Tag Archives: Road Trip

New Shoe Syndrome and Other Thoughts on the Vaccine

Train station in Rowland, North Carolina

I’ve gotten a few questions about our experience with scheduling and actually getting the vaccine, and thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts.

The Process: I’ve mentioned previously how frustrating the registration process is for many of the county and health agency websites.  Kathy & I are fortunate to be registered with the two major health providers in our area, so we were able to use our login credentials to access those sites, which likely led to a slightly better experience.  We ended up with the Moderna Vaccine through Novant Health.

We were fortunate to find any locations at all on the very first morning of our eligibility.  The fact that the one we found was 200 miles away was no big deal for us.  We have the flexibility to go wherever we need to, and it was easy for us to make the trip.

The vaccination  site was in the parking area of a community college near Wilmington, NC.  The approach was well marked, there were National Guard personnel directing traffic into several lines, checking to confirm appointments and providing forms for completion.  The one glitch was that we had pre-filled everything online, but they still had us manually complete paperwork with the same information.  Taking the paperwork pre-filled and printed would not have helped.

We arrived at about 10:40 for an 11:00 appointment, and although the lines looked long, we queued up and were directed to the actual vaccination line promptly at 11:00 (not due to any process on their part, it just happened to work out).  We sat in our car until someone came around, asked us a few more questions, explained the process and handed us each a card with confirmation of our follow up appointments for the same time and day of the week in four weeks.  Shortly thereafter two nurses came up with the vaccine, plunked each of us in the arm, wrote the time on a paper stuck to the windshield, and told us that after the prescribed waiting time we would be released.  We rolled out of the parking lot at 11:30.

Train station in Rowland, North Carolina

The Vaccine: Did we have any concerns about getting the vaccine? None.  We feel strongly that the vaccines have been adequately tested, we trust in the scientific validity of the data and believe that getting the vaccine has a much lower level of risk than not getting it.  Everyone makes their own choice, but we feel that in order to do the kind of travel we want to do, more states, countries and companies will require a vaccination than not and we don’t want to be left out when the time comes.

Train station in Rowland, North Carolina

Side Effects: None really, but it surprises me how hyper-aware we become when we’re looking for something.  I call it “new shoe syndrome” because of how when we buy a new pair of shoes we spend days paying attention to every little twinge or pinch.  We recently bought new tires for the car, and for the first few drives I paid close attention to the sound, feel and ride.  After a while you forget about it.  We stopped at a restaurant for lunch, and while there a guy came in wearing a really strong cologne.  Strong odors like cologne and smelly air fresheners always bother me, so when my throat got a little scratchy I wrote it off.  No big deal.  Our arms hurt for a few days, especially while we slept.  But my left hip is often sore anyway, and since I got my shot in my left arm, I just spent more time on my right side!

Dilapidated building near the train station in Rowland, North Carolina

Eligibility: We’ve read about people gaming the system by falsely answering the questions, crossing state lines to states with more favorable rules or otherwise getting the shot before they should have.  Kathy & I waited for our group to be called, answered all the questions truthfully and lucked into an early appointment.  Could we have waited?  Sure, but why?  Everyone who wants a shot will eventually be able to get one, so it really doesn’t matter when we go.  Could we have gotten an appointment closer to home?  Perhaps, but once we got our appointments I stopped looking.  I read somewhere about local appointments now booking out into May or June, but it doesn’t matter any more.  The owner of the restaurant we had lunch at told us that someone called him the other afternoon to say that they had 15 Johnson & Johnson shots that were going to expire at the end of the day and to send along anyone who needed them.  That happens too, you never know.

I don’t really have a lot to add.  If anyone has questions I’ll be happy to answer them as comments or emails.  Ultimately everyone is going to make their own decision and have their own experience, but I’ll help where I can.

The Photos: These photos are from the town of Rowland, NC which is on the NC side of the NC/SC line near South of the Border.  They are in-camera JPEGs taken using the Kodachrome 64 recipe from Fuji X Weekly.  The conditions were less than ideal for Kodachrome and look a little warm/brown for my taste, but I’m not sure I got the white balance right.  I’ll try them again under sunny skies and see how they look.  I also shot in RAW and will process those my usual way for comparison.  It’s an interesting look and I’ve been enjoying playing with them.

We’ve Been Shot!

First Covid-19 Shots!

