My husband begins celebrating his birthday around November 1st and the party continues for about a week, culminating on November 8th, his actual birthday! He calls this week “the birthday zone.” It’s our excuse to eat out, eat more, and eat dessert.
This year Brad celebrated his fortieth birthday! He wanted to make a weekend of it at the mountain house, so we packed up and headed out on Thursday for Hendersonville (our third trip in as many months!). This little house has become a retreat to us, a place we can go to get away, relax, and be together as a family. With the forecast calling for snow flurries, it was even more appealing to Brad!
We packed a picnic lunch on Friday and headed over to Carl Sandburg’s home, Connemara. We love the outdoors! Exploring and hiking are some of our favorite things to do! We hiked the 2.6 mile round trip trail to the top of Glassy Mountain, probably the same trails Sandburg walked, looking for a place to write. Along the way, the kids found cool leaves, holes to explore, and rocks to climb. At one point, Luke said to me, “Hold me.” I replied, “I’ll hold your hand.” To that he responded, “I want you to hold ALL of me.”
As we neared the top, the wind kicked up and the temperature went down! The view at the summit was breath-taking! The mountains displayed their splendid fall wardrobe of red, gold, orange, and brown. We ate a hurried lunch, so we could hide our freezing fingers in our sleeves again and get going! We did call Brad’s mother from the top of the mountain to sing “Happy Birthday” to her (her birthday is three days before Brad’s). She was enjoying her own vacation in the Shenandoah Valley. I thought how amazing to be able to communicate from the top of a mountain in NC to his Mom in Charlottesville, VA who was touring Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello! Carl Sandburg wouldn’t believe it!
At the bottom of the mountain, we visited the barn complete with roosters, cats, and goats. Then we headed out to “A Day in the Country” gift store and a quick stop at Krispy Kreme for a dozen donuts (this is where the “birthday zone” comes in).
We returned home Saturday afternoon, and I was quick to unpack, wash clothes, dust, and prepare our home for lunch guests the next day. Unknown to Brad, I had invited a few friends from out of town to show up at church and surprise him for his birthday. As soon as Brad left for church Sunday morning, I pulled out the vacuum cleaner, thawed my frozen chili, washed our fancy glasses, and pulled out an extra chair from storage. Thankfully, Lindsay had decided to go to church early with Brad and would not be there to question my odd Sunday morning behavior. (I had not told the kids about our friends coming because they were already sworn to secrecy about the ice cream cake hiding in the freezer, and I didn’t want to burden them with one more secret. “Operation Secret Cake” was about to kill them!)
Well, Brad was surprised, thrilled, actually, to see our friends! He had no clue they were coming! After service, he asked them if we could get together for lunch, and they responded that they already had lunch plans. He did not yet know they were coming back to the house with us for lunch! He soon caught on, and we all enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship around our dining room table, eating, opening gifts, and visiting.
On Monday, Brad’s birthday, we decided to take a day trip to Linville Caverns, where we walked 600 feet into the bottom of Humpback Mountain underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway. We saw stalactites, stalagmites, tiny brown bats, blind trout, and awesome crevices. We also experienced a brief demonstration of total darkness. It was so strange to have my eyes wide open and not see a single glimpse of anything! The only other place in the world of total darkness is at the bottom of the ocean in the abyss. After our tour, we hiked to Linville Falls. The views at at the overlooks were amazing! The overlooks were also scary, and I held Luke tight because the drops over the walls were straight down a long way.
We drove past Grandfather Mountain and into Blowing Rock where the kids played at a playground. The wind was really blowing and made it quite nippy. I pulled my hood up over my ears to keep the wind out of my head! Then we headed to Boone where we dined at the Dan’l Boone Inn, Brad’s all-time favorite restaurant. They serve family style homemade cooking, including mashed potatoes, fried chicken, green beans, corn, stewed apples, ham biscuits, and dessert! At dinner we decided to tell the kids about an upcoming family vacation we have planned for later this year. Brad arranged three dishes on our table into the shape of Mickey’s head and ears and told the kids, “Here is a clue as to where we are going.” Immediately, Lindsay jumped up with excitement and begged us to let her brothers in on the destination. All three children were thrilled with the idea of going to Disney World!
It was a fun and memorable way to celebrate the fortieth birthday of the man I love more and more with every year! I have to say I am so thankful to God that He allowed the path of a 20 year old college girl to cross the path of a 21 year old college guy in the cafeteria at Charleston Southern University in 1991! I am blessed to have a godly husband and father to journey through life with!