Thursday, October 30, 2014

Postcards from the Road ~ Family fun and Farewell October

Our autumn trip is winding down, and so I leave you with photos from the past few days. Thanks again for your company along the way. It's made the journey even sweeter.

On Sunday, The Man and I attended services at the little church that sits right next to the RV park, and there's a story behind this photo. Every evening, in a small window of time, the sun’s rays flood the two trees on the right, setting them aglow in shades of crimson and orange. For days, I attempted to capture the perfect moment, but my timing was always off. Until Saturday.

My sweet cousin, Edward, and his lovely wife, Sharon, drove up from their home in Mississippi to spend a few days hanging out with us this week. They stayed in a hotel close by and we enjoyed being together so very much.


Monday was a day of unspeakable beauty, a day when nature’s colors mingled together in every shade of grandeur, a day that left me breathless and humbled by the loveliness of autumn and the companionship of family. 

What mystical beauty, when the sun pierces the foliage above the shadowy riverbed. 

I love this photo of Edward and Sharon.

 Meigs Falls is a popular stopping place along Little River Road.

There's nothing more special than family. 


The gang takes a selfie, while Edward makes me nervous standing a little too close to the edge. I was concerned we might have an unannounced baptism.

God's handiwork. 

No words needed.

After we left the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, we drove into Gatlinburg for a little fun and food.

Tuesday found us back at Dollywood, enjoying the National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration month.

As I write, it is Wednesday night. Earlier today, under dreary skies, the captain turned on the seat-belt sign and Cloud Nine rolled out of Pigeon Forge. As we drove through the gray morning, I realized October is almost over, another October spent in the Smokies, another month of undeserved blessings.

Through the years of coming to this part of the country, The Man and I have stayed both in log cabins on high mountain peaks, and in RV’s in the foothills below. Although I don't enjoy the tedious drive up or down a steep mountainside, those narrow roads with endless drop-offs and hairpin curves, I had always considered myself a mountain top kind of girl. The views are majestic, the air crisp. 

But this trip revealed something to me, something I never expected. While a stay at the top is always going bring a thrill, I’ve discovered that I’m a foothills girl at heart.

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To dwell in a cabin, nestled against the side of a mountain, watching the seasons unfold in my very own yard, now that would be a piece of heaven for me.

Until next time, dear friends, thanks for your generous comments and for your continued friendship. I hope October has been kind to you.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

On Top of Old Smoky, for Real : Postcards from the Road

Dear friends, I am sitting at the dinette in Cloud Nine, the windows open, a cool breeze touching my skin, the rich aroma of coffee filling the space around me. 

It has been a magical week in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the artistry of the Creator in fine form. We’ve seen morning temperatures in the 30’s and put the quilts I keep on board to good use. But it doesn’t take long for the sun to warm the earth, leaving us with perfect October days in which to forage about.

Since we tend to travel by the seat of our pants, we don’t often make reservations ahead of time. This can be a curse yet we’ve always managed to make it work, and such was the case here. The first three days of our stay in Pigeon Forge found us at our long-time favorite KOA campground, but then we had to move, and I think it was a blessing in disguise. We found a park that we’ve passed many times in our years of returning here, positioned in the foothills, with a mountain side for a backdrop. It has quickly become our new favorite place.

See that cabin behind us? 

On Tuesday, I told The Man, "Let's go find that cabin."

And so we did, winding our way up narrow, shady roads, through hues of orange and crimson and yellow and gold.

If you ever come to the Great Smoky Mountains, you must set aside a few days for exploring, no matter your age. There's so much beauty to behold and it would be a shame not to see it. 

On Thursday, The Man and I headed out for a day of adventure, to see what we could see and do what we could do in "them thar hills." Our first stop was Newfound Gap, a mountain pass situated on the Tennessee/North Carolina state lines. A kind tourist offered to take our photo.

Newfound Gap is a popular stopping point and the parking lot was overflowing on this day.

The seven-mile drive from Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome is quite curvy and, on a brilliant autumn day, crowded with like-minded folks. The closer you get to the top, the slower the traffic moves.

But the drive is well worth it. Once we parked, we decided to hike the half-mile trek to the summit. Between The Man’s Achilles heel issue, and my bad knees, we were a couple of pokey people, but we had plenty of fellow-pokies, of all ages, to keep us company along the way. There are benches every few feet, for pacing yourself, and we put those to good use. At one point, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but I had no thought of turning back.

Clingmans Dome, is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, the highest point in Tennessee, the highest point along the Appalachian Trail, and the third highest summit east of the Mississippi River—6,643 feet above sea level. 

The reward is well worth the journey, the views from the observation platform are nothing short of spectacular! And when the conditions are just right (which isn’t often) you can see 100 miles and beyond. If you want to know how it feels to be "on top of old Smoky," it feels invigorating! 

On the downhill hike, I stopped and took a zoomed shot of the distant slopes, all adorned in autumn's glory. I thought of the Scripture that says: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." 

Well, dear friends, I hope I'm not boring you too much with my postcards from the road; for every one I post, there are dozens that I don't, as a little restraint is always in order. 

Until next time, thanks for keeping me company here and for sharing this journey with me.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Postcards from the Road ~ Another Year Older and the 2013 Scrapbook is Finito!

Dear friends, the retirees are still enjoying the mountain views. The rain has finally stopped, leaving the air amazingly autumn. I’ve pulled out tights and sweaters and boots and, call me odd if you will, that makes me one happy camper.

