Category Archives: Family

Remembering Dachau

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

There are those who would argue that the Holocaust never happened, that it’s a figment of imagination or propaganda. They would profess supposed facts and documents supporting their theories. They would try to convince you that the worst atrocity in human history never happened.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” 1984 Click To Tweet

I’m not one of those people. I can never live so blindly, nor would I want to.

As a student of history with a particular fondness for the 30s and 40s, I’ve studied WWII and am always fascinated to learn new tidbits about that time. But even my years of studying couldn’t prepare me for my visit to Dachau Concentration Camp.

It was in September of 1995 and I was very pregnant with my daughter. My husband and I were stationed in Germany and it was our first trip to the Munich Germany area. We planned a short holiday with a stop to tour the concentration camp before heading down to Neuschwanstein Castle (better known as Cinderella’s Castle).

The day was absolutely gorgeous. A perfect blue sky overhead. Not too hot nor cold. I could not have planned a more beautiful day.

And then we arrived in Dachau. I’m not sure what happened with the weather, but as we neared the site of the concentration camp, an eerie cloud fall over us like a wet blanket. There was a chill in the air and the sunny afternoon evaporated before our eyes.

I have never visited a more haunted place. Sorrow and death draped over the entrance and from the moment I stepped foot through the gates I felt a heaviness unlike anything I’ve experienced before or since. It was one of complete and utter despair.

The camp itself was smaller than I imagined. It was also much closer to town than I envisioned. In my mind, I always pictured this large complex well away from the center of everything. This place butted right up to the city. Granted things had changed in the 50 years since WWII, but the closeness of the town angered me greatly. How could anyone say they didn’t know? How could anyone deny the atrocities?

Outside the visitors center, there’s a sculpture. At first, I couldn’t make out the shapes but as I turned to a different angle, I could clearly see it was a sculpture of people caught in bobbed wire fencing. It was overpowering to say the least.

Most of the living quarters, if you can truly call the huts that, have been removed. Only a few still remain. Inside, they briefly reminded me of some of the cabins I’d stayed in during my youth group camping trips to various locations. There was a bathroom and shower in the center with two large open rooms on either side.

That’s where the similarities stopped. The cots remained in place. I remember those cots being so small. Guessing back, I’d say each one was no bigger than a standard sheet of plywood (about 4′ x 8′ if that big) which would have been uncomfortable for one person to sleep on. When Dachau was at maximum capacity, three prisoners were assigned to each cot. There were three cots to a rack of bunks.

And the room was filled with racks.

I also noted that there were only three toilets, sinks, and showers per hut. Provided all the facilities were working, it would have been virtually impossible for each prisoner to utilize the facilities every day. There were just too many people crammed into the space without adequate accommodations.

Then we visited the ovens.

As I said, we visited in September of 1995, some 50 years after the end of WWII. The smell of burned flesh was still there. There was no mistaking what had occurred in that place.

I can remember as clear as day, my husband and I were talking quietly about what we were seeing and the horrors that were honestly too awful to truly comprehend when an older gentleman who had been standing a few yards away walked over and gave us a weak smile.

He quickly learned that we were Americans and began chatting with us in broken English. I remember he looked at us and asked if we believed this happened. I thought he was missing something in translation so I asked him to repeat himself. When he again asked the same question, both my husband and I answered without a shadow of doubt that what had happened there was beyond terrible.

He kept going with his line of questioning, again in broken English.

We began to think that perhaps he was one of those doubters, one of the ones who wanted others to question the reality of the holocaust. We were ready to defend our position as only Americans can do, when we finally realized that he was a Jewish man from Israel. He was visiting Dachau because he’d lost loved ones there and he had spent many years defending history from the ignorant. He wanted to make sure that we understood the past.

He was a nice guy. Very kind and polite but passionate in his stance. We chatted with him for quite awhile that day.  As we parted ways, I remember the utter sadness in his eyes. I can only imagine the pain that visit caused him.

Ironically, the feeling of despair and hopelessness seemed to evaporate the further we ventured from the camp that day. It was as though the sorrow only hung around that place. As if the souls of long ago were crying out.

I didn’t get the opportunity to visit other concentration camps while I lived in Europe. But I’m not sure I needed to see any others. I will never forget that day not because it was a good memory but because it provided a tactile example of the extremes of evil we can inflict on one another. I had learned about those extremes in school. Visiting Dachau drove those lessons home.