Kathy and I received our first dose of Covid 19 vaccine yesterday.  Getting it involved a trip to Bolivia.  Bolivia, North Carolina, that is! 🙂

When North Carolina announced a few weeks ago that they would be opening up vaccinations to Group 4 (our group), I knew that because it included anyone from 18-64 it was going to be a huge group unless they somehow broke it down.  Well, they did, sort of.  They determined that the first wave would be people 18-64 with pre-existing health conditions, which in my opinion (and the CDC’s guidelines) is just about everyone.  That essentially created a huge group vying for the next batch of vaccine, especially when I’m not sure how good of a dent they’ve made on the 65 and up crowd.  I know all or most of our neighbors have gotten it, but we have a pretty aware and active bunch.

Anticipating a wait of days or weeks, I went online Wednesday morning with my pre-saved folder of websites for the local hospitals and county health organizations.  These websites are extremely aggravating, as most of them require you to enter and re-enter information, only to take you to a page that says there are no appointments available. I don’t know if it is result of poor (or no) user testing or if it is intentionally designed to keep people from continually refreshing multiple pages.  There has to be a better way, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out!

When I went to the website for Novant Health, one of our two large local hospital networks and one for which I already had an online profile, a few clicks took me to a page to show what appointments were available.  There were no appointments available locally, but they were showing numerous appointments available at Brunswick Community College in Bolivia, North Carolina.  Where the @#$%^ is Bolivia, I asked?  Well, Bolivia is a little crossroads just outside of Southport and near Wilmington, in the southeast corner of the state and a little over 200 miles away.  Kathy & I immediately snagged appointments for the same time on the same day.  ROAD TRIP!

Of course it doesn’t take much of an excuse for us to load up the car and head somewhere.  But the promise of a vaccination appointment just two days away was not a hard decision to make.  So we found a motel, an Italian restaurant and a place for breakfast, just like we would do anywhere.  It’s good to have lots of practice. 😉

I’ll talk more about the trip and the vaccination process in another post, but suffice it to say it was smooth as silk.  They automatically provided us with appointments for our second dose in the same place at the same time in 4 weeks, so we’ll go back and do it all over again!

Oh, and we made some photo stops along the way there and back, so that will also be the subject of future posts! 🙂

A Quick Stop At Lake Okeechobee

Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

We’ve passed by Lake Okeechobee on a number of occasions as we’ve transited central Florida, but have never taken the time to stop until this last time.  The reason we hadn’t seen the lake before is that it is almost completely surrounded by a 30 foot earthen dike, preventing views of the lake from the roadway, but keeping the water where it belongs.

Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

The only way to actually see the lake is at one of the access points to the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.  Even in the few towns around the lake there is no actual ‘lakefront.’  There is a large roadside park at the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam on the east side of the lake about 30 miles south of the town of Okeechobee.  We stopped there on our way to Okeechobee, where we spent the night before heading out to St. Augustine.

Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

We only spent about an hour at this stop, but it looks like a place with a lot of photographic opportunities depending on weather conditions.  If you don’t mind man-made objects like dams and pilings in your photos they might really add some interest to a nice morning or evening sky.  We had a few clouds around for our time there, but it was a little early in the evening for really nice light.  It had already been a long enough day, so we went on to our day’s destination.  We’ll see about returning for longer on a future trip!

Florida Air Museum in Lakeland, Florida

Stearman biplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

One of the spots we visited on our recent visit to Florida was the Florida Air Museum, located at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland.  Airplane buffs will recognize ‘LAL’ as the home of the annual Sun-N-Fun Aerospace Expo.

Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
“Woody Pusher” homebuilt airplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
“Woody Pusher” homebuilt airplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

I was a little disappointed in the museum given the status of Sun-N-Fun in the aviation world, but to be fair they are in the process of a major facilities upgrade which should provide a lot more exhibit space and room for more aircraft.  Plus, we have visited some awesome aviation museums over the last few years, in particular the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon.  How can you compare seeing photographs of Howard Hughes to actually standing inside the Spruce Goose? 😉

Pitts Special displayed in a typical configuration. Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Ford Flivver homebuilt airplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida’
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

It was a nice day and a good place to spend a little time.  And there are definitely a few one-of-a-kind aircraft housed here, including the Lockheed XVF-1 which was designed to be a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle long before Space-X figured out how to re-land rockets.  I can only imagine trying to set that thing down on its tail!

Lockheed XVF-1 at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Lockheed XVF-1 at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Piedmont Airlines Boeing 727 on display at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
F-14 Tomcat on display at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

Getting That First Shot

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

Whenever we’re traveling, especially by car, I often look for photographic opportunities on the way.  Sometimes I’ve pre-identified a place like a train station, other times I’m looking for something serendipitous along the side of the road.  If my camera is buried in the bag somewhere in the back of the car I have a hard time stopping.  But if the camera is out and ready, I’m a lot more likely to find a place to pull off or turn around in order to get that first shot.  I find that once I have stopped and taken a few photographs, it is easy to stop the next time something comes up.

