Dramatic weather

I’ve mentioned before how dramatically the weather around these hills can change.

There’s generally at least a light breeze blowing, but clouds seem to show very strong winds blowing most of the time at elevation.

And those clouds have to maneuver over or around all the mountains. So things change quickly.

This photo gives a strong hint of how much change can occur all at once.

I couldn’t get a workable exposure of the clear, bright sky to the left AND the heavy, dark sky to the right, so I emphasized the more interesting side!

Sometimes you just have to shoot

I never tire of the grand vistas from the Blue Ridge Parkway…since I learned to slow down and really look around.

And on a beautiful, clear, sunny day, there’s a lot to see when you look around.

In this case, I was impressed by the amazing complexity of the many trunks and branches of these several trees, and by the dramatic contrast of their coloring against the incredible blue sky.

I just had to take a pic.

Slow down, we need a rest!

We sure don’t do much hiking with Ross and Ryan, and we can’t do too much of anything without them, so…pictures of us hiking at all are rare.

Here’s one with all of us! (I’m behind the camera….)

Robyn’s father, Claude, was the reason we first came to stay in this area for the summer four years ago.

He ended up moving to Florida with his older daughter, Marion. But we got a photo of him hiking with us before he left.

I’m running this photo in recognition of his energy and enthusiasm, on the occasion of his return today to visit us for a few days in order to celebrate his 95th birthday!

Claude generally hiked near the front of our pack. If he was ever at the back, it was to help with stragglers! In all seriousness, he probably would put me to shame if it was just him and me on a lengthy hike.

Hats off, Claude…happy birthday…and best wishes for many more!

Too bad about the moon

Because we went looking for a moon rise to a location more than an hour from home, we took along supper.

But in all the drama and excitement looking for clear skies and a good shot, and the disappointment over eastern skies blocking the moon but western skies suddenly showing such lovely color…we forgot to eat (and feed the boys) until the sun had set and we were about 90 minutes from home.

Food! We fed the boys, and ate our own nibbles.

And finally turned toward home about 9:45.

Whoa, there’s the moon! Shining straight into our eyes whenever the Parkway would turn toward the east.

Quick, where’s an overlook to the east?

There. Stop. Get out the tripod. The night’s not wasted after all! (I really hope you click on this image…there’s a LOT going on in the darkness!)

Another moonrise

The other day we wanted to catch the full moon as it rose near sunset.

Actually, it was two nights before the full moon, when the moon would rise just about an hour before the sun set. Which, I figured, would allow the moon time to clear some small mountains on the horizon, and, allow the to still peek over the mountains behind where I’d be shooting, so as to illuminate the foreground with its golden rays.

It’s true, the moon would only be 93 percent full, but it’s also true that it looks full by then!

Great plan. We took off for the Parkway.

Hmmm, an hour before moon rise:
Not very promising.

We kept driving toward our chosen overlook.

Eventually, we slowed down. We stopped. Too many clouds in the east, a solid bank at the horizon.

Not to say the sky was boring….
Wow, see how the sunset is cranking up the color?

New Plan: let’s hurry to a sunset overlook!

Change in perspective

That photo yesterday? Didn’t it feel kind of rambunctious?

The water was white all the way down, because it bounced every inch of its way.

And we were looking up through the pale foliage into a bright sky.

Very different mood with this photo!

It’s the same stretch of creek, shot from the opposite direction. I’m standing almost where Robyn and Ross were in yesterday’s photo.

It also was a different day, following some rain, shot later in the day, so it looks darker. And it is an 8-second exposure, so the water looks smoother.

If only

I love all the streams and rivers around here!

There’s not a level or straight stretch of road longer than a half mile…and usually much less! Everything is on a hill.

Which makes for lots and lots of streams, creeks, and rivers.

We have a favorite stretch of road running through Pisgah National Forest on the way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It twists and turns in an ever-rising fashion, and its pavement is nearly always completely covered by over-hanging trees. Its path is controlled by the hillsides of the valley it follows between ridges, and by the creek that occupies the lowest part of the valley. We cross the creek back and forth as we go ever-upward.