For those who say the holocaust never happened, I say you’re a fool. Hide behind your ignorance if you want to, but I will never be one of your sheeple.

And for those who have endured the horrors of the holocaust, for the families affected by the darkest period of history, I pray that God has granted you peace and happiness throughout the rest of your lives. God bless you!

All the best,

Jennifer

(Jennifer B. Duffey is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. To download a free copy of her latest novel, The Face in the Mirror, click here.)

New Beginnings

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.Aristotle

Photo courtesy of Greg Gatliff, Greg Gatliff Farms

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with a gentleman. He was discussing his upcoming anniversary (24 years!) and telling me about the adventures he had at his wedding.

Apparently, it was quite the event.

It had already been a fairly long day, so I didn’t stop to do the math to find out the year of his wedding. It wasn’t until he mentioned he was married in 1993 that I paused.

I was married in 1993.

It turns out, he wed about a month after I did. Small world isn’t it?

I congratulated him on his upcoming anniversary and wished him and his family well. I truly hope that he and his wife have many, many more wonderful years together.

And yet, I couldn’t stop thinking of my past. Not of my wedding but of my divorce and the time leading up to that point. It’s been five years since my ex and I separated. Five years since my life began again.

Life can be very tumultuous at times. That was certainly a roller coaster episode for me and one that I’m in no hurry to repeat. But the thing that truly struck me was how bleak things were leading up to the final separation. I can remember wondering if I’d ever make it through that period of time. Was my life over? Would I ever be able to move on? Would I ever come out the other side of that nightmare?

Now, it’s five years later.

While I was busy trying to be a single mom with all the responsibilities that entails and start a writing career, while I was busy living life, time moved on, almost without me noticing.

Sure, my kids grew taller, my daughter graduated high school and joined the Marines, and my son is now a freshman in high school. Those milestones are how I normally measure the passage of time. I don’t normally think about my anniversaries.

Looking back, a lot has happened that I would have never dreamed about. I’ve published two novels and a collection of short stories. That’s a dream fulfilled which never would have happened if I’d stayed married. If I hadn’t begun again.

I’m also happy, truly happy with myself.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of things I want to accomplish. There are goals that I’ve set and want to see to fruition. I have many more milestones to meet.

But when I look in the mirror, I like the person I am. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m at peace with my past and I’m looking forward to my future.

That’s no easy feat to accomplish.

Maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with age. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m no longer in a relationship that tended to bring out the worst possible qualities in both of us. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve lived through hardships and understand my own ability to survive.

Maybe it’s a culmination of all of these things.

For many people, they’d like to turn back the clock to an earlier age. They’d like to erase the mistakes of the past and avoid a mountain of regrets.

I’m not one of those people. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than waking up as a teenager and having to go through all that again. Even with what I know now, I’d hate for something like that to happen.

Erasing certain decisions of my past would greatly alter where I currently am on my journey. It would change everything about who I met along the way and which relationships I fostered. Would my kids be the same people they are now? Probably not. And they’re pretty awesome people. I wouldn’t want to change them in the slightest bit.

And I wouldn’t want to change the person that I am now.

I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to begin again, despite all the pain and suffering that I went through to get there. Those battle scars were hard fought and won at great expense. They are worth more to me than gold because they created a foundation from which I’m building the rest of my life. A life that I cherish.

I can’t say what the future will hold. I have no idea of the challenges I’ll face along the way or the pains that may greet me in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. But I know that I can survive because I’ve already survived. I know that whatever curve ball I’m thrown, I can adjust and create something positive.

Starting over again is scary. It’s fraught with uncertainty. But when we embrace the change, we open ourselves up to experience new joys that we never imagined.

And I truly hope that whatever challenges you’re facing, whatever new beginnings are on your horizon, I pray they bring with them a mountain of happiness and self-fulfillment. I hope you create the life you’ve always wanted, the one you’ve always dreamed about.

All the best!

(Jennifer B. Duffey is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. To download a free copy of her latest novel, The Face in the Mirror, click here.)

Boiled Peanuts

Peanuts boiling on the stove. Mmmmmm!

Peanuts boiling on the stove. Mmmmmm!

It’s been a busy week here. Family came in from out of town. Working. Writing. Typical day-to-day activities that keep us running from one end of sanity to the next.

I’m sure it’s the same way for everyone these days.

Fortunately, for me, I’ve had some time this afternoon to start a pot of peanuts to boil. Few things say fall quite like fresh, hot boiled peanuts.

Now, I know a lot of you think fall begins and ends with pumpkin spiced everything. Maybe that’s what you grew up with in your part of the country. But for me, football and boiled peanuts will always be the perfect symbol of autumn. It means cooler weather, the end of hot summer days, and the beginning of nights in front of a roaring fireplace.

It means home.

My dad planted peanuts in his garden every year. They were one of the last things to come in before the ground was tilled under in preparation for next year’s planting. I can remember vividly the fall Saturday’s I’d go down to the garden. He’ll dig up the plants with a pitchfork so as not to damage the kernels below. Then we’d wash them off. There were always several bucketfuls of peanuts to wash and prep.

Afterwards, we’d carry the buckets to a large black cauldron. Dad would build a fire. We’d add the peanuts (about one bucket per cooking, if memory serves correctly) to the cauldron, fill it up with water, add plenty of salt, and sit back while the concoction cooked.

I was in charge of making sure the water never boiled completely out so I always had the water hose handy. (Yep! I survived cooking over a fire and drinking from a water hose!) Dad had an old radio. We’d sit an listen to Larry Munson calling the Georgia game.

At the time, I’m sure I was much more excited about eating the boiled peanuts than anything else. After all, sitting around watching a pot to boil is not the most entertaining thing to do as a kid. Looking back though, I wish more than anything I could sit just one more time with my dad and listen to Larry call a Dawgs game.

The cauldron is long since gone. Dad passed away 14 years ago. The anniversary of his passing was this past Monday. Now, instead of an open fire, I simply put the pot on the stove and tend to other things. There’s no time anymore to sit around waiting for the water temperature to rise.

And yet, somehow, it’s fitting that this week finds me once again waiting on the simple pleasure of boiled peanuts. They’ll always remind me of my youth and the bygone years I miss so much.

Disney & Me!

My Dad with the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House in the background.

My Dad with the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House in the background.

In looking through the historical events that happened on this day, I came across a particularly interesting tidbit. Today in 1971, Disney World officially opened in Orlando, Florida.

Millions of people have enjoyed the rides and adventures of this famed theme park, but I have a much different connection to the attraction.

You see, my dad helped build it.

If you’ve ever gone to the Swiss Family Tree House or if you visited the previous attraction 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, you’ve seen his work. He supervised a team of lathers who were responsible for much of that construction. He created many of the rocky features still in existence today.  He helped bring the magic to life.

The ocean before water was added for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The ocean before water was added for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Of course, he wasn’t the only one. There were thousands of construction workers who helped to complete that project in an amazingly short deadline.

But I’m particularly proud of my dad’s contribution. I can remember hearing him talk about the timelines for some of the projects there. On one occasion, he was running a team that worked about 16 hours a day for weeks straight. There was another team that decided to try to finish their project faster by working around the clock. Dad’s team finished ahead of schedule and quicker than the competing team. He looked at me and said, “Everybody has to rest sometime. You can’t work nonstop without burning yourself out.”

It was one of the many little gems of advice my dad taught me.

The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion

And Dad did take some time off. One January day in particular when my mom called his supervisor and said it was time to go to the hospital. I was about to be born.

I don’t remember the opening of Disney World. I was only 8 months old at the time. But I visited the park several times before we finally moved back to Georgia two years later.

My brother and sister, who are both older, have a much stronger recollection of our time in Florida. My memories are stories told by them and my mom.

By all accounts, I was an adventurous kid. There was the time I locked my mom out of the house and she had to crawl back in through the second story window. The time I hit my brother on the head with a hammer. The time I scared my sister and all her friends who were convinced there was a ghost in the house.

Good times!

I hope I’ve lived up to that adventurous reputation ever since.

Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella’s Castle

And while today may not mean anything to anyone else, to me it will always remind me of my dad, my family, and our special connection to Disney magic.

Now, I think it’s time for me to find a new adventure!

Happy Reading!

The Miracle of the M&Ms!!

img_20160923_205318I’m still trying to wrap my head around the football game I experienced last night. It was quite the conundrum.

