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.

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