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.
Kathy & I like to get out of town on weekends, especially taking advantage of some long holiday weekends to stretch our meager PTO (Paid Time Off) allotment. We did just that over July 4th, visiting (most of) our friends in Belhaven and Washington, NC. The towns were dressed up in their patriotic best, and we even managed to take in a parade. I’m saving the parade photos for another post and possibly even my SoFoBoMo project, but here are a few random photos from the weekend.
With temperatures in the mid to upper 90s here in Charlotte we’ll be taking off again this weekend. The mountains are calling, as they say…. 🙂
We don’t get to do it as often as we might like, but Kathy & I enjoy taking day trips to places that are just an hour or two from home. We visited West Jefferson, NC a few weeks ago for the first time in several years, having previously visited to photograph the town for a magazine assignment.
West Jefferson is a nice mountain town, just busy enough to not be considered “sleepy,” but not as zoo-crazy as a place like Boone or Blowing Rock. Needless to say, that was one of the things we remembered about West Jefferson, and was one of the reasons we wanted to go back.
One of the notable things about West Jefferson is all of the murals on the sides of the buildings. The scenes are varied, but generally reflect the history of the town or are some kind of artistic or humanitarian expression. There are a number of interesting shops and art galleries, and even a photography gallery.
I naturally had my camera with me, and while many of my photos would not be considered “Chamber of Commerce” shots, I had fun finding the things I like to find and capturing them with my camera.
We found it an interesting place to spend the day, and ended up coming home via the Blue Ridge Parkway which crosses nearby. It was a nice place to visit and one we hope to return to again soon.
Kathy & I took a quick jaunt over Easter to visit some of our friends in Belhaven and Washington, NC. It was a quick trip and we didn’t see everyone, but we did manage to buy some wine from our favorite Wine Guy, and I was able to take a few photos. We’re planning a return in July and will be sure to look up the rest (SN).
A couple of weeks ago I was able to take advantage of a “clearance” sale on the Fuji E-X2 and picked one up as a backup to my X-T1. I don’t do a lot of events, but when I do I know it is prudent to have a spare camera, just in case. Adorama had the E-X2 body and the wonderful 18-55 zoom lens on sale for what amounted to $200 for the body. As much as I would love to have an X-Pro 2, and as aware as I am that the X-T2 is right around the corner, I have placed a self-imposed moratorium on the upgrade cycle and am planning to stand firm for a while. But I still don’t have all the lenses, so…. 😉
So here is a little sampler of photos taken with my “backup” kit. No slouch for sure, especially with a nice lens. Looking forward to using it some more.
One of the things I love to do when we travel is seek out old railroad stations. They are especially prevalent in rural areas of North and South Carolina, and I have found them in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, as well.
One of the stations we pass by on a regular basis is the station in Branchville, SC. It’s on one of the “slow-cuts” we like to take when we are headed to Hilton Head and want to get off the freeway. I’ve taken pictures there before, and have been particularly interested in the old freight depot that sits across the tracks. It is in pretty sad shape, but a few years ago was given a new roof, and while I don’t know for sure I am hopeful that some funding will find its way there to complete the restoration. Both buildings are beautiful and reflect the good old days of American railroading.
According to one of the signs there, Branchville was on the first commercial railway, from Charleston to Hamburg, SC. Construction began in Charleston in 1829 and was completed to Hamburg in 1833. The distance was 136 miles and at the time was the longest railroad in the world and twice as long as any in the United States.
The railroad branched out from Branchville to Orangeburg in 1840, and Branchville became the first railroad junction in the world.
The Branchville Depot was built in 1877 and featured a dining room there trains would stop for breakfast and dinner. It claims the distinction of having had three former US Presidents dine there: President William McKinley, President Theodore Roosevelt and President Howard Taft.
The depot today is a symbol of Branchville’s rich railroad history and contains Branchville’s Railroad Shrine and Museum and a restaurant. It seems that we have never been there when either was open, but at some point I will be sure to get inside and look around.
I was looking at my desktop the other day, and realized that I wanted something “Christmas-y” instead of the one I had been using. I thought I had used this image before as a wallpaper, but as it turns out I never did. So here you go!
Believe it or not, this photo was taken back in January 2010 in Belhaven, NC. I included it on my paper calendar for that year, and it was such a hit in town that the woman who owns the house and dock where this photo was taken bought calendars to give out to her friends! As a Thank You I took her a print of this photo. Hopefully she is enjoying that print. And she gave me her permission to photograph from this dock whenever I’m in town, which I try to do whenever we are in Belhaven. The tree isn’t there any more, but it’s a great place for sunrise at certain times of the year. I think we’re due for a return visit!
Kathy & I want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2016!
Monte very astutely observed in my last post that all of the photos I posted had people in them, and what a departure that was for me. And it’s true – people who don’t know what kind of photography I do frequently ask me if I do weddings, and I almost always reply that I don’t take pictures with people in them.
On our recent visit to Asheville, however, I took way more pictures of people than I ever do. After Monte’s comment I realized that, for me, Asheville was all about the people.
A lot of places tend, for me at least, to be about other things – buildings, architecture, historical landmarks, nature, etc. But even though most of those other things can be found there, Asheville was mostly about the people.
I think the thing I enjoyed most about shooting there was that no one really paid any attention to me. Here in Charlotte, a person with a camera is often looked upon with suspicion, especially by the rent-a-cops that stand in front of (“guard” would be a misuse of the word) the bank buildings. A few people cast a sideways glance, but it seemed like for the most part I was just another tourist, and one who happened to have a camera.
I did find that using a wrist strap on the camera instead of a shoulder strap helped me be more spontaneous, and to a certain extent it made the camera a little less apparent to the people I was aiming it at. All in all it was a fun experience, and one I hope to try again soon!
In all the time we have spent in Western North Carolina, we have spent comparatively little time actually in Asheville. Everyone knows Asheville, some people know about Brevard, but relatively few people know about places like Waynesville, Sylva, Bryson City and others.
Most of our previous visits to Asheville have been for specific purposes – a visit to a museum, meeting with a photo editor, or a quick stop on our way to somewhere else. But Asheville is much more than just a place to pass through. In many ways it is far more cultured than the pseudo-culture of Charlotte, although admittedly there are places in Charlotte that are pretty darned interesting as well.
I have spent virtually no time in Asheville with a camera, so on Sunday afternoon we decided that it was high time we do some exploring. A quick check of the calendar confirmed that Octoberfest was the previous day, so other than the usual Sunday tourist crowd we figured we’d be OK. And were right, although the “usual tourist crowd” was still a bunch of people!
We had a nice few hours in town, checked out a few of the highlights but left plenty of places yet to be explored. We’ll definitely have Asheville on our short list for places to go back to soon. It’s even a pretty decent day trip from the Big City, so we just have to make a go of it in the near future.