Jim and I are leaving the mountains this weekend to wrap up some things with our old house and visit family. I have mixed emotions as I leave this place we now call home. I am excited to see Liz and Thad and our grandsons, but anxious to sell that house and finish the ties with it.
But in my heart, I know that all of this will work as it should and my job is to find Joy all along the way.
All afternoon I had been working on a picnic. Chicken breasts were marinating. A fresh tomato salad was chilling. Squash and zucchini were brushed with my Veggie Rub. Fresh dinner rolls were waiting for butter. The wine glasses were packed - I just needed Jim to come home from work.
And then the skies opened up! Somehow, I convinced Jim to drive us to the mountains and we headed to our favorite Look Rock picnic area. It continued to rain and we knew there was no protection from the weather - and our chicken had to be cooked!
As we drove up the mountain, we recalled a covered porch with a picnic table at the Look Rock Ranger Station at the entrance to the campground. Jim politely asked the campground manager if we could have our picnic at the covered porch and he was happy to oblige us.
Jim quickly set up the charcoal and began the heated coals. I set the table and opened a bottle of Marietta Old Vine. We toasted our rainy day picnic, enjoyed a delicious meal, and sat and talked for hours. When we arrived home, the skies had cleared and the sun was just fading over the horizon - and we were so thankful that the rain had not kept us from a picnic in the mountains!
On Sunday afternoon Jim and I drove the Rich Mountain Trail. It is a one way 8 mile road to the top of the mountain and back down into Townsend. We spotted a bear and stopped to take pictures, not realizing that she was a Momma bear. Jim was snapping pictures as the cub began to climb down a tree not more than 20 feet from us. The little guy was looking straight into our eyes and calling for his Momma. It was beautiful to behold. So we snapped our pictures, and left them to their woods and the beauty that is Rich Mountain.
Yes - we really were there! On Sunday Jim and I hiked 2.5 miles to the falls and then back to the trail head for a picnic. This waterfall is located in the back country of Cades Cove. The trail follows Abrams creek most of the way, winding around 2 or 3 mountains. However, at times we were looking way (way) down a mountain side to see the river through the woods.
Several times we crossed the river when we finally came down the mountains, and each crossing was a single log laid across the water with an attached log hand rail.
It was an arduous hike and coming back many hikers stopped us to ask how much further and if it was worth it. Our answer - always - YES. It really is worth it!
Truly - a day in nature is always worth the beauty we experience.
Liz and her family left yesterday afternoon and I have been trying to keep busy so that I do not notice the quietness.
As I listen for the sounds of family I hear the AC kick in. The fridge just dropped ice into the ice maker. The neighbor's dog is barking. The dryer just buzzed another load completed. My computer just beeped a new email received. The dishwasher is still noisily banging the pots and pans.
And yet, from some where, I hear Tucker and Rollin and Fynneus laughing. I hear them tell me that they love me. Rollin is telling me again about losing his first tooth. Tucker is asking to watch monster bugs on the discovery channel. Fynn wants to go to Starbucks. Rollin is looking for chalk to write on my basement floor. Tucker is checking out his bicycle and getting ready for a ride. Fynn needs to go shopping so that I can buy him a tackle box. All of them want to know when they will see me again.
Today I am filling empty spaces with the wonderful memories we created in just a few short days. And I am feeling blessed beyond words. Joy beyond definition. Love that is boundless.
We drove to our favorite picnic area tonight and hiked a short trail along the top of the mountain. We picked blackberries and ate them standing in the woods. How cool is that! I already want to go back for more!
As we drove down from the top of the mountain, we saw clearly how the Smokey Mountains got their name. We stopped to take in the view and to snap a few pictures. God! This place is beautiful!
We could not wait until the weekend to go to the mountains, so I packed a picnic, loaded the car up and Jim drove Eastward. We sat by the river eating dinner, listening to the rushing water, gazing at a beautiful sky, seeing the lushness of nature - both feeling so glad that we were here!
Jim did a little fly fishing, I did a little reading. I waded in the water a little, then we both settled back in our chairs to just sit in Joy! That is the best feeling. Sitting in nature, surrounded by beauty, with the love of my life. Joy multiplied!~
I am gazing through the window shades at an almost full moon - thinking how special my life is. How grateful I am for this ride. How grateful I am for family. ......and planning my next trip to the mountains this weekend! Life is good!
