My World and Welcome to It!

These are my thoughts and opinions about life in general. I also get daily prompts from DSP which inspire me to write. If I throw in some scrapbook pages I've done, photos I've taken, and stories about me, you will have an idea about my loony life!

Monday, May 31, 2010

I Learn Something Every Day

Last week we drove up on the spur of the moment towards the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. We have talked for a few years about going camping and hiking up there and decided that this was the perfect time. We wanted to get up there before the holiday because we thought it would only get more crowded after the holiday. On the way up there, I called the Charit Creek Lodge to see if we could get reservations for the next day and they had openings.

I’ve been a little apprehensive about staying at the lodge because I had never been there before and I knew that we would have to share a cabin with strangers. But my hubby really wanted to do this so I went along with it (the things you do for love!).

006We arrive at the Big South Fork Bandy Visitor Center. W  e met the nicest guys there at the visitor center who told us about the park and also about the animals there. They had a great educational display with skulls and pelts of different animals. We ended up spending the night at the Bandy Creek Campground (site 13A) which was up on a hill overlooking a nice field. We had hoped to see some deer b010ut we never saw any. But, we did get to see a bear on the road as we returned to the campground after dinner. Thankfully we had our new tent because a thunderstorm arrived and we were able to sit in our tent with a glass of wine as the thunderstorm passed by.

031The next day we packed up the tent and headed to the lo dge. Since we were early, we hiked in Pickett State Park to the natural bridge and Hazard cave. Then we had to drive along a gravel road to the trailhead and then hike 2 miles in to the lodge. When we arrived, we were told that we had the cabin all to ourselves for the night which was a relief. We ate some lunch and then hiked around the area before returning to our cabin. The mosquitoes were really bad and kept attacking Don so we spent time out on the screened in porch until dinner.

062At dinner we met 2 other couples from southern Indian a and so there were just six of us for dinner. It was really cozy and we enjoyed visiting with these people and exchanging stories. They had the cabin next to us. After dinner we returned to our cabin and enjoyed our bottle of wine before heading to bed. During the night Don got cold and had to get another blanket but I didn’t.

The next morning, I was up early and got to watch the sun rise. Then we had breakfast at 8am with the other two couples. It was really nice meeting them and hope our paths cross again someday. After breakfast we headed back to our car and drove around but then headed towards Blue Heron Mining 081Community. There was a nice mining museum and hike in that area. After leaving there, we headed towards Cumberland Gap and hoped that we could hike there the next day but the road was closed. So, we decided to head for home.

As every day turns out, this whole trip was a wonderful learning experience. Here are some things that I learned:

1. Not everything has to be planned.

2. People like to tell the good things about where they live.

3. Wild animals may be all around us and we just have to stop and take time to look.

4. Thunderstorms can be scary and exciting.

5. Sometimes we dread things because we worry that it will be a bad experience and then it turns out alright.

6. Worrying about what might happen can sometimes be a waste of time.

7. It is fun to meet new people.

8. Plans need to be flexible in case things don’t go the way you expect.

What have you learned today?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tribute to my Dear Friend, Grace

Today is a sad day for me because my good friend, Grace Kaufman, is being buried today in New Jersey. I’m not sure how old she was but I know she was in her 80s and I was lucky to call her my friend.

CarnivalLiberty1webWe met on a cruise in 1999. I remember this because it was the first cruise I took that I really enjoyed and it was on the Carnival Triumph. We took a 10 day cruise in the southern Caribbean. Actually, I met Grace in the ship’s store while we were looking for some reading glasses for my husband who accidentally left his at home. We were so surprised to find out that we were seated at the same dinner table that night and would enjoy each other’s company for the next 10 days. Isn’t it amazing how you can meet someone and know instantly that you would be friends? That is how I felt about Grace. We instantly hit it off and even though there was an age difference, it didn’t matter.

When I told her that I was a teacher, she mentioned how she had taught some too but now she was a travel agent. Over the years, I sought her advice a lot about traveling around the world and even around the US. She willingly told us about things we should not miss and things we should be cautious about.

Her husband, Jerry and she were a wealth of knowledge and interesting stories about the whole world. We just enjoyed listening to them over the ten days and hated to see our trip end. In fact we took a shore excursion with them to Virgin Gorda and the Baths. Since the walk was hard for Grace to do, we stayed with them as we arrived and then Grace decided that she would sit in the store and read a book while the rest of us enjoyed exploring around the beach and rocks.

