Monday, May 26, 2014

Eno River calls us back

One year ago, Judy and I made our first visit
to the Eno River State Park, near Durham.  We 
went by a route that led through our beloved
Chapel Hill, then some lightly-traveled back roads
of Orange County.  The drive was quite pleasant.

When we parked and entered our first trail it took
a while to get our bearings.  It turned out we were
on a trail we had traveled last year, but we accessed
it about a half mile earlier (further down-river), and
got to see a lot of new sights.  Here are a few.

The single leaf of a cranefly orchid, a
plant also found on the SFL Nature Trail.

My favorite new sight was this swinging
bridge, the only one on the river.  Judy was
far braver than I was.  

The cables don't seem to be enough of a safety
barrier for me.  The sensation of not having anything
around me bothers me more than either the height
or the motion of the bridge.

I did cross the bridge twice.  Because I had no choice.

A view of the swinging bridge from upriver.

Fews Ford was the first familiar landmark we
recognized from a year ago.  The good thing about
a river is that you can follow it either way and
know which way you're going.  Trails away from
the river require a little more attention to detail.

Spring rains had brought forth much lush growth
along the riverside.

Another result of the rain was a scattering of all
kinds of logs and debris, as the river had overflowed
its banks just the week before.

This notable rock outcropping was adorned by
Mountain Laurel in full bloom.  The river was
also flowing much more briskly than a year ago.
These two factors gave us the feeling of being
along a mountain stream rather than a drowsy
piedmont waterway.  That was a very pleasant

The Mountain Laurel.
Check out this video of the rapids.
I think you'll find it scenic and calming.

We did see some canoers, who doubtless were glad
for the challenge of "raging rapids."
 Here are three more lovely plants we spotted.
This is Smooth Solomon's Seal, found on the
"old" portion of the SFL Nature Trail, and possibly
on the part recently improved.  I'll be looking for it.

I think this is Evening Primrose, though I've only
seen it a few times, and that was years ago.

Regular readers of my blog may recall that this
Fire Pink is one of my and Judy's favorite wildflowers.
We are blessed to have an abundance of it on our
property, though it hasn't yet bloomed.
Can you blame me for saying that the next
time the Eno River calls, we'll once again
be quick to pack up and hit the trail?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

And by the way, there was a wedding!

This post is a continuation of our Texas
trip, focusing on the wedding itself.  If 
you haven't yet viewed the preceding post,
"Deep in the Heart of Texas," I suggest
you scroll way down and see it first. 

Now, although the trip to Texas afforded
us the pleasures of seeing a new place,
flying Delta through friendly southern skies,
and spending even more quality time with
the grandkids than usual; our ultimate 
reason for being there was attend a wedding.
Does this pond give you an inkling of our rustic,
welcoming setting for the grand event?

This classic southwestern home served as a prep site
 for the wedding party and a general multi-purpose
 "control center" as the wedding hour drew nigh.

Children and adults alike enjoyed strolling around the
lovely gardens on the grounds.

At the rehearsal, Jennifer takes Claire and
Riley under her wing as they await instructions.

Look at these two angels practicing their walk
down the aisle.

I was intrigued by the array of lanterns and other
objets-d'art that were strung from the trees.

Papa Dan takes three grandchildren to see the fountain.
Hmm ... I wonder where Evan is.

A view of the interior of the wedding venue.
On rehearsal day, a festive luncheon was
held on a boat which cruised up and down
the Colorado River for two hours.
Mother of the groom, Terry, gets credit for all the
floral arrangements, both here and at the wedding site.

A view overlooking the boat's paddle wheel.  The
water was incredibly placid.

We would see a variety of sights during our
afternoon sojourn.

I don't know if this Batman cake was chosen to
delight the children or Stephen.

Claire was particularly fascinated with this swan.
Later, we saw people paddling swan boats.

Some of us (who don't get out much) were introduced
to standup paddle-boarding for the first time.
The Wedding Hour draws nearer!
Judy and I are so proud of Claire and
Evan.  They were perfect ladies and
gentlemen and were adored by everyone.

Hint to Matt and Jennifer: I think people would pay
good money to hire these two for their wedding wedding.

