How I want to be when I grow up…

This is a seriously AWESOME post by Dame Sandi Adams!!

Inspiring Aging or How I Want to Be When I Grow Up…

I’ve thought a lot about getting older lately… Probably because I am older. This birthday, I finally conceded to being middle aged…, considering 106 to be a respectable run. Sometimes I look in the mirror and am surprised. In my head, I don’t feel different and my body is still strong. ( though a few chinks in the armor are beginning..)
That is why I adore reading about people, who challenge themselves and are still moving, dancing, hiking, playing and living out dreams.

Last week I came across a blog post on Hiker to Hiker, that reallycarolina mt club made me smile. It was titled “Taking Care of the Elderly on the AT” The Carolina Mountain Club had planned a 9 mile hike led by an 81 year old. They all are over 50, as they point out, some way over 50. (These are my people)
Even thought it was hot, (we are southerners and it is hot here in the summer….) and the weather man kept telling them to “be careful and check on the elderly,” they still kept it moving and had a splendid day on the Appalachian Trail.

I’ve also been following Cimarron, an 88 year old man who has been THRU HIKINGthe Appalachian Trail since February and has completed 914.5 miles as of today.

His quote before starting says it all, “If you never try to do it. You will never know you could do it.” You can read his trail journal HERE

This week Diana Nyed attempted to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida at the age of 61. Moments before slipping into the water, Ms. Nyad, clad in a black swimsuit and a blue swim cap, played reveille on a bugle. “I’m almost 62 years old,” she declared. “I’m standing here at the prime of my life; I think this is the prime, when one reaches this age. You still have a body that’s strong, but now you have a better mind.”

While her journey was cut short, she still managed to swim for 29 hours, t1larg_diana_swimming_day1suffering through an asthma attack, shoulder pain, in cold. shark and jellyfish infested waters and finally abandoning her quest after becoming violently ill. Her comments following the experience were inspiring. She said that her goal had been to demonstrate to people in their 60s that “life is not over” and that the age of “60 is the new 40.” “I wasn’t the best swimmer I could be — the asthma and the shoulder made sure of that,” she said. “I was my most courageous self.”

Life goes by so quickly and, at my age, you really feel the passage of time,” she said. “People my age must try to live vital, energetic lives. We’re still young. We’re not our mothers’ generation at 60.” For people over 60, she said, the goal should be “to live a life with no regrets and no worries about what you are going to do with your time. Fill it with passion. Be your best self.”
I think these are words that are worth living by no matter your age. So if you are sitting around on your hiney feeling sorry for yourself, put one foot in front of the other and you never know where you might end up.
We should all try to be our most courageous selves…

Trail Report-Pine Log Creek Trail

Trail report from Dame Sandi Adams…..

Pine Log Creek Trail….has it ALL!

Total distance: 4.6 miles
Parking lot Lead Trail: .46
West Loop : 2.12
East Loop: 1.54
Quarry Trail .03

After a friend at work told me about this trail, I put it on my short list for spontaneous hiking.(Also while searching for information about this trail, I read of a stray nude hiker that appears on it but this did not in any way influence my decision….) Friday morning started cool compared to the inferno heat we have been having so David and I packed it up and headed off to try it out.

Pine Log Creek Trail is located in Bartow County only 25 miles from our doorstep. We arrived early to an empty parking area, strapped on the pack and after viewing the faded out map posted, took off to the sounds of birds chattering and a neighboring rooster going crazy. Shortly after crossing a dry creek bed we came to a cool running bend in the creek with a beautifully built wooden bridge crossing. There are actually seven rustic footbridges over Pine Log Creek throughout the well maintained 5 mile hike. The trail includes two loops east and west and a short side trail to an old CCC quarry pond.
We opted to take the east loop first which took us over the creek and through a series of switchbacks to peaks of views of Pine Log Mountain. (Winter will be spectacular!) This trail overlooks a pastoral valley that was once home to the Cherokee village of Pine Log before the native people’s removal west on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. There are numerous large rock croppings and boulders. The black eyed susans, several varieties of fern,( some HUGE), many giant very old trees along with the winding creek made this a very diverse beautiful trail. We saw traces of the stormy Spring in the form of someones chicken house roof scattered throughout the forest and brush.
The jewel of the trip was located a short distance off the trail in the form of an old quarry pond. David quickly identified several large mouth bass, brim and a stray catfish in the clear water vowing to bring a fishing pole the next trip. (NOTE: There is a large sign that prohibits fishing and overnight camping at the trail head) This was a peaceful, beautiful treat and great spot for a lunch or a quick swim.
After exploring the quarry we picked the trail back up and came to the west loop junction continuing over the creek and up the ridge for more views. We took a short stop to hang my hammock for David to tryout and discovered a little box turtle who watching our efforts. One thing to be aware of with this trail is someone has removed the trail loop signs. The posts are there but no signs. We found ourselves taking the east loop again before catching our mistake.
We ended our hike by cooling our feet and wading in the creek under the entry bridge. We both commented that it reminded us of childhood locations where we were free to play and explore. The only “excitement” of the trip came while we were drying off and observed a snake drop off the bank and swim right into the area we had been in. Of course I identified it as a copperhead or water moccasin but really think it was a red rat snake…
This trail is most definitely a jewel and will be on our list of backyard favorites.

Difficulty: Moderate-Some parts are listed as strenuous but not really
from I-575 in Canton: Take Riverstone Pkwy exit 20, head West for about .5 mi. Take right onto Reinhardt College Pkwy and continue until it dead ends into Hwy 140. Take right onto Hwy 140 W (still also Reinhardt College Pkwy) and go approximately 12 miles. Trail head will be on your right.
From I-75 in Cartersville: Take exit 293 and head North on Hwy 411 for about 7.5 mi. Take a right onto Hwy 140 East and go about 3.2 mi, trail head will be on your left.

Backpacking with Beiber

Backpacking with Beiber…..another wonderful post from Dame Sandi Adams


Backpacking was on Tanner’s summer bucket list, so we planned an overnight midweek trip. I chose the Cohutta Wilderness because it is my absolute favorite Georgia spot to backpack.
Meals were planned, maps consulted, the packs were loaded and off we went. The morning was sunny and warm as the Yaris took the rutted labyrinth of forest service roads like a champ and after what seemed like a hundred miles, we came to the Hickory Creek trailparking area. Not one soul to be seen… I checked the board for bear warning and nothing was posted which was a bit of a relief.
Perfect DayHickory Creek Trail HeadTanner and I adjusted our packs, locked the car and took off down the trail. The first part of the Hickory Creek Trail was rocky and weathered with evidence of the spring storms and all downhill as it wound its way to the creek. We hear the water before we can see it and soon get glimpses of the creek before our first crossing. Crystal clear, with plenty of water, it keeps us company as we continue down the trail. Soon we hit the intersection of theConasauga River Trail and Hickory Creek Trail where we turn right and begin looking for the perfect campsite.
Before long we come to the perfect balance of trees for my hammock and a niceIMG_2147 flat spot for the tent. The entire length of the site is situated directly on the Conasauga with a combination of deep pools ,little falls, huge boulders and the constant melody of the river. A covering of hemlocks, a nice big fire pit and a makeshift bench make it the unanimous choice. We go about the business of setting up camp, unpacking, gathering wood and having lunch.

IMG_2123After a short rest, we leave our site and head down the trail to explore.. We pass ginormous boulders, falls and swimming holes, a huge beaver dam which has turned into what must be a diverse mass of frogs, toads and Lord knows what else and come to the opening and intersection known as Bray field. (This used to be an old homestead but is now mainly used by backpackers.) We take off our shoes and wade across the Conasuaga River before I realize, we really don’t want to hike the entire Hickory Creek Trail, so we cross again and travel a bit down Tearbritches Trail, rockhopping the creek and wander along this beautiful easy section of the trail.
As the day turned into late afternoon, we head back to camp and take a swim in the cool clear river . We both enjoy some quiet time, then get to the business of preparing for the evening. We break up our wood, filter our water and settle down to cook dinner. Tanner is a great student of the outdoors, watching my every move and made my day when he tells me, “Mom, I can’t believe you know how to do all this stuff!!” After a satisfying, (although bland) meal of beef stroganoff and pudding, it starts to cool off and we get down to businessTanner and MomAwesome fire!and startthe fire. For years, I have watched my best friend, Leslie,THE FIREMASTER, start epic blazes. I have always been content to gather kindling and drag logs to the pile but she was not on this trip! Apparently, I was able to channel her talent and build one big honking fire!
We roasted a small bag of marshmallows, talked and stared into the fire (aka Hikers TV), until it got pretty late. The moon was new, so the night was DARK.
We made our way to our shelter, Tanner on the ground and me hanging in my hammocknearby and dozed off to the sound of the river. I woke around 7:00, rolled out of my warm bag and started another little fire. (Leslie, are you so proud?!) Sitting and drinking coffee and enjoying the beautiful cool morning, I counted my many blessings, one of which was laying in the tent next to me.
Tanner slept a little longer and finally crawled out, ate his bacon, cream cheese bagel and we reluctantly started to break camp.
IMG_2119Morning firePacked up to head homeDay Two

We climbed out of Hickory Creek around noon as the day warmed,IMG_2222taking our time while I told Tanner funny stories about David and our many adventures in the woods, pre-kids. An occasional stop for water, a view and to admire a little red salamander made for an enjoyable although, hot hike out.
On a funny note, as we reached the trailhead, I noticed that theBACK side of the information board was COVERED with bear warnings and information underneath the engraved message:WELCOME TO BEAR COUNTRY……LOL THIS was the BACK side of the trail head sign....
We loaded up our gear and took the rutted forest service road back toward 411 and after what seemed like fifty miles bouncing from bump to bump, popped out in the middle of nowhere . After consulting the map, we found our way to 411. A quick stop at a convenience store for icees and beef jerky and made our way back to Woodstock and civilization.
This trip will always have a special place in my heart and I will cherish it’s memory. My son,natural backpacker Tanner, is an incredible young man. He has been through adversity and difficult times but has emerged strong and confident with a natural, loving, unshakeable faith in God. I am proud of him and grateful for the time spent.

Ann Springs Hike

Anne Springs Hike

Blog post from the North Carolina Dames!!
Several of us carpooled from Charlotte and drove the 30
mintues to Anne Springs Greenway, in Fort Mill SC, where we met up with Joy and
Nina. After paying our $3 entrance fee, we parked and got ready for our hike. It
was a beautiful day and we had 11 Dames enjoying the outdoors. It was Beth,
Karla, Kimber, Sarah, Joy, Dierdre, Nina, Barbara, Linda, Wendy, and me.

At first we had some trouble locating the
Timberline trail, but once we found it, we were good. We hiked up the Timberline
trail to the top, where we passed by a Peach Farm. Lots and lots of trees
dripping with almost ripe peaches. Sarah was curious about the peach tree, so
Dierdre gave her permission to have one and she did! haha! She plucked one right
off the tree. Oops…. 😉

We continued on, looking for the Blue Star trail. We
were supposed to hop on the Blue Star trail, but some how we passed it. Must of
been all the chatting we were doing. haha! We ended up on the Dogwood trail and
decided to hike down it to the Muscadine trail. After hiking by a couple of
ladies out their horses, we find the Muscadine trail just fine. But some how we
managed to make a big loop and end up exactly where we started! I called that
section of trail the twighlight section, because it was so confusing! Deciding
not to hike the Muscadine trail loop again, we road walked it on a gravel road
down to the lake. We met a nice man renting out kayaks for $5 an hour and then
found the Haigler lake trail. We finished up the hike all safe and sound and
then made our way to the Peach Stand for some rewarding, well deserved, yummy,
cold ice cream!

I learned that Joy lived in China for a long time while
teaching and has hiked all over the Great Wall. Sarah, literally, did a 180 of
her life. She sold her house, moved to a different town, started a new career,
and began living a life SHE wants. Lots of yoga and hiking! Wow, I was so
impressed with her bravery. I learned that even though Kimber was in the Navy,
she can’t swim! haha! Too funny, we all had a nice laugh. (Sorry Kimber!! We
still love you! haha!) Linda is about to go to Alaska to visit her daughter for
vacation. I am so excited for her, I hope she has a wonderful time. Diedra had a
wonderful time in Charleston, but I the ghost tour wasn’t that great. I learned
that camping with Wendy will be an experience! haha! She brings everything but
the kitchen sink with her. I wonder how long it takes her to set up? I wonder
what she’s gonna think of my set up? Everything I have for camping fits in my
backpack. Hee Hee! Barbara had a brace on her left knee and told us she had
surgery for a torn meniscus a while back. She seemed to be doing great on the
hike and I hope me asking if her knee was ok didn’t bother her. Nina’s birthday
will be next Wednesday. Happy Birthday NINA!! Even though Beth is stealthy
quiet, she has an eye for the trail. How about she knew we missed the Blue Star
intersecting trail but kept quiet and let us continue on our chatty merry way.
haha! I think I see a trail name in here somewhere for her, maybe Stealthy.
Hmmm…. Speaking of trail names, Karla was dubbed this hike with her trail
name. Let me paint the picture; It’s about 90 degrees out, the sun is shining
bright, and Karla busts out an umbrella in the middle of our

hike because she doesn’t want to get sun on her.
We all laughed and that’s when it came out. I called her Mary Poppins. So Karla
is now AKA “Mary Poppins”. HAHA!!

Day 9- Cuban Goodbyes…

Day 9- Cuban Goodbyes

This morning I woke up knowing that all good things must come to an end.  I didn’t sleep well at all because I was nervous about leaving, the flight to the Dominican Republic and all of the work that is waiting for me at home.  But before I had to deal with all of that, I had a few more hours left and wanted to enjoy them.  J I packed slowly, laying out the final gifts I had to give.  I left Mamma Ana some candy, a bottle of lavender shower gel and an Oprah magazine. J She doesn’t speak much English, but she can actually read it quite well from her years as a professor. She said that many genetics texts are in English, so she had to learn it.  I figure that Oprah magazine is as good a way as any to keep practicing that skill!  J

While I was finishing up, Alejandro knocked on the door and said that I had a visitor.  I couldn’t imagine who, since I was supposed to meet Merlin at his house in an hour.  I went to the front porch and there was David. J  He had been unable to come to the party last night and I was bummed because I wasn’t going to be able to say goodbye to him.  But there he way, grinning at me.  J  We talked a bit, and finally hugged good-bye.  He kissed me saying, “I will miss my ‘yes’ face!”  I laughed.  It had taken me forever to explain to him what that even was and when he finally got it, he loved the idea.  We were sitting at the table in Merlin’s house two days ago when he looked at me and said, “You really DO have a ‘yes’ face!!”  J J We agreed that we would email and that he would send me some of his model photos so that my friends could see what I was talking about.  J With that, he jumped back into his taxi and headed off to rehearsal.  Another good-bye down…….five to go.

As I waited for my own cab, I took photos of Ana and Alejandro, with us all taking turns with the camera.  Six days ago, I said, “Every time I go somewhere, the first few days are like a first date…..we are all formal and polite, not quite sure of what to make of each other.  Then it gets a little better.  By Sunday, I suspect we will all be one big happy family.”  Well, I was right.  Now these people all feel like family and even though I am sad to leave, they have a permanent place in my heart and I am ok, knowing that I can come back and see them anytime!!  J


When the cab finally showed up, there were hugs and kisses all around and I explained to the driver that we had to stop by Merlin’s so I can say good-bye to him and his parents.  However, when we got there, there was no Merlin to be found!  His parents got more and more agitated as we waited for him. It had started to rain lightly and they thought he had gone the three blocks to see me at my house.  But when 15 minutes passed, we knew that he had made other plans.  I stood there talking to his mom when I noticed that she was wearing one of the shirts I had given her.  Then I looked down and saw them.  She had on my tennis shoes.  I whooped and hugged her…they fit and she liked them!! She twisted around, showing them to me and we grinned at each other.  What a nice ending to the trip.  J


I finally hugged them once more and got into the cab.  I had exchanged tons of hugs and kisses with Merlin last night, and that would have to do.  As we drove down the wet road, I tried to fix the picture in my mind.  The buildings all shiny with rain, the plants and flowers bright and clean looking and people walking quickly to work and school, heads bent against the shower.  I was on the verge of tears when I looked up and saw someone in a red shirt riding a bike quickly towards us.  Merlin!!  I was so happy!! The taxi driver stopped in the middle of the street and I jumped out to grab him.  “I was at the house of my friend!” he said.  I was just glad to get to see him one more time.  We both looked down the block and could see the tiny figures of his parents waving at us from their front door.  Everyone was smiling.  J


So, Merlin rode off and I went to the airport. As I sat and waited for my plane, a guitarist sat next to me, playing for money. I explained to him that I had just exchanged all of my money, but he didn’t seem to want to take ‘no’ for an answer.  I opened my book and he sat closer and closer to me, his elbow rubbing up against mine in an attempt to keep my attention.  He went through his entire repertoire, concentrating especially on American music and when he finally broke into The Beatle’s “Yesterday”…. in Spanish….I got the giggles.  I just wanted to be quiet and read and think about the week, but I was in the middle of a Mr. Bean sketch.  When it was time to go through customs, they sent me back to pay the $25 airport tax… cuban money…..which I did not have.  I sighed and went back around to the money exchange to turn some of my recently converted Euros back into Cuban money. When the guy handed me all bills and one single CUC coin, I knew it was a sign from the universe.  I walked back to the guitarist and handed him the coin.  Sometimes persistence just has to be rewarded.  J


A four hour delay, a two hour flight, one cuba libre and a $25 cab ride later, I found myself back in Santo Domingo, DR, at the Quality Inn Suites.  I have shown that I can be at home anywhere… hotels, hostels, and hovels. J It is time for some hot water, air conditioning, and high speed internet.  I have an entire free day tomorrow, and while I might take a $40 cab back to the Cathedral, I just might hunker down and answer the 300+ emails that I got while I was gone. As far as I am concerned, this adventure has come to an end.  And oh, what an adventure it was………

Thank you for following my emails and for sending me encouraging messages. I leave this trip feeling even more grateful for the life that I am leading and the friends and family that I have.

Muchas, muchas gracias,