Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall 2007

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

- Robert Frost

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Standards for Decency Have Just Been Lowered ...

Photographed in Blowing Rock, NC on October 12, 2007.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Deer Visitor

Last night, this little guy walked out of the woods to check out our parched yard. He drank from the pan of water I had left for him and then skipped away. I am sure he will be back later to eat my azaleas.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Easy as Pie

I once bought a book called Pie Every Day by Pat Willard while on vacation in Seattle. Sadly, I make pie only about 3-4 times a year.

Here's a recipe for a really good one:


1/4 cup Splenda for Baking
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 flour
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks beaten
1 baked pie crust

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Mix milk and egg yolks together and whisk together with dry ingredients. Pour into a double boiler and cook until thickened. Cooking times vary; however, 10-12 minutes should be enough time. Pour into baked pie crust.

For the meringue, combine two egg whites with 1 tablespoon of Splenda for Baking and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar. Beat with electric mix until soft peaks form. Spread on pie.

Place pie in a preheated 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until top is browned. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


We have a new addition to our backyard menagerie, a fawn born to Smokey. We have named her Bliss, because of her penchant for jumping up and down and trotting across our backyard. If you look closely, you can she has the same black marking across her face just like her mom Smokey.

A few fun facts about deer:

- Baby deer, called fawns, have no scent for the first few weeks of their life. This protects them from predators.
- The deer population in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 1980. This over population is attributed to a lack of natural predators. Deer's main predators, cougars, are mainly extirpated in the Southeast.
- They poop 16-18 times daily.

Here is a closer look at Bliss the fawn:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Danaus plexippus

Photographed in Jamestown, NC, on July 28, 2007.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Butterflies Are Free

Photographed in my front yard on July 24, 2007.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Raleigh Rose Garden

Raleigh Rose Garden
301 Pogue Street (near NC State University; off Hillsborough Street; behind Raleigh Little Theater)
Raleigh, NC 27607-7267

This is a beautiful garden park with over 60 rose beds that include a collection of hybrid teas, florabundas, grandifloras, English, and tree roses.

From the entrance on Pogue Street, you are treated to an Aeriel view of the garden as you walk down a wooden stairwell to reach the park.

There is a lovely stone archway covered in climbing roses at the north end of the park. This garden has the most wonderful array of smells and is a quiet, peaceful place stroll and admire your favorite rose variety.

There are beautiful shady vistas throughout the park:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Raleigh Wide Open

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the re-opening of Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, NC.

Fayetteville Street is Raleigh's main street and was closed in 1976 to automobile traffic and re-opened as a pedestrian mall. Big mistake. People tired of having to park their cars and walk several blocks to get to the pedestrian mall where shops and restaurants struggled to survive.

Downtown Raleigh was dying a slow death until Fayetteville Street reopened in 2006. The city decided to celebrate this auspicious occasion by, well, shutting the down street again for the day. Yes, I know how ironic this is - shutting down the street to celebrate opening the street.

A respectable crowd turned out to celebrate, note the capitol building in the background:

Fayetteville Street is also home to the Briggs Hardware Building, the only 19th century commercial building remaining in Raleigh. An interesting note, our church originally met in this building on Sundays 90 years ago before the sanctuary was finished. The building is now home to the Raleigh Museum.

The street festival was full of music and haute cuisine:

You may wonder what is in a "monkey nut" drink - my street research yields that it is some sort of fruit concoction served in a coconut shell. I don't care if it is non-alcoholic, you should never drink anything bigger than your head.

Congratulations Fayetteville Street - live long and prosper!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Your Tax Dollars At Work

This mailbox was photographed on Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, NC, May, 2007.

R2D2 as a mailbox?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Perfect Address

This street sign was photographed in Beaufort, NC, in the spring of 2007.

