Thursday, October 27, 2011

Seasons Come, Seasons Go

My Back Porch - April 2011

My Back Porch - October, 2011

I haven't written much lately about my ongoing quest to reach, stabilize and maintain my weight where my body functions best.  So many periods of renewed enthusiasm followed by times when it simply doesn't seem worth it.  In some ways, I might allow myself to think I'm doing well if you can define "well" as maintaining over a period of time.  There have been lengthy periods of time when that would not have been the case.  I was either losing or gaining - there was no middle ground.  And I am grateful for that lesson which seems to have stuck with me.  I have maintained a stable weight for well over a year now.  But it is not the weight at which I want to stay.

And that most vividly manifests itself when I am on the hiking trail.  Yesterday, my best hiking bud and I enjoyed a beautiful 9.6 mile hike on a trail that is rated easy.  Believe me, those are few and far between in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  You are either on a breath stealing ascent or a knee killing descent.  Three years ago, a 10-mile hike was a piece of cake.  Yesterday, the last mile was a killer and today, I've been worthless!  If you know me at all, you know that to mess with my ability to hike will get my attention quickly!  I began noticing this last spring when longer hikes took a greater toll than I remembered.   I blamed it on all the health problems I was having then and that probably had some merit, but I now believe I was also using it as a method of denying the role that extra pounds play in energy and stamina.  

But spring hiking season came and went.  I don't hike much in the summer, so didn't pay much attention until yesterday.  Autumn hiking season is here.  I have huge goals for covering new trails and completing my 2011 mileage.  I don't like admitting that my lackluster attitude toward achieving my weight and fitness milestones are going to interfere with my hiking season, but they are.  

As I often find here in BlogLand, one of my much-loved blog friends came through with a most timely post this morning.  Cammy at Tippy Toe Diet  wrote about not looking back, but pressing ahead.   I read this just as I was on the couch bemoaning how difficult yesterday's hike was and what a mess I'd made of the fitness level I had achieved three years ago.  But that's looking back and accomplishes nothing.  That was then - this is now.   Seasons come - seasons go!  The flowers that were on my back porch in the spring are gone.  If I continue looking back at them, I'll fail to see the full beauty of the mums on my back porch RIGHT NOW.   As you can see from today's pictures, my back porch didn't change.  What was on it did!  

It may be that I'll not be able to hike 12-15 mile hikes this season.  But you better believe, I'll not fail to enjoy the hikes that I CAN do and be filled with gratitude every day that I can hike at all.  And I'll look forward to next season when those longer trails will be waiting for me.  

Change is good.  I've always been one that enjoyed change rather than fighting it.  I'm learning lots from you and from writing this blog.  Just when I need it most, someone always comes through with the words I need on that particular day.  It's time to quit looking back.  It's time to remind myself that yesterday's goals might not be practical today.  Yesterday's weight might have been achievable for someone five years younger who had not yet been through the deaded "change" or been diagnosed with thyroid disease.  Tomorrow's goals will better serve who I am today and maybe it's time to rethink those.   Maybe it's time to develop new ways of reaching them.  Maybe it's just time to relax, enjoy the present and let the future take care of itself.

Seasons come, seasons go.  The flowers on my back porch in the fall are equally as beautiful as those on my back porch in the spring.  But they are different and they are cared for differently.  Just like me.  And just like you.  

Is there anything you need to rethink? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

29 Gifts

Now I've Said My ABC's.....................

........................Tell me what you think of me!

A is for Apple: What’s your favorite variety?

B is for Bread: Regardless of nutrition, what is your favorite type?

C is for Cereal: What is your favorite kind currently?

D is for Donuts: You might not currently eat them, but what kind do you fancy?

E is for Eggs: How would you like yours prepared?

F is for Fat Free: What is your favorite fat free product?

G is for Groceries: Where do you purchase yours?

H: is for Hot Beverages: What is your favorite hot drink?

I is for Ice Cream: Pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.

