Monday, November 4, 2013

On Family, Foliage, and Fun

I write from one of my favorite places - the beautiful city of Huntsville, Alabama - surrounded by some of my favorite people - my BFF, my favorite-est little boy, and my friend Crisy. Joe will be home from work soon. Although we only got in Friday night and, due to scheduling conflicts with work (inser very sad face), will be back on the road in just a few hours zipping back to Maryland... right now, everything is right in the world.

This has been an amazing trip, starting with our early-start road trip.

Four hours (1/3rd of the way!) into the drive, making out first gas stop/driver change. I drove first so she could catch some ZZZ's after running shift the night before, but Cris and I talked the entire first four hours instead! But apparently she got a "whole four hours of sleep" so she'd be good for, like, days. In contrast, I took two naps on the way down LOL!
In the interest of saving Crisy's reputation, I want to clarify that I made her pose for this picture, and that we were going less than 20 MPH on a very straight back road in Tennessee. ;)
I love road trips pretty much no matter where they end or how long they take, and this one was full of great music, open road, beautiful sunshine, funny signs, and incredible, incredible fall foliage. Seriously, if you want to soak up the last of the autumnal goodness, I highly recommend a road trip that carries you through the countryside of Virginia, skirts the Smoky mountains, and descends into the valleys of Tennessee before depositing you gently on the doorstep of people who love you. Good for the soul.

We pulled into Reb and Joe's driveway just after eight PM and wasted no time in admiring their new apartment, which has truly become a home since they tied the knot this past April. Joe arrived home soon after, Khy was put to bed, and the adults crashed in the living room with episodes of Gilligan's Island playing in the background while we got all caught up on each other's lives. :)

The next morning, Crisy and I slept in a bit, then we all piled into the car to take Joe some coffee at work, do a quick bit of shopping, and eat an early lunch at one of my favoritest places, Mellow Mushroom.

We got to sit outside where Khy could run around the fenced-in patio (which was completely empty of patrons except for us!) and enjoy our pizza. :) Then (feeling a little guilty over the pizza LOL) we headed up to Green Mountain Park to explore!

I love Green Mountain! The first time I was here was in the spring of 2010, right after Khy was born; I had flown down to meet my little guy for the first time, and at some point during the weekend, Reb's mom volunteered to watch him for a bit so we girls could get out of the house. We drove up to Green Mountain and had a great time walking the trails and taking pictures.

At Green Mountain Park in 2010
Same tree, grown-up Khy :)

This time, it was great to be able to bring Khy with us and hike with him!

Hiking the trails

Enjoying the beautiful lake!

BFF and favorite boy :)

I made Crisy scale this fallen tree so that I could get a picture 
I told her she looked great, and to look out over the lake radiating confidence.
#fail ;)
We came home, cleaned up, and started preparing for a "big night in." :) Khy went over to nanny's for a sleepover (thanks Lynn!) and Joe started grilling steak, while Reb made mashed potatoes, pasta salad, and mushrooms.

I was allowed to touch the mushrooms for approximately five seconds before Joe flipped out and very politely took over. ;)
Crisy was smarter - she didn't even try lol!

Joe the chef 

Reb and I wanted to go to the hot tub, and (since neither Crisy nor I had brought swimsuits) I was willing to sacrifice my extra shorts and tank top to the cause, but we thought we'd go check that it was open before changing. It was... and we ended up soaking in our street clothes. ;) 
The next day we all slept in, then Reb went to get Khy, Joe started breakfast (french toast, cinnamon rolls, and leftover steak) while Crisy and I hung out and enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

Joe had to leave for work :( and shortly after he left, we all piled into the car to explore some more - this time in Big Spring Park, another one of my favorite places!

Originally we were just gonna walk around, but the fall colors were so beautiful that we ended up having a mini photo shoot, complete with a lot of leaf throwing!

Thoroughly tired, we dropped Crisy off at Joe's work she could get a new phone, and Reb and I took Khy to run at McDonalds, then we headed home to meet Reb's family, who swung by to say hi on their way home from church!

The day before we left, I had driven all around town trying to hunt down some stuffed ham, and managed to find some! With the help of a cooler, it made the long trip with us, and I was able to deliver it safely into their hands. :) I loved getting to see everybody, including Reb's younger brother (who now towers over me!) and sister (who I remember as a tiny tot!) who are practically all grown up now. :)

We spent a lazy afternoon napping, swapping pictures, and generally enjoying each other's company. :) Joe got off work that evening, and pretty soon it was time for Crisy and I to pack up and start our long drive home.

Although I was kind of leery of it at first, we've done it a few times now and I've discovered I LOVE driving through the night. The roads are less crowded, there's a peacefulness about it, and time really does seem to go faster. I got to nap first, then - armed with a couple of CD's worth of RadioLab episodes - I drove for awhile.

The sun was just coming up as we reached the scenic overpass in Virginia, only a few hours from home! Despite the FREEZING temperature, we hopped out to take pictures and enjoy the panoramic views!


Sadly, a few hours later out trip came to an end. :( It was a great time, though, and I look forward to more of these little weekend getaways in the future! I love getting to see how happy my BFF is with her awesome husband, and how quickly my Khy-bear is growing. I think the status I posted on Facebook during the weekend just about sums it up:

I was going to post something I was thankful for each day in November, but in between traveling I've missed the first two days! It occurs to me however, that I could have posted the same thing these past two days and it would be just as true: I am so, so grateful for the 'created family' that God has given me, those special people whose lives at one point became tangled with mine, and who decided to leave them that way. Our friendship has become a sort of web, drawing in others and holding us all secure.. Family isn't just a blood thing - sometimes it's a soul thing, too, and I'm thankful to be a part of this one.

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