Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to MAY!!!! Spring is AWESOME. Enjoy some beautiful IRISES from our yard. Meet "Goodnight Kiss"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Old Man's Cave Gorge, Ohio

On our September 2011 trip east,  one place we visited and thoroughly enjoyed was the Hocking Hills State Park in Logan, Ohio.   Since I was in the hospital in October,  I didn't finish sharing pictures from this trip.  In fact,  even though we spent two days at Hocking Hills,  I had only shared one blog post from there so far.   That post was about Conkles Hollow.  If you didn't see that post,  you can see it by clicking HERE.

Besides Conkles Hollow,  other areas we visited in the state park were Ash Cave,  Cedar Falls,  and Old Man's Cave Gorge.   Today I am sharing some pictures from Old Man's Cave Gorge.   This is the most popular area of the park and it is easy to understand why.

You can hike deep into the gorge where the temperatures are cooler and the trails are fabulous...  There is lush greenery, ferns and moss everywhere.  IF you love hiking (and seeing waterfalls), we highly recommend Hocking Hills State Park.  There are MANY great hiking trails throughout the park. We hope to go back sometime.

Today I will share some pictures of that gorgeous area ---and you can take the loop hike with us in the gorge...   There are several cascades along the way --and I will show you the two major waterfalls.   Sit back and enjoy the hike!!!  (Please enlarge the photos so that you can enjoy the details.)

Lower Falls

Upper Falls

Did you enjoy that hike????  You did get some exercise---so that is good...  The loop trail is only about a mile --so it's really not a hard hike at all.   But---it is a gorgeous hike with so much beauty all around!!!!   I hope you took time to enlarge the photos.  As I said,  we recommend this state park!!!

Hope you have a great Monday.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Best of 2011: BILTMORE

As most of you know,  George and I have season's tickets  to the Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina.   If you are new to my blog and want more information about Biltmore,  click HERE.  We made SEVERAL trips there during 2011---at different seasons of the year.  Today I will share with you just a FEW of my favorite pictures from Biltmore in 2011.

Above is one of my definite favorites... It was taken from the LAGOON during late Fall --looking at the back of the Biltmore House.  We had hoped to see  the Mums in bloom --but missed them in 2011.  Maybe we'll get there at the right time in 2012.  Be sure and click on the photos to see larger views.

During the Winter,  I would recommend a visit inside the conservatory at Biltmore.  During the Christmas season,  they feature alot of Poinsettias and other 'reds' of Christmas.  They also have a room that is filled with ORCHIDS.  The picture above and below shows only two of the gorgeous orchids from Biltmore.

This ORCHID's color is just awesome I think.

I love HYDRANGEAS also..   This one is pretty --and I loved the pale blue one which they also featured at Biltmore.

As Spring approached,  we took another trip back to Biltmore to see the spring blooms.  This picture was only one of MANY that we took of the DOGWOODS and AZALEAS.  The grounds are at their prettiest in spring I think.

Here's a close-up of one of the AZALEAS.  Isn't the color just gorgeous?

The joy of being at Biltmore in Summer was seeing the fabulous SUNFLOWERS in bloom.  There were so many in that big field that they just took my breath away.   So beautiful ---and definitely worth a trip to Biltmore in summer.

I could have chosen 100 (or more) pictures from Biltmore to share with you.  We love that place.  We're so in tune with the gardens and all of the other facilities that we haven't taken much time (only once) to go inside the home itself.  We hope to do that soon --but no photos are allowed inside.  SO--we won't be able to share that part with you.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday...   Maybe the rains will finally stop for awhile and give us a BREAK....  Hopefully,  I'll have time to work on my Genealogy this weekend!!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Skyland Resort on Skyline Drive, Virginia

This is my last post from our Thanksgiving Trip of 2011... (No applause please!!!! ha ha)... If you are new to my blog (and I have had several new folks since 2012 began),  and IF you want to see any of those other posts,  you can click HERE.  There are 10 posts total --including this one.  OR---if you want information on the Skyland Resort where we stayed,  you can click HERE for more information.

It took us three days to get to Skyland Resort that week, since we stopped so much and did many more things along the way.   BUT--we finally got there.   As usual for us,  we had alot of rain while there that week.  We did get out and take some pictures --but most all of our pictures this year were taken during the rainy, foggy conditions...

