Monday, October 18, 2010

Zippity-ZOO-Daw...Zippity Day!

Saturday morning came zipping up on us pretty quick. I was up with my boss and his technician friend working on the phone system in my house until 2 AM. The phone system still isn't fixed- but that's a whole OTHER story...Today- I'm going to share with you about our zoo visit on Saturday.

Gabe was skippity-doo-dawing all day Friday in anticipation of his girlyfriend Catherine (Cate) spending the day with us at the zoo. The whole zoo thing came to pass when Sam asked me if I would take him to the zoo....and one thing leads to another- and soon we have a date picked out and a whole van load of kids   (which isn't hard to do when you have 4 of your own!) and we were headed south to the NC state zoo.

We started in Africa- because as Jakey said, "Oh!? Africa??!!? I've never been to Africa before!" and with that realization....our safari began. I'm still not so sure that Jake really understood that we had not time warped to another location...because he kept making statements such as, "The wind is kinda chilly in Africa!" (grin) and "they have Sprite in Africa?? WOW!"  It became to tedious to I didn't.

Elephant. For those of you who missed the National Geographics latest documentary, "Horton Hears A Hoo" :)

The giraffes were fun. We wanted to do the feeding deck- but the giraffes were on their own safari...and missed their lunch feeding. Oh well.

Monkey holding acorns

Through the glass (hence the reflection). He's pretty serious.

I must tell you, "Africa" has some beautiful flowers! Our zoo has wonderful landscaping, exotic plants and flowers and they showcase them so beautifully. I really enjoyed the plants as much as the animals.

What an egg!

Mork & Mindy...I mean, Gabe and Cate

Russian Sage and bee. One of my favorite plants.

Sculture of an African vulture along the elephant loop

Gabe & Catherine....

Catherine is teaching Gabe to "stop and smell the roses" He's so going to kill me for posting this picture!

After our stint in Africa- we took the tram to North America. (which really confused Jake, cuz he thought Africa was FAR, FAR away!) North America was (to be honest) a dud- the polar bear was asleep, the eagles were put up, the foxes were in the den and the bears were sleeping too!

The harbor seals were quite active

I love watching the seals swim and play....very peaceful.

Taking break front to back: Jake, Gabe, Cate, Sarah, Sam & Rebekah

My four

Catherine and Gabe on their way to the tram

The sun started to go down behind the trees as we were leaving the zoo.

We had a long, wonderful day with plenty of sunshine, laughs and fun. I so enjoyed getting to know Cate better and obliging Sam's request to visit the zoo.

Shine all your light!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Lolly-Gaggin'

Our day continued along the Blue Ridge Parkway, after spending an hour or so at Mabry Mills (see previous post) and we headed to Chateau-Morisette.  The chateau is a beautiful winery situated along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I don't drink, never have- but I LOVE visiting winery's! Unfortunately, for all the time we were there- I hardly took a single picture! What's up with that? (you may ask) Well, I guess I was so enjoying the shrimp, clam chowder and mountain music that I just never took the time to snap a picture. In my book- that's a good thing. :)

In the midst of enjoying being surrounded by good things- a friend snapped this picture of me sitting and listening to the music. 

While the others were doing the wine tasting-I wandered about the grounds of the property.

After the chateau we headed along the Blue Ridge Parkway's scenic stretch of roads and stopped at an overlook. From there we hiked along a trail, stopping to "smell the roses" -pausing to enjoy the circling pattern of a hawk, admiring the vistas, eachothers company and snapping pictures at whatever caught our fancy.

The view at the scenic overlook

Ferns are incredibly audacious specimens, and yet they seem so fragile and dainty. I wish I were like that, growing out beautifully-displaying vivid colors- between a rock and a hard place...

Knock-knock, anyone home?

While we were hiking up the trail, Rick (pictured above) stated that he had done all the hiking he ever planned on doing while he was in the Marines...and therefore he took advantage of the grassy knoll, light breeze and shade. This is how we found him after our excursion. :)  It seemed like such a great idea that we all laid down and rested before loading back up in the van. 

On our way up the Parkway I was made fun of because everyone was pointing out the beautiful fall colors in a field and I said, "Oooh! Look how pretty the dead tree is!"  All of the passengers collectively rolled their eyes and started poking fun at me. However, I stand by my statement- there's something kind of pretty about a bleached out dead tree-standing against a bright blue sky. The contrast. The textures. The shapes.

So, in light of the good fun they all made of me- I'm posting the below picture in memorandum of my strange sense of beauty. :) This isn't the tree I was talking about...and of course the lighting wasn't like this either. ;)

The sun was getting ready to set when we started heading back down the parkway. Our last destination was a stone church we had passed on our way up. The church had a graveyard in the yard- where everyone isntantly piled out and headed towards. (And they say I have a weird sense of beauty???) 

We were fortunate enough to be able to go inside....this is the only picture I took of the inside

Roses growing next to a headstone

Phototog buddy, Pete.

I can't help but to be solemn in a graveyard. The dates on headstones showing a life ending before it barely starts reminds us that we are not promised tomorrow. This picture is of a leaf on a gravemarker of an infant. Sad to think the leaf lived longer than a baby so full of promise.

 I found this little poem on a website that shows the parralell between the life of man and that of a leaf.

Such is the fate of man

riding on the winds of time

carried by the river of life

he too slowly vanishes

into the realms of unknown

Well, that was the only "heavy" moment of the whole afternoon! We loaded back up and continued on our way home. We stopped in a little community called "Fancy Gap" which is really just a name- nuthin' fancy about it! We had a most enjoyable dinner sitting outside on the patio- chit-chatting, getting to know eachother better and thoroughly enjoying our friendships. I think last Sunday will go down in my memory as one of the very best days of this year.

Whose up for another excursion?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lolly-Gaggin' Mountain Style: Mabry Mills

On Sunday morning I woke up early and headed to the mountains with a gaggle of photography friends. Our first stop (on the parkway) of several that day (not counting the potty breaks) was Mabry Mills on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Mabry Mills is one of the most photographed locations in America- and definately one of the best loved stops along the Blue Ridge parkway. The weather was GORGEOUS. I love that we happened to be there on a day that they were doing some demonstrations of life at the mill during the early 1900's.
The lighting inside this building was nil. So, as you can see by the resolution of the picture I have my ISO jacked up pretty high. This is the Blacksmith giving a demonstration of the tools and farming implements the Mabry owner would have forged on his own. Blacksmithing always fascinates me.

Is it just me, or does this look like a painting? I just love this photograph! I want a spinning wheel soooo of those other fascinations of mine. I spoke with this lady at length about spinning, carding and dying the wools and fibers. One day I will be posting pics of my own wheel. ;)


Under the Sluicebox

If you know me you know that I'm not a risk taker. I don't think "out of the box", I cross the street at crosswalks, I don't wear white shoes after Labor Day and I certainly never ignore a fence for the sake of a picture...  Well, at least I used to be able to say that. :) I have a friend who is always encouraging me to press the envelope, try a new perspective, different angle, think out of the box...and that's how the above picture came to be. I climbed down beneath the sluice box (yes, the sluice box that was dripping water) and got this picture. It's not a great picture, but I like it for the simple reason that I am seeing the mill from a different angle-from a point of view that I wouldn't have experienced if I stayed on the paved walkway. Ya know? So, the grass isn't always "greener on the otherside" but the view sure is different!

This old car was in the parking lot

This is one of my favorite pictures from the afternoon I like the contrast of colors, the rust, the composition and the crop. You don't have to fact, Sarah thought it was a pumpkin with a light stuck to the stem.

Another favorite from the day...this is called Queen Anne's Lace

The fall leaves are already vibrant and gorgeous

I took this picture from the van window as we left the parking lot.

Tomorrow, I will try to post more pictures from the next stop of the day- Chateau Morisette.