Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mountain’

drive3

 

Quite often in life, I get so focused on where I’m going that I forget to enjoy the beauty along the way.  I become so absorbed with finishing everything on my to-do list that I miss the special moments that occur along the way.

 

Earlier this week I had to make a trip to our cottage for a small task that needed to be done.  I awoke thinking of all the things I needed do as I’m preparing for my Holiday Home Show and had a ton of tasks on my to-do list.  I wasn’t looking forward to taking 1 1/2 hours out of my already busy day to drive the whole way there and back for an errand that would take only 5 minutes to accomplish.

 

That morning as I took my dog out for his morning ‘constitutional’ I was greeted with the sight of a gorgeous morning sky. As I stood looking at it I was reminded that even when life is harried that there are gifts of beauty along the way that are easily overlooked.

 

morning-sky

 

As I  drove up the mountain to the cottage I began to notice just how beautiful the scenery was along way.  It’s late-Autumn here in central PA and the leaves are turning amazing colors.  Both sides of the road are lined with trees and it seemed as though each time I drove around a curve in the road the colors were more amazing than the the last.

 

drive1

drive-2

 

One section is lined by pine trees.  Even though the bright colors of the deciduous trees are extremely beautiful, the line of green pines has it’s own charm.

 

drive4

 

As I turned onto a gravel road the scenery changed, but still had a special kind of beauty.

 

leeper-farm

 

Entering the driveway I felt a sense of peace (as I often do).  This time of year when it’s completely covered by pine needles and leaves even the car was quiet.

 

driveway

 

Even though the cottage is nothing fancy, to me it’s a beautiful sight.  It’s my ‘piece of heaven on earth’ – a place I can relax and experience a sense of peace that I don’t always feel at our home.  On this day, as I got out of the car and headed to the door, this is what I saw:

 

cottage

My Happy Place 🙂 

 

I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined the sound effect you hear in movies when something has a bright light shining on it – like an angelic chorus. (Click here to hear the sound I heard in my head)  I know that may sound a bit dramatic and a little silly, but in a real way, this little place has been a heavenly gift to me.  It’s where I can slow down enough to focus on the truly important things in life and be able to appreciate all of the beauty that is around me.  On this day, even though I wasn’t able to spend much time there, I did take time to notice the beauty on drive.  I wish I could always have the mind-set to be more aware of special moments along this journey called ‘life’.  I hate to think that I am missing any heavenly gifts along the way.

 

I can’t remember if I finished everything on my list that day, but I do remember feeling grateful for all the beauty around me.

Read Full Post »

IMG_3188

View of Swiss Alps from top of Mount Pilates

I’ve just started my first trip to Europe and I’ve already seen and experienced many new and exciting things.  We spent a day in Lucerne, Switzerland where we saw breath-taking views of the Alps from the top of Mt. Pilates.  We ascended the mountain on a cog railroad,  walked around the top of the mountain and then descended in a gondola.

IMG_3179

Riding up Mount Pilates on Cog Railroad

IMG_3231

Descending down Mount Pilates in a gondola

While many of these sights were astoundingly beautiful, there was one I will always remember…..the Lion of Lucerne.  The Lion Monument is a giant dying lion carved out of a wall of sandstone rock above a pond at the east end of the medieval town. It was designed as a memorial for the mercenary soldiers from Switzerland who lost their lives while serving the French king Louis XVI during the French Revolution.

IMG_3250

The Lion of Lucerne

While I did find the history of the statue interesting, I had no idea that a piece of stone could evoke such strong emotion.  As I walked up to the lion I was immediately drawn to the details which the artist had been able to render in stone, but when I looked at the lion’s face my heart broke.  The look of pain and agony was so real that tears began to flow out of my eyes.  I found myself wanting to wade through the pond and wrap my arms around the lion.  I know, a bit crazy considering it’s a piece of stone, but the power of the lion’s expression is unbelievable.

IMG_3249

The face of pain

Mark Twain described the Lion of Lucerne with these words:   “the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world” and  I have to agree with him.  As I stood among a crowd of strangers staring at the lion, I finally had to look away….It just hurt too much to keep staring at that look of pain.

***If you want to know more about the history of the monument, click on this link: Lion of Lucerne

 

 

Read Full Post »

 

 

IMG_8578

 Sulphur Mountain Banff Canada

.

The line between courage and craziness can sometimes be blurry. As a 52-year old grandma, I viewed myself as somewhat courageous because I’m still very active—I enjoy many outdoor activities including road cycling and backpacking. My perspective on that, however, has come into question.

 

My husband and I were in Banff, Canada, in the Canadian Rockies, for a business trip and we decided to make good use of the free time before the organized events began. The first day we rode mountain bikes along two fairly easy trails, but then decided to attempt a third more difficult trail. I quickly began to question our choice as it wasn’t a typical mountain bike trail, but had steep banks that had been filled in with loose rocks/gravel because the dirt had been washed away. There were many times as I was slip-sliding my way up a hill or inching my way down another that I was doing some serious praying. (i.e. “Please let me survive this.”) After several hours we did make it back to the hotel in one piece albeit with very tired legs and arms (from holding on so tight to the handlebars.)

 

 

20140516_103030

 Me before the trail got rocky  (thus the smile)

.