Welcome to the wedding!

If necessary, children can be bribed to be good.
That goes for some adults, too.

Jennifer shows Claire how the flowers in her
hair look in the mirror.  You may detect a sign
of the camera, too.

All is in readiness for a huge celebration.

The three charming flower girls stole many hearts.

I asked one of the Texas natives to point out the
famed Bluebonnet.  To read the touching legend
of the Bluebonnet, click here.

These are all fine gentlemen, but I'm partial to the
little fellow who is still growing.

Claire gets on her cowgirl boots and is ready to
dance till past dark.  No early bedtimes after a
Kirby wedding.  No way.

What a wonderful experience the whole trip was.
Everything went smoothly and every moment was
happy.  Even when our pilot in Atlanta told us the
Atlanta airport was within minutes of being shut
down due to approaching tornado threat, we took
it easy.  Our job was done and we could handle
anything now.  And after only a brief delay, the
pilot announced that changes had been made and
we would indeed be able to fly out with a
northerly heading.  Within hours we were
home, with memories that will last a lifetime.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Guess where I was last week. 
Hint: Remember 4th grade geography and
study the waffle below.

That's right.  I was in Texas, the Lone Star
State.  It was my first visit.  Judy and I tagged
along with Jennifer, Matt, Claire, and Evan, who
all played parts in a beautiful Texas wedding.
In this post I'll share photos from some of the 
peripheral events, in which we were graciously
invited to join right in.  In a blog post to follow,
I'll show a few wedding shots, mostly showing
the grandkids in action.  I won't embarrass myself
by competing with the classy wedding photos of
the professional, who did incredible work.
Let's dive in.

This is a card catalog, which is going the
way of the slide rule and the rotary phone.
It's a creation of the bride's talented mother.

At a family get-together at the bride's
home Evan managed to get more water
on him than if he had jumped in.

Evan practices mountain-climbing skills.
This is just a small Texas mountain.

Can you tell that Claire is air-borne in her Texas boots?

One grand event was held at Austin's
beloved Zilker Park.

We had just arrived when we spied the train as it
came through the playground area.

This actual vintage fire truck was a huge hit.

No gas pedal required.  Just tell it to go, sort of
like the Magic School Bus.

There was not yet any water in this neat little splash
area, but what a great concept!

We walked down to Barton Creek on these stone steps.

Now, it was OUR turn to ride the Zilker Zephyr.

Somewhere along the way, Evan picked up a
non-paying hitchhiker.

Claire claims him as a friend, too. We mercifully
released him in his own habitat before we got back
to "civilization."

Nearing the station after a 25 minute ride around
the perimeter of the lovely park.  Now why would
they put a sign saying "Do not enter tunnel," then
force us to exactly that?!

Claire and Evan REALLY liked the train ride.

And I think they REALLY liked the ice cream
that followed.

These mildly annoying (but very interesting) birds
are great-tailed grackles.  They dominated many
public areas we visited, both by their physical
presence and by their scolding, harsh calls.

While the kids swam with their parents and others,
Judy and I walked for a while on a greenway trail,
catching this view of Barton Creek just before it
merges with the Colorado River.

Jennifer and Matt took us on a tour of downtown
where we noticed 38 1/2 Street.  Getting pretty
crowded, I suppose.

One of Jennifer's friends who lives in Austin clued
us in to the city's central market, which also featured
a very nice playground.

Live music was an added bonus.  The kids and
adults loved it all.

When Claire and Riley saw young folks swing
dancing they took their cue and joined right in.

This was a relaxing and family-friendly spot to
spend several hours on wedding day.

Before we left the park, we strolled to a pond
with turtles and this grand old tree.  And Claire's
motto is, "Have Tree, Will Climb."

Grandma knows that water draws Evan like a magnet.
So let's just view the turtle from a distance.

Evan had his turn on the tree and then we loaded up
 to head back to our hotel and prepare for the wedding.

On our route back, Jennifer swung by the Texas
state capitol building.  It was quite impressive, and
in true Lone Star style, it is somewhat taller than
the United States capitol.

The wedding was now just a few hours away.
My next post will share a few special moments from it.