4 Wheelin’ it to Barney’s Wall

Typically when my friend Karen organizes a hike, it is the walking in the woods and the view at the end that provides the memories.

Barney’s Wall provided that, for sure, but getting there was the adventure!  We all piled into my truck and hit the road for the trailhead.  And what a road it was!

What was initially a lovely ride through the trees,

turned into a challenge for my 4 Wheel Drive skills.

We made sure our seatbelts were locked in place and the windows up.

I took my time and drove carefully … until we saw these huge puddles.

I mean, what fun is a puddle if you can’t make a big splash?

What a fun mess!

After a bit of searching (see Karen’s post for the story) we found the trailhead.

And what a beautiful trail it was!

We’d not gone far when we learned that it was the 1st Day of Rifle Season.  You’d think that the sound of gunfire in the distance would have cued us in, but it was not until we saw hunters coming towards us that we realized the significance of the day.

We perservered and it was not long until we received our reward.

The drop off was severe and soon enough we were scrambling around on the ledge.

As always, we were thrilled with the view, and with the comraderie and friendship.

Sometimes the hike is long. Sometimes not so much.  No matter the length of the walk, the memories will last a lifetime.

Hiking Buffalo Mountain

Thank goodness for friends who encourage you to add fun to the calendar, and Karen, from The Unassuming Hiker makes sure that we do.

A couple years ago, Karen started a hiking club for women of all ages and hiking abilities, and while the group often ventures out during the week, Karen makes sure to plan a weekend hike several times yearly for those not retired.   In addition, she schedules the date for those hikes several weeks in advance so that we make sure to set aside the time.

“Buffalo Mountain is one of the most significant natural areas in Virginia.  The combination of high-elevation (3,971 feet), wind-exposed openings at the summit, and magnesium rich soils make it unlike any place else in the Commonwealth”.

Karen suggested that we arrive early knowing that it would not be long before the trail became crowded.  The image below is the parking area that morning.  By the time we left a few hours later, the place was packed with cars jockeying for position in what few parking spaces were available.

It was a gorgeous fall day and the hike to the summit, while up hill the entire way, was only a mile.   What an incredible view!

The 4 of us have hiked together before and the comraderie, the combination of silence and talk, and the excitement of being outdoors is a great fit.

Being on top of a mountain is exhilarating and I scrambled around the rocks like a child, at one point losing my lens cap over the ledge.

Beth sent me these images and I’m sharing them because they reveal the feeling of being on top of the world.

The shale and rock were beautiful and while this image doesn’t show it well, the flecks of color glittered in the sunshine.

Climate change has affected the color of the leaves this year, but the beauty remains.

All in all, a wonderful day on Buffalo Mountain.

Please visit Karen’s blog post about our day and read about the kind folks we met along the way.

Cruising: Doors and Windows

* This is the fourth post in the series about the cruise I took 6 weeks ago.  Life has moved on, but the cruise pictures keep coming!  You can see those images, and read my thoughts about cruising here, here, and here.*

Believe it or not, a cruise keeps you busy!  It seemed that my friends and I were always on the go.  We never took an elevator and instead took multiple flights of stairs several times throughout the day.  We joined excursions off the ship and participated in activities on the ship.   Even still, I never felt that I was forced to do any one thing nor eat in any particular place at a specific time, something I had worried about before starting the cruise.

I loved the contrast of in and out,

and photographed several windows along the way.  From inside the bar, of which there were 13,

from inside one of the many restaurants,

and from inside our room, looking out to the balcony where I would enjoy my coffee and book each morning.

The doors of Mexico were intriquing, and so narrow!

Many of the buildings were old and in need of repair,

except in the tourist area, of course.  I definitely enjoyed my cold beer at Woody’s.

In order to avoid the near constant panhandling, cruisers are able to visit ports of call created by the cruise lines.  This was one of the disappointments for me.  I didn’t feel like I learned much about the culture, and it seemed that the cruise lines try to “hide” the reality of the noticeable poverty.   They build what I call the “Disney Land” ports of call, this one in Roatan, Honduras.

Beautiful for sure, but how real?  I consoled myself with knowing that these ports create jobs.

This next shot is from Harvest Caye, Belize,

and this last image, a selfie, was taken in Ybor City, a neighborhood in Tampa Bay, that we visited after docking at the end of the cruise.

