Tuesday Trail Tips: Ramona Graham Fitness Trail at Cleveland Park

First of all, who is Ramona Graham??!?  I am a little embarrassed, but I had no idea.  WELL.  I shoulda known, cause she’s pretty fantastic.  She owns Fitness Boot Camp, LifeForce Fitness, and the South Carolina Fitness Corps. She competes. She’s a certified trainer. Teaches group fitness classes.  AND (drumroll) she designed the Ramona Graham Fitness Boot Camp Fitness Trail in Greenville’s Cleveland Park.  What did you do today?!!?

Seriously, Greenville is making it hard to have any kind of excuse NOT to get in your daily calorie burn.  You can ride the Swamp Rabbit Trail, hike Table Rock, or paddle board at Lake Jocassee.  You can play frisbee at Gary L. Pittman Park or run the trails at Paris Mountain State Park.   SO very many options.

This week, I kept it close to home.  Cleveland Park.  One of my absolute favorite places  in Greenville, no matter how crowded it gets (ok just kidding I prefer the park on say, a Monday morning, when no one is there).

Anyway, it’s pretty spectacular.  You have tennis, basketball, wild animals (the zoo of course), playgrounds, trails, sand volleyball, green space, Pink Mama’s Ice Cream Truck…and the list goes on.  Well, the City of Greenville has recently added 16 fitness stations at Cleveland Park.  16!  and FREE!  with beautiful views!  Really pretty great if you ask me.

If anyone was watching, yes, that was me looking awkward and out of shape as I tested out all of the equipment.   But this is important work people.  Anyway, every one of the 16 stations will test your strength – from your biceps to your legs to your abs. Quick note – you gotta be 14 to play.

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But no worries, bring a stroller or bikes and let the kids tag along while you get your workout in. I do have to say that the seats get pretty dang hot on these sweltering summer days so beware.  Otherwise I have no advice, except that it is fun, good for your muscles, and a great excuse to get outside and enjoy all that the City of Greenville has to offer.

To sum it up, the Ramona Graham Fitness Trail at Cleveland Park is not to be missed, even if you just pretend like you know what you are doing.  Details here (I knew how to use all the machines, but just in case you don’t 😉 ):  3900FitnessMap_201504161052162434 (1)

Great afternoon at a gorgeous park in the heart of Greenville.  Just use the equipment, or make a day of it.  Pack a picnic, visit the Greenville Zoo, play on the playground…it’s up to you.  Make it your own.  And ENJOY!

Until next Tuesday, happy trails 🙂 !

Creative Outlet 101

Life can be mundane.  It can be repetitive, borrrring, frustrating, and the complete opposite of exciting.  I knew I had to do something for myself – have some kind of creative outlet that would be just mine, only mine.  (YES people I LOVE my kids and am incredibly grateful for this life I have been given – let me just get that out there).  But work, carpool, dinner, errands, grocery store < repeat x 1,000,000,000 > was starting to wear on me.  Big time.  I missed being creative, being passionate about something, anything really.

So…what to do.  How about blogging?  Writing has been proven to have all kinds of psychological benefits – from helping with depression to increasing creativity to keeping your mind sharp – it’s truly an excellent tool.  And nope, you don’t have to be an award winning author who has sold millions of copies.  It really just doesn’t matter – ya just gotta put the pen to paper.  Or keyboard to computer (um is that right?).  Which is a perk for me because surprisingly I am not an award winning author.

And what about Instagram – so many have inspired me with everything from photography to book reviews to my next outfit to where to eat dinner.  Well that can’t be hard, right?  Sort of, yep.  But maybe not in the way you think. The goal can never be about the number of likes or the number of followers, although that’s a fun game to play.  It’s about staying true to myself and using this platform in a positive way to capture and share what I love.  So, being the nerd that I am, I came up with a list to help keep myself on track 😉

CREATIVE OUTLET 101: GOALS

  • Fulfill need to create, inspire, and engage.

  • Find new adventures.  Explore.  Hike new trails.  Jump in lakes.

  • Learn from others, share what I know.

  • Read. Read. Read.

  • Practice kindness.  Volunteer.  Help others.

  • Connect with the community.  Shop local.  Eat Local.

  • And the most important, which is noted above but worth mentioning again: stay true to myself – simply go after what I am passionate about.

I gotta say, I get excited just reading these goals.  A creative outlet just for me.  No expectations other than my own.  No frills.  Just me, a camera I don’t know how to use, and pretty awesome place I live in to explore.  What’s your creative outlet?  What are your rules for using social media?  How do you stay sane?!  Lemme know.

