Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015-04-18 A Morning at the Farm - Rutherfordton, NC

A Morning at the Farm
Amy's Grandma's 95th Birthday Visit
Rutherfordton, NC
Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Cute Pig at Amy's Grandma's Farm

This past Saturday we made the short trip up to Rutherfordton, NC to celebrate Amy's Grandma's 95th Birthday.  95 also happens to be the temperature that Amy's Grandma likes to keep the inside of her house at.  Therefore, whenever I visit Amy's Grandma, I like to spend as little time inside as possible!

 My Niece Grace with a Baby Chick and Amy's Grandma on her 95th Birthday

 Amy and her Mom

Fortunately at Amy's Grandma's place there is plenty to explore, see, and photograph outside!

Amy's Grandma's Place

 Pigs at Amy's Grandma's Farm

Baby Chicks at Amy's Grandma's Farm

 My Wife Amy

Baby Pig at Amy's Grandma's Farm

 Rooster at Amy's Grandma's Farm

 Pig at Amy's Grandma's Farm

After visiting with Amy's Grandma, we continued on to Amy's Parents place to spend the rest of the day.

Amy's Dad firing up his latest smoker creation

My Niece Caroline, Brother-in-Law Hugh and Smoores


At Amy's Parent's Place

 The Shop!

 Caroline and Smoores


The Complete set of Photos is posted here:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

2015-04-13 Jack and Amy's Weekend Getaway - Day 3

Jack and Amy's Anniversary Weekend Getaway
Day 3 - Monday, April 13th, 2015
Jack's 45th Birthday
Alabama Waterfalls and some
Chattanooga, TN Breweries

Amy and Jack at DeSoto Falls, AL

The weather forecast for the day called for almost certain rain for Monday and Tuesday.  There are plenty of things to do in Chattanooga to avoid the rain like several museums, the Chattanooga Aquarium, and the IMAX theater.  Since it was my birthday, Amy left the decision as to what we would do for the day up to me.

So I decided to skip all that indoor touristy stuff and instead go hiking in the rain!  There were several Alabama waterfalls that I really wanted to get to, so hopefully I could check them out before it started raining too hard.

First up was DeSoto Falls.  This one was pretty spectacular. 

 DeSoto Falls, AL

Since it hadn't started raining yet, Amy made the short stroll to the viewing area with me.

Amy and Jack at DeSoto Falls.

This waterfall is basically three stages.  The first drop is over a man-made dam.  The 2nd drop is a nice 20-ft tall cascade.  The 3rd and main drop is an 80-ft free-fall into an awesome plunge pool area!

The 1st and 2nd Drops of DeSoto Falls

The main drop of DeSoto Falls

Next up would be DeSoto State Park.  The rain was fairly steady by now, so Amy elected to sit this one out.  

I started with an easy 2-mile loop hike that would take me to Laurel Falls and Lost Falls.  Both of these were small and unimpressive.  Fortunately they were rather scenic and photogenic.  I also pretty much had the park to myself on this rainy Monday morning making for some enjoyable solitude!

Laurel Falls - DeSoto State Park, AL

 Lost Falls - DeSoto State Park, AL

Amy was enjoying her book when I returned and perfectly content to continue doing so.  So I went ahead on another short and easy loop hike to Indian Falls and Lodge Falls.

Indian Falls was the most impressive of the (4) waterfalls in this area of DeSoto State Park.  Unfortunately the Sewage Treatment Facility just upstream detracts from the appeal of this waterfall.  And I would have preferred the pedestrian bridge to be located somewhere other than right at the top of the falls!

Indian Falls - DeSoto State Park, AL

Indian Falls - DeSoto State Park, AL

Lodge Falls, located just downstream from the parks lodge is unimpressive and not very photogenic.

Lodge Falls - DeSoto State Park, AL

I was actually a little disappointed with the waterfalls of DeSoto State Park.  Fortunately our next stop made up for it!

Little River Falls!
Little River Falls, AL

The hike was so short and easy that I returned to the vehicle to fetch Amy.  I told her to grab an umbrella and follow me to this beauty!  

 Little River Falls, AL

 Amy at Little River Falls

We returned to our vehicle and took a drive along Hwy176 along the North-West Rim of the Little River Canyon stopping at a few of the overlooks along the way.

 The Little River Canyon

I had received a tip about an off-trail waterfall on Wolf Creek, not too far off the Little River Canyon Road that I wanted to check out.  We parked right at the Hwy 176 / Hwy 255 intersection and I hit the woods heading downstream along Wolf Creek.  There is some semblance of a path, but definitely not an established trail.

Wolf Creek Falls turned out to be nicer than I was excepting.  Note: During my trip planning research, I also have seen this one called Gregg's Two Falls, but I prefer Wolf Creek Falls.

Wolf Creek Falls (aka Gregg's Two Falls) - Little River Canyon, AL

The Lower Drop of Wolf Creek Falls

The Upper Drop of Wolf Creek Falls

I was soaked to the bone, but the time I finished up this hike.  Fortunately the last waterfall on my list was a roadside view of Grace's High Falls.  The fog made for a cool photo of this already unique waterfall. 

Grace's High Falls - Little River Canyon, AL

We continued our drive along the Little River Canyon before heading back to our cabin to shower up before continuing on to Phase 2 of my 45th Birthday.  A few more Chattanooga Breweries.

