For fall break this year we decided to take the kid’s to the mountains.
My parents have taken us to Blue Ridge a few times but we hadn’t been since Joe was super fat and had to be carried up the steep hills attached to me at 7 months old and honestly it’s taken me 6 years to even attempt it again (and only when all of my kids could walk themselves) > > > > >
We stayed in ASKA which is about 20 minutes outside of Blue Ridge.
I recommend making it to your airb&b before nightfall, as we got lost multiple times, though I was letting the two men (Jason + Jackson) navigate us.
It took a phone call to our hosts, and then a few u-turns to finally arrive at the right spot.
I loved our house! You can find it HERE.
It had a master on the main level when you walked in, plus a bathroom. A large bunk room (slept 6) on the bottom level attached to a massive game room, and access to a large porch that housed the hot tub and a basketball goal (I had no idea how popular the basketball goal would be).
On the top level was another master with ensuite.
The main level also had a large deck with an outdoor fire pit, a dining table, a large grill and relaxing chairs that overlooked the mountains.
We loved everything about the house, and the private driveway (shared with a few other nice houses) was breathtaking to enter and leave on. All of the walking trails in my photos are just turns up and down the long private drive to our house.
The first day we woke up and went gem mining at in Aska.
The cost was $7 per kid and overall they were super happy (though it did go very quickly)!
After they mined their gems, we walked across the street and sat at a picnic table so they could see which precious stones they’d uncovered based on the small print outs in their info packets. They also traded a few.
Then we walked over to the little bridge and threw leaves off and watched them cross under us on the river.
We made the massive mistake of not planning lunch out and driving to Blue Ridge (the town) for some sights and eats with hopes of purchasing train tickets for sometime that week. Unfortunately the train was not available as they were filming something, and all of the restaurants were on 1 hour + waits for lunch.
We spent some time at the park (which is super nice) and ducked into a few quick stores before deciding to try our luck in downtown Ellijay.
This was a horrible idea.
Ellijay was far more congested than even Blue Ridge and we ended up waiting TWO HOURS to sit down and eat at a PUB.
((The pub was delicious but by that time we were absolutely ravaged and so I can’t really attest to how good or bad it was))
The kids were troopers but we were more than ready to head home and relax in the hottub and cook our own dinner.
Day 2 was even worse than day 1.
We woke up early to head to the river we’d seen the day before, but hadn’t gotten close to.
When Jackson was about 6 we’d come and he’d hopped on all the stones like a billy goat.
I brought a few towels incase anyone wanted to get their feet wet, having no idea Joe Douglas would be going all the way in, and under.
I was watching the big kids (taking photos of course) and Jason was holding Jesse while Joe was near him.
Joe attempted to leap from one rock to the next but lost his footing on the leap and slipped between the two rocks and into the small rapids between them.
THANKFULLY Jason was within reaching distance and fished him out like a daddy bear would a salmon, I’d imagine.
Thank God he was there, because although I know Joe would have survived, my arms / legs weren’t long enough to reach him without also going in, and honestly I can’t really let my mind go much further than that.
It was a solid lesson learned, that he isn’t invincible and a harder lesson for Jason and I, that we are completely unprepared to travel to such a locale with 4 children.
From this point forward I had to double my meds just to let the kids walk on the roads, without fearing they’d trip and tumble down the side of the mountain.
We tried to keep them off electronics as much as possible during the day (except in the car) but decided after that traumatic experience we’d go home and have a free day.
Jackson and Joe used this opportunity to play their devices while sissy and Jesse painted rocks.
Jason cooked another delicious dinner that evening, and then breakfast the next morning before we made the long trek to the pumpkin patch / apple orchards for another busy day.
I’ve been to Merciers several times and though I always enjoyed it, I figured we would try somewhere else, and we were stoked to find XXX>
They had the BEST fresh apple pies and ice cream, and I would have gone back a second time if our schedule would have allowed.
They also had a small train that went around the inside of the building, and Jesse loved watching it move from room to room.
