Shenandoah National Park – Lewis Falls Trail

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Our second (and final) day in Shenandoah National Park started at sun-up.  We set out early on the Lewis Falls Trail (the trailhead is at the Big Meadows Lodge) so that we could complete the hike before checking out of our room at the lodge.  The sun was just rising and starting to peak through the trees as we started our hike.  We ate peanut butter and crackers for breakfast while we were hiking in order to make the most of our time.

We came across this doe somewhat close to the lodge.  She didn’t mind us one bit.

I’ve never seen trailmarkers like the ones used at Shenandoah.  The design is actually pretty smart, as the metal holds up much better over time than painted wooden signs.  There were quite a few trails in the area.  It was TOO COOL to see the Appalachian Trail labeled on this particular marker.  Maybe one of these days I’ll get to hike the whole Appalachian Trail, rather than just a teeny, tiny part of it (you can see that the Lewis Falls trail heads south on the Appalachian Trail).

We don’t have much of a fall or many trees where we live, so we were constantly keeping a look out for pretty leaves.  I really love the color variations in these maple leaves.

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park was the first stop on our trip.  Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in northeast Ohio and is about half an hour away from Cleveland.  It was originally established as a National Recreation Area in 1974.  It received its National Park designation in 2000.

We did three different hikes during our day at the park.  First on the list was Blue Hen Falls.  Blue Hen Falls was fairly small, about 15 feet tall according to the National Park Service website and is formed by a small stream.  The sandstone shelf that forms the waterfall, however, is picturesque, and the hike to the water fall is short, so it’s worth seeing if you’re visiting the park.  It was especially pretty during October because many of the trees in the area were changing colors.

Blue Hen Falls

Blue Hen Falls

Brandywine Falls was beautiful, though it wasn’t exactly the type of hike we expected.  A well-maintained boardwalk leads to the falls, and a road is visible above the falls (I did my best to take my photographs at an angle that hid the road).  It felt a little more commercialized (and a little less “wild”) than we expected.  In addition to walking to the waterfall, we continued on to complete the entire Brandywine Gorge Trail.  There wasn’t much to see on the trail, and we would recommend just seeing the waterfall and spending your time hiking elsewhere.

Brandywine Falls

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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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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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