Trail Tip Tuesdays: Lake Conestee Nature Park

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Six miles south of Greenville lies the Lake Conestee Nature Park.  If you haven’t been and are wondering if you should check it out, YES.  Yes you should! There are parts of this beautifully done park that make you feel as though you are far, far away from the upstate.  It’s a great adventure full of wildlife, education, and views.  You can hike to your heart’s content, bird watch, explore the bog-walks, or just play on the playground and have a picnic.

One of our favorite things to do is look for wildlife – and indeed there is a lot to see here.  Turtles, snakes, birds, dragonflies, bees…you get the picture.  It ALWAYS makes for an exciting adventure.  Or you can follow their Learning Loops, which seems awesome but I am more of a “explore as you go” type person…either way I don’t think you can go wrong.

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While some of the trails are paved, we don’t mind, you are still surrounded by beauty.  And anyway, there are SIX MILES of natural trails so you don’t even have to step foot on much of any asphalt if you really don’t want to.  Note – they are mostly flat so it’s not so much of a “hike” as it is a “walk”.  Some of y’all might love this, others not so much.

One perk – a lot of the trails  (paved or not) are nice and shaded, which you will be grateful for on a hot summer day (tip: go EARLY in the summer months because your children will be crying and whining and sweating and dying in the heat – along with YOU, your dog, your partner…. just trust me.  I know this from experience)

There are also benches and overlooks throughout the park that are great for taking it all in, or resting because it’s soooo hot (not referring to my own family here).

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Trail info:

Family friendly hikes (LOVE THAT LAKE CONESTEE NATURE PARK PROVIDES THIS):

Hike or no hike, you can still hang out at Lake Conestee Nature Park for the solar eclipse on August 21st (assuming you didn’t make plans 8 months ago…I think we are in the minority over here with no plan!).  Just click on the pic below for more details.

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***There are multiple entrances to the park, but I suggest going straight the main entrance at the former Municipal Stadium.  We did indeed get very lost the first time we went!  Check it out here:  http://lakeconesteenaturepark.com/about/

Until next Tuesday, happy trails 😉

 

Worthwhile Wednesdays

My dad loves to tell me I am always a day late and dollar short.  Seeing that it is Thursday and NOT Wednesday, my apologies.  I seem to have proven my dad right again.  He would be so proud 😉  We did indeed look into what we wanted to focus on this week, so here goes!

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(Pic courtesy of GHS Giving:  GHS Virtual Toy Drive –  http://donate.ghsgiving.org/site/TR?fr_id=1130&pg=entry)

Soul soothing.  That is what helping others really is.  It can be the simplest act of paying for the person behind you in line at lunch to donating a large amount to a charity you are passionate about – either way, kindness matters.  And the more we spend our time volunteering and helping others, the more we grow as human beings.

As I have said before, I want nothing more than my kids to be kind, productive people who make a difference.  Even if it’s a tiny difference.  I also have to admit that this is just as much for me as it is the kids.  Life is busy, let’s face it – and I feel like we are so very busy that we become very self involved, even if it’s not intentional.

So, what did we do this oh so busy Wednesday?  Well, there is this amazing way to give to the Greenville Children’s Hospital – it’s called The Virtual Toy Drive.  It’s so easy to help these precious kiddos going through so much and only takes a moment out of our busy schedule.  In fact, GHS has a list of the Most Needed Items, which is great because then you know what they really need and you can feel good about your donation.

I let each of my kids review the items needed and choose what they would like to donate.  To my surprise, they had a ton of questions.  What is a tongue press?  How do comfort items work?  What is therapy?  We talked, prayed, and made our decision.  Of course, the Facility Dog Program got their attention and won out.  What an amazing, wonderful service these dogs provide the children of GHS.  And hopefully our small contribution will help just a little bit.

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(Pic courtesy of GHS Giving:  GHS Virtual Toy Drive –  http://donate.ghsgiving.org/site/TR?fr_id=1130&pg=entry)

You can also create a Toy Drive Team, which is pretty neat.  All of this is just a click away – so easy even on the busiest of days!  Which is every day around here!  So goooo for it!

*** I gotta say, we all take our health for granted.  Which is really everything – “Health is Wealth” right??  Praying for these sweet children and their families.  Praying we appreciate each and every day as we just never know ***

Where are your favorite places to volunteer?  How do you get involved in our community?  I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Tuesday Trail Tips: Top 5 Picks!

