Tuesday, July 26, 2016

bass lake, blowing rock nc

We're having a heck of a heat-wave this week, so I'm getting a little bit of relief by gazing through photos of our recent visit to the mountains.
Triple digits here and how I long for the breezy, cooler mountain air!
 Moses Cone Manor sits up high on the Blue Ridge Parkway
and from the porch you can spy Bass Lake down below.
We often will hike the carriage road trail between the manor and the lake.
A nicely strenuous trek through dense forest, also enjoyed by people on horseback.

 Then down to the lake itself where the paths are shared with other hikers, joggers, dog-walkers and of course, more horses. It's not unusual to see kids fishing (it's called Bass Lake, after all) and on this day, one resourceful woman was napping in a hammock set up lake-side. So peaceful.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

off to the blue ridge parkway

It was a rare free weekend for us and the temperatures in the Piedmont were nearing triple digits. An escape to the mountains was in order, not only to escape the heat but for a much needed change and long-awaited return to this place that is so special to us.
The day began with a bit of rain but that didn't stop or disappoint us. We headed to our very favorite breakfast place to wait out the showers. After all, it rains a bit every day here - which is why everything stays so lush. We knew this would pass.
 I have no idea what these flowers are,
but if "goose-head" isn't in the name then it ought to be!

These little guys were everywhere and they particularly loved my purple sandals.

Peace and quiet. Just what we needed today.

Monday, July 18, 2016

meat camp creek environmental studies area

Not too far outside of Boone is the community of Meat Camp and hidden off one of the winding roads is a privately owned, 9.5 acre wetland that's an amazing birding area. The owners allow visitors to wander the dense fen and have created boardwalks for crossing through the particularly marshy areas and maintain trimmed grass paths for strolling a 1 mile trail. The brush is allowed to develop naturally so gets quite tall (dwarfing me!) but hikers are able to see Meat Camp Creek which runs through both sides, and an active beaver pond too. If you go, bring binoculars because over 130 species of birds have been recorded here, but don't get frustrated if the brush is too thick for good spotting.
The bird song symphony is awesome.
 Because the growth was so thick while we were there I didn't get photos of the birds we spotted, but we really enjoyed their song while we patiently waited for viewing opportunities  Easily seen though, was a really
nice variety of wildflowers and other blooming & berry-heavy plants.

Once you get through the marsh path you're led to a low, flat field and a fence line that eventually leads back to the small parking spot. Horses, cows and open-field birds enjoy this area. Having recently seen intriguing videos of cows responding to musicians who stopped along the side of the field to perform, Dave was inspired to give this a test. Do cows really respond to music? He sang them a few songs. And did they like it?
Why yes, yes they did...especially these three!

Want to go? Directions and list of spotted birds here.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Every museum has it's own collection, it's own vision, and curators design exhibits based on their own personally chosen themes. As we walked through the quiet halls at the Ackland in Chapel Hill, I realized that there were heads everywhere. We visit a lot of museums and I don't really recall any other gallery quite so rich with so many fascinating faces. Heads, from a wide range of time periods and from so many different corners of the world. Who knew?

Friday, July 8, 2016

burk uzzle at the ackland

Dave and I completed our Burk Uzzle exhibit hat-trick with a visit to our final destination: The Ackland Museum in Chapel Hill. The intriguing thing about this trio of exhibits is that The Ackland, The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and The Nasher Museum in Durham all collaborated to showcase Uzzle's great photographs while at the same time presenting different themes/programs/subjects at each site.
One of our favorites at the Ackland (and there were many!) was this emotional piece that Uzzle captured while photographing Martin Luther King's funeral
and the scene surrounding that event.
Still relevant after all these years, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

walking the occoneechee speedway trail

The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail (HOST) is located on a site in Hillsborough, NC, whose history dates to the 17th century, when the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation resided here along the banks of the Eno River.
In the late 1700’s, James Hogg, along with many other families, settled here and farmed the fertile land. Hogg’s 3-home plantation was named Poplar Hill. In the 1890’s, General Julian Carr purchased Poplar Hill and the surrounding land and expanded the farm to include a horse racetrack.
Tall trees line the old dirt straight-away.

In 1947, Bill France discovered the racetrack as he flew over Orange County. France partnered with 4 other men to form Hillsboro Speedway, purchase of the 200-acre parcel that included the racetrack in order to develop it for use as an auto racetrack - the Occoneechee Speedway.
In 1949, NASCAR hosted their first race on the 1-mile dirt track - a 100-mile race with over 20,000 fans in attendance. Interesting fact: NASCAR and automobile racing in the South originated in the early 1900’s as informal competitions among bootleggers who modified their vehicles for speed and handling in rural landscapes.
Dave takes the turn.

The track hosted many races, local athletic games, and community events over the next 20 years until 1968, when the opening of the Talladega track in Alabama took the place of the Speedway. The final NASCAR race at the track, “The Hillsboro 150”, took place on September 15, 1968, with Richard Petty as the winner.
The old cement grandstand remains, along with the concession stand decorated with Pepsi signage.

By 1969, racing had fallen out of political favor in the area and with the Speedway out of use, nature began to reclaim the land.

In the early 1980’s, this property was threatened as a proposed location for a bypass intended to redirect traffic congestion in the area. The Preservation Fund of Hillsborough, Preservation North Carolina, and the James M Johnston Charitable Trust, along with Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, worked together to preserve the natural and historic integrity of the Speedway property and surrounding land.
This skink makes his home inside the shell of car #72.

In 1997, CAHPT took ownership of the HOST property and in 2002 this site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2006 local racing enthusiasts formed the Historic Speedway Group to help in restoring and maintaining the site. In 2011, CAHPT joined with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail to connect HOST to the statewide trail system. The HOST is the only dirt track speedway remaining from NASCAR’s inaugural season.
(The information and text on this post was collected from site placards. The photos are all mine.)

Monday, June 27, 2016

a perfect intersection of art & nature

Saturday morning seemed a perfect time to enjoy a stroll around the grounds of the
NC Museum of Art in Raleigh. We explored the trails that wound their way through the
160 acres of woods, fields and streams that have been set aside 
for enormous outdoor art installations, classic movie nights and musical events.
The temperatures had dropped that morning, thankfully, so off we went to join other walkers, runners and cyclists who also took advantage of the break in the recent oppressive heat.
 Peeking through the cattails, I spied a Great Blue Heron on the far edge of the pond.
 Dave thoroughly enjoyed the art out here, don't you think?
At one point, a huge hawk swooped past us...
 ...zeroing in on some prize on the ground ahead. Such speed. Got it!

 This has to be the tiniest frog I've ever seen.
Notice the pine needle above it for scale. Perfect camouflage too!
Silvery tree installation reaching for a blue-grey sky. So pretty...
...but I think the birds prefer the real thing. I don't blame them!
More info on the NCMA can be found here.