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