School started yesterday. Our summer is over even though there is a month and a half left in the season!
There wasn’t a whole lot of time for fun in our last week. It was actually a pretty typical week from one of our other summers–I worked every day and the kids stared at screens. But that was the ONLY week that was true this summer so I’m calling it a win.
There was a lot to do, as there always is when school is about to start, like haircuts:
And although I bought supplies online, we still spent most of Saturday shopping because Lorelei needed new clothes.
I promised everyone a trip to the lake in the afternoon, though, and I delivered on that promise.
On Monday, we had our last big adventure. I have no pictures to commemorate it, but we wore ourselves out spending maybe three hours at an enormous antique mall. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it and each got to bring home a few items.
On Tuesday, we went for ice cream just once more as a last day of vacation treat.
And then on Wednesday school began. No way would William let me photograph him on such an occasion. You can see how thrilled Lorelei is to have to go back to regular school.
Thanks for following along on our summer adventures. Knowing I was going to be blogging about them helped motivate me to continue, and continuing gave me something regular to write about, so it was a great idea all around and I will plan to repeat it next year.
Last week I fell far short of my promised one-fun-thing-per-day promise. I had a good excuse, though–I went to Nashville from Wednesday until Saturday to visit my sister. Emily kindly provided some entertainment for her siblings in my stead, taking them blueberry picking. And John took them to a “magnificent” (according to William) Asian restaurant to dine while I was gone.
But we did have one big adventure on Tuesday, one that did not turn out at all as I had planned!
We lived in South Knoxville when the big kids were little, and every Wednesday morning for years I used to take them to breakfast at Shoney’s. Shoney’s was a big favorite for our family back then because we didn’t have a lot of money, we had a lot of mouths to feed, and kids ate free at the buffet!
So just about every summer since then we make a point to head south to that same Shoney’s to recreate some of that long ago summer fun. Usually there’s a waitress or two there who still remembers us from back in the day (not this time, sadly).
That’s what the plan was on Tuesday, to be followed by a quick trip to the Fort Dickerson Overlook, perhaps a short walk on a trail, and visits to Scottish Pike Park and the new Suttree Landing Park that William and Lorelei have never seen.
Most of that will have to wait until another day, as you will see!
After a big breakfast, we drove up to Fort Dickerson Park and went to admire the view from the overlook. I will never forget the first time I saw this view, about 25 years ago. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing–it was like I was in some enchanted faraway land instead of about a mile from downtown Knoxville.
Now, I’ve been to Fort Dickerson many times, but this time I saw something new–a trail just to the left of the overlook.
And that’s when I had a bright idea. Why don’t we explore it, I said. Let’s just see where it goes, I said. We can always turn around and come back.
So we braved the kudzu and started to walk.
And we walked. And we walked. And we sort of committed. Eventually it was clear that we were walking right around the lake. I figured we’d end up at the bottom (I’ve taken a trail that goes there from a different parking lot) and then surely there would be a way back on the other side.
Sure enough, after a fairly easy walk we ended up exactly where I thought, and we started hunting for that other trail. At first things seemed to go fairly well, and we made our way along the opposite side of the lake, heading in exactly the direction we were supposed to.
Until, that is, we ended up at a very dead end, standing right on the bank of the lake with a sheer cliff several hundred feet tall in front of us.
So we doubled back to where we had taken what was clearly the wrong fork and kept walking, only to eventually realize the trail we were on did nothing but circle us back–after a long time, I might add–to an area close to where it began.
By now we had come to realize that there WAS no trail on the other side. We had two choices for how to get back to the car–take the trail we’d come down to begin with, or leave the park and go by road.
Did I mention that it was about a million degrees by now? (Well, at least 90 anyway.) And we didn’t bring water. We were tired, exhausted, and dehydrated as we made our way to the parking lot and thence to Chapman Highway, which if you are not local I need to explain is NOT the kind of road you really want to walk on.
Fortunately, there is a sidewalk–on the wrong side, naturally–and we were able to find a safe way to cross the highway. We trudged doggedly up the hill and then crossed back over to the park entrance and finally made it to the car. Y’all, we had walked FOUR MILES.
