Elk…

Late Friday morning this past week, Hubby and I joined another couple for lunch.  It had been a while since we spent time with them and we enjoyed a lunch together, catching up and talking.  It was wonderful.  We had all made plans for the rest of the afternoon when we decided to ditch those plans and head out for a day trip.

This couple often talk about Maggie Valley in North Carolina, it is a place they love to visit and relax.  Part of going there is to visit Cataloochee Valley, a historic place in the great Smoky Mountains. We have heard so much about this place, as well as seeing their photos on Facebook, that when it was suggested we drive up after lunch, we readily agreed.

As we headed up the mountains, I thought it was just nice to get away for an afternoon.   I didn’t know what awaited me and personally, I didn’t care.  It was an adventure that I didn’t know I was in need of.   We stopped in Maggie Valley to pick up some snacks to eat when we got to Cataloochee, and after getting back into the car, to me, was when the real adventure started.   Up to that point it was usual freeway driving and then onto little country towns, relaxing, but nothing out of the ordinary.

We headed towards Cataloochee and the road delighted my hubby who loves a challenging road.  This proved to be the first highlight of his trip.  Driving in what was not just an “S” curve, but, actually a long squiggly series of “S” turns, he was smiling with each new turn.   The road soon turned to an unpaved road which just added to his glee.

We drove quite a ways, first up a mountain and then headed down into a valley.  It seemed to take forever and just added to the anticipation at seeing this place that gives our friends such joy.   On the way we were told how elk were brought into the area several years ago and how they have flourished here.

Although I grew up in an area close to Elk county, PA, I confess, I had never seen an elk. There was a part of me that wondered if I would that afternoon.   I didn’t need to wonder long, as we came upon a traffic stop.   Cars were stopped and people were sticking their heads out of the windows.   There in the middle of the road, causing this mini traffic jam was a bull elk.  He was slowly sauntering down the road, oblivious to everyone around him.  He finally walked over to a field and traffic continued on.   With the elk in the field, hubby, as he passed by, rolled down his window and bellowed low out the window.  We stopped as we watched the elk.  The elk lifted his head as he was trying to listen and then, as if answering my hubby, he bellowed back.  The sound was like an old rusty swing on a swing set.   It was incredible.img_20190927_161854187

Our first stop in this adventure was at this little church, where we got out and walked around a bit.   I kept waiting to see an elk walking around, but, we didn’t.  This was such a peaceful place.  A stream flowed in front of this building and I could have spent the entire afternoon here and been content.

We drove on and by now, I was so excited!  This was an adventure I truly needed.  It fed my desire to see new places, and it also fed my spirit which needed to feel some quiet and tranquility.

We continued on our car ride and came to the valley floor.  This is an open space with a few structures from long ago.  It was crowded as it was a Friday afternoon and weekend travelers were visiting.  It did not dampen the excitement for me as in the fields were elk.

We set up a small picnic area near a stream that looked like a perfect place to play in.  We munched on our snacks and talked, when across the stream came another bull elk.  He took my breath away, actually!  We watched as he made his way to the stream, looked around and crossed the stream and headed away from us.  Such a majestic animal.  So blessed we were to see him so closely!   img_20190927_170806306-1

By then, the afternoon was winding down and storm clouds were forming.  Hubby kept a close eye on the sky and we decided to visit a home that remains in the area and is open to view before we headed back home.   img_20190927_174630164

This home, so well built,  has withstood time and weather, was fascinating.   I wish the walls could tell the stories that happened within the walls.     As we were leaving the house a cow elk walked into the front yard.  She took her time eating the grass and just enjoying the late afternoon sun.   There are signs posted everywhere to stay 50 yards away from the elk, so we stayed on the porch watching her.  It was captivating, watching her.   img_20190927_175525492

As she made her way to the rest of her herd, we made our way to our car.  It was a full day.  Filled with the  beauty of the area, the majestic elk, the peace that resides in the valley, and the company of dear friends.  It was a perfect day for us and one that I will cherish in my memory.  This impromptu adventure blessed me in ways I was not expecting.   I love mountain areas.  Given a choice between the coast or mountains, I will always choose mountains.   I am always reminded of Psalm 121,  which says this, I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. (New Living Translation).    I left that valley full.  Full of the peaceful relaxation our friends have talked about.  I understood what they meant.  I experienced that same refreshment.   I am grateful for an unexpected adventure.   img_20190927_173224350

Thank you for stopping by today,  I hope you have some unexpected adventures yourself that will fill you with peace and refreshing.    Cathi (DAF)

 

 

 

 

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Faith…

blonde hair blur daylight environment

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

I have attempted many things in my life that I never would have thought of doing when I was growing up in my small hometown of Oil City, PA.   I married my high school sweetheart which at the time was a pretty normal thing for people to do.  However, he was a career Navy man and the day after our wedding he drove me away from the security of our hometown, and we have been on an adventure since then.

