Friday Faves Edition 61

Friday.

Who’s happy that it’s Friday?!

Since there’s no rain in the weekend forecast, I sure am!

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Friday Faves.

I’m going to delve right in to my Friday Faves.

Vacation Clothes.

I have slightly less than three weeks before I head to the U.K. and am still missing a few clothing items I’d like…namely, black leggings.

Any suggestions on brands that don’t… bunch up around the knees…look like I’m wearing opaque stockings…aren’t made for the under 5’5″ crowd…and recognize that some women have leg muscles (this is why I love shorts so much..but, alas..I need to keep warm!)?

So I’ll be heading off to peruse some shops when I finish chatting with ya’ll.

Hiking.

Last Saturday the hubby and I took advantage of the one sunny, warm day (I was wearing a tank top and shorts! 2 days later I was back in a thigh-length down coat!)

I’ve been wanting to head over to the Peaks of Otter in Bedford and hike the Fallingwater Cascades trail. It has been one of my go-to hikes since hiking it for my 21st birthday (1998 if you don’t want to do the math). I’ll be doing a post on it once I finish post-processing my photos, but you can catch another glimpse of one of the shots here.

Outdoor Photography.

I didn’t come fully prepared for the photography.

It was intentional.

I hadn’t been to the falls in a while and knew that we’d return as we delve into spring. This was mostly about enjoying the sunshine and spending time with my husband. As such, I did not carry a tripod and (though not fully intentionally) didn’t bring along my ND filter.

I still wanted to see if I could capture the movement of the water. I used shutter priority for the setting and then adjusted to capture the least overexposed shot I could manage. I was able to edit it in a way that I was pleased with, but I will be returning with the tripod and filters once it warms up!!

Peaks of Otter Lodge.

When I hike out at the Peaks of Otter, I must dine at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

We ate there for my 21st birthday. We always returned there when we’d come to Virginia for a visit. Its interior just has something like a classic nostalgia. It feels somewhat reminiscent of Dirty Dancing (which, FYI, the filming location of that movie is within driving distance and I’ve already requested it to the hubby as a spring expedition).

Vegan.

The hubby and I watched the documentary What the Health and he decided that he wanted to give vegan eating a try. We’d already been hearing quite a bit of its health benefits prior to watching the documentary.

As I mentioned when we did the vegetarian challenge, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and thyroid problems (which may be autoimmune as well) run in my family. I have already tested positive for autoimmune antibodies, but was negative to the specific autoimmune diseases they were testing for.

The hubby had his own reasons for wanting to attempt it. We are now finishing up week two. That’s not to say we’ve been perfect. On day one, we ate a croissant and then later realized…”oh wait, there’s butter in that”. We also ordered this vegetarian meal at the Lodge. We don’t know if it included butter because we didn’t ask.

However, we took the concept and for many of our dinners, we have been cooking up pans of veggies cooked in olive oil and garlic and serving it over pasta.

I don’t know if I’ll remain fully vegan. We are doing it for health, not necessarily ethical reasons. I am not sold on the idea of there being a problem with eating eggs, although the ones I feed my teens are free-range, pasture raised…whatever I can find that’s the closest to a chicken roaming in its natural habitat.

I also won’t be putting constraints on my eating habits when I travel to the U.K. One of the experiences I love about travel is trying new foods.

Peaks of Otter.

After our lunch, we strolled around Abbot Lake. Then we sat for a bit and admired the view. The Peaks of Otter are three mountain peaks overlooking the town of Bedford (you learn something new everyday…because I only have heard of two). I’ve always known about Sharp Top and Flat Top. The third is Harkening Hill.

The view here from Abbot Lake is of Sharp Top, whose highest point is 3,875 feet. Flat Top is actually the tallest of the three, rising to an elevation of 4,001 feet.

Alex and Ani.

I shared about snorkeling trip in yesterday’s post, but I didn’t get a chance to share my “souvenir” from Aruba. I love Alex and Ani bracelets. One of my friends has one from St. Maarten so when I saw the store in Aruba, I knew it was likely they would have some bracelets exclusive to the Island. There were a couple different options, but I prefer the rafellian finish to the shiny finish.

Soccer.

Due to some snow earlier in the season, Miss Sunshine had three soccer games in a row this week.

In one of those, she scored a goal!

Miss Sunshine and I spend a lot of car time together due to soccer and there are moments when I pause and realize how precious that time really is.

Books and TV and Movies.

I got sucked into some non-fiction books. I’m still perusing them to see if I want to invest fully into them, but I’m not abandoning the reading challenge that I’ve decided to do this year.

Are you reading any good books?

Although I don’t watch a lot of TV, I decided to join in on watching American Idol. While we were in Aruba, a series called The Crossing started after Idol. I admit…I’m hooked. Last night, the hubby and I watched the movie The Mountain Between Us. Have you seen it? I knew as soon as she asked him what type of doctor he was that he was going to say “neurosurgeon”. I even said it out loud before he did.

If you know my older backstories, then you know that we’ve had an incident dealing with neurosurgeons. While it can still be found in the search box, I don’t link to the post any longer because the story is only partially mine and has now become one of those moments that you can pinpoint as defining, but that you don’t often go back and rehash.

