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Mount Mitchell – Dinner among the clouds

I had the idea two weeks ago that I’d do some kind of bonus sermon from the picnic area just below the summit of Mount Mitchell.  Was hoping to combine some kind of inspired words of wisdom with dinner and sunset from the last picnic table in the picnic area to the west of the summit parking lot.  Low clouds swirling around reducing visibility to only yards instead of miles killed the sunset idea; and once I turned the camera on, I realized that I really didn’t have anything I wanted to say!

So I opted to listen instead;  to the clouds, the wind, the birds (that took me several hours of slowing down before I could hear them) and even God’s still, small voice.  Here’s 8 minutes and change of listening to all that – much better than listening to me ramble on about nothing!

Rowyn’s New Boat

Last October, I took a road trip to Appomattox River Company in Farmville, VA to pick up Judy’s Christmas present; an Ocean Kayak Malibu like mine that is her dedicated surf play boat for when we head to the beach.
While I was waiting for the guys to pull her boat out of the warehouse and unwrap it, I wandered around – Appomattox River Co. has a warehouse so filled with different brands, types, sizes of kayaks that it boggles the mind to just wander around.  As I was walking around looking at all their stock, my eyes fell on a Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 leaning against the wall – a sit-in, overall recreational boat with great lines and even equipped with a drop down skeg.  As I looked at it, it practically called out to me:  “I’d be a great Christmas present for Rowyn” (our nephew).  Talk about a check-out line, impulse buy!  I told Coltin, who was overseeing the guys prepping Judy’s Malibu, “Hey Coltin!  How much for that guy over there?  I think I want him!”

The rest is history.  Two boats came home with me instead of one; the Appomattox guys continue to think I’m a little crazy, since every time I come visit, I leave with more boats; and even though it took us six months, Rowyn got his new boat on the water this past Sunday!

Loaded up And Ready to Go

It used to be that I was ready to hit the road when a blue truck was hitched up to a white camper.  Now it’s a black truck and an aluminum silver camper; but the end result is the same.  Church on Sunday, home to change, then hit the road.  Destination this time?  Hyde Park, New York on Tuesday afternoon to demo a P&H Virgo touring kayak on the Hudson River, then take the long way home with plenty of water on the way!  (A quick stop on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, the Potomac River at Hagerstown, MD, Claytor Lake and the New River in Virginia before home on Saturday.

This trip is the first multiple-day test of the camper’s new solar power package that was installed back in February.  I can’t wait to see how the 600watts of solar panels on the roof, 400 amp-hours of LiPO4 batteries and the new 3000 watt inverter perform!

Cleaning Family Gravestones

Took care of something this afternoon that’s been bugging me since January 6th.  When we took flowers to put on Dad’s grave at his birthday, I noticed how badly my grandparents’ and aunt’s graves needed to be cleaned.  Today I finally made time to make the 150 mile round trip and take care of this.  The before and after pics are below.

Saying Goodbye to the Flagstaff

We’re getting ready to say goodbye to our Flagstaff camper.  She’s been home on the road for us since 2004, but having two campers in the driveway is driving us a bit nuts.
I expect it’ll hurt a bit to see her leave behind someone else’s car… About as long as it takes to turn around and see the Airstream on the camper pad!

Raven Rock Walk and Talk

I took a hike one day last week while on study leave at Raven Rock State Park.  Bushwhacking through the woods, my thoughts were still swirling around the Lenten study I’ve been preparing for our churches, so the first half of the hike was thinking out loud and doing a bit of theological reflection.  The 2nd half was essentially just the GoPro picking up how hard I was breathing and how out of shape I am!

Some thoughts about the upcoming “40 Days of Discernment:”

Happy Birthday Dad

My dad – who died in 2020 – would have been 93 yesterday.  Granted, flowers on your grave may not be the best birthday gift of all time, but it’s the thought that counts.

Happy Birthday Old Man!

Dreams Do Come True

According to family folklore, my parents first took me camping when I was about six months old.  Suffice it to say that camping has been in my blood my entire life.

On one trip, we went to New England in our 16′ travel trailer, sometime in the late 1960s perhaps.  I vaguely remember that I was 10 or 11 years old at the time.  Somewhere in New Hampshire, we met a family that had two sons about my age and they were traveling essentially in the same direction as we were.  For the better part of a week, at a couple of different campgrounds, I hooked up with them and we played, hung out, had lunch or dinner at each other’s campsites.  These folks actually invited me to travel with them up to Acadia National Park and then meet up with Mom, Dad and my brother there – a prospect that thrilled me, and left me crushed when Dad decided we might not go that far north on our trip.

What excited me most?  This family was traveling in an Airstream travel trailer!  It only took a couple of card games or dinners with them to firmly establish in my mind that THIS was the ultimate way to camp!  (After that trip, my parents’ got very tired of my suggestion every year when camping season came around that “This year we should get an Airstream!”)

Long story short?  Sometimes it takes a while but dreams do come true.  Yesterday, Judy and I left home for our traditional week after Christmas camping trip; and last night we spent the first night in our new (to us, anyway) 27′ Airstream Flying Cloud 27fb-t.  It took quite a while, but now I understand what the term “Airsreaming” really means!  The best is yet to come!

Paddling Price Lake

An afternoon paddle on Price Lake, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, NC.  Cool water, a nice breeze, and stunningly beautiful weather for an early fall paddle.

Cheeseburgers at 6500 Feet

What’s the best cheeseburger in the universe?  One you cook yourself at the top of Mt. Mitchell, NC – at 6,684 feet the highest point east of the Mississippi River!

My grand plan was to cook dinner at sunset, in the picnic area about 150 feet below the summit of Mitchell.  57°, rain, wind and fog turned that into cooking in one of the picnic shelters (which just happened to have some wood and charcoal left over at the fireplace), while the clouds descended and fog rolled in. Sitting by the fire enjoying a chili-cheeseburger and new Dos Equis Zero-alcohol brew might have been the best dinner I’ve had in quite a while!  (Even if I did miss the sunset until driving back down below the clouds later in the evening.)

The two field mice living on the shelf to the left of the fire were unhappy I took all their wood to burn, so I made amends by feeding them all my left over potato chips, which they immediately began fighting over!

Earlier in the afternoon, I had hopes of hiking back up to the summit monument and watching the sun go down.  Wasn’t meant to happen; but everything else about the day (and the three days on the Blue Ridge Parkway) was perfect, in spite of rain!

Camping at Linville Falls Campground, mile marker 316 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  No water, electricity, or showers, but the quiet and view make all that worthwhile.
Hiking the Balsam nature trail back down from the summit of Mitchell.  Several times, I had that wonderful scent of “Christmas in the air” while walking through the evergreen trees!After driving back down Mitchell in fog so think I couldn’t see the other side of the road, I just happened upon this view from one of the overlooks on the parkway;  so I guess I did get to see the sunset after all.