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"Happy Hour on the Deck", Imagination and the power of community

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One of biggest perks, to me, of being retired is that I get to start each day with the time to truely allow myself to awaken to the world around me. I get up early each morning, but not to the demanding command of an alarm clock. I turn on the coffee pot prepared the night before. Stretch while I await for the much anticipated brew and then, on most mornings head to the hot tub where I meditate, do my own version of yoga adapted to the restrictions of the hot tub and watch the world slowly awaken. In addition, most mornings I read from selections of my large library of "inspirational books". Books that are about living life: The Bible, the writings of Tao Te Ching, books of daily devotions, books by thinkers like Wayne Dyer, and books that revolve around a very eccletic collection of philosophies. Most mornings I read short selections from several randomly picked selections and I'm surprised by how often they will all guide my thinking down the same path. Today was one of those days.
None of these thoughts were new, but combined they allowed the sunrise in my mind accompany the sunrise outside my window.

To start with, a quote from "Your Best Life Now": "It's a simple truth that you cannot give birth to something you have not first conceived. You must conceive it on the inside through your eyes of faith before it will come to pass on the outside. Your vision, what you see, has a tremendous impact in your life. We need to quit allowing our imaginations to keep us beaten down to where we don't think we can do anything. Instead, let's start allowing God to use our imaginations to build us up, to help us accomplish our dreams. In other words, keep things in front of you that you want to see come to pass."

Your imagination is like a canvas. You can paint on it any kind of picture you choose through your thoughts, attitudes, and what you decide to focus on. ....Don't let "impossible" or "can't be done" thoughts blur the colors on your canvas.

Second find for this morning taken from "Until Today": " Your experiences in life are food for your soul. They make up the meat and potatoes of your character. Some experiences are quite tasty and good. Others would lead you to believe you are starving! If you insist you should have been served steak when you've been served chicken, you could miss the fact that it was served on fine china."

A third inspiration that fit in with my morning was centered around how important it is to share the things that you discover in your life with those you love. "As we share our discoveries with other people, we can grow together."

Many of you who will read this blog are regular visitors to a thread on Outdoor People called "Happy Hour on the Deck". Here we've created our own ideal imaginary world - a place where we can safely sit back and relax in a very friendly atmosphere. It's a place where we do "share our discoveries with other people" and we do grow together. We take each other along on the adventures that each of us is having: a hike down a Zion trail, or a run on an early moonlit road in Canada, or the ride up snow covered mountain road or the simple observation of the flash of a shooting star. Here we allow ourselves to live in our imaginations; taking "magic carpet rides" to wherever we want to go! We find ourselves actually excited by the experiences that we're having with our Outdoor friends. But just as importantly, here we find hope. We share our accomplishments which prove to the others just what can be done. We see that you really can lose large amounts of weight and can lead an exciting life climbing rock walls, hiking miles each day or riding a bike to work. We learn that even those that live in the biggest cities can still find the things in nature to produce a feeling of wonder. We also learn that even some of the largest obstacles in life (cancer, death of family members, etc.) are things that we can deal with and move on living the most enriched life that we can live. Maybe most important of all, there's always someone there to hold our hand and provide the support that we all need at times. Keeping all this mind, it's easy to understand how it's possible that we saw us pass the 13,000 posts on this thread this past week.

I thank each of my friends out there for providing me with visions of what's possible and for helping me paint the picture on my canvas.

Life is good!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAYOTIC 4/21/2011 10:49PM

    Your words always touch a place in my heart....thanks for building such a wonderful virtual world, and allowing us all to see those stars, and build worlds of our own!

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OUTDOORSDC 4/20/2011 10:13PM

    The most meaningful thing that has happened to me on Spark is having you stop by my page, read my blog, and tell me that you know of a place that would probably be good for me: The deck. Thanks for being the architect, the carpenter, the friend. You've built a wonderful place.

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RUNNINGWILD 4/19/2011 11:30PM

    When I finally retire, you're going to have to come help me design my deckspace. :) Pencil me in for July 2016, k?

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KELPIE57 4/19/2011 3:32PM

    And thank you wood, for bringing so much colour to us!

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BOBBYD31 4/19/2011 3:02PM

    wood, awesome blog and i love the way you start your day, i am so jealous i want to move in with you! someday i may have to drop by and visit you on the deck my freind!

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BRENDALEEFREE 4/19/2011 12:09PM

    Awesome reflection wood, keeps me focused!

