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.
School may already be in session here in Charlotte, but for me growing up the unofficial end of summer Vacation was Labor Day weekend. The Tuesday and Wednesday after was reserved for back to school preparation, and on Thursday we were back in class. When I spotted this butterfly on the trail in my neighborhood I though it was an appropriate omen for the changing of the seasons. Seeing it crumpled on the ground like a fallen leaf, being consumed by a wasp definitely called forth the feeling that a darker season filled with cooling air, longer shadows, and Halloween was just around the corner.
Usually when the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens hosts a special exhibit, visitors can expect to find something extra peaking out from all the greenery, like the Chinese Latern show I attended in 2017. But on my most recent visit I found myself in a small events room, surrounded by small folding tables. Lined up on each one were delicate, twisting bonsai trees cultivated by local gardeners. Each one came with a small card showing the type of tree, and how long it’s been “trained” by it’s owner. Training is the process of shaping the bonsai tree, primarily by pruning and then wrapping the branches in wire until they set in the desired shape. If you look closely, you can see wire wrapping some of the trees in my photo’s below. Some of the trees (like the one shown above) have been painstakingly cultivated for 30 years. I’m sure any writer with their own WIP can relate to the dedication and patience that would require! Hades Cypress, 20 years old, trained 15 years Crepe Murtle, 4 years old, trained one month …
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.
I heard the eerie sound of the broken receiver creaking in the breeze before I noticed this faded relic.
Every month I post a list of events to look forward to; offbeat holidays, astronomy events, new movies, TV show, and book releases. My favorite item to research are the astronomy events. I’m always looking for something anyone can spot with the naked eye, no special equipment needed. I do look for the astronomy events that I list, and even manage to capture a few with my camera phone. One of my best shots is from last spring, a crescent moon aligned with Venus. I also caught a glimpse of earthshine, sunlight that is reflected off the earth onto the dark side of the moon, slightly illuminating it. You have the chance to see it any time the moon is in a crescent phase, but the best months to spot it are April and May. Although I didn’t quite capture it last night, I realized I had another photo where I did last winter, without even knowing quite what I was capturing. This is why I enjoy writing the Strange Events segment so much each …
Every time I walk by this section of fence that’s been swallowed by two trees, I feel like there’s a story there. I just have to put it into words.
I caught sight of the moon outside the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, and it instantly made me long for fall and the Halloween season. The light cloud clover and bats flitting around gave the early evening a foggy, eerie atmosphere.
Originally posted on The Photographer Roamed the Streets…:
Dordrechts Museum (Dordrecht, Netherlands)
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 …