Tag Archives: National Parks

Crazy Hot Weather

7 Jul

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

The weather here in our area has been crazy hot.  Fortunately, here in the North Carolina mountains, one can escape the worst of the heat by heading to the higher elevations. Our daughter, Rebekah, has been visiting the last week and we have revisited some of our favorite cool spots. Our first escape was to Wayah Bald and the fire tower. It’s elevation is around a mile high and a nice breeze was stirring the air. I didn’t take a picture from the fire tower as we have a lot of those, but now I regret not snapping a fresh one. We did picnic at one of the concrete picnic tables tucked into the woods.


We had planned a 4th of July picnic at another favorite, Standing Indian Campground, but we didn’t get motivated to get moving so I declared it a PJ day.  A good time was had by all. : )

The following day began with rain, but we decided to proceed with our planned visit to Standing Indian. In the mountains, it can be raining on one mountain and dry as a bone on the other. We did run into some scattered showers, but not enough to ruin our day. At 3,880 feet, Standing Indian doesn’t have the elevation of Wayah Bald, but the rain had left a cool breeze so we were quite comfortable. In fact, we had to don our lightweight jackets for a time. At Wayah, we took sandwiches but since we knew Standing Indian had a spacious pavilion, we decided to grill hot dogs. We have a battered Volcano Grill and love it. It folds up nicely and runs on your choice of three types of fuel.

On Wednesday we made a new discovery, Mud Creek Falls,  an easily accessible waterfall in Sky Valley, Georgia. We learned of it from friends but had not yet made the trip to see it. Since Rebekah was up here visiting and writing, it seemed like a good time to explore. We made a couple of wrong turns but once we found it, we realized it was very easy to get to. The falls are perfect for folks who can’t walk far,as you can view them from your car. There are also three picnic tables where you can enjoy a meal to the music of the water. Since we had breakfast out, we didn’t pack a lunch.


On the way home, we stopped by Georgia’s Black Rock Mountain State Park. At a previous visit the ranger had told us to return at the end of June for a spectacular Rhododendron display. We must have been too late, but it was still fun to drive through the park and stop off at some overlooks.

One thing we saw at a couple of the parks was the awesome kindness of leaving a walking stick that was picked up along the way, next to a trail marker or collection box for someone else to use.


The temps have cooled down and it’s not so crazy hot. Rebekah is working on her seventh novel while she is visiting. She has decided that five hours of “exploring” and five hours of writing is the perfect combination. I have read the first half of her new novel, which is a sequel to Jessie and I can’t wait for her to finish it.

While we were at Mud Creek Falls, my husband pointed out an incredible tree, whose roots were laced into a large boulder. Immediately these words flowed into my heart, what are you rooted into, are you rooted into me, the solid rock?  It looks like the dirt has been washed away from the roots but the tree is firmly planted on the solid rock.


An Amazing Adventure~Part 11

4 Jan


Judy Wills


After we had crossed the Continental Divide at Milner Pass, we drove on up to and stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center, at 11,796’ above sea level.

The air temperature was only 56°!! We were glad we had our sweaters and jackets with us! The tree line is at about 11,000’, so we were well above that, and vegetation was sparse, and we were glad we were inside the vehicle!



On one side of the mountain was some left-over snow! I guess the sun doesn’t get to that side of the mountain very often.


There were about a dozen chipmunks running around there—all along the stonewall– at least five or six were running at a time. One even jumped on Brian’s jacket, before jumping off quickly. They were really cute—standing on their hind legs, paws up, begging.

We drove along the Trail Ridge Road and it’s reported to be the highest continuous PAVED highway in the United States. It was still pretty rough and narrow, but at least it was paved.

We drove to and parked at the Bear Lake Ranger Station.

There was a trail Brian wanted to walk, but thought it would be too difficult for us, so he took off by himself. We were to meet up back at the parking lot. Karen, Fred and I began our “virtually flat” walk around the lake. We discovered that their idea of virtually flat and ours, differed greatly! There were times it was pretty rough going—but we eventually made it. It was a lovely walk and a gorgeous lake to walk around. Again, there were stands of Aspen trees that were just beautiful.


As we were leaving Bear Lake, we came upon a LOT of cars parked by the side of the road. So we stopped to see what was going on. And we were so glad we did! There was a heard of Elk in the meadow—one bull and about 10 cows, with one rather young calf in the mix. We got a lot of good pictures. We were amused to see that the bull was chasing after one particular cow—and she was having absolutely NOTHING to do with him! He bellowed quite a few times. It was so funny!

As we drove off again, we came to a few more Elk by the side of the road– just eating. We stopped and took more pictures. They seemed to pay us no mind at all.


It was time to head to Denver for our final two nights. But we stopped in Estes Park for dinner. We stopped at a place called Baba’s Burgers and Gyro’s—just a small diner on the side of the road. They were actually about to close, but they told us we could come on in and eat. We were glad they did, because those who came in after us were turned away! There was one other couple in the diner, and as we all got to talking, it turned out they were from Orlando, as well! Small world! The food was really good, and we were glad we had stopped.



~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~


Our Trip Across America- Part 10

12 Dec

A Slice of Life

   Bill Lites


The next major attraction we visited was the Great Salt Lake.  As we neared Salt Lake City, Utah we discovered the city is skirted by some of the most formidable looking mountains we had ever seen.  We swam (or I should say floated) in the super salty water of the lake, bought a package of freeze-dried brine shrimp, and took pictures of the famous Mormon temple.  That night at the campground, we were surprised to be entertained with, of all things, an outdoor movie, and even popcorn.


The next day we headed Southeast, through the Southern Utah and into Western Colorado mountains.   After an overnight stay in Grand Junction, we headed East, on US-50, which runs along the Arkansas River.  This was familiar territory for DiVoran as she and her parents had made many trips along this route.  This leg of the trip took us through Montrose, Gunnison and Salida to Canon City, Colorado to visit some of DiVoran’s relatives. This was where she spent a lot of her growing up years with her grandmother and her grandfather who had worked as a guard at what was originally the Colorado State Territorial Prison.


It became a Colorado State Prison in 1876 and operated as such until it was closed in 1988. At that time, it was converted into a very interesting museum, showing conditions at the prison during those early days.


An aunt and three cousins and their families were still living there. We had some great visits with them, and enjoyed a wonderful walk along the Arkansas River that runs through town.


Canon City is well-known for the America’s highest suspension bridge, which spans the Royal Gorge.  Amazingly, we discovered the total cost of building the bridge in 1929 was $60,000 and only took 5 months to complete.


The railroad that runs alongside the Arkansas River, at the bottom of the gorge, was originally used by the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Railroad in the 1870s & 1880s as the transcontinental bridge between Denver, Colorado  and Salt Lake City, Utah.  Use of the Royal Gorge portion of the track system was ended in 1997.  Then a couple of years later it was purchased by a private corporation and reopened by the Royal Gorge Route Railroad to provide daily scenic excursion trips from Canon City to Parkdale and return.  On one of our many trips back to Canon City, DiVoran and I took that “Scenic Excursion Trip” and it was an outstandingly beautiful experience.  We can highly recommend it.


Another less known attraction in Canon City is the Skyline Drive, located on the western edge of the city.  This is a 3-mile long road that runs, one way, along the top of a 800 ft. high ridge overlooking the city.  Skyline Drive was a prison project started in 1903, and was built entirely by hand by the prisoners.  The road has been improved over the years, and offers a glorious view of the city below.


—-To Be Continued—-


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