Monday, October 19, 2020

2020 Mountain Trip - Days 1 & 2

The kids were on fall break from school the week before last, so we made our annual trek to Blue Ridge, GA for some fall fun!  Because of the pandemic, things were obviously a bit different than usual, but we still had a great time.

Wednesday, October 7 (Day 208 of Quarantine)

The kids got out of school at noon on Wednesday, we grabbed some Chick-Fil-A, and then we ate it at home before heading out.  Because of Covid, we obviously haven’t been traveling or attending concerts, and therefore, B and I hadn’t been to Atlanta at all this year.  We typically go to (or through) Atlanta multiple times per year, which is when we make all of our Trader Joe’s stops, but since we hadn’t been, we also hadn’t been able to go to TJ’s.

We like to keep several TJ’s items on hand, and it’s been a bummer not being able to replace them this year, so job one was to make a stop at Trader Joe’s on the way to Blue Ridge!  As usual, TJ’s was crazy, but thankfully, they are taking the pandemic very seriously, and they are only letting a certain amount of people in the store at any given time.  Therefore, you have to wait in line outside the store.  When it’s your turn to go in, they give you a squirt of hand sanitizer, and masks are required. 

We didn’t have to wait in line long, only about two minutes or so, and then we tore around the store as quickly as we could, loading up on all of our favorites plus a bunch of their fall goodies.  They are famous for their Two Buck Chuck (IYKYK) and it’s delicious and SO CHEAP, so we keep it on hand at all times at home to use as our everyday wine.  We were fresh out at home, so we bought two whole cases (24 bottles) for ourselves, and we also bought two cases for my parents, who also like to keep it on hand.  We have no idea how long it will be before we’re near a Trader Joe’s again, so it was necessary.  Haha.

We busted open all of our new pumpkin treats as soon as we got back to the car, and I’m proud to say that both of our kids love pumpkin spice stuff just as much as their momma!  They are picky eaters, so it’s surprising to me that they love it so much. 

We arrived at our cabin in Blue Ridge around dinnertime, and B unloaded the car while I prepared a quick dinner.  We typically eat out every night for dinner when we travel because we love to try new places, but because of Covid, we haven’t been eating in restaurants at all. 

My mom had given us some leftover spaghetti that I had frozen a couple of weeks prior to our trip, so I popped it in our cooler before we left, and it was the perfect quick, but hearty, meal to have when we arrived.  We had stopped by Ingles in Blue Ridge to pick up some milk, fruit, and other necessities on the way to our cabin, so we also pulled out the fruit tray with dip to munch on as well.  B and I opened a bottle of our new TJ’s wine, and it was a lovely first dinner. 

Our mountain house was a last-minute find, and we were so thankful it popped up!  Since B had back surgery in August, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to make the trip since driving/riding in the car is very hard on his lower back.  We did end up getting the green light from his doctor, but by the time we did, all of the good cabins (pretty much all cabins in general) were booked.  We originally ended up having to settle for a cabin that has – get this – the old 80’s/90’s box TVs!!!!  Face palm.

Because we’re such huge college football fans, we knew that was going to be a problem since we wanted to be able to watch the Georgia game on Saturday, so we planned to bring our own TV, which would have been a HUGE pain.  Thankfully, the cabin we ended up staying in popped up at the last minute and we were able to book it and cancel our reservation for the cabin with the old TVs.  Whew. 

Anyway, the cabin we stayed in this year was ah-mazing, and we loved it so much!!  Here’s a little tour…

The great room and main kitchen is on the first floor when you walk in the front door, and there’s a HUGE outdoor balcony across the back of the house.  The master bedroom is off of the great room and it has a king bed, a fireplace, a HUGE flatscreen TV, and a great big bathroom.

There are two more bedrooms and another full bathroom off of the other side of the great room, and we put the kids in the room that has two twin beds.  Their bedroom also had a huge flatscreen TV, so they were able to wake up and watch Netflix until B and I got up each morning.  It was perfect!

Downstairs in the “basement”, there is another full kitchen, a pool table, a great room with another huge flatscreen TV, another HUGE bedroom with two queen beds, and another full bathroom.  The house is on a hill, so the entire downstairs level opens up to ground level of the back yard, and there’s another huge porch on across the back of that level as well.

The house, of course, was great, but the very best part about the property was the back yard… tons and tons of HUGE trees with leaves of all colors, a firepit with four chairs, and a creek with our very own dock.  It was just lovely. 

The one downside to the cabin was that it was much further away from the heart of Blue Ridge than the other places we’ve stayed, so we were out in the middle of nowhere which meant – no cell service.  However, I was able to send and receive text messages most of the time and they had some rocking good WiFi, so we had no issues with internet which was great!  They did have a house phone on the property, too, since it was hard to make phone calls on our cell phones, so it was comforting to know we had that as a backup just in case there was an emergency.  I was really worried about the cell reception situation going in, but it ended up being a non-issue since the WiFi was so great!

