Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day (and the Winner Is....)

We hope that everyone has enjoyed their long Memorial Day weekend. We hope it has been fun and safe for you all. We've been having our fun that's for sure, starting with our two 7-inning vacations on Friday. We spent the day at the pool playing ladder ball on Saturday (of course this was after taking care of some yard work). We followed that up with some much needed shopping on Sunday (frankly we were all in need of some new duds so we spoiled ourselves a little). Today, we played tourist in our own back yard Pigeon Forge, spending the day at Dollywood's Splash Country. We play tourist in Pigeon Forge about twice a year (once around Christmas Time to look at the lights, and at least once visiting attractions like Dollywood's Splash Country or Dollywood).

We are definitely wore out after having been beat down by the sun all day. I don't know how much longer we will last before our beds claim us for the night only to rest up and start the rat race all over again in the morning. However, the bright side to this are that after having today off, it's only a 4-day work week (Woo-hoo).

So before our bodies decide to shut down on us for the evening, I know you've all been waiting to see who won the "Orion Sky" print giveaway. You've all shared your favorite constellations, liked us and Random Joy Fine Arts and Photography on Facebook, shared the post on your walls, Tweeted and even mentioned the giveaway on your blogs. For that we thank you all for your participation and support of Appalchia & Beyond. So without further ado, we give you the winner of the "Orion Sky" print by Random Joy Fine Arts and Photography. After plugging in the 26 comment numbers into the Random Number Generator at, we are pleased to announce that comment #7 - Jobiwan is our grand winner. Joe, send us an email at appalachiaandbeyond (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and we will get the print out to you in the next couple of days. We hope you enjoy the print, after reading your first entry comment we are certain that you will.

That's all we have this evening. Our bodies are ready to shut down at any time now, so we'll bid y'all adieu and hope you have a wonderful week. Stay tuned as we will have more posts to follow in the coming days and there may even be another giveaway opportunity for you to jump on too.

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

Saturday, May 28, 2011

One, Two, Three Strikes You're Out!

Tim and I spent Friday evening taking what we initially thought would be a 9-inning vacation. Turned out, Thursday's game was rained out and Friday turned into a 7-inning double header. So, we ended up with a 14-inning vacation and post-game fireworks to boot!

It's no secret that Tim and I both love baseball. I love the slowness of the game. I know a lot of people complain about that, but I love just relishing in moments and baseball is the perfect sport for me to do just that. Plus, I can never pass up a ballpark polish sausage. Yum!

We were pretty excited about going to begin with. I'd bought Tim tickets for his birthday. It's just not summer here without a Smokies game! Plus, with Tim being a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, it helps that the Tennessee Smokies are a Double-A Affiliate of the Cubs. So, he and I were even more excited to find out that Geovany Soto (Catcher for the Cubs) was going to be starting his rehab on the very evening we were there! Catcher is my favorite baseball position - and Tim, he just loves seeing anyone from the Cubs.

We were pretty disappointed, however. I'd just like to say: Mr. Geo - It's not conducive to a good first impression when you ignore six-year-old children just dying for your autograph. Quit spitting tobacco and sunflower seeds for five minutes and sign the kid's baseball. The article in the Knox News this morning does not fit the REAL character you portrayed whatsoever. You really should do better. Because you know what? Someone else is watching... and they might just BLOG ABOUT IT.  

Needless to say, I'm still a Michael Barrett fan (even if he doesn't play for the Cubs anymore)... and Get Well Soon, Mr. Barrett!

But - We had an INCREDIBLE time, nonetheless and would advise anyone vacationing to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg/Smoky Mtn area to drop buy and see the Tennessee Smokies play. It's great fun for the entire family - tickets are VERY affordable - and the food and fun is great. It's one of the cleanest stadiums I've ever been to, and the people don't get any friendlier (as long as your not looking for friendly from Mr. Soto, hehe).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Latest Rendition of Gear Giveaway Roundup

It's time to once again to round up all the giveaways going on in the outdoor blog-o-realm. There are a number of good ones that you will not want to miss out on, so let us get right to it.

First and foremost, we (i.e. Appalachia & Beyond) are having our first ever giveaway. Head over to our giveaway post to check out how you can enter for a chance to win an original Random Joy Fine Arts and Photography 16x24 "Orion Sky" print, suitable for framing and hanging on your wall for a mighty fine display. You better hurry as this is a Memorial Day giveaway and you only have until Sunday night to get entered. We will pick the winner on Memorial Day, Monday May 30th.

