What a Beautiful Day!

Today was spectacular! The weather was perfect, and everything about the day warbled spring!

I started the day heading over to pick my mother up for breakfast.  On the way over (less than half a mile, by the way), my daughter and I managed to rescue two animals from being hit by a car.  Granted it was my car, but that’s beside the point.  Before we even got out of the neighborhood, we happened upon a mama bird giving her baby a flying lesson.  Unfortunately, Junior ended up sitting in the middle of the road. My daughter hopped out and got the little fluff-ball out of the road while mama bird watched and squawked a bit nervously.  Then, on my mother’s dirt road, I had to hit the brakes, because there sat a turtle basking in the sun.  My daughter hopped out again and gingerly picked that little guy up and put him on the side of the road out of the way too.  Then it was off to breakfast!

After breakfast, my daughter headed off to work, and Mama decided she wanted to go for a walk (as neither of us really wanted to go home and cut grass).  My feet weren’t quite dressed for the adventure, so we headed back to my house for shoes, water, and of course, my camera.  Then we headed off to Turner Lake Park to walk some trails and photograph whatever caught my fancy.  Boy were there some things to photograph today!

Turtles ruled the pond today!  There were more turtles there today than I have ever seen!  On this log alone, there were 19!

May 02, 2018Turner Lake34.jpg There were at least three different species as far as I could tell, and they were everywhere. I took more photos of turtles on this one day than I have taken in all my years of photography put together.  It was fantastic!

Along the trails, Mama and I talked and talked, and I spotted some small butterflies, a frog, some flowers, some insects…the usual stuff.

As we headed out of the woods and back around the lake, I happened to spot a Great Blue Heron across the water.  I watched him for a bit and took quite a number of photos.  Mama had a bit of trouble seeing him from that distance because he blended in to his environment so well.

As we made our way back toward the car, we stopped by where the geese hang out.  They are pretty used to people hanging about, so they went about their business of preening and napping.  And of course, I sat and watched and photographed.

A couple of squirrels wanted in on the photo shoot too, so I took pictures of their cute little selves.

As we walked away from the geese, however, we saw a very unfortunate little casualty.  A big brown bat was flopping around on the shore.  He seemed very injured and not very interested having anything bother him in what I believe were his final moments.  It was quite sad.  He was quite beautiful.

Then I saw the Great Blue Heron fly over to our side of the pond, so I was able to get a few great shots of him up close.

Then, we headed over to the dock to see the ducks.  There were a few of these guys hanging about.

As we walked out on the dock, I noticed quite a commotion going on in the trees near the water’s edge.  Some birds were having quite a fit over something.  Curious, I headed over to take a look.  I watched them fussing about and carrying on for a bit, and then I noticed what all of the commotion was about.  It appeared that a black racer had invaded the little bluebird couple’s humble abode.  I assume he made a meal out of their future offspring…very sad and unfortunate, but I suppose it is the “circle of life”.  I’ve never really photographed a snake before, so I seized the opportunity born from this unfortunate event.  I was able to get fairly close as he was in a tree and not likely to be able to get at me (though I think he was more afraid of me than the other way around).

We spent about three hours out there at the lake, and we thought we were done with our little adventure.  But just as soon as I turned down the drive to take Mama back home, I had to stop again.  There on the side of that little dirt road sat two little bunny rabbits.  My daughter grabbed the camera from the back of the car, and I was able to get a couple of good shots before they hopped away.

What an amazingly beautiful day!

 

 

Old Car City

Well, the year of 2017 found me twice in this gem of a place in the middle of nowhere in White, Georgia. It is a true photographer’s heaven, especially if you love old cars, junkyards, and the beauty of nature reclaiming the landscape. It’s not too shabby for getting those creep factor shots in either…a bit eerie when you’re wandering about in there alone. No need to worry though. The owners are fantastic, the trails are well worn, and the signage along the way is quite entertaining.

When my photography club set up this outing, my first thought was, “If only I had known about this place while my Daddy was still alive. He would have loved it!” This thought was only confirmed as I arrived there and began wandering about.

When you first go in, you might stumble upon some interesting, and maybe even creepy things …like dolls. “Dolls?” you ask, “in an old car junkyard?” That’s right…dolls.

You just never know where you might find one…or twenty…lying about. Now, I don’t think they move about, so you might be safe. But one just never really knows, you know.

You’ll mostly definitely stumble upon an old bicycle line-up.  It leads the way into the heart of the city.

