2015 F.A.R.T.

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It’s high time I got my butt in gear and start writing about the F.A.R.T. we went on last year.  The dawning of October was just the kick in the pants that I needed to get started!

You may be thinking to yourself, “Self, what in the world does F.A.R.T. stand for?”  F.A.R.T. = Fall Automobile Road Trip.  We’ve referred to this epic road-trip as the F.A.R.T. so frequently that even our fellow Young Adult Sunday School Class members started calling the trip that, as well.  You may also be wondering what the motivation was for taking a fall road trip.  This trip was truly a combination of things that Bryan and I both really like.  For starters, Bryan loves fall.  Combine that with my life-goal of visiting all of the national parks in the United States (we went to three of them during this trip) and our mutual love for hiking — and you get a trip that was made for both of us.

This trip would have been a total flop without all of the hard work that Bryan put into planning it.  He put a lot of thought into how far we could drive each day and where we would spend each night.  October is a popular time of year for Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and having reservations made months in advance for campsites, lodges, and hotels was crucial.  This itinerary is what helped keep us on track throughout the trip.  Yes, it is in Excel (we’re both engineers, we can’t help it). 🙂

In addition to the itinerary, we also had a good idea of what hikes we were going to do each day.  Prior to the trip, we bought several books (Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Best Easy Day Hikes Shenandoah National Park) to help us narrow down which hikes we wanted to do.

Pre-selecting our hikes helped us to make the most of our time because we weren’t wasting time during the day trying to figure out what we were going to do next.  Here’s a list of all of the hikes that we did.  The ones that are highlighted in green are the hikes that I would wholeheartedly recommend.

The map below shows (more or less) the path we took, though it doesn’t represent the Blue Ridge Parkway very well…I gave up on trying to drag the route marker from the highway to the Blue Ridge Parkway because it wasn’t working very well.

We loaded up Bryan’s car and hit the road for what would be a road trip of epic proportions.

Trunk

Backseat 

Odometer (Beginning of F.A.R.T.)

F.A.R.T. By the Numbers
4,085 photos taken
3,756 miles driven
62.1 miles hiked
44 state license plates spotted (plus D.C.)
14 states visited
13 days traveled
3 national parks explored (plus all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway)
1 1950/1960s-style family photo taken
1 Treeing Walker Coonhound rescued

1950/1960s-Style Family Photograph

“Preserve your memories, keep them well,
what you forget you can never retell.”
-Louisa May Alcott

Château de Chaumont – Part 2

The is the second post in my series of posts about Chateau de Chaumont.  The first post focused on the outside of the chateau, and this post features photographs from the stables.

The stables at Chateau de Chaumont were designed by Paul-Ernest Sanson and were built in 1877.  At the time, they were the most modern stables in all of Europe; to me, they even looked modern for today’s standards — they were also beautiful.  The stables were divided into multiple sections — there were stalls for “half-blood” horses (carriage horses), saddle horses (full-blood horses), and ponies.  There was also a small, indoor riding arena where horses could be worked on lunge lines.  The Chateau de Chaumont website has a ton of information on the stables.

This is what the stables look like from the outside, as you approach them from the chateau.

The round “thing” to the right of the photograph below is the indoor arena.

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Château de Chaumont – Part 1

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After we finished up at Château de Chenonceau, we headed over to Château de Chaumont.  At Château de Chaumont, we bought tickets for both the chateau and the International Garden Festival (which is adjacent to the chateau).

Château de Chaumont is located in Chaumont-sur-Loire, a small commune in France’s Loire Valley.  According to Wikipedia, the chateau was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois.  In 1560, the chateau was acquired by Catherine de Medici.  When her husband, Henry II died, Catherine made her husband’s mistress, Diane de Portiers, give her Chateau de Chenonceau in exchange Chateau de Chaumont.  In 1840 the French Ministry of Culture classified Chaumont as a historical monument.  Marie-Charlotte Say purchased the chateau in 1875.  She restored the chateau and planted gardens, and her husband commissioned the stables.  The donated Chateau de Chaumont to the French government in 1938.

I’m planning on creating several posts with photographs from Chateau de Chaumont.  This post will feature photographs from the outside of the chateau.  A second post will feature photographs of the chateau’s beautiful stables.  A third post will feature photographs from the International Garden Festival (that one may actually require two posts).