Again, we headed home for the hot tub, dinner at home and some outdoor basketball.
I am pretty sure I also beat everyone at ping pong that night, and taught the kids how to play ERS (card game) against their father’s will.
Tomorrow would be our last day, so we headed to bed somewhat early and woke up, packed a lunch and headed to the tallest waterfall in Blue Ridge.
The waterfall was great, but we were tired and decided driving to the top was our best option.
TBH my anxiety at this point was far too high to let the kids do much of anything at that elevation, so we quickly headed back down to the very bottom and played at the park and ate our packed lunch.
I thought we would drive to Dahlonega to a farm I had read about that had bears and sloths and zebras, but this would turn out to be another not so great idea.
The place was completely empty and the sloth we’d come to see was sleeping behind some plexi glass in what looked like a room for people who’ve lost their minds.
The whole place kind of made me sad, to be honest. The monkeys were each alone in their enclosures and the two bears we saw simply paced the fence line.
There were also two white tigers sleeping out in the trees, and the entire setup reminded me of WE BOUGHT A ZOO before the rehab, and without all of the happy workers.
In fact, the only worker we saw was the girl at the front who collected our money and sold us our feed bags, which wouldn’t have been as big of an issue if we weren’t harassed by a large turkey for the majority of our exploration.
Jason was clearly terrified and demanded we “move faster” past the zebras, which up until this point were the only hooved animal we could feed our bags of grains to. The turkey made some scary noises and inched very very closely to all of us, but thankfully my husband was willing to sacrifice himself and ensured that he stayed closest to the turkey so that none of us would be spurred to death on this forgotten farm in the middle of nowhere.
We ended with a emu and fed the majority of our brown paper sack bags to him, mainly because it was fun to watch him but also because we were dehydrated and bored and had no need for feed once we got into the car.
I hopped into the driver’s seat knowing Jason would route us right home, but not wanting this abandon zoo to be our final memory of the mountains.
Thankfully, I had also researched a mining place close by, and spent $100 on 6 passes to some underground mining experience that would be the best thing we did the entire trip.
The kids were surprisingly interested and so were Jason and I.
The tour of the mine took approx 20 minutes which was just enough time to spend learning, before mining for gold in our pans.
We watched a short video and poor Joe Douglas was convinced he’d leave a millionaire, knowing how much gold was worth.
When they put two small flakes into a plastic tube for him he tossed it in my bag, completely dissappointed.
Being the mom I am, I decided they’d really loved gem mining the first day, and this place had rave reviews for their gems, so I dished out another 50$ for a massive bucket of dirt for them to sift through before we made our way back to the cabin. You can’t put a price on memories, ya know?
Honestly, it was the best money we’d spent the entire trip, and if I had it to do over we would have skipped the gem mining the first day and just gone here instead.
The gems were HUGE and it took the kids a solid half and hour to mine the entire bucket.
They LOVED it.
All of them.
They squeeled with excitement each time they uncovered another semi-precious stone and I knew I’d finally redeemed myself from the zoo experience. . .
Another thrill with Dahlonega was that there was a Chickfila approx 5 minutes from us, so we ate a second lunch (do packed lunches even count on vacay?) on our long and twisty ride back home to the cabin.
I was mentally exhausted and passed out on the sofa and woke up to the kids asking if we could carve pumpkins.
Anti-anxiety medicine also makes you very sleepy, incase you weren’t aware.
And between almost losing a kid in the river and then almost having a kid attacked by a turkey I was spent.
The kids carved their pumpkins and we watched Matilda while Jason cooked pork chops with some apple marinade he’d bought from the apple place the day before.
The next morning, the kids begged not to leave, but I assured them we’d definitely be back.
Maybe not until they’re all 156+, but honestly the thought of any of them driving those winding roads and steep terrains makes me even more nervous, so tbh we may be done road tripping to the mountains, for forever.
Until next time, Blue Ridge
here’s a look at the trip > > >