I have seen the Atlantic ocean, the Pacific ocean, Tokyo Bay, Sagami Bay, and the finger lakes around Mt Fuji,  the Gulf of California off San Felipe, the Gulf of Mexico .  I have been to Tokyo several times, been on an aircraft carrier for a day, been mountain climbing in Maine with our five month old daughter, passing her between one another while we climbed to the top (not our most prepared moment).  I have run across the Golden Gate Bridge for fun, fallen off a bike into a rice paddy, eaten some strange foods not knowing what they were.     I have felt adventurous, bold, brave.  I have had fun.  I know in comparison to others, these are all small things to accomplish, but, for this small town girl who never thought she would see anything except the Allegheny River and Oil Creek, these are big things.

I said all of the above because yesterday as I was preparing for some decorating for our upcoming Ladies Retreat, I came across a clip art that showed a woman leaping from one mountain top to another.  This piece of clip art stopped me.  I literally stopped what I was doing and just stared at the image for several moments.  It wasn’t necessarily a striking image, it was just a woman in mid-air between two outcropping peaks of a mountain.   I have jumped across mountain outcroppings like this before without a thought as to what I was doing, and normally I would just smile and continue to look for what I originally was searching for.

However, I stopped.  I studied this image.  My heart joined in the study.  This clip art spoke of faith.  This person photographed an act of faith.  This woman left a piece of ground she was certain of.  She knew what she was standing on.  It was firm land, safe land.  She left that security and leapt not knowing what the ground across from her would be like.  Would that ground be as firm as what she just left?  When she landed again would the ground be firm or would it be slick?  Would there be rocks covered in moss or gravel?  Would she stumble or slip?  These questions flooded my mind as I stared at the clip art.

Then, a question came to my mind, “When was the last time you took a leap of faith?”  The answer to myself was not positive.  I once thought myself adventuresome.  There was a part of me that smiled because I had done so many things that a girl from Oil City never thought of doing, and yet, here I am, now an older woman from South Carolina who leads a pretty ordinary, quiet life.

Have I settled?  Have I told myself it’s time that I shouldn’t expect that rush of excitement and adventure?  All these questions and thoughts flooded my mind and heart in a five-minute time frame, and then kept rattling around my brain since.   In getting older, those leaps of faith come with a bit of wisdom and experience, memories of skinned knees, aching limbs, racing hearts and disappointments jump up in the front of my mind.   I don’t want to miss out though.

While in Japan, hubby and I went to the mountains for a weekend retreat.  Our car’s battery had been blown so the car wouldn’t start on its own, we had to push it to start it.  We drove that beat up old car into the mountains, each time we stopped I would get out and push it as I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift then, and popping a clutch was an unnatural feat for me.   But, it was during that memorable trip that Psalm 121 became a part of my life.   To me, it speaks of faith, leaping faith, and I close sharing it here with you.

Psalm 121 (New Living Translation)

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

I am now challenged to look for places to leap out in faith.  Will I succeed?  I really don’t know, all I know is I am going to look for places to leap, it may only be jumping across a puddle for now, but maybe, just maybe I have a mountain top or two to leap over.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

Just…WOW!…

As I have written many times, my hubby is a retired Navy man.  He served for almost 21 years and it was a great part of our life together.  I stood by and watched him re-enlist many times and each time I felt such pride well up in me.  There is just something about watching someone raise their hand and promise to protect and defend you.  It is a remarkable thing to experience.

Yesterday hubby and I drove over to Atlanta, GA.   We spent the night there in anticipation of seeing our son-in-law re-enlist in the Navy.  He had the opportunity to do this at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA.

This morning we gathered at the aquarium to witness this ceremony.  He was going to re-enlist underwater.  His family gathered together as well as several of his peers who came up from the Navy Dive school.

