The second day of our trip saw warm temperatures and bright sun. Motorcycles ruled the roads and the leaf-peepers were everywhere. Some back road winding led us to Conway and a little further south to the site of Monkey Trunks. A high ropes adventure course with ziplines, cargo nets, and balancing act obstacles, Monkey Trunks is worth a stop if you're in the area. Our purpose for seeking this place out was a little girl with a big attitude over her older sister being able to zipline at a recent Girl Scout camp-o-ree. Monkey Trunks participation starts at age 5 and is well supervised for the younger kids. A two hour pass is more than enough to get little arms quivering like Jell-o. And, though the will was there, my two girls could not pull themselves across anymore obstacles after their two hours. This was a great way to spend the morning and to allow the kids to vent a lot of the energy stored from the previous day's long ride. The smiles were undeniable and my little one is already counting the days and inches until she can come back and try to conquer the bigger course. I keep telling her that someday she might get to that magic number of 48 inches.
After a quick lunch, we headed back north toward our cabin and some of the hiking trails along the route. Although their arms were rubber, the kids' legs were ready for some woods wandering. I found a turn-off for several waterfalls trails and a short hike to a hidden pond called "Dismal Pool". They scampered down the side trail like rabbits hopping from bush to bush. And they thrilled at Dad allowing them to scramble the last hundred feet through the boulder strewn gorge to reach the water's edge. Mom was none too happy about the drop down into the gorge but she was able to capture some pretty nice pictures from her perch on the ledge above.
Following the same trail back, we were able to cross the road and continue our adventure by climbing up two different waterfalls. Almost commonplace by this point, the beauty of the multi-colored leaves and soaring mountain peaks was everywhere. Each climb did not come close to even making it halfway up either falls, but the sense of adventure for the girls was visible through their beaming faces. The bottom of the falls flowed beneath the roadway and into the gorge we had just left. The pavement was perilous, filled with tourists slowing to view the falls but not wanting to leave the comfort of their cars. Some of the cars were intent on their destinations and did not even slow for the groups of people gathered on the side of the road trying to photograph the scene. Sitting on a boulder a couple hundred feet from the road, my oldest daughter turned to us and asked, "Why don't those people slow down? Can't they see all the beautiful things here?"
We left the crowds of dayhikers and made our way back to the campground, where the kids were able to jump into their ghillie suit costumes and partake in the Halloween festivities. After visiting every spooky campsite and enjoying the October atmosphere, they returned to have more fun handing out candy than actually gathering it. The neighboring campers invited the kids to a drive-in style showing of a kids Halloween movie. As the sky darkened, the movie shone on a large bed sheet spread between trees. Many of the kids from the campground gathered around in costumes and lawn chairs, eating popcorn by a campfire, laughing at the movie. I found a wooden chair on the porch of the cabin and listened from the background. I heard the movie and the laughter, watched the faces of the kids, big and small, flicker in the light of the movie, eyes sparkling in the firelight. I looked out over the bog in front of the cabin, glowing in the moonlight and let the smell of the campfires envelope me, as the woodsmoke hung low in the cool night air. I sipped on a pumpkin ale drinking in the spiced refreshment as well as the relaxation all around me and whispered to myself,
"Can't they see all the beautiful things here?"