Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ken and Judy's Valentine's Day at Raven Rock

If you know me and Judy very well, you wouldn't
expect us to spend Valentine's Day like most people.
Well, I don't think we did.

We set off at mid-morning for Brenda's Jewelers in
Sanford.  Mission:  to replace Judy's lost diamond.
In the end, we resized her wedding band and bought 
an all-new engagement ring with princess setting.
Besides Valentine's Day, this is always our "half-year"
anniversary, so this was 40.5 years and a perfect time
for something new and beautiful.

After that, where can you shop but ...
you guessed it ... THRIFT SHOPS!  And Sanford
has some good ones. No pictures, but we got some
really good books and other items.

It was our first visit to Mrs. Lacy's Magnolia House
Tea Room, which Trip Advisor rates as the # 1
eating establishment in Sanford.  

It was the perfect place for us.

Nice and homey.

Judy got the quiche and pasta salad.

I got the double-stuffed baked potato with ham,
turkey, bacon bits, broccoli, sour cream, and an
ocean of butter.  Wow!

Judy had coffee and strawberry lemonade.  Yum! 
We shared a divine strawberry shortcake but
I failed to take a picture.  You'll just have to go
there yourself!

Now, on to the second stage of our big day--
hiking at Raven Rock.

We always smile and think of our dear friend and
daredevil Liz Taylor when we see signs like these.

Don't jump, Liz!

Let's begin our steep descent to the Cape Fear River,
where we can view Raven Rock, which is far more
than just a rock.  Watch your step!

Almost there!

We had been to Raven Rock a few years ago, but 
were surprised to see rock formations we had missed 
last time.  A variety of photos follow, plus much more.
And I must add that the last time we were here the 
Cape Fear River was much higher and we could not 
safely get past this ledge.  It's also the ledge where
we and numerous other hikers saw a NINE-FOOT
black rat snake swim out of the river and underneath
the cliff.

The slope made this a little treacherous, 

But it was worth a little risk to see what was beyond.

In fact, both Judy and I ventured a little past
the established trail.  With no regrets.

Then we ventured up river as far as we could go.

The tangle of roots was as fascinating as the 
rock formations.

Bye-bye, Judy.  If I'm not back in an hour please
mount a search party.

This was as far as I could go, so I rejoined Judy in
much less than an hour.

Deer tracks intermingled with human footprints.

 On the return loop of the trail we were treated to
a great view of the upper Cape Fear River as it
descends from the direction of Lillington.

Judy mentioned that we need to come in the fall
sometime to compare views.

Our token "selfie."

Even though it's still winter, several of my favorite
plants are already on display.  I've written about some
of these in other blogs as well as on my Sandhills
Farm Life Nature Trail blog, so I won't offer details here.

This is Wild Ginger.

 Cranefly Orchid-- top side

Cranefly orchid-- underside

A cool knotty old tree

Hillsides were blanketed with Christmas fern.

I don't know the name of this shrub.  It seems similar
to mountain laurel, but I don't think that's what it is.

This plant demonstrates how even a tiny plant can
find its niche on a stony wall.

This early flower may be in the violet family.

I wouldn't have seen this Rattlesnake Plantain if
we had not fortuitously stopped at a rest bench.

I'm not sure what this fungus is, but it caught our eye.

Last, but not least, one of my all-time favorites:
Resurrection Fern.  These are before and after 
pictures of a couple of sprigs I found on the ground,
totally dried out.

After lying in a saucer of water overnight the
Resurrection Fern is totally rejuvenated.  And it
can do this over and over, unique among ferns.
I'll be sharing this with the grandkids, for sure.

The Raven Rock adventure was the ideal way
to celebrate Valentine's Day-- at least, for Ken and Judy.

Sleepover with Claire and Evan

Last Friday night was a big night for me and Judy.
Claire and Evan arrived right after school and stayed
overnight for our first sleepover at our house (we've
slept over at their houses a few times).
So we did a few different things together.  The kids took
this vintage pipe cleaner puppet kit that my mother had
bought decades ago and put their own creative touch to it.

The finished product.  Ta-da!

It had been a long time since Claire built one of her
signature horse farms, but she had plenty of time to
do it right this time.  It included a "Predator Park" at
the bottom right and an obstacle/training course at center.

Claire displays her "obstacle course and training center."

The horse center grew and grew all the way 
into Saturday.  Claire also develops her characters
and creates a story line as she constructs.  Always
different, always fun.

Evan and I played our Melissa and Doug "Suspend"
game, an exercise in balance and strategy.  We successfully
got all the pieces on without a catastrophe. Then the
kids demonstrated their courage by posing beneath the
teetering monstrosity!

 A lot of things were not pictured. Like Grandma's 
classic chicken nugget dinner, Saturday breakfast
at Granny's Doughnuts, many, many games of 
mini-soccer, and a cuddly viewing of "Beauty and
the Beast."

As our time together waned, we piled in the car and
headed up to the old property to see what changes 
have occurred.  The kids know we'll eventually be
back there, so it's not all sad.

This massive willow oak tree has roots that remind them
of a huge water oak in Atlanta at my parents' house. They
played around that one just after Christmas.

I'm not sure what the kids thought of this huge clearing
where Pinehurst Senior Apartments will soon be.
Over the last three years we scarcely played on the part
of the property we planned to sell.  All our trails, plus
the tree house and waterfalls, are on the property where
we will rebuild in the near future. 

The kids had a nice view of the changes from the

Off to the stream and the waterfalls.  We were so
thankful for a springlike day this early in February.

We'll have chances to spend summer days at the stream
even before our house is built, so this was a sign of
things to come.

Grandma Judy loves being at the stream with the
grandkids.  It's one of our many special places.

The bridge (one of four) passes inspection.

The kids never tire of floating objects like leaves and
sticks down the stream, navigating beneath the bridges.
Occasionally, they have to use long sticks to lend
a helping hand when objects get stuck.

Claire and Evan will be at our house again TODAY,
less than a week later, and we can't wait to see what
they'll have in store for us!