Archive for the ‘awesome God’ Category

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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This was one of our long and tiring days hiking the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. However, as usual, the views and the adventures were always amazing. The end of our section hike for this day took us through the town of West Hartford, down the street, and past the Village Store. There was a sign out front welcoming hikers from the Appalachian Trail and a place to put their packs. They had all sorts of things from pizza to salad to fresh Vermont maple ice cream, which was a most excellent way to end our long, tiring hike! I think that was the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted! lol Looking back, even though the trip was hard, I wish I was still there, such an amazing, magical place. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

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This was one of our longest hikes on this section of the Vermont Appalachian Trail. It was just my Dad, my Husband and me. We had worn my girls out so they decided to go with my Mom to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Hist. Park, which was all about nature, conservation and farming. They loved learning about the different kinds of farm animals and seeing all the spring babies.

We hiked about seven miles and climbed about 1200 feet. This was our rainy day, so we donned our rain jackets and put our pack covers on. The temperature was in the upper 60s and we were hot from hiking, so the rain didn’t bother us too much. We just kept plodding on up the hills and through the overcast rainy weather.

The Lookout was really cool. You could reach it on a short side-trail. The sign said it was only .1 mile, but we think it was closer to a quarter mile. Of course the fact that it was more up hill may have made it feel longer! This led to a private cabin which the owners allow the hikers to use. There was a platform built on the top of the cabin, which you could reach by (again!) climbing up a ladder to the top. But once at the top, the view was spectacular! We stopped here and had our lunch.

The rest of the hike was very surreal. We passed so many very old rock walls, all that remains of past families and farms who lived in the area. At one point I had hiked ahead of the guys and found a dry place to rest on a rock, when I was surprised to meet an older gentleman. He told us he hikes on the Appalachian trail 3/4 of the year! Apparently he felt quite at home on the trail and had decided to make it his regular lifestyle.

Many of the forests we hike through looked like rain-forests, covered in ferns and moss and often very damp. This day was so wet there weren’t many places you wanted to stop and sit down. But occasionally we’d come to an evergreen grove. Under these not much else seemed to grow and it would be covered in a thick layer of soft, mostly dry needles, which made perfect resting points. I would often hike ahead of my hiking companions and then find one of these unique evergreen groves and sit and rest.

Another tiring day on the Appalachian trail, but looking back, such sweet memories. I feel so blessed that we got to go! I hope you enjoy the pics!

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This was our fourth day hiking the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. My husband had just flown in the day before, and this was his first day hiking with us. This day we hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail that passed the Thistle Hill Shelter.  Looking back at these pictures I just can’t tell you how beautiful it is there, though it was very exhausting and made it a little difficult to appreciate the absolute beauty at the time. But looking back, I long to return and hike through all of the amazingly different landscapes of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. Every time I look at the pictures I am completely amazed by the awesome and varied beauty that God creates. The sight of this beauty leads me to awed worship of Him.

We hiked for about 10 days total. It was just enough time to completely wear us out, but not enough time to get used to it. When my husband arrived, he wanted to hike even more than what we were doing on the Appalachian Trail. He was there for a shorter time, and he was so delighted to be free from work and in this beautiful environment. I had already been hiking three days, so I was already really tired.  But he is naturally in excellent shape, and it was really starting to irritate me! lol So I ended up doing some extra hikes with him and exhausting myself even more. Looking back, I realize I should have taken the days off that my Dad did. One full day off would have made a huge difference in my physical condition. Though, I don’t regret the extra hikes we did. They were all awesome! So choose more Vermont beauty or rest to enjoy the future beauty better??? I don’t know what I would choose the next time… I’m just glad we got to do any of it! It was definitely a trip of a lifetime!

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My husband was not able to get any more time off this summer, so my girls and I decided to go for one last vacation fling before summer’s end. We decided to camp at Rock Island State Park in Middle Tennessee. Like South Cumberland State Park, this park was also on the Cumberland Plateau, a plateau made of sandstone that is prone to eroding into waterfalls, boulders, rock ledges and cliffs. It is so much unlike any other part of Tennessee, especially the areas further west, which are basically flat with not a rock in sight. We felt like we had really been to a far away vacation spot even though it was only 4 1/2 hours from our home. I would say it was as interesting as our Vermont trip, with a much lower gas/time investment, so we will definitely be back! Hope you enjoy the pics of our adventures!

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This was one of our first hikes on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont.  We only hiked a few miles that day to get us used to it.  We started at US 4 and ended at Gifford Woods State Park.  Turns out this part of the hike is part of The Long Trail, a very old trail which travels from the southern border of Vermont to the northern Canadian border.  The Appalachian Trail used to go over the Shelburne Pass, but after a lot of storm damage, it was rerouted to this (longer) section of the Long Trail.

It was in the upper 60s that day, though we were plenty warm because we were climbing and descending about 500 feet.  It was also raining lightly, but it didn’t bother us.  The trees kept most of the rain off of us, and what made it to us nicely cooled us down and evaporated quickly.  This trail was basically straight up and then straight down, and since we are used to basically flat land in Memphis, this was quite a challenge for us.  We would watch native Vermonters fly up and down hills like they were born walking on them! lol  It was a bit frustrating!

Though after being home now, we have done a few hikes.  We hiked a several mile flat trail, which was a breeze, and I find that even when I do hike hills at home I am in much better shape than before and surprised at how much easier they are than before.  I plan to keep hiking so I can retain my new strength and really enjoy hiking anyway.  It is so refreshing to be out in nature, which always speaks to me loudly of God.  It is so beautiful, and the physical exercise, though hard at the time, is exhilarating.  Stay tuned for more of our Appalachian Trail hike!

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It was raining on Saturday this past weekend, so we took a shorter four mile hike after church on Sunday at Stanky Creek in Bartlett, TN.  Do you like the name? lol  It was a bit “stanky” when crossing some of the swampy areas!   This is park mainly used my mountain bikers, which contributes to the mud, and when it is busy you always have to be looking over your shoulder for a bike coming up from behind.  But yesterday it was so wet from all the recent rain that the whole place to ourselves!

As I look at the beauty of God’s creation, my breath is just taken away.  The last time we hiked there, there were no leaves on the trees, so this time it just about looked like we were in a jungle!  Everything was lush and bright green.  We saw lots of flowers, Tulip Tree flowers that had fallen to the ground.  At one point on the trail there was the most delicious smell.  We looked down and there were little while flower petals strewn everywhere on the trail and a few clumps of intact flowers.  I picked one up and the smell was absolutely heavenly!  We looked everywhere for where the flowers had come from and finally found them very high at the top of trees which were higher than all the other vegetation.  I looked it up when I got home and I think it is a Black Locust.  The smell that God created for this flower was so beautiful, it was almost intoxicating!

God is such a spectacular artist.   Being in nature reminds me of His limitless power to create and sustain beauty.   I cannot help but worship when I see the beauty he is capable of creating.  And then to know that with all that power and creative beauty, He also knows and loves us each so completely and intimately. That is even more amazing.   He truly is amazing and worthy of worship.

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