There isn’t just one story to tell since I’ve been back at my friend’s house in NH. We mostly just talk and talk. And eat. Ice cream for lunch one day, but lots of other good stuff too. I see the birds in the feeders out front, and the squirrels who torment my friend to no end by eating all the bird seed. We’ve visited the Squam Lake Nature Center and gardens. But mostly we laugh at ourselves when we can’t quite remember the word we are searching our brains for. Our opinions of the state of the country and universe are as in sync as ever. Grow old along with me… and be my forever friend.
I was chauffeur driven for a week in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, which means I was taking pictures from the car, a lot of pictures. Now when I look at my pictures I have some that never did fit into any post I made already, but I liked them, so here goes. The feature photo is one of the four tunnels we drove through every day we were in NC. Two tunnels were longer, but that doesn’t make for as interesting of a picture.
I’m so glad that we made this trip. My computer is full of images of lovely fall scenery. I was initially disappointed that all the hills weren’t ablaze with color, but once I found myself traveling through tunnels of foliage overhead I was quite happy with the fall foliage we did see. It was a nice trip, but it’s also nice to be home…
We pulled the car over to join the line up of cars on the side of the road just beyond the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC. We quickly saw the female elk that everyone was getting out of their cars, toting their phones and cameras, to photograph. She had just emerged from the tree line, and was wandering into the pasture to graze. More females followed her, emerging by twos and threes, or just one at a time. I had seen elk before, but not in such a natural setting. In Yellowstone they had taken over the streets of a town, and the rangers weren’t so much herding the elk as they were herding the people who were getting too close to them. In Colorado Springs I saw them on a lawn of a business on one corner of a busy intersection, with a traffic light and constant traffic just a few yards away. The elk were not fazed by either of these situations.
What was so different about this situation was the appearance of a huge buck, sporting a very impressive set of antlers. He also emerged from the tree line, and was bugling, and obviously rounding up his herd, which had scattered a bit. It’s the season of ‘rut’, so he was probably establishing his dominance to any other bull elk in the vicinity. It was interesting that a lone female quite a distance away, but in the same pasture, was of no interest to him, beyond a glance in her direction now and then. She apparently didn’t belong. Despite his attentions the females slowly continued to wander in the general direction of the road, and the dozens of people lined up beside their cars, intent on getting their pictures. And as they wandered so did the bull, right towards us, until a female ranger suddenly ran a short way into the pasture, waving her arms, and shoo’d the gals back to the center. I thought she was carrying a camera and long lens, but I was corrected, it was a tranquilizer gun. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t necessary to use it, at least on that day. I guess seeing the beautiful scenery, and having a chance to see the animals going about their business in the same way that their ancestors had done, is the entire point of a visit to our national parks, isn’t it?
I know I mentioned that I wasn’t particularly gracious when I found myself driving the endless hairpin turns as we traveled the last 20 miles to the cabin. But I don’t think I mentioned that the entire rest of my trip was chauffeur driven, including the first part of the drive home. That’s the part with the hairpin turns and the frustrating traffic approaching Atlanta. Whew! So I spent one of the days we were there, the day that it stayed overcast most of the day so the light was soft and the colors were nice, shooting iPhone pictures out the windshield of the car. I have, on occasion, tried to shoot pictures out the windshield while also driving, a practice that I don’t recommend since it rarely leads to a good picture, not to mention the danger involved. But with a chauffeur it was hard to resist trying for shots as the scenery was gorgeous but there was nowhere to stop and take pictures. The feature photo is one of my more successful of those shots.
The drive to get to the Smokies may have been long and frustrating at times, and the lack of wifi for the entire stay, as well as not even having TV for the first two days, may have been enough to spoil the trip for some people. But our focus was to get out and take ever more pictures, so that’s what we did. Plus I had downloaded books from Audible before we left, just to use my points before I quit the app, so we listened to a Vince Flynn book for the two TV-less nights. Now we need to listen to the end to see if everyone lives happily ever after. Which is what we seem to be doing…
A friend has now arrived in The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and found quite chilly morning temperatures. I’m wondering how this will affect the color of the foliage so I decided to put up my pretty, but not peak, foliage pictures before I see hers. We were quite happy with our taste of fall, but I might be jealous once I see her pictures. I’m sure it’s a lovely place to visit in any season, but displaced New Englanders seem to miss the fall display more than any other season of the year.
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…
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.