J is for Jams or Jellies: Do you eat them? If so, what kind and flavor?

K is for Kashi: Name your favorite Kashi product?

L is for Lunch: What was yours today?

M is for microwave: What is your favorite microwave meal/snack?

N is for nutrients: Do you likes carbs, fats, or proteins best?

O is for oil: What kind do you like to use?

P is for protein: How do you get yours?

Q is for Quaker: How do you like your oats?

R is for roasting: What is your favorite thing to roast?

S is for sandwich: What’s your favorite kind?

T is for travel: How do you handle eating while traveling?

U is for unique: What is one of your weirdest food combos?

V is for vitamins: What kind do you take?

X is XRAY: If we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?

Y is for youth: What food reminds you of your childhood?

Z is for zucchini: How do you prepare it?

Dancing....Of the Not So Dirty Kind

Along the Virginia Creeper Trail
Abingdon, Virginia - October 15,2011

Mr. B and I danced our way through his fall break last week and had "the time of our lives" doing it.  If you haven't detected a theme here, just wait!  We began celebrating his fall break somewhere in Virginia several years ago because it is just enough north of us that the fall color is generally spectacular.  As you can see from today's picture, this year did not disappoint. 

In the absence of any great inspiration for today's post, thought I'd just share some pictures from our week.  Our path went from the peaceful to the silly, but we went places we'd never been, saw things that were stunningly beautiful and by george, I checked one more thing off that silly bucket list!  My Outrageous October just keeps on keeping on and my record of doing something new every day is still very much intact!!

We spent the first part of the week in Abingdon, VA about two hours northeast of us and one of our favorite go-to places.  It is the ending point of the 34-mile Virginia Creeper bike trail and home of the Barter Theatre, one of the most famous Community Theatre Venues in the US.  It is a typical Virginia town with many reminders of it's colonial roots.  There is more beauty around every street corner.

We stayed here in the Mary Connelly Penn House, took long walks on the Creeper trail, visited Abingdon's very busy farmer's market, enjoyed a couple of treats from the Wild Flour Bakery, drove to Damascus, Va (mid-point of the Virginia Creeper trail and famous Appalachian Trail town) and spent LOTS of time rocking in these front porch rocking chairs......................

looking across the street at this..........................

and this..................................

This is what we saw while in Damascus..........................

Ah, but it was time to move on and boy, was I ever excited.  Okay, bear with the silly little teenage girl still very much a part of me who at the ripe old age of 32 (in 1987) along with the rest of the female population fell in love with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray as they Dirty Danced their way through the summer of 1963 at Kellerman's Resort (supposedly in the Catskill's).  Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the dancing (which I absolutely CANNOT do, am way too uncoordinated), maybe it was the forbidden love story.......who knows, but for some reason, I totally fell in love with the movie, have seen it more times than I care to admit and can sing every single word of every single song. 

A few years ago, in my travel research, I stumbled upon the fact that most of Dirty Dancing was filmed at Mountain Lake Resort in Pembroke, VA and Lake Lure, North Carolina.   I made my pilgrimage to Lake Lure a few years ago, but now it was time to visit Mountain Lake Resort.  Less than 150 miles from Abingdon, we headed that way for a few days pretending we were Johnny and Baby.

But my anticipation at seeing Kellerman's (aka Mountain Lake) for the first time did not mean I didn't enjoy the drive there because oh my, just take a look at what we saw on the way.....................

This is one of five original covered bridges in the state of Virginia currently being maintained by VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation).  This one was in Giles County, VA just a few miles out of our way and well worth the time we took to find it.

Sinking Creek Covered Bridge - Giles County, Virginia

And finally we were there....................

And my word, with very few changes, it looks just like it did in the movie.  

Mountain Lake does a great job (IMHO) maintaining its identity as a resort all on its own while continuing to capitalize on the Dirty Dancing theme.  Most people who arrive there in 2011 come to see where the movie was filmed and the subtle reminders are all around beginning with the Dirty Dancing Walking Tour brochure you are handed at registration.

