Day two of our trip to the mountains, consisted of a drive through Smoky Mountain National Park. We were hoping that the higher that we went in elevation, the more the leaves would have changed their color and the temperature would be cooler…we were right. Sometimes it is a little hard for us to tell whether the fog over the mountains is lifting or if it is moving in to stay. Instead of stopping at a few look out points on the way over to the other side, we decided that we would wait it out and see if the visibility improved at all. It didn’t, in fact it got worse. That was okay though, it all added to the fall experience. We stopped at Newfoundland Gap for a few photos, but the wind cutting through was freezing and we all raced back to the car…. 🙂
The view from Aunt Barbara’s deck.
This year for Columbus Day weekend, mom and I decided to take the boys north to feel a little fall. With only a couple of days to play, we thought that one day in Asheville would be a great stop. We had lunch downtown, stopped and wandered through a small festival, and then headed over to the Biltmore. Davy loves history, so visiting the Biltmore Estate or ‘the big house’ as he called it was just his kind of thing. They even had a children’s pamphlet which gave clues on each level to play I Spy. We went on the tour, stopped in the gift shop, and then drove around the property, it really is so beautiful there. For dinner, we headed back to Franklin and met up with Aunt Barbara and Ikey at Fat Buddies…Yum!
Davy gets a hold of my camera while waiting in line to enter….
Nothing says fall more to me than watching the leaves change color, hayrides and pumpkin patches….so imagine our delight when we stumbled across Burt’s Pumpkin Patch on our way to Amicalola Falls.
At Burt’s farm they have pumpkins that range from an eye-popping 150 lbs. to a modest 1 lb. They grow thousands of pumpkins (in fact they told us that they sell over 10,000 a year), so the selection is vast and the quantity is never-ending. One of the most fascinating features of Burt’s farm is the impressive selection of every type of pumpkin, winter squash, gourds and fall decoration. Indian corn, cornstalks and hay bales are also in never-ending supply at the farm. They also offer a hayride that is pulled by a John Deere tractor, it takes you through a winding trail filled with crops, nature and beauty.
This was by far the most beautiful pumpkin patch we have been too. I was just as excited as the boys. So many to choose from!!!
The first thing that we decided to do was go on a hayride. It passed by several different crops, went through a covered bridge, and slowed in front of a spooky grave yard. Davy loved the grave yard!
After the hayride we let the boys run free. Which ones will they choose? And the prices were so cheap!!!
We finally convinced Andy that we weren’t leaving without a really big one and a few small ones, so he caved and went for the wheelbarrow. Love Love Love the Pumpkin Patch!
After we left the festival we decided to take the boys to pick some apples. They love to pick blueberries, so we thought that this would be fun too. Davy just finished an apple lesson in school, Johnny Appleseed, so perfect timing. There were quite a few different orchards that we could choose from, BJ’s seemed to have the largest crowd. We figured if everyone else wanted to go there, then we should too.
Now, I have heard of a lot of things, but what I have never heard of is fried pies. Andy is our pie eater in the family and his eyes were huge. When we got up to the counter, they had every kind of pie imaginable. Apple, cherry, chocolate, cream cheese, peach, pecan, etc. Yum! Of course we had to sample a few of them.
And they are off into the orchard to find us some trees that are full of apples…
What!!! How dare you throw apples at mama!!! Silly boys…
The apples all over the ground is what surprised me the most. What a waste. Matty liked to pick them up and bite into them, then he would throw it down and pick up another… No stopping the bear….
What did we do with all of our apples you ask??? We brought them home, back to Florida, and made apple jelly. Yum!
Ellijay, Ga is known for it apples and we were very excited to discover that this was the weekend for the Georgia State Apple Festival. The boys love the Strawberry Festival, so we just knew that they would love this too. The festival had a tons of rides and outdoor activities…and they wouldn’t have to be riding around in the car.
Matty was so brave to go down this big slide.
I love the big corn fields in the background. Reminds me of a trip Andy and I once took to Turkey Creek when we lived in Chicago.
Ok, the boys (and I do mean all three of them) had great fun with this apple cannon. If we could have brought it home, they would have….
