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Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

Saturday night our family decided to check out Beale Street in Memphis, TN.   My younger daughter is entering a Memphis art contest and needed photographs of iconic Memphis images.  We thought, what a better place than Beale Street.  It has been years since we’ve been there, and it was fun to go now that our girls are teenagers as they are able to appreciate things better.

Beale Street is classic Memphis, the street blocked off, people casually walking around, talking, enjoying themselves.  Music playing all up and down the street, mostly blues and jazz.  We also saw a street performer doing back handsprings and back flips in the middle of the street!

We had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe and sat out on the patio.  It was unseasonably warm for early February.  It was also breezy and a little chilly, but comfortable enough.  The food was delicious and we enjoyed watching the horse-drawn carriages pass us on the street below.

My college-age daughter was able to come to Beale Street, but was meeting her friends for a movie at 7:15 so we had a time limit on Beale Street and had to leave  by 6:30.  However we had plenty of time for my younger daughter to get good pictures with the best evening light.

After dropping off my older daughter at the theater, the three of us decided to go to our brand new IKEA in Cordova and get frozen yogurt cones.  It was as busy on a Saturday night at the IKEA as it was on Beale Street.  IKEA is a “destination” in itself.  Once we were there, my husband suggested walking through the whole store  because my younger daughter had not been to IKEA yet.  So that was a lot of fun.   And then we got our frozen yogurt!

Click the link below to  watch my video, and if you get a chance to be in the area visit Beale Street and our new IKEA, the only one in Tennessee!

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Dave and I decided to hike recently at Meeman Shelby Forest State park in western Tennessee.  It was a chilly day, in the 40s, but sunny.  As long as long as I’m bundled up enough, I’m okay with the cold.  Its been a while since we’d been outside, in the woods and sunshine.  Sometimes in the winter, we spend too much time indoors missing out on vitamin D and the general feeling of  well-being that comes from sunshine and nature.

This particular park is a great one to visit, just a half hour from Memphis.  But when you’re there, you feel like you are in the wildernerness and that youve really left civilization.  Much of western Tennessee is pretty flat, and therefore not good practice for the Appalachian Trail hills in the Northeast (the yearly hike that we are trying to keep in shape for).  However this park has some pretty steep hills and beautiful scenery.

The trail we did at Meeman Shelby was the Woodland Trail loop.  It is about 5 miles if you go all the way to the Woodland Shelter and back to the parking lot.  This park also has an 8 mile one-way trail heading north and south (Chickasaw Bluff/Pioneer Springs Trail) if you really want some distance practice, though it doesn’t have as many steep hills as the Woodland Trail.

All in all a nice trip!  Watch our video, and plan to visit the park if you live in the area!

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A couple of weeks ago, my sister texted me asking if I’d like to go backpacking with a friend of hers (Laura) six days from that day to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!  I was excited, in shock, surprised, and then stressed.  She and her friend had been planning the trip since the beginning of this year, but at the last minute her friend was not able to go, and Laura would not have been able to go without a partner.

So I thought about it for about 10 minutes, and then thought how could I pass up this opportunity?! I probably would never do this trip otherwise.  It takes a day just to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan from Tennessee, but almost another day to get from there to the Upper Peninsula.

So I had six days to pack and coordinate all of our gear and travel plans.  Next thing I know, I’m meeting Laura and heading north. And what an amazing trip it was.  We hiked the length of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, 42 miles, over five days, which is also part of the longer North Country Trail.

We had been hiking the AT in New Hampshire prior to this, climbing thousands of feet in elevation change in only a few miles.  So this hike was a refreshing change!  There was very little elevation change.  Just a few 100 ft or so climbs up and down the cliff.  We were able to hike more miles, more quickly, and still arrive at our campsite half way through the day. Plus it also turns out that almost every campsite that we stayed at had a beach access, and the water was warm and clear and refreshing.  I was actually able to wash my hair half way through the trip and at least able to soak my feet most nights.  The days in Michigan are long, not getting dark till 8:30 pm, and most of the time it was sunny and pleasant.  Sometimes hiking feels like a real chore, but getting to end each day relaxing on a beach was a real pleasure.  Plus the cliffs and the sand and the turquoise waters were so amazing.  The views were breathtaking.

I hope you enjoy our videos and thanks for hiking along with us!

