Spring … Actually Lasting longer than ONE week.

FEATURED IMAGE BY Doug McPherson Photography of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TGSMNP).

I have lived in Mississippi and Louisiana most of my life.  Spring is always the nicest WEEK of the year.  In some places, (like way-south Louisiana) it is the nicest DAY of the year.  Winter is nice, but wet a third of the time, cold a third of the time and warm the last third of the time (honest)…with the occasional tornado mixed in.

Let me testify:  Spring in East Tennessee is heaven, TRULY.  Wild flowers, dogwoods, redbuds, multi-greens as the trees leaf out, rain, sweet breezes, fragrances, day temps under 75 degrees Fahrenheit (often way under), night temps 40s & 50s.  The world is new and fresh every morning . . . for more than a week (honest)!  Pollen is not as heavy (?).  Pine pollen in Mississippi is heavy and turns EVERYTHING green for a month.

Photos taken in the last several days of Knoxville (the dogwood and the cherry blooms were almost gone, but oooooh the Azaleas), TGSMNP, and an attraction (new to us) called Parrot Mountain and Gardens (web link below).

Ornamental Japanese Maple Every yard on the trail had at least one or at least one weeping maple.

Ornamental Japanese Maple
Every yard on the trail had at least one or at least one weeping maple.

Cherry blooms were mostly on the ground, pink pavement, oh my!

Cherry blooms were mostly on the ground, thick-pink pavement, oh my!

Oh how the English do their pomp and circumstance!

English Dogwood:  Oh how the English do their pomp and circumstance!

Stately Southern Dogwood Knoxville, TN

Stately Southern Dogwood
Knoxville, TN

Azalea Riot in the Knoxville Dogwood Festival Trails

Azalea Riot on the Knoxville Dogwood Festival Trails

Rhododendron (lavender)

Rhododendron (lavender)

Rhododendron (red)

Rhododendron (red)

We were greeted with bird, “hellos”, and had them eating out of our hands. . .climbing on our backs, arms, shoulders, heads and pulling on my earrings.  We had smiles the entire tour.

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http://www.parrotmountainandgardens.com/

WE HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON

In mid-January we drove from California to Louisiana in five days.  We then rested with sweet daughter and her sweet family for a week; catching up on many, much-needed hugs.

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From Louisiana we drove to Orlando (by way for Orange Beach, AL to visit long-time friends) to attend sister-in-law’s retirement event.

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From Orlando we drove to Tennessee by way of Atlanta where we spent the night and had dinner with our adopted daughter, Michelle.

Michelle

Between Atlanta and east Tennessee, we stopped to stretch our legs in Toccoa Falls, Georgia — a must see, for sure!

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In Tennessee we had snow/ice for three weeks holding up the moving, settling in portion of our life.  We spend most of that time on the rehab of the condo, since we couldn’t get our stuff out of storage.  We had to sleep on the couch for two weeks.

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We have been setting up a base in East Tennessee since early February.  We have moved into a small condo and completely refurbished it.  It would be totally finished by now had I not gotten vertigo in mid-March (I’m better, but not quite 100%).  Sweet husband has basically had the balance of the work on his shoulders since then.  We had friends from Virginia drive down for a week to help with the heavy moving and installing.  I have family an hour from here who have also stepped in to lend a much-needed hand.  We have taken a few days off to rest, recuperate and visit with our friends in this beautiful part of the country.  (pictures of our friend/family helpers and much-needed time off above).

It is our goal to be “Living in our minivan” again this summer, so getting organized and well is our only goal.  We are proud to report we have found a church and met a couple of nice locals.  Onward and upward.

Below are pictures of the almost finished/organized base of operations.

LR bedroom kitchen

As time allows, I will get back on this blog to show you this beautiful National Park.  Next weekend is the Dogwood Trail and Art Festival in Knoxville.  This is one of the oldest festivals in our nation.  We plan to go, if that happens, I will post pictures.

Flora and Fauna: Maine

We had the great fortune to spend four months in Maine (July – October).   It is the most beautiful place.  Flowers galore, extraordinary coast lines, lake and mountain views to take your breath away.  We were told there were many animals we didn’t have the opportunity to see (Moose for example).  I will leave you with choice pictures rather than words, as both do not show justice to my wonderful Maine.  I stand in awe of God’s majestic creation.

Beach Rose (grows wild)

Beach Rose (grows wild)

Thousands of little islands covered in life

Thousands of little islands covered in life

Fuchsia and Friends

Fuchsia and Friends

Wildflower Garden Rockland

Wildflower Garden Rockland

Camden

Camden

Whales off shore from Bar Harbor

Whales off shore from Bar Harbor

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Korean Dogwood Tree blooming in July in Maine

Korean Dogwood Tree blooming in July in Maine

Dahlia (Maine is overrun with beautiful gardens)

Dahlia (Maine is overrun with beautiful gardens)

??? Just another example for the wild flowers in abundance

??? Just another example for the wild flowers in abundance

West Quoddy head light (Eastern most point in the US)

West Quoddy head light (Eastern most point in the US)

Japanese Garden near Booth Bay

Japanese Garden near Booth Bay

Star Flowers

Star Flowers

Red Mushrooms

Red Mushrooms

Screw Auger Falls, North Oxford, ME

Screw Auger Falls, North Oxford, ME

Blueberry Barren Wild blueberries turn red in the fall)

Blueberry Barren Wild blueberries turn red in the fall)

Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas

Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea

Botanical Garden in Booth Bay

Botanical Garden in Booth Bay

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Who knew grass changes color in the autumn?

