An Unexpected Blue Ridge Journey

My international summer vacation to Portugal last month got canceled due to an airline booking snafu. After settling with Lufthansa, we opted to head down to the Blue Ridge Mountains for some hiking and sightseeing.

A smoky sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains

It was a great place to immerse myself in quiet, perhaps the vacation I needed. I found this little red finch staring at me about 20 yards above me in the canopy. He even seemed to pose for me, a moment that lasted five minutes until I decided to move on.

The Red Finch

I was reminded of presence, listening, seeing, understanding. All of this was available to me. I have to remember that the lens is an extension of my mind, and the subject and image reflect that. So while I had Portugal sites mapped out in my mind, instead I was forced into presence in mind and art.

Some Blue Ridge hikes and sites

McAfee’s Knob

We hiked two of the three big trails near Roanoke including the above Dragon’s Tooth (including the vista), and the below McAfee’s Knob, perhaps the most scenic view on the entirety of the Appalachian Trail.

Dragon’s Tooth

We also toured a bit including a visit to historic Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The restored mill and buildings offer a glimpse of early 20th-century industry in Appalachia.

Mabry Mill

Speaking of Mills, Mill Mountain Park outside of Roanoke is home to a natural garden and a small zoo with lovely vistas of the city. I have to admit the zoo was a bit depressing and I haven’t developed any pictures from that portion of the trip, but I did capture a lovely photo of this lotus flower in the amazing gardens there.

We also drove north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the James River overlook, where the gorgeous sunset featured at the top of this post was photographed.

Finally, on the drive home, we stopped at Luray Caverns, which was pretty amazing if I do say so myself. I particularly liked the world’s largest natural organ, and yes, it was amazing to see and hear.

The World’s Largest “Natural” Organ at Luray Caverns

All in all, we made the most of our unexpected journey and thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you are enjoying the summer as well.