The Family That Hikes Together. . .

This weekend, my daughter planned an incredible get away/hiking adventure.  Tucked away in the Tennessee/North Carolina border, we stayed just outside the little town of Roan Mountain.  She found us an Indian themed cabin, that was cozy if not just a little over the top.

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This was my actual bed.

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We gave the kids the queen room since they brought their dog, and JG slept on his inflatable on the kitchen floor.  It was way more comfortable than it looks.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, she took us to a section of the Appalachian Trail that was a view seekers paradise.  If you have hiked the AT, you may know this spot – it was quite popular on this crisp September morning.

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The hike starts off on an easy trail through the forest. . .

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and brings you out onto the first of three bald knobs.

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It just gets better from here.  If every hike had this many views, I would never stay home.IMG_20180922_092857IMG_20180922_093028

But the most fun for me, was hiking with family.  We don’t get to do this very often and even though the kids go much faster than we do (and end up waiting on us) I think they enjoyed showing us this part of the AT that was new to us.

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Grand dog Stark, had a good time as well.  He can’t believe how high up he is.

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On the return trip, the clouds were moving in, but we did not get any rain.  I was so taken with the ridges and how they interacted with the sky – what a fantastic setting.

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We were all pooped by the time we returned to the cabin, especially Stark.  We had a quiet evening in.  This morning we had breakfast together and then parted ways.  I mentioned to JG that if he wanted to pull over for a quick hike on the way home, I did have a clean hiking outfit.

He took me up on it, and we stopped for a short loop at Grayson Highlands, where autumn has arrived a little earlier than the rest of the state.

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What a perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Taking back roads home, I took this shot as it looked like we were driving into a major storm.  Turns out we just got the tail end of it.

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I love that our family enjoys these adventures together.  What fun things do you like to do with family?

From Fungi to Webs

Last week I was all about the funky fungi.  Today’s hike in the mist of the foggy morning, was filled with the most striking spider webs.  I could not resist stopping, to try and capture their images to share with you.

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On a part of the Appalachian Trail that offered no mountain view, it was fun to just enjoy the trail and the natural surroundings.

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An annual Father/Daughter camping trip between JG and our one and only, was moved to a cabin due to the weather, so I got to join in for part of the trip.  (I don’t camp, but I do cabin.)  They had their bonding time on Friday, hiked all day Saturday and I joined them Saturday night and got to do a small hike with them this morning.  It was so fun to be in the woods with these two.

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Looks like hiking in rain/drizzle/fog/mist, is becoming a regular thing.  No problem!

 

Isn’t Nature Wonderful

I always say I’m not a nature person, but today I discovered so many beautiful things as we were hiking along that I just had to keep stopping to take pictures.

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The way the sun beam was shining on the damp leaves,

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and catching the spider webs.

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Or the macaroni looking fungus,

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and the early onset of fall colors.

We had a lovely 5 1/2 hours in the Forest without meeting a single soul.  I wonder if that had something to do with the fact that we had thundershowers?

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We had some heavy rains already this week, so the dam was flowing, creek crossings were challenging, but the view was still awesome.

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We were about a third of the way down when the rain came.  This time we were prepared. After getting caught in the rain last week, we purchased some rain ponchos and got to break them in today.

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By the way, check out those fungi!!!

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Incredible, right?

Once we made it back to the car and changed into dry clothes, the sun came out.  So we decided to drive across the river to get a view of where we had just been.

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Yes, we were on the top of that mountain, right under the power line.

Here’s how I have changed since I started hiking:

  • I now appreciate nature (not the bugs, but definitely the plants)
  • I’m no longer afraid of heights (I still have great respect for them though)
  • I am no longer hesitant crossing creeks
  • After a long challenging hike, I start thinking about doing it again

And last, but far from least:

I’ve found something that JG and I both love to do, and what a great way to spend our time together!!

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Makes you all want to visit Southwest Virginia, doesn’t it?

