Some of my very best memories of our children growing up are the vacations we took along the way. I was not working at the time except as a domestic engineer and the pay was pitiful in monetary rewards but it was truly great in blessings! So we were never guaranteed a yearly vacation, but somehow hubby always seemed to put together the funds needed to take a long weekend most years to the beach in the spring and to the mountains in the fall. I will always be grateful for that because those vacations linger in my heart as some of our very best family treasures. I will never, ever forget the excitement as we planned our trips, with the main attraction of "beach-bumming" when we went to the shore and "leaf-gazing" when we headed north in the cooler months.
I associate certain milestones in the life of my girls with some of those trips. I remember the trip to Clayton, Georgia where Hollie shaved her legs for the very first time. I remember when she finally gave in to her curls at the beach the summer she was 12 and decided if she was ever gonna embrace her curly hair, the beach was where it should happen, and she never looked back. I remember how fearless Abbie was as she played in the ocean, made friends with strangers, and how she was always up for an amusement park ride of any kind. If you passed a roadside carnival or there was a boardwalk on the beach, she was always begging her dad to pull over and let her ride! Abbie always had a way of getting what she wanted with that little pouty face. She hasn't changed at all. One memory that stands out in my mind is when we were staying at the Hilton on the beach one year and a repairman came right through our door without knocking first. We found that quite unacceptable and reported our displeasure to the front office. Later that day we found the most delightful basket of goodies waiting for us in our room in an apologetic effort by the management to set things right. The basket had little Babybel cheeses in it and started a tradition that year with Babybel cheese being included on our snack list every vacation thereafter. I remember us laughing as we peeled back the red wax and sank our teeth into those buttery circles. Money was usually pretty tight, so we have a standing joke about how I always had to purchase sunglasses when we got to the beach because I couldn't find mine. This was a source of irritation for the hubs and he was always stressed out for a couple of days before he slipped into that soft, lazy vacation mode we all love. Why it took him so long, I'll never know. I can switch to vacation mode in a crazy New York minute.
I guess now since the weather has gotten cooler and it's officially autumn and everyone is turning their attention to fall excursions, I think about my girls and all the trips to Gatlinburg, Tennessee we took in October. Just the smell of burgers and grilled onions is enough to evoke nostalgia in me when the weather cools off. I remember wrapping up in a cozy sweater and strolling the streets of Gatlinburg weaving in and out of shops, stopping to get a bite to eat at one of the curbside vendors, followed by a powdered apple-cider donut and coffee. I'll never forget stopping between Cherokee, North Carolina and Gatlinburg to ooh and ahh at the gorgeous scenery over the mountain range and to take pictures. And one of my favorite mountain memories I have is when we stayed at a particular hotel one year which was a high-rise and we ended up staying somewhere on the eighth or ninth floor. Now, I don't like staying higher than the third floor in the case of a fire, but the hotel was full and couldn't give us a choice. Somehow I just feel safer a bit closer to the ground! But looking down on the lobby from our tree-top perch, I'll never forget what Hollie said. "Hey, mom, if there's a fire, I'll just jump and land right there on that sofa!" She hasn't changed much either...always the one with lofty ambitions. I don't get to take trips much with my girls anymore; when I do, it's a precious thing. Every so often the opportunity arises when we find ourselves planning a little rendezvous. Sometimes I go to Houston to see Abbie, sometimes I go to Honduras to see Hollie, and they both come here several times a year but not always at the same time. Occasionally we have the rare chance to meet up all together somewhere, and that is beyond my happy place! Hollie has promised me a trip to Italy one day and, by golly, I'm holding her to that one! But every single fall (I think I've missed one fall in 25 years), I look forward to my annual girls' trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia and this is where we go back in time to the younger years. We never feel more alive than in Blue Ridge in the fall. Somehow our children have morphed into grandchildren, but we continue to feed our childlike persona. We eat apple-cider donuts and fried apple pies and candy if we want; we go to movies and eat popcorn, play games and laugh as loud as we want. A couple of us are even brave enough to go down the hill in front of the old homestead on a slide (that would NOT be me, as I like being safe more than I like being brave...no judging allowed). But as in times past, our main focus is on the beautiful scenery of the North Georgia foothills.
Whether it's with your family or your best pals, I wish you a trip this season to see red, gold, and orange dangling from big ol' majestic oak branches or a tiny sugar maple on fire with splendor. I wish you a caramel apple or fried pie or corndog with mustard as you stroll the causeway of a state fair in your cowgirl boots, remembering great days past while planning for new ones. I wish you the smell of an open fire burning hickory logs and dry leaves crunching under those boots. I wish you a chilly pink nose and fleece-lined gloves and a super-cute infinity scarf to tie it all together. Really. I love infinity scarves.
But most of all, I wish you the joy that searching for autumn glory brings.
Love. Georgia. Falls.
Blue Ridge, here I come.
Posted by CC
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