I had the perfect opportunity to photograph the sunset behind the Portage Canal Lift Bridge in Houghton (pronounced HOE-tun) Michigan. Once again the clouds cooperated, and even though there were a few raindrops around, it was a pretty nice scene.
A few weekends ago, Kathy & I visited Staunton, VA to meet up with our friends Jim & Lisa, who drove down from Pennsylvania. We like to find interesting towns to visit for a few days when we have a chance to meet up. Last summer we met in Lewisburg, WV, and we’re planning a trip to Kentucky for later this year.
Staunton (pronounced STON-ton) is a pleasant and vibrant town located along I-81 just north of Roanoke and is about halfway between Jim & Lisa’s home in Pennsylvania and our home in Charlotte. In addition to a nice downtown with good restaurants and interesting shops, Staunton is home to the American Shakespeare Center, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Mary Baldwin University. Oh, and the Camera Heritage Museum.
We spent a few days walking around the town, saw a play at American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, had some good meals and visited some interesting shops. We were there on St. Patrick’s Day and enjoyed a dinner at a restaurant with a live Celtic band.
One afternoon we were walking around town, and at some point came across these old railroad trestle supports. I don’t remember the words, but Jim asked me if I thought they would make a good photograph. I had seen them but hadn’t responded to them yet, so Jim’s question woke me up. Yes, they were quite interesting, and as it turned out I was able to make a few photographs that prove the point.
Just like with the photos of Bill’s tree in my last post, sometimes it is someone else’s eyes that discover the photo, and my job is to do something with it. Looks like I may have to make another print! 😉
An oldie but goodie from the archives. Belhaven, NC 2010.
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. 😉
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!
As promised in a previous post, here is a selection of my photos from the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee Gorge Village near Hartford, Vermont. The museum’s website is down, possibly due to the recent AWS issues, but I got the following from Atlas Obscura:
Nestled above a charming general store near the Quechee Gorge, the Vermont Toy Museum’s vast collection of dolls, action figures, lunchboxes, yo-yos, and matchbox cars is a hidden treasure right off the White River Junction. Around 100,000 toys are housed inside the museum.
The museum’s items largely came from members of the local community. They were collected and compiled decade-by-decade, which displays the evolution of toys and games from the 1950s to the present day. Though it’s unknown who operates and maintains the museum, it’s closely watched by the employees at the downstairs Cabot Cheese Store and the antique mall next door.
The museum also houses an intricate model train exhibit that takes visitors through the four seasons of the Green Mountain state for only a quarter. This museum’s tireless attention to detail, nostalgia, and cozy atmosphere make it a must-see for travelers on Route 4.
It was a fun visit. A place we might have spent a lot more time, but just like the camera museum in Staunton, Virginia, there is only so much time…. 😉 As it was, we spent a lot of time saying things like, “I had that!” or “I remember those” or “the kids had these.” Fun stuff!
Almost forgot! I have completed processing my photos from our New England trip and have posted them on my Adobe Portfolio site.
I’m not sure what attracted me to Mystic, Connecticut. It wasn’t ‘Mystic Pizza,’ the pizza shop made famous by the movie by the same name. I haven’t seen the movie, although I was familiar with the name. No, it had something to do with something I had once read or heard about ‘Mystic Seaport.’ And we found it to be an excellent home base for our short but busy exploration of Connecticut.
Mystic Seaport is the name of the Mystic Maritime Center, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading maritime museum.” I’ll write about our visit to the museum in a separate post, so for now I’ll just talk about the town of Mystic itself.
The town of Mystic itself proved to be a quaint, albeit busy, seaside town. The Mystic River flows through the town, and there is a drawbridge on Main Street that opens once per hour to let sailboats and other larger vessels pass through.
We stayed at the Steamboat Inn, a small B&B right next to the river and the drawbridge, and it was the perfect location to explore the town while still making it easy to get out of town to see other places. I loved being able to walk out the door and photograph in the early morning, while Kathy caught a few extra Zs in our room. I’d get back in time for coffee and breakfast before starting off on whatever we had planned for the day.
