Happy New Year! I can’t believe it has been 3 months since I last posted anything here. With that being the case this post feels a little outdated, except for the last part which includes a recent visit to a Cedar Fair ParkContinue reading
Happy New Year everyone! I guess it’s about time I write an update about what we have been up to lately. Since my last post about our month at Fort Wilderness in September, we have been spending lots of time with friends and family in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, as well as more time at Disney.
We spent most of the month of October near my sister in GA at 2 different Army Corps of Engineers (COE) parks. COE parks are some of the nicest in the country and there are plenty of them near Woodstock, GA.
First we stayed at Victoria Campground then moved over to McKinney Campground. Both parks are amazing with gorgeous views of Lake Allatoona and beautiful sunsets. At McKinney we had a really incredible campsite on a peninsula.
While at Victoria Campground my parents came down to visit. We went up to the town of Helen, a cute Bavarian-styled mountain town where we took some family pictures and played mini golf.
Next we went back to Disney for Halloween. Fort Wilderness Campground is our favorite place for trick-or-treating, and we love to rent a golf cart and ride around looking at all the decorated campsites.
My sister came down to visit after Halloween and we had a blast visiting the Disney parks with her.
After Disney we headed up to our hometown of Fernandina Beach and stayed at Fort Clinch State Park. Unfortunately it was rainy, windy and cold the entire week we were there except for the first day. At least we were able to play on the beach and get some pretty pictures the first day.
Since moving away from Fernandina Beach almost 5 years ago, our good friends the Norstrems try to meet up with us somewhere on the road. They did not get a chance to do that this year, but instead they added an RV spot to their new home. What a blessing to be able to go and park our house in their yard for a week!
We absolutely love this family, and it was so much fun to spend the week hanging out with them, playing games and riding horses. We miss them when we’re traveling, but always look forward to seeing them again when we head back to Florida.
After a quick trip to Charlotte for Thanksgiving with the family, we headed back to Disney. Halloween lights at Fort Wilderness are great, but to me there is nothing quite like the campsites decorated with Christmas lights. We rented another golf cart and I loved riding around the camping loops to see all the beautifully decorated campsites.
While we were there the new ride in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened. In all of our years visiting Disney, we have never seen anything like the opening of this new ride, Rise of the Resistance.
I have to admit, it is pretty amazing. The ride experience is close to 20 minutes long, and consists of multiple immersive ride systems. Getting on the ride is no easy task either! You can’t just show up at the park and get in line to ride, you have to join a boarding group at the crack of dawn.
We got to Hollywood Studios around 6:30am. The park was already open because there were massive crowds showing up before the park even opens to be able to experience this new ride. As soon as you go through the ticket gate and everyone in your party is in the park, you can open the My Disney Experience app on your phone and join a boarding group to ride Rise of the Resistance.
Once you’re in a boarding group, you can see updates in the app to let you know which boarding groups are currently loading. You’ll also get a notification when your boarding group is able to get in line.
The week we were there the boarding groups were all gone for the day between 7:30 and 8:30 each morning. That’s why we had to get there at the crack of dawn just to get in a boarding group. The trouble was worth it! We even went back and did it again the next day.
We also got to visit with some friends from our Nassau County Homeschool group for a field trip to Sea World. My friend Holly and her kids stayed with us at Fort Wilderness for a few days, but unfortunately we never took any pictures. One evening we had a nice visit with Kirsten and family, and thankfully Kirsten remembered to take a picture. 🙂
After a couple of weeks playing at Disney and enjoying the Christmas lights, it was time to head back to Charlotte for lots of family fun and games, and celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.
I hope everyone had a blessed holiday season! Until next time, I’ll leave you with this random picture of Fat Cat. The expression on her face is so funny to me. It’s her typical “leave me alone, I have no use for you” expression. 😉
After we left Florida we started traveling up the east coast stopping at beaches in both South and North Carolina. This is not new territory for us since Chris and I both lived in Charlotte, NC for many years, in fact that is where we met!
Our first stop was Myrtle Beach, SC and that is a place that we have been to many times. I remember going there when I graduated high school and then several times over the years after that until we moved to Florida. Considering Chris and I haven’t been there since the year 2000 though, it almost seemed new to us.
