Kathy & I just returned home from a fantastic 2-week vacation to Nova Scotia with our good friends Bill & Cathy from Ohio. Two weeks – and we’re still friends!
We had a wonderful time, good weather and excellent food. And I have a few thousand photos to process! One broken camera was the only bummer of the vacation. More to come on that, but (a) I didn’t drop it, and (b) it was my backup 5D that somehow lost it’s mirror. We’ll have to see if it is worth repairing or not, assuming that repair is possible.
Today was catch up day, mostly spent getting ourselves physically ready for our inevitable return to “reality.” I don’t think there is any way to fully prepare mentally. So that’s going to hurt, but it is the price we pay. Well worth it, I think, for a couple of weeks away.
Here are a few quick highlights to show that we were there. I’ll have a bunch of things to talk about over the coming days and weeks as I get all my “film” developed. Stay tuned!
Kathy & I enjoy visiting wineries – they have wine there! 🙂
This past weekend we met up with Earl & Bonnie and visited Morgan Ridge Vineyards, located about an hour east of Charlotte, and just south of Salisbury. I had come across a Groupon for a tour and tasting there, but had never heard of it before, so we decided to check it out. It’s out in the middle of nowhere (for us) but was worth the drive and we had a nice visit.
After a nice buffet lunch prepared by their resident chef, we received a tour from owner Amie Baudoin. One of the things we like best about visiting wineries is hearing the stories of the owners, and Amie told us some good stories and gave us the history of the place, from a farm run by her father to the present day winery, to their plans for the future.
One of the things I find interesting, and the thing that sometimes makes me a lousy photographic documenter of things like winery visits, is that for all of the photos I took (only about 50, since we had better things to do – like taste wine!) I didn’t take any pictures of Amie during our tour, and I didn’t take a single photo of the vineyards, the buildings or the grounds. I kick myself after the fact, because you would never know I was there from the pictures I did take. I just forget, I guess. But I get so far out of “snapshot mode” sometimes that I do sometimes just forget. I spend so much time looking for little details that I miss the big picture. I will admit though, that when I am doing something like a tour I also spend time listening to the speaker, which I hope shows interest in what they have to say, and doesn’t just make me look like some distracted tourist with a big camera.
We’re getting ready to jet off to Nova Scotia in a few weeks. I do need to put my tourist hat back on for that trip!
I was originally going to title this post “Take the Money and Run,” but when I thought about what I really wanted to say, I realized I was wanting to talk more about the present and the future than revisiting the past. I mentioned in an earlier post about the fact that we had sold our house, were sweating out the due diligence process and had been waiting – somewhat impatiently – to get the green light to move, and eventually to actually close the sale. Well, that’s all done now. We sent about half of our stuff to storage on May 22, moved the important stuff – cameras, computers, the bed and a little bit of furniture 🙂 – into an apartment on May 23, spent the 23rd and 24th unpacking most of what we brought, then immediately headed off to Belhaven, our favorite little town on the coast, for Memorial Day weekend. We then spent evenings this past week and this just-past weekend getting the rest of the odds and ends squared away. I got my printer hooked up and working this morning – it fortunately seems to have survived the move with no ill effects. I have some pictures to hang, but that will be about it.
We closed the sale on the 30th, so now we are houseless, but not homeless. We had lived in our house for 17 years. That’s an eternity for some people, and is the longest we have ever lived in one place. And we haven’t lived in an apartment since 1984. I think one of the lessons learned from the selling and moving process is that that is way too long to stay in one place. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff, and the older a house gets the more money it takes to keep it up. And that’s money that I would rather spend on things other than house maintenance.
Our current plan is to move into a new condo early this fall. It is currently in the very early construction stages – as in there isn’t even a road to it yet. But we visited the site this morning, and there are curbs now where there was just a hint of road only a week ago. The lot is graded and staked out, so we’re thinking that as soon as the road is paved we’ll start seeing forms go up for the footers. That’s pretty exciting – building our own place from the ground up. We’re not physically building it of course, but we picked the floor plan, chose the options and got to put our “signature” on it. All very exciting.
In the mean time, what to do? We think we’re going to like this little break quite a bit. A few months where the only things we need to think about are the necessities. Sure, we need to get up and go to work every day. We need to plan meals and get our exercise. But other than that? No boxes, no inspections and no appraisals. Almost worry free! Most everyone we know tells us that we’ll get tired of apartment living very quickly, and that we won’t be able to wait to get into our condo. But I don’t know. Part of us thinks we could get used to the “footloose and fancy free” lifestyle for a few years, maybe longer. Who says we need to own a house? Only the people who have a vested interest in selling us one! Throwing my money away on rent? How about throwing it away on interest instead? Take your pick and pay The Man. Conventional wisdom isn’t necessarily conventional or wise, I say.
We have every intention of going through with the condo purchase as planned. But we’re going to use this little bit of free time to consider all of our options. And that includes deciding whether or not we want to be tied to owning a house that we have to sell again, or if we just like the idea of giving 60 days notice, loading up the truck and moving somewhere else. There’s a certain appeal to that idea that tells me that I shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand. So we’ll see.
So what does all of this have to do with photography? Probably not a whole lot, except that for the next few months I expect to have a lot more time to spend wandering around with my camera. And I plan to have plenty of time to start writing for my blog again. And we’ll probably travel a little bit, maybe a lot. And that sounds like something that I can really look forward to.
