Category Archives: HC Fun

Kids and Bikes

As my children have developed a passion for bike riding at an early age, I’ve been asked a few times what the secrets been to success. While I would love to give my husband and I some credit, or maybe my children rather, I really am convinced it comes down to introducing the right bike at the right time and getting out and using it as often as possible. While certainly no two children are the same, I do think there are a few key tips that have helped us get started and maybe can help you too:

-Strider Balance Bikes (http://www.striderbikes.com): Great friends of ours introduced us and we fell in LOVE. We’ve often said that the balance bike has been one of the greatest tools we’ve utilized as parents. It really is brilliant and simple… learn balance before proceeding to pedals and brakes. Once balance is learned all that’s needed is a little confidence to make the transition to pedals without ever having to introduce training wheels. We’ve been advocates of the Strider brand since they make the lightest balance bikes in their category (less than 7 lbs.) and have the lowest seat height for the youngest starting age. Kids as young as 18 months are learning to ride!              (NOTE: If you have a child that just stands and walks on the balance bike, adjust the seat height.  I see a lot of people struggle with that.  There is a “magic” seat height that they will sit down on.)

 

1397319_590474744342677_438663869_o

This is our little Ellie on her balance bike at the Rocky Knob pump track. Photo courtesy of Boone Area Cyclists

-Keep it light: When transitioning to a pedal bike, we’ve found that the lighter weight bikes make it easier for the child to manage by themselves. After the Strider we transitioned our kids to a 12” Specialized Hotrock, and then the 16” Hotrock. While these might be more expensive than others on the market, they will still have great resell value after holding up to the abuse of young children. (NOTE: The advice we have been given is to keep them on a pedal brake until a 20″.  Both gears and hand brakes will be introduced then.)

-Carry your own weight:  This next tip really offers no clear benefit to a child, but rather sanity for the parent. From the beginning, we’ve had a “no carry” parenting policy. If they decided to take their bike on a walk, it’s been their responsibility to get it home. It may seem harsh but since that was the rule from the beginning they never new any different.

IMG_4693

-SNACKS: Just like anything else with kids, a good ride can be summed up by the quality of snacks and water readily available. Both of our kids have the children’s version of the Camelbak hydration backpack. They carry their own water and snacks and they LOVE it.

So….looking to get your little one excited about biking?? There are a couple great events coming up for the family you should check out. Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm in downtown Boone. (http://boonecyclovia.com ) We will be stationed at the High Country Recreation booth having relay races and obstacle courses if you want to come play!  Cyclovia is this next Sunday (July 27th) from 11am-4pm

Also coming soon is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at Rocky Knob Park. It will be on Saturday, October 4th. More details will be coming as we get closer to the date!

1292934_590474951009323_537971573_o

This was last years crew of kids from Take a Kid Mtn Biking Day. Photo courtesy of Boone Area Cyclists.

 

 

4th of July Ideas

It is hard to believe July 4th is this weekend!  Wow, summertime is flying by so quickly.  Thought I would share some of our weekend adventures we have planned.   We are going to miss a great event: West Jefferson’s Christmas in July.

July 3rd, Thursday “Plans”

We are going to have a relaxed day at Honey Bear Campground!  For $10 ($5 per kiddo) we can spend the entire day at Honey Bear and enjoy their fun activities.  Come on out and join us, we have room on the grill.

12:00 pm, Family Menchies treat

honey bear

 

1:00 pm to 3 pm, Water Tower Time at Honey Bear Campground

3 pm to 5 pm, Art in the Park at Honey Bear Campground

5:30 pm, Family Cook Out at Honey Bear Campground

Here are some recipes for a yummy July 4th!!

App Summer Festival also has some excellent events!

