Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day Four
Nashville to Memphis

Brentwood, Tenn.

Karim, right, maintains that he and I are brothers. We just have different mothers. There is a lot of truth to that. He recently became engaged to Dana, left. Fortunately he was in Nashville where she lives when I passed through. I've been wanting to meet her. They make a wonderful pair: Karim is Syrian and Dana Lebanese descent, silly in love and look so good together. I spent the evening with them in Dana's home.

Near Franklin, Tenn.

On my way out of Nashville I saw Lee Ryan flying along Highway 100 on this unusual bicycle. I turned around and drove what I thought was sufficiently ahead capture an image, but he flew by me before I could get out of the Jeep. I learned that it is a prototype — an electrically assisted bike called an Aerobic Cruiser. You pedal, then tap a switch and continue to pedal while the electric motor magnifies your output. He let me ride it, and it is a dream. One can easily maintain 20 mph with the effort it takes to do 10 or 12. His brother in law developed it and has started production in Memphis. Lee is a retired businessman working on a marketing and promotion plan.

Natchez Trace

I was planning to follow back roads into Memphis. but Lee Ryder — see photo above — convinced me to take the Natchez Trace Parkway. It follows the trail men who floated flatboats loaded with grains and produce down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, sold their boats for lumber at journey's end, then walked hundreds of miles home. In the early 19th century, this area was wilderness and the trace an important part of the economy of the region. Above is a section that has been preserved.

Leipers Fork, Tenn.

Brunch at Puckett's Grocery in Leipers Fork, Tenn. Karen Baker holds Thatcher Looney in the store that serves three meals a day, has musical performances on a regular basis, a movie night for children of the community and, oh yes, groceries. The town was settled in the late 1790s by families from North Carolina and Virginia who received land for service in the Revolutionary War. It is named for one of those early settlers and the small creek that runs through town. It was a way point along the Natchez Trace.

Water Vally, Tenn.

Wind break in Water Valley, viewed from the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Natchez Trace in Tennessee

Wildlife along the parkway include tri-color blackbirds ... 

... wild turkey, and ...

... a young snapping turtle — shuffling from one boggy meadow to another — who I helped cross the road. He repaid me by attempting to hide when I made this photo.

Duck River near Stanton, Tenn.

I left the southernly inclined trace to head west for Memphis. The railroad trestle divides old Highway 50 near Stanton, Tenn.

A view of the trestle as it crosses the Duck River near Stanton, Tenn.

Memphis, Tenn.

Destination: the house of my daughter Shannon and her husband Brian, home of my grandson Max. Look closely and you can see Max peeking between the columns on the right.

Max hugs his grandmother Dianne for the afghan she crocheted for him. It is spread across his bed.

Day three
Waynesville & Great Smoky Mountains
North Carolina & Tennessee

One of my best friends at school, Jack Mershon at his home in Waynesville. We weathered several years at a small Iowa college together. A few years ago it had been 30 years since we had seen each other. We've gotten it down to three years intervals, now we're going to try three months.

Ophelia presses ground coffee for an expresso at the Lavender Bleu Wellness and Spa in Waynesville. The shop offers an excellent coffee bar as well as a variety of holistic approaches to wellness and health.

There is a simple grace about Ophelia. She is originally from Australia. Known for her abilities as a healer and medicine woman, she once hosted a television show which aired in Charlottesville and Northern Virginia, the Washington, D.C., area and Santa Fe, N.M.

Smoky Mountains

A roadside plant yet to be identified.

A new blaze broke out from an earlier forest fire near the Big Cove community near Cherokee, N.C. It has burned over 3,000 acres as of yesterday. It was felt the fire was mostly contained, but this breakout threatens more acreage. There has been no fire in this area in more than 50 years. The accumulation of dry plant material over that time makes this fire particularly menacing. I missed an opportunity to go into the fire areas because I didn't have proper shoes. The ones I have would melt if I stepped on a hot ember.

Forest service officials confer with Long Bow, a Cherokee Native American. He has served as a fire fighter, knows the area and is lining out access trails into the fire.

A bird yet to be identified at high elevation in the mountains. Note the dense lichen on the branches of the tree on which it is perched.
One final mountain vista before dropping down on the Cumberland Plateau and EasternTennessee.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day Two
Waynesville, N.C.

Panorama shot from the cross above Lake Junaluska. The lake is 30 miles west of Asheville, N.C. It was formed by damming Richland Creek in 1913. The United Methodist Church has maintained a conference center here since that time. My good friend from college friend, Jack Mershon, is crafting scale models of several historic buildings at the center.

