We wanted to pack in a lot of fun in a short amount of time, and we certainly did.
We drove up to The Swag, one of my favorite places on the planet, on Saturday morning.
The Swag is a B&B that sits above Maggie Valley, N.C., that we started going to in the early '80s, and my parents usually let us take a friend with us. I even took boyfriends with me as I got older (they slept separately from our family in a nearby loft). I have so many wonderful memories of The Swag and couldn't wait for our kids to see it.
When you drive up, off to the right there's a huge, old oak. At first you don't realize that it's any more that that.
But when you walk up under it, you realize that it's home to a really cool treehouse!
It's WAY on up there. Luckily you don't have to take a rope ladder or anything ... it's a nice set of steps, but they're pretty steep.
Once we'd made our way back down, we stopped in the flower & vegetable garden to take a look around before heading up to the main lodge.
One of the things I love so much about The Swag is how they pay attention to EVERY detail. And every single element they add to the property is added in the same rustic vein as the original lodge.
Since I don't have a green thumb, gardens amaze me.
I once managed to kill a cactus. Mm hmm.
I kind of felt bad even setting FOOT in The Swag's garden, like my bad mojo might set off a bad chain of events in there.
See what an odd angle that picture is taken at? (And also what terrible grammar I used in that interrogative sentence?) That's because that sunflower was a good seven feet tall.
We realized it was about time to go pick up our trail lunches, so we walked back past the beautiful treehouse on the way up to the lodge.
We had the option of eating in the lodge, but The Swag is a place of, shall we say, RESPITE. It is a calm, relaxing retreat for people who pay dearly for the pleasure.
It is NOT a place where my four children and their uncontrollable personalities would really be welcome. On the inside. For more than five minutes.
So they made do with a few rounds of horseshoes in the front yard and enjoyed the view of the Smokies.
Amelia has no idea -- not a one -- that there's any reason you shouldn't just run up to a cat you've never seen before and who doesn't know you from Adam and lay on top of him and give him a huge hug.
AND A KISS.
Personal space? She's never heard of it.
Of course right before she made it over to him, I did shout out to someone to ask if he was friendly. Luckily -- obviously -- he is. Also, possibly too well-fed to bother trying to move.
"I dun wanna leab MAH-COMB!"
Gooseberry Knob is just a quarter-mile hike right there on The Swag's property, totally worth it for another nice view of the Smokies.
As you get to the end of the trail and enter the clearing, you realize you're in a truly beautiful spot.
We had the gazebo all to ourselves, although there were a few other hikers scattered here and there along the ridge looking for a peaceful place to read or meditate.
Our trail lunch was DELICIOUS. Santa Fe grilled chicken wraps, red apples, Sun Chips and some dark chocolate brownies with a graham cracker/oatmeal crust. I didn't have one of those, but Amelia did.
Well, she licked the chocolate off the top. She wasn't so much a fan of the crust part.
But she was willing to persevere for the sake of the chocolate.
I KNOW THE FEELING, INTERNET.
I'd tell you how long it took me to clean her up afterward, but you don't want to know.
Same with the number of wipes it required.
After I finished The Cleanup of the Century, we headed back down to The Swag for a little more time on the grounds before wrapping up.
Oh, and how can I forget, more time with MALCOLM? As soon as we got back, the crowd surrounded him.
Going in for another hug and kiss.
The kids enjoyed a soft drink, a few more horseshoes and some special moments with MALCOLM while I enjoyed inhaling the spirit that is The Swag. Love this place.
Such a special day, maybe one we can eventually follow up with a real overnight visit with the kids once they discover what Indoor Voices and Walking-Instead-of-Running are.
But until then, we'll have this.