Saturday, December 30, 2006

Goodbye 2006

With only one more day left this year, I’ve been looking back at all the adventure, fun, and places I explored during this twelve month span. The year of 2006 has been awesome! I feel very fortunate to have experienced as much as I have in this one year alone.

All the states I visited this year: Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Nevada, California, Montana, Arizona, and Alberta, Canada.

My biggest feats for 2006: Hiked first slot canyon, Visited a new province in Canada, Visited and hiked in 7 National Parks, Hiked in 4 different mountain ranges (Appalachians, Rockies, Sierra Nevada, and Olympic), Nearly made it to the top of Half Dome, Completed a 20 mile hike in Grand Teton in one day, Made a 30 mile backpacking trip on Cumberland Island, Georgia, Confronted and survived an angry mother bear with cubs, Finally caught on my very own camera a bear in the wild, Saw a mountain goat for the first time and photographed it, Walked on my first glacier.

But there is still one day left of 2006 and I dare not waste it! There is still time for one more great adventure. Catch up with you all when I return.

Can't wait to see where 2007 will take me! :)

In the Frozen Niagara section of Mammoth Cave with my pal Germaphobe.
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

Me backpacking on Cumberland Island, Georgia. It is uncertain in the pic. whether the extended thumb at this point during the hike was a thumbs up or an attempt to hitch a ride.

Best friend and me on top of the Space Needle. (This was right after I got off the phone with you, Yratuca. I couldn't hear a word you said with all the noise up there! haha.)
Seattle, Washington.

This is a picture of me taking a picture of my first slot canyon. Awesome!
(And four months later you were in the same canyon, Grunt! Can you recognize it without all the flood water?)
Escalante, Utah.

Couldn't resisit sitting in a field of daisies!
Olympic National Park, Washington.

I don't even remember taking this picture. Both Best Friend and I were still in a daze after talking with the Canadian Customs guy. The HOTTEST man in the world, girls, I kid you not!!!!

And there is the first mountain goat I ever saw! I was so excited!
Glacier, Montana.

Resting on a rock in Glacier National Park, Montana. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you might can see another mountain goat in the background grazing by the water.

Standing in the freezing waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca searching for tidepools full of creatures.
Olympic Peninsula, Washington.

There are a few more shots in the post below, so check it out. :)
And because blogger decided that I had posted enough of my pictures on the above post, and I still wanted to share a couple more, here's a few more shots of some of my favorite times this year...

Along the Applalachian Trail in Virginia.

My mom and I at New River Gorge, West Virginia. You can see a portion of the huge, steel arch bridge that spans the gorge behind us.

Exhausted me along the Half Dome Trail in Yosemite National Park, California. There's the summit just ahead. (Or so it would seem! Ugh!) It was at this point that I wanted to either shoot myself or at least someone else.

Cooling off in the oasis of Lower Calf Creek Falls with Slot Canyon Boy.
Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post Holidays Post

I have been seeing this post on many other blogs so I thought I would do it, too. (Since I know all of you out there are dying to know more about me! ;)

1. Snakes
2. Being financially unstable
3. Drowning/suffocating

1. How the male mind works
2. Mathematics
3. How people that intentionally hurt people and get their kicks off it can sleep at night

1. A second language fluently
2. How to ski
3. A scheme to strike it rich

1. Dark blue jeans
2. Light blue long sweater w/ belt
3. High heel brown boots

1. Tons of pictures of my friends, family, and my travels
2. CDs full of pictures I have taken
3. Old ticket stub from the UGA game I went to earlier this year

1. Travel around the world
2. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
3. Hike the Inca Trail

1. I am very laid back and easy to get along with
2. I like to laugh and I love to make other people laugh
3. I try to stay upbeat despite the many, many, MANY crappy things that happen to me

1. I will blurt out exactly what I am thinking sometimes.
2. If I am around someone who has a negative attitude for a while, I will begin to be negative, too.
3. Have built up a defense mechanism to protect myself and I am generally untrusting of people.

1. Scottish
2. English
3. Native American (Cherokee)

1. My eyes
2. My legs—but the shape of them, not the length
3. Can easily lose weight when I want to (and try to)

1. Too thick in the middle right now (Need to put the #3 above into action)
2. I want whiter teeth
3. Wish my legs were 3 inches longer (because I hate having to find petite or short jeans and pants to buy. That’s the real reason I always wear my “hot” high heels—so I won’t step on my pants!!!)

1. Even though I am generally a nice person, I am the wrong person’s path to cross if you want to screw someone over.
2. I like model railroading
3. Despite my age, I still act like a retard around guys I like.

1. Are you kidding me?!?
2. WHATever!
3. Anything to do with crack…(Calling someone a crack head, Asking someone “Who’s crack head scheme was this?”, or saying, “Just lay off the crack, K?”)

1. Nearly everywhere in Europe
2. Many places in Africa (especially Egypt)
3. Peru

I had a nice and peaceful holiday with my family and I hope everyone else did, too.

For Christmas I got a new laptop, an iPod nano, jewelry, clothes and the stomach flu. Everything was totally awesome except for the flu. As for the other wonderful gifts, I am still trying to figure out how I fooled Santa into thinking I was good this year. hmmm. SUCKA!

Hope he was as generous with the rest of you!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas Blog Buddies!

Just in case I become completely sucked into the all the festivites and don't have a chance to tell you all later, I'll say it now...

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope your holiday is safe and fun! Thanks to everyone who stops by and checks out my blog and even more thanks to those of you who have become friends of mine. I'm sending you all the love I can muster from my 3 sizes too small, grinchy heart! :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

My Song

It’s no secret to my friends that I am a huge fan of The Police and Sting’s music. But what they really don’t know is which song is my favorite. Ask any of them and they will tell you that it is Don’t Stand so Close to Me and really that’s not too far from the truth. I do love that song passionately and believe that it is one of the sexiest songs ever written, as most people know that feeling of being so attracted to someone that we know is not good for us and being so into this person that we are driven to complete distraction. I have just been allowing everyone to believe that this sexy, cool song is my favorite. But it is more like my second favorite.

In reality my favorite song by Sting is Fields of Gold, which is, by far, wussier than the sexy Don’t Stand so Close to Me. Now I couldn’t let anyone know that I am really a wuss at heart, could I? But it’s true. I can be a wuss.

I believe that every person can find at least one song that they can relate some experience in their life to. This is why I have attached myself to Fields of Gold. This song defines nearly every relationship I have ever had. With the exception of one, none of my relationships ever ended badly. There were no fights. They just ended for some reason or another.

Perhaps it is the very reason that every man I ever dated, sooner or later, has tried to come back into my life. Whereas it is a good feeling to be told that you were the best part of someone else’s life, the story becomes quite old and leaves me wondering. Why can’t you see and appreciate me when you’re with me, when it’s not too late? And what is it that takes you back in the past to the time you were with me? And what makes you forget that everything has changed and that we can’t just pick right up where we left off, ignoring the circumstances surrounding our present lives? What makes you think we can so easily walk hand in hand like before?

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold

Once upon a time, I found you worthy of my trust. I invited you into my life. I gave you my all. We forgot all the destructive outside forces working against us and we reveled in our happiness and love.

So she took her love
For to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold

And though I never claimed to be perfect, I always tried my best to make our relationship work. I always did whatever I could to make you happy. And although rocky times came upon us, it was nothing that we couldn’t have handled.

I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold

But somehow and for some reason, we let go anyway. We said our goodbyes. With slowly fading pain in my heart, I move on. Time elapses into years and you’re barely a fond memory in my mind. Our special places, occasions, and memories still live somewhere on another plane, but life goes on and time marches forward.

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold

Then, just as I have accomplished tucking you away into a forgotten place in my mind, something reawakens your memories and you call me. You turn my life upside down. You express your regrets of letting our relationship go. But I think there is no reason to regret finding true love, whether it lasts or not. Many people are not so lucky and you can at least tell them what it was like to walk in fields of gold once upon a time.

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

As for me, I try very hard to close chapters in my life before beginning a new one. As it stands right now, I have closed the very last chapter and I feel good about it. I am now gazing at a fresh, clean slate ready to be filled. And it will be filled one day. For now, I am patiently awaiting someone who will help me write the pages... Someone who will not only walk with me through fields of gold, but will appreciate me while we’re still standing there among the swaying barley and realize that there is no place he’d rather be than in the golden field with me.

Here's the song for anyone who wants to enjoy it without all my ramblings!

It's such a beautiful song.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I've been challenged to a race!

When I came home this summer after a 2 month vacation out West filled with long hikes and physical activity, I came home in a condition that I was quite proud shape, well toned, and with much more physical endurance than I left Georgia with. I became re-acquainted with my friends and filled them in on my many tales.

My friend, Super Villain, is the only friend I have around here (until Best Friend moved back to town) that will go hiking with me. We have been on many fun and challenging hikes around here through a canyon, down in a gorge, along the Appalachian Trail, to the summit of a few mountains, and many, many hikes to waterfalls. Of all the hikes we have done, we both agree that the very short walk to the summit of Brasstown Bald from the parking lot is the most butt-kicking 1/2 mile on any trail in Georgia. This short, paved 1/2 mile trail would seem like a joke to most experienced hikers, but that little sucker hurts! The best I have ever done on this trail is making it to the top with only having to stop once.

So anyway, I was telling Super Villain of my strenous, long hikes of the summer when I made it back home. I was bragging, actually. I may have even mentioned being able to kick his ass on a trail or something to that effect. He informed me that he had been working out while I was gone and that we should have a sort of hike-off to settle this score. He mentioned Brasstown Bald. I laughed. Puh-lease! Brasstown Bald compared to what all I hiked this summer? I accepted his challenge quite happily. There was no way I could have lost this race! We talked smack like there was no tomorrow.

But it never happened. Four months later, I was thinking that it was forgotten. Four months later, I was hoping it was forgotten. For four months, I have only been hiking only a handful of times and I am so not in the shape I was in August. For four months, I have dined on burgers from the Vortex and anywhere else my heart/stomach desired. For four months, I have lived like a slug. Then out of the blue, Super Villain reminds me that we never had our race to Brasstown. Damn.

To my horror, I hear my own small voice saying, "I can still totally take you punk! Name the date! I'm there!"

Me and my big mouth. I cannot turn down a good challenge, though. And now that I've been trash talking him, it's definitely going to happen. Why oh why did I let August, my prime ass-kicking time, pass me by? Since, 'tis the season to be busy, we will most likely be racing to the top of Georgia's highest peak the first weekend in January when all the holiday fuss is over. I will announce the date when it is set.

Until then, I will be back to health food and exercising. Any training tips from any runners out there? HELP ME! As it stands today, I would totally get smoked. There would be no living with him if that should happen.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Guess That Place

I have been going through some of my old pictures and putting them on CDs. Damn, I have taken a lot of pictures.

Can anyone guess where these were taken?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Six Weird Things About Outdoorsy Girl

I’ve been tagged! Almost a year in the blogging world and had never been tagged until today. Normally, I would have just pretended to not have seen it, but the Grunt is my tagger and the Grunt just happens to be one of my best friends in the blogging world, so Grunt, this is for you…(damn you ;)

Six weird things about me…

1. I do not like to eat my food hot. I’d much rather for it to be barely warm…even my soup and coffee. My mouth burns too easily!

2. I have a shoe fetish! I am totally in love with shoes. I pick out shoes first and then an outfit to go along with them rather than the other way around (like normal peeps). I especially love hot boots and I own a nice assortment of hot shoes and boots. ;)

3. I must have smoothly shaved legs at all times! I can’t sleep unless I have smooth legs. I thought that this was normal until I went camping with Best Friend and she looked at me in horror as I tried to dry shave my legs. (No water available in the desert, you know!) “But I can’t sleep unless my legs feel smooth!” I cried. Under her breath I heard her mutter, “Freak!” That’s when I knew that maybe it wasn’t normal.

4. I talk to my cat like she can understand me…on a regular basis.

5. I am so critical of myself that I find one thing about myself that I want to work on and I obsess over it. Before it was my weight. Now that I am down 4 or 5 jeans sizes, I am obsessing over my teeth. I can’t get them white enough!

6. When I wake up in a bad mood, I wear my Oscar the Grouch panties. If I’m happy, I pick out some fun undies. When I take my shower before I go to bed (and, of course, to shave my legs) I see which panties I am wearing. If I am still in a bad mood and see the grouch panties, I can officially declare it a crappy day.

Now I would continue the chain and tag six more people, but I don’t think that many people read my blog. ;)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Liar, Liar

Wow! It’s been quite a while since my last post! I’ll bet all of you have been wondering what has happened to me …errrr, well, maybe not! I have been a MIA blogger since my birthday. But that’s not because my life has not been totally exciting since that weekend in Memphis! In fact, my life has reached it’s all time high on the excitement scale!

Does anyone remember the Jim Carrey movie, Liar, Liar? Well, I happened to see this movie just a week before my birthday. In this movie a disappointed little boy wishes that his father could not tell a lie for 24 hours and he blows out his birthday candles. Lo and behold, his wish is granted! Well, if it could work for him then maybe…

So I closed my eyes, and wished with all my might. Oh, how I wish Orlando Bloom was my boyfriend! Then I blew out the candles on my cake. (All 21 of them! ;) )

Just imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning to Orlando gently stroking my hair and speaking to me in his sexy British accent, “Good morning, baby. Thought you’d like to go on a road trip.” My wish had been granted!*

Let me tell you, we had a blast! First we went on a hike in the desert somewhere. You know, he’s quite an outdoorsy guy! We hiked for miles and miles until we fell asleep under the stars. He’s so romantic! This is a picture of him that I took while we were hiking somewhere in the desert. Isn’t he hot? But you know what? It’s rather cold somewhere in the desert during this time of year. It was like Orlando could read my mind or something when he suggested that we should just fly down to Aruba for some warm weather.

Aruba was awesome! We did some snorkeling and sailing and had some of the most stimulating conversations that I’ve ever experienced in my life! We had so many exciting stories to share and you just wouldn’t believe how similar our adventures are! Like he told me that one time when he was in St. Vincent filming Pirates of the Caribbean, a shark almost attacked him and Johnny Depp.
And one time I when I was hiking alone in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky I twisted my knee! Oh yeah, and he had been to Kentucky, too, when he filmed Elizabethtown! See how much we have in common? It’s almost eerie!

Shortly after the trip to Aruba, things began to go terribly wrong. I mean Orlando is such a sweet guy, but man did he become possessive! He tried to start a fight with every man we walked by. I tried to explain to him that when he and I were out in public together, that it is just natural that I will be checked out! Then he began to smother me so that I had not one moment alone!

But then suddenly, while we were out at an incredibly expensive restaurant in London (you know, he wanted me to meet his parents!) he suddenly dropped on
one knee and proposed marriage to me!** I was speechless! But as I regained my composure and tried to reply, “YESSSSSSSSS”, he pulled out the ring. I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t like the look of it nor did I like the look in his eye! It was almost as if he wanted to give me that ring to control me! I just couldn’t do it. I sadly had to tell him no. It was heartbreaking but, you know, a girl like me needs her freedom! I gotta be the one to walk in the sun. ;)

It’s been a rough couple of days, but I decided to go back to work today. I’m sure that I will get over this. I just hope that he recovers as easily.
Ok, ok! I’m a liar, liar! This didn’t really happen. I know it was very convincing, but not true. I hope I didn’t fool anyone too much.

And yeah, I’ve got nothing right now—no excitement—nothing! I just felt guilty for being
a blog slacker and leaving you people hanging, so I wrote a filler post. I wrote these lies for YOU, people!

**Just to clarify, if this had been true, I would have said yes regardless of the fact that he wanted to possess me with The One Ring.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Singing away the Birthday Blues

In my previous posts, I had mentioned suffering from a mild case of the blues. Everything from a couple of recent personal experiences, work being really sucky, the approaching holidays, and growing yet another year older had given me the blues, indeed. (Especially the latter.)

I decided the only thing I wanted for my birthday was to rid myself of the blues. I wanted to revel in the celebration of life and sing the blues away. And I wanted to do all this in style. And where better to do this than on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, Home of the Blues? So Best Friend and I planned a trip of Blues singing, booze drinking, and rib eating on Beale Street, where the Blues were born.

Yesterday, November 25th, was my birthday. I decided to have a total Memphis experience so I put on the blue suede shoes that Best Friend’s grandma (a/k/a my “adoptive” grandma)gave me for my birthday and I boarded the plane. We had first class tickets (Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!) to Memphis. It was such a beautiful day. And as we ascended into the sky, we circled the city of Atlanta from a different angle than I had ever seen it. It was actually beautiful seeing it from this angle and I saw the street that I live on from a bird’s eye view for the first time.

I was so excited as I saw the familiar buildings, and the Pyramid along the Mississippi River busy with its barges and the I-40 Bridge that spans the river and crosses into Arkansas on the other side come into view. There was Memphis just below me! Moments later, we touched down in the land of the Delta Blues.

