Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to JULY!!!! Our Lilies are blooming now... So gorgeous!!! Here is one of my many favorites! Meet DIZZY.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh that Gorgeous Grand Canyon

Out of all of the posts I have done on our 3 week trip out west this past June (this will be the 22nd post),  I realized that I haven't done any posts on the Grand Canyon  (other than the sunset ones).  AND--the Grand Canyon was one of the main reasons we took that long trip...

SO---today I will share a group of photos taken on June 14,  our FIRST views of this amazing place.  We entered the canyon from the East Entrance ---and stopped at the Desert View area for our first views....

These first views were the ones we remember the most.... Hope you enjoy these photos --taken on the eastern end of the Grand Canyon.   Click on the photos to enlarge.

You can see the Colorado River below.  I love seeing all of the colors in the canyon.

This is the Grand Canyon Desert View Watchtower.

Isn't this just awesome????   PLEASE make a trip to the Grand Canyon at least once in your lifetime...  (But--don't go in the hot and very CROWDED summer like we did!!!)

I don't think one can EVER take a bad picture here.  The colors are amazing!

We want to go back to the Grand Canyon ---and visit the north rim... We also want to come back to the south rim in a different season!!!  Another word of advice:  Stay in the canyon.  We stayed off-site --and even though they have a shuttle,  it wasn't as nice as staying in the 'village'.....

Here are two happy people who are so glad to be here!!!!!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and please stay WARM.  A cold front is coming --and our low on Saturday night is going to be 34... Yipes!!!!   I will see you on Monday.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Conkles Hollow; Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Thanks to BETH  (blog friend from Ohio),  we decided to check out one of her favorite places,  the Hocking Hills State Park,  near Logan, Ohio...  What a fabulous place!!!! Wow!!!!  I'm glad that the state has preserved this area.  There are fabulous caves,  hiking trails, hollows and yes,  WATERFALLS.   We spent two days there ---and took in as much of the park as possible. 

The most popular area is the Old Man's Cave area.  We saved that one until the 2nd day.  On the first day,  we saw the Ash Cave area and waterfalls,  the Cedar Falls area,  and the Conkles Hollow area..

Conkles Hollow is not one of the popular areas --but was truly one of our favorite places... Seems as if George and I always like areas which are not so heavily traveled and full of tourists.... IF you have not been to Hocking Hills,  you need to go there sometime,  especially if you love hiking in gorgeous wooded areas.  The trails are all in good shape (even though they had some damage from recent storms). 

Today,  I'll share some photos from our hike into Conkles Hollow....  This area was truly breath-taking... I felt like I had walked straight into heaven.   There were ferns and moss  and greenery everywhere... It was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been.

There are two waterfalls in that hollow.   One was inside a cave (named Lower Falls) ---and had a tiny tiny bit of water.  The other (Reckworth Falls)  was totally dry.  BUT--we are still so glad we visited this area...  Hope you enjoy the photos.  Click on them to enlarge.  The picture above shows our trail...

Can you see all of the ferns on the hillside?  AND--look at the moss on that big boulder.

Here is George on our path.... We both were blown away by the beauty in this area.

This picture shows some of the many caves and rock formations in this area.

We walked inside of this cave to check out the waterfall...  But --the best view was looking back outside!!!!

Doesn't this area look like paradise????  We loved it!!!!

I love this picture that George took of the moss growing on the log.... And--you can see a close-up of some of the trillions of ferns.

Finally,  here's one last photo of Conkles Hollow...  Don't miss this little hike --if you get to Hocking Hills!!!!  It is so peaceful and just plain AWESOME!  Thanks Beth (and others) who have promoted Hocking Hills on your blogs...  That's why we went there!!!

Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Family and Friends

Since taking a Blog Break from Sept. 9-25,   George and I have had the advantage  of being with some family and also meeting some more fabulous blog friends...

First we went to Buffalo, NY, to visit George's daughter, Kelly and hubby Chuck...  We had a fabulous time with them, and they took us to some really GREAT places --including some of their favorite restaurants...Above is a picture of George's gorgeous daughter and the love of her life.  This picture was taken on the American side above the Niagara River at the Whirlpool State Park.   On the left side near the top,  you can see a bit of the Spanish Aero Car as it moves across the gorge.  Below are more!

Here are the four of us.  I had a terrible time with this picture.  I couldn't get the lighting right no matter how much I worked on it... I even cropped it a bunch --so that you could see faces... Oh Well!!!!!  BUT---this is one of the few times,  the 'shorty' in the group (ME) was TALL.... ha ha (We were all standing on steps, and I got the TOP one!!!!)