Let me first preface this entire story by saying (for those who don’t actually know me) that I am a somewhat passionate football fan. Although I like to watch most sports, football is my favorite. Each year I wait eagerly for fall, not because of the pumpkin flavored everything and cooler weather, but because fall brings football. And what’s better than that?

But I digress.

Last night was a fierce matchup between my son’s high school, Houston County High (HoCo) and Spalding County (the enemy). Incidentally, for those outside the middle Georgia area, that’s pronounced House-Ton, not Hugh’s Ton like they do in Texas.

But I digress again.

This was an away game to be played at Spalding County in which Griffin is the major city. So far, everything with this story seems perfectly normal. And indeed, I had no inclination as I made the hour long drive up to Griffin that adventure of monumental proportion would ensue.

It started when I drove to the campus of Spalding County High looking for a football game and maybe, just maybe a stadium. Their Jaguars and my Bears were nowhere to be seen. There were no towering lights blazing, no fans cheering, no bands playing. In short, there was no stadium to be found.

Hmmmm.

Well, maybe it was around that next corner. No. It wasn’t, but there was a young woman jogging down the road. I stopped and asked her where the stadium was.

She was very nice and helpful. She told me it was near the old Coca-Cola plant. I didn’t know where that was. Then she mentioned some other plant that apparently had also closed. I didn’t know where that one was either.  We finally got down to actual street names which I found a bit more helpful. She mentioned some street named after a guy. She did warn me that parking was a bit tricky. (By the time I’d made the second turn, I’d forgotten the actually street name, but it was definitely guy-ish.)

So off I went in search of this stadium and this guy sounding street name. Once I was back on the main road, I felt pretty confident in my navigational ability. I had after all, driven through Griffin before and was basically familiar with the city layout. It’s not an overly complicated city design. All I had to do was to find this guy-ish named street, make a left, and find this stadium.

And then I started running into street numbers. I found 4th Street. (I’m not sure where the other 3 went.) There was a giant church where 5th Street should have been and then there was 6th Street. This is the area that I noticed all the people. They were footbally type people. They were gathering for something in the area. I must be getting close.

But there was no stadium to be seen. ANYWHERE!

There wasn’t a sign for a stadium. Not even a make shift sign. Nothing. So I drove a little further thinking maybe I was wrong and I should still hunt for this mysterious street named after a guy.

A couple of blocks later, I made the decision to stop into the AutoZone and ask for additional directions. Those two gentlemen were very nice and told me with a fair amount of conviction that there was no stadium anywhere in the city. They suggested I try Griffin High. There was a stadium there.

Hmmmm.

Nope. I think I’m trying my luck with the crowd of people around the church. I’m either going to find a football game or a revival. But I knew miracles awaited in that direction. And so I meandered my way through the traffic, turned down 4th Street, and found (created) a parking space on the side of the road. When I asked one of the parents, she confirmed I was headed to the right area. There was indeed a stadium in the area.

I started walking with the crowd. I could hear the bands playing. I could hear the fans. But I still couldn’t see a stadium. Then, I noticed a scoreboard peeking through the trees. Literally peeking through the trees.  The stadium was up ahead.

That’s odd. The stadium was basically a city block. And you kinda had to walk down to get to it. And the reason parking is a bit odd was because there was NO designated parking area. This stadium was literally boxed into a standard city block. The semi for our band had to double park on the street corner. Our buses were parked on the sidewalk.

Finally, I found the gate for the visitor entrance, reached in my pocket, and no cash. I remembered it was sitting on my counter at home. Didn’t that just make the adventure even better? I walked back down the block to my truck, headed over to the bank (which I passed earlier), drew out some moolah, then headed back to this city block stadium, and tried to find (create) another parking space.img_20160923_205234

Once I finally made it into the stadium, I walked over to the concession stand which looked a bit like an oversized plywood outhouse. My request was simply – peanut M&M’s and a coke.

The gentleman working the stand looked at me and said, “You know, I sold the last one of those last week and forgot to get anymore. But I gotta Snickers.”

Let me pause the story here for a moment to explain that I eat a bag of peanut M&Ms at each of our games and going into this game we were 5-0. Some may say that’s a coincidence, but I’m enough of a seasoned sports fan to know you never challenge something like that.