The next great giveaway is over at our good friend Karl's blog, Live Free and Hike New Hampshire. Up for grabs is one of 5 copies of Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire. This is a great giveaway opportunity as Karl is allowing everyone to have up to 5 entries provided you follow the entry details correctly. You have until May 31st to get in on this giveaway so don't wait too long, times fun when you're having flies... erm "scratch that, reverse it."

The next giveaway is another opportunity to win a Daily Hiker T-Shirt from none other than the fine folks at This time around you need to send them your funniest Hiker Photo. All the details are on their giveaway post but the short of it is to get a pic sent to them by early next week before they pick the best ones.

These next couple of giveaways are for the fisherman/ladies out there. You know, the ones that lurk on our blog secretly wishing to be hikers/backpackers... Just messing guys, I'm sure quite a few of you have to do some major hiking to get to those secret honey holes.

Ok, first up for the fishing crowd, the gang over at Four Season Anglers, have quite the tackle/gear package for a lucky Facebook fan when they get to Fan #100. As a matter of fact, they give you two ways to enter. First, like their Facebook Page. Second, refer a friend to like there page. Of course the friend has to "Like" the page for that second entry. As it stands, they currently have 53 fans. So what are you waiting for? Head on over and get your name in the drawing.

The second giveaway for the line casters out there is brought to you by Cofisher, the author of blog Windknots and Tangled Lines blog. Up for grabs is a fishing app for your iPad/iPhone. All you need to do is head over to Windknots & Tangled Lines for the details, but I'll tell you this, you'll have to write a 2 paragraph essay and you'll have to do it before Friday May 27th 7:00pm MST.

Well that's all we've got this week. If anyone else is having a contest/giveaway that we might have overlooked accidentally, please let us know. We will make an addendum to this post or save it for the next roundup.

Oh by the way, be sure to check out the Outdoor Blogger Network at some point Thursday, they should be getting another Gear Review Giveaway Opportunity up real soon like.

Happy Trails and Good Luck,
Tim and Robin

Happy Birthday!!

Today is Tim and Clover's Birthdays!! 

Happy Birthday to you both!!!

Tim's going to be - well, old - and Clover's going to be seven.

We don't really know Clover's birthday because she crawled out of the woods at a friend's house when she was roughly 7-9 weeks old and won the hearts of us all. The doctor had a hard time dating her by her baby teeth since they were worn from all the rocks she'd been chewing on trying to find something to eat. According to calculations and best guesses, it would have been pretty close to the end of May when this baby was born. So she shares Tim's birthday. And with a relationship as serious as theirs, I don't think there could have been a better day chosen.

Last year's birthday cake.

Happy Birthday to my best friends.

Last year's present opening.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vasque Mindbender 7516 Trail Running Shoes - Gear Review

As you all know, I was a lucky recipient of a pair of Vasque Mindbender 7516 Trail Running shoes. I had entered a contest sponsored by Rock Creek Outfitters and Vasque Footwear for free entry into the Rock Creek Scenic City Trail Marathon and a free pair of Vasque Mindbenders. It's probably a good thing I didn't win as I would have placed dead last anyway as I've only been back to the running thing for about a month or so now.

Regardless of the fact, because I tried so hard in the contest, Vasque Footwear was kind enough to offer me a consolation prize in the form of a free pair of Mindbenders. I was actually quite surprised at the offer and very excited as well as grateful at the same time. This in my opinion is the mark of a great company, willing to reward those that even when they come up short they tried hard regardless of the fact.

Well I've had the Mindbenders now for about 2 weeks and already I've fallen in love with them. I've been running on the Lake Trail at Big Ridge State Park and the Songbird Trail at Norris Dam State Park. I've worn them to work and have walked several miles in them during breaks. I even wore them this past weekend hiking in the Big South Fork. Oh and they work quite well on the track, too.

The first day I received them in the mail, I had them out of the box immediately checking them out. As I was home for lunch I couldn't wear them just yet but was eager to get back home. When I did I immediately changed out of my work clothes into more suitable shorts and t-shirt appropriate for a little house work to help out Robin who is still working overtime making baby. I donned the Mindbenders and set straight to vacuuming the house. The first thing I noticed was the grip of the shoes. Of course I was on carpet but it was almost like my feet glued to it with every step.

