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One thing about this time of Covid-19 – I have time to catch up on some shows I wanted to watch. Top of my list, Game of Thrones and I have just finished season 7 (of 8). Faced with the difficult task of selecting photos for this challenge, the incredible sets and scenery in Game of Thrones were lurking in my subconscious, pushing me towards Dubrovnik, site of King’s Landing scenes and the Iron Throne everyone is fighting to control.

Walking the walls in Dubrovnik was awe-inspiring.

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Try to ignore any electrical wires or satellite dishes you spot in these pics.

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The crowds were overwhelming when we visited and apparently, it was quite a challenge to film on location. I recommend watching any of the features about how they created and filmed Game of Thrones. Impressive on all levels.

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In Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) at last count, there were 47 million “motos” and 3 million cars. Incredible. We saw everything being transported, and even families of four balanced on one small motorcycle. And they rule the road, so you’d better get out of the way.

IMG_9759 - CopyThis is a blurry photo, taken as we zipped by in a bus, but I just had to include it as an example of the livestock we saw being routinely transported by motorbike.

In India, we saw more cars, but still so many families on motorbikes. It was hard to even watch the way the babies and small children were being transported (and to think of the contrast with how we restrain them in cars here in the US). I always wondered how the Indian women kept their beautiful saris from getting caught up in the motorcycle mechanism.

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Mountains are my sanctuary, specifically, the enveloping cool, green, coziness of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. Each visit I feel my blood pressure lowering as a calmness washes over me.

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I love the cool crisp air, sounds of a running stream, clouds that lay low in between the valleys and peaks (thus the name, Smoky Mountains), the bright blue skies of fall against the vivid colors of the changing leaves, and the shifting palette of greens bursting forth on the trees each spring.

I got to really know these mountains during my freshman year at Western Carolina University, the only school I could find back then offering both a journalism degree and a mountain setting. We would head off to study by isolated mountain lakes, slip our sodas into the running streams to chill, and take Sunday afternoon drives just to see where the roads would lead (one notable time, right to an old-timer with a rifle).

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A really special memory was heading off with my friends Meta and Leslie, driving across a mountain stream to get to Meta’s family cabin, killing time target shooting, and just sitting on the porch talking and enjoying the scenery. Then in a total comedy of errors, we had to figure out how to build a fire or freeze during the cold spring night.

For the years of memories and those still to come, the mountains will always be my sanctuary.

A typical mountain cabin, Bales Homestead, Roaring Fork.

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Scenes from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

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Who says I need a dentist?

One of my all-time favorite shots from a long-ago trip to Egypt. This camel definitely gave us some attitude.

The Boone Greenway is a great, flat trail on a day you can’t take another incline. It’s well-maintained and scenic, running along the south fork of the New River. Bikers share the trail, but the weekend we visited were very friendly. You can learn a little history when you get to the site of the original dam and power house that brought electricity to the area in 1915. There are picnic tables in the area and lots of benches along the way to sit and contemplate life.  You’ll even find a book exchange box. For more details about the Boone Greenway click this link. 

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The Art of Flowers

Inspiration & Interpretation

Having been inspired by some of the photographers I have been following (TXS Cee, Patti, Tina!), I decided to get back into things a bit more creatively, with my own yard as my palette. I put down my iPhone, popped my macro lens back on my Nikon, and headed into my yard with its never-ending weeds and deer devastation.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to look beyond the garden work I should be doing and just experiment with my camera.  I generally favor more of a photo-journalist, grab it quick, style.  This day I was going for an artistic look versus a fast snap or see-every detail scientific view. I played until the thunder was pounding, so will pick it up again another day.  Here are a few results.

Daylily.

Honeysuckle.

Hosta the deer missed.

Daisy.

Who Says Model Trains Aren’t Popular These Days?

I simply cannot pass up an opportunity to do a train-related post. The trouble comes in with trying to decide in which direction to go. Trains we saw, great train journeys, or train museums?

I thought it would be the most fun to revisit our trip to Hamburg to see Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s most amazing, incredible, elaborate, detailed model train display (also with cars, trucks, boats, and planes).  It has now reopened with limited visitors allowed. For details about our visit several years ago, you can read my original Hamburg blog post.  They are always adding new countries and scenes so there is sure to be even more to see every year.  Not just for kids, adults with a discerning eye will find dozens of hidden surprises, like the one in the field of sunflowers shown here.

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Since you allow artificial flowers – I had to post this one. My good friend has an artificial arrangement on a wall, pretty high, near her front door. That didn’t stop mama and papa Junco from building a nest for their latest brood. The first photo is from a week ago, the other from last night. I think they will fledge soon. Hard to focus when I’m on tip-toe holding my phone over the nest, but you get the idea.

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My first winter in college, away from my coastal upbringing was an eye-opener. Living in the cold, monochromatic climate brought home the words of Thomas Wolfe in Look Homeward Angel when he described the “bleak bare prison of the hills.” Well that was then and this is now and I’ve developed a whole new perspective.

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I’m always excited by the sight of snow in any amount, even flurries are a thrill. And, of course, winter means the Christmas holidays, which I absolutely love. Here are a few of my favorite things. Hover on each pic for a description.

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Pumpkins, leaves turning colors, and more pumpkins. Fall is a wonderful, cozy time of year. And let’s not forget SEC football (who knows what this year’s fall season will look like).

Go VOLS! The University of Tennessee, Neyland Stadium

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