The place was virtually deserted when we arrived on Sunday afternoon, but the previous weekend had been one of their Octoberfest weekends and the staff was still breathing a sigh of relief to have that behind them.  We noticed that other groups arrived during our stay and the best that we could tell they were there to do some birdwatching and hiking.  We stayed in the Lake Cottage.......................

....................which was just beautiful.  Unfortunately, Mountain Lake has not received some of the best reviews on Trip Advisor, so our expectations were not very high.  We weren't there for a stay in a 5-star hotel and were very aware that the hotel is old.  However, we were pleasantly surprised.  The Lake Cottage was absolutely wonderful - we have no complaints whatsoever and would gladly stay there time and time again.  We experienced no poor service from any staff at any point.  I simply don't know where those complaints originated or what it is that people expect.  We will concede, however, that the food is mediocre at best.  Both dinner and breakfast are provided with your room and it is very much in the older vein of cooking and serving.  But hey, we made do and loved every minute of it.  I mean how can you NOT, when you are sitting at the very table looking out the very window where the Houseman's ate their meals in the movie?????

The one disappointment is a unique geological phenomenon that is very interesting, but does distract from the mystique of being where the movie was filmed.  Thankfully, we were not caught off guard as I had read about the fact that the beautiful mountain lake featured so prominently in so many scenes is GONE!  Read about it here.  Here is what it looks like now...............

This is looking back at the resort across the non-existant lake.  We hiked all the way around the lake while we were there.  Not a very long hike, but a beautiful one.  Mountain Lake Resort is well worth a visit with or without a love for the movie.  When the lake was full, I can't imagine there being a more spectacular setting anywhere!  It would have been stunning.

I cannot end this post without a tribute to Patrick Swayze and a reminder to all of us that cancer takes away those we love and it takes away those we admire, but never knew personally.  Patrick Swayze was a talented actor, singer, dancer who fought a very brave and public battle against pancreatic cancer.  Mountain Lake Resort remembers Patrick's life with this beautiful memorial stone just outside the gazebo that played a prominent role in several scenes from the movie...................

We enjoyed out drive home traveling 263 miles through the mountains of western Virginia and eastern Tennessee without ever getting on an interstate.  We stopped for a lunch break in Tazewell,, VA and a visit to the Historic Crab Orchard Museum which we enjoyed very much.  

Did we have a good time??

Yeah, I'd say we look pretty happy! 
In front of the Martha Washington Inn - Abingdon, VA
October 15, 2011

You would not BELIEVE what I've been up to since we got home!  Stay tuned!

Have you ever visited the place where a movie or TV show was filmed?  What and where?  I'd love to know.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More Observations From the Rock

Michele, Cammy, Sharon and Karen at the "Little Rock"
October 8, 2011

I'm still basking in the aftermath of the wonderful weekend with Cammy, Karen and Michele.  If you missed my last post, you can read all about it here.  You might also enjoy reading what CammyKaren, and Michele wrote about our blogger meet-up in Little Rock.  Before I start planning the next one (LOL!!), I wanted to share just a few observations and lessons I learned from these fabulous women and maybe even a few I learned from myself!!

1)  The ability to share deeply personal things with another person isn't always directly proportionate to how long you've known that person.  There are friends I've had for years that know less about me than the three women with whom I spent last weekend.  

2)  We four are as different as night and day (I mean, really....just look at the picture!), but that makes no difference when there is an established mutual respect for the thoughts and feeling of others.  The flip side of that is the immediate discovery of how much alike we really were.

3)  Those of us who had shared with others back home what we were doing all were met with disbelief or shock that we would actually travel to another city or (horror or horrors) spend the night in a hotel with people met through the internet.  Now don't misunderstand me - there is a time and a place and a circumstance where that might not be appropriate, but this was not it and those of us who blog in this  community or many of the other tight-knit blog communities understand that. 

