Vacations. We need them to rest, to get rejuvenated, to break up the monotony, to disconnect from devices and reconnect with people, and sometimes to challenge ourselves in different ways. As Floridians, we also need them to experience some seasonal weather!
We recently returned from our third trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia. It was one of the most beautiful, relaxing yet active, perfect vacations yet. For a recap of our first trip as well as the reasons we love to go read Mountains are hilly from two years ago.
It took about 7.5 hours to drive from Orlando to Blue Ridge. But it felt not much more than 5 hours because all of the girls (including this one!) slept in the car from 5:30-7:30 am. Thanks Bill! We stopped for a quick breakfast and once to get gas along the way, and then drove straight into town to stretch our legs, eat some lunch, and play in the leaves.
After that, we headed to our cabin for the long weekend and played there for the rest of the day.
We brought dinner from home that night, so Bill and I relaxed on the porch overlooking this beautiful backyard with a glass or two of wine while the girls enjoyed exploring the five acre piece of property that the house was on. They loved the creek and making trails.
After dinner we roasted some marshmallows over a bonfire and then moved to the front yard where we all cuddled together and looked at the stars. Believe it or not, I have never ever seen a shooting star. We saw three (three!) the first night we were out there. The sky was so bright without all of the city lights obscuring our view. It was magical.
I ran the next two mornings. It was so nice not waking up to an alarm, and getting outside to explore whenever I felt like it. I ran a little over six miles the first day, and about four the following day. They were some of my best runs ever in terms of how I felt (especially given the hills), the scenery and the weather. Some views from my runs:
We were supposed to pick apples on our first full day, but the orchard was no longer offering u-pick because they were picked out due to a summer drought. We were bummed about this because it’s one of our favorite things to do, but we stopped by the Mercier general store and picked up some of their apples to take home with us. Those Gold Rush apples. Mmmm.
With no apple picking option, we headed to Tennessee! It was only about twenty minutes to the Ocoee Whitewater Center in the Cherokee National Forest where we enjoyed some rock hopping and a 2.5 mile hike. It was our first time visiting here. The girls LOVED the rocks. These little gymnasts easily made it over the rocks (they were literally jumping from rock edge to rock edge). One of their parents may have taken a spill, but it’s cool.
Cool thing about these rocks. They are natural rocks, but were removed prior to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and repositioned in the river to create the kayak course. During the summer, the rocks are less exposed and the river is full until Labor Day when it is partially drained. I’d love to see what it is like in the summer.
We hiked that day in the Cherokee Forest, and the next day back in Georgia on a trail we’ve hiked on every year (starting when our youngest was 2!) as well as part of a new trail. Being outside and hiking is our family’s happy place.
The very last thirty minutes of hiking on the last day was the only time this happened. These girls are troopers!
On our second night, we met an awesome couple in downtown Blue Ridge for dinner. It was nice catching up with our Blue Ridge friends. I love how there are some people that you may not see for ages, but you are able to quickly reconnect with them when you see them. Bonfire and stargazing on repeat.
After my run the following morning we settled into our vacation morning routine again. How I love rush-less mornings!
After a full day of hiking, we spend the evening at home with dinner we brought from Orlando. Bonfire and stargazing again too. I was so not ready to go home on Sunday. This trip was so easy, relaxing, peaceful, and yet super active every day. This is my ideal vacation recipe. I felt so in tune with nature and my family and myself. When can we go back?
I’ll leave you with a few more fun pictures from the trip.