Perfect couple of weeks

My to-do-list is finally reaching an end, relieving some of the stress that has been building these last few weeks.

A week ago today Jason and I moved into a quite little house that, so far, is a perfect fit for us and all of our animals. The picture below is one of my favorites. Lucy is so little that she could not see out of our front window in the living room, so I put something under it that she could climb on and view the world outside. Now every time I come home, I see her little face peering out the window.

Oct. 2, 2014

Oct. 2, 2014

The last few weeks have been nonstop . . . with that said, I wouldn’t change a thing. My parents flew into town on Sept. 23 and spent a few days with us before Jason and I drove them to Maryland, so they could end their vacation with my brother and his family.

I had begun a countdown as soon as my Mom told me she booked the flight to the Tri-Cities airport. I felt like a little girl as the excitement at times was uncontrollable.

I remember waking up that morning, Sept. 23, with a huge smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach. Although I was busy working all morning, the time still couldn’t go by fast enough. I was eager to leave the house and be on my way to the airport.

Jason called me as soon as I got off the interstate that afternoon and he too shared my excitement for the simple reason that I was going to see my parents in a matter of minutes. He told me he was excited for me to give them both hugs, which only made me smile more. When that time finally came I parked in the lot at the airport . . . I just couldn’t control it anymore. I was so giddy!!

The giddiness was because it had been quite some time since seeing my parents.  I won’t lie, from time to time it has been a struggle for me being so far away from my parents, especially when I was only a 10-minute drive from them for a long time in Fort Myers. The last time I saw my Dad was the day before we left for Tennessee last April. I was able to spend time with my Mom in Chicago last year when Jason and I drove to Illinois for my cousin’s wedding.

It was long past due to spend some time with my parents. I was beyond thrilled that after a year that time spent with them was at my new home. I had so much fun showing them around and taking them to some of the destinations that Jason and I have come to love since last May.IMG_2399

On Sept. 24, Jason, Lucy and I took Mom and Dad to Laurel Falls for a hike on the Appalachian Trail, something Mom had mentioned she wanted to do. The weather that morning was cool, making for a perfect day to be outdoors.

I loved every minute of that hike. Mom and Dad had the opportunity to experience what Jason and love to do on our days off, finding beautiful waterfalls. Although Mom has been following my blog and seeing where we have been through pictures, you fully do not experience the sight unless you are there taking in the sounds and scenery.

It was fun to experience the hike through their eyes. Everyone seems to take in the hike in a much different way. My parents were constantly trying to figure out the vegetation that surrounded the trail and the waterfall. Although I notice the trees, I spent more time looking at it all while hiking with them.

It appeared that they enjoyed themselves on the hike. They even had the opportunity to take in the fall scenery, which of course was a treat coming from Florida.

IMG_2416The following day while Jason had to work, I took Mom and Dad to Bays Mountain for a late morning hike. We followed the trail around the lake, which was a perfect path to show off some more of the beautiful fall colors. Mom even enjoyed picking up acorns for her grandkids . . . of course those included the biggest ones we could find.

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Bays Mountain was the first place Jason and I visited when we arrived in Kingsport last year, so you could only imagine how excited I was to show where our first adventure began. It seemed like Mom and Dad enjoyed another morning outdoors.

After we finished the hike, we went back to my place for a while before heading back out later that evening for a walk on the Kingsport Greenbelt. This was the only place on my list that I really wanted to show Mom because every time Lucy and I run the path she is constantly in my thoughts because of all the ducks we see. Since our walk took place around dusk, we saw a ton of deer that night, which is always cool to see.

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Friday morning, we hit the road early because we had a long drive ahead of us to Maryland. After being in the car for about 9 hours I think we were all ready to stand on our own two feet and stretch. I loved seeing Mom and Dad see their grandkids for the first time in almost a year. I have sweet pictures of my parents smiling, and my nephew Caleb while in the middle of a conversation. It’s those tender moments that I love to capture.

It was a lot of fun to spend Friday and Saturday with my parents and Tom and his family. I love seeing my nephews and spending time with them. The last time we saw them was in May and it’s amazing how much they grew up . . .

We ended up leaving earlier than expected on Saturday because of Lucy, our puppy. She’s usually a perfect little angel, but that day she was showing us a completely different side. A side that I was not too fond of. A side that had me stressed and rattled to the bone. She began barking at everyone that passed her or came in close proximity to her. This was rather strange because she seldom ever barks. So to keep her quite and calm I tried to take her away from everything, which did not give me the time I wanted to spend with my family.

It was bittersweet when I hugged everyone goodbye. I’m surprised I didn’t shed a few tears as our goodbyes were shared.

On our way back home we stopped at a friends house, a friend I have known for more than 20 years. A friend that Jason has known for almost just as long. The last time Anna and I saw each other was in 2003 or 2004 when I came home from college. It was so good to spend time with her and her family. So many good memories were brought up, even some yearbooks were opened, which provided a vision from our past as stories were shared.  I sure hope so much time does not pass before we see each other again.

When we arrived back home on Sunday, reality sunk in .  .  . moving day was right around the corner and we still had so much to do.

Tuesday was the big day . . . a day that started way too early and ended way too late. This of course is a trait that I love about Jason. When he has a vision we accomplish it, or surpass the goal. We ended up renting a UHaul, which helped tremendously. In two trips we were able to load all of our furniture and washer and dryer, as well as some boxes. We finished moving about 90 percent of our apartment in one day.

To say we were both tired and sore is an understatement.

The benefit of getting all that accomplished  . . . sleeping at the house a week ago for the first time.

I absolutely love living in this cute little two bedroom house with a beautiful backyard.

20141001_171845Except for a house we rented for no more than six months when we first started dating, Jason and I have gone from one apartment to another over the past five years. It feels great to have privacy once again. I cannot describe how good it is not to hear our neighbors through the thin walls, or to keep our voices down because we don’t want to disturb them. I can now play music in the living room while listening to it in my office without worrying about being too loud for our neighbors.

The list goes on and on of why I enjoy living at this house.

Sunday morning Jason and I headed back to the townhouse we were renting to clean and make sure we had all of our belongings. When we sat in the car a sense of relief washed over the both of us. We were beyond ready to say goodbye to that little place that we seemed to outgrow in a year.

Another chapter begins . . .  one that seems to be off on the right foot.

The best man

As I lay in bed, my thoughts go wild, which instantly warms my heart.

Jason and his childhood best friend are out camping tonight, out in the wilderness bonding and creating lifelong memories, which I’m sure they will forever cherish.

I truly cannot put into words of how happy I am that he had this opportunity to be outdoors in this beautiful state that we now call home. After working his ass off, he has a night of peace in nature. I cannot wait to see how refreshed he will be when he gets home today. There’s a certain kind of calmness that takes a hold of him with just a few hours of hiking.

This is the first time Jason and I have been apart, other than work, since March 2013 when I went to Tampa to spend time with my brother and his family before moving to Tennessee.

So, as I try to fall asleep, my thoughts fill with wonderful memories that began again almost five years ago.

Yesterday we went hiking to Laurel Falls, one of Jason’s favorite waterfalls, to show John and Jen. It was a beautiful day and everyone seemed eager to be outdoors and experience those beauties that surround us.

The beginning of the hike was a little hard on me, due to car sickness I just couldn’t shake. On top of that, I questioned myself a lot yesterday, due to the two really hard falls I took the last two times we were out hiking.

Jason of course was understanding,  supportive and encouraging. We decided to hike up alongside the waterfall to check out some campsites where he and John could spend the night.

At one point, the anxiety struck,  my heart instantly sped up as I sat frozen unable to continue. Jason was right there. The embrace he gave me when it was all over meant a lot to me. The patience he shows me is incredible. Patience I lack in myself when those moments of fear grasp a hold of me, squeezing tight making it hard to breathe.  I hope one day those fears and anxiety will subside. I know what I’m capable of, I know there is nothing to fear when we are out hiking.

Today, August 16th is Jason’s birthday, a day that means a great deal to me. This day, this wonderful man who has completely captured my heart, entered this world. Every day since, he has impacted hundreds of lives along the way with his beautiful, giving heart. To say that unselfish heart loves me unconditionally makes my heart skip a beat.

I was and still am one lucky girl to have this man enter my world. To think after almost five years, he still makes me fall in love with him a little more every day, I believe speaks volumes of the relationship we have.

It’s the little moments when he makes my heart smile, those little moments when he has my best interest at heart.

To have a best friend as my boyfriend, my life’s companion, is by far the best thing.

I smiled this morning as Lucy woke me, knowing that as you opened your eyes you would be looking at a beautiful blue sky. That you would be kicking off your birthday with another adventurous hike with your best friend. I can’t wait to hug you and wish you a Happy Birthday when you get home.

Jason you are my whole world, the very best thing in my world. You have shown me and taught me so much over the years.

Happy Birthday baby. I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Little Stony Falls: a Virginia adventure

Since our hike was shortened on Wednesday due to an intense storm, I really wanted to head back out into nature yesterday, especially since the sky was blue.

Jason and I decided to go back to one of the waterfalls we have already seen, Little Stony Falls in Virginia. The first time we ventured on the trails was June 30, 2013, almost two months after we moved to NE Tennessee.

We took SR 72 into the Jefferson National Forest, which led us to the trailhead that begins at the Hanging Rock Picnic Area.

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the trail is 2.8-miles. By the time we finished our 4 hour and 12 minute hike, we traveled between 5 1/2 to six miles on foot with our 7-month old puppy, Lucy.

The trail follows Little Stony Creek, which according to the website, guides hikers through a 400-feet deep and 1,700-foot wide gorge.

I forgot just how beautiful the trail was. There are so many opportunities to exit the path and head closer to the creek to see some stunning rock formations with water gushing through and over them.

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I know that’s why our hike took so long, every opportunity we had we took a detour.

Although this path isn’t extremely difficult, there were times we had to hike a narrow path that if not careful would leave you falling a good distance. There were also boulders and large rocks along the path that we had to either climb around or over to continue along.

There are also a few bridges that took us over the creek, which provided some stunning views as well.

IMG_2164On our way back we ventured below a bridge to capture this beautiful sight.

