The residents of the farm locked it up early Friday morning for a weekend in the north Georgia mountains. We drove off in typical Churchill style laden with toys for an action packed adventure. The van had two mountain bikes on the back both equipped with childseats over the rear wheel, we had the canoe on top, above the canoe Adam's kayak rested and beside the canoe a friends kayak was strapped on tight. Inside paddles, hiking boots, coolers and the rest of the lot teetered in piles behind the carseats. We did leave the dogs behind, they would have loved the trip but we hadn't been to the area before and were unsure how dog friendly it would be. We also had an 11:00 departure planned for the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, so we had no place for the doggies while we were on the train.
So 2 1/2 hours later we arrived at the train and Ben could barely contain his excitment at the sight of the train. He has been very enthusiastic about the train set, tugging Adam every night to play Choo Choo trains. He even asked me to call Adam one day while he was working to ask Daddy if he would play trains when he got home!
Don't you just love Simon's look in that picture! Ben is mesmerized by the steady clanking of the railcars on the track and Simon is giving me the stink eye...Regardless of his expression we all had a great time together riding the rails. On the return trip both boys fell asleep, and I have to admit that both Mommy and Daddy snuck a quick shut eye on the way home. Thank goodness one of the railway volunteers pointed us in the direction of a quiet coffee house with a couch for the boys to wrap up their napping. We looked quite a group walking off the train each of us with a limp child snoozing in our arms. Once the naps were over we headed to the cabin to check our our place for the weekend. After we checked in and did a little exploring we returned to the town of Blue Ridge to play in the park and watch some live music.
Saturday brought more adventure for the family. We began by exploring some of the forest around the cabin. Ben has been very excited about wearing his new hiking shoes (now equipped with brand-new "mommy-made gaitors".) I am quite proud of these so I asked Ben to model them for you. Adam has been wearing his gaitors a lot lately at work when he has to do a lot of digging and we have been explaining to Ben why we have them and use them for hiking. He of course wants to be just like Daddy so during one of Simon's long afternoon naps Ben and I spent the afternoon fashioning a pint sized pair of them made out of some pretty cool spider web fabric. So, you can see like father like son, and Ben is putting his new gear into good use!
After our morning excursions with the new gear we packed up the van and headed to a put in on the Toccoa River. I looked out of the van window and saw a lot of rocks and began to get nervous about the boys first river run, then the experienced paddler in the family advised me to look at the level of water, if by any chance we did come into an issue with rocks it would be quite easy to step out of the boat and pull the canoe back into moving water. He was right, and we did have to do it a couple of times. We spent more time navigating around the zillions of tubers on the river than rocks. It was a great day though. Adam had a great idea to inflate a boat inside the canoe for the boys to have a comfier ride and you can see in the photo that the boys are ready to go. We put in quite a bit further back than all the tubers ("flotillas" as Adam calls them)so we were able to enjoy the first part of our river ride devoid of other humans, ate a picnic lunch of PB&J's, fresh picked blueberries, and a few blackberries we found off the side of the river. When we were done we pulled the canoe out and hopped on the bikes we had left at the take-out to ride the six miles back up river to the van. It was a full family day, both boys fell asleep within the first tenth of a mile on the bikes, and we made it home to enjoy a nice dinner and a fire outside.
Sunday. Sunday is the day Adam put me to the test. Always reading a map he finds us a trail described as a moderate mountain biking trail/footpath. So Adam corrals us all into the van, we drop the canoe off with some friends to enjoy the ride we did the day prior and we head to a trailhead. Well, I would not describe the trail as moderate. Me, with little mountain biking experience toting a 20 pound child on my rear was not exactly prepared for a few miles of climbing, in the woods, around rocks, over roots, with twists and turns all over the place. Oh yeah, did I mention it was all single track...Well I almost take a big fall with Simon and I decide the safest way up this mountain is walking so that is how I climbed the mountain, pushing a bike and a kid. It was a beautiful trail and forest so it all seemed worth it. Then the downhill part came and I learned why people love mountain biking...I was of course very cautious and took it very slow but what fun. I am a little jealous of Ben's ride because he was riding with the experienced rider zooming this way and that along the trail. Since the trail was far more arduous than we had expected we navigated our way to the main road to get back to the van which turned out to be (yes we clocked it afterwards) a 1.5 mile climb with no relief. Once again, this girl walked. I can't believe Adam's endurance as he toted 30 pound Ben and himself up that grueling hill, but he did it. I was happy to have made it to the top on my two feet! Never a dull moment with my husband! And I should add never a moment to doubt myself when faced with his challenges...
And yes, after that we headed straight back to the river to rest our weary feet and refresh. We also had to pick up the canoe. While Adam and I are maneuvering the tie-downs Ben found a headband and winter hat in a chair pocket and this is what Adam and I turned around to see. You just have to laugh, it came at just the right moment. We have spent so many hours strapping and unstrapping boats on cars and being frustrated with it that the boys comic relief was just what we needed after a fun but exhausting day.
Now we are back at The Painting House Farm. I am eager to finish the dog fence tomorrow and begin training the dogs to their new boundaries in hopes of once again trying to occupy the chicken coop with live chickens. Before we left for the mountains Adam, the boys, and I armed ourselves with tape to mark the dogs new zone, rented a little trencher (by the way totally awesome, took us 30 minutes to trench 1200 feet!) and all that is left is laying the wire, covering it up and teaching Rama and Leo. I will leave you tonight with one last photo from our boundary marking day, these are my two little warriors who are daily keeping us on our toes and teaching us how to stay adventurous even while parenting! Peace and love from The Painting House Farm.