4)  I learned that there is safety in opening up at the right time.  For me, there were some major breakthroughs in thought processes, emotions needing to be expressed and internal anger needing to be explored.  It becomes easier with six eyes full of understanding and compassion looking at you as if you could talk for hours and it would be o.k.  

5)  I am still totally amazed that we moved almost as one amoeba from Friday evening at 6 p.m. until Sunday morning at 10 a.m. effortlessly and seamlessly.  My heart still fills up when I think about it.  I believe these are friends for a long, long time.

I cannot let this reflective post end without a huge thanks to my sweet friend, Tish, because it was exactly one year ago right now, that she became the first blog friend I met in person.  She is delightful, she is genuine and is the consummate hostess.  We talked, hiked, talked, rode bikes (for 33 miles, I might add), talked, shopped, talked, ate, talked, introduced our spouses to each other and then we ALL talked.  It was a perfect first meet-up experience and set the stage for my comfort level in initiating future blog friend meet-ups!  So thanks, Tish.  Sure hope we can work something out soon cause I can't wait to see you again and cannot BELIEVE it's been a whole year!

There's some stuff going on with my weight loss trauma journey that is frightening, yet exhilarating.  I'm up a few pounds and that is upsetting, but the inside stuff is taking priority right now.  I sense a shift of some sort coming.  Right now, I'm seeing nothing clearly, but I've always felt that the night is darkest just before dawn.  Those six eyes stayed right with me while I talked - I hope you'll stay with me as I continue to talk through my fingers.  There just simply has to be an "ah-ha" moment when things suddenly make sense and one begins to use food correctly not because one has to in order to lose and/or maintain weight, but because one wants to. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Four Friends At the Rock

The "Little Rock" isn't so little after all!
October 8, 2011

By Friday evening, all four of us were together amidst much laughing, squealing and hugging!  We had secured a suite at the Residence Inn by Marriott Little Rock so we'd have plenty of room to stretch out and we spent all of Friday evening just enjoying each other's company.  Saturday had some things we'd planned to do, but the idea was to just spend time together, so we also hoped there would be a lot of easy spontaneity.  And there was!

We started the morning at the Curran Hall Visitor Center where I'd made friends with the volunteers on Friday and gotten their permission to leave a car there for several hours while we toured the downtown area.   Aren't these hyacinth's outside the visitor center just beautiful?

Little Rock takes tourism very seriously and I'll have to say that it shows.  The downtown area is clean, it is pedestrian friendly and feels quite safe.  I have strolled along its streets alone and with three female friends and was never once uncomfortable or apprehensive.  

We visited the Saturday morning farmer's market and then made our way down to the Junction Bridge where we took the same walk across the bridge I had taken the day before.  The obligatory group photo was made in front of the "Little Rock" which BTW, does have significant meaning to the city.  

Here's the explanation:  
Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called la Petite Roche (French: "the little rock"). The "little rock" was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing.

We rode the Little Rock Trolley for its entire loop which goes through downtown, across the river to North Little Rock and out to the Clinton Presidential Library. 

We exited the trolley at the Clinton Presidential Library complex in order to walk across the newly opened Clinton Presidential Park Bridge. This was kind of cool because the bridge had just opened the week before and is so pretty.  Gorgeous yellow fall mums are growing in planters down both sides of the bridge.

Following a terrific lunch at Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro, we headed back to the Marriott for some rest and lots more laughing and talking.  There just never seemed to be any lack of things to talk about!

A late afternoon light dinner at Panera and a very early night capped off a perfect day.  

Sunday morning was just a quick get together to say goodbye. I had by far the longest drive home which I had originally planned to break up into two days, but learned we were going to have some guests of our own.  Wonderful college friends that sadly to say, we had not seen in more than two years.  I couldn't think of passing up the chance to see them, so I left Little Rock a couple of hours earlier than everyone else.

It was a long boring drive across I-40 east, but easy overall and the excitement of seeing even more friends made the day pass quickly.   I arrived home around 7.

