Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Oops, I called this RV Life.  The truth for this series, now and those that follow that will round out what is the Spring 2015 Road Trip.

There is RV Life going on as well.  Things like:

How many meals of leftovers to I want to plan to cook today?

Where is the next best priced diesel located and why aren't people listing diesel on

Should we keep moving or spend a few nights in one location?

Why is the battery registering random levels of storage?

How do I decided on an on the road RV Mechanic in an unknown town?
   PS..  they were great!

How many cities do we need to be watching the weather in at the same time?

Why is it that is takes most of the stay to learn what's best about the place?

Luray Caverns May 11, 2015

Luray Caverns May 11, 2015

In the ground, me, in the ground?  Claustrophobia intact.  Well, one of the Caverns had you going down an elevator..  no!  The ratings were really high on the Luray Caverns and you could walk in.   That's the one for me.

Stalagmites or Stalactites?  Ground by the same process - Top down drippings that remain attached to the ceiling and walls are Stalactites,  the ones that grow from the bottom up from the drippings of the Stalactites and moisture on the cave ceilings are Stalagmites.  The areas are protected but if you could walk anywhere in the cave, you would be stepping on the Stalagmites and hitting your head on the Stalactites.  There are mineral deposits and different mineral compositions determine the color and shape of the Stalagmites and Stalactites.  Each of them are formed over millions of years taking   (a soon to be found ) number of years to grow by a cubic inch.  The caves are from 450 million years ago and continue to grow today.  I received a "Cave Kiss" (minerals dripping on me) more than once during our underground tour.

Referred to as the "Ghost" by early explorers, they thought it was following them
when actually there were several similar formations. 

There are the moments when there is no question that you are in touch with the beginning of time.

Often the images mirrored in the shallow lake were sharper that the actual Stalactites.  The lake was 12-18 inches deep. 

When you feel like you are beginning to understand how everything forms,
you encounter new shapes with differing mineral contents creating the greys and whites.
Sometimes you come around a corner
and feel like there is an assembly waiting to tell you a story.

This one is referred to as "Fish Market."

The same minerals take on various forms.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Skyline Drive: Shenandoah National Park

Skyline Drive: Shenandoah National Park

 Sometimes it takes Ted's keen eye to spot wildlife, other times they just meet us on the road. 

This deer was happily licking the road with complete disregard for cars.
We inched up to it slowly, then stopped, we sat there until it finally decided to move on.

A couple steps into the woods.

Checking back to see if we really were going to drive down its road.

 Last night, driving the car on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Forest, he said, "I'd like to see some bear." The words weren't out of his mouth when we say there three dark splotches in the woods. Ha! Bear. It was just before dusk, we were able to sit in the car and watch them for a while.
Before the words, "I'd like to see a bear."  were out of Ted's mouth,
we spotted this trio in the forest right next to us.

We pulled to the side of the road to watch them, when they were close to us, they were obscured by trees and brush.

As they started to move away, a bit more light broke through the forest
and we could clearly see their golden noses.

With supper in our waist pouch, Ted and I found a rock near these deer
and sat and watched them while we munched away as well.  

Then the van of noisy folks pulled up,
they kept inching up on the deer with their video camera.

The whole time, this young man was yelling at the deer.
Finally they moved away from them, up the road a bit.

Then the other quiet observers crowed in on the deer until they moved into the large meadow at Big Meadows on the Skyline Drive.  Many other deer were grazing on the far side of the meadow.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Grand Canyon

Travel sequence of these posts have long been left behind in the process of traveling.  Here are a few shots of the Grand Canyon.  Too many words that will have to wait for later.

Layers upon layers of geology and history. 

There were a few locations where there were protective railings, but this is a wild place and it was often a mile down, no railing and no gently landscape between you and the bottom.

Day one - Eastern edge of Grand Canyon, Erin's recommendation.  At the Desert View Tower.

The Grand Canyon was truly grand, but I wanted to see the individual elements that may up the landscape.

Again, it was taking a close look at the different land forms that caught my attention.

Monticello - vision and reality - Thomas Jefferson

Monticello - vision and reality - Thomas Jefferson's vision, inquiring mind, and place in time and space provided him the opportunity to create his scientific study of farming while creating a homestead of introspection and curiosities. I have long admired his vision yet knowing he lived in that time of owning humans, a conflict that he could not rise above because of the need - in that time and space - to construct and grow his vision.  He did manage to free a few, five I think, but it was his family that finally freed all of them.

