Monday, May 30, 2011

Eno River State Park

Well, we had another great weekend!  We went for a hike, with a picnic, after Church at Eno River State Park.  We'd never been there before but had heard great things about it, so we made the little trek up there to visit.  It certainly didn't disappoint either.  It's beautiful, peaceful and it's free.  (Which is always great right?)  And they have some sweet views, vegetation and campsites.  So, I'm pretty sure we'll be back quite soon!  :) Oh, and we finally just saw "The King's Speech" this weekend and loved it!  (Gotta love Redbox!)

Here are some pics from our trip...we've also been learning more about cicadas, their lives, cycles, etc...so I'll share some of that here too!  :)

A cicada.  More specifically a cicada that is part of "The Great Southern Brood", that only emerge every 13 years.  This one was a rather small one.  For the record they really still look a lot like a deformed and really large house fly to me...

A very large (GIANT!) daddy long legs...

Daisies.  Aren't they just the friendliest flowers?  I love 'em! :)

Just one of the many campsites.  They do cost about $15 a night, but just look at the nice tent pad along with bench and fire pit?

Pretty huh?  So jungle like....even equipped with vines.....for Tarzan....

There he is!!  We saw Tarzan!  He looked rather civilized though...  ;)

What's left after the cicadas molt.

Do you see what I see?

In the jungle...the mighty jungle...  Our first glimpse of the Eno River.  Beauty at it's best!  :)

'Nother trail flower.

AH!  Road block....we just climbed through though.  :)

Ok, here's some more pics of cicadas....I'll explain below.  :)
See the top left pic where there are a lot of holes in the ground?  Those are from the cicadas.  They just dug out from being underground (anywhere from 1' to 8' underground) for 13 years.  Once they reach the surface they find a tree and molt, leaving their old skin behind.  (As seen in the pic in the top right.)  Then they emerge with rather beautiful bodies and transparent wings like the pic in the lower left.  They can fly, sort of walk and most distinctly make quite a loud song as their mating call.

They fly around, sing their song and mate for only about one month.  Then the males die, and the females dig holes in trees (see pic in lower right) to lay their fertilized eggs.  The females can lay a lot of eggs, and as soon as they are finished they die too.  Then the larvae fall from the trees and borrow down into the ground where they feed on tree sap for the next 13 years until the cycle is repeated.  Pretty interesting huh?  You can read more about them here on Wikipedia.

Ok, so what...I'm kind of a nerd...and had to learn all about cicadas.  Well, we'd been hearing about them from people at Church this year and about how loud this brood was....  So, when J and I decided to go for a hike in prime cicada territory, the nerd in me had to come out and get educated about the little large insects!  :)  So, then I felt compelled to share it with J on our walk...and subsequently share it with you on here.  So thanks for listening reading.  :)

Anyway, we had a great hike and time in this State Park!  I think we logged 4 or 5 miles, and just had a great time!  :)  I love getting to spend time with this great man God gave me.  :)  And we're so thankful for our troops, past and present, today and always.  Thank you for all you do to serve and protect us!  Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From my toes

Well, I believe this is the first time in over a quarter century that I have painted my nails something other than pink.  I always pick a new shade of pink every spring/summer, but it's always some variation of pink.  Be it light pink, dark pink, magenta (which if getting on the more purple side... but still basically pink), etc....

I couldn't help but notice all the new vivid, and actually almost fluorescent shades of polish out this year.  So...I gave in today while I was picking up some things at Target.  I picked up some new polish that's actually orange...  random as it may sound, I think I like it though!  It's not super fluorescent or anything like that at all, but it's a vivid deep orange with some hints of red.  It's called "Times Square Tangerine Creme" and is by NYC.  Just took off my pink polish and replaced it with this new one....guess we'll see how I think it goes with my sandals and all too...  :)

What color(s) do you paint your toes?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Baltimore/DC Trip: Mt. Vernon

