Fall is upon us

IMG_2317Wednesday was a perfect day. Jason had the day off and I was pretty much caught up with all of my writing, so we headed to Steele Creek Park for an afternoon outdoors.

Steele Creek Park is located at 4 Little Lane in Bristol, Tennessee. According to its website the park has more than 2,200 acres, with more than 24 miles of trails, and opened to the public in 1964. The park has a 52 acre lake, which on Wednesday was filld with a ton of ducks, geese, turtles and fish.

More information can be found at: http://www.bristoltn.org/166/Steele-Creek-Park

Although Lucy and I have been heading to the Kingsport Greenbelt daily for our morning runs, Jason and I haven’t had our time outdoors together in a while. So when he suggested we head to the park, I was game.

The only downfall, was my allergies were a little extreme that day . . . It wasn’t too hot until we were more than half way through the hike.

Jason and I have walked a good portion of the path around the lake at Steele Creek Park, but never the entire trail. Since we weren’t pressed for time, we decided to do some exploring and take the long way around the lake.

We were both surprised with what we found. The smooth, paved trail had changed.

IMG_2321As soon as we started walking the path, Jason spotted a sea of red across the lake. I instantly smiled, fall is upon us.

I remember last year Jason and I were so busy that we really did not have a chance to get out and experience the beginning of the changing of seasons. I was shocked to see, Aug. 27, the leaves were changing. It just seems a little early to me, especially compared to last year.

IMG_2326It was really pretty to see patches of the trees scattered with red leaves against a contrast of green. Some of the leaves still had shades of light green mixed in with red.

IMG_2327I love watching nature at work. It has been so much fun experiencing the change in seasons again.

IMG_2331As I was snapping picture after picture, Jason and Lucy kept walking the path until they found a bench to sit and wait until I was finished. I know I can get out of hand with stopping every few minutes because I want to capture that piece of beauty that caught my eye. Although the image was engraved in my memory, I want to have that image captured with my camera as well.

What better way to re-live a certain moment than by having a picture jog that memory?

IMG_2336So what did I do . . .  I stopped and took quite a few of pictures of Lucy and Jason sitting on the bench after I was done taking pictures of leaves.

IMG_2338This manmade waterfall is usually where we stop and start heading back to the car. But, if you keep following the trail and head towards the bridge it will take you to another trail that becomes a little more adventurous. Hence, why Jason, Lucy and I were the only ones on this trail.

IMG_2344Our walk turned into a hike. A hike that had changes in elevation along a narrow path. (According to an app on my phone, the elevation went from 1,492 feet to 2,065 feet, before it stopped recording our walk/hike.) For a good portion of the hike, Lucy led the way until Jason made his way to the front. At one point I took Lucy off the leash and let her trail Jason’s heals as he hiked.

IMG_2347Along this path we spotted more leaves changing, but this time shades of oranges made its presence instead of reds.

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IMG_2343We even spotted a few deer, which I wasn’t able to capture with my camera. It took me a while to find their white tails and by the time I gave Jason the camera they were already heading towards the ridge line.

We eventually made our way to the golf course and a bridge that took us to the opposite side of the lake.

IMG_2352We walked a good 5+ miles that day. It was definitely a walk that worked up a sweat.

IMG_2359Jason and I have been talking a lot about our move to Kingsport last May lately. I’m so glad we decided to make that move. Yes, things haven’t always been easy, but we found a love that is undeniable. That love . . . nature.

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 . . .

Another hike, Bays Mountain

Jason gave me a great surprise today, a phone call telling me he was on his way home … no working a double today!

An early day for him meant another adventure for us. We decided to go back to Bays Mountain and find another trail to hike. 

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The start of our hike looked down over a dam along the Lakeside Trail, which led us 2.3 miles around the lake.

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This beautiful park is 3,550 acres and houses the old city of Kingsport reservoir, which now serves as a 44-acre lake. The reservoir was built in 1917 and served the city water until 1944.

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The elevation around the Kingsport Reservoir is 1,835 feet.

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As we were walking, I told Jason I love looking out on the water and seeing trees and mountains in the distance. Everything is so green right now. I’m used to seeing an endless body of water coming from SW Florida.

The little yellow flowers in the water caught my attention …

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Although the trail led you both up and down around the lake, it wasn’t as strenuous as the other hikes we have done.

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I love the trails …

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Especially when they take you over little manmade boardwalks across the water. Sometimes they look a little too scary to cross …The best part of this particular path was Jason spotted a dear in the water, which I was unfortunately able to capture.

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There were a lot of trees that had fallen over on this trail, or near the trail leaving unique stumps on the path.

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We eventually made it back to our favorite spot where we sat for a little while taking it all in – the beauty, sounds and smells.

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I look forward to these little adventures, especially today because this week starts my full-time job. Tomorrow kicks off training and Tuesday is my first full day as the new police beat reporter for the Bristol Herald Courier. That is both exciting and nerve racking!  Jason and I have come a long way since we arrived in Kingsport on May 1.

I never knew how much of a nature person I was until Jason started taking me outside on hikes in Florida. No matter how stressed I am, or how worried I am about something it all disappears by the time the hike is done.

I’m grateful Jason and I moved to Tennessee. The best part is we really have not even begun to explore what is around us.

First adventure

After spending two days on the road traveling to our new home in Kingsport, TN, we decided to get lost in nature for a few hours. We found Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport, right by our new apartment.

Once we parked, the first animal we encountered was a deer, which kept walking closer and closer.

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It was such an incredible sight to see.

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A Florida girl of many years, I was mesmerized by its beauty and its surroundings.

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I actually stopped and took video of the deer in its natural surrounding.

From there we entered the woods where the real adventures began and the fears were conquered.

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After we sat on a rock, we began to hear water, which of course raised our curiosity … we wanted to find the waterfall.

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Jason really helped me conquer my fear of going straight down. I learned how to keep my footing and make it down this mountain to witness pure beauty. I felt like I was actually hiking today. Now I want to go find another area to explore, the bug was definitely planted.

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The fear was conquered again as I made my way across the rocks in the middle of the cascading water. What an invigorating feeling, what a total rush. Jason helped me make this happen, as he helped me across and showed me where to stand. I love the adventures he takes me on, I love the exploring we do.

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It’s almost therapeutic to sit and listen to the water cascade down the rocks. I found myself smiling many times as I sat and watched the water. All of the stress of the last few days completely vanished.

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My mind, body and soul are refreshed. A day out in the wilderness was exactly what I needed after making such a big move.

The best part of the day was the little moments Jason and I had, those grins, smiles, hugs and silent communication we shared.

Jason had a constant smile on his face, this cute little sexy grin that did not fade today. My constant “what a great day” was shared multiple times with a smile as well.

What a gorgeous area, truly beautiful.

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Today made me excited about what our future holds here in NE Tennessee.

We made it! A goal we have been talking about for two years became a reality. Today confirmed that we made the right move.

I remember driving into Tennessee yesterday and reading the signs of the cities we found on the map the last few years and becoming emotional. The first city I recognized I smiled and became very teary eyed. As soon as the signs appeared for Kingsport my smile grew.

After we arrived at our apartment I told Jason I wish he was in the same car as me to hear and feel the excitement I felt.
Once we put our cars into park I threw my arms around him, we made it!

I am so happy!