Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Scavenger Hunting and American Ninja Warrior in Atlanta!

The kids and I went to Atlanta for a day of fun. We started off seeing the Nutcracker at the Fox Theater. We ended up with front row seats and had a great view. Brianna and I see the one in Macon every year, and it's pretty much the same every year, so it was nice to see a different version and compare the two. Junior didn't like the Nutcracker at all. He said it was boring and would be better if it didn't have so much dancing lol.

After the Nutcracker we headed to Centennial Olympic Park. I had found something new for us to try: a scavenger hunt around Atlanta! I found the website while searching for things to do we haven't done before. It's called Urban Adventure Quest, and they have hunts in various cities around the country. You can check them out here. I googled promo codes and found one to use so it wasn't quite as expensive. The Atlanta one takes about 2 hours and is about 2 miles of walking. You use your smartphone to access the clues and input your answers. We started out near the fountain, where we had to find names on one of the brick flagstones and use it to figure out where to go next.

Next was a statue of the founder of the Olympic Games. We had to read the information on the plaque to fill in the blanks on the phone to see where to go next. There were a few more stops in the park but I kept forgetting to take pictures because we were so busy figuring out the clues!

When they saw the playground we had to take a break so they could play. You are timed, and they have a leaderboard on their website, but we didn't care about how we did, so I let them play.

Once across the street in the Coca Cola courtyard we got to take a picture with the founder of Coke.

And we found some huge ornaments to take a picture with.

After a couple clues here it was back across the street to the park and then over to the CNN center. Some of the clues involved copying codes or crosswords onto paper and then figuring them out. Here they are working on a word search to figure out the next clue.

And they got cookies from the lobby in the Omni Hotel!

In all I think there were 16 clues. It took us about 2 hours to complete, but we spent a while on the playground and taking pictures at various places. It was fun and something they would definitely want to do again in another city. I am hoping they will come out with another one for Atlanta!

After completing our scavenger hunt we headed to Norcross to Slingshot Entertainment. We are big fans of American Ninja Warrior and they have a Ninja Warrior training course here. My kids are too short for the big course (you have to be 56" tall) but the Ninja Warrior Jr course was perfect for them. They have a slanted wall and a warped wall.

The sideways rock wall and net

I was pretty impressed with the way they got across the glass wall.

Neither of them ever got across these. You had to hang from the balls and swing from one to the other. They gave it a good effort though!

Don't know what this is called but it was a lot of fun! You had to step from one to the other. It wasn't as easy as it looks!

I think this might have been their favorite obstacle.

In addition to the Ninja course they also have a huge 3 story net area to play in. I thought I got a picture of the whole thing but I didn't. Parents can go in the net area also. It has 3 levels of climbing and 3 slides.

I paid for 2 hours on the course and net area, but after an hour they were exhausted and ready to quit! The Ninja course is really physical. We headed up front to where you pay and they were nice enough to let me switch our second hour to an hour of bowling. 

While we were there we also checked out the adult's course. Some guys there that were doing it said it was really hard. This is the adult warped wall. I think they said it was 10 feet high!

They also have indoor go carts but we didn't ride them.

On the way home we went to Atlanta Motor Speedway to see the Christmas lights. It was $15 a car load to get in that night. The lights were not that great. Callaway Gardens was much better. The kids said the only part that made it worth it was getting to drive on the track and take pictures standing on the track. (FYI if you go-you're not supposed to get out your car. But we were the only ones there and we couldn't resist getting a picture. When else do you have the chance to stand on a Nascar track?)

We had a very fun day and got to try new things! We have done so much in GA we are always looking for new things to do! Do you have any ideas for interesting things to do in GA?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Camping at Stone Mountain in the new yurts!

We wanted to go to Stone Mountain for the Indian Festival, and I decided that we would try out the new yurts and camp for a couple nights! We really enjoyed them! Each yurt has a set of bunk beds and a queen size bed. There is a fire pit and charcoal grill out front with a picnic table, and a deck on the back with another picnic table and a view of the lake. 


view from the back deck

view in the early morning

In the mornings there were geese right underneath our deck that we fed.

The first night there we made foil packet dinners on the fire pit. We ate them on the deck overlooking the water. The view is gorgeous. 

The only thing that I didn't like was the yard around it was not very big. As you can see from this picture of our friendly visitor, the picnic table in front is only a few steps from the road. And the fire pit is on a cement pad next to the grill, so it's really awkward to try and sit around the fire. You can really only fit 3 or 4 chairs around it. I didnt get a picture of it but you can see the grill next to the kids in the pic below.

