Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month is a beautiful CROCUS in our Yard. When the Crocus and Daffodils bloom --that means that SPRING 'may' be on the way!!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rockhouse Hike at Mt. Magazine, Arkansas

Everytime we go to Mt. Nebo in Arkansas,  we take a trip a little farther west of there to visit another favorite mountain of ours,  Mt. Magazine.  This year was no exception.   The area which we love in Arkansas consists of a series of mountains (Mt. Nebo, Petit Jean, Mt. Magazine) which lie between the Ouachita Mountains to the south and the Ozarks to the north.  Mt. Magazine is the largest of these mountains,  and there is a hike one can take to the top point of Mt. Magazine which says that it is the highest point in the state of Arkansas.

We love Mt. Magazine for its views of the  Petit Jean Valley below;   for its waterfalls;  for the good food at the lodge restaurant;  and for its hikes.  This time (Feb. 28, 2012),  since it was rainy and foggy,  we took a hike down the mountain to visit a rockhouse and a small creek.  Here are our pictures of that steep hike.   Above is me standing in front of the rockhouse.  Be sure and enlarge all of the pictures to see them larger.




The rock formations around this area are just gorgeous..  Note the fog at the top of the picture... As I said,  it was very foggy and drizzly that day.. However,  this was our only 'rainy' day on that entire trip this year!!!




I stayed at the rockhouse and George bushwhacked down the hill (there was sort-of-a-trail) to check out the creek below. We had already hiked a long ways down the mountain to get to the rockhouse... SO---I just sat and enjoyed the beauty around me --while George went exploring some more.




Here is a picture of the creek--without much water this year.  Arkansas has not had the huge amounts of rain that Tennessee has had during this past winter... The waterfalls and cascades there were mostly 'waterless' this year.




George is making his way BACK up the steep hill --toward the rockhouse... The hiking sticks do help---but it's not easy especially when you are carrying a heavy camera backpack--including a tripod.  At least he is still SMILING!!!!




Here is another picture of the rocks around the Rockhouse!!!  I'll bet that the deer and other wildlife like this rockhouse area.  We scared three deer when we were hiking down there ---so they ran away from this area!  They probably were mad that we HUMANS were visiting 'their' area!!!!




Here's a picture George took of me and my hiking sticks... It's almost time to hike back up that steep mountain!!! Where's the elevator when I need it????? ha ha




BUT--we have to take time to take one more picture.... "George,  please set up the tripod."   "Okay-DEAR!!!!"   ha ha ....   Don't you like this picture though?  It may be my favorite picture of the two of us...  What do you think?

Have a wonderful weekend.  I'll see you on Monday.

Hugs,
Betsy

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More Spring Beauty

Since George and I 'walk the yard' every morning --checking out all of the new blooms,  you can only imagine how many pictures we both have taken.  Even though it is still March,  these past two weeks have been some of the best I can ever remember when it comes to gorgeous weather --and LOTS of Spring blooms.

If you missed last week's blog post showing some spring flowers in our yard,  click HERE to see those pictures... Today,  I will share more with you.  The picture above is a combination of some Daffodils, red Tulips,   Dad Adams' Daffodils,  a little of our pink Phlox (in the background) and some of our white Candy Tuft.  Below are more.  Please click on the pictures for enlargements.




I love this batch of white Tulips, named Purissima.  They are located in the 'road' flowerbed out front.  Aren't they pretty?




We have two Red Bud trees in our yard... Both are gorgeous right now --especially the one near the road.  I was standing below this tree --looking up at that beautiful blue sky. The sun was in a perfect place to bring out the colors.




This picture shows the gorgeous yellow Forsythia in the side yard toward the back.  Like I said,  everything is blooming and is just breath-taking!!!!




Here's another picture of the Red Bud tree... I was standing in the road looking back toward the house.  Isn't this just awesome?  The bees LOVE the Red Bud blooms.




 Do you like red tulips???  These red tulips (on the other end of the 'road' flowerbed from the white Tulips)  are appropriately named  Red Dynasty.





Finally,  I stood in the street and took a picture looking back toward the house.  Besides the Red Dynasty tulips, you can also see two of the three round flowerbeds,  the container roses,  and the two 'rose' flowerbeds --which now are ablaze with Spring flowers. (The roses won't bloom until May probably--although everything is blooming early this year... SO???? Who knows!!!) 

I hope you aren't getting too bored with my Spring flower pictures... I guess,  when you work in your yard for several years like we have done,  and begin seeing so many rewards of your labors,  it just becomes extremely exciting!!!  AND--you want to share this joy--which we enjoy doing.  Hope you like them!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, March 26, 2012

Horsetrough Falls, Georgia

Us at Horsetrough Falls
As most of you know,  George and I took three trips in a month (one to North Georgia,  one to Arkansas, and  one to West Virginia).   Today's post is another one from our Valentine's visit to North Georgia.  Please take a peak back at this post (click HERE) --to see what we experienced that day while searching for Horsetrough Falls.

