Thursday, June 28, 2012

A hot day for a black dog

The forecast for today was temps at 100+*, so early on I packed up Emma and my lunch and headed for the mountains.  It turned out to be an excellent decision.  I wanted to visit some areas I hadn’t been to on my trip to the Great Smoky Mountains last week. 


My destination was the Balsam Mountain Road in the North Carolina portion of the National Park.  Little did I know that it would involve 225 miles of driving, getting lost (once again), and a real adventure on some roads less traveled. IMG_9072Of course, I couldn’t resist stopping for some more stunning views of the Smokies along the way.  Photos just can’t really capture the magnitude and peacefulness of these old mountains that just roll on and on and on.


In order to get to the road I wanted to investigate, I had to slip out of the National Park for a bit and traverse a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Yahoo!  One more thing checked off of my bucket list.


What a great name for this parkway!  This photo is not enhanced at all.  It truly does have a blue hue as the mountains spread out as far as the eye can see.  The Blue Ridge…different than the Rockies, but breathtaking in a different way.

67 On the way to NC 201246

As I came to the border of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park once again, I visited the Mason Marker.

_MG_9098I don’t know much about the Masons, but after reading this sign I could surely appreciate the significance of this marker.  I found it amazing how the different stones came from so many different places.


Emma and I stopped for lunch at a picnic area along the Heintooga Ridge Road.  Unlike our experience on Father’s Day, we had no problem finding a rustic table to enjoy a peaceful repast.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but this National Park does not charge an entrance fee.  There are no gates to go through where you have to pay or produce your senior pass.  First time I’ve run into that.  It seems when the park was formed, it was decided there would be no charge since families had to be removed from their homesteads.  It was felt that there shouldn’t be a charge for these folks to return to visit the graves of their ancestors, so we now all benefit from that decision.  I’m sure many of the people that had lived in these mountains when Great Smoky Mountain National Park and The Blue Ridge Parkway were formed resented having to abandon their homes.  I’m happy to visit here, but sad for the families that were uprooted to provide these treasured places.

IMG_9121 _MG_9132

Now to the highlight of the morning on this glorious day.  As Emma and I were coming down the trail from the picnic area, a bird flushed in front of us.  I recognized it as a dark-eyed junco, and had a feeling that I might find a nest nearby.  Sure enough, I found three eggs in a little nest on the ground tucked into the side of the trail.  I took a quick shot and we continued on our way to the car.  Later, I returned, without Emma, to find mama junco back incubating the eggs.  How cool is that?

_MG_9138Unless you know what you’re looking for, you’d never see this well camouflaged nest.  Mama junco is sitting on the nest just to the right and a little bit down of center.  Can you find her?

This afternoon held more adventures, but I’ll save that for tomorrow since this post is long enough.  It was 101* when we got back to the rig at 6:30 tonight.  Thank goodness the pool was open tonight so I could cool off!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy