Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains


When I went to Milmont, I didn’t take the back roads this time, but I-64 instead. I exited where the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses I-64 in Waynesboro, VA. It is a beautiful drive, and for years I have stopped when traveling back home at either the Parkway, where I often take a drive, or at the two scenic overlooks on I-64. WhenI stopped this last time, I took a few photos that show why I so enjoy the trip. I will likely be that way again soon, and hope to take some photos when the trees are at at peak color.

This is just past the entrance to the Parkway in Waynesboro.

See the smoke. Some weather weenie already had a fire going to chase away the early morning chill, although for me this is perfect weather.

There was no sun that day, but this overcast sky is often the way it looks.

When the mountains are all green during the summer, KBJ refers to them as Broccoli. It is really pretty accurate.

At the scenic overlook closest to Charlottesville, is a Memorial to VDOT workers. It is very nice and a reminder of what it sometimes unfortunately costs in terms of human lives to build and maintain our roads.

Each year nationally, there are more than 100 DOT worker fatalities in road work zones.

It’s quite striking when the trees and daylilies are all in bloom, or when the background trees have all turned bright autumn colors.

Have you ever wondered why the Blue Ridge Mountains, and several others across the world appear blue? Here is the answer, courtesy of Blue Ridge Outdoors.

You might as well ask me why the sky is blue, Irene Soderquist. Actually, you are, in a way. The two questions are not as far apart as you might think. The famous blue haze suffusing the Blue Ridge Mountains is not an actual mist but rather a combination of physics, chemistry, and biology. It’s all a matter of perception when you get right down to it.

First, a physics lesson. Thanks to Sir Isaac Newton, we know that the white light from the sun is really a combination of several different colors. One of the first science experiments many of us perform as children is to use a prism to separate the colors of light into a spectrum. When the colors of light form a spectrum, they always arrange themselves in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (remember ROY G. BIV?). These are the colors visible to the human eye. Each color has a different wavelength, with red having the longest, and violet, on the other end of the spectrum, having the shortest.

A quick detour into biology tells us that the color receptors, or cones, in the retinas of our eyes respond best to the wavelengths of three colors of light-red, green, and blue. This reception is what gives us our color vision.

So why doesn’t the sky appear red to us? We can thank Lord Rayleigh, who in the 1850s, explained why. He found that solar light passing through the atmosphere is broadly scattered before our eyes perceive it. Light passing through a medium containing small particles scatters the shorter blue wavelength more strongly than the red. This selective scattering is now known as Rayleigh scattering.

Later scientists (including Alfred Einstein, who settled the matter in 1911) concluded that the small molecules of oxygen and nitrogen in the air are more effective at scattering shorter wavelengths of light-the blue and violet end of the spectrum. Since our eyes are not as sensitive to violet, the sky appears blue when you look up through the prism of air that constitutes our atmosphere.

But you asked why our mountains-which are made up of many colors-appear blue. The blue-sky principle still holds: when you view a dark, solid object, such as a mountain, from a distance, the scattered light makes it appear blue. Yet the distinct blue haze of the Appalachians can also be attributed to the thick vegetation that blankets the slopes. Tiny hydrocarbon particles, including terpenes from pine trees, are released by plants. The particles react with natural ozone molecules to produce a hazy effect over the mountains. Again, the small size of the particles means that the light scatters blue. The Blue Ridge is not unique in this respect. This effect occurs in other mountain ranges around the world, including the Blue Mountains in Australia.

Unfortunately, man-made particles have entered the picture. It’s no secret that, due to air pollution, visibility in the Blue Ridge has degraded significantly in the last 50 years. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide particles from coal-burning power plants, other industry, and from automobiles, mix with the ozone to form a grayish haze that reduces visibility. Sulfate haze may even interfere with the natural terpenes released by certain trees, further diffusing the blue color of the mountains. Unless we continue to improve our air quality, perhaps the Blue Ridge Mountains will be known to future generations as the Gray Ridge. Somehow, that doesn’t connote quite the same air of beautiful mystery.


I received email requests to see photos of Sutton, before and some after, so here is an update. He has settled in and is doing fine. He seems like he was someone’s pet at one time, as he appears housebroken, and well behaved. In fact, he wants more than anything to just be in the house with us.

Photo taken at the shelter. Looking pretty rough. Unfortunately, when I picked him up, they were in the process of shaving him on his neck and shoulder down to the skin. I was too late, although I had them stop, because I thought I could remove the remaining mats without shaving him. They meant well, but it will take considerable time for that coat to grow back.

He was very good in the tub, and I think he must have been groomed before. You can kind of see where he is shaved to the skin on his neck and shoulder area.

He wasn’t so sure about the power blower, although he was ok with it after a minute. On the table I used a regular hair dryer instead.



Seems one of my readers, who happens to be a friend as well, had an old boyfriend with the name Sutton, and he wasn’t a nice guy and wishes we would change it! We are just fostering him, so maybe for now it’s Button?

That’s it. Thank you for reading and tomorrow back to design. Laters,   charisse







  1. Victoria Moores

    OMG Gorgeous photos!!! I was unaware of the VDOT memorial. Thank you for including that. I will certainly remember
    them now while driving. Sometimes we forget to remember……
    As for Shaggy Baby, what a precious, sweet, happy face! He is a Lucky Button for sure!!! I just want to squeeze a hug onto him. You are a saver of lives, Charisse, in many ways. Be blessed, Love, Victoria

    • To save a dog for me has been an experience through so many emotions, rewarding, but often frustrating, sometimes so sad,but most times The animals’ story has a happy endings. And every time I learn from a dog…..every time. Carole and I worked well together and saved Newfs that otherwise would have most likely have been euthanized. I miss working and visiting together now that we live so far apart. Last night I found out that Button has a home already approved!

  2. BUTTON is absolutely gorgeous…a giant sized Bling in color. Wish I could take him but I know what Bud would say. Hope he gets his forever home soon! Thanks for the name change!

  3. Love, love the beautiful pics of your drive. Can’t wait to see them with a bit of fall color. Bless you for saving Button! What a doll .

    • Thanks Sally. The colors are just starting to change, but will be at least a couple of weeks. Button is cute, even without much coat, and smart as a whip. Someone will get a special pup, but then again, they are all special in their own way, aren’t they?

  4. Thank you! Button looks a different dog…your an angel to so many helpless animals, huge hug to you….and awesome photos as always, so proud to live in this beautiful part of the world……

    • This is a beautiful place to reside. The US really has such amazing and varied landscapes. Buttons continues to thrive and once he grows some coat back will be quite handsome, although when I look into his eyes, he is already beautiful. Thanks Kim, I get more out of helping these animals than you can imagine. They teach me lessons about life more than you can imagine.

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