Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Days in the Mountains

We have had a busy few days. I finally got to see the start of a little color when we went to the Welcome Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. They have a wonderful 25 minute film that tells about the development of the Parkway. The Welcome Center is fairly new and very eco friendly. It has native plants and grasses growing on its roof.

Janice has been an awesome tour guide and has done almost all the driving so that I could enjoy the scenery. Just a short distance from the Welcome Center, is the Folk Art Center. This place showcases local artisans. A couple of people were demonstrating their craft while we were there. One was making baskets and the other carving flutes. They do not allow any photography inside the building, so you will just have to take a trip to see the beautiful crafts made by these talented people.

It was wonderful to get together with my friends Barb and Jim. It was also great that Judy and Dennis, who also live in NC, were not traveling and were able to come for the visit also. It was such fun to see everybody again. We are all winter neighbors and friends in Olde Mill Stream. I am so looking forward to when we are all back at our winter digs. Maggie enjoyed her visit with her playmate, Cody.

Barbara and Judy

Dennis and Jim

Today we took a ride to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. Chimney Rock was the film site for the movie the Last of the Mohicans. Lake Lure was the movie site for Dirty Dancing. Normally you can take an elevator to the top of Chimney rock, but Janice read that it was being repaired. I declined to hike up to it and instead, checked out the shops in the little town

I thought this bench was cool.

We stopped at a farm stand and bought the best fresh corn on the cob and grape tomatoes. It is beginning to look like autumn

Loved this critter.

Until next time ...................

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blue Ridge Parkway


Yesterday we took a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was warm and clear. We headed West toward Pisgah National Forest. The mountains seem to go on for ever. I was hoping to see a little color, the higher we went, but it is still to early. We did see this tree with bright orange berries but I don't know what it is named. If anybody knows, please comment.

The berries almost looked like miniture tomatoes, but very orange. I have not seen, what I used to call "Black Eyed Susans" in FL so I could not resist taking a picture.

More pictures of the mountains

On the way back down, we stopped at a Fish Hatchery and Nature center. They breed trout. They also have a very nice nature exhibit with plants to attract butterflies.

Looking glass falls is one of the best waterfalls I have seen.

Lastly we stopped at Sliding Rock. The river has polished the rocks smooth and the current will slide you along on your bottom. I remember going down this about 20 years ago and the water was darn cold even in Aug.

The bee had climbed almost all the way into this flower. Cool.

Until next time....................

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waterfalls in the forest

I really gave myself a workout today. We went to Dupont State Forest and took two separate trails to see the falls. The first trail was quite easy to Hooker Falls. The water falls eleven feet into Cascade Lake. It is about 1 mile round trip. Feeling pretty confident, we crossed the road and started the trail up to Triple Falls. This trail is considerably steeper with a dirt and gravel surface. Ever since I fell on gravel, I am not a fan of that surface, however, I wanted to see the falls. The first part of the trail is not too bad, but then you look up and I mean up the trail. Once you manage to get to the top, with much huffing and puffing, you find you now have to go down 112 steps to the falls. Lucky for me, they have benches at a few places on the way down. It is beautiful once you get there, and well worth the effort. The only bad part is you can't stay there forever, you must climb those 112 steps and then go down that treacherous trail to the base. I very carefully made it back down in one piece. Hope you enjoy the pictures.









After leaving Dupont, Janice remembered another place she had taken her students years ago. The Holmes Educational State Forest has "talking trees". We took another wooded trail up (is there any flat land in NC?) They have posts along the way with speakers that tell you about the tree, its leaves, growth patterns and uses. This trail was only a half mile and beautifully cool in the shade of the trees. Of course, that trail also went up, but no gravel, just tree roots.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tribute to Teacher's Everywhere

I have to divert from my usual "travel" blog to tell you about my last few days. Let me tell you the last couple of days have been real eye openers.

I have a new appreciation for elementary school teachers in particular, but also teachers everywhere. I guess I never thought about how all those beautiful and creative school rooms came into being.

