Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nice morning...

What a great morning to be out and about. The site of bright colored joggers passed through my windshield as I made my way past the glorious landscaping of Handley High School’s front lawn and all of the beautiful houses surrounding it. Trust me, the houses look a lot different than they do passing through the usual streets back home in Georgia because the Virginia and the Virginia Tech flags are flying and are plentiful in each yard that I pass. But, it’s always a peaceful time to be on the Old Town pedestrian walking mall in Winchester on Saturday morning before the shops and restaurants open. It was only my second time doing this, but it’s slowly becoming a habit. I enjoy the progressive ideas and events that the town has to offer and each week something new seems to catch my eye. For example, last week there was a Downtown Football Tailgate with craft beers and live music. Most of the major football games were displayed on flat screens in an outside and open environment.  I passed by this morning and they had signs out that thanked people for coming out and making the event special. The streets were cleaned up and they already had new advertisements out for the next beer festival in October.

As I walked down the brick streets this morning I learned something. Well, actually I learned a couple of things. I had my mind on getting a coffee at the Espresso Bar and Café which was on the opposite end of the walking mall. I passed everyone who was out this morning on the mall and I passed one family with a little girl. The mom and dad were both down on one knee playing with her and she was chasing a leaf that was blowing around in the, near fall, air. For me, when I saw her chasing that leaf I thought about how awesome it would be to flee back to the state of innocence where the only things that mattered were chasing leaves and building sand castles. Well, that was a nice thought, but it made me realize that the workweek was over and that it was a day for me to play, too. It really helped me to realize that!

It felt nice to be out this morning, not only because the weather felt nice, but also it felt nice to see a small town economy breathing. The walking mall still has locally owned family businesses that get steady foot traffic and seem to be well patronized. There is construction going on and people are building new things such as a bed and breakfast that will soon overlook the walking mall. It’s really nice to see happy people here.

As I walked to my car, enjoying my hot coffee, I saw two military helicopters patrolling out in the distance as well as several, seven or eight foot tall, sun-flowers growing in front of an urban city apartment near the George Washington hotel. As I continued walking I thought about the symbolism of those two things. As for the sunflowers, no matter how much concrete we pile on top of the earth, there is still good soil beneath it. Beautiful things can grow in positive environments no matter the circumstances. 
I thought this was hilarious and good marketing! I hope that the cost effectiveness of the urinals is paying off because really, this is funny. This photo is from a display outside of one of the local men's stores on the Old Town Pedestrian Walking Mall in Winchester, VA.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

I saw a man brought back to life....

I saw a man brought back to life. He was completely unconscious and had stopped breathing. His flannel was torn and the buttons were ripped apart and scattered across the earth.  As he lay on his back, his breath began to rise slowly from his warm body to form steam in the midst of the frigid night air. This is how I feel, he said, when he rose; I have true vision now, and I understand my life better. I was lost for a time and had no grasp of existence. I was crossing the thorn-coated pathways of life with a blindfold and a machete. There was no orienteering, because there was no map. The dark would come and I would swing, I would miss, and I would continue going.  I went far enough to stare defeat in the face and defeat finally grappled me to the ground and nearly killed me. That’s when some innocent passer-byes decided to save me.

Things like that happen in our existence. The under-toe of life can sometimes suck you into a dangerous tide and leave you clinging for your very next breath. It happens to the best of people.  But, there are people that are put into place to grab you at just the right time to save you. So, never underestimate the people that God puts in your life, because they are all there for a reason. Are they perhaps angels or messengers in human form?  Not really sure, I just know that they are supposed to be there.

One of the greatest joys in life is realizing that many people have rescued you on your path. Having the wisdom and the introspection to be able to reflect back on how it all happened is an even greater joy. Tonight, as I sit amidst the peaceful Appalachian Mountains while the crickets chirp, I realize that they too are rescuing me. As I approach one of the most exciting times in my life this Fall, I am glad that God has given me this sense of peace.

Thank you to those who have rescued me along the way.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Appalachian Trail - June 2010

