Little Stony Falls: a Virginia adventure

Since our hike was shortened on Wednesday due to an intense storm, I really wanted to head back out into nature yesterday, especially since the sky was blue.

Jason and I decided to go back to one of the waterfalls we have already seen, Little Stony Falls in Virginia. The first time we ventured on the trails was June 30, 2013, almost two months after we moved to NE Tennessee.

We took SR 72 into the Jefferson National Forest, which led us to the trailhead that begins at the Hanging Rock Picnic Area.

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the trail is 2.8-miles. By the time we finished our 4 hour and 12 minute hike, we traveled between 5 1/2 to six miles on foot with our 7-month old puppy, Lucy.

The trail follows Little Stony Creek, which according to the website, guides hikers through a 400-feet deep and 1,700-foot wide gorge.

I forgot just how beautiful the trail was. There are so many opportunities to exit the path and head closer to the creek to see some stunning rock formations with water gushing through and over them.

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I know that’s why our hike took so long, every opportunity we had we took a detour.

Although this path isn’t extremely difficult, there were times we had to hike a narrow path that if not careful would leave you falling a good distance. There were also boulders and large rocks along the path that we had to either climb around or over to continue along.

There are also a few bridges that took us over the creek, which provided some stunning views as well.

IMG_2164On our way back we ventured below a bridge to capture this beautiful sight.

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Yesterday I felt adventurous at times as I spotted things I wanted to photograph. I climbed up and down rocks off the beaten path, just to get a little closer. Thank goodness Jason was with me, he helped me climb back up boulders when it was hard to find places for footing.

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IMG_2178I think Lucy enjoyed our stopping points as well. Although we keep her on a leash when we are hiking the trails, it often comes off when we find our little spots of discovery.

IMG_2181I often times wonder what she takes in while we are on our hikes. Lucy is very observant, that I know for sure.

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IMG_2209The top and bottom picture are the same view, but of course Lucy snuck on my lap as I was getting ready to take a picture.

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There is a point in the path that passes by a little waterfall, which by this point is a good place to stop and enjoy some of the cool air from the water.

IMG_2201It had a lot of water running down the front of the rocks this time. The water continued along the rock at its base and flowed down over a ledge.

IMG_2200Our hike continued.

Eventually we came to another waterfall . . . The path at this point walked along flatter rocks closer to the creek. Some of the rocks were dry, while others were wet making them quite slick.

Unfortunately yesterday I took another spill, landed on my other hip and arm. When we were hiking on Wednesday my foot slipped in the mud. Yesterday my foot slipped on a rock, which was a much harder fall. Tears instantly welled up and began to fall as Jason and Lucy both came to my rescue. Lucy was instantly in my lap making sure I was okay as Jason was doing what he could do to help.

I have to say, although it’s no fun falling while out hiking, I would rather fall in the mud than on a rock. I have a huge black and blue mark on my elbow, which is incredibly tender. I have another swollen spot on my right leg from the blow, which is hard to put pressure on.

I am incredibly sore today, incredibly sore.

The fall happens so fast. At one moment I am walking along following Jason and Lucy and the next I am on the ground. To say I was beyond careful past this point is an understatement. Jason often times grabbed a hold of my hand when he could sense my hesitation.

So, before we continued on, we sat in front of the waterfall, enjoyed an apple, while Lucy enjoyed some lunch.

IMG_2215It was definitely a pretty place to stop. After a little while, we continued on. We had hiked all this way, there was no way I was going to stop. I wanted to see the waterfall.

Little Stony Falls is a 24-foot waterfall. Incredible sound.

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We climbed down the side of the hill to get an up-close and personal look at the gorgeous falls.

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Lucy of course observed the area as well.

IMG_2239And tried to follow Jason as he climbed on and around trees and rocks to make it closer to the falls.

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The temperature at the waterfalls always drops a few degrees, which can be nice after a hot and humid hike. Our poor Lucy, on the other hand, becomes extremely cold and finds Jason’s lap to cuddle on and grab some of his warmth.

Although I took a nasty fall yesterday, it was still an incredible day outside finding pure, untouched beauty in the forest.

IMG_2195Years and years of running water created these beautiful sights, instead of man.

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The best part about this hike is the sounds of water. The intensity of the running water in the creek changes many times throughout the hike . . . which in turn changes the sound. There is something extremely relaxing and calming about that sound.

 

Came to my rescue

I have such a caring man by my side. I love him to pieces.

Yesterday Jason had the day off from his now two jobs, so I took the day off as well. He planned a hiking trip with one of the girls he works with at the Marriott in town and her son, as well as his cousin and two boys.

