Monday, August 16, 2010

Back in the saddle...

Wow, it's been a whole week since my last post.  I've been on vacation and found out how hard it is to blog when you are chasing 3 young boys around and relaxing.  Anyway, we had a great time in Brasstown, NC.  We were visiting Beth's Godmother and her husband.  They retired several years ago and moved to a rural farm where they built a house and now enjoy Appalachian country living.  We enjoyed it too.  It is a much slower pace, especially in the summer when it is 95 degrees every day.

After "The Drive", Beth and I took a day and recovered.  Short naps and wine helped and by Monday last, we were raring to go.  We spent time catching up with our hosts and got the lay of the land.  It has been 4 years since we visited them at their home and it was almost what I remembered.  Time can do many things.  I found that my memory of the place was about 90 per cent of what it actually was.  I think I was most excited to see the cows.  They have an arrangement with a local gentleman that allows him to graze his cattle and in return, he keeps up the fences in the pastures.  It's a win win.  There is nothing like waking to the soft drone of mooing cows.  Moooooooooo....

We also spent some time visiting the neighbors.  Dave, who lives down the road and lower in the canyon, has a beautiful pond that is stocked with fish.  We went to see Dave and to feed the fish on Tuesday.  I didn't expect what we saw.  As we walked up to the pond, all the fish swarmed up to us.  There were cat fish and another smaller fish that I don't know the name of.  The cat fish were about a foot long and when we threw food into the water, they would raise their whole head out of the water and gobble up their lunch.  One time Magnus dropped a whole hand full of food in the water right at the edge of the pond.  The fish swarmed the pile and splashed so much that water went flying and soaked Magnus's shirt.  It kinda scared him a little and he didn't do that again.  It was pretty amazing.

The next day, Wednesday, we went to visit Doug who lives up on the ridge to South of Dave.  Doug has some laying hens that he bought early in the spring.  There were several different  species and he let us feed them.  At first, I didn't think the boys would let the chickens eat out of their hands.  Magnus decided that he didn't want to try.  But after I did it and told them what it felt like, Nolan gave it a go.  He put some chicken feed into his hand and slowly lowered it down so Georgia the chicken would come over and take a bite.  He was very still until the first peck when he jumped back with fright and proceeded to throw the feed at the chickens.  After a minute and when the fear wore off, he thought it was funny but didn't want to try again. We also got a tour of Dave's garden.  He was growing beans, heirloom tomatoes, Okra and several other veggies.  His heirloom tomatoes were beautiful.  I think I'll grow some next year.  What really caught my eye was the Okra.  I've never seen how Okra grows.  It is a very unique plant and I'm glad I learned a little about a Southern vegetable.  The coolest thing we saw at Doug's was some bear scat.  The night before, there had been a rain storm and the wind had been blowing.  In the morning, Doug and his wife discovered that their bird feeder had been knocked off the cable it was hanging from.  Although Dave's wife insists that the wind had blown it down, Dave thinks that a bear climbed up on his deck, jumped off, and grabbed the bird feeder (about 20 feet in the air) and broke it off the cable and ate the bird seed.  I wouldn't have believed him, but when I saw the broken ring clamp, and the blackberry laden bear scat on the ground, I couldn't disagree.  We took a stick and poked around in the scat and it was blackberry all the way through.  It even turned the stick purple!  This bear had gorged himself / herself on so many blackberries that it had the blackberry revenge.  In a few days, it will have the sunflower seed revenge too.  Poor bear...

On Thursday and Friday, we visited Fires Creek picnic area.  If you ever get to the Western part of North Carolina, I highly recommend visiting Fires Creek.  We had so much fun looking at rocks, skipping stones, swimming, jumping in the small pools and walking down the creek, we just had to go back.  There was a small waterfall that we climbed up and sat under and a section of very slippery, smooth rock that we used for a slide.  The locals have moved the rocks around to create a chute down the creek where kids can ride inner tubes for about 50 yards.  At the end there is a man made pool and you can get out and run the trail back to the starting point.  I tried to float down the lower section of the chute and, while it was a good attempt, I caught about 6 rock up my rear and about 4 in my back.  Next time I'll try an inner tube.

