For some time, Daniel and I have been kicking around the idea of taking our kids to ride the Virginia Creeper Trail. With Jack teaching himself to ride his bike this summer (and then taking him on an 11-mile ride while on vacation this summer), we felt like we could totally handle the experience.
But, as happens more than we like, life got in the way. By the time we got around to planning our trip, our lodging options were limited because we put off finding a place. Then we talked about camping somewhere like Big South Fork, where we could still bike and hike, but we kept putting off committing to an actual plan.
Last minute plans are not Daniel's favorite, but I was determined we would do something fun for the long weekend... and then I came down with a stomach bug. Thursday afternoon, I collapsed on the couch and I didn't end up really getting off the couch until Sunday.
It was a miserable weekend, but it turned out that not having planned anything was for the best.
By Monday I was feeling like a human again and Daniel had the day off so I suggested we take a drive and go to the Ocoee Whitewater Center in Cherokee National Forest (about an hour-and-a-half from where we live). At the last second we decided to throw Jack's bike in the back of the car.
My initial plan was that we would walk/bike on the Rhododendron Trail #332. This was supposed to be a flat 1.6 miles, one-way, from the Whitewater Center to Powerhouse #3. But in the end, we just did about a mile stroll around the Olympic course at the Whitewater Center.
It was a gorgeous day and after a brief walk/ride, Jack hopped off his bike determined to explore the gorge itself. So we let him.
I had brought extra clothes for the boys, but didn't bring swimsuits or towels – it's October and I hadn't really considered that the kids might want to get wet.
Well, get wet they did! Jack ended up climbing around barefoot, in shorts, wearing his bike helmet for protection in case he slipped on the wet rocks.
Isaac was determined to get in. Without a swim diaper, we opted to let him skinny dip (not a first). This little one of ours is so ready to be big. He insists on tramping around, not wanting to hold our hands, completely unconcerned about the water that is swift and too deep for him. He is unbothered by rough terrain, he just wants to go. He wants to be where his big brother is, doing what he is doing. Truth be told, he was not a fan of being stuck in his stroller for most of the day, but I think he still had a good time.
Jack had a blast. He started out rock hopping, but soon was waist deep in the water. He found little areas that he could slide on the rocks, letting the current push him through the shallow waters – what was too deep for his little brother, was perfect for him. And when he wasn't playing in the water, he was biking as fast as his little legs would let him – often just out of our sight.
I love that our boys both love the outdoors and exploring, being immersed in nature. We are excited that while we can do fun things with them now, once Isaac is a little older, we will be able to do even more. And that is a lovely thought.
Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving and I was thinking about my family, spread all over. It's been a long time since I truly celebrated this holiday (I normally try to at least make a pumpkin pie, but with being sick that wasn't going to happen), but nonetheless, I am thankful for my family and that I got to spend the day with Daniel and our boys.