Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

Photo Apr 21, 12 36 26 PM

This photo was taken at the top of Looking Glass Mountain near Asheville. Annoyed with being the one to always plan family outings, I left it up to my husband to figure out the day’s activity. At the time, we were both overweight and out of shape. So what did he come up with? A six mile hike, straight up a mountainside. Sweating profusely and out of breath, we finally reached the summit to find this outstanding panoramic view.

Terrified of heights and “edges”, I stood in the background and captured the moment. My daughter, who was 8 at the time, ventured fearlessly onward and sat atop this precarious perch (it’s not as bad as it looks).

I was pregnant with my youngest daughter on this day, but wouldn’t find out until the next week. She must have been wondering what kind of crazy family she had gotten herself into!

Daily Prompt: In the Summertime

Ahhh, summertime! I can feel you so near, yet you tease me like a child playing peek-a-boo behind a picket fence, just out of reach. How I long to spend lazy days with my face turned toward the sun’s warmth, one toe dangling effortlessly in a cool, crisp stream.

And summer is the season of grand adventures, big and small. Whether on the road or in my own backyard, I am a curious wanderer, always seeking new experiences to feed my soul.

The pictures above were taken during a recent glorious stretch of warm summer-like days at a Mennonite farm less than 30 minutes from my house. The family lives in the top story of a white farmhouse, while the bottom holds a country store and deli. They bake bread and pies daily in the “garage” and sell non-homogenized milk, free-range eggs, and a myriad of jams, pickles, and dry goods. A friend and I ate delicious sandwiches on the wide front porch while gazing through the gardens at the blue mountains in the distance.

Summertime….haven’t we waited long enough?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Scene 2


 

 

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What could be more natural than a Spartan running down the boardwalk in Wilmington, NC? In Asheville, this wouldn’t even turn heads. Actually, there was a logical reason (I suppose) behind the costume. You see, this was the marathon portion of an Ironman Triathlon.

In true Greek spirit, this guy re-enacted the heroic tale of Pheidippides, the fleet-footed warrior who is fabled to have run 25 miles to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. Of course, we didn’t have the heart to tell him that Pheidippides dropped dead right after.

What is an Ironman, you ask? It isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. The full Ironman distance consists of the following:

2.4 mile swim (in the Atlantic ocean for this race)

112 mile bike ride

26.2 mile run

My brother did this race in 2012 in a little over 13 hours, so he still holds the family record for athletic prowess.

If you’ve never witnessed this event, I strongly encourage you to get out and watch one. The atmosphere is electric, as hundreds of excited spectators mingle against a colorful backdrop of music, food and street vendors.

You can feel the nervous tension of the athletes at the starting line, like thoroughbreds twitching behind the gates at the Kentucky Derby. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and the adrenaline stayed with me long after.

Do I sense a new goal starting to take shape??? My heart says “Yes, yes!” but the little men with spears under my chest where my tissue expanders are say “Later, later (maybe)!!”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

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My grandmother always used to say that she loved flying because her problems seemed to vanish as she soared above the clouds. She once flew from Miami to San Francisco and back, never stepping foot outside the cabin, just for the sheer joy of the journey. I smile when I think of her. She embraced life without fear, shooting straight from the hip and drinking in every moment with unabashed enthusiasm. I know that she’s looking down on me and wishing she could kick me in the ass. “Stop thinking about your life and get busy living it!” I’m a work in progress.

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Now I lay me down in fields of fragrant blooms,

Visions of Spring dance behind weary eyes.

I’ve many miles to go on this journey of mine,

But even the hardiest traveler stops now and then

To pay respect to the road gone by

And to lovingly nurture fledgling dreams

Of a future yet unseen.

Shades Of Fall And Echoes Of The Past

GUEST CANCER JAM OF THE DAY (really awesome live performance):

We ventured out on Saturday to catch the last glimpse of golds, oranges and reds splashed across a Fall tapestry of rugged mountains. It was a cool crisp day adorned by a bright blue Carolina sky.

Our adventure took us to  Cataloochee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, about an hour southwest of Asheville, NC. The name Cataloochee comes from the Cherokee “Ga-da-lu-tsi”, meaning “fringe standing erect”, a reference to endless rows of tall evergreens surrounding the lush, fertile valley. This was a tribal hunting ground for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians before the white men came in 1814.  Early Euro-American settlers were friendly with their Cherokee neighbors, even becoming fluent in their language.

Pioneer families in the Cataloochee valley were rugged and independent by necessity in this rural Appalachian outpost. They raised sheep, cattle and hogs on the rich pastureland and traded furs for such necessities as lead, salt, and coffee. Although they were on good terms with the native people, they were sometimes raided and killed by rogue bands of Cherokee.

By the 1930’s, most of the residents of Cataloochee were forced out by eminent domain as the area was turned into a National Park. Many of the original buildings still stand, including one of the original homes, the one-room schoolhouse, and a small church.

.As we toured the Caldwell house, built in 1898, we came upon what must have been a teenager’s room. It was completely papered with tattered pictures out of an old Sears clothing catalog, circa 1920’s. We could almost feel the giddy excitement of the girl who inhabited this room. Did she dream of leaving her sheltered valley becoming a flapper like the glamorous models covering her walls? Did she even know about life in places like New York City? Or was she resigned to being a pioneer woman, sewing shoes for a dozen children out of the remnants of old felt hats?

Before we left the Park, we stopped to admire the growing herd of Elk which were reintroduced in the region over 10 years ago. Elk roamed freely in these mountains in the 1700’s but were driven out by overhunting and population growth. Obviously comfortable with the constant parade of tourists, the elk barely flinched as throngs of eager photographers edged toward them in the grass seeking the perfect shot.

I stood still for a moment before we got in the car and took it all in. As I closed my eyes, I could hear the rhythmic beating of the deerskin drums and the soulful chant of the Cherokee song. I could smell the seasoned oak of the campfire burning under a clear starry sky. Sometimes the most amazing history lessons are in our own backyard.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Ok, ok , I know this is last week’s challenge. I’m running a little behind. What’s new?

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The glass shatters in a million tiny pieces

As I break free from my ruthless jailer.

I bound with unbridled joy toward a new horizon,

And reach toward the sky in solemn gratitiude.

My heart stops as I catch a glimpse of my outstretched hand.

For I held the key there all along.