Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Highlands Fall Moments

Fall is beginning to spread her yellows and reds onto the forrestry which is so abundant here in Highlands and surrounding mountains. It's October 4th and I would anticipate the 'peak leaf season' this year to be about 2 weeks from now. Each day, there are noticeable differences in color changes.
Today, mist hangs over the distant hills, rain comes and goes gently hour to hour. A perfect day presents itself as a time for relaxation and curling up with a favorite book. I'm hooked on T.C.Boyle right now and just finished After The Plague, a collection of short stories. We are taking turns between the noise of the TV and silence for 'written words.'
There is a consignment shop here which is fun to visit. Knowing any purchase goes to funding various projects here in Highlands makes that 'unique find' almost a duty. The shop is made up of all volunteers and accumulated funds are given to various organizations in the area. Today, we bought two sets of dishes for the 'new house' for a grand total of $17.00! They were not complete sets; but, the combination of the two match nicely. One set is Mikasa with a pretty floral print and square shape to the plates.
Al is loving Highlands more and more. Framing of the new house has been delayed till next week. There needs to be a termite treatment prior to laying of the floor. Patience is required for any building project. We'll be staying another week and then head home - 'hope it's getting cooler in Tampa.

Cliffside Lake and VanHook Glade
A first attempt to take the trail to Cliffside Lake ended up in a side jaunt to VanHook Glade. On highway 64 between Highlands and Franklin, there was a little road just a half mile or so prior to Cliffside where we turned in. There, we saw campsites with tables full of breakfast or lunches and signs stating no food on premesis. Always black bear issues exist. Even barbecues and picnics were easily visible. We started on the trail that said VanHook Glade thinking it was the trail that would take us to the lake. At first, all of us took the trail; but, then, we came to a paved road. After flagging down a driver who gave us friendly directions, we turned to go back to the car. However, Fran and I were more adventursome than Al and Marty. She and I veered off of the trail onto another side trail. On we went further into the woods and the trail path started narrowing. It's easy to see how one could get lost if he/she ventured off the designated trails. Sense of directions can get clouded in the dense forrestry. As we returned to where the guys were, we heard "MARCO" echoing through the trees. Safe at last, we echoed "POLO" back to reassure the boys we were safe and sound.
Just a few minutes onto Highway 64 again, the sign CLIFFSIDE RECREATION showed us where to go to take the lake trail. We have a book with all the local trails that are listed by levels of difficulty. Cliffside is number 12 out of 62. (VanHook is listed as #10). We thought the trail around the lake was fairly easy if one watched for the multitude of tree roots protruding above the soil. The eye needed to focus where the foot trail was going. Pauses along the lake provided many beautiful vistas. Children were swimming, people were fishing, others were resting in lawn chairs and there were many places to be very alone with nature. There's a TV station up here dedicated to Highlands which recommends taking a hiking map with you when you venture out. I think that is very wise!