Getting Ready to Roll

When we were trying to decide where we wanted to spend the summer and possible job opportunities, working for the National Park Service was always high on Rob’s list. There are always more applicants than positions available, and some people apply for years before getting on while others never do. When Rob began his application process toward the end of last year, he figured it was just the beginning of a very long process.

He applied for every position he came across that he felt he was qualified for, as well as some that were long shots. The great thing about the Park Service is that they are everywhere, and the great thing about being wanderers is that we can be anywhere. So, deciding we wanted to spend some time on the East Coast, he applied for jobs all along it.

The rejection letters began coming in and Rob decided that he would gain valuable experience (and have a blast!) as a raft guide, so he applied for and accepted a position here in Tennessee. We arrived in March and intended to spend the summer here, not expecting anything from the Park Service this year.

We were sitting up in a look-out tower in the Smoky Mountains when Rob received a call asking him if he was still interested in a Park Service position up in Pennsylvania. Was he ever! Over a month passed before he heard anything else, but in May, he was able to begin the pre-employment background check, which was a process in itself.

This last Monday he received his official job offer, and he is to begin is new job next week. Our time here in East Tennessee has been wonderful. We have done and seen so many wonderful things and hiked some amazing trails, but it is time once again to venture somewhere new. We are all excited about going to Pennsylvania since we have not been there as a family before. It is a state full of history and new learning experiences for all of us.

We have spent the last couple of days preparing to take Waldo back on the road. We tend to spread out a little bit when we are stationary, so we usually have some stowing to do. Everything is pretty much ready to go and tomorrow we will hit the road, hopefully by early afternoon, or as soon as Rob is able to take care of some last-minute things at work here.

While Rob’s position in Pennsylvania will only last a few months, it is a great opportunity for him to get his foot in the door. Hopefully it is just the beginning of years of new opportunities around the country. This is exactly what he has been hoping for.

Pennsylvania here we come!!

Almost ready to roll...

Almost ready to roll…

Mission Accomplished

Truly it may be said that the outside of a mountain is good for the inside of a man.  ~George Wherry, Alpine Notes and the Climbing Foot, 1896

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We set out today to complete our Hiking in the Smokies challenge. The goal for families is 50 miles, and we began the day with 47.4. We hiked the Gatlinburg trail today, one of the two trails in the park that allows dogs. The trail connects the town of Gatlinburg with the Sugarlands Visitor Center, and is 3.8 miles round trip. Upon completion, our grand total was 51. 2 miles.

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We have enjoyed so many wonderful adventures while out on the trails. The Smoky Mountains have so much to offer, and we are glad we had the opportunity to spend so much time surrounded by their beauty. We crossed rivers and creeks, found frogs, birds and countless bugs, scaled a lookout tower (well, the brave ones did…), admired wildflowers, looked for bears, watched the trees bud, raced down trails, laughed, and spent some quality time together. In the end, we finally did see our bear, and we witnessed an amazing transformation as the Great Smoky Mountains came to life after a long winter’s rest.

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Spending so much time out in the woods and on the trails has been good for all of us. The kids have learned so much about bugs and little critters and nature in general, not to mention they have become excellent spotters and are able to see things that Rob and I would walk right by. We have all learned the names of some trees and flowers that were previously unknown to us.

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Hiking is something we will enjoy for years to come, but since we are scheduled to leave Tennessee soon, it may be a while until we return to hike more in the Smokies. For now, though, it feels good to have completed something we set out to do. We were determined to reach 50 miles here in the park, and while we did repeat a couple of the trails, every mile was unique and thoroughly enjoyed. I’d say that’s a mission accomplished.

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Until Next Time…

My parents came for a visit this week. They arrived on Monday evening and were able to stay until about noon on Thursday. Time must know when we want it to slow down, because it always seems to go faster.

Tuesday morning was spent down at the river watching the rafts at the put-in. Lots of busses arrived at about the same time, but they had to wait until the power house released the water, so there was quite the traffic jam. We watched rush-hour for quite some time, and then it was time for Rob to take us on our own raft trip. My dad took pictures from the bank while the rest of us were on the water.

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We ended the day with dinner at a very tasty local restaurant and a movie back at my parents’ cabin.

Tuesday found us in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. After over three months here and almost 50 miles of hiking in the park, we finally saw a black bear. My parents must have brought some good luck because the bear was right off of the trail to Clingmans Dome, one of the most popular spots in the park. He was content to eat in the bushes for a while and then he wandered off.

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We celebrated William’s birthday after a full day of driving and sight-seeing. Grampy was even here to give him his 10 birthday spankings. which made William laugh. He is feeling pretty cool now that he is in his double digits, and he loved that Grammy and Grampy were here for his birthday.

Thursday was spent sharing pictures and enjoying a little more time together before my parents had to be on their way. It doesn’t seem to matter how old I get, I always hate it when they have to leave. I love the time we are able to spend together, and I find myself wishing we could have at least a few more days together. It just makes me appreciate our time together even more. They were off to North Carolina where they will spend a week at a beach house before flying back to Idaho.

I was surprised to learn that with all the traveling my parents have done, neither of them had ever been to Tennessee, so we were happy to give them a reason to come.

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Thank you so much for the wonderful visit, Mom and Daddy!! We love you!!


Double Digits

Boy, n.:  a noise with dirt on it.  ~Not Your Average Dictionary

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Ten years ago today, Rob and I met William Clark for the very first time, and at that instant, everything we thought we knew about parenting and babies went right out the window. William is pretty much the opposite of normal, whatever that may be, and that is what makes him so special. He has kept us on toes every second of his life, and I have a feeling that he will continue do so for the rest of our lives. He is unpredictable and stubborn as heck. His hobbies including pushing buttons and breaking all the rules. He also enjoys turning my hair gray. And I love him to the moon and back. Thank you, William, for being… you. Happy 10th Birthday!!!

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.  ~Mother Teresa

Happy 10th Birthday, William Clark!!!

Happy 10th Birthday, William Clark!!!

Likely as not, the child you can do the least with will do the most to make you proud.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

Charlie B. and Remington P.

Remi loves to get Charlie in trouble. He walks by him, gently rubbing his tail under Charlie’s nose, teasing him mercilessly. When Charlie launches, he gets yelled at, and Remi walks away, laughing as he goes. Lately he has been doing this more and more, encouraging Charlie to do his playful little dance, ready to tug-of-war with Remi, and Remi bats at him with his imaginary claws. Charlie hops around with his front legs on the floor, butt high in the air, tail wagging, desperate to play with this furry little kitty who always manages to get away. It is really quite funny to watch, but at 15 years old, Remi is not the tough “warrior” cat he once was, so we do not encourage Charlie, with his pointy puppy teeth, to launch at him. But despite how often Remi tries to lure Charlie into his trap, we know that he secretly loves having him around. They sleep together on the couch. They stare together out the window. They are buddies. Pals. Friends. Just don’t ask Remi, because he would never admit it…