Life with Charlie B.

Two weeks ago today we were in Knoxville picking up Charlie. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it has been having Charlie around. He is quite the character. Curiosity is his main trait. He runs from window to window watching everything: birds, cars that come and go, the kids playing, other campers, squirrels. Nothing gets by him. He is such a smart boy, and very funny. He dances for treats, goes potty with a ball in his mouth, inches his way between us when we are going to bed, drops his toys behind the couch and then slithers under it to retrieve them, turns into the Tasmanian Devil when he plays in the water. He even loves Remington P. Cat, although he does tend to snuffle Remi a tad too much from time to time. We cannot help but smile every time we look at him, his wild and crazy nose hairs going every which way. He has officially inherited Bailey B.’s middle name, Boy, so he is now affectionately known as Charlie B.


Hiking the Smokies

On our first trip to the  Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we picked up a booklet called Hike the Smokies for Families. Basically, the goal is for the entire family to hike 50 miles together. Once you have completed your first 10 miles, you get a sticker in your booklet, then at 25 miles you get a pin. Another sticker gets added at 40 miles and then the final pin at 50. Since our kids are all so high energy and we all enjoy getting outside, we thought this would be the perfect challenge for us.

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We completed our first hike in the park on March 9, and since then we have hiked a total of 32.4 miles. We originally thought we would have the entire summer to complete the mileage, but since Rob will be working for the park service come June, we will have to complete the final 17.6 miles within the next month.

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We are trying to get our miles in without overdoing it so we are doing a mixture of short and long trails and are trying to split up hiking days. Yesterday was a beautiful day for a drive, but neither Rob or I were up for a long hike, so we went to Clingmans Dome instead, which is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is a steep half-mile trail that leads up to spectacular views from the top.

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At the top, we ran into some Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, since the trail crosses right by the dome. They were already 200 miles into their 2200 mile journey and I found myself wanting to jump on the trail with them. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is on our list, but it will not happen for several years. We need time to plan and train and the kids need to be big enough to carry their own gear. If all goes as planned, Rob will celebrate his 50th birthday somewhere along the trail, and a short four days later, I will celebrate my 40th.

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The drive through the park was amazing. The trees are green, wildflowers are blooming. It is spectacular. The trees in the higher elevations are a little slower, but with the beautiful sunshine, I know they will not be too far behind. I am so grateful that we are living close enough to the park to be able to experience all of the changes and to have time to explore as much of it as possible. Normally it is into a park one day and out the next and you leave feeling as though there was still so much to see, but I think that when the time comes for us to leave the Smokies, we will feel pretty good about all we were able to see and do.

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Earth Day 2013

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Introducing Charlie!

Meet Charlie, the newest member of our traveling family! He is a beautiful little pooch about a year old. He is part Miniature Schnauzer, part Jack Russell Terrier, and part Tasmanian Devil. And he is absolutely perfect.

We knew we were getting ready for a new dog to join our family, but we hadn’t come across the right one until we saw this face online on Saturday. We just knew he was the one for us, and we were so excited about him that we drove halfway to Knoxville on Saturday night, before we even had a reply to our inquiring email. We were sure that we would receive a call any minute and we wanted to be ready to go meet him.

But we did not receive a call, or an email, and it was getting late, so we decided to head home. We assumed we were too late and he had already gone to a new home. We were both happy for him and a little disappointed at the same time.

Sunday morning, just as I was about to head out on my run, Rob checked email and told me that we had a message from Charlie’s dad. Rob assured me that if we were allowed to go meet Charlie, he would come pick me up mid-run so we could go back to Knoxville. As it turned out, we were invited to go meet Charlie, but we had to wait until the afternoon when his owner was off work.

We still headed to Knoxville earlier than necessary. I guess you could say we were a little excited. Normally we don’t have any trouble at all passing time, but Sunday was the slowest day in the history of man. We were convinced that 4:30 would never come, and we had to fight the urge to spend the day waiting on his porch.

We fell in love with Charlie almost instantly. He was happy and energetic, just what we were looking for. Even his size was perfect. I am grateful that his owner trusted us to take good care of him.

I must confess, though, that I had a lump in my throat as we led him away. I remembered leaving the farm and having to find homes for our sheep and chickens, barn cats and ducklings. I remembered standing in the driveway and watching my animals drive down the road without me, and how much it hurt to let them go. And I felt guilty. But I also knew that we would be giving Charlie our very best, and somehow, that made it better.

We have had Charlie now for a little over 24 hours, and he truly is a wonderful dog. He is a fast learner, very sweet and extremely playful. He is absolutely perfect.