Who knew grass changes color in the autumn?

Sweet Rose of Sharon

Sweet Rose of Sharon

Monarch

Monarch

Katahdin Mountain Maine (where the Applacian Trail starts)

Katahdin Mountain Maine (where the Appalachian Trail starts)

Katahdin Mountain

Katahdin Mountain

Beach in Acadia National Park

Beach in Acadia National Park

Lobster in abundance - YUM!

Lobster in abundance – YUM!

Chip or Dale

Chip or Dale

Smoke Bush

Smoke Bush

Japanese Garden near Bar Harbor

Japanese Garden near Bar Harbor

Fatigue. . .

We have been on the road in our minivan since May.  I have pretty much covered our driving through New Mexico…then we got busy(er) and busy(er), it seems.   We have been overwhelmed by the beauty and enormity of what we have seen and done daily.  We literally fall asleep by 8:30 each night and sleep until 7:00 the next morning (unless there was a football game that Sweet Husband needed to see-I can actually through them).

Sweet Husband and I are over 60.  I know, I know. . . I’m shocked, too!  We are like toddlers we get really tired and grumpy w/o a nap.  We do not get naps, there is no time, which is why I haven’t posted on the following as yet.

Here is a list of the amazing places I will still report on (I promise):

  1. Sedona, AZ (3 nights)
  2. Las Vegas, NV (2 nights)
  3. Ronald Regan Library (one night & one FULL day)
  4. John Paul Getty Museum (1/2 day…not enough)
  5. San Diego, CA (5 nights)
  6. The Tournament Of Roses Parade (Pasadena, CA—4 nights)
  7. Continue up Hwy 1 to Big Sur, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey, San Francisco, Muir Forest, the Avenue of the Giants and Yosemite (weather permitting)  [Many nights]
  8. Then we head back to our neck of the woods (I’m assuming)
  9. Big Sur (to me) is the closest thing to heaven here on earth!  REALLY

Pictures below, to tease you, from each location. . .

Ragged Point (South end of Big Sur)

Ragged Point (South end of Big Sur)

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

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La Bra Tar Pit

La Bra Tar Pit

Van Gogh @ Getty

Van Gogh @ Getty

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Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

Pacific

Pacific

Getty Museum

Getty Museum

Princess Float

Princess Float

Coronado Hotel

Coronado Hotel

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Regan's Oval Office

Regan’s Oval Office

What happens in Vegas . . .

What happens in Vegas . . .

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Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Painted Desert, AZ

Painted Desert, AZ

How I got to New York

Many years ago, when I started experiencing an “empty nest” I felt depression and gloom slipping in to my life.  I had four children and their friends constantly in our home and I loved the crowd, the laughter, tears, empty pantry. . .   This kind of change is extremely difficult… “Mother” was an identity I had had for many a year and was a painful transition.

Naturally, I could not halt the movement of the usual and proper progression of life.  As a Christian, instinctively I took this dilemma to my Lord for wisdom, comfort and direction.  He reminded me of all the things I said I wanted to do once I got my children raised and on their own.  I called it, “My Someday List”.  This was years before The Bucket List came out.

When I had the responsibility of children to raise, naturally, I had different financial, time and energy priorities. During this chapter of my life, when I would see something I wanted or wanted to do, I relegated it to the “someday” list in my head.

Now, let me be clear about the list. This list is ONLY for the really, really important stuff that needs to be seen, done, or experienced before this life ends.

I am aware that some folks don’t have an actual list….I do and I recommend one.

The top 10 items on my someday list are:

  1. Fall in love again
  2. Visit the Grand Canyon.
  3. Walk into the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans
  4. Tour Ireland with my sister   AND
  5. Learn to sail
  6. Visit NYC and Niagara Falls
  7. Write a book and get published
  8. Ride on a Hot Air Balloon
  9. Attend my granddaughter’s wedding
  10. Meet all my great-grandchildren

We can find plenty of excuses to not do some of the things we want to do or we can allow other people and their “someday stuff” to take precedence, if we are not careful. I made my list, I wrote it down, I didn’t let anyone take precedence and I laid it down before God and let Him cause it to happen.

I’m writing this to encourage you to kick out the excuses because I started learning to sail several years ago! I purchased a 16′ Hobie Cat and took it out on the beautiful Barnett Reservoir with a friend and an instructor. My heart hasn’t smiled like that in a long, long time.

I have fallen in love again, I have written a book, I have been to Ireland, I have been to the Grand Canyon – twice! I have been to NYC (twice), Niagara falls and Saratoga and Buffalo and Lake George. I even got a bonus of seeing Wicked on Broadway.

My friends, make a someday list and do something on it soon! Please don’t put it off any longer! You never know, you might not have as many “somedays” as you think.

For me, life is NOT a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming WAA-HOO, What a Ride!

As I have said (many times), “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.”

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