Tubing at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina

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Tubing at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, February 11, 2017

This weekend, my son and I visited Sugar Mountain, North Carolina and had a fun afternoon tubing.  The temperatures were very mild, and there were light sprinkles throughout the afternoon on February 11.  We were overdressed for the weather, and were too warm as we observed the artificially-made snow melt around us.

I’m an expert skier and was eager to hit the slopes, though my son is a beginner, and was not as confident, which is totally fine.  Sugar Mountain has ice skating, tubing, skiing, and snowboarding, so we had many different activities to choose from, and did not have to stick with skiing.  Tubing was really fun, and likely, less potentially hazardous, especially with the large crowd of people who were there this weekend.

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Sugar Mountain, North Carolina Tubing, February 11, 2017

Sixteen years have passed since I first visited Sugar Mountain for skiing.  Sugar Mountain is awesome for skiing, but it is a long drive from our home.  With a stop or two, it takes six hours to get there.  Too bad it’s not a bit closer to Atlanta so we could enjoy it more often!

Skiing Fun at Sapphire Valley, North Carolina (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

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My son following his skiing lesson at Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, February 20, 2016

Last weekend, my son and a group of his peers had the opportunity to ski at Sapphire Valley, North Carolina.  This was my son’s second visit to Sapphire Valley.  Last year, he tried snowboarding there.

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My son, learning to ski, at Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, February 20, 2016.

 

This year, he opted for skiing, and found it to be much easier and more enjoyable.  Hopefully, he will get to go back and enjoy more skiing there in the future!

This Wild Weather! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

The Earth's Face (Retrieved from huffington.com, January 16, 2016)

The Earth’s Face (Retrieved from huffington.com, January 16, 2016)

As a society, we must become increasingly concerned about the weather, the environment, our planet, and the sustainability that remains on Earth.  On Christmas Day here in Snellville, Georgia in the United States, the outside high temperature at my home was 76.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  While it was wonderful to enjoy such balmy weather in the winter, we must be reminded that such a temperature is off the chart for this time of year!  Such high temperatures in winter are definitely disturbing and unsettling.  The expected temperature in my area for this time of year is likely between 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, so the 76.5 that was reached recently is definite cause for concern.

During the last week of December 2015, it was so warm at my home that I had windows open and the heat was off.  My heat was off for the entire week – in the last week of December!  Rather than turn on the air conditioning – which I simply was unable to bring myself to do – I believed it a better alternative to allow the outside air to flow through the house by opening some windows.  I’m not sure that Mother Nature knows what is going on either; she definitely appears to be confused!

This brings me to the causes of such wild weather.  If we look back even 100 or 150 years ago, we will see a more substantial amount of forest coverage on Earth.  Last year, my son completed a project about international deforestation, and the information he gathered was shocking!  The Amazon rain forest, as well as old growth forests in Columbia, Canada, the United States, and other countries continue to disappear at alarmingly rapid rates.  When I think of the absence of all of those trees, I also think about the decrease in oxygen produced for our consumption, and the increase in carbon dioxide that also contributes to higher air temperatures and the greenhouse effect.

Pollution and acid rain are other factors that negatively affect our environment, increasing air temperatures and damaging or killing trees, respectively.  The United States is a country that has implemented and done much to enforce laws to decrease pollution being cast into the environment.  While more could be done here, it is already more than what is being done in many other highly populated countries around the globe.  In places such as China, Russia, India, Mexico, and other countries, I wonder what, if any, laws regulating pollution exist or which may be enforced at all?

About 25 years ago, I first visited Eastern and Western Europe, studying in Poland for part of one summer.  I recall that the smog and pollution in Warsaw, Poland hung over the city like a large black cloud.  When I first saw it, I thought it unusual that a rain cloud appeared so low over the ground, and concentrated and immobilized directly over the city.  In the next moment, I realized that it was all of the pollution in the air.  It was incredible!

While washing my hair in the shower in my dorm at Krakow, Poland, it was as if brown dye was coming off of my hair – and I have never dyed my hair!  It was sickening to see and realize the great amount of pollution in which the people in Poland lived.  While I stayed in Poland, I made sure to drink imported, bottled spring water, and to occasionally wash the dirt and grime out of my hair with it, as well.  It is no wonder all of the people who had cancer, miscarriages, and other medical conditions in Poland when they are breathing polluted air, and cooking with and drinking polluted water.  It was definitely angering and saddening to think that I could do nothing about it to help those people.

Further, this brings us to sustainability.  How many more resources remain on Earth to sustain people, plants, animals, and to maintain a healthy and safe environment for all into the future?  It is quite possible that Earth is already beyond it’s carrying capacity.  With average yearly temperatures continuing to increase, the Polar ice caps melting, vast forests disappearing, pollution continuing to devastate the environment, further expansion of the holes in the ozone layer, huge oil spills in the oceans, what will be left, not only for us, but for our future generations?  Will there be future generations that will be able to adequately function and survive on Earth?

