Background Switcher (Hidden)

In My Car, I'm Gone to Carolina

Friday, May 18, 2018

A little rattled, but hugely grateful.

That pretty much describes how I feel about this spring. OK, I'll expand and say it's how I feel about my life lately. Some things have happened in the last three weeks that amount to an arm-grab from the Universe, letting me know that I'm not a superhero. Or even half of one.
A bit of magnetic removable Subaru decoration from my friend Valerie Sinex of Wild Birds Unlimited in Yorba Linda, CA. Best goodie bag I've ever gotten!

450 miles. I can drive that in a day. No problem. For whatever reason, I don’t get tired while driving like I used to. My eyes don’t slam shut or roll back. I just go, and go, and go. Good thing, because I really slammed my schedule full this spring. People kept making enticing offers for me to come speak in places I really wanted to go! So I went, winding through the southeast Ohio foothills and into the West Virginia mountains and then the Virginia ones and Tennesee’s and from there into the serious by God mountains of North Carolina. I was amazed to see spring being completely held off, even that far south. What a year, what a cold, stingy spring it’s been, everywhere I’ve gone. I-77 was a regular redbud gallery, though, and that, the spring leaves, and my little Talenti gelato jars full of nuts and twigs and berries got me there.

I was in for a treat with Hendersonville, NC, where the Carolina Bird Club was holding its spring meeting, where I’d been invited to present. Even though I was tired when I got there, I made myself go out and find dinner. Yelp is a beautiful thing; I found a yummy mom and pop Thai place only a half mile from my lodge, so I walked there, reveling in the warm air on my skin. 

The clouds and a farm field, across from the restaurant. The food was homemade and I got to sit outside. And walk back to the hotel. Perfect! Yay Yelp!


Then, unable to resist the changing sky and balmy air, I drove to the old downtown and spent the rest of the evening walking up and down Main Street, windowshopping and taking photos of a nearly full moon rising over a stunning cloudbanks. What a beautiful town! Plus there is an ice cream shop at the head of Main Street, a meet destination for a weary traveler.

Live music floated out of two establishments; there were hippie d├ęcor shops

and clothing shops and one consignment shop that has my noseprints all over the glass. I’d have to try to get back when it was open. 
 Spotted on Main: a Tibetan terrier I could easily have smuggled home. He had lovely manners and one blue eye. Needless to say his color scheme was appealing to me. I'd keep him cut short, too.

Wow. Great live music. I wished I weren't so tired from my drive; I'd have gone in and not had a beer.

As night fell I basked in the warmish spring air and the sight of a nearly full moon rising over Main Street. It was lovely to be among the people walking the sidewalks slowly, looking in the windows of darkened shops. That’s my kind of shopping. It’s much cheaper than doing it when stores are open. Snort!

 Thanks to loyal blogreader Sheila, I already haz one of these. It was sweet to see a hint of Bacon looking back at me from a deserted antique shop. I remembered when I first got the cast iron Boston terrier doorstop. I put it on the floor and Chet barked at it, then walked up and smelled its ears and bottom before deciding it was inanimate. He was never quite sure about the Pig of Good Fortune, though. He barked at that intermittently, and even sniffed its ears now and then, just to make sure it was still terra cotta and hadn't suddenly turned into pork. A gemmun can dream.

Just a year ago, spring all lit up, little inkdog dribbled on the lawn. But it seems like forever.

The next morning was just full of birds. Birds everywhere, and wonderful people to share them with.  I got my best-ever look at a mama wood duck and her babies. She was stuck--there was a 5K being run in the park where we were birding, and she was hiding out in a little swamp circumscribed by the paved course with runners streaming by. Relaxed enough to preen, though, while we watched her babies feed themselves--for a woodie, she was one cool cucumber!

I was charmed by the Carolina silverbells--a small tree that blooms with pendant snow-white bells.

Occasionally, a warbler would slip through.

 Fraser magnolias were abloom. A classic Southern mountain tree. We see them in WV too--silverbells as well.

A group of naturalist/birders I was supposed to be co-leading got fractured, and a little ragtag band of us decided to climb up to Hickory Nut Falls because we couldn't find the others, and we all had cars to get back to the conference center for my keynote that evening. It was a good call and a nice, flowery climb.

Fern-leaved Phacelia was blooming enthusiastically amongst large granite boulders. 
I think its color shines best in shadow.

Also wearing Paradise Purple to the ball were dwarf crested iris. I had to teeter on a mountainside for this shot, and I was hoping the rocks didn't roll under me. These are dwarf with a bullet--only about 6" tall!


 Hickory Nut Falls was worth the climb!

I got back in plenty of time to load in, then get cleaned up for my talk. Reception, schmoozing, dinner, talking, keynote, booksigning. Met the lovely Maryann Kolb and her daughter Linda, longtime Facebook friends who I knew would be wonderful. I love it when it works out like that!  Loaded in many book boxes, each weighing 36 lb. Lots of bending and carrying and stooping after a very long day. Then loaded them out again. I had almost 17,000 steps on my Fitbit by the time I turned in at 11:30 pm.

Little did I know that my real adventure was just beginning. 
Next: Things that go sideways in the night.


It was a wonderful Carolina Bird Club meeting in a beautiful place. Our southern mountains are enchanting. Meeting you in person was the icing on the cake with a cherry on top! I said to Linda, just before we caught sight of you, "she has so many ]friends on Facebook I promise I won't be disappointed if she doesn't know us." The truth is I would have been! We will try and catch up with you again--someplace made beautiful by friends.

Mary Ann

There are always trade-offs in life. I decided to take in parrots that needed homes. So, as a result, my husband and I no longer stay away for more than a day trip. I depend on adventurous people like you, to post about places that are so close to me... and yet so far. Thank you, Julie, for helping me to be a vicarious traveler.

Posted by Anonymous May 18, 2018 at 10:04 AM

Love how you live/love life!!
Fun “ traveling “ w/ you!!
Headed for those Tenn hills next week for grandgirl graduation! Glad to hear Spring is slow there too!’

I'm doing the reverse. My trip plan is to come up from NC to do the Ohio River Scenic Byway this fall, starting in East Liverpool. I'll wave at the Bird Watcher's Digest office as I pass thru Marietta.

I bet it is fun to meet FB friends and blog followers! You have friends everywhere you go !! Birds, too ! Hang in there.... life can be a challenge.

[Back to Top]