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Yesterday I felt adventurous at times as I spotted things I wanted to photograph. I climbed up and down rocks off the beaten path, just to get a little closer. Thank goodness Jason was with me, he helped me climb back up boulders when it was hard to find places for footing.

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IMG_2178I think Lucy enjoyed our stopping points as well. Although we keep her on a leash when we are hiking the trails, it often comes off when we find our little spots of discovery.

IMG_2181I often times wonder what she takes in while we are on our hikes. Lucy is very observant, that I know for sure.

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IMG_2209The top and bottom picture are the same view, but of course Lucy snuck on my lap as I was getting ready to take a picture.

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There is a point in the path that passes by a little waterfall, which by this point is a good place to stop and enjoy some of the cool air from the water.

IMG_2201It had a lot of water running down the front of the rocks this time. The water continued along the rock at its base and flowed down over a ledge.

IMG_2200Our hike continued.

Eventually we came to another waterfall . . . The path at this point walked along flatter rocks closer to the creek. Some of the rocks were dry, while others were wet making them quite slick.

Unfortunately yesterday I took another spill, landed on my other hip and arm. When we were hiking on Wednesday my foot slipped in the mud. Yesterday my foot slipped on a rock, which was a much harder fall. Tears instantly welled up and began to fall as Jason and Lucy both came to my rescue. Lucy was instantly in my lap making sure I was okay as Jason was doing what he could do to help.

I have to say, although it’s no fun falling while out hiking, I would rather fall in the mud than on a rock. I have a huge black and blue mark on my elbow, which is incredibly tender. I have another swollen spot on my right leg from the blow, which is hard to put pressure on.

I am incredibly sore today, incredibly sore.

The fall happens so fast. At one moment I am walking along following Jason and Lucy and the next I am on the ground. To say I was beyond careful past this point is an understatement. Jason often times grabbed a hold of my hand when he could sense my hesitation.

So, before we continued on, we sat in front of the waterfall, enjoyed an apple, while Lucy enjoyed some lunch.

IMG_2215It was definitely a pretty place to stop. After a little while, we continued on. We had hiked all this way, there was no way I was going to stop. I wanted to see the waterfall.

Little Stony Falls is a 24-foot waterfall. Incredible sound.

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We climbed down the side of the hill to get an up-close and personal look at the gorgeous falls.

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Lucy of course observed the area as well.

IMG_2239And tried to follow Jason as he climbed on and around trees and rocks to make it closer to the falls.

IMG_2231Until she didn’t know what to do and completely stopped.

The temperature at the waterfalls always drops a few degrees, which can be nice after a hot and humid hike. Our poor Lucy, on the other hand, becomes extremely cold and finds Jason’s lap to cuddle on and grab some of his warmth.

Although I took a nasty fall yesterday, it was still an incredible day outside finding pure, untouched beauty in the forest.

IMG_2195Years and years of running water created these beautiful sights, instead of man.

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The best part about this hike is the sounds of water. The intensity of the running water in the creek changes many times throughout the hike . . . which in turn changes the sound. There is something extremely relaxing and calming about that sound.

 

Our favorite adventure: Devil’s Bath Tub

Yesterday my day did not start on the right foot. As soon as I woke up, it seemed like it was one thing after another going completely wrong. I’m not a fan of these types of days . . .

After I returned home from Jonesborough and made a couple phone calls to finish my last two articles for the Herald & Tribune, my day began looking up.

This of course happened because Jason had the day off and he was eager to get out in the woods and go hiking.

So after my work for the day was complete, which was much earlier than expected, we packed our hiking bag, put Lucy’s hiking collar on and headed to Virginia for an afternoon of fun.

I always enjoy driving through Virginia, it is such a beautiful state.

We eventually made our way to High Knob Road, which took us to the trailhead. Thank goodness the road wasn’t wet and muddy, or we might have had trouble getting all the way back to the starting point.

After we parked we climbed about a dozen or so stairs to get to the trail, which was an almost instant decline down the hill. At this point Jason said what I was thinking . . . this wasn’t going to be fun on our way out.

The trail led us to Devil Fork Creek, which we had to cross to continue on with our journey. There were rocks for the most part that guided our steps to the other side. On our way in, we held Lucy as we made our way across because the water became deeper at the other end.

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On our way back I left it up to Lucy to make it to the other side. After whimpering for a minute or two, and with us encouraging her, she finally rocked back and jumped as far as she could make it, which, yep, ended up leaving her splashing right in the water. Lucy kicked and swam to the next rock, jumping from dry spot to dry spot before making it to the other side. As soon as she made it on dry land she shook a few times before trotting along behind Jason.

Once we made it to the other side of the creek we followed the markings on the tree, which guided us through the incredible woods of green vegetation.

IMG_2050After hiking a little ways down the path, there was a sign that navigated us in the right direction.

IMG_2158We headed left towards the Devil’s Bath Tub.

Jason loved everything about this trail. He was definitely enjoying his day off. On more than one occasion he said how beautiful the trail was.

I LOVE that we can share adventures like this with one another. I can never express how incredible it is to make these new memories with this man I love so much.