The entire experience was remarkable.  The facility is the best aquarium I have seen, and I have visited many aquariums.  This is a beautiful place to visit.  If you are ever in the area, go, you won’t be disappointed.

We were given instructions as to the time of the ceremony and at the appointed time we went to a viewing area to see the divers swim into view.  We waved to our son-in-law and took pictures, it was all very exciting.   Then the divers made their way to the area where the re-enlistment ceremony was to take place.

We went into this gallery area that overlooked a large tank filled with fish and sharks and sting rays.  The view was breath-taking.  Then in the distance we saw the divers appear.  This moment took my breath away.  You could see the bubbles from the divers and then you saw these men swimming towards you.  What spoke to me the most is that these men do this for a living.  They do this for this country.  My heart swelled with pride in seeing them in this tank.  These are the heroes of our country.  They protect us on land and in the sea, literally.   Tears fell down my face as I saw these young men having a great time.  The contrast of seeing these men among the fish in that tank.  It was all lit up and you could see everything going on in there, but, these men do this when there is no lit tank and the fish are not used to seeing people in their domain.  They have a dangerous job and they do it willingly.

After a staff member introduced the divers to those assembled in this gallery, our son-in-law took his place along with one of his commanding officers.  They stood at attention and because they were equipped with audio equipment we sat and watched as our son-in-law raised his hand and swore an oath to protect and defend this country.   He did this willingly and without hesitation.  I watched as my daughter, who has been to many of these ceremonies in her life,  beamed with pride as she watched her husband repeat the same words she heard her father say.   We cheered and applauded as he concluded his oath and then stood with pride and tears as a staff member sang our National Anthem.

The day was one that will be etched in my memories.  I am a flag-waving person.  I love my country, but today, I was reminded once more how deep that pride of our country and our military is in me.

For those who have never heard the words of re-enlistment here it is.  Men and women freely and proudly speak these words daily.

The Oath of Enlistment (for enlisted):

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” 

Congratulations dear son-in-law, thank you for your service that you give so freely.  Thank you for allowing us to share in this special day.

Thank you for stopping by my blog,  Cathi (DAF)

 

The Adventure Begins…

For the past month or so, I have hinted at changes about to take place in my life.  I thought that the adventure would begin by now.  I figured I would have been on the work force and getting settled into a job by now.

Turns out, I have a reprieve from the job hunting for the time being.  At least until this summer.  But, the adventure will begin before the summer.  In fact, for me, the adventure truly began this morning.

I knew the adventure was lurking around the corner, soon to appear, but I thought I would have a couple more days until it officially happened.  This morning, after a somewhat sleepless night, I checked my email.  My dear hubby had a very early wake up time today and got up around 3:30 this morning.  He was up for a few hours and then headed back to bed when the sun was up for a few more hours sleep.

I got up before he got back up, so I went to my laptop to see what had happened overnight.  What happened was that the owners of this lovely home we are renting got in touch with my dear hubby to confirm that, yes, they are returning to the states, and yes, they do want to live in their home.

So, good morning, DAF!  Time to move!  Time to haul out that packing material and boxes.  Time to buy tape and lots of it.  Time to really clean out those closets and drawers.  Time to go to a dark corner and assume the fetal position and pretend you didn’t just read what you read.

Most of my day was spent exploring rentals in this area.  It was a little more encouraging than I thought it would be.  We are fortunate in that we do have until the first of May to find a place and move, but I confess, I am not excited about the prospect of it all.

Adventures can be fun.  But, they can be filled with detours and dead ends and lost trails.  As a retired navy wife, I know how to move and organize for a move.  The key word in the last sentence is ‘retired’.  I had hoped that at my age I still wouldn’t be doing this.  Somehow, though, that doesn’t make for an adventure.    So, for now, I will begin to clean out the drawers.  I will dust off my packing skills.  I will start to outfit myself for an adventure.  I will cling to ONE who has gotten me through so many adventures I didn’t want to be on.   Matthew 28:20 b says, And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (new living translation).  I know He has been with me, and I have to trust that He will be for this move.   I just hope this time He provides the energizer bunny to come along beside me to lift those heavy objects!

I will keep you posted on the progress of my ‘adventure’.  I think going to Disneyland sounds like more fun, or even a root canal for that matter.

Thanks for stopping by!  DAF