Trip to Northeast Tennessee

As is our custom, fall break rolled around and Karen and I hit the road for our annual vacation.  This year we decided to head to northeast Tennessee and see what the land had to offer, and see what land was up for offer.  It is no secret that we would like to retire in this area someday so we thought it would be nice to come out and start looking for some land to call our own.  And the land did not disappoint.  It was beautiful as always.  And while we didn’t make any land purchases, yet, we did get some ideas and possibilities which may play out over the coming months/years.

So until then, enjoy some shots from our week in Tennessee!

 

This is one of Karen’s shots of a mountain wildflower.

Tennessee 2013

 

This is the road to a property which we passed on.  While the drive was very pretty (and slow), it was just a little too far out to be practical for a couple starting to get up in years.

Tennessee 2013

 

Northeast Tennessee is home to the Cherokee National Forest.

Tennessee 2013

 

It is also home to some of God’s more interesting creatures.  Although we looked, we never did see a bear.  At least this trip.

Tennessee 2013

From the top of Roan Mountain, you can see for miles and into several states.  The mountains just keep on going and going and going…

Tennessee 2013

Tennessee 2013

 

One of the properties we looked at was next to a mountain lake that is rated as the third cleanest lake in the US.  It is also the highest altitude lake in the TVA conversation system.  This is Watauga Lake near Butler, TN.  Actually, it covers Butler, TN and is next to New Butler, TN.  🙂

Tennessee 2013

 

The trees were in full color this time or year, making everyone stop and take notice.

Tennessee 2013

 

Even the road-side rest stops are beautiful here.

Tennessee 2013

 

And what would a trip to the forested mountains of Tennessee be like without mountain streams, with their cool, clear, water (echo water, water water) .

Tennessee 2013

Tennessee 2013

 

And finally, Karen and I exchanging glances with our camera’s.

Tennessee 2013

Tennessee 2013

 

Northeast Tennessee is a beautiful area.  Truly God blessed this part of the country with color and natural beauty.  If you get the chance, go!  See!  Take pictures!  And enjoy!

 

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A Trip to Mississippi

Finally, after a long time of saying we were going to do it, we finally make a trip to Gautier, MS to visit our friends William and Claudette Owens.  We were so glad that we went.  They not only showed us a great time while we were there, but they also showed us a few new things.

For instance, they took us to the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch in Moss Point MS, where we not only got to see gators up close and personal in their facility, we also took an airboat ride and were able to see them in the wild as well.

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

Of course, its little mouth was banded to keep from customers losing any fingers, but something tells me that the little guy wouldn’t have hurt a flea.  Just rub its neck and it just purred.   Smile

Yes, they have bigger gators there, but you wouldn’t want to pet them!

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

After looking around there, William thought it would be a great idea to take the airboat ride through the local swamp. 

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

I guess William forgot that he has a tendency to get a little motion sick, or perhaps he had never seen the videos that show just how much of a “ride” an airboat can be! But he was a trooper and stayed strong for the entire ride. No extra “feed” for the gators this trip!

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

Yes, there were gators out in the wild as well as the ones at the “farm”.  This is just one reason why they said to “keep your hands and arms inside the boat at all times during the ride!

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

The swamp was very cool with all the overhanging trees.  Other than the gators we saw, I didn’t see any snakes, so I was good with that!  For an example of just how “wild” the ride was, here is just a three minute clip of the ride!  Check out the 360 towards the end!

After the gator ranch, we had lunch and then headed for the beach in Ocean Springs, MS.  Karen wanted to at least stick her feet in the water while we were here, and I just wanted to see what I could take pictures of.

Mississippi 2012

And no, I didn’t wade in the water.  Not really sure why, just didn’t.  But here are Karen, Claudette, and William while I shoot from the dry sand.

Mississippi 2012

If course there were birds…

Mississippi 2012

I was almost able to walk all the way up to this Heron that was perched on the pier.  Good thing too since all I had with me was my 24-105mm lens!

