I just got back from 10 glorious days in the mountains of western North Carolina with the family. There may be prettier places in the world, but I haven't stayed there yet. We had great weather, hiked a lot, saw interesting sites, and ate way too much food. In short, an almost perfect vacation.
My 11 year old daughter has decided she wants to try to go to as many highpoints of states that she can. We had been to two before last week, Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina and Clingman's Dome in Tennessee. These were pretty, but basically just drive ups and we were there. Last Tuesday, she and I took off on a father/daughter hike to Mt. Rogers in Virginia. This was the first highpoint that was going to require some work to reach. We started at Grayson Highlands State Park and hiked up to the Appalachian Trail and followed it a little way to a spur to the summit. 4 mile hike to get there, so about 8 miles round trip. She was a trooper. We had a little whining about midway, but then she caught her second wind and was great. In fact, on the way back down, she was much faster than me. Apparently, young nimble kids are better at hiking than chunky 43 year olds. Who would have thunk it? :)
As has become my usual custom on vacation, I went to the local Episcopal Church. As usual, it was a beautiful service. Also as usual, I had the same misgivings I have had in the past about worship there. I won't rehash them here, but if anyone is interested, here is a post about my issues. No matter my current qualms, however, I will be forever grateful to the Episcopal Church for introducing me to a more liturgical style of worship.
Oh, and I had the best run of my life. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have made the rather foolish decision to train for a marathon. The first Sunday we were in the mountains, I was scheduled to run 10 miles. This would be the farthest I've ever run in my life. Naturally, I was a little nervous. I went to the Cone Manor which is a park off the Blue Ridge Parkway just a short distance from where we were staying. The run was outstanding. I was slow as Christmas, but I made it. I saw three deer and several rabbits. As someone who usually runs in town on sidewalks, this was quite a nice change. I'm a pretty cynical guy, but it's pretty hard to deny the existence of a God when your out in the quiet early morning in the beauty of God's creation.
The run the next Sunday wasn't quite as great, but I discovered a secret to make the miles go faster. Forget your usual running music and put your Ipod on shuffle. If your musical tastes are as varied and sometimes bad as mine, the tunes that pop up will certainly make you laugh. For example, Sunday I heard the following tunes in succession:
We Got the Beat, the Go-Go's
Mama Tried, Merle Haggard
Rock and Roll All Night, Kiss
This Land is Your Land, Pete Seeger
Baby Got Back, Sir Mix-a-Lot
I thought my Ipod would blow up playing this bizarre combination. But it made me laugh and forget about how sick I was of running for a little while.
Speaking of the song Baby Got Back, below is a pretty funny religious themed take off on it. For the easily offended, let me note that I don't view it as a spoof of religion, but as a spoof of Sir Mix-a-Lot.