Tuesday, July 28, 2015

White Water Lily, Garden Conservatory

Beautiful White Water Lilies were blooming everywhere throughout the Garden Conservatory and Cascades at Opryland Hotel yesterday. Something I didn't realize, the White Water Lily also goes by the name of Fragrant Water Lily, as it has a fragrant scent. Although I would imagine for the average individual it might be hard to smell that scent what with the Lily being too far away in the water to get a sniff. I love the large Lily Pads.

There are several atriums at Opryland Hotel, the Magnolia South, the Garden Conservatory, the Cascades and the Delta Islands. There is also a large Exhibition Hall and an Event Center. And did I mention the ginormous number of guest rooms the hotel offers. I want to stay in one, but we are talking a twenty drive from my place so I guess that won't be happening anytime soon. This being my initial visit I counted on a great deal of walking. Boy was that an understatement. Knowing I wanted to see most of the atriums or canopies as they call them, I got to every one except the Magnolia South. Got to see that one soon. Every canopy had steps going up and down eveywhere and escalators and elevators and walkways galore. Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to visit.

When you feel you have the best perspective in any one of the canopies, walk across to the opposite side and you will see a better one. I need to go back soon because they just started putting up decorations for the holidays. Did I mention the Rockettes have a show during the Holiday. I may have to see that. The decorations, I am told, are stunning. Have to see those too. I loved the way there were shops all around the Delta Islands and restaurants in or near all of the canopies. I ate lunch at Solara Cantina Mexican Restaurant. It was really scrumptous. Back soon. ENJOY!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Thai Orchid, Garden Conservatory

A gorgeous Thai Orchid was only one of many species of exotic flowers I discovered this afternoon as I walked around the Garden Conservatory at Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

Walking throughout the various atriums that make up Gaylord Opryland Hotel, I discovered a world of exotic flowers, plants and trees mixed in with a winding river, various waterfalls and ponds, as well as shops, restaurants, and of course, the hotel itself. What a fantastic place to visit on an extremely heat laden Sunday afternoon. The heat index was near 100 today and has been for the past few weeks. I know we haven't even made it to August yet, but I surely could use a few Fall 'feeling' kind of days right about now. Back soon. ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In and Around Nashville

Let's take a peek back at the many places I have traveled 'In and Around' the Nashville area this past Spring and Summer.

1. White Tailed Deer, Long Hunter State Park, Hermitage, Spring
2. Sailboats, Percy Priest Lake, Hermitage, Spring
3. Great White Egret, Cross Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Dover, Summer
4. Edgar Evans Mill, Smithville, Summer
5. Belle Meade Plantation, Nashville, Spring
6. Wood Duck Pair, Murfree Spring Wetlands, Murfreesboro, Summer
7. Ox Eye Sunflower, Bison Meadow, Nashville, Summer
8. Rare Tennessee Purple Coneflower, Couchville Cedar Glade, Hermitage, Summer
9. Great White Egret, Old Hickory Lake, Hendersonville
10. White Narcissus, Daffodils, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, Nashville, Spring

I enjoy reading all of your kind notes you leave me in the COMMENTS section of each post. I hope you will leave me a note as to where you have been so far in 2015. ENJOY!

Linking to Saturday Critters and Our World Tuesday

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Maximilian Sunflower, Bison Meadow

In the middle of a suburban neighborhood just south of Nashville, sits a two and a half acre plot of land known as The Bison Meadow. This meadow was set aside and preserved for its historical importance by a Tennessee Bicentennial Project back in 1994. The Bison Meadow is a terminal branch of the Old Natchez Trace. This 'old Indian path' was followed not only by Indians and pioneers, but also by buffalo, elk and other large animals who crossed through on their way to a salt lick near the Cumberland River.

The meadow has a variety of tall grasses, shrubs and a much wider variety of wildflowers that grow throughout the year. There is a path carved through the meadow. However, I only managed about a ten minute walk on it before I surrendered to my car. The heat index is unbearable. I did snap several images, one of which was of this Maximilian Sunflower. The Maximilian Sunflowers were plentiful throughout the entire meadow and were growing at heights of at least ten feet or higher. I cannot wait for the heat to break so I can spend more time outdoors. I hope your weather is better wherever you are. I have thought often of the Chattanooga terrorism victims who lost their lives this past week, as well as their families. Chattanooga is a little over a hundred miles south of Nashville. The terrorist worked in Franklin which is a town just south of Nashville and one I often frequent. God can only make sense of these terrorist attacks. I know I cannot. ENJOY!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Forgotten Fences

Walking among the wildflowers in the cedar glade, I turned to discover this old fence post standing alone off in the distance and wondered just what purpose it had served in another lifetime.

