Friday, June 20, 2014

Lake Chatuge

We took a drive through the mountains to visit Lake Chatuge, near Hayesville, NC. It's about 25 miles from our house, give or take a few. When we left home, the sky was looking rainy but we decided to go anyway. En route we went through heavy rain and then came out into blue sky and sunshine. We stopped in Hayesville to get gas and pick up something to have for lunch by the lake. We got directions to the Clay County Recreation Area.

It was perfect! Unfortunately, when we arrived, the clouds were very dark and thunder was booming. Right before the rain came in, I took the camera down to the lake to get a photo of the water and mountain backdrop. Sorry if this is so big that it has to be scrolled.

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As soon as I took that, the rain started--and I mean a downpour! More loud thunder, lightning flashing. The lake got whitecaps. We had our lunch in the middle of the shelter, where the windblown rain couldn't quite reach our table. When it let up a bit, we ran back to the truck to leave.

On the way out we decided to check out the campground that is inside of the rec area. Sites with water and electric are only $14 a night! Only a few sites have a lake view, but the picnic area is adjacent to the campground so it is a short walk to great lake views. The sites were spaced reasonably apart, seemed level. Most if not all were back-ins. Only 2 sites were empty.

I plan to call sometime and find out if sites can be reserved. I would hate to tow my camper over the mountains only to discover that no sites were available.

One could put a kayak in from the picnic area. We also came to 3 other boat ramps within 5 miles of the park on our way home. We are going to go back again someday when it won't be pouring rain, and find the best place to launch. This lake would be a wonderful paddling spot.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Cliffside Recreation Area and Dry Falls

We finally made enough progress with unpacking that we could take some time to explore our new home area! I had read about Cliffside Recreation Area and wondered if it might be a possible paddling spot. So we decided to head out on 64 toward Highlands and explore that and a waterfall that we had missed on our last trip along that road.

Cliffside is a beautiful park-like place (though not for paddling, more on that later). We had it all to ourselves. Since we had been climbing in altitude to get there, the temperature was noticeably cooler. The mountain laurel are in bloom and are plentiful here.

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We followed a very short path from the parking lot to the lake.

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There is a wonderful mile-long trail around the lake, so we decided to walk that (there are other, longer, trails there as well). The sun was occasionally behind clouds, and the trail is also very shady. I loved the look of this spot of sunlight ahead of us.

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They have a large sign at the lake prohibiting boats or flotation devices. Seemed kind of odd from our initial view of the lake. However, about a third of the way around it, we discovered that the water is running out of it at a man-made dam. A boat or a float would basically just fall over the edge onto rocks!

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I can't wait to see this place when the rhododendrons are in bloom, since they line the trail in big bunches. This one is still just putting out new leaves.

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About 3/4 of the way around the lake (or 1/4 coming from the other direction...) we came to a wonderful grassy area with several picnic tables and grills. There were also at least two functioning water fountains, which I had never seen in any such area in Florida.

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Across the water, the mountain laurel made a wonderful backdrop.

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We then continued on our drive to Dry Falls. We were last there in February, when it was too cold to want to walk all the way down to the falls (a nice paved path with lots of steps). I honestly wasn't expecting much of this waterfall, and was utterly amazed at how big it is! Very high, very loud, and you can walk behind it!

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It was so wet behind it that I didn't take the camera out from under my shirt, where I was trying to keep it dry. But I did get a couple of pictures of the top of the falls. I love that spot where the water just starts its descent.

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This is where it goes after it tumbles over rocks and then settles down--into the Cullasaja River.

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That same water flows very close to our house; we have a branch stream on our property that also flows into it.

We then continued on to Highlands and checked out the various shops and restaurants. That's a place I will have to revisit sometime, maybe sans husband...

Cliffside is having a bird-of-prey show next weekend, which we plan to attend. Should be great photo opportunities! Stand by.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

North Carolina

I have several blogs, and it's interesting to me how they ebb and flow when it comes to posts. My paddling/birdography blog was very active until I took a break from paddling, and then it was idle. My camping blog is active during camping season but just sits there during the summer (I don't like camping in warm weather). This blog is the most erratic, getting posts now and then when I have photos to share that don't fit in either of those two blogs. I think that is going to change.

We recently moved from the miserable jungle-like wilds of north Florida to the pure joy that is western North Carolina. We still have unpacked boxes, so I haven't gotten out much to explore, and while this would be ideal camping weather, getting the house in order takes precedence. There are two things I will miss about Florida--camping at St. George Island and paddling on the Wacissa, where there were always egrets and herons to photograph. I suspect I won't see as many shorebirds now, but I certainly have a lot more scenery! So my photography will probably take a turn when it comes to subject matter, and this blog will likely be where those images end up.

I took the camera out into the yard yesterday to get some pictures. Our two dogs, Sawyer and Milo, came with me. Their somewhat small yard in Florida was dirt; their large yard here is thick grass. They really seem to prefer the grass. And there is a constant breeze that ruffles their fur. Here's Sawyer:

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Milo likes to sit and put his nose to the wind.

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But that doesn't last. All that grass just has to be rolled in!

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Sawyer gets in on the rolling, too.

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Spring is everywhere here. We have barely begun to do all the planting we have planned! These yellow flowers are in a hanging basket.

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We did plant a penstemon in the back yard along the fence.

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This bee was making the rounds on a flowering tree.

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We have a small branch stream that flows by the front yard. It comes downhill from above us, flows under the driveway and then makes its way alongside the yard, ultimately flowing into the Cullasaja River. Someday I am going record the wonderful burbling sound that it makes and post it here. I have a couple of egret thingies on sticks that bob and sway in the wind by the branch.

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On the other side of the driveway, in front of where the branch runs over some rocks (our own little waterfall!), someone planted azaleas and hostas.

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So that's how things looked around here yesterday. Check back now and then--hopefully this blog will grow legs and become active!