Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hiking the Mountains to Sea Trail at Blue Jay Point Park

We hike part of the Mountains to Sea trail at Blue Jay Point park!

Join us for a day hiking at Blue Jay Point park, in Wake County, North Carolina. It's just Em and the girls today (plus the dogs!) We enjoy hiking by the lake and playing on the playground. The field is fun, too! Check it out and the silly girls' shenanigans!

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Family Hike Along The Eno River

Eno River Excursion! Join us for a hike along the Eno River! Goofy Dad video... Subscribe for all updates!

In this episode, after finishing up some housework, Em and the Gang go hiking at Eno River State Park in Durham, NC. It is a bit of a drive,  and despite some grumpiness, it is definitely worth it. We all had to be careful because Mike was apparently very hungry, and found a nice woody snack along the trail, and Anderson's "broken" toe is miraculously (or mysteriously?) healed along the path.

In all seriousness, the hiking trails are well maintained and follow marked blazes along the Eno River. We started our hike near the Piper-Cox house and followed the Holden Trail along the river and then up a fairly steep hill to the summit. Then the trail continued down the other side of the hill and looped back along the river. We were able to stay warm enough, and the dogs enjoyed being outside, too. It is now definitely Fall in North Carolina, and there are still some gorgeous colors still able to be seen.

If you're interested in helping keep our urban waterways clean, please consider donating to the Eno River Association:

Mike did not harm the tree - we found it that way.

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Adventures from our Kitchen

Caramel Croissant Dessert

Thank you to Dave from Yorkshire Dad for sharing this recipe with the world via Instagram. Check him out at Yorkshiredadof4 on Instagram or here on YouTube.

As I perused Instagram Tuesday afternoon, I came upon an old post from the weekend. It was a photo one of my "vlogging friends" had posted of a dessert he made for his family.

It looked like a crispy golden sparkling dish of deliciousness and I knew I needed to try it! I commented, "Recipe, please!" to which he quickly typed up a reply and sent along to the masses. It was basically a bread pudding, but with a homemade caramel and bourbon. I was a little apprehensive, since bread puddings aren't my favorite usually, and I've never made one in my life, but the golden crispy-crunchiness of the top crust kept calling. I decided to try the recipe right then and there. I knew my ADHD wouldn't have brought me back around to trying it later.

I gathered my ingredients, made the translations from British to American, and called my husband to pick up some croissants on the way home. He was intrigued when I told him why I needed them. His mom is from Minnesota, and apparently bread puddings are a big thing out there. (I'm from NC, and not that familiar with them)

Once I had everything ready, it wasn't much to manage:
-tear up the croissants
-make the caramelly souffle base and pour it on (I chose a vanilla Jim Beam for the bourbon. Vanilla goes in almost everything, right?)
-top with some coarse brown sugar and bake

The scents which wafted around while making this were so delicious, I knew it was going to be at least "Okay." When the final product came out of the oven, it was perfectly amber and smelled like heaven. We all had a hard time waiting for it to cool before we could spoon it into bowls to try.

It was crispy-crunchy, so rich and sweet, and definitely delicious. The top had the crunch from the toasted croissants and the coarse sugar, and the bottom was a soft, rich buttery-bourbon blend with the caramel coming through, as a more of a hint than a slurry.

A new kind of adventure for Em and the Gang ... adventuring with food! Adventures await!

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Em and the Gang NEW YouTube Channel Trailer

We decided to create a channel trailer to help viewers find out what we are all about.

Join our Adventures! Subscribe to our Channel for updates!

We are a family of four (plus friends!) with a new-to-us Sunny Brook 5th wheel camper which we have named Hazel. We don't full-time in our camper, as both Mike and Em have jobs that can't go mobile. Taylor Anne and Anderson are working hard to make their way through high school and middle school, and we try to enjoy our weekends and summers as much as we can. We also try to bring our 4-legged kids with us as often as we can. Buster is a sweet little Cairn Terrier mix, and Piper is a shy Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix.

We will document our repairs, renovations, and most importantly, our adventures! Some of our adventures may not include Hazel, as they may be close to our home base, or are just day-trips. We will include some of those in our gang's vlog, too!

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We are on Facebook @ Em and the Gang, Twitter @emandthegangadventures, and Instagram at Em and the Gang if you're interested in using those apps to interact as well.

North Carolina State Fair

Em and the Gang spend the day at the North Carolina State Fair!    Come along on our adventure - Subscribe now for updates and more!

We drive into Raleigh, NC to the State Fairgrounds for the 2017 Agricultural Fair. It is the largest fair in the state, and always a great time. Along for the adventure today is Taylor Anne's friend, Lauren.

We love seeing all of the great rides and fun food. The girls first choice is the Ferris wheel. The rest of us want to walk around and find some other fun things, so we leave them to wait in the really long line.

