Dear Holly: Hiking to the Secret Cabin in the Woods!

5 years, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

I’m so glad our family was able to go back to Big Canoe, Georgia. And this time, I got to take my Jeep- and take it out on the Jeep trail near our cabin we stayed in.

Halfway through the Jeep trail there is a very old cabin that we got to explore.

You loved it! And you loved Disharoon Creek that flowed right in front of it.

I think one of your favorite parts of our trip was hiking and exploring around the cabin with me.

It is my hope that as you get older, you and I can become hiking buddies.

I always loved hiking and exploring in the words.

That’s one of the traits you got from me- that, and not eating bread or popcorn!



Accidentally Family Glamping in Squaw Valley, California: Home of the 1960 Winter Olympics

It was the closest to camping my wife will ever be and she wanted to go home right then.

I admit I’m borrowing from the memorable 1998 hit song “Iris” from Goo Goo Dolls here.

(“You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be and I don’t want to go home right now.”)

In hindsight, I understand now that we accidentally ended up glamping for a few days of our family vacation last week in California.

For the first three nights, we stayed in Squaw Valley; home of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Imagine the scene:

My kids shared a fold-out couch on one side of the rustic motel, while my wife and I shared an actual bed. The thing is, it’s typically so cold in this part of California, where it is more than a mile above sea level. Therefore, the building is not equipped with air conditioning.

So instead, there were fans in the windows and ceiling fans above us to pull in some cooler feeling air. But during the middle of the summer with the temperature being the highest, it’s not the most comfortable way to fall asleep.

Our bed was right next to the window connected to the outside hallway, so that other fellow guests could basically see through our window while we slept, since we had to keep the curtain open in an effort to prevent blocking the fan.

I should mention the shower, too.

It was basically a giant tray on the floor of the bathroom in which I had to spray my kids with a hose. It was like giving a cat a bath.

But fortunately, we were able to overlook all that and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings during the daytime.

I’m pretty sure this was the closest my wife will ever get to camping. As for me, I grew up in the mountains of Alabama, so it’s what I know.

Here’s to family glamping!

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

3 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Dear Jack,

Immediately after leaving Walden Farm on Saturday, Mommy wanted to stop by some “cute” antique shops in downtown Nolensville.

I spotted a creek behind the shops, so you and I did the guy thing and opted for the outdoor exploration adventure as opposed to looking at beautiful junk in stores.

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Our original agenda was simply to find rocks and sticks to throw into the water.

However, after you realized the creek was swarming with what appeared to be tiny tadpoles, you decided to “catch a tadpole” instead.

First, you called them: “Here, tadpoles! Come to me!”

Then you used a stick as a fishing pole, hoping to catch a few of them. I joined you, of course.

It didn’t take long at all before you thought you caught one, and boy, were you proud!

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Granted, it was just algae… as it was each time after that.

But in your mind, there was a real possibility of actually being able to catch tadpoles simply by placing a stick down into the water for just a few seconds at a time; with no bait attached.

I love your fascination with fishing. Never mind the irony in the fact our family doesn’t even eat fish or any kind of meat.

Still, it’s as if it’s ingrained in a little boy’s mind to want to go fishing with his Daddy. Likewise, I want to “go fishing” with you.

You and I could have stayed out there at the creek all day, but Mommy eventually came back from looking around at the shops; happy to see us doing “guy things.”

Our recent fishing trip has inspired me to already consider buying us a small 2-man tent to put out on the back patio of our new house once we move in.

We could be camping out by next spring!



Dear Jack: “Camping In” At The End Of The Summer

3 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: "Camping In" At The End Of The Summer

Dear Jack,

The theme at your school (KinderCare) this month has been “Discovering Summer: Wilderness 101.” In other words, you’ve been learning about camping.

Friday you and all your friends got to come to school in pajamas and take your naps in sleeping bags. Your teacher Ms. Michelle was telling me how, without being prompted, you “caught a fish” at Lake Nemo and immediately took it over to the “campfire” to cook it.

sharing with friends KinderCare

(Hey, I thought you were a vegetarian? How’d you know how to do that?)

So after seeing how you’ve enjoyed the camping theme so much, Mommy and I decided for our family to “camp in” this weekend…

strawberry juice camp

We started things off with some of Mommy’s vegan french toast (made with fresh orange juice and Ezekiel bread), plus, I juiced you some fresh organic strawberry juice in our juicer as well.

While Mommy and I prepared breakfast, you were busy doing self-directed, campy arts and crafts. That not only included finger painting, but making ghosts out of construction paper.

Mommy cut out the shapes for the ghosts, letting you name the them: Marker, Boo, Circle, and Blue were a few of the names you came up with.

camping in

Then you dedided you wanted to write the names on the ghosts yourself.

That’s when I learned how well you can write.

You named one of the ghosts “Fire”. You asked me how to spell it, then correctly wrote it down, letter for letter. I was so amazed! I had no idea you could do that!

With the abundance of ghosts appearing in our camp in, I figured it’s our way of paying tribute to the concept of telling ghost stories around the campfire.

You also drew “shadows” next to a house. I think that was to further the campfire story feel.

vegetarian smores

We finished off the day with some smores. (Made from the vegan marshmallows I reviewed a few weeks ago.)

Hey, who needs the great outdoors?

We “camped in” and we liked it!




Readers’ Expectations 8: The Biological Chicken, Sweaty Dexter, and Tyler Perry with a Hickey

Sometimes I feel like Dear Abby, except that the questions and comments people type into search engines to get to Scenic Route Snapshots are a bit on the incoherent side.  Here’s the newest batch:

“I haven’t failed; I’ve had 10,000 ideas”- Right.  You’ve had 10,000 bad ideas.  Or another way of looking at it is this: The glass is half full.  Yeah, full of bad ideas!  Zing!  Next…

“biological chicken”- We live in a time where most chickens are no longer biological.  Ever since the Droid Empire took over our planet, most of our food is simply projected figments of our imagination, linked in to the Droid scanners.  Even still, tastes like chicken.

“They’re always sweaty in Dexter”- That’s because the show takes place in Miami.  Similarly, they’re also always sweaty in most reality dating shows on VH1, but that’s for a different reason.

“bacon egg sandwich, grapes, chocolate”- What are you, a ten year-old boy?  Does your mommy know you’re playing on the Internet?  Admittedly, I could see how that could make for mouth-watering breakfast on the right kind of morning.

“beer scripture fellowship”- Jesus and His disciples drank wine.  But that was so like 2,000 years ago.  It’s time for Christian men in Bible studies to switch to beer.  Nothing like reading through Habakkuk with a Heineken in hand, I always say.  Fat Tire and Phillipians, anyone?

“what to do to bad people”- Sarcastic remarks and physical injury only fuel the fire, so I’ve learned from the past.  My new thing is to sincerely pray that they enter into an authentic relationship with Jesus as their Savior.  Then they may end up on my side and fight Satan with their negative vibes.  It’s a win-win.

“how to compliment a classic song”- Man, that’s a tough one.  Just a shot in the dark, but you could try this: “Hey it’s ‘More Than a Feeling’ by Boston…  I love this song!  This song rocks!”  Change the title of the song and the name of the band as needed.

“Can black people get hickeys?”- Good question, but I’ve got a better one: Can black people “get” camping or Monty Python movies?  Even better question: Can white people “get” stomping or Tyler Perry movies?