Sunday, October 31, 2010

Table Rock, the Third (and Last)

Going to post the last set of pictures. With this, I have officially Accomplished What I Set Out to Do, in order, without delay.

I'm pretty proud of myself.

Last night's Halloween party was fun. Unfortunately, Jason's shifted sleep schedule when it comes to working meant he couldn't sleep very well when the rest of us were, and then tried to be up in the morning when we were, and got veeeeeeery tired on our way back from Clemson, and ended up crashing out for several hours. I slept oddly, too; not bad, just not very much. When I stay at others' houses, though, it's basically a given that I'll only get a couple of hours of sleep... I just can't sleep well at someone else's house.

So I also napped like crazy.

So it hasn't been the most exciting day for us.

Winding down, for now, while Jason kind of winds up for work. Tomorrow I work 11-4, and then we're havin' dinner with Jason's parents and little sister, who is on her fall break from college.

In any case; let's get on to those photos.

More running water. What, you didn't think I was done being absolutely fascinated by it, did you?

I have no idea what these little flowers are, but they were everywhere up there, alongside the path.

Two paths diverged in a wood, and I...

don't remember which one we walked down at the moment.

One of them, in any case.

This is just the roots, trunk, and bottom part of a toppled-over tree. From this angle, though, it almost looked purposefully carved that way. I really liked that. Also, more red dirt.

Water leaks out of the gigantic standing rocks, just as ice-cold as that in the running stream nearby.

The leaves are all these incredible colors.

The sky was overcast and mostly cloudy the whole time, but near the end the blue started to peek out noticeably. As the sun started its descent, everything got a little dimmer, a little darker. The trees are a good frame for a look at the sky.

Tell me that isn't idyllic.

Jason and I, when we got back to about where we had started, took a few minutes to sit on a bench together and just sort of watch this little waterfall. I have pictures of our brown shoes, but they didn't come out, and pictures of our faces; those didn't come out either.

You'll just have to take my word for it, I suppose.

A fitting circle of photos, I think; I took a close-up of a pile of leaves at the beginning of the hike, and here is another close-up here at the end. These leaves are a whole lot more vibrant, obviously, which is how they caught my eye.

Fall has the best colors.

One last look at the little lake next to the parking lot, and it was off to hit up a nearby restaurant for dinner before we went home. The sun was going down in a blaze of colors wherever the clouds weren't.

This is where we stopped; it's right on the road to the park, and maybe a couple of miles from the parking lot, just kind of a skip down the road. It's actually a neat little set of shops that has a restaurant and ice-cream parlor attached, but by the time we got there all the stores were closed...

which actually worked out just fine, since we were starving.

Our water-with-lemons came in real Mason jars.

The dinner menu was written on a dry-erase board that our waitress hung from the wall for us when we came in. In the other half of the restaurant, a couple of motorcycle travelers were trying to get directions to the nearest hotel, and the hostess and our waitress were doing their best to make them a sort of makeshift map.

For our appetizer, we had fried pickles.

Now, you may doubt the deliciousness of fried pickles. You would be wrong. They never stop being incredible. Never.

We only managed to eat about half of them between us, no matter how hungry we were, but man.

So, so good. The thinnest-sliced fried pickles I've ever had, too.

My dinner; a dinner roll (with butter), mashed potatoes with brown gravy, fried okra, and fried catfish.

I ate about half of this and was too stuffed to move almost. (Although not too stuffed to get a teensy bit of homemade vanilla ice cream).

Okay, so two very important things to know about me:

1. I love catfish, in all its possible forms.


2. I love fried okra doused in hot sauce. There was no hot sauce; I had to make do with ketchup. It was a hard knowledge, but I survived somehow.

Jason's dinner: dinner roll with butter, green beans, macaroni 'n cheese, and country fried chicken with white gravy. Jason managed to eat all his food and some of my ice cream when I needed help not making myself sick by eating all of it.

He's a good man that way.

Making sacrifices for me.

We drove home while the sun went down.

It was a good day.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Table Rock, the Second

So... where did we leave off?

Oh. Right. Jason on a rock.

Bein' dreamy.

A lot of the hike is, well, not exactly straight uphill but definitely uphill.

There will be a little bridge to walk across, and you can look down and see the water running along these massive outcroppings of rock.