It has been an incredible five days.  Never, ever underestimate the "rock" solid strength that strong friendships provide.  And never pass up opportunities to nurture those relationships!

Stay tuned - the fun just keeps happening.  Bill's fall break begins on Friday and boy, do we ever have an adventure planned.  One that for sure will draw some laughs and perhaps, roll some eyes!!

Thanks for reading!

A Totally Tea-rrific Day

Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas - October 7, 2011

It was 536 miles and it took me three days to get to Little Rock, Arkansas, but I had a blast this past weekend meeting up with some friends from far-flung places such as Kansas City, Memphis, Little Rock and of course, East Tennessee (that would be me).  Did you know that there is a website ( where you can plug in names of cities and it will calculate the mid-point between those cities?  Little Rock wasn't the exact mid-point between the four of us, but somehow it sounded a bit more enticing than Kennett, MO.  I'm sure Kennett is a beautiful place and I know that Sheryl Crowe, who hails from Kennett, would've been happy to come back and show us around, however, we didn't want to inconvenience her!  

But I digress..............

I left home at dark-thirty Wednesday morning with Mt. Juliet, TN as my destination.  It always pains me to drive by the Lebanon exit without seeing my sister, but her work schedule did not permit a visit this trip, so I chose the next best thing.  Hiking with new friends!  I read a LOT of travel and hiking blogs with the result often being new friendships that sometimes hop off the written page into the real world.  I found Gene and Judi a long time ago and have followed their travel journal ever since.  They are from Nashville and travel full-time in their RV.  They are also avid hikers and I'd hoped someday to have an opportunity to meet and hike with them.  They are settled in Nashville for awhile and when I contacted them about a hike on Wednesday, they readily agreed.  We met Wednesday morning at Panera Bread in Mt. Juliet and as expected found easy companionship immediately.  We set off for Long Hunter State Park and the Bryant Grove Trail.  The hike is not a loop, so with two cars available, we left one at each trailhead eliminating any backtracking.  The trail was easy, pleasant and FLAT all making for an enjoyable stroll combining the joy of hiking with the fun of getting to know new friends.  It was a wonderful day and I look forward to getting to know them better.  Having just returned from Alaska, their plan for next year is to stick closer to home and I'm already hoping for some extended time in East Tennessee where we can do more hiking together.

I spent a restful afternoon and evening in the Calico Cottage at Rockhaven Cabins in Mt. Juliet.  We found these cabins and their delightful owners, Nate and Rhonda Powell, several years ago when they were just starting out and had only one cabin, the Magnolia.  They now have three and all were built by Nate, decorated by Rhonda and are exquisite.  We've stayed in all of them multiple times and have enjoyed every moment.  Only problem is that everyone else seems to be discovering them as well and it's becoming more and more difficult to find them available!  I was lucky this time because it was a spur of the moment decision and Calico happened to be open.  

 Calico Cottage - Rockhaven Cabins
Mt. Juliet, TN - October 5, 2011

I was up and out early Thursday morning for a cup of coffee and a tour of Gene and Judi's RV.  Once again, a delightful hour of talking mostly about hiking and travel.  

But I had a long way to go and as is my usual mode of operation, had no intention of spending my day driving west on I-40.  Once through Nashville, I exited on to Hwy 70 driving through towns such as Kingston Springs, Dickson, Waverly, Camden, Huntingdon and eventually to Trenton, my intermediate destination.  

It's that bizarre bucket list of mine again.  At some point in time, I've read something about the Teapot Museum located in Trenton and it piqued my curiosity.  When mentioning it to Bill, he's always had the "I'll wait in the car" response, so it seemed fitting that I work it into a solo trip.  Trenton itself is a cute little town with a beautifully restored courthouse, a lovely historical district and a quaint little coffee shop called, "To the Last Drop."  But I was there to see the teapots and what an interesting display it is.  These aren't just any teapots, they are Veilleuses-theieres (pronounced vay-uhz tay-air), or Night Light teapots and there are LOTS of them. More than 500 to be exact. An amazing display and very impressive even if you could care less about that sort of thing.  I easily spent two hours in Trenton and had it not been uncomfortably warm, I would've walked around longer and enjoyed a cup of coffee at To The Last Drop.  