However, after having conversations with three different neurosurgeons and then later reading (because I love knowledge and was trying to learn everything about the brain) Another Day in the Frontal Lobe by Katrina Firlik (who, at the time, was one of only 200 or so female neurosurgeons), I knew that was the personality that they were attempting to portray.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

I hope you have a sunny weekend and many reasons to smile throughout the week.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Hiking Mill Mountain Star Trail

Hiking.

Hiking is one of my favorite ways to spend time outdoors and in nature. As most of you know, the cold and I don’t get along very well. Due to that fact, I use every sunny opportunity to get outdoors in the winter.

Mill Mountain Star Trail.

In my Friday Faves post a few week ago, I mentioned that the hubby and I had hiked the Mill Mountain Star Trail here in Roanoke. That time, I didn’t bring along my camera, but as I shared last Friday we once again took advantage of a sunny day and went on the hike again. This time, I brought the camera.

Mill Mountain Park.

Mill Mountain Park spans 568 acres. Along with all of the amenities located within the park, there are also multi-use trails.  Mountain Bikers can use all the trails except the Watchtower Trail and the Star Trail. Hikers may use any of the trails.

Parking.

As I mentioned before, we choose to park in the car parking lot at 1208 Riverland Road. You can also park at the Mill Mountain Star and access the trail from the top.

We prefer to access it from this point because the ascent is on the front side of the hike. Also, once you reach the summit, there are benches and bathrooms. I prefer that in the middle of the hike vs. on the front or back end of the hike.

The parking lot is not very large and can fill quickly.

As you can see from the view in the opposite direction of the trail, Roanoke has a history as an Industrial Town. In fact, that segment is still in operation as an Industrial Center.

Star Trail / Woodthrush Connector.

From the parking lot, you begin the hike on a gravel path known as the Star Trail/ Woodthrush Connector.

You then reach the intersection where the two separate and we followed the Star Trail.

Star Trail.

The Star Trail is marked by a yellow blaze. It is hiker only, considered more difficult, and is 1.38 miles long (one way).

On our second hike, the green was beginning to sprout a little more. I suspect that as we move into spring, the trail will begin to look like an enchanted forest.

Fishburn Parkway.

The Star Trail crosses Fishburn Parkway.

Beware of cars and bicyclists as you cross the road. I’m pretty sure the bicyclists coming downhill are traveling much faster than any car. The cars heading uphill have a blind corner if they aren’t prepared for the fact that there is a pedestrian crossing ahead.

It’s really not a scary as it sounds! Just use common sense when crossing.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

To get to the other side!

Okay, I had no real segway. I just wanted to show you that after you ascend the stairs, the hike climbs upward.

Some people cut off the first part of the hike by parking in the visible pull off area on Fishburn. However, there is only room for two cars.

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Star Trail / Monument Trail.

After some more hiking, you come to the intersection of the Star Trail and Monument Trail.

Monument Trail uses a white blaze, it is multi-use, is considered more difficult, and is 1.55 miles long. I have not hiked this trail yet.

We continue along the Star Trail until we reach the summit. According to the trail run project, the ascent of the trail is 631 feet.

If you recall when I hiked Dragon’s Tooth, the elevation change was 1500 feet, so I had no problem with the elevation change.

I had dusted off my Fitbit for my March Challenge and it claimed that I climbed about 65 flights of stairs. My iPhone was in the backpack that the hubby was toting and it claimed 30 flights of stairs.

Whatever the case, your legs will get a nice workout.

Treasures.

Many of you know that my posts are always photo heavy. I love taking photos. I also love research and know the amount of photos an average viewer will look at before they begin scrolling past (hint: it’s 5).

However, I know that you aren’t average and I feel like using more photos is the best way to walk you through the journey. BUT…if you feel differently, by all means let me know because as much as I hate culling my photographs… I can.

I captured many scenes that I considered to be treasures along the Star Trail. I’ve culled all but the photo of the Converse tossed over the power line at the summit of the trail. If in the future, I create a photo series of the treasures, I will come back an link it in this post.

Mill Mountain Star.

One of the highlights at the top of the Star Trail…is the actual Mill Mountain Star. I shared details about the Star when I gave you a photo tour of Roanoke.

The Summit.

There is an overlook at the Roanoke Star which gives you views of downtown Roanoke.

There are also bathrooms and a parking lot located here. A short walk around the park brings you to another overlook, a playground, Mill Mountain Zoo, another parking lot, and picnic tables.

The day that we hiked the Star Trail, many people were taking advantage of the sunshine.

There were children scrambling around the playground, squealing with delight. There were a couple of kids kicking a soccer ball back and forth. Dogs on leashes sniffed the ground.

There was a couple having lunch at the picnic table located on the overlook. There were crowds at the Star overlook, looking down into the city along with a group of college students asking somebody to take their photo in front of the Star.

All of us looking for a reprieve from the cabin fever that winter can bring.

Mill Mountain Star Trail sign in Roanoke, Virginia

The Way Back Home.

After taking in the beauty of the day, we began our descent.

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.- John Muir

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

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Friday Faves Edition 56

Friday.

