Mountain R&R

Earlier this month I celebrated my last birthday of my 50’s. My husband and I went camping in our cute Little Guy Max, an over-sized teardrop camper. We took along our new bicycles so we could ride along the New River State Park  bike trail.

Our first evening was quiet and uneventful – exactly the way a camping trip ought to be. We had a slow peaceful start to my birthday. I wandered around the camp site taking pictures andvideos as I sipped at my chai tea.  

Our first full day, and the only day we’d be there without the rest of our gang, we decided to take an extended bike ride along the New River trail – from our campground in Fries, VA to Galax, VA, two small towns in the southern Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. It was 17 miles, one way, to Galax, which didn’t seem like very far to me. Ha! I learned better by the end of the day.

What a beautiful day for a bike ride along wide gravel trails, following an old converted rail way along one of the oldest rivers in the US. In no time we were at Fries Junction. From here we could turn one way and head toward Galax, a short 12 miles away. The first amazing scenery was the bridge spanning the river, it was very wide at that place and the bridge was paved with boards. Unfortunately, the old iron walls were still in place, so we couldn’t look at the river as we rode across it. About a mile or so further on we came to the tunnel. 

This was one big, dark tunnel. It was so dark that as you entered you left daylight behind, and only when you were nearly half-way through the tunnel and rounded a slight curve did you see the daylight of the exit many yards ahead. Had there been anything or anyone hiding in the midst of that tunnel I would have never seen them, and had they been in my path, they would have been run over. 

After the tunnel it was uneventful riding with a tributary to the New River along first one side then the other of our trail. We twisted and switch-backed our way through about 1,000 feet of elevation climb until we were suddenly back among civilization, and then at the
Galax end of the trail. About 17 miles, and it had taken nearly 3 hours to complete it. Now, I must say we rode steadily, but not in a rush, but I certainly didn’t expect it to take that long for us to complete the outward portion of our trip.

Much later, after dinner, my thighs began to ache. Just a dull sore kind of ache. I avoid using OTC medication like aspirin or other NSAIDs, but I adore my doTerra essential oils. I hadn’t packed well on this trip; I had forgotten shampoo, deodorant, and many of my go-to essential oils. But, I did have lavender. I applied a couple drops to each thigh. Ah, in a few minutes the pain was mostly gone. What pleasant relief. We enjoyed our evening with our camping buddies, and then it was off to bed. 

Around 2am I woke to cicada songs, and to an incessant ache in my thighs. Tossing and turning I just couldn’t get back to sleep. At 3 I got up, rustled through all my essential oil supplies for something stronger than lavender. Ah, I found it, a small sample of doTerra’s Deep Blue. I applied just a small dot, the size of a pea, to each leg, and in moments the pain was gone, and did not return. Nor was I tight, sore, or achy the next day. What a wonderful blessing! I’ve always heard others tell their tales of Deep Blue‘s pain relieving abilities, but didn’t truly appreciate them until I got to experience them for myself. 






I am very fortunate to work for a company that encourages employee wellness. For the last several years I’ve had a high-deductible health plan combined with a health savings account. One of our benefits is the opportunity to participate in a wellness program in which we have an opportunity to earn cash deposits into our health savings plan by meeting pre-defined daily step goals. So, this backdrop provides the following story.

Years ago I got my first Fitbit, it was a lovely little gadget, a big improvement over the basic pedometer I’d been using. Those 5 little lights indicated my status toward meeting my daily step goal. Over a couple of years I walked a lot, so much my chiropractor challenged me to run in a 5K he was sponsoring. So I did. At some point my Fitbit wristband broke. They replaced it. But, I had moved beyond walking, and wanted more.

I think my next tracker was a MisFit Shine. I really liked the size, and for the time, style of the Shine. And, if you understood the code, it doubled as a watch. I was really moving up in the world of trackers. Then, close to my end of warranty, the Shine slipped out of the bracelet, and was lost. I contacted MisFit, they replaced it.