Back to the story, I repeatedly ask him about the candy selection, but no matter how long I inquired, peanut M&Ms never materialized. What the heck was I supposed to now? These people were seriously trying to put a hex on the whole darn game!

Finally, I settled for a pack of Reece’s and a Coke.img_20160923_194926

Then I got to take a good look at the inside of this stadium. Now, I’ve been to quite a few games over the years and I’ve seen all sorts of stadiums. Some are a lot nicer than others. This stadium was a new one on me. There was no fencing around the perimeter although the trees were pretty thick through there. And those trees were growing right behind the goal posts. I promise you the branches were only a foot or two behind them. There were trees on the other side as well, but I couldn’t see how close those were to those posts.

And behind the tree line, there was the street. I swear after one long PAT, I could hear a car alarm going off in the background.

But I have digressed once again.

When I found a seat in the stands and looked at the scoreboard, I could see it was going to be a long night for my Bears. They were down by a field goal and playing pretty poorly. Our quarterback couldn’t find the broad side of a barn. Both our defensive and offensive lines looked like they’d never played a single game before. They couldn’t block. They couldn’t stop penetration. They were getting walloped.

And I couldn’t help them because I didn’t have any M&Ms.

I never did figure out why a tree was growing between the goal post.

I never did figure out why a tree was growing between the goal post.

I ate the Reece’s cups as quickly as I could but soon discovered Reece’s Cups have absolutely no effect on a football game whatsoever. In fact they may have made things a bit worse.

Things were really starting to look bad toward the end of the 2nd quarter. The enemy was ahead 17-0. I knew I had to take drastic measures to get some good luck M&Ms. I went over to the band leaders and found the parent photographer who agreed to buy some peanut M&Ms from the home concession stand. Only official band people were allowed to go over to the home side.

Now, let me just say that if you ever (as an adult fan) tell other adults that your HS team is losing because you haven’t eaten any peanut M&Ms, they will look at you like you’ve lost your mind. Thankfully, I did not let that detour me from my quest.

As soon as I gave her the money, we scored a TD with a 2 pt conversion. And the half was over. Maybe, just maybe things were looking up. But we still had a long way to go. Did we have enough time for the M&Ms to work their magic?img_20160923_205806

It was the start of the 3rd quarter when I got the bag. There wasn’t a moment to lose. Y’all, I have never eaten a bag of candy so fast in my life. Thank goodness nobody got that event on camera because it was far from ladylike. I’m not even sure I chewed them all.

And miracles started happening on the field. Our QB found a receiver. Then another. The O Line was blocking everybody. HoCo scored a TD. 17-14. We were catching up.

Then the Jags fumbled on the first play after the kickoff. We had the ball on the 25. We scored again. We were up 21-17. The Jags punted with a three and out. Jake Fromm, our wonderful QB ran it in for another TD. We were up by 11. The enemy scored one more TD. (A very questionable one, I might add.) 28-24. All we had to do was run the ball for a 1st down and run out the clock. That last minute was a grueling slugfest pitting warrior against warrior.

And HoCo came out victorious!!

Some people may say that there is a strictly scientific explanation for the drastic turn around HoCo experienced last night. They will say that me eating a bag of M&Ms had nothing whatsoever to do with winning a football game.

Those people are wrong.

It’s all about the M&Ms, baby. And I will continue to support my home team by eating a bag of peanut M&Ms at each game. Next time, I’ll be better prepared with a backup bag just in case the enemy tries to hex us again.

And don’t be surprised if I bring in a 5 pound bag for the Northside game. Lord knows that’ll be a tough one and we’ll need all the peanut miracle power available!

Go Bears!!

 

 

Happy Birthday Daddy

13423976_10201878882250043_4216523626264368096_nToday is my Daddy’s birthday. He would have been 78.

Every year on this day I stop and think about the greatest man I ever knew. My daughter remembers him. She was six when he died. My son was just a baby. He never got the chance to get to know his grandpa.

I often wonder how my son would have been different if the two had spent time together. His life would have certainly been enhanced. I can imagine Dad taking my son, John, fishing on the pond or taking him down to feed the cows. I’m sure there would have been many hours spent around the barn or picking vegetables in the garden.

But that wasn’t meant to be. Dad passed away at the age of 64 about one month after his birthday. This years marks 14 years since we lost him.

Now my son only knows of Daddy through our stories. Some of you have met him as well. Beneath the Mulberry Tree is based on his struggle with cancer.