Who’s excited that it’s Friday?! I think that I am, but the snowstorm heading our way is threatening to make for a cabin fever weekend…and dare I say…create issues next week.

Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t dump as much as the possible forecast! This girl has a hair appointment and her roots are looking CRA-ZY! I pushed out my appointment longer than normal because I have a work party to attend with the hubby on St. Patrick’s Day. Which reminds me…I haven’t found an outfit for that.

BUT…I’m getting ahead of myself.

Friday Faves.

I’m rounding up the Friday Faves for the week. I had a jam packed week with appointments for teens and dogs, but I still found some downtime and some lighthearted moments.

Star Trail.

In Edition 54 of Friday Faves, I shared that the hubby  and I hiked the Star Trail here in Roanoke. We had another sunny day over the weekend and decided to hike it again.

This time I brought along my camera. I’m still sifting through the photos to decide if I will make a separate post about it. While I find the trail to still be nice in the winter, I’m not sure that translates in my photographs. However, some of the smaller bushes were sprouting green that had not been there in the two weeks prior! I’m hoping this snowstorm doesn’t crush their spirits.

Protein Powder.

I mentioned before that I was looking for a new protein powder. I didn’t want rice protein because I felt like I was having a slight allergy to something in it. The blend that I picked up had stevia. I don’t like the taste of stevia.

The hubby and I went to Target for the exciting task of finding replacement shoelaces for his work shoes. Now. Now. Don’t be jealous of my glamorous life. I decided to pop over to the protein powder section to see if they had anything different. I perused the shelves and saw ones that I had seen elsewhere.

Then I looked to the top shelf and what should catch my… NO STEVIA… right on the front. It appears that they are using monk fruit extract in that “sweetener” place. I’ve only made two smoothies so far, but have had no reactions and no strange taste, so I may have found a keeper.

Fashion Magazine.

I told you that I found many moments of lightheartedness and humor, so that was what I chose to focus on over the ups and downs of the week. A bunch of people were posting these on Facebook, so I thought I’d play with it. I sat there and put about 10 photos through, mostly because I wanted to see if it ever change the makeup color. The lipstick…yes, the eyeshadow… no.

Now if only a makeup artist would come do my makeup every day.

I should add…for free…because that service isn’t in my budget.

Aruba.

I am still counting down the days to Aruba.

Three weeks!

When Miss Sunshine and I went shopping, she found a bathing suit at Hollister. She also found one she liked at Target, but they were out of her size. We decided to order it. Of course, I added some pieces for me! I had already rounded up the bottoms and so I ordered two tops. I mentioned that this line at Target, Sun & Shore, sells tops according to bra size. As is the case in almost all clothing, one of the tops didn’t run true to size so sadly it had to be returned.

But the one in the photo fits. I also have a standard J. Crew triangle top that I shared in this post last summer. I was hoping that I would have one top that used hooks instead of ties, but it is what it is.

I don’t always link things, but you can find the above top here. The bottoms can be found here.

If you were curious about the bathing suit in last week’s post, you can find that here. The bottoms are the same as above, just a different print.

 

Humor.

On Monday, I shared the lessons that I learned from the Reading Challenge.

Everyone had a lot of great comments.

This is the text exchange with the hubby on Tuesday. It’s hilarious to read in whole, but it was even funnier as it was happening. He had an early meeting that day, so he leaves as I’m stumbling for my first cup of coffee and the teens aren’t out of bed yet. This is the first I’ve heard from him other than a short phone exchange right before he gets to the office.

I’ve just sat down to check my emails when this text comes in. I know he’s just come out of his meeting, so I’m literally trying to wrap my mind around what he’s talking about. Notice the word “read” isn’t in there, so there’s not even that context clue. I’m wondering if this text is really for me. I’m sure the phone has changed the word, but I thought maybe he meant something else to a coworker or is having a text exchange with our sons.

Nope.

It’s for me.

And then it makes sense. So thank you Jonathan for that comment.

What ensued next was hilarity. Because then Julie over at Empty Nest Adventures comments on Jonathan’s comment that she had actually written about her recent adventure with Moby Dick. I pop over to check it out, and I’m dying in another round of laughter. If your curious, you can find her post here.

Filters.

If all of that was a little too juvenile of humor for you, I offer the space I go to when I’m in the mood for silliness. I don’t use Snapchat, but I do enjoy their filters. Sometimes, I save them and share them on my Instagram Stories.

Instagram.

Speaking of Instagram Stories, I’ve recently tried to become more active on them. Yesterday, I was in a chatty mood and was in front of the camera for a change. I think it was about releasing the inner tension that being vulnerable in yesterday’s post caused.

While I am very honest, I am also reserved about parts of my story. I know it was a longer than normal read (and I cut out parts because I knew it was so long), so thank you for taking the time to read it.

Photography.

On a lighter note, if you missed my Wordless Wednesday post, it’s sure to bring a smile…or a “wolf-ish” grin.

Challenge.

If you’re wondering how March’s 30 day challenge is going, I’ve managed to accomplish my goals each day so far. Today’s  plank will be 90 seconds! I’m still doing some pacing to get 10,000 steps on standard days. However, on the day of our hike, my fitbit called me an overachiever because I was well over. I’ll take the compliment because it’s an effort on the other days!