Oh, and another doll. I forgot about her. I think she’s been waiting a really long time for a ride.

There are also other odds and ends scattered about, like old cash registers, chairs, cans…you name it, and you can probably find it in there somewhere.

Oh, and there’s another doll I missed. Strange how they mysteriously pop up. Hopefully, we won’t run into any more.

Did I mention that there’s a bit of an artistic flair to this 32-acre masterpiece?

Now, be sure to put your walking shoes on and take some water and snacks when you head out there (because I know you’ll want to see this place for yourself).  There are 6 miles of walking trails, and trust me, you’ll get wandering about and turned around and travel the same trail twice or more, and that 6 will turn into 10 pretty quick! Well, maybe not quick, because it’ll take you all day and probably a couple more to see everything. And if you spread your visits out like I did, you might just find a few things change in the newer parts. Then you’ll have to see it all again.

Well, thankfully no dolls showed up in the middle of those trails. I was beginning to get a little worried. So now I guess it’s time to get to what you really wanted to see…all of those old cars.

Mother Nature decided to put her artistic touch throughout the city, and I think she got a little carried away with a few of her pieces.

But for the most part, nature and machine blend quite nicely.

I thought we were safe from the dolls, but I see one popped up on the hood of a truck. That little one is especially creepy.

While you’re there, don’t miss all of the cool hood ornaments.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Some of those aren’t actually hood ornaments. But hey, at least we didn’t run into anymore creepy dolls.

So, I hope you enjoyed the journey, and if you ever get the chance, head on out and see this place for yourself.

Happy trails!

Providence Canyon State Park

Late this summer, I had the opportunity to visit another state park gem…Providence Canyon State Park. It is what we in Georgia refer to as the Little Grand Canyon. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, so I don’t know how close to the truth that description is; however, I did find the canyons here to be quite fascinating.

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The most striking feature about the canyon is how soft the walls are. There were many signs stating that climbing and repelling were prohibited, but I assumed the warnings were in place because the state did not wish to be responsible for anyone getting hurt. It was not until we reached the bottom of the canyon and I actually ran my fingers along one of the walls that I realized just how dangerous attempting to climb or repel on them might be. The walls felt as if they were made of pure sand. The sand glittered in the little rivulets of water flowing in the canyon valley and tumbled down the walls with as little as a butterfly landing.

I couldn’t imagine anyone attempting to climb the walls. It was more than obvious that the canyon was carved out from erosion. What was truly amazing was that the walls were even there…that they did not fall. Not only were they there, but people wandered about at the top along the rim trail. The fact that those massive walls were mostly sand and that we were walking and driving on the land above was astonishing! God’s world is truly amazing!

The day we visited the park was beautiful in that there were little to no clouds. As we gazed up at the canyon walls, we could take in the sight of the white and red colored walls against a beautiful deep blue sky. It was truly breathtaking. Of course, the heat was also breathtaking…quite literally. Within a couple of hours of exploring, we had consumed our water, my fair skin was burning, and we were drenched in sweat. Thankfully, I brought my tripod into the canyon to get some good shots, because my hands were shaking too much from heat and exertion to get any good clear shots hand-held.

The contrast of the blue sky made for some interesting black and white photos as well.

Another spectacular sight we were privileged to see on this particular day was swarms of butterflies everywhere. Not only were there the usual little swarms of sulphers, but there were also Common Buckeyes and Gulf Fritillaries. I had never seen quite so many of the two latter species in such great numbers in one place before, and their colors were bright and shimmering in the sunlight streaming into the canyon. It was like walking through a fairyland. I sat for quite some time trying to get some good photos of those busy little insects flitting from place to place. Out of the many shots I took, only a few came out clear. It was quite relaxing to just sit and watch them flit about, and every one that landed on the sandy walls sent a little stream of sand trickling down. It was a bit unnerving that such a tiny, lightweight creature could disturb the walls so. It made me wonder what happened when a rain storm came through.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to explore much on this warm day. I will be heading out there when the weather is cooler to do some more exploring soon I hope. But until then, I hope you enjoy the shots I was able to get from this expedition.

Girls’ Trip! (Part 1: Cloudland Canyon)

My daughter and I recently took our 2nd Annual Fall Break Girls’ Trip. Our original plan this year was to go to Charleston again, but the hurricane the week before down in the Bahamas was causing all sorts of weather trouble for the east coast. Charleston was flooding, and there were photos online of our lodging area where people were paddling down the streets in kayaks. Seeing as how that didn’t seem like the ideal girls’ trip location for this year, we decided to look for an alternative. After a bit of searching, we settled on a trip to Chattanooga so she could see the Tennessee Aquarium for the first time.

