Upon our arrival, there were only few tent sites available - and those, only for one night. There were several RV sites available for 3 nights, but we would have to put our tent on the pavement (ouch!). We drove around, searching out the tent sites. We came upon the first couple we knew were available, but weren't impressed with what those sites had to offer, so we kept driving. As we rounded corner after corner, the sites the Ranger marked as open had just been taken. By the time we revisited those first two tent sites, they had been snagged, too! So, we opted for an RV site - yes, we'd have to pop the tent on pavement, but at least we wouldn't have to move after the first night.
You know, having the tent on the pavement wasn't too bad... At least Richard and I had an air mattress! (No, our children weren't deprived... they had plenty of padding beneath their sleeping bags - and Casey even CHOSE to sleep without the padding!
Our first night there, Richard made a dinner that was nothing short of amazing! Using sausage, carrots, potatoes, onion, broth, and seasoning, he created a heavenly meal for us. Everyone LOVED it! (I even ate my carrots and potatoes... I usually loathe and despise vegetables, but these were great!)
On Saturday morning, hiked up Frying Pan Trail with a group led by a Ranger. The children were very inquisitive and chatty and, between the Ranger's discussion and my children's questions, we learned a lot about the various flowering plants and trees on the trail.
Saturday evening, after having hot dogs, baked beans, and Richard's cast-iron-dutch-oven cornbread (FABULOUS!), we (unfortunately) attended a Campfire Conversation headed by possibly the most incompetent Ranger I've ever encountered. Not only could she not get her campfire started (despite having dry wood, dry leaves, newspaper, several kitchen lighters, a box of matches, and an audience member's lighter), but she was positively the worst ghost story teller I've ever heard. We can't even get qualified storytellers out of our government! Because Chaucer started shining flashlights in people's faces and due to his being an especially unruly toddler when forced to sit still and listen to bad storytelling, the children and I left. (Richard left out of disgust, I believe, after the Ranger couldn't start her fire.) Despite their cries of the unfairness and injustice wrought upon them by their parents, the kids enjoyed the replacement entertainment: s'mores by our own ROARING campfire.
Sunday, we traveled up the Parkway to Mount Mitchell. Stopping at several sites along the way - including a few overlooks and the Folk Arts Center - our stay at Mitchell was brief. We had planned to have a picnic lunch, but it started raining as we pulled into the parking lot. We ran up to the top, snapped a few photos, then walked briskly down to our car where we ate our lunch in the cramped confines of our Highlander. On the way back to Pisgah, we stopped at Craggy Gardens so I could stamp my Park Passbook in the visitor's center. Guess who I should see as I'm walking in? None other than my "favorite" Ranger who can't start a fire!
Raining the entire trip back to Pisgah, Richard and I decided that we shouldn't stay another night. We had a few educational moments during that drive back - explaining to the children how flash floods work [despite a very impassioned argument by Will who said that God sent the rainbow promising not to flood the earth again - and my explanation that the rainbow doesn't mean God can't flood a mountain].
After making another wonderfully filling dinner, this time of chicken breast cooked in sweet tea and a mixture of tomato sauce and spices, we packed up our things and headed home.
Our weekend was full of camping, the outdoors, games, nature studies, and various interludes of my reading about spies of the Civil War and Isaac Newton. I love homeschooling!