If you are traveling to Beaufort, make sure you stop by the Beaufort Grocery Story on Queen Street. The food is wonderful and the staff attentive; it is a dining delight. For more information, go to

Beaufort, pronounced Bo-furt was known as "Fish Town" in the early 1700's when Blackbeard frequented the coast, "Beaufort Town" was established as a seaport with the right to collect customs in 1722. During the American Revolution, it was the third largest port in the state.

For more information about visiting Beaufort, please go to

Monday, July 9, 2007

Linville Falls, North Carolina

Linville Falls National Park is easily accessible via the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile post 316.3. There are clearly marked trails just beyond the visitors center and over the footbridge that crosses the Linville River.

The Ervin Trail runs parallel to the river and is quite easy as the elevation actually dips and is 1.6 miles round trip. Here, the Linville River spills over the upper falls where it widens and pauses. Drifting into a narrow canyon, the water suddenly spirals out of sight and plunges 45 feet over the lower falls.

The Chimney View Trail, 0.7 mile from the visitor center, is the first point on the trail where the lower falls can be seen. The trail continues up to the overlook and is fairly steep and is rated strenuous - I would rate it closer to moderate.

Be forewarned: if you have an aversion to steps, you may not enjoy this trail.

The various trails take you to different perspective views of the same 90-foot Linville Falls. They are all worth checking out especially if you have a camera. Hey, you are already there, why not?

Linville Falls park is a lovely 1 to 2 hour diversion with spectacular views of a roaring water 90-foot fall. It is a great place to stretch your legs after driving on the Parkway for a while. Hiking boots and a camera are strongly recommended.

For more information, please go to

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hello, weather? May I speak with your supervisor?

It is hot in the RDU area. I am talking Africa hot; Tarzan couldn't take this heat.

And where is the rain? Presently, we have a rain deficit of over 4 inches. We haven't had any substantial rain for over 14 days and the 5-day forecast predicts a low probability for rain until next weekend.

There are now water restrictions for all of Wake county; when you can water your lawn depends on the last digit of your house number. Wake county has hired water inspectors to catch violators and asses fines. Wouldn't you love that job?

I guess water is the new gasoline. If you don't hear from us for a while, you know we've been arrested for water violations and are serving out our sentence.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Roan Mountain State Park, Tennesse

OK. It says Roan Mountain is a Tennessee state park and while the park may be in Tennessee a large part of the mountain is in North Carolina. It's a big mountain and rivals Mount Mitchell with an elevation of 6285 feet. We drove from Blowing Rock, NC and it's not the easiest place to find despite its size. I had not been to Roan Mountain in over 25 years.

I was thinking about a visit when the June issue of Our State magazine featured an article on Roan. Was it a sign from the hiking gods? The piece concentrated on the Cloudland Trail and the magnificent Rhododendron that bloom in mid June. For more information on Our State magazine, please visit

We drove through the park and up the mountain, past access to the Appalachian Trail to a gate house that was unmanned at 10:30 am. Honor system here, put $3 in an envelope, tear off receipt/parking tag and proceed to the parking lots.

Per the article in Our State, we parked in a huge, empty lot that is presumably for buses but also has some car parking. On one end of the parking lot there is the trail head for the Cloudland Trail and on the other end of the lot there is a restroom and a short trail to a post-civil war hotel once stood and access to the Appalachian Trail.

We followed the Cloudland trail for a ways through some rhododendron. We came to a 3-way intersection on the trail where we met some other hikers who were lost and did we know the way to the observation platform? We didn't either, but took the straight ahead fork and went past the Rhododendron garden and eventually found ourselves at the observation deck.

The view and the breeze was spectacular but a thick haze hung over the mountains obscuring any long distance view or photography. The hike was well worth the effort:

Walking back we stopped at the garden and walked the loop trails there. After a while all Rhododendron look the same. We got some great pictures and got to see more Rhododendron in one spot than you would see anywhere else in a life time.

It may be also worth noting that this time of year while these plants are in full bloom, they are also full of bees and other buzzing and possibly stinging insects. We suggest hiking boots, insect repellent, and plenty of water.