A Hike for Everyone

The old me used to only see a great mountain view if I could drive to the top of the mountain.  Now, I am happiest when I can “earn” it by hiking to the top.  I think everyone should be able to enjoy that spectacular view, so today I found myself leading an unlikely crew, to what I consider an easy hike for the best reward around.  Of course, I’m talking about Buffalo Mountain, where I’ve been many times.  But today, my hikers included one complete novice, Liz

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Another, somewhat newbie, who has only been on one previous hike with me, Patti

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A seasoned hiker from out West, who has been looking for someone to hike with since she moved to the area, Patty

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And my longtime, faithful hiker, Peggy

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Together we enjoyed a beautiful fall day and had the top of the mountain all to ourselves!  We were mostly strangers to each other, I knew Patti and Peggy, Peggy knew Patty, none of us knew Liz.  But by the end of the day we were old friends enjoying an outing together and encouraging each other as we slowly made our way to the top.  And even though there was a little haze in the air, they all agreed that the view was remarkable,

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and that hiking, in a group, is just the best!

 

Happy Reunion

Tucked away in hills of Southwest Virgina, is a little gem hike known as The Channels.  This was my third trip out there, but a first time adventure for my Weekday Warriors.

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We have not hiked together all summer.  We took the summer off because of travels, heat, and bugs.  But now the fall weather has arrived and we had the most incredible day!  Blue skies, good friends, and the most amazing rock formations.

The Channels are 400 million year old sandstone outcroppings.  It’s probably best if I just show you.

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When you arrive at the top of the trail, you only need look for the signature fire tower to know you are heading in the right direction.

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Not everyone is aware that there is a fantastic view and a chance to stand on top of another group of rock formations, just to the left of the main hike.  We were happy to have this spot to ourselves while we enjoyed lunch together in the sun.

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There’s also a bit of a view if you are willing to climb up a sandy and somewhat slippery boulder.

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It’s always fun to take hikers to a place I’ve been before.  I get to see it anew through them.  We spent an hour exploring everything, it was a full day, and we all went home tired, but happy.

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I’m just glad to be back out on the trails with my hiking buddies.  They are the best!!

 

Travel Options

I don’t usually promote businesses, I quit buying T-shirts with company logo, and I am not being paid to write this blog.  But, I just wanted to share, what we have found to be a great way to travel, Airbnb.   We have been using Airbnb for several years, and have not been disappointed yet.

Our recent trip to Canada was no exception.  The first apartment in Niagara Falls was only ten minutes away from the falls.  Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, you would never guess there were thousands of people just minutes from here.

Trying to find a hotel in Toronto under $250 was almost impossible.  Thanks to this gem, we could afford to stay in the city for four nights.

And, finally, at the Bay of Quinte we had so much space we almost got lost!

I’m not a camper, so this has been a great way for us to travel.  All of these apartments were right at, or just under $100 per night.  Just saying. . .

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What’s your favorite way to travel?

Oh, Canada

Realizing I could easily write an essay on our recent trip to Canada, I decided you might be more apt to read it, if it was described in pictures.

Let me start by saying that one of the highlights for me was meeting fellow bloggers.  First was lunch with Deb from The Widow Badass.

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She was just as delightful in person as she is on her blog.

I also got to meet Joanne from My Life Lived Full, who was my inspiration for this trip as she is always writing about her city, Toronto.

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It was fun to meet these women face to face and solidify what, up til then, had been just an on-line friendship.

Just a few tips about Canada

If you are planning a trip to Niagara Falls:

  • Go directly to the Canadian side, it’s easier access and a much better view
  • Try to avoid arriving mid-day – on a weekend – in the summer (like we did)
  • Be prepared for crowds

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  • Take the boat ride which ever side you are on

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  • And, finally, go with the one you love if possible.

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Toronto

The largest city in Canada has one of the most efficient public transit systems.  If you go, take the subway, the bus, and the cable car!

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Look for the black squirrels.

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Enjoy the sites.

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Visit neighborhoods.

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What ever you do, you will enjoy this city.  It has something for everyone.

In closing, I just have to say that I was struck by how positive everyone was – from messages on T-shirts, to billboards, to the people we met.  The Prime Minister addressed the nation while we were there.  He stated the importance of listening to each other.  With such a diverse population, it was wonderful to see everyone getting along.  Because after all, don’t we all just want the same things in life – peace, happiness, and opportunity?

Oh, Canada, you won my heart!