Saturday, June 18, 2016

Big Ridge State Park (and the muggiest hike I've been on)

We have been enjoying summer so far.  My only complaint is the built in alarm clock we all seem to have.  The boys and Piper are up at 7 and I can't sleep past 7:30 even when I decide to be lazy and sleep in.  It doesn't matter, the sun comes out and I'm awake.  I still require the boys to do some minimal school work (piano, Spanish, reading, Life of Fred) because I hate them just sitting around and filling their time with computer games and TV.  I let them do that the summer Mike was gone and I broke my knee and it was a disaster.  There was fighting, aggression, and irritability and I vowed we wouldn't have another summer like that one.  So far this summer the boys have been wonderful.  They have been so helpful, pleasant, and happy.  Keeping busy is a good thing.  

It's gotten really hot lately which makes us in the house a lot more and that is tough.  For a couple of weeks we were in the 80's and the boys and their neighbor friends spent hours outside playing games like basketball, football, and capture the flag.  They also built a hideout in the forest behind our house.  When the weather got too hot and the mosquitoes got too obnoxious, they abandoned the hideout for cooler days.  Will counted 21 bites on one leg!  The humidity is oppressive.  Oh, and one weird thing is that we have been getting Ozone Layer Effect warnings for the last week.  I'm sure it has to do with the Smoky's and is similar to the pollution warnings you get in Utah.  

I like the kids filling their time up with activities and not having to be responsible for their entertainment but with the hotter weather I find that I have to get more involved with finding things to do.  This is also our last year here in Tennessee and I really want us to experience as much of the cool things in Tennessee as we can before we leave so I'm trying to schedule activities that will accomplish that.  

This week we went North to Norris Lake and Big Ridge State Park.  It was overcast when we arrived and the kids immediately went to the park.  We probably should have let them play and explore but some of the kids wanted to go on a hike so we cut their playing short to hike before it got too hot.  I had anticipated a really short hike but it ended up being about three miles.  I didn't take pictures of the hike.  It was beautiful and it felt like we were walking in a jungle.  We found cool bright red mushrooms that looked fake and crazy ferns.  There was a cemetery in the middle of this jungle of a forest.  We also explored a mill that was right before the trail head.  I was impressed with the boys and the two little girls (Piper and her friend Hayley) for doing so well on our hike but I hadn't really prepared for a three mile hike so it wasn't as nice as I had hoped.  The actual hike wasn't that long (1.5 miles) but to get to the trail head we had to walk a ways so it ended up being much more than I had planned.  I ended up having to carry Piper a couple of times and hadn't brought enough water for the five of us for that long of a hike so we ran out of water.  I also carried the backpack and my clothes and garments were dripping with sweat.  It was disgusting and really unpleasant.  The forest was almost dark because the trees were completely covering the sky but it was still so muggy and hot and then we finished the hike and had to walk back to the vans and by then the clouds had parted and the heat had risen.   

Once back at the vans we had lunch and then changed into swimming suits.  The kids all swam in the lake and had a great time.  

Besides being so hot and sweaty, it was a perfect day activity.  I think next time we will skip the hike until a cooler day and just play at the park and look for shells.  Tennessee is really beautiful.  I used to love that in Utah you could drive a short distance and be right in the mountains but I've discovered that Tennessee has so many outdoor opportunities as well.  It is a different kind of beautiful but it's really amazing.  I especially love the mild, almost sweet aroma that you can smell as you walk through the jungle like forests with all the different flowers and plants.  

Our next adventures are going to be West or South of us.  We have the Cumberland Gap area to explore and the Chattanooga area to explore.  I'm so excited to see what the rest of this amazing state has to discover.      






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