Rufus Morgan Shelter Trip Report – January 1, 2008

Sunday (12/30/07) – (Detroit/Atlanta) Cloudy in MI and cold to 30’s H/L. Heavy rain in Atlanta, clearing by the time we landed and warmer to 50’s H, 30’s L.

The entire family slept in for a change, then Ashley had breakfast with her mom and the kids while I loaded the car. Steve & Shonda Had met us in the Marriott restaurant for breakfast just after 11am and brought their kids over after they left church. We enjoyed a meal with them, then departed for the Flint airport by 12:30pm.

Nebil/Marlo are staying with Essam this week, and Alec/Lynn headed to Huntington, WV. Made it to the Flint airport in plenty of time with an hour delay that put us on the ground by 6:30pm. The heavy rain in Atlanta got us in late, and Rebel got an extra night at the kennel as a result.

Ashley and I spent the evening unpacking/repacking and put the kids down by 10pm – late for both of them. Will and Maddie were well behaved on the plane and things went pretty smoothly this weekend. We ended up having dinner at the airport and didn’t get back to the house until after 8:30pm this evening.

Monday 12/31/07 – (Atlanta/ Wesser, NC) Sunny with cool temps to 50’s H, 20’s L and breezy in mountains.

Most of the Channel Sales group was in the EarthLink office despite the coming Holiday tomorrow, but there was virtually no management present. Pat King was off, and our former VP’s (Staci Parker, Doug Trautman, Rick Topp) and CMO (Jackie Yeaney) have all been laid off. Even David Shipps, our new VP, was off today. That said, it was no problem skipping out early. I left the office around 12 noon after doing a phone interview with Shared Tech – a Nortel VAR similar to Presidio. It’s something I’d like to have in my back pocket, but not a job that I am seriously considering.

Made it to the Sandy Springs Kroger in 24 minutes from Midtown with light traffic and picked up some cabin supplies. Then got to the house by 12:45pm. Ashley was well organized and ready to hit the road, but by the time I got the car loaded and we fed the baby it was nearly 2pm. Took the Cumming/Gainesville route to 441 and up to Wesser, NC. The cabin is a short distance from the NOC and by the time we arrived around 5:30pm, Roger and Jim had a roaring fire going outside on the patio and near the hot tub. Charlie was also hanging out, and the Weasel and family had beat us in by about three hours today. So it was a bustling house for New Year’s Eve, and I made it until about 2:30am before I called it a night. Ashley and I put the kids down around 10pm, and only Kevin Knight stayed up until midnight. The Boyz played some poker late night, but I was too tired for any more than one round.

Tuesday 1/01/08 – (Wesser, NC) Mix of sun and clouds today with mostly overcast skies. Breezy and cold to 40’s H, 0’s L after dark. Snow was falling by 5pm and sticking to the ground by dark.

Rebel woke me up at 8:30am this morning to use the bathroom, so he/I walked through a still sleeping house and found Roger and Jim still sacked out in the living room. They played cards with The Weasel and Operator until nearly 4am last night, and everyone (including Kevin Knight) was up past midnight. By the time I got out of the bathroom, all the kids were awake and Roger and Jim were no where to be found – likely avoiding the kid chaos due to pounding headaches. They left early for Charlotte since both are working tomorrow.

By 11:30am, The Weasel and Operator were up and ready for a day hike near the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center). We loaded up the kids, wives, and backpacks and headed for Wesser, N.C. to hike 0.8 miles southbound on the Appalachian Trail to Rufus Morgan Shelter. It is a steep 500′ climb to the shelter, but it makes for a good New Years workout. Of the six kids on the trip, four were either strapped on the front or back of an adult. All did well, despite their 0-4 year ages. Kevin and Sara were able to hike and had less trouble than the adults climbing the steep grade. We took a short break at the shelter, enjoyed the brief spurts of sunshine, then made our way back to the NOC in about an hour. The normally bustling rafting center was quiet for the holidays, and the stores and facilities were shut down today.

We made it back to the cabin by 2pm and put some of the kids down for naps. The Weasel and family decided to stick around until dusk so the kids could hit the hot tub, and the adults could finish a game of Monopoly.

By 5pm, snow was blowing and we were running low on beer. So, the Operator and I headed into Bryson City to tap the Ingles for some more beer and emergency storm supplies (ie. extra milk for the kids.) The weather man was forecasting anywhere between 1-12″ of snow tonight depending on the location in western N.C. and a major storm advisory was in affect. The Weasel beat the storm out this evening and was on the road by dark. The rest of us ate chili, watched TV, and put the kids down. I watched Old School as Will fell asleep, then hit the hot tub with Ashley in a heavy snow that had my head frozen solid. Sacked out around midnight tonight.

Wednesday 1/02/08 – (Atlanta/ Wesser, NC) Snow overnight with cloudy and very cold weather today. Accumulations of 1″. Temps to 20’s H, 10’s L in Roswell and very breezy. Colder in NC. Clearing to sunny skies by mid-day in Roswell.

We had an 11am check-out time at the cabin this morning, so Ashley and I fed the kids, then I dressed like I was hitting the ski slopes to load the Pilot. Over 1 foot of snow was predicted in the higher elevations north of the Smokies, but we only got a dusting near Wesser, NC.

The drive out was easy, and we left the cabin right before Charlie at the required departure time. Made it home in just over three hours with a stop in Clayton to get some food and gas. Spent the rest of the day unpacking, cooked leftover chicken and Omaha steaks for dinner tonight (courtesy of Jim Bunting at the cabin). Also worked on adding the Rufus Morgan Shelter hike to the website until nearly midnight.

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