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.

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 . . .

 

Laurel Falls, an anniversary hike

Jason and I went back to Laurel Falls today, which is located in the Cherokee National Forest (Pond Mountain Wilderness) in Hampton, Tennessee. It was truly a perfect day, a great way to celebrate us being together for four years.

Although the rain came down as we started our hike, we kept going. I’m so glad we did, the rain stopped and our adventure continued.

After hiking about a mile down the trail, it turns into rocks, well stairs almost, that you have to hike down to get to the waterfall.

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The hike up is always a little more rigiourous than the one heading down to the falls.

This beautiful waterfall is 40 feet high and 50 feet wide. The first time we hiked to Laurel Falls it was after a good rain and the water was pouring down the rocks. This time it was completely different.

Laurel Falls, Sept. 9

Laurel Falls, Sept. 9, 2013

Laurel Falls,  July 22, 2013

Laurel Falls, July 22, 2013

The sound of the waterfall was completely different today, but with that said, it was still incredible to see again.

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IMG_0222Since there was not as much water at the bottom of the waterfall today, we made our way across to the other side to see yet another perspective of the waterfall.

IMG_0226We then made our way out into the middle and stood directly in front of it. The water was cold, but it felt great.It’s always a rush to get directly in front of a waterfall. This is where you feel and hear the power of it all. There is no other sound quite like it, no other sound that gives you that sense of calmness.

Now this is where the fun began. The last time we were here in July, a couple of guys who were camping, showed Jason a trail that went directly up. That trail starts alongside the waterfall. Well today was the day, today I climbed up this trail on all four’s at a few points until Jason and I reached the part that became a little more even alongside the waterfall.

IMG_0220This is looking down the trail from top, which really doesn’t give it justice . . .

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Jason and walked out onto some of the rocks at the top of the waterfall and watched where it all accumulated before falling down the front of the rocks. This was a rush, an absolute rush.

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The picture above and below, was my favorite view of the day. It was stunning to see how the water hollowed out part of the rock. Jason and I both agree, that is definitely something you want to see in person.

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I still cannot get over the hike we did to get there. I have to admit my heart started pumping as the trail became narrow and I looked over the ledge and saw how far up we were. That’s where Jason came in, he sensed when I needed a little encouragement, he became my strength and I hiked on and am so glad I did.

Like always, we kept our adventure going and continued to follow the trail. Jason heard from a few people that there was another waterfall and we were determined to find the second one.

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Another waterfall that we witnessed alone . . . another breathtaking view . . .

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IMG_0203It was a rather wide waterfall . . . and it was kind of tough to get it all in one photograph.

Well, we kept going after this and found a few campsites along the trail that had a great view of the creek. As we sat on a few rocks to take a break, I found some beautiful flowers along the edge of the water.

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It was a great day, one that pushed me to my limits once again, making me overcome my fears. My confidence is soaring, especially when I saw the continuous smile on Jason’s face. One of the best parts of the hike was an embrace Jason gave me after completing one section of our hike, as well as his remarks. Yep, I have a great man in my life, one who I fall in love with more a little every day.

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How can you not have a good day when all of this is your view? When all you breathe is the fresh air after an afternoon shower?

A perfect day, a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary. A day I will remember for years to come.

Directions from 1-26 to the trailhead:

  • Take exit 24 to Elizabethton on Scenic US 321                          8.4 miles
  • Turn right at 19E Jcts 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.

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.