Probably the most exciting experience was when I lost my wedding ring in the pool at the beginning of the chute.  Oh yeah, I freaked!  I had just jumped into the water and worked my way to the side to empty my sandals of sand and rocks when I notice that it was gone.

Wine timeout...  Yeah, I need more wine to calm my nerves...

So I stand up, raise my arms and say "everyone stop!"  Magnus and I had been playing with 4 other kids and jumping off a big rock into a small pool of water.  The kids all looked at me with a nervous eye wondering if they had gotten in trouble.  I told them that I had lost my wedding ring and needed help finding it.  To my amazement, they all started looking for it.  It was like a treasure hunt for them.  Where I had emptied my sandals, I moved the rocks aside and the kids searched the water but found nothing.  The bigger kids were looking in the pool of water for the ring, but the water was rushing so fast that it was hard to see the bottom.  I called to Beth to let her know of my predicament.  She joined in on the hunt and quickly left to see if she left Magnus's goggles in the car.  I continued searching in the rushing water.  After finding nothing, I climbed back up on the rock to try to determine where I would have landed on my last jump.  I picked a spot and walked into the water.  It was rushing fast and I needed to figure out a way to see into it's depths.  I turned my body into the stream so that my wide back side would settle the water.  Then I put my arms on the top of the water and made an enclosed area where the water was calm.  I bent over and put my face as close to the water as I could.  The bottom of the pool was visible, but I couldn't find anything shiny.  After a bit of searching, I turned my eyes to my feet and was surprised to see a shiny circle of Gold just in front of my left toe.  I almost screamed!  Now I had to go get it.  Very slowly I submerged myself in the 65 degree water and tried to feel my way to the ring.  This didn't work and I wasn't able to grab it.  The next time, I got down under the water and opened my eyes just long enough to snatch the ring and quickly place it on my finger for safety.  I jumped out of the water and yelled "YES!!!".  All the kids were stunned at first and then they all yelled.  They were happy that they could play again.  I walked down to the car to tell Beth that I found the ring and she and I gave each other a big hug and kiss.  It was such a relief.

That night we were having dinner when it started to rain.  It was in the high 90's with high humidity so I decided that a little rain shower was in order.  I pulled off my shirt and stood on the edge of the deck to enjoy the cool shower.  Soon thereafter, Grayson was crawling his way across the deck.  He was getting soaked and I was getting a little nervous because there was lightning and thunder all over the place.  I stripped him out of his wet clothes and put him under the overhang of the house to keep him dry.  Grayson is a bit strong headed and immediately started walking back out into the rain.  I followed him and we ended up playing in the rain for the next 45 minutes.  Magnus joined us after stripping off his shirt.  It was amazing!  The rain was probably 75 degrees.  It literally was like taking a shower.  I was surprised at how Grayson had no worries and would just crawl around the deck in the rain.  He loved it!

On Friday night we took a jeep ride down into the pasture to see the cows.  This was an up close and personal trip.  There were several different species and some brand new baby calves.  At one point, we came close to a big bull.  I started mooing at it and he became irritated.  Lou reminded us not to look a bull in the eye and we quickly turned around and headed away.  After we were about 30 feet away, Magnus says to me "I looked it in the eye." and then he smiled and laughed.  One day he'll learn...

Since I grew up on a "farm", I figured that I would jump out of the jeep and try to pet the cows.  I soon found out that cows don't like the attention of unfamiliar humans.  Every time I approached a cow, they would slowly retreat and then turn and run away from me.  After about 10 minutes, I figured that I wasn't going to be able to pet a cow and jumped back into the jeep.  As we headed back up to the house, the sun was setting over the ridge and the sky was lit up with stars and a bright crescent moon.  What a beautiful way to end an evening.

I can't explain how beautiful the Appalachian mountains are.  You wake up to a foggy mess only to be relieved by a clear sight in the mid morning.  A beautiful blue sky and a slightly hazy and cool evening breaking to a black night dotted with the twinkle of diamonds in the sky.  I didn't get to spend much time outside after dark, but I bet it was a phenomenal site.

Thanks for reading.  I'll post pictures when I can.


  1. Sounds like you had an awesome trip! I am sure it was nice to get away and spend time with family and friends! Amazing you found your ring too!