Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Biltmore’s Walled Garden

August 27, 2019

(Note:  All pictures may be enlarged by clicking on them once or twice.)

My Beautiful Bride and I have season passes to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and we try to visit the estate several times a year. Although we have gone into the house several times, we usually go to visit the conservatory and the gardens.

The Walled Garden is the centerpiece of the gardens at Biltmore. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, as were all the gardens at Biltmore. Frederick Law Olmsted is often considered America’s foremost landscape architect.

The Walled Garden is usually the second area we visit (after the Conservatory) on each trip to Biltmore. This post show a typical Spring visit to the Walled Garden. All these photos were taken in April, 2013.

The Walled Garden features a seasonal rotation of blossoms. A long arbor covered with grape vines runs down the center of the garden.

Openings in the arbor provide a pretty frame for the tulips.

Over 50,000 tulips (and 14,000) daffodils are planted in the garden each Spring, making a beautiful display.

I was fortunate to find another type of beauty in a different section of the garden.

To see these and other images from our visit, click HERE.

Down Memory Lane: Barong and Rangda

June 11, 2019

Barong, the symbol of virtue and good in Balinese mythology.

(Note:  All pictures may be enlarged by clicking on them once or twice. These images are scanned from slides taken in 1987)

On one of the first days we were in Bali, our group was taken to an outdoor theater to see a traditional Balinese dance drama that depicted the struggle between Barong and Rangda. The dance represents the eternal battle between good and evil.

Rangda, the symbol of evil.

Barong is a symbol of health and good fortune, while Rangda is a child-eating witch who leads an army of evil witches against the forces of good — Barong.

Queen Dewi Kunti and her stepson, who will be sacrificed to placate the anger of Rangda.

In the version of the story we saw, the stepson of the queen was to be sacrificed to placate the anger of Rangda.

Unti, a minister of Dewi Kunti

The king sent his prime minister to deal with Rangda, although he was unsuccessful.  His failure set the stage for the battle between Barong and Rangda.

The dance/drama was definitely interesting and provided a glimpse into traditional Balinese culture.

To see larger versions of these pictures, as well as others from the performance, click HERE.

Down Memory Lane: Dublin

April 9, 2019

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In May of 2002 I was working as a systems analyst at a plant fairly close to our home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. The plant was run by an Irish company, and I was sent by my boss to work on a software project at company headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

Although my trip was definitely a business trip, I was put up at a very nice hotel on the outskirts of Dublin, as you can see from the photo above.

The hotel was far enough out of the city that I could get some nice views of the beautiful Irish countryside.

One evening after work an Irish colleague took me to dinner at an Irish pub and then on a quick tour of Dublin. One of the places we saw was Dublin Castle. We were able to get into the courtyard of the castle for a quick look-around. Bedford Hall (above) in the castle caught my attention.

After we left the courtyard we walked around the exterior of the castle for a few minutes.

Later, on a Dublin street, I saw this statue of Molly Malone. Of course, that reminded me of the song, which ran through my head for the rest of the night!

You can see additional pictures of my Dublin visit by clicking HERE.

Shooting in the Dark

February 19, 2019

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I realize that the holiday season is long gone, but I was so happy with these photos that I just had to share them with you.

Betsy and I went to the Candlelight Christmas event at Biltmore last December. We didn’t take our big cameras, but I used my iPhone to take pictures as we approached and then toured the house. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the outdoor night photos, but I think they came out pretty well. The picture above is of the big lighted tree on the lawn in from of the Biltmore house.

We were early for our entrance to the house, so when we got off the bus from the parking area we walked away from the house so we could see both the tree and the house. The lights gave a nice, warm glow to the scene.

There was some snow on the ground, but there had been a couple of days of warm weather so there was not much left. We walked on the lawn to get closer to the tree, but were happy to get back to the walkway as we got closer to the house.

We got a good look at the front of the house as we approached the line to get in. Our candlelight visit to Biltmore had gotten off to a very good start.

Wyoming Morning

January 29, 2019

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Betsy and I had a long day of driving when we started home from our western trip, so we left Jackson, Wyoming, while it was still dark. Getting up that early is not much fun, but on this day it paid off beautifully.

The sun started to rise about the time we reached the Hoback Canyon. Although we couldn’t see the sun, the clouds in the sky above us turned a brilliant crimson. When we rounded a curve we could see the sky reflected in the Hoback River (above) so of course we had to stop.

