Yes, there are two Americas!

Protest

(Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

“What the mob did to our Senate Chamber today was an utter disgrace”.

(US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien)

Really tried not to write about what happened in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 but the more I viewed the chaos and mayhem on Capitol Hill I knew the Walk into the Future blog had to say something—could not stay silent. 

The entire episode can be summarized:  I told you!

America #1

Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020 were met with uneven police and National Guard force.  Peaceful protestors who were mostly black and brown were physically moved, restrained, beaten, and arrested while in the streets of America.  The protests were focused on the many injustices committed against black and brown Americans.  The nation finally rose to say this kind of treatment of our people must stop.

Counter protesters did not understand or want to understand what the BLM movement wanted to accomplish.  We had a sitting US President identify peaceful marchers as:  thugs, criminals, people who did not love this country and agitators. 

America was built as told in our history books on people standing up and voicing their opinions on how to improve this country.  It seems every time black people want to march for rights, freedom, and equality we are labeled as less than.  Why is that?  America is America so we are told but it continues to be one sided and it appears my people are always on the wrong side of the issue, police club, police bullet, police beating, police knee on the neck, neighborhood watch with guns in a pickup truck, etc.  I could go on but believe the American picture has been painted by now.

Let us take a quick trip all the WAY back to June 2020—does not seem to be too far to travel, huh?

The former President of the United States tweeted:  Anarchists, Agitators or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland, or any Federal Buildings in any of our Cities or States, will be prosecuted under our recently re-enacted Statues & Monuments Act.  MINIMUM TEN YEARS IN PRISON.  Don’t do it! @DHSgov.

So, when BLM protestors wanted to march for rights and against injustice they were tweeted at by the former President and threaten with prison time for something they had not and did not do.  Interesting concept, huh.  I highlighted the word ‘any’ from Trump’s tweets to show the level of hypocrisy we continue to put up with in this country.  It is beyond sad to live with the double standards America throws at us daily. 

“What happened today in Washington, DC is definitely not American”.

(French President Emmanuel Macron)

America #2

I could sum up America #2 with the word privilege.  I could also link video here of the former President of the United States and his family commanding so called patriots to march to Capitol Hill and demand the legal vote be overturned.  We should go ahead and call these people what they truly are:  insurrectionists. This was an insurrection—no other way to view what happened.

The US has a Constitution and the duly elected officials at the Capitol were following the words written in the Constitution on certifying the results from the Presidential election.  Not surprising Trump, his family and friends did not understand they could not just wish for a different election result and make the Constitutional process go away.

The privileged mob left their ignorant leader and marched down to the Capitol to demand law makers stop doing their duties.  I am sure a lot of these privileged fools thought they were doing the right thing and believed they could stop Congress from doing their jobs.  This mob mentality may also be an indictment on the American educational system.  History classes discuss the basics of the Constitution, but all Americans should know the checks and balances of the governmental process on elections.

It appears privileged people do not want to hear reason or logic.  They would rather feaster in conspiracy theories and then claim someone is taking their country away.  They must take it back!

Fast forward and the privileged Americans decided to storm the Capitol to demand the legal election be overturned so they can keep their President!  Let me repeat that, Americans stormed the US Capitol.  They fought, assaulted, and terrorized Capitol police who were severely outmanned by the privileged crowd of Trump supporters.  This mob then entered the chambers of Congress looking for elected officials to include the Vice President because they were upset with the election results, someone took their country and they wanted to keep their President.

CNN articles on the insurrection

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/13/politics/notable-arrests-capitol/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/17/us/capitol-riot-racial-justice-blake/index.html

So, why do I keep using the word privileged?  Great question! 

These people stormed Capitol Hill, beat up police, hunted for elected officials and did not feel the need to hide their identities!  They ransacked the halls of Congress and took selfies, videos and some conducted interviews and did not fear people recognizing them.  No masks, disguises, hoodies, or anything to hide their identities.  Some stated the Capitol belonged to them and it was their right to be there—amazing things happen in America #2 for the privileged folks who live there!  They were not beaten, pepper sprayed, physically removed, arrested on the spot, flash banged, and no helicopters used for crowd control.  We saw all these tactics with BLM peaceful protesters. 