Evening view from Jack and Donna Mershon's home on the side of Little Mountain in Waynesville is a palette of blue. It is obvious why these mountains were named the Blue Ridge. This is near the southern terminus of famous parkway of the same name. It rides along the high ridge in the background.

Donna Mershon sets out the evening meal on their second floor deck. This is a favorite place for her and Jack to dine. She proclaimed this as the first meal of the summer. It was beautiful, fresh and cool out there tonight.

Day One
Copperas Creek
Short Pump, Virginia

Early morning light along Copperas Creek. The yard never looks better than this time of year. This is the beginning of a road trip to Memphis, Tenn., following back roads and avoiding interstates.

Hadensville, Va.

Mid-day at Hadensville, Va., Post Office. The small facility and an abandoned store across the road is about all that is left of Hadensville.

The flag flying over the post office has seen better days.

Noon and the thermometer on the abandoned store reads 90 degrees. The top is down on the Jeep, but heat and wind drive me to put up by 3:30 p.m.

North Roanoke River Valley

Horses suddenly appear while crossing I-81 northeast of Blacksburg into the North Roanoke River Valley. 

Two women out for a late afternoon ride wend their way through the valley, avoiding traffic along the way. The river valley is so lovely, had found it earlier in the day I would have spent several hours here.

Blacksburg, Va.
Daily Grind

One of the Daily Grind franchises is in Blacksburg, just off the Virginia Tech campus. The coffee was good — as was dinner — but the ambiance did not come up to the standard set by Sam at the Short Pump store.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cambridge Church

Left to Right: Jett McLean, Matthew Banholser and Christopher Owen react to the children's sermon.

Jay Smith, pastor at Cambridge church, leads the congregation during Sunday service.

Short Pump
BARK dog adoption

One of the BARK dogs, Shy Bob, waits outside a pet store for someone to adopt him. He was born to a ferrel mother and earned his name by being a bit mistrusting in new situations until he gets to know them.

Sam Jarrar bonds with Angel, one of a pair of two year old Schnauzers he and Alison adopted from BARK today. 

Angel, foreground, and her brother, Diablo, have been together since birth. They keep track of each other, one checking where the other is at all times.

The newest members of the Jarrar family settle in with their new family.

More of the azaleas in bloom on Copperas Creek.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mimi's Restaurant & nearby pond

A Saturday morning breakfast at Mimi's, a new restaurant in Short Pump. Jenine was giving hugs all around, starting with Sam, her father.

The first goslings of the year in an abatement pond at West Broad Village. As the area becomes more urbanized, Canada Geese chose more marginal habitats. Oh, for a long lens.

Farris, left, and Dianne, right, wait in the Jeep while I photograph the goslings and their parents.

West End Farmers Market

Opening day for the West End Farmers Market was marked with promise. A number of farmers and vendors were there and a good crowd was in attendance. Next week more produce is promised. Joe Scott, who lives in the West End, began walking through the market playing his banjo at 8:00 a.m. and didn't quit until noon.

Dawn Hollick, right, of Pair-a-Dice Farm near Lunenberg, Va., shows wool she is spinning into yarn to one of her customers at the market. Hollick and her husband raise the sheep, shear them, process, card and dye the wool before turning it into skeins of wool for sale.

A fossil shark tooth I bought at the market. It's edges are serrated and quite remarkable. The tooth is from either the Pleistocene or Pliocene eras, could date back as much as 450 million years is about the size of a man's hand.

Copperas Creek

Sunset illuminates white azaleas near our house.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Max Bangham Dixon — who will be 8 in nine days — well on his way to the top of a climbing wall. (His grandmother let out a loud "gasp!" when she saw this photograph.
—Guest blogger Brian Dixon

One of the Daily Grind's youngest customers, Tessa, explores the coffee shop. Two of her grandparents are on the wall in a painting Paul Steinberg produced.

Author C. Paolo Caruso, right, reads from her novel, Sophia's Exit Strategy, and answers questions from the audience at the Daily Grind this evening. She is on a tour of the South promoting her work.

The house above Copperas Creek with azaleas in bloom. A hawk passed overhead while this picture was being made.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Copperas Creek

Sadie eyes me, wagging her tail, enticing me to  come closer.

As soon as I am in range for a picture, up she pops ready to be petted.

Tonight while looking at Spring flowers, Sadie and I spotted one of the owls who have moved into the woods above the creek. There are three of them. We hear them each morning — and often in the evening — calling to each other, at times teasing the dogs. Tonight at dusk one of them flew into a tree near this Dogwood and azaleas, and allowed us a long look before flying on. He is a Barred Owl, large and beautiful, whose plaintiff hoots are a nice addition to the neighborhood.