Joy is getting ready for family. Liz, Thad, tucker Rollin and Fynneus will be here on Sunday! It has been several weeks since i have seen them and i am filled with anticipation! So much to show them - so many hugs and kisses to to gather! Life is Good!
Another glorious day in the mountains! We took John Wayne with us today and enjoyed a hike along the river at Elkmont campground. We had a delicious picnic - grilled chicken, corn and salad - before heading home. It is so magnificent to spend the day in the mountains and then to return home in the evening feeling revivified and ready for the week ahead. John enjoys the time outdoors too, and usually sleeps quietly for hours after a mountain outing.
I sit here now at the end of the weekend relaxed, satisfied, contented. Two beautiful days with the man I love doing the things we love best. That is Joy!
Today Jim and I rode our bike through Cades Cove. It is a one-way road through the park and on Saturday morning they close it off to motor vehicles until 10:00 am. It is 11 miles around the cove and we covered it in 2 hours. But during that 2 hours we saw wild turkey meandering the fields. We saw deer content to nibble grass and trees as we took their picture. We had to stop as 8 bucks jumped the fence, crossed the road in front of us and jumped the fence to the other field. We rounded a corner and found dozens of people watching a wild bear in the woods. The people did not bother him at all. He turned over logs looking for bugs and meandered around the side of the mountain - in no hurry to leave us.
After our ride, we drove to a quiet place by the river. Jim fished and I set up to read. I realized that I had the most perfect reading room in the world. So here is my view of the reading room provided to me today. Gorgeous!
Today Jim brought home a box of eggs given to him by someone he works with. The box contains 4 different colors of eggs and reminds me of Easter. But it also reminds of the bountiful gifts of nature. I am looking forward to breakfast now, knowing these beautiful gifts are waiting in the fridge for us.
Jim and I checked out the local library last night. Imagine my surprise at finding a coffee cafe inside the library. Whooooo Hoooooo! We both HAD to get library cards and carefully checked out the cafe as well as the endless shelves of books, magazines and videos!
When Jim called me today to make plans for the evening, he found me at the library reading Science and Health with a delicious Mocha Latte grasped firmly in hand. Smiling!
Joy is reading at the library with a fresh cup of deliciousness.
Yesterday we hiked 5 miles to Gregory's Bald and 5 miles back down the mountain. It took 8 hours, four bottles of water, one granola bar, 1 bag of mixed nuts, lots of bug spray and tons and tons of Courage. We followed a one person lane around the mountain that seemed to wind to forever. Passing deer, bunnies, a horseback rider, small mountain streams, and other courageous hikers.
Ohhhhhh, but at the top, a grassy meadow surrounded by beautiful blooming Azaleas, Blueberry bushes galore and a 360 degree mountain view. Courage rewarded!
Jim and I enjoyed our first sunrise over the Smokies this morning. I got up before 4:00 and checked the sky - it was filled with stars so I brewed our delicious coffee and we headed for the mountains. The sky was clear as we climbed Look Rock Tower and watched as sunlight dazzled us with the panoramic mountain views. It was the most perfect morning.
After the sunrise we drove to the National Park and hiked 4 miles to a triple waterfall. The beauty that we have seen this day has been breath taking and at the same time makes breathing easy. Walking the mountain trail enclosed with a canopy of leaves and greenery with
only the sound of the river falling swiftly over the rocks. Watching beams of sunlight splashing the ground ahead of us making us want to see whatever is ahead or just around the corner.
As the trail got steeper it turned into switchbacks and we tried to imagine how these trails had once been used by trains and cars and now they are barely passable. We saw old steel rails from a long ago era when they hauled trees from this area. We saw only a chimney standing in the middle of a clearing - standing alone - no longer useful. We saw flowers. We sat on moss covered rocks. We felt the cold water with our hands. And still, at the end of the day it was hard to leave the mountains.
Jim and I have been busy tonight packing for a sunrise breakfast. I have all the fixings for coffee - ready to brew at 4:00 am. We have his new (huge) backpack loaded with biscotti, the camera, binoculars, flashlights, walking sticks, water and a blanket to sit on - all ready for our trek to Look Rock Tower.
I am so excited to see the sun rise over the mountains tomorrow morning. I am excited to get up early and see the stars from a mountain top with the view unhindered by city lights. And I am excited to spend the beginning of this July 4th weekend in the mountains of Tennessee.