This past weekend we all pitched in and helped to get the Balsam house open and ready to be “base camp” for our hike to Tennent Mountain; and, hopefully, Max Patch. For a while rain was coming down pretty hard but that did not dampen our spirits.

I love screen doors! I once added a porch on a house I had in Atlanta. I asked the contractor to please install a wooden screen door. He looked at me like I was nuts! I wanted to hear the door close with wood against wood. You know the sound. I knew it would bring back memories from my childhood. So, I couldn’t wait until it was installed! When that day came, I left work early and drove home only to find “George” had installed a metal door with a shiny brass handle instead. In fact the entire porch was screened with a “system” that he was sure I would like much better. He was so wrong.

Beth’s Black Gum Hill house is a nice mountain home that sometimes seems frozen in time. That’s a very good thing when you want to step away from the noise of this world.

It’s far enough away from main roads to create a feeling of being hidden in the mountains but also very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway. In fact, we can “be there” in 10 minutes.

I may be the only person alive, who constantly checks if the Parkway is open or closed. It’s become a joke. Last year, when we were trying to reach our goal to hike six peaks over 6K before the end of the year, we almost didn’t make it because of all the closings due to Rime ice. So, my thought is that if it is cold, the Parkway closes. It if rains too hard, the Parkway closes. And if the sun is too bright . . . well, you get it: the Parkway closes!

I have missed most of spring this year because I have been getting Mom settled in her new assisted living “digs.” So, it’s nice to go further north and still see Rhododendron in bloom.

And the wild roses were blooming, too.

Then there was this “bear” dog. A neighbor, who is little odd (she likes to pick up fallen branches in Beth’s backyard), made her way up the long, winding driveway to tell her there is a black bear on the move in the area. Her dog had heard and smelled it. Interesting, I thought. A Black Bear. While Beth busied herself telling the neighbor about how in the past, bears have crossed over her front porch (Yikes), I slipped back inside the house to ramble through the shelves on the sun porch.

Last year’s trip to Yellow Face without any bear protection was still fresh in my mind. We had hiked “among the bears” then and never knew it until we ran into Memphis the super-trained Bear Dog. The memory of that day motivated me to look for one thing; and suddenly, I found it: a can of trusty Bear Spray! I wonder . . . Does bear spray ever expire?

Speaking of Yellow Face: it’s one of the highest peaks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s it in the distance. We checked that one off the “to hike” list last year. So now, I’m looking forward to Tennent and the 360 camera views from that bald and also from Black Balsam, too. I’ll keep everyone posted on our “bear” situation!