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MAUIMA 4/19/2011 11:19AM

    Wood special post and week indeed.
13,000...well golly gosh, that's a lot.

Well done my friend. Your words speak to me as well. Yes, our Deck is a very real-imaginary place. Our minds are powerful tools.
Like where you said, "you could miss the fact that it was served on fine china.", and I would add, and you might miss how great the chicken was.
Vision, conception of ideas and sharing dreams ...critical steps to Hope.
Hope ...powerful stuff.
And when we have magic carpets, that can take us anywhere, firepits and hots tubs for storytelling, breakfast and Tapas Bars for endless nourishment...
Life is Mighty Fine.
Thank you my friend for being in my life.
Extra hugs today!

emoticon emoticon

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CAITLINATOR 4/19/2011 10:58AM

    Well said, and just like the deck, I felt like you were taking me along on your journey this morning. It's nice to be able to open your eyes and truly see. It's not always so easy to do.

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SNOWSNAKE 4/19/2011 10:40AM

    Dear Wood, thank you so much for having an inspirational morning that you shared with all of us! I loved the "meat and potatoes" comparison of our experiences in life. Today I am starting out my day in a different light, in the reflection of a personal bouquet of thoughts from you, thank you for this bouquet....with it I am empowered to ward off those "impossible thoughts"- no blurred canvas going on here! I suspect this mornings hike, altho foggy outside yet- will be clear, bright, and full of wonder. I think I may start heating up the hottub in the mornings and trying some yoga poses to see what I can "see" in the true colors on my canvas. Thank you for the rainbow and the glasses to clearly view it better!! XOXOXO ***SNOW*** emoticonsending you sunny thoughts

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BANJO_13 4/19/2011 10:09AM

    Wood, even though I've only been a member of the team for less than a week, I am already feeling excited and hopeful again. You are right on about that. I haven't been able to have any adventures for a while for various reasons but sitting on The Deck stirs my imagination and makes me feel like anything is possible.

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KITS4CHANGE 4/19/2011 9:07AM

    Amazing....as always!

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CASSIOEPIA 4/19/2011 8:57AM

    A rare second blog in the same year Wood, and another keeper. I am giving the reply at Graduation, to the toast to the parents. As I read this blog, it kept popping into my mind as things that I want to share with the graduating class. I will likely refer back to this one several times as I try to put something together for them.

I love how you express yourself, especially this line:

"None of these thoughts were new, but combined they allowed the sunrise in my mind accompany the sunrise outside my window."

I'm going to take that with me this morning.

Thanks for all the great times on the deck. And I'm looking forward to many more! emoticon

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...and in a moment, Life has been changed forever!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It has certainly become a cliche "to live today, because you know not what tomorrow brings" or some version of the same message, but I wonder, if we don't hear that same thing so often that we no longer really pay attention to it. Then something catastrophic happens that for a brief moment makes everyone a little more aware of the fragility of our lives: 3-mile island, 9-11, the earthquake in Haiti, a tornado rips through a small midwestern town, a school shooting, 7 children die in a rural Pennsylvania house fire, a member of my Outdoor People team is hit head on by a drunk driver, instantly taking away her love of hiking and outdoor physical activity, a sudden realization that a friend has a fatal disease, and of course now today, the devastating quake and tsunami in Japan!

Suddenly we are awakened to the reality of how little control we have and how suddenly things change. For a moment or two, we vow that we're going to count our blessings and take advantage of every moment that we have been given here on earth. ....and then.....we fall back into our sleepy ways and return to our sluggish thinking and our tendency to procrastinate. After all, these things happen to other people, not to us. How quickly we forget.

But things don't just happen to other people. The reality of our existence is that tomorrow the somebody else could be us! There are no predictors of all the possible ways that life can suddenly be ripped away. No guarantees that tomorrow the sun will shine on our lives. What we have is the present and if the present is good, then celebrate it! Hug those you love! Do the things that bring you pleasure! Find the adventure that you know is out there! Take care of your body and your relationships! Get out there and do it and do it NOW!

Those of you who know me, know my mantra "Life is good". And if, for you, in this moment, "Life is good" then celebrate it, revel in it, make the most of it and give thanks to whatever power you believe in for giving you the opportunity to make the most of the present moment.

Life is good!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BURGHGIRL 3/13/2011 11:38AM

    Absolutely amazing. What a powerful blog. Thank you so much for writing this. Life is Good.

