Okay...back up and running in so many ways. It's been awhile since we've updated this. We'll try to make a more regular schedule about it. The last month has been quite crazy b/w work and school.
In more recent news though...it feels good to be back and clean again. That may sound strange, but we just returned from camping in Great Smokey Mountain National Park. It was a blast, but a couple days of no showers and lugging a three year old around in summer heat make for a nasty situation.
But all survived and it was a blast. Brian reiterated over and over that he loves camping. We headed up there Sunday, about a 4 hour drive that took a little longer due to some snags at Walmart. We stopped on our way out of town about noon to pick up the last few groceries, some camping supplies, and a few other misc things. So we get all the way to checkout only to learn that you are only allowed to buy groceries in SC b/w the hours of midnight and 1:30 PM on Sunday. As it was 12:30 at this time, we buy just the groceries, head up the road for an hour and stop at another Walmart to get the remaining supplies.
So we finally made it there and Sunday night was mostly relaxing...dinner was hot dogs on the fire w/ some busch's baked beans...and playing some monopoly - newly purchased from walmart - with Brian and Allison. The game had to be postponed til the next night.
Early Monday brought a trip to BK so that I could spend some time working, while Allison, Kelly, and Brian played around camp...Brian took a swim trying to cross the rocks in the river...Allison and Kelly nearly joined him. Later, we headed out hiking in the later morning and made it up to Clingman's Dome by lunch time. It's the highest place in the park w/ a watchtower that you can go up. By go up I mean they have a huge ramp so people can walk up. I swear the place was as crowded as Disney World...just a lot more people gasping for breath as it's a steep half mile walk up there...but they have benches every hundred feet and it's paved. So needing some more rugged hiking we headed out on the Appalachian trail for the "short"...according to my Dad's memory from 30 years ago...hike to Charlie's Bunion Gap. About 2 miles in (all up hill) we met some people with a map who informed us that it was another two miles. As we surveyed our water supply and felt we would not have enough to continue Kelly informed us that she had to throw up (I was carrying her...she wasn't walking) and did. So this ended the debate and back down the mountain we headed. We didn't quite make it where we wanted, but we had fun, saw some nice views, and Kelly seemed fine after she slept for most of the rest of the afternoon.
Brian conquered in Monopoly that night, a quick trip back to BK for more work fun the next morning, and after breaking camp we headed out for some more hiking...this time up Chimney Tops...a 2 mile trail that climbs 1700 feet. Brian did a great job...Kelly said it was hard work giving directions from my back. Chimney tops was a rock spire at the top of the mountain that you could climb up (after hiking the two miles)...we went up a ways...then down...then back up...and so on as we (actually just I) chased the kids). We didn't go all the way as the climbing got pretty dangerous, but Brian and I did see a black bear just over the ledge...I'd say more of a cliff, but there he was...eating berries about 30 feet away. The hike down was quicker, but ended w/ us getting caught in a rain storm. But we made it back and after driving back down here all are tired...Kelly even went to bed on her own saying, "I'm tired"...something I don't think we ever heard before.