 To The Last Drop Coffee Shop
Gibson County, TN courthouse

But I still had a long way to go, Memphis to navigate and then 155 more miles to Little Rock.  So I forced myself back onto I-40, made it around Memphis more easily than I ever have and headed due west directly into the setting sun (Ugh!!) and rolled into Little Rock just before dark. 

After a restful evening at the Residence Inn by Marriott Little Rock,  I set out to revisit some of my favorite places in the the city and scout out some new ones before the arrival of my friends.  Since my last visit to Little Rock, another pedestrian bridge has opened and I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours along the Arkansas River waterfront and a stroll across the Junction Bridge.

 The Junction Bridge viewed from the Riverfront Amphitheatre
 Another view of the Junction Bridge
Downtown Little Rock as seen from the Junction Bridge

Back at the Marriott, I anxiously awaited the arrival of my friends.  I was ready for some fun and we were planning to have it!!

More about that later - thanks for reading!!

Standing Together at the "Rock"

Cammy, Karen, Sharon and Michele standing together at the "Rock"
Little Rock, Arkansas - October 8, 2011

You will be reading this early on Monday morning, but I am writing it early on Sunday morning.  I have a long travel day ahead of me with houseguests waiting when I arrive at home.  There will be no time to write a post and in the quiet of this morning sitting on my bed at the Residence Inn by Marriott in Little Rock, Arkansas, I knew I couldn't wait to get some initial thoughts written down.  

How could I have missed the significance of Little Rock being the place these four bloggers met for a weekend of sharing, laughing and creating the "rock" of friendship and support that jumped off the pages of BlogWorld becoming a part of our RealWorld.  Geographically, Little Rock made sense.  Symbolically, Little Rock became much more.  

As you can see from the picture, there really is a "rock" and it isn't little at all.  "Little Rock was named for a stone outcropping on the bank of the Arkansas River used by early travelers as a landmark. La Petite Roche (French for "the Little Rock"), named in 1721 by French explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe, marked the transition from the flat Mississippi Delta region to the Ouachita Mountain foothills. Travelers referred to the area as "the Little Rock", and the landmark name stuck."

We are each bringing a piece of the "rock" back to our respective homes both figuratively and literally (kitschy souvenirs from Visitor Center's are wonderful things!!), and I suspect the memories will last a long time in our hearts.  I know they will in mine.  

More thoughts later on what I learned and how the weekend impacted my thoughts on blogging, friendship and this journey to healthy living on which we are traveling, but for today, just enjoy a few pictures of four girls who didn't just WANT to have fun, we really HAD some fun!!

 In front of the Curran Hall Visitor Center - Little Rock, Arkansas
Early Saturday morning, October 8 - Just getting started!!

 The newly opened Clinton Pedestrian Bridge beside the Clinton Presidential Library.

 Group shot on the Clinton Pedestrian Bridge.  Left to right - Sharon, Cammy, Michele, Karen

 Touring downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock from the street car.

Cammy enjoying the ride on the authentic Little Rock streetcar.

We were all smiling - LUNCH was next!!!

Check out their blogs for their thoughts and more pictures.  Cammy blogs at Tippy Toe Diet,  Karen blogs at Waisting Time Blog.  Michele formerly blogged with her brother, Josh at Healthy Cultivations.  Because of a very hectic schedule and preparing to take the bar exam, she is not currently blogging, but I expect we'll see her return in the near future and I look forward to that.  

I've said it before - I'll say it again!  If you have the opportunity to meet one or more of the friends you've made in BlogWorld, do not pass up the chance.  It adds depth and it adds strength!  

These Outrageous October days had so many new things, I don't know where to start:

October 5 - Met travel blog friends, Gene and Judi, for the first time and we hiked a new trail.

