Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month is a beautiful CROCUS in our Yard. When the Crocus and Daffodils bloom --that means that SPRING 'may' be on the way!!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dear Friends,  To say I am struggling now is an understatement... Life is just hitting me in the face --and I have to find ways to decide what I can do and what I cannot do...  There's just never enough time in the day anymore, and I constantly feel overwhelmed.... Guess I need to realize that I'm slowing down in my OLD AGE... ha.. AND---I need to take time to realize what is important to me at this time and what is not.  There are just so many things in this life that I want to do and see.

Anyhow---as much as I love blogging and love ALL of you,   and even though I have tons of pictures I haven't shown yet,  I just feel as if I HAVE to take a break for a little while...  I'll be back soon I'm sure.   In the meantime,  have a great Thanksgiving...

God's Blessings on ALL of you.

Hugs,

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,

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Smoky Mountain Fall Colors 10/19/16

The Chimneys,  Highway 441 in the Smokies
George and I took our annual  "Fall Colors" Trip to the Smoky Mountains and to the Cherohala Skyway on 10/19 and 10/20/2016.  We go every Fall but this was one of our best years for the colors... We just got there at the right time this year...  Pictures show the beauty --but in order to 'feel' it --you had to be there... It was almost surreal...

We started out at the Foothills Parkway where we hiked to Look Rock.  Then we drove on Little River Road between Townsend and Highway 441... Next it was up the mountain on  441 --with many stops along the way.  We also went to Clingman's Dome  and hiked to the top (which we haven't done in many years)..  The weather was perfect up there (clear as a bell)  and the colors were magnificent.  After Clingman's Dome --we got back on Highway 441 and headed down the mountain to Cherokee (where we saw the elk) and where we spent the night.

The next day (20th),  we headed from Cherokee to Robbinsville,  NC ---and then took the Cherohala Skyway to Tellico Plains,  TN  with a side trip to the Indian Boundary...  After lots of stops and tons of pictures,  we headed home... It was a wonderful short trip with marvelous Fall Colors everywhere we went.

Since I have been working on my blog headers for November,  I just decided to expand that idea for you today...  As you can see from all of the places we stopped,  I will have many different pictures to show you from all of the different areas.  But today,  I'm focusing just on the areas around Highway 441 including Newfound Gap and Clingman's Dome-- showing you some of the colors we saw...   Hope you enjoy seeing the glorious mountains and colors as much as I do.


Not far from Clingman's Dome



Beautiful Blue Sky in the background



Late Afternoon sun was shining on the mountains near Newfound Gap



Colors--colors--colors!



Layers and layers of beautiful mountains



More yellows on the top of the mountain --but the reds were evident!



Miles and miles of colorful mountains



See how the mountains were showing off their colors?  Awesome.



I love this one with the reds in front!



A beautiful day in a beautiful place!



This is in the area of great overlooks on the North Carolina side ---beyond Newfound Gap.



Two very happy people enjoying the Fall Colors  on the Clingman's Dome Road
Hope you enjoyed seeing 'our' Smokies as much as we enjoyed taking pictures to share...

There are a couple more pictures on my Photo Blog if you want to see them... Click HERE to see them.

Hope you are enjoying Fall..  As you know,  we've had a rough patch here in our area of Tennessee (due to the excessive heat and the drought)...  SO--it was wonderful getting to see the beautiful Fall Colors in the Smokies,  and just to get away for a couple of days!!!!

Hugs,