We, as a people, have contributed to the destruction of our planet.  We are destroying our beautiful habitat.  So much more must be done to save our planet, but I wonder if it may already be too late?  We all have to do our part.  Sometimes, we may wonder how much one person can do, however I believe it is important to do whatever possible.  One person can recycle as much of their waste as possible – plastics, metals, glass, paper, cardboard.  One person can use less electricity, natural gas, and gasoline.  One person can wear a sweater or use a wool blanket rather than cranking up the heat another notch or two.  One person can take fewer and more economical trips driving a vehicle, combining all errands into one trip rather than several on different days.

Certainly, I do not have the power to enforce laws that regulate pollution or that protect our environment, especially when it comes to big companies.  However, I am one who can say that I have done my part, that I have done as much as possible to preserve the environment, and to teach and encourage others to do the same.  I can encourage children and adults to have an appreciation for the outdoors, to learn about the environment, and to be aware of ways to save and protect it.  I can take responsibility for reducing the pollution and energy use that I cause, and to oversee the recycling efforts of my family.

I have to believe that one person can make a difference, even if it is a small difference.  And, I am a person who lives to make whatever positive difference that I can, not only for myself, but for others, as well.  How will you make a positive difference for our environment, for future generations?  What will you do?  Whatever you will do, do it now, before it’s too late!

Beautiful Soco Falls, near Cherokee, North Carolina (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Soco Falls, Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Soco Falls, Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Just off of Highway 19 on the Cherokee Nation, near Cherokee, North Carolina is the beautiful Soco Falls.  Soco Falls is a double waterfall that is worth the short trail walk of five minutes or less to view.

Beautiful Soco Falls on the Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Beautiful Soco Falls on the Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

The larger waterfall may be viewed from a deck platform that is well-maintained.  The lower waterfall involves a steeper and more slippery trail walk that is easy for a rugged hiker, though I do not recommend it for novices.

When visiting the Cherokee Nation and/or Cherokee, North Carolina, Soco Falls is a definite attraction to view for its refreshing and re-energizing view of nature’s beauty.

Enjoy Breath-taking Views on Helicopter Rides in Cherokee, North Carolina (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Helicopter and Pilot in Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Helicopter and Pilot in Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Should you visit Cherokee, North Carolina, a great activity to experience is taking a helicopter ride, flying above the beautiful mountains.  My family and I have enjoyed the breath-taking views by riding the helicopter in Cherokee on many occasions over the course of the past several years.

View of the Great Smoky Mountains from Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

View of the Great Smoky Mountains from Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

While a ride of a few minutes involves a considerable investment, it is well-worth it for the experience gained.  The staff are always friendly and professional, thereby also gaining us as repeat customers.  For anyone who enjoys flying and/or beautiful mountain views, flying in the helicopter in Cherokee, North Carolina is an experience I definitely recommend.

Consider “End of the Trail” Horseback Riding when Visiting Cherokee, North Carolina (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

End of the Trail Horseback Riding Sign, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

End of the Trail Horseback Riding Sign, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

End of the Trail horseback riding provides a refreshing and enjoyable riding experience in the mountains of Cherokee, North Carolina.  Owned by Mr. Goodlow Bark, riders follow a trail up and down a scenic mountain for about one hour.  Atop the mountain, riders take in the beautiful mountain vistas, with views into Tennessee on a clear day.

Riding with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Riding with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

My family have been return customers of End of the Trail for about six or seven years.  Mr. Goodlow is friendly, professional, and easy to talk with.  He is a Cherokee American Indian with a high respect and appreciation for nature and all of its creatures.  This is evident in his work ethic and care that he provides to his horses.

Enjoying the Ride with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Enjoying the Ride with End of the Trail Horseback Riding, Cherokee, North Carolina, August 2015

Riding with End of the Trail is the perfect experience for people of any level of riding ability.  The ride provides individuals with the relaxing and refreshing experience of getting back to nature in beautiful Cherokee, North Carolina.  My family and I make a concerted effort ride with End of the Trail on each of our vacations to North Carolina, and feel that our visit is incomplete if we do not.  Our horseback ride with End of the Trail is definitely a great highlight of each of our visits to Cherokee!

The Beauty of Charlie Elliott State Park in Georgia (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My son at Charlie Elliott State Park, Georgia, May 2015

My son at Charlie Elliott State Park, Georgia, May 2015

Recently, my family and I had the opportunity to fish and enjoy the peaceful, beautiful outdoors at Charlie Elliott State Park with a youth group in which my son is involved.

Partial view of a lake at Charlie Elliott State Park in Georgia, May 2015

Partial view of a lake at Charlie Elliott State Park in Georgia, May 2015

Only about one hour’s drive from our home, Charlie Elliott State Park and its surrounding area reminds me of the rural country in which I grew up outside of Buffalo, New York.  A youth in our group found a turtle and gave it to my son to hold before placing it back in the lake.  And, a man who was fishing there caught a large mouth bass of impressive size!

A happy Georgia fisherman at Charlie Elliott State Park with his large mouth bass, May 2015

A happy Georgia fisherman at Charlie Elliott State Park with his large mouth bass, May 2015

At the park, one can definitely take in all of the natural beauty of the environment.  Getting back to nature is certainly calming and relaxing at the beautiful Charlie Elliott State Park!