Archive for July, 2009

Camden Causeway Park

One of the first parks I checked out when I moved to Elizabeth City was the Causeway Park. My first impression was about as positive as my opinion of the second Transformer’s movie. I got out of the car, saw a sign instructing people not to be litter bugs. And then right next to that sign was a formidable pile of garbage.

The trees do what they can to clean up, but the Causeway Park does tend to be litter prone. That said, I’ve found it to be a great park. It’s humble. It’s a small tract of land with boardwalks over the swampy shores of the Pasquotank River.

Camden Causeway Park - Fallen Bald Cypress Still Grows
Boardwalk at Camden Causeway Park

Camden Causeway Park - Tree and Reflection
Trees at Camden Causeway Park

Camden Causeway Park - Baldcypress Leaves, Baldcypress Trees
Baldcypress Leaves, Baldcypress Trees

Camden Causeway Park - Jimmie, Elephant Ears, Weird Floaty Thing
Jimmie with Elephant Ears

What I really like about this park is its diversity. As the seasons change, every visit uncovers new leaves, new flowers, new colors, new insects and new lessons.

Causeway Park - Flowers Camden Causeway Park - Red Maple Seeds
Camden Causeway Park - Purple Flower Camden Causeway Park - Bell Flowers
Camden Causeway Park  - Swamp Rose Camden Causeway Park - Catkin

The Causeway Park is my ego-check. Every time I think I’m starting to get knowledgeable on the local flora, the brisk walk through the park reminds me of how much I have left to learn. (A lot).

It’s a small park, yes, but full of discoveries.

Causeway Park

Directions from Elizabeth City, NC

From Water Street, turn right on Camden Causeway (34/158)

Parking lot and sign for the park will be on your left in about 0.7 miles.

July 15, 2009 at 5:00 am 1 comment

Hungry Tree: Upper Manhattan

Anytime we spot a hungry tree, we spy a survivor tree in the making. Here’s one from Upper Manhattan, courtesy of Deirdre Mahoney.

“I’ve always been amazed by the life force of this tree. How many beings do you know who could live with a rod going through their midsection, as well as fencemarks on their skin, with the fence embedded in their flesh?”

Photo courtesy of Deirdre Mahoney (charmante)

July 14, 2009 at 7:08 pm Leave a comment

Earl Shaffer at the Smithsonian

Today, an interesting new exhibit opens at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. It’s entitled Earl Shaffer and the Appalachian Trail. In 1948, Earl Shaffer was the Appalachian Trail’s very first thru-hiker. At the time, most experts believed hiking the whole trail could not be done. It took Earl Shaffer 124 days to do the impossible.

Featured items include Shaffer’s trail diary from his pioneering 1948 hike, photographs he took along the trail, the maps he used and the boots he wore.

Earl Shaffer’s Trail Diary
(Credit: Earl Shaffer Papers, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution)

The exhibit will remain in the museum until October 11th. For more information, read the full press release from the Smithsonian or visit the exhibit website.

July 10, 2009 at 10:51 am 3 comments

Pee in the Yard Club?

Meredith Vieira (Photo by NYCArthur)

A few years ago, I discussed a hike where my friend’s son got to join the enviable Poop in the Woods club. Last night Today’s Meredith Vieira was on Conan O’Brien. She talked about camping in her yard and there appears to be a new club in the making!

Video: Meredith Vieira Pees in the Yard

July 9, 2009 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

Henry Welt and Nadia Schwartz: Five Year Olds, Nature Conservancy Fundraisers

(Photo by D Sharon Pruitt)
Kids Take a Stand for Nature
An adorable story- Two five year olds, Henry Welt and Nadia Schwartz, opened a lemonade stand. But instead of pocketing the profits, they decided to donate all proceeds to the Nature Conservancy. In a few hours, they raised $17.25 for their cause.

Be sure to read the full article on

Hat Tip, Nature Conservancy on Twitter

July 7, 2009 at 12:53 pm 2 comments

Hearts in Nature: Fruit

Here are two more hearts in nature that are doubly sweet– we can eat them!

“Little Hearts” (Photo courtesy of Karen Riberio)

“fruiting in love” (Photo courtesy of bloodydoctor)

July 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm 2 comments

Counting on Cellphones

You can read time and time again about how when you are hiking, you shouldn’t count on your cell phone working. A couple of weekends ago, I had a benign reminder of that fact while hiking in the Northwest River Park in Chesapeake, Virginia. After a few miles, I wanted to refer to the trail map which I did not have on me. But I did have the Blackberry! Although I had connectivity was able to get to and download the full trail map PDF, I was presented with a problem.

Northwest River Park - No Help From Blackberry
The Trail Map on the Blackberry

I had no means to zoom in! I found this mini trail map to be thoroughly useless. Good thing I didn’t really need it. : )

But don’t ditch your phone just yet. Even if you can’t bank on your cell phone fulfilling its intended function, you could assign it a tertiary duty. Backpacker Magazine has a video showing how you can use the battery and a Brillo pad to start a fire (Hat Tip, The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog).

How cool is that?

