Fall is for travel — and here we go again!

Early morning view of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park

Early morning view of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park #FindYourPark

With all good intentions, we wanted to write extensive blog posts commending the National Park Service and God for creating glorious parks around incredible natural scenery. But fall is for travel, and we’re finding we’re not adept at posting while on the road.  And we’re not off the road long enough to post.

Pending storm at Capitol Reef National Park

Pending storm at Capitol Reef National Park #FindYourPark

This fall, we saw Utah.  Well, not all of Utah.  But some pretty spectacular parts of it — from Salt Lake City to Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Escalante, and Bryce.  And points in between, of course.  We were awed by the beauty, as any of you who have visited these sites already know.

Double Arches at sundown in Arches National Park

Double Arches at sundown in Arches National Park #FindYourPark

But we don’t have time to post because we’ve book a Viking River Cruise from Paris to Normandy and then an extension to London, the Cotswolds, and some of the sites I told my high school students about but I’ve never seen myself:  the Globe Theatre, Stonehenge, Stratford, Oxford, Bath, and more.

So, here’s the best we can do ’til we return.  We’re posting links to some of our Utah pictures on Flickr taken at Canyonlands. Just know that we have pics of other parks that we’ll be sharing later.  We’re glad the 100-year celebration of the National Park Service uses this hashtag — #FindYourPark — because we’ve found not one but many.

Best wishes for great viewing!

Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/placeswesee/

Flickr Album: Canyonlands:

We made it Canyonlands!

There’s more to come.  We promise.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a great holiday season at home or abroad!

— Bert and Rusha

Posted in Boomer Travel, Photography, Travel, Utah, We Saw Utah! | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Travel theme: Dark

Sometimes — well, a lot of times — we don’t have a particular place to see.  Sometimes we just roam, looking for adventures and interesting photo ops to present themselves.  And that’s how it was after dinner one evening in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.  We decided to walk back to our hotel in the dark of early evening, through downtown, past dancing fountains where lighted shoots of water cast a glow on yellow autumn leaves.

Admiring the charm of a lighted downtown mall in Salt Lake City after dark

Admiring the charm of a lighted downtown mall in Salt Lake City after dark

We moved in closer and stood awhile.  Happy to be traveling.  At dusk.  In a new city.

Standing closer to watch the dancing waters in Salt Lake City's downtown area.

Standing closer to watch the dancing waters in Salt Lake City’s downtown area.

For more of Ailsa’s theme — Travel theme: Dark — on her blog Where’s My Backpack? click here.

Posted in Photography, Travel Theme, Utah, We Saw Utah! | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Travel theme: Hills

After returning from a week exploring Utah’s national parks (Now, that’s a glorious experience!), we saw that Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack had selected the theme of Hills for this week’s Travel theme.  Although we’re working on a series of blogs highlighting the mountains, hills, and valleys of those wondrous parks, we’re sharing four “hilly” photos that we’ve fallen in love with while processing all our pictures.  (Bert stopped a lot to let me snap away!!)

A view of the “hillside” behind Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley — ski slopes that are dormant now, but will soon be ready for winter action.

View of ski slopes from deck at Stein Eriksen Lodge

View of ski slopes from deck at Stein Eriksen Lodge

Two cyclists pedal hard up this rocky hillside near the Visitor Center at Capitol Reef

Cycling the hillside near Capitol Reef

Cycling the hillside near Capitol Reef

Two weeks too late to see aspens in bloom on this hillside near Grand Staircase-Escalante, but we can only imagine the majesty.

Passing the hillsides of aspen trees near Grand Staircase Escalante

Passing the hillsides of aspen trees near Grand Staircase Escalante

A lone barn tucked away on a hillside near the base of Grand Staircase-Escalante

Hillside residence near Grand Staircase Escalante

Hillside residence near Grand Staircase Escalante

Watch for our new travel series We Saw Utah coming soon!

And for more entries in Ailsa’s Travel theme: Hills, click here.

Posted in Photography, Travel Theme, Utah, We Saw Utah! | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify

Transmogrify:  turning a cake into a work of art!

Transmogrify: turning a cake into a work of art!

It’s a new term for me, this “transmogrify.”  But learning a new word can be fun, especially if it’s the theme of a weekly photo challenge from WordPress.  Transmogrify means “To change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform.”  So surely changing a bit of sugar into fondant or buttercream to form something totally different than mere sweetness would qualify, right?

