Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Snow at the N.C. Zoo

While in N.C. celebrating Christmas with my family, Chris and I headed to the N.C. Zoo for a few hours last Saturday.

While we were there, it started snowing!

Snow at the grizzly exhibit.
The grizzly was asleep earlier when we saw him. We woke up to check out the snow, I guess.

Here’s the grizzly sleeping earlier in the morning.

Instead of taking the tram back to the parking lot, we chose to walk, stopping at some of the North American exhibits.

Here’s some more photos from the trip:

I’ve never seen this snow fox up walking around before. I guess he was happy to see the snow.

Sleepy bobcat.

Bison.

An elk in the pasture with the bison.

Red wolves.

This hummingbird flew up to the fence and chirped at me several times. I don’t know if he was happy or mad to see me.

The coati (pictured) and cacomistle were up and active.

Some orchids in the Aviary.

More flora in the Aviary.

Eclectus parrot in the Aviary.

More flowers in the Aviary.

Victoria crowned pigeon.

Gorillas in the Forest Glade exhibit.
A close up of the gorilla.

I thought there were new Australian exhibits, but I guess, like the red kangaroos, those were only temporary. So those have come and gone before I got a chance to see them. 😦

The lemurs were also not out. I guess, like the elephants, giraffes and rhinos, it was too cold for them. Maybe next time.


Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, N.C.

Another park Chris and I discovered recently on a day trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway was the Mount Jefferson State Natural Area in Jefferson, N.C.

We stopped by there yesterday on our way to search for North Carolina’s New River State Park.

Driving up the mount, you wind through a middle class neighborhood. Toward the summit, the homes give way to an oak-chestnut forest.

There are two overlooks on the way up the mountain providing views of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Although hazy, I could just pick out the outlines of Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, the two tallest peaks in Virginia, located in Grayson County.


The road ends in a long parking lot. Off of that a path winds through a large picnic area, which includes one covered and one handicap accessible picnic areas.

Following the path through the picnic area leads visitors to the park’s hiking trails: Summit Trail, Rhododendron Trail and Lost Province Trail. There’s also an outcrop of rock, called Luther Rock, that gives a view of the valley below on three sides.

The trails are listed as moderate to strenuous and you should except a work out, although the trails are no more than 1.1 miles. The Summit Trail is 0.3 miles, Rhododendron Trail is a 1.1 mile loop and the Lost Providence Trail is a 0.75 mile loop off of the Rhododendron Trail.

It seems that the park is a popular picnicking area for the locals. The parking lot and picnic tables were full of families. We also met lots of people along the trails and on Luther Rock.

Common plants seen along the trail are rhododendron, laurel, oak, chestnut, birch, soloman and false soloman seal, bloodroot and jewelweed.

We also discovered a few new plants we’d never seen before — a type of coreopsis we’ve never seen before, whorled loosestrife and purple-flowering raspberry.

This is a type of coreopsis.

Whorled Loosestrife
Purple-flowering Raspberry

There was plenty of wildlife to see too. We saw a groundhog, a bird that looked like a Northern bobwhite and a large chipmunk.

We met a couple who were peering through binoculars at a bird singing in a tree close to the Rhododendron Trail. I couldn’t see it, but it sounded like a towhee, a black and orange bird. According to several bird guides, towhees sound like they are saying, “pick up your tea,” with the second syllable stressed and the fourth syllable trilled.

Butterflies we saw included morning cloaks and frittilaries.

I think this would be a perfect place to go for a picnic and a short afternoon walk. But parts of the trails are strenuous. So if you have asthma or are not used to outdoor activities, just take it easy.

For more information, visit the Web site or contact the park at (336) 246-9653 or mount.jefferson@ncmail.net.