The trail weaved in and around the creek, which led us up and down a breathtaking trail. Yes up and down, my legs are feeling the workout we did yesterday today. (Running two miles probably didn’t help the matter today.)

We really had to watch the markings on the trees and rocks to ensure we were going the right direction.

IMG_2062If you look closely there is a marking on the tree on the right side of the photograph. Jason and Lucy are hiking through the rocky path.

IMG_2065There is always something incredible to look at while we are hiking along, if it’s not a trunk of a tree, it’s the huge green leaves or flowers that are slowly dying, or the cascading water over or between rocks.

IMG_2066I have so many photographs like this one. I get excited every time I see little waterfalls like this because they all produce their own unique sound that is incredibly calming.

IMG_2068This is what our path turned into, all rocks. It was absolutely adorable following Lucy’s path as she maneuvered between the large and small rocks. I couldn’t help but smile as she jumped and jumped and jumped.

IMG_2069We found places along the way that we stopped and had a snack, took a drink and well just stopped a minute to take a breather.

It wouldn’t be a true adventure unless we went off the trail and found unique, stunning views to appreciate.

IMG_2081We stopped here and walked along the trees that fell, kind of “X” marks the spot.

IMG_2074Lucy had fun walking on the tree too. Where ever Jason goes she follows . . .

IMG_2073I know I’ve said this before, but Lucy is truly a great hiking buddy. She is so well-behaved while we are hiking the trails, especially when we let her off the leash and let her explore on her own. Lucy’s always close by, never ventures too far away and listens when we call for her.

We finally reached the watering hole, which was breathtaking, even with about a dozen people swimming and splashing in the crystal clear water.

IMG_2156Since there was a ton of people swimming (this picture of course was taken after they all left) we followed the trail to the right in search of the Devil’s Bath Tub.

IMG_2140I am still in awe, the sight was simply breathtaking. It was stunning to see what years and years of water running through rocks had done to the rock formation.

IMG_2120The water cascaded down the rocks which pooled into the “bath tub,” which Jason thinks is at least 35 feet deep.

IMG_2130I still cannot get over how clear the water was. It was absolutely beautiful, especially with the way the light was reflecting off of the water.

IMG_2088I am so glad we climbed down and walked along the bath tub and beyond.

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IMG_2105The water flowed from the bath tub and continued along . . .

IMG_2113The water continued on from here and eventually flowed into the water hole.

IMG_2115Lucy enjoying the view.

IMG_2125We of course found higher grounds to gain another perspective. It was beautiful from up here. We sat up here for quite a while in complete silence taking it all in.

IMG_2146After leaving the Devil’s Bath Tub we wen back to the water hole where everyone was swimming before. Words cannot describe the beauty we saw.

IMG_2150If the water wasn’t super cold, and I wore a bathing suit, I might have gone for a little dip.

IMG_2153Out of all the hikes we have done in the past 14-months since moving to NE Tennessee, this is by far my favorite. That’s saying a lot with all the waterfalls we have seen. Jason and I will definitely return to this location, hopefully with friends and family to show them this pure beauty.

There is nothing better than getting lost on a trail for a day of fun.

My Friday turned out to be a fabulous day . . . a wonderful day with Lucy, our little, almost 7-month-old puppy, and my best friend.

Every time we spend time outdoors I grow a new appreciation for where we live. I’m so glad we decided to move to this area, especially with all of the wonderful experiences we have gained.

Memories for a lifetime and experiences I will hold near and dear for all eternity.

 

Morning hike to Margarette Falls

Today started off on the perfect note . . . yep both Jason and I had a day off together. We hit the road early with our puppy, Lucy, in tow, and traveled to our perfect getaway, nature.

IMG_1906Today’s journey took us near Greeneville, Tennessee, to Margarette Falls, a 60-foot waterfall. The parking area was located off of Shelton Mission Road between Old Mountain Road and Peavine Way.

It’s been a while since we found a new waterfall. The past few months, when we had the opportunity to escape, we have gone back to some of our favorites, Jones Falls and Laurel Falls.

IMG_1905The path was absolutely stunning. Lush green vegetation of all sizes lined the path, as well as clusters of white and pink rhododendron flowers.

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IMG_1916The trail at many parts was rather rocky, some of which led to rocks that acted as steps, as we made our way up the trail. According to an app on my phone, we traveled from an elevation of 1,875 feet to 2,551 feet during our two and a half hour hike.

There is no better escape than going out into nature and fully experiencing the pure beauty that surrounds us. As soon as we stepped out of the car and I breathed in that wonderful scent, everything evaporated. Nature is my stress reliever, my piece of mind, my time where I become centered once again.

The best part about our adventures outdoors is taking Lucy along with us. I love how excited she becomes when she enters the outdoors. I have a new kind of appreciation when I experience things through my puppy.

Lucy is becoming braver, which gets me excited. Every detour Jason takes off the path, Lucy is right there at his heels eager to experience his adventure. Today she even took a dive into the water, accidentally of course, but it brought the biggest smile to my face. She’s always so careful to jump from rock to rock as we cross creeks, so she doesn’t get wet.

