Spring has Sprung!

I absolutely love spring, and I think it has officially sprung here in Pennsylvania. Charbie and I went for a nice walk through the park this evening and it was incredibly beautiful. There must be a million shades of green out there. After a long, drab winter and seemingly endless rain, the variety of colors is extremely refreshing.

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The orchard is blooming and everywhere you look, colorful flowers are poking their little heads up through the grass. Out in the pasture, the lambs are strong and energetic, wearing out their mamas by the end of the day. The water wheel has been turned on after a winter of rest and all of the bright grass has been freshly mowed. This coming Sunday is sheep-shearing day here at the park, and nothing says spring quite like sheep-shearing.

With spring comes the end of another school year and a new group of high school gradates. This year my nephew, Ian, will be one of those proud graduates. When I graduated from high school, (which does not seem all that long ago) Ian was only three weeks old, and here it is time for his graduation already. My sister made me promise years ago that since Ian was at my graduation, I would be at his. I may be thousands of miles away, but I am not one to break a promise, so on Wednesday, the kids and I are flying back to Idaho.

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We had originally planned on driving, but my family is so amazing, (and they said it would take us too long to drive and they wanted us there sooner) that they bought us plane tickets. The kids are crazy excited about getting to fly. Will flew when he was two, but I don’t think he really remembers it and the twins have never flown. I am just super excited for what will be waiting at the other end of the flight.

We will be back on the western side of the U.S. for three weeks and in that time, we will visit Grammy and Grampy, Great Grandma, aunties and uncles, cousins and two very dear friends of mine. I will get to see two aunts whom I have not seen in 13 years, and will even be running a half marathon with one of them. We will spend time in Boise, Spokane and Reno. We will be there for three birthdays and the graduation of one amazing young man. The only one missing will be Rob, who, unfortunately, will be staying home so he can work and hold down the fort. I wish more than anything that we could all go together, it is just not possible.

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As for the kids, May 20 marks the end of the school year for them and they, too, will be turned loose for the summer. We have some things we need to work on over the long break, but for the most part they will be free as wild birds. Another school year has flown by…

So many exciting things happening, so many amazing places to go, so many wonderful people to visit… I. Love. Spring.

She’s Here!

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~Kahlil Gibran

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Today is one of my favorite days of the year. I have always been hopelessly in love with spring, so when she returns after a long winter, it always makes my heart smile. And today just so happened to be one of the most beautiful starts to spring I have ever seen. From a morning walk to an afternoon on the beach to a sunset stroll around Pea Island, most of the day was spent outside enjoying the warm sunshine. If today had decided to continue on forever, I don’t think I would have complained one bit… Happy Spring my friends.

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It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain

Can we keep him? – Part 2

I thought I had seen it all, so today when the kids brought home another lizard, I was not surprised, although I must admit that this one was a little bigger than all of the others.

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And when they ran home saying they had found frogs, I was not surprised then, either. When they returned to the creek and brought some home, they looked as I expected. At least two of them did. But Nathan’s frog made me look twice. This was a first…

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And since we are on a reptile kick, I would like to share our snake with you. The kids and I came across her down at the river, and while I did not know she poisonous at the time, we did not dare get close to her. We waited patiently on an elevated log until she was ready to move on. She eventually took off into the water and we were free to move again. The biggest difference between the snake and all the other critters the kids have found is that nobody asked to keep this one…

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Scene from Saturday

The sun finally decided to make an appearance today after what felt like weeks and weeks of nonstop rain. It was warm and bright and refreshing. None of us wanted to come inside, so we spent as much time as possible outside. We read down by the river, squealed at a big snake (which Rob thinks may have been a cottonmouth…), watched some rafters, wrote letters in the grass, and started our annual farmer’s tans. It was a glorious day, and I am so excited that tomorrow is supposed to bring more of the same.

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Welcome Spring!!

We decided to celebrate the arrival of the wonderful new season with a hike up a mountain. We are taking part in the “Hike the Smokies for Families” and the goal is to log 50 miles in the park. Rob had the day off today so it was the perfect time to add some mileage to our book. We chose Mt. Sterling since it is relatively close to home and had a decent distance to it without being too unrealistic this early in the season. Hiking in was fun because it was uphill. Every. Single. Step. I kid you not, but I suppose this is how it goes when you are on your way up to a lookout tower!

I am amazed every time we take the kids out just how well they do hiking. They do stop from time to time for a quick rest, and they cannot be quiet to save their lives, which makes seeing any wildlife pretty much impossible, but they are such good sports! No matter how far we try to drag them, they always go willingly, rarely complain about anything and they have never once asked to turn back. They absolutely rock.

As I mentioned, we will never see any wildlife while out on the trail, we just make too much noise. William can’t leave sticks alone, and once he gets one in his hand, he proceeds to whack everything that crosses his path. And they all like to talk. A lot. When we were almost at the top of the mountain today, Catheryn spotted a paw print in the mud. It was a fresh print, made not long before we passed by, but the black bear who left it heard us coming, no doubt, and was long gone.

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As we rounded the corner, we finally caught our first glimpse of the lookout tower.

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Everyone wanted to climb to the top, despite the fact that it was old and rickety. I, too, wanted to make it to the top for a few pictures, but as we got closer, I realized it was much taller than I had originally thought.

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I don’t consider myself to be afraid of heights, but this was a bit much for me. I attempted, but couldn’t make it past the second platform. I handed the camera to Rob so he could take some pictures for me and he and the boys went to the top. Catheryn and I sat on the bottom steps and ate some trail mix, hoping to see a black bear walk by.

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As imagined, the view from the top was pretty amazing, even if I did have to see it in pictures. After a break and small snack, we began making our way back down the mountain. It was cold and getting colder, so we were grateful that the trip down went much faster than the trip up.

We saw only one person in the 4 hours and 15 minutes it took us to complete the hike, and he was headed down while we were still heading up. We may not have seen any animals, but we had a good time anyway. It was peaceful. And beautiful. And I cannot think of a more wonderful way to welcome Spring, the most amazing of all seasons.

This evening I logged 5.4 miles in our book, which takes us to the first milestone: a stamp at 10 miles.

Great Smoky Mountains

Rob begins his white-water training on Monday, so we are enjoying our last weekend of freedom. It was such a beautiful day today that we decided a drive was in order. About 25 miles down the road is the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We hadn’t been there yet, and it was about time we added a new stamp in out National Parks Passport.

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While there are miles and miles of trails we plan to hike over the course of the summer, hiking was not on the menu today. Our main goal was simply to check out the area. Much to our surprise, there is no entrance fee to get into the park. Instead, it is run off of donations and sales from the gift shops.

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Some of the roads are still closed because of snow and ice, but we were able to drive up to the top for a scenic overlook. It does not look like much now, mostly because of the large number of deciduous trees, but in a few weeks time, it will come to life with about 50 (or perhaps even more) shades of green and will be absolutely beautiful.

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After a stop into the visitor’s center for our customary sticker and pin, and information on the trails, we took a nature trail that led to a small waterfall. Many other people had the same idea today because of the warm and inviting sunshine. As we were driving home through Gatlinburg, Tennessee, we were amazed at how many people were walking the streets! If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was the middle of summer and not mid-March.

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Tomorrow is supposed to be another sunny day, and who knows what it will bring. Hope you are enjoying beautiful weather in your neck of the woods!