After leaving Buffalo,  we met  blog friend,  LINDA  and her hubby Bob,  at the Cracker Barrel for dinner in Erie, PA.   The neatest thing about meeting blog friends is that you feel as if you have known each other FOREVER... It was wonderful meeting them.  We could have talked forever. Above is a picture of Linda and Bob.

Here is a picture that George took of Linda and me.  She is such a wonderful friend--and a great photographer!!!!

Then--this past Saturday,   we met another blog friend and his family.   Blog friend, LARRY,  his wife Bev and her sister, Pat,  actually came to Crossville... They have a new RV ---and were camping at the Beanpot Campground near us.   We took them to dinner at one of our local restaurants,  the Catfish Cabin.  Then we visited them for awhile at their campground.  Larry has a 'cooking blog' ---and both he and Bev can really cook...  Yum!!!!  It was a neat visit ---and we enjoyed meeting this wonderful family.  Above is Larry,  Bev and Pat with their furry babies!!!!

Finally,  here is a picture that Pat took of the other four of us beside their gorgeous RV.   They are planning a trip to Texas in their RV sometime in the next few months.  It is a beauty!!!!

We love meeting blog friends ---and have been fortunate to have met several wonderful families... If you have not met your blog friends yet,  I hope you will make the effort to do that.  It makes the relationships even better!!!!!

AND--to the blog friends who live in PA, Ohio, and West VA---we apologize for not working it out to meet you on this past trip.  This trip was hastily planned --and we truly didn't know what we were doing until the last minute.  We'll try to come back and meet you the next time ---along with others along the way...

Have a wonderful day.  We'll be gone most of the day today!  Have to go to the 'city' (Knoxville) for some appointments and errands.... 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cass Scenic Railroad, Cass, West VA

On Sept, 16, 2011,  we had a wonderful day taking a  4 1/2 hour train ride  WAY up the mountain to Bald Knob, at over 4700 feet in elevation.  The Cass Scenic Railroad is a member of the West Virginia Tourist Train Association.

I love steam engines ---and seeing them (and riding on them) brought back so many memories of my childhood.  My Daddy worked for the railroad all of his life --and when I was young,  he would take me to work on occasion,  and I'd get to ride on the steam trains.  What JOY--and what fabulous memories.

Going up that mountain --and listening to that engine huffing and puffing was truly awesome for me.   These trains operate from the end of May through October each year.  The only problem we had on this trip was that the weather turned cold --and George and I were NOT prepared.... It was about 55 degrees --with a wind chill as we rode along on that OPEN train.  NOTE TO BETSY:  Put our coats and sweats in the car when we drive to the mountains in the Fall.... ha ha ....  We only had our THIN rain jackets... Luckily we did have long pants --but it was still COLD.  Some people on the train brought heavy coats, gloves, and blankets....

BUT----forgetting the cold day,  we had a wonderful time.  Today,  I will share some of the TONS of photos we took on that trip...   Above is a picture of the engine of one of the Cass trains we saw while waiting on our train to come.  Be sure to click on the photos for a larger shot.

Here is that train leaving the station ...  This train was just like ours except that it only went to Whitaker  (a 1 1/2 hour trip).  

This is our train..  We chose the LAST car (which was great) since we had a great view of the engine as it took us up that mountain... By the way ---the engine PUSHED us instead of pulled us --so technically on the trip up the mountain,  we were in the FRONT car!!!!!!

Each car had seats in the middle --and plenty of room to walk around on both sides...  Most of us stood up --hanging out of the train to get the best photos.

Here is one of the places where we passed one of the other trains as it headed back down the mountain.   We had a wonderful guide on our train.  He told us so many wonderful stories about the area, and about the train.   We could tell that he loved his job.

Here is a picture from our car ---as we were being pushed up the mountain.  The scenery was awesome all along the way --and we ran around taking pictures on all sides...

This  picture was taken at our first stop (Whittaker).   There were restrooms,  snack bars,  and picnic tables.  George and I took our lunch with us.

Here we are at Bald Knob.   The views up here are fantastic.   I have many, many more pictures to share (the views,  the Bald Knob area,  the deer at Bald Knob, etc.).. SO ---come back for more pictures from our Cass Scenic Train Ride.   AND--if you are ever in West VA,  be sure and visit this wonderful place!

Have a wonderful day.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Blackwater Falls, West Virginia

Blackwater Falls, West Virginia
As you know,  we took some time off from Blogging recently... We did get some much-needed yardwork done,  visited George's father,  and finished some other projects which were on our lists...  BUT--we also decided to take a short trip to Buffalo, New York,  to visit George's daughter,  Kelly, and hubby Chuck.   We enjoyed seeing them --and on our way home,  we decided to take a few more days and visit some scenic areas (including waterfalls) in Ohio and West Virginia...

