Tuesday, December 11, 2018


 It is time to think about what you are going to do to prevent a diagnosis of  "cabin fever" in the coming winter months .  Hope these photos will give you a few ideas!

This photo is a reminder of a wonderful winter experience during the daylight hours of New Years Eve, in central Florida.  The expedition involved putting on wetsuits, slipping into the somewhat shallow, freshwater springs whose warmth causes manatees to gather in large numbers.  This enables you to "snorkel with the manatees".  There is no need for scuba gear, because the springs are so shallow, it is easy to see the marine mammals without diving equipment. There are links to the Crystal River outfitters I used,  in an article I published called "Manatee Expedition" (December 31, 2013).

Another great place in Florida is represented by this photo.  You can read about this place in an article called "Sanibel Island Expedition" (January 27, 2015) on a Road Scholar trip (www.roadscholar.org ) , headquartered at the Sundial Resort.

Another Road Scholar trip took me to a different part of the Gulf Coast, and you can read about it at "Exploring Rockport Texpedition" (March 9, 2015), which also included a trip to South Padre Island.
There are numerous places to go for a winter get away, and the photos below provide just a few ideas for contemplation:  How would you like to rest in a hammock, tied between two palm trees, and be rocked to sleep by the gentle breezes and sound of the ocean.  You might consider Ventura, California for that get-away, and you can also read about it on my blog at www.ExpeditionsByTricia.blogspot.com .

Seeing a
sunrise or sunset on the coast is an unforgettable treat!

If you cannot get to a place where it is warm on the outside, check out some places that have overcome weather issues, by enclosing gigantic spaces into a temperature-controlled "Biosphere"!  Such is the situation for AT&T Stadium in Texas.  Even if there are no games or events scheduled when you want to visit, you can arrange a guided tour that will show you all the inner workings, and behind the scenes activities at this marvel.  I published an article about the tour I took, that you can find in the archives of this blog. 

massive sculpture of Neptune is the "trademark" symbol for the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Strolling along the boardwalks of Virginia Beach can be a refreshing experience, at any time of the year!

This photo shows the colorful entrance to a play area along the Virginia Beach seashore.

Not all winter get-aways have to be to a tropical seashore around the Equator.  There are several inland lakes on the continent that have mild weather throughout the year, where al fresco dining can be enjoyed. 

This photo of a
lady enjoying a beautiful scenic overlook is a reminder for me to mention that you do not have to wait until you retire to escape harsh winter weather where you live.  When the lady in the photo was working as a flight attendant, she arranged to work international flights that would take her to the other side of the globe, during the cold months in the USA.  When the weather in Chicago was frightful, she was so delightful---on a flight to Brazil!

Winter holiday time can mean going to places as a family to look at the Christmas lights, and maybe even ride a camel!  You have this opportunity at the Fayetteville, Arkansas square, during the month of December.

If it is REAL snow you want, consider visiting the charming town of Mt. Shasta, California.  I wrote about it in an article called "Strolling Mt. Shasta", (February 8, 2011).  The photo is my son, leading the way across the snow on a warm winter day, when we were hiking to some alpine lakes.  Plan you visit by checking out the website www.mtshastachamber.com .
Even though your winter getaway plans may be uncertain,  you can still enjoy the process of daydreaming about places you would like to visit, just sitting in front of a warm fire; and, having faith in God's promise that says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11   That realization gives me "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hiking Expeditions in the Ozarks!

If  you are not familiar with the Ozarks, you may have noticed that most of my photos of hiking in the Ozarks are taken during the colder months of the year and possibly, you have wondered "Why?"  There are several factors, such as uncomfortable heat and humidity, annoying ticks and chiggers, and the switch to water sports in warm weather.  But another reason is the ability to see the terrain of an area better whenever the leaves are off the trees.

All of  these photos, except for the very last ones, were taken on a hike with some of the Arkansas Master Naturalists ( www.wordpress.arkansasmasternaturalists.org )at a location near Mountain View, Arkansas, called "Almus Knob". 

Another popular hiking trail is the Buffalo River Trail (BRT) , that traces the Buffalo National River through land owned by the National Park Service.  Recently, on a different outing, six members of the North Central Arkansas Master Naturalists hiked the six mile section from Spring Creek Trailhead, to the Highway 14 Bridge access.  The outfitter we used to shuttle us to the starting point, took this photo as we began our trek on a VERY chilly day in November. 
No matter where you are along the BRT, at some point you will have some glorious views of the Buffalo River, especially if the leaves are off the trees!
When you hike in the BRT, you will encounter a variety of habitats, from glades, to lichen-covered crevices, to deep ravines.  On this particular hike, we happened to be in a deep ravine, dappled with sunshine, at high noon, so we chose that spot for our lunch break.
Some people keep records of which sections they have trekked on the Buffalo River Trail, with the ultimate goal of "section hiking" the entire trail.  I am trying to do that, so now I can count as completed, the section from the Spring Creek Trailhead to the Highway 14 Bridge access (also known as Dillards Ferry).

Did you ever feel like the "weight of the world" was on your shoulders??  The photo above is a visual aid for that thought!  You can also think of it as a visual aid for "resistance training", as pushing against resistance can make you stronger!  (Not only your physical muscles, but your "spiritual muscles", as well!)

This photo of a group of hikers was taken above the Buffalo National River, and represents a group with the purpose of participating in the annual December bird count, sponsored by the Audubon Society ( www.audubon.org ).  I am including it as another example of one of several hiking groups that I have spent time with in the outdoors.  I use it as an example of the Bible verse that tells us a "cord of three" is not as easily broken as a single cord.  (The passage is from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up....A cord of three strands is not easily broken." )   As a "Baby Boomer Widow Lady", I have learned that it makes sense for me to hike in the woods with other folks, instead of striking off into unknown forests by myself .  If you are interested in finding a group to hike with, you can start just by Googling "Hiking Groups in my area", where you type in the area to be explored.  If you do not find anything suitable, try starting up your own group!   There are a variety of social media sites that will make it easy for you to connect with like-minded folks.  So get out there and enjoy God's Great Outdoors!  It will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia

Monday, October 1, 2018


There is a little community in northern California that boasts it puts on the LARGEST, small-town walk in America, and I have had the pleasure of participating in that event on two separate occasions in the last few years.   You can find out just about everything you need to know about visiting there, by clicking on www.visitmtshasta.com

Based on the attire of the runner in this photo, it should be a clue that the event is held annually,  on July 4th.   That means---not the Saturday before the Fourth, and not the Saturday after the Fourth, but the actual day of the week that is the "landing spot" for the Fourth of July each year.  In fact, if you go the website of the group that sponsors the race, www.mtshastarunners.com , you can see exactly how many more days until the 2019 event! 

I took this photo, as the participants turned the corner at a church along the route.  As you can see from the photo, the event shirts were a light blue this year.  Each year, the design on the front of the tee shirt changes  .  About 1,000 runners/walkers compete in the mostly-flat, run/walk.  It is a family-friendly event, and I saw participants there, ranging in age from infants to 95 years old!

A very unique aspect of this event is that there is entertainment, provided by various groups in the area, all along the route.  These kids were giving martial arts demonstrations as we walked by.

These ladies dressed in the appropriate ethnic costumes of their culture, were giving belly dancing demonstrations, accompanied by the sounds of exotic far-away lands, over their loud speakers.  It is not everyday you can see a belly dancing recital, played out on oriental rugs, laying across the highway roadside!

Another group blasting out tunes of a different nature, was a group of ladies, demonstrating their Zumba exercise class routines. 

This photo shows the participants going in two different directions.  It was taken on the overpass bridge that is above Interstate 5 in Mt. Shasta.  The group walking forward in the photo have reached the turn-around point, while those shown with their backs to the camera, are still headed for the turn-around. 

One of the sponsors of the race is the Mt. Shasta Medical Center, operated by Dignity Health.  All of the participants walk or run by the hospital, and there were volunteers/employees from the hospital manning a "relief station" in front of the hospital. 

Another one of the sponsors was Crystal Geyser water, which comes from a source very close to Mt. Shasta.  It is only appropriate that they be a sponsor, since the word "shasta" originally meant "precious water".  Shasta is an African female name originating in the Sahara.  The desert origin of the word explains why water would be called "precious". 

Besides water, there were other free beverages to sample, including kombucha, a fermented tea.

The big surprise for me along the race route came, when I saw there were little bowls of lettuce for the participants to sample.  As those who know me can attest, I have a "thing" for lettuce because it is low-calorie, and helps "fill me up".

In addition, there were samples of freshly-baked pizza along the walk route!!  What a deal!!

This photo shows some walkers as they are on the bridge above Interstate 5.  The jagged peak in the background is a landmark along I-5, and is called Black Butte.  I am thankful to be able to say my son and I summited that mountain last year, and you can read about that experience in a  previous blog I published (It can be seen in the blog archives, under the date of September 10, 2016, and titled "Siskiyou County Expedition")

In addition to the food/beverage sampling stations that appear every other block along the walking route, there are musical stages set up every other block along the race route.  This photo shows a musician using a seldom-seen stringed instrument, accompanied by the traditional violin. 

There are also country/western bands, solo artists, brass musicians, vocalists, and drummers, both Native American and Oriental. 

All of the things I have described in the previous comments explain why it took me so long to finally make it to the FINISH line!  I wanted to sample each and every product, and take a photo of each and every exhibit!

My steps were easily distracted by the activities and foods along the way, which explains why I did not come home with one of these medals!

When there were so many food and beverage products being handed to participants, there was a potential for litter to desecrate the streets of Mt. Shasta, but this issue was resolved by having refuse containers placed strategically after each sampling table.

I was especially pleased that the refuse containers were clearly labeled so that plastics could be disposed of separately, and hence more easily recycled.

The race route goes by the Catholic Church in Mt. Shasta, and every year, that community of believers sponsor a  fund-raising pancake breakfast that provides a good excuse to load up on carbs before the race----it's for a good cause!!

Just like the sign in this photo says,
MT. SHASTA SMILES on the Fourth of July!!

And for those who have an emergency that interferes with their smile, there is the Mt. Shasta Ambulance service!

After the race was over, we went back to my son's house, and he grilled us a delicious, healthy dinner outside.  He is shown in this photo, and I am using this opportunity to apologize to him for getting distracted taking photos during this event, that we had intended to walk TOGETHER!   After it was over, he told me had spent several minutes concerned, worrying, and wondering where I was (thinking that I had possibly brought on a Reactive Hypoglycemic fainting spell by cramming too much food into my mouth, too fast), because he waited so long at the finish line, with no sign of me.  When I told him that I was taking photos and videos of the performers, I think it hurt his feelings that I was more interested in taking photos, than I was in walking with him.  Therefore, I am using this experience as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses that says, "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."  Hebrews 3:13.  Instead of concentrating on the precious time I had to spend with my son--the "TODAY"--I was focused on getting photos to write a blog about the event.  Perhaps my behavior demonstrates how sin's deceitfulness made me think it was more important to publish a particular blog post, than it was to spend time encouraging my son.  Hopefully, I will get another chance, and promise to do things differently next time I get to spend time with him!  That is because doing activities with my son gives me "MILES OF SMILES"!!  Tricia