Thursday, June 22, 2017

Father's Day 2017


It appears that this is our year for biking. While we managed a little mountain biking for Mother's Day this year, for Father's Day we made our way to the Tennessee Riverpark, which is one of our favorite places to bike as a family.


Daniel had to work the ENTIRE weekend of Father's Day, so we didn't actually do this excursion until the following Wednesday, but we were all thankful he was able to take a day off to spend with us before we left on our trip to Arkansas.


While he did have to work, we were still able to have lunch with him and his dad on Father's Day. We went out to Harrison Bay and ate at a Mexican Restaurant at a marina on the lake that Daniel's dad likes. Then Daniel went back to work. For supper that night, we picked up BBQ from Shufords and took Daniel to a park for a picnic.


Later in the week Jack made Daniel a chocolate pudding pie (Daniel's favorite). Jack insisted on doing it all himself because he was a "real chef" and the pie was for "daddy's day."


Jack is getting to be more and more grown up, but I'm glad he is still little and talks about things like "daddy's day." Jack also wanted to know when it was going to be "kid's day." We told him that would be his birthday!


When Daniel finally had a day off, we all agreed to go biking. The weather was perfect and we wanted to do a longer, flat ride.


We have biked the majority of the Tennessee Riverpark (in sections) but had never started from the actual starting point at the base of Chickamauga Dam's Powerhouse.


The Chickamuaga Dam is one of Daniel's projects (they are replacing one of the locks), so Daniel was a trooper in going to one of his job sites on his day off! We drove up underneath the dam and showed the boys where Daniel works.


They were releasing a lot of water that day in anticipation of Tropical Storm Cindy. You could see how strong the current was and when we walked out on a fishing pier, it made me quite dizzy to see the water swirling below.


On this ride we saw tons of Blue Heron. We initially thought they were cranes, but informational signs along the trail let us know they were heron and what made them different was that a heron tucks its neck when it flies while a crane keeps its neck out.


We completed 8 miles (round-trip) on this ride, making two stops at the Riverpark playground for snacks and time for the kids to play.


This is definitely the flattest section of the greenway. One of these days we will have to start at the dam and go the entire length to St. Elmo.


Jack has started to add the collective mileage of the bike rides he has completed. I'm pretty sure he is pushing 100 miles if we took into account all of his neighborhood rides...


Daniel, we love you and appreciate all that you do for our family! Thank you for spending your one day off with us.


Jack's official mileage (not including neighborhood rides): 67 miles
Oro-Medonte Rail Trail in Orillia, Ontario, Canada (20 miles over course of week)
TN Riverpark–Coolidge Park to St. Elmo (7.5 miles)
Stringer's Ridge Choo Choo Trail and pump track (1.5+ miles)
Edward's Point (9 miles)
Virginia Creeper (21 miles)
TN Riverpark–Chickamauga Dam to Amnicola Marsh (8 miles)


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Grayson Highlands, 2017


I'm so thankful we were able to spend last weekend as a family, tucked away in the Virginia mountains, just the four of us. It was a nice break from Daniel's busy work schedule.


We have been wanting to take our kids to this area of the country for awhile since it is one of our favorite places – so much so that Jack's middle name "Grayson" is in honor of the Grayson Highlands.


Our first trip to this area was over twelve years ago. We parked our car at the Grayson Highlands overnight parking lot and made our way to Mt. Rogers (the highest point in Virginia). We joke about that trip often – namely that we were still fairly newly married and I planned the trip and didn't do enough research about the weather.


We ended up cutting that multi-day trip short after one freezing night... We walked out in a cold, dense fog. We were thankful for the experience but a bit wiser about the importance of being prepared.


Another time we returned and had a shuttle drop us off in the middle of the Jefferson Wilderness. We hiked 30 miles back to Damascus, making our way through the Grayson Highlands, and this beautiful section of country, over a three-day period.


A third time, we found ourselves in Damascus, VA to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail. This area has our hearts, and hopefully we will be making many more trips back to hike, bike, and camp with our boys.


Last weekend we were able to spend Saturday biking the Virginia Creeper Trail as a family. We stayed in a cottage at the top of Whitetop Station, right at the trailhead and made our way down the mountain, 21 miles into town. It was perfect way for us to spend the day together.


Then on Sunday we woke up and drove about 20 minutes to Grayson Highlands to take the boys on a short hike.


We were hoping to see the wild ponies that roam this area of the country, but did not make it far enough to see them. We hope to be back in the future to make that happen. We did get to see people riding horses on the trail, and as far as the kids were concerned, that was just as good!


We hiked up the Massie Gap trail, to the top of the ridge. Jack promptly sat down and said he was too tired and that his feet hurt. I guess he was finally tired from biking 21 miles the day. At any rate there was a lot more whining on the hike than there had been on the bike trail.


We were prepared with snacks, but after more complaints Daniel suggested we go climb on some boulders and then head back. I would have liked to press on, but with kids I we have learned to adjust our expectations and be flexible.


On the way down Isaac was fussing a bit, so I sang crazy camp songs to him, we raced Jack down the trail (Isaac loved the bouncing from me running), and we pretended to be airplanes.


We ended up only hiking two miles, and there were no wild ponies to be found. But it was still a fun trip. The weather was perfect. We still saw great views of the mountains up above the treeline. The kids were pumped to find walking sticks and climb around on boulders. It was a good end to a fun family weekend.

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