This past weekend we traveled to…
the beautiful blue ridge mountains!
At about the ninth hour of driving…Dexie, is that a wink or an eye twitch?!
Baby, only three more hours to go! haha
Look at all those onions.
Finally! Into the smoky mountains we go!
Black Mountain, NC…home of…
The Greatest Place on Earth (or at least right up there with Spy Garden ;)
Camp Merri-Mac has been a major influence in my life. I was a camper there from age 11-16 and I was a CIT (counselor in training) at 17. It is very fun for me to think of all of the things I do in my adult life that somehow relate to my days as a camper. Art, crocheting, gardening, swimming, exploring the woods: all of my hobbies and interests have some sort of roots in Camp Merri-Mac. There are wooden swings in our backyard. We spend lots of quality time in creeks. We even live on a one lane dirt/gravel road (just like camp!) Pretty much on any given afternoon, I might as well be at summer camp…enjoying our low ropes course (zip line, slack line and again, those joyous wooden swings!), singing camp songs to the kids (since they were babies!) and just generally spending loads of time outdoors learning new things.
Though there was no gardening at camp, gardening is very much a camp-type pursuit (again, outdoors: learning new things!). The excitement of tribal competition (Go Seminoles!) I now find at little league games (Go Knights!). Chapel is now church and the alarm clock is Reveille. Well maybe that last one’s a stretch;)! My sister always tells me our laundry smells like the laundry at camp. This is probably because we always have at least a couple of articles of clothing that have gotten thoroughly filthy and wet (another important tenet of summer camp!).
A major reason I’ve never gotten my kids any video games or let them play on a phone and limited TV time is because camp was (and still is) always totally technology-free. True to form, even on the (looong! 11+ hours!) drive to North Carolina, the kids stared out the window and sketched on scrap paper; no ipads or video games on our road trips just like “in my day” (I can say that now! Hahaha)!
In my professional life as a psychiatric nurse I guide and encourage others to find joy, meaning and purpose in life: something I began to learn at camp. Exploring the deeper value of leisure pursuits and conveying the importance of exploring spirituality are passions born at camp.
And of course there’s the creek and mud and friendship of Baby’s Forest School: much like camp (year round!)
Even though Camp Merri-Mac and Timberlake are on the same campus, they keep the two camps quite separate. Until now I didn’t know too much about Timberlake but I figured it is probably the greatest place on earth for a boy in the summer; since that’s true about Merri-Mac for girls!
So off we sent our first-born, our precocious progeny, into the blue ridge mountains for the next two weeks!
But first we checked out the sights of…
Lake Susan in Montreat
Snapping turtle laying eggs next to Lake Susan
Baby’s first time in a canoe! (canoeing was always my favorite camp activity and I took trips to the many rivers in the area)
Hit the trail!
Skilled little hiker!
Cute little red mushroom
We hiked for four hours (much of which was uphill!) Whew!
The woods are loaded with magnolias
Dexie enjoyed many dips in the cold clear mountain streams.
We also explored Black Mountain, NC with easy walking access from this cheap and convenient hotel
My Father’s Pizza (a Black Mountain tradition!)
Father and son at My Father’s Pizza
At Dairy King (a Black Mountain tradition!)
Iconic Dairy King sign (iconic to me anyways;)
Great Smoky Mountains
This area is a beautiful place for a nice drive…
Ahhhhh cool mountain air!
Chimney Rock drive-by
Feel free to make a joke about what else this rock looks like. lol
Many pretty vistas
Finally it was time for drop-off!
Home for our little (big!) camper for the next two weeks!
Outside the cabin (these hammocks must be all the rage! We saw them all over the place!)
Blue Heaven; the first cabin I was ever in (age 11)!
The counselors snap shots of the kids and post them to a parents’ site so fortunately we have a little window into what he is up to…
Initiated into the Seminoles! So far, so good!
In 2012, a great camp friend of mine invited me to be a raft guide, the summer after my freshman year of college, which is where I met Smoochie. So no camp? No Smoochie, no little spies, no Spy Garden! Thank God for camp!