Jeff and Family Arrive

November 18-25, 2016

We had looked forward to the arrival of Jeff and the family for the Thanksgiving visit, and they arrived near midnight after having school on Friday. Ashleigh had classes at Tulane on Monday and Tuesday and is scheduled to fly in on Tuesday evening. We all relaxed on Saturday and went to church together on Sunday morning.

On Sunday evening we had our traditional Thanksgiving Around the Table at church and had probably 150 in attendance.

On Monday the 21st we decided to go up to Bent Tree for the day. Upon turning onto Chestnut Cove Drive we encountered these four wild turkeys.

We had not gone more than a hundred yards further up Chestnut Cove when someone yelled out "Bear! "

It turned out to be a mother bear and large triplet cubs. The three cubs are shown below and they were 2/3 to 3/4 as big as the mother bear.

Rod and Jeff got out of the car to have a closer look, and neither the mother or the three cubs seemed alarmed by our presence. The mother bear did start moving away from us toward the road around the curve, and we stayed ready to run for the car.

The mother bear moved across the road and up a slope and one cub followed her. But these two teenagers were pretty well ignoring her and us.

Finally Mama got their attention and they crossed the road and followed her up the steep hillside into the woods.

One of the cubs paused to look back at us as if to say goodbye and then the foursome went on up the mountainside into the deeper woods.

Jordan and the others wisely watched all these happenings from the safety of the car.

We were glad to reach the house. Many of the leaves were off, but there was still enough color for it to be beautiful and peaceful.

The view from the front deck of the sun streaming through the woods.

It was good to get Jeff and Darla up to Bent Tree. It has been a while. Jordan and Elyse were inclined to a hike, so Rod and the girls headed up Chestnut Cove Trail. On the way we saw four deer, so we rejoiced with all the wildlife we were seeing.

Speaking of wildlife, I went out to check the level of propane in the big tank, and found this very neatly prepared nest and hickory nut stash under the heavy metal lid. Note in the left frame with Elyse, there is also a hornet's nest built in the same lid, just a couple of inches above the squirrel nest.

After the hike, Elyse and Jordan settle in for a while with a game of chess.

Before long, they were out climbing the steep mountainside behind the house. We had to call them down to make a visit to the lake.

We drove down to the lake and wanted to make a picture on the dam with the leaves in background. But it was tough with the bright sun in our faces. Elyse and Jordan managed the sun better than Brenda and Rod.
We played around on the dam a bit, enjoying the leaf color and the view of Sharptop Mountain.

We drove on down to the edge of the lake and could get a more comfortable portrait without the direct sun. Darla, Jordan, Elyse, Jeff and Brenda on the shore of Lake Tamarack.

With that, the four of them took off at a run across the meadow to go see the waterfall. Brenda and I followed at a more liesurely pace.

The falls were pleasant, even though the flow was low from our long drought. The fall leaves contributed to the pleasure of the scene.

We enjoyed just playing around the fall for a time.

Jordan relishes standing at the edge of a precipice over the pool where the powerfully rushing water of the waterfall would normally be.

As the sun gets lower, the leaves across the lake become more golden.

We headed back toward the house, but on the way stopped off at the beach for a few minutes and played a bit of shuffleboard.

When we got back to the house, we had a beautiful Bent Tree sunset as we were loading up to head home. We saw three more deer on the way out of Bent Tree, so this had been a good day for wildlife viewing. We stopped at Canton at the Cracker Barrell for dinner and then proceeded home. It had been a beautiful day to spend together.

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

After a relaxed morning at home, Jordan and Elyse wanted to go to Sweetwater Park, so off we went, arriving there about 2pm. This was the most water we saw in the creek - we haven't had rain in a month, so the Sweetwater Creek was lower than I have ever seen it.

Just after reaching the water, there is this inviting rock formation which usually tempts the girls to climb on it.

In a very short distance, we were requested to stop because a movie shoot was underway ahead of us. So an eastern family, myself and Jordan and Elyse, and a couple with two dogs waited quietly for a few minutes for them to finish shooting. We were told that it was a short video for a church, and there appeared to be a medieval nature to the costuming.

With the water level so low, Elyse is out on the rocks at a point well upstream from the factory.

The photo above shows both girls far across the creek on the exposed rocks. Jordan is nearly across. She climbed onto the other bank and is shown at right perched up on a rock above the far shore.

Elyse continues her rock-hopping until she makes it all the way across Sweetwater Creek where Jordan it. This is the first time they have been able to cross the creek on the rocks.

Now that they have conquered the width of Sweetwater Creek, they are apparently contemplating how far they can get downstream on the rocks.

They have a wide expanse of rock to choose from in making their way downstream. The water is swirling between the rocks.

At the place where the creek splits around an island, I lost sight of the girls out on the rocks in the main portion of the stream. So I followed the path on around to a high viewpoint over the creek and watched for them. They came across the island and were coming down the narrower waterway on my side of the island.

Jordan made it to a rock that was just below my elevated viewpoint up on the hillside. I came down to join them to go on down to see what the waterfall location looked like.

We traveled on downstream to the place where the waterfall usually is, but there was not enough water volume to make a waterfall. This is the view back upstream near there. We were concerned that the white deposits on the rocks represented pollution - we had never seen it before. We stopped to ask one of the rangers about it and he said that this lower part of the rocks had been under water for years, and that the exposure to the sun after years of submersion was creating the white deposits.

We had a good time of exploration, but now decided that it was time to go back.

We stopped for a moment on the way back from the waterfall area.

I had to get a shot of Elyse and Jordan at the factory on the way back for tradition's sake. We had bypassed the factory on the way down the creek because we were all out on the rock.

We had been all the way down to the waterfall and back and spent almost two hours in Sweetwater Park, so we all had a pretty good workout for the day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ashleigh had classes at Tulane on Monday and Tuesday and was not able to make the trip with the family. Tulane provided a shuttle to the New Orleans Airport and she flew in on Tuesday night. Jeff and Darla had taken Marty out to dinner and they all went to the Atlanta airport to pick up Ashleigh. So we got to welcome her late Tuesday and now Darla, Ashleigh, Jordan and Elyse gather at the breakfast table.

The dining room table has become the place of choice for Darla and Jeff to work on their laptops since they can connect with the wireless hub there. With Ashleigh here with her laptop, there are now three computers going there.

All three girls enjoyed playing with the piano. Here Ashleigh and Jordan sing together. Jordan has marked chords on the keyboard with blue tape and is practicing chording some of the songs she sings. She used her pad and the internet to find the chords. She also used her phone to video them singing together.

At some point, Jeff and Darla got all three girls outside to take this picture against the fall foliage. It made a nice photo for this year's Christmas card for them.

The kitchen island is a good place for snacks and conversation. Marty had come up and we just gathered there.

Marty went out and returned with a big box of ingredients for making cannolis, which caused quite a stir.

So a cannoli festival was our celebration for today, and we looked forward to family time tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Day

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