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.
Kathy & I found ourselves in Winston-Salem, NC this past weekend. Sunday turned out to be dark and rainy, which made it a perfect chance to slip into something more monochrome. Story to follow in a future post, but I did shoot some in color, too!
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
Photo and quotation are unrelated. I recently finished reading the biography of Alexander Hamilton and have been reading some of his writings.
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!
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.
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…. 🙂
My photo buddy Paul Lester and I got together earlier this month for an impromptu photo walk. We don’t do this often enough, but when we do it’s a real blast. There’s nothing like wandering around with a camera to exercise the creative muscles a bit.
While there are meetup groups and photowalks staged and sponsored by “celebrity” photographers, those are often large group activities. Paul & I are alike in that too many people makes it more of a cat herding competition than a photography activity. I’d say that 4-5 people would be the max for me.
Paul lives on the south end of the county and I am at the north end. We met for breakfast down his way then drove to the light rail station for a ride into town. We ended up disembarking in South End, which is a neighborhood 1-2 miles south of “Uptown” then walked the rest of the way. After a few hours of wandering we boarded the train for the ride back to our respective cars.
Paul has already posted an article about our walk on his own blog, and it’s always interesting to see what he saw and compare it to what I saw. I’m purposely leaving out photos that are from the same places as Paul’s, although I certainly have a few that look at lot like his! Instead I’m showing some photos that are things that he may have seen but that he hasn’t posted (yet!).
We don’t get to do it as often as we might like, but Kathy & I enjoy taking day trips to places that are just an hour or two from home. We visited West Jefferson, NC a few weeks ago for the first time in several years, having previously visited to photograph the town for a magazine assignment.
West Jefferson is a nice mountain town, just busy enough to not be considered “sleepy,” but not as zoo-crazy as a place like Boone or Blowing Rock. Needless to say, that was one of the things we remembered about West Jefferson, and was one of the reasons we wanted to go back.
One of the notable things about West Jefferson is all of the murals on the sides of the buildings. The scenes are varied, but generally reflect the history of the town or are some kind of artistic or humanitarian expression. There are a number of interesting shops and art galleries, and even a photography gallery.
I naturally had my camera with me, and while many of my photos would not be considered “Chamber of Commerce” shots, I had fun finding the things I like to find and capturing them with my camera.
We found it an interesting place to spend the day, and ended up coming home via the Blue Ridge Parkway which crosses nearby. It was a nice place to visit and one we hope to return to again soon.