Imagine jumping into the coldest mountain stream you have ever been in and then imagine being in a vehicle going over a hilltop at a speed that makes your stomach feel like it’s going to fly right out of the car. That’s the feeling I get every time I see the mountains in North Carolina, especially when I see the views from the mountain tops. The plans for the weekend were simple… go sixty miles north on the Appalachian Trail starting at Winding Stair Gap and finishing at Fontana Dam. Setting foot on the trail Thursday, the plan was to go ten miles and camp at a place called Wayah Bald where we would sleep underneath an old fire watch tower. When we arrived at the tower it was nearly eight thirty, the sun was sinking, we were out of water, and it was immediately evident that we would not be sleeping under the rickety old tower. We scoured the map in search of the nearest water source which was about two or three tenths of a mile away and went to fill nalgene bottles for dinner. We pumped from spring water that was trickling down the mountain trapped between tree roots which allowed us to draw it from the small pool it was forming. On the way back to the campsite me and a buddy ran into a female wild boar walking across the trail which was neat to see because I had never seen one. That was one of three that I saw while we were there. My dad saw two bears that I missed out on because I was a good ways in front of him while we were on the trail.
Waking up on Friday morning the plan was to go seventeen miles in order to reach the Nantahala Outdoor Center Friday night. The NOC is in Swain County North Carolina and rests on the riverbanks of the Nantahala River. They have small bars with live music and eating places full of hikers, rafters, and others looking for a good time. Once we were off the trail we had to coordinate car movements in order to have the gear we needed for the next day’s hike. The decision to go seventeen miles in one day was absolutely overly ambitious and wore the whole crew out pretty bad. I honestly was almost to tired to drink a beer when I got off the trail. (I did manage to get one down though) So Friday night once everyone was off the trail it was too dark to set up a campsite and we decided to crash behind the NOC. Jordan slept on the porch of a business that didn’t open until 11:00am the next morning, Rick slept in his hammock tent, Jimbo set up a tent, and the rest of us slept in the cars.
The birds always refuse to let you sleep in whenever you are camping so we were all up early eating breakfast and drinking coffee at a restaurant that overlooked the river. We decided to take a zero day and raft down the Nantahala on an unguided trip. I always have a good time going down the Nantahala because it moves pretty swift. After eight miles of paddling and hitting some pretty good rapids we decided hangout at one of the pizza bars on the river and have some pizza and drink beer. At these little joints along the river you are able to meet other hikers and learn about their adventures and you are able to share your own. You pick up new information about the trail and are able to increase your overall knowledge about the backcountry. The best part about hanging out is that all of the people there are down to earth, nice, genuine people. When we left the pizza bar called PBR (Pizza By the River) we went to a place called Slow Joe’s and sat outside and listened to live music and drank more beer. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and called it a night around 12:30.
Down 27 miles… 33 to go. When reality set in on Sunday Morning finishing North Carolina was an unfeasible task by the end of the day on Monday. So we decided to prolong the trip to another weekend this summer and promised to finish the last 33 miles at the point. We ate breakfast this morning outside of Franklin, North Carolina…. we drank coffee and told stories about the trip then everyone went home. What a great weekend!!! Make sure you check the pictures from the trip on Facebook.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jimmy Buffett Spring Concert... These are the lyrics to my life, what's yours?

I love Jimmy Buffett and this is the story of how his lyrics became a part of my life….

My very first tripp to the panhandle came when I was only a couple weeks old. It was the beginning of the very best days of my life… the days when the satisfying smells of banana sunscreen and billowing charcoal smoke floated through the back porch of the old place at sand piper into the anxious nostrils of my nose. The salty breeze that whirled the palm trees and danced in the sand dunes was famous for bringing in mouth watering aromas every night at the beach as a kid. Similar to the way the fisherman return to the docks every evening with big catches of snapper and grouper in the summer time I returned to the pool to swim through the colorful sunsets... and at that time they were about as common as capri suns and oreos. It was only the innocence of my childhood that would allow me to take everyone one of these sunsets for granted.

“Mother mother ocean, I have heard you call, I’ve wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall..” -A Pirate Looks at Forty

As I grew older the days at the beach grew longer… as a kid it seemed like I would never go back home once I got there. There was no sense of time and no reason to hurry. Throwing a fishing pole over my shoulder and walking to the bay with Woody was a slow enough pace of life, I reckon, and that was the only need that I had to fulfill at that time.

“The days drift by, they don’t have names, none of the streets here look the same…” –I Have Found Me A Home

Putting on a wet bathing suit after waking from a sunburnt nap was a common occurrence and feeling the sand sprinkle down over my toes just served as a reminder that I had to put on cold sunscreen all over again. As we got older the need to run wild and escape supervision became a priority. But no matter how far we ever roamed I knew I would be close to home when I could here the sounds of Buffett easing out of the speakers on our back deck and the smell of old bay and crab claws filling the air with the sounds of a blistering low country boil spewing out of the steamer. Friday nights would roll around and Rand, Woody, and I would be skimboarding into the sunset… too young to care much about going out yet…

“'Jambalaya' was the only song I could sing, Blackberry pickin', eatin' fried chicken , And I never knew a thing about pain , Life was just a tire swing…” –Life’s Just a Tire Swing

July Fourth fish fry’s brought lots of joy and contentment to us all while we watched our family begin to grow…. But while the family was growing I was growing older too. My first beer was in that old sand piper cove… a Miller Lite that sparked a cultivation for a taste of many many more to come. As I recall and look back on the days at sand piper cove that’s when I began to realize that days do slip away… the good times were now passing by so quickly now… much quicker than they did just a couple years ago....back when I was ten years old without a care in the world.

“Warm summer breezes, french wines and cheeses, put his ambitions at bay, summers and winters scattered like splinters, and four or five years slipped away…” –He Went to Paris

For me when I listen to Jimmy Buffet he brings back every good memory I could ever imagine... and my best memories as a kid were at the beach. But now I'm older... and his songs are still relating to my life... and a lot of my best memories are still from the beach...Spring Break is almost here and I'm sure that the Bama Breeze will be blowing in and intertwining with the warmness of the nostalgic gulf breeze that blows in every night at sunset. I can't wait to feel it... Can't wait to feel the sand between my toes....