Posts tagged hiking

CSI Lesson-Clean Your Shoes

CSI Lesson- Clean Your Shoes





It was a beautiful cabin. Carrie had dreamed of owning a cabin like this one in the Ozarks since she was a child. Nearby, a stream danced along among trees laced in Autumn’s finest colors, aster swayed in the breeze


She had seen the business card of a moving company pinned to the bulletin board inside a Quick Shop, and asked the store owner if he knew anything about the company. “ Yep, said the owner, know them well. They are good guys, so far as I know.”


The phone was answered by a man named Jeff Morris, He told Carrie that he and his brother, Marcus had a small moving van and could do the job for her in two days. Their price seemed reasonable, and though she was disappointed to have to wait two days for the move, it wasn’t unexpected.


Carrie walked up to the cabin, unlocked the door and inhaled the fragrant scent of new pine. She sat rocker and watched the trees dance outside the window. Sipping a glass of tea, her cat, Freckles jumped in her lap.


She had brought a few things with her while the house was being working on and decided to spend the night at the cabin with Freckles curled up beside her, cuddled on the blow-up mattress and navy blue sleeping bag.


When Carrie didn’t answer her cell phone the next day, Jeff and Marcus decided to stop by and be sure Carrie still wanted the furniture moved the next day. Carries car was there, but the door locked was when they arrived. They could hear Freckles meowing pitifully. The brothers walked down to the creek, thinking she may be nearby.


Carrie!” Marcus called, waited and called again. No answer.


“Marcus, come here!” Jeff cried out suddenly. His brother found him standing over Carries silent body It looked as though she had been struck from behind. Shaking, Marcus called 911 to report what they had found.


The brothers were immediately considered suspects. Terrified, they swore their innocence.


One of the detectives who had investigated the cabin ran down to where Marcus and Jeff were being interrogated. “Take of your shoes.” he demanded of the brothers.


Confused, they took off their shoes and handed the to the detective. He turned them over and looked at the treads, flashed on the picture app of his cell phone, and after looking at a photo, sighed and said. Take their phone number and let them go.”


“What?” said one of the other officers.


“Saw it on CSI last week,” the detective smiled. “The murdered left his shoe prints on the newly finished floor and they didn’t match those of the suspects apprehended at the scene.”


Marcus and Jeff took a sad look at Carrie’s beautiful, still body and breathed a sigh of relief. Hopefully the shoe prints would lead them to her killer.


“Maybe we should watch more TV,” Jeff smiled. “We might actually learn something!”






















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Rainbow Falls

“Maria!” Her mother shouted, her voice drowned out by the thunder of the waterfall. “Maria!”

Nothing. She had looked down at a trillium on the side of the trail for only a moment and when she looked up her six-year-old daughter was no where to be seen.

Maria’s mother, Amailia’s heart was beating out of her chest. Maria was a bright and curious child, just like her mother. Something had caught her eye and she had skipped off to explore it. How many times had Amailia done this to her mother as a child, exploring the deep forest of the Appalachians? Her mother would spot an insect, a flower, some unusual lichen clinging to a rock or perhaps a dead limb, and her attention would be drawn temporarily away from her equally curious child and when she looked up, Amalia would be gone.

“O.K.” Amailia thought, “she can’t be far, I only looked away a second.” Then, the roar of the waterfall down the trail interrupted her hopeful thoughts again. As she looked around hopefully, screaming Maria’s name, Amailia began running down the damp, steep path, brushing aside the ferns and saplings as she rushed towards the sound of the waterfall in the distance.

As Amalia saw the mist rising from the waterfall, her voice began to fail her. Tears ran down her cheeks, as she saw tiny tracks leaving the trail and heading towards the brush that grew by the side of the falls. At the end of this brushy area, the waterfall appeared suddenly as it thundered down the side of the mountain. Her legs were failing her, cramping as she slipped down the side trail where she had seen the foot prints.

As she neared the falls, the footprints stopped. The trail became overgrown again. Confused, Amalia looked around for Maria. It was as if her daughters footprints had just ended. Amalia stood silently, listening hopefully for the sound of her daughter as she crept through the lush green of the forest floor. She began to inch quietly down the trail towards the waterfall, all the while, her eyes searching for some sign of movement. Suddenly, she looked up and saw within the mist of the waterfall, a beautiful rainbow.

For some reason, she pushed aside the wild flowers and brush as she came towards the rainbow and the thundering falls. There, on a rock, sat a tiny form, dark curls winding around her shoulders. It was though Maria was in a trance as she watched the cascades of water hitting the pool at the bottom of the falls.

“Maria!” Amalia cried out, grabbing her daughter up in her arms. “You know better than to wander off when we are hiking,” she fussed as she wiped away a tear.

“What’s the matter, mommy?” Maria smiled. “You said we were going to Rainbow Falls.” She pointed toward the rainbow that had formed in the mist above the swirling water. “I just followed the little deer, I could hear the water from the falls and just followed her.”

Amalia sat down on the rock by the water. She spotted the tiny deer drinking from the river by it’s mother. She wondered how her daughter had chosen to follow the little deer down a safe, but rarely used trail, rather than taking the sleep trial by the edge of the falls.

“Follow the rainbow.” her mother had told her as a child. “It leads to a pot of gold!” Maybe not today, but it did leead to her daughter and that was surrey a more precious gift.

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Changing seasons

As the heat of summer turns gently into fall, the deep green of growing leaves take on a tinge of scarlet.

I walk, slowly, deep in thought, down the narrow lane as rain drops begin to patter gently on the leaves far above me.DSCN2077

The rain drops mix with my tears as I remember how I loved these days. The birth of four sons during these months, the joy of life, growing so quickly as if every plant and creature knows that the time is coming for a long winter’s nap.

Now, I walk alone, the evil senseless nature of “life” having stolen one of my sons and the natural progression of time having me look up at my youngest son, six feet tall already and only fifteen.

I walk on. Some turkeys, who have become like pets, follow me along, knowing that I will feed them sunflower seeds. As they gobble and nod their heads, I think of how wild creatures survive and how hard I worked to feed 19 people for lunch today. I think of my six kids and how quickly time has passed. Now six grand kids are noisily ‘destroying’ my house.

 I stop to listen to my son and his friend tell about the bears they saw eating garbage up the road as the gentle raindrops cool my arms and cheeks. Up in the forest, I hear the crashing of branches and the crunch of leaves and I imagine that the bears are on the way down the mountain. I don’t hang around to find out.DSCN1983

 Summer is life, sweat, heat, the dreams of growing and hope of change. Autumn brings a chance to slow down, remember, smile and cry as well. Autumn always makes me reflect upon the past, some of it brings a smile, like the look of psychedelic leaves in the pasture as they shiver in the sun. Other times bring back the endless nightmare of watching my beautiful healthy son collapse on a ball field, never to come home.

 Suddenly, I remember 5th grade, a year filled with joys and sorrows, but sweetened by a school teacher who was one of the most amazing people I ever met. She taught me to love art, to believe in myself, to learn poetry that I have taught my children and grandchildren, and still remember today. Every year, on this day, I think of one of her poems, this one written by Edwina Fallis many years ago. The words float through my mind. It is called, simply, “September”.

                                                                     A road like brown ribbon,

                                                                       a sky that is blue,

                                                                    a forest of green,

                                                                       with that sky peeping through.

                                                                    Asters, deep purple,

                                                                     a grasshoppers call.

                                                                    Today, it is summer,

                                                                      Tomorrow, is fall.


I think how baseball took my son, his black obsidian stone shining from a hill side where it should not be for many, many years. I think of having to endure the brushes with my own death that loosing him caused, and how brave I have to be to let my younger son even go to a ball game.DSCN1416

Life and death, the mystery of which we will never know. Home. I hear the screen door as it creeks shut and I step back into the world that I often wish I didn’t have to live in. There are tiny smiles and tears living within my broken heart. There is joy and pain, the lovely simplicity with which nature creates miracles. There is the unspeakable grief that can turn a life into a nightmare.

Today, it is summer, tomorrow, it’s fall and then what? These are things we will never know, not even in our dreams.

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Under a Rotting Log

It was a simply beautiful spring day.” She thought. She couldn’t help but take in the tiny buds on flowers, mosses, now growing on damp stones, even the azure sky over head seemed especially lovely.

She reached down and gently lifted a rotting log, encased in a curly gray lichen. Just as she picked it up, a shiny creature writhed towards the from underneath the log


It’s just a blue-tailed skink, laughed her brother, a lizard!

She felt a little foolish, still, after all the excitement, she was sure the memory of this spring adventure would remain with her always.

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Camping in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

When I was a child, my family spent weeks camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Though I never liked the inconveniences of camping, I loved to be outdoors and partake of the undisturbed beauty of the area. We usually camped at Smokemont or The Chimneys, both operated by the park service. I loved playing on the huge boulders that filled the roaring streams. The aroma of campfires and dinners cooked on camp stoves is with me still. My mother and I would splash in wide, quiet areas of the rivers, so clear and fresh that I once dropped a ring in water several feet deep and was able to reach down and retrieve it with ease. Once, I had an unforgettably close encounter with a bear  at our campsite. I was putting some trash in a can at the edge of the dirt road, when I looked up to see a huge black bear looking quizzically back at me!

 At night, there were programs at an outdoor amphitheater, lead by a ranger.  He (or she) would tell us stories, share legends and invite us to sing songs handed down by the early settlers.  An abundance of trails lead visitors through lush forests filled with wild flowers, gentle streams and thundering waterfalls.  A more rigorous hike might find lead to sharp, craggy peaks, that looked out over countless rows of the misty mountain range that gave the park its name. Nearby, there were free museums, operating grist mills and restored settlements to visit. Camping, horseback riding and a few other sites charged only minimal fees.  The most wonderful part of this place is that it still exists today much as it was in the 1960’s. It is easily accessible, and still free, with the exception of camping and extras. Indeed, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in our nation! It is well worth the ride and price of gas to immerse yourself in the beauty of our country  as it was before the influence of tourism and commercial businesses.

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