Since Sunday was going to be a no-fly day for airline employees and friends, we knew we would have to drive back home, so we rented a car, a PT Cruiser, and started out our day. First, we drove down Union Avenue to check out our hotel, which was not far from Sun Records, where musical greats such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and of course, Elvis Presley got their starts. We drove down the waterfront and took a look around there. The Mississippi is really a sight to behold, no matter how many times you’ve seen it! Next we drove up Beale to the point that is closed off to vehicles and caught our first glimpse of the fun awaiting us that night. I also saw the Gibson Guitars Factory. That place looked really cool and I hope to take a tour of it next trip. Then we drove down Elvis Presley Boulevard to the gates of Graceland.

I was really looking forward to seeing Elvis’ Graceland decorated for Christmas. I had heard that it was really spectacular, but I was actually a bit disappointed in it. Besides the nativity scene on the lawn and the blue lights that are lit each night and a few Christmas trees inside the mansion, it looked pretty much the same as I saw it in the springtime a few year ago. I sort of wanted half my money back! haha. But still, it was great to visit again and walk through the home of Elvis and later stand by his grave wearing my blue suede shoes. I just have one question…What was he thinking when he decorated the Jungle Room? Yikes!

After our Graceland tour and quick stop back by the hotel, we were eagerly on our way back to Beale Street. It was early evening when we stepped out on the street and already everything was starting to come to life. Music was radiating from every corner. We walked into W.C. Handy (a/k/a Father of the Blues) Park and listened to a live Blues band with a growing crowd of people gathering around. Watching the people, especially the older ones, dance was hilarious. Especially the old man in purple pants! An awesome discovery we made that brought a little bit of “home” to us was the Wet Willies Bar (just like the one in Savannah) where we love to try the different flavors of daiquiris they have. After walking in most of the shops and sampling an earful of music, we were both so hungry that we could eat a whole pig…and just about did at the Blues City Café. Words can’t explain the craving I had developed for some good BBQ ribs and I certainly got them there! Yummmm! Best Friend and I both are dainty eaters, but we lost all lady-like qualities about us as we scarfed those bones clean. Our faces were covered in BBQ sauce and we didn’t care. We also had some really good seafood gumbo and crab au gratin. Even the catfish, which is also a famous Memphis dish, looked tasty and I don’t even eat catfish. We were so stuffed when we left the restaurant that we practically had to roll down the rest of Beale.

Night had set in and things were really hopping. It was hard to decide where we wanted to go first, but we decided on Club 152 to hear “Elvis” perform. At first, I thought it was going to be cheesy and was only going in there for fun. But let me tell you, this guy, Radford Ellis was awesome! I was immediately impressed by just how much he sounded like Elvis. As I sat there singing along to the familiar tunes and was wondering how come all the Elvis impersonators try to be and dress like fat Elvis instead of young, gorgeous and super hot Elvis, he began to share some of his stories with us. This man was not merely an impersonator, he was a true performer. He had played with Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, and Ricky Nelson. In fact, if he had not come down with the flu, he would have been on the plane with Ricky Nelson and the rest of the band when it crashed. He was on the bus with Conway Twitty when he passed away. Not only that, but this man actually knew and was friends with Elvis Presley! He worked with Elvis’ horses at Graceland and the two of them became friends over the years. He even wears a ring that Elvis gave him. He also told us that he was the third person on the scene when Elvis was found dead in his bathroom at Graceland. So I was enjoying the songs and stories and ignoring the guy who was hitting on me and trying to take Best Friend’s chair next to me every time she went to the restroom, when our Elvis performer came over to chat with us. He asked Best Friend and me if we were still having fun and why we decided to come to Memphis. Best Friend told him that it was my birthday. I shot her an I’m-gonna-kill-you glance and knew I was in for it. I knew he was going to pull me up on stage and sing to me and that I would be so embarrassed. And he did pull me up on stage and have the whole bar wish me a happy birthday. Then he sang a special song to me that he had picked out just for me. It was “The Devil in Disguise”! Just what was he trying to say about me?!? What makes it worse is that I think he pegged me pretty well. haha.

We stayed for the rest of the show and then we headed over to B.B. King’s Blues Club. The lead singer of the performing band at B.B.’s was a lady with a voice that won’t quit! She was incredible! She was singing more traditional Blues style when we first walked in but she later moved into some 70s hits like “Lady Marmalade” and “I Will Survive” and she did all this without taking a breath! In fact, the whole time we were there, she took only one break! I would have loved to have stayed longer, but we were running out of time and had long run out of money, so after one more walk down Beale, we headed back the hotel to rest up for the drive back today. As I walked down the street, feeling happier than I did when I arrived, I knew that my Bluesy Birthday Bash had done the trick and I was cured (at least temporarily) of the blues. The song, “Walking in Memphis” played through my head and I did indeed feel like I was “walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale”.

We rose bright and early this morning for a ride by the river before heading back to Atlanta. After a quick stop in Tupelo, Mississippi so that Best Friend could see the birthplace of Elvis, we continued through the rest of the boring drive into and through Alabama. I was extremely happy to see Birmingham as I knew I had only about 2 more hours left. Unfortunately, the construction and traffic slowed us down but we still got the rental car back to the Atlanta airport with one minute to spare on our rental agreement. We know how to do things right! ;)

And I’m still smiling even though it’s back to work tomorrow. The blues are gone. Mission accomplished.

Me with a ticket to Graceland in hand.

Best Friend at the famous gates of Graceland.

Best Friend had the blues when she ran out of drinks.

Statue of W.C. Handy, Father of the Blues, in his namesake park.

Beale Street.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Been there, Done that

Anyone that has ever read this blog more than once knows that I love to travel. I love to visit new places. I love to return to my favorite places and try new things. I love meeting new people. I guess you could say that I love everything about traveling (except the expenses!)

