Live Through Us at The Burrow


October 2015

Why I love cold weather

I used to hate cold weather, and love hot weather. But now, I’m the exact opposite. And here’s why:

  1. I now have wood heat. Before, I mostly had central heat and air. I hate central heat and air! You’re never warm, and your skin is always so dry! With wood heat, you’re warm and moist. hmmm…perhaps that’s not the best way to describe that.
  2. You can dress more comfortably in cooler weather. I used to be cute and skinny. Now I’m just cute ;p. When you’re not so hot anymore, you don’t want to walk around in a tank top and shorty shorts. Now that it’s fall, I can wear more clothing, feeling more comfortable about my body.
  3. Pockets! I didn’t use a purse from the age of 16 to just a few months ago. Wow. That’s 12 years of no purse. That’s more years of no purse, than years with a purse. In fact, I can’t stand to actually say the word “purse” aloud. I have to say “bag” or “satchel”. Nope, just can’t do it. In summer, you don’t have pockets. But in winter, you have pockets all over the place! so technically, I don’t need my “bag” anymore. But to be honest, pockets lose things, so I should probably keep using it.  Grr!
  4. Sleeping. Sleeping in the summer can be challenging. Hot, sticky, don’ t-touch-me challenging. But fall allows you to not mind the fact that your 108° husband shares your bed. In fact, come winter, you’re kinda glad he does.
  5. Excuse to stay inside. I’m an inside person. Don’t get me wrong, we farm, etc, but I was always the computer generation kid, playing video games or anything else, as long as it was on a computer. Computers are inside. In fact, I love the inside so much, I have a vitamin D deficiency. Summertime, people look at you all weird and stuff because you don’t like to ride the wet rides or sit outside. Why would I want to sit outside? There’s bugs out there! Come fall, you can stay inside all you want, and no one says a word!
  6. Excuse to stay home. I love being snowed in without electricity. OK OK, so I’m weird. But everyone knew that already. I don’t know exactly why, but I can guess. I have very sensitive hearing. No, VERY. I can hear light bulbs sometimes. I can hear electricity most times. There are many days, like right now, that by the time afternoon hits, my ears are throbbing in pain from all the noise. No electricity for me=no headache!

So tell me, what are your reasons for loving or hating cooler weather?

Compass Quest

Finally, the last post in my MagiQest series, CompassQuest.

(If you’re visiting the CompassQuest in Mason, OH, please read this post as well.)

CompassQuest is a game that requires both a compass and a wand. The compass looks like this one below:

The compass is bought from the MagiQuest store, and just like your wand, you get to keep it. It does not come with the tassel. I added that. Just like your wand, it keeps up with your progress and is needed to use the pedestals.

It does open, but it doesn’t do anything.

You do not use the tree hubs with CompassQuest. Instead, you use a podium with a map, like this:

You place your compass in that little notch on the bottom right. You do not get a book like you did with MagiQuest, or even a pamphlet like you did with ShadowQuest.. Instead, you have to listen carefully to the instructions and then remember the items that you have to get. Oh, and did I mentioned that you’re timed?

What? Yes, timed.

Each quest is pretty much the same though, and easy, except for the first and the last.

In the first quest, you have to run around the entire game area and do all the markers. Below is a map marker. There’s one in each area. It’s the blue podium thing on the left. You put your compass in the middle, and it lights up and makes a noise in acknowledgement.

The rest of the quests leading up to the last one require a two step process:

  1. Find the requested podium
  2. Find certain items within the area that the podium is in (a MagiQuest wand is required for this)
  3. Do it all in 5 minutes and 20 seconds

So, for an example, you have to get the podium in Tangled Wood, as shown below.

The mapmaker will tell you to come back to him after you find the podium. Feel free to do that, but you don’t have to. Find the map marker, it’s the podium there on the right, and then use your wand to cast on every single item in the area except for the other podiums like the owl or the Lady of the Leaves or anything like that. So in the above example, you would cast on the map marker first and then on the dragon scales, the chests, the pictures, the crystals, and then go back to the mapmaker and use your compass.

At that time, he will either congratulate you on completing the quest, or tell you what you’re missing.

