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My JOYFUL REFLECTIONS header picture is a picture taken on 10/20/16 on our visit to the Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. I had never seen so many different colors of Poinsettias before... These HOT Pink ones were gorgeous.
Showing posts with label FRIENDS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FRIENDS. Show all posts

Monday, November 7, 2016

Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky 10/24/16

Four fantastic friends together:  Neal, Patti,  Betsy,  George
As we have done for several years in October,  George and I meet our good friends,  Neal and Patti,  from Indiana for a few days of hiking,  and enjoying each other's company.  This year  (October 24-27), we went to Kentucky.

We stayed at a gorgeous lodge (with awesome food in their lodge restaurant) at Natural Bridge State Park,  near Slade,  Kentucky (east of Lexington).  What an awesome state park.... George and I had never been there before,  so we were amazed to see such beauty not that far north of where we live... We highly recommend this state park IF you are ever in Kentucky.  A link for more info is HERE.

The only thing which disappointed us this year was not seeing much Autumn COLOR at all.. The ranger said that it was because that area had also been dry (like we are here in TN).    BUT---this disappointment didn't stop the four of us from having a marvelous week together...

Patti  had done all of the research for the trip ---and that made it possible to see much more than we might have seen IF we had gone without having the plans already made...  Thanks to Patti!!!!!

TODAY---I'll show you only one day of our 3 days together... This was our first day (10/24) when we saw quite a bit of the Natural Bridge park/area.... Even though we did quite a bit of hiking each day--we could have stayed for many more days in Kentucky.

Hope you enjoy our 'day' in pictures.  You can click on the pictures for enlargements...



We first rode the SKYLIFT up to the top of the mountain.  That is Neal and Patti --who were behind us.



We then hiked to see the Natural Bridge.  George took this picture of Neal and Patti on top of the bidge.  See that overlook in the distance?  That is Lookout Point (which we later hiked to see the bridge from that side of the gorge).  



The hike from the top of the bridge to the bottom was a NARROW one through the rocks... You'll understand when you see the next picture below!!!! ha



HA HA ----Glad I had lost some weight --or I wouldn't have been able to get through this area.... ha ha



We made it down that narrow trail to the bottom of Natural Bridge...  WOW--how gorgeous is this!!!  George was smiling for sure....



We took the Battleship Rock Trail ---and hiked below an enormous rock formation in the shape of a SHIP.  (I'll show another picture of the ship from another overlook.)  The rock formations (everywhere we hiked on that day) were awesome.  I loved the colors and designs in this one.



The one thing about hiking DOWN is the fact that we have to go back UP----way way up ... Pant Pant!!!!  This is called the Devil's Gulch Area.



Beautiful area --but a LONG way up all of those steps to the top



As we climbed those steps at Devil's Gulch --we admired all of the gorgeous rock formations all around us.  Pictures don't do that area justice.  You just have to be there!!!



I just had to post one more picture from the steps at Devil's Gulch --so that you could see some of these HUGE rock formations. 


After getting back up those steps,  we hiked on the Laurel Ridge Trail.  We walked back past Natural Bridge and on to some gorgeous overlooks.   WOW---what a beautiful area and great views.  Love this huge rock!!! 





  From that same area,  we could see the HUGE SHIP where we had hiked beside earlier (on the lower trail)  .. I can see now why they call it a ship. Amazing ---and so enormous!



A Great View from that same area from Lover's Leap  (Don't leap, Honey!!!!!! ha ha )



We kept hiking and got to Lookout Point... This is where we could look back at Natural Bridge (where we had walked across the top --and also down to the bottom)... What a beautiful natural bridge for sure!!!



We took the Rock Garden Trail (and the Low Gap Trail) back down the mountain to our car.  This was a pretty trail since we did see some gorgeous Autumn colors in this area.  



