I picked up the August 2006 issue of National Geographic in the “Library” yesterday and it fell open to the “Great Smokey Mountains”. Their opening comments on Gatlinburg really hit a nerve because the only time I tried to make it into the National Park wasn’t planned, just a hey, we’re driving by…let just drive through. Bad mistake…after a couple of hours trying to move in traffic we were running out gas and time, so, I found a road that looked like it would get us over the mountain and on to a state highway heading north…it did, and we never looked back.

The part of the article that hit home though was about the biodiversity of the area. The author spoke of a survey that was started in 1997 to count the species in the park, and the count to date is over 14,000 species. While the article deals specifically with the Smokey Mountains, it brought back the feelings I had on first entering the woods on Nettles Knob in Watauga County, North Carolina.

I was raised with the normal “Texas Pride”, you know they start pouring it down our throats with the first bottle. I was always told how the Big Thicket was a cross-road of biodiversity. This always led me to assume that the number of plants and animals in this area would be one of the highest found. I remember standing in a forested cove on the side of Nettles Knob and just being awed by the number of species I was looking at around me. The article on the Smokey’s mentioned a “carpet of green” and that pretty much summed up my experience.

Photo of the Day

This is the spot I stood for the longest and just looked…even as the rain ran down my neck. What you don’t see in the photo is that all of this diversity is growing in a wash of rocks…

Catch you down the trail…

Road Trips

I was standing out in the “backyard” today watching some weather moving in and enjoying the wind blowin’ the heat away. The feel of the wind and the heat brought back a memory of a spring road trip. I was returning from a job in San Antonio and decided to take the “scenic route”. Now in my family the words “scenic route” have a bad connotation. For my route that day I thought I would take a run by my Grandparents old ranch out of Calliham, Texas. When I pulled up to the road between the two sections of the old place it was just passed lunchtime, so I pulled the truck over to the side of the road. I opened a bottle of water and made a peanut butter sandwich and sat on the tailgate as I listened to the wind blow. South Texas wind has sound that once you’ve heard it you never forget. The memories from my year living on the ranch back in the ‘70’s rolled over me as I sat there with my simple lunch. After a decent amount of reflection, I drove into town and stopped by the cemetery to say hi to the grandparents…

Like I said, my family hates to hear the words “scenic route”. My trips have a bad habit of taking twice as long as they should just ‘cause I like to see “new” country. I tend to not travel back the same route I use to get someplace either, so you never know when a side road will call me off the map. Like Daniel Boone, I’ve never been lost…but boy, have I been confused on occasion (and the old saw about guys and asking directions…don’t ask my wife her opinion about the accuracy of the statement).

Like Fred we found ourselves in the position of needing to replace a vehicle. And like Fred we ended up with a Subaru, though, unlike Fred our neighborhood isn’t overcrowded with the brand. Luckily, the dealer was located just down the road. We had been discussing the need to plan our next car purchase with the mountains in mind since we tend to hold on to cars longer than most. The Subaru is replacing an 8 year old Toyota which is still in pretty good shape so it rolls down to our youngest son who just started driving across Houston each day to work…

The Photo for Today

Hide and seek…kitten style.

First Thursday

My day online…

I keep reading about what a morning person Fred First is and I think it must be that Blue Ridge air, ’cause the only place I ever get up that early (without a really good reason, like a drive to the mountains) is in the mountains. And even there I don’t think I ever get up quite that early. Usually my morning starts with the full bathroom run and getting dressed for work. Then I put together lunch to go, pour up a cup of coffee and fire up my email. After reading my email, which usually entails some news headlines being chased, I will meander on over to “Fragments From Floyd” to see what Fred has to say before I head of to work.

It’s my evenings after supper (how’s that for a good ole southern boy) that I set with a glass of wine and run through my blog reading list. I usually run down an rss list in IE7 (for some reason I like the new rss reader section better than any other reader I have seen) first and then wander through an expanded blog favorites list in Mozilla…

My first stop is always to see what Marie Freeman has been up to for the day, she photographs my favorite little corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was her site that originally led me by Fred’s and a number of others on my evening reading list. From Maries I usually wander on south (er north now) to visit at No Direction Home to see what Fletch might have seen today. I’ll wander back to Floyd County and check in at Loose Leaf: Notes from a Writer’s Journal, Ripples: post-corporate adventures, Blue Ridge Muse, Leon Hale, verb-ops, evhead (who started Blogger), LILEKS The Bleat, View from the Mountain, The Magpie Nest, Lifescapes, prairie point, Eidolon, SIMPLY WAIT, Hoarded Ordinaries, Endment, The Firefly Forest, raven’s nest, and on and on until it’s time for bed. If I feel adventurous I’ll even look at some political blogs (but you have to really watch that in an election year). It’s almost like an evening on the front porch having your friends wandering by and visitin’ a spell.

Photo Of The Day

Boone, NC Street Scene – Mast General Store

Ya’ll Have a Good Day…

Summer doldrums

Since returning from my trip up the mountain I haven’t been able to work up much enthusiasm for posting here. I started this blog while in the buildup of excitement before this years NC mountain trip…now on the downside I need to refocus on the dream.

The few of you, who are out there reading this, please bear with me. I will get back into the groove shortly.

I think my main problem is the season. I have never enjoyed this time of year on the Texas Gulf coast. The heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes…oh my God, the mosquitoes, just about the time the heat manages to moderate out come the swarms. I tried to walk out and enjoy the moonlight on Sunday, but only lasted a few minutes before the “bzzzzing’ and slapping myself drove me back into the air conditioned cocoon of the house.

Kinda’ makes me miss those days at my grandparents back when I was young. In those days, after supper you would retire not to the TV but to the side yard and the lawn chairs. There we would spend the time before we were run in to baths watching the stars come out and listening to Grandpa tell his tall tales, he always had the best stories to entertain us with. And as an added bonus we would usually see some “falling stars” or catch ”lightning bugs” in a jar…

Anyway, I’ll try to get this blog back on a regular schedule ASAP.

Photo For Today

Street Sign in Boone, NC