Believe it or not,  we did manage to see about 25 new waterfalls.  Some were 'waterless' --or almost waterless...  Others were huge... Today I'll share one of our favorites,   Blackwater Falls,  in the Potomac Highlands near Davis, West VA.  Thanks to blog friend,  ANGELA,  for promoting her gorgeous state on her blog... That's one reason we went there!!!!

We got to the state park on a rainy, wet, foggy day ---which is usually a good time to view waterfalls...  WELL--we definitely hit the jackpot.  It was still drizzling when we hiked down to the waterfall --but once we got there and saw that raging beauty,  we just forgot about all of the rain!!!! Blackwater Falls  (50 feet high) is on the Blackwater River.  The hike wasn't bad ---and there is a great boardwalk with steps leading down to the falls. 

Today I will share with you some of our photos around the state park.  Above is a photo taken near the falls,  from the boardwalk.  Below are more!  Be sure and click on each picture to see a larger version.


Here is a picture of George taken on the boardwalk ---as we headed to the overlook on the other side of the gorge.

Since Blackwater Falls State Park is about 3500 feet in elevation,  we got to see some beautiful Fall colors up there.

Here is another picture of Blackwater Falls --taken from the overlook on the other side of the gorge.   From here,  you can see the platform where we were when the first picture above was taken.

This is a funny picture George took of me while we were at the Blackwater Falls Overlook --on the other side of the gorge.

Fog seems to follow George and I when we are traveling.. On this rainy day at Blackwater Falls State Park,  we did have alot of fog around..  Isn't this a great photo of the mountains,  the fog and some Fall color?

This picture was taken from the Pendleton Point Overlook --and shows the Blackwater River as it rages through the gorge.

Finally,  here is one more photo of gorgeous Blackwater Falls taken from the overlook across the gorge. 

There are more waterfalls in this 2,456 acre state park.  We saw a few more here on this trip--but want to go back there in order to do more hiking on their many trails and to check out more waterfalls in the area.  This is a state park which we definitely recommend.

Hope all of you have had a great 2+ weeks.  I have not checked many blogs --so if I missed something really important,  please remind me to check  that particular post.  Otherwise,  I will start reading your blog posts this week.

I also enjoyed participating on Facebook while I've been gone.  IF you are on Facebook and haven't found me yet,  please go to my sidebar and click on my Facebook info.  I never thought I would enjoy Facebook --but my kids/grands are all on it.  SO-- IF I wanted to keep up with them and their busy lives,  I 'had' to join!!!!!   What I found out though was just how much fun Facebook is.  I have also caught up with many blog friends --some of which are not blogging anymore.

Hugs to All,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oh the Beautiful Rocky Mountains

On June 25th,  after we visited a very HOT Arches in Utah,  we drove to the Rocky Mountain National Park  in Colorado.  What a wonderful change in climate!!!!  Wow---I love cool weather and SNOW---and got the joy of seeing both of them while we were there.

I have a 'scrillion' pictures from that ONE day...  We saw as much as we could possibly see in one day --but want to go back again.  It was incredible!!!!!  Here are a few of the pictures we took when we entered the park on the north side (Fall River entrance north and west of Estes Park).  The picture above was taken in Estes Park.  I loved seeing the reflections of the mountains in that lake...  Below are more! (Please click and enlarge these pictures for a larger view!)

Our first stop after we entered the Park was the Sheep Lake meadow.  We were hoping to see some bighorn sheep (and even checked out that area twice, again on the way out of the park)---but we didn't get lucky on that day.  Beautiful meadow though ---which you will seen later in this set (after we get up on the mountain).  YES---we headed UP (way UP) those mountains!!!!!

Next, we drove to the Alluvial Fan area and hiked to a gorgeous waterfall which cascaded all the way down the mountain.. I'll save those pictures for another post.  Then we drove to the Endovalley area (end of that road) ---and had hoped to head up the mountain on an old road, the Old Fall River Road.  However,  due to all of the snow they received this year,  that road was still closed.

SO----we headed UP the mountain on the main road, Highway 34!!!  We stopped at all of the overlooks as we headed up the mountain.  We went UP-UP-UP... The picture above is George standing at one of the overlooks.

This picture shows how high we were getting.. We were running into more and more snow the higher we went.  AND--the temperature kept going DOWN... I LOVED it...  You can see the meadow below in the distance,  that I mentioned in the 2nd photo from the top above.   And---you can see the road we took up the mountain!!!

We climbed to over 11,000 feet ---and even though the roads and overlooks were clear,  there was still LOTS of snow around. See how they banked the snow along the sides????? Remember---this was June 25!!!!