We crossed under the SKYLIFT while hiking back down the mountain...  After all of the hiking we had done,  I was wishing at that time that we had taken the skylift back down the mountain also... ha ha 



BUT--if we had taken the skylift back down the mountain,  we would have missed some of these marvelous designs on the rocks/boulders along that trail...  Love seeing the pattern of CIRCLES!!!



After a wonderful afternoon,  we came back to our lodge (Hemlock Lodge),  had a wonderful dinner at the lodge restaurant ---and then a restful evening!!!!!   
So---that was our FIRST day--and it was AWESOME....Hope you enjoyed seeing more from Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, Kentucky.....  AND--stay tuned for more from that wonderful trip.

Hope you are having a great November so far.  We still need RAIN (and have gotten none).  We are in an "exceptional" drought now --which is worse than "extreme" drought... SCARY....

Hugs,

Monday, October 26, 2015

West Virginia Trip with Good Friends 10/19-23/2015

Four Special Friends along the Highland Scenic Highway 150
George and I had a fantastic trip last week with good friends,  Neal and Patti from Indiana.  This is about the 6th trip we have taken together over the past several years.  The four of us have so much in common and always have a good time when we are together.  This year was no exception.....

George and I have been to West Virginia several times ---and suggested this trip this year because we wanted to see the Autumn Colors in West Virginia since we had never been there in Fall;  AND also because we wanted to take them on one of our favorite rides,  a ride UP UP UP the mountain on an old steam train at Cass,  WV (from Cass to Bald Knob)...  Always a JOY for me/us!

All of us took lots and lots of pictures all week long---so I'll just show a few of my favorite places with you today.  Be sure to click on the pictures for enlargements.


Honeycomb Rocks off of the Highland Scenic Highway 150;  Don't you think those rocks look a little like a honeycomb????  Neat, huh.



The Trail to Honeycomb Rocks:  The Fall Colors in this area were SO pretty and I loved hiking along this trail.   To me,  there's just nothing better than hiking through the rustling leaves in Autumn.... I love the colors AND I love the 'smells' of Fall... SO NEAT!



This is Grandview,  part of the New River Gorge National River area.  This was one of the first places we visited ---and all of us were disappointed that there weren't many Fall Colors all around the mountains.  BUT--we did see Autumn Colors many other places we visited. 



You knew that George and I would just HAVE to take Neal and Patti to visit some waterfalls while there!!!!   This was the day we did the most hiking (first at Grandview and then to see these 3 beautiful waterfalls)....  This waterfall is Lower Falls of Hills Creek.  We all enjoyed all of the steps down into that canyon, and then back UP.  Needless to say, I finished the day with over 18,000 steps on my FITBIT!!!!!! I was VERY TIRED that night.



This is Beartown State Park ---and it's definitely a place that one needs to visit in order to grasp the beauty.  Pictures just don't show the real beauty there. Someone had built a wonderful boardwalk throughout the area ---and from that boardwalk,  we saw some amazing rock formations, boulders,  ferns, moss and more... This turned out to be one of my favorite places --and George and I had NEVER been here...



We took two loop hikes at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center.  This was another favorite for me since again, I got to hike through the rustling leaves of Fall.  SO SPECIAL.  This picture was taken at the Stamping Creek Overlook along that trail.  The trees were gorgeous in this area.



We had some extra time one day so we checked out another beautiful state park,  Watoga State Park.  Here we are taking pictures of the Fall Colors and reflections at Lake Watoga. 



Neal took this picture of George and me at the T. M. Cheek Memorial Overlook at Watoga State Park.   Again--as you can see,  the colors there were awesome.



Cass Scenic Railroad:  Here's my FAVORITE part of the week (no surprise if you know me well)... I loved the ride WAY UP the mountain to Bald Knob from Cass, and back down,  on an old steam train...George and I have taken this ride 3 different times --but this was the first trip in Autumn.   LOVED it.....  (My Dad worked for the railroad --and as a child,  I got to ride on occasion in one of those engines.  Such fantastic memories.)



