It’s been a few years since I hiked the Hondo Canyon trail. It’s one of the few places you can see water year round in the Sandia Mountains.
I got up early to beat the summer heat. Scarlett was thrilled to be out during the cool morning. I was enjoying the morning as well.
The first part of the hike is fairly easy and I think pretty with the rock wall and trees.
After a short while I could see the caves next to the waterfall.
Soon we arrived at the small travertine waterfall. This time of year the spring flow is very low. This created just a trickle for the falls.
I was surprised to see dozens of hummingbirds swarming around the falls. They were drinking and bathing. I was fascinated that they would actually cling to the wall of the waterfall to bathe. I stayed here at the waterfall for a good 30 minutes watching and photographing all the beautiful hummingbirds.
Sometimes I was lucky enough to have one perch nearby for a few moments.
People often ask me how I bird with Scarlett. Doesn’t she scare the birds away??? She’s so good. She just lays down and sits quietly. And sometimes she point out birds to me by staring at them.
After an enjoyable 30 minutes, I climbed above the waterfall to where the spring starts. It’s a beautiful, lush area.
After the spring, the trail really starts to climb. I had forgotten how steep this trail is. Scarlett didn’t seem to notice. She would run ahead and then wait, wondering what was taking me so long.
After the short but steep climb, the views start to open up. But difficult to see with all the vegetation.
One of the parts of the trail I like is climbing up to a small Ponderosa Pine grove. Ponderosa Pine forests are my favorite because of the openness below the canopy. This area is always good for sighting the pygmy nuthatch. I love their piping voices. I heard lots of them today, but sadly couldn’t get a photo.
After reaching this point, I decided to turn around. The morning was really starting to warm up fast. When we reached the spring on the way back, Scarlett stretched out in it to cool off. Smart girl! Of course, she loves water and looks for any excuse to get in it.
Back at the waterfall, the hummingbirds had gone quiet but other birds were out and about.
It was interesting to see a Lesser Goldfinch land on the wall of the falls and peck a the surface. I figured she must be getting important minerals from the travertine wall.
Before leaving the trail, I made Scarlett pose for me on the pretty rock wall. She loves to climb on things and pose for me. I guess she knows it makes me happy.
It was fun to get out again and seeing nature’s beauty and forget about all the stressful things in my life right now.
After getting all rested up after hiking The Wave the day before, I was ready for my next tour. I hired a tour company to take me to a remote slot canyon that required true 4WD to get there. The road there must have had 2 feet of very soft sand that I would have definitely not felt comfortable to drive.
We finally arrived at Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon. Right off the bat it was just beautiful!
Scarlett loved it because it was shady and cool and she liked running up ahead and racing back through the narrow slot. I got her to slow down enough for a photo op.
The tour guide was amazing. He was very patient and knowledgeable in photographing slot canyons. The best part was that he would help me frame up a shot and then help me with the manual settings to capture the moment with the best possible light.
Sometimes the canyon was very narrow and sometimes it would widen up. I loved how it changed with each curve.
One of my favorite spots of the canyon was photographing this big log. I loved having this focal point in the photo.
Here’s some other photos I took during the tour.
Too soon we reached the end of the slot canyon. A Western Whiptail had fallen into the canyon and was in deep shade. It was so cool in the shade that he was very still. This enabled me to take a few fun photos. Afterwards I picked him up and carried him to a sunny area. He woke up then!!!
After the tour I realized I had plenty of time to drive to Zion National Park and do a hike for evening photos. I had picked out a hike that is not well known. I wanted to hike a trail that wasn’t crowded by loads of tourists. The trail is called Lower Pine Creek Waterfall Trail. It isn’t listed on any of the park maps so most tourists don’t know it exists.
To get there I had to drive the famous park highway. It’s a very scenic drive with lots of places that make you want to stop for photos.
At one stop there were loads of Big Horn Sheep grazing near the road. I didn’t have my zoom lens with me, but they were so close it didn’t matter!
The trail was short but beautiful. It headed into a narrow canyon along Lower Pine Creek. I arrived at the trailhead just before sunset. I was hoping to get some nice golden hour/blue hour photos.
Scarlett was thrilled to have water to play in. We had to cross the creek several times. We also had to scramble over large boulders.
