Okay, for weeks, I’ve been hating how dark it was in the morning. The late sunrise made it seem even harder to rise and shine. Okay, I never shine, but I do rise. Now the sun is going down too early. There is no winning is there?
Where to begin on updates? Hmmm… I don’t know that I’ll start at the beginning as such, but I’ll start with the biggest news. And by that, I mean big to me and probably no one else. My annual new years holiday is now officially planned. I will ring in 2009 in Nicaragua. Defeaning silence? Okay, let’s just say warmth and sun in Central America? Is that more appealing? I’ll be honest. I hadn’t really heard anything about Nicaragua in years and years. It was stowed away in some dark corner of my mind as being a place of much conflict. That’s apparently mostly sorted. There appears to be some lingering issues over control of the northeast corner of the country from what I can sus reading the US State Department’s travel warnings. And if I compare it to Egypt’s travel warnings, it would look like I visited a war zone for my last New Years getaway. Just to put things in perspective. And no, my trip will not take me near said corner of the country.
I am actually visiting two countries, so I shaved a little off the trip by just stating where I’d be to see in 2009. The trip actually starts and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica. I fly out to arrive on day 1 (not unlike my Intrepid trip last year, a day to meet and organize) on Dec 28th. I fly back on Jan 11th. The rest of the time will be spent in comparative warmth and sun. And I know friends who live up north are reading this and shaking their head as I live in comparative warmth and sun for them. Sorry, I’m just a big baby when it comes to my sunshine!
This weekend, in far less interesting fashion, I went up to the tippy top of the state to check out the fall foliage. I don’t think I got any killer photos honestly. I am very challenged by forests and mountains, still. None the less, I had an awesome time if just for the zen moments and the riot of colors. The trees were really putting on a show this year. I drove up Saturday, getting a later start than intended. I really only stopped by Anna Ruby Falls and did nothing else worth mentioning until checking into a hotel in Clayton, GA. If I had realized just how close to North Carolina I really was, I might have gone that little bit further.
But if I had, I would have missed out starting my Sunday on the top of Black Rock Mountain, just north of Clayton. The aerial view of the surrounding mountains and valleys were incredible. The park ranger told me that this was the best color he’d seen in about 15 years. Color enhanced even more by the warm morning sun.
After, I popped back northward and crossed the line into North Carolina. This was actually the second time in as many days. I had border crossed the evening before hoping for some nice sunset photos. You can tell I am by nature a low lander. I was flummoxed quickly by the fact the sun didn’t really set so much as the mountains blocked it. Twilight came suddenly and I only got a few shots in, more of them covered in long shadows than anything. I’m not sure I could quickly adapt to life in the shadow of mountains and I know I don’t want to live *on* one. Nice flat yard please.
I took the Appalachian Parkway across the southern edge of North Carolina. Saw more staggering views from various overlooks, and took one old mountain road down into a valley. It was fun in a way, but more of a driving experience than a see the sights experience. The curves were coming too fast to do anything but focus on driving!
And this is where I go into a side rant. Most of the North Carolina stretch was fairly empty, when I dipped southwards again towards home, I ended up on more winding “scenic highways” packed with other Atlantans. All wanted to go faster and wear their brakes out in every turn. I’d rather not wear my breaks to nothing. Face facts, you’re not going to get there much faster by screaming down the few straightaways only to jam on brakes into every curve. And more importantly, I’m thinking you came into the mountains to see the sights, so please, slow down and see them. Sheesh!
There’s much irony that I’m planning a trip that’s now less than 2 months away and I’ve yet to go through all the England photos. There are a few more England photos up, though. Starting here should get you to the newer ones since last posting. And here are some of my favorites from the new crop.