Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month shows the early morning sunshine shining on the mountain ranges, taken from our balcony at Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway not far from Asheville, North Carolina (9/26/19). I took this amazing shot with my iPhone!!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh how I Love the Blue Ridge Parkway

If you ever want to take a beautiful drive in Summer (also in Spring and Fall),  there's just no place better than the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The parkway follows the tops of mountains from NC all the way to VA...  Then --if you want to go farther into northern VA,  take the Skyline Drive (which is a continuation of the Blue Ridge Parkway).  George and I have (at various times) been on the entire parkway including Skyline Drive.

For my birthday this year,  George took me out of this horrible heat we've been having here --and took me on a nice ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC.  We started at Maggie Valley and drove to the Mt. Mitchell exit.

Today,  I 'll show you some photos of some of the magnificent beauty  we saw during those two days while driving along the parkway.  First of all,  the temperature was in the 70's --so we enjoyed riding with the windows down.   That cooler air was fabulous---and that glorious mountain smell just filled my heart and soul.

Just sit back and enjoy today's photos.  It was a sunny/cloudy day --so on days like this, I love to photograph the sky as much as the mountains!!!! Remember that you can enlarge the photos for some larger views...










Thanksgiving Dinner, anyone????






Break through those clouds,  Mr. Sun!!!





If you want more beauty than your heart can imagine,  visit the Blue Ridge Parkway!!!!!

Hope you enjoyed my photos.  We certainly had a fabulous trip. Sorry I didn't get to many of your posts yesterday.  Our internet was out for many hours!!!!  Grrrrr.....

Hugs,
Betsy

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zion Park Scenic Byway --Rt. 9, Utah

Scenic Highway 9;  Views were awesome!
On our trip out west in June,  we drove on many scenic roads.   The one I'm talking about today (Highway 9 in Utah) is another one.   Hope you enjoy reading more about this road (especially the building of the tunnels) ---and enjoy our photos.   Be sure to enlarge the photos for a much larger picture.

Look at our fabulous views from this scenic byway.
Scenic Highway 9,  from the south entrance of  Zion National Park to the intersection of US-89 at Mt. Carmel Junction,  is a 14-mile scenic highway.  Some people call it  the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway,  and others call it the Zion Park Scenic Byway.  We loved this highway, and there was so much beauty all around us.  There were six switchbacks and two tunnels.

We traveled through 2 awesome tunnels dug through the rock.  Be sure and read my information about the building of the tunnels.
When they surveyed the area in 1923,  they settled on the Pine Creek route,  which required a tunnel through the Great Arch (pictured 2 photos below).  Work began in 1927 and was completed in 1930, at a cost of $503,000.   The tunnel was dedicated on July 4, 1930.  The first tunnel features a 5,613 foot (1.711 mile) tunnel.  The second tunnel is much shorter.

See that hole?  That is one of several 'galleries' inside the tunnel.  We were driving inside ALL of that rock... Amazing, huh?  Read why they put in these galleries below.
Construction of the tunnels used mining techniques rather than traditional tunneling techniques.  They used  galleries (holes that they put in the walls at various places) to provide light and ventilation through the canyon wall to the outside air.  The galleries also provided a place to dispose of rock generated during construction,  which was dumped through the galleries into the canyon. 


Here is the Grand Arch --where the tunnels went through!  WOW!!!
Some of the galleries have had to be repaired and partially closed with concrete due to damage from rockslides.  The interior of the tunnel is rock-faced with concrete reinforcement at selected locations.   At the time of completion,  this tunnel was the longest non-urban road tunnel in the United States.  We really enjoyed going through these tunnels ---while we thought about all of the man-power it took to build them.


Gorgeous scenery all along that scenic road
The tunnel's restricted dimensions require that vehicles over 11.33 feet in height or 7.83 feet in width give advance notice so that two-way traffic can be shut down in the tunnel --allowing oversize vehicles to proceed down the center of the tunnel.  Vehicles over 13.08 feet tall and semi-trailers as well as bicycles and pedestrians are prohibited in the tunnel.  There are rangers at both ends of the tunnel.  I think it's a $15 fee if a large vehicle needs to be escorted through the tunnel. 


