Our family took two short but fun trips this weekend. On Saturday we went to Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley. Growing up in Kingsport, I remember seeing TV ads for it, but we never went. It's basically a small western themed amusement park. "Small" anyway compared to Six Flags and such. Even though it's a busy season for the park, the crowds were barely crowds. About half the time we didn't have to wait to get on a ride, and the other half we waited at most for two cycles of the ride to get on - MAYBE 10 minutes. On the kids' rides, Stephen could just stay on and ride again if the line was small enough (which it usually was). And, every hour on the hour is a gunfight in the "town" (a.k.a., concessions & gift stores area). They really got their money's worth out of us from the concessions ($2.29 for one order of fries!). But we all had a great time. The ski lift ride up was very pleasant. I haven't ridden on a "Scrambler" in a long time, and remember now why it is one of my favorite carnival rides. Also, the park is up on top of a mountain and the view is really incredible. The only real souvenir we brought back was a sunburn (Kristy and me anyway - Stephen and Lydia were thoroughly doused in sunscreen).
This afternoon we went for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love the views, both the myriad of living things you can see up close from the road (some rhododendron were blooming) and the amazing views of the mountains. We went toward Asheville from the Balsam exit (mile 444, I think) and stopped to "hike" part of the Richard Balsam Trail (mile 430 or so?). We discovered that Stephen absolutely loves to hike. He had a great time and would have gone much faster if us old parents would have let him. I have no idea where all that energy comes from, but I wish I did! I carried Lydia in the Snuggli and she wiggled and squealed many times on the way, tried to grab every branch in reach, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself. There were some posts along the trail and I called the first one a "marker." Stephen then called all the ones after that "crayons." The mind of a 3 year old is a mysterious but amusing thing. So, our kids enjoyed the hike and I hope we make time to do more.
One last thought: we were out there on the trail starting around 4:30 and the temperature according to our van's display was 64 degrees F. In the middle of July. I love living in the mountains.