Mississippi 2012

And shells, with someone at home…

Mississippi 2012

And the requisite couples shots on the pier…

Mississippi 2012

Mississippi 2012

But Karen caught the best sunset picture when we drove over to Gulfport for dinner to the Back Bay Seafood Restaurant.  The food was as good as the sunset!

Mississippi 2012

It was a great trip and one I’m glad we made.  Thanks again to our friends William and Claudette for making it an enjoyable trip that we will remember for a long time to come!

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Yellowstone: Day Six – The Last Day

Day six… our last day here before leaving.

The day started out by resting.  Yesterday wore us (as my daughter would say) “smooth out”.  We took our time getting up and then roamed Gardiner to do the requisite t-shirt shopping!  Gotta get the kids and grandkids all taken care of.  I wasn’t going to get one, but then I saw one that said “The mountains are calling and I must go. – John Muir” and had to have it.  It expressed my feelings very well.

So, once we got that all taken care of, and then shipped the box of t-shirts home because our bags were already full, we headed back into the park for one final day.  We decided to give the Lamar Valley one final shot before calling it a day.

As usual, we entered the park and went to Mammoth, where the elk were lounging around being the center of attention.  I love how this one was lying right next to the sign saying “Danger! Do not approach ELK” as if to say, “I dare you.”  The people were being good though and kept the distance.  No “tourons” (tourist/moron) out today.

Turning east from Mammoth, it didn’t take long for us to find yet another bison herd.  They decided they needed to cross the street in front of us, and since in the national park the wildlife has the right of way, we stopped and waited for them to pass.  Besides, they really are beautiful creatures even if they are abundant here.

Further down the road, we caught a view of a couple of them who weren’t really getting along all that well at the moment.  They were kicking up dust and pushing each other around with their heads.  We watched for a while, but then they grew tired and just walked off together.  Maybe it was just an exhibition match for our enjoyment!

As we made it to the Lamar Valley, it became very overcast and rainy.  We stopped at the footbridge pullout to watch for wildlife, and I promptly fell asleep.  It was so peaceful, and with the sound of the light rain on the hood of the car, the next thing I knew I woke myself up snoring.  I turned to Karen and ask how long I had been out.  She said, “about 20 minutes.”  That was a very peaceful 20 minutes, let me tell you.

So not seeing any wildlife, we started up the car and began to make our way back.  We saw a few wolf-watchers sitting up on the hill near the confluence, but when we looked out over the valley we couldn’t see anything.  I later read that the pack was way out in the distance feeding on a recent kill, but they were way out beyond the reach of cameras.

Continuing back, I spotted this scene off in the distance and decided to pull over.  It reminded me of an old western painting of a frontier landscape with the bison crossing the river and the others up above the cliff.  Again, a very peaceful scene to add to the day.

If nothing else, this was certainly bison day.  As I approached a blind curve, a small gathering of bison decided they needed to go around the curve in my lane.  So, I let them.  They moved very slowly with me, and now 5 other vehicles behind, followed.  Once around the curve, they turned off on another road and allowed the rest of us to continue on.

I wanted to take one more pass over the Blacktail Plateau trail, hoping for one last glimpse of something exciting.  While there were no big mammals to be seen, I did catch a glimpse of this mountain bluebird.  He caught me by surprise so much that I didn’t really get a chance to focus on him before he flew off.  But one more bird to add to my list that I have seen.

Making it back to Mammoth, the elk are still the stars of the show.  You can expect to find them pretty much any time, and they are always happy to pose for your photographs.  Nothing like shooting wildlife “in town.”

And then, the saddest shot of all.  Our last sight of the “Leaving Yellowstone” sign.  It has been a wonderful trip and one we won’t soon forget.  Especially with the abundance of photos that we took.

God created some wonderful things for us to enjoy in this world and I can’t wait to see what He shows us next!   Until then, keep the batteries in those cameras charged.  You never know when a photographic opportunity will present itself to you!

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