A Place to Make One Believe in God

 

I am one who feels the presence of the Lord most strongly when I am tromping about in His raw creation. In other words, natural places with lots of trees and few people about. Handsome and I decided to take a trip to such a place. For the last 5 and some days, we have been exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via the gateway through Bryson City North Carolina. Handsome found us a most beauteous cabin for our base of operations, and while I will certainly post pictures of its fabulousness, I am far more excited to share some shots of the wonders we found on our various adventures.

A shot from the first trail we followed. Easy walk, nothing rough.

A shot from the first trail we followed. Easy walk, nothing rough.

Handsome kindly posing on a rock bed we made our way on to during our walk.

Handsome kindly posing on a rock bed we made our way on to during our walk.

Handsome spotted these two floating along, and thanks to my new lens I could actually capture them properly.

Handsome spotted these two floating along, and thanks to my new lens I could actually capture them properly.

From that simple trail, we were pointed in the direction of Mingo Falls. Please be aware that in order to reach these falls, you have to climb about 170 steps of varying size with an unyielding, steep incline. However, the sight is definitely worth the climb.

Glorious

Glorious

Frozen Teeth

Frozen Teeth

Closeup

Closeup

As long as I live, 
I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. 
I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, 
storm, and the avalanche. 
I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, 
and get as near the heart of the world as I can.  John Muir
From the falls, we decided to take a drive along The Road to Nowhere. No, this is not just an unofficial title created by a Shel Silverstein enthusiast, that is actually the name of this stretch of highway. Despite its lack of intelligent stopping point, the road was full of wonderful overlooks, and a tunnel that hid an incredible treasure. (NOTE: Some of the following pictures may include some profanity and inappropriate images. I tried to pick the least offensive shots, but just in case, my posterior end is covered.)
Did not expect to find this in the Smokies

Did not expect to find this in the Smokies

One of the (many) sections of wall

One of the (many) sections of wall

Another closeup

Another closeup

Yup, yards and yards of graffiti and street art. The tunnel was probably around a quarter mile, and every inch from front to back and six feet up was crawling with layers of paint. I could not have been more overjoyed because such a plethora of this type of art is often difficult to find, let alone photograph. The credit goes to Handsome who prodded me to go with him into the tunnel. The above pictures are just a pittance of what I photographed.

A shot from one of the pull offs on the RTN

A shot from one of the pull offs on the RTN

And another

And another

Our final hike proved to be the most difficult hike that either Handsome or myself have previously encountered. The trail is called the Smokemont Loop, which is 6.5 miles round trip. The distance does not seem so terrible, but here is the breakdown. The first 2.5 miles is consistently uphill. Not just a minor incline, I am talking a steep, unending uphill battle that does not have any breaks to its name. Then, the next two miles are a sharp downhill where keeping your feet is glorious fun. Finally, you then have two more miles of flat terrain, crossing over the river on occasion. Please also note we had done a 3/4 mile nature trail prior to this hike, so all things told we hiked 7 miles that day with about 3 miles (the nature trail was also mostly uphill) of it being uphill. I did not get pictures of the first four miles because I was a little preoccupied with actually accomplishing it, but later in the hike I remembered to enjoy pretty scenery.

A more calm part of the river

A more calm part of the river

Handsome and I enjoyed these little bridges immensely

Handsome and I enjoyed these little bridges immensely

I just really like this shot

I just really like this shot

I chatter, chatter, as I flow,
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever. Alfred Lord Tennyson

The sights I have seen only more strongly instill in me the Presence of that Whom I love most dearly. I hope to return to here, as well as go on to find more such places in this wide world.

