Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our Haunted Halloween Hike to the Robinson Rockhouse Ruins.

Well wouldn't you know it, we went on a hike to a new site, and I forgot to bring my camera! Doh!Doh!Doh! Ah well, I knicked these pictures via Google to illustrate where we were ( I photoshopped them though)and what we saw. Forgive me for the thievery dear reader.

Anyway, Boudreaux, Myself and our fearless pup Molly decided that it was such a nice Hallowee
n afternoon, that a hike through our closest nature preserve was a grand idea. Luckily, we live really close to a fantastic park that is complete with fishing, coyotes, Bobcat, deer, owls, all sorts of distractions, along a series of great trails. We had not decided on what we were going to do until we were at the trail heads, and it occurred to me that we had never been to the Robinson rockhouse. After consulting with my fearless viking, we headed off into the woods. The trail was rather easy, a few steep inclines and a little bit of mud (It had been raining for three days, after all), but aside from that it was a grand journey!

The Robinson rockhouse and the land surrounding it was originally granted to Robert Robinson by George Augustus Selwyn in 1767 and King George III in 1769, so the house itself is 240 years old, and for a Halloween hike, you couldn't have asked for more! To get to the site, you have to take a trail that gets progressively thinner, that farther into the woods you get. There are all sorts of deer trails interspersed along the way, and the only reason you know you are on the right path is by the little metal hiker signs that are on the trees every 10 feet or so. As you get closer to the ruins, you come across this massive orange tree that fell over a few years ago in an ice storm. The park rangers say it was planted by the Robinsons 200 years ago as a shade tree. it's probably a good 5 feet in circumference, just a massive, massive tree. despite being dead, it shows no outward signs of rot.
The ruins-just behind the felled orange tree- of the house are just that, ruins, but vastly impressive in their own right. The city of Charlotte has been going back and forth with historic preservation over archeological rights, as it is the oldest site of it's kind that can be excavated without damaging the remains. As such,it could give us great insight into the lives of some of our counties earliest settlers and their daily lives. There is supposed to be a cemetery somewhere around here too, but my son -6 year olds being the catious lot they are- decided that we weren't going to go looking for that any time soon. The stairs were easily 4 to 5 feet wide, and a foot and a half to two feet thick. No bricks here folks, these were just huge slabs of rock.
As we turned around and started back towards the car, it occurred to me that, what really got me about the ruins (that I did not attempt to explain to Boudreaux) was how much they reminded me of a movie I had seen a few years back about hikers in the woods.
Happy Halloween everyone!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our weekend in the clouds.

Well, early Saturday morning found us "city-folk down in the flatlands" with a rained out soccer game, and a rained out football game, so we decided that we'd take a chance, and drive on up to Zirconia, home of Sky Top orchards. It's between the towns of Saluda (where I want to move) and Flat Rock, just N.E. of the DuPont State Forest. (I had a link for the Forest, but it came up as malicious, so if you google it, be warned!).
The day started off cloudy, and as we got closer to the mountains, the clouds gave way to a beautiful Autumn afternoon of sunshine and 70 degrees. Hardly what we thought it was going to be! Apparently, we weren't the only people who had cancelled soccer games, because the parking for SkyTop was thronged. After navigating thru the crowds,we made our choices (Pink Lady for the Cajun princess and sons, and Stayman Winesap for me), got some Apple cider and 1 dozen fresh hot apple cider donuts (they mix fresh pressed apple cider into the batter), and bid farewell to Sky top until our next trip.

We decided that perhaps we'd do a little "leafing", by driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway for a stretch, to see if the color was any better higher up. If you were planning on going up the BRP anytime soon, the next few weeks should be spectacular! We saw good color higher up, but as we climbed the trees changed from Hickory and Oaks, to Spruce and fir, so we lost a lot of the color.... We also lost the sun and the 70 degrees. as low lying clouds lumbered in and the temperature started to cool off. By the time the picture below had been taken, the temperature had dipped to 50.

We watched the clouds come in with some excitement, as the boys chattered about telling classmates on Monday that they had driven thru the clouds. I dont think they had any idea how right they'd be!! The farther up we drove, the heavier the clouds got, until we had visibility of about 5 feet and had slowed down to a respectable 5-10 mph as the winds howled and the temperature dipped even lower...
By the time the picture below was taken of me (at the only rest stop we found that was still open) the temperature had dipped to 38 degrees with a guesstimated wind chill of probably 22 or lower.Suffice it to say, i was not prepared for such a drastic change in the weather, and it is a good thing that we had earlier decided against a short hike we were thinking of doing. I seriously dont think I'll ever go to the mountains again without an extra layer or two stashed in the back of the car.
As we drove along towards home, we caught glimpses thru the trees of mighty Mt. Mitchell, the Highest peak in the U.S, East of the Mississippi.There was no place that I could pull over to get the images I saw, but they were magnificent. the Clouds were below us, the setting sun reflecting golds and reds off the top of the clouds, the top of Mt.Mitchell just peaking up from beneath this fluffy white blanket .