Anderson finds a soft pretzel, one of his favorite snacks. Em takes a look at the map and notices that there is no way to see everything that's offered in one day! Mike, Em, and Anderson go back to check on the girls, and they're just getting into the Ferris wheel seats.

The NC State Fair is an agricultural fair and a great place to see the crafts local 4H clubs have worked on during the year. Em takes a tour of the 4H exhibit and shares all of the excellent artwork.

We see a chicken-riding dancing man! Our snacks are pretty tame this year, Em just has roasted corn and then we get some sno-cones. The grist mill was broken, but we were still able to enjoy our hush-puppies.

Hopefully you enjoyed this road trip to the fair, and comment, like, and share with friends. Don't forget to subscribe!

Intruder in the Chicken Coop

An Unwelcome visitor! What is in our hen house?

We were just putting the kids to bed, and Mike and I heard a commotion in the back yard! There was SOMETHING in the chicken coop! Take a quick look and see what gave our chickens a scare! It is also probably the reason we haven't gotten any eggs for the past few months! Hmmm? What do you think?

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Lazy Sunday

Lazy Sunday - episode 14 - Fishing at Beechnut, RV laundry day, and packing up camp! Subscribe now for updates!

Mike, Em, and the kids spend their last day at Beechnut Family Campground doing chores, exploring and relaxing, fishing, and playing Yatzee.

We had laundry to do, so we took the time to make a decent breakfast and do our laundry. Mike and Anderson fished, Taylor Anne and Em went exploring and relaxed some. We all played Yatzee - it was Em and the kids' first time! We'll have to practice more to get the hang of it.

Camping adventures can be fun, exciting, and crazy, but they can also be relaxing and laid back. This is one of those days.

Twitter: @EmandTheGang2
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Best Zipline Adventure for Families

Zipline fun with our Gang!! It was our first time ziplining! Check it ou!
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After a full morning of hiking in Hanging Rock (see episode 12 - ), our gang heads to Carolina Zipline Canopy Tours near Westfield, NC for a high-flying zipline adventure!

Anderson had been looking forward to this for quite a while since we saw Marc and Trish take their family ziplining on Keep Your Daydream - thanks for the inspiration, guys!  If you would like to check them out - here's the episode that made Anderson go nuts!

Taylor Anne's love for speed overtakes her fear of heights and everyone has a blast zipping through the trees.

Our guides were fantastic, and we need to say a special "Thank You!!" to Leigh and Scotty for keeping us safe and helping us have fun. The jokes and shenanigans were great!

If you're interested in visiting, give them a call. You can even get a great deal on camping there if you're interested in that while you zipline! (I wish we had known about their camping spots before we planned this trip!)

We will definitely go again!  Here's a link to their site:

Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock State Park (episode 12) Subscribe for updates!

In this episode, we leave our weekend base of Beechnut Family Campground and head to Hanging Rock State Park.

We drive around the town of Mount Airy, where Andy Griffith based his idea for the town of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show. We even see one of the old police cars from the show!

We enjoy hiking the trail up to the summit and drink in the fantastic views from the top of Hanging Rock. We can see Moore's Knob and much of the town of Westfield below us. There's a creepy Halloween decoration someone has left up there, which is a little surprising. Taylor Anne gets artsy with her photo poses, Mike decides to practice a little photobombing, and Em finds some really neat moss.

One thing we noticed other trekkers had were these great poles - Em definitely wants a pair next time we do major hiking!

Anderson gets to wade in the pool at the bottom of Lower Cascade Falls, but it is too chilly for swimming. We had a wonderful start to our day, and it was jam packed! Look for the hint of things to come at the end of this video!

Beechnut Family Campground, Mount Airy NC

Beechnut Family Campground, Mount Airy, NC (episode 11) Subscribe now for other campground reviews!

In this episode, Our family hits the road again with our camper, Hazel.  We are taking the gang on a trip to do some hiking and zip lining - the Zip Lining is something we've looked forward to for a while, and that will be in another episode! (We had to break this weekend up!)

We check into Beechnut Family Campground in Mount Airy, NC super late on a Friday night. Someone else had parked their rig on our spot, but we just moved in next door, and probably ended up with one of our best camping spots yet. We get Hazel all set up and in the morning, we take a tour of the camp before heading to our weekend adventures.

Beechnut Family Campground has three stocked ponds, three swimming pools, some outdoor games, and a snack bar with a large picnic area you can rent. In the summer season, they sell seasonal pool passes. The grounds are beautiful and pretty wide open, although the sites are packed relatively closely around one of the ponds. There are a bunch of seasonal/permanent campers set up there, but they also offer spots for weekend or nightly guests. The campground is run by a friendly family, and they're also farmers who have a cow pasture next door and several roosters run loose.

Overall it was a very peaceful weekend home base for our adventures this time, and we would love to come back during the summer!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this adventure!