Monday, November 29, 2010

McConnell’s Mills: Sunday 11/28/10

The plan was to HIKE.  McConnell’s Mills would be the destination. Thought we’d zip down the PA turnpike and pick up I-79…. ohhhh not so fast!  A couple miles shy of the exit we hit TRAFFIC.  We were only traveling ONE exit!  It took us 40 minutes!  I was NOT happy.  By the time we got where we were going we had but ONE measly hour of daylight to hike.  None the less we made the most of our visit. 


Keith lookin all “Gangsta!”


Me wishin it was Hilton Head Island!

It was COLD… frigid… overcast… I was sad!  It was muddy.  It was slippery.  It was gloomy.  There were ICICLES!!!  Ugh. 


The water was raging and the rocks were amazing.  Some of the enormous rock piles we wondered what in the world held them up.  Surely they will eventually topple.  I love hiking at MM.  There is so much to take in.  I just wish we’d had more time. 


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hartwood Acres

I’m blessed to live only a few miles from several parks. All of them have hiking trails.  Today I hit the trails at Hartwood Acres.


I didn’t have a hiking buddy today as nobody showed an interest and Keith was working.  He doesn’t like me to hit the wilderness alone, but I could not help myself today.  It was about 30 degrees outside… brrr!  The wind was wicked, but as long as I was in the woods it wasn’t that bad.  Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer.  Can’t wait to do this again!  I didn’t have a map.  Note to self:  print a map!  The nice thing about Allegheny County Parks is they have maps that you can access online and print for all the hiking trails.  I found a trail marked with blue blazes and decided I’d follow those.


Unsure of where that might take me, I also tried the red blazes for a bit.  Those led right to The Mansion.  That was cool. 


It’s such a beautiful building.  Of course there is the Celebration of Lights going on every night up there this time of year.  I had a sneak-peak of that, although there were only a few things lit mid-afternoon. 


After being out for at least an hour, I ventured my way back to the blue blazes and followed those past where I originally found them.  Back beyond the open dog run and down the road behind the theatre, I eventually found a posting of the trail map.  I followed trail #1 for a bit, then trail #2 where a biker called a “heads-up” that scared the bejeebers out of me!  Then back on the pavement and around the perimeter of the park… a two hour hike total, not bad, but my face was SO COLD for the last part of it. 


I need new hiking shoes/boots sometime in the near future.  My poor old tennis shoes have all but worn completely out. 


Trying to decide where to hike tomorrow.  Keith is off and we have a date… church, then lunch at Luca’s Bistro, and hiking.  YAY!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday’s Thankful Heart

Thursdays Thankfulness


Happy Thanksgiving!  This is my FAVORITE holiday.  I like to keep thankfulness in the forefront of all my days.  I don’t think that enough people are deliberately thankful.  I have SO much to be thankful for:

  • Answered prayers.  Keith’s employer is transferring him to another location is about a week.  It’s closer to home!  I’ve been praying for this for a year!
  • Good health.  My bosses wife is battling cancer.  Her struggles remind me of how fortunate I am to have good health.
  • Loving husband.  He is kind and sweet and simply self-less when it comes to taking care of me.  He’s a gem!
  • Adequate home.  Our rent is quite reasonable.  The home is bigger than we need. Keith recently updated the bathroom.  I’m delighted that it’s now fully functioning.  Yay!
  • Gainful employment.  My boss is an honest, family oriented, Christian man.  He appreciates my contribution at work. 
  • Penny.  I love her so much.  I love her sassiness and her beauty.  I rode her a good bit this summer and she has grown SO much!  I’m very pleased.  I’m also grateful for Rene’e helping me bring her home and for Janet’s generosity providing her a home that is affordable. 
  • Our kitties.  Crystal is so pretty and soft and likes to cuddle.  (most of the time)  She is totally in love with Keith.  It’s very sweet.  Wizzy is spunky, wild, and crazy.  He keeps us on our toes.
  • My God-Lovin, Bible-Studying, Prayer-Warrior Gal-Pals.  They help keep me focused and pray with me and for me all the time.  I love them and their precious families.
  • Hiking.  For years I’ve been begging Keith to just go for a walk with me.  He does not appreciate the mundane task of walking in circles, not at the track nor the park.  Then one day my good friend, Tammi (and her family), took me Geocaching and it’s been all fun since then.  I knew Keith would love it.  He needs to have a destination and this is actually more challenging than the usual walk.  I’ve spent much of the summer hiking with Tammi and Keith.  I’ve even taken my niece and nephews out.  It’s great exercise.  I love being outside.  I love drinking in the beauty of creation.  I crave it now! 
  • Family.  I’m glad to live close to my family.  We enjoy dinner with Zombecks as often as we can, usually every couple of weeks.  My parents are close by too and are hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  They enjoy hosting family get-togethers often in their new home.  I miss seeing Keith’s family, wishing we could travel more frequently.  I understand that his Grandma Vulhop is ailing and in Hospice care now.  We need to visit soon.  We are grateful to be welcomed to stay with his Mom when we are in town there.  We have 11 nieces and nephews, each one a joy in their own way and growing up so fast.  I love them all.   
  • Quietness.  Many mornings I enjoy coffee or tea in the quiet of our home.  By quiet I mean without the white-noise of television or other distraction.  This morning I’m enjoying the sound of rainfall, the birds singing (the ones in the cage), my kitty meowing for attention as she cuddles next to me.  Some days I watch the sun rise & have a little devotion time.   I love mornings.  The only thing better would be to have a nice porch to sit on with my pony in the back yard… maybe someday.

