Chasing Totality

It's no secret that my heart lives in the mountains. Something about the cool creek water, and winding mountain roads speaks to me in a way that Florida never has. Any excuse to escape to the north for a couple of days is always welcome and last Monday's eclipse was just that; a reason to throw my family in the car and seek out an adventure. If I'm being honest, I wasn't all that pumped about the eclipse, but it turns out I was wrong. To say that it was magical would be understating things. We found the perfect mountain view point with just enough people around to make it exciting without feeling overcrowded. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have put together a better bunch of strangers if I tried. I'm still overwhelmed by the kindness, friendliness and genuine excitement that everyone shared.  When all of that came together, it turned into an experience that I will carry with me and think of fondly for years to come.  

The purpose of the trip was to see the total eclipse, but since we were in the mountains anyway we decided to have some side adventures as well. We watched the rafters and kayakers, played in creeks, hiked to local swimming holes, and meandered through downtown Chattanooga stopping to enjoy everything that caught our eyes. 

The Lake House

Summer is hard. It's this thing that looms in front of children with promises of freedom and fun, beach trips, sleep overs and absolutely no responsibilities. Staying up late and sleeping in, and most of all - no school. All of that joy lasts about 3 days in my house, and then the boredom sets in. And what do kids do when they are cooped up and bored? They bug mom, of course. Thankfully, my family is amazing and came to my rescue. My Aunt Margaret and Uncle Joey own a beautiful lake house in the middle of the Ocala National Forest, and were gracious (or crazy depending on your point of view) enough to invite us up for a weekend of tubing, bear hunting (armed with only cameras, of course) card games and general FUN. My babies were able to have a little bit of magic in their summer after all, and so was I. 

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Florida thunderstorms are always so lovely.

My baby girl really wanted to see some critters, specifically a bear, so we got up early and ventured into the woods armed with cameras and hope. Our first sighting was a quail followed by a couple of deer. Sadly, we just missed mama with her cub and a different BIG boy. I'm still pretty stoked about the tracks we found though, and about the time with my girl.

After the bear hunt I was feeling daring, so we let my 7 year old drive the golf cart. Ya know, because bad decisions sure are fun. 

Last minute side trip to Gainesville to fossil hunt some of the creeks. We didn't find anything big, but the colors sure did make up for it. 

I left my heart in Zion

Sometimes the best cure for feeling feelings and overthinking things is an adventure, so I planned one. 

40 image panoramic stitch of Cedar Breaks.

Fall colors on the way to Bryce

Days 2 & 3: Zion, my heart. 

There are so many trails within the park, honestly I could hike there for months without retracing my steps. Sadly, our time was limited. In the end we decided on Canyon Overlook, Emerald Pools (Upper and Lower), and Hidden Canyon. 

We made a side trip to Sand Hollow State Park, not too far south of Zion. A friend recommended that we stop there if we had the time, and I am so glad that we did. It's a little place that packs a big punch. 

Day 4: Road trip to Valley of Fire, Nevada

After a lifetime in Florida, I wasn't impressed with how hot it was inside the park. But then, it's a desert. So there you go. Temperatures aside, this place is beautiful. 

Photographic proof that I was indeed on this adventure - iPhone selfie with my husband. Best adventure partner EVER. 

I am still in a awe of how beautiful this part of the country is. We barely scratched the surface, and I can't wait to go back.