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MARIE625 3/13/2011 9:05AM

    Excellent blog. And even though I have the Life is Good bumper sticker, I seem to forget on a daily basis. Thanks for the reminder.

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KITS4CHANGE 3/12/2011 8:44PM

    I second what Cass said. When I heard you had blogged I made a bee-line over here! Once a year is definitely not enough! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

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ACTIVE_AT_60 3/12/2011 8:22PM

    What a powerful blog. Thanks for putting what is on a lot of people's mind. Well said.

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MIAMIA7 3/12/2011 7:44PM

    Thanks for a great blog Wood! I always feel like I live every day to the fullest because of my health issues, but some days I fall into the old pattern and forget. Thanks for making me "step back" and realize how lucky I am no matter what health issues my body throws at me! I am lucky and I know it! Lucky to have a great husband who shared my journey and continues to share it and lucky to have friends like you to remind me just how good life is! Hugs!

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BOBBYD31 3/12/2011 6:45PM

    thanks for writing this wood. we do forget and just go thru life but today i remember and appreciate the fact that my friend made me remember! yes, "life is good"

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KELPIE57 3/12/2011 11:23AM

    Yes, life is very good, and we should keep that in mind when things appear to be bad...

Remember the Egyptians who carried a mummy through their feasts, to remind them that in the midst of life, there was death.....

So let's see out glasses as half full, and let's raise them to life itself, as it is very good.

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MAUIMA 3/12/2011 11:16AM


Thank you indeed.
Yesterday's events are such a reminder to us all.

I found it a truly humbling reminder of our vulnerability, as humans in the end, we only have each other and our faith...

I am grateful for my friends here on the deck.

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CASSIOEPIA 3/12/2011 10:59AM

    I do believe you should write more blogs. Your insight and wisdoms are valuable for me to read. Life is precious, and we are vulnerable. We don't know how much time is left, or even what type of quality of life we will have during that time. We just need to see as many 'Birds of Paradises' that we can with the time we are given.

Thank you for being a part of my journey, and for sharing your mantra with me (and many other lucky people). I have incorporated it into my life, and am ever so grateful every time I hear this words being played in my head.

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KAYOTIC 3/12/2011 9:39AM

    "life is good" and makes me feel at once powerful and fragile....

Powerful that I can create my destiny, forge my path and fragile that it could all, in a fateful instant be gone....so I agree, live life now, it may be all we get, and enjoy it as much as possible.

Thanks for the ever thoughtful blogging, Wood, I always look forward to your ponderings...

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Being different is what makes a difference

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Yesterday, LUV and I were on our way to step aerobics but hadn't even gotten more than several hundred yards from our house when something in the woods caught my eye. I had only glimpsed it with my peripheral vision and it didn't register in my mind as to what I had actually seen; only that it stuck out because something was different. So I braked to a stop, put my car in reverse and backed up to the origin of my distraction. It turned out to be a couple of wild turkeys. Turkeys here are by no means unusual and though I enjoy encountering them that wasn't what really drew my attention. What lured me back to them was the fact that one of them was an albino! I have seen several examples of albinos in nature in the past but never before a wild turkey. Unfortunately they didn't appreciate our ogling them and quickly exited down over the knoll where we could no longer see them, but the short encounter with something so different had totally made our day. Turkeys are cool, but encountering an albino turkey is something that awakens the child in me that can be still be awed by the things around me.

After this experience I got to thinking that it's the things in life that are different that make the biggest impression on us in our lives. When things are just in the "norm" category they barely register on our consciousness, but when they're very different they move us in a way that inspires us to act in ways that go beyond our everyday rote movements. They somehow change us.

This I think is true in all categories that we encounter. Frank Lloyd Wright's "Living Waters" attracts thousands of visitors a month and yet it's just a house. There are many canyons in the world, but few that take our breath away like the Grand Canyon. We've all experienced many teachers as we grew up, but only a few remain alive in our memories years later. There have been 100's of prophets that lived over the past couple of thousand years, but only Jesus and Buddha and Mohammad and a few others have really changed the way people approach life. Look at the spring forest. There are thousands of trees out there but it's the ones that are flowering that are drawing our eyes to them. It's the same in all categories; art, music, in our social contacts. The things or people that stand out are the ones that are very different from all those around them.

