Tag Archives: North Carolina

First-Class Glass

Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

No, I’m not talking about camera lenses OR airline travel!  I’m talking about beautiful, hand-crafted glass like that found at Lexington Glassworks in Asheville, North Carolina.

Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

I had intended to write this post a while back, but it sort of got lost in the shuffle of fall and the holidays.  During our visit to Asheville for our 40th anniversary, Kathy & I visited Lexington Glassworks during one of our walks around town.  We’ve visited Lexington before, and have acquired only a small amount of their glass, given the number of times we’ve been there, but it is one of those places we just have to visit whenever we are in town.

Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

One of the many cool things about Lexington is that they openly encourage picture taking.  I asked anyway, just to be polite, and the girl we talked to was very nice about it.  Sure, she said, let me know if you have any questions or need help.

Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

The larger pieces are stunningly beautiful, and the reason we don’t have more is that we just don’t have a suitable place to display things like that.  We have some shelves on order which will hopefully rectify that situation, although after buying the shelves we’ll need to re-stock the souvenir fund to buy more things to put on them! 😉

Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

Partially-related question: I post photos to Instagram through my Firefox browser, using a well-known workaround that “fools” Instagram into thinking I am on a mobile device.  I’ve taken the app off all of my mobile devices.  With the app I used to be able to create a post with multiple photographs, but can’t seem to find a way to do it through the browser.  Anyone have any experience with this?  I’d like to be able to share these photos in a single post and tag the company’s page, rather than post them individually, which makes for a really annoying feed!

Lexington Glass on display at Capella on 9 rooftop bar and tapas restaurant at the AC Hotel by Marriott Hotel in downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glass on display at Capella on 9 rooftop bar and tapas restaurant at the AC Hotel by Marriott Hotel in downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Lexington Glassworks Studio in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

All Used Up

Long-abandoned truck chassis along the Mount Holly Trail

I spotted this old relic during our walk a few days ago.  It might make for an interesting photo study, except for the fact that it sits at the very end of the 1.5-mile trail!

I keep thinking that this would make a decent black & white image, but I haven’t come up with a version I’m happy with.  When I take the color out the tones are all the same and the image looks like a flat, jumbled mess.  I’ll keep working with it to see what I can do, but in the meantime I like the color version just fine!

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

Kathy & I were recently looking for someplace different to walk besides the sidewalk between our neighborhood and the main drag, and decided to explore the Mount Holly Trail at nearby Mountain Island Park.  Walmart and Micky D’s are only so scenic!

Parking area and playground for the Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mountain Island Hydroelectric Facility in Mount Holly, North Carolina

The park is located next to the Mountain Island Hydroelectric plant at the south end of Mountain Island Lake, just outside the town of Mount Holly and only about 8 miles from our neighborhood.  The park contains a large parking lot with fishing area, small playground and hiking/biking trails.  We walked the 1.6-mile trail to the end and back, which made for a nice afternoon.

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

The trail is mostly an easy walk for anyone in reasonably good walking shape.  There are a few hills, mostly on the far end from the parking area.  A portion of the trail surface close to the parking area is pretty coarse gravel, which makes for rough walking for a bit.  This area of the trail is close to the river, and I would guess it floods occasionally, thus the need for heavier base.  We were there on a dry day without a lot of heavy preceding rain, and there were a few muddy places along the trail.  Overall the trail is in very good shape, but I would suggest sturdy shoes.  The woods should be very pretty as the trees and vegetation green up in the spring.

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

We were there on a Wednesday in January, so there was not much traffic, mostly couples and people with dogs.  We saw a few mountain bikers on main trail as well as the adjacent mountain bike trails as it got later in the day, but not too bad.

Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

We’re hoping to explore some more walking & hiking areas over the coming months, and I will report on them here for anyone who is interested.  Or anyone who just wants to see the photos!

Tom’s Trail Summary:
Length: 1.6 miles to the end, or 3.2 miles round trip.  There are several options for shorter loops, or out-back for a shorter distance is possible.
Terrain: Mostly flat with occasional hills
Surface: Mostly dirt with a few gravel places.  Recommend sturdy shoes like hiking boots.
Comments: The trail is shared with mountain bikers and dog walkers.  No motorized vehicles.  Pleasant walking along the Catawba River.  Should be pretty in the spring as trees and plants green up.  I tried to find a link to a trail map but could only find a Google Map to the parking area!
Mount Holly Trail at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly, North Carolina

 

Another Sunrise…With A Bonus!

