special needs blog, summer getaway

Campers Have S’more Fun!

Last week was filled with camping adventures. Our first stop was in Suches, Georgia where we stayed in a Getaway Cabin out in the middle of the forest. The modernized and revamped boxcar had huge windows, so it felt like we were sleeping under the stars. We hiked to Sea Creek Falls, made s’mores, and created some fun forever memories.

The hike to Sea Creek Falls was really muddy. Hopey kept getting her shoes stuck in the mud, and we’d have to get on our knees to dig them out. But she was a trooper. She trudged along, sloshing in mud that sucked her shoes right off her feet, until we made it to the waterfall. Charlie, who wasn’t as fond of the mud, ended up being piggy-backed most of the way. When you’re a little guy, I guess that’s one of the benefits.

Losing shoes and ending up with kids who were muddy from head to toe led to a gorgeous hidden waterfall surrounded by smooth flat rocks in all sorts of colors. The water at the base of the falls, for the most part, was either ankle or knee deep. It was ice cold and perfect for wading. Surrounded by trees and vegetation, the area was completely shaded, so we spent a couple of hours there. Charlie must’ve inspected one-hundred stones. He picked them up, rubbed them with his fingers, and then threw them back into the water to go searching for another. Hopey sat on a rock and let the moving water rush over her feet and legs. This hike is a must for all travelers who stay in the Suches area.

The second part of our week was spent camping in a 1960’s camper named Winnie Jane Bago, and boy howdy, she was fun. We were stuffed inside that camper like sardines, bulging at the seams even, but we had a blast. With no television or internet, our time was spent in utter togetherness.

Winnie Jane sits on a gorgeous farm in Grandview, TN. When visiting, every guest gets the opportunity to meet Herbert, the 180 lb. pig, Poncho and Lefty, the two rescued donkeys, and a chicken who will follow you wherever you go, nipping at your toes. Two swings hang from the tall branches of a good old-fashioned shade tree … and a picnic table welcomes you to have breakfast outside in the cool shade. The paths are wide and the hills are gentle. It’s a perfect spot for taking long walks.

While there, we took a hike to Piney Falls. It takes about ten minutes to get to the trailhead from the camper. It’s a beautiful area, and the hike is worth the time.

Hope and Charlie made friends with all of the animals during our stay at Winnie Jane Bago, and they loved how our beds were connected in the camper. It was definitely like a slumber party, because they giggled all night long. But sleep is overrated, right? haha.

Is it easy to camp and hike with two special needs kiddos? I get asked that A LOT! No, it’s never easy. When Hopey decides she’s had enough hiking, she plops herself on the ground and refuses to budge. To attempt to nudge her along would be futile, so we have to sit down and wait her out. While walking a mile might take the average person twenty minutes, it can take Hopey an hour. Sometimes longer. Patience, indeed, is a virtue.

And Charlie. Until you’ve seen him stomp his foot to declare his general unhappiness, you haven’t seen the cutest thing in the whole world. He actually thinks he’s taking a stand with such angry fervor, while in actuality he’s just this little fella kicking his foot around. You know how a horse paws the ground? That’s what it looks like when Charlie stomps his foot. He does it OFTEN when hiking. And when you ignore it, he lies down on the ground and creates a puddle of tears. Hence the piggy back rides.

Every time Charlie manages to shimmy up a rock … or when Hopey balances on a log to cross a creek, I’m quickly reminded of how the effort is worth it. When they dig their nails into the bark of a tree, dip their toes into a rushing stream, pick a flower, throw a rock, gather sticks, or get up off the ground and choose to walk a few more steps even when their legs feel worn to a frazzle, they are growing.

And as I participate, I’m growing too. Patience is a learned skill. Appreciating fifteen years of tiny baby steps requires intention. And hoping for the best … continuing to have faith that Hope and Charlie will find a way to effectively communicate and will eventually be able to utilize self care … that’s the most challenging part of the growth.

God. He’s ironic in the most magnificent way. Indeed, he uses the weak to lead/teach the strong.

“My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9)

You can book a Getaway cabin here: https://getaway.house

You can book a place to stay on Lemon Lane Farm here: https://www.lemonlanefarm.com

summer getaway, treehouse getaway, treehouse vacation

Running To The Treehouse

treehouse 12

A common thread weaved through the best fiction ever written is truth.  A place of authenticity stripped down to the bare bones, laid out for the world to devour.  The reader connects, not to the words, but to the spirit behind the words.  The author’s soul.

Winnie the Pooh, who had the coolest treehouse of all, is a series of tales based on a real bear.  Each of his friends … Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Christopher Robin, Kanga, and Roo … were based on actual people.  That’s why the story affects us.  Infects us.  With hope, dreams, and memories of yesteryear when life was much simpler.  It’s genuine, and as humans, we long for things that are real.

