We’re back! Three weeks on the road as a family of four crammed into a Nissan Cube was awesome and hard and the best thing ever all rolled up in one! I shared about the first half of our trip here, where we visited family in Florida, and then wanted to share the last half here! We spent a full week in Waynesville, NC where I grew up. It was much cooler than Florida, and a really nice compliment to the trip! Instead of swimming pools and heat, we had hiking and bugs. I loved the contrast (but the bugs, not so much)! Scroll all the way through because I’m going to share about the events as you scroll. 🙂
There was a lot of time with cousins. I love how they pick up right where they left off!
And Gator rides. They had way too much fun roaming the mountain on their great-grandfathers Gator!There was a death that week… a butterfly passed away peacefully in the yard, and was given a proper burial. Notice how more cousins keep arriving? They have 14 cousins on my side of the family, but we didn’t get to see all of them this trip.Lots of drawing and coloring. I love her creative process!And this is the puppy that won Zane over. He has an intense fear of dogs and cats, but after a week of working up to it, he finally touched this puppy in order to get a cupcake. He was thrilled with himself, and continued to touch and eventually pet dogs during the trip!And the four wheeler. Zane is a big fan of four wheelers!!July 4th in my family is a big deal. We have 98273492873 sparklers for the kids and the whole family gets together!This was Zane’s first fourth of July celebration because last year he was prepping for surgery. We worked hard to prepare him for the surprise noises and colors of fireworks and… he loved them!!! Yay!!!!But seriously… these cousins are precious! Most of them range from 3-8 years old so it’s pretty cool to see them join in on things together.Don’t let his face fool you– he was super intently looking at the fireworks and loved them!I didn’t have the right lens for fireworks, or a tripod, but still got some cool shots.Service was also something that was important to us this trip. We wanted to do things along the way that encouraged the kids to serve others. We did a few things, but this was one of our faves! We visited “The Betty’s” in the nursing home. My great Aunt Betty is a legend in my hometown because she has impacted so many lives. One woman even wrote a book about her! And the second Betty is her daughter-in-laws mother, who is also named Betty. Isn’t that neat?
We took several dozen flowers to the nursing home as well, and let the kids hand them out with wreckless abandon. It seemed to be quite a hit with the residents and encouraged our kids to get out of their comfort zone. I remember visiting nursing homes as a kid and it was always a little scary. They were champs and respectful and kind– I definitely want to do this again!We also rode on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad! The kids posed this picture all by themselves. It cracked me up!
I have 2938723987 photos of Josh making silly faces with the kids. It’s going to be so fun when looking back on pictures over the years!A bit sweaty, we made it to Nantahala Outdoor Center for a quick stop before riding back.The train rode past Fontana Lake, which I went to every summer growing up. So many memories here!Also, that bruise… Zane face planted on the porch the morning of the train ride. The pump knot was HUGE!Another service project- we put flowers on two family members graves. Hazel drew a picture of Josh’s grandfathers grave so she could mail it to his grandmother to see. <3 Her thoughtfulness is so sweet!And Zane had a ball in the graveyard. :/ Him and Mr. Brown (who we absolutely do not know) really seemed to hit it off…And then the hike! Oh man, what a bust. We took family pictures with breathtaking mountain views, and it was only a half mile hike, which is rare for that kind of view! So we decided to go back and invited my family along. All my siblings were able to come! I have 3 brothers and a sister, so it’s rare that we all get to hang on a random day. But the fog was THICK. So thick that my brother who rode a motorcycle had to turn back for safety reasons (and also because 5 miles of the parkway was just gravel road on that day!).A hike is fun no matter what, but we definitely didn’t get the long range mountain view we were hoping for!
In fact, we couldn’t even really see the mountain we were on!!But we had fun and Zane photobombed every picture he could.This place below. <3 I visited it at some point when I was little but I don’t remember when or why. The only reason I can recall it is because I had a recurring dream about it for several years. It’s a river that runs over the road. Intentionally. It’s so coolI’m so thankful we were able to make this trip!