When we decided to evacuate we invited my brother and his family to meet us in the Smokies for the weekend. At first we didn't think it would work out, but they made it work! We didn't tell our kids so that it would be a fun surprise. They were going to arrive in the middle of the night so we had their beds ready so they could just sneak in. I was worried our dog might bark at them, but she slept through it. Nice watchdog...ha...she barks at practically nothing at our condo!
In the morning my boy was up early as usual and made himself breakfast. I heard him and he came in our room to talk to me. He mentioned that there were a lot of cars at Monica's house (my cousin who lives across the street) and one of them looked just like my brother's van. I told him it was probably just the neighbor up the road's car and he seemed perfectly fine with that answer.
My brother and fam were finally awake so they texted us that they were ready to come out and surprise him. My boy was sitting on the couch and when his cousin came walking down the hall he was totally shocked and so excited! He rushed over and grabbed him and knocked him to the ground with his hug. It was so fun seeing him so happy and surprised. It was the perfect early birthday present for him.
We had quite a full couple of days with them. The first day we went to Dillsboro where we found this cute pottery shop and the owner let the kids make little pinch pots in her studio. My boy was being quite the perfectionist with his. We left them there to be fired and we will pick them up next year when we go again. After that we headed to Cherokee to go to the bamboo forest. I took a bunch of photos there and my hubby backed into a guard rail and broke a taillight. Not as bad as the time he backed into a tree at The Randolph House years ago while everyone eating on the porch watched. :) We ended with dinner at a super vintage drive in called Na-bers and a bonfire with our cousins who live across the street...started by a blow torch and followed by Ohio State football on their big screen in the man cave.
The next day we enjoyed shopping in town followed by a hike. We had planned to go hiking at Deep Creek, but the gates were closed with a sign "Closed for Hurricane" even though the weather was beautiful and sunny. My husband wanted to hike the Goldmine Loop trail but my brother wanted to hike the Road to Nowhere. After some googling we realized they were actually the same trail!
The hike started easy and enjoyable. It ended up taking us much longer than we anticipated. As we were hiking a wider section of the trail, my boy and his youngest cousin were leading the group and my boy stopped and calmly said, "Bear." as a black blur went across our path at a gallop about 10 feet in front of them! We all stopped and sort of calmly freaked out for a moment. Then we made a lot of noise to scare off any other bears that might have been nearby. That was the first time I've seen a bear in the wild like that and not from my car. It was cool, but kinda scary. After that we were all a little on edge and much more alert. The hike got much more strenuous as well and some of us learned that our knees can't take it like they used to. It was definitely a hike we won't forget!
After our crazy hike the adults enjoyed a lovely meal at The Fryemont Inn as the sun was setting. We were able to catch up on all the hurricane news on the tv at the bar afterwards. We had previously been glued to our tv's before leaving on the trip and it was refreshing to not be so worried about the storm while we were busy enjoying our little vacation.
The next day my brother and his family headed home. The tail of Irma started heading into the mountains and it stormed all night. The power ended up going out during the storm so we decided we might as well start our long trek home to another home without power. We were spared any damage to our condo, but the branches and debris all over town were quite a sight for us. They were just cleaning debris in the park area of our complex last week and it's been a couple months now since the storm. I'm hoping for no more hurricanes in the future, but at least if one comes we will be more prepared to weather it...or head out for another unexpected vacation! Here are some pics from our Irmacation.
She will hate that I posted this, but she was making fun of her uncle, who kept saying "Horse 'nure!" in the tunnel and I think he stepped in it and did a ridiculous dance trying to get it off his shoe. And now I can't look at these pics of her re-enacting his dance without remembering the whole thing and how funny it was!