Now, though Chattanooga was the final destination, it was not the first destination. There is plenty to see and do along the way. Our first stop en route was Cloudland Canyon. This was my daughter’s first trip there. After seeing photos from my last trip, she really wanted to see it for herself. Since I had my handy-dandy Friends of Georgia State Park Pass, we breezed right through the front gate with a friendly smile and wave from the attendant and headed straight to the lookout point and trail head. When we got there, my daughter had to put on her hiking shoes…and she didn’t like the way they fit. We walked as far as the benches at the trail head, and already, she was complaining. So, being a resourceful mother and hiker, we switched shoes. The shoes worked for me (though I still prefer my boots). Then off we headed to see the waterfalls.

We didn’t get very far before I had to stop for a photo-op though. We found the greatest tree.

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Then we started our walk down into the canyon. Before long we happened upon a rock wall (that of course reminded my daughter of MineCraft) and a little ways up the wall was a little hole that looked like a cave. I decided she could probably climb right on up there, so she agreed and gave it a try…and did very well.

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I of course didn’t try it. Those rocks were better suited to the lighter-weight and reasonably flexible. I would’ve broken something…a rock, my camera, MY HEAD! Needless to say, we did not want to take any trips to the hospital because of Mama’s foolishness, so I refrained (this time). As we continued along the path we eventually came up on a giant boulder overhanging the trail. Now the last time I was here, I only had my dog, Dixie, with me, so getting a photo to convey the shear size of this thing didn’t really work out. This time, however, I had a crazy teenage girl with me who let me direct her for photos. It is amazing how perspective can change with just a little manipulation. In the first photo, I had her stand directly under the boulder, so you can see just how massive it is.

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Then in the next photo I wanted to make it look like she was holding the boulder up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look nearly as impressive in the second photo.

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And of course, we had to get the Hercules shot where she actually has her hands on the rock.

 

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Eventually we moved on from here and rounded the corner. In the distance, I could see the bridge that crosses Sitton’s Gulch. I wasn’t able to cross the bridge the last time because the grating hurt Dixie’s paws. This time, however, it was just us people, so across we went, and it was well worth the trip. We made it across and saw some lovely cascades beneath us, so we made our way around the trail to get a better look. As we were firing off a few shots, my daughter said, “I wish we could get down there to the bottom.”

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This of course was responded to with, “I think we can.” So down we climbed. There were plenty of sturdy tree roots and a somewhat worn footpath where others had attempted the descent. Soon we were at the bottom and trying to figure out how to get the best shots. It was absolutely beautiful down there!

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Of course, the trouble with making your way down is that eventually you have to make your way back up. After we were done marveling and exploring and photographing, we headed back over to where we came down and realized that this was going to take a bit more effort. Hand and feet were required for this climb, so the all equipment had to be secured and free from dangling into our way. Then up the tree roots we climbed back to the path. It was awesome! My daughter, however up for the challenge she may have been, does not find hiking to be her sport of choice after this adventure.

Soon we made our way back across the gulch and onto the path for the first waterfall. Along the way we passed more “MineCraft” rocks…

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…and a leaf stuck to the canyon wall.

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And eventually we made it to Hemlock Falls. Here I got a few shots of the waterfall disappearing into my daughter’s head.

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And a couple of good shots too.

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And always remember when you’re out hiking to stay well hydrated.

 

 

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Then we decided to head over to see the other waterfall. The path from one fall to the other is a bit of a walk, so we got several pictures along the way as we stopped to catch our breath. It was getting into the golden hour, so I managed several beautiful shots of reflections in the water.

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Eventually we made our way over to Cherokee Falls. You can get right up to (and into if you want) the water here. Of course there were a few fun shots just before the waterfall came into view.

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My crazy girl was the first one to make it out to the rocks at the water’s edge, so I got some really great shots of her there.

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Then we got busy taking shots of the waterfalls…

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Then, of course, there were more fun shots.

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Ahh…I just love taking pictures of that beautiful, silly, crazy, wonderful girl.

Finally, we headed back up out of the canyon and got a few shots from the lookout point.

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And before long, we were back in the car driving over Lookout Mountain headed to Chattanooga.

