Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Our Smokey Mountain Vacation - Day Five, Part Three: Clingman's Dome

This post is part of a travel series of our vacation in the Smokey Mountains.  To start at the beginning, go HERE!  The rest of the posts in chronological order are HERE, HEREHEREHEREHERE, HERE, and HERE!

On Day Five, after visiting the Farm Museum and Mingus Mill we headed up to the highest point in the Smokey Mountains:  Clingman's Dome.  If you're planning a visit to the Smokies, be sure to check the weather before heading to Clingman's Dome as it can be drastically different "up there" than it is in Gatlinburg.  We actually tried going up to Clingman's Dome the day before and we got caught in a horrific rain storm.  There were so many clouds, we couldn't see more than four feet in front of our car.  It was actually very scary, so we decided to turn around and try again the next day.  But even turning around was terrifying because it's a mountain road, and very narrow, and we hoped and prayed a car wasn't coming back down the mountain as we were trying to turn around.

The next day however, was a beautiful, sunny day so we got a second chance to see the views!

Clingman's Dome is a beautiful structure located on top of the Smokies.  At 6,643 feet it is the highest mountain in the park and one of the highest peaks in the eastern part of the United States.

There is a very large, spacious parking lot to Clingman's Dome but as a warning, get there early, because parking still fills up fast.  When we got there, parking was just starting to fill, but by the time we were done the entire lot was filled and there were cars lined up down the mountain road for at least 1/2 mile.

You do not want to have to park on the road for the hike to the dome is challenging enough. When I was coming back down from the dome,  I saw one young woman in her 20's who looked like she was about to pass out at the start of the trail.  I was so perplexed how she could be so exhausted already at the start of the trail when she was so young.  Then as we were leaving, and I saw all the cars lined up on the road to the parking lot, I realized she must have climbed a lot just to get to that point.  Poor thing, because this was a tough trail.  It's only 1/2 mile and completely paved, but boy, is it steep!  Everyone, young and old, fit or not fit, seemed to be struggling.  It made me wonder why they didn't put in some type of transportation to the dome, like a ski lift or something, then everyone could enjoy it!  

The views along the trail were just beautiful.  Actually, the views from the parking lot were incredible too!  I don't even think the hike to Clingdom's Dome is worth the effort to be honest with you.  You can see great views from the parking lot.  Perhaps that's why they don't put in a ski lift.  I'm sounding so lazy here aren't I?  😊  Truly, I love to hike, and we do go on a lot of challenging hikes, but for some reason, I didn't really enjoy this one.  Maybe because it's not technically a "hiking trail", but just a steep, annoying, crowded path...with great views along the way and a lookout at the end.

I was relieved when we finally got there, and I was very impressed with the structure itself.  I loved how it curved in a circle going up to the dome (as seen in the very first picture of this post).

You do get above the tree line if you go to the top of the dome, whereas if you don't make the hike and just choose to enjoy the parking lot views you are at tree level.

The next two pictures explain all you can see from the dome on a clear day and construction of the dome itself.

I must admit I was a bit nervous on the dome.  I don't know why, it was very safe.  I just feel a little on-edge when heights are involved.  Perhaps that is why I didn't enjoy my hike up so much.  The crowds didn't help, because I was worried someone would push me over the railing on accident or something.  Stupid, I know.  But when your afraid of heights those irrational fears manifest.

I was very relieved to get off the dome and head back down the mountain.  We didn't spend much time at the top at all.  I immediately felt myself relax as we headed back down, and I was finally able to just enjoy  the views and the experience.

Like I said above, you don't have to climb to the top to enjoy the views.  This beautiful spot was at parking lot level, so if you have a handicapped person in your party, or are very elderly, or have very small children, you can still go to Clingdom's Dome and walk around a bit and enjoy the views.

I think we enjoyed ourselves walking the perimeter of the parking lot more than we did at the top of the dome.  There were less people, and we were able to take our time and get some great photos.

