Sunday, December 18, 2011

Falls Ridge Preserve: Autumn Photo Log V

We're fortunate to live near the Nature Conservancy's Falls Ridge Preserve. Tucked into a narrow, flat valley near the North Fork of the Roanoke River, it's only about 15 minutes from the house. Falls Ridge is a 655 acre preserve described by the Nature Conservancy as:
Part of a steep, rugged ridge that rises from the valley of the North Fork of the Roanoke River, Falls Ridge Preserve boasts a spring-fed travertine waterfall approximately 80 feet in height.  Salem Fault runs through the preserve, dividing it into two different rock types-Precambrian limestone and shale/sandstone. The corresponding difference in soil types generates a diversity of vegetation, particularly wildflowers and smaller flora.

Sign on a bridge downstream from the waterfall.

To get there, you drive down North Fork Road, take a right, cross a rickety bridge over the North Fork of the Roanoke River, carefully cross the railroad tracks, then park at the end of this field:

That's our car, way down at the end of the field.
The travertine stream waterfall isn't typical in this part of the country - most waterfalls tumble over granite and are very "rocky." Falls Ridge, however, is distinguished by the limestone sediment. Again citing the Nature Conservancy:

The rocks in the travertine falls watershed grew steadily, as minerals and lime dissolved in the water precipitate upon them. Over thousands of years, the build-up of calcium carbonate steepened the stream's gradient and slowly created both the waterfall and one of the largest-known exposed travertine deposits. Large sinkholes on part of the land also indicate the existence of underlying caverns which have never been explored.

The falls.

Barrie on the stairs going down to the falls overlook.  It was a chilly day.
Another view of the falls.
The trail winds up around the falls, then levels off, where it wanders along atop some sandstone cliffs.
Cliffs to the right of us, stream to the left.
 The trail wanders back down to the creek.  The cliffs are to the left, another trail to the right. 
Barrie heading down the trail

Sandstone cliffs with lots of little caves. The folks in the distance just stepped out of a cave when I took this picture.

The stream below the waterfall. 
This land was donated to the Nature Conservancy in 1974. It has an interesting past, as befits such a rich, fertile field and stream located near the towns of Blacksburg and Roanoke. Again citing the Nature Conservancy:

A large Indian settlement was located upstream of Falls Ridge Preserve on the North Fork of the Roanoke River, but the only direct evidence of Indian activity has been the discovery of a few white flint arrowheads. In 1823, the Governor of Virginia granted to the Birchfield family 700 acres of land, encompassing part of the present day preserve. A local family, the Dudleys, later acquired the land and used it not only for farming but also to operate several enterprises: a wool carding mill, general store, post office, lumber milk gram mill and a livery. In 1939, a kiln to produce burnt lime was installed at the falls by Harry Dudley. Calcium carbonate cliffs (travertine) deposited by the stream were blasted loose, crushed and carted by mule to the top of the kiln. Traces of this operation can be seen near the falls.

The lime kiln at Falls Ridge.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interiors, Early Snow: Autumn Photo Log, Part IV

Some hiking photos and indoor shots provide fodder for this installment of the Autumn Photo log. We trekked up to our favorite and oft-documented nearby trail, War Spur Loop, for a nice morning hike a week or so ago. At about 4000' elevation, the trail had traces of snow on the north slopes (but the sunny southern slopes weren't snowy at all).  The next two photos show leaves poking through the snow, with slanting morning sun illuminating the leaves.

Snowy leaf on War Spur Loop.

Same photo as above, uncropped.

Back home, our Thanksgiving/Christmas Cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) have been in full bloom. Morning sun catches the cacti in the sunroom, while afternoon sun lights the cacti on the kitchen windowsill. The following are different blooms in the kitchen, followed by four photos of assorted pointy and round things from the succulent table in the sunroom.
 Christmas Cactus threatens a nearby purple object.

Big ol' bright Christmas Cacti blooms
Another view of the above Valley of Christmas Cacti Blooms
Sharp things on the succulent shelf.

More pointy things, only orange.

Succulent things, but not really grapes.

Scary flowers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

First Frost & Attack of the Hay Bales: Autumn Photo Log, Part III

 More photos in the Autumn photo series. The following are taken from the hill near our house. This is what the outskirts of Blacksburg look like....when threatened by hay bales.