I presented a court argument in a post on August 27, 2020:

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2020/08/27/black-lives-matter-role-call/

A black man in Georgia (Ahmaud Arbery) cannot go for a run without being attacked and killed but a privileged mob can walk in and out of the Capitol?

A black man in Minneapolis (George Floyd) can have a cop’s knee on his neck for 9 minutes and 46 seconds but a privileged mob can hunt for elected officials in the Capitol and then go home?

A black woman in Louisville (Breonna Taylor) can be shot in her bed by cops with a no-knock warrant but Capitol police removed barricades to make the privileged mob’s path easier to get to elected officials?

I could go on with my 2021 trial, but the verdict remains the same:  guilty, guilty, and guilty!

One of my favorite scenes from the 1996 movie, A Time to Kill happens when Matthew McConaughey’s character conducts his closing argument to defend his client charged with murder.  In this scene he asks the jury to close their eyes and then he goes over why his client was charged with murder.

So, let us try a little experiment.  Close your eyes and imagine a mob being riled up and told repeatedly they were being lied to, things were being taken from them and they should march to the halls of Congress and take back what belongs to them.  Imagine this mob rushes the US Capitol, assaults police officers, hunts for elected officials and destroys federal property. 

Now, imagine this mob was black!  How many black and brown people would have died on January 6, 2021 if we did the exact same thing?

Now you officially know what privilege looks like!  Class dismissed!

“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation”.

(Former US President Barack Obama)


Congratulations to President Biden!

Walking into 2021!

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“Celebrate endings—for they proceed new beginnings”.

(Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Happy New Year from the Walk into the Future blog!

Grateful to continue to write blog articles to express my thoughts and document life adventures.  This blog started as a way for me to share with my friends and has evolved into a space for me to highlight a bit of creativity.  This blog also provides a place to advocate for social change in the world—did not have this in mind when I launched the blog but there is no turning back now.  My walk continues to expand so I am excited to see what new angles I can tackle in 2021.

2021 promises to bring new opportunities for us all.  2020 was a monster on multiple levels but there were opportunities for growth as well.

Happy to report I was able to meet all my 2020 goals except the number of half marathons I ran.  Of course, COVID-19 was the reason the race season did not happen, so I am not upset I did not meet this goal.

I am in the process of generating my 2021 goals and look forward to working towards them daily. 

My reading program increased in 2020 and I enjoyed exploring new topics and authors.  I see this as an area I can expand in 2021.  I fancy myself as a lifelong learner and reading keeps me engaged in learning new things and hopefully sharing these things with my tree branches.  Please note, I am always open to your suggestions for books so send me a few—thanks!

The Rock N Roll marathon series has 6 races projected for in-person competition in 2021.  My favorite race, the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon is scheduled for April 25, 2021.  My 2020 registration automatically rolled over so I can run in the race this year if I would like.  I am not committed to running this or any race at this point especially if it means I must get on a plane to get to the race city.  Will wait and see how the vaccination process impacts the spread of COVID-19 before deciding on this race.  Would hate to miss Nashville two years in a row but this is the world we live in. The Savannah race is scheduled for November 7, 2021 and this may be a better option—we will see.

I will look at some smaller, local races to get my competitive fix.  I am sure Track Shack in Orlando will have some races I want to run—the OUC half may be on my race calendar again this year based on location and safety measures.

I began the process of creating an Authentic Leadership eBook in 2020.  Will look to put the finishing touches on this project in 2021.  Wanted to share a few leadership principles in a different format to see if others would be interested in this project.  It has been fun working on a new outlet for my thoughts and plan to expand the authentic leadership platform in 2021.

My leadership consulting is another area I want to expand in 2021.  My work in 2019 had me positioned for a huge consulting year in 2020 but we all know the impact of COVID-19 on all industries.  Will look to create an outreach program to reengage with organizations I have worked with in the past and generate new leads.  Virtual programming and meetings became common in 2020 and see this continuing in 2021.  This can lead to new ways to reach organizations and provide a consulting rebirth for me and others.  Fingers crossed!

I am sure there will be other goals to add to my list, but these are a few I will work towards in 2021.

What goals do you have for the new year?  How successful were you meeting your 2020 goals?  Thanks!