And then there’s the last quest. You have about 9 minutes for it, and it’s very hard! You have to get all the markers in a certain order, but you’re not told the order. Each podium will light up a certain way if it’s the right one, and another way if it’s the wrong one. If you don’t get them in time, you have to start over. It got so bad, I cheated. I ran back to my room and wrote them down so I could finally get it. I then gave this list to my very grateful husband and child.

Below is the list. It worked for all three of us, so I’m assuming it will work for you, at least at this location-Concord, NC.

  1. The marker at the ShadowQuest podium
  2. The marker near the screen with the fairy, bear, and lady
  3. Tangled Wood
  4. Forgotten Hall
  5. Enchanted Woods
  6. The marker next to the dragons’ portal
  7. Whispering Woods
  8. Piney Path

And congratulations, you’ve won! From now on, if you need to know where something is in MagiQuest, supposedly you can go to the mapmaker and it will show you where to go. I think I got it figured out near the end, but I can’t be sure. I will say that when I went to the MagiQuest shop and asked for help on this matter, I was told that no one had ever asked that question because no one had ever beaten CompassQuest before.


And no, I didn’t get a trophy for being the first, although everyone seems to think I should have. And I’ll admit, that would have been pretty cool.

Now, for the last bit, and yet the most important bit, of information. CompassQuest costs $14.99. This includes the compass, which you get to keep, and the MagiQuest game.

Wait! What?

Yes, that’s right. Buying a game of CompassQuest will also get you a game of MagiQuest. For free. BUT you have you have your own wand. In other words, we got three days of insane packed magical fun, for $30 each instead of $45 plus another $15-$20 for a new wand because we already had one. Wow!



Like MagiQuest, ShadowQuest is a wand game at the Wolf Creel Lodge.

If you’ll remember, we recently took a short vacation, with the sole intention of playing our favorite family game, MagiQuest. But at the Lodge, they also have ShadowQuest and CompassQuest. While we did stay at the Concord, NC location, this one appears identical in story and nature. The only difference between locations is the actual placement of the items required to cast on in the game.

Like the book in MagiQuest, you are given a pamphlet to follow in ShadowQuest.


Notice that it tells you on which floor each location is. You’ll appreciate that. Unlike MagiQuest, you cannot choose which order to do the quests in. You do five quests, one adventure, then another five quests, and the last adventure.

The ShadowQuest items are clearly labeled.

In my opinion, it doesn’t take nearly as long as MagicQuest, so don’t sweat it.

It also has a portal like the other, but only one.

When you do the first adventure, and later the second one in order to finish the game, you will use this portal. Otherwise, you will use the same tree hubs. You will use the regular MagiQuest portals (the lady in the wall, the owl, etc) for the quests. They are not different.

Unlike the red dragon of MagiQuest, when you fight the final battle, you are not given any clues as to what to do or how or in what order or anything. At least not to my recollection. Instead, you have to guess. Below is a video of the final battle.

Good luck!

And finally, CompassQuest.


Tennessean Writer Beth Durham

Today I present a writer from Tennessee, Beth Durham. Now living near Chattanooga with her husband and children Beth writes Christian fiction and blogs weekly at about the legends and lessons from her beloved mountain home.

She has recently made available Replacing Ann. A book of inspiration, Replacing Ann is one woman’s struggle to replace a dead wife. Here’s how she puts it:

Bill Lewis seems to have the Midas’ touch – everything he attempts succeeds wildly.  Yet, his children are hungry, ragged and barefoot.
His first wife, Ann, made him happy beyond words.  When she died a part of Bill died too.  Why can’t his devoted second wife, Nadine, fill the void?
Bill is frequently away from home as he searches for something to replace Ann.   Despite his long absences, Nadine faithfully waits for him to recognize his blessings.  With an absent and indifferent father, how can Nadine point her children toward their heavenly Father?
Set on Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau in the 1930’s, Replacing Ann is true to the way of life of the rugged, mountain families in that era.  It is inspired by stories of individuals and families that live-on today in the Plateau’s oral tradition.

beth durham

So tell me Beth, what made you decide to write Replacing Ann?