July 7, 2009 at 12:50 am 2 comments

Weekly Winners – June 28th – July 4th

This week’s Weekly Winners come from Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. I spent the 4th of July weekend in my hometown- Occoquan, Virginia. It was a busy holiday! I got to meet my Mom’s new dog, Willy (which between her two existing dogs, my two dogs and Willy put us at 5 dogs in one house). We made a visit to the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center outside of Dulles. On Saturday, we went up to Silver Spring, MD to visit my grandmother. Then my mother made her third metro ride *ever* as we went to watch the fireworks on the Mall. Finally, Sunday morning I got to visit with an old high school classmate and meet his new girlfriend.

Occoquan - Willy Looks Up
Willy, Occoquan VA

Air and Space - How Come This Never Came in Style
The guy on the left’s facial hair caught my eye, Udvar-Hazy Center

Air and Space - Jet Fire From Behind
Back of Plane, Udvar-Hazy Center

DC Fireworks - Mom and Vicky on Metro
Mom and I on Metro, Vienna, VA

DC Fireworks - Burst with Flags and Monuments (Small)
Fireworks, Washington, DC

DC Fireworks - Ryan and Vicky
Ryan and I on the Mall, Washington, DC

Occoquan - Ryn and Alex in Mamie Davis Park
My friend Alex on the right and his girlfriend Ryn, Occoquan, VA

More photos (and videos) of the Washington DC Fireworks Show and the Udvar-Hazy Center are on my Flickr site. Also, be sure to check out more of this week’s Weekly Winners out at Sarcastic Mom!

July 6, 2009 at 8:48 am 3 comments

Waka Waka Waka – Pac Man in Nature

10 years ago on this day, the very first perfect Pac Man game was completed. Over the course of six hours, Billy Mitchell went through all 256 levels; ate every possible ghost, fruit and dot; and acheived the maximum possible Pac Man score– 3,333,360 points.

In honor of Pac Man and Billy Mitchell’s achievement, I present some Pac Man sightings– in nature.

Pac Man Tree (Credit: An Objective Perspective)

Pac Man Cloud (Photo by km6xo)

Pac Man Rock (Credit: karttyler)

Pac Man Bush (Photo by ViaMoi)

“Pac Man Traffic Jam” (Credit: lewesrat)

“Showing its Inner Pac Man” (Photo courtesy of Camera Shy Momma)

Pac Man in a Peacock Feather (Photo courtesy of PaperTissue)

Pac Man Mushroom (Photo courtesy of heLLo LiLi)

If you would like to see more Pac Man sightings, including man made ones, I recommend Justin Towell’s “65 Things That Look Like Pac-Man” post on GamesRadar.

July 3, 2009 at 5:00 am 8 comments

Real German Cuisine Challenge: Krabbenragout

My first, Christina, at An American Expat in Deutschland has been running a Real German Cuisine Challenge with her readers. It took me about two months, but I’ve done one of the recipes!

The dish I made was from the Krabbenragout Challenge (Full Recipe from Amiexpat). It features shrimp and spargel– aka white asparagus. I’ve been eyeing the recipe for a while and today was the day! Farm Fresh was carrying white asparagus and I had some leftover cream from a dish last week.

When I’m prepping vegetables, I tend to do it outside (See Fun with Brussel Sprouts from June 2007). It gives me some extra time outside with the dogs. Today was no exception– the asparagus and the shrimp were peeled outside. Jimmie, Henry and Stench were on hand.

Krabbenragout - Peeling Shrimp with Henry
Peeling Shrimp with Henry (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Krabbenragout - Peeling Shrimp with Jimmie
Peeling Shrimp with Jimmie (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Krabbenragout - Lazy Stench
Stench Relaxes on the Porch (Photo by Ryan Somma)

I didn’t take many pictures of the dish preparation. My kitchen is no where near as pristine as the other participants. Here is one photo that strategically frames out the mess. : )

Krabbenragout - Marinating Shrimp, Draining Spargel
Shrimp Marinating, Spargel Draining

Like Christina and Yelli from 50% of my DNA, I substituted the white pepper from the recipe with black pepper. Instead of rice, we served the dish with some multicolored pasta. I also added mushrooms to the sauce when I added the shrimp, the spargel and the peas. Mushrooms are a fixture is almost everything we make. They are especially good in Sloppy Joes and Chili. They were great in the Krabbenragout as well.

We LOVED the final dish. Very, very tasty.

Krabbenragout - Ryan with Final Dish
Ryan with the Final Dish

In our household, we typically end up feeding neighborhood kids whether we intend to or not. Tonight, when six year old Tykee showed an interest I let him have a small portion. He loved it as well– which actually is not surprising. He and his older brother have both demonstrated a fondness for steamed green asparagus and none of the children have exhibited an aversion to mushrooms. Tykee very much enjoyed the meal.

Krabbenragout - Tykee Looks Up From Dish
Tykee and German Cuisine

“Those aspears are good,” he concluded.

It took me a moment, but I realized he was talking about the asparagus.

Tykee enjoyed the meal so much, that I had to exercise a skill I have learned with Sloppy Joes and Tacos.

Declining requests for more. : )

July 1, 2009 at 9:49 pm 9 comments

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