Fluffy Trees and Ethiopia is 48 Hours Away


It’s Sunday. 48 hours from now I will be en route to Addis Ababa. I’ll be in Africa until July. That’s a long time, but I’ve done it enough now to know the days fly by in one big whirlwind. I’ll be there and then the next thing I know I’ll be home. That fast!

Today is a day for me to rest, but most importantly remember to bring everything I’ll need when I’m in Ethiopia. Inevitably, no matter how prepared I am and how many times I look at my lists, I always forget something. Last time I went to Ethiopia in April, I forgot my travel adapters and I had to buy another one at the airport. In fact, I have a ton of travel adapters just because I always forget to pack mine when I’m traveling abroad. They’re packed now.

This morning, we got up early to take photos of this amazing tree we see when we’re out running. I have no idea what it is. We just call it the “fuzzy tree”. I know, very scientific!  To me it’s oddly ethereal and as long as I’ve lived in the south (my entire life!) I’ve never seen it before.

This tree has lost a little of its spring newness since the first time we noticed it last week. That’s why we rushed to take photos today before the flowers are all gone. And certainly by the time I get back home next month it will only be bark, twigs, and leaves. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Do you know what this tree is? We saw one in pink and white.

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

fuzzy trees

A little listening…

An Old Tobacco Town


I live in an old tobacco town. I haven’t lived here all my life. In fact, Charlotte, North Carolina, a beautiful city in itself, is my hometown. But for the past four years Winston has been home.

We’re a fairly busy family, so we haven’t explored much of this city even though we live in the heart of the historic district. This morning we decided to drive around and look at the old vestiges of what brought this city massive, unbelievable wealth in the early twentieth century and still does: tobacco!

R. J. Reynolds is still headquartered here. Many of the old tobacco factories have now been turned into residential lofts with high ceilings and prodigious windows and the big tobacco plants have long since moved away from the area. It’s still interesting that a lot of America’s smoking history is housed right down the street from us and I’ve never taken a moment to give it a second look until today.

 

Reynods Tobacco

Old train tracks that brought the tobacco to and from the factory.

Reynods Tobacco

Reynods Tobacco

Living in Two Time Zones


It’s been great living in two time zones. I’m usually up extremely early (around 3 AM EST) making calls to Addis. I go back to sleep for a hot second and then I’m up early again getting ready for east coast time. And then I crash early in the evening and repeat it the next day. I love it!

Before I start getting sleepy each evening my family and I head out to a greenway to feel the spring air. Hearing all of the birds and smelling the grass, flowers, and trees is infectious. It’s something my senses will always remember. There is nothing like spring in the south.

White Flower White Flower White Flower White Flower White Flower

 

Spring Evenings + Southern Magnolias



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When I was a kid we had a sprawling Southern magnolia tree in our yard. Each year I would wait for it to bloom with its magnificent white, fragrant flowers so I could try to jump and reach one and bury my nose in it. I never did reach one, but I could smell the beautiful flowers all the time. I’ve been in love with Southern magnolias ever since.

Yesterday evening near dusk we went for a walk and again I tried my best to reach a flower when we passed a Southern magnolia, and again, I couldn’t reach one. But my camera lens could reach a few. The best, most beautiful flowers are always the ones high in the trees you can never get to.

Southern Magnolia

Have you ever smelled a Southern magnolia? If you haven’t, be sure to put it on your to-do list!

Southern Magnolia

By the way, I am so honored that my Tumblr blog got featured on Tumblr’s staff blog today. They also featured one of my photos from Tanzania. I couldn’t be happier!

[Photos] North Carolina’s Cape


A few weeks ago Michael had an ultramarathon race on Bald Head Island so we headed south to North Carolina’s Cape.  I’ve never been to Bald Head Island before even though I’ve lived in North Carolina for over thirty years. It was extremely quaint. You can only access the island by ferry via the Cape Fear river. The Atlantic ocean is on the other side of the island and houses the state’s oldest light house.

Since I am gearing up to travel to Africa this week I am starting to blog here again to get back into the habit of sharing my journey. Speaking of writing, I have a new piece up on the Gates Foundation blog, Impatient Optimists: Women Helping Women in Johannesburg’s Townships.  This is a story I’ve been meaning to tell since I was in South Africa last year. Better later than never!

Hope you enjoy the photos!

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Our Short Adventure With the Southern Snowstorm


We don’t get a heavy snowstorm here in the North Carolina piedmont very often, so when we do it is a big occasion. It began snowing heavily on Wednesday and continued snowing through Thursday afternoon halting traffic and causing everything to close down except gas stations and a few neighborhood stores.  On Thursday morning there had to be at least six inches of snow on the ground. We went out with our girls to play in it because we had the streets to ourselves!  We walked through the snow that had been hardened by a top layer of ice. We even saw cars that got stuck on our downtown streets and needed a little manpower to get them going again.

And then, puff, just like that, the snow was gone! By Friday the temperatures climbed into the low 60s and the snow quickly melted and turned into sludge. Now there are only a few patches of snow in front lawns and piled high in parking lots where the snow had been plowed. Even though the snow didn’t last long, it was a nice change of pace. Last winter was quite warm and if my memory serves correctly we had just a tiny bit of snow. Looking out of the window and seeing snow everywhere helps you remember that, yes, North Carolina still has a true winter even if we only experience it every other year or so.

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Under the Sea and Through Mountains


I have an obsession with tunnels! The sheer level of engineering it takes to run a four lane tunnel underneath a body of water or through a mountain easily fascinates me. So when we’re approaching a tunnel during a road trip I always fumble feverishly for my camera or phone and watch the magic happen.

Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. Runs on 1-64. Constructed 1958.

Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. Virginia. Runs on 1-64. Opened 1958.

Lincoln Tunnel. Runs on 1-495. Opened 1937.

Lincoln Tunnel. New York. Runs on 1-495. Opened 1937.

Wild Acres Tunnel. Blue Ridge Parkway. North Carolina

Wild Acres Tunnel. Blue Ridge Parkway. North Carolina. Opened 1974.

Baltimore Harbor Tunnel. Runs on 1-895. Opened 1957.

Baltimore Harbor Tunnel. Maryland. Runs on 1-895. Opened 1957.

These aren’t even the only photos I have of tunnels. These are just the ones I could find this morning. Can you tell I am  a huge admirer of tunnels?

Don’t even get me started on suspension bridges!

Delaware Memorial Bridge - 8 lanes on 1-295. Opened 1951.

Delaware Memorial Bridge – 8 lanes on 1-295. Opened 1951.