 

 

Sweetwater Creek State Park

I’ve recently discovered another state park gem in my beautiful home state of Georgia. What is this gem? Sweetwater Creek State Park. It is located in Lithia Springs which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Six Flags.

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Now, you may be wondering why this is important. Well, my lovely children had the good fortune (or perhaps small fortune depending on which end of the spending spectrum you may be on) to acquire season passes to this awful…I mean wonderful…roller coaster thrill ride filled land of amusement.

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I myself, in case you haven’t caught on, am not a fan. As far as theme parks go, I would much rather spend my days searching for autographs from my favorite Disney characters or exploring the magical world of Harry Potter. However, since we don’t live in Orlando and since I prefer the natural world to the theme park world any day, I have acquired a season pass (well, really it’s a parking pass with a few benefits) to the Friends of Georgia State Parks. So, voila! Everyone is happy! I drop the kids off at Six Flags, and I head to a state park.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t figure this out at the beginning of theme park season. Well, unfortunately this was the hottest summer EVER (and trust me, because I’ve been a Georgia girl all my life), and I was suffering from an unknown illness all summer (not to worry, the source was discovered and easily treated, and I’m all better and ready for hiking season! Yay!). So, all that to say, it’s October, season of Freight Fest and every weekend trips to Six Flags (thanks to Rat Man and Cheese Boy, the dynamic duo cleverly disguised as my son and his best friend),

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and Mama needed a close-by place to go to find adventure and a bit of peace and quiet (because the “my son, Cheese Boy” part of that duo doesn’t want to take Enderchick, the minecraft warrior cleverly disguised as my daughter).

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Well, that and dear old Dad decided to get a season pass, too…For next year! For everyone! A whole year more of that dreaded theme park!

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So dear old tired Mama gets to drop half the crew off at that place and head to the woods. Good thing is, they all ride home together, so I don’t have to pick them up.

Ok, so back to my hidden gem. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this state park. It is one of the smaller ones and quite close to Atlanta. But like all of the state parks in Georgia, it did not disappoint. So far, I’ve hiked the same trail twice, but the view each time was amazingly different. The trail that I took was the Historic Trail and blazes red. It takes you down to the ruins of the old New Manchester Mill. This mill was built during the Civil War era, and unfortunately, it was not running for long. Soon after it began operation making textiles, Union troops captured the employees, sent them up north as prisoners of war, and burned the mill. The scorch marks from the fire can still be seen on some of the walls.

Now, this mill may have a tragic history, but that history has left some beautiful ruins for photographers like myself to hike out and photograph. The hike out to the ruins is about a half mile, give or take. The first time I went was after a long stretch of rain from Hurricane Joaquin on the coast. (In fact, that hurricane flooded Charleston, but that is a story for another day.) The creek’s water level was very high. Some of the areas where trails went were inaccessible due to the water level. However, it made for some lovely shots of rushing water. The water cascaded over large boulders (which I discovered on my next trip when the water level was back to normal).

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I managed a few good photos of the mill as well, but I couldn’t get very close to it due to the water level. The mill is situated right beside the creek, so the creekside of the mill was actually in the water that day.

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I hiked out past the mill to the end of the trail. After the mill, the trail gets a little more difficult with steep hills,

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slippery rocks,

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and narrow spots on the trail with some steep drops.

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However, it is worth the hike, because the view is gorgeous.

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Unfortunately, I was anticipating an easy hike, so I didn’t wear the right shoes. Needless to say, it made the trail harder to navigate and my feet hurt by the end. Western boots are for riding, not hiking. Hiking boots have a little more play in the sole for climbing those rocks.

When I reached the end of the trail and set up my tripod for some panoramas, the sky suddenly got very, very dark. I was caught in a sudden state of panic, because I was about a mile into the woods and not prepared for a storm. I snapped off some quick shots for a panorama that didn’t turn out at all, but I did get a shot for my monochrome photo challenge of a beautiful stump that had been shaped by the running water.

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When I felt a few rain drops, I hurriedly packed up my things, threw the rain cover over the backpack, and darted out of there…well, as much as one can dart on a wooded trail. By the time I reached the mill again, the ominous clouds had moved on and the rain threat dissipated. So, I slowed down a bit, retrieved my camera from the waterproof safety of its bag, and began the end of that day’s journey.

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I even found some cool fungi,

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a couple of interesting trees,

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and a great rock to relax on for a few minutes.