We all eventually arrived at the Devils Bath Tub in Virginia, with the hope that the weather would stay nice enough for all of us to enjoy a day out in nature.

After waiting for some time in the parking area at the trailhead of the Devils Bath Tub for his cousin, Jason decided to put a note in the window telling them we already hit the path.

It was overcast and the winds were changing, which told us the rain was on its way. We have been out on a few hikes where it started to rain, but decided to push on, which worked in our favor because the storm always passed us by.

We were on our way, with Lucy of course.

The trail looked much different yesterday, the water level in the creeks was much higher and the rock beds, which were dry last time, had water running through them. With overcast skies, the look of the trail and vegetation was much different as well. The darker hue was breathtaking.

Eventually the rain drops began and after some discussion we all decided to hike on . . . Our tune eventually changed as the leaves could no longer hold onto the weight of the rain water and the drops started falling at faster rates. We found some coverage, well a little bit of coverage, and stopped to see what would happen. At this point the rest of our group joined us on our wet hiking adventure.

As we were all gathered in the same spot, an intense lightning bolt struck, which sounded like it was extremely close by. Jason called it, our hike was over. He wanted to make sure everybody was safe, and after reading about someone being killed on Fort Myers Beach, near where we used to live, the day before from being struck by lightning, we knew better than to take any chances.

By this point, I had picked Lucy up and wrapped her in my shirt, which was gaining dampness by the minute. Thank goodness I packed another long sleeve Under Armour shirt that I could wear. This poor puppy of ours gets cold really fast.

With the decision finalized, everybody turned around and began walking as fast as they could, while being careful not to stumble on tree roots or rocks along the path. We were all extremely soaked, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

It was crazy to see how fast the path filled with water and how the intensity of the creeks changed as it filled with rain water.

Although I was not scared, I was glad Jason called the hike and we all decided to walk back to the car. Since we were all soaked, it got cold, especially when walking through the creeks, which was also cold, as we followed the trail out.

Jason was always close by as we crossed the creeks, which he confessed later almost ended up putting him in the water. I love how he makes sure I am always okay. I’m still a little hesitant on crossing some of the creeks, which by this point I shouldn’t be. My courage constantly grows though, which is good.

Even the little boy who came out with his mom, was keeping an eye on me. It was absolutely adorable, 10 years old, and he was looking out for me. He was right in front of me, loving every minute of being out in nature and walking in the rain. I spotted him turning around to make sure I was still coming. What a nice young man.

It wasn’t until almost the very end of the trail that led us to the final creek to cross where I took a spill, a really hard spill. As we turned a corner I walked close to the edge of the trail because there was a large pool of water. As soon as my foot hit the edge it slid in the mud and I fell pretty hard on my hip. Mind you, I still had Lucy in my arms. I have no idea how I did it, but I kept Lucy in my arms as I hit the ground, cushioning her blow.

I’m so proud of Lucy, she was such a sport. She didn’t budge at all as she sought out comfort in my arms.

Jason was ahead of me a few steps and before I knew it he was by my side leaning down grabbing my hand to pull me up. It all happened so fast. I was really covered in mud.

As I stood up, I placed my forehead on his shoulder as he asked if I was okay. He said he heard the impact of me hitting the ground on my hip, as well as the squeal I let out. His caring tone almost brought me to tears, so I picked my head up looked him in his eyes before he took Lucy’s leash and we started walking again. I was proud that I restrained from crying, even though the tears started filling my eyes.

I was in a lot of pain, but we were almost to the finish line, if you will, and the rain was still pouring down, so I had no other choice but to keep moving.

We made it to the car and then back to our place, where his cousin and boys joined us for lunch.

Although we couldn’t finish our hike, and I took a nasty fall, and Jason lost his glasses, it turned out to be a fantastic day. The day was full of a lot of laughter and after our company left to head back to Kentucky, the good times continued with Jason.

Today, well, I’m a little sore, so I decided to stay at home and not go for a run or head to the gym. I’m kind of surprised I haven’t found any bruises yet, but a little bummed about how achy I am. I guess it all comes with the adventures of loving the outdoors.

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.

 

The leaves are changing colors

Jason took me to the Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, Virginia this morning, a much needed break from all of my freelance writing and editing.

It was time to get out of the house and see the outdoors after two straight days of being stuck in my office, especially since we started noticing that the leaves were finally changing in our area.

It’s breathtaking to see how the leaves go from a lush, beautiful green, to so many different hues.

IMG_0616Although some of the trees were beautiful, others were already bare.

