Tag Archives: photography

About Photos And Words

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

I’ve gotten a few questions lately asking why all of a sudden I’ve been posting a lot to my blog, and posting photos with no text. Have I been off work, am I traveling, have I suddenly gotten inspired to post more? It’s actually nothing that exciting! Except for the last one, maybe.

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

First, some background. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been writing this blog for almost 11 years. My posts have mostly been about things that I’ve had on my mind, usually photography but on occasion I may wander off to other topics. I find that writing helps me clarify my thoughts on a given subject because it forces me to boil things down into their basic components. And once I put that much time and effort into writing something, it seemed like a shame to not share it. Not because I thought it was some extraordinary prose, but because I hoped that someone else might benefit from my efforts. And on occasion it has. And I got in the habit of accompanying my text with photos. Sometimes they illustrate my text, and sometimes they are just photos that I happened to be working on at the time.

Lately I just haven’t been thinking about photography all that much, at least not about the technical and artistic parts of photography. Now that I’ve switched camera systems and have that behind me, I’ve mostly just been having fun traveling and taking pictures. I have a few things on my mind from time to time, but nothing that is so compelling or complex that I have a need to write about it.

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

Sometimes I just don’t have anything to say! I’ve made a few thinly veiled political comments and other off-topic posts, but they are largely ignored. And that’s fine by me, by the way. I don’t really want to talk politics or anything else. But I do have lots of photos, although I had concluded that I had to write something to go with them, as though there was some rule against posting just photos. At some point it occurred to me that the only rule preventing me from posting only photos was my own, and that is a rule that I can change any time I want!

Sunset over Pantego Creek on the Belhaven North Carolina Waterfront

About the same time as I came upon that realization, I started to get frustrated with the application I was using to send my blog posts to Facebook. Like everyone these days (or so it seems) the free version of the app gave me basic functionality, and unless I was willing to spend money it delayed my posts as much as 3 days, depending on how often I posted. To heck with that I said, there has to be a better way! And thanks to WordPress plug-ins, there is. I downloaded one, figured out how to use it (the reason for all those “Testing” posts for those who use an RSS feed (sorry!) and it works. I also took the time to figure out how to schedule posts for a future date. That is super easy, but at one time the feature didn’t seem to work properly so I abandoned it. But I just tried it again and it works great. So for a few days I processed photos, posted them one at a time and schedule them to post at a future date, one per day.

So there you go. Just a little change in habit, which I think is a good thing. Now I just need to get around to updating my website. That’s a project that is way overdue. I keep waiting for a rainy weekend to get it done, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often around here. And in the meantime we’ve got places to go!

Flight of Tundra Swans over Belhaven North Carolina

Oh, and don’t  get used to this posting every day stuff.  That’s too much like work! 😉

Here We Go Again

Morning fog at the Cradle of Forestry overlook MP 411 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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.

Notary – Lake Lure, North Carolina

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.

Closed for Winter – Lake Lure, North Carolina
Closed for Winter – Lake Lure, North Carolina

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.

Morning fog at the Cradle of Forestry overlook MP 411 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I hope everyone’s 2017 is off to a good start and look forward to sharing a new adventure this coming year!

Morning fog at the Cradle of Forestry overlook MP 411 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

A Christmas Parade

Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina

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.

Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina

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.

Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina

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!

Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina

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.

Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina
Christmas parade, Winston Salem North Carolina

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky

The most-looked-forward to distillery on our visit to Kentucky was Buffalo Trace. Not just because they make some darned good bourbon, but because based on the research I had done it looked like a very historic and photogenic location.

Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Stacking the barrels for storage. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Stacking the barrels for storage. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky

One of the things we found interesting about the distilleries is how open they are with their operations.  I suppose there are few “secrets” in the industry, so the willingness to be open and welcoming is just part of the tradition.  We booked three separate hour long tours at Buffalo Trace that took us behind the scenes from the point at which the corn was unloaded, through the barrel selection and preparation, filling, bottling and packing.  When we showed up for the first tour, the guides wanted to be sure we were aware that we only got to taste once – at the end of the third tour! 😉 It made for a long morning, but since we didn’t taste between each one it was not hard to do because it was so interesting!

Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon is bottled on a small bottling line, then hand sealed, adding the distinctive running horse stopper and a wax seal. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon is bottled on a small bottling line, then hand sealed, adding the distinctive running horse stopper and a wax seal. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon is bottled on a small bottling line, then hand sealed, adding the distinctive running horse stopper and a wax seal. These paper collars keep the wax off the bottle then are discarded. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon is bottled on a small bottling line, then hand sealed, adding the distinctive running horse stopper and a wax seal. These paper collars keep the wax off the bottle then are discarded. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon is bottled on a small bottling line, then hand sealed, adding the distinctive running horse stopper and a wax seal. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon is bottled on a small bottling line, then hand sealed, adding the distinctive running horse stopper and a wax seal. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky

I mentioned in an earlier post that every distillery has it’s own “claim to fame,” and Buffalo Trace has theirs.  According to Wikipedia, the company claims the distillery to be the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States.  Burks’ distillery, now used for production of Maker’s Mark, claims to be the oldest operating bourbon distillery.  The difference is that Buffalo Trace’s predecessor was able to process bourbon throughout Prohibition, making whiskey for “medicinal purposes”.  It’s all part of the friendly competition, and just a little bit of marketing. 😉

Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky

I feel like I got some very interesting photographs here, partly because we spent a lot more time here, but also because it was a very engaging facility and because it was in fact so photogenic.  For me it was the highlight of the trip, along with the carload of “souvenirs” that we brought home!

Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort Kentucky

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