I love the way these photo challenges make me look at my photos differently. This one was taken at a market in Fengdu, China a few years ago.

“Life is a Long Journey between Human Being and Being Human. Let’s take at least one step
each day to cover the distance.”
– Drishti Bablani

It seemed most appropriate this week to select shots showing people on a journey, because each in our own way, aren’t we all?

Thank you Tina, I loved the topic and decided to jump in for my first time participating.

Getting around in Ireland.
The Okavango Delta, Botswana.
A typical day, India.

This “One Word Sunday” photo challenge sounded like fun – I love textures and patterns and often photograph them during my travels. This one is from a quick trip to Bimini where the Dolphin House Museum, proved to be my favorite experience. It was charming; a work of love and tribute by an unconventional local craftsman/poet. Each piece collected by him, from the sea.

See more of the challenge entries at “One Word Sunday“.

As our country is in crisis and the global community struggling, we are in a part of the country that seems to belong to another world. Another place. What better time for reflection?

My husband and I headed off in search of a spot for tranquility and a mountain picnic. It was a perfect day and an escape from watching the devastating news cycle of the week.

Temps were in the low 60s and the air was cool and crisp, with low humidity, as we rolled down our Jeep windows and drove along winding country roads in Western North Carolina’s Watauga and Avery Counties. There was very little traffic.  

Everywhere we looked the trees were sprouting bright green leaves of new growth. The sun was bright and only an occasional wisp of a cloud broke the palette of the Carolina-blue sky. Due to recent rains, everything seemed hyper-clean and some homeowners were spending the afternoon tackling the tall uncut grass.  I love the smell of freshly mown grass.

As is typical in this area, we passed lots of barns, old tobacco barns, many leaning precariously. We saw cows, and a lone ram perched on a boulder, surveying his farm. The light breeze made the rustling leaves shimmer as if with silver-backs and songbirds broke the silence. Eventually, we reached our destination, Buckeye Lake on the back of Beech Mountain.

As we enjoyed our picnic on a shiny green bench at the end of a short dock, we watched five distant fishermen with lines bobbing in the lake. A futile effort for most, since Covid-19 complications have prevented the restocking of trout. But no one seemed to mind. The breeze rippled across the water and schools of minnows positioned themselves facing into the current. We sat and just watched.

How could it be this calm and beautiful with so much strife in our country?

Another couple enjoys a peaceful lunch before trying their luck fishing.

Thursday Doors: Old Town Tangier

I’m a newbie to this, so here goes . . .

From our last overseas trip before the pandemic, a disappointing (and unscheduled) trip to Tangier, Morocco. The only saving grace was our visit to the Medina, where I also shot these door pics.

I love the concept of a “doorscursion” and “Thursday Doors” is a weekly feature allowing door-lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Join in with Norm 2.0 & his Thursday Doors.

I was hoping to post something new this week, but our arrival in the NC mountains has been a rainy one and so, in anticipation of sunny days ahead, here is a look back: 

When the weather is gorgeous in the North Carolina mountains, there is nothing like taking in the incredible views. Hiking trails are abundant and for every level of ability.  These photos feature a stop right along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a short easy hike and a much more strenuous option – each with their own rewards.  Just pay attention to the descriptions (easily found online) and be sure to be prepared with the right footwear, clothing, hat, walking stick (sure helps on the steep walk back downhill), and water.   Oh yeah – don’t forget your camera!

The summit of Hawksbill Mountain, at 4,009' rewards hikers with incredible panoramic views of Linville Gorge.

The summit of Hawksbill Mountain at 4,009′ rewards hikers with incredible panoramic views of the Linville Gorge.

A 1.5 round-trip hike from the trailhead, takes climbers up 700' in elevation!  It's strenuous, but what's the rush . . . The Linville Gorge plummets 2,000 feet below. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, off Hwy 181.  On a really clear day they say you can even see the skyline of Charlotte from the top of Hawksbill Mountain.

A 1.5 round-trip hike from the trailhead, takes climbers up 700′ in elevation! It’s strenuous, but what’s the rush . . . The Linville Gorge plummets 2,000 feet below. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, off Hwy 181. On a really clear day, they say you can even see the skyline of Charlotte from the top of Hawksbill Mountain.

Sunset at Beacon Heights.  Just a 15-20 minute hike will bring you to some of the most glorious vistas in along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Parking for the trail head is located off MP 305.2 at the intersection of Grandfather Mountain and Hwy 221.

Sunset at Beacon Heights Just a 15-20 minute hike will bring you to some of the most glorious vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Parking for the trailhead is located off MP 305.2 at the intersection of Grandfather Mountain and Hwy 221.

Price Lake just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the sun drops behind Grandfather Mountain.

Price Lake Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the sun drops behind Grandfather Mountain.

Fences & flowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Fences & flowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I am so taken with this in-quarantine experience that I couldn’t wait to do a post. The fabulous safari company &Beyond has teamed up with WILDwatch to bring you a, FREE, live African safari experience. Viewers will literally feel like they are riding along in the safari vehicle since the cameraperson is filming behind the field guide.

You might find yourself waiting patiently for a lioness to let her cubs come out to play, tracking a leopard, or kicking up dust while on the move for another great discovery. The only difference from an in-person experience is an editor in a control room who is switching back and forth between 3 or 4 feeds. You won’t have to wait long for some action and you will definitely learn quite a bit about the wildlife in this part of Africa. Drives are in the &BEYOND Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve.

Ngala is in Timbavati and shares a border with Kruger National Park. Last year a couple of white lions were born, so it’s a thrill anytime you spot one of the youngsters. When we stayed at the Ngala Tented Camp it was an incredible experience and one of my most cherished memories. The staff and guides created a wonderful adventure tracking the wildlife. Much less frenetic than some other areas of Africa, I really felt very connected to nature and with the animals we were fortunate to see. Still in South Africa, not too far away, Djuma is located in Sabi Sands, and getting to experience the two preserves at once is a true gift.

Drives last 3 hours and are held at sunrise and sunset, which is exactly what happens when you are there in person.  As they promise, the experience is authentic and unscripted. If you can’t watch live, no worries, you can watch a replay or highlight footage.

Here’s how it works:

We are six hours behind, so the sunrise drive in South Africa is at 12:30 AM EST and the sunset at 9 AM EST. It’s not a mistake, here on the east coast of the USA we will experience tomorrow’s African sunset during our morning. Join the fun through &Beyond Ngala, or go directly to YouTube and see a list of video watch-options. (I forgot to note in the original post, that on YouTube it may take a couple of minutes for the replay and highlight videos to start. Be patient, it will be good practice for animal-searching).

An added bonus is the ability to ask the field guides questions, just like you do when you are on safari. During the live broadcasts, adults can use the chat option on the YouTube page. For everyone with kids or grandkids, WILDearth hosts a special 45-minute session during the beginning of the sunset drive just for kids to ask questions. You’ll need to register the kids in advance, so check out details at https://wildearth.tv/kids/

Watching these videos can boost my spirits on any kind of day. I hope they do the same for you.

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Possibly my favorite Miami “opening.”

Every spring, the peacocks line-up along our entry drive to strut their stuff and compete for favors.

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A positive difference: Every year when the new growth sprouts on the Royal Poinciana trees we know summer heat is coming and it’s time to leave our home in Miami for North Carolina. Thanks to the Covid-19 “lock-down” we are here later than usual and getting to enjoy these gorgeous trees come into full bloom.

Historic Wild Barn, Madison County, NC

The time is getting close for us. We will head back to the NC mountains as soon as it seems safe and all the advisories look good. Today I am reposting one of my very early blog posts. I’m not sure what we will be able to do when we arrive, but certainly, we will be able to enjoy the mountain backroads we love to explore! Stay Safe, Karen


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Near Banner Elk and Beech Mountain, NC the roads are curvy, the vegetation lush and the scenery pastoral.  Today’s route took us past a few spots on local quilt trails.  Each uniquely created quilt pattern is displayed on historic barns and showcases the mountain heritage of storytelling through artistic design.  Each turn in the road holds the promise of a new surprise: an incredible view, field of Christmas trees, patch of colorful day-lilies, whimsical mailbox, or maybe, even a bear.  No bear-sightings for us today, we had to settle for beautiful horses.

Be sure to look closely. Can you find the Nativity manger scene, complete with wise men (this was in July)?

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