Trainspotting

I rode the train by myself yesterday. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Train Tracks in Bryson City

I was late (and almost missed it) because I chatted with the parking lot attendant too long about how locals with season passes should get free parking….my idea, not his.

I was assigned boarding section 5 and when I asked someone where that was they said:

Well it’s after 4….and if you get to 6 you’ve gone too far.

I never got as far as section 4 because I was forced to board at section 3.  I walked through all the train cars to get to section 5.  When I reached section 5, the woman I sat next to was worried because an older man had just suffered from a heart attack as he boarded.  I told her that luckily the hospital was on top of the hill next to us so he would probably be okay.  She seemed relieved.

At the start of the trip, I bought the $10 book because the man on the train said it was the best thing I would come across all day.  And it was. I sat and followed the map mile marker by mile marker. I slowly learned how to read a topographical map by matching up the scenery outside to what was in the book.  Like this adorable gingerbread farmhouse:

Old Farmhouse in Lower Alarka, Bryson City

I met a couple in their 70’s that were on their honeymoon.  We had a discussion about hickory nuts and pontoon boats. I listened to the train musicians sing an amazing rendition of Rock Me Momma…but then spent 20 minutes contemplating what “rock me momma like a wagon wheel” meant.  A lady with hot pink lipstick asked the musicians to play a song for the newlyweds.  Her mother had matching hot pink lipstick.

At the train’s “intermission” point I ate a huge BBQ sandwich by myself at a picnic table. I threw an animated fit when I brushed a red ant off my neck and the red ant WENT DOWN MY SHIRT.  A couple next to me stopped sipping their cold beers for a second to ask me if I was okay.

I watched a little boy pretend to talk on a police scanner in a foreign language. He had a toy gun in his holster and looked ready to use it.

I refilled my Diet Coke and asked a couple if they would watch it for me so I wouldn’t have to take it into the bathroom.  They looked like my grandparents….and the probability of being roofied at the Nantahala Outdoor Center is very, very low.

I asked three different people what time the train was going to leave. They each replied: when the horn blows.  Well thanks for nothin’….

I walked by the Nantahala River and collected driftwood. I spotted a shoe that had washed up at the bottom of the rapids. I thought about the fact that Deliverance was filmed on the Nantahala.

Nantahala River / Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Stop

I observed a man sitting on a rock in the middle of the river deep in thought.

I restyled my hair using the cool river water.

I walked along the edge of the train in awe of it’s underbelly. I wondered if anyone would survive laying on the track as the train rolled over (i.e. is there enough space for a human underneath). I was tempted to leave a few coins on the track to come back for later.

The train blew it’s 5 minute warning, and I definitely flinched.  I hopped back on, in the wrong car again.

On the way back I eavesdropped on a conversation concerning Ferragamo shoes. They sounded very expensive.

I talked with the man who had been sitting on a rock in the middle of the river and learned he was a landlord in NYC.  I also learned that he used to live in a bus year and years ago that he’d outfitted with a fireplace.  I asked if he still had the bus (because I might be interested in a bus).  He said he had just abandoned it and that someone else was probably enjoying a sweet bus right about now. (Hey Craig!)

The rocking of the train was so peaceful I thought about coming back one day for a nap.

As I got off the train, I saw a house for sale right in front of the depot and thought it would be a great place for a lemonade stand.

It took about 4.5 hours round trip. And that was that.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Departing from Bryson City Railroad

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself. -Henry Miller

I do forget myself…but I remember everything else.

 

 

Wherever You Go Becomes a Part of You Somehow

(Photos are from my Instagram feed @Lilblueboo)

The profile of Grandfather mountain yesterday morning from where my parent’s house is:

 

We’ve spent the last two days in Linville visiting my mom, my brother and his family at my parents’ house.  Two days ago, as we approached Grandfather Mountain, Boo began weeping in the back seat:

Boo: I wish I had died in the tornado.
Me: What?! Why would you say that?
Boo: Because then I would be in heaven…and I would see Grandpa.
Me: But we would miss you!
Boo: Oh, but you would have died too.

