Spring adds new life and new beauty to all that is.
I have spent some time enjoying the look, the sounds, and the smells of spring this past week. There are so many beautiful things about spring it is almost impossible to capture it all.
I don’t go into a full meditation mode, but more of an observational meditation. I start by the smells in the air and try to recognize where they are coming from. Right now, the Jasmine vines are in full bloom with the wind carrying an elegant fragrance that stops me in my tracks. You may not see the vines but you know they are around with the wind delivering the invitation to seek them out.
I then move onto sight, what am I seeing? Spring grass that is at its greenest; what a beautiful sight. Colorful flowers sprouting up everywhere creating a painting by nature. Water spouts in the ponds casting rainbows in the wind. Baby ducks swimming close together in tow of their mother. Birds flying, butterflies fluttering around, dragonflies zipping by, the list goes on.
When I move on to observing the sounds that go along with smells and sight, it pulls everything together. Sometimes I close my eyes to assure that I don’t miss sounds by focusing too much on sight. Birds chirping and singing is a sure sign that spring has arrived. How many different bird chirps am I hearing? The air is crowded with birds.
What does nature teach us during spring?
Spring is a time of new beginnings. No matter how bad the year before was, spring is always a new beginning. Although nature suffers great tragedy as well as humans in their wakes, forest fires can give way to new growth. Nature teaches us that even after a devastating loss, we can push through and be stronger than ever.
Spring teaches us that no matter what happens, we have the right to be happy. It shows us persistence and perseverance. It reminds us that life is delicate but we can start anew.
What is your favorite thing about spring? Take a moment, go outside, look, listen, and smell the spring in the air. In that moment of observation, get connected with your positivity. Visualize your future and think about the 1st step you must take to start down that path.
I recently had the opportunity to take a trip so, we packed up and headed to the Smoky Mountains. Here are some of the things we ended up doing on this trip.
Cades Cove Driving Loop
Near the Smoky Mountain, National Park Campground, you will find an amazing wildlife viewing area that we love to pass through – Cades Cove Driving Loop. It’s an 11-mile, driving path that loops around the cove and offers many spectacular views.
Valley of Rich History
The Cherokee Indians hunted Cades Cove for hundreds of years but no evidence was found of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. Cades Cove offers a wide variety of historic buildings and historic information about the people that lived there.
A working grist mill
other restored nineteenth century structures
Over the years, we have been blessed with many wild life sightings while driving through Cades Cove:
Many years ago the park released Red wolves into Cades Cove in efforts to restore wild wolf populations in suitable areas. Unfortunately, their efforts failed and the remaining wolves were captured and moved. Many were recaptured after straying from the park onto private land, 6 were killed – either hit by cars or killed by humans. Out of 33 pups born in the wild, only 4 survived. The wolves couldn’t find enough food to eat in this mountainous area. Many wolves left, presumably in search of prey, and some of those that remained succumbed to disease, parasites, and starvation. During one of our early trips to the park, we were blessed with a sighting of a Red Wolf and came across him later carrying a turkey in his mouth. I treasure that memory.
Experience the cove on a bike. The loop road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until 10:00 am every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September to allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove. You can rent a bike at the campground store. It is strongly recommended to wear helmets and required of any children 16 and under. Visit the Campground Store Website.
Hiking was high on my priority list. Since we visit Cades Cove several times during these visits, we chose to hike a trail in the Cades Cove loop – Abrams Falls, which offers up a scenic hike and a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail.
5.2 miles round trip
moderate difficulty rating
Hiking is one of my favorite, fitness activities. I find that the Smoky Mountains features cooler weather which means I don’t have to fight off mosquitoes, and the view is breathtaking. I find it risky with large drop-offs and slippery paths so, be sure to take precautions. You don’t want to end up in the E.R. as a result. Cold and rain can come up quickly, so do the research; what is the weather going to be like, what clothes to wear, what shoes to wear, what should you bring, etc.? Once, during my hike, a storm rolled in, causing the temperature to drop and I found the path extremely slick. I didn’t want to fall as a result, so I slowed my pace and kept a close eye on the path.
Pigeon Forge Titanic Attraction
There is something about the Titanic story that has always captured my attention so, we stopped in to see the museum and was quite pleased with it. The owner of the museum is none other than John Joslyn, who led a dive expedition to the Titanic site 2 years after it was discovered. As a result of his dives, 2 museums have opened up in Branson and Pigeon Forge, which exhibits some of the largest, permanent collections of the Titanic artifacts, and memorabilia. Guests enter a unique world that showcases exact replicas of the beautiful, handcrafted Grand Staircase.
Each guest receives a card with a story of a passenger that was aboard the Titanic. At the end of the tour, their fate is revealed. My passenger survived the accident and her story turned out to be surprisingly interesting.
One tip I would like to offer: At the end of the tour, we had the opportunity to take a picture. The Grand Staircase was superimposed in the background and the picture is beautiful and professional looking. I wish I knew how well that photo would have come out, s0 I would have dressed nicer. As a result, I was unhappy with my picture, but that was my own fault. Other than that, this attraction deserves 5 stars!
