Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reflections on The Songbird Trail

Along the Songbird Trail - Norris Dam State Park
April 7, 2012

The big hills to my east aren't always the place I go when the need for restoration hits!  There are days when thinking through food, water, trail navigation, etc. give way to thoughts of just walking.  I have so many choices right near my town with our ever growing greenway system, however, just a few miles up Interstate 75 brings me to a place I've grown to love.  

Tennessee has a wonderful array of State Parks and someday, I'd love to visit every one of them.   I am not here to debate the pros and cons of charging entrance fees for state parks, but I am thankful that Tennessee is one of the few states remaining which charge no fee to enter or use any of their state parks.  Through our years of travel, Mr B and I have visited state parks all over the USA and truthfully, I find no difference in facilities or maintenance of those which charge a fee as opposed to those who do not.  Off the top of my head, I can think of seven state parks within an easy 45 minute drive of my home!  

Norris Dam State Park is one of those and on a gorgeous Saturday morning a few weeks ago, that is exactly where I headed.  My destination was a stroll along the Songbird Trail.  Depending on what you read, the trail is anywhere from 2.5 to 4 miles.  I've developed a circuit that extends beyond the "official" end of the trail to the foot of the dam and back, which I'd guess is closer to the 4 mile mark.  No matter - it's flat, either paved or pea gravel and so beautiful, I think one could walk six miles and not grow tired.  

Beginning of the Songbird Trail

The trail is very popular with joggers. On this Saturday morning, it was filled with families, dog-walkers and others out enjoying the spring sunshine.  To the left, across the river is another of my favorite trails, the River Bluffs Trail, a 3.1 mile loop best known for early spring wildflower displays.  The entire area is widely touted as a bird-watchers paradise and I saw many folks with fancy photography equipment set up just waiting for a sighting of some elusive bird.  But today, none of these things held any interest for me.   I just wanted to walk and think!  

Mr. B and I had been in the midst of some deep conversations regarding the shape of our future and its plans.  Life is such a mixed bag of opportunities and challenges that require us to always be open to change no matter how difficult it seems or how far it strays from the "plan" set in place years earlier.  We've always been good at planning and goal setting which has been the primary reason we've been able to execute plans made a long time ago and also be debt-free.  At age 30, we set the goal of both being fully retired no later than age 55.  The reason??  No surprise here!  The chance to travel the world while we still could.  And the ability to combine that travel with volunteer/mission work.  Unexpected career changes for both of us threw curves in the path.....................

...................but that was o.k. too because it always seemed that what was around the next curve was even more beautiful than we could have imagined.  We want the path to be straight, wide and clear....................
.......................but it never will be and I'd encourage you to internalize that fact of life long before my stubborn mind chose to.   We aren't just talking about careers, marriages, child-rearing, relationships or any other adjective you might want to insert in this blank. YES, we are also talking about the roads to healthy weights, proper eating habits, exercise routines or anything else related to that.  

Sometimes, despite all the planning and what you think are your best efforts, you just flat hit the wall.  Sometimes you know it's coming, but you hit it anyway!  

Norris Dam

Maybe it's time to stop...............................

See the path differently.........................

For me, it was a day to be reminded of, and grateful for, a life that is full of love, joy and gifts beyond my imagination even when they aren't given to me along my timeline, but thankfully from the timeline of one with a much wider perspective than mine!

I wouldn't change a thing!

Not at all what I'd planned to write this morning, but there's something about being awakened at 5:30 a.m. by your blaring weather radio announcing severe weather that sends me downstairs with my laptop and pictures of serene walks and sunny days.  Thankfully, the severe weather has moved on into the mountains and although we are expecting more later today, right now the sun has come out.  

Hope you enjoyed your impromptu walk on The Songbird Trail! 


  1. I enjoyed both the walk and the talk very much. thank you!

  2. Looks like a great place to take a nice, long, leisurely walk... Norris has done a great job with the park and area --for walkers/joggers, etc... Glad you have such a nice place to walk --when you can't go to the Smokies....


  3. Thank you for that tour, Sharon. And for the lesson along the way. Very clever and really drives your point home!

  4. What a beautiful place to walk and meditate on all God's glorious creation. I'd love to be there!

  5. I love parks! I live in an urban jungle and frequently visit the one closest to where we reside that has a starkly different ambiance, fresh air and with replete with trees and flowering plants.

    You are blessed to be surrounded by God's wonderful creation that are still restored at this time and age for everyone, including us to enjoy. Thank you for this beautiful entry, Ms Sharon :)

  6. I love these pictures, and some of them I even recognize. I too can't believe it's been a year since our first hike. I'm so glad that blogging has allowed us the opportunity to meet and become friends. I'm looking forward to many future hikes!

  7. My goal this year is to discover some of our state parks as well. I think I'll take a visit to this one soon. I've only ever been to Frozenhead...and as tourist season approaches in the Smokies, I think it's time to explore some other areas. The beauty of East TN extends far beyond GSMNP...and I need to discover it.

    I know you are about to set out on your grand adventure with Mr. B...but when you get back, I'd really love to just take a walk with you some day. This post brought me to tears, and I'd love to get some wisdom from your and Mr. B's goal setting experiences.