Replacing Ann began as a single short story that I published on my weekly blog. That story was essentially chapter 1 of the book.  Several readers asked for more and I decided to publish a serial novel on the blog – that’s a very old concept which was historically utilized in monthly periodicals.  Since I write about history it seemed like a fitting use.

What message(s), if any, would you like to get across to your readers with Replacing Ann?
The people of the Cumberland Plateau are strong, godly people who have survived in very adverse conditions.  I want to preserve our history and record the nature of these people.  They aren’t famous or noteworthy by the world’s standards but they are worth remembering and there is much we can learn from them.  I’ve billed my blog as “legends and lessons from the Cumberland Plateau”.  Replacing Ann is fiction, as are all of my stories.  However, they are always inspired by the stories and characters of my people.

Tell us a little more about Replacing Ann.

This is the first book I’ve published.  It is a short novella and I’m offering it as close to free as possible in order to present my work to readers and understand if readers want more books from me.

What was the hardest part about writing it?

My books begin with a story or legend.  These can usually be told in less than five minutes, or written in a page or two.  In order to have a whole book, I have to build backstory, create an ending and develop characters. That can be a challenge when it’s a story I’ve heard many times or a person I’ve heard a lot about but there’s no way to get detailed questions answered.
More information can be found, along with Beth’s weekly blog, at:  For those of you who are local, you can buy Replacing Ann at Hall Family Pharmacy in Jamestown.  Everyone else can order it online here.

Magiquest, Shadowquest, and Compassquest – Three games every fantasy nerd should play!

You’ve heard me talk about Great Wolf Lodge, and the journey there, but I didn’t go into the really cool awesome reason that we actually went there. We didn’t go for the indoor water park, although that was pretty cool. We didn’t go for the vacation, change of scenery, or awesome rooms, although that was really cool too. We went for Magiquest.

Now, we played Magiquest in Pigeon Forge until we finally beat the sucker. It took several hours, which turned into days because of travel time and other activities (we always had to be back for farm duties), but it was SO worth it! We fell in love and went looking for other places to play. And that’s when we found the one at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC. Now, if you don’t want to stay there, that’s fine. You don’t have to.

This is a really long post, but I have tried to make the headings stand out so you can skip to what interests you. There are lots of videos and pictures-enjoy!

Pricing is as follows:

1-You get four days of play, not per hour. Sweet!!

2-Purchasing your own wand is $15-$17. Once purchased, your wand is usable at any other location. We used the ones we bought at Pigeon Forge.

3-Toppers are another $15, and not all of them work at every location. Last I knew, none worked at the Pigeon Forge area. But here, several, but not all, did. Check with the shop keeper for the latest news and updates.

4-Purchasing CompassQuest (at the Concord location) includes the Magiquest game (or at least it did when we went). So don’t buy Magiquest if: you already have your wand, and you’re playing CompassQuest. It’s about $17 to play. You do need your wand to play CompassQuest, and you keep your compass, just like your wand.

5-ShadowQuest is another $15. It also requires your wand. It is completely separate in items used, quests taken, and format. More on that later.

The Basics (read this if you’re unfamiliar):

You use a wand. Here’s a picture of the inside (Arlis cast his and the top flew off. It has been put back together and works.)

inside a magiquest wandYou use it by literally swishing and flicking. A little ball in there tells it when you’ve done this, activating the technology to perform the “magic”. Like so:

You are given a book for Magi and Shadow Quests. Let’s start with


This is your Ancient Book of Wisdom. It will tell you where to go and what to do.ancient book of wisdomIf you click on the image below, you’ll get a view of one of the first, and therefore easiest, quests. Each item is clearly located-Enchanted Woods, Enchanted Woods, Pixie Pines, etc. Great Wolf has 5 hallways. Each clearly labeled. As you progress through the game, the quests become harder, and the items more cryptic to find.

magiquest book

The items:

I have a (very) few of the item here. A chest full or gold:

chest of gold

A cryptic picture (watch the pattern of the lit symbols to enter the red dragon’s portal.)