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IMG_0643I love the hues of reds stuck in the middle of all the other colors, it definitely pops.

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I’m in awe, such a beautiful time of the year.

IMG_0628As we were walking the different trails, I had to stop every couple of minutes, so I could capture more of the colors.

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IMG_0630So far, I think the fall is definitely my favorite season. Every time we go outside the scenery becomes more beautiful.

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The tunnel was also pretty neat to see, especially with the train tracks running through.

IMG_0676According to information on a sign at the Natural Tunnel, “The South Atlantic and Ohio Railroad began laying tracks through Natural Tunnel in 1882, connecting Bristol, Tennessee, with the coalfields of southwestern Virginia.” It eventually became known as the Natural Tunnel Route when it was taken over in 1899 by the Virginia and southwestern railroad. Today, the tracks carry about 10 trains a day to ship coal from mines in southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

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IMG_0680The tunnel is 850 feet long and 100 feet high inside.

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IMG_0682Too bad we didn’t see a train go through when we were there.

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The reds are beautiful.  IMG_0639

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I loved the path and the stairs . . .  all full of leaves.

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Such a beautiful path.  IMG_0668

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The two pictures below are my favorite from today. IMG_0654Now I want to go for some hikes on the trails we found when we moved to the area.

I could only imagine how beautiful they are now.

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This last picture is for one of my fellow bloggers (Running To Her Dreams) . . . I finally found a heart!  IMG_0689

Now I can begin working again and knock out some more articles and editing. I feel refreshed from walking around in our 60 degree weather smelling the fall leaves.

Hopefully tomorrow we can go capture some more beauty at a different park before the trees all become bare.

Fall colors

When Jason and I first started talking about moving to Tennessee, I remember thinking, oh I can’t wait for the fall! I have so many great memories from living on the farm in Illinois playing in the leaves.

This past weekend we drove to Maryland to see my younger brother and his family who just moved to the area. The drive was gorgous, the trees had so many beautiful hues. I said “wow” on more than one occasion as I was looking out the window taking in the beautiful scenery. I just couldn’t get enough of all the leaves.

The farther north we drove the prettier the trees became. We eventually stopped at a rest area in Virginia, a stop with so many beautiful trees. As Jason was looking at the map to figure out the rest of the trip, I took my camera, put on a jacket and walked around the grounds snapping away.

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My favorite tree . . . the colors were magnificiant.

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The more I walked around the more I got to thinking, oh this would be the perfect place to pick up some leaves for my good friend Dorene and her kids.

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So now I’m walking around with a ton of leaves in my hand, which are now frozen, and my camera trying to take a few more pictures before Jason came looking for me.

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Of course on the way back from Maryland we stopped at another rest area in Virginia and I was able to capture even more colors.

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I am in love with the fall colors. I find myself looking at the scenery around me more and more everytime I leave the house.

Perfect day, Little Stony Falls

After two weeks of working nonstop with my full-time job and freelance work, Jason and I were finally able to spend some time together out in nature.

I walked away from my desk and computer … what a good feeling.

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We went to Little Stony Falls in Virginia.

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The hike was breathtaking and the trail was adventurous. At times Jason had to help me along where part of the path disappeared.

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We heard the sound of water cascading down the rocks the entire hike. Our path often times took us higher than the water providing an incredible view.

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In addition to the water, these pretty flowers were alongside the trail.

Today was exactly what I needed. It was a perfect day in nature.

The last two weeks have been nonstop writing – I wake up writing, go to work and then come home and write a little more until my brain tells me to quit. My body has been incredibly tired and my brain keeps asking me to slow down. So, today I woke up wrote two articles and took the rest of the day off with the man of my dreams.

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The best part of the hike was the canopy of trees that kept us cool and out of the direct sunlight.

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The path led us here …

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The water was cold, the sound was soothing and the atmosphere was refreshing.

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We kept walking …

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At times we went off the beaten path and climbed closer to the water …

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We stood on the rocks and took the scenery in …

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We continued on the path until another spot grabbed our attention.

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We kept going …

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Until we reached our destination, the incredible waterfall.

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Jason and I climbed down to the waterfall, which he helped me do, since it was straight down on muddy and rocky terrain. I can still hear the sound of the water rushing down. We both sat on a rock and took it all in, what an incredible view.

The 5-mile hike was exciting. This is now my new favorite place we have explored. It will be a place we visit frequently.

I’m centered again and ready to take on another intense work week.

It was the perfect day, a wonderful way to spend some much needed time with Jason. It’s journeys like this that make me fall deeper in love with Jason and the area we now call home.

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.