The buildings that we passed as we made our way to the chateau were lovely!  This building, covered in beautiful, red and white roses, caught my eye.

The grounds around the chateau were beautifully landscaped.  I was particularly excited to see these entirely white foxglove.  I planted one foxglove in my garden a few years ago, and it did well that year, but it never came back.

The photograph below was taken just outside of the chateau — you can see part of the chateau on the left-side of the picture.

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Château de Chenonceau – Part 4

One of my favorite things about Château de Chenonceau was all of the fresh flower arrangements that could be seen throughout the chateau.  Many, if not all, of the flowers used in the arrangements are grown in the chateau’s gardens.  The arrangements are also put together at the chateau.  I don’t really have anything else to say about the arrangements…except for pointing out the fact that they’re absolutely beautiful!  I figured this would be a good time to try out WordPress’s “gallery” feature.  Some of the thumbnails are rather small, but I think that you should be able to click on each photograph to open it up so that you can view a bigger version of the photo.

Also, if you’re interested in Château de Chenonceau, be sure to check out my other three posts on the chateau!

Château de Chenonceau – Part 3

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I’ve previously published two other posts about Château de Chenonceau – one post with photographs of the outside of the chateau and a second post with photographs of the inside of the chateau.  This post features photographs from the grounds surrounding the chateau.  In addition to the chateau, there were several other buildings and gardens on the grounds that we spent some time looking at.  Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the grounds, so this post will be somewhat lacking in terms of information.  I do, however, hope that you enjoy the photographs despite the lack of information.

I have no idea what this building was, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen something oozing with so much whimsical charm.  It was also a picture well-suited for Instagram’s signature square format.

Unidentified Incredibly Charming Building

Much of the area surrounding the chateau is devoted to maintaining the many gardens.  They were in the process of digging up the spring flowers and replanting the gardens with summer flowers while we were there.  These crates contained the summer-time plants for the gardens.

Crates Full of Fresh Flowers

Firewood

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TEXAS PARKS & WILDLIFE FOUNDATION – FOCUS ON THE WILD – June Contest

The subject of the June 2016 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation Focus on the Wild photography contest is “Texas views from the hiking trail.”  I live near Palo Duro Canyon State Park, so I figured I’d enter three of my favorite Palo Duro Canyon photographs — all of which were literally taken from hiking trails.  Check out my three entries!

The following photograph was taken from the Givens, Spicer, & Lowry Running Trail.  It’s one of my favorite trails because it’s incredibly scenic and it doesn’t have nearly as many people on it as the Lighthouse Trail.  There are quite a few places to do some off-trail exploring, too.

The following photograph of a dry creek bed and storm clouds was taken from the Lighthouse Trail.  The combination of scenery and stormy weather in this photograph always makes me pause to take a closer look.

There have been a few new trails created at Palo Duro Canyon State Park since I moved to the Texas Panhandle eight years ago.  This photograph was take while I was hiking one of them — the Rock Garden Trail.  The Rock Garden Trail directs hikers through an area that fell victim to a rock slide many moons ago.  There are quite a few interesting rock formations along the trail.  I love that you can see the Spanish skirts in the background of this photo (top right-hand quadrant).

Château de Chenonceau – Part 2

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Château de Chenonceau was the first chateau that we visited during our time in the Loire Valley.  If you’re planning a trip to the Loire Valley and are trying to decide how many chateau to plan on seeing, I recommend planning to spend about half a day at each chateau.  We could have easily spent longer than half a day at Chateau de Chenonceau (the inside is still furnished, and the grounds are lovely), but we really wanted to have ample time to see Château de Chaumont and the International Garden Festival that day, as well.

I took so many pictures during our time at Chateau de Chenonceau.  I won’t be able to include all of them in one blog post, so I’m splitting it into three parts.  This one will include pictures from the inside of the chateau.  The first post includes photographs from the outside of the chateau, Diane’s garden, and Catherine’s garden; it also includes more information on the history of the chateau.  The third post will focus on the grounds, and a fourth post will include photographs of some of the beautiful flower arrangements from inside of the chateau, as well as photographs of paintings of Chateau de Chenonceau.

Immediately when you enter the chateau, there is a small chapel on the left.


Chapel in Chateau de Chenonceau


Chapel in Chateau de Chenonceau

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