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!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

GARDEN of the GODS, Colorado

Today,  I will share more from our western trip in September.  Charles Elliott Perkins purchased two-hundred and forty acres in the Garden of the Gods for a summer home in 1879.  He later added to the property, but never built on it, preferring to leave his wonderland in its natural state for the enjoyment of the public.  Perkins died in 1907 before he made arrangements for the land to become a public park, although it had been open to the public for years.

In 1909, Perkins' children, knowing their father's feeling for the Garden of the Gods, conveyed his 480 acres to the City of Colorado Springs.  It would be known forever as the Garden of the Gods "where it shall remain FREE to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed,  where no building shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park". 

If you want to read more information about the Garden of the Gods,  click HERE.   We had a fabulous visit there --so I wanted to share more photos with you today.  Sorry that the picture above and the last one below are not very good. It was almost dark when we took them.  Be sure to click on the photos to see enlargements.




We had a perfect day to be there... Isn't that a gorgeous sky?




These rock formations are amazing....  I just walked around with my mouth hanging open!!!!!!   I was in AWE of the area!




There are gorgeous walkways all around the area.  We enjoyed walking around with Sally and Jim.  (If you missed my blog about Sally and Jim,  check HERE.)




These rock climbers were amazing... I could never do that ---nor would I EVER try.... Yipes!!!!




Sally talked quite a bit about the big WHITE rocks.  Most people --including us--photograph the brown rocks, but don't stop to enjoy the white ones also. Isn't that a beauty?




There are many interesting birds in Colorado.   The top two are what are called Rock Doves... The one on the bottom --which you cannot see well is a White-throated Swift.  I also saw some Black-billed Magpies while there --but didn't get any good photos.




Sally took this photo of George and me while at the Garden of the Gods. As you can tell,  the temperatures warmed up some ---so we were able to shed our jackets.




George and I walked up to the top of a hill --and took some pictures looking down on the park.




Finally,  this is not a good picture since it was almost DARK.   Sally and Jim had told us where to drive to look down on the Garden of the Gods.  BUT--by the time we got there,  the sun had gone down behind that mountain.   You can get an idea of the total area though.   This place would be a fabulous place to get a photo with the sun shining on those big rocks.   We'll have to go back sometime.   WOW!!!!

We truly enjoyed our visit here.  Thanks again, Sally and Jim, for taking us to this beautiful place.  We are still re-living our wonderful trip through our photos.  Hope you are enjoying them too.

Prayers for ALL who had damage and/or lost so much in Hurricane Sandy...  Thank Goodness for Facebook and email ---as I worked hard to keep up with friends/family in the path of that storm.   God Bless ALL.

We never did get any snow (nor rain) here --but it has been COLD and WINDY.   Have a great day!

Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, October 29, 2012

Life on the Cumberland Plateau

Our little home  during Fall (2012)
As you probably know,  life for us has been VERY busy lately....  First was the big trip out west in September.  That was followed by my son's gorgeous wedding.  THEN---we went to Ohio to do some hiking with our good friends, Neal and Patti...  After coming home from Ohio,  we enjoyed a weekend here visiting with cousins/family/friends who were visiting in the area.

Then,  if all of this hasn't been enough,  we took off to the Smokies last Tuesday to see the Fall colors....   In between all of that ---this is a busy time of year for us in our yard.  We both have spent many hours (with many more to come) blowing/raking/mowing leaves.... Autumn is a pretty season and I love it ---but when those leaves start coming down,  there's alot of work to be done. 

Anyhow---to make a long story short,   I apologize for not visiting your blogs very much lately...  I do try to keep up--but it's not easy.  There just isn't enough hours in the day right now!!!!! Oh Well..... Life moves on no matter what!!!!

Today I will show you a few pictures I took in and around our yard on October 23.    AND--I'll share a few pictures of our visit with  my cousins/family on October 20/21.   Hope you enjoy seeing more of our crazy lives here in Fairfield Glade --on the Cumberland Plateau.  Be sure to click on the photos for enlargements.

I take alot of pictures of our little home --and love to compare them during different seasons of the year.  We had a 'quick' Fall here this year.  Trees seemed to stay green for a long time but turned quickly when they did turn ---and even though there are some reds and yellows around,  the primary colors right now are the browns/golds....  I won't say that we have had a beautiful Fall here ---like we saw in Ohio or the Smokies, but nevertheless,  it is still pretty!!!