“Every moment is a fresh beginning”.

(T.S. Elliot)

2020 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon

OUC1

“I plan on having such an epic run, Morgan Freeman should narrate it”.

(Runner’s World)

Running and racing has become such a large part of my lifestyle that I felt a definitive loss in 2020.

I will not harp on the COVID-19 impact on our daily lives.  There are more important things in this world than me traveling around the country and chasing people in my attempt to gain a personal record (PR) in the half marathon.  Everyone who reads the Walk into the Future blog or listens to me long enough know I love my PR attempts. 

My 2019 progress set the stage for me to run even faster in 2020 while tackling more races and new locations.  I targeted 7 half marathons to complete in 2020 with an incremental decrease in my PR time for each race I ran.  My goal continues to be to run the half marathon distance under 2 hours.  I will need to bring out the Benjamin Button affect again at some point to reach this goal. 

Luckily, I was able to complete the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon in early February before we knew the future impact of COVID-19 on the country.  I left New Orleans with a goal to train harder and get ready for the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for April—Nashville is my favorite race and city.  Missed seeing the sights in Nashville and line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon.  Maybe in 2021!

Races 2 (Nashville) through 7 (San Antonio) were all canceled/postponed/terminated due to COVID-19.  Most of my running friends wanted to race but we knew eliminating the races was the right thing to do.  I still trained but not with as much intensity because I did not have a finish line to run across.  I wrote earlier about the virtual race process but never felt the same excitement racing against myself.  Could not make myself run fast without someone else around for me to compete against.

Fast forward a bit and my favorite running club, Track Shack in Orlando identified they received Orange county and City of Orlando clearance to stage the 2020 OUC Half Marathon in December with new safety measures.  I did not immediately sign-up but got excited when I discovered a real race was possible again.  I did a lot of research on the Track Shack race safety measures to make sure I would not be at risk during the event. 

The entire race experience was adjusted by the Track Shack staff to keep all runners physical distanced before and after the race.  We were required to wear masks prior to starting the race and immediately after crossing the finish line.  We did not have to run with the masks on but had to have them for the finish line.  Runners were lined up in corrals based on estimated finish times, but we had to stand on assigned markers on the ground before we could start the race.  Felt a bit weird but everything was done to protect the runners.

I registered for the OUC half marathon on October 15, 2020 with a race date of December 5, 2020.  This timeframe gave me less than a two-month physical and mental preparation window for the 13.1-mile journey in front of me.  Decided at this point to just enjoy the training runs and eliminate the thought processing of chasing a PR.  This concept provided me with a free mind and gave me the perspective that completing the race was the most important thing.  Thing #2 was to run the race and not hurt myself! 😊

OUC3

Race day

The Orlando weather was a bit warmer than I expected but the cloud cover kept the sun away which helped a lot.  I did not queue up close to the front corrals since I knew I was not going fast this year and wanted to let the faster folks go out without me in the way.

The new safety measures allowed about 200 runners to go out at a time, so I ended up waiting about 20 minutes before I made it to the start line to begin the race.

Mask off and I was back in my world of racing!  I am sure people wondered why I was smiling so much but the joy of running was there at the beginning.  My first mile pace was 8:50—which was not too bad considering my goal was to go out nice and easy.  Felt good so I kept running at this pace for a bit to see what I had under the hood this year. 😊

A fun fact–at the 3-mile marker while running through a downtown Orlando neighborhood I passed the house of one of my old on-campus recruiters from my UCF days.  He was standing on his front lawn cheering on the runners with his daughter.  Did not know if he would recognize me in my running gear but I was able to say hello to him and invite him to recruit students at my new school.  Please note, I never broke stride but was able to successfully network with an Orlando recruiter while running a half marathon. Completed a Zoom call with him the following Monday and he is excited to recruit our students in the spring semester—small world, huh?

Miles 3 through 8 were my parade through Orlando neighborhoods.  I waved at spectators who were out on their lawns to cheer for the runners.  I stopped at a pop-up table serving shots of beer as a refresher during the race.  I thanked law enforcement officials who were there for traffic duty.  You would have thought I was a politician with the amount of smiling, waving, and speaking to people I got done during this race.

