Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend, 2009

A pretty solid Thanksgiving Weekend at the Kennedy household, with gorgeous weather, great food, several outdoor adventures, a little bit of travel, and a near-total avoidance of anything resembling Christmas shopping!

Thanksgiving Thursday opened up with a crisp morning and a trip to IHOP for breakfast. Matt and Andy took one look at the Funny Face pancake on the menu (big pancake with chocolate chips and whipped cream), and what kid wouldn't want that to eat? Dad of course drank plenty of coffee and opted for healthy pancakes and an omelet with vegetables; I can't be eating that stuff anymore! Because they are boys and have far too much energy, we took a trip to the Land Trust's 3 Caves site, explored the quarry entry to the caves, took a walk around the loop and even went a bit up the Waterline trail before I turned them around.

Back at home, Kirsten and I got into our annual Thanksgiving garage and attic cleaning. This year was punctuated by the fact that we just finished building an studio/room in the attic, complete with stairs, separate ac/heating unit, the works, and the garage was a mess from all the construction efforts. I put the shop vac to serious use and cleaned up the layer of drywall dust on nearly everything, moved most of our stuff back into attic storage space, and generally made room to start parking our cars back in the garage after being banished outside for the past two months!

This year we bought our turkey direct from Goose Pond Farms over in Hartselle, AL (actually, three of them for Thankgiving, Christmas, and an extra for whenever). Pretty interesting to see your turkey in the field in the morning, then drive home with it still warm in the trunk in the afternoon. It cooked a little faster than past holidays, so we had ourselves a great meal starting a wee bit early at 2pm! So much for meal planning and our anal-retentive planning efforts.

Following our Thanksgiving tradition, we took the crew for a post-meal walk. This year the boys are old enough for something more than a lap around the neighborhood, so we headed up to Blevins Gap and hiked along the Certain Trail to the powerlines and back. For their efforts climbing up the trail to the ridgeline on Green Mtn, we were rewarded with a great view down towards our home and into the historic Big Cove area and a fantastic sunset over the Tennessee River. The boys generally enjoyed the hike and we were thinking "they will sleep well tonight!" From there we also went down to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens and took the driving tour along the Galaxy of Lights before calling it a night.

I took the day off work Friday and instead treated myself to a little outdoor adventure that did not involve shopping. First I wanted to try out Gibson's BBQ for breakfast and found the place crammed with folks getting ready (or taking a break from) Black Friday shopping. The country ham and biscuits were great, I can heartily recommend it. Now being amply fueled, I headed for the south side of the Tennessee River and Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. I had been wanted to explore the 4WD drive roads via mountain bike there for the past year, and the weather and day off afforded me the chance. I'll credit Eric Schotz of the River City Runners for the idea of this route, he's been thinking of starting a 50k race along this part of the Wheeler NWR.

Headed east along the Truck Trail, my first real mountain bike ride in months. It was still pretty brisk outside, but didn't take long to get warmed up in the wonderful sunshine. First stop was the small beaver swamp at Cave Springs Cave for a look at the grey bat habitat. The creek running out of the spring there produced was 18" deep across the rocky 4WD road and about 50m long, so I couldn't quite make it with putting a foot down, so ended up walking in the stream, vdery cold water up about mid-calf. Alas, I suffered through totally soaked, numbe feet for the next 2 hours (whereupon I got back to the spring, feet almost dry, and dunked them again!)

A great ride from there to the end of the Truck Trail, plenty of great riding, the obligatory detour down Mussel Camp Rd to the river, some nice technical spots, creek crossings, even a few short climbs. At the end, I detoured down Madden Branch Rd to some fishing spots, then headed out to the Talucah boat launch via Talley Bottoms and came back via a clockwise teardrop route on Sharp’s Ford Rd. The return trip back to my XTerra was still plenty of fun and went by fast. I was surprised how well my legs held up, longest I’ve been in the saddle in years! Ended up with about 39 miles riding in about 3.5 hours with stops and detours. I believe Eric Schotz is going to have a great 50k race on that route. I stopped at Moe's on the way home for a burrito, make a quick stop into Fleet Feet Huntsville to find it crammed with customers (good for them!) and home to hang out with the boys for the rest of the day. We watched the Iron Bowl from both our place and the party at our next-door neighbor's house.

On Saturday we awoke to another day of great weather, so packed up the boys and headed for the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga for the day. Being annual members there is money well-spent, for the boys enjoy it immensely and a trip every few months gives enough time where all the exhibits and activities are still fresh and new to them. After a few hours there, we enjoyed a nice picnic on the grassy hill behind the complex with a view into downtown Chattanooga, the boys rolling down the hills as boys are wont to do!

And so finally on Sunday we settled down a bit. After church services and Sunday School in the morning, Kirsten I got busy with the rest of garage cleaning, as well as taking a shop-vac to the cars (where I found old, stale Cheerios and other snacks in the most obscure places). And then (drum roll, please), we actually managed to park both vehicles back in the garage for the first time in two months. Novel concept! Dinner menu was.....(wait for it)....leftover turkey!
And the bad part of the whole weekend? I was a fighting some sort of viral infection and a horrendous sore throat the whole time. I couldn’t sleep because of it, and that sucked! Oh well, still a darn fine weekend with good memories. I hope everyone out there had enjoyable times with friends, family and loved ones. On to Christmas!