A View from the Train!!!!!   Going up that mountain on the train and also our time at Bald Knob gave us many opportunities to check out the views...Since the colors were so pretty and since we had a very clear and beautiful day,  we were able to get some great photos.



Finally,  on our way home (taking the back roads through West VA),  we just had to stop and take some pictures of this beautiful Covered Bridge... This bridge's name is the Indian Creek Covered Bridge.  Isn't it pretty?




AND --along that same road while on the way home,  we saw a little cemetery named BALLARD CEMETERY.   Of course,  we just had to stop and check it out.  I took pictures and also made some notes about some of the Ballards in that cemetery.  My mother was a Ballard and I have done quite a bit of Genealogy work on the Ballard side of my family.  However,  I'm not sure if any of my direct line of Ballards moved to West Virginia.   I didn't recognize any of the names --but will definitely do some research...
Well---that is just a tiny bit of all of the wonderful things we did last week with our friends.  It was a tremendous trip--and I highly recommend a trip to West Virginia during ANY season... We love it there --and I'm sure we will go back again --and again.

Have a wonderful week.

Hugs,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Catching Up ---Christmas and Beyond

Two Bloggers meet:  Ruth and Betsy together AT LAST!
Sorry I have been missing in action lately---but wanted to share some pictures from our month with you today.  Despite my knee problems and knee surgery (Jan. 8),  we did have a great Christmas and so far,  January has been good also. 

The picture above was taken on December 29, 2014 at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Nashville,  Tennessee.  Ruth Heibert  (Ruth's Photo Blog) and friend Gwen came to Nashville to attend a special Gospel Music Convention.  SO---since we are only 2.5 hours from there,  George and I  drove over to Nashville,  picked them up at their hotel and took those two Canadian ladies to the Cracker Barrel for a good ole' southern dinner..... They both enjoyed Chicken and Dumplings for the first time ---and CORNBREAD.    (Can you imagine ANYONE going through life without cornbread????? ha ha ha)

I have met LOTS of bloggers (and I love all of you) --but Ruth and I have been very special friends for many years ---back when we both started blogging... To say that finally getting to meet her was special is an understatement.  She is EXTREMELY special to both George and me.  We love her so much---and are already thinking about when we will meet again. Thanks, Ruth,  for coming to Tennessee!!!!!!  Come back SOON.


Landon (college),  Avery--age 16,  Bay Lee (college) and Brooke (graduating from high school in June)
The next day,  December 30,  George and I drove to Chattanooga to meet up with two of my three sons and their families...   Seeing these adorable grandchildren just made Christmas for this Grammy!!!!!  Aren't they beautiful --including Bay Lee's tiny little doggie!!  Landon and Avery are Jeff's children and Bay Lee and Brooke are Mark's children.  We were SO glad to see them and spend the day with them.



George with his little girl (Kelly) and her hubby (Chuck)
That same week (on January 2)---George and I drove back to Nashville to celebrate Christmas,  New Year's AND Kelly's Birthday (Jan.1) with them.  It was a cold and dreary day ---but we had a great time,  having a delicious lunch/dinner at the Dan McGuinness Irish Pub in West Nashville.  George and I both enjoyed Shepherd's Pie --which we hadn't had in a long time... It was a great day!


George enjoying his new camera lens,  a Tamron lens, 16 to 300mm
After all of the other trips we had after Christmas,  Christmas Day was spent at home with just the two of us enjoying one another.  I went 'away' from tradition this year (yipes) and we had a delicious Honey Ham (instead of turkey),  some scalloped potatoes,  green beans,  sliced tomatoes, baby carrots, pickles and cranberry relish.  For dessert,  we enjoyed some Dutch Apple Pie with vanilla ice cream on top... YUM...  (Since we still had turkey left-over from Thanksgiving,  we decided that ham would be a nice change.  And it was ---although I struggle with changing traditions... ha)