Hubby even found this amazing rock formation and decided to climb it.  He is not afraid of heights at all!

And finally, here is a video of me walking up the Clingdom's Dome structure.  You can sense in the video I'm not thrilled to be up there.  Again, part of it was all the people up there that put me on edge.  All the talking you hear in the video is not us, but all the people surrounding us.  The video is worth a watch because you really get a sense of the scope of the structure and it's height that you can't get in just a photograph.


Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

May Bible Journaling Pages: Jonah to Zechariah

Once a month I like to share my Bible Journaling Pages and what God has been teaching me.  In the month of May I worked my way through the minor prophets from Jonah to Zechariah.   Now before you think I read a lot, the minor prophet books are very short.    Sometimes I just color in the preprinted images of the "Inspire Bible" (available on Amazon) and I also create my own pages.
Unless otherwise stated, all the images are colored in with either gel pens or colored pencils.  I tend to color larger areas with pencils then get the more intricate spots with pens.  I high light my Bible with gel highlighters, and I usually use gelatos or  craft paint for my backgrounds.

I started reading the Inspire Bible and Bible Journaling in September of 2018.  I can't believe it took me almost 2 1/2 years to finally reach the end of the Old Testament.  But it did!  Now granted, I wasn't just "reading".  Bible Journaling is very time consuming as it requires a lot of studying and creating "art" to reflect what you read.  I also listen to an hour long sermon by Jon Courson on what I just read.  So, if it took 2 1/2 years just to get through the Old Testament, it is only because it is a very involved and deep study of the word.

Anyway, I was super excited to finally be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so I could begin studying the New Testament.  However, I didn't quite meet my goal in May.  I ended up in Zechariah, just one book short of the New Testament.

In last month's Bible Journaling post,  I left off in Jonah, so we will pick up there.

As many of my regular readers now, I love to use Bible coloring pages in my Bible Journaling.  When I come across a Bible Story I'd love to illustrate, I simply google the image, print it off, and color it in.  I print on sticker paper that I found on Amazon, so it's super easy to adhere to the pages of my Bible.  the Bible Coloring images are usually FREE for teachers to use in their Sunday School classes.  

Here I colored in a sky background using paint, then I used a variety of stickers and my own handwriting for the Bible verse.  Speaking of handwriting,  after years of struggling to do beautiful calligraphy, I gave up.  I have purchased books showing how to do gorgeous calligraphy to create beautiful pages, and I was miserable because it always made my Bible Journaling a chore or burden.  I just could never get my handwriting to look as beautiful as the ones in the books.  I finally realized, that there is nothing wrong with my own handwriting.  In fact, it's my own signature, it what makes me unique and me!  All of us have our own signature, why should I be copying some one else's because it's "prettier"?  Someday my grandchildren or  great children will inherit this Bible, and I'd much rather have them see my own handwriting rather than a copied version of someone else's.  Freeing myself from the chore of not copying someone else's handwriting has also lifted the burden of trying to Bible Journal the "perfect page" and focus more on what I am learning about what I am reading.

I had a lot of fun with this page.  The boat and sea was already on the page, but there was no verse.  After coloring in the image with pencils and Gamosol, I created a sky background then hand wrote a verse in with pencil.  I really love the way this page turned out, except I made a mess on the opposite page, as you will see.

Here is the cover page of the book of Micah.  Notice the blue smudge?  That came from the previous page of the sail boat.  I always stick a piece of card stock in-between the pages after coloring, to make sure they are dry, but somehow the blue still got onto the opposite page.  This is one of the drawbacks of Bible Journaling.  If you make a mistake, you can't just rip it up and start over like you can with a card.  However, I have learned some tricks to hide craft paint.  I could just paint some gold paint over this blue smudge, but it's not bothering me that much to do that.

I love the confidence Micah has in this verse and also how he is willing to "wait", and not just "wait", but "wait confidently".   Even though the answer might not happen right away, he is willing to wait because he is confident it will arrive.

