Category Archives: Travel

Sidetracked

 

Barista at Caviar & Bananas in Charleston, South Carolina
Barista at Caviar & Bananas in Charleston, South Carolina

I’ve been away, but I haven’t gone far.  We’ve had a few things going on over the last couple of months that disrupted the little bit of posting momentum that I had back in January.  I forced myself to spend a little time on the computer to process a few photos and throw a few words onto the blog so everyone knows I still love them!

Tree and brick wall, Charleston, South Carolina
Tree and brick wall, Charleston, South Carolina

A few weeks ago – seems like months – Kathy & I visited Charleston, SC for a weekend.  February probably isn’t the ideal time to visit Charleston, and the particular weekend that we went was cold and windy.  We spent a lot of time dashing from shop to shop, looking for shelter from the cold, and even dodged a little rain & snow on the first day there.

Charleston County Courthouse, Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston County Courthouse, Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a photogenic town whenever you visit.  I did some photographing while we were there, and while I certainly didn’t capture the “classic” Charleston, I feel like I captured what I saw and felt while we were there.  Add some color from a few flowers and trees, a little warmer weather and the results would be totally different.

Stairs and shadows, Charleston, South Carolina
Stairs and shadows, Charleston, South Carolina

One of the things that has kept me off the computer is a little “reading project” that I got myself into.  When we took our cruise in January, I decided that I wanted to read the Harry Potter series.  I had never read any of the books, never saw the movies, and our kids were too old by the time the books became popular for them to bring “Potter-itis” into our home.  So I got the first volume as an e-book from the library before we left, started in on it, and I got hooked.  I quickly finished the first book while onboard, and quickly downloaded the second volume.  I just finished #5 of 7 and decided it was time for a little break.  It’s great reading, but it sucked me in and wouldn’t let go!

Wrought iron shadows, Charleston, South Carolina
Wrought iron shadows, Charleston, South Carolina

We’re headed to “The Other Charleston” this coming weekend – Charleston, West Virginia.  We’re meeting Bill & Cathy, our friends from Ohio, there to make some travel plans for this coming summer.  I’ll definitely have a camera with me and hope to have some time to wander around, so I’ll be interested to see what that Charleston has to offer.

A B C D - Door bells, Charleston, South Carolina
A B C D – Door bells, Charleston, South Carolina

Snow Day

Random photos in St Thomas USVI from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox
Random photos in St Thomas USVI from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox

Considering that last Friday I was enjoying a sunny and warm day in St. Martin, I didn’t have much hope that today would be a better day.  But with the forecast of impending inclement weather, my office closed at noon.  What a deal!

One of the things that is interesting – and sometimes frustrating – about living in a place where it hardly ever snows, is that no one really knows what to do when the weather gets “bad.”  Those of us from up North, at least for a few years after moving here, scoff at the locals who run out for milk and bread and prepare to hibernate until the temperature gets above freezing.  After a few years we realize that we also don’t remember how to drive on ice and decide it’s a good excuse to stay home, or go home if we are out.

Random photos in St Thomas USVI from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox
Random photos in St Thomas USVI from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox

The difficult decisions are for the schools and for the parents who have kids in school.  I hadn’t been at work for 5 minutes this morning when I heard a couple of Mommies wringing their hands about how bad the weather was going to be.  Then at about 8:00 we got a little bit of sleet and freezing drizzle, and the brave talk about hanging around until noon was gone.  The schools went from dismissing 2 hours early, to dismissing at noon and then “we’re closing NOW!”  And the roads weren’t even bad, although they look a little slimy out there as I write this.

Rope shadows on Celebrity Equinox in St Thomas, USVI
Rope shadows on Celebrity Equinox in St Thomas, USVI

I’ll take a little time off however I can get it.  And I’m obviously putting it to good use – writing a blog post and processing a few photos.  Some of my favorite activities!

I hope everyone has an excellent last weekend of January.  Spring is right around the corner – sunny and warmer tomorrow!

Random photos in St Thomas USVI from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox
Random photos in St Thomas USVI from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox

Home Again

Sunset aboard Celebrity Equinox, somewhere in the Atlantic
Sunset aboard Celebrity Equinox, somewhere in the Atlantic

I’ve been away for a little while, but it looks like everyone has behaved.  Kathy & I just returned to Charlotte from Fort Lauderdale, disembarking our cruise ship this morning after 10 days in the Caribbean.  Sitting in the airport this morning, I looked at the weather forecast and thought seriously about hopping the flight to San Juan instead. 🙂

I’ll have some photos to post once I get them downloaded and processed, but for now here’s one I took with my tablet and processed with Snapseed.  The Nexus 10 has a pretty decent camera, but it’s a little tough to hold a tablet still in the breeze on the deck of a moving ship.  The colors are a little juicy, but that’s the whole point of Snapseed, right? 🙂

I had intended to post this from the airport this morning, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the photo into the post from my tablet.  Strange.  I guess I’ll need to do some research.

More Snow….

Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

As I sit here on a beautiful North Carolina day, middle of December, trying to decide whether I need a coat to take a walk this afternoon, I thought I’d post a few more photos from our Thanksgiving weekend adventure to eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.  These were all taken in the vicinity of the Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge near Reynolds, PA.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

Reality Check

Kidd’s Mill Covered Bridge, Reynolds, PA

Kathy & I spent a quiet and relaxing (except for the drive home) extended Thanksgiving weekend in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania visiting family and friends.  As is my usual habit, I spent minimal time perusing the interwebs or watching television, so I enjoyed a blissful 5 days away from all of the messages telling me what I was supposed to be doing, buying or worrying about.  Fortunately I returned to work today, so I was able to get my 5-minute daily dose (aggregated from all my visits to the break room during the day) of television “news,” so I am now up to speed again.  Fiscal Cliff, blah-blah, Black Friday, blah-blah, Cyber Monday, blah-blah, Petraeus (or not Petraeus), blah-blah, Egypt, blah-blah, football, blah-blah, William and Kate, etc.

Somehow all of that stuff pales in comparison to cherished and overdue time with loved ones.  I hope you all had time to spend with yours.

Fall in Roanoke

Along for the Ride

I’m getting back around to working on some photos from earlier this fall.  In no particular order, just whatever my attention span allows me to concentrate on!

Hotel Roanoke and Railroad Tracks
Corned Beef & Company

I had mentioned in a previous post that Kathy & I had decided to spend our fall weekends differently than we have the past few years.  Rather than chasing color up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway (something we enjoy but have grown a little weary of) we spent a weekend in Florida at a jazz festival, a weekend in Roanoke, VA visiting friends, and a weekend in which I took photos at a recreated pioneer village and photographed some kids.  That was a different fall for us, indeed.

Steven

Kathy & I have had an attachment to Roanoke since spending a single night there very early in our marriage.  I don’t even remember for sure what we did, where we stayed or where we ate, but we’ve always had good memories of our short time there, and have wanted to go back and spend some time.  This year we got to go to Roanoke twice.  Of course it was made easier because we have good friends there.  We go to see Steven and Cheryl, and just like us, they enjoy wandering around town, taking random photographs, shopping and eating.  What a deal!

Free!

We’ve found a nice historic hotel right in the downtown area that is walking distance to just about everywhere.  We can literally park the car and enjoy the weekend without having to drive.  Although this visit we did spend a little time exploring the countryside, visiting a winery and one of Steven & Cheryl’s favorite restaurants, which is now also one of our favorite restaurants!

Bright yellow leaves of Ginko Biloba trees celebrate fall in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Orange!

One of my objections to the constant driving we have done in previous years is that I get tired of driving.  And I get really tired of traffic.  Kathy drives sometimes, but my creativity seems to suffer when I view the scenery from a moving vehicle, regardless of who is driving.  And the addition of crowds just makes it harder.

Missing shutters

The other thing with fall is that it’s often very hard to find really interesting scenes.  Fall color gives the impression of being interesting because everything is a different color, but in actuality it is much harder to make an interesting photograph in the fall because of the color.  Much of what we see in the fall is just as boring as it is in the summer, it’s just a different color.  My opinion, anyway.

Open and Shut

Fall happens everywhere, not just in the mountains.  And it’s not just colored leaves that make up fall.  The air is crisp and cool, the light is warm and contrasty, and a lot of interesting things happen in the fall, such as festivals, concerts and farmer’s markets.  So my goal was to find and photograph fall in different places.  I think it was a successful approach, and in many ways I think am happier with the results than I’ve been from those in previous years.

Shadow and block

Time for Reflection

Boat Reflections on Far Creek, Englehard, North Carolina

Kathy & I are visiting Belhaven, North Carolina this weekend.  One of our many favorite weekend destinations, Belhaven is ideally situated near a lot of places that I love to photograph.  And this weekend has proven – once again – the advantage of returning time after time to some of the same places.

Boat Reflections near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

The weather has been perfect “Chamber of Commerce” weather.  Clear, blue sky with no clouds to be found anywhere.  Well, there were a few around late this afternoon, but not enough to make a meaningful difference in the weather forecast.  A little tough for photography, but not if you know where to look.  And I had a pretty good idea where to look!

Boat Reflections near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

I love shooting the boats around Swan Quarter and Englehard.  I never get tired of going there, and these are especially good places in the late afternoon on these clear days when I know there will be golden light if I am patient enough.

Once the sun was low enough that the boats were cast in shadow we headed back down the road to Lake Mattamuskeet to see what like of post-sunset color we might find.  We found a little, and it was quite nice.

Cypress Trees at Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina
Cypress Trees at Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina

One of the advantages of an early sunset is a little more time to spend processing photos, so I have broken from my usual routine to process a few photos from this afternoon and get them online the same day.  I’ll have a few more once we get home and I get them processed on my regular computer.

Sunset at Lake Mattamuskeet near Englehard, North Carolina

Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

I really love fall because it is a great time to travel and take photographs.  But the hard part about fall is that we do a lot of traveling and take a lot of photographs!  I was already a few weeks behind on processing my photos from the last two weekends, and then this weekend I went and took another 1,000 or so photographs, so I’m even behinder now than I was before.  But we’ll slow down a bit in November and December, so with any luck I’ll have some time to get caught up on my processing and my writing.  Wishful thinking, perhaps, but that’s the plan.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

Over the weekend of 10/19-10/21 we headed to Roanoke, VA to spend time with our good friends Steven and Cheryl.  One of the things I had been looking forward to was visiting their Farmer’s Market, which is right downtown, in the Market Square area.  There is a block-long section of street that has been permanently set up for local farmers and craftspeople to display and sell their goods.  It was quite an experience, and for me it was a real photographic treat.  And all I did was shoot vegetables!  I could have make an entire day photographing people, although many of them were not nearly as photogenic as the food. 🙂

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

I’ve not spent a lot if time at farmer’s markets, although I certainly need to do more of it.  The quality of food for sale is much better than that found at even the better local grocery stores.  Most if it is truly local, and you can be pretty sure that whatever you buy was picked just a few days before you bought it.  We always tell ourselves that we don’t buy enough produce to make it worth the trip, but I think there’s a lot to be said for buying fresh and for buying local.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

The fall colors were coming into their own while we were there, and I’ll try to follow up with another post on that subject in the next few days.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia
Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

I have a number of friends who seem to be able to race home and see who can be the first to process and post photos from their weekends, but I don’t seem to be able to come close to that, so I don’t care to waste much effort trying to compete.  In the mean time I’m currently trying to download and process another batch of photos from our two latest adventures.  One of them was for a paying client today, so I’ll have to give those photos a higher priority.  But I’ll get back to these soon, so stay tuned.

Farmer’s Market in downtown Roanoke, Virginia

Special thanks to Riverstone Organic Farm from Floyd, VA for allowing me to shoot their vegetables!

Something A Little Different

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

Most of my nature photography friends headed off to the mountains this weekend in search of fall color.  Based on early reports and a few “brag” photos I’ve seen online, fall is in full swing in the High Country.  Kathy & I headed a little different direction this year – actually a complete 180-degree direction – and opted for warmer climes, and for a good reason.  We headed to Amelia Island, Florida, primarily to attend the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, but also because October is a great time to visit Amelia Island.

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

While the photographers up on the Blue Ridge Parkway were more than likely looking at morning low temperatures in the 30’s, we were walking around in shorts and sandals enjoying comfortable upper-70s with little humidity and mostly clear skies.  That in itself was a clear change of pace for us, and as far as I’m concerned (and Kathy agrees!) was a welcome change.  Fall is not necessarily all about fall color, and more and more I’m finding that colder weather isn’t necessarily my first choice.  Plus, what that heck?  A little change is good!