We took the kids to Broadway at the Beach one evening. It was still the off-season so not very busy, but still fun to show them where we used to hang out in a previous life.
Chris and I celebrated our birthdays there that week, and since it’s not too far from Charlotte my parents came to visit too. I can’t remember the last time I saw my parents on my birthday so that was a real treat!
Mom and I had one really nice and warm day on the beach while Dad and Chris played golf.
Looking at this picture of Jake, I realize how much he has grown up. He looks so serious in this picture. I can’t help but stare at him lately and wonder where my little boy went. I wonder if other moms of boys go through this? I see him changing into a man before my eyes and I have to admit it makes me a little sad. I’m happy to watch him mature into a wonderful young man, but also sad that he’s not a little boy anymore. At least I have other pictures that still show his younger side, like this one:
And this one…
That last picture is from our next stop along the Carolina Coast. That was at Cape Hatteras KOA which is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That was actually new to us! We had never been to the Outer Banks even though we lived in NC. We were there during the off-season and it was quite cold! It barely got out of the 40s that week, but we enjoyed our stay anyway, having the park pretty much all to ourselves.
The ocean was on one side of the campground and the sound on the other where we saw a gorgeous sunset.
Jake took Fat Cat for a walk on the beach one day — I can tell you she did NOT enjoy that!
We visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse which was the prettiest lighthouse I have ever seen! I’m not sure if they just painted it, but it really was beautiful!
Lastly we visited Kitty Hawk, NC and visited the Wright Brother’s National Memorial.
We really enjoyed our time visiting these beaches along the Carolina Coast, although I wish it could have been a little warmer. Next we moved on to Williamsburg, Virginia. Stay tuned to read about that.
When we left Montana at the end of August, we had exactly 6 weeks to make it back to Charlotte, NC for a very special occasion. We covered a lot of miles in those 6 weeks! The special occasion was a party for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Not many people these days can say they’ve been married to the same person for 50 years. That’s quite an accomplishment and I’m so proud of them.
The party was held at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail and we couldn’t have been happier with the excellent customer service we received there. Many friends and relatives came in from out of town and we appreciate all of them so much, as well as all of the local friends and family that came out to celebrate with us! It was so much fun spending time with people that we haven’t seen in so long.
My amazingly talented brother-in-law Chris and my sister Cheryl put together a really awesome video highlighting my parent’s story beginning from their dating years. There were a lot of really funny parts to the video and I love the pictures Chris captured here of everyone’s laughter.
We had wonderful food, dancing and lots of laughing.
After the party we went back to Mom and Dad’s house for some more family time. Yes I’m wearing pajama pants in the picture below. After a fun-filled day I was ready for “happy clothes”. 😉
After the action-packed party weekend, some of us went to Hilton Head Island to continue the celebration for a few more days. We stayed in a really cute rental house together and had lots of fun playing games and just spending time together.
My Chris (my brother-in-law is also named Chris so I have to distinguish by saying “my Chris” and “Cheryl’s Chris”) prepared a fabulous dinner one night for everyone including crab legs, salmon and steak.
One day the guys played golf while Cheryl & I took the boys for a bike ride, and the rest of the ladies went shopping.
One thing that made this trip extra special is that Chris & I were celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary that week and it just so happens that we were married in Hilton Head. We visited the Westin Resort where we were married and showed the boys the “scene of the crime”. 😉 Our wedding took place to the left in the picture below where the green roof is.
The week-long celebration was such a wonderful time for all of us! Next we headed back to Florida.
Home. Where exactly do we call “home” when for the past year home has been where we parked it? Going home consisted of a few different places this year. First, we went home to Fernandina Beach, Florida where we lived before we started traveling. Going home to Florida was a strange feeling. Wandering around our old hometown and driving through our old neighborhood was really weird. Everything still looked pretty much the same, but felt so completely different. We visited with our old neighbors and it was strange to look across the street at our old house and realize I can’t just walk over there and go inside like I could have last year. It really was wonderful though to see some old friends. I really enjoyed catching up with one of my closest friends Kim over Mexican dip and wine. I really miss this girl!
We camped at Ft. Clinch State Park. Another blog post about that park later, but it was a real treat to stay there. I had tried several times to get a reservation there for weekend camping trips back when we lived just 10 minutes away. I used to ride my bike there and loved the campground, but it was always booked. It’s one of those state parks that you must book several months in advance to get in.