When we returned home from that cruise, we wanted to stay in touch with them so I emailed Grace and asked about a trip to China that we were planning. She was so wonderful and offered to set the whole trip up for us and I’m so glad she did because she took care of little details that we never thought of! Over time, she booked some more cruises for us and we stayed in touch on a weekly basis (if not more). I was able to share with her news about my family and she did too. When I was discouraged or irritated, she always knew the right words to make me feel better.

On our visits to see family in New York, we would always try to plan a visit to New Jersey to visit Grace and Jerry. They even invited us to stay with them for a few days which we really enjoyed. We were able to take the train into New York City and then back to their house. Luckily we were able to reciprocate the visit when one time they took Amtrak to Atlanta for a travel agent event. Then we picked them up and took them to Helen, GA for dinner before returning back to our home. The plan was for them to get on the train in Greenville to return home but the train was delayed for hours so they spent the night with us. They kept trying to tell us that they would stay at the train station (which was in a really scary part of our town) all night waiting for the train but we couldn’t let them do that so they stayed in our guest room for the night.

We were so lucky to be able to join Grace and Jerry on the Carnival Liberty in Italy in 2005. It was a magical trip and being with them made it even more special. There were special events that they were invited to and they made sure that we were included which they really didn’t have to do. When we arrived in Cannes, France, Grace had worked out for us to have a private driver to take us to Monaco. I think she always worried about us going off on our own and missing the ship (which we have never done and hope to never do!). Yet, it was kind of nice to have someone worrying about us like this.

Over time, Grace’s health declined and she was unable to use her computer anymore. When she fell one time, she had to go to a rehab place to get well and get physical therapy so I tried to send her a letter often so she would know we were thinking of her. When she returned home, I tried to write letters and call but now I wish I had done it more often. We had hoped that we would be able to sail with them again but her health didn’t let her do this so whenever we took a cruise, I called her from the ship the day we boarded and then again when we returned home. I think she really enjoyed hearing all the details about our trip.

When we went to visit my parents in West Palm Beach, Grace and Jerry would usually be celebrating the Jewish holidays in Miami with their daughter. One time, my parents came with us to visit them which was special because my parents had heard a lot about my special friends. Another time we joined their whole family on a trip to Parrot Jungle which was a lot of fun. It was fun to meet Grace’s children and grandchildren too.

I can’t begin to tell you how much she meant to us. She reminded me so much of my mother who passed away over 20 years ago so I guess I was able to tell her everything and anything. I’m so grateful to her family for sharing her with me. I am so thankful that her daughter was willing to let me know when Grace was hospitalized or in bad health. I can only imagine what they thought when I started barging in on their mother’s life but they graciously allowed me to be included.

I have some precious memories of Grace in our life and I will always miss her.

Goodbye Grace! We will miss you dearly!

(crossposted on the Successful Teaching Blog)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pisgah Forest Camping 5/5-5/6

004 We got up to Davidson River campground and set up our tent before meeting up with our hiking group. There were 7 of us and we hiked the Caney Bottom Loop Trail that started at the Cove Creek Group Campground. Seeing all of the pink lady slippers was a highlight to start off the hike. We had a few creek crossings and two of the ladies turned back at the first crossing but the rest of us went on. It took us about 3 hours and afterwards we went to Dolly’s for ice cream. After eating ice cream, the others drove back home and we went geocaching. We found all three that we were looking for which gave me lots more confidence to try more. We drove up to Pisgah Inn for dinner and then returned back to our campsite to enjoy a wonderful campfire.

007 Today we got up early and went for breakfast in Brevard. Then we hiked up to Looking Glass Rock which whipped my butt today. First of all, I tried a new water bladder in my pack and it had a disgusting taste and I wouldn’t drink any water from it, which left me only a small bottle of water. It was almost 4 miles straight up to the rock face and I was afraid I wouldn’t make it. I really struggled today but when we got to the top and ate a good lunch (peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple, and some candy) I felt much better. Coming down the mountain was much easier for me. After the hike, we went to Sycamore Flats picnic area and waded in the river. Boy, did that make my feet feel so good! Then we went to the Cardinal Drive In for an early dinner but it was not good at all. Next we went back to look at the pink lady slippers and drove up a dirt road and explored. All in all, it was a good day!