Pumpkin Spice 10K (aka My First 10K!)

On November 21, I ran my very first 10K – the Pumpkin Spice 10K in Fort Worth. We had a cold front blow in that morning, so it was windy and cold. It wasn’t bad while running, but I think it got colder and windier by the time the race was over. My chip time was 1:09:37, which was faster than I expected. The race shirt is my favorite race shirt so far. It’s long sleeve and so soft. The swag also included a mug and sunglasses.

In other news, I registered for The Cowtown half marathon in February, so I’m several weeks into training for it. I also registered for the 5K, so I’ll complete the Cowtown Challenge.

Turner Falls

On October 10, we went to Turner Falls, Oklahoma with some friends.

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We parked in the lot near the entrance and walked. Our first stop was the castle.

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The kids seemed to really enjoy climbing around in it. Some of the stairs were steep!

We walked up to the campground above the castle and got our first view of the falls.

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Then, we went down to the pool and falls.

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There wasn’t a lot of water coming over the falls, but it was still pretty.

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We took a trail past the falls, to this quiet pool.

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After that, the kids played in the pool by the falls, and we attempted to get to one of the caves but chickened out before we went back home. It was a nice, short trip, and the weather was perfect!

Rahr Oktoberfest 5K

On September 26, I ran the Rahr Oktoberfest 5K for the first time. It was so much fun, and I got a PR! In fact, I was having so much fun that the only photo I took was the one of my watch when I finished. My official time was 32:09. I was surprised I ran that fast, because it was already warm by race time. Instead of a finisher medal, you get a finisher pint glass, which you can fill 3 times. I tried an Oak beer (I didn’t catch the full name), and the Oktoberfest beer. The Oktoberfest was my favorite. There were a lot of people in costume, but I wasn’t one of them – maybe next year. We’ve already decided we must run this 5K again next year.

North Carolina Vacation – Waterfalls

I love waterfalls! I love taking photos of waterfalls! So, our last day in Asheville, we visited waterfalls. We drove to Whitewater Falls, near the South Carolina border.

It is a short hike from the parking lot to Upper Whitewater Falls.
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The best vantage point requires that you climb down some stairs, so, of course, you also have to climb back up the stairs.
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I had never visited South Carolina, so, in my quest to visit all 50 states, we drove across the border to hike to Lower Whitewater Falls. While driving to the parking lot for the trail, this deer ran across in front of us and paused long enough for me to snap a photo.
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We actually missed the parking lot at first, and ended up at a viewpoint for Lake Jocassee.
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Most of the trail is through trees, so you don’t see much scenery. But, you do cross the Whitewater River.
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At one point, the trail follows a gravel road for a bit, and then it’s back into the trees and down to the falls viewing area.
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Here’s a close-up view of the top of the falls.
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According to my phone, we hiked 4.21 miles out and back.

After driving back into North Carolina, we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls.
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And, then, a short drive away, we stopped at Dry Falls.
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Dry Falls was my favorite, because you can walk behind it and stay “dry”, even though it involved more stairs.
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According to my FitBit, this day was 7.09 miles and 129 floors.

Since I haven’t mentioned food for this trip. Our favorites were Central BBQ in Memphis (The brisket nachos and pork ribs were delicious!) and Moe’s Original BBQ in Asheville. We found Moe’s the first time we were in Asheville. This trip, we picked up food from Moe’s twice and had leftovers for lunch one day.

North Carolina Vacation – Blue Ridge Parkway

On our second full day in Asheville, we drove southwest on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was cool and cloudy. We stopped at most of the overlooks.
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We left the parkway for a quick side trip to Looking Glass Falls.
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Back on the parkway, a view of Looking Glass Rock.
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We decided to do a short hike at Graveyard Fields to a waterfall. I will admit, I was a little cold here when we first got out of the car. The elevation is 5120 feet, and I was wearing shorts. We heard that the upper falls trail was closed, so we set out for the lower or “second” falls. More stairs were involved.