A few of the species I identified from my walk in Couchville Cedar Glade included Yellow Coneflowers, Tennessee Coneflowers, Daisy Fleabane and Roseroot, as well as many others. ENJOY!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bee in My Bonnet, Bug in My Plant

I captured this beautiful Queen Anne's Lace with accompanying 'hanger on' at Couchville Cedar Glade. Have a fantastic weekend all. I hope to get outdoors at some point, albeit it is going to be 95 degrees this weekend, with the heat index in the 100's, with the only relief being the occasional thunderstorm. ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Water Photography, Tremont, GSMNP

Beautiful tiny waterfalls can be found all up and down the gravel road that leads back into the Tremont section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just east of the Townsend exit. All one has to do to find these tiny falls is look for them.

I spent some time photographing these waters a few weeks back on my Spring outing searching diligently for the perfect elements essential for a great waterfall image. One needs water rushing over rocks, of course. But, water rushing over boulders is even better. Take that a step further and add moss on the rocks coupled with the large granite boulders and what a great combination. Throw in a tree along the bank with low hanging branches. Then as you stand with your tripod attempting to photograph this beautiful scene, you realize there are variations in the water falling off the rocks which could bring a dimension to your image you hadn't planned on. Hopefully, these elements will still work well together.

There's one other thing that can impact your composition. The wind. The wind would not cease blowing the leaves just the faintest bit so I could never quite get the perfect shot of the water with the leaves sharp and crisp. UGH! No worries. I am not out to win the Nobel Prize for waterfall imagery. Just hoping to create a gorgeous scene that hopefully, you as my reader, will be able to transport yourself to.

Stand with me here in this spot and take in all of these gorgeous elements. Are you there yet? Can you hear the water? That breeze that wouldn't stop blowing the leaves, well it's a nice touch as the sun shines brightly and the water rushes fiercely over the rocks heading down river. Back soon. ENJOY!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Stopping by briefly to wish everyone in America a Happy 4th. I am a tad bit under the weather so I won't linger. Just wanted to wish everyone a 'sparkly' holiday. ENJOY!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Yellow Water Lily

Such a beautiful bloom as I walked around the pond that housed several types of aquatic plants at Murfree Spring Wetlands a few weeks ago. No matter that I have photographed many a Water Lily. For some reason whenever I see another one I simply have to capture an image of it.

While these beautiful blooms are usually quite large, they also have such a delicate feel to them. And the fact that they are smack dab in the middle of a pond doesn't hurt either. The Independence Day weekend is almost upon us. Are you ready to get your red, white and blue on? Have you purchased the traditional firecrackers and sparklers, perhaps readied the grill for a nice thick juicy steak or a burger or hot dog? If not, better get busy. ENJOY!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Evin's Mill, Highland Rim

Nestled against the western tip of Tennesesee's Highland Rim situated at the base of the Cumberland Plateau sits Evin's Mill. The land the mill sits on today was purchased in 1824 and three separate families built mills on the land over the years. Finally, in 1937 Edgar Evins bought the property and two years later built Evin's Mill.

The mill doesn't operate today and sits on privately owned property with an inn situated across the creek accessible via the boardwalk. The Evin's family was politically prominent during the racially charged '60's. If you reside in the States you no doubt have heard of Edgar Evins and his tragic death.

The area around the mill is a typical country setting with a woods on three sides. The drive was only about forty minutes from my place and made for a nice Sunday afternoon. As I stood next to the pond, looking out at the mill to capture this image, the Common Pond Hawk Dragonfly buzzed around my feet.

The oppressive heat here in Tennessee has finally broken. We're now enjoying temperatures in the 70's and 80's with virtually no humidity and I, for one, am so very thankful to the Weather Gods. I hope you had a fantastic weekend and are looking forward to a wonderful week. ENJOY!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Beaches and Shores

It is a little known fact that I must have a lake, an ocean, a seashore, a riverbed, or if all else fails, just a pond nearby to make all things right in my world. Water is one of the many driving forces that nurtures my world. Add to that a forest or a woods or a grassy plain, or even a mountaintop overlook, and my world is so much more. The many elements that make up our world also enrich our lives in ways we never imagined.

Oftentimes, I view photographs such as those like Jean's from the quaint island of New Zealand, or Barb from the snow covered Rockies in Colorado, or Frank from 'across the pond' in England, or Steve from the windswept coasts in New England, and I wonder just what it would be like to live in one of those beautiful places.

Then I remember a thought shared years ago, that I am sharing my world and its many experiences, through the images I capture. And that makes 'your' world so much more. I gathered a few of my favorite images I have captured over the years to share with you today. Images such as these from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the shores and the bays of Lake Michigan, and Nantucket Island off Cape Cod, to share with you today. ENJOY!