After dinner, the kids wanted to go outside and star gaze, so we all threw on some jackets (it was coooold the first night) and grabbed some flashlights and binoculars.  The night was crisp and clear, and we could see more stars than ever since we were in the middle of nowhere and there was no light pollution.  We stayed out for a bit, but not for too long, because there are bears in north Georgia and none of us wanted to run into one of those in the dark.  Haha.

Once we were all back inside, the kids got showered and in the bed, and then B and I ate some M&M ice cream cookies in bed while we watched the VP debate.

Thursday, October 8 (Day 209 of Quarantine)

Thursday morning, we had our alarms set so we could get up and make the drive to the apple orchard.  One thing about staying in north Georgia is that everything is well spread out, so we do a lot of driving on our trips. 

We had some store-bought donuts for breakfast before we left, and then we took off for the hour-long drive.  

The last couple of years we’ve picked apples on Thursday or Friday since the orchards get so hectic on the weekends, and the only place that does weekday you-pick is BJ Reece Orchards in Ellijay.  When we arrived, we pulled up to our usual spot, but the guy working there informed us that they were completely out of apples.  He said that they had another orchard across the street that had some, so we loaded back up in the car and drove over there. 

Thankfully, it wasn’t crazy busy, so we bought our bag to pick apples as well as some passes for the kids to jump on the jumping pillow.  They love those dang jumping pillows and had been talking about it for weeks leading up to our trip, but we had to burst their little bubbles and tell them that they may not get to jump this year because of Covid.  Those things are usually slap FULL of kids, and we weren’t about to let them get on there with a bunch of other kiddos.

Fortunately when we arrived, there were only two kiddos on it, and it’s plenty big that our kiddos were able to jump at one end while the other kids stayed on the other end.  Once a few more kids joined, we made ours get off, so we didn’t risk picking up any germs.  The kids did wear their masks while they jumped, too, so we feel like it was a safe decision.

Once they were off of the jumping pillow, we headed out in search of apples.  Unfortunately, the girl who was working the front gate failed to tell us that there was only one tiny area of the orchard that still had apples, and we wandered all over the wrong side of the orchard finding nothing.  B finally went back to the front gate, and the girl apologized and told us that she meant to give us a map.  Sigh. 

It wouldn’t have been a big deal, but unfortunately, the day we picked apples it was sunny and HOT, so we were all miserable by the time we found the actual area that had apples.  It was about as far from the front gate as it could possibly be, so it was a HAUL.

By the time we reached the good apples (for a while there we thought we’d never find any!) everyone perked back up again, and we ended up filling our bag to the brim of both red and green apples. 

We made it back to the car, and then settled in for the long drive back to the cabin.  

We got back around lunchtime, and I popped some frozen mini corndogs into the oven for lunch.  We had those with some of the apples we’d picked plus some other fruit and sides and it was a decent lunch.  It really stinks not being able to go out to eat on vacation, but I’m just grateful that we were able to travel at all. 

After lunch, we spent a couple of hours in the back yard taking some pictures, building a giant leaf pile, and then playing in the leaves.  Brian came across this fuzzy black thing in the yard, and I thought for sure it was trash, but we realized that it was some kind of caterpillar.  Is that not crazy looking?

B and I sat on the rocking chairs on the back porch while the kids played, and the gnats were AWFUL that day.  They were all over our faces the entire time we were out there, and they followed us all over the yard.  I reached into my arsenal of oils that I bring everywhere with me, put a couple of dabs of peppermint around my forehead and on the crown of my head, and voila, gnats gone.  They stayed away completely for a while after that, and even when they finally started venturing closer to me again, they wouldn’t touch me.  OILS FOR THE WIN! 

Mid-afternoon, we all piled in the car again to head to our favorite winery, and while B was getting Jacob in, he informed me that my brand new Telluride had its first casualty.  I ran over to the driver’s side of the car, and sure enough, THERE WAS A DENT IN THE DOOR. 

Y’all.  Whyyyy.

When we were at the orchard, everyone had to park sideways on a hill, so we’re pretty positive that the people next to us opened their door carelessly and let it bang into the side of ours since our SUV was downhill from theirs.  The dent was definitely not there prior to that, and that was the only place we’d been, so there’s no other way it could have gotten there. 

And let me tell you, it’s not just a paint scrape.  It’s an actual dent about the size of a pea, so whatever those people did, they must have hit it super hard.  And of course, they didn’t leave a note, and of course, when we got back to the car everything was so chaotic trying to get the kids’ shoes off, get them changed into short sleeves, and get snacks for them that we didn’t notice either.  Makes me furious.