 

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A Story about a Day

“I hate Valentines Day.” The boy looked at her as she said this. Animated as usual, gesticulating vehemently with sandwich in hand, she expanded on the statement as he knew she would. “Seriously, most obnoxious day to be in public school. Not only do you have to listen to the constant barrage of romantic idiocy that will only turn into another fight, but it’s the damn stuffed animal wading that drives me up the wall.” She paused for a moment to take another bite, the diatribe on hold until she had thoroughly chewed her food. Something that was nice about her, the boy thought. While she did tend towards histrionic speeches, she also tended not to spew food when she delivered them. To prove his continued engagement he asked, “What do you mean, stuffed animal wading?” The girl looked at him closely, trying to decide if he actually cared about the answer, or if he was merely humoring her eccentric nature. Deciding that she did not really care which was the case she went on, “You know what I’m talking about. People insist on purchasing the largest, most out of control plush toys, usually of the bear variety, for their lover of the moment. The whole day is spent trying not to get bulldozed by a thousand pounds of synthetic fur accompanied by the static cling from the balloons. Gahhh!!” She ripped at her sandwich again, chewing with an abandon that he knew she didn’t quite notice. The boy considered her words for a moment. Though a deep thinker, he was not one for the long speeches that she seemed to enjoy.

“I like Valentines Day,” he said. She looked into his face, waiting for him to continue. Another nice thing about her. She didn’t immediately assume he liked it simply because he had a girlfriend. “I know people take it to an unnecessary extreme, but I like a day that let’s me show I care. Not just for my girlfriend, but for everybody.” The girl considered him for a moment, moving on from the sandwich to her next food item. “Don’t get me wrong,” she began, “I think flowers and chocolate are lovely. That kind of token is nice, really. Especially flowers. But, people just ruin everything that could be simply expressed. I guess,” she paused. She turned her eyes over his shoulder. “I guess,” she continued in a gray tone, ” that I know I’m also jealous because I know that I will not receive anything. I mean, obviously I would hate those freakin’ teddy bears regardless of my relationship status. But, it’s heightened you know?” The girl continued eating, and the boy regarded his friend. An idea formed quickly, but he didn’t share it with her. Lunch moved onward, as did the day, and he bid her farewell keeping his surprise close.

The girl arrived early the next morning as usual. She had an early class that, while odious, was necessary and thus she pulled into the student lot. Exiting the car, she paused in surprise. The boy was also getting out of his car, although he hadn’t noticed her yet. His presence was odd considering she knew that he never came in this early. Cocking her head, she called, “What has you in so early?” The boy looked up, a smile immediately curving his mouth. “Glad I caught you,” he called back, walking towards her. She noticed his hands were behind his back, his smile now appearing mischievous. She felt her eyebrow arch slightly, the stirrings of a question beginning. Before she could give voice, the boy brought his hands forward with, “Happy Valentines Day.” In his hand, held out to her, was a single red rose that was just beginning to open its petals. Speech died within her, replaced with the kind of delight that only happens when a kindness beyond expectation occurs. She gently took the rose, pressed it to her nose, and smiled at him with all the joy that one can press into a smile. “Happy Valentines Day.”

Full Time

Do you know, I was nervous that not having a job would mean my life would get less interesting. Perhaps that sounds naive, but if you consider the amount of hours one puts into a full time position, then you can understand how I was nervous that I wouldn’t have much to fill those hours once the job was gone. Well, you can cross those fears off the list of anxieties that plague me. Within the last two weeks, I have driven a good portion of the east coast of the United States (Florida up to Connecticut to be precise), spent copious amounts of time with friends in multiple states, been applying out my ears for new jobs, battling dragons and gremlins of varying size and viciousness, working out, dreaming of sky castles and their foundations, tunneling out of snowy waste, and navigating my relationship with a man who I have only thus far enjoyed long distance. I will not pretend that life is idyllic seeing as there are certainly things that plague me, but, as I said, dragons and gremlins (for the record, not all dragons are nasty, but a portion are rather rude and tend to use their size and fire-breathing capabilities for less than savory endeavors.)  Ultimately, I am just musing on the fact that, though I love working, I wish that people here could be allowed such a holiday that I am having now. Obviously I am seeking work, but wouldn’t it be truly glorious to just be allowed to enjoy not having a fixed job for a while? To simply pursue living uncomplicated by the institutions that twist our guts and make us feel anxious because they are the new predators that replaced other animals when we evolved? I have to wonder what it will take for everybody to demand time to truly enjoy living. There is so much to explore, and certainly people make it happen within the confines of working so hard, but wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if we determined the limits of our time rather than working within a convention that we had very little say in creating? Musings are another way I have been spending my time 😉

