Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

So I haven’t blogged about the hubby in a while, and after this week, I think it just may be high time. 

That’s because this week, Resistant-Techie has come front and center of the Topsy drama.  To explain why, though, I’ll need to backtrack just a bit and give you a little history.

Not only is R-T not the techiest tool in the shed, but he is actually quite proud of it, you see.  He makes it known far and wide that he don’t need no stinkin’ flashing lights and beeping sounds in his life.  No sir!  He is a man of the great outdoors!!

So, in keeping with his character, he has made it his life’s goal to see every known (and unknown) waterfall within a 100+ mile radius of where we live.  And let me tell you – – that is no small feat.

R-T hikes in good weather and bad weather.  Alone or in company.  He doesn’t care.  He just wants to explore falling water and take photos of his finds.  Right now I could basically keep every calendar company from here to Nantucket in business with all the incredible waterfall pics that are sitting on our hard drive. 

If R-T doesn’t get to hike at least once a week he gets antsy.  No, no, I mean really antsy.  Trust me…I love the man and he has definitely still got it and all, but I’m all for the hiking, capisce??

Anyhoo – – the hubster often has to hike alone.  That’s because if he always waited for the geek squad to join him, he would be twiddling his thumbs until he had a nasty case of carpal tunnel. So he heads out on his own.  The only requests I make of him are that he please let me know the general direction where he is going and that he please stay on the trail.  That way, if he does run into the inevitable bear, and ends up as Resistant-Techie pellets, I will have the DNA to produce for the life insurance peeps. 

But last week he got cockier than usual when his spidey-senses told him that there was an as-of-yet undiscovered waterfall just over the ridge from the trail he was on.  He WAS in the general direction where he told me, so I suppose he figured one out of two wasn’t bad. 

But it was.  Bad. And now I feel guilty because I should have been there.

Had I been with him, he would have never gone off trail.  And had I been with him, he would have never convinced himself he could walk across a log to get to the other side of a creek.  And had I been with him, he wouldn’t have slipped off that log and landed with his side slammed against it.  And had I been with him, he wouldn’t have a broken rib and three detached ones.

And now, poor hubby has been forbidden by his doc to go out traipsing through the woods for at least 2-4 weeks.  I’m figuring that is going to make him one ANTSY camper.

And me?  Well, let’s just say I SHOULD have been there.

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Darling I Love You, But Give Me Main St. USA

I’m such a tree-hugger at heart, so it is really kind of weird to me that I didn’t end up out in the very edge of the boonies somewhere in a little cottage with a hammock on the front porch and a satellite dish larger than the living room just beyond the tree line.

citylife But I didn’t.  Instead, I’ve spent my entired married life living inside the limits of three different cities.  For the last fifteen years, we’ve lived within walking distance of our downtown, which isn’t a huge deal because the Main St. stretches out only about 9 city blocks, but it is the city, nevertheless. 

What’s even weirder is how much I have grown to enjoy city living.  For many of you, I’m sure that’s hard to comprehend, but let me tell you right now, it has its advantages…

  • Garbage pick-up – – hey…don’t underestimate the importance of having a nice gentleman not only pick up your weekly refuse, but scrape a half-flattened possum off the street in front of your house before it even begins to waft into your intake vents
  • Sidewalks – – those lovely flat sections of concrete that make you ALMOST forget that live at an altitude of 3,000 feet because all those hills in your neighborhood are actually walkable!
  • Snow Removal – – living in the city means (usually) that ours is one of the first roads to get scraped after a blizzard.  Now granted, the scraping usually happens just AFTER we clean the edge of our driveway and there is now a three-foot wall of snow to re-shovel, but nevertheless…it IS scraped
  • Book Access – – not everyone can say that they live a half mile from their county library, now can they??  An escapist afternoon through the latest stack of new fiction is barely a ten minute walk.

And the biggest boon of all?  The most adorable coffee house just opened up not three blocks from us.  Uber has breakfasted there for basically a week straight, and I’ve already spent two fun afternoons with friends cozied up on their sun porch with a steaming cup of chamomile-strawberry tea. 

There is just something about living in the city that makes you feel like you are “part of something.”  It’s an experience I never quite had at any of my homes in the country growing up.  Now don’t get me wrong…I love the fact that there are around 100 waterfalls within a 100 mile radius, and I take advantage of enjoying them whenever possible, but for day to day living, I guess I’m just a city girl after all.

Field Trip Wars – – Round Four or Snake Handling & Square Dancing

 

Every area or region in the U.S.of A. probably has at least one hidden treasure – –

a spot that not everyone knows about, but that is overwhelming in its beauty or resources.

Our area is actually full of those kinds of places, and yesterday we got to spend the whole afternoon at one of them.  YMCA Camp Greenville is a privately-owned property on the border of North and South Carolina that opened in 1912 as a summer camp for boys. 

