Monthly Archives: November 2015

Five on Friday

One
We have really been laying low in preparation for the upcoming month of travel. Last weekend, we went to Wilmington and ate at The Melting Pot and to the mall there, since it’s a lot bigger than the one we have here in Jacksonville. As always, Sundays are for football! This weekend, much of the same is planned: catching up on cleaning and laundry so that we can [hopefully] come home to a clean house after Thanksgiving!

Insert: Random picture of our cat, who is posing so stoic for me

Insert: Random picture of our cat, who is posing so stoic for me

Two
Right now, the University of Iowa is 10-0 in football for the first time in school history. While I am an Iowa State fan, I am pretty proud and excited for Iowa’s football team. It is one of those things that makes me so proud to be from Iowa! We will be watching the game this weekend at Buffalo Wild Wings, and I never imagined that I’d be going out of my way to watch an Iowa game. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but GO HAWKS! Plus, I really want one of these ugly sweaters! Now if only my Dallas Cowboys could win a game….

Three
Our two cats love to play (when they are not sleeping 23 hours a day) and we have been getting a lot of packages in the mail from our Christmas purchases. We took a few of the boxes and made them little cat houses out of them, and they couldn’t be happier. Also, their favorite toys are not the ones we buy, but rather when we tear up little pieces of paper. Redneck central, but it saves us money!

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Four
Speaking of lots of packages in the mail, I do pretty much all of my shopping online – from my clothes, to the new vacuum we needed last month. I tend to find the best deals online, and I almost never buy anything unless it is on sale. If you haven’t heard of ebates, I encourage you to sign up. It is a website that gives you a certain percentage of money back for shopping at specific stores online. So, before shopping online, you would go to ebates, click on your store of choice, and automatically receive 3% back (the percentages vary from store to store) of your total purchase – it is so simple! It gets paid to you via paypal or a check four times per year. This quarter just started for me about a month ago, and I’m already up to $50 while my lifetime cashback is over $200; I think I’ve been doing it for about 1 ½ years. If you sign up here, I will get a bonus for referring you, and you’ll also get a $10 sign on bonus in the form of a gift card after your first purchase.

Ebates, I love you so much

Ebates, I love you so much

Five
Yesterday, Walgreens had a great sale on personalized desk calendars (I told you I’m a sucker for sales) so I picked one up for my office. I was in the process of picking out pictures for each month of the calendar when it occurred to me how much Mitchell and I have traveled together this year! I know we haven’t exactly been sitting still, but it was special to see it physically in front of me all at once. I feel so thankful for this journey, and for our travels together. Thank you for following me on this journey.

We kicked off our year of travel with a bang on a family cruise in January 2015.

We kicked off our year of travel with a bang on a family cruise in January 2015.

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Five on Friday

It’s been a while since I have done a Five on Friday! I am excited to share this week because a lot has been going on!

1.Three weeks ago, Mitchell and I finally got to go to the mountains to check out the fall colors. If you’ve been following along, you know that we love the Bryson City/Cherokee area of North Carolina, and we were anxious to return to see the change of the leaves.  We had a fantastic time, and could not have planned a better weekend to go – the leaves were perfect despite my fears that we were going too early/too late. Stay tuned for a much more in-depth post about our weekend in the mountains, but for now, I will leave you with this preview:

On the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

2. I was a cheerleader in high school, and one of my favorite memories from all of high school was going to state in football my senior year (actually, if I’m being honest, it probably is one of my favorite memories ever). It was such an exciting time, because it had been a very long time since the football team had made it to state, and the entire community was so excited (nothing like football in a small town). It was exactly ten years ago that I was there (where does time go?!), and was my alma mater’s first time back! They didn’t win, but the whole community is so proud of them, as they should be. And here’s a throwback for you from state exactly 10 years ago 😉

Cheerleading 2006

That’s quite a nervous smile! May I also point out how much picture quality has changed since 2005? This definitely was not taken with a camera phone 😉

3. It is going to be a travel-filled end of 2015, and I can’t think of a better way to end the year. In two weeks, we are headed to Florida to visit Mitchell’s family for Thanksgiving and I’m going to go back to Iowa the week before Christmas to celebrate with my family. I’ll be back in North Carolina before Christmas to spend the holidays with Mitchell. In the middle of the holidays, we will be celebrating that in Nashville. And finally, we are planning on renting a cabin in Gatlinburg for New Years Eve. I’m so excited for all that is to come!

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Last time we were in Florida was 1 year ago in December. I couldn’t have imagined at the time how my life was about to change!

4. I mentioned that we recently went to Washington, D.C. for the weekend. We had so much fun, and the more I visit, the more I fall in love with the city. Stay tuned for a more in-depth post, but we hit up the Holocaust Museum and the Newseum with lots of walking around and exploring in between.

Washington, D.C.

5. It’s been a while since I’ve read a good book. Since Mitchell got back from Iowa a month ago, we’ve been on the go pretty much non-stop. However, our visit to the Holocaust Museum has motivated me to finally pick up Anne Frank’s book. I am really embarrassed that I haven’t read this book yet; I’ve picked it up a few times, but never managed to read it all the way through. In middle school, I read Night by Elie Wiesel and it was fantastic. I think I might pick up that one and read it again

Since we have so many travel plans coming up, we are going to be pretty low-key this weekend. We have some local fun activities planned for next weekend, though, so stay tuned because I’m so excited!