There was a certain point in West Fork Dry Creek, which of course we took a detour to, that had rocks separated a little further apart. My sweet little Lucy gave it her best effort jumping from one rock to another when she dove straight into the creek. Just as fast as she landed in the water she was already jumping to the next rock, her dry land.

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One of the many thing I enjoy about our hikes is hearing the water rushing down the incredible rock formations in the creek. The sound of water is so incredibly calming.

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Whenever there is an open space on the trail, we always head closer to it to see how the water is running through yet another incredible rock formation.

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It’s funny, Lucy is starting to understand this love of ours. She too stops at the opening waiting to see if that is where our temporary exit will be before continuing on the path.

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All in all the trail really was not that bad. With that said, it was much easier on our way back because everywhere we had to climb up hill we were now going down with ease.

This waterfall that we saw today was stunning. Oh, and the sound, wow, incredible.

IMG_1859Today it was one of the warmest days we have had this summer, it hit the 90’s, so my feet went into the water every chance we had. That’s the beauty of the hiking shoes I bought us last year, Merrell, they are so light weight and have an incredible grip once in the water. The only bad thing about these shoes is you tend to feel every rock you step on, which today was a good portion of the hike.

IMG_1898So far when we get to the bottom of the waterfall, we take Lucy’s leash off and let her sniff around and have her own kind of puppy fun. The good thing about this is we are usually the only ones enjoying the view, so we aren’t bothering anyone else.

IMG_1873She absolutely loves sticks . . . today she found some good-sized ones.

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I wouldn’t let her follow Jason this time around, so she stood patiently watching him climb the rocks to the left and right of the waterfall.

IMG_1895Although I love the hiking we do to get to our destination, my favorite part is arriving at the waterfall and finding a rock to sit on and enjoy the view and sounds.

IMG_1870I absolutely love the area that we call home. Tennessee is such a beautiful state.

The highlight of our 2.95-mile hike today was on our way back to the car. We decided to stop near the creek and sit on rocks. As I sat down a butterfly appeared and flew around my legs, which of course captured Lucy’s attention. The next thing that happened blew me away.

IMG_1912It landed on my sock.

IMG_1913The butterfly would land, take off, and fly around my legs, and then land again. I couldn’t stop smiling. It was incredible. It was my favorite experience of the day.

Another day I will always remember, our adventure to Margarette Falls.

Our hiking adventures are by far the best “dates” we go on . . .

 

A day in the rain

Today was the first day Jason had off in a while and I was determined to get us all out into nature, Lucy included.

So last night, I made the decision, we would head back to Laurel Run Park, a destination not too far from our house.

Although Lucy and I woke up around our normal time, a little after 7 a.m., Jason wasn’t too keen on getting out of bed just yet. I didn’t blame him, it was his first day off in I don’t know how long. So Lucy, Kimber and I curdled up alongside him in bed and fell back asleep until he was ready to wake for the day.

We finally headed out the door around 9:30 a.m.

With an overcasted sky, Jason, Lucy and I were the only one’s that ventured out on the trails today. Yep, this only meant it was going to be a great day. We love having the trails to ourselves.

As we began our hike, the sky opened up and the drops of rain began. Of course Jason asked if we should stop or keep going.

The nice thing about this trail is it’s pretty much covered with trees, so we weren’t getting too wet. I figured, since we were already out here, what’s a little rain going to hurt. (Yes, this of course came after some convincing on my part that it’s okay to get wet.)

So we kept on going, Lucy following Jason eager to keep up with his pace.

As we neared the first waterfall and made our way down to the bottom it began raining a little bit harder, so we took cover to the left of it. It turned out to be the perfect place to wait out the rain.

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After the rain stopped, we headed off in a new direction to seek out the second waterfall we read about online.

The climb down to this waterfall was a little more challenging. Jason of course helped Lucy make her way down (holding her the majority of the time), as well as helping me as he guided my feet in the right spots to make it down in one piece. This was the adventure for today . . . it certainly got my heart pumping a little.

The rewards, yes two, of making my way down to the bottom were amazing . . .

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We of course got to experience another waterfall, just the two of us.

IMG_1757It was a beautiful stream of water off the ledge that produced an incredible sound.

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The second reward was watching my puppy have the time of her life. There was sand near the base of the waterfall that got this puppy all riled up. Sand started spraying everywhere as she began digging. After digging to a certain depth she would take off, butt close to the ground, running before returning to the same spot.

Before too long, this is all we could see.

IMG_1746It was absolutely adorable. The amount of fun she had in this little area made the entire trip worth while.

Since the temperatures are warmer, Jason and I decided to wear our hiking shoes, which are extremely light weight with an incredible grip. We learned last summer that they are also great in water.

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So we walked in the creeks and Lucy followed, yes she followed us right into the water. Last time we took her to this park she wanted nothing to do with the water. It was cold at first, but worth it when spotting views like this.

IMG_1769I was beyond excited that she got her paws wet this time.

As we walked the trails, I remembered the start of our adventures in NE Tennessee last summer. The trails are lined with lush green leaves of every size and shape. It is breathtaking to take this sight in, and today take in the smells of the rain.

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Today was another day that reminded me why we chose this area to move more than a year ago.

