Saturday, March 26, 2016

A perfect day

Yesterday, we drove 2 and a half hours to reach a park in Alabama. I was eager to get outdoors and do some hiking. Being in the woods always makes me feel so relaxed and peaceful. It's hard to explain but I just feel like I belong there.

We arrived at the park a little before noon. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I was feeling great. We stopped by the visitors center to use the restroom and talk with the rangers. As we picked up a park map, we planned to start our route at Beaver Pond trail. We drove a short distance to reach the trail head and parked the car. Water bottles in hand, I grabbed my camera and off we went. The trail was a moderate 3 mile loop. Along the way, we traipsed over many roots and I warned my hubby to watch for snakes. Since the weather was warmer than it had been in weeks, I knew there was a good possibility we'd come across a snake lying on the trail. The tree roots all looked like small to mid-sized snakes so I did a lot of walking with my head down and my eyes on the trail. Phil always lets me go first on the trail because he's scared to death of snakes. I didn't have on my hiking boots or have my walking stick with me so I made sure to keep my eyes peeled just in case.
There weren't a lot of trees blooming just yet, but we did find some wild blueberries and rhododendron in bud. Bear are indigenous to this region and I mentioned we needed to be on the lookout for any signs of scat, too. We continued our hike and came across a beautiful stream about halfway through our walk. We stopped to take some photos and then continued on. The sun felt amazing on my face and arms. I didn't realize how much I'd missed it these past winter months. About 2/3 of the way around the loop, I heard something moving through the dry leaves. I stopped in my tracks and Phil stopped right behind me. I told him to listen and as he did, I pointed just ahead of me and to the right. A beautiful King Snake was slithering through the brush. I could see Phil grimace as he watched it. He really is afraid of all snakes. I think they are beautiful but I do respect them and give them a wide berth while hiking. We finished our hike and decided to drive over to the canyon rim for a better view of the falls.

At the canyon rim, we were able to get a panoramic view. We were also able to see the falls below. They were beautiful and the river was running strong from recent rains. Three kayakers were braving the waters and I was able to get some good action shots as they scooted through a narrow rapid.

We continued on and stopped at Hawk's Glide Overlook to have lunch and enjoy the scenery. It was so quiet and peaceful as we sat under a large tree and enjoyed our sandwiches. Right before we left, a glorious Red Shinned Hawk soared through the canyon. I didn't have my camera out and was disappointed to miss the shot. Sometimes I think God wants us to only capture those types of special moments with our eyes instead of our cameras. I stored the glimpse of the hawk in my memory banks and whispered up a quiet thank you to God.

Our next stop was Mushroom Rock, a large sandstone formation in the center of the park. When we arrived, we ran into another couple and started talking with them. Their names were Ellie and Inar and they were from Norway. They'd recently moved to Georgia and were looking for scenic places to visit. Ellie was an amateur photographer like me and was looking for some tips on places to photograph. I told her she needed to visit Cumberland Island and gave her information on how to make camping reservations there. She was so excited and said she'd call as soon as she got back home.

The sun was starting to go down and we decided we'd better head back home before it got completely dark. On the way back home, I couldn't help but thank God. I was alive! I currently have no evidence of any cancer anywhere in my body and I was feeling really good. Spending the day out in the woods in the bright sunshine was so invigorating. I am so thankful I felt like going hiking. There have been so many days lately that I haven't felt well.
Endangered Red Elph Orphine growing on the rocks

On Monday, I go see the oncologist again for a check up. I'm hoping my blood work will be good and show no evidence of any active cancer cells anywhere in my body. I'm praying for that anyway! I'm still doing all of my natural cancer fighting routines and I'm hoping Dr. F will encourage me to continue. I really don't want to hear him say I should be taking the anti-hormone therapy medications. My hair has just started to grow back in from the last round of Aromasin. It's taken about 2 months and lots of Biotin to get it looking decent again. I'm not willing to go back on Aromasin, Arimidex, or Tamoxifen even if Dr. F says I should. I'd rather trust in my healthy choices to keep me cancer free.

It sure feels good to feel almost like I did before cancer. Getting back to living my life has been my number one priority and it feels great! I'm really starting to believe I'm moving out from under the huge cancer shadow that's been hanging over my head for the past 20 months and sometimes, I feel guilty that I'm doing so well. There are 4 of my friends who are dealing with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer right now.  One of those friends has invited us to share Easter dinner with her tomorrow. When she invited us, I immediately said yes without even thinking about any of my family members and how we usually spend Easter together. I knew it was important for Bonnie (my friend and I share the same first name) to know we cared enough about her to want to be with her. She doesn't have much time left and I think she's wanting to tell her friends goodbye. She's been under hospice care for months now. It's hard to understand why some of us are able to fight cancer and move on with our lives and others only seem to get worse. I'm so thankful God has allowed me to do so well and I keep praying I never, ever face another round of cancer. I don't know if I could handle it. But I'm not going to borrow trouble! I'm going to be grateful for today and live in this moment. For me, that's the best motto for surviving and thriving. Have a Happy Easter and remember death could not hold Him! He is risen!

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