If you’ve been joining in on either part of the challenge, let me know how it’s going for you.

Music.

This week I tried to make a concentrated effort to find a “”new to me” song to share. The one recommended on YouTube struck my eye because it was from a soundtrack to a movie called 2:22. I hadn’t heard of the movie. Have you seen it?

Why it struck me was because 222 is meaningful to me. I know some people aren’t into numerology, or synchronicity, or whatever, but that number (as well as others) shows up quite a bit throughout my days.

It is also Big Mr.’s birthday. I was 22 when he was born on 2 – 22 – 2000, which was also a “Tue”sday. And on 2-22, in the year 2022, he will turn 22.

So, all that to say, the name struck my eye.

The song is by Vancouver Sleep Clinic who originates out of Brisbane, Australia.

 

I hope that you all have a beautiful weekend! Spread your bright-shining smile. It’s one of the most contagious things out there.

ee Cummings quote To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight; and never stop fighting.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

March 30 Day Challenge

30 Day Challenge…March

30 Day Challenge.

Once again it’s time to announce my next thirty day challenge.

If you are new to my blog, every month, since I turned 40 back in September, I set a new thirty day challenge for myself. The goal is to have my year of being 40, a time to press outside of my comfort zones and to challenge myself in new ways.

I’ve noticed a tendency to switch one month with a challenge that is more mental in nature and the next month with a challenge that is more physical in nature. Obviously most challenges contain an element of both, but one does tend to be the stronger factor.

February’s challenge was to read 3 classic novels in 30 days.

So sticking with my tendencies, March will be a challenge that is more physical in nature.

March Challenge.

The 30 day challenge for March will be:

30 days of achieving 10,000 steps per day

&

30 day plank challenge

Calia by Carrie Underwood tank and Nike running shoes

10,000 steps per day.

There are a lot of popular indicators that we should try to walk 10,000 steps per day. There is some debate about that precise amount amount of steps. This PubMed abstract from 2004 said this appears to be a reasonable goal for most populations.

I’ve been noticing that I have a tendency to spend a lot of time sitting. Between writing posts, editing photos, and other computer related work, I often sit for many hours at a time.

Even though I do move to go to Pilates, run errands, and clean my house, I still felt like challenging myself to move more. 10,000 steps gives me a target to attain. I’ve dusted off my fitbit and will be tracking my steps throughout March. I plan to do more walking, running, and hiking since the weather is getting nicer.

I do have a secondary motive for having such an active challenge for the month of March. We head to Aruba at the end of this challenge and I would like to be more fit before we head to crystal clear beaches.

Side Plank

Plank Challenge.

Since I will be in a bathing suit for most of that week in Aruba, I wanted work on strengthening my core muscles. I decided to look at plank challenges. As soon as I mentioned it, both the hubby and Miss Sunshine said that they would join me on this part of the monthly challenge.

I dug around on Pinterest and opted for this Jillian Michaels 30 day 5 minute plank challenge.

Don’t worry, it’s not side planks like the photo of me from Christmastime. This time I’ll try to have someone snap some photos at the completion of the plank challenge because it’s hard to get in to form in time for the self-timer!

As always, you are welcome to join along on the challenge.

The hubby and Miss Sunshine are advocating we start the challenge at higher than a 10 second hold to start since they’ve held planks longer and I’ve been going to Pilates (mat Pilates) for a year and can hold a plank longer as well (although I don’t think any of us have tried to attain the finale of 5 minutes).

We may take that option, but don’t feel like you need to do that.

Even if you only choose to do one of the two challenges, I hope that you’ll join in this month!

If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. - Martin Luther King Jr. quote quotes photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday!

We’ve once again arrived at Friday. This week has been much better than the last two. Not without its stressors, but substantially better!

I think it was because the sun came out. Is that springtime peeking its head into Virginia?

I think maybe yes.

 

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Friday Faves.

This week I’ll just dive into the Friday Faves.

Obviously, #1 is that the sun came out! Hallelujah, I was rejoicing. I once mentioned that I’m like the clingy friend when it come to Vitamin D. I need the sun WAY more than it needs me.

Mill Mountain Star Trail.

The hubby and I decided that we could not waste the sunshine. We went and hiked the Mill Mountain Star Trail. You can see a map of this an surrounding trails here. Since we were hiking round trip, you can begin at the Star (210 Reserve Ave, Roanoke) or from the car parking lot (1208 Riverland Road, Roanoke). We started from Riverland Road, so it is uphill to the Star, which sits atop the summit of Mill Mountain. The summit is Roanoke’s highest point at 1,703 feet.

I didn’t bring along my camera, just the phone. I wasn’t sure what the trail was like and didn’t want to lug it along. Next time I’ll bring it and maybe can make the hike a post of its own as I have done with some other areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I knew there were many components to better mental health when spending time in nature. I had recently read an article about how time in nature (green space) reduced teen depression rates. A few days after the hike, I would read this article,which also mentions that knowledge. It also goes into the scientific backing of forest bathing. It talks about how the forest air is like an old friend to our bodies. One of those reasons is because mixed into the air are terpenes released by plants. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities.

