Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A year to remember and a happy, healthy, prosperous new year to come!

As we wind down 2013 I have been thinking of all the great things this year has held for us. It has been a busy year and a very accomplished year! We are both fortunate to have great jobs that we love. We have had a very healthy year. The girls are good and very active in school and community. My oldest daughter turned 16 and has had a successful few months of driving. My youngest daughter, a freshman, made Varsity Cheer with her sister and has had an excellent first year of high school. Since getting engaged in December of 2012 we have set our date booked our venues for both the wedding and reception, hired our photographers, bought the dress and booked our honeymoon. We spent a tremendous amount of time in the great outdoors that we love so much. James rode in two mountain bike races this year and I completed three 5K's. We both have become more aware of the food we eat and the level of physical activity we ensue and thus have become healthier in 2013. We have also started our home renovations. 2013 has been busy, however it has been the kind of busy that is wonderful, and we couldn't be happier!

As always with the end of a year we do reflect on the things that we wish to leave in 2013 and develop plans and goals for 2014. On Sunday we went to church and they had us write down those things and take them up and leave them at the front of the church. It was pretty powerful, I did not expect it to feel the way it did. It literally felt like I had left those things, those small quiet things we all may struggle with from time to time at the foot of the cross and as I walked back to my seat I felt a weight had been lifted. I encourage you, no matter your faith or spirituality, to consider reflecting on those things that you wish to leave in 2013 and not carry over into 2014. Write them down and then let it go! Write it down and then throw it away, burn it, get rid of it however your choose. If anything it brings those things into your focus for a moment and encourages you to develop your goals for 2014, how you will leave those things in the past and start the new year anew.

Our goals for 2014 are to continue to do our best in our family and at work. We will continue to support the girls in school and community. We will work to become even healthier and active. We will finalize our wedding plans as we will be married this year.We will finish phase I renovations on our home and hopefully sell a home and possibly start on phase II. I hope we can get in a lot of outdoor adventure in 2014! I want to run an 8K or 10K this year and James will also likely compete again in a mountain bike race or two. 

We are hopeful for another happy, healthy and prosperous new year and we wish you perfect health, happiness beyond measure and lasting prosperity 2014!!

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Race #3 - COMPLETED!!!

It really is amazing the things you can do when you really put your mind to it! This year I have reminded myself of this quite often! I ran my first mile without stopping in April and ran my very first 5K on October 5th, my second 5K on October 26th and now my third 5K on December 7th! I can hardly believe it!

It really has been amazing however this third race was a challenge for me. The race was a night race, it was a difficult course and I was very anxious the week or so leading up to the race! I was feeling competitive, wanting to beat myself, beat my last time, and I was afraid I wouldn't. I have been very public with my running, posting my times on social media for all my friends to see and after getting the amazing support from my friends and family I was also afraid I may disappoint them somehow by not doing as well as I knew I could. (It is a bit bold to be so public but I was so proud of how far I had come I wanted to share the goodness of it all with all those around me! I want to make runners out of everyone now!!)

I signed up for this race after joining a group called Run for God, that group, those people have been absolutely amazing! Without their support, encouragement and prayers I may have opted out of this race!

It sounds silly but I really did have performance anxiety until just before the race. An hour or so before I headed out the door to go and meet up with my group of friends I took a minute to pray. I asked God to calm me, remind me why it was I was doing this race (that it was not to out do someone else but rather to run my own race and "Run for God") and to help me get through it. As soon as I finished my small, silent prayer my youngest daughter said to me "Momma, I think I want to run with you". Oh my gosh you have no idea what this meant to me!! I know without doubt this was my prayer instantly answered!! I was suddenly calmed and remembered why I was running this race! 

My daughter ran the first race with me and inspired me to finish! I truly believe God responded to my prayer by sending her with me for this race providing the reminder and inspiration that I was looking for!!

We quickly got into our running gear and headed out the door! From that moment on I no longer felt any fear or anxiety, those feelings were replaced with happiness and excitement! It was wonderful! We had so much fun and ran our own race!

Believe it or not I finished in great time (for this killer route) and with each race my pace has improved. 