October 6 - Visited the Trenton Teapot Museum in Trenton, Tennessee.

October 7 - Took Little Rock by storm with friends Karen, Cammy and Michele!!

I hope your October is proving to be Outrageous!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Fall is teasing us in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Road Prong Trail - October 3, 2011

Anticipation - an emotion involving pleasure, excitement and sometimes anxiety in considering some expected or longed-for good event.

Long before Carly Simon sang about it in the early 70's, I lived with a very strong since of anticipation.  I loved that surge of energy that came with knowing something exciting was about to happen.  If there wasn't something getting ready to happen in my life, then by george, I felt it was up to me to create something to "anticipate."  Looking forward to the next thing has just always been a large part of keeping me in balance with the present.  It's never felt as if I wanted to escape from the present, I've just always enjoyed the planning and execution and then the anticipation of something new and different.  

This week, I am getting my wish and it's coming in waves.  Yesterday was wave number one!!  I left home this morning while the sun was still rising somewhere in Europe in order to arrive in Mt. Juliet, TN by 9.  It's only a 2 1/2 hour drive, but I would move from eastern time zone to central time zone gaining an hour that feels an awful lot like losing an hour.  LOL!  But I was so excited to be on time to meet my new friends Gene and Judi. Judi writes a wonderful travel blog that I began following a long time ago.  Maybe it was shared interest in travel and hiking or maybe it was the Tennessee connection - who knows?  Whatever the reason, I felt as if I knew them already and yesterday was the day we would meet for real.  They have just returned to Tennessee from an extended trip through Alaska and although we didn't talk much about that today, I'm hoping to hear much more about it as time goes on.  We just wanted to hike, so after meeting, we drove to Long Hunter State Park where we thoroughly enjoy hiking the Bryant Grove Trail.  It was a lovely easy trail allowing us lots of time to get acquainted as we hiked.  This trail was also FLAT which we laughed about as I am certainly not used to hiking on flat trails.  Was a very nice change of pace.  Gene and Judi are just as I'd pictured them and the conversation flowed effortlessly.  I'm looking forward to spending more time with them and am once again, so thankful for the opportunities blogging has afforded me in making new friends with common bonds.

And the anticipation just keeps on happening........................

Today, I will solo road trip 370 miles further west to Little Rock, Arkansas where, on Friday afternoon, three more blog friends will meet for the first time.  Well, actually two of them have already met.  This idea was hatched several months ago and the four of us can't believe the day is finally here and we are actually on our way.

But in the spirit of allowing YOU the joy of true anticipation, the participants in the BlogWorld Meetup shall remain anonymous for the time being.  Perhaps we'll post a picture and let YOU identify us.  We'll see, but rest assured, there's some fun to be had and some learning to be experienced over the next few days.  And we promise to share it with you.

I've got a full day and a half of solo roadtripping before the Friday start of our get together and today holds the anticipation of checking another item off my proverbial bucket list.  The road less traveled calls me and in the interest of safety and a female traveling solo, I will simply let you anticipate where I might be headed today, but I'll tell you that it involves a little town in west Tennessee and a time-honored English tradition.  And if anyone guesses where I'm headed based on that vague description, you are either one fine detective or you know west Tennessee pretty well!

Outrageous October just keeps getting better and better.........................

October 3 - Hiked Road Prong Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

October 4 - Attended a evening gala event coordinated by my very own Mr. B honoring the life and work of Mary Costa, who was born in Knoxville and returned here to live following her retirement.  At 81 years of age, Mary remains one of the most beautiful people I know both inside and out.  I am proud to call her my friend. 