Miles 9 through 13 were not as enjoyable as the previous set of miles.  Limited training also means my lactic acid thresholds were not built up as they should have been.  This means my legs started to hurt and it only got worse the longer I went.  I have been here before, so I was able to press forward but my speed and demeanor changed quite a bit.  The smile was gone, and I did not feel like waving at folks anymore.  Had to bear down and keep moving forward towards the finish line.  Luckily for me I was not chasing records and just wanted to complete the race while enjoying the process of running again.

Crossed the finish line with a smile on my face because I was able to run and compete again.  COVID-19 has beat us up in 2020 but it could not keep me from running in one of my favorite cities.  Mission complete!

The post-race area was sparse as part of the safety measures.  No beer, doughnuts, or music to enjoy this year.  We were handed a Publix bag with water, banana, granola, and our race medal.  That was it—no fanfare, networking and hanging around to cheer other runners on.  Run, conquer, and go home was the message of the day.

No worries, we had a great day to race and fantastic people to chase around Orlando again.

Fingers crossed that racing returns in 2021—I have a few PRs to set! 😊

What are you looking forward to in 2021?  Let’s make it happen!  Irie!

“You never realize how long a minute is until you are running”.

(Pinterest)

Poetic Friday

(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

The storm

Round and round it goes

Sometimes fast, sometimes slow

There are days it feels like a merry-go-round

Others, things are more controlled

The depth changes at times like the wind

A howling force that seeks attention

Then the calm, as the eye of the storm hovers overhead

No attention seeking, just the process of moving forward

What has this level of depth and speed?

It is simple, the life you lead

Racing (again) into the future

Race Time

“Running is alone time that let’s my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days”.

(Rob Haneisen)

I entered 2020 with an aggressive goal to expand my running tourist role and travel to new locations for Rock N Roll Half marathon races.  Started the year with a goal to run seven half marathons in the series along with a few local 5k and 10k races for speed work.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and we are still trying to get a handle on what normal daily actions look like now.  FYI—I understand there are more important things in the world than me traveling America and running on city streets.

My last official race was a 5k on March 14, 2020 in Tallahassee.  We were just getting a better understanding of how bad COVID-19 was at the time, but the event organizers took extra precautions but did not cancel the race. I remember the event was small with maybe 70 runners at the start line.  We practiced physical distancing at the start line and gave everyone extra space just to be safe.  There were no face masks present because the U.S. government told us there was nothing to worry about at that time.  Now we know different, huh?

Fast forward to October 24, 2020 and I was back at a 5k starting line, but we all had on face masks.  Physical distancing and masks were mandated to participate in this event.  We could take the masks off once we began to run and had to put them back on once the race was over.  Happy to report everyone complied and I felt safe while waiting my turn to start the race.  The race organizers used a digital chip timer, so our times were synced based on our on-course performance instead of when we started.  Example:  I was the 60th runner to start but this did not impact where I placed because my time was synced directly to my performance not when I started. 

I was extremely happy to be back on a race course with other people around.  I love my training runs because I view running as my form of therapy but cannot make myself run fast without others around.  It may be a mental block or simply a lack of motivation, but I run faster when other people are around.  Think I just need to see people ahead of me to force myself to try to catch them.

I was able to slowly reel in runners during my 5k event.  I wanted to post a good time but did not want to go out too fast and die a slow death on the backend of the race. 

My first mile was a controlled 8:28 pace and I felt good with the pace.  The second mile was a bit slower at 9:35 but still controlled considering I did no speed work or 5k training prior to showing up.  Decided to maintain a level of control for the third mile and recorded 9:23 and felt comfortable at this pace.  Finished with a little kick to see if I had anything left in the tank—crossed the finish line at 28:38 which is a minute slower than my race in March.  To put that in context I was in full half marathon training mode in March so to run this fast without proper training is a good sign for me.  May not be a good sign for my friends who run since we all know I can go faster.  No pressure! 😊

I am happy with my performance and the ability to maintain my speed throughout the race.  I went ahead and signed up for the OUC Half Marathon in Orlando on December 5, 2020.  My original goal was to run in San Antonio in December, but COVID-19 has made an adjustment to my race schedule.  The OUC race will have a staggered start and require face masks before and after the race.  I feel comfortable with this process since I just completed a 5k with the same parameters.  Looks like this is the new normal if we are going to see races again.  It was not hard to practice physical distancing prior to racing so I will look for additional races to get my competitive fix again.  Look forward to running in downtown Orlando again in December.  Hope to catch up with friends while in town and enjoy being back in a great city.

