December 9, 2017

Saturday Snowfall

Yesterday I heard that we were supposed to have snow during the night and through most of the day, so I hurried outside and filled the bird feeders. When I got up this morning, we had snow on the ground and birds at the feeders.
Blue Jay

The goldfinches were hopping around, taking turns at the feeders.

I took these pictures through a window using a zoom lens. The bird on the railing is a junco.

The snow did not accumulate on the roads so we felt safe going out to Strasburg for their holiday homes tour. Critters included a nice dog plus some decor items.

December 8, 2017

Lights, Camera, Music.

1. I don't know the name of this tower. It's a musical instrument that you play with a mallet, like tubular bells.

The shape is interesting and contrasty enough for a black and white shot. It looked exotic to me but it's in Rockland Park near Front Royal.

2. I saw a recent announcement about the dedication of the Music Park and I was curious, so we went there yesterday. It's behind the playground at Rockland Park and features a number of metal instruments that you play using mallets. Fun!

3. I like seeing Tiffany-style lamps. This dragonfly-design one is in a restored house in West Virginia.

Orange You Glad It's Friday?

4. I liked this reflection on Clifford Street in Winchester last weekend.

5. The deadline for changing your Medicare plan was yesterday. I added a prescription plan, since mine was suddenly dropped last year because I was not informed about a rule about Medicare Advantage. This year I changed back from Medicare Advantage to Supplement Plan F because a number of local doctors won't even see you if you have Medicare Advantage! This cleared the way for getting prescription coverage again.

Health insurance is confusing, but the cost of not having it here (in the USA) can put you into bankruptcy.

For this tedious topic I leave you with a picture that Frank took of me.

December 7, 2017

Winchester in Early WInter

Here are a handful of images from Saturday's Holiday Home Tour in Winchester. The carolers in the first photo were kind enough to smile for the camera.

December 5, 2017

I Love Our National Parks!

I've shared hundreds of pictures of Shenandoah National Park over the years, so it's no secret that I'm a big fan. I've also posted a bunch from Assateague National Seashore and some of the National Historical Parks, especially nearby Cedar Creek and Belle Grove. Right now there are some political proposals that would impact access to these national parks so I want to voice my appreciation of these treasures. I do not want to see another entrance fee hike and I would hate to see a government shutdown that closes the parks, even temporarily.

Allow me to show some reasons that I love Shenandoah National Park. It is not far from where I live so I visit it frequently. These photos are from October, one of the most colorful months in Shenandoah.

View Near Luray, VA.
Much of the labor that went into developing Shenandoah National Park was done by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), a New Deal program. This statue at Big Meadows honors the young men of the CCC. This program operated from 1933 to 1942.

I am grateful to these people and also to the farmers who had to move from their land when it was incorporated into the park. Some did not want to leave the beautiful mountains and were nonetheless evicted. You can learn about them and the park's history at the Big Meadows Visitors Center.

It now costs $25 to drive into the park. Those of us who have purchased Senior Passes or Annual Passes do not have to pay this, but I think that the present fee already discourages people on a tight budget from enjoying this special place. The proposed fee of $70 would pretty much make it impossible for persons on limited incomes to drive up here, unless they are eligible for a free pass (military or disabled, for instance).

Hikers, however, can enter the park on foot using trails like the Appalachian Trail. The entrance fee is for vehicles, and cyclists pay a lower amount.

View of Front Royal at Night
Click on the PhotoCollage to see a larger version.

December 4, 2017

Out Here in the Country

Today's photos are loosely connected by their Shenandoah location. The first scene is just off Back Road. The vertical shot of a log house is in Middletown. The farm in the third picture is near Fishers Hill.

Then I take you back in time to a month ago, when autumn's colors were still bright. That season doesn't last long but I'm not done with it yet.

The bird is the same young starling I shared on Saturday. He moved to a different rail and was looking over the lake. My zoom lens helps me see some wonderful things. 