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida
Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

For me, putting the camera bag on the back seat or on the floor behind my seat is a start.  That makes it easy to get to when I need it.  But the best approach has been to actually get the camera out and hang it over the headrest of the back seat.  I’ve driven hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles that way, and it works.  We had a 2-door car for a while and that made my method a bit more challenging, but we’ve gone back to 4 doors now and probably won’t change back.

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida
Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

If we’re staying in a town and walking around, I’ll carry my camera with me, lens cap off, ready to shoot.  I’m kind of a one lens guy anyway, so I have the camera around my neck or on my shoulder and a spare battery in my pocket.  I learned quickly with the EVF cameras to always have a spare!  I often chuckle at the people walking around with their brand new CaNikonUjiOny camera bag on their shoulder, securely zippered shut with the camera inside, probably with the lens off the camera.  Hardly a way to get a photograph! 😉

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

A Little “Floridiana”

Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items

On our way into St. Augustine a few days ago, we exited I-95 at an interchange that contains what I like to call “Floridiana.”  It’s the oversize signs advertising all kinds of goodies to take back home and rot in the cupboard – Tropical Fruit Wine?  Probably not.  Gator Jerky?  Don’t think so.  Boiled peanuts?  Tried ’em – pass.  Also lots of things to tempt the kids and make them sick 20 miles up the road.  I thought I would like to know what “Honey Toasted Chocolate Covered Praline Pecans” taste like until Kathy assured me that it is three different kinds and not just one.  Oh, well.

Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items

The story is that we didn’t stop there on the way in to town, and as often happens I kicked myself for not taking the time (it was late, we were tired and thirsty, etc.).  So today we went into town to the fort to get a stamp on Kathy’s National Park Passport, and on the way back took the scenic route by way of this exit.  Pretty interesting signage, although it didn’t tempt us enough to go inside.

Oh, and in case you wondered about all those oranges and grapefruits out roasting in the sun?  They’re little concrete spheres.  Wouldn’t make very good juice. 😉

Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items

It’s A Wrap – Our Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Fort Scott National Historic Site in Fort Scott, Kansas

I’ve finally finished processing all of my picks from our Pacific Northwest road trip!

The last two stops were Fort Scott National Historic Site in Fort Scott, Kansas and George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri.

Fort Scott National Historic Site in Fort Scott, Kansas
Fort Scott National Historic Site in Fort Scott, Kansas
Fort Scott National Historic Site in Fort Scott, Kansas

The two things we most wanted to do in Fort Scott were (1) visit the fort and (2) visit the Gordon Parks Museum.  The trip from Fort Larned took longer than we expected, so we arrived at the fort just as they were shutting down for the day.  Fortunately, a kind ranger was able to arrange for Kathy to get her Passport book stamped, and we were only able to see the outsides of the buildings.

Fort Scott, Kansas

The Gordon Parks Museum is part of Fort Scott Community College, and the college was closed at the time we passed through.  So that will need to be reserved for a future trip.  The town of Fort Scott was very quaint with a number of interesting looking shops and restaurants, so it’s likely that we’ll make a point of getting back there at some point.

Old train station in Fort Scott, Kansas
Fort Scott, Kansas

After spending the night in Joplin, MO we stopped at George Washington Carver National Monument the next day enroute to our last overnight in Clarksville, TN.  We had always thought of Carver as the “peanut guy” but he did far more than that.  It was another unexpectedly educational visit.  After our night in Clarksville we “took the last train” and drove home through Tennessee while (unsuccessfully) dodging heavy thunderstorms!

George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri
George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri
George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri
George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri
George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri

All in all we drove a total of 8,230 miles over 25 days, and I took nearly 4,500 photos.  My picks brought the total down to 1,745 and there are just over 800 photos in the 10 online galleries.

I now have a complete collection of photos from our road trip in my Adobe Portfolio page here.

A Truly “Distanced” Visit – Fort Larned, Kansas

Entrance to Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas

Fort Larned National Historic Site in Kansas was our final major stop on our way toward home from Fort Collins, CO.  We had spent the previous night in Hays, Kansas and stopped for a picnic breakfast at the picnic area just outside the entrance to the park.  While we were there, we only saw one car drive in, and it was a guy with a dog, both of whom needed to use the “facilities” but neither went to the fort.

Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas. Flag was at half staff due to the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg
Officers’ quarters at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Officers’ quarters at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Officers’ quarters at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas

When we arrived in the parking lot for the fort, there were a few cars in the parking lot, but I have no idea who they belonged to.  Other than a groundskeeper, who we only saw a few times and from a distance, we didn’t see another soul the whole time we were there.  The metadata from my photos shows an hour and fifteen minutes between the first and last pictures.  But all of the buildings were open for viewing, and the rangers had set up a little table to get stamps for our National Parks Passport.

Officers’ quarters at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Officers’ quarters at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Officers’ quarters at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas

We visited a number of different historic sites on our western loop, and three of them were forts.  Interestingly, all three of them were from different periods in our history, and each one served a unique purpose in its time.  Fort Clatsop in Oregon was established by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 and was their quarters for the winter of 1805-1806.  Fort Scott, which we visited later the same day as Fort Larned, was established in 1842 as one of a chain of forts intended to protect settlers from the Plains Indians, as well as to protect the Indians from the settlers’ encroachment.

Troop barracks at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Medical facilities and infirmary at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas

Fort Larned was originally established in 1859 as The Camp on Pawnee Fork.  It was renamed Camp Alert in 1860 then moved to the current location and renamed Fort Larned, after Colonel Benjamin F. Larned, the paymaster general of the United States Army at the time the post was established.  Fort Larned’s purpose was to protect traffic along the Santa Fe Trail.

Shop areas at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Shop areas at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Shop areas at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas

The park is very well done, with numerous buildings all restored and preserved in near-original condition and is a fine representation of a complete and authentic army post from the 1860s -1870s.  This well-preserved fort on the Santa Fe Trail shares a tumultuous history of the Indian Wars era. The sandstone constructed buildings sheltered troops who were known as the Guardians of the Santa Fe Trail.

Food, clothing, supplies and munitions storage at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Food, clothing, supplies and munitions storage at Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas

I’ve added a gallery of more photos from Fort Larned on my Adobe Portfolio site for anyone who wants to see more.  Enjoy! 🙂

Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas
Fort Larned National Historic Site near Larned, Kansas. Flag was at half staff due to the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg

More Than Just Bones – Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah

As we started our eastward return leg from Ogden toward Colorado, we had one more stop to make in Utah.  Dinosaur National Monument straddles the eastern Utah and western Colorado border.  The park’s primary claim to fame is the Fossil Quarry, located on the Utah side near the town of Jensen, UT.  Jensen lies along US-40, roughly halfway between Park City, UT and Steamboat Springs, CO.

Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah
Quarry Visitor Center at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah

The Quarry Visitor Center contains numerous exhibits about the history of the area, including the quarry wall itself that is now housed within an impressive building.  The building itself was operating at a greatly reduced capacity with reservations required.  We made our reservations several days in advance and had no trouble getting in.  Interestingly no one actually asked us for documentation of our reservations, although I’m certain they are checked randomly.

Quarry Exhibit Hall and the wall of dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah
Quarry Exhibit Hall and the wall of dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah
Quarry Exhibit Hall and the wall of dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah
Quarry Exhibit Hall and the wall of dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah
Quarry Exhibit Hall and the wall of dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah

The dinosaur fossil beds were discovered in 1909 by Earl Douglass, a paleontologist working and collecting for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  He and his crews excavated thousands of fossils and shipped them back to the museum in Pittsburgh, PA for study and display.  President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the dinosaur beds as Dinosaur National Monument in 1915. The monument boundaries were expanded in 1938 from the original 80 acres surrounding the dinosaur quarry in Utah, to 210,844 acres in Utah and Colorado, encompassing the river canyons of the Green and Yampa.  It’s hard to believe that the fossils that remain today are the “leftovers,” as it still makes for a very impressive display.

Scenic views from Cub Creek Road in Dinosaur National Monument
Scenic views from Cub Creek Road in Dinosaur National Monument
Scenic views from Cub Creek Road in Dinosaur National Monument

While the quarry is the main attraction, I was in many ways more impressed by the stunning scenery of the area surrounding the visitor center.  We saw only a tiny portion of the 210+ thousand acres, and it would be quite easy to spend a lot more time exploring.  But alas, we were on our way to Colorado and could only devote a few hours to the park.  It’s not the kind of place you just happen to pass by, but we may decide to detour that way the next time we head west.  The drive along US 40 is much more pleasant and scenic than I would expect I-70 or I-80 to be!

Petroglyphs at Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah

I’ll added a more complete gallery of photographs from Dinosaur on my Adobe Portfolio page.