{ Weekly Wander } Byodo-In Temple | Oahu, Hawaii

{ Weekly Wander } Byodo-In Temple

I visited a lot of really awesome places when I was on the island of Oahu, HI for my birthday back in 2009. The morning of my actual birthday started at Byodo-In Temple where I enjoyed a quite morning of contemplation and reflection. It paid to be an early bird that day because I had the entire temple to myself for most of my visit.

My Quest to Conquer Elk Knob | Boone, NC

Elk Knob Collage

The trail was like a snowy slip-n-slide, making proper balance next to impossible during some parts of the hike. We were utterly surprised upon arriving at the trail head to see that the ground was still blanketed with snow—any snow around our house has long since melted. It escaped our minds that Elk Knob was at a higher elevation, and that it would be a little cooler (and windier) up there, so snow definitely didn't occur to us either.

While the snow did add another challenging element to this already grueling hike, we steadily stayed the course at a pretty fast pace. Granted, I was a lot further behind the group I was hiking with because I kept stopping to take pictures, but I still kept up pretty well (most of the time).

This seemingly short 1.8 mile hike made me feel like I was really out-of-shape. I mean, it has been quite a while since I've done a hike and for Elk Knob to be the first one I take on this year probably wasn't the smartest thing to do. I know that I'm making this trail sound really bad, it's not horrible, but I did feel like I was dying at a certain point. (Maybe just a tad bit dramatic.)

At least I conquered it this time, though! Cody and I attempted to hike this trail back when it first became a new addition to the NC State Park system in 2009. We got very close to the summit, but I started feeling sick and couldn't push myself to finish. This time, though, I was determined to make the climb to the top, but I needed some (a lot ) coaxing. The newly built trail that volunteers have helped to construct has made the Elk Knob Summit Trail a much more enjoyable hike. Now, it has switchbacks instead of making you trek straight up a super steep rocky road.

To reach the 5,520 foot peak (the second highest in Watauga County) you really have to push yourself to surmount the last 200 feet. It's the only remaining portion of the trail that takes you straight up the old road, and it's a doozie! I'm pretty sure it was the part I couldn't overcome the last time I tried to hike Elk Knob. My first failed attempt made reaching the summit much sweeter this time around. For so long I avoided this hiking trail because I wasn't able to complete it the first time. Cody thought he'd never get me to go back! Having finished it this time around, I don't think it'll be that difficult to get me to go back, especially since it's the closest hiking trail in Boone (aside from what's along the Blue Ridge Parkway).

Spending the day trudging through Elk Knob's hardwood forest and taking the time to reconnect with the splendor of nature was exactly what this hibernating homebody needed. And pushing myself to finally triumph over this trail was an added bonus! Now, it's getting me to think about all the places I want to venture to as spring approaches. Thoughts of camping, road trips, and more hikes on the horizon are getting me very excited about planning outings for the new season. I'm ready to spend more time outdoors! How about you?

What are you getting excited about as spring approaches? 

Love Quote for Valentine's Day


Love is what you've been through with somebody 
~James Thurber~

Most people tend to think about love in a romantic sense. They associate it with how you get butterflies in your stomach when you're with that special someone, or how they frequently fill you with warm and fuzzies. There's an aspect of love, though, that doesn't get as much praise as its candy-coated counterpart, which is kind of sad because it's just as important.

It's not difficult to be all-in when things are going smoothly. It's the times when things aren't going the way that's expected when you show the fortitude to overcome hurdles placed before a relationship. Knowing that no matter what is happening in your world right at this moment isn't anything that you can't get past together, as a unit. To me, that's love.

This Valentine's Day I will gratefully appreciate all that love entails, the good, the bad, and the ugly <3
What will you be celebrating about love on this day? 

Langhorne Slim Unplugged | Boone, NC

Langhorne Slim Unplugged

It's not often that Boone has the honor of hosting a big name act passing through North Carolina. What's even more rare than attracting popular musicians is an opportunity to see them perform in a more intimate setting with far fewer people than they are used to playing for.

Last week, Langhorne Slim found his way to our town to play his first show in Boone. Apparently, he had never even been to Boone, and I suppose that he decided to make up for such a travesty by not just playing one show, but two. I was well aware that they would be playing a show at Boone Saloon in the evening. However, I didn't know that they were going to be putting on yet another show for the townies to enjoy earlier in the day.

Bobby Bare Jr. @ 641rpm

It was only 4 hours before their afternoon show that I had even heard about it. I wasn't really prepared to drop what I was doing to attend, but I agreed that this was an opportunity that doesn't often appear, so I decided to make an exception and take advantage of it. A bonus, was that the earlier show being held at the 641rpm Record Shop was FREE!! I mean, you can't beat that.

Banjo & Bass Diptych

Because the record shop was a small venue, there were only about 50 people packed into the place. Unlike what we would be seeing later at Boone Saloon, this show was more of an unplugged set, no room for amps or other bulky equipment. I rather enjoyed this pared down version of a concert. The raw emotion in Langhorne's voice and the un-amplified sound of the instruments were a refreshing change from what I'm used to witnessing.

Langhorne Slim Band @ 641rpm

Although that's not to say that I wasn't equally excited about the show that they'd later be playing at Boone Saloon. I enjoyed and appreciated getting this up close and personal preview of what was to come later in the evening.

Langhorne Slim @ Boone Saloon

You'll often hear me complain about how Boone doesn't get any good shows (or at least bands that I want to see) coming through as much as I would like, and I'm glad that—for a change—I was proven otherwise. While at the show I met people who had driven several hours to come see Langhorne. Normally, we're the ones who have to drive long distances to see the big name bands that are passing through NC. I felt extremely lucky to have him come to Boone and not only see him once, but twice in one day.

Me & Langhorne Slim

It's always nice coming into contact with a celebrity of sorts who is humble, friendly, and approachable. Before the shows, I was familiar with Langhorne's music, but I didn't know him by name. Now, I don't think that I could forget after seeing him play twice in one day. The soulful songs he serenaded us with have been stuck in my head for days— not that it's a bad thing. If you aren't familiar with Langhorne's music, I strongly suggest that you take the time to listen to a few of his songs. Before you know it, they'll be stuck in your head, too! 

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