I guess at least she has the whole afterlife thing figured out, but we were pretty taken aback by her sudden response to a place. It reminded me of this:

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. -Anita Desai

Yes sometimes it is hard to believe that my dad is gone.  Everything in Linville reminds us of him. Like the Linn Cove Viaduct…every time he took us over it he’d say some thing like “here’s the Viaduct…the road is just suspended over the mountain.”

The Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Linville, NC

 

The first day we were in Linville it was pretty overcast. We drove up to the Mile High Bridge at Grandfather anyways.  A few years ago I took Boo by myself and I refused to walk across.  I look thrilled and enthusiastic this time too:

 

Ok I was pretty proud that all three of us went across. Fun fact: the highest temperature ever recorded on the top of Grandfather was 83 degrees.

 

Standing in the middle of the bridge:

 

As I walked back across the bridge I noticed a family huddled over the side like they were scoping out their surroundings.  Then I noticed a jar one of them was holding: ashes.  When they got back across I asked one of the men whose ashes they had released under the bridge.  He told me it was his brother who had died 3 weeks earlier.  We listened to their story for a while and then my mother walked up and she went right up to one of the women in the group and hugged her.

Me: Did you know them?
Mom: Oh yes, that was Glenda. She’s a hospice nurse where I volunteer.

*****

After Grandfather we drove over to Julian Price Lake to rent a canoe.  It’s only $13 for an hour.  Brett and my brother Swen took turns rowing the kids around the lake. It’s a dreamy place:

 

My mom made us all dinner and afterwards we made a fire. Is there anything better than a crispy marshmallow?

 

While the kids burned sticks in the fire with the rest of the adults, Brett and I went on a walk at dusk. We noticed that it was so quiet we could hear our breathing. We are so used to the katydids in Bryson City that it seemed eerily quiet. No birds, no insects, nothing.  And the cloudy mist comes in. It always looks so perfect that it looks fake to me…like someone brought in a smoke machine:

 

Yesterday morning we hiked to Linville Falls:

 

We persuaded my brother and his wife to come along with us and bring their two kids, and we all pitched in carrying my nephew Carter who is still toddling. Brett carried him the most because he’s part llama:

 

I got a stamp in my journal: [Read more…]

Trailers and Tornados

I’m finally back! After a few crazy weeks!  I’ve never gone that long without writing. It took me a few days to figure out how to log into my WordPress from the road, mostly because my passwords were buried underneath a ton of stuff in the back of the truck.

And now I’m typing this in the car connected to the Internet. Sending info to space and back from the truck from somewhere around Topeka, KS. Amazing.

We are on our 4th day cross country to the Hemlock Inn.  Brett has been driving mostly because I am a disaster with the trailer.  It starts swaying when I drive it.  The truck even flashed “sway alert” at me a few times.  I could drive it all by myself and I’d be fine but something about having people in the car causes stage fright:

 

I meant to write the past few days but the cell coverage has just been really spotty and then I couldn’t remember my password it had been so long.  Then yesterday as I was trying to wrap up a post: TORNADO.

What are the odds that we run into a Tornado?! I kept looking at the doppler and all the weather was way north until a small patch just appeared on the screen suddenly.  Like a bad dream. We had just gotten into Kansas and we were relieved that all the bad weather seemed to be north of us. We were in the middle of nowhere, and it was beautiful:

Then somewhere along the way….where there was literally no civilization for miles and miles…I was teaching Boo how to pee on the side of the road…and she burned her bum tailpipe. (of all the places to sit down she sat down against the tailpipe?!) Before we started out again I took a photo of the clouds and sunset behind us:

Slowly, for about an hour, the clouds were starting to rotate and form a wall:

YES I TOOK THIS PHOTO. IT LOOKS LIKE A MOVIE SCENE.

Brett: That looks circular to me.

Me: I think we might be okay. Anyway, if that was a tornado it would be about a category F100.  That thing is huge.

But then as I watched it I wasn’t so sure.  I crawled across the seats to get a better look of the clouds and what looked like little finger like funnels forming off of it.  It looked like we were in front of it and from the animated radar I pulled up on my phone it seemed like we were too.