Hope you enjoy our pictures from Skyland.  This is a neat resort with a great restaurant (we had our turkey dinner there)---so we highly recommend it to you.   Be sure and enlarge the pictures for larger views.

This is a picture of us in our room.   I must admit that I was miserable when that picture was taken,  with an incredibly painful stiff neck.. (It went away when I got home and got some muscle relaxant pills from my doctor.)  As you probably know,  I had had hernia surgery in October and was still recooping from that.  I assume this trip --as much as I enjoyed it--was a little too much for me so soon.  BUT--it was great and we did have a good time. 

Here is our room (building) from the outside.   We were on the top floor to the right of the room with the light on...  We had a wonderful balcony in the back with a view of the Shenandoah Valley below.  VERY nice!!!!!

Anytime we got out to take pictures,  this is what we saw!!!!   The fog was thick and stayed with us during our stay there.   The good news about the weather was that it gave us a chance to stay in the room,  relax and read a good book!!!!!  Life was GOOD.

Here's one more fog picture that George took....  We both love taking pictures of trees ---so this one is neat,  surrounded by the fog...  

Because of the fog,  we didn't have much of a view of the Shenandoah Valley this time,  but as the fog lifted and clearer skies took over one night,  George went out on the balcony and took a picture of the lights in the valley below.  Pretty,  don't you think?

I love this photo of the sky ---when we left Skyland and headed home.  If we could have stayed another few days,  we may have had some sunny skies there.  But--it was time to go home!  Isn't that a great picture of the SKY that morning???

Finally,  when we got home to our beautiful Cumberland Plateau,  this is what we saw right before we drove into our driveway...  I think that sunset was welcoming us home.  Pretty,  isn't it????

Hope you enjoyed our pictures.  It was truly a fabulous trip ---and if you haven't traveled on the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive,   please do it!!!!!  It's AWESOME.

Have a great day.


Monday, January 23, 2012

January Birds --on a Frigid Winter Day in Tennessee

Downy Woodpecker
We have had a very mild winter overall here on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.  However,  a cold front came through our area on January 11-12 which brought us about 2 inches of snow plus some very very cold temperatures for a few days.

During that cold spell,  my sweet little backyard birds FLOCKED to the feeders all day long.  They ate so much I had to refill the feeders several times.  I am so pleased that I can feed the birds --especially this time of year.  They count on people like me who do this.   I felt so sorry for the little birds out there in the cold ---but Georgie didn't think it would be a good idea to invite them all inside to get warm!!!!!! ha ha ha....

Needless to say,  I took a bunch of photos of some of the birds who visited us during that time.  Hope you enjoy seeing these sweet little birds.  The picture above may be one of my favorite pictures that I've taken of a Downy Woodpecker.  Isn't she pretty?

Be sure to click on the photos so that you can see larger views.

Tufted Titmouse
The little Tufted Titmice are such sweet little birds.   The are very active ---and go back and forth to the feeders for hours!

Eastern Bluebird
Here is one of my favorites,  our little Eastern Bluebird.  This male looked so cold even though he is all puffed up to stay warm!!!!!

Dark-eyed Junco
Everytime we get some snow,  the  Dark-eyed Juncos  (which seem to love snow) are always around the feeders.   They seem to stay below the feeders --and are happy eating some of the spillage.

Northern Cardinal
This male Northern Cardinal thinks he is hiding from me in the Rhododendron.   Since he is that bright red color,  I'm sure he finds it hard to hide!!!!!!

White-breasted Nuthatch
Another favorite of mine is the White-breasted Nuthatch... When I am on the deck filling the feeders,  there is always a Nuthatch in a nearby tree.  He just talks to me while I'm out there... Chatter Chatter Chatter!!!!!  (He's probably saying:  "Hurry up, Lady.  I'm hungry!")

Gray Catbird
I had a hard time deciding who this little guy was... He was really puffy and his gray color is darker in Winter...  After researching,  I think he is a Gray Catbird.   The birds love my 'heated' bird bath this time of year --since they need water,  and many places, it is frozen now.

Eastern Bluebird
Finally,  here's a picture of a female Eastern Bluebird.   I enjoy seeing the colorful males,  but the females are just as beautiful --in their own way!

I have another set to show you sometime...  I always enjoy watching the birds  anytime of year,  but winter is very special.    I still want to invite them inside to get warm... What do you think????? ha ha ha


Friday, January 20, 2012

Best of 2011: ROSES

Summer of Love--taken 5/13/11
If you are new to my blog,  you may not know that we grow beautiful ROSES in our yard.  Actually,  George grows them and I just enjoy them.  We have about 55 different varieties.  SO--it was fun going through all of my 2011 blog posts searching for my favorite 2011 Roses...  Again,  it's hard to choose only a few --but I did it!!!!  Hope you enjoy our beautiful Hybrid Tea and  Grandiflora Roses.  Be sure and click on the pictures to see them enlarged.

Double Delight--taken 5/7/11

About Face--taken 5/10/11

Crescendo---taken 5/21/11

Wildfire--taken 6/3/11

A Capella--taken 5/10/11

Moonstone----taken 7/14/11

Apricot Nectar---taken 8/11/11

Ronald Reagan---taken 8/2/11
Hope you enjoyed seeing some of our 'beauties'.... I never get tired of these gorgeous Roses...   I am the luckiest woman in the world to have such a fabulous husband --who brings a rose inside for me to enjoy almost every day during the spring/summer.

Have a great weekend and I will see you on Monday.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the Road to Skyland Resort----Part I

I got so involved sharing Christmas pictures in December  that I didn't finish sharing our Thanksgiving Trip with you.  On Thanksgiving Week,  George and I drove  on the Blue Ridge Parkway  from Asheville, North Carolina,  all the way to the end of the parkway.  For those of you who do not know,  the Blue Ridge Parkway ends ---and Skyline Drive continues north... We were on our way almost to the end of Skyline Drive (at Front Royal, Virginia) to the Skyland Resort...

I have a couple more sets of pictures to share from that wonderful trip.  I'll share one this week and another one next week.  These pictures were taken over a two -day period BEFORE we got to the Skyland Resort..

Above is a great photo of the view from the Blue Ridge Parkway.   Be sure to click on all pictures to make them larger.

George really worked hard using his muscles to hold this TINY rock up!!!!!! ha ha

We saw MANY deer while driving on the Parkway AND Skyline Drive... Here is a young male...  If you know this area,  you probably have heard of the Big Meadows area.  This deer was near that area.  Pretty one, isn't he?

This is the Big Meadow in WINTER...  It is truly a 'big meadow' ---so it's appropriately named.   If you enlarge this picture,  you can see deer grazing out in the meadow.

George hiked down a little creek path --and captured this marvelous reflection... 

Here is a picture of the two of us --taken at an overlook on Skyline Drive... I loved the sky on this day... It had been cloudy --but was trying to clear up...

Next week,  I'll share another set of pictures from that Thanksgiving trip... If you missed any of the previous blog posts from this trip,  click HERE.   There are a total of 9 posts from this  wonderful trip.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Cades Cove in the Smokies

Besides visiting with special friends in Gatlinburg in December and seeing all of the gorgeous Christmas lights and decorations,  George and I also took time while we were in the Smoky Mountains to make a quick trip to one of our favorite places,  Cades Cove.

I love Cades Cove during all seasons ---and one of these days,  I need to share different photos from each season for you in one blog post... BUT--today,  I'll share some WINTER photos taken by us in December, 2011.

The picture above shows the John Oliver cabin in the distance ---along with the mountains in winter AND the beautiful blue sky.   Wouldn't you love to have a cabin like this in the mountains somewhere????  I'd LOVE it!!!!!

Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge them!!!!

We took one of the dirt roads across the cove ---and stopped to take pictures of the valley and the mountains.

This is my Sweetheart ---also taking pictures in Cades Cove.  Isn't the sky just gorgeous on that mild December day????

You can see the little dirt road we were on that day... There's just no place like Cades Cove in the Smokies!!!!!  (I'd love to see it with snow on the ground sometime!)

We saw several deer out and about the day we were there.   I snapped this picture with my long-lens---and didn't realize until I got home and put it on my computer that there was a little one lying there near his mother....  Neat, huh?

We passed by some turkeys eating (and paying no attention to us) in the field.

I had to show you this side of the turkey so that you could see some of his pretty colors.

Here is one more beautiful photo of the SNOWY Smoky Mountains, from beautiful Cades Cove.   Be sure to enlarge this picture.   Such an awesome place!!!!!

Have a wonderful day.