I sure hope you all are having a great week.  It’s been busy around here – we have been shopping, reading, and exploring Greenville – would love for you to check out my Instagram feed to see all we’ve been up to (to the right – it’s so easy y’all!)!

For this week’s Trail Tips, I decided to pick a few of my favorite hikes.  That’s tough people, because we are surrounded by beautiful mountains, parks, and lakes.  As a kid I did not appreciate or understand just how lucky we are to live in Greenville, SC.   I couldn’t wait to get outta town.   But once I had kids of my own, it clicked – maybe it was seeing it all again through their eyes.  It just doesn’t get better than this friends.

Moving on to my top 5.  Again, this is tough, and later I may have to create lists based on difficulty, best views, kid-friendly, etc.  But for now, here goes (and please. please keep in mind I used my very own special photos instead of plugging in beautiful pics that belong to others, because I like that they are mine. I know your mom taught you not to judge a book by it’s cover!  Be sure to visit the linked websites for more pics 🙂 )

#5:  Devils Fork State Park

There are two trails here but really I just love that you can rent a kayak, SUP, or pontoon from Eclectic Sun and go out and explore my favorite lake, Lake Jocassee.  The water, oh the water – so blue and clear (in fact scuba diving is popular here!).

Trails:

  • Bear Cove Trail:  2.5 mile loop
  • Oconee Bells Nature Trail:  1.5 mile loop

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#4: Caesars Head State Park

First of all, stop at Bald Rock on your way up the mountain because you just must.

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Then head on over to Caesars Head State Park for breathtaking views.  In fact, you can see my #1 from here.

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Hike Raven Cliff Falls (a short drive from the top) to see South Carolina’s tallest waterfall – but hike the whole darn thing, which is 7.7 mile loop.  If you go to the lookout from the shorter 3.7 mile hike you might be disappointed like we were.  It’s a loooooong way from the falls – you can really barely see it.

#3:  Keowee Toxaway State Park:  

The views at the top left me speechless the first time I went.  And I just keep going back for more.  It is stunning.  One of my favorite places ever.

  • Take the Raven Rock Trail, a 4.4 mile loop, to be sure you get the view.  It’s moderately strenuous.  We’ve done it with kiddos every time and they are only whiny at the very end…ha.
  • I think I heard a bear here one time.  Just sayin.  It coulda been a child whining, but then again, ya never know.  Be on the lookout.
  • There are super fun little coves / beaches along the trail.  The water is beautiful.  Pack a picnic and enjoy!

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#2: Dupont National Forest:

I suggest you take the popular 3 mile hike featuring 3 gorgeous waterfalls.  This is the kinda place they film movies (yes, like Last of the Mohicans) because it is that visually stunning.

  • Hooker Falls:  12′ waterfall into Cascade Lake, where you might just wanna jump on in and play.  BUT KEEP GOING.  This is nice and all, but the real treat is ahead.
  • Triple Falls:  A total drop of 120′ this cascading waterfall is beautiful.  Enjoy, then move on to my favorite!
  • High Falls:  This is an impressive 120 ft waterfall (pictured below).  We spent hours just hanging out and watching this waterfall in all its glory. There is also a neat overlook – don’t forget to check that out.

WaterfallAccessMap(http://www.dupontforest.com/)

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My next Dupont State Adventure is going to be RomanticAsheville.com’s DuPont State Forest 7-Mile Waterfall Hike.  https://www.romanticasheville.com/dupont_waterfall_hike.htm Anyone in??

 

#1: Table Rock State Park:

I come from a long line of mountain people.  From right around here.  I LOVE Table Rock.  This hike is not for the faint of heart, or those who do not like one million steps.  But that view though.  WORTH EVERY ACHE AND PAIN AND TEARS AND SWEAT SHED.  My advice for the best time ever:

  • Know that it’s a 7.2 mile hike (round trip).  And it’s not easy.
  • Pick a non-cloudy day.  As you can see, I did not do that for my last trip.  It’s still gorgeous and well worth it, but on a clear sunny day your view will be even more spectacular.
  • Take lots of water and wear good shoes.
  • Don’t go near the edge because I will have to come over and be your mom and scold you.
  • If you have a child with you that completes the hike be sure to stop by the ranger’s station to get a certificate when you are done. It’s pretty cool (I think adults should get one too!!!)
  • Take advantage of the all the park has to offer while you are there – the lake, playgrounds, picnicking.  Although…nevermind.  You will be too tired.

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Until next Tuesday, happy trails!

Worthwhile Wednesdays…and Kittens!

Wednesday.  Better known as Hump Day, Midweek, or my favorite, Winesday (YAASSS PEOPLE!).

We talk a lot about serving, volunteering, and kindness in our home.  But do we practice what we preach?  Hmmm…good question.  What I want most in life is to raise good people.  And study after study shows we all benefit greatly from volunteering.  We are connected to the community, have healthier lives (both mentally and physically), and are basically filled with joy (just to name a few).  All you have to do is google “Benefits of Volunteering” and you will find countless articles detailing just how rewarding helping others is.

So, because I like a theme for each day of the week (sorry y’all – I just love naming the days of the week…alliteration is fun)…Wednesday is now “WORTHWHILE WEDNESDAYS”.  We will choose one way to volunteer each Wednesday – whether it’s helping a neighbor, random acts of kindness, etc.  It’s my goal to make sure we are practicing what we preach.  My hope is that this will encourage my kids to think about someone besides themselves (or their x-box, American Girl, $90 shoes…you get the idea) and grow to be kind, thoughtful, productive people.

I believe this will only help in our mission to grow alongside Greenville.  To get to know our neighbors.  Be active in the community.

Up first:  The Greenville Humane Society.  Oh how I LOVE this place.  I spent HOURS here picking out my perfect pup and could spend HOURS more holding those sweet kitties and puppies.  And it just so happened they were in need:

So…we ran to the store, grabbed some food, and hauled it over to the Humane Society.  Because I can’t think of anything better than kittens and puppies, cats and dogs.  I will hold them, love them, walk them, talk baby talk alllll day long.  I’m just not allowed to bring anymore pets home.  And that’s ok…for now anyway 😉

And now let me bring you some of that happiness.  You are SO welcome.

 

Let me know your favorite ways / places to volunteer – I would love to hear your feedback!

 

Tuesday Trail Tips

Looking for an adventure?  Have the need to get some fresh air?  I know for me putting down the phone and getting away from it all is absolutely necessary to stay sane (although more times than not it goes down like this in my house:  “yes, child, YES! YOU ARE GOING HIKING AND YOU WILL LIKE IT.” I know, I am cruel.)

So often I get asked about where to hike.  What adventures to take the family on.  I have made lists, recommendations, researched…and decided to start a series featuring different hikes close to Greenville (which for some is 5 minutes away while others don’t mind a longer trip).  “Tuesday Trail Tips” will be featured – you guessed it – every Tuesday.  A different trail, view, or park will be highlighted.

BUT…keep in mind I am not a professional.  I just know what I like and others seem to respond to that.  I only own old Nikes…no professional hiking gear here (one day…yes, one day I will have in my possession every style Kavu backpack and Merrell shoe there is…sigh..)

Until then, here’s my first TUESDAY TRAIL TIP:

Carrick Creek Loop Trail | Table Rock State Park | Pickens County, SC

1.8 miles round trip

Moderately strenuous 

So there’s the facts.  Here’s my take:

  • I don’t necessarily think of this trail as moderately strenuous, although I wouldn’t say it’s easy.  There are stairs and a few harder spots, but a lot of the trail is flat and easy to walk.  ***IF YOU ARE CARRYING A CHILD IT IS HARDER THAN I JUST STATED***  I have experience in this so trust me.
  • There are beautiful waterfalls and the creek runs along a good bit of the trail, making it quite peaceful.
  • Lots of wooden bridges and rocks for crossing over the creek, which make for a fun playground for the kiddos (and adults).  Slippery when wet though!  And there’s a good possibility of a snake sighting or two…just be aware of your surroundings!
  • It doesn’t have the lake or mountain views, but is good for families and those looking for a shorter hike.  We are talking an hour or less.
  • I recommend you hike the trail and then enjoy the lake in the summer – which includes a low dive AND A HIGH DIVE!  Sadly, you cannot do flips off either diving board, but it is still super fun.
  • You can also rent kayaks and paddle boats.  Which is SO WORTH IT PEOPLE.  I will never forget the first time I kayaked out to the middle of the lake, turned around, and saw Table Rock.  Awe-inspiring moment.  You just gotta do it to understand!
  • Crowded on the weekends.  I go on the weekends often, but feel I should warn you.

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Table Rock State Park definitely makes my top 5 SC State Parks (that’s another topic though – stay tuned!).  It’s just plain gorgeous – it’s my happy place.

Check out all the Table Rock State Park information here:  http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/tablerock/tr-trails.aspx

Until next Tuesday friends, happy trails 😉