This past weekend, I escaped to a real life treehouse.  Out in the middle of what appears to be a world of its own, perched within the safe confines of four towering pines, is Morrison’s Treehouse Getaway.  It’s not a place to go when you’re running away from something, but a place you run to … because something you long for is missing.

 

Remember when summer meant exploring a grand forest?  It may have been half an acre of woods behind your house, but through eyes that have yet to be jaded, those straggly trees provide hours of fantasy.  Climbing on rocks.  Collecting treasures in your pocket that you’ve picked up from around the base of evergreens.  Splashing in a creek.  Returning home for dinner, covered head to toe in dirt and grass stains.  Staying up late, lying outside on the ground, sharing your heart with your best friend … paying no attention to the time or how much sleep is needed before greeting the rising sun.  Just living life.

 

If the best tales are written from an honest place that has been stripped down … then perhaps the best memories are written in a similar way.  When our surroundings are stripped down and laid bare.  A few days without Netflix, cell phone coverage, and the need for a car.  Allowing our truest selves to shine forth.  Re-discovering what we knew in our youth.  This world is what we make it, and we have the power to write our own stories every day.

 

The best thing about Morrison’s Treehouse is that it’s simple.  Yes, it’s beautiful in every way, but in a very relaxing sort of way.  The owners have gone to great lengths to make the space comfortable and welcoming.  It feels like home.  They open the door, and have left it up to the visitors to find their way.

 

On our journey, we sang songs on the grand deck around a fire.  We explored the stream, climbed on rocks, and made our way down every trail.  We saw bear prints and imagined how big the bear might be.  The girls slept in the loft above me, and when lights were out, we stayed up late into the night talking about nothing … and everything … not paying attention to how much sleep we might need until the sun rose to bring on the morning.  For a couple of days, we unplugged from life and reunited on a different level.  On the base human level we all share, regardless of whether we’re family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers.

“…what I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and you go and do it.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing right now.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.

“It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

~A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

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Run to the treehouse!
Run to the treehouse!
Run!
Just my thoughts,
~Melanie

 

summer getaway, Travel, Vacation

A Perfect Weekend Getaway — Bear Lake Reserve

With temperatures as hot as Hades in the Tennessee valley, the kiddos and I packed up and headed toward the Blue Ridge Mountains for a weekend getaway.  A quick google search on VRBO for properties that included mountains, a lake, and a swimming pool led us to a brand new destination spot:  Bear Lake Reserve

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Tucked high up in the North Carolina peaks at an elevation of 2600 feet, this 2,100-acre gated community is spectacular.  Upon entering, you feel like you’ve escaped into a whole other world where you are immediately welcome and among friends.  The resort offers a full-service restaurant, a nine-hole golf course, two swimming pools, 20 miles of hiking trails, a game room, a fitness facility, and a daily list of planned activities for kids and families.

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The heart of the community, though, is a glassy 500 acre lake hedged by majestically tall mountain tops that jut from the ground like a royal crown, surrounding the pristine water.  Reaching out to meander in and out of hidden forest coves, this lake is dotted with a small island that offers the simple thrill of a rope swing.  Bear Creek calls for you to enjoy her cool temperatures, offering fishing, boat rentals, wave runners, kayaks, and paddle boards.  She doesn’t disappoint.

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I decided I might as well let my rowdy ragamuffins take in everything the lake had to offer.  The wave runners were brand new and very quick, giving us a full-on fast adventure … while paddle boards and kayaks urged us to slow down and soak in the beauty of the day and early evening.  The rental rates are reasonable, and the supply is plenteous.  Hope and Charlie enjoyed it all.

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Since we were only going to be staying for a weekend, we never left the Bear Lake Reserve property.  The Lake Club, a 14,000 square foot rock faced facility, has three restaurants and provided one big meal a day for us.   Their menu has everything from burgers and wraps to shrimp & grits and tenderloin.  Want to eat by the pool?  No problem.  But they also offer dining on an outside deck overlooking the lake or in their upscale restaurant space.  And at night, even in the summer, the temps are cool enough for fleecy sweatshirts and fireside chats.  With large stone fireplaces strategically placed on the lodge property, visitors can always find a warm spot to sit and relax.

bear lake 22

The pool area is vast.  There is a poolside grill, an abundance of lounge chairs and fresh towels, and a staff that waits on you hand and foot.  You can even have a poolside massage if you schedule one.  I can’t say enough about the staff … they are kind and eager to assist.  And as far as accommodations go, we chose a two bedroom condo.  Only a couple of minutes from the lodge, it was a perfect location.  I found the owner through VRBO , and she was a dream to work with.

 

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway that feels like a true escape from reality, I’d highly recommend Bear Lake Reserve.  Peace has been created with great intention, from the choice of music that plays through the speakers to the gorgeous flowers that line every path.  The WiFi works great at the lodge, but not really anywhere else on property, which gives much needed unplugged time.  Honestly, this place will exceed all of your expectations.

Just my thoughts.

~Melanie