The Christian can have so much peace that unbeliever can not.  When trouble comes our way, we can always turn to God and trust in Him to work it all out for good.  

This is something I've never done before in Bible Journaling:  I wrote a quote from another source instead of a Bible Verse.  This image was already in the Inspire Bible, but it didn't come with a verse.  I was listening to a Jon Courson sermon and he made this statement and I thought it was so profound I wanted to do a page about it.  

After coloring in the image, I colored around it with craft paint then I hand wrote the verse and hearts.

A beautiful verse for the cover page of the book of Habakkuk.  No matter what troubles afflict us, we can always have joy in God for our salvation.

I've noticed several times in the Bible that the image of the "surefooted deer" is used.  I really got the significance of this verse when we were in Zion National Park in Utah a few years ago and we saw mountain goats on the steepest slopes imaginable.  Their climbing ability is just amazing.  If we put our faith in God, we too can climb unimaginable heights.

Here is another pretty image in the Inspire Bible that didn't come with a verse, so after coloring it in, I colored the background then added stickers.  Both the bird on the top left and the sentiment are stickers.

The Inspire Bible has many different styles of art in it to appeal to everyone.  I must confess that I enjoy coloring some style more than others.  I much prefer the whimsical style like on the cover page of the book of Zephaniah than I do the realistic images like the one on the page above.  

I chose bright, happy colors to reflect the whimsical nature of this page.

I love the part of this verse "With His love, He will calm all your fears".  I don't struggle with fear during the day, but I often wake up at night gripped in fear and it's verses like these that I memorize and recite to myself so that I can fall comfortably back to sleep knowing I'm safe in God's arms.

I loved the verse so much, that I repeated the portion of it that means the most to me on another page.  Again, this was just an image without a verse.  After coloring in the image, I hand wrote the verse and I used a sticker for the word "Love".

It doesn't get much simpler than this.  The verse is so simple and straight forward, so it seems appropriate that the image should be as well.  "Seek the Lord".  If you seek the Lord, all will go well with you.  Great advice.

This is the cover page for the book of Haggai. I love how He tells His people then (and us today) to "Be Strong" and "Get To Work".  Yes, God is with us, and will help us, but we must do some work ourselves.

I did the cover page of the book of Zechariah in purple and gold metallic to represent royalty.

A beautiful promise, not just for the wayward Israelites at the time, but for any backslidden believer today.  God is always waiting for us to come home.

The verse below may at first appear to conflict with the "Get back to work" verse on the cover page of the book of Haggai, but it really does not.  Zerrubabel  was given the task of rebuilding the temple.  By human might, it was a daunting, difficult task.  God said through the prophet Zechariah that it would be accomplished through him by God's Spirit  and to trust and believe.

The next page I created myself.  The verse is about the Millennium but I found hope in it for today as well.  When I saw the verse, it struck me hard because the past eighteen months, we have not seen "boys and girls at play" due to government overreach and lockdowns.  One of the most heart-breaking things I saw during the lockdowns was all the playground equipment in all the public parks roped off with yellow caution tape. It made me sick that they would not allow children to play in parks.  I mourned for all the lonely children who couldn't play with their friends in their neighborhoods.  I know everyone has different opinions regarding "the virus" but I always felt many of the precautions were not worth the damage done to human lives.

The book of Zechariah is all about giving the Israelites hope in the future no matter what their current circumstances because they are promised a Messianic Kingdom coming soon.  Because God's promise of the Messianic Kingdom is the dominant theme in this book, the Inspire Bible had this pre-printed image to reflect it.   Today, Christians also look forward to the Messianic Kingdom to help us get through our difficulties.  We know that no matter what is happening here on earth, God is returning soon to set it all right.

This is a page I created myself once again using Bible coloring pages from the Internet.  Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey was predicted many years before in the book of Zechariah.  Studying Bible prophecy really increases my faith because I see all the prophecies that have already come true, so I know the ones we are waiting to be fulfilled will also come to pass.

