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Sanding Ovations…

I have always wanted to see the sand sculpture event at the beach, but something always prevented me from heading to Treasure Island. And it was not on my mind at 2 AM on Friday when I walked out the front door to look for the lunar eclipse and got rained on. I hadn’t seen a notice that the sand sculptures were even happening, but, lucky for me, my friend did, and off we went. You can see from the pictures that it was a perfect day, hot in the sun but with a wonderful breeze to cool you off and keep the kites aloft. Traffic was surprisingly light driving there, and I was delighted that I had easy access to the sculptures without people in the way. I neglected to notice all the commotion in the background of my pictures while I was taking them. And with the tools in Lightroom and Photoshop I could have knocked my head against the wall trying to remove them, or I could not worry about it and assure myself that I’m presenting an accurate picture of the event. But I’m sure there are lots more people and distractions going on today and tomorrow as the event reaches full swing.

You can see that this is a work in progress. I have no idea when the judging will take place, but I was blissfully unaware of the unfinished aspects of some of the sculptures while I took pictures. They will be on display through the holidays, barring weather related damage. This one is Neptune’s Organ.
Lest you worry about my hydration during this event you’ll be happy to know that we drank Liquid Death while we walked around. At one point I was holding two cans of this when a gentleman asked me how my drink was, and was disappointed to realize it was water. Not even fizzy water. Many people probably shook their heads over this old two-fisted drinker.
This ” tort-a-potty” was one of the first stops of the day.
I didn’t catch the name of this one, something about a mermaid trapped in the kelp.
The DJ was playing some really fun music as we walked around, and he announced that someone had just told him that since he was located beside a sculpture named ‘whale wash’ then he ought to play Car Wash, and he did!
This one was Pilotfish. Those portholes were actually openings to the other side, with different faces looking out on that side.
The hiney on this one caught my eye so I took this picture. As the day went on there were plenty of bikini clad gals walking around showing almost as much hiney as this.
I made it a point to take another photo of that last sculpture and totally missed seeing that he was kissing that scuba guy kite who hovered over us all day.
This is the pregnant mermaid. I love that the little toy rocking horse is actually a sea horse.
Biting the arm that feeds you.
A mighty battle…
The flip side of the battle sculpture was this fresh fish sign.
When you don’t pay attention to the activity in the background you might wind up with a picture you could title “Off With His Head”.
This castle sculpture was placed at the far end of all the sculptures, and was the biggest and most elaborate. I was happy that I could crop the photo and only have a couple of people in it. For scale, LOL, but not really.
This might have been the more interesting view of that castle sculpture, if not for the tools of the trade all on display. I’m surprised that they didn’t show when I took the picture from the other side.

You can certainly tell which photos were taken with the sun behind the sculptures and which had the sun on their faces. As usual I was happy to be out talking pictures in such a fun environment, it’s only when I look at the pictures later that the details of backgrounds and shadows really hit me over the head. But there was so much going on, rows and rows of vendors and a great selection of really good food to choose to eat, that I just happily clicked away. It might be worth another trip next Friday…

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Oconoluftee Visitor Center…

This feature photo needs a title. How about “The Little Outhouse in the Smokies?” We were still on our first full day of our trip, and we had heard that this visitor center had a great farm display, as well as occasional visits from elk. We thought we could plan our trip, acquire some maps, and, hopefully, see some elk. We didn’t see them that day, but stay tuned because we did eventually see them. I look at these scenes and think of how hard life must have been in those days…

Here you have the farm house, amazingly devoid of tourists. Like us! LOL.
The house again. It was explained that the owner split the logs and used the halves on opposing walls. A skilled technique.
Further signage pointed out that pigs were essential on a farm in those days. They had large litters of piglets and they provided sustenance.
This rooster really did seem to be ruling the roost, but he did tolerate all the visitors well.
I liked this view of the barn from the walking path better than any of the other photos of it that I took.
Here we have the barn and some of the equipment that might have been used. The fencing surrounded the corn crop, another essential to the quality of life in those days.
More farm buildings, those are corn cribs in the back.
Flowers along the river.

Another objective of the trip was to practice using filters to improve your landscape photos as well as to photograph falling waters and make the water appear more silky. I was new to long exposure photography, but I did manage to get a couple of pictures. I had to toss most of the ones I attempted to take. It seemed that every bend in the road revealed a scene that made you want to stop the car and take pictures. And we were still on our first day in the park.

It will take a lot more practice to figure out this technique.
There were rocky little waterfalls in every stream along the roadside. Many opportunities to take even more pictures.
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Right under my nose…

In exploring this new-to-me neighborhood I had spotted this park a while ago. I immediately imagined positioning myself on the far side of the park trying to shoot the sunset. And I tried to do that exactly once, but it would only work if I walked onto people’s property, and I’m still a bit chicken to do that. And when I thought about sunrises I’d been on the lookout for places I could drive to in less than 45 minutes that would include a good view to the east. But on Sunday morning I decided that I needed to take a walk, and much to my surprise look what I found.

A view to the east! And judging by the clouds it would be a good sunrise. I continued my walk for a bit and then circled back.
It was going to be a good morning.
I had noticed the paved area before, but it took walking onto it for the sake of the view for me to see the permanent hop-scotch all ready for the neighborhood kids to enjoy. Apparently they still play.
And some charming artwork also. My kids, plus lots of neighbor kids also, once drew on the sidewalk with some kind of pods that had fallen off of the tree up the street. It turned out that they were walnut pods, and the resulting artwork wasn’t easily washed away. And I had a fuss-budget neighbor. Need I say more?
As I watched the colors come up I began to notice the birds flying in.
They were ibis, and they marched up the embankment towards me.
They didn’t seem to mind me and my iPhone taking their picture.
The colors were fading, it was time to head back.

I have admitted that I have sunrise/sunset envy, but it seems I may just need to open my eyes and look around a bit more, and appreciate what’s right under my nose.

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Just imagine…

I was missing my grandfather’s house yesterday. The gorgeous cloud formations made me remember laying on my back on the lawn, watching the clouds drift by and seeing what surprises I could find in them. I saw a happy little face off to the right in the feature photo.

I wanted to write that it looked like an explosion in a whipped cream factory.
My little happy person is off to the left in this one. Here I see a conversation happening, or is it an argument?
I turned one to black and white because I could. The texture of the clouds was amazing.

Of course by the time I got home and could have laid in the grass the pretty clouds were close to the horizon and the dark clouds were taking over, and I could hear thunder…

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Distractions…

I have to confess that as much as I enjoyed the butterflies at the Butterfly Rainforest yesterday I did let myself get distracted by the adorable Chinese Painted Quail that were busy scooting around in the underbrush. And sometimes napping on the walkway. Another visitor asked if they were okay, and the workers said yes they were. And added they they are the worlds smallest variety of quail. You can see them in the feature photo, a male and female I would expect.

See that tiny little pink dot nearly in the center of this photo? That is a Summer Tanager and it was busy taking a bath and didn’t seem to mind that I was intent on getting pictures.
Thank goodness for the zoom, he was too cute to miss.
He was splishing and splashing.
So cute.
And when he was done he up and flew away.

Actually the fun started right when you walked into the lobby, before you even entered the rainforest. In the lobby was a huge screen on the wall, and when we entered on the screen was a Mastodon and baby, wandering in the lobby. We quickly discovered that if you walked into the area the animal on the screen would start following you, and chasing you. You can imagine how excited the two young boys we saw were as they were chased by a tiger.

Not a great photo I know, but it was quite effective in person.
Tigers chased you more than the Mastodons did.
Also on display in the reception area. Fossils was the other big feature while we were there. I was sort of along for the ride, not expecting to be as interested as I turned out to be.
This display was nice, in the kids’s play area.
Hanging above the kids’s heads, the stuff of nightmares.

Did you know that giant sloths existed years ago? Big! Like 14 feet tall or so. And Dog bears? Not a dog and not a bear, but a dog bear. And did you know that horses used to be small and have gotten bigger over time? I didn’t either. And now I wish I’d taken more pictures.

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Puckett cabin…

Continuing the theme of life along the Blue Ridge Parkway long ago we have the Puckett cabin. Home to ‘Aunt’ Orelena Hawks Puckett, who’s story left me astounded. Here is a photo of the sign that left me so amazed.

In case you are reading on your phone and can’t read the writing on the photo, she began her career in midwifery after age 50, and delivered her last baby in 1939 at age 102. She rode horseback or walked to care for her patients. The sign says that she never lost a mother or baby through her own fault. But, most upsetting to me, is the fact that she bore 24 children and none lived past infancy. I can’t help but wonder what the reasons for that were. And to realize that she was a hostage to her own body to have become pregnant all those times, which would have been enough to drive anyone over the edge, but she served her community all her days. To say that life was hard in those days is such an understatement.

To be honest I can’t remember if this photo was taken before or after we saw Puckett cabin. Not that it matters, but you can see that the scenery along the way had changed a lot from the scenery along Skyline Drive. We stopped for other displays along the way, more mountain homes, and a pond at which I spotted the white butterfly.