Ahhh, lady Summer. With her arrival come the vibrant greens, the azure skies, the cool breezes, and the call of the open road. If you live anywhere in the country other than New Orleans that is... Here, summer means buckets of sweat, inflated prices at the movies, warm showers, thunderstorms that only make it hotter outside, and humidity as far as the eye can see.
Needless to say, the summer road trip becomes a necessity. There are those that would question My and Silverfoxes sanity for attempting a 3000 mile road trip with two young kids (one of whom is still in diapers). After having done it, I would join them.
Seriously though, it wasn't that bad... Our biggest problem was the fact that Pint Size isn't quite walking yet, and our combo of umbrella stroller/carry on the hip was physically more taxing than I think Silverfox or I was really ready for. We bought the boys their own personal DVD players before we left New Orleans, and got Short Stuff a PSP. While I questioned their value at the time, Silverfoxes wisdom proved that the electronics were worth their weight in gold by the end of the first ten-hour leg of the trip. We got a full 1000 miles behind us before I heard the first "Are we there yet" from the back seat.
At each state line, Silverfox insisted on a group photo... rather than sharing them all with you, here is the first and best of them:
Yes, the Mississippi state line is only an hour away from the house... that's why the picture is so good... the boys and I are still fresh and optimistic. We drove all the way to Asheville, North Carolina that first day... having to break out onto state roads through the great smoky mountains to get there. For those of you that have never driven dark mountain roads in the summer, the word "harrowing" doesn't do it justice... thick fog on winding roads with hundred foot drops on either side makes for white knuckle driving.
Although, one of my favorite memories of the trip happened on that leg... we passed by a used car lot, and Silverfox caught sight of an old Volkswagon Beetle for sale for only 600 bucks. She told me about it, wondering if the Expedition was up to towing the car back home, and I asked her what color the car was.
"Black." She said.
"PUNCHBUGGY BLACK!" I yelled, and gave her a shot in the arm. I know it seems mean, but rest assured she got me back later in the trip when we passed a volkswagon dealership.
We had been worried about how Pint Size was going to react to staying in hotels on the trip (he's wierd like that sometimes) but we shouldn't have... as soon as we got to the room he did this:
"Okay... bedtime!" After a good night's sleep, we headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Short Stuff got to see mountains for the first time. Silverfox was amazed as well, and all I heard from them after the first scenic overlook was "ooooo!" and "ahhhhh!" punctuated by the occasional "Wow!". Before long, we pulled into a promising looking overlook to stretch our legs:
We made sure of Pint Sizes safety in the mountains by buying a special hiking harness for him to wear, complete with a teather that would support his weight if he got far enough away from us to take a running leap off a cliff or something:
Yes, it's a leash... but when I turned to talk to Short Stuff about something, Pint Size made a dash for a pretty flower just over the edge of the ridge, it also kept him from plummeting into a ravine. Here's a great pic of Silverfox and the kids at that overlook:
The elevation is 3175 feet above sea level, or about 3185 feet above where our house sits. This amazed Short Stuff. He asked if we were high enough to touch clouds, and Silverfox pointed out that the road headed into this:
What Silverfox didn't know however, is that there was an overlook right there. so we got out, and touched some clouds as they came up from the valley and past the ridge Silverfox got some great video of the event that totally makes my butt look big:
You can tell by Pint Sizes face that he thought it was pretty cool, too. When I asked Short Stuff what the cloud felt like, he though about it for a few moments before proudly reporting that "it felt wet."
After touching the clouds, Short Stuff and I looked for some rocks for his collection. For those that don't know, due to a quirk of geography there are no natural rocks or rock formations in New Orleans, so Short Stuff is naturally facinated by them...
That picture was taken just before Short Stuff was attacked by a swarm of gnats, and completely lost any interest he had in exploring nature for the day. After we passed a sign that said "WARNING! HIGH COLLISION AREA NEXT THREE MILES!" Silverfox and I decided that we had had enough of it too. After all, Washington D.C. awaited only another days drive away...