Can we keep him?

I am so that glad my kids are not afraid to touch things. They stick their hands into dark, damp holes and don’t even think twice about it. I admire this about them. Their courage, their bravery. Or perhaps it falls more along the lines of craziness and insanity? I am not exactly sure, but must they bring home everything they find?

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I have gotten used to the various lizards, some living and some not so much. I am not sure how they manage to find some of the little guys, but they do have a talent for it. I guess they get tired of lizards after a while and feel the need to mix it up a little. I am not sure if I should be grateful for this or not, but it doesn’t seem to matter one way or another. They bring home their new “friends” regardless.

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Isn’t he just adorable? All right, maybe adorable isn’t quite the right word here. I turned down multiple offers to pet him, and instead encouraged the kids to take him on home, to his home, that is. I am sure his mama was missing him.

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And then there was the turtle, which Nathan found just this afternoon. Unfortunately, this little guy must have had a rough winter, because he was dead. Learning this made Natie cry because he loves turtles so much. But he did what any turtle-lover would do, he buried him. And after a short service, he went off in search of a live one.

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I am sure that if he does not find another turtle, he will find something else worthy of bringing home. Another toad perhaps, or some more caterpillars, another bird or a baby bunny. And when the kids arrive home with their new-found friend, they will ask the age-old question:

“Can we keep him?”

A Better Shot

Despite the cold weather, Rob still spent most of the day on the water, practicing his guide skills. As planned, the kids and I headed down to the river in hopes of seeing him float by. We arrived with only minutes to spare. I did not even have a chance to begin reading to the kids when a couple of rafts came floating down the river. And there, guiding the second raft, was Rob, bobbing along with a big grin on his face.

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Let the Training Begin

Yesterday was Rob’s first day of white-water guide training. After some classroom instruction, they ran the river. Then they ran it again, and again. The kids and I managed to see him on his first trip down, but unfortunately my pictures did not turn out very well. Tomorrow they are supposed to run it four more times, so I think I will try to get some better pictures. Today was a lot more classroom instruction, but they still managed to run the river twice. By the end of the week, he will be a certified white-water raft guide. He will then spend the rest of the month running the river, practicing, learning the water and getting ready for the summer season.

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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!

Back in Tennessee

After wandering aimlessly (and loving it) for the last month and a half, we have finally made our way back to Tennessee. This little town, well, it’s not so much a town as an exit off the freeway, is nestled in the mountains and has the Pigeon River running right through it. It consists of a couple of gas stations, an RV park, a few houses and about a half a dozen rafting and adventure companies. Since it is still so early in the year, and tourist season has not yet begun, we have the campground completely to ourselves. This is very beneficial in that we can send the kids out to play without worrying about disturbing other campers. This came in handy this morning since we woke up to snow. The most snow we have seen all winter. Needless to say, we had some very excited kids.

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A Glimpse of Summer

It only took ten days, but we were finally able to pick up the last pair of glasses we had ordered. And in doing so, we were officially free to head on down the road. So we said farewell to South Carolina as we crossed the border back into North Carolina. And now we are spending a couple of days in a cute little town in the Appalachian Mountains.

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We are only about 40 miles away from where we will be spending the summer, but since we are not scheduled to arrive at our RV park until Friday, we decided to do a little exploring. After we swung by Rob’s new place of employment so he could pick up the wet suit he had ordered, we set about scoping out the river he is going to be rafting. It is a nice looking river and I don’t think he is going to mind showing up or work four days a week, which is how many days the river is fed by the reservoir. The town is located in the mountains and is quiet right now, but once the rafting season begins, it will be thick with tourists and adventurers.

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The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is right next door along with the Appalachian Trail. Completing the AT in its entirety is on our bucket list, so today we decided to get a little taste of it. Running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the 2,181 mile trail covers 14 states. In about five years, we hope to be among those who set out to complete the trail. Today, though, we enjoyed a very small piece of it. I am so grateful that our kids love being outside and in the woods. I have the feeling that a lot of our time this summer will be spent on the trail. And on the water.

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