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Chicken Coop Salamander

What’a a trip without a visit to craft shops? And does the John C Campbell Folk School at Brasstown ever have shops to die for, in particular interesting doings down at the blacksmith shop.

Here we see a chicken coop salamander so named for its inspiration. The artist’s grand children catch salamanders in his chicken coop. This salamander will soon be a barn door handle complete with its own bug to chase. The body is some three feet long with a substantial tail below the hind feet – for the little ones to be able to reach.

Now here comes the rest of the story: the artist produced this piece in one day the first day of the class, his first exposure to iron working. Wow. He volunteered that he wanted to try something new. Ah now we know – he turns about to be an experienced stone artist. All we have to say is what an accomplished artist, neat inspiration story, great door handle.
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Dissipating Clouds

Yesterday was a grand day for clouds in the national park and along the parkway. Such marvelous panoramas from Clingmans Dome and parkway overlooks. So maybe, just maybe the clouds would hang in there until sunset. Perhaps no dissapating just before sunset. We had not planned on staying out until dark so brought no jackets but never mind as the temperature on top of Graggy gardens shouldn’t drop that much. At 7:30 the view from Graggy Gardens parking looking west was spectacular – just enough linear clouds to add interst to the sky without blocking the setting sun. Big clouds to the east but they were of no concern because we had seen virtually no cloud movement all day. Indeed we might get good reflected color and have several sunset shots.

So up we go some .8 mile climb up to the top. Rhodies are at peak so the climb has its own benefits. Then a big cloud came rolling in from the east. Zero visibility. By now we are almost to the top then the cloud decided to dissipate on us. It rained.

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Water, Water

Water, water everywhere. And so easy to find. Travel brochures advertise easily accessible falls. Park and Forest Service folks provide parking some right there, some within reasonable hiking distance. Falls requiring a round trip over an hour are cataloged by the dedicated enthusiasts – photographers. We will save those for another trip. In the meantime we have a choice of big falls with cold swimming holes at the base, falls that provide a water slide for folks and delicate little falls. Marvelous treats for a day of scouting.

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Smokin’

The Smokies are putting on a nice display demonstrating how they got their name. The light blue/gray haze does wonders for our perception of depth and distance. This view is looking east from the Blue Ridge Parkway west of Asheville. The key to the image is the time of day – mid-afternoon. We were out scouting locations for sunrise and sunset photo ops. At least, in the two days we have been up here, these clouds are a mid day phenomena coming in mid-morning and dissipating before sunset leaving bald skies. Yuck. makes one appreciate the persistence of the photographers who have lovely cloud framed sunrise and sunset images.

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Summer Preparation

And what are you doing to prepare for the summer? Ads will have us believe we can start now and have a bikini body by summer. That was never a possibility no matter how much lead time I got so have to do something else, the top priority being photography stuff.

Here we present the result of refined practice of handling images with wide light range dark to light by blending multiple images taken at differing exposure levels. Software (a new  processing program for this type of image) always makes us look good.  But that’s not the real story. In setting up to go to the mountains, I pulled out my hiking boots and bought some decent socks to wear with them. Just to make sure the socks weren’t too bulky I went for a walk. Ouch. Did my feet ever protest. They are not used to any shoes. You see on most days I am barefoot all day. Crocs when need be. Senior citizen white tennie pumpers occasionally. Real shoes – like never.

So now I have to wear hiking boots a couple hours a day. And you know what I am doing to prepare for the summer.

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Next Year’s Project

A pile of junk boats perhaps? No way. We have a sailing pram in a runabout on top of an Abaco dinghy. That runabout is a prime candidate for restoration. Sometime. It sits out behind the shop at Tomato Paste, a one man restoration shop at Hope Town. Who knows when the restoration will start. The shop has at least one multiyear project going and maybe three active repair jobs. We didn’t get any sense that any real project management was happening around there. Doesn’t matter because projects do get finished. A nicely done runabout of the same design was sitting at the dock and we were told another one is over at Marsh Harbor getting its engine rigged out. And apparently there are any number of needy Abaco dinghies around the islands just waiting for an investor.

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