After a cyclone of household chores yesterday--including both the fun and rewarding (setting up and decorating the Christmas tree) and the tedious and unlikable (cleaning) we had a blessedly free Sunday to get into trouble...um "do something enjoyable as a family". It was also another delightful 50-ish, sunny day in December, too good to waste sitting around inside watching football on TV (says the one person on Team WestEnders who despises that particular sport).
So I took it upon myself to find us a decent hike for an alfresco afternoon. I believed I'd hit upon a likely candidate--not too far away, attractive-sounding environs, with a lovely lake serving as the centerpiece. I ran it by Husband, got his thumbs-up, and we were all set...until I shared the proposal with the boys. (Yeah, my mistake. It momentarily slipped my mind that dictators don't ask their subjects for approval...duh!) I got no further than, "So, we're thinking about going hiking..." That's when Derek broke in with, "Okay, fine...as long as it involves something other than walking around another stupid body of water. Forests, lakes...bor-ing! I'm tired of that; I want to...climb up a mountain...or something different.
Oops. Alrighty, then, back to the proverbial drawing board...or "Google" as it shall be known. It actually didn't take long at all to hit upon another option, slightly further afield, but with an abundance of trails of various lengths, and the big selling point: an enormous rock formation, upon which the boys could presumably clamber about like the part-mountain-goats they are. When I went into Derek's room at about 8:45 this morning to apprise him of the revised agenda, this is how the conversation went:
Me: "You win, Mr. I-Don't-Wanna-Look-At-Another-Lake, we're dragging you to Raven Rock today."
D: (sleepily, still lying in bed) "Oh? What's there?"
Me: (slightly stumped, but willing to make stuff up...I mean "improvise") "Well...rocks, of course! And, um...some sort of...scenic overlook that you can climb to, so you can see...pretty landscapes...and whatnot."
D: (stretching lazily) "Okay, sounds good. Is it in Durham?"
Me: "No, it's about an hour south of here."
D: "An HOUR!" (Barely a pause to take his next breath...) "Will we be getting lunch?" (Now recall, if you will, that this is before he has even seen fit to remove his adolescent butt from the warm confines of his blankets...)
Me: (dropping forehead into hands, shaking head resignedly...too exasperated to try and formulate a response...)
Derek: (enthusiastically, quite proud of himself) "Wait, I haven't even had breakfast yet, and I'm already thinking about my next meal...that's the kind of planner I am!"
On that note, I exited his room to go prepare for the excursion--which mostly encompassed figuring out the appropriate number of layers and types of items to wear...and packing copious amounts of snacks for the ravenous explorers, of course. Then we set off to discover the wilds...of central North Carolina, anyway. Through "historic Pittsboro" (don't blink, it's that tiny), "not much to speak of Sanford", and a great deal of...absolutely nothing at all...the 55-mile drive was peaceful and pleasant.
The park itself, as promised, offers multiple options for wandering. For this, our first visit, we chose the namesake trail, and strode into the woods in search of...a big-ass pile of some undetermined type of stone. As always, we enjoyed traipsing through the Great Outdoors, stopping along the way for some nice views of the Cape Fear River before we reached our destination, the aforementioned geological entity named for the black birds that used to nest on its pinnacle. In the end, it did not disappoint--a hulking, solid mass that hung forbiddingly overhead, dwarfing all of us with its presence. And, naturally, the male posse felt the undeniable compulsion to scale whatever portion of it they could reach without breaking their necks. So everyone's needs were met.
Altogether, a satisfactory Sunday hiking experience was had by all. And with all of the available paths in this particular location, I suspect we'll be returning sooner rather than later. Fingers crossed for some more 50* days in the coming months...after another Costco run to replenish field trip eats for the teenager, of course!