Spring Break 2013

Like so many things lately, our Spring Break plans were spur-of-the-moment.  We didn’t have any plans, so we decided to head down to Georgia with my parents to see my aunt.  It’s about a seven hour drive to Clarkesville, Georgia, which is the longest trip we’ve ever taken with all three kids in the car.  We left before five so that the kids would sleep in the car – and they did!  They slept all the way to the Tennessee state line.  When they woke up, we stopped at the welcome center.  While there, Tony had to extract a whole dead bird from the front of his car.  Yuck.

Overall, the kids were pretty good travelers – thanks to the electronics!

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For a good chunk of the drive, the highway circles around the Smokey Mountains.  It’s a pretty drive, but a little nerve-wracking in spots.

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When we arrived, it was lunchtime.  We had a yummy lunch at a local diner call the Sautee Trail Grill.  Andrew enjoyed it so much that he emailed Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network.

After lunch, we headed to Babyland General Hospital – the place where Cabbage Patch Kids are “born”.  In case you can’t tell, the kids are sitting on a giant cabbage with a baby head in the middle.  Sophie brought her “cabbage baby” from home.

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When a new baby is “born”, the “nurses” ask the kids there what its name should be.  Aidan was chosen and gave Michael as the middle name.  This is him holding his “namesake” (which we didn’t buy!)

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Because it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, there were special crafts and all the kids left with  chocolate gold coins.  Sophie, of course, also left with a new “cabbage baby” (as she calls them).

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After Babyland General, we went back to Aunt Connie’s farm to visit the animals.

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Sophie only wanted to feed the calves, and she was not fearful about telling the big cows to go away!

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On Sunday morning, we went to church with Aunt Connie.  Their church is new, but built so that it looks like it’s been there forever.  Aidan, of course, made friends with the pastor before Mass and tried out his Spanish.

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After Mass, we had a picnic and then hiked to Anna Ruby Falls.  It was gorgeous!

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After our hike, we returned to the pretty little town of Helen, Georgia.  If you’ve never been there, I suggest you Google it and check it out.  It’s like Gatlinburg, but not so touristy.  It used to be a logging town but then reinvented itself in the 70s to become a tourist destination.  It’s made to look like an Alpine village and has managed to attract some authentic Germans as well.  The town has a huge Oktoberfest each year.  One attraction that Aidan loved was called “Charlemange’s Kingdom”.  It was a huge model train exhibit set up by a German man and his wife.  I enjoyed watching Aidan run back and forth trying to figure out where the trains were going.

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By this time, we needed a break.  We stopped in to Hoffer’s, an amazing German deli.  So many choices!  I settled on strudel, Tony picked some veal sausages, and Sophie chose the very authentic chocolate cupcake.

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Although the kids enjoyed all the animals at Aunt Connie’s – cows, chickens, cats, geese – but by far the favorite were the baby chicks!  I posted this picture of Aidan on Facebook saying “Aidan is picking up blonde chicks in Georgia”.

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We ended up a very long Sunday with a little mini-golf.  Andrew and Aidan hadn’t been since they were about three and Sophie had never been.  The weather was great, and the view was gorgeous.  We had the place to ourselves for the most part and the kids had a blast!

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Tony tried to include a little golf lesson so he could help the boys get credit in scouts for their experience.  Aunt Connie ended up beating all of us!

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Sunset over Helen:

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I’m so glad we got all our big tourist things out of the way on Saturday and Sunday, because it rained all day Monday.  We started off at Nora Mill and Granary.  The kids enjoyed looking at the falls and attempting to feed the trout.  Except for Sophie.  She sampled the fish food.

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We visited a couple of wineries, stopped in a historic general store and a local wooden toy store and then broke for lunch.  After lunch, we went to the candy kitchen – everyone’s favorite stop of the day!

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Unfortunately, after our stop at the candy kitchen we had some car trouble.  Tony and Dad got the car fixed while the rest of us went back to the condo.  It needed a new starter, but luckily one of Aunt Connie’s friends gave us a hand.  After being cooped in the condo in the rain, we piled the kids into Aunt Connie’s car and went back down to Helen to shop a little.  Andrew was thrilled that he found an IU hat and a Notre Dame hat in town to buy.

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The kids spent the rest of the evening swimming and just visiting before we headed to bed.  We headed north again on Tuesday morning.  The kids fell asleep once we were out of the mountains, so we were able to drive from North Carolina to Lexington without stopping.  We had a nice sit-down dinner together at Olive Garden and then made one more stop – the whole reason we chose Lexington for dinner:

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Joseph-Beth is my all time favorite book store and a place I spent a lot of time when I went to Transylvania.  I took Tony once and he was dying to go back.  It’s safe to say that it made the correct impression on the kids:

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I told them I’d buy them each one book and they had a lot of trouble choosing.  When we left, we drove through town and past UK and Rupp Arena, much to Andrew’s disgust.  I also point out Transy, but they weren’t impressed.  We ended up pulling in around 8:00.  We had a great time and I’m so glad we were able to work it out!

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