As we drove further down the parkway, the clouds eventually swallowed all of Mt Mitchell in a blanket for the night. I can only imagine how cold it really got up there, and I worried about the bicyclists we had passed on our way down the mountain. I hope they had cars near by, because this was a classic example of how quickly the weather can turn against you if you aren't properly prepared for the unexpected. I've got more pictures, and I'll add them later, but I thought this initial batch would be a good start. Am I planning on going back any time soon? You betcha! Soon, hopefully within the next few weeks, I plan on making a camping trip to Pisgah or the Smokies. I'd love to go to the smokies to see the Elk rut, but I have to see how things pan out.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Well, were off in the morning to go apple picking at Sky Top Orchards!! It's not a hike thru the smokies, but it's outside, in the mountains in October, and so I'll take it!! Hopefully, I'll be able to get some decent pictures to share. If you want fresh NC mountain apples, let me know, maybe I'll send you some!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Southern Appalachian Creature Feature

The Southern Appalachian Creature Feature is a short morning radio show broadcast on the best radio station in Western North Carolina(& the only decent one in central NC to boot), WNCW 88.7 . I felt that it is worthy of your time to read about, and definately worth your time to listen to, and is available via the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's website, as well as iTunes. I have included an MP3 here as an example for you to check out.

The trout economy of western North Carolina
The North Mills River, in North Carolina’s Henderson County, is one of Western North Carolina’s most popular trout rivers. I took some time one Friday to enjoy the river and as I was getting ready to head home, I struck up a conversation with another man in the parking area who was arriving. The man was from Texas. His wife had come to the area on business, and when he saw you could trout fish here, he decided to tag along with her. Trout money.mp3 (MP3)
Back entrance to Carl Sandburgs house
~Photo by Me~

Autumn Movement

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper
sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes,
new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind,
and the old things go, not one lasts.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Photo brought to you by High Country WebCams.

How come, when it seems like I'm ready for my weekend to start, it's always Sunday night? It wasn't an extraordinary weekend by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I did get out to take the dog for an extended walk. Still, I would have rather have had a nice long walk over the stretch of the Smoky Mountains National park you see above.

Small matter; As we are planning to go to Skytop orchard next Saturday for our annual apple picking expedition, and from the sounds of it, the leaves should be peaking by then at and below heights of 3,000 feet.

Anyway, I hope y'all had a great weekend, got a chance to get out and walk around some, enjoy the outside and have a talk with the Big Guy.

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
~Robert Louis Stevenson~

Saturday, October 17, 2009

All my ducks in a row........

Ok, so it's not a picture of ducks, but rather an old picture I took on a considerably older digital camera, hence the graininess, but it illustrates what I'm pondering these days rather well , getting things to where they ought to be. When did everything become so complicated? As the days tick by, and we get obviously farther and farther into Autumn, I find my self desperately trying to organize something from my previous post about camping. All day today, nothing went thru my head more than the notion that i should have been somewhere up in the woods -maybe Mt. Mitchell- thinking, contemplating, praying...

I really wanted to be camping this weekend, but the conspiracy against me was too overwhelming! Our Parish Fall Festival, Soccer games, flag football games,a 7 yo singing in choir tomorrow, and to top it all off? A sick mother (my 78 year old Mom may have H1N1, on top of pneumonia and grade B Lymphoma). Now, I suppose, if I wanted to act like a grownup, I could say it was the Lord convincing me NOT to go....I know that's the truth, and I was meant to stay here, but doggonit!! I've got to get out of here soon!!

So, as I sit here, listening to the drone of Nascar engines wafting in thru my back windows from down the street at Lowes Motor Speedway,fell no pity for me, but maybe give the big guy a heads up that i need some down time soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

To Autumn

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.'
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake

I love this time of year the best, but this year it's been kind of hard to "get going"
as it were. The boys and I were going to jump start everything on Sunday with a hike through Graveyard fields but Boudreaux is sick with a fever (not H1N1 thank the Lord), and it's supposed to rain all weekend here, we have football games on both days, and choir practice on Sunday (part of Faith Formation at our parish), so even if #1 son wasn't sick, my weekend seems to have already been decided for me.

I have a selfish idea though.......I'm thinking I might go to the mountains for a weekend by myself in
November. no really, just drive up to Pisgah National Forest one Friday, find a campsite along the Davidson river, and spend a night or two there, fly fishing. Who could say no to this? I think I'm feeling the need for a little solitude & introspection right now. My wife is off to Texas for her High school reunion, and I think that when she's back I'm going to ask her if this proposal is acceptable to her. Nothing is wrong per se, but I just want to go somewhere without having to worry about someone else and their needs, if only for a few hours....Or, in this case a few days. I don't even care if I catch anything, I never really have. I've been deer hunting before where it was just nice to be in a tree stand -alone- for 5 hours or so, swaying in the breeze in unison with the pine tree I was in.

Things are just weighing heavy on my soul these days. Not that anything in particular is so out of balance, not that my life has any perceptible flaws or reasons for me to gnash my teeth, I just think, I need a small break......