There are so many things to do in the Smoky Mountain region. If ever traveling that way, make sure you visit websites and do some research. There are many places you can stay. Cades Cove is a major attraction for my family. So, when we visit the Smoky Mountains, we like to stay in Townsend. It’s the easiest access to Cades Cove and take Wears Valley Road when we venture into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
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Outside of Bourbon St., What else is there to do in New Orleans?
New Orleans is well known for it’s party scene on Bourbon St. and it’s unique culinary, but there are many other areas of sight seeing in the Crescent City that are worth checking out. There are too many to list but this is a start:
Ranked by TripAdvisor as the #1 Attraction in New Orleans, named by USA Today as the #1 Best Place to Learn U.S. Military History, and designated by Congress as America’s official museum about World War II, The National WWII Museum features a rich collection of artifacts that bring history to life.
Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide contains 164 colorful pages of facts, photos, features, and fun, including more than 50 individual parade profiles and maps. The award-winning magazine includes a history of the event; answers to the 25 most frequently asked questions; an illustrated glossary of Mardi Gras terms; and articles on New Orleans personalities, traditions and happenings. For more than three decades, the city’s top writers and photographers have worked together to create a publication that has achieved genuine collectible status. With more than three million copies sold, Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide is recognized as the program to the event. Mardi Gras 2019 is March 5, 2019!
As you can see, we have a diverse city with many sites to see, resulting in unexpected experiences when you travel to the city of New Orleans and the Metro New Orleans area. I am not a travel guide; more of a local resident who feels that so much of our Culture is overlooked, because so many people consider our area a party destination only. Don’t miss out! Do some research.
I’ve been on the road for the past couple of weeks and have been quiet on the blog side; my apologies. Although I am still out of town, my last trip to Seattle has inspired me to write this blog. I am finally ready to publish it and send it out. Please leave a comment about your favorite spots in Seattle. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience Seattle charm yet, what would you do if you were to end up in the Emerald City? Any bucket list wishes?
Along with flying fish, the market showcases many businesses; seafood, fresh produce, fresh flowers, crafts of all kinds, art, specialty foods, and an abundance of bakeries, cafes, diners, restaurants and sweet shops. There are 3 floors of unique shops, specializing in collectibles, comics, jewelry, books, art and more.
Street performers have long entertained shoppers which adds to the Market’s ambiance. You will be surprised by some of the talents that linger in and sets up to perform.
Other attractions that I felt were well worth the time and investments
Mt. Ranier (Wilderness hiking, camping, and climbing)
Space Needle (Amazing views of the water, city, and mountains. Newly added, floor to forever glass floors that are calling me back to check out. Maybe on my next trip)
There are many restaurants in the downtown area that provide a unique dining experience. Some come with amazing views of waterfronts, marinas, or the city. For the wine lovers, you may want to check out the Purple Cafe that features a unique, circular, staircase wine rack system.
What are your favorite adventures in Seattle? Where would you go if you went to Seattle? Leave a comment, I would love to hear about it.
Trying new adventures is exciting for me. I look forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing new adventures, new food, and meeting new people. My experience was amazing and I hope you enjoy reading about my stay at Travaasa Spa and Resort, Austin, TX (now Miraval, Austin).
Stand-up paddle boarding
I remember relaxing at the edge of the infinity pool, looking out over Lake Travis. The water was beautiful and inviting sitting at the bottom of the valley the pool overlooked. After closing my eyes I visualized a memory that I had while relaxing (click to read that story). Upon opening my eyes, I decided to figure out what the rest of my day was going to include.
Stand up Paddle Boarding was my choice for the day. The water in Lake Travis was beautiful. The view from the top of the hill at the resort’s infinity pool enticed and called me to participate in the excursion that I noticed on the event board for the day. It would be an adventure that I could write about.
We launched our boards and I started in a kneeling position to paddle into a nearby cove. I followed my coach’s instructions on proper feet and body placement on the board, to make the transition from kneeling to standing. What happened next was a huge surprise to me.
Fear stepping out of my comfort zone
“Fear” set in; I stepped out of my comfort zone. Balance in my PiYo class is completely different than balancing on a board in the water. I was always comfortable on the water boating, skiing, fishing, trawling, and swimming. The fear surprised me.
Running all of my Coach’s instructions through my thoughts, I worked towards connecting on a physical and cognitive level. Going back to my boating days, I kept Imitating the body shifts that I would make to keep my balance. I struggled with the technique as my Coach kept walking me through it and encouraging me. He inspired me to let go of the fear and relax through the motions. Enjoy the scenery” he said, and “if you feel like you are going to fall, just fall into the water, don’t try to catch yourself.” -I am happy to report that I did not fall.
Soaking in the scenery-creating new memories
Upon exiting the cove and heading to our destination spot, I was able to work through the challenges and really connect my body to the movements of bending my knees, leaning forward and pulling the paddle board across the water. I found the most challenging part was the steering. As my balance improved, the steering kicked in.