July 4th, Friday “Plans” -

Wake Up and Celebrate the 4th of July with Kiddos (activities, books and traditions)

11:00 am, Downtown Boone Parade 

(also going on: 11:00 am, Todd’s Parade, 11:00 am, Banner Elk 4th of July Parade)

12:00 pm, Watermelon and Cake at the Jones House

2:00 pm, Grill Smores’ at Valle Crucis Park and play in the River

grilled smores

 

 

 

 

 

9:00 pm, Tweetsie Railroad Fireworks

(also going on: 5:00 pm, Bethel Blast – this event is FULL of FUN!!,  7:00 pm, Music in the Valle - a more relaxed venue, )

Saturday “Plans” -

8:00 am, Watauga Farmers Market

10:00 am, Honey Bear Campground Holiday Happenings

12:00 pm, Honey Bear Campground Parade (bring your bike / dress up in your favorite 4th attire and join in the fun)

2:00 pm, Blowing Rock Independence Day Parade (Climbing Tower and Bounce Obstacle Course actually starts at 11:00 am to 4:30 pm)

5:00 pm, Mountain Radio, Bluegrass Concert, Honey Bear Campground – Going to be a blast!

6:00 pm, Cool Summer Nights, Tweetsie Railroad

8:30 pm, Honey Bear Campground has two Great Movies – ET & Monsters inc.  Only $5 per car, show up at 6:00 pm, cook out on your grill and then enjoy the movie!  You can also buy smores and roast them on the open fires.  Such a great tradition!

9:30 pm, Blowing Rock Fireworks at the Blowing Rock Country Club

*You may also want to spend the afternoon at Westglow Resort beginning at 5:30 pm or Horn In The West or just found out about The Crestwood Resort & Spa – they are having a Low Country Boil, BBQ, Corn on the Cob, check it out

Whew!  I am excited and exhausted already!  I believe Sunday we will spend on the lawn of Moses Cone Manor with a family picnic!!

What are your family’s 4th of July plans or traditions?  We would love to hear from you!  Subscribe here to stay up to date with HC Mom!

Enjoy our amazing area and have fun with your family growing up on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

MosesConeManorHouse010002001

Riverfest: Valle Crucis Park

This past weekend was the 14th annual Riverfest at Valle Crucis Park. It was our first time attending this event but will now be adding it to our list of annual festivities!  Typically, when people inform me of family festivals or grand openings it translates to me as AVOID that location on that day. That being said, Valle Crucis is an incredible host sight for an event. There is so much room to spread out that you never feel claustrophobic or worry about losing sight of your kids.

            The festival was filled with hands-on activities and information for both youth and adults about the benefits of keeping our rivers clean and healthy as a community. Presented by Watauga River Partners, it was great to see the wide variety of non-profit organizations and local businesses come together to teach and advocate on behalf of the natural resources we are blessed with in the High Country. In the hopes of raising my children to be passionate about the outdoors, it is important for me to then extend that passion to preserving it.

            Some favorite take-away moments included the children’s watermelon eating contest for children 12 and under.

Woodwards_045 

One of my favorite parts of this picture is the “I Love Mountains” temporary tattoo on his arm they gave him at the festival.

 On the other side of the park, River and Earth Adventures (www.raftcavehike.com) provided free tubes for those who wanted to float down the section of the river within the park. I became friends with the owner of the company (Grant Seldomridge) back when I worked with Appalachian State Outdoor Programs in my college years. He and his wife run a stellar business if you are looking for a guided adventure!

Woodwards_094

Not sure what YOUR preferences are in a park, but Valle Crucis is at the top of my list.

Well, Valle Crucis and Price Park…

And Wildcat Lake…

And Rocky Knob.

If you haven’t discovered these places yet, I will be happy to introduce you in my future blog posts. I don’t know about you, but I was a little overcome when Summer Solstice came and went the other day. It serves as a reminder to utilize and make the most of our incredible summers and be outside as much as we possibly can!!!

Woodwards_367

A special shout out to my awesome friend and local photographer Alicia Greene who took the amazing shots included in this post.   She specializes in outdoor/action photography and is AWESOME with kids!

Her website is aliciaverde.tumblr.com and her email is alicia.verde.photography@gmail.com if you want to contact her for a family session in your favorite outdoor place!

Woodwards_376

“Real life is the good stuff, photographically and realistically. When I am given the opportunity to photograph families, I really love being able to find the real moments and bring those to the light. Watching kids navigate the world is one of the great gifts of adulthood. It is also rich to them. It adds richness to our lives. Photography doesn’t have to be complicated to be powerful or professional. My hope is to use my camera to find the real stuff in life and let others know it’s out there. I would love to have the chance to tell your real life story. ”  Alicia Greene

Family Time on the New River

Our most recent camping trip was at the New River State Park the weekend of the New River Canoe Race. We have owned a canoe for the past two years and have enjoyed introducing the kids to moving water. We joined two other families at a group campsite at the New River State Park take-out and all got on the river the following day

.New River State Park Group Campsite

Between our three families, there were 10 children all under the age of 13. The group site worked out great because it provided A LOT of room for the kids to play and run around. (Group camping reservation has a minimum of 14 people and a maximum of 45 people) Which is awesome. They slept HARD that night but Ellie still needed to catch up on her sleep during the canoe ride down the river the next day.

IMG_4400
This was our first river trip in which our son, Caleb, would be paddling solo in his own kayak. He had attended roll clinics in a pool before but we knew the first time in moving water would be telling whether he would take a liking to the sport or not. The New River stretch from Zaloo’s to the New River State Park takeout is about a 5 mile stretch with nothing over class 1 rapids. It’s shallow clean water that is great for families. There are also other great stretches of the New River that are great for exploring too and outfitters that can provide all the gear and shuttle assistance you need.
Like anything else with young children, the key to success is a lot of snacks. There is a lot of relaxing and listening /watching wildlife and jumping in and out of the canoe for swim breaks. Caleb did great in his kayak but still needed to take breathers in the canoe and have snacks as well. In that case, we just used a line to attach the kayak to float behind the canoe.
On this stretch of river, we have found a great little lunch island just a bit up from the take-out.

 

IMG_1271

The kids get obsessed with this island because they (sadly) find lots of broken glass pieces from bottles that have been sanded down by the water.  They spend very little time eating and most time collecting their favorite glass pieces and convincing butterflies not to fly away from them.  We used the glass pieces from this last trip to contribute to a Fathers Day craft project.

IMG_4465

It was another great weekend spending time as a family! The next event we are looking forward is Riverfest being hosted in Valle Crucis from 11am-3pm this coming Saturday June 21st. Check out all the fun activities planned for this event on the HighCountryMom.com website!

Outfitters for New River float trips: Zaloo’s Canoes in Jefferson, NC; River Girl Fishing in Todd, NC. Checkout camping and river information on the New River State Park website!

The Mystery Behind Tweetsie and Moses Cone Manor

Our family loves Tweetsie and Moses Cone Manor.  Our first year at Tweetsie Railroad, we were in the Gift Shop and noticed they were selling the movies: Mandie and the Secret Tunnel,and Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure.  We decided to check them out on Amazon. Neat fact for kids of all ages, Mandie and the Secret Tunnel was filmed in part at Tweetsie Railroad and Moses Cone Manor.  What kid does not love looking for “secret tunnels?”  During June, July and August, you and your explorers can take a “behind the scenes” tour of the Manor!!! After you all watch the movies, let me know if a hike at Moses Cone or Trout Lake looks a little different.  It is excited to think you are walking in the same footsteps as Mandie did many years ago. Both movies are also Dove Approved.

Mystery Hill Giveaway

Mystifying visitors to the High Country since 1948 Mystery Hill features a fascinating collection of hands on activities related to Optical Illusions, Natural Phenomena, and Puzzles. See your friends grow and shrink before your eyes on the Mystery Platform, experience the “gravitational” pull of The Mystery House, Lose your shadow on the Shadow Wall, learn to fly on the Flying Mirror, stand inside a giant soap bubble at Bubblerama. Tickets also include free admission to the Native American Artifacts Museum and The Appalachian Heritage Museum housed in the 1903 home of the founder of Appalachian State University.

Open 7 days a week year round, rain or shine. Four miles from Blowing Rock on Hwy 321.

Now until May 31, 2014, a family of 4 can purchase a Family Season Pass for $25.  Click here for full details:  Mystery Hill Facebook Offer

HighCountryMom.com will be giving two lucky families a Season Pass.  Enter to win by signing up to receive our e-news.   We will draw our winners June 6, 2014.

Our family is excited to enjoy all the new science events Mystery Hill will be introducing in the 2014-2015 season.  Let them know HighCountryMom sent you.