This area is near Helen, Georgia (White County) and Unicoi State Park.  We began traveling on Forest Rd. 44 (called the Chattahoochee River Road)  at an elevation of 3100 feet in the snow... We drove down that forest service  road for almost 5 miles ---DEEP into the mountains.

We drove and drove and drove (it seemed--since we had to drive slowly on that bumpy and steep mountain road) and finally came to the Upper Chattahoochee River Campground.  We parked there and took a nice little hike into the woods (about a mile one way).  Since the campground was closed,  we had to park outside the campground and walk across the Henson Creek to the other end of  the campground in order to get to the trailhead.

There was NOBODY around that cold, wet, foggy, snowy day in Georgia---so we had the entire area ALL to ourselves... (That's what we love!!!!) ..... And since you know how much we LOVE waterfalls,  you can just imagine the joy we had when we finally came to Horsetrough Falls.  What a fabulous area ---and a HUGE waterfall in the woods!!!

Hope you enjoy our pictures... Be sure to enlarge them for bigger pictures.




Here is another picture of Forest Road 44---which we had to travel on, in order to reach Horsetrough Falls...   The snow disappeared and the fog lifted as we traveled down the mountain toward Chattahoochee Gap.  But the road was steep and bumpy!




After reaching the trailhead,  we crossed a footbridge over the Chattahoochee River.




Here is a picture of the Chattahoochee River from the bridge.  Isn't this area just gorgeous?  I love the Rhododendrons.




I took this picture of George at the viewing platform where we saw Horsetrough Falls.




George took a picture of me at the same location.  Wish you could have seen that area.  We felt like that waterfall was there JUST for us!!!! Usually when we find a waterfall deep in the woods like this,  it is not such a LARGE one.  This one was huge!!!!




As we headed out,  I took a picture of George on the little bridge.  This was a gorgeous little hike!!!




Finally,  here is a picture of Horsetrough Falls from the viewing platform.  Depending upon which book I read,  Horsetrough Falls is from 70-100 feet tall.

Hope you enjoyed seeing our pictures of Horsetrough Falls...   We have found out (since we got home) that there was another waterfall not far from Horsetrough Falls.  SO--we'll go back to that area sometime...

We recently purchased two new waterfall books:
"Waterfall Hikes of North Georgia" by Jim Parham
"Waterfall Hikes of Upstate South Carolina" by Thomas E. King
I don't know how many waterfall books we have --but I'll admit that we do have quite a few!!!!!  The books help so much in trying to find information,  directions,  etc. when searching for waterfalls.   Without these books, we would never have been able to find all of the back-woods areas we have seen.    As I say alot,  SO MUCH JOY.

Hugs,
Betsy

Friday, March 23, 2012

It's Party Time

George and I went to Tullahoma yesterday to visit his 'almost' 100 year old father...  Dad is doing well ---and still has his sense of humor.  When we got ready to leave,  Dad said this:"If you find a pack of wild horses,  please save me a couple"...... Isn't he a Cutie?

Anyhow the party today is NOT about Dad (that big 100 yr. old party will come in August).  This party is all about our wonderful TOYOTA PRIUS.....  Mrs. P, as we lovingly call her,  just yesterday turned over to  200,000 miles on the odometer....  AND--she is still getting us about 54 miles per gallon (which comes in handy these days when the cost of gas just keeps rising). 

Mrs. P has been with us since we bought her in 2005 (she's a 2004 Prius).   She has taken us all over the country since then ---and has NEVER given us one bit of trouble.  In fact,  we are still on her FIRST set of brakes (which is rare for a car this old).

When we take her into the Toyota place for service,  everyone is surprised that she is in such good shape and still going STRONG.    Why would we trade her for a newer model when she is still doing so well?????  SO---we will keep her until she causes us a major problem.  So far,  no problems!!!!!  We will buy another Prius ---but one never knows if a newer one will EVER be as good as Mrs. P has been!!!! Congrats to her!

SO--since George and I LOVE to celebrate,   we invite you to have a party today in her honor!!!!!   I'll share some photos today that we have taken in various places since 2005.  Above,  Mrs. P is waiting patiently (she is very patient and never complains) at an overlook for us to take LOTS of pictures!!!!!  Below are more.
 




Most of you will notice where this picture is... This is our wonderful little cabin at Mt. Nebo,  Arkansas.  Mrs. P has made MANY trips up that mountain--carrying us and all of our 'stuff'...




Mrs. P takes us on bumpy dirt roads ---as we head back into the mountains in search for new waterfalls.




