Here!

Still here! Just had a busy week!

Michael’s twin Sarah and her family came to stay with a friend in Asheville last week. So we hung out with them Sunday and Monday. Sunday we showed them the house and headed to Asheville Pizza for dinner. Michael had to work Monday, so we decided to go to Graveyard Fields. She has three kids and they aren’t really at the hiking age yet, so it was a short walk and they got to play in a waterfall. We played for about 30 minutes and then it started to rain, so we left. The kids enjoyed all the tunnels (20) on the Blue Ridge Parkway and screamed every time we went through them! We headed to eat some Mexican Monday night and said goodbye.

Poole cousins and Johnson Cousins!
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Tuesday I got the girls packed and ready for a trip to Memphis. We met my mom about halfway and spent the night in a hotel.

Rockstar Addison
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I want to see!
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Wednesday my mom drove them back to Memphis for a week of fun! Wednesday night we went to Tressa’s for open mic night that Patrick was hosting. He played about an hour of blues and then opened the stage up. Before we left I decided to call the camp ground at Black Mountain to see what the weekend look liked. This is a popular camp ground and busy! She said she had been fielding lots of calls about camping. She said to get there early Friday to get one. We decided that I would go up Thursday morning and get one, camp Thursday – Saturday nights. Done.

Didn’t see a sole on the BRP that morning…stopped and watched the sunrise at one of the over looks!
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So Thursday I drove about an hour away and got us a camp site. There were only 4 to choose from. Yikes! I put up the tent and headed back into town to start packing and get stuff ready. I packed the van full of gear and some food and waited on Michael to get home. We had to go to a meeting with his counterpart at a Wings joint. After the meeting we headed to the camp site. We were driving the BRP in the dark, something we had never done before and boy was it a beauty! We watched the sunset on an overlook and took pictures. The moon was full and blue. Perfect. We spent a little too much time at overlooks because when we got back to camp the gate was locked. Oops. We had to park outside and walk some of our stuff in. Michael had to go back to work later that morning so he left after we drove the van to the tent and unloaded the rest of our stuff and food for me throughout the day.

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I mowed down some breakfast, read my book, and took a short nap…woke up and ate lunch and decided to walk around which turned into me hiking to a waterfall. I had it all to myself. I went back to the tent and read some more of my book, talked to some neighbors, and Michael showed back up around 7. We made dinner, looked at the maps, and got some food ready for our hike. We decided to head out early, set the alarm for 5:45, and we didn’t get up till 6:30. Oops.

Setrock Creek Falls, Black Mountain. The scale is off, these falls were huge!
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Reading my book waiting on Michael to get back.
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Mt. Mitchell Trail Head…note the strenuous sticker…looks like a heart beat.
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Entrance to the trail.
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So we got dressed, made lunches, packed gear, snacks, compass, maps, and filled up our bladders for our packs. We made some bacon and eggs and headed out around 8:00…straight up a mountain! It was fun, we moved at a face pace…I took a break about every 20 minutes. We were going straight up and averaging about 2 miles an hour. It was tough and we were the only ones on the trail. We saw some over looks, ate black berries, played in streams, mowed down pickles and trail mix. We had noted when we drove the girls up to Mt. Mitchell that they had a snack bar, so we brought money to buy ourselves some Mr. Pibbs! We kept saying Pibb Pibb to keep us moving, not that Michael had any trouble…since he runs these things! But it was tough! We talked about all sorts of stuff. He likes running the downhills better than going up up up. Oh…the weather…we left the camp site and it was probably low 60s as it was morning. Friday afternoon it was mid 70s. We kept saying we can’t believe we are hiking a mountain August 1 and it is almost 60 degrees. No way we could ever do anything like that in Memphis! As we got closer to the top, it was getting colder. I had started out with a thin long sleeve tech shirt and almost immediately took it off as we started uphill work. The trees and shrubs protected us from the wind, so the wind felt good as we were pretty sweaty. My ankles did fine going up…all was well with the joints and ligaments, just my quads were getting a pretty gnarly workout. We reached the summit in 4 hours! Temperature in the mid-upper 50s. The book we were reading said allow for 5.5 hours. This was a 6 mile hike straight up the mountain. When you bust out of the trail you are surrounded by a paved “road” for walking only, no bikes. There was a good bit of people walking around in their nice clean clothes taking pictures and looking around. So it is a little bit of a crazy feeling busting out all sweaty, muddy, smelly, and out of breath near all these people. But we made it! We took some pictures at the summit and headed down to the snack bar and bathrooms. We bought two Mr. Pibbs and downed them. Ate some more pickles, sandwiches…bought two more Mr. Pibbs for the road and headed back down the mountain.