There were several nice spots to take photos.
The trail was supposed to end with a beautiful waterfall. I had seen photos of this waterfall and was really looking forward to photographing it. However, this past winter was a very wet winter and all the creeks in the park were way up.
I got to this huge pond in the creek just before the waterfall. It was at least 6 feet deep. Too deep to cross and keep my camera gear dry! Sadly I had to turn around without seeing the waterfall (which was literally just around the corner from this pond).
As I was heading out I heard all of the Bighorn Sheep coming down to the creek for a drink. They were bleating loudly to each other. I looked and looked but never saw a one even though I could hear they were very close.
At the end of July 2018 my husband and I took a long anticipated trip to Alaska. I took sooooo many photos. It has taken me this long to edit my photos and post in my blog.
Our trip was to stay at a gold camp in Nome, Alaska. While Tim prospected for gold, I was going to do photography and birding. Yay!
We flew first to Anchorage and stayed a couple nights. We wanted to have one full day to drive the Seward Highway and play tourist. As it must always be in Alaska, it was cloudy and rainy. But we still went out to explore.
I got my first new bird while parking for breakfast. It was sitting on a light post. A Glaucous-Winged Gull. These gulls are quite large, much larger than the Ring-Billed Gulls at home.
As we left Anchorage, our first stop was at Potter’s Marsh. It’s a fabulous birding spot with lots of boardwalks through a shallow marsh. A very scenic place to bird.
While there, my husband Tim spotted a moose deep in the grasses. How exciting! It’s only the 2nd time I’ve seen a wild moose. Not a great photo, but still a great find!
I saw quite a few birds here. Most familiar to me back home but still a joy to see. But I also got some new birds – which is even more enjoyable!
Sadly, I saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans as we started down the Seward Highway. This was a new bird for me, but I couldn’t get a photograph. That highway is busy and narrow with very few places to stop. So I was unable to get a photo. 🙁
We did stop at a few of the pullouts to take some scenic photos. So Beautiful!
We stopped at one place to hike a beautiful trail along a river. Though it was cold and rainy, it will still so beautiful to get out and explore.
We stopped at a gold mine to see if we could pan a little gold. It was a beautiful place and I did find a few flakes. 🙂
We had dinner in Anchorage. While searching for a place to eat, we came across a popular fishing hole right in town. The salmon were running and the people were catching them one after another.
Sadly, we only had the one day to explore the Anchorage area. We left the next day for Nome. My next post will be about all the fabulous new species of birds I saw while staying in Nome.
Recently I decided to explore Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu, New Mexico. If any of you have seen the movie Cowboys and Aliens, then you may remember the white rock formation that was in the scenes of the final battle of the movie.
I have always wanted to explore this place, but never seemed to find the time to do so. We’ve gotten some small snows this winter, so I headed out on a day that I thought there might be some snow on the trail to enhance my photos.
It was a beautiful day and there indeed was some snow left on the ground.
When I arrived at the parking area, I had a wonderful view of the southwest landscape showing the many beautiful layers of color. I just love New Mexico landscapes.
I hiked down the trail and just started exploring. There’s not a lot of information about this area or the hike on the internet. At first you see the large, white rock formation that is the namesake of the hike. It is quite large and impressive.
Next to the white formation is a large brown one. I love how it stands alone. Looks like something from the set of a Star Trek show.
I then turned left along this formation and continued upstream in the arroyo. At first it was very wide. This is where the snow made beautiful accents to the landscape.
I came upon several trees in the bottom of the arroyo.
I turned around and love how the sun shone through the branches.
That’s when I noticed the hole in the formation. You can just see it behind the tree. I backtracked to get some photos of this.
I then saw another hole. Of course, I just had to see how creative I could get with the “window” in the rock.
I then went back up the arroyo. I came to a fork and decided to take the right fork as it seemed more interesting. The rock formations were really cool. I had Scarlett jump up on one to get a fun photo. She’s so cute in how she will do whatever I ask.
The canyon started narrowing as I followed it. For some reason I love hiking narrow canyons.
Soon we came across water in the bottom of the canyon. This is when I realized I had stumbled upon a slot canyon. I LOVE SLOT CANYONS!