First 5K ~ 29:43 min, pace 9:39/M
Second 5K ~ 28:32 min, pace 9:11/M
Third 5K ~ 28:26 min, pace 9:09/M

I am so proud of how far I have come, I am so proud of my daughter for running with me! My oldest even said after that maybe she would run the next one! There is something about doing this as a family! You don't want to give up when you are all in it together! 

This has been a journey! I never intended to run a 5K when I first decided to go for a run. I really didn't even plan to run much at all, I showed up to give it a try. When I started this journey I was confidant I was not a runner, today I am confidant that I AM!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

High Five for Friday the 13th!!

Happy Happy Friday the 13th!!

Try not to walk under any ladders, step on any cracks, drop towels, break mirrors or get in the way of any black cats today! Ha!!

I am so glad it's Friday! It means the weekend is here!! Yay!!

Highlights for the past week:

1. I ran my third 5K on Saturday Night! It was awesome, hard, but awesome!

2. I have gotten in several great runs this week even with the cold cold temperatures and rain!

3. We are making serious progress on our home renovation project, new roof on, old gutters off, old fascia boards off, new fascia board on, soffits and fascia painting underway and new gutters coming in today! New windows are next! Exciting!! 

4. Almost all our Christmas shopping is complete! Now let the wrapping paper and ribbon madness begin! 

5. It is better to give then to receive. We are trying to find even small ways we can give this season. There are a slew of local charities and people in need and so we are making donations as we are able. It does feel good to give! I encourage you to give it a try!

Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth for H54F!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

One of our favorite traditions at Christmas is selecting our Christmas Tree. We started this tradition when the girls were little and have continued it throughout the years. Generally on the weekend after Thanksgiving we travel to the mountains, find a Christmas Tree Farm, walk around through the farm looking at all the trees until we find the perfect one, then we cut it and load it up to bring it home and decorate. 

We generally will spend the afternoon in the mountains, having hot cider or cocoa at the farm, then maybe a little shopping and lunch thereafter!

For many years we went to the same farm in Newland, NC. Fraser Forest located off of Old Jonas Ridge Road. This year however we traveled through Boone to Panoramic View Christmas Tree Farm. It was a beautiful day and we found a beautiful tree!!

It is so much fun making these sweet memories with my family! 


May your holidays be merry and bright!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Table Rock, NC

It is hard to find inspiration in the midst of tragedy. 

On November 3, 2013 James and I and my soon to be father-in-law set out to hike Table Rock. We had a beautiful day and perfect cool fall hiking weather! 

We had planned to share a post all about Table Rock and its amazing hikes, breathtaking views and great camp sites. Table Rock always has been and always will be one of my favorite places in North Carolina. I climbed, repelled and camped here as a teenager and have enjoyed numerous hikes as picnics here as an adult. I have some great stories and some scary stories from my visits to this mountain all of which are some of my very favorite stories to tell.

Unfortunately nine days after our hike, on November 12th, the beautiful mountain was engulfed in wild fire. Our hearts have been broken. Officials anticipated complete containment as of yesterday. I have not heard the latest update but I do know that containment is near.The fire has burned about 2,600 acres over the course of the last 13 days. This is devastating.

Table Rock is located off of  FR-210. To get there you take Hwy 181 to Gingercake Road (about 4 miles south of the parkway/Hwy 181 intersection). Follow the road to the left through Gingercake Acres. You will drive several miles and follow signs to Table Rock Picnic Area to access the Summit Trail. Many of the trails between Sitting Bear, Hawksbill and Spence Ridge will also connect to Table Rock. Naturally now is not the best time to go as these trails have been closed due to fire. Once re-opened proceed with caution and be on the look out for falling limbs, trees and unstable ground.

The cause is of the fire is listed on InciWeb as Human.

This weighs heavily on my heart. I can’t help but wonder, was this accident or was this intentional? I cannot imagine the guilt and shame one must feel to know a preventable mistake resulted in such tragedy and I cannot begin to understand what might have compelled someone to be so horrible to have set this fire with a malicious purpose. Either way it is heartbreaking.

There is a person officials would like to speak with related to this fire. Please read this article and notify officials if you know this person or have any information.

