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SWDESERTLOVER's Recent Blog Entries

Spring Brings New Life

Thursday, May 03, 2012

While the trees are all budding out and the flowers are blooming, the birds are also busy building their nests and bringing their little broods into the world. This is true at my house also, and for some reason the birds seem to love one of my begonia baskets in particular, the one that hangs the closest to my front door.

Every fall I put my hanging baskets in my basement and work to keep them alive through the winter. I've kept my begonia baskets alive for the last three years, hanging them back out front each spring. And each spring I can count on the little wrens immediately heading for the one closest to my front door. They work hard building their little nest while I try to stand on my step ladder and carefully add water around the nest to keep the plants alive during the heat without getting water on the nests. The truth is, it's almost harder to keep them alive in the summer when they have nests in them then it is to keep them alive through the winter in the basement.

Anyway, while I was away on vacation the wrens were busy at work on their first nest of the year (there are usually two to three nests in my basket each year). I looked in the basket two days ago and saw three tiny babies, their little eyes not yet even open.

This picture was taken two days ago (5/1). They were just little puff balls and their eyes were still closed. Momma bird flies to the nearby tree and fusses each time I get up on the stepladder to take pics or to water the plant, so I try to make it quick so as not to upset her too much.

This picture was taken this evening. You can now clearly see there are five babies and, although you can't see it in this picture, their eyes are now open.

I'll take another picture in a couple days and share it. I'm trying to find a way to mount my tiny camcorder near the basket and see if I can record Momma taking care of them, but not yet sure how I'm going to do this.

Anyway, update on my baby bird watch in a couple of days.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEWHENRYSMAMA 5/8/2012 11:15PM

    Oh, I wasn't getting notice of your blogs so came to look...why does that happen?
Anyway, so glad I did as I was so captivated with these sweet baby birds! Oh, how dear! Will be looking for follow ups!
THanks for sharing!
Love & Hugs!

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LUVS2BIKE101 5/4/2012 9:22PM

    Oh, how I love new life! Thanks for sharing!

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ELLENEAL 5/4/2012 9:34AM

    How sweet....what little miracles...thanks for sharing & brightening my morning :)

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    What great photos!
We are in a new home and are just loving all the bird life we are seeing. I've been keeping my eye on a family and I think I witnessed some flying lessons.
I'll look forward to more pics! Thanks for posting.

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NELLIEC 5/4/2012 12:27AM

    They are adorable!

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JADE0757 5/3/2012 11:52PM

  Thank you so much for letting us be a part of this sweet event.
I will be looking forward to your updates and photos.

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DOODIE59 5/3/2012 11:01PM

    This is SO amazing!! Thank you for sharing -- how wonderful:)

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_JODI404 5/3/2012 10:36PM

    We raise several bird families here every year as well. I totally agree -- it is SO hard to keep a plant alive with them in it! The do seem to love front doors. We usually have several wren families and chickadees. I love sound of the babies chirping for their food while the parents are out gathering it.

The wren is definitely my favorite bird!

Love the photos, that is so cool! Look forward to the progress update!!

Have a great weekend!

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Vacation Over - Back to My Routine

Sunday, April 29, 2012

So vacation has come and gone. We had a great time, but as usual some of our plans changed along the way. If Iíve learned nothing else over the years, Iíve learned to be flexible. Actually, we did do most of what we planned, but the last few days involved a hamstring strain (not mine) and much colder temperatures at night that my sister wasnít completely prepared for. So, we decided to get to a lower elevation after two nights of freezing temperatures and take in some different sights.

The first few days we camped and hiked near Three Rivers, New Mexico and Oro Grande and then also visited White Sands.

Sunrise at Three Rivers

Indian Paintbrush

Hiking near Alamogordo, NM

White Sands

Sunset at White Sands

Sunset at White Sands

Ocotillo Cactus blooming near Alamogordo, NM

After that, we headed up into the Gila Wilderness where we camped at Lake Roberts a few nights and hiked during the day. We also hiked the trail to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and they were spectacular!

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Sunset at Lake Roberts

Our tents at night

This turkey vulture decided to display his wings for me.