1.  McHale's Brewhouse -  I thought the beer here was excellent, but the fact that they allow smoking inside was a big detraction for me

 Amy outside of McHale's Brewhouse - Chattanooga, TN

 Me enjoying a flight at McHale's Brewhouse

2.  Big River Brewing Works - This is a small chain with (4) locations, including (2) in Chattanooga.  We went to the one on the East Side of town because we didn't feel like dealing with downtown parking in the pouring rain.  The beer was good, but very generic.  We had dinner here and the food was excellent!

 The Big River Grille and Brewing Works - Chattanooga, TN

 Me enjoying at flight at the Big River Grille and Brewing Works

3. Moccasin Bend Brewing Co. -  This was by far my favorite of all the Chattanooga Breweries we visited.  The beer was awesome and the location is very unique.  Craft Beer lovers should mark this place down as a must visit destination!

 The Moccasin Bend Brewing Company

Me enjoying a flight at the Moccasin Bend Brewing Company

We finished up the day with a relaxing evening at our cabin.

 Night Sky Panorama from the back deck of our cabin

 Night Sky from the back deck of our cabin

The complete set of photos from Day 3 are posted here:

I had a few options planned for potential stops along the way home on Tuesday, but the radar showed no rain relief along any of they potential routes home.  Therefore there are no photos or reports from Day 4.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015-04-12 Jack and Amys Anniversary Weekend Getaway - Day 2

Jack and Amy's Anniversary Weekend Getaway
Day 2 - Sunday, April 12th, 2015
Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA

 Amy and Jack at Cherokee Falls
Cloudland Canyon State Park, GA

Cloudland Canyon, GA has long been on my list of places to see.  So that would be our main destination for the day.

As usual, I got up before Amy and decided to head outside.  While the view from our Cabin was pretty awesome, it faces due north.  This means it is really not a good spot for sunrise. 

Sunrise from our Cabin

Once Amy was up and ready, we hit the road towards Cloudland Canyon, about a 30 minute drive from the cabin.

We took a short and easy stroll along the Overlook Trail to check out the views and get a feel for the Canyon!

 Cloudland Canyon

There is a nice distant view of West Rim Falls on the opposite side of the Canyon.

West Rim Falls

Our main hike of the day would be The Waterfalls Trail and the Sitton Gulch Trail.  This would be about a 3.5 mile Out-and-Back Hike for a total of about 7.0 miles.  The Waterfalls Trail is basically a steep 400-foot descent into the Canyon made up of over 1,200 well constructed steps!

The first waterfall we stopped at was Cherokee Falls, which was spectacular!  Definitely one of those must-see type waterfalls for all you waterfall lovers out there!

Cherokee Falls
 Amy reading a book by Cherokee Falls
This is what she likes to do while I photograph waterfalls!

Next up was Hemlock Falls!  Equally as impressive as Cherokee as it is very similar in size and style.  The only drawback is the viewing platform with signs stating that it is unlawful to leave the trails and viewing platforms!  Assuming you obey the rules and stay on the platform (which I did), it really only leaves you one vantage point to shoot this awesome waterfall.

 Hemlock Falls

Amy and Jack at Hemlock Falls

Just downstream form Hemlock Falls the trail crosses Daniel Creek on a well constructed bridge.  This is the official end of the Waterfalls Trail and the Start of the Sitton Gulch Trail.

There are several more un-named, but very nice waterfalls along Daniel Creek and a virtually endless series of scenic cascades.

Waterfall #3 along Daniel Creek

Waterfall #4 along Daniel Creek

 Waterfall #5 along Daniel Creek

 Nice Scenic Cascades along Daniel Creek

I knew there would be some nice waterfalls, but what really made this a spectacular hike was the stunning display of wildflowers.  This could very possibly have been the most impressive wildflower hikes I had ever done!

Amy along the Sitton Gulch Trail
an awesome spring wildflower destination!

Here is a small sample of what we saw.

 Foam Flower


 Wildflower ???
 Wildflower ???

 Wildflower ???

 Wildflower ???

 Toadshade Trillium and Golden Ragwort


 Mayapple Blooms

Dwarf Iris



The Sitton Gulch Trail also passes by the base of West Rim Falls.  You can't see much from the trail, but I decided to scramble up for a closer look.

 One of the Lower Drops of West Rim Falls

West Rim Falls

The 1,200 + steps you have to climb to get back to the parking area made this hike not quite Amy Approved!  Once we got back to the car, she declared that she was done with hiking for the day.  But I still had one more hike in me!  So Amy found a nice spot to relax with her book, while I hit the West Rim Loop Trail.

The West Rim Loop is a 5 mile hike around the West Rim of Cloudland Canyon.  It was a nice mostly easy hike with some spectacular views!

 The West Rim Trail

 View from the West Rim Trail

along the West Rim Trail

Cloudland Canyon is truly a spectacular place!

After a full day of hiking, we decided to spend the rest of the day relaxing at our cabin.  We took a nice long soak in the hot tub.

 Amy getting the Hot Tub Ready!

The evening temperatures were just cool enough to justify lighting a fire in the fire pit.  We spent the rest of the evening hanging out around the fire.  What a great way to celebrate our Anniversary Day!
Amy and Jack around the fire pit

I also made a few more attempts at some night photography shots.

 Night view from the back deck of our cabin

Night view from the back deck of our cabin

The complete set of photos from Day 2 of our Anniversary Weekend are posted here: