Tag Archives: fireplace

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.

IMG_0465
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.

IMG_0485
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.

IMG_0491
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.

IMG_0512
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.

IMG_0497
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?

 

Warm and Cozy by the Fire

Inside the beach cabana—our "cave" by the fire
Inside the beach cabana—our “cave” by the fire

Yesterday, I had fun telling you about hiking after getting to Mossy Ridge Trail in Percy Warner Park. Today I want to pick up where we left off as we got back to Indian Springs Shelter #4.

My Honey under one of the rustically beautiful designs.
My Honey under one of the rustically beautiful designs.

We celebrated our relaxing day hike in the woods—about 5 miles at a leisurely pace where we could talk—as we took more pictures at the shelter with it’s carefully fashioned cedar logs. Then before I went to work on the fire, cozy spot and food, we plopped down at the picnic table and munched on a few almonds to give our “dogs” a break.

A great cold weather use for a beach cabana.
A great cold weather use for a beach cabana.
IMG_3129
Our magic carpet

My honey took lots more pictures while I built a fire and set up the Cabana. With a couple of old blankets on the bottom, the floor of the Cabana and three more blankets inside, it was our magic carpet.

Within 30 minutes, the fire was crackling, the rain was making gentle music on the roof and the Jetboil was hissing a happy sound as the water began to boil.

IMG_3112
Ready to hydrate

 

Our Mountain House Chili Mac took two cups of water to hydrate and provided a yummy 300 calories with 15 grams of protein each when we split the package. Our hot beverage was Spiced Chai with honey and stevia.

Boots kicked off and ready to relax!
Ready to eat! Looking so sweet:-)
IMG_3121
Yum! Yum!
IMG_3119
One must be civilized…

My Hiker-Honey was very impressed that I knew how to fold a napkin as I made an attempt to be civilized.

IMG_3114
I’m so hungry, I could eat my fork!

We were so hungry that I will bring more food for us the next time.

We also decided that we would succumb to the “need” for s’mores on our next hike.

IMG_3105
My Honey in her hiker’s habitat

My Strider-Writer learned that she can handle more cold than she thought and still have fun. She says to tell you that in order to get the feel for it and do it comfortably, you just have to get started and learn as you go. Wardrobe adjustments are one of her happy things.

Right about the time we finished our meal and got snuggled up under our blankets by the fire, the rain became ernest in its decent. What a dreamy experience to hold my Honey by the fire with the rain pouring down and hear her happy sighs as the stress of a busy week just melted away.

 

IMG_3122
Boots kicked off and ready to relax!

Here is the trail talk from yesterday

Here is her wardrobe wisdom

Here is the recipe for a romantic day hike

Recipe for a Romantic Day Hike

IMG_3055
Come on Honey, let’s go!

Here is an actual list for a chilly fall day hike and the concept description—kinda like a recipe.

Warmth—stocking cap, base layer shirt, loose mid layer, jacket, rain gear, hiking pants, silk socks, smart wool socks, hiking boots, gloves.

Light—small pocket flashlight and solar charger with flashlight.

Fire—lighter, wind proof matches, starter block, kindling, eight sticks of fire wood (starter and firewood less than $8 at Kroger).

First Aide—first aide kit, emergency blanket, Tylenol etc.

Food—protein bars, Mountain Home Chili Mac with Beef, Jetboil, fuel, long handled spoon, large bowl to hydrate food, Nalgene bottle with measurement markings, paper towel, bowls and spoons, tea, honey, cups.

Navigation—directions to the park, GPS app in phone—Map My Run, back up solar charger for phone, map of park, detailed directions I typed out for each trail.

Hygiene—Sunglasses, tissues, paper towels to clean up before and after meal, hand sanitizer, emergency toilet paper.

Hydration—2 Liters of water each, day pack with bladder, filter just in case, water for cooking, water to put out the fire.

Memories—plenty of space for pics in phone memory and camera, blankets for the fire, pillows, stadium chairs, beach cabana for the fire.IMG_3084

Day hike concept—Sleep in a little, have our quiet time together with God, pack and drive to the trail head. Pick up fire wood on the way and get to trail about 11:00. Leave the meal and fire time supplies in the car and hike for a couple of hours. I wrote out some directions to a new trail that is not well marked…we’ll see how well I did. If it is short, we will explore and do some more miles. When we finish the hike and return to the truck, I’ll start a fire in the shelter fireplace. We’ll take a lot of pictures all day. I picked a shelter that has a short wall all the way around so that if it is windy we can sit on blankets in front of the fire out of the wind. We’ll make a late lunch using the Jetboil to heat water and rehydrate our meal. Then we will fix our tea and snuggle by the fire until we feel healed enough from the rushing demands of the week. Will douse the fire and head back home. Maybe we’ll get back in time for another game in the World Series.