Whenever the family gathers, it’s inevitable that some long forgotten incident will come up into the conversation and we’ll all end up laughing for hours. Those are the best kind of family gatherings. Sitting around the dinner table laughing about adventures long since forgotten. It’s how I will spend most of my day today, with my mom and my sister, celebrating life and remembering the best Dad anyone could hope for. I don’t know what stories we’ll tell but I know there will be laughter.

Today as always, I love you Dad. And I miss you more than you will ever know.

Carpe Diem

This week I had intended to write a post about the upcoming HS football game in our area. You see, my alma mater, Peach County High, will be playing against my kid’s school, Houston County High, in one of the local match ups. I intended it to be a somewhat humorous look at the conflict parents face when their kids attend different schools and force a change of school allegiance.

But I cannot write that post. For today, my heart is heavy. Over the weekend, four young men from Peach County were in a terrible traffic accident. As I understand it, they were on the football team. One was killed. One is in very bad shape. The other two should make a full recovery. I don’t know these young men. I wouldn’t have recognized them if I passed them on the street. We never met.

In our area, high school football is not just an entertaining pass time. It’s very much a religion. Even people who aren’t ‘sports people’ keep up with the latest news from the high school grid iron. At most games in the area, you won’t find an empty seat in the house. I’ve been to more than one game where I had to stand the entire time because there simply were no seats to be had. And I loved every minute of it.

Friday’s game between HoCo and PCHS will be that kind of a game. The stands will be packed. The crowd will be enormous.

In a very real sense, those boys on the field are all our kids. We cheer for them. We encourage them. We celebrate their victories and we suffer with their defeats. We all hold our breath when someone is hurt on the field. And we breathe a sigh of relief when the injuries are minor. Friday night I suspect more than one tear will be shed for a young man’s life that was lost too soon. And the tears will come from both sides of the stands.

I mourn for the loss of this young man’s life. I mourn for the hopes and dreams that will never be realized. I pray that the family will find some comfort in the weeks and months to come.

Life is precious. It’s a gift. Each day we have on earth is an opportunity to spread hope and happiness. If we can learn anything from this tragedy, it’s this, we never know what the future will hold or whether we’ll live to see another day. Live each day to the fullest.

Hug your kids. Hug your parents. Love those around you. Today may be your last chance.

The Squirrel's Nest!

The Squirrel’s Nest!

Last week was Spring Break for my son. He’s 13 and this was the first year we were celebrating without my daughter, who joined the military last fall. He usually tries to spend the week with his dad, but that wasn’t able to happen this year. So, what to do with a teenage son for an entire week out of school?

I decided to take a trip back in time. (Well, for me anyway!)

As a teenager, I took several trips up to the mountains of north Georgia to Unicoi State Park. They have an interesting camping area there known as the Squirrel’s Nest. It is every bit as adventurous as it sounds. I remembered how much I used to enjoy those trips as a youth and thought it would be a great opportunity for some good mother-son bonding time.

In some ways, the place is exactly the same as I remembered from all those years ago. The bathrooms and showers are every bit as (ahem) charmingly rustic as I remember. And the platforms themselves were exactly the same.

However, I noticed some changes that I hadn’t expected. There was now a huge fire pit in the small canyon that hadn’t been there years before. The stairs had been improved over the years. And, there seemed to be more camping areas in the surrounding vicinity which generated more foot traffic. These were changes anyone would have noticed.

But, there were other changes as well. For instance, I didn’t remember the parking lot being five miles away up a painfully steep hill. I didn’t remember the wood flooring of the platform being that hard and unforgiving. I didn’t remember wanting to fall over from exhaustion after unloading the truck. I realized very quickly that I should spend less time thinking about exercise and more time increasing my stamina.

John and I at the base of Anna Ruby Falls.

John and I at the base of Anna Ruby Falls.

I also realized how much I missed the tranquility of nature. She definitely offers a healing power like none other. There is something inherently calming about ditching your computer and trekking through the mountain trails for a few days. We’ve already made a list of things to do when we return during the summer. (10 mile Smith Creek Trail at Anna Ruby Falls here we come!)

But the greatest thing of all was spending a few days with my favorite guy. Nothing on earth is better than that!

Wishing everyone a wonderful day,

Cheers!