Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mt. Occoneechee

Benjamin's had a hankering to get into the wild lately. Possibly due to the fact that I've taken him outside like three times since my pregnancy symptoms really kicked into gear, but also because he found a boogie board at Trading Tables last week and it's been kicking around the living room until...yesterday, I think, when...I finally put it in the shed with the rest of the boogie boards.

Every day—every meal, every snack—he mentioned that his favourite "part-a-day" was "Go beach—mine boogie board! Swim beach! Boogie board! Beach!" Or some variation of that.

He's dying to go to the beach. But it's a little cold for boogie boarding, in my opinion. So today we took the kids on a hike instead. Andrew had one of those weeks where he'd be gone from the house before anyone woke up (except for Rachel—who he'd put on the bus (so obviously we're not getting up very early)), then he'd come home, go directly to his office, and work until midnight or so. It was an exhausting week and I think the children had almost forgotten what he looks like. But it was also the last week of the semester—hallelujah!

So, today we took the kids on a hike. And it really couldn't have happened any other way because I probably would have collapsed somewhere along the way. I fell asleep on the way home as it was, so...

Anyway, we headed out to explore the highest mountain in Orange County—Mt. Occoneechee. With a staggering 350 ft. prominence (and overall elevation of 867 feet) you really can't miss it tell that it's a mountain, but the sign says it is, so I guess it is.

Andrew and I grew up in the shadow of Mt. Timpanogos. To give you an idea of why Mt. Occoneechee seems like a hill to us you should know that Mt. Timpanogos has an overall elevation of 11,752 feet and a prominence of 5, 270 feet.

The kids wanted their picnic lunch right when we got there, so that's what we did. All the picnic tables were in the shade and it was "so cold" (50°F (we're really going to freeze to death when we go to Utah)) that the kids were quite fussy.

Miriam was so cold that she had to borrow Benjamin's second jacket. She sat in the sun while she ate her lunch.

And eventually Rachel joined her.

This is the little smile Benjamin gave every time Andrew put a piece of orange in his mouth:

We got some Mandarin oranges the other day—because 'tis the season—and they are divine. 

Eventually we packed up our mess and headed up to the top of the mountain. It took us all of five minutes to summit Mt. Occoneechee. We passed a "private residence" along the way with a truck marked "state ranger" sitting in the driveway.

"State ranger...?" Rachel read.

"State reindeer!!!" Miriam squealed. "Where?!"

We talked a bit about what rangers do and the girls thought it sounded like a pretty neat job. They were thrilled to pieces when I reminded them that their soon-to-be-aunt, Shalise, is a ranger. We're hoping to visit her at work when we go out to Utah next summer.

And that was going five-year-old/pregnant-lady speed (did I mention that while I'm supposed to exercise I've been banned from doing anything "strenuous" (because (a) I'm at risk for preterm labour and (b) I'm supposed to "conserve calories") whatever that means; I figure if I'm sticking with the five year old I'm good).

And stopping to do this on every single rock in the path:

We went to the overlook and looked over.

Then the kids spent about a half hour playing on the nearby rock formation.

For whatever reason, Benjamin is terrified of dying, or at least he often exclaims, "Oh, no! Me die!" if he thinks he's about to fall. Although he did fall once, he didn't die. We were keeping a pretty close watch on him.

And a few more pictures of the kids (and Andrew) playing around:

Benjamin eventually took off his hood; his hair was stuck flat to his head for the rest of the day.

Yesterday Andrew went to a "grad parents" lunch on campus and they gave him t-shirts to bring home to all of the kids. The kids were super excited about this and when we were getting ready to go hiking they all wanted to wear their new Duke shirts and blue jeans. This was completely their idea, not mine, though I did make them take off their sweaters—in 50 degree weather!—so we could take a picture of them all matching.

I think this is the first time in the history having three children that they've all worn matching outfits.

Naturally I couldn't decide which picture was the best one, though this one, with Benjamin's super-cheesy grin and Miriam's I'm-so-finished face is probably not the best one...

Somehow Rachel magically managed to smile nicely through all the picture taking (though I should have noticed and fixed her hair; but whatever (that's why I'm not a professional photographer)).

We took the Chestnut Oak trail back to the parking lot, stopping at every rock and tree along the way...

For someone who didn't do a lot of his own hiking, it didn't take Benjamin long to fall asleep in the car. He was fast asleep before we'd even reached the Maple View Farm (something one of Andrew's professors recommended to us when we first moved here).

They're a local dairy and they make their own ice cream and other things. Benjamin thought the bathroom was the neatest place in the whole store (it's painted like a farm—with a barn and things). This cow was outside of the bathroom and he liked it, too:

We each got a little cup of (super expensive) ice cream and sat on the front porch in rocking chairs, southern-style, to enjoy it in the sunshine:

Apparently it was a little too sunny from that direction so I had to take a picture from the other side as well:

The ice cream was good, but overall I'm not sure we were very impressed. Reed's Dairy has ruined us. Their ice cream is just as good (if not better) and is far cheaper and you can visit the animals because they're right there beside the shop.

In case you're wondering what flavours we got, Andrew got Carolina Crunch, Benjamin got Pumpkin Pie (seasonal), Miriam got Egg Nog (seasonal), Rachel got Banana, and I got Carolina Pralines. Everyone agreed that my flavour was the best choice (which meant they were all jealous and kept coming over to taste it). Benjamin's been picking up on phrases recently and "I have a taste 'ours?" is his new phrase of the day.

So while we weren't wowed with the farm, Maple View did have a cow with a cherry on top and that was interesting.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon cleaning the house and making homemade pizza for dinner.

At dinner, Benjamin's favourite part-a-day, for once, was not day-dreaming about going to the beach. Instead he said it was, "Hiking, top-a mountain! Up! Up! Up!"

His little finger men also spent a lot of time climbing to the top-a broccoli trees (up! up! up!).

The girls, likewise, gushed about the afternoon, so I suppose it was time well spent even though I'm still exhausted.


  1. I have a couple if extra coats at my house (we are very blessed with hand me downs and Aaron has 3 coats- none if which he will wear). Let me know if you want to borrow them when you come to utah. I definitely have one for Rachel and one (or two!) for Benjamin.

    1. Thanks, Becca! I will let you know—we're hoping for warm weather while we're there...but our hopes could be dashed. :) We'll bring coats for sure, but if ours aren't thick enough I will definitely get in contact with you!