Friday, May 31, 2019

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Live Oak

Live oaks are fairly widespread in warmer areas along the Atlantic coast from southeast Virginia to Florida. This grand old beauty is growing next to a house on the Duke of Gloucester Street a block or so from the house I featured in yesterday's post. According to Wikipedia, live oak was widely used in early American shipbuilding:

"Because of the trees' short height and low-hanging branches, lumber from live oak was specifically used to make curved structural members of the hull, such as knee braces (single-piece, inverted L-shaped braces that spring inward from the side and support a ship's deck). In such cuts of lumber, the line of the grain would fall perpendicularly to lines of stress, creating structures of exceptional strength. Live oaks were not generally used for planking because the curved and often convoluted shape of the tree did not lend itself to be milled to planking of any length. Red oak or white oak was generally used for planking on vessels, as those trees tended to grow straight and tall and thus would yield straight trunk sections of length suitable for milling into plank lengths."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


There is some controversy surrounding this house. It's on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg along with all the other buildings haling from the colonial period, only it's not itself from that period. It's of a later vintage. Still, I've always admired it's stately columns and inviting benches. Actually, they would be a lot more inviting if it were not for that "spiky" fence. :-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Colonial Williamsburg is rather well-known regionally for its beautiful gardens and there really is no better time to visit them than now. Having said that, I do think the gardeners make a special effort to have something blooming all through the summer and fall.

Monday, May 27, 2019


I visited the Williamsburg Farmers Market again on a wonderfully sunny day. Lots of people and lots of vendors. It just keeps growing and growing as summer approaches.

Sunday, May 26, 2019


No, I didn't get a chance to attend this concert at the Governor's Palace. Maybe another one is in my future, though. :-)

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Spotted this azalea blooming while strolling through the College of William & Mary's campus a few weeks ago. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Lookout Tower

The prettiest view in the park as far as I'm concerned. I could have spent the afternoon just watching the reflections of the clouds scud across the reservoir's surface.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Stairs to Bridge

So after the Bayberry Loop Trail leaves the shores of the reservoir, it turns back through the woods toward the boardwalk where I began. I look forward to taking this walk again maybe in the fall when the colors of all these hardwood trees begin to turn. By then I expect to have become a full-time denizen of the Virginia peninsula, having moved away from northern Virginia where I've lived for the past eleven years.

But there was just one more thing I wanted to see before I left Waller Mill Park, and that will be the subject of tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


About two thirds of the Bayberry Trail borders the Waller Mill Reservoir. According to the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries:

"This 360-acre water supply reservoir is owned by the City of Williamsburg and is located within the boundaries of Waller Mill Park, York County. The reservoir was originally constructed in 1942 with the intention of providing water to Camp Peary, but was sold three years later to the City of Williamsburg in 1945. The reservoir is divided into two sections by the crossing of Airport Road. A navigable tunnel connects the upper and lower portions of the reservoir. The upper basin accounts for roughly a third of the reservoir’s acreage. The lower basin provides greater fishing access to deeper water and larger creek arms. The heavily wooded shoreline and the many branches and coves of the reservoir provide a very pleasing environment in which to hike, bike, fish and pleasure boat."

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


It's quite possible the mockernut hickory was here on the peninsula when the colonists landed at Jamestown in 1607. According to the The Appalachian Voice:

"Perhaps the most familiar use of hickory, even in modern times, is for smoking meat. Although opinions vary as to the best species, mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa) is frequently mentioned as the choice wood for smoking hams. The mockernut, so named because the small kernels are encased in disproportionately large husks, can reach an age up to 500 years (one of the longest-lived hickories) though almost all hickories can survive several hundred years, with bitternut being the shortest-lived at 200 years. Intentionally planting a hickory tree in order to harvest the nuts is definitely an exercise in patience, and perhaps only for posterity, as the trees do not begin bearing nuts for at least 20 years; with some not bearing significant crops for 30-40 years.

Hickory firewood is legendary for producing a long burn, maximum heat, and minimum ash. Colonial naturalist Mark Catesby observed, 'For the fire no wood in the northern parts of America is in so much request.' A cord generates heat equivalent to 175 gallons of fuel oil, or a little over a ton of coal. Hickory also burns with an exceptional luminous flame, an added appeal in pre-electric days."

