Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ginter Botanical Garden

I had a good excuse yesterday for sitting on my butt watching college basketball all of a beautiful spring afternoon - I had already run and walked 13 miles for half-marathon training and gotten lots of fresh air. But I didn't have that excuse this afternoon - an even nicer spring afternoon with temperatures in the 60's (F). So we spent a couple of hours leisurely walking around Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Even though only the early flowers and trees are in bloom right now, there is still plenty of color and beauty to see. It is a really nice garden, split between a large outdoors portion with plenty of interesting garden areas, habitats, and pathways and a really great "conservatory". Here are some photos from the afternoon. To see other spring photos from around Richmond, go to yesterday's post on my racing for a cure blog.

Photos from the outdoor gardens:
Photos from inside the conservatory - feast of colors for the eyes:

Friday, March 6, 2009

Urban Wildlife - Great Blue Heron Rookery

Less than 5 minutes from this spot in busy downtown Richmond is an amazing bit of wildness - a great blue heron rookery.

Between winter weather, life, work, and most importantly, Team in Training workouts to run a half marathon in seven weeks, I have had precious little time for a hike. So I seized the moment today at lunch and took a quick hike along the James River in downtown Richmond. The objective was to get back to the great blue heron rookery that my friend Susan and I walked to a week ago, but this time with a camera. Here are some of the sights that I experienced on a beautiful spring-like day just 56 hours after 10 degree temperatures and just 4 days after nearly a foot of snow, which is now mostly gone.

At the Haxall Canal walk, there is this memorial to Christopher Newport, who led the first English expedition to what became Richmond, Virginia.
From there, the path leads along the Flood Wall. The fairly new condos in the left background (looking back from where I started) have great river and city views.
From here, climb down a short metal ladder and ...
... walk along the "trail", a metal catwalk over a large pipe under railroad tracks. To the right, everything is urban, to the left, you could almost be in the boondocks. Almost, except for some bridges and powerlines.
It is not the most scenic trail in the world, but after just a few hundred feet, the great blue heron rookery appears on an island in the river.
Great blue herons on their nests. There are about 40 nests on the island.
Wider view of the rookery, river, and bridges.
These rapids, which occur for several miles, are called the "Falls of the James" and are the reason Richmond exists where it does. The James River is not navigable from the sea above this point.
I walked up-river perhaps a quarter mile, and took this shot looking back downriver to the island with the rookery.
There were beaches and rocky areas. Here is a natural bench and a pot hole, both carved by time and the river. Imagine how many eons these took.
Another pothole, the front of which has collapsed into the river.
I sat on this "bench" and ate lunch. Talk about a comfortable spot to sit on a beautiful day, eating my peanut butter and jam sandwich. No king eating a 5 star lunch in a palace enjoyed their lunch more than I did today, listening to the river rushing past me and feeling the warmth of the sun.
Just days ago, these flowers, if even yet in bloom, would have been buried by snow.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Seven Great Wildlife Experiences

In my Racing for a Cure blog, I am writing a series of posts on things I have experienced in the seven years since surviving lymphoma. I am calling this my "seven things" series.

The latest of these posts is seven great wildlife experiences I had in the past seven years. It was hard to narrow the list but it is still a pretty good list, even with the many things I had to leave off.