Aerial demonstration of birds over Mountain Island Lake

I had to wait until this morning to have my first sunrise opportunity of the year.  The weather the last few days has basically been crap, but the forecast for this morning held promise.  Rather than set an alarm I told myself that if I woke up in time I would head out to see what I might find.  Usually when I try that approach I either wake up too early or too late, but this morning I woke up at 5:50 which was just about perfect.

Clouds lit by city lights from Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch.  No, that’s not a fire – Christmas Lights!

I arrived at the boat launch area right at 6:30 and was treated to some amber city-lit clouds low to the horizon and a clear sky with clouds above.  Pretty sweet!  No fog this time, but that was good for better reflections.  I got a few shots of that then aimed my camera at the causeway to catch some light trails.  There is a lot more traffic on a Monday morning than there was on the Sunday morning when I last visited!

Car trails on the causeway over Mountain Island Lake

The parking lot was completely deserted when I arrived, but the first boater showed about about 6:45.  He was well organized and put in quickly, but it was too dark to get anything usable.  The second boater arrived about 7:15, took his time futzing around with this gear and finally left the dock just as the sun was coming up.  That made for some good light on the boat as it putted through the No Wake zone.

Father-daughter morning fishing expedition
Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch

The bonus though was that, all of a sudden, I heard birds, lots of them.  Then overhead came a huge cloud of some kind of small black birds, probably starlings, grackles or similar black birds – hundreds of them!  And that cloud was followed by another, then another.  I have no idea how many of them there were, but there were a bunch.  Fortunately I had my camera set up for a wide angle shot of the water and sky, so I was able to catch a few frames with the birds, even though they were a bit blurry.  They were moving fast!

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch

So in addition to a pretty sunrise I got an impromptu air show! All in all it was a worthwhile visit and I got a few shots to start off the new year.  The weather looks like might deteriorate again the next few days but I’ll keep a lookout for another opportunity!

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Launch

A Morning Well Spent

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp

I woke up this morning about 5:45.  A little early for me but not unusual.  As I lay in bed listening to the furnace cranking out some welcome BTUs, I started hearing this voice.  A voice that sounded hauntingly similar to the voice in a podcast I listen to.  This voice was saying, “ya know, this might just be one of those mornings where you’ll be glad you went out to make photographs.”

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp
Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp

I reluctantly crawled out from under the covers, wandered down the hall to my computer, where the Weather Service told me that it was 25 degrees.  Ugh.  I almost got back into bed.  Reasoning that 25 degrees wasn’t any colder than Fort Collins, and remembering that the UP of Michigan is even colder, I resisted and got up.

Although I got rid of my down parka and Sorel boots when we left Ohio 26 years ago, I thankfully held on to some long underwear and wool socks, and I knew where to find them!  So I got out my stuff, gathered my gear and headed out.

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp
Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp

I arrived at my newly-found sunrise spot at right about 6:30, an hour before sunrise and my preferred time to start taking morning photos.  The best color in the morning often happens long before anyone else has their camera ready, just like in the evenings the best color happens while most everyone has packed up and is heading off to dinner.

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp
Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp

It was pretty dark when I got there, and the parking lot was empty except for one car.  The sky was clear with plenty of stars, or as many as we can usually see here in the suburbs of Charlotte.  As the light level came up I could see that there was some fog on the lake, and it was moving around in a very slight breeze.

The first boater arrived about 7:00 – an even heartier soul than me.  He offloaded his boat, nursed a sputtering outboard to life and headed off in search of some radioactive catfish.  A second boater came a few minutes later and much better luck with his engine.  He’s the one I was able to catch leading a wake out through the fog.

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp
Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp

By the time the sun came up I had taken 144 frames and it was time to head home for coffee and a shower.  As I was putting my camera back in the car I realized I had frost on my tripod.  That’s about as cold as I’d like it to be, at least with my current gear!

Sunrise over Mountain Island Lake from the Riverbend Boat Ramp

Not bad for a winter Sunday morning.  Weather permitting I hope to be getting back out there again, real soon!

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy & I gave up covering our house with lights years ago, but still enjoy driving around nearby neighborhoods to check out other peoples’ efforts.  Some people really get carried away!

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

Most neighborhoods we go through have few places to park or walk safely, but this particular spot in Huntersville has two houses next to each other, spectacularly decorated and with reasonable parking, at least when we visited.  We were able to get out and walk on the sidewalks without worrying too much about distracted light peepers.

