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flowers

Snapshots: The Big Island of Hawaii

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Snapshots: The Big Island of Hawaii

During my month in Hawaii I had the pleasure of spending more time on the Big Island than anywhere else. It became my home base in the state and I really enjoyed exploring all the little off-the-beaten-path places as I made my way around. From the awesome Green Sand Beach near South Point to the breathtaking Waipi’o Valley in the far north, the Big Island has such a diverse landscape and personality. And best of all, there weren’t the big crowds I ran into on Maui and Oahu. It’s a relatively quiet little corner of paradise. I hope you enjoy these photos from my two and a half weeks exploring Hawaii’s Big Island. I can’t wait to go back!

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Snapshots: Little River Canyon

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Snapshots: Little River Canyon

Little River Canon National Preserve is a beautiful park in Northeast Alabama. It is a fascinating place because the river runs along the ridge of flat-topped Lookout Mountain which is a clear indicator of how much the landscape must have changed over time. It is one of the deepest canyons in the east, reaching depths of up to 600 feet. The river itself is powerful and incredibly clean and clear due to its high location and the accompanying lack of pollutants. Waterfalls can be found throughout the park, as can stunning views up and down the canyon itself. There are several short but steep hiking trails which lead from the canyon rim down to the river and can definitely give you a good workout. After a long day of hiking and taking photos, I took my last walk down the Eberhart Trail at the end of the scenic drive. When I got to the river I took a quick dip in the cold refreshing water which instantly washed away the fatigue of the day and left me with a smile on my face. It was a wonderful day and I hope you enjoy the photos I took in beautiful Little River Canyon.

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Snapshots: Along the Wild Azalea Trail

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Snapshots: Along the Wild Azalea Trail

The Wild Azalea Trail runs for 31 miles through Kisatchie National Forest near Alexandria, Louisiana. It is accessible from several different trailheads in the area, and I hiked about a 3 mile section of it leaving from the Twin Bridges Trailhead on Route 488. It was a pleasant walk through the woods with some up and down to make it interesting, but not enough to make it difficult. The trail was quiet when I was there, but well marked and obviously well traveled. While the wildflowers were only just starting to bloom when I visited, they were still putting on quite a show. I really enjoyed this hike and only wish I had budgeted more time to have been able to do more of it. Either way it was a wonderful couple of hours in the woods and I would definitely recommend this trail if you are ever in the area. I hope you enjoy some of these photos from the Wild Azalea Trail in Central Louisiana.

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Snapshots: Natchitoches, Prettiest Town in the South

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Snapshots: Natchitoches, Prettiest Town in the South

If you’ve been following along with this blog, you know I have visited some truly stunning small towns along the way. I don’t think any of them can compare, however, to beautiful Natchitoches, Louisiana. While you probably won’t be able to pronounce the name, you can’t help but be drawn in by this beautiful old colonial town on the banks of the Cane River. Originally established as a trading post by French explorers, the town gets its name from the Natchitoches Indians who lived in the area and traded with the colonists. The town was officially established in 1714 and would pass from the French to the Spanish and finally to the United States after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Natchitoches has all of these cultures on display through its architecture and cuisine. I was especially impressed that the town has its own full time horticulturist who creates and cares for the wonderful flower displays which are placed all over the historic district. I love flowers and these really add to the charm and beauty of the town. Everyone I met during my stay was friendly and helpful and proud of their little corner of the state. Natchitoches is home to some charming B&B’s, delightful restaurants and beautiful places to walk and sit and enjoy the atmosphere. If you ever find yourself looking for an escape from the grind of the city, Natchitoches will definitely take you back a different era and a simpler pace of life. In my very humble opinion, it is the prettiest small town in the South.

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In Focus: Congaree National Park

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In Focus: Congaree National Park

America's National Parks are our nation's most valuable resources. From the U.S. Virgin Islands to the coast of Maine and from Alaska to the South Pacific and so many amazing places in between, the National Park System protects our most treasured natural and cultural areas. There are many different designations within the system, from National Battlefields and Historic Sites to National Monuments and Heritage Areas, but none is more revered than the National Parks. Of the 420 or so sites withing the system, only about 60 have the designation of National Park. Over the course of many years, I've had the distinct pleasure of seeing almost all of them. They are all incredible places and I can't imagine my life without being able to visit these areas again and again. While sometimes the topic will come up in the news about "government owned land", we must remember that this is actually public land - our land. And it's there for us to enjoy and will be forever as long as we don't let our guard down. 

Congaree National Park in central South Carolina is one of our newest National Parks, having received that designation in 2003. It protects the largest tract of old growth, bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States...

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