There is just SO much!  I could go on and on all day long. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Roller Derby Anyone?

Joyce said she'd like to go ice skating, so Keith met us at the ice rink.  She changed her mind and suggested roller skating instead.  Sooooo... that's just what we did.  This was Joyce's first time roller skating.  She did quite well.  I'm proud of her.  Uncle Keith stayed right with her the whole time.  She said it was fun and that she’d definitely do it again if the opportunity arose.  Smile



A Date With My Niece

I was looking for a volunteer to hike with me on Saturday. Joyce was my happy hiking pal this week. I took two of her brothers geocaching a couple weeks back. This was her turn. We hit a couple in North Park. She hiked and sometimes ran out ahead of me, but eventually stopped to wait for her slower-moving Aunt. Thanks Joyce for not deserting me in the wilderness. :)

We saw a couple doe crossing the road on the way in. One ducked under the guardrail and the other jumped over it. That was odd.

She worked the GPS easily and found the cache's with a slight hint, but little difficulty. She found herself a neat sparkly wood chip to pocket and a Darth Vader thing that her brother's would enjoy. She carefully re-hid the containers each time and off we went on to another adventure.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

A Great Weekend Almost Over

IMG00330-20101107-0746Saturday started EARLY.  Up to feed the ponies at 4:30AM.  I love the sound of my Penny greeting me first thing in the morning.  It was well before the crack of dawn, early enough that eyes were blinking “bright lights bright lights” when I flicked them on.   They gulped down their grain in a fury and then with a flick of my wrist they burst out into the new day… frisky and feisty.  Loved it!  I took a video with my Blackberry but I can’t figure out how to upload it.  :(


So after chores it was off to work.  My office was hosting an educational symposium for medical professionals.  I needed to be there at 630AM.  It was a great success with a very good turnout. I left there promptly at 2pm.


Run back to the farm.  Let the doggies out.  Rush over to pick up Paul and Daniel for a play date.  This was their first time geocaching.  We hit the one at the Old Stone House first.  The instructions said to follow the North Country Trail.  We did not follow it the right way.  We completely missed the “this way” sign.  They wasted no time bush-wacking their way through the woods in the right direction.  Paul led us with the GPS.  I had to keep telling them to slow up and stick together or else they would lose their Aunt J.J. in the wilderness.  LOL  We overlooked it a number of times, but eventually found the treasure in a really neat spot.  They sat on a huge rock dissecting its contents and decided to take a couple little trinkets.  We left some trinkets too, and then set off to find another.  Unfortunately we did not find the others and we had not enough daylight time to do the puzzle cache in the area before dark.  The coolest thing my nephew ever said to me “Aunt J.J., when can we do this again?”  I’m looking forward to taking them again… and hopefully in the not so distant future.


I’m really proud of Paul.  We picked up a map at Jennings and he very successfully led us on a very nice hike.  We stopped a couple times to get the map out and assess which way we should go and he was the one that decided for us.  I’m impressed at his map-wise-ness.  We talked a little bit about the North Country Trail and I explained how to follow the “blue blazes.”  It was a great time!


This morning I was awakened at 4AM.  Tootsie, the big brown lab, jumped up on the bed, on top of the covers, on top of me.  She was straddling me and I was mummified.  I couldn’t move my arms.  She had me pinned.  She was breathing her doggie-breath in my face!  Ahhhhhhh!!!!!  I kept telling her “OFF!”  “OFF!”  It took a while but I finally broke free.  She just wanted to go outside.  Ugh! 


Here they are…  Riley on the left.  Tootsie on the right.  At that point I was UP, so I made a cup of tea and sat down on the couch with a blanket.  They were a constant audience.  Silly dogs!  A few hours later, the cat was at the front door, pining to be let in.  He had already been in.  HE wanted out before 4AM, so these little buggers had me up several times throughout the night.  I thought it would be cute to take a picture of Scampers begging to come in, but amazingly he looks like something right out of a cartoon!  I laughed out loud immediately.  This is too funny not to share!


And this was all just this morning.  We have dinner plans with our cousin for later this evening.  Should be fun.


Have a great weekend!!!!!