Embrace them

Embrace them

Today marks the third day since Jason left for Florida.

Emotions can be a tricky thing from time to time. Sometimes they are easy to keep in check, while other times they leave me feeling completely paralyzed.

Yesterday started off great . . . I talked to Jason on the phone shortly after we both woke, and I had plenty of work lined up to keep me busy.

Unfortunately as the afternoon progressed, my emotions rapidly raced out of control. Before I knew it, my chest began to hurt, the tears started streaming and I couldn’t budge. No matter what I tried, who I talked to, I was an emotional mess.

The work that I should have been doing quickly became an after thought as my mind became cloudier as the minutes passed.

Text messages from Jason slowly got me out of my mindset. A phone call before he went to bed helped even more.

So, last night after I finally forced some food into my stomach and watched one of my favorite shows, the tears stopped, the smile slowly surfaced.

Today I woke up exhausted from the emotions that took hold yesterday. The exhaustion was also because I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since Jason left.

It’s so hard being away from your best friend, your one true love. The hardest part of it all is not knowing exactly when he will return.

We are creatures of habit. Creatures of routines.

I’ve come to love receiving a goodbye kiss while hearing have a good day from Jason before leaving for work. I got used to him popping in throughout the day when he had a minute, which was always a highlight of my day. I have fallen in love with having him home at night, while we enjoy dinner together, watching our favorite shows.

Our routine changed drastically over the last few days. Although we hear from each other often, phone calls and text messages, it’s not the same as having that person right there in front of you.

But, our new routine quickly shook off some of the groggyness when I was greeted with my good morning text today. After our phone call, I was determined to keep my emotions in check and have a good day.

Tomorrow it’s going to be another challenge to overcome. Jason starts working at one of the jobs he was offered. Yes, I’m ecstatic because that means we are one step closer for him coming to get me. Unfortunately, this means he’s going to be super busy and our communication won’t be as frequent.

The events of today . . .

I started my work day and got a lot accomplished before taking a break for a trip to the grocery store.

My stomach growled. My stomach was actually telling me to eat. This alone was huge. So I listened.

I made a grocery list of a few new recipes I found on Pinterest and headed out the door. I treated myself to a burrito, which I actually finished. I was stuffed for the first time since before Jason left.

The positive momentum carried on throughout the day.

My good friend of more than 15 years called me today to check up on me, which completely made my day. It was so good to hear a familiar voice. It was so good to hear from a friend that I have known for years.

Shortly after we finished our conversation I received a surprise message from another friend who I have known forever.

It’s those types of out of the blue calls and messages from friends that kept my spirits lifted today.

Sometime after 6 p.m. a ray of sunlight came bursting through my office window. For the majority of the day I could not see Bays Mountain in the distance because of the cloud coverage and the rain.

I didn’t think twice. I saved everything I was working on, and headed into the living room to put on my shoes. I changed Lucy’s collar and we were out the door.

I needed a breath of fresh air. I needed to keep my thoughts clear. I needed to keep my great day going.

We headed to our normal spot on the Greenbelt, only to find a sign stating it was closed. The beauty of the Greenbelt is there are lots of different entry points throughout Kingsport.

We headed to the Boatyard portion of the Greenbelt. I’m so glad I decided to go for a walk with Lucy tonight. The temperatures were in the 60s, and although it was still somewhat cloudy, it was exactly what I needed.

We walked a little more than 2 miles. Well, Lucy ran as I speed walked behind her trying to keep up.

The sunset was absolutely stunning. I took more than 40 pictures tonight . . .

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Today was a beautiful day.

I proved to myself that I am strong enough to make this time a part work. I showed myself that I can keep my emotions in check, while getting important things accomplished. While enjoying this “me” time.

Emotions are a tricky thing. Emotions are a good thing.  I’m slowly learning how to embrace them, while still keeping them in check.

Another layer of snow

Another layer of snow

This morning we woke to an absolutely gorgeous winter wonderland.

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For the first time so far this winter, the tree branches hung onto a pretty thick layer of new fluffy snow. I have to admit that is my favorite part about snow. There truly is nothing prettier than white covering the darker hue of the branches.

IMG_3047 editWithin a few hours the snow began falling from the trees making it look like it was snowing again. IMG_3053 edit IMG_3060 edut

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I’m so glad Lucy and I woke when we did this morning, a little after 7 a.m. to witness the beauty and quietness of a fresh snowfall from the night before.

We probably received another 5 inches of snow. This of course was on top of the layer of snow, yes even ice, that has been on the ground since Monday, Feb. 16. We have had snow on the ground for 11 days!

