To the Mountains!


It was time again, to go explore and get lost in the mountains. We left work early on a Friday afternoon and the weekend was packed with adventures. 

Barely an hour down the interstate and the Blue Ridge mountains suddenly appear straight ahead.


I had picked out a new trail to hike this time, one that leads to the top of one of the mountain ridges. I recognize the mountain peak as we drive down the interstate. The one to the right in this picture. 

 It’s higher than I expected. 
It’s going to be a really big hike.


Highway 80 is the curviest road I’ve ever been on. It goes straight up the side of the mountain, with steep drops straight down.



It was perfect timing for the tree’s best autumn colors. We headed down the Blue Ridge Parkway to one of our favorite stops, Craggy Gardens. 



We ventured through the craggy trees to the top of the little mountain, as the sun began to go down. 

But we didn’t stay for the sunset because it became too crowded with people taking selfies.


We were tired and hungry by the time we got back to the motel, so we walked in the cold night air up the road to a little German restaurant, where  we ate a bunch of hearty junk. 

I ate spaetzle for the first time. Also some breaded warm cheese bites. Wow. 


After dinner I sat out in the cold and took pictures of the sky. 


The next morning, I drove for the first time, on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

It was a bit fun, and a bit scary. I screamed a lot. 


I drove us past an apple orchard to the town of Little Switzerland where we explored an old bookstore.  

The next stop was the BIG HIKE.



We turned down smaller and smaller roads, until we eventually came to a narrow dirt road that led to the hiking trail. We ventured down the path, which got steeper and steeper the further we went. 

Soon we were climbing over boulders, nearly straight up. I wondered if the big hike was a bad idea.


After an hour we made it to the top. We could see for miles.

The big hike was NOT a bad idea!


After being way up in the clouds, it seemed like a good idea to go way deep underground.

 In a cave.


That night we drove along the parkway at night, stopping at overlooks to take pictures, while I freaked out at what could be lurking in the dark.


On the final morning of our mountain adventure, we watched the sunrise before traveling up the parkway to see what else we could find before returning home.


Our adventures led us to Linville falls, a place we had been to a few times already, but this time we decided to hike a different trail, one that was less busy. 


Back on the road, we ended up finding another trail that winds around under the parkway and around some huge rocks. The trail was very long but we didn’t have time to walk the entire length. It will be first on the list next time.


I started reminiscing about this trip as soon as we returned back home. The memories are so ingrained in my mind.

I don’t think it will be long before we return to explore the Blue Ridge mountains once again. 



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Eclipse on Sand Dollar Island


Years and years ago, I decided I wanted to see a solar eclipse so I looked it up and saw one would be coming my way in just a few years. Luckily the path of totality was just a few hours away from where I live. Exciting!!!



Well. I forgot all about until about a month ago when I got an email at work about an eclipse viewing party on the roof of the building I work in. At first I was excited, but then disappointed because I had forgotten about it and didn’t make plans to travel to the totality path. But then I realized it would happen during our annual beach trip so we thought about driving a few hours south to the edge of the totality line.. Unfortunately a rainstorm ruined those plans so we decided to stay put, and head to Sand Dollar Island and hope for the best.


It was a dark Monday, rain clouds were surrounding the area and as we boarded the ferry, it began to rain. The ferry driver commented that he was sending us out to a sand bar in the middle of the sea, in a rainstorm during an eclipse. Which made me pretty darn excited.


When we got to the island, we had left the clouds behind on the mainland and the sun finally appeared! I wandered around and found a few sand dollars, then the moon began to move in front of the sun..





Being unprepared for this event that I had been so excited to witness, I didn’t think to buy any special filters for my camera for photographing the eclipse. 

These two pictures were taken when the sun was 97% covered by the moon. With my NASA approved Eclipse glasses on, only a tiny slice of the sun was visible. But the sun was so bright that even with my camera’s fastest shutter speed, and the highest aperture, it still was too bright to capture!


This was a picture I took with my phone through my glasses.


The strangest thing to me was that even though the sun was mostly covered, it was barely even dark out. But the lighting was quite strange. It looked like I was wearing sunglasses when I wasn’t.





I was a very cool experience to be at one of my favorite places during a solar eclipse. It worked out for the better that I forgot about the eclipse, because if we had planned on traveling the path of totality, we wouldn’t have been able to see it because of the rain.

One day I want to see a total solar eclipse. The next one is just a few years away in South America. Sounds like a good excuse for an exciting vacation!

Beach Adventures

One final walk along the shore on the last day at the beach a year ago. We drove up to the end of the island to reach a less traveled beach where we raced across the long stretch of blistering hot sand to get to the water.
This part of the beach faces the shipping port, where all sorts of tugboats and ships can be seen cruising back and forth all day. 

