July 8-10 2011
Our first camping trip of the year! Gregg, Zach & the scouts have camped at this campground before. It is a group campground so all the sites are huge as to hold many tents. We camped at the “ Laurel ” site. The pavilion was pretty big. It was big enough to hold 3 picnic tables that could seat 20 people each. This site had steps that went right down to the river where there was a swimming hole. All 3 of my boys took advantage of the cool water. We drove 1 ½ hours from home and during our ride, we drove through a bit of rain and we were hoping that when we arrived our sites would be dry. We lucked out as the rain had not arrived, yet. We were able to set up camp before the deluge of rain would arrive later in the day. The kids rode their bikes for quite some time around the campground and did some exploring. Soon the rain started and boy did it come down! Gregg and I ran out and successfully draped our rather large tarp over our tent hoping it would keep our sleeping quarters dry. It continued to rain for a couple of hours and we passed the time playing “Pass the Pigs”. Sawyer was the big winner!! They rain finally ceased and the kids were again out riding their bikes.
Friday night is usually pizza night at our house, so we continued with tradition. Zach made the pepperoni pizza and Gregg and I made a Shrimp & Smoked Gouda pie with a basil/walnut/roasted garlic pesto. Gregg prepared the pesto at home the night before. We have made pizza camping before and Gregg came up with the Perkins Pizza Oven.
The rain soon returned and our evening of hanging out by the fire ended sooner that we anticipated. But that was ok; I slept so awesome out there! I usually wake up half a dozen times during the night when camping. Gregg said it took him literally hours to fall asleep, hated that for him. When I woke for the first time I noticed that Sawyer and Daddy were already up. I was just so darn comfy and cozy I continued my slumber and faded in and out of sleep, it felt so good!! Finally peeled myself out of the tent and Gregg already had the Brazilians Yellows Bourbon brewed.
We headed out about 10 am and hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway headed north. We wound up going to Mt. Mitchell – at 6,684 ft, it is the highest peak the east of the Mississippi . We were definitely in the clouds and the talked about view was not possible due to all the clouds, but at least we can say we were there! Our next stop was the mineral museum. That was purty cool! I was quite surprised how much Sawyer got into it. I already knew of Zach’s fondness for geology and watching Sawyer follow that path and seeing him quite interested was just wonderful.
By now we are all getting hungry, so we stopped and got a bite to eat in Little Switzerland. Not too far from the restaurant was where we went gem mining. Emerald Village was the location that in the past was a real mine that produced feldspar. We got ourselves a 3.5 gallon bucket to sift through. This was both Sawyer and mine’s first time gem mining and I just loved it. Sawyer was very meticulous going through his rocks. We all found some cool gems: emeralds, peridot, rubies, garnets, citrine, topaz, smoky and rose quartz, amethyst, and aqua marine. There are probably others. When we returned to camp Sawyer spent a lot of time with his gems and to my amazement, he was already able to identify many of the gems.
Time to get the evening fire started; unfortunately the locust we brought is not completely dry, so it needs a huge coal bed to burn. I bet I spent close to 2 hours searching for dry sticks and twigs. The fire was small and needed tinder to keep going so I would go out and find a bit of dry twigs, run back and put on the fire to keep it going and run back out to get more, it took a while, but I did it! The coal bed finally was large enough to burn some of the locust.
Gregg was grilling up some Black Angus Burgers with an Aged Sharp Cheddar, those burgers were incredible!!! Been a while since I have had a burger. Gregg also grilled up some of our fresh picked zucchinis and summer squash. Gregg and Zach retired to the fire and Sawyer and I spent hours just looking at all of his gems. He was so cute, he had his headlamp on so he could see his gems in the dark.
Had another amazing nights sleep camping. That was a first, to have two good hard slumbers while camping. Gregg woke when day broke again and had already gone on a bike ride and started the coffee before I even woke up. Once I did, I kinda just wallered in the tent again. Sawyer came in and snuggled with me. He was a bit sad that this would be our last day here. Then he started talking about his gems and asked what my favorite gem was, and I told him sawyerlite!! Got a big smile out of him on that one!!
As I was wandering around the campsite with my cup of joe, Gregg went on a 2nd bike ride and I began writing in my journal. Upon his return, he was one hungry fella. We cooked up some crispy hash browns and smoked gouda scrambled eggs ~ we loves the gouda we do, we do!!
We slowly broke camp during the morning and we all took turns going out bike riding. Zach and Sawyer went and parked along the river and played for a while and Sawyer brought back a second heart shaped rock for me, you see, I collect heart shaped rocks where ever I go. I then place them around our waterfall. Gregg and the boys ended up playing in the swimming hole, Gregg said that due to the rain, the water was colder than the day before and that his legs were numb!
After everything was packed, we went on a short hike to Setrock Creek Falls to end our adventure. Beautiful waterfall and the kids had some fun “rock climbing”. Just a week and a half til our next camping trip that will include some whitewater rafting!