View of Centennial Mountains at Red Rock Lake NWR

View of Centennial Mountains at Red Rock Lake NWR
View of Centennial Mountains at Red Rock Lake NWR

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Visit to First Landing State Park

March 11, 2016

As soon as I started looking for things to do in the Norfolk, Virginia area, I came across First Landing State Park.  Then I had a few people advise me to be sure and to hike or bike there.  So it was high on my bucket list for the area.


I got a little more involved with the Back Bay National Wildlife Area than I thought I would, so didn't get to the park until mid morning.  The park is on both sides of U.S. Route 60. The Visitor Center is on the ocean side.  I stopped there and paid my entrance fee. Then I followed the short boardwalk to the Atlantic Ocean. The beach had several people walking, running, or picking up shells. I was more interested in the trails through the woods and swamps on the other side of the road.

I ended up hiking more of the trails than I intended, including one that I took a wrong turn on and hiked the whole 2.5 miles, rather than less than a half mile.  So I think I hiked about two miles here, two miles at Back Bay NWR and then about another mile at Norfolk Botanical Gardens.  I had thirteen and a half miles on my stepmeter when I got back to my friends house that night.



Osprey seemed to be working on the nest

I enjoyed this beautiful pine bark 

Carolina jasmine was starting to bloom

One of the many little pond

This bush was just starting to bloom

More art from bark and lichens

Last year's leaves still adding beauty to the tannic water

These swamps provided fresh water to the ocean-going ships

Cypress and reflections

A close view of a cypress

I think sweetgum seed pods are lovely - and look even better with a chickadee
hanging upside down on them


This was the only turtle I saw

Another lovely swamp sceene

A burl always makes me want to carve a bowl



A view of one of the paths I took - and the only one with an elevation to a little hill 


I had to look hard to find any berries missed by the birds and other creatures

One of the few fellow hikers

A viewing platform lets you get a closer view of a swamp

This area was still mostly snoozing.  I imagine it looks much different now as the new leaves come out and spring bloomers wake up.

I have left North Carolina and Virginia behind and am currently pausing in my own spring migration in Pittsburgh while I visit my daughter and son-in-law.   But I have a few more adventures from North Carolina to tell you about later.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day and Night at Norfolk Botantical Garden

My  friend, Les, newly morphed from virtual to real, and his wife, Shelly, invited me to come spend a night with them in Norfolk.  Les wanted to personally show me the garden he helps manage, the Norfolk Botanical Garden. I arrived at his house after a long day of playing my way through the Virginia Beach area, including visiting the Back Bay National Wildlife Area and First Landing State Park.  As soon as I met Shelly, and brought my stuff in,  Les and I were off to visit the garden.  

There is a fabulous lantern show there called Asian Lanterns.  The features are huge and are interesting by both day and night, but become magical at dusk. 
We arrived early enough to grab a golf cart and get quick overview of the garden.  Spring is starting up and more and more buds are bursting into bloom.  I only had time and light for a few quick shots. 


This is one of the saucer magnolias



I adored all the different things going on here. 



I think this a white star Magnolia


We got to this sculpture as the setting sunlight was captured by the glass leaves

Sunset afterglow

Then it was time to put the cart away and join the throngs that were moving through the huge lantern show.



A series of arches decorated with monkeys


Flowers were featured in several  exhibits


These calla lilies were my height


Some calla lilies were blue

These looked like tiger lilies with the blues

This was a huge display, larger than a party boad but set up on water,  so complete with reflections



These two swans would fill a large room


Head study of one of the huge swans 


Of course there were dragons

This was my favorite dragon

And lots of bugs in a big collection - this is a beetle


There were lots of butterflies scattered about - some moved their wings


Another pair of the butterflies - the one in front was moving

Even frogs had their chance to shine

A pair of harlequin ducks moved around  on a track over water


I had to take a burst of pictures to get one that was mostly lighted.  The lights ran through the fan


There were several of these monsters


They are built from little jars filled with colored water

This was part of a larger exhibit of panda bears and bamboo

The bees in the honeybee exhibit were a little scary


The goldfish were making kissy mouths like goldfish do everywhere

There was a whole orchard of lucky peaches - they are believed to bring longevity


This one kind of missed it's message - everyone called it the "Angry Bananas" but it is supposed to be moons and stars

But by far, the most impressive display was a huge castle.  It looked magical from a distance and got even more interesting close up. 


The fantastical castle


A closer look at part of it


It was  built of dishes - each added by hand, then the whole unite lifted and stacked with a crane, before being attached to the rest from inside


Plates, cups, bowls were all used


And there were even spoons on trays


All tied together


There were small houses around the bottom - each had a different figure 


One of the final exhibits was of Mt. Fuji

Afterwards, we met Shelly for supper and had an enjoyable visit.  The next morning, Les and I got up and went of exploring.   More later. 

Les earlier put out his blog on the building of the displays with much better pictures than mine. Check it out.  And hurry to see it in person - it runs until the end of April in Norfolk, Virginia. 

I have all my pictures of this magical place on Flicker

Thanks for visiting and I appreciate your comments.