Its nearly 500 acres is situated in one of the most magnificent timber and mountainous regions of the Great Smokies.  Camp Greenville offers not only a full schedule of summer camps, but also year-round camps and activities such as retreats for women, family retreats, homeschool days, and retreats for families with children on the autism spectrum.

And then they have just started offering “Family Fun Days”, like yesterday, where they open up their facility and activities – – absolutely free – – for local families to come and experience.  Although we had often heard of and about Camp Greenville, our family was unprepared for just what a delightful place it really is. 

So yesterday, we tried to pack as much into four hours as possible, with a little zip-lining…

A little snake-handling

A little hiking and waterfalling (ok, a LOT of hiking and waterfalling)

A little square-dancing…(that’s Uber and I in the forefront)

A lot of catching our breath over the views from the Symmes Chapel(the place, by the way, where my parents got married, but I had never seen until yesterday…cool, huh?)

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Yep.  I know.  We have it good.  Let’s see what Firefly Mom has up her sleeve this week…

(p.s…if you want to join in the Field Trip Wars, feel free to throw your hat in the ring at any time!!)

Field Trip Wars – Round Two

Firefly Mom really pulled out all the guns for her last homeschool field trip, and even got a picture of a big old pile of bear poo.  I threw up the white flag on that one.

But I wasn’t daunted for long.  I secretly knew that I had a two day mini-vacay coming up that included two full 24-hour-periods of educational goodness.  That getaway took place this past weekend, and I feel that I just might have this next round in the palm of my camera-happy hand!

I had heard through the grapevine that the five main Southeastern Native American tribes were coming together to celebrate their culture and arts in the Cherokee reservation that is located less than two hours from home.  And oh what a celebration it was!

There were displays of every possible kind of native craft including basket-making, dream-catchers, blowguns, corn-husk dolls, slate art, masks, and gourd art.  H-T was especially taken with the antique bow and arrow collection, and Uber took his time poring over the tomahawks.

The night schedule of activities at the Fairground was slotted with Tribal Dancing Competitions, so we had some time to fill before then.  We headed a few blocks south of the fairground to take in the sights and sounds at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.  This was compelling combination of static and interactive displays about the history of the Cherokee, and I’ll admit that by the time we got to the part where the Cherokee chiefs traveled all the way to England to plead for a treaty of peace between themselves and the European settlements, I was boo-hooing like a lost child in a department store! 

I seriously barely made it through the Trail of Tears display!!  Such injustice!!!

Thank goodness the night’s festivities were a lot more upbeat, and included some great competitive dancing fun between the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes.

I won’t share the X-rated commentary my hubby was giving during this dance called “The Beaver Catcher”.  But I was seriously LMAO throughout the whole performance (probably NOT the reaction they were hoping for!)

H-T even got to get up on stage when they asked for volunteers for a dance called the “Tick Dance.”  He was on cloud nine the rest of the weekend after getting to shake his groove thing with some true Native Americans!!

But the weekend wasn’t ALL steeped in history…we made plenty of nature-based memories as well.  You’ve probably already heard me brag plenty of times of all that our Western North Carolina mountains have to offer, but here is some more pictorial proof….

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I’m thinking that Firefly Mom is quaking in her field-trip planning boots, right about now…

Learning and Lollygagging

My buddy, Firefly Mom, who blogs over at Pack of Hungry Snails is BIG on field trips.  If you ever had feelings of inadequacy about not doing enough homeschool field trips, then I BEG OF YOU not to frequent her blog, because you’ll basically want to hang up your homeschool uniform, take your bat and ball, and go home.  She does field trips like her life depends on it!!

Us?  Not so much.

Well, until now that is.  Thanks to our recent foray into unschooling, we aren’t tied to Uber’s online school schedule anymore, and we can gallivant all over creation whenever the urge strikes us.  AND our new homeschool support group is big on field trips, so our fall schedule is already packed with things like visiting a chiropractic office, spending an afternoon at a horticulture center, and park days galore.

Nowadays, I have my ears and eyes on “Eagle Alert” for any and all field trip opportunities.  For one, because I’m making up for lost time.  And for another, because Firefly Mom has been a monopoly for too long.  It’s just not good for America if she doesn’t have some honest competition.

So today, we headed down to Chimney Rock.  Chimney Rock is a 1000-acre state park boasting attractions like a 400-ft. waterfall, a nature observatory, interpretive trails, and a 500 million year old monolith that sticks out like a chimney and provides one of the most spectacular views of a mountain gorge you will ever have the privilege to see!

Today, Chimney Rock was hosting one of their monthly homeschool days, and we were determined to take part.  The theme was Nature Journaling, which interestingly enough has been one of Uber’s latest passions. 

After assembling their nature journals with paper, sticks, and twine, the group headed toward the woods to do some observation, sketching, and practice with descriptive adjectives.

There was PLENTY of nature to interact with.  Trees, flowers, boulders, and a handful of live critters too!

