(This will also be a blog post not like all the rest....) A couple of Saturdays ago, before my teacherly duties began, Becka and I planned to go to the mountains for the day. But alas, I woke up during the night with a bug and instead spent the day in bed sleeping (and losing 3 pounds). Yesterday we were finally able to get away, but not before doing several jobs we really wanted to do — washing the car and cleaning the garage. Becka has a post about our day also, called A day in the mountains. Reading both posts will give you a more complete picture of our day.
When I first went out yesterday morning to go to Krispy Kreme to pick up and bring home "hot ones" for our breakfast, I discovered that we ought to find, buy, and put up a sign similar to the one on the right. Apparently when we pulled in or out of the driveway on Friday, one of us ran over a toad. Although I took a picture of it, I'll spare you having to see its flat little body.
After breakfast, while Becka vacuumed out the car and washed it, I attacked the garage. Even though we don't have a sign warning about toads crossing our driveway, we do have a sign in the garage, beside the door into our kitchen, warning guests about something they'll find in our house.
Our cat Adelaide is crazy, but she's not at all dangerous. It was just a fun sign we found many years ago at the Mast General Store, and guests have gotten a laugh from the sign through the years.
I frequently spray the perimeter of the garage because a number of bugs and spiders make their way in from outdoors. Therefore, as I cleaned, I found quite a few dead beetles and other less identifiable, dried-up, dead insects and spiders. As I swept out the garage, I had to kill two black widow spiders and I destroyed their egg sacks! This is not the first time we have found and killed black widow spiders in our garage. I've put a picture on the right of a black widow spider. They (and also the toads) live in the stone drainage ditch that runs the length of the back of our lot. Here a couple of pictures of the ditch whose maintenance seems to be my part-time job.
In the bushes on the right in the second picture above, I found a writing spider (also known as an Orb Web Spinner — thanks, Joe). Here's a picture I snapped of it. It's just huge — from tip to tip of its legs is about two inches!
After our cleaning tasks were over, we left for lunch in Travelers Rest. Right across the street from the café where we had lunch sits Leopard Forest Coffee, a place I've been wanting to visit. So we checked it out while we were that close. Here's a picture of Leopard Forest Coffee.
After lunch and a stop to buy apples near Hendersonville, NC, we headed up to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Becka shared a few pictures of what we saw, but here a several others. Everywhere you look, it's gorgeous. A few fall colors were already visible.
We saw what we think are mountain laurels with berries. Maybe one of you botanists can confirm if that's what this is. (Added March 29, 2010 — A plant-loving young man told me that the tree is probably mountain ash, not mountain laurel.)
We got off the Parkway at Highway 276 to head down the mountains towards Brevard, NC. We stopped to visit the Cradle of Forestry. Becka has some description and pictures of what we saw there in her post, but I'm going to show you the cool car we saw in the parking lot.
We hadn't planned enough time to do everything available at the Cradle of Forestry. We did the 1 mile hike and saw the buildings that had been part of the Biltmore Forest School — first official school for forestry in America. However, we didn't have time to take the 1.3 mile hike to see the other interesting stuff, including this steam locomotive.
We'll just have to do it all when we go there next with a grandchild or two in tow.
If you missed my post last year about our trip to that area, it tells some of the other great things to see and do there.
Have any of you tried out any of the places we love in Western North Carolina? I'd enjoy hearing about your impressions of them. Happy Labor Day! In honor of the holiday, we'll be laboring.
"In an age that idolizes novelty, we must not despise history." - Eric Newton
Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?
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