Tag Archives: Road Trip

Tiny But Mighty: Limestone Branch Distillery

Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

After our visit to Maker’s Mark, Kathy & I drove to Lebanon, KY for some lunch. Lebanon also happens to be the home of Limestone Branch Distillery, another of our favorites. It was on the way back to our motel and it was open, so of course we needed to stop. And tour. And taste. And buy! 😉

Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

Limestone Branch likes to say that they are currently the only distillery owned and operated by someone named Beam. Stephen & Paul Beam opened Limestone Branch in 2012, and while the distillery is fairly new in bourbon terms, they are producing some old-timey bourbon using old-timey recipes. The distillery traces its roots back to Jacob Beam in 1795, is best known for producing Yellowstone bourbon from the original mash bill. Yes, the bourbon is named after the National Park. And while it is not affiliated with the TV series, they are not minding the free publicity. 😉

Samples! Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

The place is not very big, and there are no picturesque acres of rickhouses on the property like the big boys, but what they lack in size they make up for in enthusiasm.

Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Worlds Smallest Rickhouse! Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky
Thieving it straight from the barrel! Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky

Chasing Shadows

Interior hallway of Biltmore House

Like most of us, I’m always on the lookout for interesting shadows. Here are a few from our recent visit to Biltmore.

Connected or disconnected? Biltmore House

One of the things that fascinates me about photography is that often the best photographs are the ones that require the least “work.” In terms of both effort and of processing.

Exterior lamp. Biltmore House
Lamp. Biltmore House
Grain cradle shadows on the wall of the Village Hotel at Biltmore
Ceiling light fixture in the hallway of the Village Hotel at Biltmore House and Gardens
Trails around Bass Lake on the Biltmore Estate.

Tale Of A Print

Fishing trawler “Cape Point” in the marina at Southport, North Carolina

I don’t do much to promote my work these days, and never really have, actually. I did assignment work for a couple of magazines and I had photos with a local stock agent at one time, but both of those went away as microstock took over. Since then it has been completely hit or miss. Now, I mostly give prints away to friends and family, but once in a while I get an inquiry from an art consultant, magazine or website wanting to purchase a print or license an image. Mostly by accident, I’ve actually sold some photos that now hang in pretty interesting places.

A few weeks ago I received an email from a partner in a new restaurant (now open) out on the coast of North Carolina. It’s called Salt 64 and is located in Oak Island. Turns out the chef is the former chef at a restaurant we’re familiar with in Mooresville, NC. And he is friends with a friend who runs a frame shop and gallery there. Small world.

So Erika (the partner) found this photo of mine on my website through a search, and wanted to know about buying a print of it for the restaurant. She said that she was decorating the restaurant with local photography, that the boat “Cape Point” is owned by a cousin of the chef, and she wanted to surprise him with the photo. So I had a print made and shipped to her. She loves it and so does the chef!

I asked her to pay me in food, so Kathy & I are going to head out to the coast in a few weeks with plans to stop by Salt 64 for dinner one night! Can’t wait to see my photo hanging on the wall!

By the way, not to give away trade secrets, but when I got the request for a print, I went back and re-processed the photo to make it more print-worthy. I had done some very basic work on the original version, but decided to use some of the tools in my Lightroom toolbox to kick it up a notch or two. I often do that anyway with photos I plan to print, but this one just hadn’t hit my radar. While the old version was pretty nice, the new one is really nice, I think!

Originally processed version

A Swing Through The Steel City

The Greenhouse at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh

No, Pittsburgh is not on the way home from West Virginia! Kathy recently reconnected with a childhood friend, who lives part of the year in Pittsburgh. We cruised with them in March and visited them in Florida, so we decided that a detour north before heading south was worthwhile.

Tom and Howard at ‘Over The Bar’ restaurant at North Park in Pittsburgh

When I found out we were going to be in the area, I contacted fellow photographer and blogger Howard Grill and made arrangements to meet for breakfast at a park near where we were staying. We met there on Saturday morning, had a lovely visit and spent some time exploring the lakeside. By the time I got my camera out the light had gotten harsh, but there were still some interesting reflections.

North Park Lake in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
North Park Lake in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

After our breakfast, we headed to our friends’ home and took a jaunt into town to visit The Frick. The Frick Pittsburgh is an art museum which is the legacy of Helen Clay Frick, daughter of industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his wife Adelaide Howard Childs Frick. The family home was called Clayton, which is on the site of the museum, from 1883 to 1905.

‘Romare Bearden: Artist as Activist and Visionary’ Exhibition at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
‘Romare Bearden: Artist as Activist and Visionary’ Exhibition at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
SLAY: Artemisia Gentileschi & Kehinde Wiley Exhibition at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
The Car & Carriage Museum at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
1898 Panhard et Levassor. The Car & Carriage Museum at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
1940 American Bantam Convertible Coupe. The Car & Carriage Museum at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
The Greenhouse at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
The Greenhouse at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
The Greenhouse at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
Clayton, former home of the Frick family. The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
The Greenhouse at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh
Visitor Center at The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh

I’ve still got a few photos to process, but have completed the best ones. As I typically do, I have created an Adobe Portfolio gallery of selected photos from this trip at My Adobe Portfolio page.

Almost (But Not Quite) Heaven: West Virginia

Smooth Ambler Distillery near Lewisburg, West Virginia

The primary purpose of our recent road trip was to meet up with our friends Jim & Lisa in Lewisburg, West Virginia. We had each visited Lewisburg previously, although not together. And because it is roughly halfway between our home in NC and Jim & Lisa’s in PA, it was a good place to get together for a few days. We had a blast wandering the shops of the town, and we visited the Smooth Ambler distillery. Kathy & I are distillery veterans, so we needed to show Jim & Lisa the finer points. 😉

Smooth Ambler Distillery near Lewisburg, West Virginia
Smooth Ambler Distillery near Lewisburg, West Virginia

Surprisingly, although I carried my camera around just about everywhere, I took very few photos with it. I actually took more photos with my phone, because it was simpler to hand off to someone and to share. We were just having too much fun to pay attention to photos!

The General Lewis Inn in Lewisburg, West Virginia
Flowers along Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia
Shops along Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia
VW Bus on Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia
Pay phone on Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia
Tom and Jim in downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia
Kathy and Lisa in downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia
The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge 3,030 feet (924 m) long over the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. With an arch 1,700 feet long, the New River Gorge Bridge was the world’s longest single-span arch bridge for 26 years and is now the fifth longest. The roadway of the New River Gorge Bridge is 876 feet above the New River, making the bridge one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world. It is the third highest in the United States. When completed in 1977, it was the world’s highest bridge carrying a regular roadway, a title it held until the 2001 opening of the Liuguanghe Bridge in China.
The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge 3,030 feet (924 m) long over the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. With an arch 1,700 feet long, the New River Gorge Bridge was the world’s longest single-span arch bridge for 26 years and is now the fifth longest. The roadway of the New River Gorge Bridge is 876 feet above the New River, making the bridge one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world. It is the third highest in the United States. When completed in 1977, it was the world’s highest bridge carrying a regular roadway, a title it held until the 2001 opening of the Liuguanghe Bridge in China.

More (Less?) Than We Bargained For: Peaks of Otter Lodge

Last light on Sharp Top peak at Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

We decided to break up our trip northward with a stop at Peaks of Otter Lodge, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Roanoke, VA. We’ve stayed there before, and have enjoyed the lodge, with its lakefront location, decent restaurant and overall quiet vibe. Our previous attempt to stay there was thwarted by the remnants of a hurricane, which forced us to change plans and cancel our reservation.

View of Peaks of Otter Lodge across Peaks of Otter Lake
Peaks of Otter Lake, at Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

We headed north on the Parkway, enjoying the sunshine, cooler weather and lovely clouds. As we approached the lodge, however, it became apparent that a storm had recently passed through the area. Leaves and twigs littered the road and everything was wet. Water falling off the trees made it seem like it was still raining.

Our room (with no power) at Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

We arrived at the lodge with high hopes, only to be told that the lodge was without power because of the storm. And due to the somewhat remote mountain location, there was no guaranty when or if the power would be restored. Not to worry, though, right?

Hiking trail at Peaks of Otter, on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Peaks of Otter Lake, at Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

Soon afterward we decided to make drinks. We always travel prepared, so all we needed was ice. But of course the ice machines are powered by electricity, so while there was probably plenty of ice in the hopper, it wouldn’t dispense. So I took my trusty ice bucket to the lodge to get it filled. Fortunately they still had plenty of ice, so all was not lost.

Sunset over Peaks of Otter Lake, at Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Sunset over Peaks of Otter Lake, at Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

But…between the time we checked in and when I returned to the lodge for ice, a decision had been made that the bar and restaurant would not be opening for dinner. So much for the nice dinner. Faced with the prospect of a cold chicken salad wrap from the lodge or driving into the nearest town for dinner, we opted for the cooked dinner in town.  But first…drinks! Yay for ice!

Sunset over Peaks of Otter Lake, at Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

The lodge is located at a high enough elevation that even though the rooms have air conditioning, it is seldom needed. So it was no problem for us to sleep there. And since sunset was late at this time of year and we had our tablets fully charged with books pre-loaded, it was easy for us to pass the time. Did I mention that there is no cell service at the lodge? And with no wifi, we were really “off the grid.”