After we visited Arlington National Cemetery we went to Mt. Vernon-Washington's estate-before heading back to North Carolina.  Unlike all the other attractions in the DC area this did cost, but it was only $15 a person and the grounds are so extensive that you could easily spend a whole day here!  We spent about 4-5 hours there and we could be stayed longer for sure!  We also learned so much from our whole trip to DC, especially Mt. Vernon!  :)
 Here's a view of Washington's house.  The wing on the left was some guest slave quarters and the wing on the right was the kitchen.
 Here's a view of some of the outbuildings.  This contained some of the slave quarters and also the greenhouse.  You can see some of his more formal gardens in the foreground.  It may sound bad that he had slaves, but it wasn't that way.  I mean, he had slaves, but he treated them well and gave them opportunities to start and run their own businesses.  And, in George Washington's will he emancipated all of his slaves.  So, see, he really was an incredible man in just about every way!  Oh, and his father died when George was only 10, ending his tutoring.  So, he went on to read books about everything, thus becoming a very well educated (and self educated) man!  Incredible huh?
 We got to tour the house, but were unable to take any photos inside.  Which is fine because I think I will forever have those images in my head anyway.  It was gorgeous and lived up to its reputation!  :)  Washington was very innovative and brilliant with so many things on his estates from his garden design, to farming practices, to the way he built this house and added on to it several times!  As you can see they are currently renovating part of the outside.
 Here's the other side of the house.  This is the side that faces the Potomac River.  :)
 A view from the back porch.
 Martha Washington.  (Well, an actress playing Martha....)  :)
 This is a pic of the 15 sided treading barn design that Washington came up with.  It housed horse and utilized them to separate wheat!  Just one example of his ingenuity!
 This was the old tomb of George Washington and his family.  It was too small, so a bigger (and better) one was built later according to the specs Washington left in his will.
 Here's the tomb where President Washington, his wife and other family members are actually buried.  I didn't want to take pictures of their actual marble caskets out of respect, but they were beautiful.
 A better pic of the Potomac that runs right by Mt. Vernon.  Isn't it huge, and pretty?
One last picture of the house.  I can't get enough.  Just too cool that it was General George Washington's house.  That he built.  Where he lived until his death.  What a great man.  A man of God, and a man who was the very first President of this wonderful country!  How thankful we are for this man, and so many others who founded this place on such noble things.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baltimore/DC Trip: DC Part VII

After we visited the Pentagon we headed back to our hotel via the Metro.  Just in case you were wondering how much we actually walked throughout Washington DC since we walked everywhere...it was at a minimum of 10 miles and I estimate it was closer to 15.  So yea, we definitely hiked around DC and got a great workout!  :)  That's why when we got back to our hotel we watched some TV (I can't remember the name of the show) and went to bed.  

Then Sunday morning we packed everything back up and headed out.  We had another full day ahead of us.  :)  Our first stop was the Arlington National Cemetery, where we parked, but then we actually took the 15 minute walk over to the Marine Memorial.  (Statue of Iwo Jima)
 You know, I have always been intrigued and amazed at this statue.  When I was little I used to look at and hold my Mom's miniature Iwo Jima Statue for hours.  It was so striking.  So meaningful.  So, well done.  So you can only imagine how it was to actually see this statue in person!  It was everything I hoped for and more!  
 It's almost like I can imagine myself being there watching these 6 men ages 18-20 plant that flag in the ground.  Know what I mean?  Maybe it's just me.  Anyway, it's cool, and a neat memorial to the Marines who have given their lives to protect us.  :)
 This is a view of the skyline and memorials from our way back to Arlington Cemetery from the Iwo Jima memorial.
 Also on our way back to Arlington was this "Friendship Bell" given to the US by the people of the Netherlands.  It's actually a 50 bell carillon.  (My favorite instrument!!)  :)  And we got to hear it play a little!  Sounded great!
 One of the many, many view of Arlington National Cemetery.  It's beautiful, but so sad.  These incredible people who have given their lives for us to be able to live the lives we live.
 President JFK and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis' graves with the Eternal flame.
 This was also within Arlington. (Above)
 This is a panoramic view of the beautiful amphitheater within Arlington National Cemetery.
And this was perhaps the most moving, and memorable part of Arlington National Ceremony.  The Tomb of the Unknowns, aka The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier--which actually has never been formally named.  It is constantly under guard and it is moving to be near.  What an honor to be able to see.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baltimore/DC Trip: DC Part VI

After the Air and Space Museum we headed to the Metro Station to make our way back to our hotel for the night.  I snapped a pic of the inside of the station just before our train got there.  They were surprisingly well lit, which was good...I would have been super creeped out otherwise. :)
 We stopped at the Pentagon on the way back to our hotel because I wanted to see the building and so we could go to the memorial.  I would have taken some sweet pics of the Pentagon itself, but it's actually no allowed.  I suppose for the whole security risk that could pose.  Pictures are however allowed at the memorial.  So here are a few...
 The Pentagon Memorial is for those who died on September 11th, 2001 from the terrorist attack that sent a plane into the Pentagon.  There is a bench for every victim, who ranged in ages from 4 to 72 years of age.
 A bench close up.
The Memorial full of the benches.  For such a sad reason, but it was a beautiful way to remember those lost at the Pentagon that day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baltimore/DC Trip: DC Part V

