We decided to make the most out of Sunday since Hubby was going to be in the conference for the next 3 days.
First stop: Linville Caverns
I had done a bunch of research trying to find things that looked kid friendly that we could do as a family as well as things that the kids and I could do without Hubby. Linville Caverns looked like a nice starting spot for our vacation. It is the only, or one of the only, public caves, or maybe one of the few caves that have a certain type of formation, in North Carolina, either way, it sounded like they were limited in the state. I love caves, I think they are absolutely beautiful and the process in which they were and are continuing to form still amazes me. The kids seemed pumped to go visit a cave and I thought it would be nice to have all 5 of us there.
It was a good hour to get there down a bunch of country roads. We went through a few small towns and saw about a bazillion churches. I pointed out that I didn't see much of any livestock, including horses and wondered if it had to do with the hilly ground. Even in the valley area though, there weren't that many. It's funny, as we were driving I saw all these homes and yards and I found myself saying "Oh, that's pretty." to the houses that had a yard that was fairly clear of trees and had wide open spaces. I wasn't expecting to have that kind of reaction and was surprised when I noticed it.
We get there and as soon as we get out of the car Sunshine says two things: 1. Are there poisonous snakes in the woods? and 2. I don't want to go in the cave, what if there are bats? Now I find the second statement quite humorous, she is the one that always wants to go to the bat house at the zoo. The bats at the zoo are in an free flight enclosure meaning if they wanted to, they could land on your head. So I tell her this and she obviously doesn't care because she breaks down in tears. I decide that this is going to toughen her up and we go and purchase tickets for the family, including Sunshine. Apparently you can drag a child into a cave, but that doesn't mean she will stop crying or stop asking to leave. She didn't until about halfway through and even then she wasn't happy about being in there. Monkey on the other hand was scared at first and then decided that it was fun and he asked the tour guide about a million questions.
This is before we go into the cave. You can tell because Sunshine is still smiling.
For some reason the tour guide didn't mention the obvious elephant/mammoth looking thing on the wall. I don't know how you could miss it, it was about 2 feet by 2 feet and right behind you when the tour guide was telling you about some other abstract formation.
Stumps were fun. All stumps needed to be climbed on.
Sunshine is going through the making goofy faces at the camera stage. She can be such a ham sometimes. I like how she's using Bug for balance.
She's taught Monkey to pose as well. Taken at the bottom of Linville Falls.
Second stop: Linville Falls
A sign at the caverns said to visit the Falls and so we did! A short drive there and we were there. It was just in time for lunch so we had our picnic. Our second PB&J picnic, the first being at a rest stop on the way to NC. Then Monkey decides he has to go to the bathroom. But where? We were told there was a restroom 2 minutes up the road and there was. A pit toilet. This is the child that doesn't want to go to the bathroom half the time so sitting on a pit toilet is not pleasant. Long story short, I realize after the second trip that I hadn't packed a pair of underwear and my 4 1/2 year old was going to have to wear f his brother's diaper.
A nice 1/2 mile walk down to the falls, they were small but it was still fun, Bug was hanging out on Hubby's back, enjoying the view. The walk was short enough that the kids were able to do it without any problems but long enough to feel like a real hike. There was also a ton of different fauna and foliage to look at. They both enjoy looking at them and were willing to stop and look. Sunshine was told one too many times about poison ivy so we had absolutely no worries about her walking off the very large trail.
Some funky mushroom. It's so pretty, it makes you want to bend down and eat it...
Climbing on the rocks. A little slippery, very uneven, makes for a fun climb.
ecide to go to the other lookout or head back? Monkey decides that this time he really has to go so we decide to leave. Someone told us when we got to the next fork that there were flush toilets at the visitor's center. Visitor's center? Apparently there was another parking area, a non-gravel, visitor center entrance. Complete with flush toilets. So which way do we go? Back to the car and drive over there or straight there? It was about .6 miles to the visitor's center and .4 miles to our car. We decide to go to the visitor center. He doesn't go there either by the way. While at the center it starts to rain and we're forced to choose to stay or leave, we decide to leave since it was just a light drizzle... that turned into a downpour. Halfway up the path to our car, it stopped, just in time for us to be wet and the trail to have puddles and little rivers running across it.
The rain was starting to come down, I figured I could carry Monkey for a while. It didn't last long.