Whitewater Canyon

The weather was beautiful during the day, but the night time temperatures were around 30 degrees. I stayed pretty warm in my small tent and sleeping bag, but my sister was having some real issues staying warm. For that reason, we decided to stay in a cabin the last two nights and visited the VLA (Very Large Array) near Datil, New Mexico and then Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. Neither were in our plans, but they were both awesome.

VLA (Very Large Array)

Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge

And, I must post my favorite picture from the trip. We stopped in Silver City, New Mexico to get gas and in rolled a couple on their motorcycle with their little girl "Sadie" who was riding in a sidecar. I had to get a picture of her with her own seat belt and goggles. She was the happiest biker I've ever seen.

Sadie in her own sidecar!

All in all, it was a great trip, but I also missed all my boys at home. As much fun as it was, itís good to be back with my family and back to my own bed. Now time to get back to my workout routine and tracking my food again.

Hope everyone has a great week!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEWHENRYSMAMA 5/8/2012 11:16PM

    Just awesome pictures!

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LIVINGFREE19 5/7/2012 7:34PM

    Awesome photos!!
Thank you for sharing the beauty!

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ELLENEAL 4/30/2012 9:12AM

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos...

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GOLFGMA 4/30/2012 8:30AM

    Cindy, Thanks again for sharing some wonderful photos and amazing places. I loved the flowers and I bet you brought some more home for your special garden. Hope so! The wild life was great too. Can not imagine how you were able to get the picture of the canyon with all those huge rock and the water flowing through. I give this blog a great big 10! Hope Tommy and Thor are doing great! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JOJOBURG 4/30/2012 7:56AM

    Thanks for sharing your trip! Beautiful photos! Sadie was beautiful :)

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YIWEN39 4/29/2012 10:31PM

    What a beautiful trip :-) Gorgeous pics, thanks for sharing emoticon

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_JODI404 4/29/2012 10:17PM

    Glad you had a wonderful trip!!

Your pictures are stunning!! The white sands are incredible!!

Omg, does it get any cuter than Sadie?!! That is too cute!

I'm sure your boys are happy you are back home!

Thank you for always sharing your beautiful pics. I really enjoy seeing all these incredible sights!

Have a wonderful week! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DOODIE59 4/29/2012 10:11PM

    I am glad you had a great visit with your sister. Those white sands are AMAZING. I thought I was looking at snow:) Thank you for sharing your photos with us -- it's a chance to see places some of us have never heard of.

Welcome home:) and have a great week.

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LADYVOLSFAN1954 4/29/2012 9:57PM

    Beautiful pics. It looks and sounds like you had an awesome time. Glad you had fun and welcome back. Loved Sadie in the sidecar - priceless.

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NEILITHICMAN 4/29/2012 9:22PM

    Awesome pics. Holidays are never long enough are they?

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EMPTYNESTER60 4/29/2012 8:57PM

    What beautiful pictures! Sometimes the best vacations are ones that we just let happen. Glad you made it home safely. Love Sadie's picture. My husband & I used to ride with a motorcycle club & the president had a parrot (General Lee) that used to ride on his handlebars behind the windshield. We always got smiles & waves from people along the way. emoticon

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WORLDSERIES11 4/29/2012 8:57PM

    Looks like you had a great time...beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing and welcome home!

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BOSTONRENT2007 4/29/2012 8:22PM

  Great photos! Love the doggie pic!

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ADEWYN 4/29/2012 8:20PM

    i just came back from a vacation too lol.. your pictures are beautiful looks like you saw alot and had fun!!

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Weekend of Family, Friends and Fun

Monday, April 09, 2012

I was lucky enough to have Easter fall on my long weekend off, so Tommy and I decided to spend the weekend at my uncleís mountain home. We planned to go bike riding on the Virginia Creeper Trail, which has long been one of our favorite activities.

With my best friend being on spring break (sheís a teacher), we decided to invite her to go along. Alyce decided to drive up Friday evening and stay with us the next two nights. Then, Friday morning while I was finishing packing and getting ready to go, Tommy looked on Facebook and saw that one of his cousins, Janyce, was in the mountains for a few days. Since she was alone, he contacted her and asked if she wanted to come and hang out with us. She agreed and he was excited because he hadnít seen her in many years. I was happy because I had never met her before.