The trail crosses the Yellowstone Prong above the falls.
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And, then, goes down to a lovely view of the falls.
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One last look at Graveyard Fields back at the parking lot.
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Our last parkway stop was Devil’s Courthouse. We had planned to hike here, but both decided we were tired and ready to get back to Asheville and lunch.
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Just after leaving the parkway, we stopped at one last waterfall.
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North Carolina Vacation – Chimney Rock State Park

I’m finally getting around to writing about our vacation we took in June. We decided to drive back to Asheville, NC, and do the things we didn’t get around to doing the last time we visited. At the top of that list was Chimney Rock State Park. We got a later start than planned, because we were afraid it was going to rain. We finally decided to take a chance. If you like stairs, this is the place to be.
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A view of Chimney Rock on the way up.
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A view of Lake Lure from the top of Chimney Rock.
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We decided to go up further, to Exclamation Point. Look! More stairs.
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In the Opera Box, looking down on Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.
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Devil’s Head.
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We made it to Exclamation Point.
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One more view of Chimney Rock on the way back down from Exclamation Point.
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After we got back to the parking lot, we decided to take the much easier hike to Hickory Nut Falls.
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My Fitbit said we did 101 flights of stairs. We decided to take it easy for the afternoon, and went to see a movie. A thunderstorm hit Asheville during the movie, and briefly knocked the power out. That was our second movie in a row to be stopped in the middle due to a thunderstorm.

Snow!

After a relatively mild winter, north Texas decided to try to cram an entire winter into about a week and a half. On Monday, February 23, we had ice and sleet, which closed schools for two days. Then, on Friday, February 27, we got snow. It took me over an hour to drive home from work, and I left before the mad dash that occurred when most of the area schools released early. We ended up getting about 2.5-3 inches of snow, followed by ice. I took this picture of my favorite holly bush while we were getting snow.

It partially melted and re-froze, causing my 5K to get canceled Saturday morning. We didn’t get above freezing until late Saturday night, and our neighborhood streets were still icy that evening. It was so bad everywhere, Cowtown ended up canceling all races for the weekend, except for the half marathon on Sunday morning. This wasn’t even good snowman-making snow. It was dry and powdery, and ended up coated with a glaze of ice.

And, finally, Wednesday night, March 4, we got more snow. This is the closest we ever get to a blizzard.

Thursday was another school snow day. I measured 4 inches of snow in a few places, but with the wind the night before, I don’t know how accurate that was.

The kids finally got to build a snowman before it all melted.

I was able to run my 5K “virtually” on Saturday morning, so I’ll still get my finisher’s medal.

Colorado Vacation Part 4: Emerald Lake Hike

I’m finally getting around to posting the final post of our 2014 vacation. Before we started on the Emerald Lake trail, we took the loop around Bear Lake.
I was surprised at how much snow was still around this lake. It was a cloudy morning, so I was afraid we weren’t going to be able to see much on our hike.

After the loop around Bear Lake, we hit the Emerald Lake trail. I loved this hike! The scenery is beautiful! My one regret is that, in the interest of saving some weight in my backpack, I left my ultra-wide lens back in our room. I really wished I had that lens when we got to Emerald Lake.

There are 3 main lakes on this trail. The first is Nymph Lake.

Walking around Nymph Lake, we saw this dead tree.

The clouds started to lift a little after we passed Nymph Lake.

The trail had a lot of snow on it near Dream Lake.

We briefly lost the trail just before Dream Lake. Dream Lake was absolutely beautiful, and this is probably my favorite photo of our entire vacation. Hallett Peak is the peak to the left and Flattop Mountain is to the right.

After losing the trail several more times in the snow, we made it to Emerald Lake. We were the only ones there. It was so peaceful. The lake was still mostly frozen over.

As the clouds cleared out, we got some better views on the way back down.

And, two final, non-hike photos. On the way out of the park, we drove by Sheep Lakes, hoping to see some bighorn sheep. There were no sheep, but a lot of Elk.

As a huge Stephen King fan, I couldn’t leave Estes Park without stopping for a photo of The Stanley.