This is the beach just beside the campground loop we stayed in.
While we were there we visited Santa’s house because everyone knows that Santa Claus really lives in Fernandina Beach, Florida, not at the North Pole. We used to visit Santa several times every December when we lived nearby. I have pictures of the boys with him every year since they were babies. Santa’s house always looks so beautiful!
Going “home” for us also included a trip to Disney World. When we lived in Florida we usually had Disney annual passes and would go there several times a year. My favorite campground has always been Disney’s Ft. Wilderness, and even after all of the campgrounds we have stayed at this year, guess what? Ft. Wilderness is still my favorite! Visiting in December is my favorite time to visit because several of the campsites are decorated for Christmas and it’s really fun to ride the golf cart around at night and look at all the beautiful sites. This was one of the best. They had a lighted walkway to allow visitors to walk around their site.
The weather was beautiful that week and warm enough for the pool, and not the least bit crowded as you can see by the empty chairs in the background. I remember coming here when every single chair was taken and the pool was wall-to-wall people. It’s kind of nice to come when it’s not too busy. This was obviously in early December before the massive crowds that I heard were there this past week.
Another great thing about visiting Disney in December is the amazing display of Christmas lights at Hollywood Studios. I absolutely love seeing these lights that dance to Christmas music. Sadly, this is the last year they will have this display.
After Disney we visited my sister and brother-in-law at their new place in Georgia. While we were there we went to another really nice Christmas lights display. We love to take goofy pictures!
And finally, coming “home” also meant home to Charlotte, NC where Chris & I lived before moving to Florida over 15 years ago. We enjoyed a wonderful family Christmas at my parent’s house.
We had a chance to see Chris’s sister and family that we have not seen in a few years so that was very nice!
It was also a nice treat to visit with old high school and college friends during our visits to GA and NC. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of all the people we visited, but here are a couple.
And of course I can’t forget to mention that Fat Cat enjoyed the holidays as well. She even got wrapped up in paper like a present and she liked hiding under the Christmas tree. 🙂
It was so nice to spend time with so many friends and family over the holidays. To me, that is what coming home means. Being at home means being with family.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and have a blessed 2016!
We spent a few weeks around the Smoky mountains, but since it rained for a lot of the time we were on the Tennessee side we did not see much of the park from there. By the time we moved to the NC side, we were able to do more exploring of the park.
On a Sunday morning while we were in Cherokee, NC my parents drove out to spend the day with us. I did not tell the boys that they were coming, so it was a great surprise when they showed up and knocked on the door. We spent most of the day at the national park.
The first place we visited was the Mountain Farm Museum.
Then we went up to Clingman’s Dome. This was a strenuous uphill hike that I’m afraid had my parents wondering why they had decided to join us for this. But this was the highest point in the park with beautiful views. It was quite chilly up there too!
I can see why they call these mountains the Smokies.
After a quick lunch break we went on another hike up to Mingo Falls which was beautiful.
Later that week we had a day off work for Veteran’s Day so we went back to do some more exploring of the park. We hiked a small portion of the famous Appalachian Trail. No, we didn’t make it the whole 1,972 miles to Maine.
Then we visited Mingus Mill. It was closed for the season but it was still pretty to see from the outside.
We went back to see more of the Mountain Farm Museum so the kids could earn their Junior Ranger badges. We also saw lots of elk there.
The boys even got to learn about an outhouse!
New Junior Ranger badges!
After that we visited the Cherokee Indian Reservation. It was really cool to talk to these guys and learn some of their history.
Lastly we drove a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unfortunately we missed the prettiest time of the year to see the fall colors. By this time most of the leaves had already fallen off the trees. But we drove through some cool tunnels. I was glad we were not towing our house behind us at this point.
We almost adopted a new cat while we were staying in Cherokee. This little stray cat came to visit us at our campfire each night. It might have had something to do with the fact that Chris kept feeding it, I don’t know! 🙂 Anyway this cat loved sitting by the fire because the nights were so cold! Fat Cat and this cat did not get along very well though so we still only have one cat. For that I am thankful, one is enough!
We really enjoyed visiting the Smoky Mountains. It is such a huge national park that we were not able to see all of it, so we’ll just have to go back some day and see some more. Thanks for reading!