So off we went Friday morning for what would turn out to be quite a day. We got to the house, turned on the hot water heater, unloaded our stuff and waited for the others to arrive. The first call came from Alyce who had taken a wrong turn, but we quickly got her back on track and to the house. Then the series of calls from Janyce began. She was coming from Cherokee, NC and had never been near where we were. It would have been comical had she not been so frustrated and it was getting late in the day. I was worried about her being lost on those winding back roads after dark (there is no major highway between Cherokee and West Jefferson). Fortunately, after dealing with wrong turns, dropped calls from lost cell signals, and her unplanned side trip to Roan Mountain in Tennessee (oops), we finally met her in West Jefferson at 8:30 Friday night. We had a great dinner at Genoís and then headed back to the house to relax in front of a wonderful fire.

Tommy really wanted Janyce to ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, but she was a little hesitant about bike riding 17 miles. He loves taking people on the trail for the first time and sharing in their excitement, so he finally convinced her to go. I was happy she agreed, but also a little concerned about whether or not he could make it all the way. Alyce and I decided to drop them off and go hiking instead of riding so that we could pick him up at a road crossing if he got too tired. Well, Iím happy to say that Tommy and Janyce completed the entire 17 miles and we met them at Dotís Inn in Damascus, Virginia for a late lunch. He was exhausted, but very happy, and Janyce had a great time also.

Tommy and Janyce starting down the Virginia Creeper Trail

While Tommy and Janyce were bike riding, Alyce and I got in some exercise by hiking over Backbone Ridge and along the river. Wow, it was a gorgeous day!

Trail across the top of Backbone Ridge

Hiking along the river

Dogwood blooming by the river

The trillium was also beginning to bloom. They were beautiful!

After lunch we went back to the house where Tommy slept in front of the fire for hours. It was a great weekend with great friends and lots of fun and laughter!

Tommy was tired after his ride, but very happy.

We also stopped by St. Marys Episcopal Church in West Jefferson. The chapel is so beautiful.

St. Marys Episcopal Church in West Jefferson, NC.

On a side note, while we were at Dotís Inn in Damascus, I started talking to two AT thru hikers who had just finished eating there. The AT trail goes straight through the middle of Damascus and most thru hikers will take a break there to resupply, shower, rest, etc. When I told them about my dream of thru hiking the AT someday, they started really encouraging me to go do it. When I told them I had some more pounds to lose before considering it, they laughed and told me not to worry about the weight, to just start walking and they assured me I would lose all the weight I wanted and then some. I was so excited talking to them (they had already hiked 400+ miles) that I forgot to ask them if they have trail journals and what their trail names are. But to the two young men I talked to in Damascus, thank you so very much for the words of encouragement. Someday, when the time is right, Iíll do what they said. Iíll put my pack on my back and just start walking.

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOLFGMA 4/11/2012 8:50AM

    Cindy, you did it again! You took me right along on your trip. I could feel the connection between Janyce and Tommy after so many years. Family is always nice for getting together and having your neighbor along I'm sure was a treat for both of you. Tommy seems to be doing really well. This is emoticon

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ELLENEAL 4/10/2012 9:40AM

    Amazing photos! I love reading your posts!

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NEILITHICMAN 4/9/2012 11:18PM

    Sounds awesome, we got up to my sister-in-law's house up in Timaru and we had awesome weather so we got out most days.

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    I absolutely LOVED reading this, and I'm so glad it was such a wonderful trip. Thank you for sharing the time with us. My husband would love to AT thru hike and reads journals from them. I told him I'd be the support vehicle, but I know he'd love for me to do it with him. Is there any more real statement than, get walking and the weight would come off. Man, I have to remember that!!

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    Wow, what a beautiful Easter weekend!
So happy for you...the moutain home looked lovely!
And the Trillium flower was just awesome!
Loved the pics and that Tommy made the entire 17 mile bike ride!
So enjoyed your blog,
Thank you!

