Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas in July – Getting to Talk to Grandma on Time

Our Christmas Cabin
Our Christmas Cabin

Last Christmas was our second one together—we’ve been married almost two years now. We got to Celebrate Christ’s birth by combining lots of traditions and making some new ones. We celebrated with family before and after the big day. But on the 25th and 26th we rented a cabin in the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Tennessee. What a deal—there were running a winter half off special and we rented this cabin for a great half price winter deal and got two nights for $95.00.

We packed in the things you would expect: gifts, meal supplies, Christmas goodies, firewood, Bible, books, candles and of course, hiking gear.

Jesus is the Light of the World—reading the story of His birth from Luke together.

Christmas day afternoon we headed out for the trail head of the Pioneer Trail Short Loop. Here is a great map of the area.

We thought we would enjoy a rainy stroll across a suspension bridge and complete the entire 2-3-ish mile loop in a couple of wet happy Christmas hours. This would get us back just in time for the family call to my Honey’s Grandma…well…or should I say Wow…that is not exactly what happened.

We left our warm toasty cabin in our rain gear covering us from head to toe. I was so delighted because my Honey is not fond of walking in the rain and was genuinely up for it this day. I love to hike in the rain so much that even at work I can feel the phantom weight of my backpack on my shoulders when a heavy down pour passes our office windows…and I smile…can’t wait for the next stormy adventure.

A flood level Byrd Creek

We walked almost due West on the blacktop between the cabins until we reached a little access trail on the left just before the cul-de-sac.  When we reached the Short Loop we turned right and practically skipped the .2 miles to the suspension bridge. So happy to be alive and to be together on Christmas. Byrd Creek was so swollen under the bridge that it barely squeezed itself underneath.

I was practically giggling at our good fortune of getting to see such power, be in a storm and still be safe. (I wasn’t actually giggling…of course…because guys don’t do that, right?) I’m not a storm chaser but pretty close.

Making an unusual Christmas memory

We turned left headed toward the famous bridge of arches that you see in almost every picture of this park. It was 1.6 miles away and we didn’t know if there where other bridges to cross except that one.

Shortly after turning left on the other side of the suspension bridge we got an inkling of what might be ahead—a runoff creek, the kind you only see in a storm, was so wide that we had to do a little stone hopping to cross.

My Honey proving to be very agile crosses like a champ

We actually crossed 8 of these in that next mile—there are usually on two during normal wet periods but no limits on Christmas day!  My Strider Writer crossed every water obstacle like a champ! In several places the trail led down to the edge of the water and we had to make our own way through the trees to find the trail again.

Hey Kemosabe! Where is the trail?

This was eating up a lot of clock and the scheduled time to call Grandma was rapidly approaching.  Hmmm…we decided to test the first bridge we came to at right about one mile and see what could be done to cross. Pleasant surprise to find this bridge…we might make it on time. It was completely in tact and solid but the far side was under three feet of water for the last 5 or 6 yards.  I went first with two hiking poles testing the ground ahead before each step—there was no current. When I crossed safely on what felt like poured concrete underneath, I turned around and went back to get Loral.  We plodded slowly through the ice cold water up to our knees to get to that call with Grandma.

This is my best “over the river and through the woods” story ever! We made it to the cabin door in time of the call. All the wet clothes went in a pile on the porch and into a thick warm blanket my Honey went. Within 10 minutes, (I wanted to do all I could to show my appreciation to her for coming on this foie that was out of her comfort zone) I had a fire started and a hot cup of her favorite tea in her hand while she talked to Grandma. It was a video call so we got to see and say hi to all those that had been able to make it to Kansas.

Mission accomplished…we got to Grandma on time!


Do you have something going on that is turning out to be much different than what you had planned? How can you make the most of it? Is there a warm blanket, toasty fire or hot cup of tea that you could metaphorically add to make it better?


Christmas Conversation on the Nashville Greenway

Peeler Park Trail Head Signage
Peeler Park Trail Head Signage

Genuine warm heartfelt conversation is a reward—Talking on the trail is a sure way to feed her soul and to make hiking a happy event. If your Honey is like mine, she wants lots of quality time to just talk. Choose a wide trail, walk at her speed, stop to soak in nature events and let the conversation flow. Go with the flow for what is on her mind or be intentional. Intentionally pick a topic that will build your relationship or your future. On this hike we talked about our second Christmas and what we want to make of it.