Transmogrify:  To create a ladybug from a mound of cake and some frosting.

Ladybug cake

Transmogrify:  To fashion an entire tree with little people from the book Caps for Sale.

Cake entry for Caps for Sale

Transmogrify:  A bit of sugar transformed into a Dr. Seuss character.

Dr. Seuss cake for Green Eggs and Ham

And that’s how it was at Knoxville’s Great Cake Bake where a little “transmogrifying” was the order of the day.  Pretty clever stuff.  And tasty, too!

For more entries in this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge:  Transmogrify, click here.

Posted in Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 33 Comments

Travel theme: Dried — Pueblo of Acoma

Dried bricks covered in mud form the basis for this church at Pueblo of Acoma.

Dried bricks covered in mud form the basis for this church at Pueblo of Acoma.

Pueblo of Acoma is a mesa community that may have been inhabitated even before the time of Christ. It’s a place where adobe homes are inhabited by strong people, who have managed to live without running water or electricity even during modern times. The word acoma, you come to find outmeans “a place always prepared.”

Most dwellings at Acoma began with mud and a mixture of pebbles, rocks, sticks, and stumps.  And it’s the simplicity of construction that draws you in to appreciate the work and craftmanship that began centuries ago.  As you can imagine, repairs are ongoing, requiring constant rebuilding and refurbishing with earthy elements found on site.

We were drawn to the plainness, the stark exteriors with minimal, if any, ornamentation.

We were drawn to the plainness, the stark exteriors with minimal, if any, ornamentation.

Tourists are welcome but only if they respect the working village and those who call Acoma home.  You can take photos, but not of the residents.

Earthy details invite a closer look at the construction and simplistic beauty of homes at Acoma.

Earthy details invite a closer look at the construction and simplistic beauty of homes at Acoma.

In late afternoon, the sun casts long shadows on this monochrome mesa.  And etched in our memory of our tour of Acoma was the stark yet beautiful architecture of this land and its sturdy, proud people.

Afternoon shadows at pueblo of Acoma

Afternoon shadows at pueblo of Acoma

 

For more of Ailsa’s Travel theme: Dried, go to her website Where’s My Backpack? or click here.  

Travel tip:  Begin your tour of Pueblo of Acoma at Sky City Cultural Center located near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Posted in Boomer Travel, New Mexico, Photography, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Local color at Oakes Farm

The big barn at Oakes Farm sports a quilt pattern on it, welcoming all to the annual Oakes Farm Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch.

The big barn at Oakes Farm sports a quilt pattern on it, welcoming all to the annual Oakes Farm Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch.

It’s our guess that all across America this time of year farmers are busy.  (Well, aren’t they always?)  It’s just that instead of being consumed by harvest chores and all, they’re leading folks through corn mazes, selling apple cider, and putting kids on tractors “to get their picture took!”

At least that’s how it is near us in Corryton, Tennessee, at Oakes Farm.  Kids, parents, and grandparents pour in to see farmland complete with corn fields, sunflowers growin’ alongside old barns, and pumpkin patches.

You can wave at the scarecrows or have your picture "took" at Oakes Farm!

You can wave at the scarecrows or have your picture “took” with ’em at Oakes Farm!

At Oakes, you can pedal a tractor, join a hayride, or pull yourself up a dirt hill with nothing more than a knotted rope.

It's hard work pullin' up a hill, especially if you insist on wearin' flip flops!!!

It’s hard work pullin’ up a hill, especially if you insist on wearin’ flip flops!!!

Or you might go in for some of the gentler activities, like pettin’ goats or rabbits.

City girl pets rabbit at Oakes Farm!

City girl pets rabbit at Oakes Farm!

If you stick around long enough, a man clad in gen-u-wine overalls will commence to stuffin’ hay in one of them newfangled thangs that the Oakes call a Pumpkin Pounder.  And then he’ll make “alla you’uns” count down:  5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  BANG!  And that ol’ punkin fires out of the Pumpkin Pounder aimin’ to hit a jalopy parked at the other end of the field!

It's the big blastoff at Oakes Farm -- the Pumpkin Pounder does not disappoint!

It’s the big blastoff at Oakes Farm — the Pumpkin Pounder does not disappoint!

It’s local fun at its finest at Oakes Farm in Corryton.  And if you think you’re too sophisticated to enjoy the likes of a fall afternoon sippin’ cider and pettin’ rabbits, well think again.  It just doesn’t get any better’n this!

