Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

This morning Jason stopped by the house with a van full of apples and avocados that he had to deliver to Asheville. He stopped by the house on his way out to ask if I wanted to go along for the drive. At first I said no thank you, which quickly changed when he said the mountain tops might have snow.

This I could not turn down, especially since all we’ve seen is flurries and nothing that has really stuck to the ground.

So, I quickly threw on a few layers, grabbed my camera and we were off to Asheville. As we drove I-26 the scenery really did not change from where we just came from, Kingsport. Some of the roofs had a light layer of white, but nothing much.

Well that was until the elevation increased close to the North Carolina border. Our view instantly changed to a winter wonderland that was absolutely breathtaking.

Jason pulled off the road at a scenic overlook spot so I could take pictures. I only had five minutes to snap as many pictures as I could, so we could make it to his delivery spot.

As soon as I stepped out of the van I went from toasty to freezing. I guess I did not put on enough layers for this! But, with a camera in my hand my thoughts went from cold to I have to take a picture of this, and this, and this.

I loved hearing the crunch of the snow under my feet and seeing the branches holding onto a layer of snow.

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On our way back from Asheville there was another scenic overlook that Jason stopped at, so I of course could take more pictures. This time, the temperatures felt as if they dipped 10+ degrees. So it was a quick click, click before jumping back into the heated van.

I downloaded a new photograph program, Corel PaintShop Pro. I had fun editing some of the pictures.

IMG_2863 Look at the difference between these two photographs. I love the enhancement!

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IMG_2867 editI’m so glad Jason stopped by and picked me up. The views were incredible once we hit the higher elevations.

Spontaneity

One of the many things that attracts me to Jason is his spontaneity.

The cherry blossom trees are starting to bloom around our house.

The cherry trees are starting to bloom around our house.

Monday afternoon while Jason was at work, I sent him a text telling him he had to get me out of the house on Tuesday, his day off. That’s one of the many beauties about being a freelance writer, I can take time off whenever I choose, as long as I hit my deadlines on time. With this said, it’s going to be hard to ever go back to a job where I have to clock in and out.

So, yesterday after waking up and doing a phone interview, setting up an in person interview for Thursday, the day was ours.

Yesterday was beyond perfect. We woke laughing, which carried on throughout the day. There was a lot of friendly banter going on back and forth as the morning continued. It was contagious, the laughter just kept going, everything was funny, everything made us both smile. I absolutely love days like that, which are quite often in our house.

Jason started searching the internet for things to do. He found a waterfall to visit along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we got dressed, hopped in the car and were on our way. It wasn’t until we reached North Carolina that Jason revealed all of our plans for the day. After stopping at the waterfall, we were going to take the Blue Ridge Parkway into Asheville, a city that I have been wanting to see in North Carolina.

IMG_1389As we were driving, my mind continued to wander. I love this journey we started now almost five years ago. Yesterday marked one month until we arrived in Tennessee. It’s really hard to fathom that as of May 1 it has been a year since we moved to Tennessee from Southwest Florida. I remember that last month, it was insane. Jason was working nonstop, I was working nonstop, all while fitting in as much time with friends and family before we left. I remember being in awe . . . Jason’s determination to put our plan into motion completely blew me away. I remember missing him like crazy because of his insane hours, his go to work super early, come home really late, kind of hours. But now looking back on all of that, I’m so glad he did what he did to make this dream a reality, that dream of experiencing another state.

Yes, this last year has been hard as we tried to establish ourselves in a new location. Controlling our finances has often times been stressful, but Jason has managed to keep me calm, constantly reminding me of all the positive. I have learned a great deal about myself, about Jason and about us as a couple as this past year has gone by. I tell Jason often thank you for showing me another world, thank you for taking me to so many beautiful places, so many incredible sites I will cherish for a lifetime.

Is it possible to fall in love with someone a little more every day? Is it possible to love your life this much?

So, as we drove through Tennessee into the mountains of North Carolina I was beyond happy as these memories flooded my mind. One of the things I enjoy about our trips is we allow each other to get lost in our thoughts. Often times we hold conversations, but other times we both enjoy each others company in silence with the occasional “hey look at that.”

We eventually made it to the Blue Ridge Parkway and it was absolutely breathtaking. Jason mentioned that it was hard-driving the road, while enjoying all the scenery. The mountain ridges were plenty and the sky was a beautiful blue. Unfortunately our travels on this road came to abrupt stop, only a few miles before we reached the waterfall. We learned that a wind storm came through the area a few ways before closing part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as a sinkhole that is still in the process of being fixed from a few months before. This of course ended our adventure on the parkway.

We were both bummed, but our journey continued, Jason took me to Asheville. This is where the spontaneity comes in, we drove to Asheville, took a ride downtown, had lunch, well almost dinner, and then drove back home to Kingsport.

It was so out of the blue, so unexpected, and I loved every minute of it!

Our trip to Asheville turned into planning for another day trip, so we could experience more of the sites and take in the area a little more.

Throughout the drive to North Carolina and back we saw nature at work. There were so many beautiful trees showing signs of spring along the journey. The farther we drove into North Carolina the deeper the pink flowers became on the trees. I could only sit there in awe as a smile spread across my face as I took in its beauty.

