It’s that time again, the time when we turn the calendar to a new year. While in many ways it is an artificial time period – my friend Paul refers to January 1 and December 31 as “markers” – it’s as good a way as any to mark the passage of time, and if we wish, to reflect back and look ahead.
A lot of people seem to be expending an awful lot of energy worrying about 2017, but that’s mostly wasted on things that can’t be changed or controlled. Kathy & I take a more positive view and look at every new year as a new opportunity for adventure. We get a new allotment of vacation days (yay!) and replenish our vacation budget (yay!) and start looking for interesting ways to spend them both.
We started off the new year with a trip to the NC mountains. The threat of possible snow and ice eliminated our plans for a quiet midnight at one of our favorite spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but we still made the best of a damp and dreary weekend.
I hope everyone’s 2017 is off to a good start and look forward to sharing a new adventure this coming year!
Finishing up my photos from Winston Salem a few weeks ago. I’m pretty happy with these, overall, considering I’m usually a color guy. 😉
About a month ago I received an email from Marriott telling me that my points were going to expire because I hadn’t stayed at a Marriott branded hotel in almost two years. What – how could that be? As it turns out it was right. Our last stay at a Marriott was early December 2014, which is when we took our last cruise. For some reason the only place we seem to favor Marriott hotels is in Florida. Most other places we go either don’t have them, or we have choices that we like better.
I didn’t have too many points to lose, but I never like giving up points. And it gave us a perfect excuse to travel – what a deal! We looked for something fairly close to home that wouldn’t cost too much, and ended up deciding to head to Winston Salem, NC. We had been there before, but it was quite a long time ago, so it was as good as a new destination for us. So we went.
We had no idea ahead of time, but as we walked around town on Saturday afternoon we noticed that the police were blocking off Fourth Street, which ran near our hotel. We asked a few questions and found out that they were getting ready for their Christmas parade that evening. Cool! So we did the sensible thing and found a place to watch right outside a craft cocktail bar, so we would be able to head inside as soon as the parade was over. While not “cold” by a lot of people’s standards this time of year, the temperature was in the upper 30’s, and the bourbon was calling!
Since the parade didn’t start until 5:00 it dark pretty fast. I knew I was going to have a problem with shutter speeds, so I decided to go with the flow and capture the motion by making intentionally blurry photos. It took a lot of attempts to get a few that captured the mood, but I think I got enough to make a reasonable representation.
Shelby, NC is a town about an hour or so west of Charlotte along I-85. While I knew a little bit about the town and it’s history, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that in all the time we’ve lived here I mostly regarded Shelby as someplace to get through on the way to or from the mountains.
Friends of ours recently moved to Shelby, and we spent a recent afternoon and evening walking around downtown, having dinner and listening to some live music. The downtown area is a far cry from the Shelby I previously knew, and as the county seat for Cleveland County is quite a bustling place.
Shelby is the birthplace of a number of famous people, including country songwriter Don Gibson, legendary banjo player Earl Scruggs, and country music singer Patty Loveless. Throughout town are a number of statues in the form of record albums that commemorate a number of Gibson’s more famous creations.
No small town would be complete without a number of interesting restaurants. We only tried one, but plan to return often to try some more.
“A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.”
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31, January 1, 1788
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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!