And on my last page, another simple but profound verse summarizing the book of Zechariah.  You may not be able to see my handwriting on the page, but if you look to the bottom where there is a sticker that says "Key Takeaway" I summarized the theme of the book:  Jesus is Coming Back to rule the earth!  Hallelujah!

Thank you for looking at my Bible Journaling pages this month.  Next month I finish the Old Testament and I start the New Testament!  I wonder if I will get through to the end of the book of Revelation before He returns.  Hopefully not. 

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

June Blooms

This post is coming with a warning...lots, and lots of photos!  I apologize in advance.  In the past, I always divided my garden posts into three posts a month:  early, mid, and late.  This year I decided to do just one garden post a month, but I don't think it's gonna work as there are too many things in bloom to take pictures of to fit it all into one post.  So next month...back to "early, mid, and late".  In the mean time, bear with me on a very long post and hopefully all the pictures will load for you in a timely matter.

The June Garden is always so beautiful as the garden really fills in.  In May, the garden is quite sparse, as things slowly come to life,  but in June, everything is up and usually lush and green!

June is the month for Iris, Peonies, Foxgloves, Lilacs, and so much more.  First lets see all the Iris that bloomed this month.

I have so much Siberian Iris in my yard.  It's so prolific, if you don't dead head the blooms they go to seed and spread everywhere.  I really need to dig a lot of this Iris up and toss it over the fence this year.  It's a pretty flower, and I love the foliage even when it isn't in bloom, I just have too much of it.

Siberian Iris

This is such a pretty lavender Iris.  I think this is the only lone Iris of this color that I have.

My yellow bearded Iris is the most prolific of all the bearded Iris in my yard.  I have way too much of this color too and need to thin it out.

Here you can see how the yellow Iris fills my top garden.

I have Lamin in front of it along with some wild Columbine.

Here is a close up of the Wild Columbine.  I absolutely love this plant.  It is so beautiful.  The hardest part is NOT deadheading the flowers till it goes to seed.  If you dead head too soon you won't have flowers next year, but it's hard resisting the urge to tidy up the garden.

The same garden taken from the opposite side.

I have a small pond in the upper part of this garden.  There is more Siberian Iris near the pond, with the yellow bearded Iris in the background.

And here is a side view of the top garden looking down into the yard.  I have a border of wild ferns growing along the path.

The next most prolific Iris in my yard is this stunning purple bearded Iris.  It has a beautiful fragrance too. That is a Vibernum bush on the left.  The two bloom at the same time and look so pretty together.

A close up of one of the blooms on the Vibernum bush.

And my favorite Iris of all is this pretty "blue" one.  

Foxglove is one of my favorite flowers because it grows in shade, which I have a lot of, and it's also poisonous so the deer won't eat it.  The only problem with Foxglove is it is a biennial so I never know how many Foxglove blooms I'm gonna get year to year, and it also reseeds EVERYWHERE so I never know what area of the yard I am gonna have Foxglove flowers.  However, it is very easy to dig up the Foxglove plants when they are babies and move them to where I want them to grow.  It just gets kinda tiring doing that all the time, as I find baby Foxglove plants everywhere.

This year the Foxglove really took over one of my shade gardens (above picture) and I only had a few in my top sun garden (pictured below).

They are the prettiest plants and the bees just love them.  I love how the bees go deep inside the blooms.

Clustered Bellflower

I have such a love/hate relationship with Peonies.  The love part?  The blooms! Are there any other flowers that has such gorgeous blooms?  The hate part?  They are done blooming way to soon.  I mean, three days, and they are toast.  It's so sad they don't bloom longer.

Here are all my peony plants:

And I have no idea what happened to this peony plant this year.  I only got TWO blooms out of it.  It's a very old plant too.

One of my favorite peonies:  a single white peony.