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The second time I went out to the park was the next weekend. The boys invited another friend along to Freight Fest and headed out early with our Expedition, and my husband and the girls (my daughter and her best friend, Shipwreck Samantha…check out her cool clay creations on Etsy) wanted to go up later, so I drove them out, dropped them off with the boys, and headed out to the park on this super clear, absolutely beautiful, fall day. It was a bit later in the day this time, so I only hiked out to the mill. As soon as I saw the creek, however, I was very much surprised. What was nothing but rushing water before was now a reasonable creek with boulders you could make your way across. So you know what this girl did…walked out on those rocks and got some close-up pictures! I traveled a little lighter this time…no pack, just my camera. I took the 55mm lens, so I wasn’t able to really zoom in. I was, however, able to get some good macro shots, up close and personal shots, and some great landscape views. I had my proper shoes on this time, so I was a bit adventurous with climbing up and down the sides of hills, venturing across the stream, and picking out those less traveled paths. I navigated across an off-shoot of the creek and traveled the path right next to the water on this trip.

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I was able to get right up next to those little waterfalls, and the water was calmer, so the golden hour reflections in the smoother water were magnificent! As I traveled further downstream, I found many amazing waterside views,

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and eventually, I stumbled upon a most spectacular view of the creekside of the mill. So of course this required a little trip out into the creek to get just the right shot. It also meant a short trip down a steep hillside, but there were plenty of rocks to help me down (and back up again when the time came).

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It was well worth the adventure, that is for certain! By the time I made my way back up to the front side of the mill, however, it was starting to get dark, so it was time to head back. Night was fully upon me as I exited the trail, and as I looked back, I saw a line of lanterns heading to where I had just been…a twilight tour to the mill. (I bet they had a blast. I wonder if they got to hear spooky ghost stories about that old place.”

So that was the end of my journey. Expect to hear more about this place in the future. There’s a five-mile trail out there I plan to do the next time.

Fort Yargo (Part 2: Critters and a Few Other Things)

Welcome to Part 2 of my Fort Yargo hiking adventure! If you haven’t read Part 1, go back and read that now.

Did you finish Part 1? Very good…now on to Part 2, the really exciting stuff…

Sometime between noon and one, my husband and I stopped for some really yucky organic meal shakes and water. I noticed the webbing of some tent caterpillars and strolled over for a look. As I was examining the nest looking for signs of the inhabitants, my husband pointed out another web near the water on the other side of the bench. Being a bit nearsighted, it took me a minute to find what he was pointing to. As he was verbally directing me to the wonder, he held our bouncing furry companion at bay so that she would not inadvertently destroy said wonder with a swish of her tail. Eventually I too discovered the web and was both amazed and disturbed by the scene that I found…

Writing Spider with prey

It seems that a lovely Writing Spider was also enjoying her lunch…or perhaps storing the rest of it away for later. Either way, her feast of dragonfly was rudely interrupted by a crazy photographer lady (that would be me). As I maneuvered my way around the web to the other side to get a better vantage point (and being careful not to lose my balance and fall into the lake), I heard my husband shout, “It’s coming after you!”

And indeed she was! Apparently I had jostled the web a bit, and this beauty decided she was about to catch some dinner! Alas, her hopes were dashed when she viewed the size of her new prey. Rather than give up, however, she perched herself delicately on her strings of silk ready to be my model. And who could ask for a more terrifyingly beautiful model.

Her lovely black and gold body shone brightly in the sunlight.

Writing spider (top view)

With her head of silver fur and her many dark black eyes, she was both captivating and unnerving.

Writing Spider (head close-up)

Even more unnerving were the fangs she sported underneath these beady black eyes. But aside from the fangs, the underside of her body was fascinating. I captured a very detailed shot of her thorax where her eight long legs connect to her large shiny exoskeleton. And what the photos capture that the naked eye rarely sees (mostly because you aren’t going to dare to get close enough to view it) are the spiky hairs all over the spider’s body.

Writing Spider (close-up of thorax and fangs) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

This lovely orb spider had woven her beautiful web next to the lake with the tell-tale zig-zag which is the signature feature of the writing spider. When we were young, my cousin and I were of the understanding that a writing spider could actually write. We offered many a paper with words on it to our writing friends one summer. Now that I’m older, I know that unless they are named Charlotte, they can’t really write anything other than z’s, but it made for a fun summer nonetheless. On this particular occasion, however, I was lucky enough to capture a photo of this lovely lady extruding silk from her spinneret to weave her web.