With the exceptions of Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda, all of my traveling has been within the boundaries of the United States. And though I still haven’t crossed all 50 of the states off my Places Visited List, I have at least been in every region of the U.S. I know the farthest both North and West I have ever been is Cape Flattery, Washington. The farthest East I have been within the States is Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts (but Bermuda is the easternmost.) And the farthest South I have been within the U.S. is Key West, Florida, a mere 90 miles to Cuba (but the southernmost point I have reached is the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico). I never really thought about just how much of my country I have seen until I was driving home tonight listening to the radio and found myself singing along with the Steve Miller Band…

I went from Phoenix, Arizona All the way to Tacoma
Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A.
Northern California where the girls are warm
So I could be with my sweet baby, yeah …

And then it hit me! I really have been to all those places! That’s when I began to remember all the places I have been and all the places I hope to go.

I still have more of my own country to see (and see again), but I feel accomplished on having seen at least as much as I have already. Now it’s time to start tapping into other parts of this great, wide world. After I complete my Spring 2007 trip to the Caribbean, I hope to get serious about planning my trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu.

Keep on a rock'n me baby
Keep on a rock'n me baby…

Now I can’t get the freakin’ song out of my head! And the worst part of it is that this will probably be song I hum as I climb my way up the Andes along the path of the ancients.

I really should listen to cooler music. ;)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Because I'm bored...

It occurred to me that hardly anyone that reads this blog has ever seen me without a hat (or hiking gear, for that matter)! So I played around with my camera taking some self portraits. And sooo here I am...the Outdoorsy Girl indoors!

Yeah, mostly I'm just bored right now. It's been raining for the past 24 hours. And I have nothing much to say. :)

Man, I do look bored!

Monday, November 13, 2006


It was one of those blah weekends. I had plans to hike with my buddy Super Villain on Saturday. We had decided to hike the Panther Creek Trail because it’s got a couple of fun challenges and it’s very scenic. Panther Creek Falls is one of the nicest waterfalls in the area and I was excited about taking on these 7 miles again. The weather looked a little blah that morning and I felt a little blah as I got ready. Super Villain called me to let me know that he was running late. And when he arrived with my McDonald’s breakfast they had given me the wrong thing! Stupid McDonald’s! But I ate it anyway because I was hungry. (Side note: I have been feeling hungry a lot lately. I think I get hungrier when I am feeling blah.)

I started to come out of my blah mood as Super Villain and I drove along sharing some good laughs and catching up on the latest news. In fact, when we pulled up to the Panther Creek Trailhead I was completely unblahtalized. Then I noticed the bright rope blocking off the trail! What!? You’ve got to be kidding me! Blah!

So I continued to drive us past Tallulah Gorge and up to Black Rock Mountain., one of the only 5 or so peaks in Georgia that I can call by proper name. Since we got a later start than anticipated, we picked the short, but very steep Tennessee Rock Trail that leads 2.2 miles up to the summit of Black Rock Mountain. I had hiked this trail before and remembered it to be difficult…but of course I was fatter then, so I figured it would be a piece of cake this time. It was
quite a workout, but I managed to pull it off with stopping only once. But I couldn’t believe I was so winded when I reached the top, with this being only 2.2 miles! Blah! I was hoping that the clouds threatening to drench us with rain would break just long enough to take in the good view from the summit. Usually, there is a nice view of the Wolffork Valley, but we got this view instead…Blah!

And since I have been trying to reawaken my creative poetic side lately, I decided to give it a try and composed these lines…

Gloomy is the weather
Gloomy is the mood
Nothing more I’d rather do
Than stuff myself with food

Instead I climbed this mountain top
To see what I could see
But all I could see when I reached the top
Was that I could not see

So I climbed back down
And drove into town
And there it was that I ended my day
With some greasy food from Chic-fil-a

Pretty awesome, no? Yeah, it sucks. HAHAHA!

In all honesty, it was a good weekend. It wasn’t all blah. The hike was fun. I spent time with my family as we went out for my dad’s birthday. I met Best Friend for lunch in Atlanta yesterday, did a little shopping, and then we hung out at a friend’s house. It is not the weekend that is blah. It is ME!

That’s right…the cheery Outdoorsy Girl has the blues. There is no big problem that I am battling. There’s no one factor triggering this bluish hue to color my life. It’s just a combination of silly things that will pass such as…I can’t even turn on the radio without hearing Christmas tunes…already! I will not
continue to be this Grinchy as I love Christmas very much, but I’m just not ready for it yet. Can't we eat least get through Thanksgiving before reminding me that I have tons of gifts to buy??? And now that the bright leaves have fallen and left everything brown and gray, I am reminded that winter is quickly on its way. On the bright side, I will only mope around until we have the first snowfall—that’s right—I think that we are going to get some snow here in Georgia this year because we’ve been cheated for two years straight now! But worst of all, in less than 2 weeks, I will be another year older. Yuck. Blah. Sigh. This fact does truly suck, but is also a temporary attitude. I won’t have the birthday blues for long because I have got something awesome planned that will chase away the blues—in style! ;)

Thursday, November 09, 2006


We all have them somewhere on our bodies. They are evidence of clumsy mistakes or irresponsible actions. Some serve as a reminder of surgical triumph. Some serve as a reminder of a very bad day.

They sprawl across your skin in discolored patches or irregular shapes. They are flaws upon your skin. Honestly, they are none too pretty.

But, though they never completely disappear, they do tend to fade away with time. One day, even the angriest of scars upon your skin will become unnoticed. Yes, it is still visible, but has now become such a part of you that you no longer remember its existence…until someone asks you,
“Hey, how’d you get that scar? What happened to ya?”

These, of course, are physical scars of which I speak. There are other kinds, too--emotional scars. Even the hardest of hearts, have been scarred by some type of disappointment or loss.