After two days of rain, Wednesday was overcast and perfect for driving through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We’ve driven through many times, taking various scenic routes, but I’ve never seen it looking more spectacular than it did on Wednesday—the river was high and just enough foliage ablaze to make you catch your breath around every curve. We took the 18-mile road known as Little River Road, but the photos can’t truly tell the story. If you ever have the chance to drive through in autumn, you won’t be disappointed.

In other news, for the second year in a row, I celebrated my birthday away from twin sister. I’ve already decided that next year will be different—we will be together, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise.

I was born seven minutes ahead of Gayle, but I never existed without her, not even in the womb. Being an identical twin cannot be explained to anyone who isn’t one, but Gayle understands perfectly when I say that the words, “I love you,” almost have no meaning, as there isn’t a word or a phrase to describe the feelings between identical twins; we share a language and feelings uniquely ours. 

Despite missing Gayle, my birthday was filled with good food, precious cards from home, a slice of apple spice cake, with a little rum sauce, and a tealight candle for making a wish, which I did but I can’t reveal here, lest it not come true. (wink, wink) The Man always goes above and beyond for all of life's special occasions. I am blessed to call him mine.

Speaking of The Man, my birthday evening also found a little posing going on with Mr. Handsome. In case you’re wondering who that bespectacled female is, I have two new pairs of specs and decided to try out a pair last night. The girl is getting old. Things are changing.

In case ye think otherwise, it hasn’t been all play around these here parts. On Thursday, I put on my determined face and got my scrapbooking completed for the year 2013. Finito! That still leaves me about a year behind, but I have crazy faith that I will get ‘er done before my granddaughter arrives in February. I've had such faith before, to no avail, but it's been a unique year, so I may skip most of it and only hit the highlights. That should make things move along quickly.

Currently, a golden sun has found us here in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the outdoor thermometer registering a pleasant 61-degrees. Wish you were here.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Postcards from the Road ~ Smoky Mountain Monday Musings

Hello, kind readers. The captain has turned off the seatbelt sign and Cloud Nine has come to a halt. The road warriors are in Pigeon Forge, a favorite autumn destination of ours; matter of fact, we were here just last year. True, the 969-mile journey from home is a long one, but we take our time arriving, which makes it bearable, even enjoyable.

On Friday, after a gentle morning rain, we headed to Dollywood where Octobers always find the sweet and stirring sounds of Southern Gospel music in the air and in the theater venues. As two people who sang and played in church most of our lives, what’s not to love about the harmonizing of voices and instruments?

Saturday, I awoke to the sound of more rain on the rooftop, tapping out yet another melody fit for an October morning. Outside, leaves in shades of bronze and orange glistened wet against the ground, autumn's jewels. After making coffee, I sat at the dinette and stared out the window, letting the rain and the hush of morning seep into my soul—life and nature doing its own harmonizing. 

I can't explain why autumn, why the month of October has always cast a spell over me; perhaps it has something to do with being born in October, but as a writer needs the simplicity of words in order to tell a clear story, I need the simplicity of an autumn day in order to gain clarity for the road ahead.

Until next time, sweet friends, thanks for following along on my journey. May your week be filled with the gems of October.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Living in the Moment ~ Autumn's Spell and Assorted Ramblings

Dearest friends, here in my little woods the seasons have been battling it out. There have been showers and winds and a bit of wrestling back and forth as autumn attempts to take over. Summer can be stubborn around these parts, but right now the air has once again cooled down, a pleasant breeze rustles the trees, and the wind-chimes fill the yard with the sound of music.

As I write from my office, I feel as if I have little to say these days, that the words I type land with a thud, heavy, boring, and repetitious. But when you strive to live in the moment, you can't skip over the moments that are not light and airy. You must consider that not every note rings of joy; some moments, some melodies are quite solemn.

As I ponder this truth, I glance over my shoulder and at once I'm inspired by the sight of October’s sun stretching across the dining room table in familiar ribbons of gold. I grab my camera before the moment is lost. 

And then I get a whiff of onions and garlic and tomatoes and chili peppers coming from the homemade chili simmering on the stove, and I'm filled up with gratitude for the simple pleasures that can be found in an ordinary afternoon, for the golden moments that offset the rest.

On Thursday, I discovered this loveliness in the remains of my gardens, and I thought of the words of Mother Teresa: "Lord, give me an open heart to find you everywhere, to glimpse the heaven enfolded in a bud.”

In a few short hours, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, The Man and I will be on the road for an autumn adventure. The pace will be slow and easy, with lunch in small town cafes, treasure hunts in dusty thrift shops, and trails that call to wanderers. 

There’ll be familiar mountain vistas that never grow old, and campfires for lingering come evening time. If we’re lucky, we’ll see the forest come alive in shades of red and yellow and orange. Autumn has cast her spell and I must go. I’ll be sure and send postcards here and there along the way. 

There is much to do before I can climb aboard Cloud Nine so, until next time, may the magic that is autumn settle gently around you as October's journey begins. As always, thanks for keeping me company here. It means ever so much.


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Inspire Me Monday

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Perfectly Imperfect Trunk

The last few years found me searching for the perfect trunk. The one you can't describe but you'll know it when you see it. Yeah, that one. 

High and low, in every antique shop and thrift store, I searched but came up empty. But last week, while twin sis and I were out gallivanting around, we saw it and the search was suddenly over. I gave the nod and into the truck it went.

It is big and heavy and functional and imperfectly perfect for my lifestyle. 

And those leather straps make me swoon.

It's scuffed and charming on the outside, and cavernous and metal on the inside, a perfect combination for the propping up of assorted feet, and the storing of assorted ... stuff.

If you know me, you know I have an aversion to change, but after having the same perfectly good coffee table for 27 years, it was time for a change.

This trunk has the feel of home and I expect to keep it around for a very long time.


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