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WORLDSERIES11 4/9/2012 2:40PM

    Wow, sounds like you had a wonderful time! So glad you got to get away to someplace beautiful and spend time with loved ones...and get in some great exercise too:)
Thanks for sharing the pictures, it's a lovely area!

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CHUBRUB3 4/9/2012 2:03PM

    Happy Easter my friend!
So glad you all had a fantastic time! As always your pictures are beautiful.
You inspire me to greater heights and more love.
Love to you and your loved ones.

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DOODIE59 4/9/2012 12:28PM

    Boy, your weekend plans just bloomed and bloomed; you got so much more out of it than your original plans -- and THEY would have made a perfectly lovely weekend in it's own right. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely experience, AND the wonderful photos. Perhaps one day we will get there for a hiking holiday. (Actually, I'm going to have to dig out a map and try to find exactly where you are talking about.)

One of my sparks groups records the distance they walk/run/hike/bike and apply it to a hike across the US from Virginia to Oregon. The REAL treat is that they have taken photos along the entire route, so every time you log your distance, the site provides you a photo of EXACTLY where you are along the route. I get a real kick out of it, even though, at the pace I'm going, it will take more than 5 years to cross your great country:)

I can't wait for the day you start your AT hike ... and the photos that go with it:)
Deirdre emoticon emoticon emoticon

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_JODI404 4/9/2012 11:38AM

    Wow, sounds like a truly wonderful weekend!!

I love your love for outdoor adventures! So glad Tommy could complete his ride that he enjoys so much! emoticon emoticon

It sounds to me like your ultimate AT Trail dream will be a reality! It makes sense to me that any extra weight would be falling right off once you start!

Woo~Hooo!!! I love when you two get to have these special times together!

emoticon Beautiful scenery & pics! emoticon

emoticon emoticon

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Whew, what a day!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Yesterday was a very long day. Tommy and I were both up early because we were off to his doctor to get the results of his latest scan and then he would spend all day at the cancer center getting his chemo treatment. First off, the news was good about his scan. The Folfirinox treatments have shrunk the tumors in his lungs by about another 30%. This was a huge relief for both of us. Then it was to the chemo room where he spent the next five hours hooked up to a machine getting three of the four drugs he's administered every three weeks. Then before going home, they hooked him to the pump that he has to wear for the next 48 hours. We were both so tired when we went to bed last night and I was determined to sleep in late this morning since I was off work again.

So I was sleeping soundly when suddenly, just before daylight, Tommy jumped out of bed telling me the line to his port was leaking. The chemo pump and drug is in a fanny pack that he wears, and it pumps the drug through a tube that is attached to the port that's implanted in his chest. The connection in the middle of the line had come apart and we had a huge mess. The drug (which is considered toxic - and they're putting it in his body) was running out of the lower part of the line, and blood from his vein was flowing backwards out of the upper part of the line. We closed off the clamps on both ends of the lines and then took the battery out of the pump to shut it off. Then we had to break out the hazardous waste clean-up kit (yes, they actually give you one of those when they send you home with this drug) and I began the process of trying to get up all of the mess. I got Tommy in the bath to get everything off his skin and I began throwing bedding in the washing machine. After he got cleaned up and dressed, he headed to the cancer center to get everything hooked back up.

I thought we might be going mattress shopping, but when he got home he said he was told to use hydrogen peroxide to try to clean up the mattress. That's when I remembered my carpet cleaner with an upholstery attachment in the basement. Wow, it worked beautifully with hydrogen peroxide mixed in with the water. I was so happy because I really like our mattress and didn't want to have to buy a new one.

What started out as a bad day actually ended quite nice. I decided I had to get out of the house and headed for Pilot Mountain for a short hike. Tommy and Thor went also and they drove me to the pinnacle to hike down the Grindstone Trail and back to the park office. It was a beautiful day, although a bit hazy looking back toward the city.

Looking back toward Winston-Salem

Walking along the trail, I spotted this little lizard.

I knew it was too early for the rhododendrons or mountain laurel to be blooming, but to my surprise there was this one lone azalea in full bloom along the trail. It was really pretty!

