Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Things We’ve Seen And Done At The Red

The arrival of true winter has been a very slow evolution around these parts.  For a while after we arrived the critters were still creeping and a flowers were popping out here and there, as well.

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Nicole discovered this new-to-her flower called a Round-leaf Catchfly while out climbing.

             When we first arrived we saw a lot of these very colorful and large

                                              Marbled Orb Spiders.
              Actually, we've seen a lot more spiders than we thought we would. 

Thankfully, the spiders that we keep catching in the van are miniscule compared to the ones we see when we are out and about.

     This spider was so busy wrapping up its prey that we never saw its actual face.

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  It didn’t matter much because the ‘face’ design on its abdomen is creepy enough.

We were out bird spotting one day when Darlene called Nicole over and said, “There is a bird up there with a really long white tail.” 

Intrigued, Nicole took a shot before truly registering what she was looking at.

                          Witness the very rare squirrel bird of Kentucky.
     Darlene says that she had to relinquish her ‘Birding Card’ as a result of this ID.

We’ve noticed a few resident deer in our campground.  Occasionally, they notice us too.

Our supervisor told us to take a ride up to the Gladie Visitor Center and see what it was all about.  So, one day, we did.  It's a well designed center filled with lots of local knowledge.

On the way we crossed over the Red River (the Gorge's namesake). 
It was looking very subdued.

We saw a couple of very large natural arches off in the distance but we were in our government vehicle so personal explorations were limited to mobile viewing only.

                         The road home took us through the Nada Tunnel.

This single lane tunnel is a neat little historical feature. It is 900 feet long and was opened in 1912 for narrow gauge rail cars to carry timber out of the gorge and transport it to Clay City and points beyond.

    Approaching from the south it almost looks like the road simply runs out.

              The critters certainly seem to be stocking up on the munchies. 

A funny critter story...

Nicole threw some old bread in the yard one day hoping to supplement our bird friends.  The bread kept disappearing but only when we weren't looking.  Darn shy birds.

A few days later Nicole was replacing a heater hose on Annie and had to pull the intake tube from the air cleaner.  Something unfamiliar and strange was sitting inside (well, actually, anything other than air sitting in this particular tube is strange).  None the less she reached up into the tube and found...  a whole handful of stale bread pieces.  She reached up again and found... another handful of stale bread pieces. 

Ah Ha.... It was not a bird taking the bread.

After cleaning as much of the bread out as could be seen, we fired up the van to test the new heater hose.  Not long after the smell of burnt toast began wafting through the air.

Guess we missed a few pieces that had dropped into the exhaust!


Not much else these days.  It's been raining a lot lately so we're pretty much in hibernation mode at the moment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Going Down Down Down To The Silvermine Arch

The trail starts out rather nonchalantly as a relatively flat walk through the woods. 
Like most trails out of our campground, it leads to the edge of the cliff and open views.

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As was the case with Hidden Arch, stairs are necessary to descend to the viewing level.

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The number however increased tenfold and it begins with this 80 step decline.

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Next, several ‘natural’ declines through Rhododendron groves that tower well overhead

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We decided after making continual downward progress that these stairs should
have a sign that reads “If you made it this far you don’t need a railing”!

One last “natural” obstacle...

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                 and the Silvermine Arch makes its appearance.

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This is a unique natural arch in that it was formed in a different way from the ridge top arches. We’ve read that this is one of only two waterfall step arches in Red River Gorge.

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Reportedly, its formation is the result of erosion from a waterfall.

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Once you arrive at the arch the sound of dripping water draws you under it.

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    There is a small grotto peacefully residing there.

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We stayed for a while taking in the sights and sounds until we could no longer
deny that going down down down

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   usually results in going up up up to get back home!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winter... or not?

Local tales have it that you can look at the behavior of the wooly worms, the height off the ground of the hornets nests or the size of your acorn crop to predict the kind of winter you will have.

We don’t know what wooly worms are (although they are deserving of a festival every October). 

Additionally, we find it prudent to keep a good distance from hornets and have a difficult time maintaining our acorn crop with the way that we travel.

So, it is a toss up at this point.  They say, last year was quite a doozy for this area.

Our first official flurries fell a couple of weeks back.  A bit even managed to stick to the picnic table for a good part of the morning.

However, just a few days later it was sixty seven degrees.  And, this past weekend temperatures approached the mid-seventies.

Still, folks keep telling us that Kentucky actually has a winter.

When we meet them, locals say things like “Oh, you are from South Dakota (we’re not but our license plates are), it won’t be as bad of a winter as you are used to.” or “Oh, you’re from Florida and Georgia.  And, you came here for the winter?”

At least they smile when they say these things.  But in one way or another, they always seem to indicate that this is not where they would go for the winter.

 This got us thinking.  Just where are we?
 Nicole keeps accidentally saying that we are in Tennessee and once she is corrected she follows with “Ooops, I think we went to the wrong state. I thought we were going to TN.”

With exception of a few evergreens that keep the illusion going strong, it does appear that the trees have finally completed their preparations for winter.

Yesterday, while enjoying our fourth day of T-shirt weather, a snow shovel was delivered to us.  It was somewhat perplexing to look at considering how we were dressed.

As John Steinbeck said though, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
Come on, Kentucky!  We’re ready.

Just not enough to have to use that shovel though...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Climbing The Walls

In 2005, a rock climbing gym was opened in Tyrone, GA. 

One day a young boy came to the gym for a Birthday Party. 

He was a natural climber who had clearly discovered a previously unknown passion. 

Shortly after the party he began training and competing with Coach Nicole and her Team.

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                  The two had an instant connection and formed a special bond.


One day he asked Nicole to take him beyond the gym and to share with him all of her knowledge about climbing outdoors using traditional gear. 

          Despite his young age, he had a great deal of enthusiasm and passion.

   It was his dedication and ardent attention to detail however that won Nicole over.

Nicole shared all that she knew with this eager student and by the time he was ten she was completely entrusting her life to his very capable hands on traditional climbs outdoors.

The two shared a lot but most important was their shared passion for being on the rock.

                           That boy is now a seventeen year old young man...

          and his passion has evolved into what he calls a fully fledged addiction.

He came up to the gorge for a visit and some world class climbing.

                                                  Friends, Ryan

                           and Mary, came too.

The serious cold snap and icicles on the wall did not deter their first visit to The Red.

                                  They were like kids in a candy store.

                                                      Rock Candy!

Enough puffy jackets can make any day on the rock bearable.

And, in case you are wondering...

                             this old lady did in fact join the young guns

and scaled a few of those famous Red River walls, as well.

            She’s still got it.  Well, some of it anyway!


  More from the gorge later.  A multi-week aching muscle recovery period is on order.