After we left Helen we decided to take the boys on a hike, and the one closest is Anna Ruby Falls which is located just north of the town and in Chattahoochee National Forest. The waterfalls are named for the daughter of John H. Nichols, a wealthy White County resident who owned much of the land in the vicinity. Besides the falls, Nichols had purchased significant amounts of land around the Chattahoochee River, Duke’s Creek and Sautee River. Although the stories of the discovery of Annaruby Falls vary, one frequently circulated myth is that Nichols found them while riding shortly after the death of his wife and child. The falls were known as early as 1819 and are noted on survey maps of the era, long before Nichols owned the land. The trail was easy and the boys just loved running up and down the paved path. :O)
Bright and early we headed out this morning, excited for a full day of exploring. Of course we had to stop at Starbucks first for some coffee, and it was there that they directed us to Big Bear Cafe for breakfast, a local mom and pop place. This restaurant is located next to the train station and you know that you are in a small town when you walk in and half of the people in there say “Good Morning”. Breakfast was cheap and delicious and I think that Andy had some of the best cheesy hash browns I have ever had…yum!
After our bellies were full, we drove over to Toccoa, Ga to see the famous Currahee Mountain. Andy has been talking about this mountain since we saw the first episode of Band of Brothers when the soldiers were in training. Here’s a little history tidbit… In 1942 the 506th Parachute Infantry received their training at the foot of Currahee and began each day by running 3 miles up the mountain and 3 miles back down. The regimental patch that they wore had the word Currahee and an outline of the mountain on it. There battle cry was “Currahee”. Boys who became Men and Brothers in war, as a result of their training in this unit, were from all walks of life and all parts of the United States. Every year they have a race to the top of the mountain and back and every year Andy asks me if I want to run it.
We stopped at the Military Museum first. Just Andy and Davy went through the museum, Matty and I played outside; he needed to do a little running. We wandered into the gift shop and then set off to drive to the top of the mountain. It was a slow dirt road, but the views were beautiful.
After we left the mountain, we headed west towards Helen. I have been hearing about this town for years but have never had the opportunity to visit it…so this trip is the perfect opportunity.
Helen is a unique town in that it is a re-creation of an alpine village. It is complete with cobblestone alleys, old-world towers, buildings that have gingerbread trim, and scenes painted throughout of Bavaria and North Georgia. One of the things that it is most known for is that it has the longest running Oktoberfest in the country; running from September 22 to October 30. “Oktoberfest you say???” and Andy was in.
There is really only one road in and out of Helen and the traffic was not fun at all. We stopped to get some cash, and decided that the bank drive through teller was just as good as anywhere to park, so we did. We did one quick walk through of the town and then decided to put our name on the wait list at the troll tavern and restaurant. While we waited the boys played in the river and we settled in with an ice-cold draft beer. For lunch, there really wasn’t any other option…we had to go with the combo wurst platter…delicious! After lunch we wandered around a little more and then decided to head out. It was unique and fun…but crowded.
Every year Davy gets Columbus Day and the day after off, which falls around the second week of October and nothing, sounds more fun than heading north to experience a little fall. Everyone already knows how much he loves the mountains, so a long weekend in cooler weather…sign us up.
Aunt Barbara already had visitors planned at her home this weekend, so last-minute Andy says, “well lets find a place on Lake Lanier and explore new towns at the base of the Smoky Mountains”; so that’s what we did. We found this little house on VRBO.com and luckily for us it was listed with a last-minute fall special that fell into our price range. It was a small house, located in Gainesville, Ga, probably around 800 square feet, but it had a loft with two double beds that the boys just loved. We didn’t spend a lot of time in the house; mostly we were out by 8am and didn’t return until 7ish. We had planned on doing a little fishing, but there has been a drought in Atlanta and the lake was low, so we changed our mind and decided to do more hiking instead.
Some of the characteristics of the house included: a really steep driveway, a tin roof that banged loudly every time an acorn fell on it (by the way – there were hundreds of acorns and they were the biggest acorns that I have ever seen, between an inch and an inch and a half long) so it sounded like gunfire was going off all night, a huge screened in porch (that we loved and is a must one day in our mountain house), and there was white carpet! Not sure why the owners would put white carpet in a Lake House…it made me so nervous the entire time.
The boys had a great time. It was fun watching them share a room and they loved eating outside on the porch.
Eating breakfast on the porch.
Matty in the Loft.
So my beautiful next door neighbor decided that today she was gonna host a little “Fall Fun” for our gang on the street and boy did the kids have a good time. With so many horse farms near by, it was really easy for Kelly to find a Feed store and pick up a hay bale. For $8.00, a whole bunch of kids (the Carothers, the Zahn’s, the McKinnon’s, and the Heller’s) had a great time making a scare crow and cannon balling in the hay. After the clean-up it was time to bob for apples. It was the first time for all of them and they were super cute trying to get a good bite…. Next up… Pumpkins!!!