Christmas 2020I wanted to send out Merry Chistmas wishes to all my friends and family and I think it is about time for an update on…well, what I have been up to lately. But first we woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland for Christmas morning. This is a first for me.Currently I am back doing what I love…hiking. I am in North Carolina spending time with my Mom for the holidays, but more on that later.
If you don’t already know, I spent the summer traveling out west. It was amazing and you can read all about it in the previous blog posts. As my trip was coming to an end I realized that I would need to go back to work. On the last day of my 4.5 month trip, at the end of October, I sent in a resume for a temporary dental hygiene position. Why temporary…, because I really don’t want to have the commitment of having to go to work 52 weeks a year. I would like to do some substantial travel in the coming years. Anyway, after submitting the resume they called me less than a half hour later and sent up an interview. I was shocked to get a call so soon after sending in the resume. The interview was scheduled for a few days after I got home and a few days after that I was back to work again. It all happened so fast, and the best part is the office is awesome and it is only temporary!Mom and I have been spending the our time together enjoying the outdoors. We have been driving back roads and hiking trails. We set out on our first adventure and of course it involved a dirt road, it seems that most trailheads are deep in the woods. But this dirt road had an added twist. There was a ford involved with some quick moving water flowing over it. As we approached it I thought I would just hop out and make sure it wasn’t to deep and looked ok to cross it in Mom’s truck. But Mom was just chatting away non stop like she usually does (I can assure you it is so hard to get your own words in when she gets going) and before I know it, I realize she is not going to stop. She just barrels right through it like she does this every day!?!? Meanwhile I am sitting next to her with my eyes about to pop out of my head in shock! And she is still chatting away like you can do anything in a truck! Luckly we made it through with out any problems. The dirt road was well graded and the few ice filled pot holes were easily avoided with Mom’s confident truck driving skills.We arrive at the trailhead around 1pm with blue skies and the temperatures in the mid 40’s. It is a beautiful day, although upon enter the woods with the thick rhododendron trees covering the trail, it seemed really cold and the trail is lined with ice. We carefully make our way down the trail to our destination Big Laural Falls.
Big Laural Falls
While on trail we meet another hiker and she tells us about Mooney Falls, another waterfall just a short ways up the road from the trailhead we are parked at. The waterfall is practally road side so we decide to go see that since we are so close.
Snowman on top of Wayah Bald
We spend the whole week getting outside and enjoying nature until Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve came with all day rain which turned into evening snow.Wishing everyone the best for a Happy New Year.“The only thing that stands between you and what you want from life is simply will to pursue it and the faith to believe it is possible.”-unknown author
Monday November 2, 2020
I am back home now after 4.5 months of travel. It was the trip of a life time. Something I will never forget just like my Appalachain Trail thru hike. I logged over 10,000 miles in the van and have no idea how many miles I hiked. I explored about a dozen national parks, several national monuments and a few state parks. I am so blessed to have been able to do and see so much, but it was also a choice that I made. I chose to make it happen. So get out there people and follow your dreams you won’t reget it!
“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sunday October 25, 2020I picked up my friend, Pat from the Asheville airport on Friday and we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway(BRP) to Crabtree Falls. The falls were beautiful with lots of water flow and the fall color. The hike to the falls was a very slow trudge behind a long line of slow people. It was really pretty annoying and not enjoyable at all. I felt like I was at Disney World waiting in line for a ride. Luckly it was a loop trail and the trail past the falls was very steep so most of the people were going back the way they came. I made Pat take the steep route so we could escape the crowds. The trip on the way back was much more enjoyable although the steep section was unbelivebly steep. We were grabbing anything we could get our hands on to pull ourselves up. We looked like Spiderman scaling a wall. We both made it up safely and Burkley seemed to have no trouble at all.
I was hoping to grab a first come first serve campsite at Crabtree Meadows Campground but it was closed. So I treated Pat to a parking lot site at Cracker Barrel in Asheville and her first shower in a tiny wetbath.
Blue Ridge Parkway
On Saturday we continued our way down the BRP to Mt. Pisgah campground and were able to get a site for the next couple of nights. We started a 7+ mile hike to the top of Mt Pisgah. I told Pat we could turn around anytime she wanted to. But she decided she wanted to do the whole thing. Little did we know that it would involve climbing about a mile of stone steps to the top of the mountain. Again the trail was crowded and there were dozens of people at the top, but the view was filled with beautiful fall color.As I am laying in bed last night I hear something out side. I think to myself that is sounds like a bear getting into someone’s food. When I take Berkley out the next morning the guy in the camp across from me tells me that a bear dragged his cooler off into the woods. He had some food in it and left it outside all night. Everyone of the sites here has a bear box to store your food in it. People are so careless. Pat talked to some other campers and they told her that the bear had also gotten food from other campsites on previous nights. Most likely the bear will have to be killed now because of careless people.This is all a new experience for Pat. She has never done any hiking before so she is pretty sore today (Sunday). It looks like it is going to be rainy for much of the day so she is going to get a rest day today before I drag her back out on the trails tomorrow.