You don't have to answer this publicly if you don't want to, but if you could meet a blogger, who would it be?  On the other hand, do answer it!!  I might find some new bloggers I don't know.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Outrageous October

Roaring Fork Motor Trail - GSMNP
October 1, 2011

Please make a note to remind me (scold me??) next August when Mr. B returns to school and I enter the summer doldrums (depression??) that October is just around the corner.  I felt the subtle change in attitude a couple of weeks ago when our temperatures broke for the first time and hints of fall began showing up.  But late last week, fall truly arrived in East TN and the happy girl Mr. B lives with IS BACK!!  I am not a summer person.  I cannot stand high heat and humidity is even worse.  Unfortunately, the older I get, the less tolerant I become.  And come on people, you can put on more clothes when you are cold, but there are only so many you can take off when you are burning up.  LOL!

As September came to a close, I began anticipating what October might bring and since it rolled in on a Saturday, I told Mr. B we needed to celebrate with an adventure.  It was while in the midst of that adventure that October's theme was born.  From the safety of our car and the advantage of being on a secluded one-way motor trail just outside of Gatlinburg, TN very early in the morning, we watched the adorable black bear family in today's picture play for over half an hour.  It was only us and one other vehicle who respected their space in the same way that we did.  At one point, the mama and one of the cubs danced by our car so close to my window, I could've easily reached out and petted them.  We're talking inches.  I said to Mr. B, "this is OUTRAGEOUS, I've never been this close to a black bear."  And there it was - OUTRAGEOUS OCTOBER!  Almost immediately, I had the idea of challenging myself this month to do something each day that I've NEVER done before.  Now I'm not talking about anything totally outrageous (you should've seen the look in Mr. B's eyes when I told him of my idea), it could be something very simple.  The whole idea is to force myself to move slowly and deliberately enough through each day to recognize an opportunity to do something unique and different.  I will be accountable to you by telling you what I've done each time I post.  Now doesn't that sound like fun?  You could do it too!!!!

I cannot resist sharing these next four pictures with you.  I apologize for the darkness - it was very early in the morning.  This mama bear was having the time of her life giving herself a back massage on this National Park Service sign.  I wish you could've heard the moans of pleasure..................
(Click on the pictures to enlarge them)
 Look at that left paw up over her shoulder holding on to the sign and that left hind leg stuck straight out....................

 Oh my, that feels soooooooooooo good!

 Let's make sure the lower back and butt get properly massaged!'s over, folks!

I so hope the pictures are clear enough for you to at least get an idea.  We laughed until tears were running down both our faces.  But on the other hand, we were in total awe at the utter vulnerability of such a magnificent creature.  Her "massage" probably last five or six minutes - her two cubs played about eight feet away in total contentment.   Oh, that we could all live with such a spirit of freedom without the need to change our behavior based on whether or not anyone is watching! 

Thirteen weeks from yesterday, we move right out of 2011 into 2012.  Let's make every moment, every day, every encounter, every relationship COUNT because friends, we'll never have these days back again, nor will we able to get back glorious opportunities we might have missed because we failed to open our eyes, look around and find something DIFFERENT to experience.  It doesn't have to take much time - just a bit of thinking outside the box.  


October 1 - Ate a Corrol apple that I bought at Carver's Apple Orchard.  I had never tasted this variety before and have been unable to find out much about them.  They were grown at Carver's and are a late September/early October variety.  Crunchy and sweet!  Yummy!

October 2 - Stepped out of my comfort zone at church this morning and introduced myself to four different people whom I'd never met.  Singing in the choir, it is easy to hide away in the choir room and interact only with other choir members.  After the service, I decided rather than running directly back to the choir room, I'd walk out into the sanctuary and roam around until I found at least two people I'd never met.  I got lucky pretty quickly and found four.  Actually, five if you count the 10-week old baby one of the couples was toting around! 

Just wait till you see what's in store this week AND next week!

FYI - If you are reading this early on Monday morning, I will already be hiking in the woods with my usual hiking bud.  I seem to be a bear magnet right now, so I'd appreciate any thoughts sent our way that today, we do NOT encounter any wildlife of ANY kind unless it's of the chipmunk, deer or bird variety!  We want to see beautiful red, yellow and golden leaves.  Enough already with the bears!!