While I was hiking down, Tommy and Thor had driven to the other end of the trail and started hiking back towards me (something they often do). Tommy actually walked much further than usual so when I met them Thor was exhausted (he gets tired much quicker because of his missing leg).

Tommy and Thor meeting me on the trail. It's easy to tell how tired Thor is by how far his tongue is hanging out.

Tommy gave me Thor's leash and said he was going to go back and get our van and bring it closer to the trail because by this time Thor was walking very slowly. After he was out of sight, Thor laid down in on the trail and apparently decided he was finished hiking for the day! He refused to get up, and seeing how I can't carry an 85 pound dog I had no choice but to let him rest for a while.

Thor decided here that he was finished hiking for the day.

Finally, after waiting for a while and much coaxing, he got back up and we made our way to the road where Tommy met us with our van.

Now we're all off to bed for a (hopefully) uneventful and restful night!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHUBRUB3 4/4/2012 12:24PM

    Hugs to you all.
Glad your day ended in a good way.
Hope Thor and Tommy were rested after the long hike.

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BUTTRFLI26 4/4/2012 11:30AM

    You are part of an amazing family and I greatly admire your outlook and strength. So very glad that a day headed in the wrong direction took the right turn and you all got a much needed break from reality for a little while. Easter blessings to you all.

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DOODIE59 4/4/2012 9:48AM

    You have such personal grace. It is a privilege for me to be able to follow your life lessons, so I thank you for sharing:)

All three of you all turned that day around into something to be grateful for -- and thank you for sharing the pictures, too.

I hope you have a more restful day today:)

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GOLFGMA 4/4/2012 6:24AM

    You, Tommy and Thor are amazing people and I am so glad that you share with us. I also love your blogs and your writing style. You handled the situation with the malfunctioning line like pros. I have the feeling that you are a strong woman of faith for I remember going through a time when I father in law had cancer, mother in law was in a facility for Alzheimer patients and my husband who is an only child had suffer the stroke. Without strength from God I know that I could not have made it, but, somehow living each day doing what was called for the Lord gave strength to get through one day at the time. So nice to read your blogs! emoticon

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PHIREBALL 4/4/2012 5:41AM

    Your outlook on things is remarkable. I think you must be a very strong person. Thanks for the blog. We all need a little perspective lesson on life.

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 4/3/2012 11:32PM

    Oh my! So sorry you had such mess...glad it got straightened out and you still enjoyed a hike! I had to smile at the lizard (looked like it might have been a skink!?). My husband and I love critters and have owned/adopted many! Right now we have a dear Bearded Dragon, Davy Rocket! He has such an amazing personality! Thor really had had it with his walk...bless his heart! Glad Tommy brought the car closer! So glad you three spent your day together. Sleep well tonight!
Love & Hugs,
Mary emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LADYVOLSFAN1954 4/3/2012 11:29PM

    I'm glad you got everything taken care of. I know it was a relief that you could clean the mattress. Thor was finished wasn't he?
Your pictures made me wish I could get to Roan Mountain during the rhododendron festival for once. I always miss it. I love seeing the mountains in TN & NC in bloom. Thanks for sharing the lone azaela

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NELLIEC 4/3/2012 10:55PM

    I am glad that you did find out how to clean the mattress!

Thor was probably demonstrating how all of you felt!

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WORLDSERIES11 4/3/2012 10:49PM

    Wow, quite an adventure! So glad there was a happy ending and a beautiful hike. Enjoy a good nights rest!! emoticon

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_JODI404 4/3/2012 10:37PM

    WoW ~ that really was quite a day!

I'm glad that it all turned out well. That must have been so alarming and shocking to wake up to that incident. Sounds like you were quick thinking and got it all under control. I'm really glad you don't have to get a new mattress! (Whew! $).

Glad you were able to enjoy a nice hike. I really appreciate that instead of dwelling in the drama of the morning... you did what you had to do to clean up and take care of business... and moved forward. That is not easy to do sometimes... but you both have such awesome positive attitudes -- I really admire that!

Thor baby said he was D-o-n-e! emoticon emoticon

I hope you all get a well deserved wonderful night of sleep!