Switching gears, the winery that we love so much is Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris, GA.  We used to go to there every year when we stayed at my aunt and uncle’s mountain house because it wasn’t too far from their house.  Now that we stay in Blue Ridge, it’s about an hour and fifteen-minute drive, so we tried a new winery last year instead and ended up missing Crane Creek.  We loved the winery the last time, too, but Crane Creek is just such a gem! 

This year, we decided to go back to Crane Creek even though the drive is long, but it was definitely worth it.  The property at that winery is just gorgeous and the sitting area is always in the shade in the afternoon and evening, so it is always pleasant, even when hot-ish and sunny. 

Usually, this winery isn’t too busy on the weekdays, but there were so many groups of people this time!  Everywhere we went this year was busy, and we think it’s just because more people are trying to get out of the house because of Covid.  And most of the places we go in the mountains are generally pretty safe even in a pandemic since they’re outdoors, so everything seemed busier than usual this year.  

The winery had their dining room completely closed and they were operating 100% outside, so that was nice because we were able to stay outside the entire time.  And thankfully, one of the decks was completely empty, so we were able to settle in at a table far away from all of the other people.  People did a great job of social distancing the whole time, so we never felt unsafe.

We gave the kids their snacks, and then B and I opened our bottle of wine.  He grabbed some parmesan and black pepper popcorn for us to munch on while we were drinking, and oh my word, it was so good.

We sat there for about an hour sipping on our wine, and when we were done, we grabbed a few bottles to go, closed out our tab, and walked over to the bocci ball court so the kids could stretch their legs and play for a bit before the long drive back to the cabin.  The winery is usually my favorite part of the trip, and this year was no exception.  It’s always just such a lovely time.

By the time we arrived back in Blue Ridge, it was dinnertime, so I called Chester Brunnenmeyer’s to place a to-go order to grab on the way back to the cabin.  We ate there last year and loved it, so we knew it would be a great place to get take-out.  They have a four-cheese grilled cheese sandwich and tomato bisque that is to die for, so I got that again, and it was perfect.

After dinner, we played a family game of pool, the kids got showered and in bed, and B and I watched a couple of episodes of Schitt’s Creek and called it a night. 

I’ll be back Wednesday with the second half of the recap!

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  1. Great property and I’m so glad you guys still did this! We head up North for a couple days Wednesday.

  2. Ugh, so sorry to hear about the dent. That stinks big time! I'm glad that you eventually got to go apple picking. We always go during the week too. :) That cabin is so nice!

    1. I was am still so upset about the dent... and I washed my car yesterday so it looks even more prominent now that the rest of the car is clean. Sigh.

  3. Your mountain trip always seems like such a good time. I think the winery would be my favorite stop, too. :) I love that they have the outdoor games!

  4. Thanks for sharing your family get away.
    The apple orchard pictures are incredible!

  5. Ugh sorry about the dent in your brand new car, that sucks! The cabin looks so cozy! Sounds like a perfect first few days, I love the leaf pics!

  6. I cant imagine a more perfect cabin for your adventure! So glad you guys were able to still enjoy this family getaway! xo, Biana BlovedBoston

  7. I am obsessed with your mountain house! what a cute place to stay!

  8. I would love to go on a trip like this. I don't think my kids would like it though! Sorry about the car dent!

  9. That is a mega bummer on your car. The winery looked like a lot of fun. I can't believe the apples were that picked over. Luckily you guys did get some. I can't wait to hear more about the trip.

  10. I can not believe that you have never seen a "wooly worm"!!! That's what we call them in West TN. They are everywhere in the fall. An old wives tale says that the more you see in the fall means a bad winter.

    1. None of us had ever seen one! It was SO cool looking!!

  11. Such a beautiful cabin! This makes me so sad we didn't end up booking a cabin in the TN mountains next month. Once we saw it would be a 10+ hour drive with Lil' Miss we decided it wasn't a good idea. But YAY for Trader Joes, wine tasting, and Chic Fil A yum yum yum!

    Green Fashionista

  12. So sorry your car has it's first dent... that is so sad. That cabin you found is amazing though!

    1. I know vehicles are going to get scratches and dents, but goodness gracious, why did it have to be while it's brand new! It stinks.

  13. I'm so sorry about your car! Ugh! I know you must have been mad. When you have time, can you send me the cabin info? I want to file it away for sometime when we visit Grace.

  14. That is a gorgeous cabin! You must share the details on your blog! I must ask how you find your great places?? Do you have tips?

    Also, love that you were able to hit up trader joes. I am heading to tj's tomorrow so I need to look for those pumpkin spice items! 😍

    1. Thank you! My husband spends LOTS of time perusing VRBO and AirBNB months leading up to our trips, and we always try to grab something early on before everything is booked. This year we had to book late, so we were stuck with a different house that was VERY outdated, but we got lucky and this one opened up literally a couple of days before we left! We were very lucky this time!

  15. UGH! About your car! But looks like a fun first 2 days!


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