Old barn and a sunflower patch -- it's fall at Oakes Farm!

Old barn and a sunflower patch — a little local color at Oakes Farm!

For times and dates:

Oakes Farm: 8240 Corryton Rd., Corryton, TN; oakesfarm.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/OakesFarm

To see more entries in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Local, click here.

Posted in Tennessee, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O at Hearst Castle

Interior pool, Hearst Castle

Sometimes you wish water could talk.  Like when you’re touring Hearst Castle, and you stand in awe of the elegantly tiled room with placid pools mirroring the ambiance of times gone by.

Interior Pool at Hearst Castle

What could that water describe?  Early-morning swims by one privileged person?  Raucous parties carousing among the statuary? Swimmers who dare not leave the seclusion and protection of La Cuesta Encantada, the “Enchanted Hill”?

Exterior pool, Hearst Castle

But it’s just water, right? No words.  No secrets.  Reflections only.

 

For more photos of H2O on the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA: http://hearstcastle.org/

Posted in Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

An artsy find in North Carolina: Penland School of Crafts

Kicker by Robyn Horn (redwood burl) on display at Penland School of Crafts

Kicker by Robyn Horn (redwood burl) on display at Penland School of Crafts

Visiting the home and studio of Michael Kline (featured in our previous post “Outstanding in any field: Michael Kline Pottery”) had many side benefits:  pastoral setting, creative pottery, and a tip from his wife, Stacey Lane, about where to go next.  It happened unexpectedly, but when you’re a traveler, you train your ears to pick up tips on what to see and what to do wherever you go.

Fine jewelry designs by Stacey Lane on display at Penland School of Crafts

Fine jewelry designs by Stacey Lane on display at Penland School of Crafts

Stacey mentioned that she was a jewelry designer who had taught at nearby Penland School of CraftsIn fact, she said, I have some jewelry on display right now.  And it’s a short trip from our house.  Just follow the curvy road from Bakersville nearly to Spruce Pine, and you’ll see it.  (How hard could that be, right?) Well, here’s the GPS picture complete with switchbacks, abrupt turns, and that welcome checkered flag!  Here’s good advice on Penland’s website: If you’re unfamiliar with the area, we strongly advise that you arrive before dark; it’s easy to get lost. 

Conley Ridge Road in Western North Carolina -- leading us to Spruce Pine!

Conley Ridge Road in Western North Carolina — leading us to Spruce Pine!

We’d heard of Penland before — all in glowing terms — so a trip seemed in order. And the scenic drive was tailor-made for a late-summer day.  We passed homes, barns, and tree farms before seeing the residences where more than 1200 students per year live while learning from renowned artists and craftsmen.

Mountains, trees, fields -- oh, the beauty of North Carolina in summer.

Mountains, trees, fields — oh, the beauty of North Carolina in summer.

We stopped at the Visitor Center to learn more:  Penland began with the vision of Lucy Morgan who provided local women looms and lessons for creating beautiful goods.  As an outgrowth of this movement, Penland School of Crafts was established in 1929.

Some people come to Penland as a retreat; others for inspiration and techniques. We were there to admire.  And the artwork and craftsmanship speak for themselves.

Interior shot of Penland School of Crafts gallery

Interior shot of Penland School of Crafts gallery

Just a few of our favorite things . . .

Another open space held a featured exhibit:  Wendy Maruyama’s “The wildLIFE Project.”  Larger than life heads of elephants made of maps, cardboard, and twine loomed above us making a statement about endangered species and the need for awareness around the world.

Constructed elephant head by Wendy Manuyama:  The wildLIFE Project

Constructed elephant head by Wendy Manuyama: The wildLIFE Project

But no matter which buildings and rooms you tour, you’ll take away something unique from your experience.  Penland School of Crafts is truly worth the drive!

Weed Pot by Matt Repsher.  Carved red clay and slip.

“Weed Pot” by Matt Repsher (Carved red clay and slip)

 

For more information:

Penland School of Crafts: http://penland.org

(Be sure to follow directions on the website!)

If you missed any of our posts in and around the NC Apple Festival, here are the links:

Main Street’s the Main Thing: Apple Festival 2016, Hendersonville, NC

Right to the source:  Apple orchards near Hendersonville, NC

Livin’ large in a Tiny House:  Flat Rock, NC

Outstanding in any field: Michael Kline Pottery

Posted in Destination, North Carolina, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Outstanding in any field: Michael Kline Pottery

Hand-thrown pottery vase with hydrangeas by Michael Kline., North Carolina potter.

Hand-thrown pottery vase with hydrangeas by Michael Kline., North Carolina potter.

Who knew that a trip to the 2016 Apple Festival in Hendersonville, North Carolina, would have so many perks — a stay in a tiny house, tours and tastings at apple orchards, and drives along back roads through some of the most scenic country in the South.

But a little-known (to us, at least) show and sale of contemporary art pottery just may be one of the best finds of the trip.  Cousins in Clay, featuring potters Bruce Gholson, Samantha Henneke, and Michael Kline with guest Kristen Kieffer, offered some of the finest pottery creations we’ve seen, all in a pastoral setting.

Because we’ve been familiar with Michael Kline’s pottery for quite some time, we were on a mailing list advertising this Labor Day weekend show and sale.  But being in Kline’s backyard and seeing the pottery was an experience in itself.

Under the tent: Looking over the selection of Michael Kline pottery.

Under the tent: Looking over the selection of Michael Kline pottery.

Michael Kline greeted us by the tents in the field behind his house.  And the more he talked, the more we felt like old friends, not just casual shoppers who dropped by on a summer’s day.

Quiet, country view at the home of Michael Kline and Stacey Lane in Bakersville, NC.

Quiet, country view at the home of Michael Kline and Stacey Lane in Bakersville, NC.

Turns out, his mother-in-law, Jackie Lane, is a friend of ours from Knoxville, a connection we never made before.  But how fortunate for us:  We enjoyed chatting with her and meeting her daughter Stacey Lane (Michael’s wife), a jewelry designer who teaches and displays at nearby Penland School of Crafts.

Stacey Lane (wife of Michael Kline) and their dog Jack greeted us under the checkout tent.

Stacey Lane (wife of Michael Kline) and their dog Jack greeted us under the checkout tent.

To say we were “wowed” by the pottery would be an understatement.  With an earthiness that comes from a blend of clays, Kline’s pottery stands on its own with signature bold vines against pale, grainy backgrounds.

Multiple textures, earthy colors, signature motifs -- this is Michael Kline Pottery

Multiple textures, earthy colors, signature motifs — this is Michael Kline Pottery.

Each piece was a treasure.  From huge, hand-thrown pots, to chunky, hearty plates that would be starring pieces on any table, Kline’s unique pottery is easily identifiable.  We could see it featured in any Southern magazine, showing classy clay pieces in a country setting or standing proudly alongside antique pewter and hand-blown crystal.

With a shape reminiscent of an earthenware jug, this piece features a slightly darker background.

With a shape reminiscent of an earthenware jug, this piece features a slightly darker background.

Kline positioned this stunning vase in the middle of a long country table filled with pottery -- quite the centerpiece!

Kline positioned this stunning vase in the middle of a long country table filled with pottery — quite the centerpiece!

Coffee mugs by Michael Kline

Coffee mugs by Michael Kline

His newer work reveals an interest in detail — tiny, repetitive motifs —  covering hefty mugs . . .

Repetitive designs on mugs by Michael Kline

Repetitive designs on mugs by Michael Kline

and forming delicate edges on serving plates.

A rim of daisy-like motifs adorn this platter of subtle colors and textures.

A rim of daisy-like motifs adorn this platter of subtle colors and textures.

We wandered down to his studio, a simple house with tools of the trade:  potter’s wheels, a utilitarian yet beautiful kiln, and pieces filling cupboards and tables.

Michael Kline's workshop in Bakersville, NC

Michael Kline’s workshop in Bakersville, NC

And who wouldn’t want to “set a spell” on this porch with summer flowers and stately pottery?

Beauty on the porch at Michael Kline's workshop

Beauty on the porch at Michael Kline’s workshop

Our serendipitous trip to little-known Bakersville, North Carolina, remains a fond memory.  Fields of flowers, weathered fences, and an out-of-the-way workshop where the marvelously collectible pieces of Michael Kline Pottery originate — it doesn’t get any better, or any prettier, than this.

One of our favorite pieces shows off what Kline does best:  incorporate local clay and earthy colors for one-of-a-kind creation.

One of our favorite pieces shows off what Kline does best: incorporate local clay and earthy colors for one-of-a-kind creations.