A mere word in a frame:


Your average ordinary picture that you have to find, only to hear it talk and see it light up different colors when you cast on it (cool!)


A talking lantern:


And a gem:


Again, having the flash on completely ruins the awesomey coolness of the game.

The different areas:

The separate hallways are as follows (and no, my camera didn’t mess up. Each has its own colored lights in the ceiling.) It’s really cool at night!!

Whispering Wood:


This is the Forgotten Hall. It spans two hallways with a turn. It isn’t a particular color and is much better at night.


The second half of the Forgotten Hall


Tangled Wood:

Tangled Wood

Piney Path:


Enchanted Wood:


The Quests:

Starting each quest requires you to visit the hub. At Pigeon Forge, it’s tall stones. At Great Wolf Lodge, it’s four trees. As such:

trees of knowledge

There you can start a quest, get status updates, etc. You don’t have to watch the intro video to each quest, just touch the screen and it will skip to just the basics, icons, descriptions, and their order. Sometimes the order matters. Sometimes it doesn’t. You cannot skip ending sequences, aka rewards. Also, you may often find that when you finish a quest, the tree still thinks you’re on it. Exit (click Done), and recast. Now you can start a new one.

Endings take you to portals, some big, some small. Here’s a small one:


I know it’s hard to tell, sorry about that, but that’s an owl. He’s asleep, but if you cast on him, he wakes up. Now, if you’re not ready to finish a quest, you can still use an ending portal to check your status and see what you’re missing on your current quest, but you cannot change the quest you’re on. That can only be done at the hubs.

If your quest ends more dramatically, you may get one of these:

Each of the big screens does several endings, depending upon which quest you’re on. This one alone did that lady, a fairy, and a bear.

The Adventures:

After the quests come adventures. Adventures require certain runes to complete. These runes are earned by completing the quests. Each location has different adventures, but you usually have the red and silver dragons.

The Dragons:

In order to enter the red dragon, you have to know the key to his portal (this player is not doing it correctly, but it does give a good example of the layout of the place:

Again, this player is not fighting the red dragon properly, but this also gives a good example. Your health is on the left, his is on the right. There are walkthroughs all over the net for this stuff, so I’m not going to post it, but I will be happy to answer any questions you have in the comments below. You will notice that you choose your spell on the touch screen, and then cast on the dragon. The order and timing are crucial.

Now, after the red dragon, is the silver dragon. This dragon is so difficult to kill, that few do. It’s not that the adventure is hard, or that people just aren’t capable, it’s that the technology is often flawed resulting in long lines and tears of frustration. Arlis bought the red dragon topper for our wands. It will allow you to defeat the silver dragon without even having to finish the adventure. Just start the adventure, walk over to the dragon portal, and cast at the crystal, and then the MQ, and there you go! I do not recommend keeping toppers on your wand. Once they are activated, you can switch between them at the Magiquest or Compassquest hubs. The toppers are heavy and wear the wand out faster, making it work less often. Activate them, take the off, and replace with the original topper. Trust me.

The dragon portal!

portal to the red dragon

Defeat of the silver dragon (btw, I did defeat the silver dragon at Pigeon Forge, so I have earned my stripes 🙂 ):


While playing at the one in Pigeon Forge, I felt awkward, like I wasn’t supposed to since I was adult. Not so here! Adults all over the place, either with their own wand or completely taking over their child’s. Wearing hats, ears, capes. So fun!

This is not a game for small children. If you have a small child, supervise them. There were too many left to roam unsupervised resulting in broken technology.

Do not beat, smack, or hit your wand or any of the technology there. If it’s not working, it’s your fault. Do not touch the tip of your wand to anything. You must flick your wand to get it to work, not whack the screen with it. That’s what the small children do. Imagine the consequences. If you’re doing it the correct way, and it’s still not working, please see the shop keeper.

People there want to help you. Don’t act lost unless you want help. Ask an adult for help, yes, an adult. The children are often confused and will give you incorrect information.

Again, this is not a game for small children. They will enjoy running around making things react to their wand, but that’s it. No quests. This is a game for tweens and up.

