A big pastime last week at the mountain house was journeying to various remote spots, preferably locations that require at least some use of all-wheel drive to access. One day we went to the top of Cowee Mountain, to a fire tower there, a drive that involves fording three creeks. Dad said, "Y'all drive the Pilot, and I'll have the jeep with the chain in case I need to pull you out." It's possible that he was secretly hoping for that outcome, because in my experience, men have some special relish for anything that brings them into close contact with chain. (Matt's emergency tree surgery comes to mind here.) It could be a stuck car, snow chains, anything that needs an impromptu binding, tugging, or strapping.
That's Hank all bundled up to ride in the back of the open jeep. Usually the kids like that spot the best, but it was chilly that day. Hank didn't make it down to the valley before he complained that the wind was in his eyes. I think it could have been the dog butt in his eyes too, but we stopped on the road and I moved him into the other car. Then, bundled up like the little brother in A Christmas Story, he fell into a stuporous coma in the warm backseat. When we woke him up, he was a little pissy at being rousted out on top of a mountain and told, "It's time for our hike!" He looked around and said, "I don't want to go to this far, I want to go to a different far!" Even with the weird choice of words, I knew what he meant. But we did what any good parents would do and said, "Well we ain't carryin' you, so you have to walk." So walk he did, and he got with the progam pretty fast.
Please do not be alarmed by my giant head in this picture. I was wearing a baseball cap that I covered with a jumbo fleece hat. Like a head Snuggie. I look a little like one of those kids who has to wear a safety helmet at all times. But let's take a closer look at how Hank was equipped.
That's a small, travel-sized teddy bear and a sippy cup. Into the wild! He is truly my son, because I never step out of the house without a beverage either. Here are a few (okay, several) more pictures from that outing.
I love how, in the winter, you can see far through the woods. We drove a long way on dirt roads, going up and up the mountain, and everything was just as brown and bare as it could be. The rhododendrons are always green, though, and when all the other leaves are gone, the huge rhododendron groves show themselves. It is hard to believe that it will all leaf out again. Anyway, we made it back over the three creeks, and nobody whined or fussed, and nobody needed to be pulled with a chain. Success.
Today I am a bit whiny and fussy, because I have the tail-end of a cold that may be settling into my sinuses. My hair kind of hurts, if you know what I mean. I think I need a toddy.