A wall made of rocks piled together caught my attention. By now my legs were very aware of what we were doing, that I don't do it very often, and that they are apparently not fans of hiking.

Obligatory red dirt picture.

I never get tired of the red dirt.

It just fascinates me.

There were gorgeous flowers and, though I only saw two, these beautiful little seed-pods. I'm not sure what they are seeds for, but they are pretty.

There are a lot of gorgeous views on this hike.

That bottom left edge is of the bridge I was standing on.

I love water so clear you can count the rocks at the bottom as it runs.

It was absolutely ice-cold water, too.

A lot of the trees, I noticed, were small and twisty things, doing their best but never going to beat the much taller, stronger trees that made up the 'canopy'.

This is about half a mile in to the hike, when I realized I need to go hiking more, because my legs were becoming very upset.

Still; absolutely gorgeous.

I don't really have any interesting little tidbits about this tree-and-rock combo.

It just looked nice.

The trees are still pretty green in a lot of places, but you can see them starting to change.

Give it a week, maybe two weeks, tops, it's just going to be a pile of yellow and red up there.

Another red dirt picture.

This one isn't obligatory.

I just really like red dirt.

More water, running down.

I think this was actually on our way back down. We had started late enough in the day that actually attempting the whole trail would not have been a wise decision.

I would like to come up in the late morning sometime and attempt the whole thing.


that's all I've got for Part 2.

Part 3 will (hopefully) be up tomorrow night.

Now, I need to go eat some cereal and put on my work clothes... since I need to put some gas in this car before I go to work.

Ambitions today: stay awake at work, nap when I get home, properly dress myself in my costume, party.

I know it's ambitious, but I'm pretty sure I can pull it off.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Table Rock, the First

Oh hey look, I'm actually accomplishing something I set my mind to.

I deserve hot chocolate tonight for my reward.

French vanilla hot chocolate, ie not really chocolate-y at all but still the best flavor ever.

Jason rolled his eyes at the store tonight when I picked it up, but oh, how he will wish he had gotten one for himself when he sees how much I enjoy it!

... just as soon as he comes back from hanging out with a friend, at least.

In any case, I managed to narrow my Table Rock photos down to about 50, so we're doing pretty good on that scale. I'm only going to post a few tonight, in roughly chronological order.

In any case, in an earlier entry I pointed out that I woke up Thursday morning (er, afternoon...) to a note from Jason that we would be going hiking at Table Rock when he woke up.

Table Rock State Park  is right at the edge of the Blue Ridge mountains, and not far from Greenville at all. We kind of took the long way, since it's very scenic. There was a horse farm for sale!

Jason seems to think we need to, I don't know, own a house or have some kind of money before we start buying up horse farms.

Silly man.

I wasn't lying when I said it was scenic. That's a little of Table Rock you can see up ahead of us as we drive. I have something like twenty pictures from inside the car as we were driving, the vistas were all just so beautiful.

When we got there, the ground was absolutely coated in leaves, with more sort of gently fluttering down everywhere we looked. The parking area we stopped at was right next to a smallish lake, a playground, and a couple of buildings. There were cabins people can stay in on the weekend down the road from us, which is giving Jason ideas.

Really, it's the shortest tromp ever before you get to the first really beautiful in-the-woods scenery... there's tiny waterfalls and streams flowing like crazy everywhere, and little bridges you can stand on and take pictures.

At the beginning of our hike, we kept running into a photographer who was working with a newly engaged couple to take their engagement photos. They'd sort of scramble out onto rocks so the photographer could take pictures in various poses.

While we were photographing the water, I heard the photographer direct them to kiss. A couple of seconds of silence later, the photographer starts discussing a new pose, and I turn to look, and the couple were still kissing out on those rocks.

They sure seemed to be having a good time.

We hit another spot with lots of flat rock area where you could get right up next to the rushing water without getting wet. There was a lady there with a little white puppy dog who was the most excited puppy in the whole world ever. On her little harness, the puppy would dash over here to jump in the water, then run out and shake herself, and then dash over to some more water, and then stop and wiggle her whole body from happiness.

Jason and her owner and I were dying laughing. The dog discovered us and somehow managed to be even more excited by the prospect of people. Her owner informed me that she was just a little puppy and this was her first time near water, she hadn't been sure how the puppy would feel about it.

"Well, now you know," I said, as we watched her dog all but dive headfirst into the shallow stream.

