Team WestEnders was moving a wee big sloooowly this morning, following yesterday's 6-mile hike-a-palooza...as well as the spiritually draining task of cheering on UNC in their Final Four appearance vs. Syracuse. So we took our time shuffling down to the free breakfast bar--okay, let's be totally honest, here: I got up, threw on my clothes, and made a beeline for the urns filled with rich, precious nectar...um..."coffee"...and the rest of the gang eventually joined me when they got themselves together.
Today's agenda involved a slightly shorter meander, 5 miles around Lake Badin, located in a different section of the same Uwharrie National Forest we visited on Saturday. So, once again we set off through the countryside, marveling at the...rural...ness...of the area we were passing through, and--being the city slickers that we are (ha!)--wondering aloud about such burning questions as: "How cheap do you think land is, way out here?" (Husband) "Where do these people get their groceries?" (the ever-hungry adolescent boys) And finally, "How far do the kids have to travel to go to school?" (Me)
Although our route took us on roads that at times were so small and insignificant that they bore only numbers designated by the State Highway Administration, rather than actual names, at least in contrast to yesterday's GPS snafus, we ended up at the right spot relatively easily. We only really encountered one issue; this occurred when Husband attempted to balance his phone, which was tracking our progress via Google Maps, on the edge of the center console where I'd stashed a banana for my mid-morning nosh. As I went around a turn at one point, the device slid out, and as Husband fumbled to catch it before it hit the floor he exclaimed, "Your banana is interfering with our navigation!" (Adding to the growing list of "words that really don't make sense together and should probably never be uttered in that order"...yeah, he's kind of the King of that, have you noticed?)
Anyway, when we arrived, we saw quite a few other nature lovers in the vicinity as well, which is always reassuring. Badin Lake apparently is quite the hotbed of activity for folks who enjoy boating, jet-skiing, fishing, and camping, as we saw evidence of all of these during our stay. However, we were the only ones who seemed to be actually, you know, walking the trail that skirted the water. Whatever--more room on the path for us, I always say. (Yeah, yeah, I've never said that, but I might just make it my Life Motto from now on...so there!)
I believe the tone for the day was set by Riley (who else?) as he plodded heavily along the dirt track, hunched over in a posture of utter weariness, and lamented, in a tone filled with anguish, "I'm physically and emotionally exhausted..." Then his head whipped up and he brightly pointed out, "Ooh look, a butterfly!" before he finished his initial thought, "And I Just. Can't. Go. Onnnnnnn!" (I swear, where did I get this Drama Dude? Oh, right....pot/kettle...never mind...) It was hilarious, and it pretty much summed up our experience: we were tired, but the lake was gorgeous, the exercise was pleasant, and we spied lots of creatures to distract us along the journey. (Today's sightings included lizards, a turtle, and ducks, along with the aforementioned winged insects.)
The other "advertised features" of the scenery, according to the guidebook from which Husband had chosen the location, promised "Vistas! There will be vistas!" as Riley enthusiastically proclaimed. Um...about that, honey...those "vistas" refer to the views all around you, so be sure to pay attention and enjoy them, okay? Oh, and "an outcropping"--which we assumed would mean an overlook of some sort from which one could presumably admire the....vistas. Aaaand, it turned out to be nothing more than a couple of gigantic rocks where you could plop down for a minute while continuing to contemplate the same water you'd been contemplating all along as you wandered around. Eh, it provided the bottomless pits--er, "sons"--yet another opportunity to break into the snack provisions, so it certainly wasn't a waste, by any means.
Speaking of which, this was honestly the only thing that impeded our progress at all on our trek--the fact that every time there was a "campsite", which seemed to be marked by little more than a stone circle with ashes where a fire had been, Riley declared it to be a good time to rest and refuel yet again. With all this eating...and silliness...it's a wonder we made it through the entire circuit, but we did. About 5 miles, in 3 hours, to add to our total for the weekend, bringing us up to a combined 11 miles and more than 6 hours of hiking. (And over 20,000 steps each day for me...but as for the calories gobbled up by the Male Minors--I don't even want to think about it...) All in all, not a bad way to spend the first weekend of April...now, bring on the Sunday Evening SOFA TIME!