Monday October 26, 2020
Skinny Dip Falls
It rained almost all day yesterday. I got out for a few short walks with Berkley, but that was it. There was no hiking. It was still raining this morning at 4 am when he woke me up to take him outside. It was a quick pit stop then we both climbed back in bed until it was light out.
Today we got to see a couple of very nice waterfalls. I have seen them both before and would view them regularly if I could. The first was a short hike to Skinny Dip Falls. It is located at MM417 on the BRP. You also have a view of Looking Glass Rock from the same parking area.We also saw Looking Glass Falls. A waterfall located about 10 miles off the BRP on 276. It is a roadside waterfall, with a massive amount of water flow.
Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Rock
Tuesday October 13, 2020
I had a couple more days of rain and now I am starting to dry out. I am in North Carolina now. The color is just starting to show and leaves are falling from the trees. I will be meeting up with my Mom tomorrow and Jim will be there the day after. I can’t wait to see everyone.
I tried to hike to a waterfall this morning, but didn’t make it. There was a creek crossing that looked more like a river after all this rain. So I turned around. It was good just to be on a non-dusty trail. Althought there were plenty of roots and rocks…something I haven’t seen in a while.
I am back in the Eastern time zone with the humidity reaching 80%. It is terrible for my hair. I am having bad hair day after bad hair day. Out west I would just wake up run my fingers through it and be done.
Thursday October 22, 2020
I have spent a few wonderful days with Jim and more than a week with Mom. It was a major treat to eat Jim’s cooking again rather than my own. I made some quesadillas for Mom and I after Jim left. I accidentally burnt the last couple. Mom being a mom offered to eat the one that was burnt the worst. She did make a comment about needing a skillsaw to cut through it and used double the amount of salsa that she normally would but she made it through it. Mom’s are the best.
We spent our time hiking, talking and a whole lot of relaxing. The place she rented this year has a fabulous mountain view.
Tomorrow I am headed up to Asheville to pick up a friend that lives in my home town. She will travel with me on the return trip home.
Rufus Morgan Falls
Saturday October 10, 2020
Hurricaine Delta and I have collided. It has been a nonstop rainy day. It makes it very challanging for me to get Berkley out. He has a distaste for rain and will not go out in it. I found a couple of shopping centers that had some cover and made due with that. On a positive note hopefully it washed some of the bugs off the van.
I have finished driving through Oklahoma, there is nothing to tell. Arkansas was short and sweet. Definitly more to see. There were tall trees along the highway and fields of beautiful yellow crops. I don’t know what there were. Oh, Tennessee you are so beautiful! I see mountains again. Some fall color is starting to appear. I long to hike your trails, but the rain…I will have to come back another year.
Wednesday October 7, 2020
It has started to get fairly cold out west so I have started my return journey back east. I will stop in North Carolina and spend a week with my Mom before heading home. She has rented a place up there for a few months.
I have exited Colorado, traveled though Texas and have just entered Oklahoma. It is flat, boring and buggie. I don’t know what kind of bugs they are but the front of the van is covered. It is like living in Florida during lovebug season.
I am also in the central time zone and my hair is starting to friz again. I had some great hair days out west, but no longer.
I passed by acers and acers of cows packed in fenced corrals. I couldn’t believe the number of cows in each pen. It was a very sad site. This is something all you big time meat eaters need to see. There was no grass, just dirt that I am sure was just packed with feces. The smell was horrid! I’m sure they were all to be butchered soon. I sure am glad I don’t have love for beef. I have watch documentaries on how horrible animals are treated but never I have I seen it in person.
On a positive note…I managed not to burn my popcorn tonight. I think I have figured how to pop it in the van.
Thursday October 1, 2020
We continue our northern journey up the Million Dollar Highway over Red Mountain Pass. It is even more spectacular than the previous two pass. Although the prettier views also come with more hairpin switchbacks and steep dropoffs, some without guardrails. I was white knuckeling it, and driving as slow as a grandma.
Once safely reaching the town of Ouray, Colorado I stopped to enjoy a short waterfall hike to Cascade Falls before continuing on.
Town of Ouray
Heading down the road.
Wednesday September 30, 2020
I left my wonderful camping spot to travel up the Million Dollar Highway between Durango and Ouray, Colorado. It is part of the 236-mile-long San Juan Skyway that squiggles through the rugged San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. The scenery is stunning. I climb the first pass over Coal Bank summit at 10600 feet, with the RPM’s reaching 4500. It is a slow chug. I pull over multiple times to let vehicles pass by. Once passing over the summit the view is eye popping and I get goosebumps. I pull over to take pictures, becaue some how Mom found out I was taking pictures while driving and it was causing her to have heart palputaions.
I continue on white knuckled through hairpin turns and exposed sections without guardrails to Molas Pass at over 10900 feet. Again I stop for more pictures.
I descend into the town of Sliverton and find a place to camp just a couple of miles outside of town near Mineral Creek.
Our camping spot.
Our view of the area.