Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Fall 2019 Mountain Trip - Days 3, 4, & 5

Hey hey, and happy Wednesday, y’all!  I’m back today to recap the second half of our mountain trip…

Friday, October 11

Friday we had leftover apple cider donuts for breakfast at the mountain house and then we headed out bright and early to make the drive to Cleveland, GA to go gem grubbing.  Gem grubbing is something that B used to do when he was a kid, and he introduced it to Jacob, Olivia, and me a few years back.  The kids have loved it ever since so we’ve made it part of our annual mountain trip tradition. 

We’ve been going to the same place for the past 3-4 years and it’s so picturesque.  It’s a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place tucked away in the woods and nestled next to a big lake… you’d never even know the place was there if you didn’t search for it prior to going. 

The morning was sunny and chilly (pretty much perfect) and we spent the next hour unearthing gemstone after gemstone.  Jacob ended up finding 72 and Olivia found 57, so they both had lots of new ones to add to their collections. 

Jacob's haul
Olivia's haul

By the time we finished gem grubbing it was nearing time for lunch, so we made the 30 minute drive from Cleveland to Helen, GA… another mountain trip tradition.  Helen, GA is modeled to look like a little town straight out of Germany, and it’s always a festive time there since they go all out for Oktoberfest. 

We decided to have lunch at Troll Tavern, one of our favorite restaurants in Helen, and we managed to snag a table outside on the river.  It was another gorgeous day weather-wise so it couldn’t have been more perfect.  B and I both opted for the CBR tacos and the IPA they had on draft and it was a pleasant lunch on the water.

Immediately following lunch we walked across the street to try out the new alpine coaster in town.  They were building it last year when we went, and Brian and the kids had been looking forward to trying it ever since.  Me?  Eh… not so much.  I’m not a huge roller coaster fan anymore… the older I get, the more they give me anxiety.

I was especially worried about this one because it’s so different than a standard roller coaster.  On the alpine coaster, each person rides in their own individual car and you control your own speed and brakes.  While that may sound enticing and/or interesting for some, it gave me even more anxiety thinking about being stranded alone somewhere on the track and then somebody crashing into me.

To add to that, neither of the kids was old enough to ride alone (obviously) so Brian and I each took one of them along for the ride.  Jacob went with B since the two of them like thrill rides, and Olivia came along with me since she and I are both a little more timid.  I was even more worried about the thought of being stranded on the tracks with Olivia in the car, so that made me a little anxious as well.  Then when we got in line, they announced that everyone with long hair was required to put their hair up in a bun which freaked me out even more because I’ve never had to do that on a roller coaster before… I mean, were they expecting our hair to get caught on a tree branch or something since the coaster is in the woods?!  Lawd. 

Well, it turned out that there was nothing to be worried about (obviously).  It was a smooth and easy (and super fun!) ride, and I ended up going full-speed the whole way (max speed is 27 mph), with the exception of once when Olivia started yelling for me to slow down.  All four of us loved it and I’m sure we’ll be riding it again the next time we’re there!

After the roller coaster, we spent the next hour or so ducking in and out of shops.  We always let the kids get a souvenir on all of our trips, and they always like to get their mountain trip souvenir in Helen.  Jacob chose some little building set similar to Legos (but not actual Legos) and Olivia chose a pink flamingo umbrella.  Hahahaha.  So random, but such an Olivia thing to choose!  I just love her.  She wanted to take a picture with it when we got back to the house.

We were all pretty tired after that, so we decided to make our way back to the house for a little bit of rest before dinner.  On the way back, we had to drive up and down a couple of mountains, and we saw a particularly gorgeous spot at the pinnacle of one of them, so we pulled the car over and snapped what ended up being the only family picture from our trip.  There was another family doing the same, and they graciously offered to take a picture for us.  We then did the same for them.    

When we got back to the house, I went through our apple haul and did some tidying while B and the kids did their own things, and then we headed back out in the early evening for dinner.  There was a cute little pizza place in downtown Blue Ridge that we’d had our eye on, and we managed to get a table on the patio right away.  Unfortunately the sun was setting directly on us and it got pretty hot, so it didn’t end up being my favorite dinner, but once the sun was down and the heat went away I felt much better.

After dinner we walked around downtown a little bit and we let the kids play on the train car that's parked in the middle of downtown.  We came across the cutest little bakery/café after that, and we each picked out a dessert (red velvet cheesecake for B, tiramisu for me, and cinnamon rolls for the kids) to go.  Just as we made it back to the car, we realized that the Blue Ridge passenger train was due back soon, so we decided to hang out and wait for it. 

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later the train came blasting through and we were just a few feet away so we could feel it rumbling under our feet.  I’m not sure our kids have ever been that close to a moving train before, and I think they were both pretty amazed at how big/loud they are.  The engineer and many of the passengers on board waved at them as they went by and the kids thought that was really cool.

Once the train had stopped, we hopped in the car and made the five minute drive back to our house where we ate our desserts, hung out for a while, and then collapsed into bed.  B and I watched an episode of Gossip Girl (we’re on season 3 now) and then we were lights out pretty early.

Saturday, October 12

Saturday was our lazy day.  We had no real plans, so we slept in and then had cereal for breakfast at the house.  We watched a little bit of ESPN College GameDay in our PJs while we played pool with the kids, and then we finally got ready in time to head out to grab an early lunch.