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Veteran’s Day

I woke up this morning thankful. I just admit that I was initially just thankful for a day off work to recharge. I do work for the Marine Corps, you know, so of course we get Veteran’s Day off. I laid in bed a little later than usual, checking social media where everyone was sharing pictures of their veterans that they love and are so proud of and it hit me how truly blessed I am.

Vietnam Memorial in Jacksonville, North Carolina

Vietnam Memorial in Jacksonville, North Carolina

It made me start to think of how, yes, I’m lucky for a paid day off of work, but also of infinite other things.

Vietnam Memorial in Jacksonville, North Carolina

Vietnam Memorial in Jacksonville, North Carolina

Recently, for no reason at all, Mitchell and I were able to pick up and drive to Washington, D.C. for the weekend. We were free to go to the Holocaust museum to learn about horrendous things that happened – things we don’t have to worry about here, while in some countries, such museums would be banned.

On the deck of the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

We also went to the Newseum where we learned about countries that do versus do not have free speech. Many people haven’t even considered how lucky we are to be able to get on the internet and go to any website our heart desires, or post any opinion, view, or conspiracy theory we want.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

I can vote, drive a car, go to school, and have a career among so many other things – I can support myself and do so many things that women in other countries couldn’t even dream of. If I want to, I can do it alone; or if I’d rather settle down, I can choose my own partner!

Blue Ridge Parkway in the Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

I don’t have to live in fear. So many of us take that for granted.

For these reasons and for so many others, we have our veterans to thank. Because of our veterans, we are a free country.

Fort Sumter, South Carolina

Fort Sumter, South Carolina

So thank you. Thank you to all of those who wrote a blank check to our country; for the endless sacrifice you were willing to make for us. And to the families, who also sacrifice so much. One day is not enough to pay tribute, and I am eternally grateful.

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Deep Creek in Bryson City, North Carolina

When planning our trip to Bryson City, one of the absolute must-do activities on my list was hiking to seeing a waterfall! Luckily, with just a little planning, we were able to make this happen relatively easily. Bonus: ONE hike, THREE waterfalls!

Bryson City, North Carolina

You may remember my last post describing how I came to find out about Bryson City, which was a picture almost exactly like this one that I found on pinterest:

Bryson City, North Carolina

Well, turns out this picture is in Deep Creek, home to a ton of fun stuff to do! As though the opportunity to go tubing in the mountains alongside waterfalls wasn’t enough to make me want to go, Deep Creek also offers hiking, biking, cabins, fishing, and more, but it is specifically known for its streams and waterfalls. This is when I discovered they have a short hike that offers you not only one, but three waterfalls.

Bryson City, North Carolina

It was a simple hike to all three waterfalls. The hike to the first waterfall was the only time I would consider the endeavor an actual hike, and that was only 0.6 of a mile. This is also coming from someone who is severely out of shape. The rest of the time, we were walking along a path, and it didn’t feel like we were putting forth much effort at all.

Bryson City, North Carolina

Juney Whank Falls was the first waterfall, and also happened to be the one that I was least impressed with (yes, the one that was the most difficult to get to). Other traveler pictures show the waterfall with quite a bit more water than what we experienced, so my guess is that it was pretty dried up while we were there. Juney Whank Falls is viewed by a bridge, which adds a special touch to this particular waterfall. We also talked to a local who told us that Juney Whank Falls are said to be named after a man believed to be buried in the area, although some other locals believe Juney Whank is the Cherokee meaning for “where the bear passes”.

Juney Whank Falls in Bryson City, North Carolina

Tom’s Branch Falls is the waterfall you see so many tubers and floaters pass by, the exact waterfall that inspired our trip to Bryson City. There’s something special to me about Tom’s Branch Falls, and I think it’s just that I’m obsessed with the fact that you can tube right by it. Maybe I’m easily amused, but how many times do you get to do that in your life? We also saw some tubers set their tubes aside and climb amongst the waterfall. We weren’t wearing proper attire so we passed on that opportunity.

Bryson City, North Carolina

Indian Creek Falls was my favorite! This is also the farthest away from where you will park your car, but so worth it, especially because it truly is a simple walk! We also kept stopping to peer out at all the people tubing the river. We found ourselves surprised that we were up so high because it honestly did not feel like we were on an incline at all.

Bryson City, North Carolina

Our hikewalk (I think that should be a word) was approximately 2.4 miles total. So if you are visiting the area for a weekend, like the situation almost always is for us, then it’s perfect for a half-day activity (give or take). Instead of taking a crazy several-hour hike, we were able to see three waterfalls while also crossing off a few other items on our bucket list that day.

Bryson City, North Carolina

See that little baby waterfall behind us? That’s the Juney Whank waterfall.

Helpful Recommendations:
If you are uncomfortable with hiking, you could skip the first waterfall (Juney Whank Falls) and just walk along the more-developed paths (they’re essentially well-maintained roads) to the other two waterfalls.

Once you start the hike, there’s nowhere to buy or drink water so I recommend bringing your own. We did not plan ahead so we didn’t have water, but we were fine because the temperature was mild that day.

If you are interested in tubing, you have to carry your tube to wherever you want to start from. This might seem like common sense to some, but in my tubing history, we’ve always mapped it out to where we could end in the same place we started, or we would bring two vehicles (one to drop off at the start, and one for the end); neither of these are options here. Also, while we enjoyed watching the people tubing, I’m not sure how much they were enjoying it – the water was pretty cold, and it was also very low (and it’s rocky!). I believe the water was lower than usual when we visited, so that might not be how it always is, but I’d recommend checking it out before committing to walking a long distance with your tube!

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