As we pulled through the small town of Lakin and just as we did the radio started emitting the emergency broadcast signal.

“a tornado has touched down in Lakin”

Me: We are IN Lakin. That is the tornado!

We kept going because there was no place to take shelter but as the road turned north we soon found ourselves in the middle of it.  Everything was purple and just like the movie Twister farm debris was moving across the road. It was chaos as we tried to determine the best plan of action. Then suddenly we passed a gas station and it gave us an option. and Brett flipped a u-turn and we headed back.

We pulled into the parking lot with the trailer. The only sign of life was an 18 wheeler with its lights on.  I grabbed the dog and Brett grabbed Boo. Boo was so scared she began vomiting all over the pavement. That’s when I snapped this photo:

 

We left the truck and the trailer in the middle of the parking lot and ran to the door. The gas station had already been locked down…a woman came to the door and quickly unlocked it. Inside she directed us to a small janitor’s closet. The tornado alarms kept going off every few minutes.  The locked doors began to shake and hiss and squeal and we stayed there until it all quieted down. And my life flashed before my eyes and I pictures all of ouse being sucked up into a tornado as the building disappeared around us. And we just prayed that God would keep us safe.

And he did. Thank you God.

And today, except for some hail damage to the truck windshield, everything is back to normal again.

The crazy thing is a few days ago I had an eerie premonition of trying to outrun a tornado. In a matter of a few days we traded earthquake country for tornado country. The difference is that I know exactly what to do in an earthquake… but not in a tornado.

More tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Planning a Roadtrip

How to plan a roadtrip via lilblueboo.com #quote

22 days until we move cross country to the Hemlock Inn! I’ve been plotting out our route using Roadtrippers. I added our start and finish points and then a few crucial stops in between. It’s still moving around but the whole trip is planned around visiting Lindsborgh, Kansas where my grandfather’s old farmhouse still stands and 2 of the presidential libraries on the trajectory back down to North Carolina.You can click here to see the itinerary.  Let me know if there’s any place you think we should stop (as long as it’s not too far out of the way….northern states will be another summer!).

Cross country roadtrip from California to North Carolina

 

A few cool things about Roadtrippers:

1. It plots the most efficient route and when you add new destinations along the way it’s easy to drag them into chronological order and everything recalculates.

2. You can zoom in and see what sites are nearby and click through for more info.  It’s easy to click and add to your trip or to your bucket list:

3. Each site even has a “rad-o-meter” that tells you if it’s worth stopping:

4. The blogs. That’s how I found this amazing timelapse of the Albuguerque Balloon Festival:

 

I also like Roadside America. Mostly because I am a huge fan of offbeat tourist attractions.  I also just love wandering and exploring abandoned places.

Oh, and I still have to have a BIG paper map or over-sized atlas.

What was your favorite road trip or one you can’t wait to take one day?

 

The Implacable Grandeur of Life

Happiness via lilblueboo.com #quote

Boo and I have been in North Carolina since the 12th visiting my family.  I’ve tried to stay unplugged as much as possible. Boo and I have turned most of our technology for good old fashioned compositions books the last week. It feels really great to write with a pen a little more. Maybe this will be the start of some new habits for me.

Here are a few of the things that Boo would want me to share with you so far:

1. North Carolina has very interesting leaves and trees.  (The most interesting part for her is that there ARE leaves.  There aren’t a lot of leaves in the desert. If you live in NC….notice your trees today please.)

Is that a squirrel?  It’s like a zoo here!

2. There’s a cool restaurant concept called a cafeteria.  (She had her first experience….and she’s hooked for life….which would be an issue in this family if she wasn’t.)

K&W Cafeteria – Charlotte, NC

 

3. The best part about becoming a better swimmer year over year is not having to anticipate the bottom of a waterslide with dread anymore. Yahoo.

4. Bojangles is the best restaurant ever. (The goal is to eat as much as possible until we can’t stand it anymore so it won’t be hard to leave behind.)