This year we had a late spring frost, so my lilacs did not do as well as they have in the past.  One bush had every single one of it's blooms dry up and die.  It was so sad.  You wait all year for something to bloom, and then a frost kills it all.

The lilac bush next to the shed still bloomed this year.

I was happy to see blooms on this little daisy.  Last year a deer ate all my blooms!  For whatever reason, the deer have not been eating out of my top garden and are staying lower in my yard eating everything down there.

Here you can see the daisy in the foreground with the large single pink peony in the background.

The late spring frost was hard on the Hostas and the Bleeding Hearts too.  The plants in this garden did well because they were in a shaded part of the yard, but the ones that were in a sunnier part came up too early were all nipped by the frost ruining the foliage and killing the blooms,

Yellow Primrose

Lamin and Cushion Spurge

My Favorite Viburnum Bush.  It grows in deep shade so well.

An Endless Summer Hydrangea which is supposed to be blue, but it blooms pink in my yard.

Below is the same Hydrangea seen in a farther away shot.

A view of the yard as seen from the neighbors yard.  A lot of green, I know.  Hopefully we will be seeing more color soon!

This is what I call "The Septic Mound Garden".  The kidney shape, is actually our septic mound.  Hubby didn't want to mow it as the mound was quite steep so I turned it into a garden.  It is mostly filled with wild day lilies which I hope will one day take over the whole garden so I won't have to maintain it so much.  The deer are merciless with this garden, as it's low in the yard right next to the woods.  It's pointless trying to have nice plants even grow in this garden as the deer are constantly nibbling in it.

A very old, and old fashioned clematis.  What clematis used to look like before they improved the plants and made all the different varieties they have today.

Here's a farther away shot of the Clematis growing up the trellis.

This is a Spiderwort.  I'm never quite sure if I like this plant or not, but it's growing on the septic mound and the deer don't seem to bother it, so it stays for now.

Lynchis is a biennial that drives me crazy because it has a mind of it's own where it wants to reseed.  Plus it has spindly little stems that get knocked over the first rainstorm.  However, I do love it's pretty pink blooms and the silver foliage.

This is the only Lupine I got to see this year as the deer ate the blooms off all my other Lupine plants.

Here you can see another Lilac bush that did bloom this year along with another view of the septic mound garden.

Blue perennial geraniums.

And below is the white perennial geraniums.  They form a nice mounded bush year round.

A close up of the white perennial geraniums.

Ornamental onions.

A close up of one of the ornamental onion flower heads.

We lost a tree this year.  It just died, and we don't know the reason.  Hubby chopped it down then he bought me this planter to set on top of it.  

The Asiatic Lilies are just starting to bloom as I write this post.  Here is a peach one:

This is Loosestrife, which has been a problem plant for me in the past.  I always had a pest that came and ate it making it miserable looking, but that pest seems to have disappeared, because the past few years it has done so well.  It seems to be so happy growing under the shade of this lilac bush.

This is Dames Rocket.  You will often see this plant growing on the sides of the road in the spring.  It's a biennial, reseeds everywhere, and you never have any idea where it will pop up from year to year.  But it's a nice plant to have in the garden because it blooms at a time when not much else is in bloom.

I had to move my poppies last year when we put in our vegetable garden.  I was happy that I still got at least one or two blooms this year.

And I know you've seen pictures of my vegetable garden from the inside (if you haven't, check out this post HERE and HERE), but this is what it looks like from the outside.  The garden is right off our house, making it so easily accessible if I want to grab a few things for dinner.  Because we have huge animal control problems (deer, rabbits, coons, and woodchucks) it is completely fenced in.  I promise I will back with a tour of the vegetable garden soon!

And finally, I leave you with a picture of this sweet bumble bee enjoying one of the blooms from a Lamin plant.  The bees absolutely love this ground cover.

 Well if you hung with me till the end, congratulations!  I promise, next month I will divide up the posts so they are not so long.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!