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

The forecast is calling for some interesting weather here for tonight and Christmas Day, but I don’t think we’ll see any snow.  It sounds like a good day to stay snuggled up with coffee and a warm fire.  Later in the day we’ll open the bourbon and wine!

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

We hope everyone has a good holiday this year despite all the mayhem.  We are looking forward to lots of positive direction in 2021.

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

A Return To Latta – With Company!

Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy & I made another trip to Latta Nature Preserve this past weekend, and met our son Scott and grandson Edison there.  Edison enjoys taking “nature walks” and we knew this would be a good place to take him.

Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Interestingly, the water levels were much higher this time, even though we really hadn’t had that much rain.  I know that Duke Energy manages the lake levels along the Catawba River, so it likely had something to do with that.

Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

It was a little chilly but the sun was shining and we had a nice visit.  We then returned to the house for pizza and chips, so it was a good day all around!

Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

A New Morning Place

Winter morning at Riverbend Boat Ramp on Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, North Carolina

I’m finally making good on my commitment to find some decent sunrise and sunrise spots close to my home.  I started just this morning with a quick trip to one I had recently identified.  The Riverbend Boat Launch is located literally 4 miles from my house.  I’ve driven by numerous times thinking that I should stop and check it out, but was always in a hurry to get somewhere else so I didn’t bother.

Winter morning at Riverbend Boat Ramp on Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, North Carolina
Winter morning at Riverbend Boat Ramp on Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, North Carolina

Based on how it is oriented, the boat launch is only good for sunrises in the winter, roughly from early November until early February, when the sun moves around toward the northeast and behind the peninsula on which the area is situated.  But in the winter, other than a few hardy souls launching their boats in sub-30 degree temperatures (this morning there were three trucks and empty trailers in the lot), it isn’t nearly as busy at sunrise as it would be in June or July.  For me, it’s a start!

Winter morning at Riverbend Boat Ramp on Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, North Carolina
Winter morning at Riverbend Boat Ramp on Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, North Carolina

Riverbend is not as quiet as  tranquil as Monte’s morning place or as dramatic as Jeff’s, but it will give me a suitable morning destination until I find another one!

Photo Ephemeris Screen Shots

Practicing My Scales

Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Kirk Tuck recently posted about how  (paraphrasing) walking around town with a camera taking random pictures of interesting things is “almost like playing scales on the piano.”  As a reformed musician that’s a reference I understand.  Practicing technique is what allows us to nail the performance.

Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

One of my recurring dreams involves being invited – and accepting – to perform some kind of solo concert.  I haven’t touched my trombones – although I still have them – in nearly 30 years but when the day comes for me to play the dream ends.  There’s probably some important symbolism there but I won’t try to analyze.

Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

“Winter” or what we know as winter took this past weekend off, so Kathy & I took advantage of the 70 degree temperatures to enjoy the day at Latta Nature Preserve.  I took my camera, of course, and took a few photos.  To make it a little harder I took only my widest prime lens – the 14mm f2.8 (21mm full-frame equivalent).  I don’t shoot a lot with wide angle lenses and it tends to show.  While I didn’t come back with anything truly exceptional the idea of practice was my intention.  Kathy helps me by seeing things she sees and giving me an “assignment” like the photos of purple leaves and the fallen branches with pine cones below.  Now I have a name for the concept – practicing my scales.

Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Late fall afternoon at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

A Quiet Afternoon

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

It was almost like I had heard Jeff Curto’s words in my head, although I didn’t actually hear them until we got home.  Jeff’s most recent podcast talks about it isn’t necessary to travel long distances or to exotic locations to make interesting photographs.  Give it a listen if you don’t already subscribe.  And you know you should. 😉

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy and I decided to spend a nice late-fall Sunday afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, a county park near Huntersville, North Carolina and about 8 miles from our house.  We packed a picnic lunch, laced up our hiking shoes and spent a couple of hours wandering the trails along Mountain Island Lake, the lake that we live close to, but not at.  It’s not Lake Superior, but it’s what we’ve got. 🙂

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

We’ve been to Latta a number of times over the years, and I’ve made lots of photographs there.  But it had been a while.  There are things to see and photograph at all times of the year, but I have often sold it short since it is – as Jeff alluded to – in our “back yard.”

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy & I had already decided that we’re going to stick close to home for the next few months, and are planning to get out and explore our own area.  I’ve said for years that I like to be a “tourist in my own town” but have never sat still long enough to give it a chance.  Sounds like now is as good a time as any!

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina