Beautiful Grand Teton National Park

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My son and I at Teton Pass, Wyoming, just outside of Jackson, July 8, 2017

Two weeks ago, my son and I visited Grand Teton National Park.  On our drive to Yellowstone National Park, we drove through Teton Pass; Jackson (Hole), Wyoming, and Grand Teton National Park.

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Grand Teton Mountains, Wyoming, July 8, 2017

The views at all of these locations were beautiful and stunning!  I wish we could’ve spent more time at Grand Teton – we had such a pleasant, if brief, visit there!

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Bison inside Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, July 8, 2017

In Jackson, we stopped at the National Park Visitor Center to shop for souvenirs and T-shirts, and found the staff there to be very pleasant and professional.  Bob assisted me with my purchases.

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What an amazing view! Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, July 8, 2017

Bob’s professionalism and courtesy was of the quality to make customers such as myself want to come back.  Thank you, Bob, for valuing my visit and my interest in these beautiful national parks!

This Wild Weather! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

The Earth's Face (Retrieved from huffington.com, January 16, 2016)

The Earth’s Face (Retrieved from huffington.com, January 16, 2016)

As a society, we must become increasingly concerned about the weather, the environment, our planet, and the sustainability that remains on Earth.  On Christmas Day here in Snellville, Georgia in the United States, the outside high temperature at my home was 76.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  While it was wonderful to enjoy such balmy weather in the winter, we must be reminded that such a temperature is off the chart for this time of year!  Such high temperatures in winter are definitely disturbing and unsettling.  The expected temperature in my area for this time of year is likely between 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, so the 76.5 that was reached recently is definite cause for concern.

During the last week of December 2015, it was so warm at my home that I had windows open and the heat was off.  My heat was off for the entire week – in the last week of December!  Rather than turn on the air conditioning – which I simply was unable to bring myself to do – I believed it a better alternative to allow the outside air to flow through the house by opening some windows.  I’m not sure that Mother Nature knows what is going on either; she definitely appears to be confused!

This brings me to the causes of such wild weather.  If we look back even 100 or 150 years ago, we will see a more substantial amount of forest coverage on Earth.  Last year, my son completed a project about international deforestation, and the information he gathered was shocking!  The Amazon rain forest, as well as old growth forests in Columbia, Canada, the United States, and other countries continue to disappear at alarmingly rapid rates.  When I think of the absence of all of those trees, I also think about the decrease in oxygen produced for our consumption, and the increase in carbon dioxide that also contributes to higher air temperatures and the greenhouse effect.

Pollution and acid rain are other factors that negatively affect our environment, increasing air temperatures and damaging or killing trees, respectively.  The United States is a country that has implemented and done much to enforce laws to decrease pollution being cast into the environment.  While more could be done here, it is already more than what is being done in many other highly populated countries around the globe.  In places such as China, Russia, India, Mexico, and other countries, I wonder what, if any, laws regulating pollution exist or which may be enforced at all?

About 25 years ago, I first visited Eastern and Western Europe, studying in Poland for part of one summer.  I recall that the smog and pollution in Warsaw, Poland hung over the city like a large black cloud.  When I first saw it, I thought it unusual that a rain cloud appeared so low over the ground, and concentrated and immobilized directly over the city.  In the next moment, I realized that it was all of the pollution in the air.  It was incredible!

While washing my hair in the shower in my dorm at Krakow, Poland, it was as if brown dye was coming off of my hair – and I have never dyed my hair!  It was sickening to see and realize the great amount of pollution in which the people in Poland lived.  While I stayed in Poland, I made sure to drink imported, bottled spring water, and to occasionally wash the dirt and grime out of my hair with it, as well.  It is no wonder all of the people who had cancer, miscarriages, and other medical conditions in Poland when they are breathing polluted air, and cooking with and drinking polluted water.  It was definitely angering and saddening to think that I could do nothing about it to help those people.

Further, this brings us to sustainability.  How many more resources remain on Earth to sustain people, plants, animals, and to maintain a healthy and safe environment for all into the future?  It is quite possible that Earth is already beyond it’s carrying capacity.  With average yearly temperatures continuing to increase, the Polar ice caps melting, vast forests disappearing, pollution continuing to devastate the environment, further expansion of the holes in the ozone layer, huge oil spills in the oceans, what will be left, not only for us, but for our future generations?  Will there be future generations that will be able to adequately function and survive on Earth?

We, as a people, have contributed to the destruction of our planet.  We are destroying our beautiful habitat.  So much more must be done to save our planet, but I wonder if it may already be too late?  We all have to do our part.  Sometimes, we may wonder how much one person can do, however I believe it is important to do whatever possible.  One person can recycle as much of their waste as possible – plastics, metals, glass, paper, cardboard.  One person can use less electricity, natural gas, and gasoline.  One person can wear a sweater or use a wool blanket rather than cranking up the heat another notch or two.  One person can take fewer and more economical trips driving a vehicle, combining all errands into one trip rather than several on different days.

Certainly, I do not have the power to enforce laws that regulate pollution or that protect our environment, especially when it comes to big companies.  However, I am one who can say that I have done my part, that I have done as much as possible to preserve the environment, and to teach and encourage others to do the same.  I can encourage children and adults to have an appreciation for the outdoors, to learn about the environment, and to be aware of ways to save and protect it.  I can take responsibility for reducing the pollution and energy use that I cause, and to oversee the recycling efforts of my family.

I have to believe that one person can make a difference, even if it is a small difference.  And, I am a person who lives to make whatever positive difference that I can, not only for myself, but for others, as well.  How will you make a positive difference for our environment, for future generations?  What will you do?  Whatever you will do, do it now, before it’s too late!

Beautiful Soco Falls, near Cherokee, North Carolina (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Soco Falls, Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Soco Falls, Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Just off of Highway 19 on the Cherokee Nation, near Cherokee, North Carolina is the beautiful Soco Falls.  Soco Falls is a double waterfall that is worth the short trail walk of five minutes or less to view.

Beautiful Soco Falls on the Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

Beautiful Soco Falls on the Cherokee Nation, North Carolina, August 2015

The larger waterfall may be viewed from a deck platform that is well-maintained.  The lower waterfall involves a steeper and more slippery trail walk that is easy for a rugged hiker, though I do not recommend it for novices.

When visiting the Cherokee Nation and/or Cherokee, North Carolina, Soco Falls is a definite attraction to view for its refreshing and re-energizing view of nature’s beauty.

The Sweltering Georgia Heat (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Sunrise (Retrieved from http://jkyog-wellness.blogspot.com, July 29, 2015)

Sunrise (Retrieved from http://jkyog-wellness.blogspot.com, July 29, 2015)

Nearly each day during the past four weeks here, outside of Atlanta, Georgia, the sweltering summer sun has been searing at between 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  We enjoyed a cool spring that lasted well into the latter part of May, but are definitely in the midst of the heat of summer now.

Typically, by 10:30 AM, the temperature on our enclosed porch – in which all windows and doors are open – has reached between 80 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.  That is already too uncomfortable to sit and enjoy for too long.  Most days, the Georgia air is so hot and humid that one does not even have to do anything but sit and breathe, and the sweat covers the skin like a wet film.

Thankfully, there is a public pool near my home that my son and I have frequented every summer since we moved here.  While swimming and being in the water is refreshing, on some days, it still feels as warm as bath water.  At least the pool provides some relief to the unforgiving heat because it is just unhealthy to be in it for very long during the day.

So, while I love all of the sunny days that are experienced in Georgia, I definitely dislike the hot, humid heat that makes being outside unpleasant.  In the 15 years that I’ve lived here, this summer has definitely been the hottest and most unbearable.  I fear that summer temperatures will only continue to rise in years to come, what with the out-of-control global warming that is harming our earth.  It’s not getting any better for any of us.

The Beauty of Charlie Elliott State Park in Georgia (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My son at Charlie Elliott State Park, Georgia, May 2015

My son at Charlie Elliott State Park, Georgia, May 2015

Recently, my family and I had the opportunity to fish and enjoy the peaceful, beautiful outdoors at Charlie Elliott State Park with a youth group in which my son is involved.

Partial view of a lake at Charlie Elliott State Park in Georgia, May 2015

Partial view of a lake at Charlie Elliott State Park in Georgia, May 2015

Only about one hour’s drive from our home, Charlie Elliott State Park and its surrounding area reminds me of the rural country in which I grew up outside of Buffalo, New York.  A youth in our group found a turtle and gave it to my son to hold before placing it back in the lake.  And, a man who was fishing there caught a large mouth bass of impressive size!

A happy Georgia fisherman at Charlie Elliott State Park with his large mouth bass, May 2015

A happy Georgia fisherman at Charlie Elliott State Park with his large mouth bass, May 2015

At the park, one can definitely take in all of the natural beauty of the environment.  Getting back to nature is certainly calming and relaxing at the beautiful Charlie Elliott State Park!

Happy Mother’s Day! (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Orange Rose, Snellville, Georgia, May 9, 2015

Orange Rose, Snellville, Georgia, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms, moms-to-be, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and anyone who serves in this blessed maternal role!  Please enjoy this photo of a beautiful orange rose that I snapped yesterday in my neighborhood! 🙂

Flowers and Plants Around my Neighborhood (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Flowering Cherry Trees in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Cherry Trees in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

We have had two or three days of rainy weather within the past week that have really brought out the Spring flowers and plants near Atlanta, Georgia. Floral buds are blossoming with fragrant and beautiful flowers.

Red Camelia in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Red Camelia in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Leaf buds are bursting with fresh, new leaves.  The daffodils are already just about done for this year, however the azaleas are just beginning to bloom.  I saw the first azalea flowers in bloom in my neighborhood today – they are on two red flowering bushes.

First Azalea to Flower in my Neighborhood this Year (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

First Azalea to Flower in my Neighborhood this Year (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Please enjoy this collage of photos of some of the my neighborhood flowers, plants, bushes, and trees springing forth the new life that comes with Spring. 🙂

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Flowering Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

The View from Underneath a Flowering Cherry Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

The View from Underneath a Flowering Cherry Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

A Flowering Fruit Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

A Flowering Fruit Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

A Flowering Shrub in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

A Flowering Shrub in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Holly and Berries in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Holly and Berries in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Patch of Clover in a Neighbor's Yard (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Patch of Clover in a Neighbor’s Yard (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Daffodils in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Daffodils in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Pink Camelias in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Pink Camelias in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Tree Seeds on a Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Tree Seeds on a Tree in my Neighborhood (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

Even the dandelions are out in full force already!

The Yard with the Most Dandelions in my Neighborhood! (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

The Yard with the Most Dandelions in my Neighborhood! (Michele Babcock-Nice, March 23, 2015)

I hope you enjoyed this stroll through my neighborhood, seeing many of the flowers and plants that have sprung forth with new life again this Spring.  I can hardly wait until the azaleas are in full bloom!

Camping in the Great Smokies (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

A Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, July 26, 2014

A Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, July 26, 2014

Summer is a great time of the year for camping, and this summer is no different.  Last week, my son went camping with a group in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  He hiked, cooked, and photographed the outdoors.  There were many beautiful trees, creeks, rocks, plants, and other wildlife to photograph.

Creek Scene in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, July 26, 2014

Creek Scene in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, July 26, 2014

At one point during my son’s camping trip, a mother black bear and three of her cubs walked along the outskirts of the camp.  It was quite an experience for the campers and the bears.  One of the cubs got scared and climbed up a tree.  Thankfully, the bears remained at a safe distance from everyone, and vice versa.

Rocks and Boulders in a Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, July 26, 2014

Rocks and Boulders in a Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, July 26, 2014

My son had a great opportunity for camping in the Great Smokies, and he returned home feeling even more inspired than he already was to conserve nature and protect wildlife.  I’m glad that he had a good experience and was with other campers who were responsible and who looked out for each other.

Thankfully, my son was no longer in the area when lightning storms and tornadoes swept through on the next day, however most of his group remained.  Luckily, everyone was okay.

Note: The photos in this post were taken by my son.

Dogwoods and Azaleas in Full Bloom (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

A couple of days ago, following a heavy, soaking rain in central Georgia near Atlanta, many trees and flowers are now in full bloom, particularly dogwood trees and azalea bushes.  They are really beautiful, and I wanted to share some photos of them here.  Happy Spring!

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Purple Flowers, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Purple Flowers, Snellville, Georgia, April 10, 2014

Pink Azaleas, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Azaleas, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

These are some of my photos of a few of the flowering bushes and trees in my area.  I hope you have enjoyed viewing them!

The Beautiful and Educational Atlanta Botanical Gardens (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My Son at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

My Son at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

Last week, my son and I took an opportunity, through a special event in which we enjoyed a discounted entry, to enjoy the beautiful and educational Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  I had not been there in at least 13-14 years, and had never before taken my son there to visit.  A great opportunity came up, and so, we went!

My Son Near a Cobra Statue at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

My Son Near a Cobra Statue at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

Among the many varieties of flowers in bloom at the Gardens are tulips, daffodils, and pansies.  They were so beautiful, and the fragrance of the miniature daffodils was wonderful!  It was a treat to speak with a number of the volunteers at the Gardens who gave us information about the collections there, as well as about gardening tools and maintenance.

Frogs Housed in the Conservatory at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

Frogs Housed in the Conservatory at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

At the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, we enjoyed presentations about amphibians and deadly plants.  We also walked through the conservatory, and enjoyed viewing and learning about the various species of frogs that are housed there.

The Japanese Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

The Japanese Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

We also enjoyed walking through the Japanese Garden and the Edible Garden, as well as viewing the many picturesque statues and fountains.

My Son Next to a Fountain at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

My Son Next to a Fountain at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Georgia, March 2014

In all, my son and I were at the Gardens for about two hours.  Even though it was wet and rainy during our visit, we had a great time.  After all, Spring is here, and with it, comes needed rain!  Visiting the Gardens was also a great way to start Spring Break.