Everything That Has Happened

I feel like I have been flung into a completely unfamiliar universe that is trying to play at being familiar. I suppose that happens in a sudden upheaval. When I moved to Florida, everything was different, from faces to the fact that seasons disappeared. I find a delicious comfort in that. As I said, adapting to a new place is one of my chief delights. Now, I am back in a place where the cold rips right to your ribs, and I recognize the faces and places that once required evolution on my part. None of this makes much sense to those who are only acquainted with my adventures through the blog. So, I shall lay out all that has happened since I posted last

– I visited a relative whom I shall call the Silver Lady. She took me on many a wonderful adventure from cracking pecans, to a shop full of curiosities, to a restaurant of the most delectable southern cooking ever to grace my meagre palette. A trip that shall definitely receive its proper due in a later post.

– My most recent job became a thing of the past. The contract was up, and I thus left with the park with no regrets and no intention of returning for another season. I do not wish to outline the reasons in this venue. Suffice it to say that I have only so long to seek an opportunity to enjoy what I do more often than I do not, and I refuse to let that time fly from me.

-I left Florida. With the job over, and no intention of seeking another season, I decided it was time to fly northwards again. The accessibility of the east coast is much easier to tap when not at the very southern tip of the country. Also…..I did not want to stay in that location. I am a child of seasons, and a lover of the cold. Not many agree with me, but I would rather be shaking from the organs outward with chill than be an inconsolable puddle of melting misery, with the heat peeling out every ounce of strength. I like to be reminded of how special the sun really is, and I love a winter landscape. The trees are exposed and vulnerable. Standing against the sky they look human. Much as Florida’s constant greenery is a beauteous sight, I crave change in the things I see every day. There are other reasons far more practical, but I deeply missed winter, and that in my mind was just a good a reason as any.

-I said goodbye to those I would miss. For some, I was able to bid them farewell at a local bar on the  evening of our last day. Most of the seasonals ended on the same day I did, so we gathered at a bar to enjoy drinks and contemplate our varying amounts of freedom. For others, I managed to meet up with them at places of good food and drink, swapping final stories and promises of contact. Though my heart did clench slightly, I also have distinct feeling temporary when it comes to goodbye. My industry is far too small for truly permanent leave-taking. Eventually, you will see everyone again.

– I made the move in a car, and Handsome joined me for the ride. He flew down just to help me pack, clean my apartment, and escort me from Florida all the way to my new dwelling in New Jersey. Odd as it may sound, Handsome and I do really well in a car for hours at a time. Though we have certainly known each other long enough to have exhausted our topics of conversation, somehow, we still manage to fill hours with talk that makes those hours move as smoothly as dark chocolate. Thus, the trip was well and truly a pleasure.

-I moved in with the parental units. As happens with early adulthood, sometimes we need to live somewhere that allows us to get our bearings before striking out on the next adventure. My parentals are being extremely gracious, and I expect that I will not be with them overlong. The nice thing is, they are glad to have me with them. Even nicer, I am glad to be with them as well.  The house is not the one I spent my childhood within, nor the dreary in between place they had for a time. This house is large, and holds light like a stained glass window. Every room is a cheerful color, so that the overall effect is akin to the inside of a box containing pastel Skittles. A mile from the beach, a minute from a gym, and situated so that I am only three hours from most of my friends, the house is a good place to sit and breathe for a time.

I am now visiting Baltimore, where a good chunk of my community is found. There is a new play festival here, and, although I care little for football, with a town that loves their team so obsessively, I couldn’t possibly not stay for the Super Bowl. I have been delighted to see those that I love, eat incredible food, listen to new works, and make dinosaur landscapes using mashed potatoes, broccoli, and dino-shaped chicken nuggets. There is joy, sadness, and strangeness all bound in me right now. But, as I said, such is to be expected with such a major upheaval, and there is much still to do before the sorting of myself can occur. So as usual, hobey ho! So we go.