After we left the cherry blossoms in DC, we headed north on the George Washington Memorial Parkway to the Great Falls of the Potomac.
There were several observation points that gave us different views -
I almost liked the granite in the river more than the actual falls.
We decided to head home via the Blue Ridge Parkway. Shenandoah National Park has Skyline Drive, which blends into the Parkway’s northern end. As you could see from the previous pictures, it was barely spring in this area. We thought that as we drove south, we’d encounter more and more spring.
Unfortunately, the day was very cloudy, and this was the first hint of sun that we saw. You can also see the Shenandoah Valley spread out way below us. We quickly discovered the importance of altitude on temperature and season arrival. We saw only bare trees, and then got enveloped in clouds that closed us in, until we were going only 30 mph and barely able to see 10 feet in front of us.
So we gave up on that episode of exploration.
About 3 weeks later, we headed east again, this time to explore both western and eastern NC. First, we came upon some neat waterfalls and rivers in the Cherokee National Forest -
The sudden outcroppings of rock were a neat punctuation to the newly green trees and rushing water -
I discovered how much I enjoyed the warmer air, greener trees and flowers of lower elevations.
Linville Falls from above:
…and after a rugged hike to the base -
OK. now on to the Outer Banks. I had been interested in seeing them, after hearing the term for years, wondering just what all the hype was about. It mostly was a narrow strip of sand dunes, with a fair amount of different migrating bird species.
At the southern end, after driving about 100 miles, we came to Cape Hatteras lighthouse. Of course we had to climb all 257 steps. After the bell towers in Italy, this felt like a breeze. Looking back north -
…and coming back down:
On the way back, we enjoyed watching kite surfers in a shallow bay:
and walking along the beach.
Bodie Island lighthouse was actually several miles inland, and had a different paint job.
Much to my delight, we got up early one morning and drove the “auto nature trail” through Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, just east of Roanoke Island.
Irises were blooming in the still, dark reflecting waters right next to the road. We were thrilled to meet several of the area’s inhabitants.
I didn’t think that one needed a caption! We never could see its head.
Stand off -
We’re off to central Africa in a few weeks. See you then!