The vision, the hilltop, the curiosity, the gardens, the traveling and creation of a home filled with curiosities not known in the area at that time, the taste for French food and wine that led to seven failed efforts to create a vineyard in Virginia - that now has found the key to flourishing vineyards throughout the state.  Of course, in his time, the transit of grapevines from France to Virginia took a little longer.  But since his time, following his plan, there is a vineyard at Monticello.  Tour guides noted that many of his efforts in gardening failed since he was more interested in seeing what could grow than only planting those things that he knew would grow.  

It was a few men that took the lead in the American Revolution, Jefferson was among them.  Thirty-three years old when he wrote the draft, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."  It was another fifty years that found him holding on the last few days of his life, fifty years later after a life full of investigations, explorations and public service, that he said his final words, "Is it the 4th of July?"
Jefferson's eighty-three years were full of scientific inquiry, construction and a commitment to the betterment of life for the human condition.  

For more: for I do not want to repeat what is so easily accessed these days: Alas, falling down on the inspiration of a man who worked tirelessly throughout this life.  Click here Thomas Jefferson.

Monticello offered a look into Jefferson's world but what I have long wanted to see has been his gardens.  

Fringe Tree, totally hysterical tree with
these funny fringes and such a sweet scent.

This scraggly Red Cedar is the only tree on the
property that is actually surviving from
Jefferson's time frame.  Many of the trees he planted
were not suitable for the Virginia landscape, some have
struggled and survived - it was more important to him to
try growing them in Virginia than succeeding in growing them.

Jefferson did not do the physical work of growing his plants, but his garden notes talk about the plantings, the seeds he grew to share on overseas travels and the seeds that he brought back.  The garden was for nourishment and medicinal.  As the head of the estate he was responsible for keeping the people healty that were at Monticello.  The enslaved people had quarters on the property, some included in the main house at the lower level and others that lived closer to the river below.  Often in dry seasons, the household had to purchase food from the enslaved people that lived by the river because the mountain top was so dry in the summer.  Sometimes the wells dried up for years.  There were two long patios that had water containment systems built into them.  
I've had large vegetable gardens, about 125 x 30 feet but this was 1000 x 80 feet. This was part of the mountaintop that
Jefferson had cut away to make this level garden.  Being cut away like this prevented frost from settling in this location and he had a much longer growing season than his neighbors.  A ten foot fence surrounded the garden in lifetime.  They manage deer and the other munchers by have dogs roam the area at night.  But what happens at times is that the dogs and deer become friends.  They plant the gardens with the anticipation of a certain amount of wild creature munching.   

There are remains of the footprints of some of the utilitarian buildings
along the garden edge and some like the nail house have been recreated. 

Footprint of one of the washhouses with a grave in the center.
Jefferson and his family are buried a bit lower on the mountaintop.

Wondering how the garden in Maine is looking, should be onions, garlic and maybe a bit of spinach.
Ready to be home and planting.
The garden was divided into large beds separated by 2-3' wide rows of grass.

Now - something else - the fog on the Blue Ridge.  Wow.  Signs warned us but in the morning, from Waynesboro, the mountains were covered. 

There are mountains behind those clouds. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9,2015 Waynesboro, Virginia... heading North..

The reason for taking photographs - for me - is to share what has caught my eye.

A story in a few words with an images conveys so much information.

Sometimes, I've just seen something I learned about earlier but now have the opportunity to capture an image that brings that idea, item, story, insect, animal, child, human, landscape, flower, whatever it is to life by being able to share it with you. I've seen it, now I want you to as well, so you can learn as well or simply to enjoy the beauty that stopped me along the way.

Traveling today from Durham, NC to Waynesboro, VA along Rt 29 left the NC landscape of tobacco sheds but not red soils.  Spring was in full bloom and moving on in Durham, but just taking hold on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

Old Tobacco shed with new roof and red NC clay soil.

Walking yesterday, the lovely blossoms of a Tulip Tree.

Horses in fields of buttercups.

Maybe, just maybe you can see
the four foot long reddish snake at the left of the photo.

The upper cement block had a black snake
with brown strips far apart and a large lump
in its belly.

How many feet???

Fairly certain this is part of the headwaters of James River.

Restored farming settlement at Humphries Rock
on Blue Ridge Parkway.
Inside of springhouse in settlement.

Just uphill from Springhouse at settlement.

Detail of construction of Root Cellar.

More Root Cellar detail.

Root Cellar with rock dividers inside.

Just a sampling of the split rail fences.

More Root Cellar detail.
Whizzing past the treetops.