Wednesday, September 12, 2012

stories and photographs from the Appalachians

Two weeks in the Smoky Mountains!
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. – (Psalm 36)
AS you can tell from the new header, Rebekah and I are back from our two-week retreat in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I haven’t posted here in 16 days (partly because we disciplined ourselves to NOT work during our time away, and partly because we had no wi-fi in our mountain cabin and I’m not about to try blogging on my smart-phone!), so there is a lot to catch up on in the next week!
Rebekah and Scout at Newfound Gap
RE-ENTRY: Today is all about reentry into the real world. But it’s also about resting in the blessing of a great time away. So I’ll begin the process by sharing a few photos and thoughts from Appalachia.
This was the first ever family vacation for Scout Labradoodle. Once we realized the cabin was designated “pet friendly,” including her was an easy decision to make.
The “no dogs” rule on National Park trails turned out to be a disappointment, but Scout was perfectly well behaved when we had to leave her at the cabin, and she was very happy with the walks she could take. There were so many new smells for a dog to investigate, and so much to see from her vantage point on the deck behind the cabin.
Gatlinburg from the Foothills Parkway
MOUNTAINS: I know we’re from Florida and easy to impress, but the mountains were nothing short of spectacular. The “smoky” of the Great Smoky was evident from the get-go, and the “blue” of the Blue Ridge was captivating.
We researched (because, as Naomi would say, “That’s what Mauls do”) the area ahead of time, we read interpretive materials while we were there, and we did all of our hiking with our eyes wide open for what we could learn. In consequence, we have become great and fairly knowledgeable fans of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The stories, the history, the injustices, the natural beauty, the animals, the amazing conservation efforts, the fragility of the ecosystems….
Exploring the back country
RELATIONSHIP: Primarily, this time away was a Derek-&-Rebekah retreat. It became obvious that we needed to do something that was deliberately built around simply being together. That’s one reason we picked a place without wi-fi, and an environment that was conducive to hiking, long uninterrupted conversations, hanging around the cabin to read and drink coffee, putting together puzzles and playing marathon pool tournaments.
So we not only drank in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains, we drank in each other. We shared ideas, dreams, hopes, devotional materials, stories, good food, hours of wandering around antique shops, and as many yummy lunches of East Tennessee pulled-pork sandwiches as the budget would allow.
The Great Smoky Labradoodle – a rare sighting!
And we restored, replenished, rejuvenated, renovated, renewed, reconstituted, reconstructed and – above all – redeemed.
Look for more in the way of pictures, and stories, over the next few days.
As always, there is such a lot to share -  DEREK

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