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Before we started our hike today, I started the S Health app on my phone to record what we did for the day.

The lowest elevation was 1,117 feet and the highest elevation was 1,755 feet. We walked 3.95 miles at an average speed of .9 miles per hour. Our maximum speed was 5.3 miles per hour.

We spent 2 hours, 26 minutes and 41 seconds in nature today and I loved every single minute of it with the world’s best boyfriend and puppy.

Lucy’s first hike

Yesterday we decided to take Lucy on her first hike at a park not too far from where we live.

Ever since we brought her home at the beginning of April, I have been thinking about places we could take her. Let’s just say I’ve been pretty excited about including this little puppy in our outdoor adventures.

With the warm temperatures and blue skies yesterday, Jason and I both had the itch to be outdoors. So, we got everything we needed and headed to the car with Lucy close at our heels. As soon as we neared the car, Lucy became a little hesitant. This has become a little bit of an obstacle at the moment for Lucy. She’s not a fan of the car yet, which we hope to change because Jason and I like to be on the go . . . We like to explore new places when the time affords us the opportunity.

So, Jason scooped her up and we were on our way. I have found that she enjoys laying down between the two seats on the little center console. With that said, she typically gravitates towards Jason’s lap where she snuggles and lays down.

We went to Laurel Run Park in Church Hill, Tenn. again. We wanted to take Lucy somewhere we had already been, so we knew the trails and how difficult they may be for her. Since she is only three months old, we didn’t want to completely wear her out to where we had to carry her.

As soon as we parked, Lucy was greeted by two youngsters. She of course loved the attention and licked happily as the little boy said puppy over and over again. After the mom came over and got her kids, we started towards the trail.

The last time we hiked this trail everything was starting to bloom. This time the trails were lined with white, yellow and light and dark purple flowers. It was really pretty.

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The butterflies were back!

Last year when we first started making our ways to the different trails we would see butterflies every where, of every color. Although not the best picture, here is one of the one’s we saw on the trail yesterday.

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The vegetation alongside the trails are once again a beautiful hue of greens with the occasional beautiful color of flowers.

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IMG_1659The better part of our hike, I carried the leash as Jason led the way. I found that if someone was ahead of her she was in a hurry to follow. But, of course, I had to hand the leash to Jason a time or two, so I could take a picture of our little peanut walking the trails.

IMG_1622Usually when I take her for a walk outside our place, she stops every few seconds to sniff and find something to eat. That was not the case when we went hiking yesterday, which of course surprised me. I figured with all the smells she would stop every few seconds. But Lucy was happy jogging along keeping up with the both of us.

Since yesterday was such a beautiful day, there were a ton of people at the park. For the majority of the hike, I did not have Lucy on a short leash, but rather allowed her to roam as far as the leash would take her. But, when we saw people approaching us, I would shorten the leash.

It was adorable, as everyone passed by, I heard so many “ahhh, she is so cute.” More times than not, they stopped to give her a little pat as Lucy soaked up all the attention. It’s true, you make a ton of friends when you have a dog, especially a puppy.

IMG_1624Lucy seemed to have a great time. She became a little braver the farther we hiked the trail, often times jumping across puddles in the path and climbing rocks. Jason commented at the end of our hike that she always stayed on the trail.

IMG_1636Until, of course we went off the beaten path.

We walked past the waterfall since there were so many people enjoying the sight and playing in the water at the foot of the falls. When we came back around, there was no one there, so Lucy led us down the rocks.

IMG_1640She stood in the dry area by the falls, but would not get her paws wet. Lucy was not too sure about the water. We will definitely have to get her used to the water.

IMG_1643Lucy really did well on her first hiking adventure. She really surprised me. On the way back to the car, she was trotting along at a faster pace than when we first started. I figured by this point she would be tired, but nope she was on a mission. Instead of missing all the muddy areas, she went right through them, which made me smile . . . she wasn’t afraid anymore.

This little peanut is going to be a great companion on our hikes. I’m so glad she did well. Now instead of leaving her at home, she can accompany us on our adventures.

On the car ride home she did fantastic. We really wore her out. We even stopped at the store and she was too tired to care that Jason got out.

IMG_1666Our adventure yesterday really was special for me. It’s a lot of fun to watch an animal enjoy the outdoors. When we got home, she ate and then took a bath. She instantly fell asleep in my lap when I finished drying her off. She slept for a couple more hours after that in her little bed.

I’m so glad she got all of that exercise!

Pleasantly surprised

I have been waiting for today all week-long, well since Wednesday when we made plans.

Jason and I went for a hike at a new park I found on Facebook, Laurel Run Park, in Church Hill, Tennessee. It was only about a 10-mile drive for us from Kingsport, making it a perfect afternoon getaway in nature.

According to the Hawkins County website, the 440-acre park was the backdrop for the movie “The River,” which was filmed in 1984. This park runs along the Holston River.

When we first drove into the park, we spotted a one-mile paved walking path, baseball and softball field, basketball court, tennis court, playground, amphitheater and picnic areas. This park definitely had a lot to offer.

Laurel Run Park has trails that take you to Bays Mountain in Kingsport, 37.5 miles of trails to be exact. We have been to Bays Mountain a few times. It may be worth the adventure to make the hike from Church Hill to Kingsport one of these days.

