I think one of the highlights of the vacation turned out to be when we visited Cades Cove. Cades Cove is this little nature preserve area that you can drive through to see various nature scenery. There are several stopping points where you can pull over to take pictures, etc. There are also hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. There is also a visitor's center/gift shop, where I bought a poster of a waterfall and a book on Cherokee mythology and history. As I learned this year, there are also several historic buildings near the far end of the property - an empty house; a mill(waterwheel shown left) where a man demonstrated old ways of making corn meal; a little river; a barn. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to embrace my inner photographer and take pictures with my digital camera, some of which are showcased throughout this entry. Consequently, there is not as much spiritual "talk" in this entry, but the scenes I photographed definitely bring spiritual matters to my mind.
This has turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the trip. This little butterfly happened to land, and I was fortunate enough to figure out the extreme close-up features on my digital camera before it flew away. If it had happened to land on a flower rather than an open window of one of the buildings open for touring, it would have been even more perfect.I also experimented with my camera's (no sound) video feature, and I will close the entry with that video, hopefully it will work.
Coming back to North Carolina today was difficult. Along the way we stopped by Cherokee, NC for a little bit. We went into a couple of shops, where I bought a small medicine bag, which will probably be more decoration until I decide if I feel drawn to it for any particular spiritual purpose.
In a way, the visit to Cherokee also made me kind of sad. Native Americans are the most poverty-stricken ethnicity in the country, and have the highest mortality, alcoholism, etc. rates. As a white person, I don't have to show off aspects of my culture to make money - it's just kind of there, everybody knows about it. On the other hand, I am glad to see that people are working hard to maintain native cultures and pass it on to others, and educate people on how we're really not all that different from each other.
I am now back in North Carolina with the family until Thursday, at which point I will have to make the dreaded return to "the real world". I hope that this vacation will come to mind when I need to re-center myself in the midst of the craziness of life.