In all we enjoyed staying there. We really wanted to camp, but it was too cold to tent camp so the heated yurt was great!
Of course you can't go to Stone Mountain without climbing the mountain! We did it early in the morning before it got hot. Even though the evenings were cold it was still plenty hot during the day!

We did all the regular attractions too. Brianna was very proud of herself that she made it up the 4 story high rock wall this time!

Junior was concentrating on improving how fast he could get up the smaller one. He could make it all the way up in about 30 seconds.

We love Stone Mountain, and we had a great time camping! We cant wait to go back and do it again!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ellijay and North Georgia

The kids and I headed up to North Georgia for a short trip to pick apples. They had only picked them once before about 5 years ago in TN, and they were excited to get to do it again! The apple festival was going on in downtown Ellijay also, so that was a plus!

Our first stop was Uncle Shuck's corn maze in Dawsonville. They have a pumpkin patch, hay ride, and of course the corn maze. In all honesty, although the kids had fun, I don't think it was really worth what we paid. We got the scout rate which was $12 each and included a patch for the kids. It included the hay ride and corn maze.

The kids liked the maze. I could mostly follow the map. The thing is huge, it is actually a maze inside a maze. After an hour we had only found half the checkpoints. They were hot and tired and ready to quit.

We headed over to the hayride. It was not that great. The trailer was littered with candy wrappers and empty drink bottles. I guess they don't clean it everyday. The ride is about 10 minutes long. They take you down the side of the maze then turn around and come back. On one side you can see the wall of corn, the other side is a bunch of trees and bushes through which you can occasionally glimpse the river. Not the best view for a hayride.

Afterwards they petted the goats, and picked a pumpkin out of the patch.

They have lots of these cutouts around the place so there are lots of photo ops!

Our next stop was Amicalola Falls. On the way we passed Burt's Farm and we had to stop and see the giant pumpkins. We had never seen pumpkins this big!

This pumpkin cost $77! And there were some that cost more than that. I can't believe people pay that much for pumpkins. People were wheeling out wheelbarrows full of huge pumpkins. 

They even have colored pumpkins.

Outside they have a stream that runs through. It would be a great place to play in the summer! The water was ice cold when we were there. 

 There's a deep part with fish. You can buy food to feed them. 

After Burt's we went to Amicalola Falls. We had a picnic in the big field across from the visitor's center. They have picnic tables but we chose to just throw a blanket on the ground. 

And we ate our fudge we got at Burt's. It was really good, but this little container cost $4!

We drove up to the West Ridge Falls Trail. You can park in the lot halfway up and it is a short hike to the middle viewing platform. Then we walked down the stairs to the bottom viewing platform. I cant remember exactly how many stairs it was, around 150. There were another 400 that went up to the top of the falls. We chose to drive to the top!

Next we went up to the Amicalola Falls lodge. They have a one mile educational hike that starts at the parking lot. Along the way there are signs that tell you about the plants and animals nearby. They also have 2 swings under some shade trees where you can sit and rest. 

The view from the back deck of the lodge.

Of course they wanted to take this bear home!

The start of the Appalachian Trail is also at Amicalola Falls. You can hike part of the trail here!

We ended up staying in Dawsonville because it was the only town I could find an available room in. You would think with as big of a tourist attraction as Ellijay is they would have more hotels there. Next morning we were up bright and early so we could get a good spot for the Apple Festival parade in Ellijay. They say it's the biggest one in the area. We got there early and got a good spot. It was cold so we snuggled up in our blankets.

The parade was a typical parade. They had a bunch of Shriners in their little cars, plus dance teams, cheerleaders, the marching band, and more. The kids loved it and they got a ton of candy!

After the parade was over we headed down to the fairgrounds for the Apple Festival. I really expected there to be more apple related things there. I thought people would be selling apple baked goods, and have samples, and apple related arts n crafts. But except for 2 booths from 2 of the local orchards there were no apple related things. It was just like a regular arts n crafts show they have back home. We were kinda disappointed. It was so crowded you couldn't even get up to some of the booths. We looked around for about 30 minutes, but my kids just don't do crowds. Being homeschoolers we usually choose to go places during the week when it is quiet. They were ready to go and get out of the crowds. I let them do the bouncy trampoline thing and then we left. These are the only pics I took at the festival.