Linking to Skywatch Friday and Foodie Friday and Everything Else

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Waterfall, Roaring Fork River

Sitting half way back along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, tucked neatly out of most visitors' sight, you will find this quaint waterfall. The water rushes down around the boulders and rocks as it makes its way to other tributaries.

If you look closely, you will find it. If you listen closely, you will hear it. ENJOY!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Prairie Coneflowers, Couchville Cedar Glade State Natural Area

Today was not the best day to take a short hike at Couchville Cedar Glade State Natural Area near Hermitage. I did manage to hike about a half mile into the glade before the oppressive heat turned me back. This is a very small natural area east of Nashville and is one of the best examples of a real cedar glade left in middle Tennessee. A small parking lot sits right off the highway and a one mile loop trail takes you throughout the glade.

The many different native species of wildflowers that grow here, especially the rare 'Federally Endangered' Tennessee Coneflower, were amazing to see blooming in close proximity to one another. I counted at least six different species on my walk. On a much cooler day, this would be the perfect wildflower hike. With many different species to choose from, I decided to feature the Prairie Coneflower in this post. I took several images of the Tennessee Coneflower and some of the beautiful Queen Anne's Lace which I will post later. I also have several other wildflower species I captured images of that I can't readily identify. Did you happen to catch the fact that it is officially Summer. After my walk today, I believe it. Boy was it a scorcher out there. ENJOY!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Six and Sixty

On this very week six years ago, I began a journey. A journey that would take me to many places throughout the Eastern United States. Places I would capture through photographs carefully crafted in composition, and later cropped or lightened or darkened, and usually sharpened.

My journey has taken me to places such as Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashores. To Chincoteague, Assateague, Mustatatuck and Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuges. To parks such as Acadia National Park, and the infamous and oftentimes visited, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To the Midwest states of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. To the Mid-Atlantic states of Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland. To beautiful New England to visit Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine, with a day trip over to the gorgeous island of Nantucket. And least I forget, Tennessee, where I now reside.

Six years and many miles behind me in my rear view mirror. I hope you have enjoyed the journey just as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. With every image I have tried my best to also craft the story of how that image came to be or share a memory or a thought with only the slightest hope that I might inspire you in some small way. I promise there will be more photos to come as I hope to go for another six years.

Before I leave you today, allow me to share one more tiny piece of news. This week I also celebrated my 60th birthday on June 16th. Oh Boy! I have spent an entire lifetime defying the aging process. The one thing I have come to understand is that all one can really do is smile and soldier on. As I leave you now, I just want to thank all of you for your graciousness over the years and your wonderful heartfelt comments. I cherish each and every one. ENJOY!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge

As wildlife refuges go, Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge is simply that, a wildlife refuge comprised mostly of swamps and bottom land with Lily Pads and Lotus blooms scattered here and there. The 8,000 acres plus wildlife refuge is situated in northwest Tennessee just west of Clarksville, outside of the town of Dover.

The wildlife refuge runs parallel to the Cumberland River so while you drive the main refuge road and view the refuge on one side, in other parts of the refuge you will find the river on one side and the refuge on the other.

One nice thing about this refuge was how it offered photo ops other than the standard wading birds standing in a swamp. There was one large section of land just as you entered the refuge that was covered with blooming Lotus flowers. Unfortunately, I could not get close enough to take better images.

I did manage to capture this Great Blue Heron on the prowl for a meal standing knee deep in the middle of a cornfield. He looked to be on a serious mission so I moved on after clicking a few frames.

The temperatures here in Middle Tennessee, as the locals call it, have stayed in the low 90's for over a week now and do not appear as though they are going to change any time soon. UGH! All one can do is take cover in the air conditioning. I hope wherever you are, you find it cooler than what I am experiencing. Luckily, we have missed the heavy rainful brought on shore by Tropical Storm Bill. Most of that weather moved farther north before turning east. Back soon. ENJOY!

Linking to Our World Tuesday

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rushing Waters of Tremont

Few places compare to the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The grandeur of the mountains, the beauty of the moss covered boulders, the wildlife feeding alongside the road as you drive by.

It is a sweltering 95 degrees here in middle Tennessee with a heat index even higher. Yet, I can hear the sound of the water pouring over the moss covered rocks rushing down the river along Tremont Road as I look at this image. Happy Birthday to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which was officially established by Congress on this date in 1934. Back soon. ENJOY!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Black Bears, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We are deep within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park today. What images come to mind when I say those words? Mountains, forests, rivers or perhaps fog, rain, smoke. Well, you would be right about all of those things. And then there is the wildlife. Elk, Deer, Fox and Black Bears just to name a few. On this particular trek the day my journey began, I was driving toward the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail when I spotted Black Bears alongside the road.