There are several fairly large falls along the way, and each is the object of attention by many, many tourists. Since we’re parked here for the summer, we don’t consider ourselves tourists, so we don’t stop there.

Instead, we have found a lovely stretch of the creek that tumbles and falls through a chasm about 10-20 feet below the level of the road. It’s not to be seen from the road.

We always stop to check on it as we travel that way.

No formal path exists to get to its edge, and large rocks along the bank interfere in many places.

But Robyn did get energized once, when Ryan seemed to be particularly cooperative, to help him climb down and around sufficiently to sit very near the sound of the rushing water…where there nearly was slight spray to feel from the creek.

If only…a photo could convey what our senses felt! (click to see Robyn and Ryan)

Bye bye, sun

Where the coach is parked, our camp is nearly surrounded by mountains, some as near as 5 miles.

Our northern view…straight out our windows past only one coach…is lovely. Our gaze rarely takes notice of the power lines that cut across the view only a hundred yards away. But a camera image of that view seems to have big red arrows pointing to the lines and their poles! Maybe it’s just me.

Views in other directions off our campus are obstructed by large trees…except the western view. The setting sun!

Robyn walks up our slight hill almost every evening to take in the view, save it for posterity by a photo with her cell, and share it with you who are friends on Facebook with her and with me.

She gets some very, very wonderful images!

I rarely go, because one of us needs to stay with Ross and Ryan, and that scene is Robyn’s domain.

But we were all out in the car the other day, and when we arrived back at camp the sunset looked promising. So we drove the car up to the west lookout.

I liked the complexity of the scene: the sun’s rays pointing right at us, the various types of clouds both far and near…including the fog that grew by the second just beyond the field where we stood, and the dramatic shading of the clouds to the left of the sun.

It’s nice to stand here

We have a new kick: we head for mountain views when the weather’s bad.

It was born of necessity, but we’ve adopted it with vigor, because we have so much fun with the results!

Several weeks ago, Robyn checked her weather app and found every day for the next 14 days showed a likelihood of rain exceeding 50 percent. Bummer.

But we knew from one experience that rain here at the coach didn’t guarantee rain in the mountains. And further, we knew from several summers of experience here that rain now didn’t guarantee rain for the day.

So when it fits our schedule to run to the mountain views, we simply look for a break in the weather to load into the car, and we head out.

And sure enough, we’ve been rewarded every time!

Sometimes it takes awhile…the other day it rained or was gray fog for nearly an hour as we got onto the Parkway and drove along its curves and hills. But sure enough, eventually there was golden sunshine up ahead.

Which is what we experienced this day. That golden sunshine kept being around the next corner…no, the next corner…but no, the next corner.

Here is where we finally found it.
And around another corner…another nice place to stand and gaze in wide wonder at this incredible world.

The value of mobile

You’ll recall we made this run clear down to Brunswick, GA…from where the coach was parked south of Asheville, NC…to explore winter-time options along the East coast that would still be north of Florida.

We spent a night at a lovely hotel outside Charleston, SC, explored several parks, enjoyed some outstanding southern cuisine, and thoroughly enjoyed a tour of the ocean front.

And so thoroughly enjoyed all those things that we didn’t click a single frame….

Then we moved down the coast to a lovely hotel outside Savannah, GA. We ran over to Hilton Head, Tybee Island, and some other fun spots. Checked on several parks for the coach. Were so caught up in all the great sights and sounds and tastes…that we never clicked a single frame….

Good thing we stayed another night there, so we could run down to Brunswick, GA. Really enjoyed visiting an RV park there, and had a very fortunate conversation with several of its staff.

We asked about any bugs in the winter months. They looked at each other, and started rattling off a list of tiny beasts…that changed by the month. All winter. We said “Wow, all winter?” They laughed and said, “You DO know this is the south, right?” HA Ha ha. Hmmmm.

We can’t do bugs with Ross and Ryan. The boys don’t defend themselves at all, and they scratch any itch or bump until it bleeds, then scratch it some more!

Oh well, there went this quest.

Except we caught Driftwood Beach right near sunset. Just as the moon was rising off shore. With a lovely blue sky that kept coloring up more and more, the closer we got to sunset!

And a tiny jet trail….

Ahhhh….I can die happy!