Isn't that just gorgeous?  Love the colors...
When we left Zion on June 18,  we took this scenic highway.. It was AWESOME--as good or better than Zion itself (in my opinion).  We were fascinated at all of the gorgeous scenery along the way,  especially reading about the tunnels built through all of that rock.  One of the most interesting parts for us was reading about the galleries... It's hard to believe how hard people worked back then in order to build things.  The sad thing about that though is that most of what they built (pretty much by hand) in those days is much-better built than the roads and tunnels of today!  Hmmmmmmmm.


I hope you enjoyed seeing another of Utah's fabulous scenic highways... If you ever get to Zion National Park,  be sure and take the scenic route across Highway 9 to the Mt. Carmel Junction.  You will be glad you did.  Hope you enjoy our photos  from that experience.


Have a wonderful day...
Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, August 29, 2011

Celebrating the Old and the Young

John Adams --on his 97th birthday,  two years ago
Today I celebrate two family members... First,  let me say a huge Happy Birthday to my wonderful father-in-law, John Adams.  Dad is NINETY-NINE today!!!!!  Isn't that just awesome?   All of his children (and spouses) will celebrate with him as we will take him out to dinner on Wednesday night.

John E. Adams
Most of you know that Dad and Mom moved in with daughter, Janet, in Tullahoma, TN several months ago.  They were both at the point in their lives where they couldn't live alone any longer.  You may also know that Mom died suddenly on June 6 this year. 

In 2006,  George and I drove Mom and Dad back to Winslow, Indiana--to see the church where they had gotten married in 1940.   This was one of the best trips I ever had with them. Just seeing their faces inside of that church was awesome!
After 71 years together (inseparable),  Dad is very lonely now --and doesn't seem to have a will to keep on living.  We hear that this happens alot with elderly couples who have been together for many, many years.  We are hoping that Dad will find a new zest for life --and make it to 100,  but that alone is up to him... Please keep him in your prayers.

John Emery Adams,  the best father-in-law a girl could EVER have!
But---right now,  let's celebrate with him those wonderful years that he has lived,  and been extremely healthy for most of them.  That man is an inspiration to me in so many ways.  I lost my Daddy in 1969 (and my Mom in 1991),  so when George and I got married,  I inherited the family I had so yearned for....  Hope you enjoy the pictures I picked out to share today...  Happy 99th, Dad!!!  We love you very very much!

A Sweet Picture of two people in LOVE --even after many, many years




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My Grandson Landon playing five drums in his high school band
The other person I want to celebrate today is my fabulous Grandson, Landon. My son, Jeff,  attended his son Landon's football game this past Friday night.  Landon is part of the large Drumline in his high school band.  Jeff took this picture from the tunnel above --as the band marched onto the field.

Landon is a fabulous young drummer.
As you can tell,  the drumline all wear black ---as opposed to the band.  Love the uniforms!  They are so different from the old traditional uniforms I used to have to wear when I was in the band umpteen years ago.  Can you imagine carrying FIVE drums??? GADS--my back would be killing me! ha...  But we are certainly proud of this young man and his talent.

Hope all of you have a wonderful day today!!!!! 

Hugs,
Betsy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

See all of the petrified logs dotting the area?
Please enjoy a little of the history of petrified wood while looking at our photos.  All of these photos were taken in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona on June 13.  We were hiking on the Giant Logs Trail behind the Rainbow Forest Museum.  Be sure and enlarge the photos for much larger pictures.

The Petrified Forest National Park offers one of the world's largest and most colorful concentration of petrified wood.  Located in Eastern Arizona,  the park is about 3.5 hours from both Phoenix and Albuquerque.

There are two parts to this national park.  The northern part shows the Painted Desert and the southern part consists of the Petrified Forest.  Today I will talk about the Petrified Forest.




This is one of the largest sections of petrified wood there.  Its name is OLD FAITHFUL, and it has a diameter of 9.5 feet.  Isn't this just amazing?
The petrified wood found in the park began its existence as large trees from an ancient forest many many years ago.  After falling,  the trees were washed downstream from as far as 50 miles away onto a flood plain which lay on the current area of the park.  The logs were covered by volcanic sand and silt sometimes to a depth of 1100 feet.

This is the base of "Old Faithful".
If you don't remember studying about petrified wood in school,  you may ask what IS petrified wood...  Well---it literally means wood turned into stone.   It looks like wood but is much stronger and heavier.  The details in the stones are amazing.  You can even see the tree rings in some.

Here's the process of petrification:  The first step is that trees end up being buried by sand or volcanic ash or some other substance and therefore take a very long time to rot.  They are also submerged in water.  Most logs subjected to these conditions would simply decompose before the petrification process began,  but for some reason in SOME areas,  they don't.

Isn't this just awesome?  Look at all of the colors (minerals) in this one.


While they are buried,  water with a lot of dissolved minerals enters into the wood, and deposits minerals inside the tree's cells,  taking on the exact shape of a cell.  Over time,  all of the cells become filled with minerals while the organic matter decomposes.  The resulting stone looks  exactly like the tree.

Generally,  only the trunks of petrified trees are found because the leaves and branches are softer,  so they tend to decompose faster than the minerals can accumulate in the cells.




I couldn't quit taking pictures of these beauties.  I had never seen anything like this before.


Eventually, the land where the great logs were buried was lifted up by geological upheaval, and wind and rain began to wear away the overlying sediments,  finally exposing the long buried,  now petrified wood.

In the mid 1800's,  people began to flock to this area to take as much of the petrified wood as they could get.  By about 1870,  great quantities of glistening rock were being carried off by souvenir hunters and commercial developers,  who cut slabs from the logs for tabletops and mantles.   Petrified wood was also blasted apart in search of valuable amethysts or quartz crystals that some of the wood contains.

Concerned citizens (who wanted to protect the forest) went to the Arizona Territorial Legislature to seek federal protection for the area,  so the Petrified Forest was declared a national monument in 1906, and became a national park in 1962.  

I loved seeing all of the different colors,  plus just pondering the age of these 'trees'.  WOW!


The coloring:  Petrified wood can be found in many different colors.  What color the stones will be is dependent upon the chemicals in the soil.  Petrified wood is nearly all quartz crystals,  but quartz has almost no color.  It can be combined with other elements to add to the petrified wood.  If you add carbon,  the stone is black.  If you have copper,  it becomes green/blue;  if you have manganese, it becomes pink/orange.  Iron can make it orange, red, or yellow.

Believe it or not,  petrified wood is found on every continent except Antartica.  The colors can vary widely due to various minerals in the soil. And---there are several areas even in the USA where you can find petrified wood.   We were just lucky to be at the Petrified Wood National Park in Arizona.

Again,  all of the gorgeous colors caught my attention.  This was an awesome experience.


When you enter the park,  they talk about the importance of NOT taking the petrified wood with you.  AND---you are subject to being searched when you leave.  They STILL have alot of trouble with people trying to steal it.  Luckily,  the large pieces are too heavy!

When we pulled up to the check-out point when we were leaving,  the person asked us if we took anything valuable with us from the park.  George said, "Yes we did... We took a bunch of photos and have a bunch of memories".    She laughed and let us leave!!!

Hope you see this beauty someday (if you haven't).  It will always be a favorite place of ours... My prayers are with everyone who has been or will be affected by Hurricane Irene. May God be with you ALL.   See you on Monday.

Hugs,
Betsy

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gorgeous Blooms from Biltmore

Last week I showed you some pictures from the Italian Water Garden  (chick HERE),  so today I'll share with you some of the beautiful flowers in the Walled Garden.  Above is a picture of one part of the Walled Garden.   I've shown this garden many times before--but they add new flowers and plants every season.   (Please click on these photos to see a MUCH larger picture.)