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After we had climbed the daunting Mt. Kinsman as our introduction to New Hampshire Appalachian Trail hiking, we were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into! This was much harder than anything we had done before, and we wondered if we would be able to finish the section that we had planned on. We decided instead of continuing to the next section on our hike, Mt. Moosilauke, we would skip it and hike the more mild section to the south to give our bodies one more day to recover.  We hoped by then we would feel well enough to conquer Moosilauke.

After hiking back to our rental car, we drove wearily to a car campground and set up our hammocks.  We were exhausted, but of course not too tired for some delicious Chinese food in town.  After that we crashed in our hammocks and slept soundly.

We had beautiful weather the entire week we were in New Hampshire.  The only major rainstorm happened that next morning, so we decided to give ourselves a break and wait out the rain. We had our breakfast at what was becoming our favorite breakfast place, Dunkin Doughnuts.  Then we cruised the main street of the town for stores that could provide supplies we needed.  We then hung out for the rest of the morning at a nice McDonald’s for delicious iced coffee, WiFi and power.  I was able to get the first YouTube video done for this trip. https://youtu.be/c7Dsfz1CT1k  It took a surprisingly long time and I was only able to get a third of the first day edited and uploaded before it was time to leave for the local pizza place with their $5 special, two pizzas and a soda!

By then it was pouring and we actually got a little wet running from place to place, which we were really trying to avoid.  We were wearing the clothes we were going to hike in and didn’t want them wet already.  But we were glad we could run inside and were not continuously remaining in the rain.  So after pizza, we headed out to the start point of our hike for the day.  By then the rain had stopped and it remained a bit overcast for a while but eventually the sun came out and it was beautiful!

The rest of the story is told in the video, Ore Hill (day 4) below.  The previous day is also included below.  Hope you enjoy hiking with us!  The Big Mt. Moosilauke will be next!

 

 

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This is the second day of our New Hampshire Appalachian Trail section hike a couple of weeks ago.  It turned out to be one of the most challenging hikes of the trip and probably the most difficult hike we’ve done.  At the same time, all of the boulder hopping is fun and the views are magnificent!

I was watching videos of thru-hikers going through this area, and they climb up it like mountain goats!  Lol I guess that’s what 1500 miles of conditioning up and down mountains does for you! Lol. (The northbound AT thru hikers started in Goergia and have done approx. 1500 miles at this point!). Some day it might be fun for my husband and I to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail as well, but we have to wait until he is at a point where he can take a break from work.  But for now we get to do these sections hikes with my Dad, and these have been the highlights of our hiking trips each year. Definitely the most challenging and most rewarding!

Join us on day 2’s hike in the video below, and I’ll get day 3 edited soon!

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Last weekend we did an overnight hiking trip to Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.  It was the first cool(er) weekend in western Tennessee, and it was absolutely beautiful!

This park has connecting loops of trails that can form a 3, 5, 10 or 20 mile hike, which consist mainly of old farm roads, which are now surrounded by woods.  This makes for nice wide walking trails, and piques the curiosity about what life must have been like there when there were farms, houses, old, now condemned camp buildings, and left-behind fruit trees on ridge tops that still dropped their fruit for us, such as grapes, apples and (we think) persimmons or plums.

This park is on the west side of the Tennessee River, north of Interstate 40.  The trail starts from the highest point in West Tennessee at the Interpretive Center, which is quite a climb in itself to get to by car.  There is a hiker’s parking lot to the right just before you get to the interpretive center, and the trail begins behind the center.

Make sure you register at the park office near the entrance first and get a nice color-coded trail map.  The employees are very friendly and helpful. They were to close at 4:30, just as we arrived. But when they saw us, very kindly opened back up to register us and give us information.

The first night we hiked about 2 1/2 miles to the shelter on the 5 mile loop.  I think it is the prettiest camping area.  It’s quite a steep climb  straight up the hill to the top of the ridge.

There is water available shortly after the beginning of the hike on the 3 mile loop and just before the last steep climb to the shelter.  It would be good to stock up then, because the water we saw on the rest of our hike was not very great.  The water before this point was found in the most beautiful clear rocky and sandy streams, which we treated with our Aquamira to make it drinkable.

We hung our hammocks, and made a nice fire because it was very chilly, getting down into the 40s that night.  We had our Mountain House white chicken chili for dinner, very good and spicy!  And granola and hot coffee for breakfast.  We took our time that morning, enjoying our site & warming up.

After packing up, we had intended to finish the 10 mile trail that day, but instead chose to take a shortcut. As we came to the east side of the 10 mile loop (close to the river), it then turned to the west, away from the river, and we never got a good look.  The map, however, showed an old road turning to the right, connecting east side of the 10 mile loop to the 20 mile loop.  So we chose to go that way, hoping to see the river and some old camp buildings I had read about on the Internet.