At this point I began to wonder if the fitness tracker industry had to replace nearly every device sold. My faith in the MisFit began to wane. Somewhere around this time I believe I upgraded to another tracker, my cell phone. RunKeeper was my app of choice. Back in December 2015 they sponsored the first global 5K, if you tracked your run on that date you could purchase a hoodie. I have the hoodie, and was very excited about participating, individually. Running in Small Town America, in a global 5K, with thousands of others, and all alone.

It wasn’t too long after that run that I wanted a real running tracker, something with GPS and maybe even a heart rate tracker. First I tried the Tom Tom Spark + music. It had everything I could ask for, and I loved it, despite it’s large and clunky size. But, alas, there was no method to get the daily steps from the Spark into the health tracking portal. I returned the Tom Tom, ultimately settling on a Garmin 325. The watch was huge, and was a nice smart watch with notifications, and great tracking of runs. Now I had more data than I needed, and ran based on heart rates not how I felt.

I kept that Garmin for about 2 years. Wore out the band, got a nice one from Amazon, but I suspect it will also wear out before long, the little band that you stick the excess strap into is just not robust enough. Speaking of the strap, as a diminutive lady, the strap wrapped all the way around, almost touching the body of the watch, so there was a lot of excess to keep corralled. I spent a lot of time, daily, fidgeting with the band, trying to keep it neat and tidy. It was always springing free and creating a cumbersome bulkiness on my petite wrist.

Then I saw the Apple Watch, series 3. Nice watch. Small, reasonable looking, while perhaps not stylish, it is at least more elegant than the Garmin. Still has GPS, still tracks heart rate, sleep, and all those Smart Watch features – including music! But it doesn’t talk to the health tracking portal. Ugh! I tried an intermediary software that would pull from the Heart app and push the data into FitBit – but it was only pushing the steps taken with the phone in hand, and I don’t carry my phone with me all day!  Finally identified an app that talks with the portal and my iPhone, and now everything is as it should be.

Yesterday I took my first run with the basic running app, it seemed to do well. Unfortunately I paused the tracking without realizing it, and failed to track about 3/4 of a mile. I’m looking forward to using the new watch to train for my first 2018 5K. One of the features of the watch is the ability to store music, and listen wirelessly. I can’t explain the liberty of running wireless. I kept commenting to my husband as I twirled around like Pinocchio, “There are no strings on me!”

One of my daughter’s favorite movies is The Sound of Music, and the title of this page pastedGraphic.pngbrings warm memories of family snuggles as we watched great movies together. So while in my mind the hills are alive with the sound of music, I am here this evening to provide you with links to some of my favorite people, and places in the web.


Vani Hari, the Food Babe, she ranks right up there. What a brave and courageous hero she is for all of us, taking on “Big Food” and often, with the help of the Food Babe Army, winning in the fight to get clean food. Her story would strike a cord with many who have less than idea health, who struggle to eat well, and find they are being duped at every turn. She provides email newsletters, recipes, a wide assortment of eating and diet options, opportunities to engage in the fight for clean food, and has most recently launched her own line of products, Truvani. Products with real ingredients, and honest labels. Please check her out!

For several years I have gotten some measure of our groceries from Green Polkadot Box. Their goal is to provide clean, non-GMO and organic food and supplements. They also have plans for regional ‘growing centers’ where they propose to grow fresh produce hydroponically and deliver straight to your door.

Recently I encountered a most compelling talk from Gary Taubes on carbohydrates, and insulin, and why we get fat, and even a little bit of WWII history. If you struggle in any way with your weight, please take a look at his page, get his book, or at least watch a You Tube or two! Check out his books – The Case Against Sugar, Why We Get Fat, or Good Calories Bad Calories. Gary is a journalist, not a doctor or nutritionist. The evidence he presents is hard to ignore.

And then, there is the school I am enrolled in, what a life changing experience! The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Just check them out.

Everyone has heard of Doctor Oz. Have you ever watched his show? I haven’t, but I stumbled across his book, at Walmart. I bought it on a whim. Great read. It is the sort of book that I wish I could prescribe to people. Not only does he relate what foods are good and bad, but then he’s got some great meal plans, recipes, and suggestions for getting the most benefit from the foods you eat.