Regrettably there is not much else we can do. We watch and listen as the fire spreads and the firefighters work to contain the fire and mitigate the damage. What we can do is remember the very simple message I am sure we all learned in school or scouts which is that “Only you can prevent forest fires!”

When camping our fire is necessary to keep us warm and help us prepare our meals, it also generally does a good job of keeping critters at bay.  Our camp fire is beautiful and one of the best parts about camping but we must acknowledge and accept that a camp fire is a huge responsibility! It is our job to keep a watchful eye on our fire and to properly extinguish it when we no longer have the need. The best method for putting out your fire is to follow these steps:

1. Allow the fire to burn all logs completely to ash.

2. Stir ashes and scrape any remaining embers off sticks. (Do not bury the fire, the fire can smolder and re-surface after you have left the site.) 

3. Pour water over all embers and ash, when the fire is out you should not hear any hissing or cracking.

4. As a general rule you should be able to touch the remains of the fire and feel no heat. If water is limited you can use soil to help extinguish but remember not to bury the fire. Stir in the water and/or soil until the remains and ground are cool to the touch and preferably wet.

The number one cause of forest fire is human accident or carelessness. Please, please, please put out your fire completely every time!

Throughout all the news feeds about this fire we have been so sad and sorry for all the animals who have lost their natural habitats. I have wondered about the animals and how they survive such a horrible event like this. I have learned that very few animals are actually killed in forest fires, thank God; most animals will recognize the danger and vacate the area. Generally they will begin moving back in to the area even before the smoke clears. The biggest threat to wildlife however is the loss of food and shelter. One careless act has resulted in all this. This breaks my heart.

I have also wondered how long it would take for this area to recover. I have read that the forest may take 20 years or more to begin the recovery process if the area is properly weeded and replanted. If not properly tended it could take as many as 100 years. Soil quality diminishes after a high-intensity fire for up to five years and erosion becomes a significant threat not allowing or supporting new growth and many of the scorched trees (particularly those with badly scorched crowns) will die within a few years. Luckily the Linville River is nearby; land near water will generally recover faster than other areas.

We have not yet traveled back to the Table Rock area to see what remains, I am not sure I want to. We want to remember it like this:

Majestic, magnificent and beautiful.

It is hard to find inspiration in the midst of tragedy but in this tragedy you can be inspired to learn more about forest fire prevention and consider making a donation to your local not for profit wilderness association, fire department or conservation society. They are much needed in times like these!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Toms Creek Falls

The weather is turning chilly which means our outdoor adventures will go into hibernation for a little while pretty soon. We are trying to squeeze in all the day hikes we can until then. We also are getting ready to begin house renovations which are projected to tie up our weekends this winter.... We decided to wait to do our remodeling until the winter since we wouldn't be on the go quite as much and we figured it would be best to stay busy during the colder months so we don't go stir crazy or get cabin fever!

We went this past weekend to Toms Creek Falls. I am not sure I'd even call this a hike, it was a short .8 mile easy walk through the woods. It was a beautiful fall day!

The trail is easy to see and is fairly flat, following the stream along the way. In the sunlight the trail glistens with mica that was mined from these mountains.

Once at the end there is this beautiful 60 foot waterfall to behold! 

You can easily get to the base of the waterfall and in the warmer months even enjoy the pools beneath it.

Cross the creek at the bottom of the water fall and round the corner and you will find an old Mica Mine. This, to me, was the best part of the trip! Simply fascinating!

The mine is now filled with water so you will want to be careful not to slip in. Also beware of falling rock.

You will see quite a bit of mica on this trail both on the rocks and on the ground.

There is also and old watermill foundation that remains. This watermill was likely used to provide power for the miners as they worked in this cave. There are even a few scattered primitive camp sites along the route.

We are so happy we found Toms Creek Falls nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains! If you haven't been you should plan a trip!

Toms Creek Falls is located 7 miles north of Marion, North Carolina, just off of US 221. From the intersection of US 70 and US 221 North in Marion, NC, drive about 5 1/2 miles North on US 221. Turn left on Huskins Branch Road, just before the old Woodlawn Motel. Go approximately 1.5 miles and you will see a small gravel parking area on the right just before a small bridge. The trail begins to the right of this parking area. When the trail forks, follow the left fork along creek.
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