We weren’t sure if this was a good idea or not, if the road would peter out. But it did not.  It led to the Tennessee River and gave us a nice view, and then turned north to connect with the 20 mile trail, which thankfully has a sign at the junction, making it clear when we had reached it. We were surprised to find on this old connector road that was not officially a trail, actually still had pavement on it, way out here in the middle of nowhere in the woods!

So we turned left on the 20 mile loop, which promptly headed around the base of a ridge and then straight up to the top!  And much to our pleasure, just to our right turned out to be the location of the old camp I had seen pictures of, on a very high cliff overlooking the River.  The old buildings, though condemned, were very cool to look at, and walking past the main bulding, there was a wonderful view from the top of the ridge of the river.

So from there we went back to the 20 mile trail and followed the trail/old road that went up and down ridge tops. It was very cool and always had wonderful scenery & sometimes views from the tops.

Apparently September is fruit collecting month, because we found wild grapes on the ground, which we were told were Muscadines. On the next hill we found what we thought were plums, but someone else told us they were persimmons. We aren’t sure which. But they were both sweet and a little different, but very interesting!  We also found some green apples, which were not very sweet.

We followed the 20 mile trail to the west to the 20 mile shelter and stopped to have our lunch.  This campspot had a clearing, but it had a lot of tall grass and was not as nice as the first shelter/camping area.

From there we turned left (South) to follow the trail that connected all the loops and headed back to the Interpretive Center.  The whole trail was old roads and was very beautiful. It was easy to walk next to my husband and talk.  And it was just very pretty and interesting. Of course the 70 degree weather didn’t hurt!

Finally we made it back to our car, noticing many other side trails along the way that we would love to come back & hike.

Overall it was a wonderful overnight trip, and we were very pleased.  I don’t think we saw another single person out on these trails! We had the trails & campsite all to ourselves!  We will definitely be going back, and I hope you can make it there!

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We have been to Meeman Shelby State Park, which is North of Memphis, along the Mississippi River many times. We love hiking the 3 mile loop Woodland Trail which is one of the most beautiful trails in Western Tennessee. I’m always so surprised at how different it looks from the rest of this area. There are many steep climbs up and down hills and a beautiful stream which meanders throughout the hike.

But I was not aware that this State Park has scheduled boating trips throughout the summer. From Memorial Day to Labor day every weekend they have regular pontoon boat and canoe trips. The pontoon boat is only $1 per person and takes you around the Poplar Tree Lake. It was really a lot of fun. The ranger was very interesting, pointing out all sorts of wildlife and plants. We were able to see the lake and the park in a way we never had before. Though this park is only about 45 minutes from our house, we felt like we were on a real vacation far away!

This past Saturday at 8 am we did the canoe trip. You meet at the visitor’s center and then caravan to a swamp in a wildlife reserve area adjacent to the park. Most of the time you would not be able to access this area, so this is a unique opportunity to see this swamp. The cost is only $5 per person and they provide really nice, new, stable canoes.

The same ranger provided us with amazing information about the swamp and the animals and plants in it. There was no current and we proceeded at a leisurely pace so it was very relaxing. Instead of being dirty and “swampy”, this swamp was very beautiful, with tiny green leaves of duckweed covering some areas of the swamp. With the sun reflecting off  the leaves and the water, it made a beautiful, surreal, green sheen. The swamp was filled with beautiful, giant cypress trees with their buttressed bases and knees sticking above the water.

We saw hundreds of swallows that lived in the tops of the cypress trees like little island condos in the middle of the swamp. When we would canoe past, they would all take flight at once, making a beautiful sight. Later we saw the swallows dive bombing toward the surface of the water, looking for a dinner of bugs. We saw butterflies flitting around and flirting with us. Our ranger guide found a snake coiled and sunning on a beaver lodge. Thankfully he wasn’t poisonous, but amazingly big, beautiful and scary all at the same time!

Finally we had to come back to land, but were very pleased with our swamp canoe trip. It was very relaxing, enjoyable and beautiful. Unfortunately the boat trips end this weekend for Labor Day.   If you plan on going, call ahead to reserve your spot at 901-876-5215.  Also later on in the year, you can call and request a boat trip with a group of people. I think Fall would be an awesome time to go, not to mention much cooler! And again, I am pleasantly surprised by our local state park and all they have to offer, right in our backyard! Will definitely be back again soon!

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