Ozone Falls


Looking at Ozone Falls I followed a single drop of water or rather set of suds as it fell. Looking at it that way you see the sheer scope of the fall and the resistance from the air slowing its fall.

Doing that messes with how your mind interprets what you’re seeing so when you look out at the rocks you see them moving upward even though the cliff is solid.

Of course, the ice comes crashing down now at this time of the year, with big icicles cracking loudly as they hit the ground. That’s what’s in motion. And so are we. The humans. Depending on which side of the falls I’m on, I see their tiny figures, couples, families at the top or walking the curvy ledge behind the falls. But the solid cliffs and rock overhangs are solid, for now anyway.

It’s got no gift shop and no restroom even, especially striking given that I’m not the only one who felt like he had to pee after looking at that falls for long enough.

The area’s main claim to fame? A 1994 film that most people have forgotten by now called Jungle Book, no, not the Disney film with the jazz music nor the other later remake. This was an earlier remake that used the spot to film a man getting kicked in the groin.

The route down to the falls’ base while very short involves scrambling over rocks and may not feel like it e

But it seems to draw in decent crowds on a Saturday. It’s not hard to see why.

Looking down at Gatlinburg


The last detail, I wish to share of my Blue Ridge Parkway travels in early June (which I’ve told out of order¬†and interrupted by other posts) didn’t take place on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It took place on the Gatlinburg bypass.

The Gatlinburg bypass is a way to avoid having to pass through Gatlinburg for people going through the Great Smoky Mountains. As such, it appeals to people who probably find all the candy stores, corn liquor and goofy Ripley’s attractions too commercialized.

But of course, you do wind up seeing Gatlinburg from above on it. And from above it looks quite different. The resorts, hardly the most eye catching part of town from the ground become what you spot first. And you really see how what from below is an oddly magical to people who know it collection of log cabin kitch, from above is far overshadowed by the folds of mountains that give it its reason for existing.

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Dayton Art Institute, Dayton OH


Dayton_art_institute_exterior_evening_2005
By Rdikeman at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2748112. I apologize that my phone’s camera was out of space to take pictures, but it let me just go and enjoy the artwork, while my frequent traveling companion and more Yvonne Rogers who took all the other pictures on this post. My links in this story will let you see the Dayton Art Institute’s own photos.

What comes to mind for me when I think of Dayton, Ohio?

To me it’s still good memories from late June when I had a good time there, looking at art from around the world at the museum, browsing furniture at an Ikea outlet on the outskirts, dancing at a friend’s wedding.

But I can’t ignore what’s happened. I procrastinated posting about that Ohio city until now. And now the first stories anyone sees about the city involve nine dead and 27 people injured.

Downtown Dayton

I will always see the city as more than just the disaster associated with it. Just like Gatlinburg is more than just the fires. Indeed, Yvonne can recall visiting France just before the death of Princess Diana and then seeing the places she’d seen as a tourist on TV.

What follows are my very few impressions of Dayton Ohio from a very short visit. I hope that it can remain a place synonymous with great art and great times, even now.

***

I’ve barely set foot in Dayton. I came up there earlier this summer for a very old friend’s wedding, which took place out in a Dayton suburb. And it was just a good time: conversation with people from across the country I didn’t know, catching up with said old friend, however briefly, dancing to silly pop songs like the “Cha Cha Slide,” “Old Town Road” and even, for the kids, “Mama Shark.” But all that’s too personal for what this blog usually covers.

Sculpture outside of Dayton Art Institute.

Yvonne and I had very little time to enjoy the city and settled, because we knew it was something we’d both like but wouldn’t take too long to explore, on the Dayton Art Institute. I had to stop for lunch and struggled to eat my leftover Cincinnati Chili without a fork on the Museum lawn, shoveling food into my mouth with the lid and still getting covered in cold cinnamon beef sauce.

Russell Means's portrait by Warhol

Then, we entered. And what a museum! The entrance lobby, above a formal European-looking staircase features Andy Warhol’s portrait of Russell Means along with other American portraits, by lesser known but still impressive artists.

Hearing that we could see Claude Monet and other impressionist works, we headed downstairs to the special exhibit area.

Yvonne is never one to rush past things though. And so we found ourselves in a different kind of exhibit first: Civil Rights leader Dorothy Height’s hats. It’s no longer on display, but it was one of the more unusual parts of our visit.

Dorothy Height’s hats

Civil Rights leader Dorothy Height's headgear

Height (1912-2010) was one of the organizers for the famous March on Washington and an adviser on Civil Rights to presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson. An exhibit about her might seem like more of something for a history exhibit than an art one, but Height, like many of the women of her time loved headgear, which is a form of great visual art in and of itself. The colorful and varied fashions on display were as much a triumph of design as the paintings we headed to visit next.

