Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to APRIL!!!! Spring is AWESOME. Enjoy some beautiful TULIPS from Biltmore!!

Monday, October 30, 2017


ZION NATIONAL PARK,  taken from the Visitor Center (where we luckily found a parking place --after driving around a bit)
Hello Blog Friends,   How are you?   I am fine --and still going through a gazillion pictures from our West Trip to Utah and Arizona from September 6- 21,  2017.  This is my 4th post from that trip  --and I've only gotten through a few of my pictures....  ha

Today--I will share pictures from  ZION National Park.  We were there on Sept. 15 on a gorgeous day in Utah...  Zion is absolutely gorgeous --and that is why SO MANY MANY people go there.  We love seeing Zion but do NOT like all of the traffic/busses/people, etc.  For that reason,  I never put this one on my list of FAVORITE parks.

Our favorite parts of Zion are NOT the 'canyon' area where we HAVE to ride that darn shuttle bus up and back...   We did do that on this trip ---but we didn't stop and get off at the various places along the way.  We rode the bus all of the way to the top so that we could hike some of the Narrows Trail --which we had read about SO MUCH....    We did that --and hiked all of the way to the end ---where people get in the water (Virgin River) and hike farther into the canyon...  The Narrows area is beautiful and we enjoyed our hike into the beginnings of that canyon.  Needless to say,  I will leave the hiking-in-water stuff to others!!!!! ha

The most gorgeous part of Zion to us is the drive from Mt. Carmel  into the park  on Scenic Highway 9....   We LOVE that area ---so most of my pictures today were taken along that scenic area...  There are many pull-offs ---so we took advantage of that and took many pictures...

The longest tunnel I have ever been in I think is along that route,  about 1.1 miles...   HERE is some info if you want to know more about this unique tunnel.

Hope you enjoy our pictures today of Zion....   Hope you can visit that area someday if you haven't been there....  Go during the OFF-season (NOT in Summer) to avoid a few of the crowds...  AND--go early early early in the morning!!!!

Scenic Highway 9 into beautiful ZION National Park

Scenic Highway 9 --with Zion's beauty all around us

More beauty from Scenic Highway 9

I took this picture of George as we prepared to go through the BIG tunnel.

Once we got out of the tunnel and started heading down the mountain,  we could look back and see one of the openings inside that tunnel which we had just gone through.  (The tunnel is VERY dark --except for a few of these openings.)

While heading down toward the canyon area below,  we could look back at all of the huge mountains around us.

Another view of the vastness of the mountains in this area

A happy lady enjoying Zion!!!

Our hike in the Needles Area of Zion;  That is a very muddy Virgin River  (after the rain from the previous day)

Our trail along the canyon walls,  paralleling the Virgin River

The end of the 'nice' trail;  From here on, one has to get their feet (and probably more) WET....

Wonder if George was pondering whether to get his feet wet?????????? ha

I enjoyed sitting in the Narrows area --enjoying the views around me...   (Don't know why my hands were positioned like that!!!! ha... Maybe I was getting ready to play the piano on my knees!!!!!)

Another picture from the Visitor Center at Zion  (I LOVE see the flag blowing in the breeze.)

Finally,  here is a picture of US taken along Scenic Highway 9 in Zion National Park,  9/15/17
Hope you enjoyed today's pictures....  Zion really is a gorgeous park.  I don't want to discourage anyone from going there because of the crowds....   Just plan your trip during the off seasons (even though it is still busy then --but not AS busy) ---and go early in the mornings....

Have a great week.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Hello Friends,  Here is another post from our wonderful 16 day trip to Utah and Arizona  (September 6-21, 2017).      We visited the ARCHES National Park on 9/12/17...   Because of the crowds,  we almost skipped this park since we had been there in 2011 --but decided to go REALLY REALLY early in the morning and try to 'beat' the huge crowds...  SO--that is what we did...  We got up that morning in Moab, Utah,  about 5 a.m.  ,  had breakfast and then headed to the Arches.    We saw everything we intended to see and were out of the park by noon...   That worked well for us!!!!!

We had a gorgeous morning to do some hiking at Arches so I hope you enjoy our photos today... We love seeing arches ---so IF you enjoy that,  you are in the CORRECT park!!!!!  But there are plenty of other things to see there.  I guess that is why the ARCHES are so popular...

Early Morning Sun hitting the rock cliffs --on the road to the ARCHES

How many times have you seen a "DOUBLE" ARCH????   Here's one for you --and  we were thrilled to see it  up close and personal.

The THREE GOSSIPS   (wonder what they are saying????? ha)

PARADE of the ELEPHANTS   (maybe that is what the 'gossips' are talking about!!!)

Another nice hike that morning was to the NORTH and SOUTH WINDOWS 

We could hike close to the NORTH WINDOW.

We hiked to the back of the SOUTH WINDOW---but couldn't get as close as we did to the North Window.

After seeing the North and South Windows,   we hiked to another nearby arch,  TURRET ARCH.

One of the most popular rock formations at the Arches is BALANCED ROCK... They had the area closed around Balanced Rock while they were working on it when we were there --so we had to see if from several different areas..

Here's a close-up of BALANCED ROCK --which we managed to get, using  the zoom lens on our Canons.

You could probably give this one several names ---but its  official name is HAM ROCK... (I see a big ham,  don't you?)

The FIERY FURNACE area at Arches;  We have never hiked here --but 'seasoned' and much-younger-than us  hikers love this area!!!

This formation is named  SHEEP ROCK  (but some of my Facebook Friends said it looked more like a Dog).

Look-y here!!!!!   Betsy found an arch just for HER....  Neat, huh?

Our last ARCH of the day is  SKYLINE ARCH.  Even though there were a few people around on that morning,   we were so glad that we did go there --and see what we wanted to see before it got hot and before the HUGE crowds arrived.

I hope you enjoyed our pictures today from the ARCHES NATIONAL PARK in Utah...  Even though we don't like being with crowds,    I would still recommend this National Park to YOU...   We had a great time there.

Have a wonderful week...  We are hoping for some cold weather here (it's been very warm) ---so that the leaves will change to some gorgeous colors --before they just turn brown and fall on the ground (which is what they are doing now)... So far,  it has not been a good Fall season for us..  This makes that trip to North Carolina we took recently even more special,  since (if you saw last week's post) you know how pretty some of the trees were while we were there. 

Hugs to all,


Monday, October 16, 2017

Autumn Colors in North Carolina and Tennessee --October 2017

Us on the Blue Ridge Parkway-- 10/11/17
Hello my Friends,   Guess what?    George and I just got back from another TRIP.   This was a short one though --but OH,  did we have a great time...  We had reservations at one of our favorite Inns  (MT PISGAH INN) not too far from Asheville,  North Carolina.   We stayed 3 nights  (Oct. 10-12) leaving on the 13th.

Some of you may remember our last visit here (August of 2016) when George surprised me with my Birthday Trip.   This place is so popular that it's hard to get reservations especially during October... SO---we got our reservations a YEAR ago for this past week.

We highly recommend Pisgah Inn ---if you enjoy being on the mountain (over 5000 feet in elevation) with gorgeous views from your room.... AND--their restaurant is one of the best of any similar places where we have stayed all through the years...  IF you want more information about Piscah Inn,  click HERE.

Today,   I am just picking out some of the MANY pictures we took while on that trip.... Our main reason to go this time of year was to see gorgeous FALL COLORS...  BUT--we also saw several waterfalls,   did some hiking,  and even took long rides on the back-roads in the Pisgah National Forest....

Hope you enjoy the pictures.  We still don't have much color here at home  (nothing except dead leaves on the ground)---so it was great seeing color in the mountains...

Beautiful Lake Santeetiah on Massey Branch  Access near Robbinsville,  NC -- 10/10/17  (This was taken on our way TO Mt. Pisgah and it was the only day we had RAIN.  It rained hard coming across the mountain on the Cherohala Skyway --but then quit for the rest of the trip. We had PERFECT weather for the remainder of our time there.   AWESOME.)

 A beautiful yellow/red combination of colored leaves;  I love these two colors together,  don't you?    (10/11/17)

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway--10/10/17  (after the rains!!!!)

We loved the VIEW from our room at the Pisgah Inn  --  10/11/17

A gorgeous SUNRISE from our room --10/11/17   (We saw this beauty both on the 11th and 12th --but it was foggy on the 13th, the morning we left.)

Another gorgeous view from our ROOM (balcony)  early in the morning on 10/11/17;  I love seeing FOG/Mist in the valley below.

Another pretty ORANGE tree (found on the property of Mt. Pisgah Inn)--10/11/17

George at an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway -- 10/12/17

Driving on the unpaved 'back' roads (Forest Service Roads) is one of our favorite things to do,  not just in Autumn,  but ANY time of the year.    Getting away from the main roads is a great way to experience nature --and the AUTUMN COLORS.   Doesn't this look just like a piece of heaven?  WOW!!!!   (10/11/17)

Here's one of the MANY beautiful waterfalls we enjoyed this past week.  This beauty  has two names:  Waterfall on the West Fork of the Pigeon River  AND  Sunburst Falls.  I prefer to use Sunburst Falls.  It is located off of Highway 215  not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Devil's Courthouse.    (10/12/17)

My favorite FALL COLOR;  OH --how I love RED TREES....  (10/11/17)

Beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway -- 10/10/17

Oh those gorgeous BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS --(10/12/17);   I love seeing the trees all dressed up with their new clothes on!!!!!!   This picture is just breathtaking to me!

On our way home,   we just HAD to check out 'our' GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS..  This beautiful picture was taken at an overlook just south of  Newfound Gap (which is the intersection where North Carolina and Tennessee intercept at the top of the mountain, at an elevation of over 5000 feet).  I love seeing all of the layers of mountain ranges from here...   (10/13/17)

A view along Highway 441 of the CHIMNEYS in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park-- 10/13/17;  This is where the horrible Gatlinburg fire started in November 2016.  We saw so much evidence of the damage that the fire did ---as we traveled down the mountain on the 13th.  Made me sad! BUT--nature has a way of coming back!!!!!  Hooray!

Finally,  here's another picture of a HAPPY COUPLE   enjoying AUTUMN.   This picture was taken on the Foothills Parkway near Look Rock on 10/13/17.
Hope you enjoyed seeing our pictures from this little trip.   I love Autumn ---so anytime I can travel to see beautiful colors this time of year,  I am a "happy camper" for sure!!!!!

Have a great week my Friends....