Like physical scars, these will also heal and fade over time. And just like the physical type, they will become nearly forgotten by us…until someone asks,
“Hey, why don’t you trust anyone? Why are you so cold? Why are you so afraid? What happened to ya?”

Here upon my knees are scars resulting from an adventure this past summer. On June 17, 2006, I reached high above my head and attempted to pull myself up a slick rock wall into the mouth a slot canyon in southern Utah. I was too short to reach the rock grip that most people
around me had reached with no problem. With a little encouragement, and a push and pull from friends, I was clinging to the slick rock wall (that happens to be called slick rock for a reason) and pulling myself up into the mouth of the narrow, twisty canyon. I felt my right foot slip and my right knee scraped hard into the rock. In a state of panic, I tried to avoid the fall and awkwardly pressed my body into the rock as closely as I could, gripping and grasping onto whatever I could find. My left knee banged rather firmly into the rock. I felt my body slip a little more before regaining balance enough to pull myself completely up the wall. I felt the flesh on my knees tear open and burn as blood started to trickle down my lower legs. I felt as if I had slid down a giant roll of dirty, hot sandpaper. I am pretty sure that I winced in pain as I stood atop the high ledge and, most likely, a verse of profanity flowed from my lips.

Then I turned my back to the wall I had climbed and entered the canyon. I was so amazed at the beautiful swirling lines along the glowing red rock and the tight, twisting walls of this canyon that I forgot about my knees’ injuries. For many years, I had dreamed of climbing around a colorful slot canyon and photographing rays of sunlight and they pressed their way to the bottom of the dark maze before me. All I could think of was, wow, I’m really here!

As my wounds began to heal, I complained occasionally about my tight, sore skin. And I complained a lot as I again ripped open my fresh wounds while hiking the Half Dome Trail in Yosemite the following weekend. Today, as I look at my knees, I see two small discolorations that now resemble bruises. They are fading away nicely and eventually I won’t even remember them.

Last week, I wore a skirt that exposed my knees and a friend of mine asked me if I had bruised my knees. “No,” I replied brightly, “That’s my battle wound from the slot canyon…” And I trailed off into my tale of colorful walls and twisted mazes with a huge smile upon my face.

Those scars upon my knees are reminders that I enjoy my life to the fullest and answer the adventures that call my name. I am reminded that, even though I can become afraid, I do not allow fear to hold me in its grip. I am reminded that I make my own dreams come true. I am reminded that I have had wonderful experiences and will likely experience many more wonders in my lifetime.

Now, if only viewing emotional scars in this manner could be so easy. Right now, I am reminded that people aren’t always honest, people aren’t so kind, and with every gain there results an even bigger loss. But I am working on changing this outlook.

Through my scarred view, I can see enough to realize that my heart’s adventures are equivalent to my life’s adventures in bravery, risk, and wonder. Surely this must lead to good things eventually. I think that I will again find honesty, kindness, and a gain that will convince me that all these scars were worth it.

And I believe I will again walk among the fields of gold.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Wise Words of Life

I used to post poems that I have written on this blog. A few of them were about life in general, but most of them about amazing things that I have encountered while traveling. I was thinking about how I should write a few lines about something I saw or did this summer. God knows, I certainly had plenty of inspiration to write and never stop and I’m sure that no words I could have ever applied to paper would have done justice to places I experienced over those two months.

But I’m not feeling very inspired right now even with looking at my photos from this summer. I require inspiration to write anything at all, so…nothing new will be written today.

I did, however, search my files for old poems I had not yet shared. As I read through some of them, I found some that I had not posted on the blog. Rereading the words I had written took me back in time to the places or people I had written about. Not only could I feel those same emotions again, but I realized that impressions that are strong enough to inspire you to immortalize these feelings or impressions in a poem are your truest and most accurate insight of the subject.

For example, I had written a poem about Yosemite, California after my first visit there nearly six years ago. I returned there again this year and as I reread the words of my Yosemite poem, I found that I had captured exactly what Yosemite is to me in words. The words were so accurate that I felt there was nothing I could change in the poem to express it any clearer. I also have found this to be true with people.

I had this on and off again relationship with a certain man* for about 3 years. We were friends who happened to like one another on a slightly more-than-friendly level but there was always some kind of unavailability issue with us. At first, it was because we lived too far apart. Then he moved closer. Then it was that he was too busy. But then he took the time out for us to spend together. It was never anything serious until a couple of events took place last winter. These events revealed a great deal about what kind of person this man (who was supposedly my friend, above all else) was. What angered me so much was how this guy, in the end, truly believed that he had me “in his grips” and had left me devastated. He was surprised when I corrected him and let him know that though he was someone I thought was special to me, that there would be no crying myself to sleep at night over him now that I really knew him. I also told him that I didn’t want to talk to him again.

Then in a fury of curse words and bitter, angry tears, I wrote these words down…

I do not love you
I never have; I never will
I know you must think that
You made my whole world stand still

But my world is still spinning
Life did not cease for this endeavor
And your delusion is the reason
All ties I must sever

You must not think I shed a tear
Or that you made my heart swoon
That is make-believe in your head
And you did not hang the moon

I thought fondly of the man I thought that you were
And now I can see that he was not real
Dreams of might-have-been are lost in a blur
Because I do not love you and I know I never will

There’s no waiting around for you
Now that I see clearly who you are
No use entertaining the notion
Or wishing for love upon a star

You are no knight in shining armor
You do not fit the part
And the only armor around here
I’ve built around my heart

I never called him again. But he did call me. I was very cold at first, but this guy was persistent with apologies and lame excuses and leaned strongly on our “friendship” as a way to worm himself back into my life. I am naïve and forgiving and believe in second chances, so we began another round of “us.” This time was different (or so it appeared) and we grew closer than ever before. We talked nearly daily and shared many things about our lives. Those 6 months were awesome. It was such a wonderful world…and then he slipped back into his old ways of not quite being what he portrayed himself to be and then he pulled the disappearing act again.

