Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow, Hikes , Math references, and Rocks... Intrigued? No wait! Come Back!!!

Yes it's true.  Snow will slow down a good hike in a big way.  I mean who can possibly go post-holing through hip deep snow and keep the same pace as one would during summer?  Well, while this first statement is completely true, it's not what happened to us.  We only had an epic amount of 4 inches of snow to deal with, but I'll maintain that our hike was slow-motion-ified even by this minute amount of white.

How could such a short and fun hike be so slow? 

Well, there were a couple of important factors which I will outline in one of the most important mathematical equations seen in years.  If you discount little ones like Relativity and Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem...

Children from the deep south + Snow = snail like progress and constant mischief

The sound of the kids yelling "POW POW Freshies!!!" echoed through the forest whenever they found untracked snow in a clearing.  As to the Pow Pow Freshies joke, you would understand if you watched loads of stupid snowboarding shows featuring overpaid 19-year-olds skiing impossible lines off cliff faces and speaking some form of ski-bum slang that I find amusing.

The kids stopped as often as dogs on a walk.  Picking up and throwing snow at each other was the real order of the day, so we were moving at about a mile an hour.  (that's a generous speed estimate there...)

Here is Brenna with her patient face on.  This was required because every few steps Aiden, without looking, would just chuck a snowball over his head toward anyone behind him.  You had to be paying attention or you were going to have it on your head.  He thought this was the funniest thing he had come up with...EVER.

We also discovered Aiden was putting the snowballs in his pockets to save them.  He was soaked pretty quickly but seemed completely immune to the chill.  There is something about kids and snow that makes them not notice temperature.

An example of the sneak attack snowball.

Notice that Ansley was not in any of the fight pictures. She wisely avoided her brothers to avoid becoming collateral damage.

As the snowball fights raged on, we were actually on a hike.  The idea, at least, was that we were heading up to Arch Rock in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

The hike followed a stream up to the arch which had been carved out of the limestone and shale over millions of years. It was very different than the examples we had seen in Utah's sandstone.  The rocks that made up the arch had a thin layered sedimentary look to it rather than looking like the arch was carved out of a more uniform piece of rock.  Each layer was .5-1 inch thick and looked really jagged where softer stone had been eroded away leaving the harder layers exposed.

We had to cross the creek we were following a few times and the kids loved the log bridges that we had to use.  I was just happy I didn't have to pluck a soggy child out of the creek...

We found the trail actually passed through the arch itself and we had to climb a wet and slippery series of stone steps to reach the other side. The arch is almost hidden from view by trees so there wasn't a good spot to actually get a photograph of the entire structure.  Here is Ansley descending back through the arch.

It was a 3 mile hike and took us just under 3 hours to complete, and I think with all the smiles that it was exactly the right speed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas - New Years and SNOW!

We did things a little differently this year...well not the part about being nearly killed by the avalanche of presents Christmas morning.  In the line of thought from the rapidly approaching ski trip, I might recommend the adoption of a Christmas Present Mountain Avalanche Rating/Warning System for the next Christmas season.  We wouldn't want anyone hurt or lost on such a festive occasion.  We could even practice Rescue and Recovery techniques prior to Christmas morning just in case.  You never know, and you just can't be too safe, Right? just look at that digression in all its brilliant glory.

Now for a few photos to move the story along...or perhaps this post is going to turn into a slideshow rather than having much of a "story".  whatever...

Opa reading The Night Before Christmas to the eager and attention span challenged children...

The stack of presents was phenomenal...  Hence my commentary on needing avalanche rescue training...

To keep the focus on the fact that it was Christmas and that we were there to celebrate the birth of Jesus, there was a Nativity play that the kids starred in.  No theater nerves among this crowd...

And no...the Nativity didn't include Iron Man...  No matter how much Aiden may have wanted it to...

We did things a little differently this year.  Normally will gather for Christmas in Atlanta, and have a great time hanging around with the family and extended family.  The unusual part was that we didn't head to play a ton of golf in Myrtle Beach or Florida.  We opted to head for the mountains instead!

Admittedly, I was a bit unsure of going to try to find snow in the deep south in December.  Normally, we bundle up with our heaviest coats for the two days that might be considered remotely winter-ish elsewhere in the country, so snow doesn't normally even cross our minds.  We took off for Gatlinburg Tennessee at the base of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Which turned out to be a place that I am definitely going to return to for some summer hiking.)

Look out Floridian drivers on ice...there should have been some warning flares or something...
I kept laughing to myself about our retired "Floridians" on the trip when they encountered snow.  Perhaps, I wasn't laughing to myself, because Brenna kept punching me in the shoulder saying, "Hey, That's my Dad!"

But we all know the story about when Bill put our van into orbit in Mexico on the speed bumps there,

so who knows what might have come to pass on that snowy road.  
Yep, that joke is still funny...and I'm probably not getting invited back anytime soon!

Lo and behold the morning was cold and the peaks of the pass we had to cross had been hit with a storm that put down about 5 inches of snow the night before.  

Who would have thought!  

And you would have thought the kids had died and gone to heaven.  We had to stop the car and got out to let the kids experience this interesting white stuff that they see so infrequently because they were trying to gnaw their way out through the car door panels, and my orthodontic bills are going to be high enough in the coming years.  I didn't want to find out how much fixing the car upholstery would be on top of straightening their teeth too.

You can imagine that it took about exactly .000267 seconds before someone began chucking snowballs...

Here is Bryce trying to decide if the repercussions of pegging me with a snowball were worth it...he didn't think long before pounding me with it and running!

Par for the course.  Family portrait with only one of the kids even remotely paying attention.

The house we stayed at was a cool place perched on the side of the mountain overlooking Gatlinburg.  I could really see that we would have had some trouble getting there if the roads had iced at all, but we were OK there closer to town.  The snow line was probably above 4 thousand feet, so the white coated the tops of the mountains around us, but not the roads we had to navigate.

The kids loved the fact they had to walk through snow that stayed on the porch to get to the hot tub.  Livin' large...

 I loved the view from the back porch and spent quite a bit of time just looking over the rail at the town and the Smokies.

I'll pause here in an effort to keep this somewhat short enough.  I'll post up the account of our snowy hike out to Arch Rock next, but I needed to get writing on this before it faded from memory and I ran headlong into the rest of the year.

There is some real beauty in this country surprisingly close to my house...

I hope you all had a great holiday season!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hey That Looks Sour!

Bryce was at a friend's birthday party, and afterwards, as is the custom it seems these days, everyone got a goodie bag.  This bag happened to have candy in it, and Bryce picked out one small green or blue candy and looked to me and said, "That looks sour!  I should try it."  My response was something like, "You bet you should, but let me get my camera out first."

Here, my friends are the results of that piece of candy represented in three photos.  The progression is pretty funny.


2: Oh!  Now what have I done???


That's my boy.  I'm sure he will eat more of those things in the future, but perhaps it will be a while if he sees these pictures.