One of My Best 2023 Photographs to Date (plus beautiful views from around Falls Lake)

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills…

Deuteronomy 8:7
– at Falls Lake Monday morning

Today I’m going to write in the “Travel Blog” genre. Sure, we live right here in Wake Forest, but sometimes it helps to look through my tourist lenses and take a look around.

The “Falls Lake” complex of recreation areas stretches all the way from Wake Forest to north of Durham; it features over 12,400 acres of water and is surrounded by 25,600 acres of undeveloped public lands.

The dam, the huge plug of concrete that holds the whole thing together, is right at the edge of Wake Forest.

So Monday morning, responding to the allure of brilliant sunshine, 55-degrees, and a nice breeze, Max and I headed out to the parking area below the dam so we could take a two and a half mile hike as well as a few photographs.

Just a few hundred yards into our walk we clambered down to the river to take the picture I have pasted here. It was just a short hop to the long flat rock you can see at the left so I planted my foot and tugged on Max’s leash to follow.

– Eastern Diamondback (image from the Internet)

Just as I launched I looked down and saw the biggest, fattest, longest rattlesnake I have ever laid eyes on! It had, of course, been sunning on the rock. Somehow I stopped in midair, gasped, and retreated. Then – after my heart started beating again – I double checked the pattern on its back and sized up the dimensions before it slithered off into the trees.

The reptile was at least six feet long (he covered 90% of the width of the rock, which I then measured at 7-ft.) and three to four inches across in the middle. Definitely a close call I don’t want to repeat.

The Dam:

– Looking from the Falls Lake dam down the River Neuse. North Carolina Piedmont at its best

Max and I hiked the trail all the way up to the top of the dam. The wind was blowing, the air was fresh and invigorating, and the views were spectacular.

Looking around, over the lake, the river, the wildflowers, and the rolling Piedmont, I felt a deep sense of gratitude – yet again – that Rebekah and I live here in North Carolina and especially Wake Forest.

Max could not have been happier. He sniffed the air, gleefully greeted other dogs, and walked with a strut, tail sweeping and high in the air. I don’t know what level of cognition Golden Retrievers have, and I have no science to back this up, but I absolutely believe that Max is grateful too.

Here is a short (43-seconds) video, it manages to take in a little more of the scene than my still photographs and my words. Then I have one more comment to wrap up. There is a second video (30-seconds) after the gallery.

A Gift and a Trust:

This Good Earth is a gift, a trust, a phenomenal and beautiful resource that has been placed in our care.

I know I should think about this more, and I understand that I am complicit when it comes to misusing the privilege, but when I am in the outdoors like today it all comes rushing at me, like water over a dam, and I can’t help but get excited about the glory of creation.

When Wake Forest asked Rebekah to come to North Carolina and be their pastor they could have used this scripture as the opener on their formal offer: “Rebekah,” it could have read, “the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land – a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing into the valleys and hills….”

Breathing in the good air and loving this state – DEREK


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