During the few trail runs and other runs I've done since I received them, I've noticed more and more how well the shoes perform. I've only slipped a little one time while wearing them and that was going up hill on a trail with brittle rock. You know the kind: slate rock that crumbles the seconds you put the slightest amount of pressure on it. Other than that they've been great. I've even gotten them a bit wet walking through grass after a good soaking rain. They handle moisture quite well with a very breathable mesh upper which also allows your feet to stay cool in the heat and allows for quick drying too.

The sole of the shoes are quite impressive as well. I've noticed that when running I do not feel the shock of impact with the ground on my feet at all, unless I happen to land the toe area on a stick, rock, or root. Walking on the road is like walking on a firm mattress if that tells you anything.

The weight of the shoe comes in just under 400g making them a nice light weight trail runner. My feet don't feel like they plod along while walking, hiking or running. Instead of the clunky feeling one might get with a sturdy hiking shoe or boot, the Mindbenders are quite the opposite. I feel nimble on my feet, like I can handle any sort of terrain, well except maybe wet, moss covered rocks, I don't think anything can stand up to that. That stuff is like black ice on the road.

The fit of the Mindbenders is rather superb as well. It feels as though they cradle my foot nicely and leave enough room in the toe box for foot swelling/expansion that is experienced when running longer distances. I did order a half-size up as I usually do with any shoe that I'll be very active in. However, I don't think I would recommend this shoe to a flat footed person. While the arch support is well for the normal pronator, someone with flat feet wouldn't get the arch support they needed unless they wore some sort of orthotic or other insert. Of course if you've ever tried to wear an insert/orthotic in a pair of running shoes, it feels as though you might run out of the shoes at any moment.

One other point on the shoes I will mention is that while they are great for trail running, urban walking, hikes on easy to moderate terrain, and other running surfaces, I wouldn't recommend them for hiking in the winter, at least not in our neck of the woods or further north from here. With the breathability, your feet would likely get a little chilly. I also wouldn't recommend them for hiking on a longer or more technical trail like those you might find in The Great Smoky Mountains. One stub of the toe on a root or rock sticking up out of the ground and you will definitely feel it.

Anyway, I can't say enough how much I love these shoes. Even though I'm still breaking them in (I've only got about 30 multipurpose miles on them) they have met and surpassed my needs for a trail running shoe. I also can't thank Vasque Footwear or Rock Creek Outfitters enough for holding the contest, otherwise I wouldn't have been fortunate enough to have these great kicks for my footsies.

Okay, I know some of you are all about the technical details so I will share them with you here straight from the Vasque Footwear website.

Vasque Men's Mindbender 7516 Specs:
- Weight: 11.5 oz. (326g)
- Outsole: Vasque Blur
- Last: Perpetuum
- Midsole: Dual Density EVA and TPU Instep Plate
- Available Colors: Olive Branch/Peat or Beluga/Spectra Yellow
- Available Sizes: Men's Medium 7-12,13,14,15,Wide 8-12,13
- MSRP: Appx. $100.00

Vasque Women's Mindbender 7519 Specs:
- Weight: 9.9 oz. (281g)
- Outsole: Vasque Blur
- Last: Perpetuum
- Midsole: Dual Density EVA and TPU Instep Plate

- Available Colors: Griffin/Riviera or a Green/Gray (Not sure the official color name as it's not listed on the site.)
- Available Sizes: Women's Medium 5-11
- MSRP: Appx. $100.00

So there you have it. If you are in the market for a good pair of trail runners and you aren't flat footed, I would highly recommend a pair of Vasque Mindbenders.

Happy Trails,

Disclaimer: Tim received the Vasque Mindbender 7516s free of charge as a consolation prize in a contest on Vasque Footwear's Facebook Page. He agreed to review them here on Appalachia & Beyond. The opinions expressed above are Tim's independent thoughts and experiences.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Orion Sky" Print - A Memorial Day Giveaway

The Announcement
We've been at this blogging thing hot and heavy since October last year and we've not had a single giveaway for you, our fans, our readers. So here's the deal, just in time for Memorial Day, we're having a giveaway. Yes, you read that correctly, a giveaway.

Now you are wondering what it is we have decided to giveaway. Could it be some cool gear for the outdoor lover? You know a camp stove or a pair of trail shoes? Not quite, but you outdoor lovers will definitely be clamoring for it. You've been following along, reading our tales and living vicariously through our love of the Appalachian outdoors. Likewise, you've been ooohhhhing and aaaahhhhhing over the amazing photography that accompanies our posts, and if the title didn't give it away, then something is clearly wrong. LOL.

The Prize
What is it already? Okay okay, we have decided to give away an original Random Joy Fine Arts and Photography print. This is not some ordinary run-of-the-mill print. No, not by a long shot. This is one fandy-tastic 16x24 starry evening print titled "Orion Sky" (original photo below - print will not have watermark) and printed on Kodak Professional Metallic, archival quality paper taken by Random Joy Fine Arts and Photograpy (a.k.a. Robin). That's right folks, this is the kind of print that will have your friends green with envy and wondering where ever did you get your hands on such a fine quality shot.

The Rules, Instructions, Details, ETC.
Now, are you jumping up and down with hard to contain excitement yelling, "how do we get our hats tossed into the ring for this one?" Well here's the deal: you have until Sunday, May 29th to get your entries in. At 11:59p.m. EDT we will shut down comments on this post.  Each valid comment in the comments section will be given a unique number in the order they were received. On Memorial Day, Monday, May 30th, we will use to pick a winner. So what are you waiting for? Oh right, the entry details.

You have a chance at up to 4 entries and each chance is detailed below:

Entry 1 - Comment on this post letting us know what's your favorite constellation and why?

Entry 2 - Like Appalachia & Beyond on Facebook. Then share this post on your Facebook page. Come back to this post and leave a separate comment stating that you have done so.
              (Disclaimer: This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook. You are providing information to Appalachia & Beyond only and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for this giveaway.)

Entry 3 - Like Random Joy Fine Arts and Photography on Facebook. Then come back to this here post and leave a separate comment stating that you have done so.
               (Disclaimer: Once again, this giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook. You are providing information to Appalachia & Beyond only and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for this giveaway.)

Entry 4 - Follow @anbblog on Twitter then share this giveaway post on your own Twitter account. Come back to this post and let us know that you did this in a separate comment.
              (Disclaimer: This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Twitter. You are providing information to Appalachia & Beyond only and not to Twitter. The information you provide will only be used for this giveaway.)

That's it folks. The moment you have been waiting for is finally here. Now get to clicking that comment button, click those share on Facebook and Twitter buttons, and click those "Like" and "Follow" buttons on our Facebook page and Twitter accounts, too.

Good Luck and Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

Slave Falls and Needle Arch - Big South Fork - 5/21/2011

As you have heard, yesterday was supposed to be the rapture and Robin reported that we were going out in our style. Of course that meant walking in the woods. After Robin had been cooped up in the house most of the week and me having a busy week at work, we were both itching to seek solace in the trees and sandstone geology of The Big South Fork NRRA. This time we decided to do a hike that we hadn't done in close to 10 years: the Sawmill Trail to Slave Falls and Needle Arch.

Our original plan was to do the Slave Falls Loop. Of course with Robin working overtime all the time right now, we decided that she would make the call as to whether or not we would do the whole loop or come back out after seeing Slave Falls and Needle Arch. We really couldn't have asked for better weather as the rain was forecast to hold off another day. I suppose if there was one complaint, it would have been for the temps to be a couple of degrees cooler but nonetheless we weren't going to complain and enjoyed our time.

The trailhead is located on the graveled Fork Ridge Road. To get there from Knoxville, you travel north on I-75 to the Oneida exit in Scott County. From there you take Highway 63 through Huntsville. At the light turn right on Highway 27 to Oneida. At the first stop light in Oneida's industrial area take a left onto 297 and continue left on 297 at the stop sign. From here follow the signs to The Big South Fork NRRA. Once in the park stay on 297 all the way through the park until you come to Highway 154. This is a bit of a drive so don't worry, you will stay on 297 until you get to 154 and have no choice but to turn right or left. At this junction turn right towards Pickett State Park until you come to the sign for Charit Creek Lodge. Turn right at the sign onto the graveled Divide Road and then turn right onto Fork Ridge Road. Go down Fork Ridge Road until you come to the parking lot for Sawmill Trail. It's just past the Middle Creek Trailhead area.

From the trailhead we donned our gear and were ready to head down the trail when a lady exited the trail with a full pack. Minutes later, as I was waypointing the trailhead, a man exited the trail with a nice sized pack as well. It was at this point he asked Robin if she could get their picture. Turns out the man and woman were together and had just hiked out from Charit Creek Lodge where they had stayed the night. After he took a good 5 minutes to explain how to properly operate his point and shoot to a woman holding a Canon 60D (bless his heart!), Robin snapped a few pictures for them and the gentleman offered to do the same for us. I handed him my camera and we (Robin, Clover, and I) posed for our group mugshot.

After exchanging pleasantries we finally set down the trail which followed alongside the graveled road we drove in on. Within two to three tenths of a mile we came to the point where the loop begins and you can turn left to cross the road or right to take the loop in a clockwise direction. It was also at this point, while once again waypointing this spot, we were met by a large group of adults and kids hiking back from what appeared to be a scout outing on the trail. Everyone admired Clover and one little boy mentioned that at first he thought "We were walking a skunk" because all he seen was a black and white tail. Too cute.

We turned right at this point and headed downhill on the trail through a mixed pine, hemlock, and hardwood forest. Along the way, we enjoyed the sound of birds flitting and chirping throughout the forest. We spotted toadstools and other fungi, as well as many different wildflowers amongst a fern-covered forest floor. We had the trail to ourselves and relished in that fact. We continued hiking, making mention of things we both saw.

At one point in the trail, about a half mile in, we noticed that a creek was meandering along to the right of the trail. We took a moment to let Clover get her paws wet and discussed how that would be a great water source for backpackers. Once Clover was done playing, we continued on for another .2 miles when we came upon a footbridge that crossed over the creek. We decided once again to take a small detour and let Clover play in the water once more. She absolutely loves playing in the creeks if you hadn't noticed by now. The interesting thing about the creek at this point was that it seemed to drop in behind a rock and then flow out of it's opening, which was pretty cool.

We continued on once more making our way further down the trail towards Slave Falls. It was around this point that I noticed the "CPS" had lost the satellite signal. Previous to our starting down the trail, Trimble decided to throw some sort of exception error. I had to restart the program and it appeared that all was well. Unfortunately, we were no longer recording our trip past the footbridge and it wasn't til the next day that I discovered it wasn't going to record any trips until I reset the whole phone. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Shortly after the footbridge we came to a point in the trail where it traverses the rim edge of the hollow where Slave Falls is located. Another .2 miles and we reached the junction in the trail where we could turn right to the Indian Rock House and continue the loop or continue straight for another tenth of a mile or two to the point in the trail where we had to decide if we wanted to go to the falls first or the arch first. We opted to turn left on the trail and head down to the falls. The trail to the falls is .2 miles and meanders alongside the rock overhang of the hollow rim. This part of the trail is where you can expect to get, in the very least, dirty and at the worst muddy as water from rain and runoff continuously drips from the overhang.

As we continued to descend into the hollow alongside the rim wall, we finally made it to the falls. There is an observation point here with fence and sign to allow safe viewing. However, being the photographers that we Robin are is, we decided in order to get the shot we had to CLIMB down the trail to the rock pool at the foot of the falls. This is where we got the dirtiest as we had to slip and slide down steep, muddy trail and butt slide down boulders to get there. (Makes me wish I had brought our climbing rope. :P). Once at the bottom we snapped several photos and then let Clover off the leash to romp in the pool created by the 60' Slave Falls -named for the slaves that took refuge in the rock overhangs in the area and the amphitheater that was created by the erosion from wind and the waterfall.

After what seemed like an hour enjoying the waterfall and surrounding scenery, it was time to head back up and check out Needle Arch. Of course this meant scrambling back up the muddy embankment to the observation area and then back to the main trail. Once back to the main trail we turned to the left from the falls trail and hiked another .2 miles to the arch. Needle Arch is a natural sandstone arch formed over time from erosion. At the arch, you can go right on the trail for another 1.5 miles to Jake's Place and then eventually to Charit Creek Lodge. However, after spending a little bit at the arch admiring the geological formation and taking Robin's 10 week pregnancy picture we decided to head back to the loop trail. After all if we were going to do the entire loop we had to get a move on.

We headed back the way we came until we came to the decision point as to whether to finish the loop or just head back out the way we came. Robin was feeling pretty tired after climbing down and then back from the falls so we opted to take the short route and head back out the way we came. We took our time and enjoyed what was left of our time in the woods, snapping a few more pictures. We came to the point where the trail traverses along the rim and I decided to see if I could give Robin a mini heart attack walk to the edge and glimpse the waterfall from above. Unfortunately, all I did was get a scolding for sliding down the rock to the ledge as Robin thought I was gone 60' down in a hurry.

At this point we continued our walk back to the car and enjoying each others company. We got back to the car to realize as always our car was the last one in the parking lot. We kicked off our shoes, removed our packs, put on our flip flops and headed home. We had to take time at the trailhead long enough to enjoy our PB&J sandwiches and oatmeal cream pies though. We had definitely earned them.

On our way back home we made countless jokes about the rapture. It wasn't quite "time" yet but drawing closer. We decided to stop at a little market (The Hitching Post) to grab a couple of sodas and a bottle of water for the Beene. We decided that it had that "Wrong Turn" feel to it as it reeked with that creepy vibe. It couldn't have been a more fitting place for the "pending rapture".

Nothing happened - as we all knew it wouldn't. Jesus will come in his own time, not some quack's time. Until then, there are plenty more trail to follow.

For bunches more pictures, go here and view this hike's web album.

BTW - we're transitioning to Picasa for our photos. Soon we'll have them all moved over from our Flickr.

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gotta Keep On Keeping On

It's Saturday night, and Tim and I spent all day in the woods. And since the end of the world didn't show it's ugly face, I suppose we'll have to pay the bills and feed the cats after all. But that can wait until we're done being lazy by the fire.

See, the way we seen it, if we were going to be "called" today, then we were going out in style. Our style, that is. We dressed ourselves in our favorite hiking clothes (well, I had to improvise a bit as the baby has caused my favorite hiking pants to be a bit snug around the waist) and set out for a hike in the Big South Fork. It took me us all day to hike roughly 3 miles, and Tim and Clover were very patient with my numerous stops and out-of-breath-ness. Building a baby is hard work!  We hiked to the beautiful Slave Falls - where I ruined the seat of my drawers by literally having to slide down large muddy rocks to get the perfect shot - and on over to Needle Arch where Tim took my 10 weeks photo. He doesn't know it yet but it was the perfect place to take this one since it occurred to me not two days ago that in less than seven months I'm going to be forced to pass a camel through the eye of a needle. Needle Arch - the beautiful, naturally-formed, sandstone archway - will never be the same to me again. I will forever look upon it with fear and dread. And with those thoughts in mind, it was slightly disappointing that Jesus didn't show up to give me a reprieve.

On a side note - and a bit of personal trivia - what you may or may not know is that this is Tim and I's first birth together. Ashby - whom I've raised since she was three - is Tim's biological daughter and my adopted daughter. Although that's not relevant to our outdoors blogging, we thought it might clear up some things if we happen to sound like newbies all over again.

I know Tim is looking forward to detailing our hike for you - he loves that part of blogging! And I love to let him do it. So for now, and since I'm still here, I'll be working on the photos for his post in the very near future.

Oh, and Chip - these are just for you! The laurel is starting to bloom in the BSF.

Until then - Happy Weekend!
Robin and Tim

Friday, May 20, 2011


Have I mentioned our rhododendron?? Oh, quite a few times already. But have I told you that it's the single most beautiful rhododendron in the world?? At least... I think so.

With light-pink blossom clusters larger than my face, here are some more photos I couldn't help posting of our backyard rhodo that towers over me when I visit and reminds me each time that it is much older than I.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank You, Vasque!

Just wanted to take a moment to show off my new Vasque Mindbender 7516 trail running shoes! If you remember, I was in a contest recently to win a free pair of shoes and entrance into the Rock/Creek Scenic City Trail Marathon. Although I didn't win, Vasque Footwear was kind enough to send me a pair of Mindbenders as a consolation prize for trying so hard.

I've had these babies since Monday, and I'm already partial to the comfort and support they are giving me this week during my runs. I'll have a full review on them as soon as I get a good bit of miles on their soles.

Thanks again, Vasque! What a surprise!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rainy Days by AnB Zeppelin

Yup... Robin is officially bored of the rain.
** To the tune of Dancin' Days by Led Zeppelin **

Rainy days are here again and the springtime evenings are cool.
The rhodo’s flowers are lovin’ the showers, the toads are on the stools.

Temperate rainforest, Temperate rainforest – that’s what we get, I guess.
Rains for days and days, that’s right: days and days – shouldn’t expect any less.

Crazy weather is evident – There is snow on Mt. Mitchell in May
We’ve turned our heat on inside to keep the chillies at bay.

