I must admit, a lot of the time I take where we live for granted.
We are surrounded by 6,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness. We have one of Tennessee's most beautiful lakes, and the state's number one trout river right at our doorstep.
There are 11 miles of hiking trails easily within our reach, but there are also plenty of other places we hike to that are not to be found on a map.
In the spring and summer wildflowers bloom and spill from the ridges and valleys.
This place is also a bird-watcher's paradise; from our year-round residents, to a slough of warblers in the warmer months and the loons calling on the empty lake in winter.
Fall, however, is also stunningly beautiful.
Today I thought I would just show you around the park, and share with you what a typical Autumn is like here.
The view from our driveway with the lake sparkling in the distance
looking down at Indian Creek winding through the hills
steep ridges make for tall trees: mostly sugar maple, chestnut oaks and hickories
fruit of the rusty blackhaw
bald eagles are pretty much an every day occurrence around here
As we begin the process of buying a house off the park, I find myself growing increasingly nostalgic.
I first came to work here EIGHT years ago (EIGHT?! That can't be possible).
Look at that skinny little dork!
This is of course, where I met Mark, and then married him a year later.
Our wedding even took place in the park, at a place we've strolled hundreds of times to skip rocks, drop a line in the water, or take a swim.
I think back to those years of college...... Driving back home after a stressful day I'd drink in the scenery thinking to myself "Do I really live here?"
I've lived in the park now for seven years, Mark for twelve.
This amazing place has become my home, even though I share it with thousands of park visitors every year.
The thought of leaving it behind definitely pains my heart.
We've always known it wasn't really ours. We've always known one day we would have to leave.
Maybe I'm being a little dramatic. We won't be moving far, and Mark will still be working here.
It's not like we'll never come here again.
But there's something about LIVING HERE that is just so special.
So now I'm trying to savor every moment, like I should have been doing all along.
Really though, this should go for any of us, no matter where we live. There is so much beauty in our world, even if we have to look a little harder to find it sometimes.
And there are many more beautiful days yet to come...