A Peek at the Peak

As stated on the North Carolina State Parks website, “Since its creation as a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps project, Hanging Rock State Park has offered the best of a traditional outdoor experience with 73-site campground, picnic grounds, stocked lake for swimming and canoe rentals and more than 20 miles of hiking trails that climb onto spectacular views and weave alongside clear streams and waterfalls.” For me, the attraction has always been “hanging rock” cliffs and rugged trails that lead to great views of the surrounding North Carolina and Virginia Piedmont region. My age and weaker legs have prevented me from hiking and climbing today, but I have fond memories of once doing so on several occasions. It’s near Danbury, NC and is a jewel just waiting for fun and exploration. Here’s a “peek” of what gave the park it’s name.

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Lake Junaluska, NC

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Lake Junaluska, NC is beautiful. Anytime of year, such as in the Fall with colorful scenery (above) or along the shoreline during the summer with blooming flowers all around (below).

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The lake is surrounded by mountains in Western North Carolina that rise upwards over 5000 feet. Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center surrounding the lake, first opened as a conference center of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church in 1913. The center is host to ministry events and concerts throughout the year and is open to the public for group retreats, weddings, reunions, family events and vacations.

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Spectacular Fall in 2016

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The last time I was sort of overwhelmed with the beauty of nature all around me for a short period of time was when my wife and I visited Alaska. Everywhere I looked I saw a great “keeper” photo. The same thing happened to me a week ago when I was in the high mountains of Western North Carolina. The colors this year were spectacular. My camera lens smiled, as did I.

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On Top of Mt. Mitchell, NC

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Mt. Mitchell,NC is, at 6684 ft, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. I’ve always wanted to go on top; now in my mid-70s via car, but when I was younger perhaps via foot. So, recently with my son-in-law and two grandsons, we did just that, right when the 2016 Fall colors were perfect … for us. Beauty all around. Just wonderful. This, my friends, is why I love making photos!

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Maggie Valley is More than Mountains

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When most people go into Western North Carolina’s very popular Maggie Valley, they go because of the surrounding mountains and the activities so related. I agree that’s mainly why I like going there. As some say, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” However, I’ve found there is a lot of beauty, manmade and natural, besides the mountains that makes me want to come back more and more. The following photos I made recently may prove my point.

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Summertime Destinations

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It’s that time of year when people all across the country are planning for, or are departing on well deserved vacations. We just returned from a great trip to Northwest North Carolina, where we stopped along the way to take a look at one of the top places to see, Grandfather Mountain. The day we were there the top was closed due to thunderstorms and lightning; however, having been there several times before I pretty much knew knew what there was to see. But, as we were driving out of the parking lot I saw a part of the rugged mountain that I’d missed before. Here is that scene in all its beauty.

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North Carolina Highland Contrasts

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This beautiful scene made around 5000 feet in elevation recently is what I usually hope to find during my journey in and around the mountains of SW Virginia and NW North Carolina. However, when I find these same mountains in view right after thunderstorms have passed, leaving misty valleys, I believe they look better photographically in black and white. See for yourself.

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Down South

There are some photos which (for those having lived in the southern regions of the United States) might be recognized as being taken “down south.” My first photo involves a question. Why do old bank buildings look basically the same down south? Sadly, they no longer have the purpose they once did.

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If you’re familiar with the Piedmont Regions of Virginia and North Carolina, you will recognize tobacco plants growing, soon to take over fields like this one. This crop is far less prevalent than it once was. That’s a good thing for many, not so much for others who make their living on the farm. Some of you may have labored picking tobacco leafs, which I understand was very hot and dirty work.

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And then there are the numerous ponds and small marshy areas in the south. In their own way they are very beautiful with their vibrant colors at this time of year.

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And lastly, it’s not hard to find old log-crib type farm structures down south, if you look for them. When I make photos of them, I like to look for a different view. Like this one.

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Discovering History Around Us

There is no doubt that “history” is all around us today; as I’ve written before, if we’ll just look for it. A prime example is what I discovered recently in Wentworth, NC, a small rural town located in the Piedmont region of the state, just across the state line from Virginia. History is even better when you have a camera to record what you see.

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Wright Tavern was built in 1816 and served for decades as a location where people living near gathered for social purposes, and some fine food and drink. It also served as a place where a traveler could stop to rest for the night in relative comfort. Over the years the building fell into disrepair but concerned citizens decided to renovate it to its original look, but transforming it into the local Post Office, a purpose it serves today.

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I liked the old style, “wrinkled glass” in the windows, which make for some interesting patterns when standing outside. The stairway to the upper level, once where bedrooms were located, made me wonder how many feet had trod those worn, wooden steps for so many years. And lastly, I was attracted to the brick chimneys, one for the main building and one for the attached kitchen and cooking area.

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While the building serves a public service today for processing mail, it also serves as a historical attraction, open for visitors on certain days to those portions of the building where it’s history remains in plain view. I applaud those who take the time and effort to bring history alive for those living today. Wright Tavern is just one example.

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