We really had problems deciding which was the most amazing — the reflection in the water or the sky above.

The sky remained gorgeous even as the canyon widened. It was an amazing morning and left us with unforgettable memories of Wyoming.

Rise and Shine

September 25, 2018

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I imagine that most ‘normal’ people use a vacation as an opportunity to sleep in and take things easy. Fortunately (or unfortunately) My Beautiful Bride and I are not ‘normal’. We often get up earlier than we normally would just to enjoy the sunrise.

That was certainly the case when we visited the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina in August. We couldn’t see the sun from the balcony of our room, but the sky was still beautiful at sunrise. The picture above was taken the first morning we were there.

The fog in the valleys looked like a blanket spread around the mountains below us.

Looking to the west also gave us a peaceful, serene view of the world from the mountains.

The sunrise on our last morning at Pisgah Inn gave us a lot of incentive to come back.

Arkansas Sunsets

April 3, 2018

Betsy and I have been fortunate to be able to visit Mount Nebo State Park in Arkansas in late winter or early spring for the past ten years or so. We like many things about Mount Nebo — the hiking, for example — but what keeps us going back in ‘our’ cabin. We have stayed in the same cabin each time we’ve gone.

It’s perfect for relaxing, enjoying the scenery, and enjoying a nice fire in the fireplace in the evening. But it’s main attraction, at least at the time of year we visit, is the gorgeous sunsets we can enjoy from the back porch.

The slideshow above is made up of photos taken one evening during our visit in 2008. They can’t compare to seeing the sunsets in person, but I think they do a reasonably good job of showing the beauty we enjoy.

If you would like to see these photos and others as well as the captions for these photos click HERE.

Monument Valley

February 27, 2018

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A highpoint of our trip out west in 2017 was our visit to Monument Valley. We had never seen this beautiful place before (except in movies) and we were amazed by the beauty of the place. It took the picture above of the two of us at a pullover along Valley Drive. That’s West Mitten Butte to the left of us with East Mitten in the far background. A part of Merrick Butte is on the right of the photo.

Although we drove a short distance along Valley Drive, most of our time at Monument Valley was taken up by the Monument Valley Backcountry Sunset Tour. We signed up for a public tour, but since Betsy and I were the only people registered for that particular tour we ended up with a private tour led by a wonderful Navajo guide, Hope. She took us off the beaten path and provided us with much fascinating information.

The picture above shows Totem Pole, the tall spire on the right. The rock formation on the left is Yet Bi Chei, (Navajo spiritual gods).

The last stop on our tour was the North Window overlook, which provided a panoramic view of the valley and the buttes scattered across it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we visit this beautiful area again in the future.

Morning in the Mountains

January 30, 2018

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Betsy and I traveled to the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina in October to enjoy the autumn colors. We found colorful trees, although there was not as much as we had hoped there would be. Mother Nature, however, more than made up for any lack of color on the trees by providing gorgeous color in the morning skies.

We got up at dawn each day to enjoy the show. The morning started with a single star shining down as the horizon turned a brilliant orange and red.

As the light increased we could see fog in the valleys below and mountain tops in the distance peeking through the fog.

The eastern sky slowly filled with yellow, orange, and gold colors, silhouetting some trees along the ridge line.

Yes, we definitely found some gorgeous colors in the mountains of North Carolina!

Bryce Canyon National Park

December 19, 2017

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Utah is a beautiful state containing many state and national parks with gorgeous scenery. On our western trip in September of this year Betsy and I visited 13 state and national parks or monuments in Utah, and we enjoyed our visit to each and every one.

With so much spectacular scenery, it’s hard to pick a favorite Utah spot to visit, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Bryce Canyon. We visited Bryce several years ago, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. The hoodoos are spectacular in both form and color as the picture above, taken at Sunrise Point, shows.

We hiked from Sunrise to Sunset Point, enjoying the views of the canyon as we walked. I must admit that we didn’t set any speed records on that hike, since we stopped so often to take pictures.

A special treat for me was being able to hike the Navajo Loop down into the canyon from Sunset Point. It was fantastic to be able to look up at the hoodoos against that gorgeous blue sky.

I have many more photos from Bryce, but they will be the subject of a later post. i