Temperate rainforest, Temperate rainforest – that’s what we get, I guess.
Rains for days and days, that’s right: days and days – shouldn’t expect any less.

I told my Timmy I’d take some pics, but my camera hasn’t been waterproofed.
All this drizzle has made me sizzle with cabin fever under this roof.

Temperate rainforest, Temperate rainforest – that’s what we get, I guess.
Rains for days and days, that’s right: days and days – shouldn’t expect any less.

Rainy days are here again and the springtime evenings are cool.
I want the sunshine back, the pretty sunshine back, I want to swim in a pool.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Featured Park - Cove Lake State Park

I know it's the middle of May and it's long overdue but better late than never right? So our new "Featured Park" for May - June 2011 is Cove Lake State Park in Caryville, TN. Cove lake has lots of great amenities and just in time for summer to boot. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to our "Featured Parks" page and learn what Cove Lake State Park has to offer to the outdoor lover.

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Roundup of Gear Give-A-Ways

It seems that contests and give-a-ways have been quite plentiful the past few weeks and this week is no different. So I'll just cut straight to the chase and cover them all right here for you, our fans.

Courtesy of LFHNH
Karl at Live Free and Hike New Hampshire is still looking for that 300th fan on his Facebook page. Once he hits 300, he has a special surprise he got from the Mount Washington Observatory to award one lucky fan. So if you haven't already, get on over to Live Free and Hike New Hampshire's Facebook page and click that "Like Button". He only has 9 more "Likes" to go.

You still have an opportunity to get in for a chance at a pair of Vasque Skree hiking shoes over at Outdoor Informer. You can get one entry a day for a chance to win the shoes until May 24th. So what are you waiting for? Head on over and get your entry in today and every day until the 24th.

Jim over at The Husky Hiker has teamed up with to give away a t-shirt to two lucky readers. All you have to do is comment on the give away post. If you want a second entry for the contest, simply  tweet the message that appears in the same post. You better hurry because you only have until May 17th to enter.

Kraig at The Adventure Blog still has the "Ditch the Deet" contest going on. It is now in it's third week and he still has one more prize pack to give away after that. For all the details, head on over to The Adventure Blog. All the details are in the give away post.

Finally, the Outdoor Blogger Network has a fantastic Gear Review give away this week. There are two prizes up for grabs to review, a pair of Vasque Taku GTX hiking boots along with 2 pairs of hiking socks from Goodhew. The second prize is an Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) Double Nest Hammock. To get in on this, you have to have an outdoors related blog that is listed in their directory. Once you are listed in the directory, you just have to comment on the gear review give away post. The only other requirement for this is if you win, you have to write a review of the gear shortly after receiving the item, post it to your blog, and send the OBN a link to the review. For more information on the gear review opportunities and requirements check out their requirements page

So that's all we've got this time and until next time...

Happy Winning,
Tim and Robin

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Evening Post

Tonight we're spending time on the deck in the cool night air while the exhaust fan we have set up in the largest window pulls most of the hot air from the day out of the house. Our a/c is shot for the moment, and today's high temps reached nearly 85 degrees. It was 82 in the house around 9:30 this evening; an unbearable temperature in my opinion. But as the temps begin to dip outside, our fan pulls the cool night air into the house making it comfortable for sleepy time.

We spend a lot of evenings on the deck, fighting off the creepy crawlies and avoiding stepping on the caterpillars that seem to have an on/off switch. At some point in the evening, they just stop where they are at, never moving, flinching, or seeming to care that you nearly spilled their guts with the heel of your shoe. Sometimes we even find them hanging in place, as if they were in a half-reach stage when someone flipped their switch.

It smells like honeysuckle this time of year. The backyard is in full bloom; although it's hard to see any of that in the darkness. I turned on the halogens to keep the bugs off us, and they lit the rhododendron up quite nicely. And the evening forest is full of chatter - raccoons, crickets, frogs, and the occasional cat fight. There's also the beating of wings and the slamming of velvety bodies - kamikaze moths literally dying for one small moment at that halogen heaven.

Tim is reading Clover a bit out of our Advance Reader copy of Following Atticus that we are so thankful to have received. I don't know what it is, but that book has already made me cry more times than Bridges of Madison County. We'll just blame it on the pregnancy hormones. It is so beautifully written, and so heartwarming. I can't wait to finish it and write a review for all of you in hopes that you'll want a copy when it's released in September.

Until next time, happy evenings!
Robin & Tim