I guess watching live critters makes us Topsies hungry, because as soon as we finished with our class, we headed up the mountain toward the chimney, and even better – – the Chimney Rock Cafe!  This was the view from our lunch table…

Tuna salad, nachos and cheese, and pizza by the slice was just the fuel we needed!  We had plenty of energy for our climb up to the chimney…

where we saw even more of the beauty of this clear September day in Western North Carolina…

Then it was time to put our hiking boots on and head out for Hickory Nut Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the state.  I’ve lived here basically my whole life, and had NEVER visited this waterfall, so I was bound and determined to get there today!

It did NOT disappoint…

The long hike was taxing…especially because summer decided it wasn’t quite done with us, and it was 85 degrees in the park today.  But we made it!  ( I could give away the fact that we had to recuperate about 10 minutes longer than the 80-ish-yr-old  looking couple that got to the falls just ahead of us, but that would be embarrassing, so I’ll just keep that to myself)

 

Last thing on the day’s agenda?  Grabbing some of the best ice cream in the world at the Chimney Rock ice cream parlor, and taking it down by the river, to soak our tired footsies and reflect on how awesome this unschooling thing really is!

 

Take THAT Firefly Mom!!

I Have a Permanent Grudge Against July 4th

Its bad to hate a holiday, (and although I’m not necessarily Little Mary Sunshine, I still enjoy a good celebration), but after this weekend, I’m officially putting July 4th on my Grudge List.  Stupid Independence Day.

It started out okay.  We headed to a waterfall we had never visited (which was basically at the bottom of a ravine, so we had quite a climb down and up).  It was a beautiful place, and so shaded we actually had goose bumps in the middle of an 80 degree day!  We had a picnic, sitting sideways because of the angle of the ground, and watched our resident daredevil – – H-T – – trudge through the coldest water known to man to get a closer look at the bottom of the falls.  A pretty decent start to a day.

In the evening, we went out for Chinese…there is quite possibly a law against eating Chinese on a quintessentially American holiday….so lets keep that one between us.  But it was GOOD Chinese, and the guy that checked us out said “Happy 4th” in the cutest Asian accent, and it made the whole meal even better.

Then at supper, things started to go south.  First of all, we kind of all realized we didn’t want to fight the crowds to see any formal fireworks this year.  So what to do instead?  The testosterone three came up with the idea of going to see Transformers 2.  Oh joy – – just what I’ve always wanted to do on America’s birthday – – watch cars save the world.  But I knew that my favorite theater – – the one where you can have wine and nachos with your movie – – just happened to be showing a chick flick at approximately the same time, so we made a pact to celebrate America by pouring some cash into her failing economy.

But therein lay the critical error.  As we headed out to watch sub-par movies in separate overcrowded theaters, we forgot that our two dogs were home, locked in the outside fence, with basically World War Three going on around them.  Our neighborhood was overrun this year with people shooting off illegal fireworks, and our dogs were beside themselves with terror.  I found this out when I arrived home from my movie and discovered our Terrier-mix shaking in his fur, and our other dog – our 10-year-old black lab – – missing. 

The fireworks had so panicked her that she basically dug her way out of our bolstered metal fence and pushed it to the warping point to squeeze her body through and seek some kind of shelter from the noise and commotion.  And she has never come back.  We are devastated beyond belief.  She is SUCH a part of our family, and has been a source of joy for us since H-T’s fourth birthday all those years ago. 

All this because of the 4th of July, and people who think they just HAVE to create a firestorm to have a good time.  So that’s why I now have a permanent grudge against this former day of celebration.  I’d probably even kick a picture of ole’ Uncle Sam right now. 

I just want my doggie back!!

Looking for a Tour Guide?

The Topsies have company!  In what is an absolutely appropriate turn of events for a tech-geek, Uber developed a relationship with one of his classmates at the virtual reality school he has attended the last couple of years.  He and she became really close over this school year and began “dating” online sometime after the holidays.

I’ve watched in awe and fascination as her name came up in conversation over and over again, and he seemed to know as much about her as if she had grown up next door to him all his life.  This online dating is an interesting thing because the constant conversations that are required to maintain it mean that the dating couple probably get to know each other far better, at least in some respects, than couples who live in the same town!

Anyway, this young lady lives approximately four states away, but her mom was willing and eager to drive the ten hour trek from her state to ours and bring her for a week-long visit so these two could finally meet in person.  And that has been the excitement of the summer for Uber and the rest of the Topsies!

Because they have never visited NC before, we have had the most wonderful time showing them around our waterfalls, small-town shops, and mountain overlooks.  As if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of our area enough, it has been incredible seeing it through the eyes of folks who usually breathe only the smoggy air of the big city. 

I find that the Topsies have a talent I was unaware of until now…tour guides, extraordinaire!  We have so much pride in our natural beauty here that I guess it just spills out of us as we lead our guests through the paces of mountain life. 

So if you are struggling to come up with your next vacation spot, I have an inside source on a personalized tour.   For the right amount of flattery, I’ll put you right at the top of the docket for the next round of official “Tours With The Topsies!!”