So, I am racing again and enjoying every moment!  Will not take racing for granted in this COVID-19 world.

What have you been able to do again safely in this COVID-19 world?  What are you looking forward to? 

Thanks!

Total miles in 2020:  982.77! 😊

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they have a second”.

(William James)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

(Image by Satheesh Sankaran from Pixabay)

2020 has been a tough year for us all!

The good folks from the Walk into the Future blog wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021 New Year!

The challenges we endured in 2020 will lead to a stronger mentality as we get ready to have a FANTASTIC 2021!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”.

(Proverbs 27:17)

I hope the Walk into the Future blog has sharpened you in 2020.  Looking forward to another great year enjoying life to the fullest and sharing my experiences, thoughts, and adventures with you in 2021!

Thanks for walking with me!  Irie!

Merry Christmas!

Calvin

Poetic Fridays

Step by Step

Steps in this journey

Mark the places I have been

Each one leads to the next goal

And brings into focus the dreams that I dream

Without these steps that I take

The reality of life will have to wait

Why put off what needs to be done

Take the next step in the journey

The life you want has only just begun

Walking and enjoying Mulligans Beach House (Vero Beach)

Mulligans

“An ocean breeze puts the mind at ease”.

(Anonymous)

My Walk into the Future allows me to continue to seek out new adventures and venues.  The COVID-19 pandemic has rightfully slowed down unnecessary travel and interactions, but the beach still has wide open spaces to explore. 

My relocation to the Treasure Coast provides access to some great beaches with amazing views to take in.  Several of my work colleagues provide me with places where the locals hang out and guided me towards Mulligan’s Beach House in Vero Beach. The biggest reason they wanted me to visit Mulligan’s is because it has a huge outdoor seating area that sits right on the world-famous Vero Beach.  I have visited Vero Beach (city) multiple times for the outlet mall and other retail shopping but have not been on the beach side of the city in years.

Turns out I visited Mulligan’s Beach House back in August 2014 prior to relocating from Oviedo, Florida to Tallahassee, Florida for my job at Florida State University.  Always heard how beautiful Vero Beach was so took a road trip back in 2014 to get a feel for the area and take in the beach scene.  Mulligan’s was close to the hotel I booked back in the day, so it was an easy choice for some great food.

Fast forward to 2020 and I immediately recognized I had been there before as soon as I hit the parking lot.  Seeing the familiar outside seating area and extra-large deck chair put a smile on my face.  I instantly reflected to my 2014 visit and the great memories made during my visit back in the day.  Also highlights the concept of small world because my original visit was made because I never thought I would make it back down to visit Vero Beach.  Now I live 20 minutes from the famous beach and local attractions on the board walk.

My most recent trip to Mulligan’s Beach House was made on a Sunday afternoon.  Figured this would be a good day and timeframe to visit to avoid the potential of large crowds.  The overcast weather also contributed to a smaller crowd when I got there.  The outside seating areas provided a great place to sit on the beach, people watch and listen to some good music.  I was able to find a nice corner spot and continue to physical distance.  Did not have a taste for anything specific but wanted to explore the menu a bit.  I am not an adventurous eater so settled on chicken wings and draft beer—which was two for one during happy hour.  The wings were surprisingly good and went great with the atmosphere of Mulligan’s.  A nice, chill place where the locals eat.

Mulligan’s has indoor seating at the bar and tables—some of the locals were comfortable seating inside but I do not know when/if I will be that comfortable again.  The governor just announced restaurants and bars are no longer restricted to 50% capacity so I am sure more people will be dining and drinking inside again without proper physical distancing.  Scary thought but eliminating these restrictions will expand our time trying to combat COVID-19 in the state of Florida.  Hate to see the gains we have made with COVID-19 get sidetracked as our governor tries to help political gains for the presidential election.