Here's another snow picture taken from the car!!!!  Can you believe this much snow in the summer????  Wow!!!!!!

Finally,  I got to get out and walk in the snow!!!!! Talk about a 'happy camper'.... This picture was taken at the Forest Canyon overlook---at 11, 716 feet AND 57 degrees!!!!!

What a gorgeous place ---and so different from the desert where we had just been...  Hope you enjoyed these photos.   I will have a Part II--III--IV,  etc... upcoming!!!!!

George and I are VERY busy right now.. There just seems to be alot going on.  SO--we've decided to take a long BLOG BREAK.   I'm not sure what we'll be doing ---but we have plenty to do to keep us busy!!!!!   Hope you have a wonderful September --and I'll be back on September 26....

Hugs to ALL of you,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beauty from the Biltmore House and Gardens

 I hope you are not getting tired of my photos from Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, NC.  This will be my 18th post from there...  I'm not obsessed,  am I?  ha ha ....  IF you happen to miss any of the other 17 posts,  you can go to my sidebar,  scroll down to Labels, and click on Biltmore.  It is truly an awesome place!  This trip was on August 5, my birthday!
Today I'm sharing a few more pictures with you.   Above are a couple of gorgeous Crepe Myrtles in bloom.   Below are more.  Enlarge the photos for larger pictures.

One of the adorable statues at the Italian Gardens;  I first thought he was holding an ice cream cone.  Don't think so!!!!! ha

One of the sidewalks in the Biltmore Gardens;  Love seeing the Grape Vines;

The Koi in the Italian Water Gardens;  I was looking straight down into the water --and loved getting the clouds in the sky as a reflection!

Remember when I showed a picture of this Chenille plant  around Christmas time --from inside the Conservatory?  WELL---now they have been transplanted outside.  Those little fuzzy worms do get long,  don't they?

I've talked alot about the Conservatory but have never shown you its picture.  Well--here it is--and let me tell you that there are some gorgeous tropical plants inside there,  including Orchids.

On another note,  several of you have complained about having to scroll all of the way down through my comments to get to the "Leave Comment" form.  WELL--my advice is:  when you bring up a blog,  click on the blog only (Like THIS) instead of the post (This one )....   If you pull up the blog,  the comments won't come up.  Then just click on the comment form.  Much EASIER I think!!!!!   Use the Blogger Draftboard because it doesn't work if you use the Google Reader.   Just my thoughts for today! ha

Hope you enjoyed my photos from Biltmore.

Have a wonderful day.  We are still getting some drizzly rain... We're up to about 6 inches now....But--it's a slow rain ---so there's no flooding!  Thanks be to God.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Late Summer Color in our Yard--2011

Thanks be to God for bringing us some much-needed rain this week.  Tropical Storm Lee came our way!!!!  Yeah Rah!!!!  We have had a very very dry couple of months (with no rain since the end of June),  but believe it or not,  we still have a few things blooming in our yard.

However,  if you could see the yard,  you would think that it's the middle of October --with one exception:  the extreme heat we had recently.  Because of the drought,  the leaves on the big shade trees have turned brown and are falling.. Our ground is covered with them!!!!  Crazy ---since it is only September. BUT---lucky for us---that extreme heat has now gone (as of this week) --and I hope it stays away until next Summer.  I am ready for some Fall temperatures....

Today I'll share some of the blooms in our yard now  (with the exception of our gorgeous Roses which I talked about last week).  We have REBLOOMING IRISES ---and have enjoyed them so much, especially this time of year. 

This Iris and the one above is named CANTINA.

This little beauty is one of our CLEMATIS blooms.   They are mostly gone now--but we enjoyed quite a few of them this summer.

I absolutely love our SEMPERVIVUM (Semps---called Hens and Chicks), and we have them in various places all over the yard.  George got a good macro of this bloom.

Here's an even closer shot of one of the Semp blooms.  Isn't it just gorgeous?

This gorgeous Iris is named CLARENCE.   It's so much fun to see these blooming this time of year.

I love the colors in this Iris... Her name is BLATANT.   Thanks to George for working hard to keep all of these little beauties alive in this summer heat.  We both keep things watered --as much as possible!

Hope you have a wonderful day!!!!!  AND---thanks be to God for the rain and milder temperatures...  We have had 5+ inches of rain so far with more to come!!!!  But--some areas around us are having much flooding...We are grateful for the rain --but I hate to hear about the flooding.

The other good news is that it is MUCH cooler here now.  It was so damp and cool last night (in the 50's) that we had a fire in the fireplace... I LOVED it!!!!!