There were many intriguing things to be found on this less traveled beach.
Including a polka dot moth!!
Further up along the beach was an interesting rock formation. I’m not sure why it’s there or what it’s for, but it was an unusual sight to see.

Around the base of the rock formation was a trove of tiny shells. I tried to collect them but the waves got me!

Central Park

While in New York City for a few days last December, a visit to Central Park was something to check off our to do list. I hadn’t given the park much thought before visiting, but when we got there, it was a bit of a strange experience to stand someplace that has been so popular in countless TV shows and movies. It was hard to believe I was actually there. 


One moment you are making your way through streets lined with skyscrapers so tall they block out the sun, while dodging mobs of people and crazy taxis. The next moment, you find yourself surrounded by trees and nature and feel like you have been instantly transported into another universe. 


But before you can forget where you are, a quick glance up towards the sky, and the sunlight you forgot existed, reveals all the huge buildings towering up over the tree tops. It is a surreal sight. 




My pictures may give a false illusion that the park was quite secluded, when really it was quite the opposite!  People were everywhere of course! 

I found myself being very impressed with central park. The woodland landscape against the biggest buildings I have ever seen was a very picturesque sight. 

We wandered around the park for a while, ate a pretzel from a street cart, took in the sights, and then got stopped by a man dressed as a monk who put bracelets on our wrists before we knew what was happening then tried to make us pay $20 each for them. We gave him one $5 and ran away. All in all, a pretty successful walk in Central Park.

Statue of Liberty

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On our trip to New York City, we rode the Staten Island Ferry, which goes right past the Statue of Liberty. We decided not to visit the statue itself due to long lines and limited space viable to actually climb it. Plus, you have a much better view of it when you ride the Staten Island Ferry!

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This happened to be the coldest day of our December trip. The temperature never rose above freezing, and out on the windy water it was extremely frigid. It had snowed for a short time earlier in the day, and he lingering snow clouds made for a dramatic backdrop to the Statue of Liberty.

Skyscrapers of Glass

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I traveled to Houston for the first time to visit my Aunt and my Grandma, who both moved there some time ago. I love traveling to new places, and I especially love big cities so I was definitely looking forward to exploring downtown Houston during my visit. I didn’t really know anything at all about this city, so I had no idea what to expect when I traveled there.

(Except I recognized the brown pointy Bank of America building from the Sim City game I played years ago!)

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I soon came to discover that Houston is a sprawling metropolis made up of gigantic interstates and new buildings being built all the time. Although Houston had a rather large downtown, the city was very spread out and not just centered around the downtown area.  Just about anywhere you drove, you were not far from places to eat or from large shopping centers. There is just so much “stuff” in Houston. It is also the fourth biggest city in the US, which I had no idea of until I traveled there.

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We drove around downtown on a Saturday afternoon and I took pictures through the windshield of my Aunt’s car as we ventured past all the glass skyscrapers, towering over the street. The city felt very new and shiny. It also felt very quiet. Surprisingly there were not many people walking around, and there were very few cars on the street, which I can only guess was because there are so many interesting things to do throughout the entire city, and not just downtown.

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The glass on the buildings reflected the blue sky, and the palm trees scattered around made for a very bright and tropical feeling city. It was definitely different than other cities I had been to. (Also the stoplights are turned the wrong way??!!!)

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Visiting Houston and seeing palm trees and big blue skies, made me want to travel father west. I wonder what the next new city I visit will be….

In the Sky

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I have flown on a plane six times in the last half year. Before that the last time I flew was when I was four. I find the whole process of flying absolutely astounding.  (And a bit scary! )

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The last plane trip a week ago was to Houston Texas with my Mom, Sister and Husband to visit my Aunt and Grandma. I’d never been to Texas before, or even that far west.

This was my longest plane ride, and also the first time I’ve flown on a clear day. Both times going to New York it was dark and cloudy which made for a boring view out the window. So I was very excited this time, to look down on the earth from way above.

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I stared out the window and snapped pictures for the entirety of the 2.5 hour trip. I am amazed to be able to view the earth from this level. I imagined all the towns, and homes we were passing over. Places I may visit one day, but mainly places that I will never see from the ground.

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When I got home I compared these pictures to the satellite view on google maps, to try and figure out what I flew over. This ended up being somewhere over Georgia.

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Even when we were up at 38,000 ft, I could still just barely see cars on the highways. They looked like specs of dust! It was very surreal.

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Another one of my favorite things is seeing other planes in the sky!

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I am guessing that’s the Mississippi river..

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My first glimpse of Houston!

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The plane journey to Texas was by far the best ride yet. Even if I was so freaked during takeoff I couldn’t look out the window while I attempted to record a timelapse. I spent so many years afraid to ever ride in a plane, and it still does scare me, but I also think it’s incredible so I always find myself dreaming of where I will fly to next.