Just a quick stroll through historic Fredericksburg, Virginia. I have no idea how old this wall is but it was next to a home that was over a century old.
Covid-19 Update: Since I picked back up on blogging, I’ve been sharing brief updates about our travels. Rest assured, we are taking precautions. Wearing masks, eating outdoors or take out (or in empty restaurants), and hand sanitizing. We are doing our part to keep ourselves and others safe!
On our way back home to Virginia from South Carolina a few weeks ago, we decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop in at Mount Mitchell State Park.
At 6684 Ft, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the MIssissippi River and offers incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As we climbed in elevation, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up.
We didn’t have time to get out on the trails, but we plan to return to do some hiking another time. Thankfully, we were able to get back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and appreciate the views along the way home.
Located 17 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rocks was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area.
During a recent visit to Las Vegas, my friend Andrew took me to explore this incredible place.
From the first moment we entered Red Rocks, my jaw was dropping.
The vast, wide open landscape, with those incredible peaks rising to the sky, blew me away!
The colors of the desert are so varied, and I love the multiple layers shown in the next image.
It’s incredible to think that the Las Vegas strip is just a few miles away.
The conservation area showcases the most incredible sandstone red rock formations. “These sandstone cliffs are made up of Aztec Sandstone. The formations, 180-190 million years old, are comprised of lithified sand dunes that formed in the a vast desert that covered a large part of the southwestern United States during the Juraassic Time. Lithification is the process of changing unconsolidated sediment into sedimentary rock”.
“The red color of some of the outcrops of the Aztec Sandstone is due to presence of iron oxide or hematite. Exposure to the elements caused iron minerals to oxidize or “rust,” resulting in red, orange, and brown-colored rocks. Areas where the rock is buff in color may be places where the iron has been leached out by subsurface water, or where the iron oxide was never deposited”
The highest point in Red Rocks is over 8000 ft high.
“In marked contrast to a town geared to entertainment and gaming, Red Rock offers enticements of a different nature including a 13-mile scenic drive, miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and visitor center with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as a book store”.
Andrew and I followed the 13 mile scenic drive, and he was patient enough to pull over every time I said “Oh my gosh, look!”
The 100 degree temps required much drinking of water … and we were driving!
Next time, perhaps a winter visit is in order, and we can hit one of the many hiking trails within the conservation area.
Please visit here to see some amazing photography. Just incredible!
Thanks, Andrew, for showing me the natural beauty of Nevada.
At the end of Day 1 on the Great Ocean Road, and after a yummy dinner of Fish and Chips in Apollo Bay, I took a short walk along the water to end an incredibly satisfying day.
Thankfully, I still had several hours and many miles to travel along this spectacular road, so I was up and on the road early the next day. Frankly, I’m really not sure how I ever completed the drive because I stopped … and stopped … and stopped.
What magnificent scenery, and a super fun road to drive. My little rental car, with me on the right side of the car, on the left side of the road, drove the entire 243 km (151 mi).
Sometimes I was able to see the ocean and sometimes I wasn’t, but at all times I saw stunning natural beauty.
I pulled over at almost every single stop, this one the London Bridge and I simply could not stop shooting!
I also made sure to take the time to be still. I would just stand there, breathing deeply, and enjoying the sites, sounds, and smells of the ocean, the sand, and the air.
The power of the waves crashing against the rock formations had me spell bound.
I just never knew quite what to expect as I rounded the next corner of the boardwalk,
and I was never disappointed.
Arguably one of the most famous places along the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles.
“Situated in the Port Campbell National Park, the massive limestone structures that tower 45 metres above the tempestuous Southern Ocean, leave its visitors awe-struck in wonder at their size and beauty. Behind the eight remaining stacks (five have fallen since their discovery) are majestic cliffs, around 70 metres high” (https://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org).
Before I knew it, I had arrived in Warrnambool. I left the Great Ocean Road and headed for Grampians National Park. More on that next!
After the almost single minded focus on the November election with it’s exciting conclusion, it was time for a getaway.
First stop: Atlanta and a quick visit with Andrew and Jon.
And Tela and Wilson, too.
We attended the Virginia Tech / Georgia Tech football game (my team lost …) but we also enjoyed site seeing, a little shopping (a very little), and lots of good food and drink. Surprisingly, I didn’t take many photos, but I was pretty happy with the few shots that I did take.
After leaving Georgia, I hit the road for Maggie Valley. Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the town is situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
We enjoyed visiting the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum
and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.
It was wonderful to have unplanned time to explore without a specific agenda,
and to enjoy the beauty of nature’s gifts.
We knew that we’d have a great hike and incredible views when we visited The Channels Natural Area Preserve, and we even knew that there would be some interesting sandstone formations to explore. What we didn’t know was just how very cool those formations would be. We simply could not help ourselves and kept exclaiming out loud with every turn. As Karen said, the place brought out the inner child in all of us.
According to several online sources, the sandstone outcroppings were formed 400 million years ago.
Geologists conclude that the Channels were likely formed while the high elevation sandstone cap was under the influence of permafrost and ice wedging during the last ice age.
The expanding ice fractured the sandstone and water slowly spread and smoothed the breaks over millions of years.
“What is left is a labyrinth of slots and crevices through the rocks. The pathways range from 20 to nearly 40 feet deep and wind their way through damp, moss-covered walls of stone” (https://virginiatrailguide.com/2016/10/23/great-channels).
Aren’t the colors incredible?
Check out the way these tree roots are stretching for moisture,
and the ferns growing amidst the cracks in the rocks.
We laughed and exclaimed and explored and were utterly happy with the experience.
For more information about The Channels, visit the previous two posts.
If you’ve visited The Unassuming Hiker this week, you have already been introduced to The Channels, a gorgeous, 721 acre natural preserve in Southwest Virginia. The Channels Natural Area Preserve is part of a 4,836 acre State Forest that was purchased by the Department of Forestry from The Nature Conservancy in March 2008. The preserve name is derived from the maze-like system of sandstone crevices and boulders that occur near the 4208ft. summit of Middle Knob on Clinch mountain.
With good friends along for the ride, the 2 hour drive to the trailhead was over before we knew it. The last 30 minutes will offer an excellent ride when next I return on the bike. Lots of curves and twisties to thrill a bikers heart!
The 3 mile hike to the top was through a lush, green forest that offered plenty of shade on this sunny, breezy day.
Once on the top, we had views that stretched for miles! We just could not stop exclaiming about how fortunate we were to be there.
I swear, I want to be a hawk (well, except for their diet). I want to soar!
Even though it is only early September, the color change has begun.
We were 4 very happy women: Fresh air, exercise, incredible views, and lots of places to explore.
Big thanks to Karen for offering weekend hikes for those who can’t make it during the week.
As you might guess, I took a zillion photos. The next post will show images of the fire tower (which, or course, I wanted to climb), and the one after that will be about the sandstone channels that, when we explored them, brought out the kid in all of us.