There is just something about river rocks and how they're wearing down over time.

I never get tired of looking at them.

There is water dripping just everywhere. Parts of this big rock reminded me a little bit of the parks in Southern Illinois, but the rock and the vegetation is very different. Big granite slabs are everywhere.

Jason really liked the sound of the rushing water. He would just sit and listen to it. I am a little more restless; it's hard for me to stand still when my camera-clicking fingers are just twitching to find more things to take photos of. 
Like these.

I wish there was a better way to show just how massive some of these big outcrops of rock were.

It's interesting to think of how old this rock is.

Watch water run by swift as a river in one place, less than a foot away everything is still and calm wehre the leaves are floating.

This imagery is what I can never get tired of; I love running water.

I'd tell you it has something to do with being a Pisces so I can sound all mystical and everything, but...

I just like running water.

I'm also a pretty big fan of moss.

I don't think there's a Zodiac sign known for liking moss.

I really like moss.

It's such a great pop of color on living, dying, or dead trees.

Jason, listening to the water flow.

I have a few pictures of him from this particular hike, but I really like this one, because he just sat there, so very still, and listened to the water for a few minutes, kind of rapt.

With all the greenery and this old stone and the mountain around us.

That's all I have for Part 1. I'll hopefully get Part 2 up before work tomorrow morning. It'll be early; I'm hoping to get it posted before 8:30 AM Eastern Time, since I have to leave by 8:45 to get to work on time.

I would say I don't like the idea of getting up at 7 AM on a Saturday, but I just had the last several days off of work?

So I kind of had my weekend.

So I will wake up early, be cheerful at work if it kills me, and then take a nap.


Then, I shall party.

So I know I said those pictures would be up today

... but it turns out that I actually took about 300 photographs. Now, a good half of them were bad photos or duplicate shots of the same location/scene or just won't make the cut.

That still leaves, what, one hundred and fifty photos?

I'm not sure anyone wants to look at that many photos, even of nature.

Really, really pretty nature.

So I'm going to spend today editing to make 'em pretty and trying to stick to a good fifty or seventy-five photos, split into two or three little entries instead of one giant one. The hope I have, and it is a large hope and perhaps even a goal I can accomplish if I just set my mind to it, is to get one of the entries up today, post another one tomorrow in the early morning before work. Saturday night we're off to attend a Grown Up Halloween Party. Sunday we have another party in the afternoon, and I'll try to get the third Table Rock entry up before I go to bed.

Sometime before Wednesday, I will have some Halloween photos to share.

I cannot resist posting photos of people in costumes.

I simply cannot.

Well, it's kind of grown up.

I mean, everyone who will be there is a grown up. Mostly.

I mean.

We're nominally adults, right?

I'm an adult currently watching 90's Halloween-themed kids' movies while she works, but...

I mean, just look at this clip.

In my dreams, Halloween parties always include at least one viewing of the best Halloween-themed movie ever, Hocus Pocus...

A movie so good I know at least three people who have named their pets, at one point or another, after characters that appeared in the movie. A movie so good I can still name all the main characters in the movie without having to actually watch it again, and you know what, I bet a lot of people I know could too.

I mean, come on. That video is of Bette Midler playing a witch who is putting a spell on all the grown-ups in town by singing "I Put a Spell On You". Actually, I think all Halloweens should include a viewing of Hocus Pocus, the Nightmare Before Christmas, and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

What's that, you say? Grown ups should watch grown up movies?


That's clearly a vicious lie.

I'll be over here with my Hocus Pocus, my cup of coffee, and about 150 photos that need to be edited, culled, and made ready for public viewing.

I can't promise Hocus Pocus won't affect how fast I'm working, though.

I put a spell on youuuu...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Plans in the Making

Right now, I'm making coffee.

This picture is technically from a week ago or so, but it still gets the point across.

Then I am going to drink that coffee.

At some point, Jason will wake up. I have been informed via note before he went to bed this morning that we are going to Table Rock State Park when he wakes up. Plans are to buy some Whole Foods sushi to eat on the way (have I mentioned I am incredibly amazed by all the grocery stores in this place?) and then go have fun being hike-y.

This plan is exciting.

I am excited.