I’ve experienced every season now and I have to admit, I don’t know if I could live in a state again that didn’t show the seasons. Although I grew up in Illinois, I don’t remember the seasons as vividly as I do now since I was a young girl. I loved growing up in Florida. I loved having the beaches only minutes away and experiencing the nice warm weather almost year round. Now as an adult I have come to appreciate the changing of the seasons. I am much more in-tuned to nature and love experiencing how it changes from the summer, to fall, to winter and then to the spring. This is how I experienced my first seasons.

Here are a few more pictures of the beauty right outside our front door.

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Linville Falls

Jason and I drove to North Carolina today to check out Linville Falls, which was located off Blue Ridge Parkway.

Once we arrived there was a map outside the welcome center that showed the different trails you could follow to check out the waterfall.

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This was the first view as we walked away from the Welcome Center.

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We first followed the gravel pathway to Gorge View that lead to the lookout  at the top of the waterfall. This hike was very easy and traveled by many others of all ages.

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One of the many beautiful sites along the trail.

Linville Falls …

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It was very pretty to look down at the waterfall, along with the creek. This area of North Carolina is absolutely stunning with all the rock formations.

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After taking this all in we traveled to Chimney View. Again not a bad hike.

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This viewpoint showed us the flow of water that streamed down to the waterfall. It was neat to see it from this vantage point.

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Then the adventures began. We took Plunge Basin, which was the hardest hike of them all and less traveled by others.

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It started off not to hard and then the farther we went down the more strenuous it became. With that said, it still was not too bad. The closer we hiked towards the water, the more tree roots and rocks became a part of the trail.

Like always, the end result was completely worth the workout.

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There were a few places to climb to get different views of the waterfall. The closer you get to the waterfall the better the sound and the cooler the air became.

It was quite impressive too see what kind of waves the waterfall was producing, that sound was incredible to hear. It brought me back to the beaches of Florida as the waves made it to the shore.

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It was again a perfect day, the weather wasn’t too hot and the skies remained blue while we were there.

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Linville Falls was a beautiful waterfall … the rocks were also incredible!

This is a cave located near the waterfall.

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Another view looking sideways to the opening of the cave.

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Another fantastic day out in nature with Jason.

The arrival

After a long and stressful journey on the road Tuesday, April 30 … Wednesday,May 1 was almost perfect.

My stress level was completely depleted once we hit the road early that morning all because one my favorite songs made it’s way through the shuffle list on my iPod. What a great way to kick off a morning, a song that means the world to me, a song that reminds me why I love and care for Jason so much.

As the miles passed us by, the thinking began as the iPod continued to go through my playlist. It’s amazing what consumes your thoughts when you’re alone. Tears, happy tears, often filled my eyes as I thought about the journey Jason and I have had, as well as the steps we took to get to where we are now. Anything is possible when you put your mind, heart and soul into something you want to happen.

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We made the choice two years ago, took the chance almost a week ago and so far we are enjoying every moment of the change we put into action.

Although it’s definitely good therapy to be alone, I couldn’t wait for the bathroom breaks or scenery stops, so conversations could be had with others instead of myself and Leo, our cat.

Every stop we lingered a little longer due to all of us – Jason, myself and our friend Lisa – craving a little human interaction.

The rest stop in North Carolina was one of my favorite stops. Since it was so pretty, it led us for a little walk around the grounds to stretch our legs.

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The scenery from this point on was breathtaking, Interstate 26 provide such a beautiful view.

The first time we made it up the first hill, I called Jason to share my excitement … no more flat lands for us.

Unfortunately as our trip went on poor Leo became upset again and went to the bathroom all over the floorboard of the car, which was right next to the litter box. By this point I had enough of driving and wanted out of the car just as much as he.

As we entered Tennessee and continued driving, signs of cities we have grown to know by looking at the map appeared, which only increased the excitement of what was happening.

I remember seeing the sign for Kingsport and saying out load “Yeah” with a huge smile, almost laughing, which consumed the entire car. At that moment I wish Jason and I were in the same car, so he could feel and see how much excitement was felt at that very moment.

When we finally made it to our apartment I got out of the car and went straight to Jason and threw my arms around his neck.

“We made it,” was all I could say, all I could think. Jason’s incredibly long hours, my long days, our tight budget and determination to make it happen came true that day.

I went inside the office, met the sweet lady who had helped us secure a place, and got the keys for our apartment to finally get the cats out of the car. I instantly fell in love with the cute apartment, our stepping stone to bigger and better things.

What a rush, I made the drive from Florida to Tennessee …the longest drive by myself with a cat in the car.

Since arriving we have gone exploring, which included two additional states. In less than a week’s time we drove through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky, wow!

One of the adventures we took was one Jason has been excited about for quite some time, two years to be precise.

Highway 421, “The Snake,” has 469 curves, three mountains and two valleys. Jason enjoyed every moment of that drive, while I became green during a few of the incredibly steep curves up and down the mountain.

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I have to say even though I was a little car sick, it was a rush to be so high up. It felt like you could reach up and touch the clouds. Definitely an experience I will always remember.

We also drove to Kentucky, a 90-minute drive, which took us through Virginia, to visit his cousin, which left us saying wow as we drove up the highway.

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Everything is so green, lush and beautiful looking in Virginia.

I am very glad I climbed on board and decided to make this move. I’m looking forward to see what else unfolds as we start to make a living in this beautiful place.