Saturday, July 30, 2011

Its a Natural Feeling

My body is a big fan of the Law of Inertia - at least the second part.  The law clearly states that an object at rest will stay at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force.  My brain occasionally attempts to act as the outside force.

But my body tends to do everything in its power to resist the brain's attempts to move it.  The body reacts violently in some cases - from overheating and nausea, to full out puking, the body makes it clear that said movement is not okay with it, and I had better get back to rest.

To exercise with me is to realize:  I may puke on you.  I am so glad you love me anyway.

Allow me to segue into talk of preparations for our trip.  I read the pamphlets on what to do if encountering a bear, what to do if lost in the woods, and how to prevent hypothermia in the event that I am caught in the rain.  The pamphlets contained an additional section on pooping in the woods.  Oh, I tried to convince myself I wouldn't need it, but knowing my body, there really was no deceiving myself.

Dear reader, you have guessed where this is going, but allow me to regale you with my tale:

We decided on a hike to the "Lonesome Pine Overlook" which is just the beginning section of the "Noland Divide Trail".  The hike is rated "strenuous" by most reviews, and has an elevation change of about 2300 feet.  We started out in good spirits, despite the heat.  It was about 92 degrees and humid.  It wasn't long before we were both sweating, and Adam commented that he hates the sun.

Apparently, this was more effective than we knew.  Literally a minute after his statement, it started to drizzle and turned quickly to a light rain.  At least this will cool us off, we thought, and we continued our ascent.  About a half hour later, there was no kidding ourselves.  This was full buckets of rain, dumped by the gallon over our heads.  The trail was steep and narrow, with water literally streaming downwards as we climbed up.  I pulled my camera from my pocket and buried it in a biking glove that was still in my pack, hoping to keep it dry.  I also used the rain cover feature of my pack for the first time.  A pouch at the base holds a cover that slips over the top, affording an additional defense against moisture.

As thunder rolled overhead, we considered sloshing our way back to the car, even though we were only about halfway.  However, we chose to trudge on with heavy clothes and squishy feet.

An hour later, the rain let up, and we reached a rocky ridge.  Finally, we were able to take a few pictures:

Plumes of "smoke" rising from the valley - giving the Great Smokies their name.

 The peak in this picture was our destination - about 2300-ft above our starting point.

 This "waterfall" popped up during the storm.

It threatened to rain some more, and though we were cool with it before, our patience was a tad thin.  So we began the trek back down the muddy slope.  It was about this time that I realized what punishment my body had set  up for me.  Evil of all evils, I had to poop.  This behavior was not unheard of from my body.  So of course, I ignored it.

About 20 minutes later I told Adam of my predicament and headed away from the trail to dig a hole as I was instructed by my pamphlets.  On the bright side, I was already soaked to the bone and feeling generally gross.  And I answered an age old question:  When a Baer shits in the woods and no one is around to smell it, does it make a stink?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The People Have Spoken!

The people have spoken!  You may recall a month or two back when I lamented about vacation planning.  A nearly overwhelming response from as many at 7 readers suggested western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

So, here we are.  One thing I hate hate hate is driving for more than say, six hours at a stretch.  Driving makes me grumpy.  So I looked into air travel to the Smokies.  Unfortunately, one thing about National Parks that's pretty universal is that they are hard to get to.  Short of rail service that would take over 30 hours of travel time, there were not may options for our 10 hour plus drive.

So then I began looking at places along the route which might be good stopover points.

On Friday, we left for Natural Bridge, Virginia, where there is a natural arch rock formation that is 215 feet tall, 40 feet thick, and spanning 90 feet!  They actually have a road (US Route 11) running directly overtop, which, as an engineer, totally blows my mind.  It makes me super nervous that the Department of Transportation is willing to rely on materials which man does not control as a means of support.  So what if it has been here for 500 million years!

Ultimately, we did drive over it, thinking we could get a different view, but the current purveyors of this bridge have covered their bases in ensuring that one pays the $18 admittance fee to look at the rock.  There are tall fences which afford no view.

We did get a few pictures, but it was almost dark:

The Natural Bridge - note the size of the people!

The next morning we went to the caverns, which were opened to the public in the 70's.  The cave was very cool (like literally - a welcome relief from the HEAT we have had).  However, it seems as though our trip caving a few years back may have ruined us for commercial tours.  All we wanted to do was crawl around in the areas roped off!

After the cave, we hopped in the car for another 5 hour drive to Asheville, North Carolina.  Everyone kept telling us how it was like this town was built for us - lots of mircobrews, outdoor sports, and live music.  It did not disappoint.  They have nine microbreweries, and we never did get to try them all in our short stay.  We caught a Grateful Dead cover band late in the night and bar-hopped with the best of them.  After hotel check out on Sunday, we walked the streets, and went to a coffee shop (almost as many of these as bars), the "Mellow Mushroom" - a pizza place, with beer, of course, and a chocolate lounge.  So many choices of cool flavored chocolates!  (And beer, of course!)

 At the Mellow Mushroom

With bellies full of pizza, beer, and chocolate, we finally left for our ultimate destination, the Great Smoky Mountains.  We're here in Bryson City, North Carolina, planning to hike a few trails this side of the park before heading to Tennessee tomorrow.  (It will be a new state for me, I have never even driven through Tennessee.)
View of Fontana Lake

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My First Time

I just did it for the first time today.  My sister told me it would be great, and I would feel wonderful afterwards, but it just never really appealed to me.  It wasn't just that I didn't want a guy touching me like that, it really was a lack of interest.  I guess I am not like other girls, and I never had the desire.

I was so wrong.  It was....amazing.  Almost medicinal.  I feel so good now, I almost can't wait until I can do it again.

It started with a gentle, soothing bath.  The water was warm, and scented with the salt scrub I had picked out myself.  The rest was a bit of a blur, as he scrubbed my skin and massaged my legs.  He never once commented on my body, though I was a tad self-conscious of some stray hairs I had missed while shaving.

Then he took my toes, one by one, and painted them.

Girls, take it from me.  Get a pedicure.  It is soooo worth it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Beach Babe

I am at the beach!  My sister moved to North Carolina last year, and some stuff happened, some other stuff didn't happen, and, well, long story short - she's moving back to Merry-land.  I have really missed her.

This week is a last hurrah for my sister's beach living.  She invited the family, and some of us were lucky enough to have the time and inclination to come.  So today, I spent a few hours in the sun.

Amazingly, I did not get burnt (much), caught drinking beer on the beach (the guy in front of us who really didn't want to dump his left in handcuffs), and I didn't get (much) salt in my eyes.  Of course, despite asking a cop about our questionable parking space, we got a parking ticket.