Waiting Out The Color

Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia
Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

This past weekend, Kathy & I paid a long-overdue visit to one of our favorite day-trip destinations, Chateau Morrisette on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Virginia. Those who know us well understand that most of our favorite destinations involve something to do with food and wine. Chateau Morrisette is one of the largest wineries in Virginia, and also happens to operate an award-winning, AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. Chateau Morrisette has both food and wine!

Our timing worked out that we were able to have a nice dinner, proceed to one of my favorite sunset destinations for photography, and return to the restaurant for dessert before starting the drive home. How hard is that?

Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia
Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

The Saddle Overlook is a few miles north of the winery in an area called Rocky Knob, and is so named because the “saddle” is a low area between the two peaks of Rocky Knob. It has both easterly and westerly views, so depending on the time of day there are frequently interesting things to photograph. Most of my time there has been spent at sunset. The west view has an interesting panorama of the valley and Buffalo Mountain in the distance, but as with most sunset locations it is most interesting when conditions result in a nice sky.

Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia
Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

When we first arrived at the parking area there were a few cars, mostly families returning from an earlier hike and a few people just hanging out in their cars. No obvious overload of photographers like some of the more popular spots in North Carolina. Not too much was happening in the sky, and with a general absence of clouds I knew that the best photographs would likely come after the sun had set.

The parking lot has a really nice view, so it is possible to just sit in the car and watch the sun go down. And I could have simply set my camera up in front of the car so I didn’t have to go far. But preferring to work alone and having been at this place before, I have a favorite spot down the hill and off to the side so I can get out of the way of the “tourists” and generally avoid the chatter that inevitably happens when the “drive-by cell phone photographers” start filtering in right at sunset.

Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia
Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

Things happened pretty much as expected, and as soon as the ball of the sun sunk below the horizon, the engines started firing up, car doors slammed and in 5 minutes the place was practically deserted. Figuring that it was probably safe to retreat to a spot closer to the car before it was too dark to see, I gathered my gear and headed back up the hill toward the car to complete my evening’s work. I set up my tripod again and framed up a few more shots.

Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia
Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

Pretty soon I hear a couple of guys behind me that were looking at the image on my LCD and commenting on the great color I was getting. One guy walked over and started asking me questions and repeated his comment about the nice color I was getting, and I explained that even though it was dark, there was a lot of color in the sky until well after the sun goes down, but that most people miss it because the best color often happens after most people have packed up and left. That they think the sun crossing the horizon is the “main event.” He seemed surprised to hear that but agreed that based on what he saw on my screen it must be true. Seeing is believing! With that, his buddy announced that it was time to go, and he ambled off with a “nice talking to you” and was gone.

I never mind chatting photography with an interested observer. I probably didn’t make a convert, but hopefully I spread a little knowledge. It interests me though the most people just don’t take the time to look, or to think about the things that we photography nuts take for granted.

Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia
Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

A Quick Stop in Abingdon, Virginia

Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia

We made a quick stop in Abingdon, VA on the way from Bristol to Bardstown, KY.  I’m pretty sure I have been in Abingdon at one time or another, but we wanted to check the place out for a potential long weekend visit.

Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia

Of course because there is a train station there – actually two, a freight depot and passenger depot – it gave me a good excuse to stop for a few photos.

Shadows on a stairway in Abingdon Virginia
Shadows on a stairway in Abingdon Virginia

According to my metadata we were stopped for less than an hour, so our stop is hardly representative of what there is to see and do there.  Abingdon has a large arts community and is known as being the home of the Barter Theatre and the Virginia Creeper Trail, and the Appalachian Trail passes close to Abingdon.

Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia
Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia
Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia
Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia

Abingdon is about 3 hours by car, at least the way most people would go, but about 4-5 hours for those who like to take the scenic route.  Definitely close enough for a weekend or even an overnight visit.  We’ve got it on the list for a return!

Abingdon Virginia
Abingdon Virginia
Abingdon Virginia
Abingdon Virginia

Passing Through Bristol

Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.
Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.

On our recent adventure to Kentucky, Kathy & I decided to break up the drive by spending our first night in Bristol – but is Bristol in Tennessee or Virginia?  As it turns out, it is a town in both Tennessee and Virginia!

Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.
Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.
Paramount Theater on the Tennessee side of State Street in Bristol Tennessee
Paramount Theater on the Tennessee side of State Street in Bristol Tennessee

Many folks – including me for a long time – had always thought of Bristol as being in Tennessee.  But the state line runs right down the middle of State Street, so the businesses on the north side are in Virginia while those on the south side are in Tennessee.  And both sides of town have their own city government.  Interesting!

Train Station, Bristol Virginia
Train Station, Bristol Virginia
Train Station, Bristol Virginia
Train Station, Bristol Virginia

What attracted us to Bristol to cause us to decide to stop there?  Well for one thing they have a very nice train station, and there is some interesting history in Bristol, particularly related to the early roots of country music.  We made a quick overnight stop and managed to hit some of the highlights, and now we’re talking about a return visit, when we can spend some more time seeing more of what is there.  It was a nice town to visit and we hope to get back there soon.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol Virginia
Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol Virginia
Sun and shadows on a building along the Virginia side of State Street in Bristol Virginia
Sun and shadows on a building along the Virginia side of State Street in Bristol Virginia
Sun reflecting off windows onto the blank side of the building next door. On the Virginia side of Main Street in Bristol Virginia
Sun reflecting off windows onto the blank side of the building next door. On the Virginia side of Main Street in Bristol Virginia

A Little Carried Away?

Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

Perhaps as self-compensation for not shooting as much as I’d like to do, it seems that I have been loading up on Fuji lenses.  Every time I think I’m done I decide to buy “just one more.”  And I’m perhaps just a little embarrassed to say that I am now up to 8.  Yikes!  I just recently I sprung for the 35mm 1.4 lens.  Going a little bit counter to conventional thought (who, me?), I considered the newer and slightly less costly f2 version in favor of the somewhat dated but still quite worthy older model.  I put it through some initial paces on a quick walk around town this past weekend.  So far I must say I’m impressed and happy with the purchase.

Charlotte Transit Center in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte Transit Center in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Ongoing construction in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Ongoing construction in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Sunset from our back yard
Sunset from our back yard

Alien Abduction!

Late afternoon colors and reflections at the Little Glade Mill Pond Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway MP 230
Another pair of mystery shoes

My buddy Paul has been documenting a strange phenomenon regarding shoes – sometimes pairs but occasionally single shoes – left unexplainably in strange locations.  I have had my own sightings from time to time, and here is the latest.  I have no idea what has happened to the owners of these shoes, but Paul’s theory – and I’m a believer – is that these poor folks have been abducted by aliens.  No idea why the aliens don’t want the shoes – that remains a mystery!

Nothing IS Something

Roy Taylor Forest overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Out of Focus

Kathy & I spent a nice quiet weekend in the Waynesville, NC area last week. It was sort of a birthday celebration but was primarily an excuse to escape the Charlotte heat and get away to the quiet and cool of the mountains. We ate at a few of our favorite restaurants and explored a bit of the area, but mostly we “chilled.”

Remains of a former CCC camp along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Remains of a former CCC camp along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

We had a nice hike in the Smokies along a quiet mountain stream, had a picnic lunch and spent some time at a few overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but nothing especially noteworthy.

Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

At one point while sitting at a picnic table having lunch, one of us remarked at the number of people who come roaring into the parking area, race to the bathroom and barely have time for the car to cool down before they fire it up and race on to the next destination. Once in a while someone would “picnic,” which basically involved carrying their fast food container and half emptied “Big Gulp” over to a table, gobbling down some unrecognizable carbohydrate, then do the same hop back into the car and roar off thing.

Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Along the Kephart Prong Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Turks Cap Lillies along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Rabb Knob overlook
Turks Cap Lillies along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Rabb Knob overlook

We see the same thing happen at an overlook on the Parkway. We’ll be sitting in the car enjoying the quiet and the view, and car after car will drive in, stop without even putting the car in Park, stick an arm or a camera/phone out the window then drive off. Drive-by sightseeing!

Purple bee balm along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Rabb Knob overlook
Purple bee balm along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Rabb Knob overlook
Yellow Coneflowers at Roy Taylor Forest overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Yellow Coneflowers at Roy Taylor Forest overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

One of us mentioned that – if they ever even took the time to notice anyone was there – these people would think we were crazy for just sitting around doing “nothing.” But what they fail to realize that “nothing” is actually “something,” but that too many people don’t bother to think about the benefits of just sitting and enjoying the view!

Road Trippin’

Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina

Kathy & I like to get out of town on weekends, especially taking advantage of some long holiday weekends to stretch our meager PTO (Paid Time Off) allotment.  We did just that over July 4th, visiting (most of) our friends in Belhaven and Washington, NC.  The towns were dressed up in their patriotic best, and we even managed to take in a parade.  I’m saving the parade photos for another post and possibly even my SoFoBoMo project, but here are a few random photos from the weekend.

Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina

With temperatures in the mid to upper 90s here in Charlotte we’ll be taking off again this weekend.  The mountains are calling, as they say…. 🙂

Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Along Water Street in Belhaven North Carolina
Along Water Street in Belhaven North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Bath, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Bath, North Carolina

Wallpaper Two-Fer!

Hudson's Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson’s Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I was getting tired of my desktop wallpaper and decided it was time for something new.  But then I had two photos I really liked and couldn’t decide.  So guess what?  Two for the price of one! 🙂

Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!

Hudson's Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson’s Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Island Time

Ela's Blue Water Grill, Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Ela’s Blue Water Grill, Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Kathy & I recently spent a week at the beach in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  Since we got back I’ve had so much going on that I haven’t had a chance to process and post any photos.  I didn’t take many photos on the beach proper, but did take my camera with me to dinner and other outings.  Here are a few picks from my first pass through the folder.

Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Palmetto Dunes, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson's Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson’s Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson's Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson’s Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson's Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hudson’s Seafood, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Photographs and stuff!