I’m so proud of Lucy. She is getting the hang of going outside running crazy in the snow and even going to the bathroom IN THE SNOW! This morning when we ventured outside the snow was a little deeper than we both expected. Her legs disappeared as she walked to find a spot to go to the bathroom. My little short leg puppy.

IMG_3064 editShe loves eating the snow, which is comical. Her new favorite game . . . chasing after snowballs.

Here are a few pictures from this morning. She needed to go outside and let off some steam . . . and well I needed to walk away from my desk.

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And then the running began .  . . my favorite picture of today . . . her running mid-stride towards me with her ears flapping . . .

IMG_3069 editPoor thing was covered in snow once she reached me.

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Here are a few more pictures from this morning of the snow that blanketed our backyard and the fence that runs the distance of the yard.

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IMG_3063 editThe snow is absolutely gorgeous to look at . . . but I have to admit I am ready for the spring to come, as well as the sunshine and warmer temperatures.

 

“We gave them a lot of attention”

Chandler mom returns from volunteer opportunity in Peru

Published Nov. 1, 2014 in SanTan Sun News

Photographer Rachel Tabron traveled abroad for the first time to Peru, where she spent time volunteering at an orphanage.

She witnessed extreme poverty and poor living conditions, but the Chandler resident would go back in a heartbeat.

“Overall the experience was very positive,” Tabron says. “Easy travels for the most part, met a lot of nice locals and learned a lot. (It was) very different economically wise of course, but still many beautiful areas and things to see.”

Tabron lent a hand to El Arca Orphanage, outside of Cusco, where she stayed with a host family. The two-week visit was set up through International Volunteer HQ.

“Each day they would tell us about the area and cook us Peruvian food,” she explains about the three meals a day. “I think being around them we got to see more than the average tourist.”

The orphanage housed 45 children that ranged from 2 to 17 years old. She spent her time serving lunch to the kids, hanging laundry that was handwashed in buckets and helping with homework.

photograph taken and provided by Rachel Tabron

photograph taken and provided by Rachel Tabron

“We gave them a lot of attention,” Tabron explains.

She says they spent about five hours a day at the orphanage. Although there was a language barrier, her friend Viviane Gomes de Souza spoke Spanish and helped translate.

Besides helping with everyday activities, Tabron shot photos for the orphanage’s website, http://www.elarcafam. org, which is used to attract sponsors. She says the kids “had a blast” posing for photos.

Tabron took headshots of all the children, as well as action shots of them playing, and detailed photographs of the orphanage, the building, cooks prepping food and the clothes being washed.

“I documented it pretty well,” she says.

The orphanage was basic with a few rooms for the kids, she explains.

“They had triple bunk beds and divided the rooms up for boys and girls and one little kitchen area and basically a little shack with a shower in it,” she says. “For the most part it was so organized and the kids were well taken care of.”

Tabron says it felt like one big family at the orphanage, founded by Americans Alan and Laura Lenz. Tabron says she and her group raised $2,500 for shopping money for the orphanage.

“We were able to get them a lot of groceries, supplies for the orphanage and a large stove,” she says, which was all on their shopping wish list.

Only one burner on the previous stove worked.

While Tabron was in Peru, she had the opportunity to Skype with her three small children.

“They learned a lot from it and why I went,” she says.

Tabron also spent time showing the Peruvian orphans photos of her children.

She says it was also apparent how lucky she is as an American. Peru’s pollution, noise and economic standing stuck out during her time in the country.

“They were really poor down there,” she says.

For those interested in seeing more photographs, visit Tabron’s website at http://www.arayaphotography.com/peru.

 

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.

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.

Our favorite adventure: Devil’s Bath Tub

Yesterday my day did not start on the right foot. As soon as I woke up, it seemed like it was one thing after another going completely wrong. I’m not a fan of these types of days . . .

After I returned home from Jonesborough and made a couple phone calls to finish my last two articles for the Herald & Tribune, my day began looking up.

This of course happened because Jason had the day off and he was eager to get out in the woods and go hiking.

So after my work for the day was complete, which was much earlier than expected, we packed our hiking bag, put Lucy’s hiking collar on and headed to Virginia for an afternoon of fun.

I always enjoy driving through Virginia, it is such a beautiful state.

We eventually made our way to High Knob Road, which took us to the trailhead. Thank goodness the road wasn’t wet and muddy, or we might have had trouble getting all the way back to the starting point.

After we parked we climbed about a dozen or so stairs to get to the trail, which was an almost instant decline down the hill. At this point Jason said what I was thinking . . . this wasn’t going to be fun on our way out.