Peeler Park—In Nashville Tennessee there is a system of trails that is mostly for the domestic among us who love the city but want a taste of nature. We call this system the Nashville Greenway. Some of it is so widely used that there are just too many people for me to feel like I’m in nature at all. Some portions of the Greenway are more secluded. You can pass through large tracts of land and really get that great outdoor feeling. Peeler Park is just such a place.

My Honey adding to the beauty of this fall scene
My Honey adding to the beauty of this fall scene

Did he just do domestic again?—Yes, I’m afraid so but with really good reason. We were recovering from tons of Thanksgiving goodies and needed some fresh air and some light exercise on a tight time budget. My Strider-Writer Honey has a writing goal this month and in order to meet that goal she needed all of her senses awake. I knew that a brisk walk in the 60 degree air in a pretty place would help. I also wanted a trail that was close to the house and was wide enough for us to walk side by side. I strongly prefer a dirt path miles from the nearest town but it is harder to have a meaning conversation while you are walking. Peeler Park in the Nashville Greenway gave us plenty of room to walk side by side—hand in hand— and talk about Christmas.

Where is it?—Roughly speaking it is at 2043 Overton Lane, Madison TN. Here is a link to the parks web site and here is a link to a map      —>Peeler Park Greenway.

We used Briley Parkway North and then stayed on Madison Pike north for 1.8 miles. Then we turned right onto Neelys Bend Rd for 5.2 miles. GPS may tell you to turn left on Overton Road at that 5.2 miles but don’t give in…don’t do it. GPS has twice tried to get me to turn left too soon. The first time a year or so ago, I fell for it and ended up at an airstrip for remote controlled aircraft—very cool but not where I wanted to be. This time I ignored the genteel broad in the box and kept going to the end of Neelys Bend. Memory served me well because there was the main trail head and boat ramp.  The park is secluded because it is tucked away a long curve in the Cumberland River. We call it Neely’s Bend.

The hike—We choose a combo of asphalt and gravel that looks a little like a lollipop on the map and gave us 3.5 miles. The first .8 mile was blacktop and is the only way in to get to the rest of the trail options. At this intersection you can choose gravel to the left (what the map calls primitive) or blacktop to the right. We choose gravel to the left for 1.3 miles. We did this so we would hike a counter clockwise ameba shape that would bring us back to where we started. To make this work we turned right after about .125 miles and again at about .6 miles. When we found the black top again we stayed on it all the way back. There was one more place where we had to choose between blacktop options and we went right to keep it shorter. There are about 7.5 miles total if you want to do them all.

Peeler Park could be called Deer Park...we saw dozens!
Peeler Park could be called Deer Park…we saw dozens!

DeerWe saw dozens! It was like we were on a deer farm. A four pointer was the oldest we saw of the males and there may have been a three year old doe or two.  Many of them stopped to pose for us enforcing the rule that you always hike with a camera in hand at the ready.

I saw several reasons for this dense population of deer. The park and surrounding land is a river peninsula with no bridge access so there are few people to scare them off. It is lobe shape parcel of land that is about two miles by three miles with very few houses. To get off this tract the deer would have to cross approximately 250-400 feet of Cumberland River water or get out by land. The land option would be tough for them too because it is only about a mile wide and is covered with houses and streets. These things make it a great place to deer watch.

Christmas Conversation—My Honey and I are coming up on our second Christmas together and I want it to be special for her. So we talked about what Christmas things were important to us and what things weren’t. We talked about how this year would be different from last year and how we could start our own traditions. I shared favorite things from my past and she did the same about hers. A pattern began to emerge for this year that will make doing activities more important than gifts. We will make memories together and these will be our main gifts.  (there may be a piece of cold weather gear or two to unwrap…but don’t tell her.)

Large fields make up part of the park
Large fields make up part of the park

Pondering Your Path—Is there something you need to talk to your girl about? What about a nice wide trail on the Nashville Greenway where you can walk side by side? Could you dream about the future together while getting some exercise?