That afternoon Dean went for a run. He was very excited to be able to run a stretch of the Appalachian Trail. He drove up to Bald mountain and went from there. It was very cold and windy and the trails steep, icy and treacherous, and of course, he loved it.
Top of the Mountain
While he was running, Dad and I, my kids, and Jerry & Andrea drove up to the top of the Roan and hiked the half mile to the look out platform. This was the first time my kids had been there and I think the last time I went was the week Dean and I got together in 1988, so that was cool. The path was pretty treacherous in that it was very icy. It was rather like walking on a small frozen creek bed. I think each kid fell once, but no-one was hurt. At the platform it was SO windy and cold but we managed a few pictures. On the walk back, Roan found a tree with the branches low enough that he could climb it. He usually can't climb the ones he sees his brother and sister climbing. He said proudly, "Mommy, this is the only tree I can climb!"
There was a little snow up there so the kids enjoyed throwing a few snowballs. Not on ME, though, I was holding the camera. Hehe.
Roan & Grandpa
We had dinner at mom, dad, Andrea & Jerry's cabin. Andrea & Jerry hosted with spaghetti with homemade Italian sausage spaghetti sauce, garlic bread and salad. It was delicious! After dinner we all gathered in our cabin for the Christmas story, traditionally told by Grandpa. The kids were even (IMHO)remarkably quiet and attentive. Dad didn't tell the traditional story of the birth of Jesus this year but rather from the perspective of Simean and Anna who's lives culminated in their respective opportunities to hold their savior in their arms as promised. I really enjoyed it.
Christmas morning we all agreed to meet back at our cabin at 9 am. Unlike certain friends of mine whose child woke up at 2 am wanting to open presents, Roan and Kai didn't wake up until 8:15 and I had to drag Alyssa out of bed at 8:45 and she was grumpy! LOL!
The Lawrence Clan
We had a great Christmas. Jerry and Andrea had some payback for Dean when they presented him with a scavenger hunt to find his present. He has been the author many times of said torture and it was fitting that it be returned to him! Dean's gift for me was a riddle that when solved would lead me to my gift. He was kind though, and made it not too difficult and as usual, was very creative. It started with a long hand-written letter that I loved and it reminded me of all the letters we wrote during our pre-marriage years. I'm so glad we didn't have email back then.
One thing we always do, is visit Fred's Mercantile on Beech Mt., so that is what we did on Wednesday. I love this place. Of course, it was a lot more quaint 20 years ago. (did I just say 20 years ago? Surreal...) Now it is much more built up and touristy. The mercantile is on the main floor and sells everything from groceries, winter clothing, toys, and hardware, to walking sticks, bear bells and Wizard of Oz collectibles. Upstairs they have a Christmas shop and kitchen store. Down stairs is a little cafe and ski shop. That's where we ate lunch. My favorite thing about Fred's is that you can go skiing at the top of Beech Mountain, then half way down, ski over to Fred's, eat some lunch, then ski on down the rest of the slope.
Unfortunately, this year we didn't get any snow to speak of. One of our favorite things to do is sled down the afore-mentioned 'Barn Hill' right next to the cabins. However, since we couldn't do that this year, we took the kids to a small sledding hill down the road from Fred's.
After sledding, we drove to Valle Crucis to visit The Mast General Store (the original) and the Annex. Have to go to the Annex, of course, as it has an awsome candy store!
Thursday was our last full day as we were leaving Friday morning. Dean went running again, this time on highly ambitious trails closer to the cabins. While he was gone, the rest of us (except mom) went on a walk. Dad took us to the Ranger's office where he showed us a stuffed and mounted fully body black bear. It was captured 70 miles away and was the second largest black bear found in the area. The largest had been found much closer. Then we moved on and walked along the Doe River and took lots of pictures.
One thing more I must mention. We start every trip with a family prayer that God will protect us and bring us safely to our destination and home again. As we left Roan Mt., Roan even made sure we remembered to pray! On the way home, a vehicle from the other side of the highway lost it's trailer. This trailer came careening all the way across the grassy median into the oncoming traffic. It headed straight for us. We couldn't swerve left because there was a car next to us. We couldn't brake because there was a car right behind us. Dean swerved onto the shoulder and hit the gas. If we had stayed in our lane or our heavy load had not allowed us to accelerate fast enough, it would have crashed right into us. As it was, it ended up harmlessly in the grass on the other side of the road. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness and watching over us (and the other drivers) on the road!