The trail led us to Devil Fork Creek, which we had to cross to continue on with our journey. There were rocks for the most part that guided our steps to the other side. On our way in, we held Lucy as we made our way across because the water became deeper at the other end.

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On our way back I left it up to Lucy to make it to the other side. After whimpering for a minute or two, and with us encouraging her, she finally rocked back and jumped as far as she could make it, which, yep, ended up leaving her splashing right in the water. Lucy kicked and swam to the next rock, jumping from dry spot to dry spot before making it to the other side. As soon as she made it on dry land she shook a few times before trotting along behind Jason.

Once we made it to the other side of the creek we followed the markings on the tree, which guided us through the incredible woods of green vegetation.

IMG_2050After hiking a little ways down the path, there was a sign that navigated us in the right direction.

IMG_2158We headed left towards the Devil’s Bath Tub.

Jason loved everything about this trail. He was definitely enjoying his day off. On more than one occasion he said how beautiful the trail was.

I LOVE that we can share adventures like this with one another. I can never express how incredible it is to make these new memories with this man I love so much.

The trail weaved in and around the creek, which led us up and down a breathtaking trail. Yes up and down, my legs are feeling the workout we did yesterday today. (Running two miles probably didn’t help the matter today.)

We really had to watch the markings on the trees and rocks to ensure we were going the right direction.

IMG_2062If you look closely there is a marking on the tree on the right side of the photograph. Jason and Lucy are hiking through the rocky path.

IMG_2065There is always something incredible to look at while we are hiking along, if it’s not a trunk of a tree, it’s the huge green leaves or flowers that are slowly dying, or the cascading water over or between rocks.

IMG_2066I have so many photographs like this one. I get excited every time I see little waterfalls like this because they all produce their own unique sound that is incredibly calming.

IMG_2068This is what our path turned into, all rocks. It was absolutely adorable following Lucy’s path as she maneuvered between the large and small rocks. I couldn’t help but smile as she jumped and jumped and jumped.

IMG_2069We found places along the way that we stopped and had a snack, took a drink and well just stopped a minute to take a breather.

It wouldn’t be a true adventure unless we went off the trail and found unique, stunning views to appreciate.

IMG_2081We stopped here and walked along the trees that fell, kind of “X” marks the spot.

IMG_2074Lucy had fun walking on the tree too. Where ever Jason goes she follows . . .

IMG_2073I know I’ve said this before, but Lucy is truly a great hiking buddy. She is so well-behaved while we are hiking the trails, especially when we let her off the leash and let her explore on her own. Lucy’s always close by, never ventures too far away and listens when we call for her.

We finally reached the watering hole, which was breathtaking, even with about a dozen people swimming and splashing in the crystal clear water.

IMG_2156Since there was a ton of people swimming (this picture of course was taken after they all left) we followed the trail to the right in search of the Devil’s Bath Tub.

IMG_2140I am still in awe, the sight was simply breathtaking. It was stunning to see what years and years of water running through rocks had done to the rock formation.

IMG_2120The water cascaded down the rocks which pooled into the “bath tub,” which Jason thinks is at least 35 feet deep.

IMG_2130I still cannot get over how clear the water was. It was absolutely beautiful, especially with the way the light was reflecting off of the water.

IMG_2088I am so glad we climbed down and walked along the bath tub and beyond.

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IMG_2105The water flowed from the bath tub and continued along . . .

IMG_2113The water continued on from here and eventually flowed into the water hole.

IMG_2115Lucy enjoying the view.

IMG_2125We of course found higher grounds to gain another perspective. It was beautiful from up here. We sat up here for quite a while in complete silence taking it all in.

IMG_2146After leaving the Devil’s Bath Tub we wen back to the water hole where everyone was swimming before. Words cannot describe the beauty we saw.

IMG_2150If the water wasn’t super cold, and I wore a bathing suit, I might have gone for a little dip.

IMG_2153Out of all the hikes we have done in the past 14-months since moving to NE Tennessee, this is by far my favorite. That’s saying a lot with all the waterfalls we have seen. Jason and I will definitely return to this location, hopefully with friends and family to show them this pure beauty.

There is nothing better than getting lost on a trail for a day of fun.

My Friday turned out to be a fabulous day . . . a wonderful day with Lucy, our little, almost 7-month-old puppy, and my best friend.

Every time we spend time outdoors I grow a new appreciation for where we live. I’m so glad we decided to move to this area, especially with all of the wonderful experiences we have gained.

Memories for a lifetime and experiences I will hold near and dear for all eternity.