I’ve always known that I feel better when walking through a forest. It’s amazing to read about the scientific reasoning behind much of it. The article shares even more about how forest air affects us. If you’re interested in Science, I recommend checking it out. They always link to the articles in which they are deriving the information, which is always a good source for even more knowledge.

 

 

Editing.

I worked some on editing my photos. The photo above is from Amsterdam and was in my archives. I really loved the pop of colors on the boats and the reflection in the water and in the windows. It made me realize that I really want to focus on learning how to use Lightroom.

I am still editing through an app on my phone even though I did sign up for a Lightroom/Photoshop package. I’ve been intimidated by the program and so I haven’t set aside the time to learn how to use it. I noticed when I was editing this photo, that while I’m very happy with the result, it’s also likely that in a program like Lightroom I would have been able to focus on exactly the spots I wanted versus the broad stroke of the selective tool that I now use.

I realize it’s time to press outside of my comfort zone in order to continue to grow in executing my creative vision.

 

Instagram.

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Faves that I was working on changing my Instagram grid to sets of three. I also have been trying to post more on my Instagram stories just to give people a little realistic glimpse into my life.

On Tuesday, I posted the above photo of Miss Sunshine. That photo was from her travel soccer season, but she had tryouts this week for the school season. I also talked on the Instagram story about how lovely the day had been. So lovely that I was able to throw open the window and the back door. Which was wonderful because the warm up and had made the house smell musty. I also started up the diffuser with a blend of lemon, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils. This was to help air out that musty smell…or as I shared on the story “the smell of dog butt”.

Photography.

I also shared my promised post of Views From the Top of Princes Street Suites in Edinburgh Scotland filled with photographs of from the rooftop.

View this post on Instagram

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. -Winston Churchill . .as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am doing my photos in a series of three. If you know me, you may know what this series is about. If you know me really well, then you may know why…if not, stay tuned . . .#seekthesimplicity #helookslikemyside #nothingisordinary #visualsoflife #fromwhereistand #darlingescapes #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #naturehippys #beachlover #pocket_beaches #visitnc #optoutside #modernoutdoors #exploretocreate #exploremore #tlpicks #saltlife #natureaddict #natgeotravel #travelstoke #traveldeeper #doyoutravel #letsgosomewhere #thediscoverer #roamtheplanet #lifeofadventure #staysalty #wanderfolk #fiftyshades_of_nature

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My Children.

The trio of Instagram posts for this segment were photos of my children.

Day #2 was Mr. D.

The sun was shining brightly enough that I did my reading out on the back porch that day. I’m on book #5 for month in case you are wondering.  On Wednesday, it was so warm that I wore flip flops to my Pilates class and we broke weather records that Roanoke hadn’t seen since the 1930’s.

I also participated in the weekly photo challenge and Wordless Wednesday by sharing some photos from my archives of my trip to Amsterdam.

View this post on Instagram

Happy 18th Birthday to my oldest, @hunter02222 ! Rounding out the trio of photos of my children, if you hadn’t already guessed my theme. I am the mother of an official adult. I’m not sure how that happened! I remember the days when he was so little and I had to carry him around on my hip. And then, the day his shoe size surpassed his age. I don’t recall the day when he grew taller than me, but now standing at 6’6”, he towers over me by 10”! It’s been a fun journey watching him grow into a man…I can’t wait to see where he goes from here . .if you’ve made it this far and are looking for my daily quote: “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18” – Mark Twain . . .#happybirthday #18thbirthday #seekthesimplicity #fromwhereistand #visualsoflife #optoutside #wildernessculture #theoutdoorfolk #folkscenery #rsa_folknature #lifeofadventure #travelstoke #traveldeeper #blueridgeday #stayandwander #exploretocreate #exploremore #letsgosomewhere #nothingisordinary #liveoutdoors #theglobewanderer #neverstopexploring #sonyalpha #loveva #roamtheplanet

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Mother of an Adult.

Yesterday was Big Mr.’s birthday. He turned eighteen. I wrote a post about how strange it feels to be the mother of an adult.

I talked like crazy on my Instagram story. Much more than I usually do.

I did what every good mother does when it’s her child’s birthday….I went shopping for myself.

Actually, I had already planned that errand for the day. I am slowly looking for clothes to take to Aruba and an outfit for an upcoming party that I’ll be attending. As my final stop before returning home, I planned to pick up a cake for Big Mr. I saw that I had missed a text saying the check the website for an important message from the middle school.

Guns at School.

My stomach dropped. My immediate thought was is the school on lockdown. There wasn’t a message on the website. I went in to buy a cake. The hubby texts me and asks if I got the phone call that a student had brought a gun to school. I had missed a call from the school, but the voicemail hadn’t come through yet.

I was stunned.

So I checked the school website again. And there it was. The important message that a student had brought a loaded handgun to the middle school. It was in the student’s locker and had been brought in on a dare with no intent to harm. This was the message.

When Miss Sunshine came home we discussed the situation. She wasn’t visibly shaken, but some of my children tend to repeat elements of a story when they are bothered by something…whether that’s real life, a news story, a scene in a movie, etc. It is their way of working through and processing something.

