Christmas Display at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Where does the time go? I started this post 5 weeks ago and am now just getting back to finishing it! If retired people are suposed to get bored after 6 months then we must be having all the fun for 1,000 people because we certainly aren’t bored! Besides this entry, I’m already 2 trips behind with two more in the wings. Time to get going….
Have you missed us? It’s been 4.5 months since we returned from the southwest. We’ve been busy catching up at home and making a slideshow set to music using Proshow Gold. Most of our friends have seen it. After sitting through 3 hours of pics I hope they are all still friends! We’ve learned that in the future we’ll make a long version for us and a highlights version to share.
A quick look at some of our activities. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, NC is 25 miles from our house. We are members and go there often. Over the Christmas holidays they decorate with over 6,000 lights. It’s a photographer’s dream.
Orchid Conservatory at Christmas
Unfortunately this year it was very cold. My hands were numb by the time we finished. In my stocking was a pair of fingerless gloves. They’ll get good use. Also in the area is McAdenville, NC which bills itself as Christmas Town USA. The whole town decorates for the holidays. Traffic is backed up for miles snaking its way through town. The wait is worth it though. We didn’t go this year. Next year we plan to go early and eat there then walk around rather than drive through town. In January DSBG has their Orchid spectacular. Usually we’ve had to battle crowds on weekends. This was the first year that we’ve gone mid-week. We had it almost to ourselves.
Orchids and Waterfall
Yellow and Red Orchids
Despite a cold December, the winter was mild. One day in January we took a hike to Hanging Rock State Park www.NCparks.gov/Visit/parks/haro/main.php . It’s a moderate plus climb up but well worth the effort. I sure could tell I’d been lazy for the past 2 months!
Tory's Den Waterfall
We attended the annual meeting for the Carolinas Nature Photography Association www.cnpa.org
in mid-February. Jim Zuckerman was the featured speaker. There were also sections on macro photography and creative composition that I attended while Steve sat in on a program by NIK software featuring their black and white conversion and HDR programs. Of course we bought some more used equipment ( 1.4 teleconverter and a CS4 book). Then Steve won a $50 gift certificate so we cashed that in on a set of extension tubes. It became clear that we now needed some photobackpacks to keep everything together. The ones we really liked were quite expensive. Fortunately we found some good ones much more reasonably on Ebay. My next “I Want” is a Sigma 8-16 wide angle lens. I can see this is a hobby that always has one more toy you just can’t live without!
We took the trailer out for a shakedown trip to make sure there were no surprises from overwintering. We went to Uwharrie National Forest in Badin, NC about an hour from home. As we turned off to enter Uwharrie NF there was a funny “statue” of a monkey and a reference to Charles Darwin. I could resist taking a photo. I love quirky roadside oddities. We’re still “learning to fly” as we knew we’d be using water in the tank. What we didn’t know was that the water taps didn’t have hose connections! So off to WalMart to buy a 5 gallon collapsible bottle to use when we needed to top off. We hit glorious Spring weather in the 70’s that allowed us to kayak on Badin Lake and hike forest trails. The last day it dropped to 30 degrees in the morning and only hit the low 50s. Since we got home it”s been raining.
Plans are well underway for beginning travels next week to Wilmington, NC for the Azalea Festival. Other upcoming trips are to Charleston, SC, UNCC gardens in Charlotte and Columbia, SC (kayaking, zoo, Congaree NP). We’d planned a “short” trip of about 4 weeks to NY state (finger lakes, 1000 Islands) for June but due to gas prices we’ve cancelled that and will plan more local trips such as Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands State Park for July. So stay tuned and travel with us.