Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway - Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill on Blue Ridge Parkway

During our drive from Lake Keowee to Margot's parents in Vinton, Va we took the Blue Ridge Parkway for part of the trip.

This is Mabry Mill. It is the most photographed spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway they say. I'm sure there are some nicer photos in better light out there.

Mabry Mill on Blue Ridge Parkway

We got on the parkway at Fancy Gap - just across the border in Virginia on I-77. The road conditions are great - very smooth and on a Friday afternoon essentially no traffic. The only bad thing is the speed limit is 45 MPH. In the curvy sections that's about right but in a lot of places it was hard to keep below 55.

This is an aqueduct that brings water from a pond to the mill. Not sure how long it is. We didn't walk to the end.
Blacksmith shop at Mabry Mill on Blue Ridge Parkway

This a blacksmith shop on the site. No one was working there when we went by.

Mabry Mill on Wikipedia

Google Maps - Mabry Mill
Castle Rock Gorge

There are some spectacular overlooks on the parkway. I think this one looks in Castle Rock Gorge.

The parkway passes about 1/2 a mile from Ed and Nancy's home so it is pretty convenient from that respect.
Oxalis Wildflower

Lots of wildflowers even at the end of May.

Not sure what this is - maybe Oxalis?

Not sure where this is.

You can see for miles and miles from some of the overlooks.
Flame Azalea

Margot took this picture out the car window.

It is a Flame Azalea  or Rhododendron calendulaceum.
Chateau Morrisette winery

We stopped at the Chateau Morrisette winery that was just off the parkway. We didn't really do any tasting but did buy a bottle for dinner.

They have a pretty nice facility there.

Blog stat update - I have picked up blog visitors from 6 more countries since I last mentioned it. South Korea (thank you Alyssa), China, Tunisia, Kenya, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. If you are interested in what the Azerbaijan flag looks like (or where the heck it is) click on the Flag Counter in the upper right, then the DETAILS link and then to the second page.    Flowers, bumblebees and blog stats

I also picked up one more state - Alabama. If you know anyone in Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Vermont, Delaware or Washngton, D.C. please send them a link to the blog.

You can catch up on the earlier part of the trip by clicking here --- > Lake Keowee

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trip to South Carolina - Lake Keowee

Margot and I recently returned from a trip to South Carolina. We, along with Greg and Theresa, rented this house on Lake Keowee for a few days.

The house was very nice and in a great location.

Lake Keowee in Google Maps

The house is at the south end of the lake.

Here are a few pictures of some of the landscaping around the house.

I guess these are the same flowers but in different colors.

I understand they are hydrangea. I got that from two sources and Wikipedia seems to confirm it.

I'm pretty sure these are lilies of some variety.

Here is the view in the backyard at sunset.

I published some bumblebee photos from Indiana a week or two ago. Here is a South Carolina bumblebee. Notice the sacks of collected nectar on on his (or her) legs.

Here is a ladybug. Notice the pollen on its back.

Click to enlarge.

We rented a boat one day. Here is a view of some of the mountains from the lake.

We went under a couple of bridges during the trip. There were nests attached to the concrete bridge deck. I think these are Barn Swallows.

These nests are made of 100s if not 1000s of dabs of mud carried by beak to the nesting site.

All sorts of boating activities on the lake. There are a couple of marinas - one of which is dedicated to a sailing club. Actually, there was very little boating activity on the lake during the week. I'm sure it picked up significantly over the Memorial Day weekend.

I think this guy is wake boarding.

Looks like they are going tubing. Now that I look at the picture more closely it looks like that tube is just for floating around the dock.

And another thing - I approve of that swimsuit cover-up.

Here is a picture of Margot enjoying the day on the water.

There is an amazing array of real estate around the lake. Some are huge.

Some are merely large.

Some are over the top.

Some have beautiful landscaping.

Some are of 1970's vintage and a little more modest.

Others have open unobstructed views of the lake and mountains.

Generally speaking the homes are almost all pretty nice.

But some are just weird. Somebody poured a lot of money into this place. The previous owner must be a past president of the More-Money-Than-Brains Club.

I understand it was empty for a long time but a couple of women have recently purchased it. Don't know what they have planned.

If you click on this picture you'll see a snake we found lounging in the middle of a residential street.

Nancy Elliott - DO NOT CLICK!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Flowers, Bumblebees and Blog Stats

Bumblebee #1

Here are a few bumblebee pictures from the lavender in the front yard.

Late afternoon, shadow, no flash.

Bumblebee #2

Late afternoon, shadow, flash, underexposed 1 EV then adjusted in post processing.

Please let me know in the comment section below which bee picture you find the most aesthetically pleasing.

Bumblebee #3

Late afternoon, shadow, flash, properly exposed.

Click to enlarge.

Bumblebee #4

Early morning, sun, no flash, properly exposed.

OK, please comment on which one you find most pleasing.

Here is a nice Clematis.

Ok. Now it is a flower test. Which of the these do you find more pleasing. This is called Rose Campion or Lychnis coronaria.

Flower #1

Early evening, sun light, 200mm focal length, f11.

Even though this one is at f11, because of the focal length it has a shallower depth of field than the following 2.

Flower #2

Early evening, shade, 35mm focal length, f3.2.

Flower #3

Early evening, shade, 35mm focal length, f3.2.

Ok, so which to do you find more pleasing? Use the comment section below.

Quick update on blog stats. Over the last 10 days I've picked up 6 new countries. Some interesting ones - Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Denmark, Ireland, Columbia and Taiwan.

Only added 2 new states. North Carolina and Nebraska.

Here are the still missing states:
New Mexico
North Dakota
Rhode Island
Washington, D.C.

If you know anyone in these states please forward the blog link to them. I appreciate it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tom and Misheil's Wedding Reception Pictures

Here are a few pictures from the reception. I apologize for not making an effort to get a picture of everyone there. We'll have to wait until the official pictures come out for that.

Misheil was beautiful and Tom has never looked happier.

The reception started off with a processional keenly anticipated by all of us amateur photographers.

Some of the flower girls lead the parade.

The groomsmen came next.

Actually maybe the bridesmaids came before the groomsmen.

Then of course the bride and groom.

We had some toasts.

Everyone was anxious for dinner to be served.

Dinner included a Filipino delicacy - roasted pig. It was very good, I thought.

Some chit chat after dinner. The young woman in the green sweater is Michael's friend Amanda. I wish I had a better picture. She was very brave coming to a family function like this since it was the first time we have met her. Here Michael is trying to give her some relief, I think, from Lauren's 20 questions.

At some point my parents asked me to take their picture. I think they plan to use this in the paper for their 60th wedding anniversary. How sweet - of course, I'd be honored. It is more of a mug shot than a posed picture but it should work.

I was a little less enthusiastic when they suggested  individual ones. Their logic was they would be a lot better than an old high school yearbook pictures for their obituaries.


I didn't get a picture of the first dance. Here is the second dance - mother and groom. I think Margot was expecting a waltz - not Proud Mary or whatever it was. Someone will provide the correct tune.

I've got to say there were a lot of enthusiastic dancers.

Misheil was leading the way.

Bob, Melanie and Alyssa were getting into it.

Margot thought we needed a shot of the back of Misheil's dress for some reason.

Even the great-grandmothers got in on the YMCA action!

The single women were at least trying to catch the bouquet.

I have never seen a more uninterested group of single guys in my life. How the heck are you going to catch a garter with your hands in your pocket or a drink in your hand!

I think the little guy ended up taking it away.

Some dancing spectators.

Here they are leaving. No rice - bubbles.

Some how I'm thinking Brett won't be sharing this picture with his buddies at work. Byran probably not, either.

Tom's car had a mechanical issue the day before the wedding so he borrowed this 1972 Ninety-Eight.

I thought the Saran wrap was a nice touch. I hadn't seen that before.

I didn't take any pictures at the wedding or rehearsal dinner. But I've got these 2 pictures to put somewhere. Here are some of the ladies working on the flowers.

The church is very nice.