That's what I told myself to get psyched for our camping trip last weekend to the mountains. Our absolutely most outdoorsy friends Becca and Stan were happy to come with us on a four hour trek to camp overnight in the Linville area of the Appalachian Mountains, just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This time of the year is the absolutely most beautiful time of the year on the Blue Ridge Parkway. On the way up into the mountains we stopped off at a lookout, to stretch our legs and feed the hungry babies. Meet our friends Olivia, Stan, Emerson and Becca.
Miraculously, we were able to find the exact same camping area we stayed at last year with our friends Drew and Alicia! The camping spots were basically secluded spots of clear land off of a dirt road near Wiseman's Lookout. The little camping spots are free, but they lack the amenities of a proper campground, such as running water, toilets, etc. I won't go into detail, but I'll just say that traveling with friends and having no bathroom facilities really takes your friendship to a whole new level.
While the menfolk worked on putting up the tent, Becca and I worked on bundling up the kiddos. Although the Appalachians aren't exactly towering peaks, the elevation brought on an evening chill almost as soon as we arrived.
The girls were cuter than cute all bundled up. Olivia is two months older than Gigi, and could crawl well in her monkey suit. Gigi wasn't as fond of feeling like a marshmallow, and couldn't move much. She kept tipping over and getting very upset. Except here in this picture, where she looks like a very happy camper.
Do you remember me saying a while back that I wish we were more outdoorsy? Well, literally within a week of that comment, some friends of ours (who are older and don't read this blog) approached us and asked if we would like to have their tent, and by "tent" I mean their "Three Room XL Vacation Lodge" that sleeps 10 people. Part of the reason we were so eager to go camping was to try it out before it was too cold and too late into the winter.
By the time the tent was set up, we decided not to bother with Stan and Becca's tent, because there was enough room in ours for each of our families to have their own wing, with a room in the middle. In the Prieto wing, there was room for our queen sized air mattress (with a futon on top - with a baby we are not exactly in a "roughing it" chapter of life) and a pack n' play. With our flannel sheets, heavy blankets and little Gigi in between, we had a warm, snuggly oven of Prieto love!
After a night of spotty sleep, the sun came up on a beautiful morning. Stan took our friendship to another level by sporting his overalls, and we built a campfire to enjoy with our hot chocolate and snuggly babies.
Can I mention that we ate like royalty? Becca and Stan were in charge of dinner the night before, which was penne alfredo, with homemade French bread and a salad of fresh Mesclun greens, followed up by s'mores over the campfire. Breakfast was our charge, and we did sausage sandwiches with fried eggs and cheese on Hawaiian sweet bread followed up with pumpkin pancakes. Becca's dad gave her and her siblings all a compact single range camping stove for Christmas a few years back, and it was so handy for making good food in the middle of the wilderness...
Warning: Don't feed the caged wild animals!
Beautiful Becca. When I asked her for tips on packing for a camping trip with a baby, she said, "I basically pack my entire house into the car, and then come home two days later and unpack it all". Camping with kiddos isn't for wimps, and I really admire her for being so adventurous and making the outdoors a big piece of her kiddo's young years.
Day 2 was definitely our day for exploring our surroundings. First, we went to Wiseman's Lookout.
Then we headed to the Linville Falls hike trail head. After a picnic lunch, we strapped in the kiddos and set off to find the waterfalls.
So, Linville Falls wasn't exactly Niagara Falls, but down in the gorge, the fall colors were so vivid and stunning! We were so happy that we had pushed out our doubt and fear about the cold night, and just went camping.
Thanks Becca, Stan and the kiddos for such a great weekend! We can't wait for the next adventure.