Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Splendid Sunsets

Tonight's sunset was beautiful:

As was the golden lining on April 15th:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

She's Baaaaaack!

Been a while since I've seen her but today, just before a thunderstorm, she was eating birdseed in the backyard. Yay!
I call her "Turquita".

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Adventures in Landscaping

So, we've lived in our new house for a year & a half, and I've gotten around to doing a little landscaping. A couple flower beds out front just need something, they're pretty basic with some shrubs and azaleas.... I want more variety.
I've added a few kinds of hosta, phlox, mondo grass, creeping jenny (ha!), as well as some elephant ear and mixed caladium bulbs, which haven't sprouted yet.
Now, prepare yourself to be impressed. Here's the before/after photos. Ok the photos aren't spectacular but I managed to figure how to do mouseover script again after several years (and on blogger no less) so I should get at least 1 point for that.
And possibly a cookie.

Click Me

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wildflower Extravaganza

On April 2oth, we took a hike through one of the popular Spring wildflower destinations in the Smokies. A drizzly weekday & therefore not too busy, only encountered a handful of people.

Catesby's Trillium

There were many different flowers to enjoy, but the stars of the area were certainly the huge patches of blue phlox covering the greening landscape.

Miterwort, Bishop's Cap

Eastern Red Columbine

Stunning carpet of phlox

What's this? A stinkweed amongst the flowers?! Bah! A dainty rosebud am I.

One of several caves in the area. Normally entry is allowed (with a permit only) but currently all entry is forbidden... & Big Brother is watching...

....due to the presence of White Nose Syndrome, which is unfortunately killing bats in huge, huge numbers.

There are multiple manways winding through the area. In past visits we'd followed several of them and I'd wondered where the others led. This time I'd done some research and printed an old topo map which was helpful. We were all over the place exploring, it was great.

Old gears

Still, there are other old paths yet to be explored among the heavily traveled ones.

A small waterfall plunges into a deep, slippery cavern. Once again, entirely no cave entry at the moment, on a normal basis entry by permit only.
We normally leave via the steep slope next to the falls, but today we exited on an old route to create a longer hike.

This little patch of stunning common blue violets near Schoolhouse Gap was an incredible shade of purple.

First sighting of the season! Crested dwarf iris blooming along the upper portion of the main trail.

Back in the parking lot, saw this growing in a large patch of horse poop.... looks like wild greens, maybe red veined sorrel? I don't know, but I could've eaten a pretty big salad at that point ;-) Off to find lunch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Settlers Trail

Another hike along Old Settlers Trail, 4.11.10. We've hiked the area from both sides but I'm on a terrain covering spree and trying to connect up some loose ends. The goal was to travel from the trailhead in Greenbrier to the Soak Ash Creek area where a short trail meets coming from Steiner Bell Lodge. Distance was somewhere around 5.5 miles.

It was a fantastic day with a cool start and crystal clear weather. Spring growth is beginning to thrive, though I perceived the terrain to be dry while creeks were running a little high probably due to end of the snow melt.

Nice views as you work your way up the ridge.

Yellow trilliums are in bloom.... are trout lilies.

Ferns are spreading their fronds.

Down low along the creeks is becoming lush and green.

Higher up along Copeland Divide things are slower to sprout.

Trail winds upward through a moss-lined tunnel of rhododendron and mountain laurel.
Crossing Copeland Creek and Snakefeeder several chimneys can be seen. Many homesites were along the length of the OST.

Now the trail parallels Snakefeeder Branch.....

...and heads into Soak Ash, which is a remarkably flat and pretty area.

We reach the junction & goal. The trail behind the sign leads up to Steiner Bell Lodge (somebody has noted on back of sign). To the right (east), OST leads to Campsite 33 around 1 mile away, then after that and about 16 miles you'd reach the Cosby campground area.
We turned back the way we came.

Back between the Bird creeks we encountered a 3 foot black rat snake in the middle of the trail. It kinda 'hid' in the shadow of a tree before moving back into the warm sunshine as we continued on.

Our hike was about 11 miles roundtrip and took 5 hours, and we encountered 2 backpackers and 2 dayhikers going out as we came back.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring flowers at home

We had some wonderful blooms pop out recently, a pretty combination of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. Unfortunately the unseasonably early heat has begun to beat them down, but here are some shots from a few days ago:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter eggs

Easter - a great time to 'resurrect' my blog! I've been out of town, visiting my folks in Louisiana (and had a wonderful time) and other things have kept me busy.
Of course I had to make time for the traditional dying of eggs this weekend. I tried something new this time, using artist's masking fluid as a dye resist. Let's see how it turned out, shall we?

Plain dye tablets from a dollar-store kit in the usual colors: yellow, orange, pink, blue, green. A little vinegar and water does the trick.

The blue was strongest, only took a second.... the pink took forevah and a day.

If I'd had more vinegar the shades might have been more vibrant, but I think the results are nice, colorful and very fun.

I love the dotted texture on this green mehndi-inspired egg.

My "basket".

Enjoy the day!