Thursday, June 30, 2016


As I was finishing my hike to Johnson Farm, I noticed this deer on the edge of one of the farm fields. I knew it was popular with the local deer population from previous visits, so I wasn't at all surprised to see this one show up. And I thought I was being plagued by flies! I only slowed down long enough to snap these pictures. After that, I was off like a shot trying to lose them, hands flailing over my head as I went. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hay Rake

From the appearance of this vintage horse drawn hay rake, I wasn't sure whether it might have seen service recently or not. In any case, it was only one of several such implements on display at Johnson Farm.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Garden

Looking back now across the family's garden to the orchard beyond.

Another view of the garden beyond--this one from the family's fenced in backyard.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Farm

Arrived just as the sun was disappearing behind the trees. Took this shot through the apple orchard. More pics to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Johnson Farm Trail

Johnson Farm is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, north of Roanoke, Virginia. I decided to visit it just before dusk one evening last week.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Big Meadows

Several interesting facts about Big Meadows:

  • 3500 feet above sea level
  • contains two wetlands that support globally rare plant communities believed to be endemic to the park
  • early European settlers reported an abundant variety of animals that had disappeared by the mid-1800s including bison, elk, beaver, otters, timber wolf, white- tailed deer, cougars, turkey, black bear, and bobcats
  • recently, most of these species (except bison, elk and possibly cougars) have returned to the park due to reintroduction or natural population recovery

As for cougars, there have been purported sightings ever since I first starting backpacking in the park. To date, though, none of these has ever been confirmed.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Visitor Center

The National Park Service's Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center in Big Meadows, Virginia, where the flag was flying at half mast as a result of the Orlando tragedy. That's Iron Mike to the left in the second photo commemorating the men of the CCC who helped create and develop Shenandoah National Park.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Full Retreat

So I was trundling along, admiring the lush undergrowth alongside the trail to Hawksbill's summit, and frankly not paying much attention to what was in front of me, when I suddenly glanced up. . .

and caught sight of this black bear (below) a few yards in front of me. 

Now I'll have to tell ya that I'm not one to be easily deterred from achieving my objectives. Being so near the summit, I was determined to press on in the hope that the big guy (gal?) would just move on and allow me to pass as sometimes happens. But, for whatever reason, this bear was having none of it. Each time I made a move to pass, he made a move closer to the trail until I finally decided it was time to retreat and snapped this picture on the way out of Dodge. 

Sorry for the fuzzy pic. I was just a tad more focused on avoiding trouble (and falling over a rock) than I was on the bear.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Upper Hawksbill Trailhead

So I pulled my car off Skyline Drive this past week long enough to hike up Hawksbill Mountain. It's been ages since I was here last. Yet it could have been yesterday as much as anything has changed.

Couldn't help but smile at the comment about aliens. Made me wonder what experience prompted THAT remark! This trail really can seem strange. You don't have to walk far before you feel like you have entered another world.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

More Views

A couple more shots from Skyline Drive looking west.
Tomorrow a hike up Hawksbill Mountain with an unexpected end. :-)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Crown Vetch

Another invasive species brought here from the Old Country, but one that brings a welcome bit of color to the mountains. View is looking west toward the Shenandoah Valley.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Interesting. I've been hiking and backpacking up in these mountains since I was a kid and I still wouldn't have been able to tell you what species of trees grow at various altitudes. Now I know. :-)

"Today Shenandoah N[ational] P[ark] is greater than 95% forested. Over half of the land is dominated by either chestnut or red oak forests situated on the ridge tops and upper slopes. Mid-slope positions support areas of mixed hardwood forests that include maple (Acer spp.), birch (Betula spp.), ash (Fraxinusspp.), and basswood (Tilia americana) trees. Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) forests are found on the lower slopes and along streams." ~

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Mountain Retreat

Decided to retreat to the mountains for a brief hike or two a couple of days ago. You're a long way from the world's news (and noise) up there. 