Scarlett loved it too! She soon started running around and playing. She especially loved coming around the bend and jumping across the water.
This is a face of a very happy dog!
I followed the now very narrow canyon. It was so beautiful. The melting snow created some beautiful natural sculptures.
We continued further up the slot canyon until the end of the line. Well…then end for me. I wasn’t willing to scramble up this obstacle.
We headed back out of the canyon. It was a wonderful place to explore. When I got back to the main formation, I decided to take my time and get a few photos of the area.
After finishing up my hike I decided to go by Abiquiu Lake. I’ve never been to the lake before. I thought there might be wintering birds there. But when I arrived, it was dead quiet.
I did like the reflections in one of the coves of the lake. So I took a few photos there before moving on.
I was really wanting to see some birds on my outing. So I headed to a place that I know I will see birds. I went to Ohkay Owingeh Lakes near Espanola, NM.
On the way to the lakes, I stopped to get a nice photo of the Rio Grande. This stop always offers a beautiful view of the river.
I hiked around the two ponds at the park. There was surprisingly few birds about. But I managed to get a few pics.
It was nice to finish up the day with some nice bird sightings. Scarlett and I had a wonderful day. I highly recommend you visit the Plaza Blanca area.
Back in July my friend Dia and I spent a long weekend at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I had never been there before, so I was really looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend hiking and soaking in the hot springs.
On our way we stopped in for lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico. (Pronounced Ab-eh-Q) It was a beautiful place to stroll and the lunch was delicious.
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm
Kelly enjoying a wonderful lunch
We also enjoyed shopping in the little store.
Shopping at the cafe
As we drove down the road, we decided to pop in and check out the famous Ghost Ranch. When people hear Ghost Ranch they usually think of the artist Georgia O’Keefe who loved to paint the beauty of the desert here. We didn’t spend long, but I did take some time to take a few photos.
Great old western wagon
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
Old hand-hewn log cabin
Beauty of the Ghost Ranch
As we neared Chama, New Mexico, we passed an Osprey nest. Of course, I had to turn around to get a photo. 🙂
Female Osprey on the nest
While I was photographing the female on the nest, the male showed up with lunch.
Male Osprey with a meal
We stayed at the beautiful Springs Spa and Resort. They have 25 different soaking pools that vary in temperatures from 96 degrees to as hot as 111 degrees. HOT! The hottest pool was called the Lobster Pot. I couldn’t get more than my foot in before I was yelping in pain!
The Springs Resort and Spa
After checking in we decided to go have lunch and let Scarlett run around a bit. Of course, she was thrilled to play in the river.
Scarlett stretching her legs after a long drive.
We ate at a restaurant across the river that had a great view of the resort. We couldn’t wait to get in those pools!
View of the resort and the San Juan River
Looks fabulous doesn’t it?
Of course, we had ourselves a giant margarita at lunch to kick off the relaxing weekend.
One of the things I really wanted to do while staying at the resort was take night photos. I don’t get many opportunities to do night photography, so this was a real treat to have a unique setting.
I first photographed the resort’s hotel. Such a beautiful place.
While photographing the hotel, a pair of girls were playing the outdoor chess game. I was thrilled they consented to let me take their photo. I think it came out nice.
Outdoor chess game under the stars
From there we toured the pools. The first pool we came to overlooked the resort. I liked that there were some people relaxing the in pool. I think they added interest to the view.
Soakers enjoying the beautiful evening
Here’s some other shots I got touring the pools.
Sunken foot bridge through the warm springs
I loved the travertine formations that builds up with the flowing waters of hot springs
I took a few shots from the bridge across the river and from the other side of the river. Beautiful with the reflections in the water.
Gorgeous at night
Definitely a special place
The next day we went on a couple of short hikes. I really wanted to see the waterfalls in the area. I never seem to tire of photographing water.
The views during the hike were spectacular.
Our first hike was to Treasure Falls. It’s not a very long hike, but really beautiful. Of course, where there’s water, there is always wildlife.
American Robin with a mouthful of moths
Northern Flicker digging for grubs
This year the southwest had experienced a pretty severe draught at the beginning of the summer. Because of this, the waterfalls were pretty thin. But I think they were still beautiful.
Lower part of Treasure Falls
My favorite shot of the entire trip was taken at this waterfall. I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to discover a tranquil pool.
To my delight, I spotted an American Dipper. It’s always a real treat to see one of these birds. I love how they dip and bob along the water’s edge and dive into the pools looking for food.
Looking for goodies in the falling water
The other hike we did was to Silver Falls. Dia was my co-pilot and was responsible for finding the trailhead. She led me on a one-hour 4WD goose chase!!! DIA!!!!! I was so busy stressing over the drive, I didn’t take any photos! LOL!
We finally realized we had driven past the falls. We turned around and found the trailhead. This was also a short hike, but very steep! We followed Silver Creek the entire way. There were small waterfalls along the trail.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the main waterfall. All I can say is WOW! It was spectacular! I think it was about 5 stories tall! The sounds of the falls was almost deafening. I can only imagine what they would look like if it hadn’t been a drought year. Dia and I spent quite some time here enjoying the view and taking a few photos.
Lower portion of Silver Fall
Lower portion of Silver Falls
My beautiful friend Dia
Dia took a picture of me at the falls. I look terrible after a stressful Jeep drive! LOL! My headband says “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care!” 🙂
We spent the rest of the afternoon and the next morning soaking in the pools. It was sooooooo relaxing. We spent some time shopping the great shops on main street before we left town. We found lots of goodies!
On the way out of town I spotted a Black-Billed Magpie. I wish we had these birds closer to home.
When we drove through Chama we spotted a little foal in a pasture along the highway. We just had to stop and say hi.
Dia made new friends fast 🙂
This guy was so new he still has his dried umbilical cord
The drought was about to be over on this trip. The monsoons started in earnest on our drive home. I stopped to take a photo of the storms over Abiquiu Lake. Monsoons in the desert can be very dramatic!
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
All the rain made the Rio Grande turn red.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my lovely weekend at Pagosa Springs! I’m so ready to go back!
While in San Antonio last June, I visited the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s not a very big place, but it’s very unique. This site was initially a limestone quarry that opened in 1840. Many of the buildings in San Antonio during that time were built with the stone from this quarry.
Entrance to the gardens
In 1880 it was changed to a cement quarry. At this time a kiln was added to the site, which still stands today.
Old kiln door
Kiln stack and buildings
Such unique craftsmanship
Living quarters for the laborers
More openings for the kiln
By 1917 the cement plant had shut down. The City Parks department of San Antonio launched a program to convert the old quarry into a Japanese Tea Garden. Prison labor was used to shape the quarry into a complex that included walkways, stone arch bridges, an island and a Japanese pagoda.
Restored pagoda, gardens and pond
What a wonderful idea for an old quarry.
In 1919, at the city’s invitation, Kimi Elzo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, moved to the garden. Him and his wife maintained the garden, lived in the garden and raised 8 children. Kimi died in 1938 and in 1941 the family was evicted from the garden due to the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II.
Arched path built by prison labor
Such beautiful landscaping
Bridge to the kiln stack.
The Japanese Tea House up above.
For years the garden sat in neglect and disrepair, becoming a target of graffiti and vandalism. In 2005 the city started restoration on the pagoda-like pavilion.
The roof was rebuilt in 2005.
In 2007 restoration began to restore the ponds and waterfall.
View from the pagoda
Path to the waterfall.
I loved the waterfall!
All work was completed by 2011. The Jingu family members still alive returned for the public re-opening. In recognition of the garden’s history, it has been designated as a Texas Civil Engineering Landmark, a registered Texas Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walkway from the gardens to the zoo nearby
I am so glad this precious gem of history has been saved and has been restored to its previous glory. It was a wonderful place to visit. So peaceful and beautiful.
I loved walking these paths
If I lived here, I would visit often!
Scarlett enjoyed touring the walkways as well. She was curious of the Koi fish and they looked like they were just as curious.
Scarlett was fascinated by the curious koi 🙂
I love the colorful koi fish
I’m so glad I decided to visit the gardens. I would have been sad if I had never taken the time to see such beauty that has been restored to its former glory.
On Day 2 we hiked to Middle Fork Lake. It was a tough hike. You climb 1200 feet in elevation in 2.5 miles. Pretty steep and that was with switchbacks. But the hike was beautiful. We followed a stream called Middle Fork Red River up the canyon to the lake.
We started the hike at a high elevation of 9,579 feet. It was beautiful right at the parking lot. We parked right next to the stream.
The hike started climbing immediately. Whew! Not much air at 9,579 feet and it got thinner as we climbed. Scarlett didn’t seem to mind though. She was thrilled to be out on a long hike.
Scarlett and Kelly enjoying the hike.
The trail was beautiful. I had to stop off and take photos every time we crossed the stream.
Middle Fork Red River
There were little waterfalls all along the stream.
I loved all the big rocks in the stream.
After about a mile climb, we came to the stream again. And this time there was a big waterfall. Beautiful! I just love waterfalls. There aren’t many in New Mexico, so when you see one, it’s a real treat!
A beautiful waterfall
Rugged and natural
After taking a nice break at the waterfall, the climbing resumed. Whew! The air was definitely getting thinner. My legs were getting tired too. We left the river and it was just one switchback after another. If there wasn’t the lure of the lake ahead, I might have turned around. I hadn’t been on a long, hard hike for several months.
Finally! I made it to the lake. All of a sudden you top a rise and it’s there before you.
Middle Fork Lake
Well worth the effort of climbing to it. The lake sits at 10,819 feet. It’s a gorgeous glacial lake. After standing there for a few wondrous minutes catching my breath, I walked down to the lake and took some scenic pics.
Middle Fork Lake
To my delight there were some Gray Jays there hoping for some treats from visiting hikers. I had almost left my birding lens behind since it’s a very heavy lens. But thankfully I had carried it up the mountain. So I was able to get some nice shots of this cool bird.
After sitting and having a nice lunch, I decided to walk around the lake. Scarlett was thrilled when we came across a patch of snow left over from winter. She had fun rolling and digging in the snow. She was barking and letting everyone know how great it was. LOL! 🙂
Scarlett loved the snow patch!
I took a few more shots of the lake. I was going to try and walk all the way around the lake, but storm clouds were brewing in the distance. I figured I better start heading back down.
Middle Fork Lake
When I got to the waterfall, I decided to try and climb to the upper part of the falls. It was worth the scramble for the beautiful scene.
Above the waterfall
Above the waterfall
The waterfall was beautiful too as the light had changed since I had seen it earlier.
A wonderful part of the hike
Going down the trail was way easier than going up. We made good time working our way down. I let Scarlett have one more fun time in the stream before we got back to the car. She just can’t get enough water.
Scarlett enjoying the water
My happy girl!
I’m so glad I went on the hike. Everyone I hiked with was wonderful. It was definitely worth the effort.
Almost back to the parking lot. Whew!
Stay tuned for my last day at Red River. I will be birding in Eagle Nest! 🙂
I recently went on a hiking trip to Red River, New Mexico. I love Red River. It’s a beautiful mountain town with amazing scenery. New Mexico has been experiencing a severe drought. Many of our forests are being closed to safeguard them from forest fires. I think my trip was timed just before the Carson National Forest is closed.
I drove through Taos and was happy to see Black-Billed Magpies busily hunting for food. I usually get terrible photos of these birds. But on this occasion, I had a very cooperative bird and was able to get some nice photos.
While in Taos I came across several Rock Pigeons enjoying a puddle together. I thought they looked adorable.
Birds of a feather….
Flock together….and enjoy a refreshing bath
I spent 3 days there and thankfully it rained each evening. Hopefully they don’t experience any closures. On Day 1 I drove to Red River and met up with the hiking group at the Columbine State Park trail. This was a nice, easy trail. I climbed about 500 feet in elevation over 2 miles. The trail is along Columbine Creek, which is a lovely little creek.
Scarlett was happy to be on a hike and water to play in! She needed a good hiking trip. She ran and ran and splashed and splashed. But occasionally she used one of the bridges (after she ran through the creek!).
I loved how the trail crisscrossed the creek. It always fun to walk along water – especially in New Mexico.
Only rocks here to cross the water.
There were a few flowers trying to bloom even though we are experiencing a drought. Even a few strawberries were determined to bloom.
I loved the scenery as I climbed. The aspen trees were beautiful in their new leaves.
Quakies as they are called in New Mexico
I came across one area that begged me to take some creative photos. I love how the log crossed the small waterfall. I couldn’t decide which one I liked best….
I liked this area so much, I had someone take a pic of me and Scarlett.
Kelly and Scarlett
There were several small waterfalls along this trail. I’m glad I was wearing my waterproof hiking sandals so I could get in the water for fun photos.
I eventually climbed higher and left the creek below.
Scarlett ran ahead of me most of the time. At one point I didn’t see her so I called her name. The silly girl peeked at me from around a tree. LOL!
Scarlett hiding behind a tree.
I had wanted to hike further up the trail, but a storm cloud had been brewing while I hiked. At one point it started rumbling, so I figured I’d better turn around and head to the condo. Scarlett was happy to run back downhill!
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I passed a small lake on the way to the condo. It must have interesting minerals in the water to give it a beautiful turquoise blue color.
Eagle Rock Lake
Along the road I saw a beautiful little waterfall. I just had to park and climb down the steep incline to photograph it. Totally worth it don’t you think?
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Tune in next time for Day 2. I hiked to a beautiful waterfall and a lake!
In early April I flew to Atlanta to surprise one of my best friends, Kelly, on her 40th birthday. She had no idea I was coming, so it was a wonderful surprise for her.
Her local friends put on a fabulous party for her. It was first class! They even got her an ice sculpture!!! I also stayed up the longest I ever had. I got up at 3:30 am to catch my flight and when I landed I immediately went to the party. Things didn’t wrap up there until 3:30 am and then we had an hour’s drive to Kelly’s house. I don’t think I went to be until after 5 am!
Kelly & Kelly
Me with Bob Dylan – one of Kelly’s favorite artists
Another friend named Angie also flew in to surprise Kelly. The three of us used to work together here in Albuquerque, but eventually Angie and Kelly moved away. Thankfully we have kept in touch and manage to see each other periodically.
The day after the party, the three of us wanted to do something together. But nothing too adventurous since we were slightly hungover and short on sleep. It was a pretty nice day so we decided to visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I’m so glad we went. We strolled and visited and enjoyed beautiful scenery.
The day we were there was the last day of an orchid show. They had over 400 variety of orchids on display. Stunning! I had no idea there were so many varieties!
Angie, Kelly & Kelly
Kelly & Kelly
The show was held in the Conservatory. A very large building that had several types of climates.
Here’s some of the stunning orchids we saw. I could have posted so many more than this! 🙂
I never would have guessed these were orchids.
This one looks like the head of a cobra snake.
Stunning colors and patterns
Touring the conservatory was just amazing. Everywhere you looked, there was something unique. No niche was left without some kind of plant. You wanted to walk through slowly so as not to miss some little treasure.
These strands are roots of plants planted 30 feet above in the ceiling. I loved this!
All of these colors are on one plant.
I thought this looked like the mouth of the Kraken! Arrrgh!!! 🙂
There were many varieties of pitcher plants. Fascinating!
These stripes looked painted on.
Outside, we walked along an elevated footpath that offered stunning views of the gardens and you felt like you were walking in the tree tops.
There were wonderful statues throughout the gardens. One of my favorites was of a bust of a woman. It will be a living statue in the warmer months. But for now, she’s bare but still beautiful.
Fat, lazy frog!
Adorable statue of a boy catching frogs.
I really liked this deer statue.
The living statue. I hope to see this woman transformed with living, blooming plants.
We visited the children’s garden. Kelly hates snakes, she didn’t want to walk on this path. LOL!
A little gnome was trying to get my attention 😉
The grounds were just beautiful. I can only imagine this place in the warmer months. It must be spectacular!
The pink tree is dead. They painted it to give it a second life.
I liked the perfect pine tree
One of my favorite photos was of the English garden area. Just beautiful!
I think we only saw maybe a 1/3rd of the gardens that day. It’s a huge place. It was still pretty cold in Atlanta. But there were a few blooming plants and trees outside.
One of my favorite blooming trees – the Dogwood
Not sure what this flower was, but this is exactly what it looked like. Seriously!!