I will state right here that my website is not a place for a debate on gun control. Most people involved in that conversation get ugly pretty quickly…on both sides. I don’t promote hostility and won’t be starting today. Any commentary to that effect will be removed.

I do believe that we need to keep our school children safe.

I read a commentary by the Sheriff in Lee County (a county in Florida beside the one in which I grew up). He talked about how we feel safe when we enter a courthouse or when we fly and it due to increased security procedures. You’re welcome to read it here.

I thought about sharing what I wrote on my private Facebook page, but I’m still leery about even telling you guys about the fact that we had this scare. There are some people out there who seem to have nothing better to do than attack and my mental health does not do well with that. I will share that a snippet referred to the fact that we need not reminisce on the good ol’ days when this didn’t happen and instead focus on how we are going to address the current reality.

Our kids deserve to not live in fear.

Birthday Dinner.

Even though it was a mentally distressing and highly disturbing event, we weren’t going to let it stop life. It was Big Mr.’s 18th birthday, after all. The five of us along with three of his friends all went out to dinner. He chose a restaurant called Texas Roadhouse. Even though he didn’t want them to, his friends shared that it was his birthday. They have you climb on to a horse saddle and have everyone yell “YeeHaw” for you. It was quite hilarious. I was only able to share a little segment of the entire thing on my Instagram Story, but it was quite funny.

If you hurry, it’ll still be on my story until around 8 p.m. EST.

Motorcycles.

Big Mr. had a motorcycle permit and he took a class which means that once he’s turned eighteen…aka yesterday…he can legally drive a motorcycle without being followed by an adult.

Lord help my soul!

Honestly, I do love that my teenagers are daredevils. They live life to the fullest. I could learn a thing or two from them.

Music.

Since I talked about what life was like for me when I turned 18, I also got sucked in to what songs were popular when I was that age. This week I’ve chosen a song that came out near the end of 1995, shortly after I turned 18. I owned the CD and played it repetitively. It’s probably pretty apparent that I’ve always hated being told I couldn’t do something just because I’m a girl.

 

I hope that you all have a light-filled weekend and week up ahead. Hand out hugs freely to those that you love, smile at the shy person in corner, spread your light as far as you can.

 

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Photos that will make you fall in love with Roanoke, Virginia

Photo Diary of My Current City – Roanoke, Virginia

 

Tour Guide.

I have often highlighted the city in which I currently live. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, I live in Roanoke, Virginia. After living for the first 30 years of my life in Naples, Florida, and another 5-ish across the state of Florida, I moved to Roanoke in July of 2013. If you’re ticking off the numbers on your fingers, I turned 40 this past September. But most of you already know that since I’ve been actively doing 30 day challenges for my year of #thisis40. When the weekly photo challenge came up as tour guide, I knew that I would have plenty to share.

Usually, I participate in the photo challenge on Wordless Wednesday, in which (as is indicated in the title) no words are used. I did share some photos of the Hotel Roanoke, but wanted to share some more photos and talk a bit about my current city.

Photos that will make you fall in love with Roanoke, Virginia

 

Photo Diary.

Today’s photography series will be a collection of some of the photos that I’ve taken from around Roanoke. A photo diary of sorts. I will also share some links to my past posts about Roanoke, where you will find plenty more information about the area.

Roanoke is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. With easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is the delight of many fans of the outdoors.

If your interested in the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can check out these posts (a few are outside of Roanoke, but not too far away):

Roanoke Star.

One of the things that Roanoke is quite well known for is the Roanoke Star. The Roanoke Star is also known as the Mill Mountain Star. The star is located on Mill Mountain and is the largest, free-standing, man-made, illuminated star in the world.

The star was designed and built by Roy C. Kinsey and his two sons. It was constructed in 1949 and is three stars that contain 2,000 feet of neon tubing. The star is illuminated every night. It is primarily illuminated white, but can include red, white, and blue for various occasions.

I must admit that when we return home from points north, the star upon the mountain is a welcome sight, letting us know that we are close to our final destination.

H & C Coffee Sign.

There are also two other neon signs sitting atop buildings in downtown Roanoke, which are illuminated at night and visible from I-581. One is a Dr Pepper sign. According to this article, Roanoke consumed more Dr Pepper per capita than any other place on earth from 1957-1959, and again in 1961. The other is the H & C Coffee sign. H & C Coffee was established in Roanoke in 1927 and the sign built in 1948. (cee’s which way photo challenge)

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This sign was my favorite upon moving here because the coffee appeared to be pouring into the cup. However, I’ve noticed that it just stays fully lit now. According to this article from 2014, the animator mechanism needs repaired. I don’t often drive home in the dark, but I don’t think that its been replaced as of yet.

If you’re wondering about where the photo above was taken…I’ll tell you.

It’s from inside one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in downtown Roanoke:

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Architecture.

Another of my favorite things about Roanoke is the amazing architecture. Having grown up in Florida, the architectural styles here are very different. While I have always been cognizant of architectural details, when I began to participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors, a weekly roundup of amazing doors from around the world, I began to see buildings through new eyes.