Strawberry Pickin’ Time

strawberries It is Strawberry Pickin’ Time in the High Country.  There are numerous yummy places to start pickin.  We have taken our kids since they were 6 months old.  There is not anything any better than picking your own strawberries and taste testing along the way.

A friend shared one yummy place to try out this May, Howard’s Strawberries, 250 Crater Road, Harmony, NC!  Looks like they open their Strawberry Season next week!  Be sure to give them a call and I will post some pictures of our family trip soon!  Their number is 704.539.4099!

I am hopeful in the end, my strawberries will look like this(-:  strawberries2

Let us know if you have a “local” favorite.

Valle Country Fair

IMG_0840

Our favorite fall activity in the High County is the Valle Country Fair, which takes place on October 19th this year.  The fair is a fundraiser for different High Country organizations that serve people in need and is sponsored by the Holy Cross Episcopal Church & the Valle Crucis Conference Center.  We started going four years ago, after my husband had been on a long trip for work, and I decided it would be fun to have a “stay-cation”.  We will miss him as he travels this year during the fair but I look forward to sharing our sweet girl’s first fair with her.

Some of our “fair favorites” include:

  • Kettle Corn – The line usually looks long at this booth but it’s worth the short wait for this yumminess.  I honestly cannot remember the exact price but I want to say it is $5-$8 for a rather large bag.

IMG_0839

  • Homemade Apple Cider – If I remember correctly, it is $2 per cup of cider.  It’s warm and fresh as they make it on site – perfect for fall weather!

IMG_0833IMG_0834

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Homemade Apple Butter – This is just so much fun to watch (and purchase, if you like).  I make my own apple butter in the crock pot, with apples from Tevepaugh Orchards, which you can learn more about here.  And it smells great too!

IMG_0831

  • Local Entertainment – There are usually a few of our friends featured in a couple bluegrass bands and clogging groups, which is a lot of fun to watch.
  • Roasted Corn – Our friends, Robert & Sam Townsend, roast the BEST corn, which sells for about $3 an ear.  This is a “must stop and taste.”IMG_0829
  • Crafts – There are so many craft booths to peruse – from pottery, handmade jewelry, artwork, and other fun gifts.  There is such a wide variety and something for everyone.

 

I have a few tips from past experience:

  • Arrive early.  The fair starts at 9am and it’s best to go early to avoid the worst of the traffic.  Don’t forget that the Woolly Worm Festival is going on the same day in Banner Elk (which will have to be another post for another year, because I’ve never been – shame, I know, but I choose my battles with traffic).  Since Valle Crucis is on the way to Banner Elk (one of the routes), bring your patience, especially if you’re going out later in the day.
  • Leave Fido at home.  No pets allowed.
  • There are toilets in the form of port-a-potties.
  • Bring cash
  • Parking is $5 but it’s a flat, easy walk to the fair from the adjacent parking area.
  • Keep a check on the weather.  It could be rainy and cool or warm and dry!  It’s always best to be prepared in the High Country!
  • Take your time and enjoy!

 

 

$5 Or Less Rainy Day Summer Fun with Kids

What is a mom to do about all those days that it rains (maybe everyday these days but I would rather deal with a little storm each afternoon than extreme heat)?  There are several things you CAN do when it’s raining so get your galoshes out and let’s get moving!

  • Watauga County Public Library – Always a local favorite for story time!  Story time each day at 11am and Baby Lap Time each Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30am.
  • Boone Bowling Center – Kids fifteen and under bowl free until August 7th!  Note:  does not include shoe rental.
  • Michaels Craft Store of Boone is participating the Passport to Imagination crafting program for kids.  It meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am-12pm and $2 reserves a thirty minute time slot for your child.
  • Ashe County Cheese Factory – I thought this place was pretty fascinating as a kid.  Worth a little trip over to Jefferson to watch some cheese production and have a bite of the good ole squeaky cheese!
  • Children’s Playhouse of Boone offers a ton of children’s activities for $5 per person per visit.  If you have a membership, there is no additional charge.  Infants twelve months and younger are FREE.  The hours are Tuesday-Friday 10:00-5:00 pm Saturday 10-5:00 pm in June and July (10-3:00 pm August-May).

Have fun splashing to these fun activities!