Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to JULY!!!! Our Lilies are blooming now... So gorgeous!!! Here is one of my many favorites! Meet DIZZY.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Family Homes of Two Special Friends

My Childhood Home in about 1941--soon after it was built
I met NEAL about 5 years ago through blogging.  We became friends almost immediately.  Part of the reason was our love for the area of the country where we were both born and raised.  Neal was born and raised in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee and I was born and raise several miles east of there in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

When the four of us (Neal, his beautiful wife, Patti, George and I)  met this year,  we stayed at Pine Mountain State Park in Pineville,  Kentucky ---which is close to Cumberland Gap.   SO--while in that area,  Neal took us around the area of his homeplace.

Also--while there,  we drove to Kingdom Come State Park one day,  and since it was so close to my hometown,  we visited that area also...  I loved hearing the stories about his childhood which Neal shared.  AND--I loved telling my own stories about my childhood.  As you can imagine,  we had a GREAT week together.

Today I'll share with you some photos from both of our childhood home areas beginning with mine,  which we visited on Tuesday,  10/23/13.  Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Above is my childhood home --right after it was built about 1941.  I lived there until after high school  days (after 1960)...  I loved that little home ---and the one thing I loved about it was watching all of the spruce, hemlock, boxwoods and big trees/shrubs grow and grow--through the years... The yard was very woodsy---which I loved.

After my Dad died in 1969,  Mom kept the house for a few more years... Sometime in the '70's,  she sold it (much to my disappointment--although I understood). She stayed in Big Stone Gap for several more years in a small home she had purchased... Later, she moved to Florida to be closer to my brothers.  I then had and still have no more close relatives (other than some cousins) living there.  But---it will always be HOME to me!

The people who first bought the home from my mother (it was sold again later to another couple)  made two big changes:  They put bright yellow siding on the house AND they cut down most of the beautiful old trees and shrubs....I was sad to hear that!

My childhood home in about 1941

My Childhood Home in 2013
Here is what 'my' home looks like NOW.  They have added on (porches, rooms, etc.) ---so the house really is hard to even recognize these days.   I was telling George that I have 'mixed feelings' about seeing my home now...   I'm sad that it looks so different --but I'm also happy that someone loves it and is taking good care of it!

Me standing in front of my home
George took this photo of me standing near the front of my childhood home.  The front door is the SAME ---so I was glad to see it!!!!  If you look back at the first photo,  you can see the door.  Ah--the memories!!

Me at the back of my childhood home
This is taken from the backyard.  Again,  it is VERY different---but that little garage (right side of the photo) is still there!! That garage was only large enough for one car --and not a big one!!!!! ha

Family Headstone at Glencoe Cemetery,  Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Besides seeing the family home,  we also visited the graves of my family members... I am the LAST person left in that immediate family.   My parents, both brothers and one sister-in-law are buried in that cemetery..

Me looking at family members buried at Glencoe Cemetery, Big Stone Gap, VA
George took this picture of me --as I sadly looked at the individual grave markers of my family members who are buried there.  From left to right: brother, Raymond;  sister-in-law, Evelyn;  Dad, Simon;  Mother, Edith; and brother, Jimmy.

All that remains of Neal's childhood home,  the chimney
The next day (10/24/13),  we visited Neal's homeplace.  His home was off the beaten track ---in the country.  I enjoyed seeing the old school (which is now a small church) ---where Neal and his brothers and sisters used to walk a long ways along the railroad track in order to get there.

The family still owns the property where his home was ---which is hidden up a dirt road back in a holler.... I kept telling Neal when we were at that property that he needs to build a little cabin there.  I would visit him there --and would love that privacy, as that area is surrounded by mountains all around!  FABULOUS!!!

Above is a picture of all that is left of Neal's childhood home.  I have seen photos of this chimney on Neal's blog ---and was thrilled to get to see the area in person.

This barn belongs to a neighbor (whom we met while there).  He recently bought the property, and is in the process of fixing up the old barn.  Neal's sister,  ROSE,  is also a special blog friend of mine.  She loves to write stories of their childhood---and some of Rose's favorite things to photograph are old barns.  She has featured this old barn several times ---so I'm sure she will be glad to see that the new owner is  renovating the barn --and wants to keep it in good shape.  (Click on Rose's name above to see her blog.)

Neal is searching for the old well on their property
Neal was searching for the old well --where his family used to get their water.  He told stories about how good that water tasted!   He also told stories about how his brothers and he would go 'skinny-dipping' in the nearby creek!!!!!  Ahhhh--more wonderful memories!

Neal and I checking out the old chimney
I loved listening to Neal tell his stories about his home and his childhood.  His Dad was disabled and the family struggled financially.  BUT--Neal remembers all of the good times they had --not the struggles!!!!!

The Family Property where Neal's childhood home was
Don't you think this would be a fantastic place for a CABIN??????  I do!