We found a cute little sandwich shop called Cantaberry, and Olivia was thrilled because it was the first restaurant all trip that actually had peanut butter and jelly on the menu!  I swear, that girl would eat PB&J for every single meal if we’d let her!  Jacob won’t touch it.  And I’m kind of with him.  Every once in a while I like it, but for the most part peanut butter makes me gag… unless it’s with chocolate.  I won’t turn down peanut butter and chocolate together. 

We made it back to the house just in time for the noon kickoff between Georgia and South Carolina, and the kids played pool, air hockey, and foosball while B and I died a slow death watching the game.  We ended up going into overtime and losing due to a missed field goal, which is devastating since our kicker NEVER misses.  EVER. 

After wallowing in our loss for a few minutes, we all got up and headed back downtown for our last evening in Blue Ridge.  They have a really cool indoor mini golf place there, and we spent the next hour playing the 18 holes.  B got two holes-in-one, Jacob had one, and I had two as well… a personal best for our family, I think!  One of my holes-in-one was on the last hole that looked like it would have been one of the hardest.  How I did that, I’ll never know!  I was supposed to win a free ice cream for getting my hole-in-one but I decided not to claim it since we were about to head to dinner.  But let it be known, that I won the grand prize!  ;o)

After mini golf, we walked up and down the streets of Blue Ridge trying to decide where to eat, and we found the cutest little place called Hansen’s Grill.  There was no wait for a table, so we were pumped to get in somewhere so easily.  Well, the service there ended up being terrible and we waited an hour and 15 minutes for our food after we ordered it.  Sigh.  And that wait time didn’t even include the time we waited before we ordered.  Sheesh.  I do have to say that our waitress was very apologetic and kind and she took good care of us, but good heavens, I’ve never waited for food that long anywhere in my whole life.  Needless to say, we will not be going back there even though the food was really good.

Fortunately the kids were very well behaved (aside from a little bit of whining due to being hangry… I mean, can you really blame them?!) and we rewarded them with a trip to the ice cream place that we had gone to the first night we were in town.  Both of them opted for shaved ice while B and I got ice cream – maple bourbon for him and sea salt caramel for me.  It was so cold at that point, so we shivered while eating our ice cream outside, and when we were done we made a beeline for the car so we could turn on the heater.  My kind of weather!!  Side note, just look how cute downtown Blue Ridge is with all of those twinkle lights!

We ended up getting back to the house way later than intended thanks to that super long wait for food, so the kids got showered pretty quickly while B and I started packing and then B and I watched some football before finally hitting the hay.

Sunday, October 13

Sunday morning we were up bright and early.  Everyone got ready, we had breakfast at the house, and then we packed up and hit the road for home.  The day was cold and rainy, so it was a little slower going than it would have been if the weather had been nice.  We swung by the nearest Starbucks for a PSL and some cake pops for the ride back.  Starbucks had some cat cake pops and the kids thought they were hilarious. 

We made it back home with just enough time to unpack the car before heading to my MIL and step-FIL’s for Sunday lunch.  The rest of the day was spent unpacking and preparing for the week ahead and then we had our usual Sunday dinner at my momma and Daddy’s house. 

It was another wonderful trip with my favorite people and I’m just so thankful for each and every one of these memories that we make together.  <3

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  1. That sounds like a wonderful trip! We've only taken the boys out gem grubbing a few times; when they were younger they ended up keeping any and all interesting rocks whether they were gems or not!

    1. Haha, Olivia is that way, too. She loves to keep random rocks even if they aren't technically gemstones.

  2. Gem grubbing - that sounds so interesting! I'd be up for that activity too! xo, Biana-BlovedBoston

  3. You are making me want to plan another trip to Blue Ridge! So fun!

  4. So much fun! I love the mini golf place's decor! I like alpine slides and I did a coaster once, would definitely do it again!

  5. Those Giant games made me smile, so much fun! I love seeing all the family fun you had!

  6. Oh that sounds like so much fun! I'd love to do that one day! I'd also love to pan for gold. I've never done that before.

  7. Mason absolutely loves gem grubbing!!! We try to find a place to do that everywhere we go! They made out like bandits with the gems! So fun. That alpine coaster sounds like something we would love. I’m glad it wasn’t too terrifying and that you and Olivia did okay! Your mountain trip looked like a blast. And now I am craving some time in the mountains!

  8. Sounds like an amazing trip! Love all of Olivia's dresses.

  9. What a great trip! I only have been in the mountains in the summer, that needs to change! The gem hunting is such a neat activity!

  10. Ahh...the mountains sounds amazing! Cider donuts sound amazing! I'm so proud of you for facing your fears and getting on that coaster!

    1. Thank you! I was pretty proud of myself, too. It was so easy peasy I felt a little ridiculous for being scared of it in the first place.

  11. Your mountain trip always looks amazing. I LOVE that dress that Olivia is wearing for Halloween. My girls would love something like that. I might need to try to get one before next week! I LOVE cider donuts so much. they are the best!

  12. What a great second half of your trip (minus that last dining experience - my goodness!). The gem grubbing place looks so neat, and your mini golf pictures have me wanting to go so bad! And the trip all together makes me want to make one to the mountains myself. :)

  13. What a great trip with so many great memories created! That's so cool the kids found so many crystals and gems. The views looked beautiful and I'm still swooning over that cabin.


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