January 31, 2024

I Think They're Robins

A flock of red-breasted birds were in a tree and at least some of them were robins. They had narrow beaks, not the short thick beaks that we see on cardinals and house finches. And I've seen groups of robins in this tree before. It's visible from my back door.

 For those who aren't familiar with the American Robin, here's an older picture of one in a tree. 

Wild Bird Wednesday

Signs at the Fairfax County Courthouse

Yesterday I shared pictures of the historic courthouse in Fairfax, Virginia. It is over an hour from where I live now, but I grew up in Fairfax County. 

This Civil War Trails marker stands in front of the courthouse. 

“If you had been here on a court day before 1861, you would have witnessed all levels of Virginia society. Crowds of men and women gathered at the courthouse as court justices negotiated county business and settled debts between all classes, wealthy and poor alike. Residents charged with crimes were brought before juries for hearings. Free African Americans registered with the court clerk to carry papers proving their freedom, while enslaved men, women, and children were bought and sold to satisfy debts, sometimes in front of the courthouse itself.”

“It was in this climate that on May 23, 1861, Fairfax County men voted to ratify the Ordinance of Secession. One week later, on June 1, the first engagement on Virginia soil occurred here when Company B, 2nd U.S. Cavalry attacked Confederate units nearby. Early in July, the U.S. flag was raised over the courthouse, then replaced with the Confederate flag on July 22, as Southerners reoccupied the grounds.”

(See HMDB for more)

Newer brick buildings have been added on to the old courthouse. I walked around to the other side.

I imagine the fallout shelter sign has been there since the Cold War.

I found it easiest to park across the street.

January 30, 2024

The Historic Fairfax Courthouse

Fairfax County's Third Courthouse, c. 1800


Wordless / Tuesday Treasures 

January 29, 2024

Dogwood Mural

On Thursday, I met Lynn for lunch near Stanton. Then we went into town, checked out the health food store and shopped in the dollar store. We found a mural nearby.

The first picture has a slight distortion because I took it as a panorama with my cell phone and I can’t seem to do that without getting a curve in it. I corrected it partially, using the SKRWT app.

Here’s a closer look.

Monday Murals

January 28, 2024

Rose Hill Park on Kernstown Battlefield

Near Winchester

Earlier this month I went to Rose Hill Park after an errand in Winchester. I think the last time I was there was on a garden tour in 2022, which is when I took the first three pictures. The house has been restored and is owned by the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. It is not normally open to the public, although the adjacent park is open and is well used.

At the park entrance is a playground and the beginning of the walking trail. Historical signs tell the story of the first battle of Kernstown, which took place in 1862.

The park is obviously enjoyed by people walking, but also serves as a historical site, a nature preserve, and a farm.  

Some years of passed since I last walked up to the old stone wall that was utilized in the battle. I remember coming here on a field trip before the trails were graded and paved. I was glad that the path is easier now because I am older. 

I remembered this tree by the wall.

The walking tour follows a loop trail. I noticed that dog walkers were taking a shorter trail back to the parking lot, and I followed them. I had made it to the stone wall and that was satisfying 

Shadow Shot / Barns / Mosaic Monday

January 27, 2024

Is the Bad Weather Gone?

Hi, it’s Charlie. I want to warn you about something. It’s called snow and it’s very cold. If there’s a lot of it, we don’t go to the dog park, and sometimes we can’t even walk on the sidewalk. There were a few days when we had to walk in the street! My paws were so cold that I wanted to go back inside. 

We spent more time indoors when the outside was covered with snow. Mom spent extra time looking at her phone and the flat thing she holds on her lap. That was okay because I could lie down next to her or go back to my chair and look out the window or take a nap. But a beagle needs to run, and there was no place to run, and not much to sniff outside because the snow covered everything. One day we went to Lowe’s and walked around and talked to some people. One lady said I was perfect! 

Finally the snow started to shrink and it wasn’t as deep. Some of the sidewalks were clear. One day we went to the state park. We walked on the road there. We didn’t see any dogs, but I could smell that some had been there and also some other animals. We did see some large birds.

Finally, the weather got warmer. This snow started going away. I saw Tripod again.

Yesterday we went to the dog park and played ball. Then today we went back to Seven Bends State Park and all the snow was gone!

January 26, 2024

Snowy Monday, Shenandoah River State Park

 Bentonville, Virginia

The snow is gone now, but I still have pictures of it to share. On Monday, I left Charlie at doggy daycare where he could hopefully get some exercise. I’ve had to to walk him on ice and snow, which is not easy. I went to Front Royal to buy a few groceries and seek photo opportunities.

I checked the status of Skyline Drive, but it was still closed while they cleared snow. (They opened the middle section later that afternoon.) In the valley below Skyline Drive is Shenandoah River State Park, and they rarely close so I headed there. My first stop was Cullers Overlook, which has a great view.

This panoramic shot has a “fisheye” distortion, but it shows you a full bend in the river. The next view is looking downstream with the visitors center visible on the right.

A view like this inspires a selfie. I’m wearing the ear warmer that Lynn gave me for Christmas. Her friend Raylene made it.

I drove down to the road by the river and kept an eye out for wildlife. A group of deer showed up, but only one was clearly visible at a time.

As I left the park, I could see the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east. At this point we are facing Shenandoah in National Park and Skyline Drive.

January 25, 2024

Five Fifteen

Finally the sun is going down after 5 PM. These shots are from Monday evening. I pulled off in a church parking lot to take pictures because I could see in my rearview mirror that the sky was getting pretty.

I wanted to get to Walmart before the pharmacy closed but I stopped one more time to snap another picture.

When I finally got to the store, I could see that the colors had deepened. I was excited to get another picture and forgot to make a mental note of where I had parked. When I came back out, it was dark and I had forgotten where I left the car. Fortunately, my phone had been a mental note for me, so when I ask Siri “where’s my car?” she showed me a map of the parking lot with my car’s location marked.

January 24, 2024

Snowbirds: Juncos

The dark-eyed junco is often called a snowbird, and it does show up here in the winter.

I read that they like millet seeds, which is good because many other birds don't, and it's commonly included in birdseed mixes. 

These pictures are from a few days ago. Most of our snow melted today.