After leaving the festival we headed to the Tater Patch. We had passed signs for it on the way to Ellijay and we decided to go check it out. This was the highlight of the trip for Brianna! It's a small farm outside of Ellijay, and you can dig your own taters! 
First we stopped at the produce barn and we found Jack's soul mate! This cat looks exactly like Jack, down to the little white patch under her chin. She was even loving and cuddly like Jack. You could pick her up and she would just purr and purr. I seriously almost brought her home. They said we could. But I thought of all the vet costs, and I didnt know how Jack and Griffin would react to us bringing home a girl cat. So I reluctantly left her. They kids named her Jackie. The people don't name the cats, they just call them all "Cat". If anyone wants to go get Jackie she would make an excellent pet!

The Tater Patch is a quiet relaxing place to spend the day. They have a little creek that runs through the back of the property. It would be awesome to play in when it's warmer. They have lots of swings all along the river so you can just sit and relax and watch the water. The people here are the nicest! They have a snack shack where you can get hot dogs, homemade french fries, fried oreos, fudge, and a bunch of other stuff.

They have 2 tire swings, volleyball, cornhole, and various other games. It's free to just come in and play the games and relax by the water. The only cost is if you want to do the tractor ride which takes you around the farm ($5 per person, 12 and under free), or to dig taters. 

The tater patch is a short walk down a dirt path. They have all the tools you need to dig. We found some small ones and some big ones. It was $4 for a 4 pound bag, and you could fill it to overflowing. She said they didn't care if it closed or not. 

Junior and I were done after about 15 minutes, but Brianna didn't want to leave. She dug and dug while we relaxed in a swing by the river. I finally had to drag her away so we could make it to the apple orchard before they closed! We would love to go back here again. They said next year they have plans to expand and have a corn maze and pumpkin patch. They sell apples also and their's are a lot cheaper than the apple orchards around them. You can check out their facebook page here.
These are all the taters we got. We dug 8 pounds!

Our next stop was BJ Reece Orchards. We should have done this on Fri and then done Amicalola on Sat. I don't know if it is always this crowded on the weekend, or if it was just worse because it was the weekend of the Apple Festival, but there must have been a thousand people there. There were about 40 people in a line that stretched out into the parking lot. One thing I have learned about people, they see a line and most just get into it. They don't look around to see if there is another one. We bypassed all the people in the line and went up to the entrance, and sure enough, there was another line on the left with only 3 people in it. We were glad we didn't have to wait in the long one! 
BJ's has two orchards across the street from each other. It was free to get in the one we were at because there wasn't much left in the trees, but it was $5 to enter the one across the street. You also had to pay for a bag to put your apples in. They have 1/2 peck, a peck, and a bushel. We went in to search for apples and finally found some Rome Beauty's way in the back of the orchard, and all were in the tops of the trees. They have signs that say don't climb the trees. I'm 5'2", and the kids are shorter than me. If they didn't climb we weren't getting apples. So my little monkeys went to work!

We went to the orchard across the street and picked also. They only had Rome Beauty's and Golden Delicious, but we still ended up with a bunch of apples and the kids had a great time! 

We tried to go in the store and buy some apple bread and other stuff, but it was insane in there. The lines wrapped around the building. You couldn't even move in there. We decided to go down the road to another apple house that wasn't doing u pick and wouldn't be as crowded. Next year if we go pick apples we will go in September when there is more available, and we will go during the week!
We went right down the road to R&A Orchards. It wasn't crowded at all! We bought baked apple pies, apple cinnamon bread, apple cider doughnuts, and ice cream! It was all delicious! 

On the way out of Ellijay we passed this restaurant that had thousands of wooden pigs on the hill behind it. Of course we had to go check it out! It's a bbq restaurant called Poole's BBQ. Apparently they are pretty famous and have been featured in magazines for their "Pig Hill of Fame". You pay $5 for them to put your name on a pig. You can tell them what you want it to say. Then they will put it on the hill, or somewhere around the restuarant. For another $1 they will email you a picture of it once it goes up. They said they have 2,000 pigs just on the hill. There are probably another 500 in front of the restaurant. You do the math! Pretty genius marketing scheme! Of course we had to get a pig. We are waiting for them to email us our picture! We ate there, and it was good bbq, though the sauce was hot. We had to get them to bring us the wimpy bbq sauce out the back that is not hot. You can see their website here.

After we got home the kids carved their pumpkins. They did them all on their own this year! 

We had a great time on the trip! We love going places together and getting to experience new things! Now we have to do something with all these apples! We are planning on applesauce, apple pie, and apple crescent rolls!