13 November 2017

Southern Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee

The sights to see in Virginia seem to be endless. I heard about the town of Bristol, Virginia, where the state line between Virginia and Tennessee ran right through the middle of town.
 We stayed at a hotel in Bristol since it was close to some other places we wanted to see. Besides the awesome sign, there wasn't too much else happening in Bristol, other than a country music museum. We weren't interested in going to it. 
Who knew that Bristol, Viriginia was the birthplace of country music?
There are "LOVE" signs all around Virginia, but this was a unique one, celebrating country music.
Not far from Bristol was another Virginia destination we wanted to see, called Natural Tunnel State Park.
We rode a chair lift to get down to it from the entrance of the park.
As the name suggests, there's a tunnel through the rock that was large enough to build a railroad track through back in the 1800's.
We weren't able to go through the tunnel since it is an active railroad track.
This was a cabin typical of those built in the area in the late 1770's.

At the same state park there was a reproduction of a fort that had been in that area during the Revolutionary War. Every year they stage a reenactment of a battle at this site.

The state park was in the part of the country where Daniel Boone traveled. I always thought he was from Kentucky.
Next we drove into Tennessee to go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There were amazing views everywhere we looked.

I thought this photo was a good representation of why they're called the Smoky Mountains.
This is an observation tower in the Great Smoky Mountains National park called Clingman's Dome. It's  built on a hill and was quite a hike to get up to it, but the views were pretty spectacular.
Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the state of Tenessee.
This was taken on top of the tower.
It's said you can see SEVEN states from Clingman's Dome on a clear day. They are: Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi. Crazy, huh?
The Appalachian trail cuts through the Great Smoky Mountains, so we took the occasion to hike along if for a short distance.
Clingman's Dome is located on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.
One reason we wanted to go was to see the wild rhododendrons in bloom. We were disappointed that there weren't more blooming; we had to look pretty hard to find them.
When we did find them, we learned that in the wild rhododendrons aren't very colorful, but mostly a very pale pink.
This was a waterfall in the park.
The area of Tennessee where we we visiting has another claim to fame--Dollywood. We drove past the entrance to the park several times since it was off of a major highway. I think it's brought lots of jobs and prosperity to the region.

06 November 2017

Piano Recital

If it's June it must be Piano Recital time!
I've enjoyed using these chalkboard signs that I had made a few years ago. I have two and put them on the doors into the Cultural Hall.
I spent about 25 hours (not even exaggerating!) making these lovely recital invitations.
First I had to create the Piano Recital graphic with the flourishes on my Silhouette machine, then cut it out from glitter vinyl, then remove it from the backing and placing it on the pink cardstock. I also cut out the grand piano shape on my Silhouette machine. The piano keyboards are washi tape, which was the only easy part of these invitations.
In spite of the crazy amount of time it took to make them (which I didn't anticipate) I was pleased with how they turned out.
I had two recitals to accommodate all my students schedules-one on Friday night and one on Saturday morning.
I performed a solo this year, which I'm sometimes too stressed to do, or don't have enough time to practice.
It's actually much more pleasant to have smaller recitals. I don't have to set up the larger side of the cultural hall and it's much shorter for the families.
The three teenagers in the back row next to me played a trio, and they did very well. We had lots of extra practices so they put in extra work.
My color scheme was hot pink, black and white, as they were on the recital invitations.
I used my paint sticks again to create the music staff. I thought it was a creative way to use my paint sticks again!
I had enough paint sticks to put several staves around the room, and I used music symbols that I already had to put on them.
I put music notes and keyboard decorations on the paper fans.
I made the banner across the top of the wall new this year. I love how it turned out.
I thought this little piano was the perfect centerpiece for the refreshment table. Another new addition this year was the black piano keys I sewed on to the front of the white tablecloth.
It was another successful piano recital and I was very happy with the decorations and the performances by the students.

Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery

It's been eight years since we've been interested in attending the Memorial Day service at Arlington Cemetery, but this year we were in town and decided we wanted to go. 
We didn't hit any traffic on our way up to DC and had no problem parking in the public lot at the cemetery. The crowds were loaded onto buses to go up to the amphitheater where the President would be speaking.
Every headstone on the cemetery had an American flag placed next to it, which is always touching to see.
Here's a closer view.
A picture of the program that was given out to those attending. Everyone had to go through security, but people were orderly and patient, which you'd expect from Republicans.

We were pleasantly surprised at how close our seats were considering we didn't get there super early.
We saw several people who are part of Pres. Trump's cabinet, such as Ben Carson.
And also Vice President Pence.
President Trump kept his speech apolitical and honored those who gave their lives in service to our country. He did a good job.
It's always thrilling to see all the American flags, listen to one of the armed forces bands play patriotic music, and feel such love and regard for our country.
After the service we found the grave of John Glenn, who had been buried at Arlington Cemetery just a few months before.
It was neat to see the grave of a true American hero who was humble enough that he didn't want a special marker or headstone on his grave, but one like every other fallen service member. We had a wonderful Memorial Day.