5. Deer poop is easily recognizable when your Aunt and Uncle have 2 deer families using their yard as a nightly hangout.

6. This….is a good slingshot stick. Found at a haunted house. A real abandoned haunted house. Well….it was really abandoned. Not sure about the haunting….but the odds are about 72.44% based on looks alone. [Read more…]

Travel Gift Ideas

 

Fun travel gift ideas from Fab via lilblueboo.com

 

Doing any traveling this summer? Here are some awesome items you might want to take on your next trip!

 

1. Feel comfortable and look cute during your travels with the Travel More Tee.

2. Stick anything to the front like sand from the beach and mail away with these Sticky Postcards.

3. Nothing beats a photo taken with a Polaroid Camera.

4. The Floral Travel Pouch is roomy and will look cute in your carry on.

5. Hate finding sand in your beach bag? This Canvas Backpack has a sifting mesh bottom. Genius!

6. Protect your phone with the Mail iPhone Cover.

7. With the Gold Foil Map you can scratch off the gold top foil layer on each new destination you travel to. So cool!

8. You can’t travel without a pair of Headphones. How cute are these bike and milk and cookie ear buds?

9. This stylish Blue Camera Bag is roomy enough for all your camera needs.

10. A Journal is a must have travel item.

11. Kids and adults too, will love receiving an Airplane Postcard in the mail!

 

Fab is an online design curated shop featuring quirky, fun, modern and colorful products. You will find clothing, home decor, art, gadgets and more! Items on Fab are only there for a limited time so if you like something…act quick! Register a free account with Fab to receive updates for Fab’s newest sales and find something fun for everyone!

 

*This post is in partnership with Fab. If you would like more information on sponsoring the Lil Blue Boo blog and to read our disclaimer policy please go here.

DIY Road Trip Activities for Kids

 

DIY Road Trip Activities for Kids via lilblueboo.com

 

Summer is here…and so are long family road trips! We have rounded up 10 awesome DIY Road Trip Activities for Kids to help keep you sane and your children entertained.

[Read more…]

The Gift of Art (DIY Art Box and Free Artwork Download)

 

The Gift of Art (DIY Art Box and Free Artwork Download by Stephanie Corfee) via lilblueboo.com #gift #christmas #diy #printable

So I was thinking about what I would have loved to get as a gift as a kid…..and this art box is definitely something I would have been overjoyed about.  Actually, I’m STILL overjoyed when I get art supplies! I have no self control when it comes to browsing the arts and crafts store…..sometimes I get lost in there for hours (as well as the hardware store). So here’s how I assembled these kits and where I purchased everything from. You can always buy the “ready made” art kits at the store….but the custom filled art box will always be 1000% more fun! Oh, and the awesome artwork? Stephanie Corfee created it….just for you…..because she’s awesome like that!

Here’s the front view of one example: [Read more…]

Printable USA Map and State Capital Flashcards

Boo has to learn where the states are this year. My first reaction? Oh no….that means I have to learn them too. I was never that great at geography. I wanted a fun and unique way to help her learn them, as well as the capitals, and worked with Lindsay from Pen and Paint to come up with these fun illustrated printable flashcards:

Learning the States and Capitals Flashcards by Pen and Paint via lilblueboo.com #teaching #states #learning #teachers

 

Lindsay even made a printable map to accompany the flashcards to help learn the location of each state:

DIY States and Capitals Flashcards by Pen and Paint via lilblueboo.com #teaching #states #learning #teachers

 

They are easy to make and I love that I can throw them in my purse and take in the car and to restaurants: [Read more…]

Making Mementos and Jewelry With Coins

Making Mementos and Jewelry With Coins Tutorial via lilblueboo.com

Note: A quick note before I get a gazillion comments….it’s not illegal to alter coins….as long as you never try to spend them again.
I checked with the treasury department. I might be breaking some law with the international coins….so extradite me.

Everywhere I’ve traveled overseas….I’ve kept a coin from that country. I had them in a jar, but I recently took each one and stamped them with the year I traveled there: [Read more…]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...