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

I don’t have any photos from the jazz festival itself because photography wasn’t permitted, but we enjoyed the music of a number of big name musicians, capped off by the jazz of David Benoit on Friday night and the sounds of Spyro Gyra on Saturday night.  The festival itself is pretty new, and even with these big name acts there were only about 400 people in attendance each night, so that made the who experience very pleasant.  That made the trip worthwhile even without all of the other things we were able to do.  We met up with some friends that live there and had a nice lunch with them, we ate some good food and drank some nice wine.  We had a nice relaxing time and even managed to get in a little photography.

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

The main town on Amelia Island is Fernandina Beach.  We stayed right in town and could walk just about everywhere except the festival itself, which was a 20-minute drive but we only went there in the evenings.  The rest of our time was spent walking around town and the city marina.

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

Fernandina Beach is a vibrant little town, with a number of interesting shops and some excellent restaurants.  We didn’t get to investigate the restaurants as much as we would typically do because of the concerts, but we did get to try several places and look forward to a chance to go back.

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

This coming weekend we are doing something a little more traditional and heading up north to Roanoke, Virginia.  But we’re hoping to enjoy the town of Roanoke, the farmer’s market there and in general the sights and sounds of the area, mixed in with a little fall color.  Again, something a little out of the normal routine for us, but still something with a fall flavor.

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

So yes, I’ll be putting the warm weather clothes away for a while.  At least until January, when it might just be time to head someplace warm again!

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

An Early Fall Getaway

Morning light and clouds at Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413

Kathy & I had a last-minute chance to take off to the mountains this past weekend and meet up with some friends.  There are definitely signs of color in some spots, primarily the higher elevations.  We didn’t spend a lot of time photographing, preferring instead to explore the towns of Waynesville and Sylva.  I did manage to crawl out of bed early on Saturday for an attempt at sunrise, but we left with no evidence that the sun had risen other than the fact that the sky got lighter.  We did end up seeing some sun later in the day and on Sunday, but for the most part things were on the cloudy and foggy side.

Like many weekends in the mountains, this was one of widely variable conditions.  We found sun in some spots, were totally socked in with fog in some spots.  We discovered fall color in some places, while in others summer was still holding on tight.  We stopped by a waterfall along one of the side roads and in 15-20 minutes didn’t see a car, while earlier on the Parkway traffic was starting to get busy.

Waterfall on West Fork Pigeon River, Route 215 Lake Logan Road, Pisgah National Forest

I’m still struggling to find my photographic “groove” and I didn’t help myself much this weekend.  I guess I’ve just allowed myself to get out of practice.  It has been a crazy year so I have a good excuse, but it’s frustrating to feel so out of it, creatively.  I’m back on the upswing though, and am confident that I’ll get things back on track over the next month or so.

All in all we had a great weekend.  Good food and good times with friends are tough to top!

City lights of Hendersonville, NC shine through the pre-dawn fog from Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413.

***

 I love the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it is one of my favorite places to visit any time of the year, especially in the fall.  But more and more I find myself struggling with the sheer number of people that head for the Parkway when the leaves start to peak.  In particular I’m bothered by what appears – to me at least – to be an increase in the irresponsible behavior and lack of respect that some drivers have.  This past weekend I witnessed a number of “bad apple” drivers, in particular motorcycle riders, doing stupid and reckless stunts.  Passing on curves and in no-passing zones, tailgating and intimidating drivers who weren’t going fast enough to suit them.  It really takes away from the peaceful experience that I have always gone to the Parkway for.  I understand that not everyone goes to the Parkway for peace and quiet, but when the antics of a few people manage to wreck the experience it is hard to tolerate.

I had already made plans to experience fall in other places this year, but after this past weekend and some similar experiences last year, I think I’m going to wait until I have time to plan my visits in mid-week to hopefully avoid most of the crazies.  I realize that most drivers and riders are careful and responsible, and that for the most part their biggest offense is making a lot of noise, but I think I’ll wait and head back in November and December, when only the most hardy adventurers are willing to brave the elements.

Morning light and fall color at Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413

Fall happens everywhere, and I think my goal for this year will be to find Fall in some of the less-discovered places!  We’ve got some interesting adventures coming up, so stop by again soon to see what we’ve been up to.

Morning light and fog at Pounding Mill Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 413