For our twentieth wedding anniversary John and I wanted to do something we loved that would include our two children. We realized we had not been camping since we were dating and decided Lily and Jake were old enough to appreciate it the great outdoors. It would be great to get out of town, have some fun and bond as a family.
We considered just camping out in tents, but my husband found some wonderful bed and breakfast lodges within the National Forest nearest to where we lived. It was only a few hours drive and neither of us had been there. The pictures on the site were beautiful. Everything we wanted to do, hiking, fishing, boating horseback riding was right outside the door of the bed and breakfast and the best part was we would still have all the comforts of home. I loved the idea, so did Lily and Jake.
I made reservations with the owners Sandy and Tim, they were a couple our age and were very nice. After talking with them I was even more excited about our trip. They did a great job answerering all of my questions about, local sights, prices of boat and horse rentals, what kind of weather to expect and whether they had any problems with black bears or any other wildlife.
On Friday night the family piled into the car and drove to the bed and breakfast. When we arrived Sandy and Tim welcomed us like family with hot chocolate and cider and home baked cookies. Sandy showed us to our room and we retired for the night exhausted, but excited about the next day.
I was awakened by delicious smells coming, no doubt, from the kitchen. I got up and went to the window that looked out on the peaceful forest surrounding the lodge. The whole family went downstairs and had a scrumptios home cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon, waffles, muffins, toast, and even german style pancakes with lemon butter, yum! At breakfast we discussed what we wanted to do for the day. Jake and John wanted to rent a boat and paddle around the lake, but Lily and I had our hearts set on a morning trail ride, so we decided to do both. Jake and John went to the lake and Lily and I went to the stable. We agreed to meet at noon for a trail walk and picnic.
Before we left I was sure to remind John to take his camera and take lots of pictures of themselves at the lake.
The rental barn was very close to the lodge so Lily and I walked there. The forest was so beautiful and the air so clean and fresh I felt like I was in heaven. The stable was small, but clean and well kept. All the horses had shiny coats, bright eyes and seemed very gentle. Lily and I joined a group of other vacationers on a 45 minute guided trail ride. At first we didn't think that was enough time, but by the end of the ride we were ready to get off. The trail ride was a lot of fun and I took lots of pictures of Lily on her horse as well as the scenery. The horses were very nice and the scenery was fantastic, but we had never ridden before and sitting on a saddle is nothing like sitting in the seat of a car or even on a chair--our tushes got a little sore after 45 minutes on horseback.
Since we still had some time before noon, we asked the caretaker if we could feed some of the horses. He said if we wanted to, we could help the stable hands feed lunch to the horses in the corral. Lily was thrilled. I took pictures of her thowing flakes of alfalfa to the horses from the hay wagon the tractor pulled through the corral.
Jake and John were waiting for us when we got back to the bed and breakfast lodge. John had a blanket and the picnic basket we had packed at home with him. Sandy had given him some sodas for the kids and he brough a bottle of wine for us he had bought at the little lakeside general store. We hiked through the woods to a shady spot beside a little wooden foot bridge by a creek, it was the perfect spot for our picnic. During lunch we traded stories about the trail ride and lake. After lunch we had a good time watching Jake and Lily playing in the creek. We headed back to the bed and breakfast as the air started getting chilly as the sun began to set.
After a shower and a change of clothes we went to a nearby restaurant Sandy and Tim suggested to us. They told us food was good and not very expensive plus building it was in had been a hotel in the days of the gold rush. It sounded like perfect place to have a family dinner. The place was a little crowded when we got there so we occupied our time by looking through the little museum and gift shop. The dining room of the restaurant was decorated like an old-time saloon. Each table had a centerpiece with a hurricane lantern in it. Sandy and Tim were right about the food and the prices.
Back at the bed and breakfast we relaxed in our rooms for a while. John and I exchanged gifts. His was a beautiful silver plated goblet with the date of our wedding engraved on it. Below was the date and the words "Twenty years of blissful marriage." My gift was an antique style pocket watch with the words, " Our love is timeless. Anne - Happy 20th Anniversary", engraved on the inside of the face cover.
The next morning after another of Sandy's delicious breakfasts we checked out of our room and piled into the car to take a trip to a little craft fair that was being held in a historical mining town nearby. It didn't take long to get there and it was worth the trip. Many local artists were showing off all kinds of crafts from victorian porcelain dolls to handmade quilts to homemade preserves and honey. John wanted to buy a rusted antique plow, but I wouldn't let him. It wouldn't have fit in the car and I didn't think it would lend any old-time charm to our front yard.
We took lots of pictures of the kids trying their luck panning for real gold at the trading post and our ride around the perimeter of the craft fair on a restored stagecoach. After lunch at a little mexican style cantina we we watched a western stunt show. Since it was already three in the afternoon we decided it was time to head home. The kids convinced us to let them have one more try panning for gold before getting on the road. Jake even found a few tiny flakes and they put them into a little glass vial of water for him to take home.
John and I thought the trip was a perfect way to spend our twentieth anniversary. Not only did we have a great time and have some terrific photos, we made some wonderful memories our kids will talk about for years to come. Jake and Lily keep saying they can't wait for our next anniversary.