Impressionists

Waterloo Bridge by Monet

Monet’s Waterloo Bridge is a case of profane made sacred. The first time I looked at it, it made me think of a Turkish city of misty minarets, even if it is just an industrial city. The special exhibit featured Monet’s water lilies, where he applied the same technique more famously to a quieter scene. Works from other impressionists, like Degas, Pissaro and Renoir adorned the room’s other walls. Yvonne wanted to just stay here for hours and I could understand why.

Asian Art

Samurai armor

I, however, had an itch to keep exploring and headed through a series of Asian art exhibits, which varied in style, subject, country and century. Yvonne eventually joined me. I walked past allegorical Buddhist figures in amorous embrace, ornate snuff bottles owned by Chinese royalty, and my favorite: a large carving of two dragons looking at a pearl. An ornate suit of Japanese samurai armor that seemed too beautiful for battle greeted us later.

Ancient Americas

We then entered another room dedicated to art of long-ago South and Mesoamerican civilizations. While it was getting late, we could admire the artistry of people centuries ago, crafting small but detailed figures.

We ran out of time before we could see all of the collection. But I look forward to coming back.

Red Eft at Frozen Head



Little red efts were crawling the wet forest floor at Frozen Head State Park yesterday. They’re poisonous to eat but generally won’t bite. They live on the land but they’ve just left the water and will return again.
They’re really just another phase of newts, a flashy youthful stage in which they roam the land.

As I point out in my book they never know their parents, not even as babies.

This was in contrast to me, at age 31, living on my own but still enjoying some time with my parents on a hike at Frozen Head, joined admittedly by 21 people and two other naturalists. Dad, a plant ecologist by degree entertained the crowd by naming and providing facts about the natural world around us, such as the eft and the iris shown below. While at the time our book describes, I wanted to break free of Dad, I realize now, just how good I have it hiking with a Dad who knows so much.

BORCE, Oak Ridge TN


Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement is my hometown’s worst-named collection of trails, but the area has its charms in spite of the bland name. It’s worth exploring if you’re in Oak Ridge. New Years Day brought many different people there: individual cyclists, a family with a dog, a group of college aged men. Some spoke in other languages.

Many of the trails are old gravel roads now bike, foot and sometimes hunting paths but still sporting road signs, that look just like the road signs in parts of town with houses. These seemingly post-apocalyptic country roads lead nowhere, in a good way. They take visitors through forests of red cedars and other, often young, trees, alongside and over gurgling streams with no houses or even structures at all in site for the most part.

On New Year’s Day Yvonne and I passed an old, remote graveyard, the kind that would have filled my young mind with gleeful Halloweenish thoughts of ghosts dancing about away from living human eyes. Nowadays the most striking thing about those old graveyards to me is the saddeningly short lifespans of the people, sometimes children, buried there. I can thank Yvonne for pointing that out to me on another occasion, but now I can’t unsee it. We walked on rather than bothering ourselves with that.

Cemeteries in Oak Ridge are usually a sign of what Oak Ridge replaced. The US government built Oak Ridge to enrich uranium for the bombs that dropped on Japan during World War II. It left the graves from old communities though, even if the old communities have become the city of Oak Ridge in some places and grown up into forests elsewhere, many accessible to the public through trail systems, like BORCE, Haw Ridge and others.

Decades later, the Department of Energy, the modern-day descendant of those World War II gave BORCE land it owned to the public as a way of compensating for water pollution and decreased fishing opportunities elsewhere.

You can visit BORCE’s charming, gravel woodland paths without ever once thinking about things like war, pollution, or death at all though. They offer a quick chance to escape and explore.

The BORCE route had other, subtle signs of a hidden probably pre-World War II past, like this very reflective greenish pool, possibly an old quarry site, probably the most beautiful feature we saw. I plan to return to these trails, hopefully some time soon and do more research.

Daddy’s Creek Tennessee with Daddy


As summer is refusing to surrender to autumn here in East Tennessee, the Cumberlands are exploding with flowers.

My Dad Larry Pounds and the co-author “Wildly Strolling Along” along with me recently led a group of wildflower lovers to two unique habitats near each other. Both were part of Catoosa Wildlife Management area.

First was a meadow area with a short access road on which we walked. We would stop every few minutes and Dad would get down, examine, give Latin names, sometimes certain, sometimes speculating, surrounded by others who seem drawn like bees to them.

Next we drove down to a “cobblebar,” along Daddy’s Creek, a which is not a place for booze and homemade desserts but rather a rocky area along the banks of a stream. It too had flowers, some growing out of big outcrops.

A pool not too far from the trail entrance is also good for swimming. I was the only one of our party who jumped in, possibly because everyone else was identifying more ferns and flowers. Which far too often, I can’t do.

But I am me. My Dad is himself. Not everyone can name every flower. But maybe you can at least enjoy them.