Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Art for art's sake and my survival

'Butterfly Candy' by Nancy Howell Blevins

We're still on the Smokies!

And will probably be so for the next couple of posts.

While having some coffee and tea at the Tribal Grounds Coffee Shop in Cherokee, NC, during our Easter Week vacation, my wife came across a local publication.

It covered activities throughout the area and all the way over to Waynesville, which is about a 30-mile drive to the east.

I don't remember the name of the rag, but I do remember what it led to.

Wifey saw an article about an art show at Gallery 86, a downtown location. The show was sponsored by the Haywood County Arts Council.

I had told her previously that this was a leisurely trip and if there was anything she wanted to do, I would try to accommodate her.

Well, I didn't read the article about the event, but she decided that we would go over and peruse the offerings.

Local artisans had their work on the walls of the studio. Wifey and I walked around and around seeing if we liked anything.

Well, there was this one piece of art called "Butterfly Candy" that she fell in love with. The artist was Nancy Howell Blevins. Wifey Linda wanted to buy it.

I then recalled an earlier time numerous decades ago in San Francisco when we visited an art gallery somewhere near Fisherman's Wharf. I fell in love with a painting of San Francisco. We visited the studio a number of times getting up the courage to purchase the offering.

Of course the artist took some liberty with his interpretation, but I just loved the picture and although at the time we felt it cost a lot of money ($175), wifey was on board with the purchase.

How could I not return the favor?

I later found out that "Butteryfly Candy" was the featured picture in the newspaper with the story about the showing.

It (the purchase) was actually a done deal before we even left Cherokee. Wifey just didn't let me in on it. Fortunately the artwork was available when we arrived.

Next post: May 1, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Motor trail offers a bit of history, beauty

Seeing a bear is a priority when we visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

But the bears don't always cooperate.

Years ago, say 30 or so, it was nothing to see three or four bears pass through Smokemont Campground at supper time. They liked to socialize with the humans while teaching their offspring how to enjoy peanut butter, hamburgers or steak.

Over the years, those types have been relocated into the higher elevations and now one is lucky if a bear is seen in the campground.

But I digress.

During Easter Week this year, we managed to see a bear.

We were on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a one-way road that makes about a six-mile loop just to the east of Gatlinburg, when we had the sighting.

Vehicles were backed up, so I got out of my van and walked up to where people were standing looking across a dip in the land.

High up in a tree there was a small black-looking furry ball. Two or three limbs came together at that point and the little fellow was fast asleep, his body secure in the location with all four legs dangling down.

I didn't take a picture. Even with the telephoto lens I had, the critter would not have made a very good image.

The "bearsighting" was the highpoint of our trip although the trail offered its own beauty and drama.

The winding road up the side of the mountain was just wide enough for one vehicle. Larger motorhomes are prohibited from making the trip.

There were a number of homesteads along the route, a number of pullouts that offered spectacular views and of course the Roaring Fork River with its myriad waterfalls.

Just before the end of the one-way road there was a location called the Place of a Thousands Drips.  It seems when the water is running pretty good, the sight is spectacular.

We never seem to get it at the right time and just managed to capture a not-too-spectacular waterfall.

Next post: April 24, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Animals of all sorts make for interesting day

I don't really like to go to a zoo.

Its because of all the animals. No, not the ones behind the barricades. Its the two-legged animals that are looking at them and are free to run to and fro and shout and holler and be ugly to their children.

Another reason is because I envision grabbing some really terrific jungle type shots with lions and tigers eliciting loud yells, rhinoceros attacking giraffes and emus running to and fro.

And maybe I'll find a monkey or two fighting high in the branches.

But no, it doesn't work that way.

On a recent trip to the Atlanta Zoo the most active of the animal species was the homo sapiens.  They were running to and fro, dragging or pushing their offspring in an effort to see everything available before heading out the gates for a relaxing afternoon at home.

The longest lines were for the train that encircles the zoo and the carousel that just goes round and round. People like manmade activities.

I have only visited two or three zoos. One was nearby and  maybe some I don't remember that well.

But I do remember our recent trip to the Atlanta Zoo during Easter Week.

And I have to say, it was really enjoyable.

Off course, to me, enjoyable first of all means comfortable temperatures which they were.

The zoo is on hilly terrain with lots of trees providing shade. That helped too.

The layout and display of animals was superb although most were just lazing around waiting for the tourists to go home before they really got active.

The zoo offered the traditional animals and also had a display featuring some pandas from China. The pandas were really cute and drew a hugh crowd.

Our trip to the zoo was with one of our our daughters in law and four grandchildren. 

As the line in the social columns of old newspapers used to say about events -- "And a good time was had by all."

Next post: April 17, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

There's gold in them thar Georgia hills

For years and years we've traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And for all those years, we mostly had our route set out before leaving home, and there wasn't much we would stop for and visit if it wasn't really close to the main highway on which we were traveling.

For all those years, we didn't do a sidetrip to Dahlonega, located in the northeastern part of Georgia.

But Dahlonega ended up being a part of our Spring Break trip.

It is a very historical site for those interested in GOLD. Yes gold. It was a famous goldmining place up until around 1849 or so. That's when the gold miners heard about greener pastures (or more colorful gold) out west in California.

They left Dahlonega in droves and joined the 49'er movement.

But Dahlonega is quite a little village. We spent about an hour or so this week in the area to make our acquaintance.

The lively town square hovers around the Dahlonega Gold Museum located in the Old Lumpkin County Courthouse built circa 1836.

There are numerous eateries in the area along with curio shops, antique shops and an old general store.

The residents of the area took quite an interest in making the square very interesting and inviting.

North Georgia College and State University sits among the higher hills in the community to the west of town. The view from the area is amazing with the mountains stretching out into the distance.

North Georgia is the Military College of Georgia and a state-designated leadership institution.

Dohlonega and the surrounding area is a place worth revisiting.

Next post: April 10, 2012