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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Beautiful Day in the Blue Ridge

I have been quiet today, but that is because the kids and I have been out and about enjoying some beautiful countryside with another homeschooling family.

A few days ago I read an article about Hawk Migration. Now I have a son who is crazy about birds and has been doing some bird watching in the backyard, so I thought what a great way to encourage this interest. Wanting to be careful with gas, we decided to do some other things along the way.

First we stopped at the Visitor's Center at the Peaks of Otter. This gave us an idea of some things to look for during our day (besides the migrating hawks). Next we drove to mile marker 95.3 (Harvey's Knob overlook) and we got out to see what we could see. There were three regulars already in place with binoculars, counters, lunch and chairs. We asked them how it was going and they replied they had only seen one kestrel in the last hour. Uh oh...maybe this wasn't such a great idea! I could imagine the children and what they would say if we sat there for an hour and saw one bird. But, we must have brought the right air currents with us, for within moments, the regular observers were jumping up and counting and telling us where to look. Let me tell you they had sharp eyes. At first, the birds had to practically be on top of us before I could see them, but we quickly adjusted and were soon having a blast.

While there, we also did some sketches of wildflowers growing at the overlook. Then we headed to the picnic area below Abbott Lake. We were very sad to see that the stream at the picnic area was completely dried up and we are hoping for some rain soon. After lunch, we walked by Polly Wood's ordinary and then walked around the lake. We watched the fish in the water, we collected leaves, sticks, flowers, and some kind of fluffy stuff that we haven't identified (hope it's not some kind of alien life form!). We watched a deer calmly observe us and walk away. We noted insects, a ringneck snake, a tiny frog and practiced our Indian Walking.

To finish off our exciting day, we headed for Johnson's Orchard. Here we collected apples, peaches and some homemade apple butter and marmalade. We were introduced to the newest pet on the farm...Spot. He was a cutie and I think my daughter would have liked to put him in her pocket. We were saddened to hear how the high gas prices have delivered a blow to Johnson's Orchard. Part of their revenue comes from school field trips (and let me tell you, we have done the tour before, it is well done and the kids love it and learn a lot). Well, with the gas prices so high, many schools in the area have cancelled field trips. Therefore costing the Orchard some of its revenue.

So, take a day off from work or go on a Saturday. Follow in our footsteps and see if you and your family don't have a wonderful time! And be sure to spend a little money at the orchard. Your taste buds will thank you for it!


At 12:51 PM, Blogger funkysmell said...

Nice blog.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

Thanks! I am glad you stopped by and that you enjoyed your visit. Come again!

At 12:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear tell Johnny Appleseed is at the Johnson Farm. Seems like he is 16 feet tall, I would like to get a gander of him

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

You are right about the Johnny Appleseed statue. That is a highlight for the kids who had to pose in front of him for a photo op:)


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