Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding Day 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. You can read part 1 HERE

After our fun first day at the Biltmore, I couldn't wait to get up and explore the property!! But after too much wine the night before, James was moving S.L.O.W. so I took the kids off property and out to breakfast and brought him something back. By the time we got back, he was up showered, and ready for the day!

We decided that we would go and tour the amazing Vanderbilt home: The Biltmore Estate. I should have realized we were in for a crowd when we had to park FAR away and take a pretty long shuttle ride up to the house. Not only that, but we had to wait in line for the shuttle and didn't make it on the first one. Oops. Already James and Ronin were grumbling under their breath about the amount of people there. I told them to suck it up, and off we went.

The girls thought the outside of the house was so cool, but just couldn't understand why one family needed something so large. They were especially impressed by the lion statues around the house.

Our tickets also came with a self-guided audio tour, so we picked up our headsets, we grabbed a kids scavenger hunt sheet and off we went to tour the house. And then we stopped. Lines. LONG LINES! We felt like we were at Disney. It was THAT crowded. My autistic son and his daddy don't do lines very well. Ronin doesn't have the patience, and James has a bad back and can't stand without moving, and folks we weren't going anywhere!! We made it through 2 rooms when we just hit a wall of people. I looked at James, the kids, and I said, "that's it, we're cutting our loses now, let's get out of here." And just like that an executive decision was made, and we politely said "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me" to the hundreds of people in front of us, dropped off our headsets, and high-tailed it out of the house. Tongue Out

As soon as we hit the fresh air, I heard a collective sigh of relief. Our family are such outdoor nature buffs, and that is where we really enjoy spending most of our time. It was 11am, I had packed my backpack full of water and snacks (a mom of Irish Triplets is ALWAYS prepared) and we had the entire day to explore! James and I decided we'd let Ronin be our navigator so he took the map and off we went!!

He had his compass set to find the Bass Pond and nothing would stop him. Except tadpoles.

My kids L.O.V.E. exploring and this trip gave them plenty of opportunities. Just days earlier we went to a series of beautiful waterfalls in DuPont State Forest and my kids found tadpoles in the water puddles.

Eh, whatever. Kids will be kids and they had a blast!

But again, we are on a mission to find the Bass Pond!! Through the beautiful gardens we went!


And we stopped to look at a lot of really cool things. Like this Cypress tree. I had never seen so many knees with only one tree!!

Ronin was ahead of us and kept saying "come on guys, let's get to the Bass Pond, LET'S HUSTLE." Hehe...he gets LET'S HUSTLE from me. Wink

But Haley had other ideas.

She found this cute little waterfall that she said must be a fairy waterfall. So sweet.

Finally we made it to the Bass Pond!! And they had a nice bench there, so James sat to reflect.

But Ronin wouldn't let us sit still for long because there was a WATERFALL up ahead at the other end of the Bass Pond and he had to find it NOW!!

But again, the girls had other ideas. Not sure why this one picture is so small, but this was the biggest stump we'd ever seen. The girls tried to count the rings, but Ronin was can you guess? Yes, he was in a hurry!!

 We found it and it was a pretty steep drop down!

By this time we were starting to get hungry for some real food and we still had to hike back to the house. Decision time. Do we go back the way we came, or do we take the challenge and go through some wooded trails. What do you think we did? Of course, we went for the challenge. Up and down mountains we went, but not a complaint was heard. It was beautiful. It was quiet. And best of all? THERE WERE NO PEOPLE on the trail!!

All together we spent about 4 1/2 hours exploring the grounds and along the way we saw trails marked for bikes. We decided that our next adventure would be to go to the bike barn and rent bikes. But first, we needed food!! We took the shuttle back to the car, went to Moe's for lunch, headed back to our room to refill our water and we were back out to explore!

Part 3 of this series will detail our adventures on the Biltmore bike paths!! Good times!

Does your family enjoy exploring nature?

Random Friday Thoughts and a Vlog: Surfers for Autism

My son has autism. He's an amazing little dude, full of laughter, and fun. But his moods can change quickly. As we navigate as a family through the ups and downs of the autistic world, we've met some pretty incredible people who have put us in contact with some pretty amazing organizations.

On Saturday July 13th our family will participate in the Surfers for Autism event held locally in Treasure Island.

I'm pretty excited by the upcoming event, though you can't really tell by this vlog. I'm pretty tired after an amazing 4th of July!!

I started off the morning of the 4th with a "Living in America" WOD at CrossFit En Fuego. Our warm-up consisted of the James Brown song "Living in America." And every time you heard America, you did a burpee, and for every James Brown infamous UHHHH (you know the sound I'm talking about..) you did 3 jumping jacks! We were nice and warm by the time the WOD started! Below is the group that showed up for the 9am WOD. Pretty impressive!! If you look close enough you'll see a red arrow pointing at me. I wore blue and had an American flag hair clip in my side bangs.

And spent the afternoon/evening with my CrossFit buds at a party. James and the kids came and we all had a good time.

Today turned in to an unexpected, but MANDATORY rest day!! My body just couldn't take any more. James and I went to the movies and saw World War Z. It was GREAT! I loved it! We also cooked a bunch of food, took naps, and took the dog for a walk. I honestly can't remember the last time I've had such a LAZY day. It was nice, but I'm ready to get back to it tomorrow!!


Have you ever heard of Surfers with Autism? Do you know anyone with Autism? Do you know of any other organizations I should check out??

How was your 4th of July??

Push Away the Screen: Falcon's Fury at Busch Gardens

We are HUGE fans of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and were invited to a media preview of a new ride reveal!!  We were surprised when it was announced that the new ride was in fact a HUGE FREE FALL DROP!! Falcon's Fury is set to open in the Spring of 2014 (though I heard May mentioned several times during the presentation!!)

Falcon's Fury will be the TALLEST freestanding drop tower in ALL of NORTH AMERICA!!

Falcon’s Fury will stand at 335 feet and take riders soaring 60 mph straight down. Located in the Timbuktu™ area, Falcon’s Fury will be visible from any location in the park and even across the Tampa Bay area. 

At the ride’s highest point Busch Gardens has added an element of surprise.  Like its bird of prey namesake, riders will pivot 90 degrees in midair to a face-down dive position. An instant later they'll plunge 60 mph at 3.5 Gs straight down with speed and power like they’ve likely never experienced before.

Watch this You Tube video to see what it's all about!

 Ella was interviewed by Bay News 9 where they asked her what she thought of the upcoming ride. She used some pretty expressive vocabulary. I was impressed! Her interview has been airing all evening, but we don't subscribe to Brighthouse and it's not available online Cry

I was also interviewed by our local CBS affiliate News Channel 10 and that aired tonight during the 5:30pm broadcast.


The trio and I headed over to Timbuktu to try to find out where the new ride would be located and we were both disappointed and excited to see that one of our favorites "The Sand Storm" was no longer!! We could see heavy construction machinery moving around behind the walls!

We decided to hop on the Scorpion to see if we could get a better look, and boy could we ever!! The Sand Storm was gone, as were the kiddy airplanes, motorcycles, and kiddy train! Thank goodness my gang have all gotten too big for those rides!!

You have to be 54" tall to ride on Falcon's Fury and my gang are all measuring 52" right now (yes, they are all the same height Wink) so with some luck they'll grow 2 inches this year and be ready for the most amazing ride Busch Gardens has released since Cheetah Hunt (which is our current favorite!!)

Busch Gardens is such a great place to be outside and active with your family! Plenty of places to seek shelter from the weather, and rides for all ages. Be sure to check them out if you come to Florida!!

Do you like Free Fall drop rides?? Would you attempt Falcon's Fury??