When I read the above poem, I had to chuckle to myself as the realization struck that those words still ring truer than ever before, even after closing a second chapter in our lives. If only I had reread it before I opened that second chapter.

It seems the story never changes. Therefore, after I put into writing my latest encounter (a/k/a disaster), I will be sure to keep it in my active files for quick access and future reference, just in case this one decides to make a comeback, too.
*Note to that “certain man”: I have no idea if you still read my blog, but if you do, you know who you are. Life is still going on without you, just so you know. I wouldn’t want you to worry that the sun no longer shines on me. Also, I have to admit that your “disappearing act” was pretty awesome this time. I didn’t see it coming at all, Houdini! Good job! Now, if you will kindly stay in hiding, I’d appreciate it.

PS. If your phone doesn’t ring, then you’ll know that’s me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cemeteries of Georgia

First off, Happy Halloween everyone! In honor of this, one of my favorite holidays, I am going to share some pictures and history on some of my favorite creepy places…cemeteries!

At first, to admit that you really like cemeteries can seem a little morbid, but when considering the history you can learn by simply reading tombstones and the artistic value of the statues and monuments that grace the burial grounds, it becomes perfectly understandable why cemeteries are so intriguing. And yes, they are still a little bit creepy.

Three of the most intriguing cemeteries I have ever visited are right here in Georgia. Colonial Park and Bonaventure Cemeteries are located in Savannah and Historic Oakland Cemetery is located in downtown Atlanta. Since I am way into photography and history, I want to share some of my pictures and interesting facts that I have uncovered about these places.

This is the gate to Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah. Inscribed above the entrance are the letters D.A.R. for the Daughters of the American Revolution, who erected this memorial in 1913. This is the oldest cemetery in Savannah, opening in 1750, and was the primary burial ground for 103 years until it became too crowded and the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery was established. There are over 11,000 bodies buried here, but only 600 markers are still standing in the graveyard. You are literally walking all over the graves when you enter the gates. The disappearance of these headstones has partially to do with hand of time, but a good number fell victim to vandalism by both British soldiers and Union troops as they occupied the city during Savannah’s times of war.

Along the back wall of the cemetery are a line of broken or misplaced headstones that indicate the handiwork of Union troops as their camp occupied the cemetery. A fine example of “leaving their mark” is the revised dates on many of the tombstones. One member of Colonial Park died at the young age of 11 and left behind his bride of 17 and son of age 12 according to the revision. And one man lived to be 1700 years old according to his tombstone. Also along the wall of removed tombstones are some very interesting, unaltered epitaphs such as the story of one young man from Philadelphia who was simply walking through the streets of Savannah when he was suddenly attacked and killed by pirates.

Among those who make this cemetery their home are many Revolutionary War heroes and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. But this is not the resting place of merely war heroes and statesmen but also of notorious duelers, and your average joes who were victims of the Great Fire of 1820 and a Yellow Fever epidemic that killed 1 out of every 10 Savannahian.

But the one thing about the cemetery that is most interesting to me are the old brick vaults that you will see scattered among the grounds. They would appear to be New Orleans style above-ground burials. However, they are not. On one side of the vault you will notice a sealed-up former archway entrance. Inside the archway, many years ago, you would have found stairways that led down into the vault. At the bottom of the stairs you would have found 3 shelves on either side of the room lined with either coffins or shrouded bodies. In the center of the room there would have stood a large urn. The urn was to hold the bones of the older corpses as the shelves became overcrowded with new burials. Ewww. That’s just a little creepy to me.

I wish that I had more (and better) photos of this cemetery to share, but while visiting Savannah, I rarely make it into this cemetery before the gates lock up at the too-early time of 5:00 p.m. We can thank the participants of a suspected gruesome voodoo ceremony complete with a sacrificed goat found in 1999 for the cemetery’s early closure.

I do, however, have many photos of the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery that replaced Colonial Park as the prime burial ground. It is still an active cemetery today. It is the final resting place of a famous American author and Pulitzer Prize winner, Conrad Aiken, and the resting place of Johnny Mercer, known as one of the greatest American songwriters of our time.

Bonaventure was made famous by John Berendt’s book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and by the movie of the same title starring Kevin Spacey. The statue on the book’s cover known as the “bird girl” drew so much attention that it was removed from the cemetery and placed in the Telfair Museum to protect it from vandalism.

This cemetery, with the Spanish moss-draped oaks, gorgeous statues and monuments, and the Wilmington River as a backdrop is lovely year round, but particularly beautiful in the spring when the azaleas are in full bloom, as you can see in this photo. It could rival any botanical garden, in my opinion, in beauty. I took this photo in early April, 2004.

Meet little Gracie Watson. The statue sitting above her grave sculpted in her likeness is the most visited one in the whole cemetery. The Watson family owned and ran the Puluski Hotel in the 1880's and their little daughter Gracie was a huge hit with the hotel's guests. She was so well loved that a sculptor who had been a guest at the hotel sculpted this likeness of her to be placed on her grave when he found out that the beloved seven-year-old Gracie died of pneumonia. I think Gracie is still just as popular today as she had been in 1889, when she passed away.

I took this photo using a soft focus filter on a bright summer day to give it that "foggy" look.

This statue happens to be my personal favorite, however. The blank stare of this woman is both creepy and sad. It sits in the Lawton family plot along the Wilmington River. The name on the marker is Corrine Lawton.

I took this black and white photo using a fog filter to soften it up and give it a "classic" look. I have so many pictures of this one statue, but this is one of my favorites.

