What We Did on Our Autumn Vacation: Part Three

(Swan at Junaluska)

One thing I failed to mention earlier about our trip to Graveyard Fields was that after we’d hiked to the bottom of Upper Falls and were admiring its beauty, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man pointed out that there was something he called a “trail” going up to the top of the falls. But “trail” was much too kind a word for this slimy mud slick with a few gnarly tree roots that desperate fools could grasp as they clawed their way to the top. “Ha,ha…that’s not really a trail,” I said. “What kind of fools would take that?” (Never suspecting that I would soon know the answer.) Then I tried to distract him by gushing about how lovely the falls looked from where we were.

But Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is an adventurous sort and would not be distracted. He said, “Come on…I’ll help you. Let’s see what’s up there.” I eyed the mud slick. It was practically vertical—what was he going to do, carry me? I’m just not a vertical trail sort of girl. I’ll take horizontal or diagonal, thank you very much and leave vertical for all you daredevils out there.

But I’ll do almost anything to make Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man happy, and really, who wants to be a stick-in-the-mud? So up our intrepid adventurers went! Wait, make that: So up our two silly old arthritic fools went! I’d like to say we scampered up like mountain goats, but it would be more accurate to say we fought our way up tooth and claw, huffing and puffing like the Little Engine That Shouldn’t.

It was a pretty traumatic experience, so I don’t wish to discuss it further except to say that (1) as bad as it was going up, it was ten times worse coming down (2) waterfalls are really best viewed from the bottom (3) a stick-in-the-mud beats slick-in-the-mud or stuck-in-the-mud or perhaps stooge-in-the-mud every time and (4) if you’re going to slide down a mud slick, don’t wear light-colored pants.

Anyway, after that debacle, I was seeking something a little tamer for our next adventure. Preferably something civilized and horizontal. I found it at Lake Junaluska. Whan I went to their website, the first thing I noticed was a verse from the 23rd Psalm: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” The second thing I noticed was that even though Lake Junaluska is a retreat and conference center run by the United Methodist Church, they made it clear that they welcome all—regardless of faith or color.

And indeed, our souls were restored as we walked the 2.6 mile path around the lake. The day was cool and blustery, but our hearts were warmed by the friendliness of almost everyone we met and the peace we felt as we walked beside the still waters. I know I’m idealizing the place, but it really was such a balm to our weary spirits. I kept thinking about how much I’d love to live there, but quite likely the houses there are way out of our price range. At least I have the pictures here to remember that sweet day by.

But, of course, in this week of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of the importance of being thankful for what I DO have. I think a lot about Philippians 4:11: “…for I have learned, in whatever state I am, in this to be content.” This verse has special meaning when you know that Paul wrote it from prison. It’s so easy to see what others have (whether it’s money or talent or beauty) and think, “If I only had that, I’d be really happy.”  But true happiness comes from within, not without.  It is a choice.  And everybody knows that neither money, talent, nor beauty brings happiness. You only have to look at Hollywood celebrities to see that truth. But learning to be content with what you have (and to be thankful for it) bestows a far more profound and lasting joy that sustains you through whatever life throws your way.

So, I wish you joy and peace this Thanksgiving season. May your souls be restored by the love of friends and family, and may you find contentment whoever and wherever you may be.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Even the ducks of different feathers flock together there.

A view of the lake

Dogwood berries

In the background you can see the lovely footbridge across the lake.

We loved this delightful topiary.

And I obviously loved the ducks.  Even gave up my Ritz bits for them…

This cross, which sits high on a hill above Lake Junaluska, is alight at night.  I hope to see it alight sometime.

“And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overcame it not.”

John 1:5


20 Responses to “What We Did on Our Autumn Vacation: Part Three”

  1. Judy Says:

    Hi Beth, Your pictures are wonderful and I can just imagine you on that mud slide. That lake looks like a great place to visit. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all that I have. My family, friends, and health are the things I cherish the most.

  2. Betsy from Tennessee Says:

    Being born and raised a Methoidist–I have been to Junaluska many times. It is indeed a “God-Place” if there ever is one.

    After sliding in the mud–I’m sure that Junaluska felt like being in heaven, didn’t it???? Gosh–you crazy fools. I guess I disappoint my hubby sometimes –but I don’t think I’d ever climb UP that waterfall. Yipes!!!!!

    However, I’ve been caught in a siimilar situation a few times –and got my fanny pretty darn muddy also!!!!! ha ha

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend.