“Polly Woods Ordinary” mountain cabin located at Peaks of Otter, on the Blue Ridge Parkway

So it was a little bit like camping, except that we were in a bed in a room with a roof and a door. And as it turned out, even though there was still no power in the morning, somehow there was hot water for a shower! Ultimately the biggest hardship was that we were unable to get coffee or tea. But we lived to tell about it and to head on to our next destination, Lewisburg, West Virginia. More to come!

The Life Of A Tree

February 2007: Tree in silhouette at twilight, The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

A frequent stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia is an overlook called “The Saddle.” So named because it sits on a ridge with a eastern view toward a deep valley and a western view toward Buffalo Mountain.

September 2016: Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

We’ve visited The Saddle probably dozens of times over the years, occasionally getting a nice sunset there. The view toward the east would probably make for an interesting sunrise, but in all our trips there we haven’t been close enough for a morning visit. I may need to remedy that at some point!

There is a tree next to the parking lot that I have photographed over the years. I was interested, and a bit disappointed, to see that it is for all intents and purposes, past its useful life. The decline was pretty obvious over the years, but is very apparent now. I suppose it is just a matter of time before a big wind, or a chainsaw, carries it off.

July 2022: Tree at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia

A Stop At Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Kathy & I just returned from an abbreviated version of our somewhat annual “Friends and Family Tour.” ‘Somewhat annual’ because it hasn’t been continuous, ‘abbreviated’ because we only saw a few of our friends and didn’t take quite as much time as we have in the past several years. But we saw some good friends, met a long-time friend in person for the first time, and generally had a nice week.

Sewing and weaving exhibit. Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Sewing and weaving exhibit. Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Checkerboard and chairs. Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia

The first stop on our journey was Mabry Mill, a landmark on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. For good reason, the mill is one of the most-visited and most-photographed spot on the Parkway. We were fortunate to have visited on a weekday morning, so things were not too crowded, and the weather was a refreshing 70 degrees. Quite a departure from the upper 90s we were experiencing in Charlotte!

Blacksmith shop at Mabry Mill, on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Blacksmith shop at Mabry Mill, on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Mill powered woodworking band saw. Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Mill powered woodworking band saw. Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia

We’ve visited Mabry Mill dozens of times, and I have photographed the mill in all seasons. This time it was mostly snapshots, but I still ended up with a few interesting shots.

Rhododendron at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Flowers at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia

I’ll have more words and photos to post as I get through the week’s files.

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ Museum of Drag Racing

“Big Daddy” Don Garlits himself! Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida

Whew! After the (not) overwhelming response from my last post I needed a break. Actually, I just kind of got distracted and forgot that I hadn’t finished the series from our Florida trip.

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida

If I had any boyhood heroes that weren’t astronauts, one of them would certainly be drag racing legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.  Garlits’ name is to drag racing fans what Richard Petty’s or Mario Andretti’s names are to stock car and Indy car racing.  Old fans, at least. 😉

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida

As we were driving past Ocala, FL on I-75, I saw a sign that said “Drag Racing Museum Next Exit.” Then I saw whose museum it was! We didn’t have time to stop on our way south, but made a point to visit on the way back home from St. Petersburg. Yes, it was another museum, and art of a different kind than painting and glass! And of course Kathy was thrilled to have something else to look at besides airplanes. 🙂

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida

Here are way too many photos from our visit. But there were way too many cars, and even this is a small sliver of what we saw.  Highlight of our visit, of course, was that “Big Daddy” himself was there, giving a personal tour to a small group of fans. We listened to a few stories before they disappeared behind a door that said “Employees Only.”

Garlits has assembled an impressive collection of not only his own cars, but cars from the history of drag racing.  And that is just in one building! A second building houses hundreds of mostly stock cars from the 30s forward. A few even older than that. Many of the cars are from Garlits’ personal collection, but a lot of them have been donated over the years by thoughtful and generous owners. We spent a couple of hours there. I could have spent longer, but we needed to move on up the road. So we could get home just in time for a winter storm!

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida

Enjoy the photos!

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida
Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida

Doing The Bada Bing Thing

When a restaurant bills itself as “The Best Italian Restaurant in St. Petersburg” and is walking distance from your motel, you need to go, right?  Such was the case with Gratzzi Grille.  Yeah, maybe the name isn’t spelled ‘correctly’ but I’ll bet it gets pronounced correctly!

One of the items on their menu is what they call ‘Cavatelli Bada Bing.’  It’s prepared tableside by one of the owners, and uses a lot of flaming vodka to prepare a very cheesy, very delicious cavatelli dish.  I had to try it! It’s a bit more of a show than it is an example of fine Italian cuisine, but it was fun.

I didn’t take photos or videos, because I just wanted to watch.  But the video below shows it better than anything I could have shot anyway.  And the guy doing the cooking is the guy who did mine.

And that’s the Bada Bing! 🙂

YouTube player