoyed a spectacular day in Asheville. Luckily our good friends, the Larkin family, were also visiting Biltmore so we enjoyed spending the afternoon with them.

We rented the audiotour for each of us, so the boys enjoyed having their own headset to lead them through the house. Here we stand on the loggia overlooking the stunning mountain view.

As you can see, it was a beautiful fall day with amazing blue skies. Though the shuttle bus driver told us they expected more than 4,000 visitors that day, we enjoyed touring the house and exploring the grounds at our own pace.

The gardens and grounds of Biltmore Estate are beautiful in any season. Catch a glimpse of the fall foliage and plantings in the pictures below:

Since our last visit probably ten years ago, Biltmore has added Antler Hill Village surrounding the winery. There's an outdoor shop, the ice creamery, and a few restaurants. Here Reed and his friend Sophie enjoy the sculpture of Cornelia Vanderbilt and her dog Cedric.

The Farm at Antler Hill Village was especially fun for the kids, with a blacksmith, farm, and games from the early 20th century. Here Tim and the boys try the "Game of Grace," which they caught on to quickly (look for the wooden ring midair in the first photo). Below they pet on a 21-year-old horse now enjoying his retirement at Antler Hill Farm.

While everyone enjoyed petting the animals at the farm, Reed seemed to have a special affection for the goats. He spent time petting each and every goat, and he shared a long, quiet moment with the one little fellow (third photo down). I wish I knew what Reed was thinking.

What a beautiful day to share with our friends! Here's a group photo taken at the end of our time at Biltmore Estate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Garden of the Gods

If the Garden of the Gods is just a taste of the landscape of Colorado, then the splendor of this state is truly awe-inspiring. Here are a few photos of the towering sandstone in the Garden from my recent visit. Enjoy, and pay particular attention to the skilled climbers braving these 300' natural pillars. Incredible!