Monday, May 20, 2019


Almost the very first thing you notice when setting out on the Bayberry Trail in spring is the vast number of toads. The forest here, bordering the Waller Mill reservoir, is crawling with them.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Bayberry Nature Trail

Waller Mill Park
Williamsburg, Virginia

I'm reading a history now entitled Love & Hate in Jamestown by David Price in which the author notes how in 1607 this area was occupied by the Paspahegh tribe. Although I'm sure the landscape is much different now than it was then, it was still interesting to travel down these sandy paths while thinking about how the Jamestown settlers interacted with the native population. By the way, the Paspahegh most definitely were not on good terms with those settlers. :-)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Thursday, May 16, 2019

May Flowers

Buttercups . . .

mayapples . . .

and viburnum in Zachary Taylor Park.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


So, one of the reasons the engineers were anxious to stabilize the canal's retaining wall (yesterday's post), is so that cyclists like this one can continue to use the 184.5 miles of towpath that stretch from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


The wall had been bulging as a result of a sinkhole that developed in the canal to the left of the towpath in the upper left hand corner of this photo. I think engineers now have have managed to stabilize the wall. I'm not sure how they did it. But what I do know is that they were diverting canal water away from the sinkhole with sandbags at one point in time. That wall, though, is well over 100 years old and it certainly hasn't been overly well maintained. I think of all the retaining walls people have had around their houses that haven't lasted half that length of time.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Well, this brings us to the end of the Billy Goat Trail, Section B, and back to the C&O Canal towpath there at the top. I like the way the roots of the surrounding trees over time have enveloped the staircase so that now the two seem to have become one.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Tree Sculpture I

The first of three tree sculptures found on the Billy Goat Trail, Section B. Can you just imagine becoming lost late one evening on this trail and bumping into one of these? Actually, it's not all that impossible. Many people have become disoriented even on this relatively short trail and have had to be rescued.

Today, by the way, is would have been Sophie Scholl's birthday. I try never to let this day pass without remembering her great courage. Her last words were reported to have been these:

"How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Marsden Tract

The Marsden Tract Group Campground can be accessed from the Billy Goat Trail, Section B, here. I understand that it's mostly used by scout troops willing to camp in exchange for convenient access to Wasjington, D.C. and all its sights. 

Monday, May 6, 2019


Just some of the flora to be found along the Billy Goat Trail, Section B. I believe that's springwort above.

The white flowers here are chickweed, I think.

Sunday, May 5, 2019


Another section of the Billy Goat Trail, Section B, that is sometimes inaccessible because of flooding. You can probably see why. It doesn't take much of a rise in the level of the river to turn the rocks in the background into an island.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Wrong Way

Ah, here's the rub! You can't get here from there. Actually, you have to go back around and slide down that narrow diagonal cut you see just above and to the left of the dog. Yeah, I know. That's kinda asking a lot of a dog. But, hey! That's why they call it the Billy "Goat" Trail. :-)

Friday, May 3, 2019


“I can only meditate when I am walking, when I stop I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778

On the Edge

Life clings to the edges of things along the Billy Goat Trail where rocks ranging in age from about 200 million years to 1 billion years old rise up abruptly from the Potomac River below. Trees topple after being battered for decades by combinations of strong winds and torrential floods, one reason why this section of the trail often is inaccessible.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Billy Goat Trail

Have you ever hiked the Billy Goat Trail in the C&O Canal National Historical Park? I have many times now, once when someone I was hiking with was injured and I had to call the rescue squad to come help carry the hiker back to the canal towpath and then to a nearby hospital for treatment. Not that it's all that dangerous a trail. It's not. But the trail is very rocky as well as full of roots that can take down even the wariest of hikers. 

So, if you dare, I'll take you on a tour. :-)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Dierssen WMA

From Maryland's Department of Natural Resources: "This 40-acre tract of marshy woodland between the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O) and the Potomac River was donated to the state for use as a waterfowl sanctuary. Two man-made ponds, or 'impoundments,' and adjacent forest make for a quiet interlude for strollers on the Canal Tow Path.

Waterfowl species are some of the most colorful birds in Maryland. With the Potomac serving as a natural migration route, wood ducks, teal and mallards can all be seen in and around the impoundments. Wood ducks also use the many nest boxes erected near the water. White-tailed deer, gray and red fox, and wild turkeys are more secretive but can sometimes be seen by the patient and quiet observer, especially in the very early morning hours. Dierssen WMA provides habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, furbearers and songbirds."