Hay bales seen approaching from the east, sauntering up the hill from the North Fork of the Roanoke River.

Oh no, they're coming over the hill from the other direction!
Deceptively still, these are slowly coming across the valley.
More hay bales. The peril! Unleash the cattle!
Silliness aside, it's been a great fall for taking photos.  The first hard frost came last weekend, covering the Blue Ridge near Woolwine. 

Taken from Handy Orchards, Hwy. 8, Woolwine, Virginia.
Leaves in the icy birdbath.

Backyard fungi.

Post-frost flowers, a bit battered.
Partially turned maple leaf, down the mountain in Greensboro.
Mark and Cindy's cat Calliope watches from their front porch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn Photo Log, Part II

It's been a beautiful, summery October. Here's more photos from the last few weeks.  The Appalachian Trail winds through the surrounding counties. Here's the road leading up to the AT in Giles County:
Near the Appalachian Trail in Giles County
We've had several foggy mornings, not uncommon in the New River Valley. One morning was particularly nice. Here's the backyard in the early morning fog:

Foggy morning in the backyard

Another in the ongoing photo stream of Asta:
The umpteenth (and counting) picture of Asta.

Morning dew

One evening I took several photos of Barrie, but the light was way too red (note to self: check the white balance before taking photos). Converting to black and white worked well. 

Barrie in black & white
While driving home one day I spotted this pumpkin truck. How festive!
Pumpkin Truck
We took a trip last weekend to visit our friends Edwin and Carole and their boys, Andrew and Michael. We all went to the Apple Fall Festival in Waynesville, where Michael surveyed the apple critter art:
Michael examines the apple art
Michael in the great Thai restaurant in Waynesville:
Michael, quite the Beatle fan.
A few close ups, messin' around with the macro lens. This is a mandala kaleidoscope/coaster that I bought at the Art Institute of Chicago. Cool to look at and spin, but not so good at being a coaster:
Mandala coaster
I'll end this photo set with a basic food item:
Don't be without it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Autumn Photo Log, part I

Spring and summer have come and gone with nary a bit of banter on the blog. My Bantering Bibliocrat blog has always been, in my mind, more of a photo forum than anything else. But I wandered away for a while, opting since last winter to post photos on Facebook. My poor blog has been feeling rather neglected, so I'm reverting back to the ol' BB forum for most of my photos.   I tweaked the interface a bit, just to freshen things up. (A few things led to this decision - Blogspot made it easier to post photos, and the Facebook interface just seems to get stranger all the time....)

So here you go - the first autumnal photo posting, with a link from Facebook.  Oh, such social networking.

Yep, it's autumn. Suddenly autumn.  On Thursday it was warm and humid in Blacksburg, but a front came blowing in and by Saturday it was in in the 40's with wind gusts up to 30 mph. Autumn arrived with little hint of subtlety, so Asta and I took a hike to enjoy the breezy, cold weather.  I donned the fleece and parka and we headed off to the Audie Murphy section of the Appalachian Trail.

Asta on the AT - you can just see her reflective vest as an orange spot.
It was Asta's first trip since last mid-summer, when she was diagnosed with Intervertebral Degenerative Disc Disease (IVDD).  After  several months of limited activity, Asta's been feeling better and we were both ready a hike.  

We hiked to the Audie Murphy Monument on Brush Mountain outside of Blacksburg, near the site where Murphy died in a plane crash in 1971. It's a short, easy hike along a ridge.

There are several very elaborate cairns beside the Audie Murphy Monument.

Close up of the AT.

The larger cairn at the Audie Murphy Monument.
Peace sign left by previous visitors. 

Thistle beside the trail.

Wildflower bed in the backyard, catching the last of the fall wildflowers.

Also from the backyard.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Thaw

After several snows and a long bout of frigid air, we finally got several days above freezing! Time for solid water to revert back to liquid, and the snow and ice dutifully complied.  Here's some images from that transition, taken in our backyard.
Rim of snow and ice in the birdbath.

Dog toys emerge from the snow.

Green, natural and unnatural, peeking through the snow.

Berries beside the deck, adding some brightness.

Bent from  being covered with snow and ice, but springing back nicely until the next round.