Nature's Playground!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
Trip End May 16, 2008

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Sunday, November 18, 2007

"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for
."  - Louis L'Amour, writer (1908-1988)
It was cold here the night before last. Actually, a record low for this area. Not something I was expecting. But I'll take the bad with the good. It's 18/64 and it's just after noon. A few days ago I indicated I was heading towards Charlotte...that is...before I found a brochures advertising the Chimney Rock Park in western North Carolina. So I took a 3 hour detour....over the Eastern Continental Divide to arrive in Swannanoa, North Carolina. Less than an hour from Tennessee and next to Transylvania...the county...not the home of Count Dracula.
Yesterday I went to visit Chimney Rock. Up early for the 45 minute drive, I wanted to be there for the opening at 8h30. I, nor my GPS, nor MapQuest took into account the rollercoaster ride (without driving upside down) route. I had to get back over the Continental Divide, using a narrow and twisty road. There's something about narrow, twisty roads that teases us into having to test the limits of the vehicle you're driving (it's a guy thing...but maybe the women out there feel the same?). I will definitely need new tires when this trip is over (and my tires were new this past spring). I arrive at the entrance to the park...a little later than planned...and still have about 3 miles of uphill, narrow and twisty roads to get to the base of Chimney Rock. Being this early, nobody is heading no worries about meeting somebody head on. There are a few cars in the parking lot, but not many. There's an elevator shaft carved out just inside the side of the mountain. A 26 story shaft blasted through solid granite. Going up the elevator, the operator explains about the trails that leads the visitors to the various sites in the Park. They say it takes between 1 to 2 hours to hike the pathway. He looks at  me, and after I state that I've hiked the Rocky Mountains, says I can probably do it in an hour. A couple of years ago I probably could have. Looks can be deceiving. I don't do much cardio now and am out of breath fairly quickly.
There's a souvenir shop at the top of the elevator shaft. I see the same stuff I've seen for the past 10,000 kms. There's a chalkboard welcoming the various groups expected today...some Girl Guides, and a couple of Church Youth Groups. I visit the Chimney and as I'm starting off on the trail hear a group of youth arriving. There are about a dozen male and female of the Church Groups....from a local Baptist Church. I take my time along the trail. Nature is to be experienced...not rushed through like a ride at Disneyland. I run into the youth at various times. They are all friendly and polite. Even when I can't see them I can still hear them. They are quite exuberant. They are enjoying their day in nature, even if they do not quite understand the significance of what they are seeing. They are socializing with their friends, teasing, and playing.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."  - Helen Keller, author, activist, lecturer (1880-1968)
I spend considerable time at the top of the waterfall. I stop and take a snack break and take numerous photos of the water flowing. The youth come and go. As I'm leaving I find a folded piece of paper on the ground. Not wanting to leave any garbage in nature I pick it up. I unfold the piece of paper and find numerous bible scriptures written on it. It's titled, "Who I am in Christ", with subtitles of "I am accepted in Christ", "I am secure in Christ", and "I am significant in Christ". Two nights ago I watched another episode of Grey's Anatomy (I have caught up to the current episode) and in it a school bus is in an accident and numerous teenagers are injured. During an operation on one of the injured kids, the surgeon makes a comment about the cliqueness   of teenagers when a nurse retorts that things aren't much different as adults. Throughout the show there are comparisons between the adult lives and the youths. We never really grow just changes.
A while back I finished reading the book, "The Secret of "The Secret". I indicated I would report back on my findings. For those who haven't seen the DVD or read the book, it's about the "Law of Attraction". That we attract in our lives all that is good and bad. The DVD goes on about how we can attract only good things...good The DVD made it sound like this "Law" has been hidden for centuries and that this was big news. This "other" book was written to "unlock the mysteries of this runaway bestseller". The author of this book did a lot of research to see if what was shown in the DVD was correct. Most of her findings was that most of what was shown in the DVD has been around, and not "hidden away", for centuries, in one form or another. This DVD just packaged it for mass distribution. It was a marketing ploy that worked better than I believe even the creator of "The Secret" had hoped. There are a lot of detractors out there who have examined the DVD and see it as a way to make people believe they can acquire all the material goods they want. People see in it what they want to see in it...just like my blog. "The Secret" is just part of the answer. I believe in "The Law of Attraction", just like I believe in God, just like I believe in Science and Evolution, just like I believe in Spirituality. No one discipline gives all the answers.
My daughter Alexis saw the DVD at school. One of the teachers had seen it and decided to show it to her class. Being a Catholic school, and the age group this was being shown to, I found it a little..."odd". The counsellor I was seeing at the time had seen the DVD and thought I would enjoy it so she lent it to me. After watching it, I did what I always do with topics I'm introduced to, I did more research (just like the Baptist Church). I found "The Secret" website and ordered 3 copies of the DVD (1 copy for me, 1 to lend out, and 1 to give to the counsellor   so that she could lend it out to more people). So, I re-watched the DVD with Alexis. Then Alexis made her "Vision Board" of things she wanted, just like they indicated in the DVD. This "other" book concludes that people will become disillusioned when life doesn't hand them what "The Law of Attraction" says they can have. The majority of people are more resilient than these writers believe they are. The "Law of Attraction" might not work out the way they originally perceived that it should, but they will continue looking for the answer they are looking for. Over time Alexis will forget her "Vision Board", just like everybody else who made one, and just maybe, one day, something from it will materialize. Oh...and I re-watched "The Secret" DVD last night. I just wanted to see how this "other" author interpreted the message in the DVD in comparison to how I would have.
"A huge granite mountain cannot be denied-it speaks in silence to the very core of your being."  - Ansel Adams, photographer, conservationist (1902-1984)
Nature has been designed for us to experience it. Theme parks have been designed to bring nature's experiences closer to home. I found a sign on one of the paths about playing on the trails. That gave me the title to my blog. But it also gave me the insight into thinking about all that I have experienced to date on my Journey. The Earth really has been designed as a giant playground to be experienced...from the bottom of a the top of a the the flat prairies. The difference between nature and man-made playgrounds is that when you really take in the experience of nature it reaches down to your soul. No man-made playground can come close to the feeling you get when you are experiencing nature.
My experiences at Chimney Rock were not the serenity I would have expected. The sounds of youthful cheerfulness broke the silence I was hoping to have. But it gave me a different feeling. Listening to their laughter made me smile. I met numerous other people on the trail. Couples, families, young and old...they were all extremely friendly. Nature does that to people. Something you don't find as much of in a man-made playground. The parking lot was full when I returned to the start of the trail. My drive down the mountain was less relaxing and fun than the drive up 3 hours earlier. I met (head on) numerous cars coming up.
I have started reading a new book..."Einstein's Dream". This book is pure science...physics and   mathematics. I never took physics in High School, figured I wouldn't need it as an Accountant. Einstein's Dream is about a theory that Scientists the world over are trying to solve. What connects the "macro" world to the "micro" world. As coincidence would have it, as I'm scanning headlines on CBC online, I notice a headline that blares out "Surfer makes waves with scientific 'theory of everything!". This ties in directly to what I've started reading. It is a strange world we live in! By the way, I downloaded the scientific paper and started reading it. I might as well be reading Chinese, I haven't the faintest idea what all the symbols and notations represent. Hopefully once I finish reading the book I'll be able to decipher some basic concepts.
And lastly I must admit that I am no longer "almost a genius". I am just "above average" now. I was invited on my Facebook account to download this IQ test application. One morning I took the 15 minutes to complete the test. Results came back different than the last time. Oh well...can always do it again some other day...maybe it'll say that I'm below average...or...even that "I am a Genius!". But then...does it really matter what these tests say?
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