Writing Spider (abdomen close-up with spinnerette extruding silk)

These amazing creatures are both beautiful and frightening, and I feel privileged to have been allowed the chance to photograph one at such close range without conflict.

Writing Spider (side view with lake in the background) Writing Spider (underside view close-up)

The next little critter I happened upon was a nervous little tufted titmouse. He lit on a branch just long enough for me to snap a slightly blurred photo.

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Then there were the butterflies flitting about the edge of the lake drinking in the nectar of wildflowers. The most beautiful of the two that I captured, and the one I got the best photos of, was the Common Buckeye.

Common Buckeye Common Buckeye Common Buckeye

And the other little guy was a Red-banded Hairstreak. The pictures of him were not quite so clear, but they turned out okay.

Red-banded Hairstreak Red-banded Hairstreak

I also got a few scenic photos, two of which I displayed as the feature image for the posts. The rest of them I will show you now.

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Our hiking trip was cut a little short due to my sister needing a last minute babysitter, so we kicked it into high gear to get ourselves out of the woods and back to the car. This unfortunately proved to be a mistake as I tripped over an exposed tree root and went sailing across the path. No permanent harm done, though, just a bruised up knee and some minor scrapes.

When we arrived home, our hurry was for naught, as my mother returned home just in time to babysit. But the evening was not wasted. My husband went into the backyard and found a baby fence lizard which apparently had no problem sitting peacefully on his hand. He was also rather fond of the camera, so I got quite a few close-ups of this little guy.

Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard Baby Fence Lizard

And I shall end my tale with a couple of rather good photos of my hiking companions…

Dixie Fort Yargo (watermarked)-72

Fort Yargo (Part 1: Mushrooms)

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I set out on a hiking adventure. We headed out to Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. With miles of lovely hiking trails, a beautiful lake, beaches, and dozens of picnic areas this park is a happening place to be on a warm late-summer day.

Now, I bet you’re expecting lots of lovely scenic photographs of this wonderful state park; however, I must disappoint you in this for what caught my attention on this particular day was…mushrooms. Lots and lots of mushrooms of different sizes, shapes, and colors dotted the sides of the trails and begged to become my models.

And become my models they did, along with a spider, a couple of butterflies, a few flowers, and a baby lizard (well, I actually found him at home, but he gets to make his appearance here as well). I did my best to identify these fungi, but alas, I am not as adept at describing fungi as I am at describing insects, so my research did not go as well as I would have liked. I did identify a few, however.

The most common mushroom adorning our trail was the Amanita cokeri, or Coker’s Amanita. I managed several lovely photographs of these stately, pimpled, albeit poisonous, fungi.

White Amonita White Amonita White Amonita White Amonita

My favorite photos, however, were of this Mama Amanita sheltering her baby.

White Amonita (with baby) White Amonita

Another favorite of mine was the red-capped Amanita Parcivolvata. It most closely resembles that typical toadstool known for its psychoactive qualities, the Amanita muscaria. This little guy, though, is quite poisonous, so I don’t recommend consuming him in any form. Unlike his toadstool cousin, this guy sports a concave cap with lovely distinctive gills on the underside. Under his quiet canopy of leaves, he made a perfect model.

Amonita Parcivolvata Amonita Parcivolvata

This next fuzzy little guy I almost passed over until my husband pointed him out. I wasn’t sure how interesting other people would think he was, and determining that I couldn’t just go around photographing every mushroom in the forest, I decided to pass him by. My husband, however, changed my mind when he noticed him too, and for that I am grateful. Not only did he make a good model, but he has a really cool name too. He is called The Old Man of the Woods.

.Old Man of the Woods Old Man of the Woods (monochrome)

Now, I’m not quite sure about the identification of this next guy, but from what I could find, he is known as a Tylopilus Felleus. He was first classified as a Boletus Felleus but was later transferred to Tylopilus because of his pink spores (that is if I have gotten his identification correct). He is also porous on the underside, unlike his gilled cousins that we have seen so far. He made quite a striking model.

Boletus felleus

This next monster of a mushroom was quite impressive. She sported a lovely pinkish flat top that was nearly twice the size of my husband’s hand, and probably was at least twice the size of mine. She was also hiding a baby under her porous cap while our brave firefighting minion, Dave, protected their forest home (and had his picture taken with the Monstrous Mommy Mushroom).

Fort Yargo (watermarked)-58 Fort Yargo (watermarked)-59 Dave is ready for some firefighting action Dave fights mushroom fires

This next little flock of fungus I identified as Turkeytail Fungus. It is quite a lovely shelf fungus that feeds on decaying trees on the forest floor.

Turkeytail Fungus Turkeytail Fungus

The rest of my lovely models haven’t been identified as of yet (and if you happen to know, feel free to leave a comment on this post…I’m a little obsessive about identifying my subjects).

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Now, keep in mind as you venture into our Georgia forests that most of our dear mushroom friends are quite poisonous, so it wouldn’t be wise to be adding them to your afternoon salad in the park.

And that, my friends, concludes our mushroom adventure.

But wait! There’s more! And trust me, you won’t want to miss this! (Warning: if you suffer from arachniphobia, you will not want to read tomorrow’s post.)

Fort Mountain State Park

Fort Mountain State Park…my latest hiking adventure. My trusty hiking companion, Dixie, and I set out for another grand adventure last Saturday. Two and half hours and one nervous Aussie Mix later, we left the comforts of civilization (meaning all cell phone signal was lost) and entered the mountain wilderness.

Atop the mountain are several trails that link and criss-cross and such. Now, the map shows that these trails should equal a little less than a mile; however, that only includes two of the five trails up there and certainly does not include walking them more than once. So, I managed to turn that less than a mile into somewhere between three and five. I’m not really sure how far I traveled as I was conserving phone battery and not using my handy-dandy endomondo tracker app. I managed a good many steps on my fitbit pedometer though.

Well, the first place Dixie and I checked out was the Stone Tower at the mountaintop. There was quite a bit of caution tape about the place. I’m not quite sure what they were working on up there, or even what was supposed to be roped off, but we explored a bit. I went to the right of the tower, and there was a window on the lower level. If you looked through the window, you could see straight through the window to the back of the tower and out into the woods beyond. I thought it made for a good photo opportunity, so I snapped a few shots. I tried one of the shots out in a chroma key software demo, and it makes quite a nice backdrop for a photo shoot. In fact, after trying out the software, I may see about doing some chroma key work for photo shoots. Rabbit trails…ok, back to the topic.

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After, exploring and photographing the stone tower, Dixie and I decided to head down another trail to the back and right of the tower. The path led around and, I assumed at the time and correctly by the way, back across our original trail. We heard something crashing around in the trees out to our left. I saw the limbs crashing around, but I never saw what was causing the commotion. A little further down the path, we came across a family. As I was about to turn to the right down the Stone Wall Trail, the guy in the front calls out, “There’s a bear down that way! I saw it, and we headed in the other direction.” Of course, I was like, “Cool, I think I’ll go get a picture.” I headed, well, in the direction of the bear. (As a side note here, animals scare me way less than people do.) I had traveled about a hundred feet or so, when the family we met started in our direction. Now, whether that was to keep an eye on the crazy woman with the camera who wanted to photograph a bear to make sure she didn’t get eaten, or whether to get a closer look at the bear I didn’t seem afraid of, I’m not sure. But they followed behind, and sadly to say, we didn’t see that bear. I did, however, see a Great Spangled Fritillary and got several pictures of his pretty self. After all, who can resist a big beautiful orange and black butterfly.

Great Spangled Fritillary fort mountain-12 fort mountain-15 Great Spangled Fritillary Great Spangled Fritillary fort mountain-21 fort mountain-23

We explored the trail and the Stone Wall a bit, all the while keeping an eye out for bears. I say we, but I think Dixie was just interested in anything that moved really. We crossed over the Stone Tower Trail, and we headed on out the Stone Wall Trail. A little way down the trail, Dixie got a scent and kept trying to run after something. I’m not quite sure what she was after, but I heard a lovely little twitter in the trees in the direction she was heading, so away we went. I spotted a lovely little yellow bird flitting about and twittering, so we sat down on a rock outcropping and watched and photographed. It took me three days to identify this little guy from the photographs I took, but I think I finally identified him. I believe he is a Pine Warbler. He was quite lovely and had a captivating little tune to sing.

Pine Warbler Pine Warbler Pine Warbler

From there we headed out to the overlook. The view was breathtaking. The blue-gray of the mountains in the distance, the sun rays streaming through the clouds to bathe the mountains in light, and the hawk flying about looking for a meal. The sun was bright, and it was a bit warm out, but we lingered about for a spell to take a few photographs.

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