Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Mountain Trip 2014: Recap

Let's get this out of the way first: road tripping with little ones is hard and can drive you crazy sometimes, but it's (sometimes) worth it, and can even be enjoyable (sometimes). The primary things we learned from our weekend overnight road trip were:
1) We might need to upgrade Marla's car seat before the next trip. (She was constantly complaining about it.)
2) Staying in a hotel for just one night isn't really that nice. We already knew that, but it's especially true now. Six trips to the car and back to get all of our stuff. For just one night!

We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we really wanted to make that annual fall mountain trip before the foliage peaked. And, it had been 6 months since we went an overnight road trip. (Duke Hospital doesn't count.) Scenes like this made it all worth it:

That was off the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Asheville, which is where we saw the best foliage of the weekend. Some more pictures from up there:

(These are mostly Amber's pictures, and she's already posted these on Facebook. I decided not to worry about picture taking or live tweeting the trip, because I didn't need any additional distractions.)

We also went to Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. Bruce's first state highpoint! #5 for Marla. This is at least the 3rd time I've been here, and out of those three, I doubt the weather has been as nice as it was that day.

And aside from a stop at a playground on our way out there, and because we had to drive all the way to Greenville, SC to get to our hotel (Greenville hotels are WAY cheaper than Asheville hotels), that was pretty much all we had time for the first day. When you have two little kids with you, stops that would normally only take the two of us 15 minutes can take upwards of 90 minutes.

On day two, we first went to Caesars Head State Park, just on the South Carolina side of the state line. I think Upstate South Carolina has some underrated scenery. I'm assuming most North Carolinians probably don't bother coming down here:

Our next stop was Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in Flat Rock, NC, which was a nice setting...except that we didn't make it to the house or the goat farm itself, because we had the stroller with us, and the paths weren't stroller friendly, and we didn't feel like walking all the way to the car and back again to get the baby carrier. Whoops! (And, it was lunch time, and we were hungry.)

Finally, ice cream in Gastonia as we worked our way back to Durham. (Tony's Ice Cream is excellent, by the way.)

And, that's that! Lots of work, but it was (mostly) worth it, and we learned a lot for the next road trip.

Statistical stuff

The full weekend route is mapped out here.

This was the first time we took Bruce out of state. Bruce is now up to 32 counties - 31 in North Carolina, 1 in South Carolina. Marla's county total is now 532, including 74/100 in North Carolina. Marla had been to South Carolina before, of course, but this was the first time she's overnighted in South Carolina. (Bruce's map, Marla's map)

This was the first big road trip for the Subaru, and it handled the mountains great, although it's not as much fun to drive as a smaller car, of course. I also enjoyed getting "99.9" miles per gallon on our descent down Mount Mitchell:

About 32 miles per gallon for the entire trip, which is exactly what the Forester's highway mileage is advertised as, so, hooray!

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