My cousin Janice, who is a former teacher, and I have been helping 2 of her friends set up their rooms for the start of school next week.

First we helped Debbie who is a terrific 1st grade teacher. She is so organized. Janice made sets of sticky labels for each of the children as well as other useful labels to save teacher time writing them out. For this age group, she uses a system of numbering everything the kids use. Each child gets a specific number so that when an item is misplaced, the number gets the item back to the right child. I numbered all kinds of things, from pencils and markers to Halloween type rubber finger tips, which are used by the children to read each word individually. You have no idea of how much money she spends on her classroom. She bought so many interesting and creative things to help the children learn. Debbie is so animated when she talks to children. I bet the kids love story time in her room. Teachers are just amazing people.

Yesterday we spent the day helping set up Laurie's forth grade class. She is new to this school, so the job is even more daunting. Walking down the school halls, it looks like moving day. There are so many empty boxes in the halls.

Each room has 3 large bulletin boards and a 10 foot long one in the hall. Each one is covered and set up using the teacher's creativity to incorporate learning in interesting ways. Laurie created one of the bulletin boards as "All about Me". Eventually, it will contain something about each of the children, but she started it with things about herself. The kids will love it. She even has her baby picture on it.

The school does supply large rolls of colored paper to cover the bulletin boards, but I noticed that many of the teachers supply their own coverings to complement the theme of their board. Many use fabric. They are a very dedicated bunch of people.

I helped put the children's names on a multitude of things. By the time I was finished, I knew every child's name in the class. Every child gets a take home bag the first day of school with all the information parents need.

Janice used her organizational skills to arrange and label all the supplies, which was no small job. The paperwork for teachers is, in my opinion, obscene.

I guess there have been a lot of budget cuts since I had kids in school, No more school nurses. Now, teachers are expected to test the blood of diabetic children and administer insulin, if needed. That is a tremendous responsibility for them and in my humble opinion, should not be their job. I always believed that teachers were there to teach, not be nannies or nurses. Their job is too important to be diluted by other tasks.

So here is a big THANK YOU to all teachers everywhere.

Until next time..................

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Visit to Historic Hendersonville NC

Yesterday we took a leisurely stroll through historic downtown Hendersonville, NC. This is not the first town I have been to where local artists decorate a particular statue. In Stuart Fl. it is turtles, in Cheyene WY, it was cowboy boots, and in Custer SD it was buffalo. Well in Hendersonville NC, they do Bears. Here are a few samples, Yankee ball player, doctor, and fisherman.

Mast General Store has been there since 1883. They have the old wood floors that creak when you walk on them. They sell everything from soup to nuts. You can buy the old fashioned candy out of barrels. Of course, I found a blouse on sale that was perfect.

From there, we drove to Carl Sandburg's home. It is called Connemara. It is set on a hill overlooking a beautiful pond. I bet it is even more beautiful when the leaves change in the fall.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I am vacationing at my cousin Janice's house in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. The weather has been a relief from the Florida summer temperatures. Maggie is loving her walks. She greets every dog she sees in this neighborhood.

Today we went to the Arboretum. Janice has lived in this area for 47 years and had never been.

Here she is in front of the Education Building.

They have a special Bonsai collection which we learned, can be any woody plant grown in a special way.

Notice the shallow containers. You would think the plants would be so root bound that they would just die. We learned that they remove the plant, trim out the root system, and then replant it in the same size container. This allows the trees to stay small and healthy.

You may also be able to see the wire used as a training devise to manipulate the shape of the plant. The wire is only left in place as long as it does not constrict the plant growth, but by then the plant has already started to take the new shape. This can take a month or even as long as a year. It depends upon which plant is being trained.

In another area, they have the quilt garden. Here, plantings are done to mimic the patterns of a quilt.

These are just a few of my favorite flower pictures.

We also stopped at the Farmer's Market. Not only do they have fruits and vegetables, but they also have many crafts from the region. We bought a loaf of Apple Bread like the kind we bought in Amish Country a few years ago. YUM!

Until next time......