The Last Hurrah

School starts tomorrow. That means we are back to a schedule. Back to lessons. Back to hanging out in the dreaded Great Van of Happiness after school. But before the summer is all swallowed up in regimented learning, Scott and I wanted to take our kids on one last camping trip. A trip they would never forget. An adventure to end all other adventures. The mother of all excursions. Something . . . epic.

This is what we came up with.

Day One: Swim at Stone Mountain

There are a lot of waterfalls that come off of this huge mountain. Most of which have signs on them that say: “If you swim here you will probably die.” In fact, there is a special place in one of the parking lots labeled “Ambulance Parking Only.”  We went to one of the “safer” waterfalls. This one just had a sign that said “Danger, slippery rocks.” And yes, they were slippery. Wonderfully slippery!

IMG_7052IMG_7037 IMG_7057 IMG_7083IMG_7140 IMG_7147It was beautiful and magical.

It was the perfect place to stage a kiss. If you are into that sort of thing. IMG_7101(Well how do you think we got five kids?)

When we were done we grabbed our towels and drove across the border to our favorite campsite in Virginia. It was raining when we set up our camp, but no one gets wet who camps with Scott Dyreng. We spent a toasty night in our hammocks getting our rest because the next day we would be biking. Seventeen miles.


Day Two: Bike down the Virginia Creeper Trail

IMG_7194Welcome to Damascus, headquarters of one of the coolest bike trails in the country. They even have a shuttle service to get you up the mountain, because yes, all seventeen miles is downhill.

I count going down this trail as one of my top ten favorite experiences of the past decade. IMG_5779Golly Mister, that’s a lot of bikes.

We crossed about 20 bridges left over from when this trail was a railroad.
IMG_7153We saw wildlife, like these black snakes, sunning themselves.

And there were waterfalls all along the way.

This is Levi, chillin’ in his chariot.IMG_7170IMG_7171

We even brought our dog.IMG_7188

As you can see, my assassination attempts have failed. Not only does he live, but he is pampered.


Of course, we had a couple of crashes, and we documented each crash for posterity. Luckily all the crashes occurred in mud so they were all in slow motion.

We carried the evidence of our journey on our backs the rest of the day.

When we finished it was back to base camp for watermelon, Mountain House dinners, popcorn over the fire, and a good night sleep.

Day Three: Hike Grayson Highlands, VA

The next morning we got up, had a gigantic breakfast (including donuts brought by some morning visitors!) and headed out on the final leg of our epic trip. We were on the hunt for Grayson Highland’s famous wild ponies. IMG_5772

All along the path we found these: IMG_5774

And these: IMG_7204And these:IMG_0209

The hills were filled with berries and cows, but no ponies. So we split our group and sent scouts ahead to see if they could find them.

We knew the ponies would be discovered sooner or later.

IMG_7210 As the great optimist Scott Kelly says, “Where there is this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”

In the meantime we picked berries.


And did berry experiments. We made berry honey, mashed berry jam, and exploding berry and peanut butter sandwiches. Mmmm . . .to die for.

There was even time to take naps in the shade. IMG_5681

In the end we didn’t find the ponies. . . the ponies found us!

As you can see, they are pretty tame wild ponies (except for the one that bit Danny’s shoulder).

What do you do when you are surrounded by tame ponies?

You take pony selfies!

And then it was time to start heading back. Back to schedules, back to lessons, back to school.

IMG_5767We will miss you, Virginia. Until we meet again.

We drove back home Saturday night. By Sunday morning I already had a dream of our next adventure.

We went skydiving.

In the Bahamas.

Scotty, are you game?


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2 responses to “The Last Hurrah

  1. M'Liss Dorrance

    Chelsea, I’m in love with your family!
    You are the greatest!


  2. The whole post is lovely and the pictures are scrumptious. They have us enthralled with the last of summer possibilities.
    Are you into the school groove now?


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