Mulligan’s Beach House is a fantastic place to visit if you are in Vero Beach.  My next venture in the Vero Beach area will be the Ocean Grille which is right across the parking lot.  I have heard great things about the food there and will get back soon to see what they have to offer.

Where have you always wanted to eat but have not made it yet?  How have you adjusted your dining plans in a COVID-19 world?

http://www.mulligansbeachhouse.com/vero-beach/

 “The waves of the sea help me get back to me”.

(Anonymous)

Mulligans2

Back to the Great Smoky Mountains

“Live a life of quiet inspiration.”

(William Britten)

Let us go ahead and admit it—2020 has been a tough year for us all!

COVID-19 has adjusted how and who we interact with these days.  Not a complaint but a simple fact that has become necessary in 2020.  A major adjustment for me has been the concept of travel. I got a kick out of labeling myself a running tourist, but this has been almost nonexistent in 2020.

I decided to make another trip to the Great Smoky Mountains for a quick and physical distanced getaway prior to Thanksgiving.  I enjoyed myself so much when I hiked in 2019 so wanted to come back to the mountains and find the peace and fresh air again.  Happy to report the Smoky Mountains, fresh air and peacefulness are still there—love the ability to get there and just escape for a bit.

My 2019 Smoky Mountains experience and talking with friends allowed me to do more research and plan out my hikes this year.  I just rode around and then stopped when I saw something interesting in 2019.  I felt like a seasoned hiker in 2020 and made plans for which trails I made a trek on and the order.  Felt like I had a better understanding of the hiking process this year and this allowed me to make all the hikes I planned with minimal issues.

Hiking the Smoky Mountains

The weather was fantastic again this year.  The morning temperatures started around 45 degrees and warmed up to the low 60s while I was in the mountains.  Perfect hiking weather for me—I layered up and was able to shed layers as the day got warmer.  I also carried a small backpack this year to carry my water bottles and put my extra layers in when needed.

Discussed trails in the Smoky Mountains with one of my friends who is an avid hiker.  She provided me with additional inspiration to get back out in nature and enjoy the process. 

Found the following site that describes trails by location, features, distance, and difficulty:

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/location.htm

Used this information to make my hiking experience better this year. 😊

Started my 2020 hiking adventure on the Gatlinburg Trail which has a trail head right on the edge of downtown Gatlinburg.  I hiked the Gatlinburg Trail in 2019 but it was more of a warmup type hike for me this year.  Wanted to fully explore the Gatlinburg Trail and take it from the trailhead all the way to the end which is about 2 miles. 

The end of the Gatlinburg Trail runs directly into the Sugarland Welcome Center and the Sugarland Trails.  I hiked this area in 2019 but decided to adjust my route and the distance in 2020.  There were a lot more people out on this trail and my goal was to make my way to Cataract falls and get some good pictures.  Cataract falls is a major attraction in the Sugarland Trails area, so everyone wants to stop and get pictures there—only spent a few minutes at the falls before it was time to move on down the trail.  Bumped into a couple from Wisconsin who decided to ask me for trail directions—I helped them as much as possible but explained to them I live in Florida and I am just out walking in the woods.  Guess it is a good thing they felt comfortable enough to stop and ask me for direction.  People are friendly when in the mountains. 😊

Cataract falls

Decided to head further up into the mountains to tackle my next adventure.  Research shows the Clingman Dome as the highest elevation in the Smoky mountains.  I did not feel comfortable making the trek in 2019 but put it firmly on my 2020 adventure list.  Thought of it more as a challenge and wanted to get to the highest point in the Smokies to get some great shots. 

The drive up was nice—I wanted to stop and take pictures but decided to get up the mountain and take pictures on the way down.  The cloud cover or smoke in the mountains got thicker the higher up I drove.  That is when I realize how far up the mountain I had traveled because I was in the clouds on the ascent.  Amazing experience and one I will repeat as often as possible.  There is peace in the mountains!  The area attracted a large group of visitors, but everyone was friendly and gave each other space for pictures and the trek up to the Dome.  Please note, the trek up to Clingman’s Dome is paved but the incline is extreme, and the elevation is over 6,600 feet.  This was the first time I noticed hikers taking breaks on their way up the mountain.  I soon realized the altitude and incline would impact me as well.  I did not stop moving but my pace was a lot slower than it was when I started the climb up.  I also realized I left my water bottles back in my vehicle but did not stop climbing higher.