Along the way, I soaked in the scenery. The aquamarine colored water was clear as day. In amazement, I watched Garfish swim up to the surface only to dart back down after seeing me. I watched water plants as my board glided over them. The hillside that we were heading towards grew larger with each stroke moving me towards it. Curious bystanders were everywhere. I paddled my way past some anchored boats. Their passengers were enjoying the cool water with their friends and family, on big floating islands. I saw Jet skis zipping around the middle of the lake, causing wakes that we had to maneuver our boards across. Pulling out of the marina, there were tour boats filled with adventurers wanting to share and enjoy the environment. I could hear screams from a nearby Zipline excursion that were exploding, and echoing off the hills which traveled across the water.
Precious resource returned to its glory
It occurred to me that on my first trip to Travaasa, this very lake that we were all enjoying, was completely dried up due to a 5-year drought. The thought of this beautiful, precious resource completely dried up and gone saddened me. It reminded me, once again, how delicate life and nature truly are. So, that day, I lived in the moment, appreciated the experience, felt empowered by my success, enjoyed the company of my fellow adventurers and thanked God for every moment and for restoring this precious resource.
Trying new adventures is exciting for me. I look forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing new adventures, new food, and meeting new people. I wanted to share an experience that I had during my stay #Travaasa Spa and Resort.
Stand up Paddle Boarding was my choice for the day. The water in #Lake Travis was beautiful. The view from the top of the hill at the resort’s infinity pool, enticed and called me to participate in the excursion.
We launched our boards and I started in a kneeling position to paddle into a nearby cove. Once in the cove, I followed my coach’s instructions on proper feet and body placement on the board, to make the transition from kneeling to standing. What happened next was a huge surprise to me. “Fear” set in. It was then that I realized, I stood up and stepped out of my comfort zone. Even though I perform and teach a great deal of balance work in my PiYo classes, it was completely different balancing on a board in the water. I grew up on the water in boats, skiing, fishing, trawling, and swimming so, the fear was a huge and unexpected surprise to me.
I ran all of my Coach’s instructions through my thoughts and worked towards connecting on a physical and cognitive level. I remembered the body shifts that I would make during a boat ride to adjust to the boat rocking over wakes. I struggled with the technique but, my Coach walked me through it and encouraged me. He inspired me to let go of the fear and relax through the motions. Enjoy the scenery” he said, and “if you feel like you are going to fall, just fall into the water, don’t try to catch yourself.” -I am happy to report that I did not fall.
Once we exited the cove and headed to our destination spot, I was able to work through the challenges and really connect my body to the movements of bending my knees, leaning forward and pulling the paddle board across the water. The steering was the most challenging part but, once the balance empowered me the steering kicked in.
Along the way I soaked in the scenery. The water was aquamarine colored, and clear. I watched gar fish come up to the surface and dart down when they sensed my presence. I watched water plants as my board glided over them. The hillside that we were heading towards grew larger with each stroke moving me towards it. Curious bystanders were everywhere. Boats were anchored with their passengers enjoying the cool water with their friends and family, making memories. Jet skis were zipping around the middle of the lake, tour boats were pulling out of the marina filled with adventurers wanting to enjoy the environment. Screams from a nearby Zip line excursion were exploding, echoing off the hills and traveling across the water.
It occurred to me that on my first trip to #Travaasa, this very lake that we were all enjoying, was completely dried up due to a 5 year drought. The thought of this beautiful, precious resource completely dried up and gone saddened me. It reminded me, once again, how delicate life and nature truly are. So, that day, I lived in the moment, appreciated the experience, felt empowered by my success, enjoyed the company of my fellow adventurers and thanked God for every moment.
Today, it was calming and relaxing. It started at the edge of the infinity pool when I closed my eyes and opened my ears. My thoughts focused on the noise of the water while it was cascading over the edge and crashing down to the pool below. The sound at the edge drowned out the voices around me. Then I focused on the breeze blowing up over my back and my shoulders. I decided to pick a memory that came to mind and invoked the visualization.
I am suddenly transported to the beach; Maui, Hawaii. The waves are rolling in, the water is refreshingly cold, almost shockingly cold. The water is clear and vibrant blue. I see sail surfers jumping waves, and parachute surfers flying sky high after hitting the top of the waves, thinking how exciting and brave that must be. I soaked in the moment and cherished the memory.
While enjoying my relaxing, resort retreat at #Travaasa, the visualization added another dimension to the accomplished, high level of relaxation already achieved, and also raised my success level of my agenda and goal for this trip.
Give visualization a try. Let moments, sounds, and smells trigger memories and thoughts. Ride the wave!
It seems to me that more effort is put into focusing on the problem these days and not enough effort into the solution.
Couples, friends and family argue over what happened instead of discussing how they are going to overcome it. So much energy is wasted on anger. It doesn’t get us anywhere and anger leads us to say and do things that add to the situation.
Whenever I get in a situation that can turn into an argument, I always ask myself, “am I focusing on the solution?” It is good to know the root of the problem, but to move forward the focus has to lye in solution.
I love to Smile! That is just me. Not only do I like to smile, I like to see others smile. When hiking and spending time outdoors I sometimes come across Nature smiling, I like to think its because I left my mark.