A female Black Bear, a mother no less, was feeding heartily next to the roadway while her two cubs were off in the brush a short distance away. This is almost the same place I had encountered a Black Bear off in the distance on another visit to the park a year or two before.

My camera was zipped safely away in my equipment bag. Darn! I reached back and unzipped the bag and pulled so as not to break anything on the camera. I got out of the car knowing the Bear was getting ready to head into the forest, but still kept the car between me and the Bears. You just never know. Keep in mind I have a 300mm lens on my camera so while it may seem I am right on top of the Bears, I am a safe enough distance away. If there is a safe enough distance away from such a powerful animal as the Black Bear. Keep in mind while photographing mother Bears that they will charge and fight should you get too close to their cubs. After a few minutes, the Bears had moved further into the forest and disappeared but I was glad to have seen them.

The following day having changed my plan of direction going into the park due to impending thunderstorms, I drove across the main road that eventually takes you to Cherokee, North Carolina. You pass Newfound Gap and the road to Clingman's Dome as you make your way up the side of the mountain and around the mountain and back down on the eastern side. As I reached the bottom of the mountain on the other side of the park, now in North Carolina, I encountered a group of cars. I knew full well it had to be a Bear sighting. This Bear was a large male Bear munching way off in the brush by himself. He spent some time in one area before moving away farther into the forest. You will notice as I cropped this image closely, this Bear is tagged. I hope it was not due to being a nuisance. If so, and he causes a nuisance by getting too close to humans, he could be put down. Let's hope the tag is for a study.

I enjoyed seeing the Black Bears and knew there were plentiful sightings from the alert posted on the park's website before I left home. Hope you are off to a good start to your weekend. Back soon. ENJOY!

Linking to Saturday's Critters

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Juvenile Wood Duck, Murfree Spring Wetlands

In spite of the 90 degree temperatures today, I took a few minutes to drive to Murfree Spring Wetlands this afternoon southeast of Nashville to check out the wildlife. The water level of the swamp was down quite a bit. I did not see as much wildlife this visit, but did see a juvenile Beaver take down a sapling and disappear into the water with the tiny branch. Unfortunately, all of the foliage kept me from getting any decent images.

On my second walk around the parameter of the wetland, I happened upon a juvenile female Wood Duck sitting on the railing. She sat for a while and called out repeatedly. My thought was perhaps for Mom and Dad, who were nowhere in sight.

The second time I happened upon the same juvenile Wood Duck she was sitting on the railing on the far side of the wetlands calling out again. After a few minutes, she flew off into the wetlands. The Wood Duck's sound as she was calling out seemed more like a 'peep' than a call. She kept looking all around her and calling. Although it was very hot today, the humidity wasn't very bad. With the official start of Summer just around the corner, I am praying for a mild one. Have a great week everyone. ENJOY!

Linking to Saturday Critters and Our World Tuesday and The Scoop

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mingus Mill, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mingus Mill located on the far eastern side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in North Carolina is still an operating mill to this day. In the late 1790's, the metal turbine was considered a modern marvel compared to the old wooden waterwheels used up to date in the milling industry. The Mingus Family opened the mill in the 1790's and later built this structure for a mere $600. At that time the mill was surrounded by fields and crops.

Today, surrounded by the national park itself, the Mingus Mill is quaintly nestled in a grove of trees a short walk off the entrance on a winding path which crosses over a narrow creek called Mingus Creek. When you begin your walk back to the mill, the trail is actually the Mingus Creek Trail head with the mill itself about one tenth of a mile in. This trail is also part of the Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail which stretches 1,000 miles beginning at Clingman's Dome and ending at Jockey's Ridge at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. At this point on the path, this is when the mill begins to divert the water from the creek itself to the mill. I have photographed this site once before and decided to stop by during my recent visit to the park and attempt a new perspective to include the building. Hope you have great plans for the weekend. ENJOY!

Linking to Barn Collective

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Elk, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

At the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there were no Elk to be seen which was the norm. As I made my way back through the park, I happened upon this lone Elk munching on the grasses in a field right off the road about two miles from the visitor center.

She is a sow and I don't think she gave birth to a calf this Spring as there was no evidence of one with her. I loved that she also did 'not' have a radio collar on which made for nicer images. As the group of cars that stopped to watch her graze began to grow, the Elk would look up every now and then. This was one of the looks she gave me as I sat across from her in the car at a good distance. It was a priceless look. When it started to rain, she looked up and all around her, and then abruptly turned and hightailed in the opposite direction and crossed the road heading for the treeline next to the river. It made one wonder what was going through her head at the time. If you look closely, you can see a few rain drops in the image. At least she posed for a few pics for me. ENJOY!