I’m in love

For a week now, I have been staring out my office window wishing I was hiking the trails at Bays Mountain instead of being stuck at my desk working. The  stunning fall colors were constantly catching my attention with the curtains drawn causing me to drift away from the work before me.

The outdoors were calling me . . . .

Instead of wishing I was there, today I decided to make it happen. It was a perfect day to step away from the four walls of my office and breathe in some of that fresh air.

I’m so glad I did.

With Jason working nonstop, Lucy and I went for a hike, just the two of us.

A morning that started off in the 30s warmed up to be an absolutely gorgeous day with the temperatures climbing into the 60s. There was not a cloud in the sky.

The layers I dressed in before leaving the house, slowly were removed as Lucy and I made our way around the Lakeside Trail. We ended up hiking 3.43 miles with an elevation change from 1,673 feet to 2,053 feet.

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I love this trail during the fall months. The trees are stunning, especially when the water is calm and you can see the reflection of the beautiful fall colors.

IMG_2489Today there was a slight breeze. Well to be honest, there was a good wind at times. As the wind picked up, it began raining leaves, which spooked Lucy just a little.

IMG_2560My thoughts constantly wandered as Lucy led the way around the lake. For starters, I was proud of myself for actually going out for a hike. Jason received a free pass to Bays Mountain a couple of weeks ago that he gave to me. I was holding onto the pass because I wanted to go for a hike with him. But, with him working two jobs he’s always tired. So, today was the day, he wanted to rest, and I wanted to play.

It was really an invigorating feeling to go, just Lucy and I.

As those thoughts came and went, I began to think about yesterday.

Friday I drove to Jonesborough to interview the executive director of the International Storytelling Center for an article I was writing for the Herald & Tribune. An interview that left me smiling. That interview inspired me even more to write a book, to become a true published author. The interview also may have possibly opened another door for me. Kiran asked me to send him my resume and some writing clips. I’m very excited to see where it all takes me.

That thought sent positive energy circulating through my body at a rapid speed as I looked at Lucy in front of me clearly enjoying our adventure outdoors.

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Life with a dog is incredible. Life with Lucy is completely fulfilling. This little 9 month old puppy is my little best friend, my exercising partner and often times the one who makes me smile.

As my mind cleared, the scenery became even more vibrant, more attracting, more enticing. I could not get enough of all the vibrant hues that surrounded the trail.

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IMG_2550Honestly, how could you not be on a natural high when taking in this kind of beauty?

The trail was stunning and more times than not covered in leaves creating a crunch as we made our way along.

IMG_2522Lucy was such a good sport today. When you get her going on the trails, she has one thing on her mind, “must keep going.” Lucy is really good about staying on the trail and walking at a good speed. But, with a camera in hand, she was asked to “stop” on more than one occasion.

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I took almost 100 pictures today.

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Instead of trying to take pictures with the leash still on . . . she had some freedom at one spot along the trail. So, what did she do, stop and pose 🙂

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My little beauty.

After we finished the trail, we headed over to the manmade waterfall.

IMG_2563And then continued to walk down the trail where we sat and listened to the water.

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IMG_2582It was an absolutely perfect couple of hours.

I’m in love with the fall colors. The colors are so much more vibrant this year than last year, my first year of experiencing the seasons as an adult.

I keep juggling which season I like more . . . the fall or the spring. Right now the fall is definitely my favorite season.

A beautiful morning hike

IMG_2368In an effort to get out of the house after a rather stressful day of work yesterday, Jason and I took Lucy to Bays Mountain for a morning hike. I guess I needed a change of scenery from our usual morning run at the Kingsport Greenbelt. With that said, hiking today was by far much more of a workout than Lucy and I running 2+ miles.

Who needs a gym when you live in NE Tennessee? My legs are still kind of sore from our hike this morning.

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We hiked 3.74 miles on a trail that took us from an elevation of 1,667 feet to 2,206 feet. When we hit that incline, a rather long incline on Cherry Knobs, my calves were burning something fierce.

We started our hike alongside the Kingsport Reservoir on the Lake Side Trail, which took us to Cherry Knobs Trail after crossing a bridge. We usually just follow the Lake Side Trail around the reservoir, but decided to try another route today.

Wow, that route sure got our heart rate up. This trail eventually took us to Lake Road which led us back to the Lake Side Trail.

The scenery was breathtaking along the trail. The best part was we were the only one’s hiking this trail today, so Lucy had the freedom of being off her leash for a good portion of the hike.

IMG_2378I found it interesting that once Jason and I began hiking up the trail the change of leaves was not as frequent. I only spotted a few red and orange leaves.

Most of the pictures of the leaves changing were taken along the reservoir.

IMG_2369As we began walking alongside the water, I began to remember just how pretty Bays Mountain is in the fall. After that thought filled my head, it was exciting to think that now we have something to compare everything to, since we have lived through all the seasons of NE Tennessee at least once.

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Last year we visited Bays Mountain on Nov. 1 and almost all of the leaves had changed.

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I’m so glad we are getting out into nature earlier this year to see the transition take place.

IMG_2373Just when I think one color of leaves is beautiful, I spot another hue that makes me stop in my tracks.

IMG_2383The best part is seeing the change of color against the beautiful sea of green that I absolutely love about this area.

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As always, I’m so glad we took just shy of two hours out of our day to get the sense of balance that nature seems to provide. My head is clear and I am ready to tackle the day, which includes a rather long school board meeting tonight that I have to cover.

There were some flowers along the trail too.

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This picture below is my favorite of today.

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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.

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.

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.

Exercise buddy

Instead of heading to the gym and putting Lucy in her crate, I decided to take her and I out for some exercise.

Although I absolutely love going to the gym, exercising while breathing in that fresh air beats the stale smell of a gym any day.

We headed down to the Kingsport Greenbelt. The path was popular today. There were many walkers, runners and bicyclist also taking advantage of the beautiful sunny, 80 degree weather.

As soon as we parked, Lucy started to cry with excitment. Of course that made me smile, she was just as happy as me to be outdoors.

As we got moving, I decided to turn on an app on my phone, my new GalaxyS5. It’s called S Health. It provides the options of tracking your walking, running, cycling and hiking.

I wanted to see just how far our trip was today. (5,748 steps, 2.93 miles and 194 calories) I was pretty excited to see our numbers when we were finished.

Instead of heading left down the path, I decided to take this pup in the other direction.

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I love the Greenbelt. Although usually busy by other active individuals, it’s a quite path.

Occassional chains clicking on a bicylce while an individual yells “to your left,” feet hitting the pavement as they walk and run by, birds chirping up above in the lush green trees, leaves swaying as they catch in the wind and ducks quaking in the water that calmly rushes over rocks, are the typcial sounds that fill the space.

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How could you not like traveling this path?

Today on the other hand we were greeted by this . . . not a huge fan.

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I spotted the snake before Lucy and squealed, which then got her attention. It caught me off guard. I’m so glad no one was around at that moment.

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Lucy, almost 5 months old, is an amazing exercise buddy, especially on the way back to the car. She had me moving at a brisk pace while I was walking and even faster when we ran.

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Yep, I’ll say it again. I’m so glad we adopted Lucy. She is such a great companion.