As Danielle and Brooke will say this was "legit" hiking. The trail was steep at points and required you to grab on to trees or roots to help pull yourself up. Because this is the deep woods an enormous amount of bug spray is also required. Because Sam's skin is sensitive we used California Baby Bug Repellent Spray. LOVE IT!!! It is a citronella, lemon grass and cedar essential oil blend. We carried it with us and reapplied often. The scent is nice and best of all, Sam's skin doesn't react to it and it kept the bugs off of us.
Due to Sam's respiratory issues and a very bad respiratory episode in 2005 when we almost lost Sam it has taken time and work to rebuild his stamina. After he was released from the ICU Sam could only walk for brief periods of time before he would get tired and have to sit down. We started exercising by just trying to walk to the end of our driveway, at first Sam could only make it halfway. Over the next year we were able to get him to walk a 1/2 mile before he had to sit and rest. This trip showed me how far he has come, Sam hiked more than half way up the mountain. We got to a point where safety became an issue since Sam has balance issues and some right side weakness and although he would have kept going up...and wanted to...which amazed me, I wasn't sure how I was safely going to get him back down. Even as far as he did climb, coming back down was a challenge. Sam stayed behind me and used me to push off of and keep himself stable and I leaned back holding his hands to keep us from falling forward. It was a challenge but to see him smile so big and say "We did it" when we came down was worth it. Next time he'll make it to the top.
When they got to the top they made a few phone calls letting everyone know back home that they had made it. They ate, took pictures and just sat in awe of the view. They made a video for me in case I didn't make it to the top...but I did the next day.
After making their way down from the mountain, they were a little hot and sticky and of course covered in bug spray so they decided to grab their swimsuits and go explore the water fall.While all this was happening Sam slipped into his swim suit and swim shoes and enjoyed throwing rocks in the mountain stream. I kept an eye on Sam and read a wonderful book given to me by a dear friend about a boy with Down syndrome called Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky. I really liked the book, wished it had a different ending but it was a great story. Another good book I've just finished is Angel Song by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman. Since my dream some day is to write a fiction book with a Down syndrome character I am trying to read as many that have been published as I can. Let me know if you have any favorites???
Later that night we grilled hot dogs and made smores over the fire and we laughed and laughed. We played "The Ungame", it is a great conversational game and playing with two teenagers is just a hoot!! We played the family version and we all had to answer questions like "What makes you feel proud", "Who do you think is the most generous member of your family?" "Tell about something you'd like to accomplish in the coming year." "How do you think the person across from you would describe you to someone else?"
Brooke got hooked on making bracelets...okay honestly she became an addict and at one point we had to put her in bracelet rehab. She was not allowed to touch any bracelet making materials for 15 minutes, she failed and got another 10 minutes tacked on. It all started with the bracelet making kit they found in the cabin and then one day as we were checking out a really cool toy store in Brandon we found the ultimate bracelet making kit that included 2 different foam discs that made four different styles of bracelets. In no time Danielle, Brooke and I were all hooked on the amazing bracelet making discs. I wanted to meet the person who created these because they really do work well and create very unique bracelets and I couldn't fathom how long it took them to figure this out. If you have a child who is not so much into reading on vacation, kits like these can be a life saver.
The girls ended the night by finishing off the carton of ice cream we just bought the day before and yes, they were the only ones eating the ice cream. Ahhh to be a teen again and be able to eat like that....not me, not now or probably ever again.
Our road trips also started another tradition...watching horror movies at night. Tonights viewing was Paranormal Entity. On last year's road trip to Utah we all watched a very scary movie our first night there, it was Jeepers Creepers 2. This movie was about a flesh eating winged creature that looked partially human and went on a 27 day eating spree...freaky movie. After the movie was over and the girls were getting ready for bed...I just couldn't resist. I took Sam's little action figures and lined them up outside their bedroom door and then I scratched along their door like the creature in the movie did. I think they screamed loud enough to be heard in the next county. They opened their door and screamed again when they saw the little action figures...I meanwhile was rolling on the kitchen floor laughing. They waited until this trip to get me back. This night they snuck up on me after making it sound like they were still in the cabin and scratched on my window. Okay they got me...but Brooke and Danielle...there's always next year....BEWARE!