Apologies for this fuzzy picture -- the only one I took -- of Bert and Michael Kline.  Guess I need to go back for a better shot!! (Please, please.)

Apologies for this fuzzy picture — the only one I took — of Bert and Michael Kline. Guess I need to go back for a better shot!! (Please, please.)

Join us for more travels in North Carolina.  Next stop:  Penland School of Crafts!

–Rusha

For more information:

Michael Kline Pottery, 4062 Snow Creek Rd., Bakersville, NC; http://www.klinepottery.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/KlinePottery/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/285890650/

Cousins in Clay: http://www.cousinsinclay.com/

Stacey Lane Studio Jewelry: http://staceylane.com/home.html

 

Posted in Destination, North Carolina | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Livin’ large in a Tiny House: Flat Rock, NC

Our home away from home: a tiny house in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Our home away from home: a tiny house in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

When you wait ’til the last minute to make hotel or B&B reservations wherever there’s a huge festival, you just may be out of luck.  And we were.  No rooms in Hendersonville, North Carolina, during Apple Festival 2016.  Sold out.  Nothing much on any of the tried-and-true websites we rely on for lodging.

Another tiny home in Village of Wildflowers -- Flat Rock, NC

Another tiny home in Village of Wildflowers — Flat Rock, NC

And that’s when we got creative.  Somehow we stumbled upon the Village of Wildflowers in nearby Flat Rock.  Nice website.  Lovely photos.  Tiny houses.  That’s right — those adorable tiny houses that you see on HGTV’s  Tiny House Hunters. We signed up and stayed in a tiny house called Lake View.

Fully-equipped kitchen in a rentable tiny house in Flat Rock.

Fully-equipped kitchen in a rentable tiny house in Flat Rock.

Our 400-square-foot tiny home offered more than ample accommodations for three nights.  Immediately, we loved the open living room with natural pine walls and all the amenities you’d want in a compact space:  sofa, two chairs, bar with pull-up stools, fully-equipped kitchen, fireplace, and big flat-screen TV.

One corner of the living room with fireplace and TV -- visible from kitchen.

One corner of the living room with fireplace and TV — visible from kitchen.

The master bedroom was another study in usable space:  queen bed with storage underneath, book shelves on either side of the bed, and a wardrobe with hanging space and deep drawers.

Plenty of storage in this comfortable, compact master bedroom.

Plenty of storage in this comfortable, compact master bedroom.

No compromises on the bathroom either:  full tub with shower and lots of lighted spaces.

Bathroom with granite counter tops, good lighting, and both tub and shower

Bathroom with granite counter tops, good lighting, and both tub and shower

Pocket doors kept everything private but stayed out of the way.

Pocket doors, ample storage in tiny house in Flat Rock

Pocket doors, ample storage in tiny house in Flat Rock

Loft space (accessible by ladder in the living room) held another queen bed in a spacious carpeted area.  We didn’t venture up there except to peek in, but we knew at first glance that kids would love this space!

A screened-in porch with four chairs offered a view of the lake and a quiet place to read.  But we also discovered something else hidden away behind closed doors on the porch: a compact washer and dryer.  Handy, to say the least.

Screened-in porch holds 4 chairs. Hidden away behind doors is the washer and dryer.

Screened-in porch holds 4 chairs. Hidden away behind doors is the washer and dryer.

The Village of Wildflowers has both permanent residents and rental homes in this tiny house subdivision where variety in design and building materials ensure that no two are alike.

Open for inspection was an even tinier house, suitable for toting behind a vehicle if the owners wanted to be on the move.

For us, staying in a tiny house has its advantages: We were in one place for three days of exploring western North Carolina, we “cooked in” a couple of nights, and we gave up nothing in terms of accommodations.

Living room and kitchen view of Lake View, a tiny house in Flat Rock

Living room and kitchen view of Lake View, a tiny house in Flat Rock

We’re convinced that there may be more of these tiny house communities on the way in America, and, as an alternative to our usual hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, our tiny house stay felt like an adventure, one worth trying.

What about you?  Think you’d enjoy a tiny house vacation?

For more information:

Village of Wildflowers, 24 Empire Lane, Flat Rock, NC 28731; 828-707-0969.  info@thevillageofwildflowers.com; http://thevillageofwildflowers.com/

Posted in North Carolina, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 42 Comments