And so now, I'll show you a cemetery much closer to my home. This is Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. It is the final resting place for many famous Georgians. Some of the most notable are: Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, the golfing great Bobby Jones(whose golf ball-covered grave cannot be mistaken for anyone else's), Joseph Jacobs, the pharmacist who introduced us to Coca-Cola (God bless you, Mr. Jacobs!), and Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta.

There are so many statues that I would like to share photos of such as "The Lion of Atlanta" that was erected to honor the unknown Confederate Dead. This lion lies on its side across the Confederate flag with the most pained look of anguish upon its face and it is heart wrenching to look at it for very long--a very appropriate statement to make for any unknown dead that gave their life in vain for what they believed in without any glory or any recognition at all. There is another often photographed statue of a mother and daughter sitting side by side in front of intricately designed Celtic Cross. It is a glowing example of the Victorian period.

One that I must share is this picture on the left. I think it is the creepiest one in the cemetery. This poor woman lost her head, arms, and one leg somehow. I am not sure whether this happened at the hands of vandals or the hands of time and weather, but it is most definitely creepy-looking. Notice how the one leg she stands on has become stained over time and is nearly flesh colored.

And this photo is my favorite Oakland shot. I did not use any special filters at all to capture this. I was just lucky enough to photograph this image during the time of day that photographers refer to as the "golden hour", just before sunset. The last rays of dying winter sunlight had briefly illuminated the angel with golden light and I got it just in time.

So I guess this concludes my Cemeteries of Georgia Tour. I may not be a live tour guide, but I will still accept tips. ;)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another great fall weekend...

It was quite a rainy night in Georgia this past Friday. I was really wondering if the weather would clear at all this weekend and I was beginning to feel disappointed before the weekend ever began. I had hoped to go on a nice hike in the northwest mountains and to have some Halloween fun somewhere along the way.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to a beautiful surprise of blue skies and an itching to do something fun. After a little shopping spree with Best Friend in which I bought some really nice clothes and totally hot boots, we met up with another friend of ours, just after dark, at the gates of the historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta for one of the Halloween tours. I am planning on posting more on this and other awesome cemeteries on Halloween, so I will just sum this up for now.

I had gone to a twilight Halloween tour at Oakland a couple of years ago and was totally disappointed. This time I was not. There were no ghastly ghost stories of any hauntings in Oakland Cemetery again this year (which was the reason for disappointment on the previous tour). Since Oakland is still an active cemetery with burials, the ghost stories were kept quiet out of respect, though is reputed to be haunted. However, this year’s tour was really awesome because as you walked along the brick paths in total darkness with your own flashlights as your only light source, you came upon family mausoleums that had been opened up and waiting to greet you were actors with candle lanterns dressed and acting in character of one of the family members entombed in the crypts. They told you the story of their lives and deaths. It was very interesting for me, being such a history lover, to learn the stories of the prominent Atlantans that changed and made our city what it is today. It wasn’t scary, but I have to admit that the opened mausoleums were a little creepy to me, as this type of burial and any other above-ground burials (especially those like in New Orleans) freak me out. Ewww.

After our tour, we left the cemetery to eat at the restaurant right across the street appropriately named Six Feet Under. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s nice inside and is very popular. The crab cakes are phenomenal, by the way.

I came home late and tried to get some sleep. Best Friend and I had planned on taking our hike the next day and we did. And lucky us, we had the most beautiful, cloudless day for our hike.

We started out bright and early for Cloudland Canyon, which isn’t far from either the Tennessee or Alabama state lines. The drive was scenic along the winding mountain roads to the canyon. I knew this was the peak weekend for fall color, but the colors were so vivid that I was actually surprised. Some of the reds and oranges were so bright that it looked unreal against the deep blue sky.

This is a view from the west rim of the canyon. I love the exposed rock and steep cliffs here. If you descend many steep stairs, you can reach the canyon floor. It can be murder on your thighs and calves, but the two spectacular waterfalls waiting at the bottom for you is well worth it. Coming back up the stairs will again make you question whether or not the falls were worth it. Then you take a look on your digital camera screen and answer yes.

This is the first of the waterfalls, which is my favorite. The water was not flowing as much as I have seen it in the past, but it was still beautiful. The deep, cold pool of water at the base of the falls is a greenish-blue hue. I also like all of the boulders around the pool and in the stream. At least I like them right now in the cooler weather as I am not as worried about them harboring nasty little slithery reptiles. Last summer, I had an encounter here with one. By the scream I released from the top of my lungs, you would have thought I found an Anaconda rather than the six inch long water snake that was almost as afraid of me as I was of it...almost.

This tree was the reddest, brightest tree I have ever seen in my life! It clung to the cliff of the east rim of the canyon. Every person that came by this tree on the trail, stopped and stared at it in wonder. One little girl pulled on her dad's arm and exclaimed, "Look Daddy! That tree is like fire!" Just as I was thinking of how awesome it would be to have a romantic picnic in this spot a cutesy couple plopped down in front of the tree and cuddled up and posed for a picture. I rolled my eyes at Best Friend and let out a sigh. Next year it will be me with my man, damn it!

More fiery color in a Maple. I think my favorite fall leaves are the Maples. They stand out among the more dominant yellow Poplars. I also love the orange of the Sassafrass.

This is another view taken along the east rim as we headed back down into the canyon to cross the creek and the ascend the west rim. We hiked a total of just under 7 miles today. Sure, we've hiked much farther than that in the past, but there was a lot of up and down on this trail. We worked up quite an appetite. After we returned to Atlanta, we fed our appetite at where else than the Vortex!?!

Hey, cast ye no stones! I earned that burger! Did I happen to mention that those stairs were very strenuous?

So here Best Friend and I are, relaxing in the perfect picnic spot. She's not a romantic man, but I guess her company will do until I find my man and bring him here next year. (sigh)