Monday, November 10, 2008


Last week we took the kids up to the mountains in North Georgia to see all the pretty colors of Fall. There is a quaint little town called Helen with Bavarian architecture and lots of kitschy shops which is really fun to visit. We had some trepidations about leaving the strollers behind, although we were miles from home before the thought even crossed our minds.

We had intended to visit Charlemagne's Kingdom, a model train museum of gigantic proportions which can be viewed from above on a catwalk perimeter. There must be scores of trains of all shapes and sizes going through tunnels and over bridges, carrying lumber and freight and passengers alike over miles of track and mountainous terrain. Not to mention that the gift shop is well stocked with every kind of toy train imaginable. Have I mentioned that Jack absolutely loves trains? Charlemagne's Kingdom is open to the public six days a week, and only closes on Wednesdays, which, of course, is the day we chose to go.

Luckily for us, the toddlers were oblivious to our disappointment and very open to the idea of a picnic at the park by the river. We watched an old couple hold hands on a swing overlooking the water as the kids tried hard to pick the jelly off of their sandwiches, leaving behind the carbohydrates of bread and the protein of peanut butter. Jack quickly found a colony of termites with which to play, stomping and stamping to his heart's delight. Ella was much more subdued, taking in the natural beauty of her surroundings. We all enjoyed running around in the wide open spaces underneath a sky blue sky and surrounded by the red and gold leaves of Autumn.

Then it was off to the toy store, where Jack quickly found... you guessed it! Trains! Within seconds he had every locomotive in stock lined up in single file, with a couple of school buses thrown in for good measure. I have never seen a happier kid in my entire life. We must have spent an hour and a half there and he never left the trains.

Ella, on the other hand, had more fun playing with the signs advertising "50% off" than any of the toys they had to offer. That is, until we found a musical cylinder attached to a long handle that could be pushed around like a vacuum cleaner. Then we couldn't drag her off the front porch, going back and forth with that thing clanking out quarter notes by the dozen. She is by far the most musical of my two toddlers and enjoys singing and playing instruments, so I was not surprised by her toy selection.

Then we went to Anna Ruby Falls, twin waterfalls that lay at the end of about a mile of paved trails up the side of a mountain. The twins marched on like good little soldiers, running much of the way and shouting, "Up, up, up!" as they made their ascent. We stopped along the way to make friends with the other hikers and let Mom catch up, and Jack made it to the top all by himself, where he interrupted two young lovers enjoying the view, perhaps reminding them that a little hanky panky and nine months can have some very sobering, if not adorable, consequences. Ella needed a little assistance toward the top, and flat refused to walk back down by herself. Even so, it was a beautiful day, and filled with pride I could hardly feel the weight of my little girl on my shoulders as we trudged back down the mountain toward the car and then home to play with our new toys.

No comments: