What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Sharp’s Chapel, TN)

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Eagle's Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

Eagle’s Nest Mountain Awaits My Return

Leaving Waynesville (and Eagle’s Nest Mountain) was difficult. We made a promise to ourselves that we would be back soon.

View Toward Norris Lake From Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

View Toward Norris Lake
From Our Property
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

From Waynesville, we drove to Sharp’s Chapel, Tennessee. Several years ago, we purchased property in Sharp’s Chapel. We own 29+ acres on a ridge overlooking Norris Lake.

Norris Dam/Lake

Norris Dam/Lake

Norris Lake (Boat Ramp From The HIghlands)

Norris Lake (From The Highlands)

Norris Lake
(From the Boat Ramp)
The Highlands – Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Norris Lake is the product of the first major project for the Tennessee Valley Authority, Norris Dam. The TVA was created in 1933 to control the rampant flooding that had long plagued the Tennessee Valley. Norris Dam held back the Clinch and Powell Rivers, and created Norris Lake.

Entrance to The Highlands Sharp's Chapel, TN

Entrance to The Highlands
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Our property is in a neighborhood called The Highlands.

Our Dear Friends Enjoying the Rockers Grove Park Inn

Our Dear Friends
Enjoying the Rockers
Grove Park Inn

Our dear friends, the Holcombs (the couple who met us in Asheville) live in The Highlands. That’s where we met. We were happy to see their wonderful old dog, Huckleberry. I’m especially grateful for this time together because Huck went to the Rainbow Bridge not long after we were there. He was a terrific dog!

 Another reason I’m certainly glad that we got to stop and visit for a while was that we got, for the first time, to see what the view from the back of the property looks like. A local developer had purchased and begun to clear, and partition the land on the “back” side of the ridge. (This is the side that faces away from Norris Lake.) We knew the view would be good, but had no idea it would be so special. On a clear day, one can see all the way to Cumberland Gap. Sadly for us, we have put our property on the market. It just isn’t looking like we’ll ever be able to move to Tennessee and build. At least, though, we got to see the vista so we can honestly say that it is gorgeous in all directions. 

View from "Back" Side Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

View from “Back” Side
Our Property
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Panoramic View "Back" Side of Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

Panoramic View “Back” Side of Our Property Sharp’s Chapel, TN

Continuation of Panoramic View Our Property Sharp's Chapel, TN

Continuation of Panoramic View
Our Property
Sharp’s Chapel, TN

After too short a visit, we were back on the road heading home. We had one more stop to make – Georgetown, Kentucky. We had one more stop to make. Our appointment was for the next morning, 10:00 a.m. at Old Friends (a Kentucky Retirement Home for Thoroughbred Race Horses)

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Old Friends at Old Friends)

 

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A Post I Don’t Want to Write – Tissue Alert!

This is a post I really don’t want to write. There’s no way to prepare for this, so I’m just going to tell you. Nitro passed away last night.

Nitro

Nitro

He crossed the Rainbow Bridge in his sleep. He was in his favorite place in Nichole and Tehya’s living room. His girls were safe in their beds. God called the old boy home.

 

Rather than focusing on the immediate sadness of this, I’d like to remember the joy and happiness Nitro brought us all. The mere fact that he made it home, and all the things that had to fall into place for him to do so, still dumbfounds me. In case you haven’t followed the story from the beginning, here’s something of a timeline that highlights the amazing intricacies that made his homecoming possible.

Nitro in the Orange County Animal Shelter

Nitro in the Orange County Animal Shelter

1.   Miracle #1: Jim got an email from “Home Again” telling us that Nitro had been found – in CALIFORNIA (we’re in Michigan). That, in itself, was something in that Nitro had only been with us a short time before he and our other dogs became totally incompatible. It was, however, long enough for us to get him micro-chipped and registered before he went to a home we thought would be forever.

 

2.   We talked to the shelter (Orange County) and they told us he’d been on the street for quite a long time from the look of him. His photo showed a shell of the dog who had once been so vibrant and beautiful. We needed to get him moved in a very short time, as his time there wasn’t going to be long.

 

What a GREAT DOG he was in his prime!

What a GREAT DOG he was in his prime!

3.   I gave it up to God and put a plea out on Facebook in every rescue and German Shepherd site I could find to see if there was any rescue or anyone who could help us save Nitro.

 

4.   Miracle #2: I got a Facebook message from California. Did I want Nitro to come home to Michigan or just find a rescue. I was completely gob-smacked! Was this really someone willing to help? Then the message went on to say that this angel was going to be leaving California to drive to Michigan for the holidays. She was leaving the VERY next day! She was willing to go get Nitro from the shelter and bring him home with her to Michigan. (I can’t help but marvel that if we’d gotten the first message ONE DAY later, none of this – or the rest – would have been possible.)

 

5.   Miracle #3: Our vet’s still had Nitro’s records on file so we could prove past ownership which was required for his release from the shelter. (That’s another thing that had very little time left. The vets would have purged the records after only a few more months.)

Leaving the Shelter

Leaving the Shelter

 6.   Miracle #4: Vinessa got to the shelter and, with her own funds, got Nitro released and to her vet for a physical, which he passed. There was grave concern as he was terribly mal-nourished and under-weight, but other than that his health appeared good. (Amazing considering that he had obviously been on the street for quite a long time.) 

Nitro's First Bath since?????

Nitro’s First Bath since?????

7.   Once Vinessa got Nitro home, he got his first bath in probably years and the first good night’s rest in equally long. All this time, Vinessa is packing up her car with her four VERY small children (oldest is 6), her young, German Shepherd puppy, and herself for the drive from California to Michigan.

 

First Good Night's Sleep

First Good Night’s Sleep

8.   The first part of the trip went quite well. The family headed to Montana for a Thanksgiving visit with friends. It would also be a reunion with Vinessa’s husband, David. David was already in Montana for work, so the voyage across country was a one-woman sojourn. After a pleasant stay, the crew headed off, once again. The destination was Michigan and Vinessa’s family here.

No time for gambling, Nitro! You've already hit the Jackpot!

No time for gambling, Nitro! You’ve already hit the Jackpot!

Is that SNOW?

Is that SNOW?

Why, YES, it IS Snow! I think I'm going HOME!

Why, YES, it IS Snow! I think I’m going HOME!

Almost HOME!

Almost HOME!

Here is the first video we saw of Nitro with Laela (Vinessa’s puppy) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzJ6I5HfxJ4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

9.   Miracle #5: In South Dakota, the trip took a frightening turn. Somewhere in the dark, Vinessa encountered a patch of “black ice.” The Expedition made a series of six, 360-degree spins and ended up in a farmer’s field. By the grace of God, it didn’t flip (even though the whole load on the top shifted to one side). The children were all buckled in and asleep, but poor Laela ended up on Vinessa’s lap. Nitro, thankfully, was not thrown around too much. Vinessa said she saw her life and the lives of all in her car flash before her eyes.

After the Spins

After the Spins

Vinessa was able to get road service out in a reasonable amount of time. The repairman looked at her car and said that he didn’t see anything physically wrong with the car (other than that the tire lost air due to being rocked so hard). He put the spare on and helped them get the load redistributed back on the roof. If you check the photo below, you’ll see the angel. Yes, I do believe in angels and there was one looking over Vinessa and her little band that night. In the photo, I definitely see an angel peering in the back window. Vinessa took several other similar shots, and only in this one does the angel appear. It’s not a lens aberration.

There's An Angel Watching Over them

There’s An Angel Watching Over them

After all that, Vinessa and her little band made it home to Michigan with no other scares or drama. We made plans to finally meet this angel to bring Nitro back to where he would be loved and cared for for the rest of his days..

Nitro with his "Angel" Vinessa

Nitro with his “Angel” Vinessa

10. Miracle #6: Our friend and coworker, Nichole, recently had moved back to our area. She and her daughter, Tehya, had been wanting a dog, but with work and Tehya in school, a puppy was out of the question. Nichole had been very involved in all of our struggles to bring Nitro home. I really don’t remember who brought up the subject first, but we quickly realized that Nitro was supposed to come home to join Nichole and Tehya.

Nitro with Jim, Vinessa, and me

Nitro with Jim, Vinessa, and me

Tehya went to visit her friend the weekend we went to meet Vinessa and pick Nitro up. It might easily be considered another “miracle” that Nichole was able to keep the secret from Tehya as long as she did. From the moment Nitro and Tehya set eyes on each other, it was love.

Tehya Meets Nitro

Tehya Meets Nitro

 

He' MY Doggie, Now!

He’ MY Doggie, Now!

 

Fast Friends!

Fast Friends!

 

Nitro Says, "Are You Taking Me Away?"

Nitro Says, “Are You Taking Me Away?”

After a very short while, Nitro settled into his new home and Nichole, Tehya and he were a happy family. I have to reiterate that Nitro was an old dog. He had been a full adult dog when he’d been with our family for that short while all those years ago. Since he was a rescue, there’s no way to be absolute, but he had to be at the very least 12 years old, and more likely 13 or more. He’d also been on the street in California for such a long time. He still showed signs of his old, noble self on so many occasions.

 

Nitro & His Girl

Nitro & His Girl

Gradually, through much love and care, Nitro gained back healthy weight and strength. Maybe even more than that, he brought people from many diverse backgrounds and all over the world together with his story. Nitro’s Journey Home on Facebook was begun, with love, by Vinessa. She, Nichole, and I have tried to tell this miraculous and happy story throughout our all too short time with Nitro. People from other countries even donated to help defray all the costs associated with the expense of bringing our boy home. Everyone who hears his astonishing story, are astounded that so many things had to fall into place so intricately for it all to work. Surely, there was a greater plan at work than we could even guess.

 

Nitro Put on Weight

Nitro Put on Weight

 

Not Takin' The Frisbee Away!

Not Takin’ The Frisbee Away!

Here in Michigan, Nitro brought us new, close, dear friends in Vinessa and her family. One very happy outcome of the trials of the journey is that Vinessa and her family have, since, moved back to Michigan. He also brought us closer to Nichole and Tehya. For the time that Nitro was with us all, Nitro brought laughter, smiles and joy.

My dear, dear friend Caz in England asked me to include this poem with this post. I’m so glad she did. So, farewell, noble Nitro. Run free at the Rainbow Bridge. Farewell.

 

            Those we love don’t go away

            They walk beside us every day

            Remembrance is a golden chain

            That links us ‘til we meet again

I’m Thankful For…

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

I know, Thanksgiving has past. Where was I? Where was my blog? Well, I’ll tell ya. I’ve been busy with work and having family and friend over for a Thanksgiving dinner. If you’ve never cleaned a house in which live two very active German Shepherd Dogs, you have no idea of the amount of hair, muddy paw prints, and assorted drool to be cleaned to get ready for company. You know what, I wouldn’t trade that for any amount of money.

 

We live in what still is the greatest country on earth. It’s up to us to keep it that way. Remember, if you see a serviceperson, say thanks. If you know a veteran, say thanks. They’re the ones who are or have put it all on the line to keep America free.

It’s always so easy to take for granted health and home – until you lose both. It goes without saying that we are all thankful for these things. I wanted to emphasize some of the things that make my life so blessed.

 

So, first and foremost, I have to say that I’m thankful for my dear husband, Jim. We’ve been together for almost 27 years and I haven’t run him off yet. That’s something to be very grateful for.

I’m thankful for my family – both the one I was born into and the one I got when I married Jim. I don’t get to see my family enough as I’m so far away geographically. Luckily, Jim’s family is right here in Michigan. I get to see them often and it’s always a good time when we get together.

 

Sydney LOVES her Dad!

I’m thankful for my two “kids,” Sydney and Bear. They are such good dogs! Sydney came at a very difficult time for Jim. We’d just lost Liesel to lymphoma, and, while no dog could ever take Liesel’s place, Sydney has been such a wonderful friend for him.

 

da Bear

Bear came at a time when I was so sad. In less than a year we’d lost Liesel, my dearest girl, Guinevere, and then our boy Chief. Sydney was so bonded with Jim. She tolerated me – at the time – but was completely a “daddy’s girl.” I was beside myself. Even Sydney was grieving the loss of her buddies. Then Bear came into our lives. What a ray of rambunctious sunshine!

 

I’m grateful for my job! Having a job – in and of itself – is a blessing in this economy. This is especially true in Michigan. The thing is, I love my job. I work for a company that is doing well by all standards. That’s not all. My coworkers are some of the greatest, most dedicated (yet fun) people I’ve ever met. There’s a true sense of cooperation and shared purpose here. In my former life, it seemed that the plan was to tear/beat you down to the point where you no longer had any sense of self worth. I’m SO thankful that I’m no longer there and that Kalitta Air took a chance on hiring someone with no aviation background but a hunger to learn and a dedicated outlook.

 

My friends! I can honestly say I don’t know how I would have made it through some of the very tough times we’ve faced over the past years without my friends. I have wonderful friends all over the U.S. (many from former and current  work, and my days in the thoroughbred industry). I have made a special new friend who just happens to be the wife of a fellow I work with. I have one very dear friend/sister in England who has shown me so much love and friendship that I can’t even put into words how important she has become to me (and that’s saying something that I’m at a loss for words!)

 

I’ve also recently gotten reacquainted with a whole group of wonderful people – my high school class. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to go to my high school reunion. I can honestly say that our group of crazy kids have turned into a really great group of still-crazy, almost adults. We’re all 50-something, but years and seriousness seem to melt away when we get together.

 

One of the things I’m most thankful for is that, recently, I’ve been able to reconnect with people who are VERY important to me. It’s way too easy to lose those you hold dear. It’s so much harder to get them back. I hope you recognize yourselves in this. One person, in particular, has come back into my life that I missed the most – someone who I never should have lost in the first place. Now that we’re back communicating and keeping up with each other. I vow to never lose touch again.

 

I hope y’all will share with me and other readers things that you are thankful for.

 

 

Up Next: The Joys (?) of Snow

 

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