As soon as I stepped off the cruise ship and walked down the gangway onto land, Icy Straight Point took my breath away. It was the first of four stops in a 7 day cruise, and also the most unspoiled.
My sister and I both have long lists of places to visit saved on Pinterest, and in 2016 we resolved to start visiting some of the local spots we had saved. One of those was the rhododendron tunnel in Craggy Gardens, located north of Asheville in the Smokey Mountains. If you’re local to the area, I highly recommend visiting. Take the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to the Craggy Gardens visitors center. There are several trails to explore, but if you take the The Craggy Garden Trail, you will pass though a rhododendron tunnel exotic enough to belong in a tropical destination. We were so exited to see it that we forgot that the trail would actually lead somewhere, in this case to fantastic views of the surrounding Smokey Mountains. Since the Craggy Gardens area is higher in elevation the weather can change quickly, so come prepared. During my visit it went from light rain to fog, before the sun finally broke through.
My husband traveled back to our home state of Massachusetts to visit family last week. While he was up there he visited some of our favorite haunts, one of which is the wildlife refuge that we used to live a few minutes away from in Taunton, Ma. I was pleasantly surprised when he sent me a few snapshots of his visit while he was still away. Formally named the Gertrude M. Borden Wildlife Refuge, but known to locals as “the bird sanctuary,” it is a quiet park with trails and a boardwalk along the river. It was the perfect place for summertime strolls and appreciating the local fall foliage, even if at times it felt like it wasn’t being as well maintained as it should have been. My husband’s pictures show it on the edge of autumn, when the days are still warm but a chill creeps into the air after sunset.
Before the California Gold Rush, North Carolina was the place people flocked with hopes and wishes of striking it rich. Reed Gold Mine was developed after one such discovery made by a farmer’s son on their property. A visit to the mine includes a small exibit detailing the history of the gold rush in North Carolina, and a chronology of gold culture. After moving through the exibit visitors then move to a self guided tour of the mine itself and the surrounding property. Some points of interest include the engine shaft, Chilean mill stones, and a quartz vein.
I always have a great time documenting my weekend adventures, but some of my most interesting photos are captured either going to or coming from work. Something about the quiet early mornings and occasional late nights lend themselves to spotting all kinds of interesting things that serve as writing inspiration. I’ve spotted towering thunderclouds, tiny snails, Venus aligning with the Moon, unexpected commuters, and blazing sunsets. I find you can notice all kinds of strange and unusual sights when you’re looking for them, even in ordinary places.
Located in Uptown Charlotte, NC, the Bechtler Museum is housed in a stunning terra-cotta building designed by Mario Botta, a renowned Swiss architect. The impressive architecture serves as an additional exibit to the works held inside. A vaulted skylight and glass atrium in the center of the museum spread natural light throughout the exhibits. Once visitors are greeted by the Firebird sculpture, designed by Niki de Saint Phalle outside and pass through the museum’s courtyard, they are able to to peruse the personal art collection of the Bechtler family, which was formerly housed in their home in Switzerland. Amassed over a 70 year span by Hans and Bessie Bechtler, the collection was brought to Charlotte by their son Andreas, giving the collection the security of a permanent home. The collection contains mid 20th century modern art pieces, and mixed among these are personal letters, photographs and cards that show the personal relationship that the family has with many of the artists who’s works are on display. The art is stunning, but it’s the cards, letters, …
When I was growing up, my family spent many summers hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I grew up relishing the accomplishment of making it to the summit of a mountain and taking in the view from the top. Some of my favorite hikes passed by rushing waterfalls or intersected with small streams. Having to strategically crossing a stream successfully always made the hike feel more adventurous. When I moved to North Carolina five years ago, I traded the White Mountains for the Greak Smokey Mountains, which sprawl between North Carolina and Tennessee. Thanks to the North Carolina gold rush, you can explore caverns and abandoned mines within some of the mountains in addition to hiking to the top. Cavern and waterfall hikes are the perfect pairing for a day trip, especially if you add in a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs though North Carolina. Located in the Pisgah National Forest near Marion, NC, the Linville Caverns are submerged within Humpback Mountain. Open to visitors since 1937, they were …
A few years ago I experienced a stressful phase in my life. To cope, every time I was in a serene, calming place, I would take a quick video at least ten seconds long, to watch later if I was feeling down. It became a habit, and I’m still taking them. I found a few of my favorite summer videos to celebrate the start of the season. Myrtle Beach, just after sunset. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, Memorial Day Weekend A thunderstorm in my own backyard
Originally built in 1935, Charlotte’s Fire Station Number 7 is the oldest fire station standing in Charlotte. Built with a storefront style facade in order to blend in with existing buildings, it was also designed with two jail cells due to the unsavory nature of the NoDa neighborhood it is located in at the time it was built. The station is still active, and because of its smaller size every fire truck in Charlotte has to be specially made in order to fit through the doors. The jail cells however, are used by firemen to watch TV.
These 22 by 7 foot wings are part of a project by artist Maria Velas Campangna to beatify the entry of the downtown area of Mooresville, NC. Inspired by lines from an Erin Hanson poem, “‘What if I fall?’ ‘Oh but my darling what if you fly?’” the wings on the side of this brick building were just a start. She has since added even more sets of wings to this wall and other buildings in Mooresville. Campangna started the hashtag #wingwallmooresville so visitors could share their photos with the wings.