We seem to live in a society where everyone thinks they want to be like everyone else: wear the same styles, watch the same shows, read the same books, go to the same places, do the same things. I suggest though that if you want to stand out, that you've got to break this mold and be different. Be someone who stands out in a crowd. Be someone who is not afraid to be one of a kind. Be someone who makes a difference. Be someone that people will remember. Be someone who experiences a really full life. I guess I'm saying, "be that albino turkey". lol

Life is good!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAITLINATOR 4/19/2011 11:11AM

    And yet, if you look carefully, what registers initially as "sameness" also often has its glimmers of the unique. I've learned over time that being drawn into the glamour of the stand-outs sometimes means you're missing out on the smaller things that are often times more special. Sameness is often just a disguise, and I find that being allowed to peel back that disguise, rather than glossing over it in search of the different or sublime, is what makes life interesting and fun. In a way, that's sort of what you discovered, too - an ordinary group of turkeys with one special thing that you would have missed if you hadn't taken a closer look. It's like your latest post - living life with your eyes open, you get to enjoy so many more of life's pleasures. And yet is not so easy to do.

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PEASANDLOVE 4/12/2010 3:04PM

    I guess it would be totally inappropriate for me to say, "me, too!" Heh heh heh. But seriously, this is great stuff.

When I moved to Tulsa I had a hard time acclimating - it took, oh, 2 years - everyone and everything just seemed the same. All the girls are blonde, everyone drives a big SUV, they all go to the same church and root for the same football team... etc. I realize now that I was a wee bit judgemental, but that's neither here nor there.

It wasn't until I found some other albino turkeys to hang out with, that it became a place I could really enjoy living.

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KAYOTIC 4/8/2010 10:30PM

    Thank you, thank you, Wood! So happy you shared those thought, I'll remember this one for quite some time (at least until your next blog post!)

And thanks for being an albino turkey! Never thought I'd call someone a turkey and mean it as a compliment!

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RUNNINGWILD 4/8/2010 9:52PM

    And I thought my eagle sighting (on Sunday) was cool. Thanks for sharing your story.

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CASSIOEPIA 4/8/2010 8:25PM

    So glad you took the time in your day to backtrack and see what the source of your distraction was. It made for a very enjoyable part of your day.

Today, I saw a pair of Killdeer. On Monday, a Robin. Signs of spring really starting to show up now, and I'm loving it.

I like to think of you as being one of those 'teachers' who live on in the minds of their students.

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BOBBYD31 4/8/2010 1:46PM

    wood thanks for sharing your experience, i would have loved to see them also. you are so right, sometimes you have to be the odd ball or go out of your comfort zone to experience life. i hope over the years i have made a difference to somebody and they will remember me for what i did.

i plan on doing a tri this summer to take me out of my comfort zone. biking and swimming will be new to me. i am doing hiking and trail running, again trying to experience what life has to offer.

hope you and LUV are doing well, if you get a chance stop to say hi to your old friends at the RR's

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MAUIMA 4/8/2010 11:54AM

    Wood- I sure hope there is part albino turkey in me...
Loved this blog.
I think this is the thread that has woven the fabric of our deck.

Those who have stayed 'are' different , independent thinkers, standing tall embracing their won vision of this incredible world.
But I think Kits said it well...more please.

Love you took the time to share.

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KITS4CHANGE 4/8/2010 11:36AM

    Wood - you really need to write more than twice a year! You are depriving us of your great insights!!!

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KELPIE57 4/8/2010 9:34AM

    I couldn't agree more! Our family motto is “Gang wir ain Gait” which is mediaval Scots for we'll do it our own way! Another family quote was "Some people follow fashion, others make it" I'll happily be an albino turkey! emoticon

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CHOCLAHOLIC 4/8/2010 8:50AM

    Wood... Great blog, and very inspiring thoughts... I once saw a piebald deer in the woods near my home... not a true albino, but as you said it was a special sight that I will always remember ... let's hear it for the things that are different, the sights, sounds, experiences and people that stand out in our lives.... let's all try to be "turkeys" in this sense of the word....

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.... thanks for being our team leader (and turkey! )

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Crop Walk

Saturday, October 10, 2009

LUV (dw) and I will be walking in the annual "Crop Walk" for world hunger tomorrow. This one's special because it's the 40th anniversarry of the walk and it was started largely through the efforts of a good friends of ours.
If you'd like to sponser us please copy and paste the following URL onto your web browser address bar and hit the "sponser this walker button". Thanks to anyone who supports us on this effort.
Life is good!

Link: http://www.churchworldservice.org/site/T

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Unfortunately I can't sponsor you, but I hope it goes well & that the whole thing does very well. :)

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KAYOTIC 10/10/2009 12:38PM

    Have a great walk!

