I started running several months ago, using Couch-to-5K. I injured myself in mid-May, but I was able to run my first 5K, Run the Rails in Saginaw, on June 1. My time was 36:02, which wasn’t bad, considering I had to walk a little bit of the third mile and it was really humid and warm that morning. Now, I’m trying to decide on which race will be my next 5K.
This year, we decided on a road trip vacation, since our flight home last year had been so much fun. The first morning, we left home about 5:30 AM, driving through north east Texas, Arkansas, and part of Tennessee. We stopped for the night in Nashville. Day 2, we drove to Boone, NC. Boone was nice, but it rained on and off for the first day and a half we were there, which meant there were practically no views from the Blue Ridge Parkway. We did stop at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park on the first afternoon we were there, where we saw Flat Top Manor.
Day 4 was my favorite day of the trip. We left Boone, and our first stop was at Grandfather Mountain. It was very windy at the top that day, with sustained winds of 30-40 mph and gusts over 50 mph. They warned us if we drove to the top to remove our hats, glasses, hold on to small children, and hold onto the car doors when we opened them because the wind could bend the doors backward. Instead of driving all of the way to the top, we decided to park at the hiker parking area and make the short hike to the top. This is the Mile High Swinging Bridge from the hiking trail.
Then, we drove to Asheville, NC to spend 2 nights.
Day 5 was a little bit of a disappointment. We had decided to drive to Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park based on recommendations I had read in several places. I’m not sure if we missed something, but most of the sites appeared to only be accessible via hiking trails, which were muddy from the rain. We did get to see a few historic buildings, but no wildlife. This is Palmer Chapel.
We drove out of the park through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Those were definitely a site to see. We spent the last night of our vacation in Chattanooga. We were so tired by the time we got to our hotel, and we were getting thunderstorms, so we didn’t see any sites there.
We have decided we are flying next year…
Since it’s the end of the year, I’m finally getting around to writing about our August vacation.
The first day, August 11, we flew into Sea-Tac, picked up our rental car and headed for Sequim, Washington. The only stop we really made was on Mt. Walker. I was hoping to get a good view of Seattle across Puget Sound, but it was just too hazy.
On the second morning, we woke up and headed for Hurricane Ridge.
We did a little hiking on the trails around Hurricane Ridge, almost got run over by this deer,
and had to walk on this snow.
Then, we hiked up to Hurricane Hill. It’s about a 1.6 mile hike, and for this flat-lander, it felt like it was almost straight up. We were rewarded with more great views at the top. Mt. Baker, Port Angeles, and Canada.
That afternoon, we drove over to Lake Crescent and did a short, fairly flat hike to Marymere Falls.
On the third day, we drove from Sequim to Longview, via highway 101. Oh, the fog! We drove through Forks, which is really as dreary as Stephenie Meyers describes it. Then, we stopped at Ruby Beach.
We drove on to Aberdeen for lunch, and finally made it to Longview. There’s not much to do in Longview, so we went to the movies.
The fourth day, we headed to Astoria, Oregon and again were foiled by the fog. We climbed to the top of the Astoria Column, but didn’t get many views.
Then, we headed on to Ecola State Park. We both liked this park the last time we visited Oregon.
This time, we hiked a different trail. The reward was supposed to be a good view of Terrible Tilly, but we only got more fog. I was surprised just how big Haystack Rock is when we drove into Cannon Beach after our hike.
Then, we drove to Portland to spend the night.
Bright and early the fifth day, we drove to the top of Larch Mountain, and although we had driven out of most of the fog, it was still hazy. We had intended on doing the Larch Mountain Crater hike, but a nice Portland man at Sherrard Point suggested the Angel’s Rest hike instead, so we headed back down to the gorge to try it. Angel’s Rest didn’t disappoint. Great views of the gorge!
After we got back to the car, I convinced Bill to drive back up Larch Mountain, so that I would get another shot at the volcanos, and although it was still hazy, we were able to see them this time. Mt. Hood looks so close.
Day 6, we drove the White Pass Scenic Byway and stopped at Mount Rainier National Park. We hiked the Grove of the Patriarchs, which is short and flat, but amazing. Finally, some beautiful clear skies!
We did the short Nisqually Vista hike near Paradise. The wildflowers smelled amazing! We drove to Yakima, where the scenery is quite different than everywhere else we had been. Our hotel was right on the river, and we had a balcony.
The flight back home was not fun. We were about an hour late taking off because the plane was being serviced at DFW. Then, we had to zig-zag around thunderstorms, only to find what seemed to be the biggest storm sitting over DFW. We circled Wichita Falls for 20 minutes and were finally able to land at DFW. The descent was the scariest I have ever had. I don’t think I was ever so glad to see Southlake Carroll’s football stadium.
This has been a fantastic spring for wildflowers in Texas! I took this photo last weekend near De Leon.
A few weeks ago, we adopted Lily from a local rescue, Forgotten Tails Animal Rescue. Lily was very shy at first, but she’s starting to come around. She’s very affectionate and vocal. Shadow is not very happy we brought a new cat home, but she forgave me after about a day.
Bill asked me what I wanted to do today, and I decided to find the local waterfall since we have had rain recently. The waterfall is part of the Trinity Trails system and is located on Farmers Branch Creek just off of Pumphrey Drive in Westworth Village, near the entrance to NAS JRB. It was already pretty hot when we got there this morning.
I finally pulled the trigger and bought a new lens, a Nikon 50mm f/1.8. I wasn’t quite ready to spring for the f/1.4. Here are a few of my first attempts shooting at a larger aperture. Here is one of Zachary in his wagon.
I am still keeping up with my 365 photo project, but I have been a little slow posting them to Flickr.
We decided to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and plant our garden today. We planted tomatoes, rosemary, basil, onions, spinach, red lettuce, bell peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, squash, carrots, garlic, and strawberries. We still had chives, sage, and a few strawberries left over from last year.
Hannah’s birthday was actually yesterday, and she chose to have a sleepover for her party. Mother Nature foiled my plans to have them play outside. Zachary’s soccer game was called at the half due to rain and lightning, and we had standing water in our yard for most of the day. Just as the first two girls arrived, Hannah got sick; we thought it might just be nerves, so the other girls stayed. After they played for a while, Hannah opened the gifts.
Then, I got the girls together for a photo.
Then, they started getting a little silly.
After pizza, we had cake. Hannah wanted a Littlest Pet Shop cake, so I decided to do a horse. I took a shortcut and used canned chocolate frosting for the horse’s body, and it did not work as well as buttercream, so I don’t think I’ll use it for stars again.
The girls were even sillier by cake time.
After cake and ice cream, all of the kids went upstairs to watch a movie. Hannah fell asleep, so that’s when we realized she was actually sick. We decided it was late enough not to call the other girls’ parents, especially since we thought they were going to sleep in a separate room from Hannah. Zachary and the remaining girls played musical rooms for a while, but we finally got them all to settle down and sleep.
Hannah is having two birthday parties this year because she chose to have a small slumber party (oh, excuse me, “sleepover”) with a few of her friends. So, we had her first birthday party on Saturday. Hannah wanted cupcakes.
Ashlyn got into the cupcakes before the party, so this was became hers.
Here’s a picture of the birthday girl and her cupcake.
After cupcakes and presents, the kids went outside to play with Play-doh and blow bubbles.