Thursday, August 27, 2015

set us free

Gracious God,
Turn us loose, but never let us go.
Set us free, but never let us go.
Let us find our own path, but never let us go.
Let us work it out for ourselves, but never let us go.
Let us suffer from our own mistakes, but never let us go.
Receive us to Thyself, never let us go.
We leave this Thy house, but never let us go.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 --Fred Craddock (1928-2015) Minister, Professor and Author (Benediction from his sermon, "The Cloud of Witnesses")

Some scenes from the beautiful area beneath South Holston Dam of the Weir Dam at Osceola Island. For more images, discussion and directions, click here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

holston rainbow

The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched. 
--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American Writer and Philosopher.  

Above: Rainbow over South Holston Lake

Friday, August 14, 2015

dog days

"The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”
― Natalie Babbitt (b.1932) author.

Above: Blue enjoying the dog days of summer at Watauga Lake. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

go placidly

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

--Max Ehrmann (1872–1945) American Writer, "Desiderata"

Above: Trail at Sycamore Shoals State Park, Elizabethton, TN

Thursday, July 30, 2015

stand out

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. --Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) English photographer.

The tree above stood out so beautifully against the horizon I was drawn to it. Immediately after taking this, I realized that I had taken nearly the exact photo on Flat Rock Overlook seven years ago. So much for being creative. :) That post, with a short description of the trail, is found here. This is a fairly short, looped trail located near Grandfather Mountain at Mile 308 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The primary view is westward toward the Roan highlands, but you also have beautiful views north to Grandfather Mountain. Click the link above for more on this fun place to explore.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


You can't change who you are, but you can change what you have in your head, you can refresh what you're thinking about, you can put some fresh air in your brain. 
--Ernesto Bertarelli (b.1965) Swiss businessman and philanthropist.

Signs warning of aggressive bear activity in the Clark's Creek area of Unicoi County didn't deter us from seeing Sill Branch Falls today. We did see plenty of other hikers -- but fortunately no bears. The signs specifically warned against overnight camping, grilling out and picnicking. However, the area is  still open for day hikers. Camping in the area has been banned since late May and isn't expected to be allowed again until fall.  Click here for more information.

For directions to Sill Branch Falls, click here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

take a chance

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide 

--Victoria Lynn Shaw (b. 1962) Country music artist. 

Above: Rocky Fork State Park, Unicoi Co., TN

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bays Mountain

Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened. 
--Anatole France (1844-1924) French poet, journalist, and novelist. 

Summer is a great time to visit Bays Mountain in Kingsport, TN. Pictured here are some of the animals found in the nature habitat at Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport, TN. Featured at the top is a gray wolf named Tanasi. The wolf habitat is always popular to visit, especially with the addition of wolf pups this spring. In addition to wolves, the park also has bobcats, deer, otters, turtles, snakes, birds, raccoons, a bee hive, an aquarium, and numerous other exhibits. There are also 25 miles of hiking trails, a 40' dome planetarium, and barge rides on the 44 acre lake.

Click here to visit their website.  See my previous posts from the park by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Life is a mosaic of pleasure and pain - grief is an interval between two moments of joy. Peace is the interlude between two wars. You have no rose without a thorn; the diligent picker will avoid the pricks and gather the flower. There is no bee without the sting; cleverness consists in gathering the honey nevertheless.
--Sri Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011) Indian Spiritual leader.

Monday, June 22, 2015

the hard work of happiness

Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best. 
--Theodore Isaac Rubin (b. 1923) American psychiatrist and author.

Above: Red Fork Falls near Unicoi, TN.

For a discussion of all the things to see and do on Unaka Mountain Road, click here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

prayers for charleston

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. 
--Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) Minister and Civil-Rights Leader.

Prayers for Charleston and the families of the victims of last week's horrible tragedy. Peggy Noonan wrote a beautiful tribute and reflection that I recommend.

Above: St. Michael's Episcopal Church (1751), Charleston, SC

Saturday, June 20, 2015

historic homestead

To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.  
--Pope John Paul II (1920-2005).

The old Miller homestead on Roan Mountain offers a beautiful and fascinating glimpse into mountain living a century ago before the introduction of modern conveniences.  Built in 1907, the house sat on 200 or so acres originally owned by Union General John Thomas Wilder (who constructed the Cloudland Hotel atop Roan Mountain). The Miller family lived in the house until the 1960s, and never had it wired for electricity. It is currently operated by the Roan Mountain State Park and is open for tours.

Click here for my previous post with more photos and discussion.

The Johnson City Press had a nice article about the house with photos this week.
There is an abundance of information about the house and its history found within the application to the National Register of Historical Places.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Derive happiness in oneself from a good day's work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us. 
- Henri Matisse (1869-1954) French artist.

'Twas a chilly, windy morn yesterday upon the Roan. With 90+ degree weather down below it did not dawn on me to prepare for 62 degree, windy weather on the mountain. Clear as a bell below, and foggy and misty above. I really should know this by now! Of course, as we drove off the mountain, the fog lifted and the sky became brilliant blue. :) The Rhododendron Festival this coming weekend is well-timed to catch the Catawba Rhododendrons on top of Roan at their peak.

Monday, June 15, 2015

peace and quiet

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.
--John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) 35th US President.

Above: Blue Hole Grotto outside of Elizabethton, TN. Not as much water flowing at Blue Hole as I was expecting to find. But still a beautiful place to explore. This narrow grotto was a great place to be on a hot, humid day - with the temperature significantly cooler than outside in the sun.

Monday, June 8, 2015

sail away

Well it's not far down to paradise, at least's not for me. 
If the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility. 
Oh the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me. 

Sailing, takes me away 
To where I've always heard it 
Just a dream and the wind to carry me 
Soon I will be free 

--Christopher Cross (b.1951) Singer-songwriter.

Above: Sailboats on Watauga Lake