Monthly Archives: August 2009

Sometimes, life happens

Life has been a little crazy lately.  Good things, bad things, stressful things and new things…lots and lots going on.  I’ve taken a voluntary leave from my online life to focus on some more important happenings in my real life. I have a big project in the works and well, just lots of other new “projects” to occupy my time right now.  So much for NaBloPoMo, right?  Hopefully I’ll be able to share more through blogging in the near future.  For right now, how about a pic of my little man.  He’s such a good helper, what would I do without him?!

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Great Smoky Mountains: Chimney Tops Trail

Chimney Tops Trail:  this is another great trail in the park, and it’s a little less strenuous than the Alum Cave Trail that I talked about in my previous post.  This trail is a 4 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of over 1,600 feet.  The name of the trail comes from the twin rock peaks to which the trail ascends.  The rock peaks shoot nearly straight up into the air, making for a very steep climb to see the view at the top.  Once you climb up to the peaks, you are rewarded with a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.  It’s gorgeous!  This was a nice short hike that offered beautiful scenery and astounding views of the mountains.

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Great Smoky Mountains: Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte

Wow.  If you are looking for a great trail, here it is!  This is definitely one of the most scenic trails in all of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Fantastic–one of the best trails we’ve ever hiked.  It was a strenuous hike and by the end of it our legs were about to completely give out…but it was totally worth it.

The trail is roughly a 10 mile round trip that can be completed in 6-8 hours (or less, if you’re really booking it…we did it in 5 excluding our hour break at the top).  It encompasses an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet and boasts spectacular views, very steep ascents, narrow rock ledges, paths through both old growth forest and cove forest, and gorgeous views of the Alum Cave Creek and Styx Branch.  At the summit, the trail ends near the LeConte Lodge which sits at an elevation of roughly 6,500 feet.  We decided to take a break at the lodge before heading back down the mountain.  And yes, the only way to get to the lodge is to hike up the mountain!  It’s a pretty neat place (very primitive but absolutely a very nice place) and next time we will be making reservations to stay there overnight.  All I can say is that if you like to hike and you don’t mind a work out, give this trail a try.  You will not be disappointed!

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The Great Smoky Mountains: Part 1

We just arrived home from one of my favorite places in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains.  The weather was amazing for this time of year and the trails we chose to hike did not disappoint.  I might have blown my NaBloPoMo goal, but it was totally worth it.  Four days without internet or phone service was very nice!

For our trip, we stayed in a small cabin near Maggie Valley, NC and spent our time hiking several amazing trails covering over 15 miles and 6,000 feet in elevation change inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We saw oodles of wildlife and countless spectacular views on our excursions. Ahhh, bliss.  I’m really tired tonight, so I thought I would just post some random shots right now and tomorrow I’ll share more about our awesome hikes. I literally have hundreds of photos to go through! 

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{isn’t he gorgeous?  we spotted this herd of elk in the park right after an eight mile hike…and yes, I really was *this* close!}

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{you can see he is tagged…they recently reintroduced the elk into the park and are helping them to expand}

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{summer flowers are still in bloom…this was on top of a mountain about a mile high in the air. talk about a grueling hike}

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{resting after a long day on the trail}

Stay tuned for some breathtaking scenery :)

The Mekong

In keeping with my flashbacks to last year, I thought I would do a second post today.

Last year on this day we toured the Mekong River delta.  Yeah, I’ll admit we went to the “tourist trap” portion of the region, but at that time it was the only thing we had access to.  We had left the US in such a hurry (less than 48 hours) that we weren’t able to make the kind of plans we had wanted for our in country stay. But I am at least glad we were able to see the region.  On our next trip (I hope next summer) we will be focusing on seeing more of the real Vietnam where we can spend more time exploring the less touristy regions.

I’ll never forget that day because on the 3 hour drive back to the hotel, Little Man had his first major meltdown.  He screamed, wailed, thrashed about and cried uncontrollably for 3 hours straight.  I realize now that some of it was due to grieving, some due to such a huge change in schedule (in the orphanage he pretty much stayed in his crib the whole day), and some just because he was overwhelmed and overstimulated. When we fi.nal.ly made it back to our hotel room, we sat Little Man down on the bed and he started grinning and giggling uncontrollably.  Hubby and I, on the other hand, were in tears :)   It was a very emotional afternoon for us for a lot of reasons that I won’t write about on the blog.   I’ll just say that it seemed very fitting that our introduction into parenthood had been made on our wedding anniversary.  Good one, Little Man! He’s always keeping us on our toes!!

Oh yeah, and the best thing about that entire day…the COFFEE!!  Um hm.  Little sips of heaven.

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The Mekong, 7 years, and bad monkeys

August 12, 2008

Our trip to the Mekong Little Man today was awesome, well, except for the 3 hour car drive back to the hotel. More on that in a minute…

I guess you could say this trip was 7 years in the making!

notice the eyes on the front of the boats….to scare away river monsters

we stopped on an island for some honey tea and candy made from coconut, lotus seeds, ginger, and bananas:

Note: when they tell you to not get too close to the monkeys, DO.NOT.GET.TOO.CLOSE.TO.THE.MONKEYS.  I learned this the hard way, twice actually.  Their arms are much longer than they let on.  I thought I was a safe distance away when he grabbed the diaper bag and would not let go.  Took all 3 people to free it.  Then obviously I didn’t learn my lesson because he almost pulled down my pants.  Nice.  Bad little monkey!!!

Bananas:

Don’t look, mom!

Looks innocent enough, right?

I should have known after the whole monkey experience that today was not my day for “nature.”  This thing started strangling me and was rubbing it’s face on mine.  Nice.

The car ride to the Mekong (notice the lack of picture on the returning drive):

Stopping for traditional coffee on the way down…it was seriously way better than anything at starbucks :)

So it was a wonderful trip.  Little Man had a breakdown the entire 2 hour drive back, but it was only because he missed most of his nap today.  Mommy had this strange notion that Little Man would nap in the car. Hahahaha.  Oh well, live and learn.  We’re all ok now.  Just need a good night’s sleep.  See you soon!

**happy 7 years, Jim!!!**