I was hoping to get all three games in one post, but that’s obviously going to be impossible. Up next, ShadowQuest!

(Our latest adventure at the Great Wolf and Magiquest of Mason, OH can be found here.)

Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC

If you’ve been following along, our last post brought you through the Smokey Mountains, the path required to reach Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC. Now, I present, the lodge itself.

As you drive up to it, you can’t help but be impressed with its magnificence and beauty.

And then you walk in.


Wow! And this is just the lobby!  We went in October, so it was decorated for Halloween. More on that later.


When I checked in, they gave me orange wolf ears for Marcus. Now let’s face it, he’s not going to wear those, so I did! They’re embroidered on the back with “Happy Halloween” on one ear and “Great Wolf Lodge” on the other. Putting those ears on made me instantly smile. Little did I know how much more fun we were in for!


We stayed in the cheapest rooms available, at a 30% discount for booking at a certain time, for a certain time, and for 2 or more nights. It was $180 per night. This included room, taxes, fees, and full access to the water park. More on the park later. Bear in mind that this room was for four people, and the nightly rate didn’t change just because we had three. In other words, pick your room based on the number of people going because that price pays for everything, not just the room. We could have had a fourth with us, and the price would not have increased.

The other half of the room was a little living room. This was great to use as a changing area, etc, because it had a wall between it and the beds.

And of course, the balcony.

The much needed micro and fridge-I highly recommend eating out. The food prices were insane there, and the food didn’t look all that impressive. I can’t tell you how good it really was, we didn’t eat any of it. But, down the street, and I mean down the street, like a block, with a sidewalk (you could walk if you wanted), were: Cracker Barrel, McDonalds (within a gas station with 99¢ 2-liters), Texas Land and Cattle Co Steakhouse (good prices, good food, but very, very spicy!), some Italian restaurant, and others.  So trust me, you’re gonna be glad for the mini bar. Be sure to bring some plastic ware! Be forewarned, the minibar does have water bottles on it. Drink one, and you’re paying $2.50 each! Watch your kids there!

And the bathroom. Now normally, I’m not a “Let’s take a picture of a toilet!” person, but this bathroom was sweet!  For one, it was clean. Probably the cleanest bathroom I’ve been in in a very long time.  It came with the usual microscopic bar of soap and clean white towels, but it also came with little kid flossers, bubble gum scented body soap, and Boogie Wipes.

And then the fun started. First, you can use any of the amenities that come with your stay before your room is ready, just check in. You get a little bracelet that you wear all the time, even in the water. It serves as your key and a way to buy things. You pay for the purchases when you check out, so technically, you only have to give them your room # half the time.

The water park is one of the amenities. I don’t have any pictures of it, my camera isn’t waterproof. But there are a billion vids and images online if you’re really curious. Just remember, we stayed at the one in Concord, NC. There are other Lodges, and their selection varies slightly.

I will say this about the water park, it was open from 11AM to 8PM. It has overpriced eateries for your convenience. The air will knock you back the first time. Yes, it’s 84°, but that’s not the problem. The problem is the chlorine. The air is so permeated with it, that our faces reddened, appearing sunburned. Arlis’s eyes bothered him to where he had to go back to the room, without entering the water. It was hard to breathe.

But other then that, the water park was a lot of fun, and Marcus loved it as much as he did everything else, if not more. They have bathrooms and changing rooms. The changing rooms had showers, with soap dispensers. The soap’s called “hair and body”, but it wasn’t going in my hair, and it was difficult to use without a bath poof. There weren’t any benches or shelves in the showers. So you had to throw your towel and suit over the rod, hope no one touched your stuff in the changing room across from the shower, and bolt from the shower to the changing room either naked of barely clad with a tiny towel. Oh, and “one towel per person please.” Uh…no.  But the showers and rooms themselves were well kept and clean, making them very nice otherwise. There was even a spinny thing to put your wet suit it. Use it, and your suit was nearly dry in less than a minute. Cool!

*              *                *                  *

Remember how it was October and all Halloweenated? Every night, the kids can go trick or treating. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be dressed up, but they’ll probably enjoy it more, especially with the after trick or treating costume parade and story time. Which brings me to another topic, the little kid things.