Headstone showing where Neal's parents were buried
Besides checking out the property where Neal's childhood home was,  we also checked out the cemetery where his parents (and some other family members) were buried. 

Nearby Barn--photo was taken from the cemetery where Neal's parents are buried
Here is another barn  (which Neal and Rose-his sister, have made 'famous' on their blogs).   The power lines were in the way when I took the photo--but I used my 'zapper' to get rid of them!!!! Isn't that a neat barn???  I'm sure that Rose will enjoy seeing this photo!!

Neal standing in front of what is left of his childhood home
Here is one last photo showing Neal at his homeplace.  Wish you all could hear some of his stories telling about his life growing up in Cumberland Gap, TN.  They are SO interesting!!!!!  I truly enjoyed visiting the area where our good friend grew up....

Hope you enjoyed seeing photos showing both of our childhood homes.  As you can imagine,  we all had a wonderful week together.

Be sure to check out my Photo Blog for a great picture of Autumn on the Cumberland Plateau.. Click HERE.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Visit with Friends in Kentucky

Having Fun at Cove Lake State Park, Tennessee
From October 22-25, 2013,  we visited our good friends,  NEAL and Patti,  at Pine Mountain State Park in Kentucky.  We have met for three Octobers in different places,  just enjoying our time together and also getting Fall photos of the colored leaves.  Three years ago, we met at Maggie Valley, North Carolina (click HERE);  last year, we met at Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio (click HERE); and this year at Pine Mountain State Park.

This year was the first year we have met when the weather didn't want to cooperate. It was cloudy and COLD almost all week... BUT--that didn't stop us from going-going-going, and having a good time!!!!

Today I will share some bits and pieces from our week --but will share much more in more upcoming blogs.  Be sure to click on the photos for enlargements.  The photo above is one George took of me having fun on a swing when we stopped to check out Cove Lake State Park in Tennessee --on our way to Kentucky!!!!

View from our room at Pine Mountain State Park
After we got to Pine Mountain,  we had to check out the view behind our room.... Pretty, isn't it????

Log Rock --at Kingdom Come State Park
The next morning,  we traveled to check out another state park that George and I  had never seen before,  Kingdom Come State Park (Kentucky).  Even though it was cold (very windy) and mostly cloudy---we LOVED this state park.  The Autumn colors were terrific.  This photo of George, Patti and Neal was taken at LOG ROCK at Kingdom Come.  This is a long rock which looks like a huge tree which has partially fallen.  It was NEAT!

Neal, Patti, George, Betsy at Kingdom Come State Park
George put up the tripod at Kingdom Come State Park and took a photo of the four of us...  We all have such a good time together... Can you tell????

Look who is talking to the bear!!!!!
We saw this sweet little cute adorable BEAR in the Visitor Center... You know that "I" had to take time to have a little 'chat' with that bear.... ha ha

Neal and Patti at an overlook at Kingdom Come State Park
We saw some beautiful views from Kingdom Come State Park.  Here's a cute photo of our good friends, Neal and Patti, at one of the overlooks.

Fog in the Valley --taken from the lodge restaurant at Pine Mountain State Park
The next morning,  this was our view from the Pine Mountain State Park Lodge Restaurant.   I love seeing fog in the valley below... We got a similar photo to this one when we visited here in June --but this time,  we enjoyed seeing some Fall Colors also.

The "Tree of Many Colors"
We visited the Cumberland Gap and Middlesboro area looking for some sunshine (we did see SOME, but not much), and more Fall Colors.... I took this neat photo of a "Tree of Many Colors".... Pretty, huh????

Overlook at Pine Mountain State Park
Here is a great photo showing some of the Fall colors from an overlook at Pine Mountain State Park.

Betsy, Patti and Neal at Lookout Point at Pine Mountain State Park
George took this photo of us at Lookout Point at Pine Mountain.   Look at that wicked sky!!!!!!!!  Can I tell you that it was COLDER than COLD standing out there in that stiff wind!!!! Yow!

At the Scenic Obed River near Wartburg, TN
On the way home on Friday (25th),  we stopped to check out the Scenic Obed River along our way.  While George took photos,  guess what I did???????  I SAT and enjoyed the scenery all around me!!!!ha

Us at the Scenic Obed River, Tennessee
While at the Obed River (which as you can tell was VERY low--with not much water), we decided to take a photo of the two of us together... Other than still being cold,  we had a gorgeous day to travel.

Gorgeous Autumn Colors along the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, Tennessee
After getting up on the Cumberland Plateau and taking the 'short-cut' through the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area,  we found the Fall Colors to be much, much prettier (at the higher elevation).  I put this photo on Facebook --so wanted to share it with you too.

Along our rocky road in the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area
George took this photo --and I loved seeing the blue skies and all of the different Autumn colors.  Isn't it just marvelous?