Look at this HUGE red Hibiscus.  I'm not sure I have ever seen one THIS large.




Here's a row of Cone Flowers.  Aren't they beautiful?




I liked the look of this Zinnea.   I have never grown them,  but my mother did.  SO--when I see them,  I think of her.




Here is a pretty group of Canna Lilies.  (Sorry --I first said these were Bromeliads.)




I was thrilled to see one of my favorite little succulents (which I have many of in my yard).  It's the Autumn Joy Sedum.  These little flowers change colors as they mature. At the end of the Fall,  they are a beautiful Fall rust color.




Here is the little beauty which I saw growing inside the Conservatory in the Winter.  I posted its picture then.   Someone may have told me its name,  but I cannot remember.  Whatever it is,  I really like it. Do you know????  (UPDATE:  It is a Castor Bean!  Thanks Ruth and Steve.)




Finally,  here's another gorgeous Hibiscus... Love these colors also,  don't you?

Hope you enjoyed seeing more of the "Biltmore Beauty".... 

Have a fabulous day!!!

Hugs,

Betsy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Backyard Birds

Here are some new pictures I took recently of some of our cute little backyard birds.  The picture above is a little dark (since they are in the shadows) but this is a frequent happening on our deck during the summer... Daddy Birds (usually the Daddy's are the ones who teach them to eat) come and feed their babies ---and teach them how to feed themselves.   The picture above shows a Daddy Northern Cardinal (on the right) feeding one of his little ones... Note that the little ones are sometimes as big or bigger than the parents...  The parents fatten them up --and then teach them to feed themselves.




Looks like a young Northern Yellow-Shafted Flicker Woodpecker




One of our many Blue Jays



One of our young Red-bellied Woodpeckers at the plate feeder



A young Red-headed Woodpecker who doesn't have his pretty colors yet



An Adult Red-headed Woodpecker --beginning to molt




 
A new one for me!!!!  This is a Red-bellied Woodpecker on the left and a Red-headed Woodpecker on the right on my suet feeder at the same time.  I was just SO excited to see this.  They usually come one at a time.



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"NO----you cannot come into our yard and eat our Roses."
Since I didn't have a new picture of one of our Pileated Woodpeckers to show you today,  I showed you a recent picture of one of our neighborhood deer.  I'm not sure he's the one who ate our Roses this last week---but if he is,  then I say "Shame on him!"

Hope you enjoyed seeing more of my gorgeous backyard birds today..

Have a wonderful day.
Hugs,

Betsy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ROSES in our Yard--Part V

I am trying to show at least one bloom of all of the different varieties of Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora Roses in our yard this Spring/Summer/Fall.  We had about 55 different varieties, and as of today,  I have shown you 36 different ones.  If you missed some of my other Rose posts,  go to my sidebar,  scroll down to labels and click on Roses 2011.

The Rose above is RONALD REAGAN,  a gorgeous rose.  I love this name because he is one of my heroes.  Below are more.  Be sure to enlarge each picture for a better view!



TAHITIAN SUNSET



TIFFANY



PERFUME DELIGHT



SONIA



LEMON SPICE



ELIZABETH TAYLOR



 Hope you enjoy seeing our  Roses as much as I enjoy showing them to you... We've been pretty lucky with keeping the deer away this summer --but this past week,  one enjoyed a few of these beauties during the night... I do love deer --but I don't like them eating our roses... Grrrrrrr

If the deer would just sniff their wonderful fragrance and then move on, that would be much nicer.  (Ha Ha)..  We do use Liquid Fence --but obviously, even that doesn't totally deter them. especially when it's dry --like it has been this month.  That's just part of living in the woods!!!!!

On another note,  I am LOVING Facebook.  It's very different from Blogger --and I still enjoy blogging more.  But--I've caught up with LOTS of people from my past I had lost touch with.. That part is awesome.  

Have a fabulous day --and take time to 'smell the roses'.
Hugs,
Betsy