Thought you'd enjoy seeing my little Fall decorations up close and personal.   Can you see the big ceramic pumpkin on the porch????  I got that one on a visit to Kroger's one day.  The employee there was setting up a pumpkin display --and accidentally dropped some of them.  We stopped to help him pick up the pieces.  This one only lost its lid ----so he gave it to us FREE of charge.  I bought some Fall flowers and put in it for decorations... Neat, huh?




Here is our pretty Maple in our front yard... I love the colors of the Maples in Fall.




Here is one of the MANY Burning Bushes in our area... This is a very popular bush and there's at least one in most every yard!!!!!   They are gorgeous in Fall.




AND---here's a picture of our front yard looking up the hill/street.  Note that there are a few more ROSES still blooming.  That is our neighbor's big white house in this picture.  Note the leaves on the ground.... That was AFTER we raked and blew them!!!!! Those leaves are really coming down now, just like rain... ha ha




As I said above,  we visited with two of my cousins and their families twice weekend of Oct. 20/21.   This picture shows all eight of us enjoying a meal together at the Cumberland Mountain State Park Restaurant on Sunday, Oct. 21.  We had a wonderful time together.




Here are my two cousins,  Carol (Michigan) and Bonnie (Florida).   Carol and Bonnie are 1st cousins since they have the same grandmother.   I'm a cousin on down the line since their grandmother is my mother's mother's sister.... (Figure that one out!!!!! ha)




Bonnie,  Betsy,  Carol
Finally here is a photo of the three of us cousins...  Since I have so little family left,   I love these gals ---and enjoy being with them so much.  Tennessee is a great place for us to meet since one lives in Michigan and one in Florida!!!!!!




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Last Blooming Roses from our Yard 2012
LATER:  On Saturday,  October 27,  because VERY cold weather was coming our way,  George cut most of the remaining ROSES which were blooming in our yard --and brought them all inside...  I love having them inside --but hate to see Fall end.  We'll have to wait 'til Spring in order to have more rose blossoms...  Sigh!!!!

Hope you had a great weekend.  After such a warm (almost hot) week last week,  someone opened the freezer door--since it is MUCH colder this week... But--I love it!!!!  They even mentioned the "S" word (SNOW) on our TV weather report Saturday night... YIPES....  BUT--I'll stay warm--all snuggled up next to a big roaring fire in our wood-burning  fireplace!!!!

Have a great day.

Hugs,
Betsy

Friday, October 26, 2012

ROCKBRIDGE STATE NATURE PRESERVE, OHIO

We enjoyed our visit to OHIO with good friends,  Neal and Patti.  The first hike we took on 10/16/12 was to the Rockbridge State Nature Preserve (near Logan, Ohio).  The hike took us to a natural bridge.....  BUT--as evidenced from the above collage,   we not only saw that awesome bridge,  but we also saw some fabulous colors on the trees in that area.

Hope you enjoy our hike as much as we did... Be sure to click on the photos for enlargements.




I took this picture of Neal and George on the trail...  (You can also see Patti in the back--behind George.)  Note how pretty that area is!!!  It was a cool, crisp morning --and we all enjoyed the hike.




Here is a picture of the natural bridge when we got to it.  What an amazing bridge....  God's world is just AWESOME.




I was standing on the edge looking down at the area BELOW the bridge.  It's hard getting a good angle so that you can see the bridge and the area below.




SO---we walked down under the bridge.... I took  a cute picture of Tiny Patti  standing on a rock under the natural bridge.  Isn't she just a Cutie?




Here's a neat picture from below ---looking UP at the natural bridge above us...  Isn't this just an awesome place??????  (Think I said that all week---everywhere we went!!!! ha)




George took this picture of me on the trail... By the time we hiked back to the car,  it was time to put away the jackets.... ha





Before going to the next hiking area,  we stopped for a 'necessary' break.   At this rest stop,  there were lines and lines of gorgeous Maple trees....  We all took many many photos here. 




George set up the tripod to get a picture of the four friends in front of one of those beautiful Maple trees. 

If you ever get to Logan, Ohio,  be sure and check out the Rockbridge State Nature Preserve.... The natural bridge was truly marvelous!!!!  If you want to read more about this natural bridge,  click HERE.

Have a fabulous weekend and I'll see you on Monday.  The cold front is COMING this weekend!!!!  I'm ready for a roaring fire in the fireplace.

Hugs,
Betsy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Smoky Mountain Autumn

Thanks to Blog Friend,  SHARON,   George and I took a day trip to the SMOKIES yesterday (10/23/12) to check out the Fall Colors.   Sharon wrote me an email telling me how beautiful the colors were along the FOOTHILLS PARKWAY.    Thanks, Friend!!!!  The colors truly were marvelous and both George and I took a tillion photos I'm sure... ha

Hope you enjoy some of our photos.   We also took a hike to the big tower near Look Rock.  I'll blog about that another time.  The photo above shows all of the colors we saw on the road (along the parkway).




Here is a collage of some of the beautiful colors we saw along our way.  It's hard to choose favorites ---so I just made some collages.  (Be sure to click on all photos to see enlargements.)




I love this picture I took of George in front of some of that beautiful color.




Here is our beautiful SMOKY MOUNTAINS...  I love seeing the mountains all year long---but especially in the Fall.




Here is one very happy girl ---to be here in our beautiful Smokies!!!!!




Here is one more collage showing some of the beautiful colors we saw along the parkway.   I love seeing LOTS of different colors together in Fall---and today,  we got to experience just that!  Awesome!




Of course,  George and I can't go anywhere unless we pull out the tripod and take our picture together.   Hope you enjoy this photo of two very very happy people enjoying their day!!!!




Finally,   after a delicious steak dinner at the Texas Roadhouse (one of our favorite restaurants)---we headed home....  AND---to end a gorgeous day,  look what else we got to experience....   Here is a Cumberland Plateau SUNSET just for US!!!!

WOW---what an incredible day!!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ohio Trip with Good Friends

George and I really got to experience the gorgeous Autumn COLORS  this past week---AND  we enjoyed being with our good friends,  Patti and NEAL.   The four of us have been good friends for awhile --and really enjoy traveling together since our interests are almost identical!!!!!  I hope you check out Neal's blog --which is always interesting since they also do alot of traveling and he takes excellent pictures.

This year,  we met them at Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio, on 10/15/12.  George and I had been there a year ago--but were anxious to go back and share this beautiful area with Neal and Patti.   It turns out that we picked the best time possible to be there.  The weather was PERFECT and the Autumn Colors were some of the best I have seen in awhile.  We had a fabulous time!!!!

Today I will just give you an overview of our trip ---with more details to follow on upcoming posts.   The picture above shows some of the gorgeous Fall colors we saw on our trip from Tennessee to Ohio.  Fall is definitely a fabulous time of the year!!!!  Be sure to click on the photos to see larger views!!!!




The four of us all love hiking.  Our first hike on 10/16/12 was to the ROCKBRIDGE STATE NATURE PRESERVE (near Logan, Ohio).   We had a great time --and the natural bridge is awesome.  George took the picture above of me standing on the bridge...




After that,  we hiked to CANTWELL CLIFFS (in the Hocking Hills State Park).  Here is a picture of  our friends,  Patti and Neal, climbing on the gorgeous rock formations along the cliff area.




After leaving Cantwell,  we visited the ROCK HOUSE  (also in the Hocking Hills State Park).  The 'house' actually was a cave which we could hike into.   I took this picture while inside the cave.  If you look carefully,  you can see George in the distance... The colors inside the 'house' were so pretty.  There were pigeons inside the cave --but we didn't see any bats.




Lastly,  on 10/16/12,  we hiked to CONKLE'S HOLLOW (Hocking Hills State Park) ---which had been my favorite place in 2011..   However,  this time it wasn't nearly as pretty as I had remembered it the first time...  This area probably needs to be visited in late Spring and Summer in order to catch the green beauty all around... Don't get me wrong---it was still pretty,  but just not the 'paradise'  I had remembered from 2011...  The picture above shows some of the ferns still alive in that area.




On 10/17/12,  we first headed to OLD MAN'S CAVE (in the Hocking Hills State Park).  This is the most popular area in this state park --so we got an early start in order to get ahead of the crowds...   Because this area is so popular,  it is obvious that the state park personnel keep this area in tip-top shape.   But,  to us,  some of the other areas around Hocking are JUST as beautiful as this one.  We did, however,  enjoy it ---so George pulled out the tripod and took our pictures together while at 'waterless'  Upper Falls in the Old Man's Cave area. 




After leaving Old Man's Cave,  we visited CEDAR FALLS.   That was also a nice hike but like most of the other waterfalls in the park,  there was no water at this one either (except some trickles).   We did however see some beautiful rock formations including the one pictured above.




After that,  we visited  ASH CAVE (also in the Hocking Hill State Park).   Again,  no water in the waterfall much (just dripping) ---but the cave area was beautiful.   Here is a picture of George walking around in that HUGE 'cave' area....  This rock-cropping area is hard to capture in a photo since it is such a large area.  (I'd love to see this area and waterfall --when there is alot of water.)




We had a little time left on the 17th,  so after leaving Hocking Hills State Park,  we visited LAKE LOGAN.....  What a joy that was!!!!!  Besides seeing more gorgeous Autumn COLOR,  we saw SWANS and DUCKS....  We sat by the lake for a long time just admiring the beauty around us!!!! The picture above shows the 3 swans along the lake.




Finally,  on the 18th,  it was time to head back home.  George and I love driving the back roads....  That day we saw a covered bridge,  lots of farmland --including barns,  and more Fall colors as we got back into Tennessee..  The GPS took us home through the CATOOSA WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA on some unpaved roads... What a gorgeous drive --and even though we didn't see any wildlife,  we did see some beautiful colors (as evidenced by the photo above)...

It's hard to pick a highlight of this trip --but I guess I would say that it was just being with such great friends... I love sharing nature with friends who get as excited as I do about God's beautiful world...   The only 'low' point would be seeing no water in the waterfalls --but that didn't keep us from having a wonderful time.

I really enjoyed the HIKING ---and finished one day with over 16,000 steps on my pedometer and another day with almost 12,000...  At my stride,  that means that I walked almost 10 miles in two days!!!!  Yeah Rah!!!!

Hope you had a great week.  The Fall colors here in Tennessee are getting prettier with each passing day... Oh --how I love AUTUMN.

Hugs,
Betsy

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happenings in our Yard --October 2012

Wednesday afternoon (10/10/12),   I decided that I had better make the 'rounds' in our yard --since we were predicted to have frost late last night.... I had fun taking pictures---and am NOW glad to report that we did NOT get any frost here last night or this morning.   YEAH!!!!

BUT--since I have all of these photos,  I decided to share them with you today.  (The trip pictures will just have to wait!!!!!!)  The photo above shows you our pretty little NEWLY PAINTED home and clean driveway --and a tiny bit of Fall colors around.  The pink dogwood (to the left) is a pretty deep red and there are a few trees showing some Fall color in the back.  But overall,  we don't have too much color here yet.    I did hear that the Smokies are supposed to be gorgeous this year ---so we'll be headed there one day!

Hope you enjoy the pictures showing what is blooming in our yard this week... Please click on the photos for enlargements.




Our Autumn Joy Sedum (in various places around the yard) is a beautiful shade of deep red (almost a rust color) now.  I love  these plants (guess that is why I have so many of them around) because they gradually change colors as we go deeper and deeper into Autumn.




I love our reblooming Irises... This yellow one has really showed its colors this Fall.  Its name is  Lemon Reflection.    Pretty for Fall,  don't you think?





George are I have been so disappointed that our big Clematis vine hasn't bloomed much at all the past 2-3 yrs.   SO---this Summer,  we did a "NO-NO"  and cut it all back (in the middle of summer)..... Guess what?????   The Clematis came back and is NOW blooming..... Can you believe it?   AND--it has 3 colors of blooms on it!!!!   (Guess it knew that we were about to replace it totally!!!!! ha)




I love this dark purple color...  Most of the time,  this Clematis produces light purple/lilac blooms.   Guess the dark one is the DADDY of the group!!! ha




I love this one... Don't know if this is the beginning or the end of this one's life---but nevertheless,  I love the colors... You?




As I've mentioned to several of you,  I am NOT ready for the first frost,  since our roses are still blooming.  BELOW are three blooms from yesterday.

VETERAN'S  HONOR ROSE

SOUTHERN BELLE ROSE

FREDERIC MISTRAL ROSE





Here is a close-up photo of the Autumn Joy Sedum.... Isn't it pretty?




Here's a crazy AZALEA bloom---in the FALL!!!!  What's up with that?  We have 6 Azalea bushes in our yard and this is the only bloom we have... Poor thing---must think it's SPRING... ha ha




Our beautiful JASMINE bush is finishing up its blooms of the season.... The gorgeous white blooms are now turning pinkish-brown... BUT--even this color is kinda pretty,  don't you think?

On another note,  after the big trip and the wedding,  George and I both need a BREAK.  SO--we're taking a week off from blogging in order to get other things done, and to enjoy Autumn.... I'll see you Monday,  October 22.    Have a good week!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy