On Day 6 (Thursday), we got up at 10am like we had been all week, and left just after 11. This was another day that we couldn't check the weather on the Wifi, so we had to check it the old fashioned way.. by standing outside! It was 41-46 degrees all day according to my car thermometer, and rainy off and on. Michael wanted to drive to Cleveland, which is maybe 5 miles south of Helen, since it was the last town on the hand drawn map that the guy from Blood Mountain cabins gave Michael on the first day.
We didn't stay too long- all the towns are pretty small- but we parked and went into three shops: another outfitters that had bandanas and necklaces tied around the animal heads hanging on the walls, then to a crafty looking store with lots of soaps, necklaces that had dried flowers inside, and coffee. We got a few things there, then Michael asked if we could go into the Nix Hardware & Furniture store. I think he was looking for metal rings or tubes for the "two tubes" part of their Star Wars costumes, but I told him we could go wherever since I was going to be texting my friends while we had cell service. I followed him around the store and eventually he walked to the area with kitchen tables and chairs. He has mentioned the past few months about wanting a kitchen table to put in that blank space area by the patio (since he doesn't want to be feeding Emma in her high chair in the dining room), and we saw one that we immediately liked. It was a square with a medium dark brown top and cream colored legs with areas that had been purposely sanded down, and two chairs to match. We made the decently priced splurge and the employees took the legs off so we could fit it into my car. I wondered how Sasha would be comfortable on our drive home a couple days later, but she handled it well!
We had lunch at Creekside Deli, a place that looked good since there weren't many other food choices and a lot of cars were parked there. They had sandwiches for five dollars that came with a pickle and chips. I got roast beef on sourdough bread and Michael got a cheeseburger with super good curly fries. Michael commented on how he liked that we were finding new small local places to eat rather than stopping at fast food chains just because they were familiar. There is no fun in that- we can eat at Zaxby's anytime we want. Vacations are for trying new things!
After that we made plans to hike up to another one of the falls since it was on the way back and only a little bit rainy. Not rainy enough that he ever had to use the umbrella, although he still carried it the whole way. I laughed when he called it "Ravenclaw Falls" since that is a Harry Potter term, but then he asked what it was really called. "Raven Cliff", I told him, reading it off of the handdrawn map. I read that the round trip was 5 miles and wasn't sure if I was up to go the whole way, especially since it was so cold. I even thought about wearing leggings under my jeans and at the beginning of the hike really wished I had.
Michael liked seeing all these "zen rocks" stacked up when we went on trails, so we stopped to make our own. Can you see the little one he's pointing to? Shortly after this point I was ready to turn around since there were other areas we had passed that had waterfalls, but at the same time really wanted to see the cool waterfall that was described on the board at the entrance as a waterfall coming out of a cliff. Michael convinced me to keep going and we asked a couple coming down how much further it was. They said 5-10 minutes and kept saying it was worth the walk. "You won't want to miss it!" the girl my age added with big blue eyes. So we trekked on and Michael kept me distracted with good conversation. When we got there I was really glad we kept going.My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George and according to the link, it says it's a trilogy. Michael said he only knew about the first one.
We drove back home to take Sasha out since we didn't bring her on very many trails with us, then went to Jim's BBQ for dinner. It was between there or Junior's Roadkill BBQ, but we found out that place was only opened on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, while Jim's was opened Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Michael wondered how places like that (and ones in Helen!) stayed in business when they were not open many days. The sweet potato fries with brown sugar and cinnamon were so good, and my ribs literally fell right off the bone!
After an early dinner we made one last trip to Ingles for hot Apple Cider. Michael had been craving it since he ordered it in Helen, complete with a cinnamon stick. Our total this day was 16,000 steps reaching 7 miles. All day it felt like it would be the last day for both of us before going home, but then we still had Friday to enjoy. But for future vacations I would say five full days is the perfect amount.
Out of all the vacations we had been on over the past (almost) six years since we have been married, we realized that this was the very first "just us" vacation we had been on!! Before I always went on vacations with either my family or his family, and often they help us out with some -or all- of the cost. So this one felt really "adult". I say it was our second trip, the first one being flying out to Los Angeles for a week in November 2012. Michael's dad made the arrangements for our hotel and rental car, but I'm pretty sure we paid for all of that plus our plane tickets out of savings (?). Michael's not sure. However, that vacation was a smidge more "business related" since our main point of the trip was finding a place to live before we moved out there six weeks later.
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He talked about how he would love to bring Emma here when she is older, and the four of us (including Sasha.. or the next dog) go hiking along the trail and actually camp in a tent, hiking 50 miles over four days. He kept saying "in five years", when I quickly dashed his dreams by asking, "You think a five year old would be able to hike 12 miles each day?" Who knows, maybe she will become super athletic at a young age. I suggested we go for his 37th birthday instead, because then Emma would be eight by then and Michael thinks my "niece" Jordyn who is almost nine now would be fine hiking that long if they went. I really did like this part of the trail though because it was wider and mostly just a dirt path. No muddy areas and not too many rocks or roots to climb up and over.
Since Michael was fine with us turning around whenever I was ready, we hiked a total of 3.7 miles/ 45 floors/ 8,194 steps. I napped from 3-4:30pm, then read while Michael napped for another hour. We drove to Desoto Falls at 6pm to get one last hike in for the trip. The Upper Falls were 3/4 mile and the Lower Falls (which we had to climb up a lot of steep areas to get to) was 1/4 mile away. Our ending total for the day equaled 5.7 miles, 14,000 steps, including 57 floors. I noticed that I didn't "feel pregnant" these past two days. I had no intestine cramps, heavy feelings, or issues while hiking, but I continued to feel the baby inside of me moving around. However I did get the cramped feeling last night and currently have some right now, like I needed to take a few Tums. Michael thinks it all has to do with how she is positioned. I also just weighed myself and was surprised to see that my weight today is the same as it was the morning we left (125 pounds). I guess even with all the donuts, cinnamon rolls, and ice cream I ate, it still evened out nicely with the amount of calories we were burning on the trails.
I told Michael that he could put my big jacket in the car since it was supposed to be 76 degrees on the day we left, but he kept it inside. And boy was I thankful! It was only 37 degrees when we left the cabin at 5:45am, and it didn't get back into the mid 70's until we got back to Orlando. Michael is so good to -and for- me!