Can you see Mrs. P down there????  We had been on a hike in North Carolina and were coming back down the mountain when we spotted her,  sitting there waiting for us...  (I think she takes some good books to read while she has to wait!!!!!! ha ha )




Even in muddy conditions,  Mrs. P will just take us anywhere we want to go!!!!




Finally,  we recently took a Valentine's trip to the North Georgia mountains... We were near the Unicoi State Park area again searching for waterfalls --when we encountered some snow!!!!!  Again,  Mrs. P did well--and seems to handle whatever conditions we encounter.

Please lift your glass in celebration of MRS. P today!!!!!  She's been a fabulous car --and I hope she'll keep on keeping on for many more months or years!!!!!

Have a fabulous weekend.  I will see you on Monday.

Hugs,
Betsy

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kumbrabow State Forest, West VA

This was George's and my third trip to West Virginia (March 7-10).  Each time we go,  we find some absolutely fabulous places to visit.  A big thanks goes to our "Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia" waterfall book by Kevin Adams...  Books like this (we have a bunch from many states) are so helpful when searching for waterfalls..

The Kumbrabow State Forest offers nearly 10,000 acres of managed forest for hunters, anglers and hikers.  As you know,  we love to drive WAY back into the woods --and this area was no exception!   After climbing down and back up all of the stairs to see Hill Creek Falls (click HERE to see that blog post),  driving back into these woods was a nice change.

In order to get here,  drive on US-219.  About halfway between Marlinton and Elkins,  turn west on CR-16 and drive 3.5 miles to a 3-way intersection.  Turn right (actually more straight than right) and drive 1.4 miles on this gravel road to a parking area on the right,  just before crossing Mill Creek.

As opposed to the Falls of Hills Creek (3 waterfalls),   there was only one waterfall here,  MILL CREEK FALLS.   BUT----oh what a pretty falls,  in a fabulous setting.  In order to get some good pictures of the falls,  we hiked on a woodsy trail through the Rhododendrons.  Like I said,  the setting is what made this area so beautiful.

Hope you enjoy our pictures from Mill Creek Falls...  Above is a picture of me as we hiked through the Rhodendrons.   Below are more.  Be sure and click on all of the pictures to see them larger!




Here is a picture of a tiny creek along our path to see Mill Creek Falls.   This area is so gorgeous ---as we walked through the Rhododendrons.




Although this area is mostly flat,  we did have to climb a bit to reach a little bridge on our path.  George is always so helpful when having to help the old woman get up the hill!!!!! ha




George took this picture of me --as we were taking pictures of beautiful Mill Creek Falls, in the distance.




And here is that beauty,  MILL CREEK FALLS.   This cascade has a total drop of about 12 feet.    As I have said,  we sometimes love seeing the smaller waterfalls deep in the woods better than the bigger,  more popular ones..




After we got back in the car,  we crossed Mill Creek ---and of course,  HAD to stop and take a picture of the creek.  Isn't it just beautiful???  Can you see the cabin in the distance?????  Wouldn't that be a neat place to spend a vacation?????




Finally,  here is one of  the little rustic cabins they have for rent.   Near the falls,  there are 5-6 rustic rental cabins.  Isn't this one just adorable????  I could spend some time relaxing here.  How about you???

There is also a campground and picnic area farther upstream from the cabins.   If you love to hike and camp and are ever in West Virginia,  check out these cabins....  The cabins are VERY RUSTIC ---and if you want more information about availability and what they offer,  click HERE.

Have a wonderful day---and remember to get out and do some HIKING.  It's good for ALL of us!!!!
Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, March 19, 2012

March is Busting Out All Over

No---it's not JUNE---but we had summer-like weather last week here in Tennessee.    Our yard truly thinks that it is late Spring right now!!!!!   (Wonder what this crazy weather means for our upcoming Summer.  Yipes!)  We had our windows and doors opened almost all week ---and even though it was truly pre-spring here,  we pulled out the short-sleeved shirts,  sandals,  and just 'pretended' as if it were summer!!!!!

Our yard is looking more and more beautiful...  The Crocus blooms are gone now,  but we still have Hyacinths and Daffodils blooming like crazy.  NOW--our Tulips are blooming also...  I am sharing with you some of our yard as it is now...All pictures were taken on March 14 or 15, 2012.  Be sure to click on the pictures in order to see them larger.

The one above is our view from our front porch --looking out toward the street.  You can see daffodils, hyacinths,  and tulips blooming.  The Roses are looking healthy and will probably be blooming by the first or middle of May.




I love Hyacinths.. We have 2-3 different colors --but this one is one of the prettiest ones this year.




I love our Semps (Sempervivum)....  We have several groups of these throughout our yard.  They are also called Hens and Chicks.  The mother (Hen) makes lots of babies..  Once the Hen blooms,  she dies,  and the babies take over --and keep the process going.




