Into the Mountains We Go.

As a refresher, my family – parents, brothers, sister-in-law, nephew and nieces take a family trip every year rather than giving each other gifts. 2016 was our twelfth trip.

As I mentioned earlier, we stayed in a “resort neighborhood” in the mountains for this year’s family vacation. It was in the mountains in North Georgia, a beautiful area to see, but a terrible area to navigate. There were so many shockingly long dirt roads that I began to actually praise ALDOT, our own inept and corrupt department of transportation.

Oh – and North Georgia is at times exactly how they describe Kenneth Parcell’s hometown in 30 Rock.

IMG_5069As excited as I was about this knife shop, the missing apostrophe IN MY OWN NAME hurt.

The “resort”, and I call it that both in truth and because they really REALLY like quotation marks there,

IMG_5096Where is Bill Pound’s other unnecessary quotation mark?!

was actually a gigantic neighborhood laid out over 5,500 acres that were (and still are) seemingly uninhabitable. The impossibly narrow roads (all 170 miles of them) roll up and down continuously as if someone was shaking out a giant blanket in the wind. The houses hang off cliffs and are surrounded by deer-filled woods.

It was quite peaceful and beautiful, but was full of quirks.

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One day, we took our kids to the resort’s Mini Golf. It had seen better days – Hole 3 had a traffic cone in it, clearly marking its out-of-order status, which was also apparent by its complete lack of carpet.

But we played it anyway. Uneven concrete and all.

Each hole of the Mini Golf was sponsored by a local company or one of the resort’s amenities.

Such as Dottie, Nancy, and Ann’s services:

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The hole would be decorated by theme and matching the sponsor, so this particular hole had frogs, all sorts.

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Including this Tic-Tac-Toe frog who’d really lost his butt in the game.

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The hole for the Corner Store Café definitely made me hungry,

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But my favorite hole was the one sponsored by a local attorney.IMG_5083

The signs around the hole were very stoic and professional, clearly marking this as a well-sponsored hole.

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But the décor added to the hole itself – they were priceless.

…Deeds sure has a different connotation when it becomes “Deeds.”

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And by the time we got to “Appeal”, Chris and I decided that this was meant to be marital advice, not legal advice.

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Because what spouse doesn’t appreciate it when you Say “Pleas”?

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We did lots of hiking and running, both in and out of the “resort”, both with and without kids. Chris and I got just barely off the beaten path of the resort and, right after finding Ord, friend of Mater’s,

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we came across what I was sure held a body

IMG_4964Who knew that Volvo made Chevy Expos?

Another day, the entire family went to Springer Mountain, a one mile trail at the start of the Appalachian Trail. My brother did not tell me that it would be a 7 mile perilous cliffside dirt road to get there, but with a little bit of eye closing and deep breathing, I survived the trip up.

Thankfully, it seemed we had plenty of time to take our hike before the meter maids made it up the road.

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The kids, all adept hikers, did fantastic going up the mountain.

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We made it to the top and celebrated by resting, drinking water, taking in the view,

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And of course, climbing trees.

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On the way home from that adventure, because it clearly wasn’t enough, we took an even longer frightening dirt road (aptly named Winding Stair Gap Road) and visited Amicalola Falls, which was okay from the top,

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but then tempted you with 600 steps down to see the actual view.

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We managed to cajole the children back up 200 stairs, then sent Chris to get the car to retrieve them.

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Chris and I snuck away for adventure and intrigue one afternoon, getting lost on dirt roads and trying to find a trail that ended up being closed.

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We took part of it anyway, only to read later that it was closed due to high voltage power lines being put in.

Oops.

Always obey signs, kids.

But we found another trail that was just gorgeous, and ran/walked it together, enjoying all its offerings.

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This is why you visit North Georgia.

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And of course, due to all the outdoors activity, there was plenty of this.

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And this.

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Because what is vacation without chill-out time?

Before we left, we ran out back to the delightful woods behind the house to get our annual family photo. Ali was happy to volunteer to be my model for lighting and tripod setup, and I marveled at her total grownup-ness.

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Of course, there had to be a spider on that tree we were going to use. Luckily, we had Pop there to quell all spider fears.

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We finally got everyone in place and snapped before any other creepy-crawlies found their way into our scene.

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And of course, I grabbed a few cousin shots.

Ali, Princess of Organization and Activities Coordinating,

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Eli, Prince of Original Ideas and Holder of All Animal Facts,

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Tessa, Princess of Quiet Determination and Winning All The Things,

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Noah, Prince of Make-Believe and Matchbox-Car-Road-Making,

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And Andi, Princess of Playing Happily With Everyone.

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All five of them are AMAZING at the whole cousin thing.

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