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I was fully loaded from caffeine and every thought that was in my head came directly out of my mouth…and I was on a mission. We were moving…fast. The trail at this point was busy…not many people going down, all going up. I was taking it easy on the big steps and rocks. We had gone about 3 miles in an hour. We stopped and ate some more and I noticed my right ankle (my problem child) was starting to feel tight. So I started landing on my left ankle which was quite hilarious because it actually took some thinking to do, and some stuttering. That worked out for a while. We decided to take the Higgins Bald trail on the way down which would make it about 1.4 miles longer than the way up. This route had more streams and was a little tighter trail. At about 2 miles left, something was wrong. The ligament that connects your femur to tibia…or whatever it is near the knee cap…was done. Ankles were fine, knees were not. I hobbled down the rest of the mountain in a good amount of pain. It was manageable and I finally grabbed a stick and used on the rest of the downhills. If it was flat I recovered and didn’t even notice it. We made it back down the mountain in about 3.5 hours. That included taking Michael to the waterfall I went to Friday. We took our shoes off and put our feet in the ice cold water. I dipped my bandana in the water and tied it around my knees. They felt good walking back to the tent. But I could already start to feel the soreness of the day sink in. This was the most miles I have ever done…a half marathon up and down a mountain! It was super fun and we had a great time together.

We got showered and started dinner…we had steaks, grilled taters and zucchinis with onions and peppers. Super yum!

Our site. Didn’t see or hear any bears!
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We hung out around the fire and drank some boxed wine (its cheaper than the bottle!) We talked and listened to Mandolin Orange’s new album Such Jubilee, which was the theme song for our weekend! If you like bluegrass and porch music check them out!

Michael was going to get up and run Sunday morning, but he decided he wanted to get home and see Pie. It was the first time we had left her alone for a night. So we packed up our gear, mowed down the rest of the bacon and eggs and hit the road back to Asheville. We got in and I did a load of stinky laundry (all things sweaty and fiery) and we put up our gear. My legs had felt great that morning…not stiff, not really sore. On the way back we stopped at one of the overlooks to look for a piece of Michael’s life proof case. It was messing with a glare on the night photos. We found it but it had been ran over. But when we got out I stumbled and noticed I was stiffer.

After sitting on the couch for a while, my knee ligament or whatever it was was aching. I tied bandanas around my knees and it felt good. I did some research and apparently I had a case of hiker’s knee, which affects knees going down hill. Things I can do to correct it…inserts, brace bands that go around the bottom of the knee, trekking poles (it did help with the stick I found) and exercising. I exercise twice a day, 5 days a week…T25 in the early morning and T25 gamma (weight lifting) mid morning. I looked at various exercises for it and I am doing them in the workouts. Then on the weekends we have been doing small hikes with the girls, so I would say I am pretty active. Ha. So we checked out some trekking poles at REI. I am waiting for a coupon to validate and we are going to get them and share them. Michael will use them for his races and I will use them for hiking down hill. Will give that a whirl and might by a band for my right knee as that was the one that was hurting the most. My left leg is dominant as I am left handed so I am assuming it is stronger than my right. But! I won’t let it defeat me!

Oddly enough on Monday, knees felt great…calves were super sore! When Michael left for work I told him it is slowly making its way out of my body! Tuesday I was only sore if I was sitting for a while. I drove to Cookeville to meet my mom again and was only a little sore after riding in the car. Wednesday I felt great! Today I resumed the workouts and it was a big jumping day and I didn’t notice any soreness.

But anyway, I’ll let you know how the next big adventure goes…we are both excited about trekking poles and the girls are going to be super jealous. We might try and get them some for Christmas.

The girls are home, it is raining outside. They are watching Star Wars cartoons (cousin Anna Claire is a HUGE fan). So not much to do outside today. We are going to the library after Addison’s nap. EK still has TWO WEEKS left of summer! Woof. We have been out for three months!

This little kitty turned 1 on Monday! Happy Birthday to the craziest cat we know! She loves those little fuzzy balls that is next to her hear…we throw it, she picks it up, brings it back and drops it in our hand. Awesome. She also likes sleeping on my neck on my pillow…very strange and she often gets thrown. She is a great cat!
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I hardly ever sleep with my kids. They move around too much and I am a light sleeper. But I had to sleep with them at the hotels…and this one, whew…is all over the bed. Wake up her feet are in your back, next time, her feet are on your head. She is busy.
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Also learned about what a shower cap is.
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House update, painted all over, HVAC everywhere, all windows and doors up. I am loving the windows and the big open panes. Love the cute little front door that will be red one day!
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Haven’t posted the back yet. We are on top of a hill (where I took picture) I am standing on a hill of mulch. We are trying to get a parcel map to start the design of the deck and landscaping. We are thinking we are making the whole back yard a deck since it’s basically a zero lot. Michael is very happy about not having grass!
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Front door.
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The girls little feet at the highest point this side of the Mighty Mississippi.
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This weekend we are taking it low key. We might do a small hike…will see what they want to do. Michael is running a bunch. We made flight reservations last night for the Bear 100. So we are in full saving mode!

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