After the Jefferson Memorial we headed back to the National Mall strip to walk down to the Capitol.  We picked up a snack on the way at one of the kiosks, and J got a hot dog and I got some M&Ms and a Lemon Italian Ice.  I think his dog was pretty good and my Italian Ice was just great--and just what I needed for a little energy boost in the afternoon!  :)  On our walk to the US Capitol Building we came across this:
 Which was cool.  We knew that Dr. MLK Jr. made his famous speech on this very National Mall years ago, but it was cool to see this plaque for him.
 Then we got some free apples from local farmers, promoting buying locally.  These apples were huge and just delicious! :)  (Haha, literally, they were Golden Delicious!)
 Then we could really start seeing the Capitol.  It's enormous!  Seriously, just massive...and amazing!
 Getting closer...
 Some of the statues near the Capitol.
 A better view, but those silly trees are still blocking the view!  :)
 Just in front of the US Capitol.  Yep, pretty amazing.  And it was a Saturday we were here and it seemed as if they may have even been in session.  So, yep.  It was cool!  :)  And huge.  Did I mention that?  It's HUGE!  And pretty!

After the Capitol, we headed to the National Archives.  You may (or may not) know just what that is.  It was featured in a certain movie in the last 10 years with a treasure map...ringing any bells yet?  Yep, it's in National Treasure, and the National Archives just so happen to be the place where the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution are located!!  Cool huh?  So we ventured over there and had to stand in a line for about 20 minuets just to get in the building (there's quite a bit of security for obvious reasons).

Then got to see some neat things on the way to the line for the three main documents.  Even though it did take some time, it was totally worth it!  I can hardly believe we've actually seen the original documents that founded this country and give us our rights, etc!  Talk about surreal.  The presentation of the documents was really cool too, and educational! :)

After we saw those, we still had some daylight left so we headed over to the Air and Space Smithsonian Museum. (Pictured below)  It was set up really cool and we got to see some things from space, and also tribute to WW1, WW2, The Wright Bros and more!  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baltimore/DC Trip: DC Part IV

After the Vietnam Memorial we found a perfect spot in the park for a picnic and ate lunch.  It was quite perfect indeed.  The weather was beautiful and just the right temp!  After lunch we took the bit of a trek around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial.  On our way we saw a couple of these...
 They crack me up!  I would just love to have one of them one day though.  How cool would that be?  One minute it's a car, then it's a boat, and then a car again.  Yep, pretty sweet!  :)  Then we got a better glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial.  So pretty.
 Then after that walk we got to the other side and could enter.  Also quite a majestic place huh?  It was pretty inside but the lighting was all wrong to get very good pics...especially of Jefferson's statue...  :(
 But here's the best pic I could get.
All the words on the walls were just as powerful as the others we'd read at the other Monuments/Memorials. Words that our founding fathers based this country on.  Words that acknowledge God as the the Creator, and revere Him as Lord.  You know, the real kind of inspirational words.  Like "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." (From the Declaration of Independence.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A little bit of our suburban gardening...

Well, if you've ever been to our home (either in CO or NC) you know that we have quite a few plants.  Most of them are indoor plants, especially in the winter, but I really enjoy getting some flowers out for the spring/summer!  

So today we stopped at good ol' wally world to pick up a few things on our way home from Church.  These turquoise pots were super reasonable (only $1 for the 4" smaller ones and $2 for the 8" bigger one--and they had even bigger ones for $3 and $4...).  Since I love turquoise and these were such a great deal I had to jump at the opportunity.  (Well, not literally jump because I injured my neck a few days ago and have been in a cervical collar per Dr's orders for the last 3 days...)  

Anyway, I just went with some classic petunias and inpatients to fill the pots and I think they turned out really well!  To be honest though, my sweet, darling, helpful hubby planted them for me.  Sweet huh?  I like the way our front door now has several things of varying shades of turquoise...haha...so what if they don't all match perfectly?  They make me happy! :)

 While we were at the store we also picked up an "Early Girl" tomato plant for our Topsy Turvy, and J got that set up nicely this afternoon too.  I can't wait for some of our own yummy tomatoes!!!  :)
We hope this Sunday is treating you all well!!  We are so thankful for this great country in which we are blessed to live.  We are also so blessed by our families and friends.  Thanks for being so great!  :)  We love you!