As a side note:

I read a lot of style rookie's stuff. Tavi is a fourteen year old girl just going into high school who somehow managed, through luck and skill, to become somewhat of a darling of a lot of the fashion labels around here and is a fashion blogger.

She is this crazy resourceful and fun kid and is kind of who I wish I had been at fourteen, so sure of myself and covered in awesome clothing.

Also, The Cotton Wife is where I'm gettin' my farming fix right now. She's posting a lot about their harvests and it all feels so familiar even when the crops aren't the same, it's really nice. The Cotton Wife is a photographer whose husband is a farmer and they have the cutest little red-headed kiddos.

So, I think between those two blogs I am reading right now you get a pretty good look into how I feel in my life, in this place, at this moment.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have photos from Table Rock to show you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's That Time Again

Only it's that time again for me in a whole new place.

The leaves are starting to change color and to fall to the ground. Just a few leaves are falling right now, here and there, but it's a few more everyday.

The tops of the trees are starting to shift, and that's what I see; the hills around here mean we get great views of the changing colors just driving towards downtown or to my workplace.

Some of these pretty things are just not ready to let go yet.

Jason didn't work last night, and doesn't work on Saturdays, so we relished going to sleep at roughly the same time last night. Of course we were up way too late playing video games at our friend's house, but such is a truth of life; when video games are there, we play them. We bought Fallout: New Vegas which we just sort of fell head-over-heels into. Jason is playing it as I write this.

We also drink delicious beer; Jason and I found a beer that is actually made with real pecans when it's brewing, and it's probably the best light-ish red beer I've ever had. I am not a light beer drinker; I can't stand any beer that doesn't have a lot of character to its taste.

This beer, though, this is the kind of beer I'd take for my brother-in-law to try at Christmas...

which I just may do.

So last night when I got off work, I discovered that Jason and Justin both were there to pick me up, and we had this amazing beer and Jason and Justin played Halo: Reach with each other and I fell asleep several times because apparently I cannot stay awake after I work. I sure hope this doesn't happen next Saturday at the Halloween party.

In any case, delicious beer is not all I got to experience this weekend. Jason and I ran a couple of errands today and ran into a Halloween store, where we were able to pick up 1 of the 3 small things I need to finish my costume for the party in Clemson next Saturday. I got home, prepared to bake, and realized we were out of milk, so I had to run to CVS to snag from milk. There's a CVS like a minute's drive down the road. There's a gas station a minute's drive down the road. I am sort of wallowing in all of this convenience right now.

In any case, I baked a recipe I have tried once before: a Spiced Nut Cornbread. I got the recipe out of a cookbook I bought when we went to visit Hagood Mill about a month ago. I tried it once before and it came out a little too dry; the recipe called for about two times as much baking powder as is actually needed.

I tried it again today, and... success!

So I will be nice and share the recipe with all of you... and suggest that you really do try this out for yourselves, it is SO GOOD.

Spiced Nut Cornbread

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat flour, and it was delicious)
2 Tablespoons baking powder (honestly, you could probably cut it down to 1)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of ground allspice and nutmeg 
1 cup cornmeal (I used yellow, recipe called for white)
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons melted butter

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Spray a 9 x 9 baking pan with non-stick spray, or use a non-stick baking pan. Sift the dry ingredients (sans nuts) into a large mixing bowl. Usually I might say sifting isn't necessary, but I found this time that sifting made a huge difference in how well the dry ingredients mixed. Add the nuts, mix with a mixer or honestly just a good fork. Add beaten eggs, milk, and melted butter. Mix until it forms a thoroughly mixed, slightly lumpy batter.

Pour into baking pan and bake for roughly 20 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need an extra five to ten minutes; the original recipe wanted you to bake for half an hour, but I found that was way too long and my bread was done in about 20.

Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Delicious with honey and butter.

I am so glad I tried this recipe again! It is so amazing. Jason and I just devoured half the dish in about fifteen minutes and I'm pretty sure instead of me having pre-made dessert like I planned, this is dinner. Delicious honey-covered dinner.

Now; off to watch Jason play video games... and possibly make myself some coffee. This is the kind of dessert cornbread that really calls for some coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. It just so happens that my in-laws (have I mentioned how awesome my in-laws are?) recently went on vacation and came back with incredible coffee beans for us...

Well, I'm off. 

If I'm hyperactive in about half an hour, you'll know it was the coffee.

Send help.

Or more coffee.