After arriving safely on Saturday night to the Land of the Sky, I was ready to take it all in. After a good night’s sleep at my friends home, I awoke on Easter Sunday in the mountains. After having some breakfast and getting myself showered and dressed, I headed out for the Easter church services at The Rock Church in nearby Candler.
Upon reaching the church, I quickly realized that the church was quite large. Local police were directing traffic patterns in and out of the parking lot. Since I was a first-time guest at the church having only been familiar with The Rock via their weekly audio podcasts, I was directed to a parking area right up front. Talk about a nice perk! I was already impressed and I hadn’t even gotten out of my car yet. Once I parked and headed the few feet to the church’s entrance, I was greeted by many smiling faces. A nice lady then helped me find my way inside and to my seat. The service itself was very nice. I really did feel at home at The Rock and very much look forward to going back if I move to an apartment enough to the church.
After church, I headed back to my friends house for what promised to be a fun and relaxing Easter. My friend Debbie’s parents were coming over for the day along with one of her other friends. In all, there would be six of us spending the Easter Sunday together. Seeing as how recent holidays with family haven’t been as merry and relaxing as I’d like, I was looking forward to it. There’s nothing like spending time with good friends playing croquet and enjoying one another’s company.
Monday brought forth my birthday (as well as my friend Debbie’s day of birth oddly enough)! I really wanted to go hiking on my special day, so I planned a day at Chimney Rock State Park with my friend Kristie. I had met Kristie online as we have a common passion with our love of photography. I met her at her apartment and we piled into her truck and we were onward toward Chimney Rock! It’s a bit of a drive to Chimney from Asheville, but well worth the beauty you encounter. Once we we arrived the two of us thought we were ready for whatever the State Park could throw at us, boy were we overestimating with that line of thinking!
Chimney Rock usually has an elevator available for those not wanting to make the climb up to the infamous rock. This time though, it was closed for renovations. I didn’t think I would take it anyway, but ended up changing my tone by the end of the day’s climbing. The sign informed us explorers that the climb was strenuous. I sort of laughed that off when I read it at the bottom of the stairs. I said, “how bad can it be?” It would be that darned Chimney Rock that would have the last laugh though.
A few flights of stairs up, I found myself getting winded. Okay, now I know I’m not a tri-athlete, but I’m in pretty good shape these days since I workout regularly. Still, I found myself huffing and puffing my way up a good deal of the journey upward. Also, there were large bees everywhere. While I had a feeling that the little flying creatures would most likely just buzz around and not bring harm to my Florida tanned skin, I couldn’t help but be nervous. At one point, my friend and I were wandering around a rocky area with our cameras in hand when one bee just wouldn’t take a hint. Not realizing a huge rock was literally about a foot and a half behind me, I began to back up away from the bug. Big mistake on my part. I went down hard on my ass on said rock. I still carry a small reminder of that incident in the form of a bruise upon my backside as I write this.
Kristie and I ventured all the way up to the very top of the State Park. I’m not exactly sure how we managed this feat, but I suppose stubbornness and inner as well as physical strength had a lot to do with the accomplishment. The very top, Exclamation Point is about 2500 feet up and is 200 feet higher than Chimney Rock. On the plus side, the views are worth it all, truly they are. However, my legs could not have been happier when we finally climbed back down the final stairwell and hit the bottom of the park. Lesson learned on this day: The indications on signage telling you that a hike is a strenuous one? Take it seriously, I definitely do now.
That evening, I enjoyed a great dinner at The Laughing Seed with my birthday “sister” and her friends (some of whom I already knew). The food was definitely great as was the company. Then, I closed my birthday with ice cream at the awesome HOP Cafe. I was fortunate to meet a few online friends there. It was a great end to my special day, one I most surely won’t forget anytime soon.