The closing photo is a sunset at Dickey Ridge, Shenandoah National Park. 

December 3, 2017

Winchester, Braddock, and Fort Loudoun

Today we were in Winchester for a holiday-themed house tour. I spotted this church, the Braddock Street United Methodist Church. Braddock Street is named for General Edward Braddock who came through Winchester during the French and Indian War (1755).

 A short time later we ran into more history related to the French and Indian War.  A house on the tour is on the site of a bastion of Fort Loudoun. Some people in period uniforms were there to tell us a little about the fort, which no longer exists except for a well behind a white house across the street. Fort Loudoun was designed by Col. George Washington as one of a series of forts to protect settlers against the French and their Indian allies. The British (we were still British then) also had Indian allies, and they moved through town on a road now named Indian Alley.

Text of the Fort Loudoun Plaque:
In 1756, during the French and Indian War, Col. George Washington proposed, designed, and supervised construction of the largest and most formidable fort on Virginia’s colonial frontier. Equipped with 24 pieces of artillery, the fort served as Col. Washington’s command center for the Virginia Regiment and a chain of defenses that extended from the Potomac River to the North Carolina border. Situated on the high ground north of town, the fort overlooked and protected the developing community. Directly behind this marker is the fort’s surviving well dug through 103 feet of solid limestone.

December 2, 2017

Furred, Feathered, and Local

Well, I was wrong about the bears. Not all of them have gone into winter quarters. Fortunately, this one is in Shenandoah National Park, not in my neighborhood. I've already put up bird feeders and a bear will take them down and destroy them! (I've had it happen.)

When I first spotted this guy, he was standing beside Skyline Drive, out in the open and looking perfect. But of course he went into the woods as I pulled over and turned on my camera.

I'm getting used to missing the best shots of bears. They are shy of humans, and it's just as well since they can be dangerous. The best shot that got away was a bear we saw in the fog on Skyline Drive. It was walking on a stone wall, and since the fog (actually a cloud) was thick, it appeared to us suddenly, like something magical. It would have been dangerous to stop to take a picture because visibility was only about 20 feet and there was no place to pull over, so getting rear-ended by another car was likely.

A squirrel is much easier to photograph. I took this pair of squirrel pictures through a window.

This spotted bird looked both familiar and strange to me. A friend pointed out that it's a starling; not the dark kind that I usually see but a juvenile, which is lighter in color.

I don't know what the bird in a tree is. It was across the yard and even zoomed and cropped, I can't see much detail.

And then there's this chicken! It showed up at our neighborhood entrance, hanging out with the ducks.

Here he looks like he belongs with the muscovy duck (far right), but of course they aren't related. Our muscovies are wild birds, probably descended from some farmer's flock. I think the chicken walked over from a nearby farm, or perhaps from a neighbor's backyard chickens. Sometimes we hear crowing, so I know they are kept nearby.

December 1, 2017

Meteorological Winter Begins

The three months with coldest temperatures are referred to as meteorological winter. In the northern hemisphere, they are December, January, and February. 

Since it's the first of December, it's theme day at City Daily Photo, and since it's Friday I can link up to Willy Nilly Friday and some of the weekend blog hops, like Black and White Weekend.

1. The theme at CDP is Gift. I selected an old photo that I took of my younger sister with a gift she got: bongo drums! This was in the sixties.

2. The colors of autumn are pretty much gone. I took the second photo on November 6, when we were still seeing some greens along with the reds and yellows of autumn.

3. Folks are decorating for Christmas. I like bright, cheerful lights. This house has more subdued lights but I guess they like blues.

4. We have a nice big moon tonight. It will be even fuller tomorrow and is called the Full Cold Moon.

Sharing with Skywatch Friday

5. The last shot is one that I wasn't sure I captured until I viewed it later. A few seconds later the subjects moved and the shadows became meaningless. They were in a donut shop.

Sharing with Weekend Reflection and Orange You Glad It's Friday.