I’ve shared a close-up of one set of these doors in my post, Keys to the Past

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Municipal Building.

The Municipal Building is located at 215 Church Avenue. It is Neoclassical Revival and was erected in 1915.

Big Lick.

Prior to being named Roanoke, the city was known as Big Lick. As shown on the sign at the Municipal Building, the original name was based on a salt outcropping which drew the wildlife to the site near the Roanoke River.

City Market Building.

The City Market Building is located at 32 Market Square SE. It is considered the heart of downtown. The Farmer’s Market is the oldest continuously operating open-air market in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It began in 1882. After the original building (built in 1886) was destroyed in a fire, the current building was built in 1922.

There are wonderful views to be had from the rooftop of the Center in the Square building. In addition to this one, I’ve shared some others in a much older post: Downtown Stroll.

Events.

Quite often there is something happening in Roanoke. I haven’t been able to make it to many events since we’ve moved here. Why? Miss Sunshine has been playing travel soccer since we moved here and that ties up most weekends. Occasionally we have some down time in the winter, but most of the events are not winter events.

Last year I did make it to the Local Colors Festival and I attended a Veteran’s Day parade a few years ago, where I gathered these photos.

However, Miss Sunshine will not be traveling for soccer this spring so I plan to take full advantage of the weekends to attend events and do more hiking!

Alley.

You never know what treasure you might stumble upon when you are wandering around Roanoke. For example, there are beautiful sights to stumble upon in the alleyways found in the heart of downtown. (cee’s fun foto challenge). This is a connection in the alley behind the Center in the Square parking garage.

 

More Architecture.

Of course, no tour is complete (on my end) without showing you more architecture. The stone at the top of the building says 1926. I know that much of our United States architecture pales in age comparison to those of Europe, but a building that’s 50 years  older than me and looks this good deserves a glamour shot.

709 S. Jefferson Street.

I knew that a building with this much character had to have a history.

And it does.

Gill Memorial Hospital was founded by Dr. Elbyrne Gill in 1926 and is believed to be the Commonwealth’s first specialty hospital. It was an Eye, Ear, and Throat hospital.

It is currently home to RAMP (Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program).

Visit.

The Roanoke Valley is a great place to come visit. There is a great mix of urban and wilderness. Many people enjoy a great portion of their time outdoors.

High Adventure.

Many high adventure enthusiasts love it here. There are plenty of trails for mountain biking and cycling. There are places to fish and kayak and rock climb. There’s even a climbing gym for those times when you can’t make it to the trails.

Not so High Adventure.

If you aren’t quite into high adventure (like me…the only one in my family of five), there’s still plenty to do. Roanoke likes its green space and preserves much. I’ve shared before some of our walks along the Greenway. I like to hike the many trails surrounding the area.

There is scientific backing to the benefit of spending time in nature and I can heartily agree with the conclusions.

Fitness.

Even though I take my Pilates and Yoga classes at my local gym, there are plenty of studios around town offering a focused workout. There is Empower Pilates & Yoga and Uttara Yoga Studio. There are also places like Pure Barre and Orange Theory Fitness. These are just a few of the places that I’ve heard of through friends.

Event Locations.

As I mentioned above, there are often events held around Roanoke. There are often a calendar of events at Elmwood Park, Dr Pepper Park, and the Berglund Center (where the hubby and I just watched Riverdance).

Food.

There are breweries and vineyards and an array of dining options.

Local Information.

There is so much more that is available to see and do in the area. Here are some great websites to check out for upcoming events and information on the area:

But you don’t just have to take my word for it.

Not only did Forbes put Roanoke on their 2017 list of 25 Great Scenic Places to Retire, but TripAdvisor recently named Roanoke as one of the best small USA cities to visit in 2018.

But you don’t just have to take their word for it.

Come visit and see for yourself.

Hope to see you soon!

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.- John Muir

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Roanoke Mountain Loop Trail

Roanoke Mountain Loop Trail

 

Roanoke Mountain.

Roanoke Mountain is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Roanoke, Virginia. It’s located 2 miles south of the Roanoke River and 1 mile east of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is accessed along the Blue Ridge Parkway via a loop road.

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Roanoke Mountain Loop Road.

One of my favorite scenic drives in this region of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Roanoke Mountain Loop Road.

Located at mile marker 120.4 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is a 4 mile detour that takes you to the summit of Roanoke Mountain.

If you’ve been following the blog for some time, then you’ve already seen the photos that I’ve shared in the past of sunsets and fall colors from the overlooks along this one-way road. If you’ve missed those, you can check them out in this post or this post, just to share a few of the many times I’ve posted photos from Roanoke Mountain.

Given the amount of times that I’ve been, there was still one piece I’d yet to see.

Roanoke Mountain Loop Trail.

The Roanoke Mountain Loop Trail is located in the uppermost parking before the Loop Road begins its descent.

The sign states that it’s a 10 minute walk to the summit. I suppose that I’ve never walked it because I’ve usually been there for sunset and didn’t want it to get dark while I walked an unfamiliar trail.

The trail is only .4 miles and begins on the upper side of the parking lot and exits on the lower side of the parking lot.

Stairs along the trail.

My favorite part of the trail was the stone stairway. Not only was it beautiful, but I could just imagine the hard work that went into the original creation of setting each stone.

Lichens.

The trees and rocks along the trail are covered in lichen. In this post, where I visited the Rocky Knob Picnic Trail (also located along the Blue Ridge Parkway), I shared that I had recently learned that lichen is a fungi and algae or cyanobacterium that are living in a symbiotic relationship. Fungi is incapable of photosynthesis and through this relationship are able to live in places where they wouldn’t be able.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are about 15,000 species of lichen.

I think they add so much character to a forest.

Mountain Views.

While I was hoping that there would be some type of spectacular view on the trail, this was the best view. I visited at the end of October and all of the leaves had not yet fallen. Perhaps farther along in the season would open up some sweeping vistas.

Unfortunately, the Roanoke Mountain Loop Road closes in the winter season. You can, and should, always check for road closures at the National Park Service website before planning your trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

If you have any doubt about the beauty to be found along this detour, I leave you with one of my Instagram sunsets taken from the top of Roanoke Mountain.

If you find yourself traveling along this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, I highly recommend building in some extra time to take in the overlooks found along the Loop Road.

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.- John Muir

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

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Blue Ridge Parkway - Rock Castle Gorge Overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway – Rock Castle Gorge Overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 429 miles from Virginia to North Carolina, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Since I now live in Roanoke, Virginia, I thought that I should get out and explore more of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Rock Castle Gorge Overlook.

Rock Castle Gorge Overlook is located at milepost 168.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After we visited Mabry Mill, we decided to pull into this overlook on the return to Roanoke.

According to the National Park Service sign, the Rock Castle Gorge is best seen from the summit of Rocky Knob, where you can look into valley 1800 feet below.

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History.

The first settlers came before the American Revolution to farm the land. Six-sided crystals of colorless quartz occur here. The shapes reminded the settlers of castle towers, and that is how it came to be called Rock Castle.

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Accessing the trail

You can access the Rock Castle Gorge Trail, which is a 10.8 mile loop from this overlook. We were on a day of exploration and not hiking (meaning that we did not bring the amount of food and water that we would have if this had been a hiking day). However, we did walk a little piece of the trail, accessed at milepost 168.0, The Saddle Overlook.

An old road parallels the creek through the gorge. Originally a trail, and then a wagon road, the old road is once again a hiking trail.

Stones.

The part of the of the Rock Castle Gorge Overlook that caught my attention was this trio of rocks.

Call it the lover of all things fantastical in me, but I was drawn to their semi-circular state.

It made the area feel quite magical.

Like they held some ancient secrets.

Surely this feeling of mystery was spurred by the fact that I traveled to Scotland at the beginning of June.

I didn’t have a chance to visit any standing stones while I was there, but they were (and still are) high on my bucket list.

However, given that the Blue Ridge portion of the Appalachian Mountains was formed somewhere between 250 million to 1.1 billion years ago (second only in age to South Africa’s Barberton greenstone belt), I’m pretty sure that these rocks contain some secret magic of their own.

So much of who we are is where we have been. -William Langewiesche

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

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Blue Ridge Parkway - Rocky Knob Visitor's Center and Picnic Trail

Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center and Picnic Trail

Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center.

On our Blue Ridge Parkway outing, we stopped at the Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center. Located at milepost 169.0, it is open Friday-Monday from 10-4. There are bathrooms located here as well.

If you are traveling this way, always be sure to check the U.S. National Park website as most things along the Blue Ridge Parkway are not opened year round and days and times might change in the future.

The Visitor’s Center was where we discovered that we should check out the trail at the Saddle OverlookThere is also a one mile loop trail called the Rocky Knob Picnic Area Trail  whose entrance is located the Visitor’s Center. We arrived here right at noon and were starting to get hungry. Our final destination of Mabry Mill was still another 7 miles up the road. Given the fact that paving was being done along the Parkway, slowing down the traffic, we decided to head south to get lunch.

But not before I captured some photos of the forest dappled with sunlight.

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This shed is located right across the parking lot from the Visitor’s Center. I thought of all my Thursday Door  people, even if the door has a tendency to blend into its surroundings.

I only meandered a slight ways onto the trail since we needed to continue along on our journey.

 

Nothing like this sign at the entrance to the Picnic Area to remind you that we are not alone. The forest is home to many animals….and some of those animals would like to eat your stuff!

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I love all the giant rocks located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I climbed over many of them when I hiked Dragon’s Tooth.  On the Rocky Knob Picnic Area Trail, I just admired them.

I have always been fascinated by the lichen, ferns, and moss that grow in the forests of Virginia. They add to ambiance of the enchanted forest feeling you get when traveling through this woodland.

The rocks along this trail were covered in lichen.

Lichen is quite amazing. It’s a fungi and an algae or cyanobacterium (sometimes both) living in a symbiotic relationship. Fungi is incapable of photosynthesis and so in this relationship, these lichens are able to live in places where they would not have been able.

Nature never ceases to amaze me!

With its symbiosis and cycles…reminding us of our own place in these things.

 

John Muir quote over a photo of mountain view from dragons tooth trail in catawba virginia

Let your light shine!

Amy