Crabtree Falls is one of our favorite hikes in the area, and so it was fun to introduce Leona and Felix to it in the summer of 2019.  And of course John’s companion, Zeus. We didn’t make it to the top, but had a great time anyway.  Leona, as the pictures show, traveled in style!








After our debacle in Venice, and with Holly in a rehab hospital back home for several weeks, we were blessed with visits from my two sons, their wives and kids, and from Holly’s son John and Holly’s sister Constance and her cousin Lonni.  Their company was wonderful, as was all their help with running an extended family.

Note: For some reason, my blog program insists on placing this post out of order.  It should have come after the post about our Venice debacle.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with Tim and Megan, my sister Eleanor, and Holly’s sister Constance.   Subjects below: Thanksgiving Dinner, Walk at Jonesboro Cemetery, Dinner at Copper Mine Bistro at Wintergreen Resort.  And a beautiful sunset.












Our Home in Saint Lucia: Villa Beach Cottages








We stayed at this lovely place a few miles outside of Castries, the capital city.  The location was stunningly beautiful and the personnel extremely able and helpful.  One can check out its website at http://villabeachcottages.com/.  The staff were extremely helpful in arranging private tours anywhere we wanted to visit on the island. The long beach was a friendly place.

Traveling by Boat to the Pitons


Instead of a two-hour drive to the Pitons, our hotel staff helped us hire a boat and a crew to take us there in about 45 minutes.  The crew stayed while Holly enjoyed the beach and I hiked up Gros Piton, seen from the boat in the last picture above.  In the previous pictures, Petit Piton appears higher than Gros Piton, but it is not.  It is, however, considerably more difficult to climb.

Climbing the Gros Piton




In many ways the hike down was much more difficult than the hike up: a wet, rocky trail inviting slips and slides.  The boat ride back to our hotel was mostly in pouring rain with the roof tarp blown off, and we were quite chilled by the time we got there.  In contrast, two days later we returned to the Soufriere area and had lunch at the elegant Ladera Resort, with spectacular vistas, food, and wine.  Quite a contrast!



Botanical Gardens and a Drive-In Volcano Mudbath








One wall of this ancient volcano in Saint Lucia collapsed years ago, making possible the world’s only “Drive-In Volcano.  We tried out the hot mud bath and had a blast.

Pigeon Island and Castries




The British and the French fought over possession of St. Lucia for 140 years between 1674 and 1814, with each exercising dominance for seven times.  Pigeon Island was a critical surveillance and control point, with extensive military fortifications on its two peaks.  We hiked in the morning and then settled down on the lovely beach.

Castries is Saint Lucia’s capital city, and we spent time at the food and craft market, as well as the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, with its lovely murals reflecting both African and Caribbean influences.












Recently a friend and I hiked to a long-abandoned mountain farmstead in the heart of a national forest.  It was a foggy day, and the mist gave the site a mysterious and distant aura.  The outer buildings were all in a state of collapse, but the house still stood, filled with abandoned artifacts of a past way of life.

click here for more pictures

In early October, our new friend Sue G. hiked with me from Crabtree Meadows to Spy Rock, looking for an alleged new trail which turned out not to be.  A lovely hike anyway.


Holly’s friend Cate and I hiked the old Hotel Trail in the George Washington National Forest in Amherst County, which loops around through abandoned  orchards and then first ascends Cold Mountain and then gradually descends across the inclined plateau with gorgeous views in all directions.  Early fall colors were in evidence.











click on images above for panorama views along the summit plateau

In late September, German visitor and hiking companion Hasse and I climbed both Spy Rock and Humpback Rocks in a single half day!






On a separate early fall hike, I joined a friend for 15 or so miles who was at the end of the day just 20 miles short of completing the entire Appalachian Trail (which is 2200 miles long)!  The forest colors and views were beautiful, but the highlight of the day was when we encountered a mother bear and her cub, who promptly scampered up a tree.  Mom kept a careful eye on us, but was not aggressive.

It was interesting to see my friend, who has hiked the AT in sections over several years, keep running into AT through hikers that he had met months earlier.


Our neighbor and friend Sue and I recently hiked the St. Mary’s Falls Trail in the St. Mary’s Wilderness Area.  It is an absolutely beautiful trail, combining fascinating rock formations, late season flowers, lovely forest vegetation, great views, and gorgeous deep pools and falls along the way.  I’d been here several years earlier with my my son, Nic, who terrorized Alison and me with his repeated jumping off a ledge into the emerald pool below (bottom left photo).  (I was sure he was going to smash himself on the rocks, but fortunately that didn’t happen.)  Sue and I settled for a quiet lunch amidst this beautiful setting.

click here for more pictures of our hike along the St. Mary’s Trail




Despite a heat spell with temperatures in the upper 90’s, our friend Sue and her dog Mama Kate accompanied me on a hike Mt. Pleasant, in the George Washington National Forest in Amherst County on July 19th.  The six-plus mile hike was made particularly interesting by the residue of last fall’s forest fire in the area.  Charred bark of tree trunks were surrounded by riotous new growth, showing how rapidly the forest regenerated itself.  The views from the eastern summit were spectacular.  Along with many other unusual wildflowers, our many sightings of the Sultan’s Cap Lily were a highlight of our trip.

Another trip up Humpback Rocks, this time with Dan Moler.  A beautiful day!  On a hike there two weeks earlier, Sue Rucker and I got to watch a bear calmly foraging.

Looking at the view to the east from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Having a tree in our front yard taken down (it was shedding large limbs onto the street) revealed multiple snakes living in the hollowed out trunk and limbs.  It also enhanced the view from our living room window quite spectacularly.

Back in the vegetable garden, the two types of garlic I grew this year, Inchellium Red and Music, were pulled and laid out to cure in mid-June.  42 bulbs total.


By the beginning of July, our many varieties of lettuce were beginning to bolt, but we’d been regularly harvesting kale, chard, arugula, and other greens for some time, along with a first crop of wax beans, cucumbers, zucchini (enough for six loaves of zucchini bread so far), yellow squash, and a few ripe tomatoes and peppers.

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