Next Cruising Post – Food and Drink

Cruising: The Ship

My last two posts about the cruise have focused on the experience and the flowers and birds.  You’ve read that I had my reservations about cruising, and while I’m not sure that I’d do it again, I found much to enjoy.

The ship itself, the Norwegian Jade, also offered wonderful opportunities for photography and I rarely went anywhere without my camera!

Was it the contrast between the natural and the human made world?

Or the wonderful patterns of repetition.

Perhaps it was how vast the ship was,

especially when standing between the Jade and her sister ship, the Dawn.

I loved the comparison of this classic tall ship and the new cruise style ship.

I adored having a morning cup of coffee on the balcony, one of the absolute best things about the cruise!.

I even slept on that balcony one night after dragging out a blanket and pillow, and laying on the deck.  The sea, the wind, the stars … it was an amazing thing to be in middle of the Caribbean Sea, and to feel so close to nature and to feel her power.

What a gift!

Next Cruising Post – The Doors and Windows and Architecture

Cruising: Bird and Flowers

If you had time to read my last post, you’ll know that I recently went on my first cruise.  Despite a few misgivings, I found much to enjoy about the experience: time off from work, a whole week with friends that I only see a few times yearly, and fun with photography.

Clearly I am not a wildlife photographer but it wasn’t hard to photograph these colorful birds.

I attempted to capture a pelican taking off from the water, but I just didn’t have the right lens with me.

One of my favorite images from the trip is this next one, which I am posting again even though I shared it in the previous post.

The flowers and trees were stunning as well.

Such vivid colors!

These shadows made the photographer in me quite happy.

While I would have loved to have done some hiking or to have learned about the local flora and fauna, I sure enjoyed the color of that water.

I was so inspired by it that I waded right in even though I didn’t have my bathing suit on!  Is anyone surprised by that?  Yes, that is a margarita in my hand 🙂

Next Cruising Post – The Ship

The Cruise Experience

Almost six weeks ago I went on a cruise, a mode of travel that I never anticipated experiencing.

According to Cruise Ship Industry Statistics, over 20 million people cruise per year so clearly, it is a popular way to vacation.  Frankly though, I had my misgivings.

Even though I’d be off of work and with close friends for a week, I kept saying “I’m just not sure that I’m a cruise kinda gal”.  Even after having a super fun time, I’m still not sure if I’d do it again.

Not because I didn’t enjoy myself, but because there are so many things to do in this big, wide world and in that I have only 3 weeks vacation per year (thanks to unplanned and planned job changes), I just need to use the time I have to experience new things.

Having said all of that, I had an incredible time with dear friends, spent alot of time with my camera in hand, had a blast on a zipline (wow!), and enjoyed lots of good food and drink.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some images from the cruise.  You’ll see food and drink (mostly drink – ha!), flowers and birds, doors and architecture, scenes from the ship, and assorted miscellany.

Thanks for still coming to visit despite my protracted absences.  I’ve started a new organization and am working to encourage women to run for office or to support those who have decided to run.  I’ve also just finished working on our community’s annual Ride of Silence, and am looking forward to helping with the annual Memorial Day Service.

Next Post:  Cruising – Birds and Flowers

Riding Central Virginia

A group of my biker buds rode off to the Outer Banks yesterday headed toward Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Bike Week. Work commitments and a recent vacation meant that a week away was impossible, but I was able to join them for part of the trip.  We rode together for 3 or 4 hours, and then I turned around to head back home, riding on different roads.  Dave plotted the route for me (he knows every road, I swear!) and I was in heaven.

It was one of those ideal riding days.  The perfect temperature, a nice breeze, just the right amount of clouds, and of course, gorgeous central Virgina roads.  I rode curves up and over the Blue Ridge Mountains, straightaways alongside fields of green and yellow, and through wooded areas which provided a canopy of trees over the road.  Another plus: virtually no traffic.

I didn’t do a whole lot of stopping, but I couldn’t pass this structure without taking a few pictures.   I did the best that I could with my cellphone because somehow I walked out of the house at 7:45am without my camera! WTH?!

I did make one other stop at Devils Backbone brewery, a favorite place to visit when we ride in this part of the state.

One quick beer and it was time to head home to do some chores.

What a day! 330 Miles of happy!

Thanks for stopping by today.  I enjoyed visiting a bunch of you yesterday and hope to see more of your blog posts this coming week.  I also look forward to sharing some photos from my trip to the Caribbean.