Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Vacation - Part 2

Midweek we packed up the cars and headed north for a few days in the mountains.  Our destination was Franklin, NC - a short 3 hour drive from home.  It didn't take long before the snow-capped mountains began to appear in the distance.

The view from the balcony was spectacular.  We were fortunate to be greeted by a sunny afternoon and spent an hour soaking up the sun on the deck.

After a few hours of laziness our stomachs began to grumble.  Fortunately we had a easy dinner of leftovers.  Potato soup, arugula salad, and cranberry orange rolls.  It's amazing how much more flavor soups have after sitting for a day or two.

Darkness came and the hot tub was calling my name.  On a day-to-day basis, I doubt I would get much use out of a jacuzzi, but winter vacations in the mountains call for nothing less.

Friday's forecast was for temperatures in the upper 40s - the warmest of the trip - and so we set out for hiking.  We wound our way up the mountain and parked at Tellico Gap, prepared to set out for Wesser Bald Observation Tower.  We had a bit of a minor hiccup when we learned that the camo-clad hunters and their hound dogs were hunting for bear along the same path we planned to hike.  Fortunately they were headed south (we were going north) after having had no luck on the north trail.  Mom was hesitant, but I assured her that the Pitbull station on Pandora would scare the bears away.

We found snow!  Bailey loved leading the way on the three mile round trip hike.  As the leader, she was in charge of bear patrol.

As we neared the observation tower, Dad stopped and pointed to this marking in the snow.  Mom was quick to ask "What's the big deal?", and to that Dad replied "I think it's a bear print."  Let's just say she had some choice words and was ready to run back to the car.  After some brief reassurance, we continued up the mountain.

We've arrived!

The views from the observation tower (formerly a fire patrol station) were breathtaking.  The 360 degree panorama included the Great Smoky Mtns, Balsam Mtn, Cowees Mtn, the Little Tennessee River, Nantahala Mtns, and Snowbird Mtn.

Mom was all smiles once we navigated down the mountain and reached the safety of our car.

We stopped for a few pictures on the way back to the cabin.

Dinner was another great meal - simple and comforting - Veggie Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, and Veggies.

Royce bought Dad the first season of Homeland for Christmas and we enjoyed lounging around with the fire roaring and watching several episodes.  Other afternoons featured reading, napping, and playing dominos or cards.

Lunch one afternoon was a deconstructed veggie burger with all of the appropriate toppings.  The last night's dinner was vegetarian chili, cornbread, and caesar salad.  Food always tastes so good on vacation!

How's this for a view from the trainer?  Not so shabby for an early morning training session.  Despite threats for snow, it amounted only to some snow showers and a mere dust of flakes.  It was a chilly morning in the 20s, but with the sun shining and crisp mountain air, I couldn't have asked for better.

And that brings my stay in the mountains to an end.  The family is here for a couple more days, but for me, it's back to reality.  It's been a fantastic week of vacation, filled with family time, laziness, workouts, and lots of sleep.  I couldn't have asked for a better way to rest and recharge.

One more week of trauma - the end is within sight.

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