With all that said, our adventures of the day begins . . .

The sun was out and the temperatures were nearing 70 degrees, perfection doesn’t come close to explain our afternoon.

As soon as we hit the trails, we were surprised, well to be honest, scared of the noise that caught us off guard. Before we made it to the trails, a sign told us to beware of wild animals . . . Two deer, with a third in the distance, started to run down the hill towards us. As soon as they spotted us, their direction quickly changed, and they went back up the hill again. That got our heart pumping a little bit . . .

IMG_1298Shortly after we starting walking the trail again, we bumped into another hiker who asked us if we saw a bat in the area. Unfortunately we did not, but she told us she stood and watched it for a good 10-minutes as it flew across the water and enjoyed an afternoon snack.

It appeared that the wildlife who calls this park home, was enjoying the warm temperatures as well.

IMG_1280As always, we started to detour off the given path. The sounds of water always draws in Jason and I.

Jason of course found rocks to make his way across, as I stood there taking pictures and listening to the sound of water falling off the rocks.

While I was taking in the scenery, I spotted some of the trees in bloom. Although I still do not know what kind of tree produces this bloom, I was captivated. From this moment on, I could not help but take tons of pictures.

IMG_1293It was interesting to see the buds at different stages as we moved along the trail.

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Like I said, it definitely caught my attention.

The trail led us to an opening where we had to cross the water. Of course as Jason was guiding me from rock to rock, my foot slipped and one foot went in. The water was cold, but not as bad as I thought. Shortly after, Jason too experienced the temperature of the water as his foot slipped in as well.

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We continued on, one foot dry and one foot a little soggy.

As soon as we got back on the trail, it wasn’t before too long that our path changed directions as our feet led us closer to the running water.

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This of course led us to our surprise discovery of the day. As Jason hopped from one rock to another as I sat back and took pictures, he discovered a waterfall. It was a pleasant surprise. I had no idea the paths would lead us to another waterfall.

So as Jason continued to make his way along the river from rock to rock, I walked back to the trail and met him at the foot of the waterfall.

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Again, according to the Hawkins County website, this waterfall’s name is Laurel Falls. Apparently there is a second waterfall, Kiner Creek Falls another 20-minutes down the trail. We will definitely have to go back and find that one.

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This is always my favorite part about our adventures, running into these beautiful waterfalls. I almost always find a rock that I can sit on and listen. No two waterfalls we have seen are alike. The water is either rushing down the rock ledge producing an incredibly forceful sound, while others are not as loud. Today, this waterfall had a magnificent sound. So, as I sat here allowing my thoughts to go clear, Jason, the boy he still is, creates his own adventure. He climbed and made his way to the right of the waterfall to gain another perspective.

IMG_1317When he decided to check out the left side of the waterfall, I decided to join the fun. It was fun to climb in between the rock formations to make our way behind the waterfall. Well, not completely behind, but far enough behind where we could see through the waterfall. My legs at this point, which are rather white because they have been covered all winter long, had a nice spray of cold water from the waterfall.

After a little while we climbed back up to the trail before exiting again to view the top of the waterfall. This part always makes me smile. I love seeing how the water cascades from the rocks above.

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We walked a little further and spotted another smaller waterfall before we decided to turn around and head back towards the car.

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As we made our way back to the car, we walked past a few other hikers. We always seem to time our hikes just right . . . it seems like Jason and I always have an opportunity to enjoy the waterfall, just the two of us, for a little while before we are joined by others.

As we were walking along the parking lot, my view shifted towards the playground area. My direction changed as I spotted brightly colored daffodils. A smile crept across my face as I took my camera out of its case. Spring is definitely upon us.

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This afternoon was absolutely perfect. I love exploring the outdoors with Jason.

The outdoors once again cleared my head.

IMG_1347I’m so glad I completed all of my articles before today, so I could fully enjoy the day knowing I had absolutely no work to go home to.

Until our next adventure . . .

Phenomenal hike: Jones Falls and Elk Falls

I have experienced cabin fever this winter for the first time in my adult life. With temperatures sometimes as low as the single digits, Jason and I spent a lot of time indoors. This winter was definitely a change from what I’m used to as A Florida girl.

The last true hike we took was in September. That seems like forever ago, especially when we were used to going out at least once a week.

With Jason having the day off and the temperatures rising to the high 50’s, we laced up our shoes, put on a few layers and packed a few more and went for a drive. That drive took us to North Carolina.

IMG_1154As soon as Jason parked the car, I got out and walked towards the water. The sky was blue with a chill in the air. The sound of rushing water instantly grabbed a hold of me and reminded me why we decided to move to NE Tennessee. It had definitely been too long since we heard that sound.

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This is the beginning of Elk Falls in North Carolina. The parking lot sits alongside the water, which eventually turns into Elk Falls.

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IMG_1158Instead of heading straight towards Elk Falls, we decided to hit the trails and hike towards Jones Falls.

In order to get to Jones Falls, we had to walk  behind a gate in the parking lot area. This trail opens rather wide for a while and at times becomes hilly.

