Over the past 6 months I've done quite a bit of traveling (and teaching) throughout the United States. Whenever possible I try do do a bit of sight-seeing between working and I thought I'd share some of the photos I've taken. It's a bit of a big post, but I wanted to share some of the beautiful places I saw with you.
This first photo was taken on my drive back home from Charleston, SC (I've posted some of those photos here). This is the Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island, SC. There are many stories about this tree and, unfortunately, most of them are false. The tree is a live oak and is around 150 years old. However, it is a beautiful place. I got there during a huge downpour and had to wait in the gift shop for a while. There I met a very talented lady who creates sweet grass baskets.
This next photo was taken while I was up in Maryland doing yet another training class. We finished early one Friday and I drove up to Baltimore to visit Ft. McHenry. As my luck generally goes it was overcast and windy but that didn't stop me from talking a walk around the perimeter of the park. In case your history is a bit rusty, this is the location that is the birthplace of our national anthem.
After my classes were over in Maryland I took some time to visit with family and see some sights in Virginia. I was very luck to have an opportunity to see the original Herrmann's Royal Lipizzan stallions give a performance near Winchester.
I also took a drive to the Luray Caverns. The wonderful thing about visiting here is that you aren't stuck in a tour group which flies through everything. Instead they give you a digital player and headsets and let you take your time. Of course that meant that I took over 600 photos of the place during my 2 hours walking through it. This size of the caverns is staggering. The only way to appreciate how big the formations are is to see them with someone standing next to them. Absolutely amazing.
After I left the caverns I then went up to the Shenandoah National Park and drove along Skyline Drive. There are many overlooks that you can stop at, some with trails and all well marked. My usual luck held here and, again, it was overcast and very cold (for me). I didn't get to stay as long as I wanted to because a storm was moving in, but you can see some of the early fall colors starting to show in this photo.
My next classes were in Albuquerque, NM. The altitude is high and the humidity is very low; it is a desert area of mostly browns. I got a rental car one Saturday and drove up to the top of the Sandia Mountains. The crest is at 10,678 feet. Where I'm from the altitude is less than 100 feet, so I was feeling just a little light-headed when I took this photo looking back down at Albuquerque. It was clear, very cold (just above freezing), and had recently snowed. Needless to say I didn't linger here as even my camera was suffering from the cold (battery life was measured in minutes).
The following weekend I got another rental car and traveled west from Albuquerque to visit the Petroglyph National Monument. You have a choice of two main areas and I took the one that everyone said was safer (less chance of my car being broken into), the Boca Negra Canyon set of trails. It took me a while to cover the four trails and Mesa Point was my favorite. This photo was taken along the Cliff Base Trail. The lava flows and glyph carvings were magnificent. There is even a nice picnic area where I had my lunch.
My last stop in Albuquerque was at the Rio Grande Nature Center. There are extensive trails where you can walk down to the Rio Grande river. The Paseo del Bosque Recreation Trail runs alongside the park where you can ride a bike, jog, or just walk and enjoy the scenery and cottonwoods. The photo below was taken along the Bosque Loop trail looking west across the Rio Grande.So, can you see why I try to make sure I spend some time playing tourist when I have to travel? There are still so many interesting places to visit!