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RACING4ME 10/10/2009 11:59AM

    Enjoy your walk Wood! I hope everything is going well for you and LUV - drop me a message, and we will chat:)


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A new adventure in PA

Thursday, October 01, 2009

You know it's funny how we think we have to vacation somewhere far away from home in order to make it special. We live in PA, but normally when we travel we head hundreds of miles away to such places as Virginia, North Carolina, Maine, or for that matter almost anywhere in North America, but we don't do "special trips" within our own state. Now understand that LUV and I have done a lot of overnight stuff around PA and of hiked hundreds of miles of trails here, but they're our get away for 2-3 day trips.

This week we were supposed to head down to the Outer Banks in NC for a week of walking the beaches, surf fishing and just watching the ocean rolling in from the deck of a beachfront rental. We love the Outer Banks but they're a 9 hour ride from here and I just wasn't sure my back and legs were recovered from surgery well enough to cope with the ride. So instead we decided to settle on a 3 hour ride to the Laurel Highlands in Western PA. Most of our PA camping has been in the Central and Eastern parts of Pa and we somehow never did the Western part of the state. What a great surprise! The Laurel Highlands are as beautiful as the mountain regions of New England or Virginia and it's not that far away!

We stayed in the area of Ohiopyle State Park where there really is something for everyone who loves outdoor activity! The Youghiogheny River is a white water enthusiast's dream with challenging rapids for every experience level. For the biker, there's scores of trails from rocky singletracks to a fantastic rail trail that follows the river's edge. Hiking trails are everywhere - many leading to waterfalls or to quiet mountain streams. There's one stream that has made a huge natural water slide that shoots down into deep cold pools. Oh yeah, did I tell you that the roads are all scenic highways in their own rights.

Now, as luck would have it, it rained everyday but the last for LUV and I, but that didn't stop us from doing miles upon miles of great hiking. One hike had a little bit of everything - mountain streams racing downhill to feed the magnificent river; a beautiful waterfall that we got to enjoy all by ourselves, a quiet, but steep stretch through an old growth forest where some of the mighty giant oaks had fallen over the trail to provide arches to walk under and mountain laurel everywhere.

Another memerable part of the week was a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece - Falling Water. Falling Water is a house that Wright designed that was built right over a waterfall. It's truely an amazing place and I highly recommend it for everyone, not just Outdoor People.

We didn't do any biking this week because of the pouring down rain that we experienced most of our visit, but I think that just may happen sometime over the next 2 weeks. Yep, we're going back when the leaves are at their best and we're going to experience some more of what this treasure in PA has to offer.

Life is good!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

D_CLEM 10/2/2009 11:43AM

    I'm glad you enjoyed your time in the Laurel Highlands! I'm so glad that I live close to the area and love to hear when other folks enjoy it too. I think we're planning a trip down there for a bike ride in a few weeks for my daughter's BD.

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RACING4ME 10/1/2009 10:39PM

    Nice vacation buddy!! I'm so happy you are back doing what you enjoy the most!! BIG hugs to LUV for me, and you better give yourself a big wet one:) C'mon, I mean smooch from me!

I'll message you over the weekend!


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KAYOTIC 10/1/2009 10:14PM

    That sounds like a great vacation, even with the rain! I like those close to home adventure vacations myself. I think you are spot on with the comment about people thinking a vacation has to be far away, sometimes you find those hidden treasures just by exploring your local environment!

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BOBBYD31 10/1/2009 9:50PM

what a great place that is, you were in my back yard about 90 minutes away. it sounds like you and luv had a wonderful time even with the rain. hope you back is feeling better soon and you can make a trek to OBX (i have spent many weeks and months there over the years, i actually want my ashes spread along the shore)
anyhow if you ever head out this way again we would love to meet for lunch or dinner

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JOPAPGH 10/1/2009 8:50PM

    Laurel Highlands is just over an hour from us here in Pittsburgh. It is a beautiful place.

For a touch of luxury, check out the Bedford Springs Resort. It is just off the Turnpike in Bedford. W and I went there for our 23rd anniversary.

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COOPSM 10/1/2009 8:14PM

    Wes---boy do I miss you and your posts!!! Glad that you and LUV enjoyed!!!
Thanks for sharing.....Beth

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CASSIOEPIA 10/1/2009 7:57PM

    What a great way to experience the fall colors my friend. So glad you got out and enjoyed them. It sounds beautiful there.

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