IMG_1159Once we started walking along the path, I remembered why I loved the hike to Jones Falls so much.

About a half a mile later, the trail opened to a river. We continued walking along the river on a narrow trail that was quite muddy in some places today.

The views, the sounds, what more could you ask for.

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IMG_1217We eventually caught up with the Appalachian Trail, which is marked by white blazes on the tree.

IMG_1172I love this hike because you start hiking in North Carolina and end up in Tennessee. We crossed the state line by foot.

IMG_1207When we saw the blue blazes, we knew we had to take that trail to get to Jones Falls.

I loved walking the trail. There was so much green everywhere, something we haven’t been used to since winter came. We even saw trees starting to blossom, which I have to admit made me smile.

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IMG_1222We started to hear Jones Falls and eventually saw it from a distance. It looked like there was ice, but we weren’t sure until we got closer to it . . .

I think both of our jaws dropped as Jones Falls came into sight. Wow, also left our lips. We couldn’t believe all the ice and snow  . . . a wish definitely came true today. Jason and I have been wanting to hike to a waterfall since winter hit, but don’t really have the proper winter gear. We wanted to experience the frozen waterfalls in person . . .

IMG_1176So when we saw this it was a nice surprise.

IMG_1180The temperature dropped quite a bit as we came closer to Jones Falls. It was nice at first because we were both warm from the hike to the waterfall.

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IMG_1188As I was mesmerized by the view, listening to the incredible sound, Jason found a trail that went up towards the top of the waterfall. Yep, I of course went up to join him. Well, he came back down to help guide me. It was steep in some places and slippery. Jason of course helped me.

The site was even better than below. The temperatures were even colder than below. With that said, it was worth the hike up.

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There was a break in some of the ice and you could see the water running below.

IMG_1205After our bodies had enough of the cold, we headed back down the trail to grab our backpack and headed back. Jason packed us some sandwiches, which we stopped and ate where the sun was shinning, so we could soak up the warmth.

Before we starting walking again, I gave Jason a kiss. I was outdoors with the man I love. I was beyond happy . . .

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Of course on our way back we headed off the trail and found a new place to play.

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Some things just don’t change, I found a rock and sat down and took in the sound. Jason, on the other hand, found some rocks that he could skip in the water.

Now back in North Carolina we headed towards Elk Falls. As you hike down the path, there is a place where you can walk out on the rocks and view the waterfall from the top. This is always a great place to see a waterfall. The rushing water is powerful at this view.

Jason walked out closer to the edge and sat down for a while right over the waterfall.

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By the time we made it to Elk Falls it was getting colder, so we didn’t stay for long. Last time we stopped here there were a ton of people swimming in the water and sun bathing on the rocks. This time we had the view all to ourselves.

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My mind instantly went to a different place as I sat and watched the water hitting the pool of water below.

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IMG_1253Today was absolutely perfect. A perfect day with Jason. Really, I could not ask for anything more. We were both in our element once again.

IMG_1237My mind is completely clear and the stress was left along the trail.

Fresh air, the sounds of nature and your best friend by your side does wonders. It felt good to smile all day long. It felt good to be outdoors for a few hours today.

Red Fork Falls

Our last hike for the day led us to Red Fork Falls in Unicoi County, Tennessee. This was by far the best hike of the day, a little more adventurous and one that got your heart pumping a little more.

We got off at exit 32 on 1-26, and headed towards Unicoi, Tennessee. The trailhead for the waterfall was located off of Red Fork Road and was marked with a large red circle on a tree.

According to the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce website, the waterfall, which is 80 feet high, is located in the Limestone Cove Community.

IMG_0344There was quite a bit of climbing involved in this hike, either on rocks or on tree roots located on the path. I’m starting to become good at seeing the hand and foot holes when climbing up and down rocks.

We crossed two creek beds before we found ourselves along the top of the waterfall. This is when we found many places that gave us plenty of opportunities to get a view of the cascading water.

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Thank goodness for digital camera’s, everything was worthy of a photograph at this waterfall.

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And the hike continued, so we could get a better view.

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IMG_0356Until we saw the water plummet over the edge.

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It became prettier the more we hiked down the trail.

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IMG_0361It always amazes me to see where all the water flows, especially when it cascades down such beautiful rock formations.

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A beautiful waterfall . . .

IMG_0365The best part about this waterfall is the water kept going, which made us want to follow the trail.

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IMG_0373We climbed out on the rock ledge at many points, so we could get the full impact of this beautiful waterfall.

IMG_0374Although it was all stunning, I have to say the pictures below are some of my favorites of the day.

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IMG_0378We wanted to head further down the trail to see more of the water that we were hearing, but the trails were not clearly marked and it was getting late. We will just have to visit this waterfall again.

On our hike back up the trail, we stopped for yet another view of the bottom of the waterfall.

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IMG_0381Before heading back out the trail, we ran into a local who said he has visited the falls since he was 4 years old. He said the waterfall was the driest he has ever seen it, which only makes me want to go back and see it again.

The Cherokee National Forest, an incredible place to be!

Another great day out in nature with Jason. We have had so many incredible adventures as we seek out more waterfalls to add to our list of ones we have seen.