  3. Benjamin Says:

    These pictures make me want to go there…I think the second duck picture (the one underneath the picture of the dogwood berries) is of a female hybrid American Black Duck / Mallard. Note the strangely patterned bill.

    I also love reading any of those letters that Paul wrote. He certainly learned what it was to survive with (and be glad with) very little.

    Also: was it THE khaki pants?

  4. Clara Melvin Says:

    Hi Beth, I grew up in the Methodist church and our church would take trips to Lake Junaluska. I passed there this past summer and it brought back a lot of memories. I love your pictures and the part about the mud slide. ThaT’S ALMOST AS COURAGOUS AS ME GETTING ON TOP OF THE HOUSE!!! You have a Happy Thanksgiving too. I have so many things to be thankful for and I cannot thank Him enough.

  5. Sharon Says:

    Beth, I loved all of your adventures, but I loved best the part about being content, no matter what. As always, I needed what you wrote today, and I am so very thankful to know you.

  6. Jeff Says:

    Did I miss Part 2? Fess up – you put the golf balls in the topiary for eyes, didn’t you? (tease). Love the beautiful contrast of the red berries against the blue sky – what gorgeous weather you had that day! I’ll be working Thanksgiving Day, but I’ll still be thankful for my health, my friends, and being able to visit your blog to see your wonderful pictures and writing.

  7. CountryDew Says:

    The photos are great! I am so glad you shared your adventure with us.

  8. wesley Says:

    As several of your friends here have commented, I, too, grew up in the local United Methodist church and spend many retreats at Junaluska. It is a special place, a healing place, or at least a good place for spiritual renewal and reflection.

    I love your photos. I love your story. I love your scripture and message around it.

    One of the things I like about you, my friend, is your “attitude of gratitude”.

    I am grateful for you. And your blog. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  9. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    I like the part where Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man says he’ll help you. It just made me think, look at these two, they’re buddies, and he’s taking care of his friend.

    I am trying to work on being thankful for what I have. Whatever we have. It’s what can give you peace.

  10. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    Another Methodist chiming in here — as soon as I saw the words “Swan at Junaluska” I started smiling. I spent four days at Lake Junaluska every summmer for 20+ years. The cross is beautiful at night, so I hope you get a chance to see it some day, especially looking at it from across some part of the lake.

    My favorite part of your vertical “hike” was (4) “if you’re going to slide down a mud slick, don’t wear light-colored pants.” Good advice.

  11. june Says:

    Thanks for the lovely pictures and the lovely Thanksgiving thought. The bible quote was timely for me to read too! PS: I admire your gumption for climbing that trail 🙂

  12. Ariel Says:

    “I’ll take horizontal or diagonal, thank you very much and leave vertical for all you daredevils out there.” Haha, Mommy, you’re funny. Congratulations for making the ascent. I hope it wasn’t too traumatic. Good practice for the rock climbing we’re going to do together over break, right? Eh? *wink wink*

    Your pictures are lovely and make me want to go to Lake Junaluska. I am thankful for you and so much else. I can’t wait to see y’all later today!

  13. chris Says:

    I’m thankful for another wonderful post, from the ridiculous to the sublime yet again; thankful for your great writing and photos and for reminding us of the true spirit of the season. So, are you reconsidering that stick-in-the-mud thing? I’m thankful no one was hurt.

  14. Martha Says:

    I love that you find humour even in the most uncomfortable or unusual situations! Sounds like you and hubby had a wonderful time together.

    Those pictures are just gorgeous; candy for the soul! Being outdoors and enjoying all that Mother Nature has to offer is the best place to be.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you my southern friend. Enjoy the time with your lovely family!

  15. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    Beautiful pictures! I felt like I got a little vacation myself.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. Jayne Says:

    Just catching up Beth. Whew… you brave woman you! I would have taken one look up that slope and either cried or puked…lolol! The walk around the lake sounds much more my speed.
    I hope you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving as well. Today, I am thankful for your presence here my friend. :c)

  17. eemilla Says:

    Bless you, Beth! Happy Thanksgiving, and again, thanks for writing your blog. Please, please don’t neglect us when you write your novel.

  18. colleen Says:

    This post made me take in a deep breath. Pure medicine. Well shot. Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and that your family was all together.

  19. Michael DeAntonio Says:

    The mud slick sounds awful fun. I think I’ll go watch billy goat videos, now.

  20. Connie Says:

    No need to post a photo of the mud slick, I have my own visual image I took from your funny story.

    Such wonderful photos.

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