The next day took my questioning to a higher level. We decided to hike Sulphur Mountain, which is a fairly aggressive four mile alpine hike to the summit. I think under normal conditions we would have been OK, but the trail had a lot more snow than we expected. The trail started out as dirt and mud with little patches of snow , but as we climbed there were more and more sections that were snow covered and slippery. We both found ourselves slipping every once in a while, but then as we neared the top, I made one very poor choice in my footing. I was on a very snowy stretch, but there was a narrow strip of dirt along the edge of the trail and I decided to walk on the dirt since it was less slippery than the snow/ice. Unfortunately, as I set my foot on the dirt, it gave way. I instantly found myself on my back, sliding down the side of the mountain — I mean SLIDING at a fast rate of speed. Please understand that this is the kind of thing I’ve only seen in scary movies, but suddenly I was living it and I was TERRIFIED!

20140517_102152

 Me before the fall (again, smiling before disaster)

.

As I slid, I frantically grabbed at any branch, root or plant I flew past. At one point I caught the branch of a pine tree but was moving so fast that I couldn’t keep my grip and began to pick up speed. Just as I lost hope of being able to stop myself I saw a tree in my path and braced for the impact. Luckily, I caught the tree with one of my thighs and finally came to a stop with my legs straddling the tree and my arms wrapped around, holding on for dear life. I breathed a sigh of relief as I could tell that nothing was broken, but that there were lot of cuts and bruises. My husband had started to slide down to try and help me, but its was so steep and slippery that he lost control too. He managed to stop quite a bit above me and we began to talk and try to figure out what to do next.  If we tried to climb back up to the trail by ourselves the risk of beginning to slide again was a very real possibility.

 

banff_sulphur-mountain-1_big

 Trail before it got more snowy and scary

.

Just then, some ‘rescuers’ came upon us. There were 3 strapping, young men coming up the trail behind us and my husband called out to them to ask for help. They carefully supported each other and climbed down to help us back up to the trail. Once I was safely back on the trail, I realized that the only way to get out of this mess was to keep climbing and finish the last mile of the hike so that we could ride the gondola down.  (Yes, we could have ridden the gondola to the top, but where’s the fun in that?)  Trying to hike back down under such slippery conditions would have been WAY more dangerous than continuing to climb. After another mile or so of hiking through snow with my shaky legs and stinging cuts we finally reached the top.

 

20140517_115611

At the top—shaky, but smiling

.

Back at the hotel, as I got my wounds cleaned and tried to assess whether I needed stitches, I began to ponder the question of whether I’m courageous or crazy. I realized how lucky I was and felt grateful for several things. First, I was very thankful that I didn’t break any bones and that I somehow escaped with just scrapes on the back of my arms, larger cuts on my legs and bruises in all kinds of places.  I was also grateful that I had packed mostly slacks and long sleeved shirts for the rest of the week since my arms and legs were NOT very pretty. I was, of course, also thankful that my hands escaped unharmed so I could keep making jewelry. 🙂

 

So…here’s the question…..is a 52-year old Grandma that does somewhat risky things like this courageous or crazy? …. And, even if she’s crazy—– should she stop? I kinda think that crazy isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

 

l

Gondola ride down Sulphur Mountain

 

20140517_121807View of trail near the top from Gondola

.

PS—Believe it or not, I climbed back on a mountain bike a few days later, but I was VERY nervous and extremely cautious—-basically a ‘chicken’.  I guess I’m going to stay ‘crazy’, but maybe a bit more cautious than before.

 

Read Full Post »

A wonderful Christmas Morning on the Appalachian Trail

A wonderful Christmas Morning on the Appalachian Trail

Over the years I’ve had many different kinds of Christmas mornings and have enjoyed all of them as I passed through various stages of life. My early years as a little girl were spent opening gifts followed by other family events.  As a young adult there were several years when Christmas morning consisted of just me and my husband opening our gifts. As our family grew there were many years of children excitedly opening  gifts followed by a big Christmas breakfast.  Those Christmas Days were exciting and will always be wonderful memories that I will treasure.

This morning, however, was a bit more peaceful than many of the Christmas mornings I’ve experienced in my 50 years.   I am now in the “Empty Nest” phase and there are certain advantages that come with that.  The fact that my children spent Christmas morning with their other ‘families’ gave me the opportunity to do one of my favorite things—-go for a hike on the Appalachian Trail.  While I am extremely thankful for the time I was able to be with my children and granddaughter later in the day, I did enjoy being able to spend the morning walking through the woods.

This morning’s  hike was especially enjoyable because here in South-Central PA, we were blessed with a Christmas Eve snowfall which gave us a glorious ‘White Christmas’ morning.  With a fresh layer of snow carpeting the trail, hiking on the A.T. was truly an amazing experience.  Being out in the woods as the sun rose over the top of the mountain was a very special treat on this holiday morning.  The silence and the beauty were the best gift I could have been given.  My husband and my dog seemed to have a pretty good time also.

I am thankful for many things this Christmas and I hope that you were also able to enjoy a special Christmas morning regardless of what stage of life you are in right now.

Walking through a snowy meadow.

Walking through a snowy meadow.

The AT with a fresh layer of snow.

The AT with a fresh layer of snow.

The 2 'men' who were my hiking companions.

The 2 ‘men’ who were my hiking companions.
(Don & Denver)

A white "blaze" that marks the Appalachian Trail

A white “blaze” that marks the Appalachian Trail

A very happy 'me' on Christmas morning.

A very happy ‘me’ on Christmas morning.

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: