Tuesday, July 22, 2014

better days

I cannot make my days longer so I strive to make them better. 
--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher. 

Above: Rocky Fork after a rain.

Here is a terrific resource on Rocky Fork from the Monkey's Mask. Lots of descriptions, maps, links and beautiful photos to explore.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Tweetsie Trail

The first phase of the Tweetsie Trail is scheduled to be opened to the public with an inaugural Walk/Run on Saturday, August 30, 2014 (Labor Day weekend). The
 trail follows the old "Tweetsie" railroad line connecting Johnson City to Elizabethton, TN. The first phase is 4.5 miles long, but when the entire project is complete it will be 10 miles long.

The trail itself is fantastic -- very wide, with compacted, fine gravel perfect for walking, jogging and bike riding. Along the way, you'll traverse through beautiful woodland settings and farms and over bridges.  This project has been years in its planning and execution and will provide great recreational opportunities to the residents of both communities.

Pictured (above left) is a replica of the original Milligan depot that stood about a half mile from the College. It will eventually have a bench and signage.

To sign up to take part in the inagural trek, click here.

Additional photos can be found on the Tweetsie Trail Facebook page.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Steele Creek Park

Bristol, TN is home to Steele Creek Park, the third largest municipal park in the state of Tennessee. Occupying over 2200 acres, the park has a 52 acre lake, a golf course, numerous picnic shelters, amphitheater, conference center and 24 miles of trails. The park recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The above photo shows a bench overlooking the lake and Nature Center in the distance. Click here and here for more information.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

traveling companion

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
– Saint Augustine (354-430) Christian theologian and philosopher.

Above: My traveling companion, Blue, exploring Rocky Fork.

Friday, July 11, 2014

vibrant thoughts

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
--Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) Roman Emperor.

Above: The vibrant green moss of Rocky Fork.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

inner peace

Peace is the inner nature of humankind. If you find it within yourself, you will then find it everywhere.
--Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) Hindu teacher. 

Above: Rocky Fork

Friday, July 4, 2014

unalienable rights

Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
--Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) French classical liberal theorist, political economist.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

flash feeder

A flash of harmless lightning,
A mist of rainbow dyes,
The burnished sunbeams brightening
From flower to flower he flies.

--John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) American poet, Roman Catholic priest, and professor of English.

220mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 400.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

higher nature

The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is. 
--Phillip Brooks (1835-1893) American clergyman and author.

Above: Kiner Creek Falls found in Laurel Run Park, Church Hill, TN (taken earlier this spring).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. 
--Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) Roman Catholic Missionary.

This is my friend Michael Kaal fishing in the Watauga River back in 2010. Since then, Michael, through his hard work, dedication to clients and his eye for beauty, has quickly established himself as one of the very best wedding photographers in our region. Check out his website and his Facebook page to see his work.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

mountain blooms

The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling.
--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

in a fog

Like a man traveling in foggy weather, those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapped up in the fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side, but near him all appears clear, though in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them. 
--Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American Statesman, Writer and Inventor.

Above: A picnic table in the fog at MacRae Meadows, Grandfather Mountain, NC.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. --Miriam Beard (1876-1958) American historian.

The rhododendron and flame azalea are nearly in full bloom at Carver's Gap and on the balds in the Roan Highlands. This weekend would be the perfect time to hike out to Jane Bald to see them in all their glory. I didn't make it up to the gardens, but it's usually a week or so behind. This year's Rhododendron Festivals are on June 21-22nd in Roan Mountain, TN and June 20-21st in Bakersville, NC.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Golden State

Flowers along the Pacific Coast Highway 
Getty Villa 
Air Force One at the Reagan Library 
Here is my final installment of photos from my recent trip to California. Stay tuned, we will soon return to the beauty of Appalachia. :) So far I've shared images and thoughts of the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Today you'll see the rest of my trip including Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Pacific Coast Highway.

Touring San Francisco 
We covered a lot of ground in California, driving 1400 miles during our 10 day stay.  Landing at LAX and immediately being thrown onto the freeways there was a fitting introduction to the state. The traffic is bad practically everywhere. But no more so than in LA.  There's a very small window of sanity between 10am and 2pm. LA and Hollywood were not really 'draws' for me -- so we didn't stay long in LA, but did enjoy the Reagan Library and the Getty Villa and Getty Museum before heading to Fresno to visit family and see Yosemite and Sequoia. I will say this about LA, it was more beautiful than I expected. I guess I never realized that the city is surrounded by beautiful mountains. For those who live there, the beauty, the climate and the city itself must outweigh the traffic frustrations.

Cable Car to Fisherman's Wharf 
San Francisco was our next stop. It's a beautiful city, filled with interesting architecture (and people!) The best thing we did when we arrived was to take one of those city bus tours. Our driver was very knowledgable about the city and its fascinating history, and he took us all around the city getting us acquainted with it's various neighborhoods and 'must see' attractions.

Golden Gate Bridge 
I really enjoyed the 'City by the Bay,' it is such a colorful place. The people we met were friendly and easy going. Riding the cable car down Nob Hill was such fun. In terms of photography, there was no shortage of subjects. I think I could go back and stay a week and really enjoy photographing more of the city.

Along the Pacific Coast Highway 
Ocean view from the Hearst Castle
The final leg of our trip was driving along the Pacific Coast Highway. This has to be the most spectacular drive in the country.  A marvel of engineering, the road grips the sides of the mountains, giving travelers breathtaking views of the rugged shoreline and the Pacific. Like the Blue Ridge Parkway, it's slow going. Lots and lots of curves and pull-offs. We followed it for about 90 miles south of San Fran before taking a more direct, inland route back to LA -- but that 90 miles took us all afternoon to do -- but well worth it.  Along the way we stopped at the Hearst Castle to marvel at the intricate architecture, the opulent decor and the gorgeous views.

Well, that's it for my report on "My Summer Vacation" - hope you enjoyed it. We'll return to Appalachia in my next post!

Friday, June 6, 2014

wild country

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope. 
--Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) American historian, author and environmentalist

Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains south of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks contain groves of massive giant sequoia trees estimated to be 1,800 and 3,000 years old. These are some of the largest and oldest living things on the planet. It's bewildering to walk among them and make sense of such an incredible scene.

In terms of photography, I found it difficult to capture and communicate their immense size. It really is something that needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate. Visitors are so completely dwarfed by these gigantic trees! I loved the smell of the sequoia - very different from the pine scented mountains found here in Appalachia, these had a redwood aroma, think of it as a giant, redwood lined sauna. :)

Speaking of redwoods, the Giant Sequoia are different than Redwoods, both found in California. Although related, Sequoia grow inland and are thicker and not as tall; by volume they are the largest trees in the world. Redwoods are coastal, and although immense, are thinner than the Giant Sequoias; they are the tallest trees in the world.

I'll continue posting more of my journey through California tomorrow -- and then we'll return to Appalachia!