Thursday, December 14, 2017

A New Christmas Game

I have always loved inventing new games or 
adapting old ones.  Yesterday Claire helped me fine-tune
a new Christmas game based on our vintage Pound Puppy
board game.  Evan was actually the first to play this, but
unfortunately, I got no pictures until later.

My idea was to place some Frosty the Snowman and
Santa Claus figures all over this plastic floor map,
which came with an educational play set years ago.

We could then roll either 1, 2, or 3 dice to try to land
on one of the Frosty or Santa spaces.  Depending on
how far you needed to travel, you might roll any number
from 1 to 18.  When Claire "rescued" a playing piece,
she placed it in this wicker sleight.  I used a Christmas
railroad car for mine.

The Santas and Frostys were borrowed from a
Christmas Tic-Tac-Toe game. We made a rule that
you could take certain short-cuts, such as down a
stream from one "bridge" to another.

By the time Claire asked to play again, we added
in a slew of Neopets, which gave us a lot more
targets to rescue and improved our odds of rolling
a useful total.

It was a ton of fun, and I imagine we'll play it again
next week, probably tweaking the rules as ideas occur.
Have you ever made up a game?  It's very satisfying.
You might encourage your children to invent or
adapt a favorite game for the Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Magical Morrow Mountain-- or Serendipitous in this case

Ten days ago we confirmed a plan with Jennifer to 
use the kids' Veterans Day holiday for a picnic and hike
at our beloved Morrow Mountain State Park.

Lo, and behold.  Amanda calls and asks if they could 
"drop in" from Georgia and spend a couple of nights with
us.  DUH!  YES (or weeks)!
The surprise visit happily coincided with the pre-planned
Morrow Mountain visit. So with no more delay, let me 
share some of the highlights of that glorious day.

Before noon it was breezy at the mountaintop, so we decided to
picnic down by Lake Tillery.  Hey, where's Ryan?

Oh, near the food, of course.

Act One, Scene 1: Clair spreads her wings.

Act One, Scene 2: Evan follows suit.

Act One, Scene 3: Ryan tries HIS wings.  Did you ever doubt it?

In spite of overnight rain, the trails were dry.  We chose the
Three Rivers Trail, which at 0.8 miles figured to be enough of a
 challenge.  It was well worth a steep climb for the views we would get.

The rear guard never wavered.

Posing at the top with various specimens.  Hunter has a
granddaddy long-legs.  Those were abundant and highly prized
on this fall day.

Jennifer and Amanda with five of the grandest "grands" ever.
From here, we could view the three rivers that converge to form
Lake Tillery: the Yadkin River joins the Uwharrie River which
then becomes known as the Pee Dee River.

Focus on the Hump-backed orb weaver (spider) near center.
None of our cameras could focus very well.

Here, the giant arachnid menaces Claire, but she stares him down.
She is ARTEMIS, and knows no fear!

We came to a fair-sized ravine which the older kids size up for
crossing.  Meanwhile, Ryan, who never misses a photo op,
steals the show.

Trees are for climbing, whether they're vertical, diagonal, or horizontal.
Going UP!

Anybody have an idea how we'll get back?

This nearby fallen tree presented a different kind of obstacle course.
It was a maze worthy of the Minotaur.

Dry logs are a welcome rest stop after a steep climb-- AND a
steep descent.  No one said they were tired, though.

Evan and Hunter thought this tree could be called Zero.

The river had an icy but serene look today.

Even in mid-November the leaves were more muted than vivid.

Here's a look back up at the mini-mountain we had hiked over.
I think the next time we go, the kids will blaze their own trails.

Yes, those are lilies in the foreground.  I'd never seen them there before.
A nice view of the shore we had followed.

Our nature patrol found oddities everywhere they turned.

Even at the end of the trail, they wanted to "sign in" to show we
had been there.  Nothing wrong with their "temporary graffiti."

We relaxed for a while at the park museum.  It was Ryan's first time
and he was spellbound by many of the exhibits.  All our kids are
museum buffs.
Before heading home, we drove back to the mountaintop
for some final photos.  On a future visit, we'll hike the
trail at the top.  Only Ryan hadn't done it before, but he'll
get his chance.
Did you ever sit on a rock wall at an overlook and wonder what
it would be like to roll all the way down a mountain?
I wonder why these two are smiling so big.  Hmm.

Evan and Hunter display two of their granddaddy longleg friends.
To the children's credit, none of them tried to scare each other with them.
They simply wanted to hold them and play with them.

Zooming in on Lake Tillery from the mountaintop picnic area.

Hey guys, I'm over here.  Behind you.

Five grandkids and two granddaddy longlegs.

Bri: Everybody flap your wings, like this.
Hunter: I don't think spiders can fly.

For me and Judy, this is what happiness looks like.

These three moms are responsible for a WHOLE lot of happiness
for a whole lot of people!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fall leaves and a New Trail at the Old Loyd Place

I love this time of year at our old place in Murdocksville.
Here are some shots of the changing leaves plus a view
of the NEW TRAIL.  Even the grandkids haven't seen it--
YET.  But they WILL!

A wide sector of alder leads to the stream.


Unidentified shrub
Following are five varieties of oak found on our land.
Willow Oak

Southern Red Oak

Blackjack Oak

White Oak

Black Oak

I love the golden brown of hickory.

I believe this shrub is related to Horse Sugar, which grows on
the Farm Life Nature Trail.

Wisteria.  I can like this vine except when I'm battling it for territory.

It's hard to identify this small specimen, but it may be Blackgum.

This is our cluster of 100 year-old Pear trees.

This Redbud Tree is on our property line.  And YES,
that flash of purple IS a bloom.  It normally blooms in March/April!
Let's head to the stream so I can show you the 
newest connecting trail.
This is the very first path to the stream that I opened after I retired.

I cleared this new path today.  For grandkid information, this
connects the first bridge with the second bridge for the first time.

The diagonal log may be very, very old.  It has been submerged
in the stream, somewhat hindering the free flow of water under
the first bridge, pictured here.  When I dragged it out of the stream,
it turned out it was flat on one side, curved on the other, as if it
were split and used as a footbridge decades ago.  Fun to imagine.

This is where the new trail comes to the second bridge, where
the largest waterfall is.  All of the grandchildren will be able to
step or hop across the narrow channel onto the "island."  I don't
want to add another bridge there and hide the natural beauty.

I love these cinnamon ferns near one of the cascades.
They're most beautiful in fall, I think.

You can see far upstream in this view, but this is only about half
of the area now accessible by trails.

There's an area near the stream that boasts sand as white as any
beach.  Here, the hoofprints of many deer show what a major
thoroughfare it is.
I hope you're enjoying fall around YOUR favorite place!