The CCC built these stone guardrails. There are miles and miles of them along the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. This one happens to be at the Indian Run Overlook on the Skyline.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me 
and I wake in the night at the least sound 
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake 
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things 
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars 
waiting with their light. For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Black-crowned Night Heron

Couldn't have been more surprised to see this Black-crowned Night Heron fishing along the banks of the C&O Canal a few days ago. I rarely see this variety of heron and I can only guess that the recent fluctuations in water levels on this stretch of the canal, combined with an especially lush spring, have brought them out of hiding.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Revrunner was number 1,286 for the day at Rosslyn's famed bikeometer.

Dang! There's always someone out there who wants to one-up you. :-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

19th c.

Sometimes just the sight of these buildings can transport me back to life here in the 19th century when the C&O Canal was still fully operational. I'm not one to idealize the past. Life along the canal must have been difficult. But I can also well imagine that it was not without its rewards.

Monday, June 13, 2016

One Giant. . . Step?

How wet has it been? Wet enough to keep this snail in business. Pretty neat trick, I think, passing as he did from leaf to leaf. Can I get a round of applause for the little guy? :-)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Perennial Problem

Recognize it? I photograph it from time to time just to refresh my memory. The woods here are full of it.

Now here's something I didn't know about Toxicodendron radicans:

"It is more common now than when Europeans first arrived in North America. The development of real estate adjacent to wild, undeveloped land has engendered 'edge effects', enabling poison ivy to form vast, lush colonies in these areas. It is listed as a noxious weed in the US states of Minnesota and Michigan and in the Canadian province of Ontario." ~ Wikipedia

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Very difficult to capture young Eastern Painted Turtles on camera as they are always on guard and slipping into the water at the very slightest whiff of danger. Maybe this fellow was feeling uncharacteristically brave. In any case, it wasn't long before he, too, like his mates before him, disappeared into the inky black canal.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Heron

The heron stands in water where the swamp
Has deepened to the blackness of a pool,
Or balances with one leg on a hump
Of marsh grass heaped above a musk-rat hole.

He walks the shallow with an antic grace.
The great feet break the ridges of the sand,
The long eye notes the minnow's hiding place.
His beak is quicker than a human hand.

He jerks a frog across his bony lip,
Then points his heavy bill above the wood.
The wide wings flap but once to lift him up.
A single ripple starts from where he stood.

~ Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Some people who enjoyed hearing the Maritime Voices sing were just passing through.

Others sat and listened attentively.

Still others were there primarily for the snacks, although this pooch also tried at one point to sing along. :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Amazing how much sound can be generated from just a concertina accordion, banjo and penny whistle. The group played and sang a mixture of water-related music, including canal songs, and some songs from the Civil War to accompany a presentation that was later made by one of the C&O Canal's park rangers. Here's a sampler of the kinds of music the Washington Revels and its various smaller ensembles perform.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Maritime Voices

Went last Saturday to a performance given by the Washington Revels' Maritime Voices at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in Potomac, Maryland. In this photo, the director is introducing the ensemble and the music they will be sharing. I'll be sharing some scenes from that performance over the next couple of days.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Goat Cheese

What I think I like most about farmers' markets. . .

are the opportunities they provide to try new, high quality, locally produced food products, like these cheese spreads from Spriggs Delight Farm.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Farmers Market

Okay, so I never ever drink coffee. No, never. Almost anything to do with coffee is, for me, like stepping out for the first time on to a whole new world. 

Cold coffee? Why, for Pete's sake?! 

Cold coffee with maple syrup? Are you serious?! 

I'm mystified. Still, I couldn't help but be fascinated and there were plenty of folks lining up yesterday at my local farmers market for the stuff. 

How about you? Do you take maple syrup in your cold cuppa caffeine? Or how about some more of that almond milk? Uhm, uhm good! :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Canal Steward

As this C&O Canal steward so kindly explained, he was in the process yesterday of removing garlic mustard before it went to seed. 

Friday, June 3, 2016