I will report the climb up to the Clingman Dome was well worth the pain!  The views were covered in smoke (clouds) but you could still see the peaks and valleys below.  The wind whipping the clouds around sounded like the clouds were singing—amazing being so high up in the Smoky mountains.  The Clingman Dome borders right on the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines.  I crossed over into North Carolina on this portion of my hike.

I took a quick detour on my descent from the Clingman Dome and ventured onto a portion of the Appalachian Trail.  Decided it was worth the trip since I was already high up in the mountains.  I did not go far on the Appalachian Trail because this portion was very rocky, and I wanted to save my legs for my next trail adventure I had mapped out.

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm

My last trail was the Chimney Tops Trail, and it was well worth the hike.  The trail description identifies the difficulty as moderate which it may be, but this was my fourth trail of the day and my legs were screaming all the way up the trail.  I would recommend doing this trail first if you visit the Smoky mountains or do it on a separate day.  The hike up the mountain is very scenic and offers multiple opportunities to take some great pictures.  The terrain changes multiple times on the ascent but it is an exciting hike.  I had to stop and take breaks multiple times on the Chimney Tops Trail.  This was due to the fact I had been hiking multiple trails and probably should have deferred this trail for the next day after getting some rest.  Discovered a new mental toughness as I slowly made my way up to see the views I had read about. 

I almost gave up on making it to the top but a fellow hiker who was coming back down gave me a little extra inspiration to make it to the top.  He casually said to me, “You are only 4 minutes away from the top”.  I think we both knew he was lying to me to keep me going forward but surprisingly it worked because I put a smile on my face and kept going.  I made it to the top about 15 minutes after encountering my hiking friend and was extremely happy I did not give up.  The views and the feeling of accomplishment were well worth the leg pains I endured to make it up the Chimney Tops Trail.  Mind over matter came into play while making this hike and I am happy I made it to the top.  We can accomplish anything we put effort into, and the Chimney Tops Trail become my Mount Everest! Pun intended! 😊

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/chimney.htm

The descent down from Chimney Tops was just as beautiful as going up.  My legs were in better shape to walk down the mountain after I took about 30 minutes to just sit still at the top and admire the beauty of the Smoky Mountains.  I recommend you visit it if you have not been there because of the peacefulness the mountains bring.  The hikes are a great distraction and provides an opportunity to get out and get some exercise at the same time. 

Skybridge

Decided not to do the Gatlinburg Skybridge this year because the lines were too long, and people were not practicing physical distancing while standing in line.  I will try the Skybridge again on my next adventure back into the mountains.

https://www.gatlinburgskylift.com/skybridge

Moonshine tasting

Yes, I made it back to the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery to get more moonshine.  They have added a few new flavors this year and I got a chance to taste them all.  Some I liked and others were not that great—not a huge fan of the flavored moonshine (Sour Apple, etc.).  I was shocked they were out of my favorite moonshine, Blue Flame which is 128 proof.  They replaced it with a 10th Anniversary edition which is the Ole Smoky Moonshine 153.  Yes, that is 153 proof moonshine!  It has a kick to it, but I played it safe and got my tried and true White Lightning which is ONLY 100 proof. 😊 Will make the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery a regular stop each time I am back in Gatlinburg.

https://olesmoky.com/collections/moonshine

Got all of this done the weekend before Thanksgiving and still was able to enjoy time with my family as we gave thanks for 2020.  It has been a tough year but there are still things to be thankful for.

Thanks to you for reading my words and following my adventures!  Here is to a great end of the 2020 year and a better 2021—let’s make it happen!

Irie!

Poetic Friday

(Image by GieziUzziel from Pixabay)

Open your eyes 

Open your eyes

Tell me what you see

Do the dreams you dream about still look good to you?

Can you reach the heights of greatness predetermined for you?

Nothing is promised in this world

You have got to make your own way

To ensure the promises of life

Get started today

Open your eyes to the life opportunities around

Set your goals and move forward

Stop hiding behind closed eyelids

Wake up and open your eyes

To the revolving world around