We didn’t do the little kid things, but there’s tons of them. In fact, the center piece of the lobby comes to life with animatronics. It’s loud, but the little ones seemed to like it. There was also a ropes course, (I don’t know if it was extra because it wasn’t open during the week when we stayed.), an outdoor pool area (closed between Labor and Memorial Days), and putt putt. It cost extra, and we honestly didn’t have time to do it, so I can’t tell you anything about it.

The treat or treating started near a little room made for picture taking.

The staff seemed to really enjoy it! They dressed up, passed out bags, and then…


Passed out candy at all the shops.

There were only four places, I think, to go to, and the candy was really chintzy stuff, but it was a lot of fun. He went both nights. He’s 12, and I felt safe letting him do some things on him own.

There’s also a small bowling alley, made for little ones (small lanes, etc), 4D theater, stand alone arcade activities, and an arcade. All of which did cost extra.

Trick or treating at the arcade.

One more word of advice before I end this section (next section, Magiquest!). You can purchase a never ending refill cup for $13. You can fill it up at your convenience at these touch screens. There’s an insane amount of flavor choices, so it might be worth the money just to try them all!  I will warn you though, it can be difficult to get refills at certain times of the days. If the shops aren’t open, you can’t get them. These times are so varied and complicated that I’m not going to list them here.



Our Journey to Great Wolf Lodge

We finally got away for a vacation.  First one in over 5 years!  It was to a place called Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC. We had such an amazing time, and did so much, that I’m going to have to break this up into several posts. Below are the amazing shots of the drive there.

As we started our journey, we savored the view of the mountains we would eventually traverse.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


There’s a reason they call them the Smokey Mountains. Too cool!!


The fog finally cleared, and we spent the rest of the drive without incident. Up next, Great Wolf Lodge!


The granddaddy long legs convention

So I go outside today, and find this on my back porch:

granddaddy long legs

So naturally, I had to get a video. (And don’t ask me what they’re eating, cause I don’t know.)


The Big South Fork Story Telling Festival

Last weekend, we went to the Big South Fork Storytelling Festival. It was really nice. We camped out for the weekend at Big South Fork. Before the storytelling began, that Saturday night, we played around with all the booths and crafts and shows and things that they had around.

Here my dad plays at the “old timey toys and games” tent.


I try out stilts made from tree branches, while my husband keeps my from killing myself.


I thought this was just so cool!

And this was ingenious.

We watched an owl demonstration. This little fellow is actually blind. He was hit by a train.


And this little screech owl is unable to fly. I don’t remember why, but he can hop!


And then nighttime came, and we sat under the big tent.


We had second row seats. It was really awesome. Between the front row and the stage is an area set up for kids to lay on blankets. This proved to be very interesting later as you will see.


There were several storytellers, and several stories. And some were good, and some were terrible. But this woman took the cake! Donna Washinton told a very chilling tale about two young lovers. And even though it was the best story there, she was determined not to be outdone. See below:


To the right of the gourds above is a bit of hay. Keep that in mind. Here’s what happened:

Children screamed and vacated the immediate area.

Donna: Yes, yes, it’s a snake. Calm down. Calm down. No! Please! Children, do not try to get a closer look at the snake! Can I get a ranger please? Is there a ranger nearby?

Donna had begun to back away from the snake, but went back to ensure the kids didn’t go near it. After they stayed clear for sure, she backed away. A lot.

Donna: Yes I see it’s a copperhead. That’s why I’m not going back up there.

She was off and to the left of the stage at this point. And barefoot, I might add.

Donna: Is there a ranger around? We really need a ranger please?

Finally, a ranger, already in pajamas, comes to the front and creates a “barrier” by standing in the way of onlookers. Another on duty ranger came and took the snake away, I know not to where. He was obviously just wanting a bit of warmth from the heat of the lamps.

Anyway, the storyteller was in the middle of the climax of the story, but was able to continue with just as much, if not more, excitement from the audience. She worked it into her story beautifully!

If you wish to join in the fun next year, remember, it’s free to attend, but camping spots do cost.

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