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.

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.

Elk Falls & Jones Falls

After taking a week off from exploring, we hit the trails again today and witnessed two beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina and Tennessee.

The first waterfall, Elks Falls was located in North Carolina. That waterfall was rather easy to find, as well as a very popular destination.
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As soon as we got out of the car, we went down by the water, which like always was breathtaking to see.
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North Carolina is a beautiful state. I told Jason it was crazy to see just how different it was from Tennessee.
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We then went back on the trail, which was about a quarter mile to the waterfall. One of the easiest trails we have hiked.
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We first stopped at the top of the waterfall. You get such a different perspective at this height.
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We then got back on the trail and found the bottom of the waterfall. I couldn’t believe the amount of people gathered here swimming and enjoying the sites and sounds.
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Although we have seen quite a few waterfalls since arriving in Tennessee, it always takes my breath away when we get up close and fully experience the atmosphere.
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Since there were so many people at the falls, which seemed to keep multiplying as we stood there, we decided to make our way back to the car.

That is when our adventure continued as we searched for our second waterfall, Jones Falls, in Tennessee.

We walked behind a gate located in the parking area, which remains closed to traffic, and followed a rather wide trail. We stayed on that trail for about a half of a mile before it opened to the creek.

This is where it got tricky.

At first we thought we had to cross the creek to get to the other side, but then found a trail, which really didn’t resemble a trail. It was more of a worn path in the overgrown grass. This eventually took us to a much smaller trail along the creek.
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We followed this until the Appalachian Trail, which was marked with white blazes on the tree. This is when the trail became beautiful.
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As we walked the trail we crossed from the North Carolina to the Tennessee state line. That in itself was pretty cool to think about.
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The trail was harder than the first one of the day. We climbed up and down the path, which got our heart beating.

Once the trail showed two white blazes on the tree, we changed to another trail that had blue blaze markings. This is when we started to hear the water.

I was stunned at what we saw …
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The waterfall was absolutely beautiful. I have to admit it’s my new favorite spot.

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The water was freezing and the temperature of the air instantly gave me goosebumps. These are my favorite places to go because we most often are the only people there.

We found a rock, I sat and Jason layed on my lap as we enjoyed what we found. I told Jason we have a pretty good life. We get to experience these stunning places on a regular basis. These incredible views are in our back yard for the most part.

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This hike was 3.6 miles round trip, which I felt by the end of our adventure. I guess doing cardio … running and the elliptical … five days in a row showed me what I actually worked out once we hit the trails.

On our way back we spotted a ton of butterflies, another highlight of our adventure.
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Two incredible waterfalls in one day … what a great way to spend a Sunday with Jason!

Laurel Falls

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This is where our hike lead us today, Laurel Falls. It was quite the site to see.

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Jason followed a trail straight up to the top of the waterfall, as I found a rock and enjoyed some peace …

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After a very trying week last week this was exactly what I needed. The longer I sat on the rock the clearer my thoughts became and the higher my spirits soared.

It’s important to have a good support system when you move away from everything you know. I have had some ups and downs this past week – but with the support of Jason and my mom I was able to get through it.

It’s hard to believe that the first marked two full months since we arrived in Kingsport.

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I’m fortunate to live in such a beautiful area, an area that provides so many outlets to distress and become centered again.

The walk that led us to the waterfall was quite the hike. We walked straight down rocks, which definitely slowed my pace.

At one point in our hike we walked alongside the water on rocks.

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Then it became a little easier again.

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I love being out in nature …

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Laurel Falls is my new favorite place … my legs are screaming at me because of the workout I gave them today …

Once again I left all my stress and worry at the waterfall and on the trails. I hope it will stay with me for the rest of the week …

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Directions from 1-26 to the trailhead:

  • Take exit 24 to Elizabethton on Scenic US 321                                     8.4 miles
  • Turn Right at 19E Jct Staying on 321                                                      5.2 miles
  • In Hampton turn left on 321                                                                     1.3 miles
  • Look to the right for the parking lot and trailhead area.

Alternate hike:

  • In Hampton turn left on 321                                                                     0.8 miles
  • Take a right on to Dennis Cove Drive                                                      3.3 miles
  • Take the windy road up the mountain to the Appalachian Trail Crossing at the Dennis Cove trailhead where you will find a parking lot on either side of the road.