Before I leave the subject of the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few weeks (or less), I want to share some parting shots—photography only.

The last day of our last trip to Balsam found us chasing destinations not too far away from the house. These were places we said we would visit, but time had not allowed it. Anne left early, so we decided not to do a serious hike without her. (Well, we did hike Devil’s Courthouse and that was pretty intense.)

Then we headed back to an area not far from Graveyard Fields. I’m discovering that this is an area many seasoned photographers photograph like Deborah Scannell.

On our way there, we stopped at an overlook and watched a storm rolled straight toward us. I looked around and noticed that a group had gathered to watch nature’s show. It was amazing how the clouds drifted over the mountains until they caught up with us. I have visited these mountains all my life, and continue to stand in awe of the weather here.

In fact, the more I photograph this area, the more I respect and love the unique culture that is here, the history, and of course, the views.

So, what is with the rock wall?

I wanted to include this photo for a reason. Though you can’t tell it, this wall is about three feet off the ground. I know it doesn’t look like it in this photograph, but it is. Here’s what happened, and there-in is my praise . . . without much thought, I did something that I have not done a couple of years. I got up on the wall without assistance! Honestly, sort of jumped.

Amazing for me: Chemo destroys cancer cells, but it also destroys the good things in our bodies, too, like muscle strength. On this day, I went up on the wall; and without thinking, I was just being me again. I began to walk across it carrying my larger camera.

When I realized what I was doing, I stopped and photographed my shoe! How amazing this was! And how many times I said this, but it’s certainly worth repeating, “I am so grateful to God for allowing me to take this journey.”

Until, you have walked this path, and my path was nothing compared to the pathways of others, it’s hard to understand such excitement over such little things—like walking on top of a rock wall without the assistance of others. In fact, no one really paid attention to what I was doing.

That’s normal, folks! I’m returning to a normal way of life! Something my doctor continues to tell me may not happen at 100 percent. I have a feeling that I’ll end up showing him a different side to life.

Speaking of normal: this tree certainly is not normal!

Many believe it is an Indian Pointer Tree, but I’m not going to go there. For one thing, it does not look like it is old enough. And another thing: I have been told “Indian Pointer Trees” do not exist! LOL!

In the above photo, Pat is hiking a very wet trail to Skinny Dip Falls. Yikes!

Along the way, we saw many of these—evidence of “slip sliding away.”

We made it to the falls that has at least two “mountain cold” pools—upper and lower.

While they don’t appear deep, they are. Moments before this photo was take, a guy jumped off the rock on the left. So, I would say the pools are nine to 12 feet deep. Everything is very high and very low in North Carolina.

Everything in North Carolina is UP and either root or rock covered!

Higher still is the massive rock wall that greeted us as we drove to a nearby overlook.

The amazing thing about the Parkway is how people simply pull up to an overlook and stop and get out. They unload folding chairs and spread picnic lunches and dinners. They do my favorite things: sit, laugh, talk and take in the views, which change constantly and are always extreme. On the next trip, I think I’ll do a photo essay on people and chairs and picnics at the overlooks.

Beth had secretly packed refreshments. So, we sat and ate snacks and drank some “Lazy Hiker” stuff and watched the show in front of us.

It was late afternoon, and the sun was beginning to set and cast a warm glow on the mountains in front of us. This was our view of Looking Glass Rock.