Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


County Parks, Charleston, S.C.

One of the features that impressed us about the Charleston, S.C., area were the many county and municipal parks and their quality. I swear the county parks were like being in a state park. Awesome!

We visited Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County ParkNorth Charleston Wannamaker County Park and Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park (where the Mount Pleasant Pier is located). And, in the next county over in Monck’s Corner, Cypress Gardens, which I’ll blog about later.
If we would have had time (and less rain), I would have loved to visit James Island County Park and Folly Beach County Park.
Here’s some photos from Palemetto Islands County Park:

There was a large marsh between the park and neighboring subdivisions.
The park is located among several housing developments.

Sidney on a boardwalk across part of the marsh.

A combination bird-watching tower and playground.

You cross this pond using a bridge to get to the visitors’ center.


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Devil’s Den, Fancy Gap, Va.

Last weekend, Chris and I decided to walk at Devil’s Den, a nature preserve in Fancy Gap, Va.

Chris had heard that warm weather grasses and flowers had been planted and was attracting a lot of butterflies. With camera in tow, we set out.

We saw black-eyed susans, purple monarda, milkweed, cone flowers and Queen Anne’s lace. Here’s some scenery shots and close-ups. I’ll spare you the many, many landscape shots I took: (All photos by E.A. Seagraves. Do not use without permission.)

My hubby and puppy. Do you see the storm clouds behind them?

Queen Anne’s lace

Milkweed

Black-eyed susans

We saw lots of yellow tiger swallowtails, red-spotted purples, buckeyes and black swallowtails.

Buckeye

Yellow tiger swallowtail on milkweed

Black butterfly on mondara

Yellow tiger swallowtail on a cone flower.

More black butterflies on mondara.

We also saw a couple of indigo buntings. It was an awesome nature viewing day.

We pulled into the preserve right after a storm was going down the mountain. We walked around about an 1 1/2 hours, taking pictures of the meadow and walking down the 0.43 mile trail to the cave, which gives the preserve its name.

The trail to the cave is pretty steep so it’s not for those who do not want to or cannot climb rocks and tree limbs.

The cave

As we walked back up the mountain side from the cave, mist started rising from the valley below. The valley must have gotten a good, cooling rain after the hot weather we’ve had. By the time we left, the preserve was covered in a thick fog.


Photos from New River Trail — Byllesby and Buck Dams

Before Chris had to cover the Hillsville 4th of July parade for The Gazette, we took a walk on the New River Trail State Park at Byllesby and Buck Dams. Here’s some photos I took during the walk

Chris sitting on a boat launch, waiting to snap photos of dragonflies
(Photos by E.A. Seagraves/Please do not use without permission)

Some type of pea

A honeybee on a pea blossom

I believe this is some type of yarrow

The New River

Blackberries

A fritillary butterfly on a bergamot, or something like that.

And here are some shots taken as I tried to be “creative.”

Buck Dam

A structure found at Buck Dam beside the New River Trail

Another shot of Buck Dam

Pine cones, obviously

Oh, look! More pine cones!

And, because I’m so proud, check out Chris’ dragonfly photos from the same walk. He has snapped thousands of butterfly and flower photos and he’s now branching out to include dragonflies and damselflies.

You can tell the difference between dragonflies and damselflies when they land. Dragonflies don’t fold up their wings; damselflies do.

I believe there are all dragonflies: (Photos by Christopher Brooke/Please do not use without permission)


Weekend activities — May 22, 2010

There’s lots going on this weekend. If you’re in the area, plan on stopping by one of these spots:

Wildflower Walk, Whitetop, Va.
The Blue Ridge Discovery Center (which is a group, not a place) is going wild flower hunting in the Whitetop Mountain area tomorrow.

A description of the hike, found on the group’s flyer, says the hike will begin in “Spruce-Fir forest and descend into rich forests of birch, maple and oak.”

To reserve a spot, contact Carol Broderson at carol@ls.net. She is a longtime hiker, discovery center volunteer and Mount Rogers Recreation Area trail maintainer.

The meeting location will depend on weather, the flower bloom status and, hopefully, should be settled on by now.

Arts Festival, Carter Home, Hillsville, Va.
The Historic Carter Home, Main Street, Hillsville, will host an art festival from noon to 8 p.m. tomorrow.

I don’t know too much about it, but heard lots of local artists would have their wares on display. Patty at the Time Factory told me about it.

If you go toward the end of the day, you’ll be able to catch Hillsville’s first summer concert of the year.

Hillsville Concert and Classic Car Cruise-in
The town has added even more concert dates this summer. This one snuck up on me. I thought the summer concert series would start in June.

I’m excited that The Embers are kicking off the event this year. The Embers usually end the concert series in late summer.

And, as always, the streets will be parked with hot rods, classic cars and some motorcycles. People come from all over to hang out and check out other’s rides. It seems to grow every year. My favorite last year was a car made completely of wood. So cool!

The event also includes children activities, food and beverages.

The concert is 5:30-9:30 p.m.

The remaining concerts of the year are:
June 26 — The Entertainers
July 24 — Craig Woolard Band
Aug. 21 — Jim Quick and Coastline
Sept. 11 — Mark Roberts and Breeze
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And, unrelated, here’s some photos from our yard. The plants are looking great this year and we even got a peony bloom!

(From front to back) Coral bells, hosta and catmint./Photos by E.A. Seagraves
Please do not use photos without permission. Thanks!
(From front to back) Weigela and mock orange.

Peony . . . the only one we have and the first time they have bloomed.


Flowers in bloom

Last weekend, Chris and I made, what’s becoming an annual Easter trip, to the Austinville end of the New River Trail State Park.

Like last year, we recorded the flowers we saw and the number and type of butterflies and birds we saw.

On Sunday we saw:

Flowers —

Cut Leaf Toothwort

Rue Anemone

Bloodroot

Dutchmen’s Britches

Fragrant Sumac (or, possible, Spicebush)

Coltsfoot

Butterflies — 4 blues, 4 morning cloaks, a painted lady, a question mark (or comma)

Morning Cloak

Question Mark (or a Comma)

Birds — kingfisher, cardinal


Angry Chicken’s emailorder and flowers

It’s finally here! Amy Karol of Angry Chicken has posted eMailorder #11 — Potions and Concoctions — and it’s ready for downloading.

Amy had asked her blog readers if we wanted a compilation of all her various homemade remedies and goodies. I’ve been looking forward to it for a bit now, especially the lip balm, deodorant and the shampoo recipes.

In Amy’s description, here’s what you can find in this new download: Mullein Oil, Shampoo and Detangler, Facial Oil, Eye Compress, Herbal Toner, Vapor Rub, Facial Cleanser, Bugs Don’t Like Me Balm, Favorite Tea, Hair Spray, Lip Balm, Baby Bottom Spray, Plantain Poultice for Stings, Magic Tooth Cleaning Solution, Deodorant, and Elderflower Cough Syrup

I’ll report back as I give ’em a try.

You can find the eMailorder here. You can buy it using PayPal.
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Also, check out this crocheted magnet Nannie made me. My grandma is one of the crafty ladies that retaught me how to crochet when I picked up the hook again a couple years ago.

Ain’t it cute? Spring’s on the way, folks!

I may make my own copy and post the pattern here for y’all so you can make your own.

Nannie created this cutie using one a friend gave her many years ago as a copy. Her flower magnet has been on her frig for years and she thought she’d copy it and give some away.


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.