We drove straight to Weigel’s and bought Icees and much water, which I actually poured right on my head. I apologized A LOT for my poor leadership skills. But it was an adventure! Read more of our summer adventures below! Why We Can’t Have a 70s Summer and What We Are Doing Instead The Summer Fun Continues . . . More Summer Fun Summer Fun Update Summer Fun: Vacation That 70s Summer In Which I Grow Lazy Exploring History
I’ll admit it–it is harder to have fun all the time than you might think. Honestly, I really, really like sitting at my desk having uninterrupted time to get work done. Leaving the house is stressful, and sandwiching fun in between not only work but also family business like medical appointments (two this week) is not easy.
So this week I outsourced some of the fun to John, and therefore this post will be short on pictures even though the week was not short on fun!
On Monday evening, John took the kids to see The Incredibles 2. John and the kids all love movies, me not so much, so that’s been “his thing” since the big kids were little.
Tuesday I took the kids and Emily out to breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company, a newish place that I had been passing daily while picking up William at school and had been dying to try. If there’s one where you are, you should go. Only William was not a fan, because the waffles had infinitesimally tiny bacon pieces in them which he admitted he could not taste but had to remove one by one anyway.
Wednesday was the Fourth of July (I’m sure that is not news to you). We had a cookout at our house with my family. We had planned to go downtown for the symphony and fireworks show afterwards but it was like a million degrees so instead we took William’s suggestion (actually his demand) and watched Independence Day, which is definitely one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. Bonus: everyone in our neighborhood was shooting off fireworks like crazy and we could see them through our windows without leaving the television or the air conditioning.
Thursday was the big event of the week, planned for some time since I had bought a Groupon for it months ago–a visit to Rainforest Adventures, which is an hour’s drive away in Sevierville.
Things I liked: it was mostly inside and air-conditioned, we could see the animals up close and they seemed very happy and well-cared for.
Thing I did NOT like: The overwhelming stench of animal urine that greeted us the moment we walked in the gift shop and literally made me feel ill throughout the two hours we were there.
Here are a few highlights:
I’ll be honest–it’s getting harder to come up with something to do every day, and now I am laboring under Lorelei and William’s expectations as well. It’s not that I don’t have plenty of ideas–I have a page-long list, in fact–it’s having ideas that fit in with the weather, our finances, my energy level, and whatever else I have to accomplish on a given day. So here’s what we did this week:
On Monday, we went to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, which I have written about before. This place is one of Knoxville’s best-kept secrets, a true treasure.
There are lots of new paths since I was last year and although the spring flowers are gone, there were wild flowers, trees (with identifying markers, too, so you can learn something while you walk), and, most exciting to me because I’ve never seen one, a small wheat field!
Tuesday I had to scrap my original plans because something came up, so I took the kids to Wild Love Bakehouse for a treat. I kid you not, this place in nationally renowned and if you come to Knoxville you will want to pay it a visit.
After our treat, which we shared with friendly sparrows on the porch, we walked down the steps to investigate one of my favorite places–Mid Mod Collective. I cannot afford one stick of the restored vintage furniture they sell here but boy do I wish I could. They also have retro knickknacks and even vintage clothing. Mostly it’s just fun to browse and feel like you’ve gone back in time.
Mid Mod Collective shares space with The Book Eddy, a vintage book store that’s occupied various spaces in Knoxville over the past 20 years or so. We had a great time browsing there. My big finds were a board game from my high school years and a 1945 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette.
These places are all located in the Old North Knoxville historical district so our last activity was to spend a little time driving around the nearby neighborhoods and talking architecture (Victorian and Craftsman, for the most part). Lorelei is obsessed with House Hunters recently and had asked me about Mid-century Modern, which gave me the idea for these activities in the first place. Who says television can’t be educational?
We visited the Knoxville Museum of Art on Wednesday. The museum is free, there is abundant free parking, and besides their permanent collection and the local artists they showcase there is always a new exhibit to see.
Take special note of that last picture. The Thorne Miniatures are absolutely amazing and the KMA is fortunate to have nine of them. They were housed in the Dulin Gallery, predecessor to the KMA, when I was a child, and I am not the only one to have fond memories of them judging by the reaction when I shared pictures of them on Facebook.
I don’t have any pictures of our Thursday jaunt, which had to be a short one due to a dentist appointment. I took the kids to Starbucks for Frappucinos, using up some gift cards I’d been carrying around! They had never set foot in one before, so this was actually more exciting than I thought it would be. Then we went to the Dollar Tree, which is always a hit.
Friday’s fun consisted of our drive to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, where we are vacationing with friends. I couldn’t take any pictures since I was driving but WOW was it a beautiful trip. I’m sure I’ll have lots to share when I write this up next week.
Catch up on our other summer adventures here, here, and here!