Jenn had to work this day, so after I dropped her off I went exploring in her car. Her co-worked had recommended the U.T. Arboretum as you get into Oak Ridge, so I headed there. It was wonderful! I took a walk through beautiful green forests and gardens and took tons of photos. I really appreciated the fact that many of the trees and plants were labeled! I finally learned what a couple of the trees were that we saw in North Carolina two years ago.
The forest is lovely, but when you look closely, you find all sorts of beautiful details, too. I don’t know what these little beauties are called. So much to learn…
I came to the dogwood tree area. I never realized there were so many different kinds of dogwoods. Some were blooming, some were past blooming, and some had no blooms at all. We had seen some dogwoods along the highway on the way to Knoxville. They really stand out with those large, white (usually) blossoms. There were a few varieties that had pointed blossoms, such as this one.
I kind of liked how this picture looked in black and white. They had a large number of junipers, as well. I grew up with junipers in the yard, but once again, never knew there were so many varieties; some hugged the ground, some grew into trees, and others in between. There was a valley area full of rhododendrons. The Southern Appalachian Mountains are also known for the rhododendrons. This is the best place to see them because there are so many varieties and they’re labeled! The labels make you feel like an expert. (“Oh yes. That’s a Holden Rhododendron.”)
The blossoms were a bit bedraggled from the recent rains, but still colorful. Throughout the entire 2+ hour walk I was continually awed by the various greens. Everything was green, except for the flowers. One area was dedicated to azaleas, which, as I learned, are in the rhododendron family. Ahhhh!
There were bushes with blossoms of all colors plus bumble bees and butterflies. I finally had to leave. My stomach and head were telling me it was way past lunchtime. I grabbed a quick sandwich at a Subway in town, then headed to the local visitor center. I didn’t know what I wanted to see in Oak Ridge, but felt it needed to be explored. My mom worked there for two years during the war, when it was the “secret city.” I stopped at Jackson Square, which was the town’s original shopping center (it’s really a “U”). There are still shops there and I bought a book on Oak Ridge in one of them. This shot is one of the legs of the U. It was pretty quiet when I was there, but it was a weekday.
From there I headed west out of town, hoping to find the overlook to one of the plants that I remembered us stopping at with the kids way back in 1990. I had to go up and down the highway a few times before I finally found it. It sure didn’t look the same, but there is an overlook of the K-25 uranium separating plant (not still in operation). I still had a bit of time before I had to head back to pick up Jenn, so I drove back up the highway again to a turn off for a boat ramp that I’d seen. It took me to the Clinch River, which was wide and calm.
After picking up Jenn, we went back to her place so she could change, and then had dinner out of town at a steak house (I’m forgetting the name at the moment). It was raining when we got there, but we ran through the rain and ducked inside and had a delicious dinner. We had to bring some of it home, though. Interesting thing about Knoxville and Knox County. It’s a dry county, which means no liquor sales, except for in the city limits of Knoxville. Oh yes, and except for beer. So, I couldn’t have a glass of wine with dinner since the restaurant was outside of the city limits. Weird. Rather than come straight home, we decided to take a different route home. That we did! It was definitely the loooonnng way home, but I got to see a little more (although most of that was in the dark and the rain). We started heading up the hill towards the Great Smokey Mountains for a bit before we realized we were heading the wrong way. Long day for Jenn, especially. It was nice to get home, get dry, and cuddle with her very soft kitty, Kacie.