Beautiful Fall Colors on the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee--on 10/25/13
I am constantly looking up at the blue-blue sky and seeing so much interesting color in the tops of the trees.  I love this one!

Praise God for all of the Beauty we Enjoy!
AND---just as we got almost home on the 25th,  we noticed these beautiful red trees near the Lutheran Church in Fairfield Glade.  I managed to get a fantastic photo showing a red tree and the church steeple.   What a fabulous 'welcome home' for us!!!!!

Stay tuned for more photos from this great trip... Hope you had a good week.  IF I missed anything important on your blog,  please tell me.. I 'tried' to read blogs --but didn't have much time during the week.

Be sure and check out Neal's blog (click HERE).   Neal and Patti have been traveling through the years --so he always features GREAT photography from his trips.

Have a fantastic Monday!

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Leaf Photo Op" Day Trip --10/14/13

On October 14, 2013,  George and I took a FOURTEEN hour Day Trip to check out the Autumn Colors around our area.  We started out in the Great Smoky Mountains;  then we went on the Blue Ridge Parkway (from Cherokee to Waynesville, North Carolina);  finally, we went on the Cherohala Skyway (between Robbinsville, NC and Tellico Plains, TN).  We finished our day by eating a BBQ Dinner at Bradley's Restaurant on Highway 68 --on our way home!

What a fantastic day we had... The photo opportunities were numerous everywhere we went with the best Fall Colors at the higher elevations.... Today I will share just a few of the 800+ photos we took on Monday.  Hope you enjoy seeing our area in Autumn. 

Above is a photo of George and me taken along the Cherohala Skyway.  Be sure to click on the photos for enlargements.

Once we headed up the Great Smoky Mountains (on Highway 441 between Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC)---notice the colors we began to see! When the sun hits those mountains,  the colors really show off for us!

And look at our view from Newfound Gap (on top of the mountain ).  We love seeing fog in the valley when we are in the mountains.  (We did, however,  run into that fog when we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway later!!!!)

Once we left Newfound Gap and drove over the mountain into North Carolina,  we stopped at the overlooks along the way.  Here is George standing at one of those overlooks.  Aren't the trees gorgeous behind him?

AND--- here is what the mountains looked like in the Smokies --on a gorgeous Autumn day!

This is an interesting photo showing the sun and shadows on the Great Smoky Mountains. This photo was taken from one of the overlooks on the North Carolina side, not far from Newfound Gap (the top).

WELL---after seeing all of that fog,  when we got to the Blue Ridge Parkway (between Cherokee and Waynesville, North Carolina),  we did run through some of that fog... BUT--it was okay since we enjoy taking 'fog' photos also.  This photo was taken at Woolyback Overlook,  elevation 5,425 feet.

Here is a photo showing the colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Can you see the tunnel?????

I like this photo taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway showing the rocks and all of the colors..

Here is one of my favorite photos along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This was taken at Woodfin Valley (elevation 4,120 feet).

After leaving the Blue Ridge Parkway,  we drove to Robbinsville,  North Carolina and headed up the Cherohala Skyway (toward Tellico Plains,  Tennessee)...  We loved what we had seen in the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Parkway,  BUT when we got to the Cherohala Skyway,  we saw even more Autumn colors!!!!

Here is a picture of me ---trying to get taller!!!!!!  George is 6'4" and I am 5'5"...  There are times that I can't see in order to get the best photos available!!  SO---as I said on Facebook,  "A Girl has Gotta Do what she's Gotta Do"!!!   I'm not sure that picnic table was made for someone to stand on,  BUT.............  ha ha

This photo shows  "God's Paintbrush in Action"--don't you think????  Aren't these colors marvelous?  This photo was taken at an overlook on the Cherohala Skyway at the Shute Cove Overlook (elevation 2,660 feet).

This is a great photo which shows the vivid colors we saw on the Cherohala Skyway.

Here is one of my favorite photos from the Cherohala Skyway.   I love seeing the shadows on the mountains ---and also where the sunshine is popping through.  Wish you could have seen this in person... It just took my breath away!  God is so GOOD.

I love SUNBEAMS...  We were blessed to get to enjoy them off and on during the day.  This was also taken as we traveled along the Cherohala Skyway.

Finally,  here's one more photo of George and me  taken at the Brushy Ridge Overlook on the Cherohala Skyway.  Do you like our Patriotic Shirts????  We got them at Colonial Williamsburg!

WELL----that's our trip in a nutshell.... It was hard choosing which photos to include on this post since we both have SO many good ones... It was a perfect day in every respect --and I'm sure I'll include many more photos from this amazing day trip in the future.

Hope you have a wonderful week.   I am taking a week off from Blogging not only to get some yardwork done --but also to continue enjoying this glorious Fall Season.  I'll be back--hopefully with some more great photos-- on October 28...