I gave George this nice lens ----but somehow,  his bride has already taken it away from him... He 'wants' me to use it so that I won't have to change lens so often... If I like it,  I may just have to buy another one for his birthday for HIM.... ha ha


Willow Figurine named HERO
George gave me lots of really nice things for Christmas ---and this was definitely one of my favorites.  Since I collect WILLOW Angels/Figurines,  I was thrilled to get this one (which I had never seen before).   Reminded me of a widow of a United States Military man killed in action.. Makes me cry!!!!  OH how I appreciate our Armed Forces and what they do for us...  Isn't HERO a gorgeous figurine?



Three new ornaments on our Christmas Tree this year depicting our 2014 trips
Besides many day trips and short trips in 2014,  George and I took 8 longer trips.  Six of them are on the ornament on the left:  Strasburg,  VA and the Shenandoahs;  West Virginia (Cass Railroad) for our anniversary;  Maggie Valley NC and the Blue Ridge Pkwy with friends;  Mt. Nebo, Arkansas with friends;  Blowing Rock, NC  for my birthday;  and Hocking Hills,  Ohio for George's birthday.   The ornament in the middle was from our trip to  Texas to visit 2 sons/families in Sept.   AND the one on the right is from our beach trip in May to Ocean Isle,  NC.  That cute ornament made me laugh since Santa is dressed up with his beach attire.  We had planned to go back to Ocean Isle the first of December --but my 'bum knee' cancelled that trip temporarily. 


Mama Says:  "Now Sweeties,  SMILE for the camera!"
I just had to include this funny picture of sons Jeff and Mark on December 30 in Chattanooga...  That was such a fantastic day together as a crazy family ---which we are... My sons were in RARE form telling stories about their childhoods and lives... I've never laughed so hard in my life.  Of course,  I told a few stories myself that day!!!!!! 



Two crazy people on Christmas Morning at our home!!!!!  

After looking at this photo,  you will know where those two funny guys in the picture above this one get their craziness.... Do you think their Nutty Mama had anything to do with it????????? (Don't answer that!  ha ha)

Speaking of a Nutty Mama,  I was barely standing and not doing much walking on Christmas morning... But---how could anyone keep a crippled girl from dancing on Christmas?   (I do think that George was there to catch me if I fell!!!!! ha)


A very happy Mom and her Three Sons  (on January14, 2015)
This is a picture that I will cherish forever... I seldom get to see all three of my sons together ---but did on January 14  (which was only 6 days after my knee surgery).  From left to right:  Mark--45;  Me--old woman;  Jeff--43;  and Bert (called Tre)--51.

What brings families together more than anything else?  FUNERALS.....  My sons' wonderful Grandmother died and her funeral was that day in Knoxville,  TN.  Laura Wilhite (age 99) was loved by all,  including me (since she was my ex-mother-in-law) and my sons and grandchildren.

Even though I was still re-cooping after surgery,  I cleaned up and we went to the funeral... I did great that day --but really felt the pain the following day... BUT--it was worth it and I am very glad I went.  Just having my sons with me for a few hours was worth everything.


Hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas.
Finally,  I want to wish each of you a Happy 2015.... I INTEND to have a great one.  I apologize for being away from blogging for so long. To look at all of these pictures,  you'd think I was doing GREAT... Truth be told ---it has not been easy for me.  I will do an entire blog about my knee/surgery/recovery, etc.  sometime  AFTER I am totally well and back to myself again... But--just know that I am okay and am gradually getting better and better.  Thanks be to God.

I will try to be back to blogging again sometime the first week or two in  February.  In the meantime,  be sure to check out my January quotes on my sidebar.  There are some good ones...

Thanks for all of the comments/emails/Facebook comments/messages/texts,  etc... George has even had people asking about me on his blog.  That is SO sweet that so many people care.  God Bless You ALL.  I have so many wonderful friends.

Hugs,