We’re not big shoppers, so a few hours wandering around the town on afternoon was all the time we needed. We did buy ice cream, and yes, I did take a few obligatory photos of Mystic Pizza. There were several good restaurants within walking distance, including one we visited twice. S&P Restaurant & Oyster Bar impressed us so much on the first visit that we went back a second time. Fresh fish, excellent service and a decent wine selection is what we look for, especially at the coast, whether it is the northeast or the southeast. It fit the bill nicely for us.
In addition to the Maritime Museum, we ventured over to Groton, on the Thames River, to visit the USS Nautilus. The Nautilus was the first nuclear powered submarine and, among other feats, was the first to complete an underwater crossing of the North Pole. I remembered reading about the sub as a kid, and at one time seem to recall having a toy or plastic model. That was a long time ago! Photos from that visit and from the Maritime Museum are included in the gallery 2021-09 New England Part II on my Adobe Portfolio page.
Another early morning, another pretty sunrise. And more boats. We’ve been in Maine less than 24 hours and it is already as beautiful as I expected.
Skipping ahead a bit because I’m processing photos faster than I can write about them. If anyone is interested in seeing more of my “vacation photos,” head to my Adobe Portfolio page, where I’ve been adding galleries with more photos from places we visited. I’ll keep adding more galleries as I go and will eventually have a whole album.
The first stop on our Route 66 adventure was Oatman, Arizona. We had no idea what to expect, but suffice it to say that we could never have imagined it! We were expecting a sleepy little place with old buildings, a shop or two and some tumbleweeds blowing through town. But no…. We got there late morning on a Sunday, and the place was jammed with people, cars, motorcycles and…burros! Turns out it is a pretty happening place.
Our first concern was – oh, crap. Is this what Route 66 is going to be like the whole way? But no, I think we actually came across more people at one time in Oatman than we saw anywhere else on Route 66. It was amazing!
We didn’t stay long, only long enough to walk up and down the street, take in one of the “gunfights” that happens several times a day, then join the parade of vehicles out of town. But once we left the town limits the road was deserted, pretty much from there to Kingman.
Howdy from Hye!
We had an adventurous couple of days in the Hill Country of Texas. Headed tomorrow to the Rio Grande Valley region for some more scenery. Lots of photos, so little time for processing!
We were only gone from home for a little over 24 hours, but I came back with a number of stories. This is the last one from our vaccine quest.
On our way home from Southport, we decided to stop for lunch in Whiteville, a town just off the main route. The Chef & The Frog, by the way, was excellent. On our way there we passed through the town of Fair Bluff. I had seen a billboard promoting their “Depot Museum” and wanted to stop. As we entered the town it was clear that the place was nearly deserted. The main street was almost completely devoid of shops. A former car dealership sat empty with parts of the building on the verge of collapse. Directly across the street was a building marked as being the Municipal Building, but it was boarded up and silent. Urns along the sidewalks contained plants that appeared to be reasonably well cared for, or as well as could be expected for late winter. Farther up the street a gas station was open, and a pizza shop showed signs of life.
So what happened here, I wondered? As it turns out, Wikipedia summarizes the events leading up to the situation we came across:
“In 1999, Fair Bluff experienced a 1-in-100 year flood event.
In 2012, the Police Chief of Fair Bluff Marty Lewis was arrested, tried and convicted for selling and delivering oxycodone and possession with the intent to sell and conspiracy to traffic while acting as police chief. He was sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison and fined $100,000. On April 9, 2015 Marty Lewis filled an appeal of his case. On November 3, 2015 the verdict was unanimously affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, leaving in place the 90 to 117 month prison sentence originally imposed. Lewis will not be eligible for parole before November 2022.
In 2016, the town was devastated by flooding on the Lumber River caused by Hurricane Matthew, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of residents. As of June 2018 the rebuilding effort was still underway but several hundred residents who had fled rising floodwaters never returned and a number of businesses remained shuttered.
In September 2018 Fair Bluff was flooded again by the impact of Hurricane Florence, again forcing evacuations and leaving the downtown area under water again, and devastating the town for the third time in under 20 years. After Florence, many buildings in the downtown area of the town lay abandoned, with no plans to reoccupy or fix the buildings.
The population was 951 at the 2010 census but is believed to be lower following the two disasters, some estimates going as low as 450 people.”
That pretty much explains it – a town with a troubled past and cloudy future. But they do have a very nice train station.