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Thanks for the Memories

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I don't usually write a blog every day, but a post by another member this morning inspired me to write this one. When we post things on this site, we have no idea who may be touched by our words. We also never know what little gems we may come across when reading friends posts. Itís funny how one little thing can spark a flood of memories. Thatís what happened this morning when I was catching up on my emails. There was a post by another member about living in southern Illinois and how beautiful the area was. My mind immediately began to race with thoughts of living in Illinois as a child (we lived in Godfrey). When I looked at her pictures, I saw one of her in Pere Marquette State Park near Grafton, Illinois. The name sounded so familiar, so I googled it and, sure enough, I have been there.

Oh my gosh! Memories of staying in a cabin there with my family came flooding back. I remember the Pere Marquette campground from many, many years ago. I remember my Dad showing us the most wonderful hiking trail that led to a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. I remember sitting on a rock with my sister Terrie and eating a snack. I remember that there were fossils on the top of that same bluff. I remember Terrie and I wandering around the area looking for new ďadventures.Ē I remember sleeping in the quiet, dark log cabin at night with my sisters. I also remember our imaginations running wild and swearing there was something running around our cabin one night.

All of this brought back so many other memories of camping and traveling with our parents. My mother passed away in 1982 and my father in 2006, but the memories of being with them are still crystal clear. Iím so thankful I had parents who introduced their children to the outdoors and instilled in us our love for nature.

Funny thing is, I still often sit on a rock with Terrie and have lunch or a snack, and it's not unusual for us to find ourselves on a high cliff overlooking a valley below. We still wander around looking for new ďadventuresĒ but now itís usually in the southwest desert. And we still love to camp, but now itís in our little tents that we can put up in minutes wherever we decide to spend a night. So next month, when Iím in the desert with her and weíre hiking, or sitting by a campfire one night, Iím certain Iíll tell her about the post by a fellow Spark friend about Pere Marquette State Park, and weíll reminisce and laugh about our wonderful times there.

Isnít this site amazing and how your friends can touch you, even though they may not know it? Iíve spent much time this morning traveling down memory lane and smiling.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUCINDARW 4/27/2012 12:22PM

    thanks for sharing and bring back memories of camping, go to church camp and traveling with friends to different parts of Illinois. Lucinda

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DEBBIEDAY 3/23/2012 2:44PM

    emoticon Awesome memories!!!

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    Such sweet memories! Thank you for sharing such a special time in your life...and I hope this trip coming up will give you some new special memories that years from now you will again remember with joy!
emoticon emoticon

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LYNNE_08 3/7/2012 8:26AM

    Love this

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GOLFGMA 3/6/2012 6:49PM

    I smile with you Cindy. It made me think of times I shared with my family as a child. We didn't have a lot of money and the fun things we did as a family were picnics along the Blue Ridge Parkway and then we would stop at some of the country stores where people would gather and listen to bluegrass music, dance a little and spin yarns. We spent lots of time in the water in the summertime but the water wasn't a clean swimming pool but a river somewhere close to home. Oh my, I have to stop or I will be writing a blog in message space. Thanks for the blog. I loved it! emoticon

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LIBBYG7 3/6/2012 5:10PM

    This is the BEST kind of chain reaction!!

Once in a while, something will spark a memory in me.....and, like you did.....I'll create a jigsaw puzzle of memories all around that one.

Thanks for brightening my day.

hugs, emoticon

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    Good memories are fun aren't they? We may buy new cars and new clothes, tangible things, but taking a good trip makes great memories that we never forget and that is way more valuable than any of those tangible things!

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DOODIE59 3/6/2012 1:04PM

    Your memories of travelling with family remind me of many wonderful times, not just with my parents and siblings, but with my husband and our children too. My children are quite spread out in age, but all three will talk at length about family vacations and what wonderful memories they have. There is no doubt in my mind that all three will travel with their children and make future memories. My current dream is that when I am fortunate enough to have grandchildren, they will all meet at our cottage in the Maritimes for extended vacations. One can dream, right?:)

Thank you so much for sharing -- Here's to family, adventure and friends.

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QUEEN_REINA 3/6/2012 12:19PM

    Isn't it AMAZING when this happens?! Thanks for sharing.

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