Lake Mattamuskeet Wildlife Refuge and Swan Quarter Fishing Pier

Last year, I was taking a mini road trip around Eastern North Carolina and completely by accident found thousands of Tundra Swans in a marsh. Last week I packed up Jon and the Wild Bunch (our 3 German Shepherds) for a day trip to go see the swans on purpose. It didn’t work. It was windy, and not a single swan was in the same marsh where I saw them last year. Driving around we did see a few, from a distance. Not what I wanted though. But thats how it goes with photographing nature and wildlife. We still had a great day.

Lake Mattamuskeet Hunting Lodge. This was originally a pumphouse used to drain the surrounding area for farmland, and later a world famous hunting lodge. Its been unused for the last 30 years, but there are plans to revive it for a visitor/ education center.

A short hiking trail through a bald cypress swamp. I’ve loved these trees ever since I moved to the south.

Storm clouds approaching over the marsh.

On the way home, we stopped at another wildlife refuge, Swan Quarter, and walked out the really long fishing pier into Pamlico Sound.

Introducing Otto!


We adopted a third dog, Otto, previously Bear, this weekend. Its only been three days, but so far he is fitting into the family great. The most difficulties have been with Panzer accepting that he is in charge, because previously he had been quite happy to be the beta dog, and of course everyone getting enough attention, and Otto learning the rules of our home. But overall, its been pretty easy. He really is such a sweet, happy affectionate dog.

Before coming to us, Otto had a tough life. He was kept tied up in the back of a used auto yard, before the owner decided he wasn’t a good guard dog and intended to let him loose near a highway. Fortunately, someone at Shepherds Hope heard of him and was able to convince the owner to turn Bear over to her instead. Although he was not physically abused, he was neglected. Even after several months with the rescue organization he is still very thin and has tested positive for low levels of heartworm. Amazingly, the rescue organization had a difficult time finding a home for him. He has alot of energy will be big when he is finished growing. Also, the rescue organization wanted to place him in a home with other dogs, and many people only want one.

We got him from German Shepherd Rescue Association, we also got Sasha from them. If you are in North Carolina or Virginia, and looking for a dog, I highly recommend adopting from them, or Shepherd’s Hope in North and South Carolina.

Sketchbook: Cathedral Ruin


First, I started with the basic layout, I even used a ruler. This does have perspective and a vanishing point, sort of. I eyeballed it, and mostly just tried to keep it somewhat symmetrical.


Next, I colored the walls black, and added a second story of windows so it wouldn’t be too dark and imposing.


I added color! I used to use these prismacolor markers all the time, and I had fun playing with them again.


Finished! Used a fine pen to make any edges nice and crisp, and to darken the design of the rose window.

Craggy Gardens, Spring and Fall

During the last week of October, I once again took a trip out to the Blue Ridge Mountains, to see the fall foliage. Below are two photos taken at the same location, Craggy Gardens, elevation above 5000 feet, on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. I love the bright pink rhododendrons and the green foliage in the spring. But I also love the red berries in the fall.

What do you think? Do you prefer the spring or fall (or maybe you like summer or winter) best? Where is your favorite place to see the seasons change?


Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway, October 2016


Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2016

Edinbrugh Castle

I’ve been meaning to post the rest of my photos from Scotland, but I’ve been having trouble accessing my website admin. After way to long on the phone, it turned out to be an easy fix, I started using Chrome as a web browser, instead of Safari.

I got to visit a castle, a real one! I’d never been in a castle before. It was really interesting to walk around, no hidden torture chambers though (or they are still hidden, at least from the public). It is actually still an active military base though.


The castle sits on top of a hill that towers over the city.img_3743

I loved all the thistles decorating the castle, like this one carved into the stonework.img_3757

I was surprised that the castle was mainly a military installation. I guess I expected more of a luxurious home for royalty. And while there were some very grand parts of the castle, such as a massive dining hall, for the most part it was clearly built for strategic purposes.img_3768

From the castle, the view of the city, and the Firth of Forth was amazing.