These Daffodils are on the side yard flowerbed.  Aren't they pretty?  I can see these from my kitchen window when I'm washing dishes.... We have several types of Daffodils (I grew up calling them Jonquils) --and in another blog, I'll show you some close-ups of some of them.   There are also tulips in this bed most of which haven't bloomed yet.  The little bit of blue in the bottom left corner is some of our ground cover,  our Periwinkle.




Speaking of Periwinkle,  here's a closeup view of some of ours.  If you ever want a hearty and colorful ground cover,  I highly recommend Periwinkle.  We also have English Ivy in  some places --but even though I like it,  I like the Periwinkle more.   It gets so thick that the weeds can't come through.  YEAH!!!!




Here is our newest flowerbed.   You can see it in the first picture.  It's in front of our large rose bed.  In this bed we have Daffodils,  Hyacinths and Tulips planted... Aren't they pretty???




If you have been to my blog for several years,  you will remember our  "Dad Adams Daffodils"... George's Daddy gave us these little guys about 2003 or 2004...  They are so pretty...
  



Here is another picture of our side flowerbed --looking the other direction from the previous one of the side flowerbed.  You can see one RED blooming Tulip in this bed --who thinks he is a Daffodil.... ha ha ...  You can also see one of the Periwinkle beds.  They are wonderful to have in the 'hard-to-mow' areas.




Finally,  here is one of our three round flowerbeds in our yard.  We call this one the Lamppost flowerbed (for obvious reasons)... ha...  See all of the pansies blooming --which we bought last Fall?  They will bloom until the really hot weather gets here --about July.

Right now in the bed,  we have Pansies,  Daffodils and Hyacinths.  In a few more months,  you'll see Lilies in this bed.

Hope you enjoyed seeing more of our pretty Spring flowers...   I cannot tell you how exciting it is to wake up each morning,  take a walk around the yard (with my camera of course) and find such joy in seeing all of this beauty.

Have a wonderful day---and PLEASE--whatever you are doing,  take time to stop and 'smell the flowers'...

Hugs,
Betsy

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Falls of Hills Creek, West VA

George and I have traveled to West Virginia three times in the past few years.  Each time,  we have found some fabulous areas AND waterfalls.  The first time (April of 2010) we found the New River Gorge area --including Sandstone Falls.  Click HERE for those pictures...

The second time we visited there was last Fall.  We discovered more of the New River Gorge area then ---and we also discovered Blackwater Falls.   Click  HERE to see those pictures...

This time---we stayed at the Blackwater Falls State Park Lodge in order to celebrate George's birthday... And,  as you know,  we saw LOTS of waterfalls on this visit also.  My favorite set of waterfalls (3 of them) on this trip were the FALLS OF HILLS CREEK.

 The trail leading to the falls is one of the most popular hikes in the Monongahela National Forest.  The trailhead is located on Highland Scenic Highway (another gorgeous drive) on State Road 39/55,  and 5.3 miles west of the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center.   Hope you enjoy some of our photos from the Falls of Hills Creek.

Above is a picture of some snow left on the mountain that day (even though the temps were fairly mild).  The elevation here is about 3500 feet ---so we were lucky to get to see these waterfalls at all this year.  This entire area is usually covered with snow and ice this time of year.  But--as you know,  this winter has been fairly mild. 




This is the UPPER FALLS of HILLS CREEK.   This is the only one of the three that is hard to photograph,  since we were above it,  on the side... This waterfall has about a 25 foot drop.




This is a gorgeous area...   We followed the creek down the mountain on a series of boardwalks and steps.  Note the moss on the rocks and ground... SO pretty!




They have built an elaborate series of steps to make it easier getting down the mountain to the other two waterfalls.   George took this picture of me from the top --after I had climbed back up those stairs.




AND--I took his picture at the bottom showing how far up I really was!!!!  You can see the elaborate boardwalk ---and you can also see some snow still there along the creek area.




Here is a picture of the MIDDLE FALLS of HILLS CREEK.  The drop is about 45 feet.   This is a fabulous area --and the overlook is perfect for taking pictures.  We set up the tripod here and took our picture together (shown in this past Monday's blog post).




This is another picture showing the extensive stair work someone did in order to make it possible for us to get down to those two lower waterfalls.  (Wish they would do this at Blackwater so that we could see more of Pendleton and Elekala Falls.) 




We made it all of the way down to the LOWER FALLS of HILLS CREEK.  There were lots of stairs ---but we both made it just fine.  In fact,  we got hot with our jackets on, while hiking.




Here is a picture of the LOWER FALLS of HILLS CREEK.  This is the largest of the three falls and is about a 64 foot drop.  Lower Falls is often cited as West Virginia's second highest waterfall, behind Blackwater Falls.

We really enjoyed seeing all of these waterfalls (especially the Middle and Lower ones) --and recommend this hike if you ever get to West Virginia.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I will see you on Monday.
Hugs,
Betsy