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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

rainy days

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said "The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." Rainy days tend to get me down, but every once in a while, I'll pick up my camera and those wet, gloomy days suddenly become an adventure. 
"Something wicked this way comes"
In this case, we headed for the big front porch and watched the storm form in front of us.

 And we watched it move across the valley from left to right,
leaving rising moisture fog in it's wake.
 It can be mesmerizing to watch the patterns that rain drops make in inky, dark puddles.
Watching a heavy rain run down on the other side of a glass window produces
an ever-changing piece of fine abstract art.
 But not everyone dislikes rainy days...

...and if you're really lucky, there's a gift waiting for you at the end of the storm.

Friday, June 17, 2016

sunday morning thistles

Traveling down this country road, these pink thistles caught my eye.
Big pink bulbous flowers atop tall stalks, intermingled with bright blue cornflowers,
a really pretty weekend morning find.

 Reaching up high towards the sky.
 They seemed to be bird watching.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


95 year old John meets his great-granddaughter for the first time.
So intent, he moved forward in his chair, so quickly, gently, quietly.
It was a real heart-tugging moment and I'm so glad that I was there for it.
Four generations... Smiles all around!
And on the other side of the family, another introduction, this time to great-grandmother.
Four generations.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

musica 6/2/16

A relaxing evening at American Tobacco Campus, Durham NC. Back Porch Music on the Lawn, sponsored by UNC Public Radio. The bands, the crowd, it was a great way to end the workday and a perfect evening for a picnic under the stars.