As of Thursday at noon, the big kid's were on Fall Break, so we headed to the mountains for a long weekend.
About 10 minutes into the drive it hit me that I had forgotten baby wipes, so after a quick detour to Kroger, we were on our way.
Our first stop was the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival....
The big kids could not believe this was what a school room looked like...no smartboard or anything...

They were super excited to watch the Swamp Master's demonstration on how to catch and handle an alligator.  At the end of the show he posed the question to the audience, "So, if you were to meet an alligator while driving down the road, what is the first step you would take?"  AC raised her hand and said, "Run over it!"
Watching them hold this tiny gator was a little unsettling, espesially since B, my little animal lover, put his face right up to the gators' saying, "Don't worry little buddy.  I'm not going to hurt you."
We need a pair of these at our house....
it wore the kids out!
Exploring the cabin's grounds with Daddy.  The cabin we rented was great....this pond
and view was the front yard.  It also had a game room complete with ping pong, air hockey and pool.

We knew at least one Sparkman would fall in the pond during our visit and sure enough Brian went in right along with a heavy rock he was trying to toss into the the water....within 20 minutes of us arriving.

Because eating out isn't so easy for us these days, not to mention the expense, we tried to plan ahead and cook in the cabin.  I knew we would be out all day Saturday so I brought along my crock pot to make taco soup for Saturday night's dinner.  The cabin rental company said the kitchen was "fully equipped"...unfortunately that does not include a can opener and even more unfortunately, taco soup involves about 8 cans.  Driving back to civilization wasn't really an option since we had planned activities, so sweet T opened all of the cans by pounding a steak knife with a meat mallett around each of the cans.  Thankfully, no cuts.  On a side note, if you ever have a few minutes Google "how to open a can without a can opener"...intriguing.
Feeling very resourceful, we went apple picking.

We tried so many unusual varieties, including one-the name escapes me- that tastes like strawberry, banana, and apple mixed together.
The baby girls' loved their apples....
In fact, they ate 2 whole apples while we looked around the store!

For lunch we had a picnic in the park and browsed around an art festival being held in the park..

After some face painting, I was thrilled to meet an Atlanta portrait artist.  We have been looking for someone to do the kids' portrait and we finally found her!  Her work is beautiful and I can't wait to get started.
After a quick afternoon nap, the big kids and I set out for a little hiking on the trails surrounding our cabin's property.  I wish I could say I was right there with them prancing down the trail....
but the reality is, I was on the look out for snakes and bears.  Nature girl, I am not.
Oh, how they love to make their Momma a nervous wreck.
This morning we decided to visit a nearby swinging bridge.  After looking at the map, I thought I had a basic understanding of the bridge's location plus, I was counting on there being signs.
  Well, after driving for over a hour, all of us feeling nauseous from the twists and turns, and a very unsettling stop for directions, and a long 3 mile drive down a very bumpy, non-signed road...
we found it!  My understanding was that this was a quick little walk from the road to the bridge. 

I obviously misunderstood and I for some reason decided ballet flats were the best shoe for hiking... my feet felt every rock and tree root for the 20 minute hike.
But, in the end, this view was so worth it!

Thank goodness he is strong!
This spot is a favorite of campers and they were so excited to tell us they had seen a family of black bears about 15 minutes earlier playing in the river...

AC and B were on the watch for them as made the trek back to the mini.

We had the best time.  Isn't it amazing how a quick get-away can leave you feeling so refreshed and thankful?