Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Francis Beidler Forest, Harleyville, S.C.

On our way home from our Charleston trip we visited the Francis Beidler Forest, an Audubon Center in Harleyville, S.C. It is an hour from both Columbia and Charleston.

The 1,800-acre forest sits within the 45,000-acre Four Holes Swamp.

We walked along the park’s boardwalk and some of its dirt trails, though most were flooded due to the day’s rain.

We didn’t see much wildlife, but we could hear it, especially pileated woodpeckers.

Our walk along the boardwalk was serene, peaceful. It was a great rest stop along the way home.

Here’s some pics from our visit:

This is a shot looking up a tree trunk of a tree that you can climb into.


Big Survey Wildlife Management Area, Wytheville, Va.

A few weeks ago, we checked out Big Survey Wildlife Management Area, which is a fairly new addition to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ land. It’s located of Interstates 77/81 near Wytheville, Va.

We parked at the trail head of High Rocks Trail and hiked about 1.5 miles to the top of a hill, which overlooks Wytheville.

The trail has a fairly moderate incline. I was proud of myself, as a person with asthma, for making it up the trail without having to pause for breath.

The top of the trail had an awesome view.

Beware, though, the trail is covered with big rocks, so it is easy to lose your footing. It reminded me of walking in the middle of a intermittent spring. Luckily, it had not rained recently so the moss and rocks were not wet.

Though the rocks didn’t get me on the way up, I did fall on the way down!

So, if you’ve got little ones, I’d think twice about taking them on this trail. There was a man with a little boy (maybe 8-years-old) on the trail when we were there, but the kid was well-behaved and didn’t attempt to run ahead. They took their time picking among the rocks and made it to the top in time to enjoy a nice picnic lunch around noon.

Here’s some photos from the trip:

A blueberry bush.
A bench to rest on at the end of the trail.


Canal Walk and other trails, Richmond, Va.

To stretch our legs while in Richmond, we checked out the Richmond Riverfront Trail and the Canal Walk in downtown.

We parked at the Great Shiplock Park, where the Richmond Riverfront Trail starts. The park is below Tobacco Row, which I talked about here.

Here’s some Shiplock Park shots:

Parking for the Shiplock is to the right and the Riverfront Trail is just beyond that. See the brick building in the background? That’s part of Tobacco Row.

Richmond Riverfront is part of the Virginia Capital Trail, which is expected to be completed in 2014. The Capital Trail will connect Richmond, Williamsburg and Jamestown — the state’s two former capitals and current capital.

From Great Shiplock Park, Richmond Riverfront Trail heads west, following along Dock Street. To the south of the trail is a canal and a railroad bridge. Sidney was pretty scared of the train that passed on the bridge overhead. Other than watching for glass shards and the train, we liked this part of our walk, though it’s not very scenic.

Tobacco Row is to the right. The canal is to the left.
I think this is actually part of the Canal Walk or this is where Riverfront and Canal join.

The paved Riverfront Trail connects to the Canal Walk 1/2 mile away. I enjoyed this part of the walk best.

The Canal Walk follows along two canals and is decorated with murals and historical markers up and down the trail. It’s just over a mile and sections of it is lined with benches and trees. I thought it was very pleasant and would be a good place to take a lunch to escape during a work day. I would love to see what the tree-lined walk looks like in the spring!

Someone seems bored with this section of the trail.

This is so pretty! I love it!

If you decide to explore these trails, the Richmond Slave Trail, which explores the history of the city’s pre-Civil War slave trade, is also nearby.


Mill Mountain Zoo, Roanoke, Va.

Mill Mountain Zoo, Roanoke, Va., is probably the smallest zoo I’ve ever been to. And it’s accredited!

We visited recently on a Christmas shopping excursion to the city. I really enjoyed the colorful pheasants, the marmosets and wolverine. Very cool.

Many of the exhibits were closed because of the windy and cool conditions. We paid just over $7 for one adult, which seems to be a lot for a small zoo.

Here’s some photos:

Blue Magpie
Golden pheasant — one of my favorites!
Pygmy goat
Snow leopard

Japanese Macaque

Eurasian black vulture — a huge fella!

Sichuan Takin

Black-eared tufted marmoset. I wanted to cuddle with them!
I believe these are white-napped cranes.

Since we have a N.C. Zoo membership, we got in half price. (The N.C. Zoo is huge and a great weekend activity for the family. Check it out if you’re down that way.)

While on top of Mill Mountain, check out the Mill Mountain Star, the Star Trail and The Discovery Center. There are no photos of the Star Trail below. We didn’t walk on the trail that day, but we’ve done it before.

You can see this star from most areas in Roanoke.

Here’s a view from atop Mill Mountain. The star is located behind the photographer in this shot.

A snake in The Discovery Center. I don’t know why Chris insists on snapping photos of snakes!

At the bottom of the mountain, check out the Chestnut Ridge Trail. We walked there for a bit and it was a great walk, even for the cool, windy day we were there. It’s 5.4 miles, but we walked about 2.5 miles, cutting through a campground and walking down along the road to get back to the parking lot.

I’m checking out the map to decide which way to go. I’m bundled up, but was still cold in the wind.

A shot of the road as we crossed it along the trail.


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New River Gorge

Here’s some photos from our trip to the New River Gorge a several weeks ago.

We stayed for a few of hours and would like to go back when we have time to explore more of the park’s trails.

These photos come from the Grandview Visitor Center, which isn’t the area where the famous bridge is located. (Bridge photos are below.)

See the train hauling all that coal?

Even though the bridge isn’t at this location, this is a good spot to visit. Walking along some of the trails and climbing to the top of the Turkey Spur Overlook were great.

This is the beginning of the Turkey Spur Overlook. We walked up several flights of stairs to the top of this rocky outcropping.

Me, being all artsy with the leaves on the Turkey Spur Overlook deck. 🙂

This visitor center is located off I-64, east of I-77, and off of Route 9 in West Virginia. Check it out!

Here are photos from Canyon Rim Visitor Center where the famous bridge is located. This was really outstanding! Every little bit we would pull over and take photos of the bridge from different angles.

Sidney’s ready for the next trail! We’re on an overlook checking out the bridge.

The New River Gorge Bridge.
Probably my favorite picture of the bridge (shot from the smaller bridge seen below).

Shot of the river.

A smaller bridge that’s below and beside the New River Gorge Bridge.

The smaller bridge is to the right (not pictured) and here is a picture of the New River Gorge Bridge and the road that goes underneath it.

There are just some pretty leaves I found alongside the New River below the bridge.

I want to walk to the Kaymoor Trail to the old mining community. There are also more waterfalls along this trail that we didn’t get to see because it was getting too dark to walk far on the trail.

The first waterfall on the Kaymoor Trail.

Ha! I love the look on Chris’ face. 🙂

Canyon Rim is located off of Route 19 in West Virginia.

We also went to the Thurmond Depot, but it was too dark to see anything. It would be cool to go back and check out the old community and train depot. It is located off of Route 25 (follow signs from Route 19).


Occoneeche State Park, Va.

On our way to the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, we stopped at Occoneeche State Park, Clarksville, Va. The park is on the John H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake).

The park is designed to appeal to boaters, horseback riders, campers and hikers alike.

While there, we walked on the Big Oak Nature Trail and the Old Plantation Trail where we explored the site of the former Occoneeche Plantation, reading interpretive signs about the home’s foundations, the terrace gardens and cemeteries.