This was a great side trip for us. The Rhodey's were beautiful and it was fun getting back to a place I had not been in years.

We will go back and maybe next time we will be on the Appalachian Trail as it passes through Roan Mountain. As I recall, the views from the ridge the trail traverses were even better than the ones from the observation deck.

Directions to Roan Mountain: From Boone, NC take Hwy 105 to Newland, NC. Take Hwy 194 North out of Newland toward Roan Mountain, TN.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy 4th of July

This flag was photographed at Chimney Rock Park, NC in April 2007.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Happy Ending

This week, the bald eagle was taken off the endangered species list for the first time since 1963. This is a wonderful environmental success story. At one time, there were only 400 mating pairs compared with the over 10,000 in existence today.

This photograph was taken at the bald eagle habitat at Grandfather Mountain, NC in June of 2007. This rescued eagle is no longer able to fly due to a gunshot wound and will live out his remaining days in this habitat. Even with his injury, he is a very regal bird.

Did you know?

The bald eagle is not really bald; it actually has white feathers on its head, neck, and tail. Bald is a derivation of balde, an Old English word meaning white. The eagle was named for its white feathers instead for a lack of feathers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock, NC

In October of '06 and June of '07 we visited Blowing Rock, NC for a few days. We made the town our base camp and struck out each day from there in search of adventure or at least diversion. Call us gluttons for punishment but on both visits to Blowing Rock, we hiked the Glen Burney trail.

The trail starts out in the Glen Burney Park lower parking lot and meanders down through a gorge past 3 water falls on the New Year Creek. It is 1.6 miles from the trail head to the last water fall and an elevation change of 600 feet. This might not sound like much on the way down, but it is on the return trip! Actually having done this twice now, I would have to say that the going down is slower than the going up if you are in decent shape.

Once you start out on the trail at the parking lot near the current sewage lift station/pump house, you encounter a gravel service road that narrows to more of a trail. Along this road there is a wooden fence that tries to obscure the view of or hide the hikers from an incredible house or lodge that is being built off of Globe Rd. which roughly follows the trail albeit at a much different elevation.

At 0.4 miles you come across the "ruins" of a sewer plant that served the town back in 1929. The Glen Burney area dates back to 1892. The gorge and park area was donated to the town of Blowing Rock in 1906 by Emily Pridden who founded a school and owned land in the area.

At 0.8 miles you can hear and see the Cascades "falls". At 1.2 miles you encounter the Glen Burney falls and at 1.6 miles you reach the Glen Marie falls. The trail is covered in Rhododendron. It is dark and quiet along the trail with only birds and the occasional car passing way up on Globe Rd. to disturb you. But, that is only if you are away from the falls or creek itself which are quite noisy in a pleasant way. The sound of rushing or falling water is one of nature's great tranquillizers.

When we were there last October, you could continue along the trail to reach Globe Rd. and walk back up that path. Now there are "no trespassing" signs and other signs requesting you to turn around. This is the end of the trail and the start of the moderate to strenuous walk back up the trail.

We, and the parks and rec folks, recommend hiking boots, water, a snack and a camera. We have met folks on the trail in street shoes, Crocs, flip flops and running shoes. There are lots of rocks and roots to traverse. Our June hike was just after an overnight rain and all surfaces including the dirt trail floor were slippery so the total time round trip was almost 3 hours.

This is a great little "off the beaten path" hike in the middle of a "tourist" mountain town, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone, NC. Few people know about this trail and most of the ones who do, have not hiked it. There are lots of less worn paths taking off from the main trail but you are advised to stay on the main one. There are wooden stakes indicating the mile marks every so often now. Hopefully, folks will leave them where they are. The trail could uses some blazes as there are none at all and some junctions or forks in the road get a little confusing.

If you make it down and back up and are so inclined, stop in the Six Pence Pub on Main St. for a pint. The Glen Burney trail and park is just off Laurel Lane which is just of Main St. in Blowing Rock. We highly recommend both.

For more information about Blowing Rock, NC, please visit