Kathy & I spent this past weekend in Charleston, West Virginia. Why Charleston? We met up with friends from Ohio with whom we are planning a vacation this summer, and it is roughly half-way for both of us. It was a planning weekend for us, easier than trying to talk on the phone, or Skype, or send e-mails back and forth. A friend of Kathy’s remarked that “only we would take a vacation to plan a vacation.” Well, duh! 🙂
It wasn’t really a photography weekend, but I did take a camera. I almost always have at least one camera with me, and although I didn’t carry it to dinner, when we went out for breakfast or lunch, or just for a stretch, I took it along just in case I saw something interesting. I don’t think I came back with any prize-winning shots, but it was good exercise.
I’ll eventually get around to writing more about it, but I’ve been on sort of a “one camera, one lens” kick the last couple of months. I bought one of the Canon 50mm 1.4 lenses a few months ago, and I don’t think I’ve taken it off my camera! I just love the simplicity of the single focal length, and have really enjoyed the discipline of having to work a little bit to refine a composition, rather than just twist the zoom ring. It really makes me think about what I am shooting and what I’m trying to show. At first I was afraid the 50 would be a little wide, but I’ve gotten used to it.
I think I could have represented Charleston in a more favorable light had I gone a few weeks later, but things were still pretty brown there. The trees were just starting to show some buds and the grass – what little we could see downtown – was still pretty brown. And the whole place had that “could stand a good rainstorm” look that cities get when the snow has just finished melting. Not that they’ve had a lot of snow, but that was sort of the look it reminded me of.
In just a little over a week, Earl and Paul & I are going to go shoot some birds at the Carolina Raptor Center. I suppose I’ll have to take the 50 off for that, but I’ll probably put it back on as soon as I’m done!
I’ve been away, but I haven’t gone far. We’ve had a few things going on over the last couple of months that disrupted the little bit of posting momentum that I had back in January. I forced myself to spend a little time on the computer to process a few photos and throw a few words onto the blog so everyone knows I still love them!
A few weeks ago – seems like months – Kathy & I visited Charleston, SC for a weekend. February probably isn’t the ideal time to visit Charleston, and the particular weekend that we went was cold and windy. We spent a lot of time dashing from shop to shop, looking for shelter from the cold, and even dodged a little rain & snow on the first day there.
Charleston is a photogenic town whenever you visit. I did some photographing while we were there, and while I certainly didn’t capture the “classic” Charleston, I feel like I captured what I saw and felt while we were there. Add some color from a few flowers and trees, a little warmer weather and the results would be totally different.
One of the things that has kept me off the computer is a little “reading project” that I got myself into. When we took our cruise in January, I decided that I wanted to read the Harry Potter series. I had never read any of the books, never saw the movies, and our kids were too old by the time the books became popular for them to bring “Potter-itis” into our home. So I got the first volume as an e-book from the library before we left, started in on it, and I got hooked. I quickly finished the first book while onboard, and quickly downloaded the second volume. I just finished #5 of 7 and decided it was time for a little break. It’s great reading, but it sucked me in and wouldn’t let go!
We’re headed to “The Other Charleston” this coming weekend – Charleston, West Virginia. We’re meeting Bill & Cathy, our friends from Ohio, there to make some travel plans for this coming summer. I’ll definitely have a camera with me and hope to have some time to wander around, so I’ll be interested to see what that Charleston has to offer.
I’ve been away for a little while, but it looks like everyone has behaved. Kathy & I just returned to Charlotte from Fort Lauderdale, disembarking our cruise ship this morning after 10 days in the Caribbean. Sitting in the airport this morning, I looked at the weather forecast and thought seriously about hopping the flight to San Juan instead. 🙂
I’ll have some photos to post once I get them downloaded and processed, but for now here’s one I took with my tablet and processed with Snapseed. The Nexus 10 has a pretty decent camera, but it’s a little tough to hold a tablet still in the breeze on the deck of a moving ship. The colors are a little juicy, but that’s the whole point of Snapseed, right? 🙂
I had intended to post this from the airport this morning, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the photo into the post from my tablet. Strange. I guess I’ll need to do some research.
Kathy & I recently visited Roanoke, Virginia to visit with our friend Steven Norris and attend the opening of a gallery show that Exposure Roanoke is having at a gallery there. We had visited Roanoke many, many years ago, and had good but fading memories of the place. We had been intending to return for a long time, and this gave us a good chance to go.
We didn’t have a lot of time there, but we stayed at the Hotel Roanoke, which gave us easy access to the downtown area. With the expert guidance of Steven & Cheryl we visited some of the downtown highlights on Saturday night, and I returned for a little shooting on my own on Sunday morning, before meeting up with our friends for the sumptuous breakfast buffet at the Hotel Roanoke.
Roanoke is a railroad town, having grown around the success of the Norfolk & Southern, now Norfolk & Western. A lot of coal moves through Roanoke. With a population of just under 100,000 with 303,000 in the MSA, it’s a happening place without the sprawl and congestion of larger cities. Situated right near the mountains and The Blue Ridge Parkway and an easy drive from Charlotte, it’s a place we need to spend more time visiting, especially with friends there.
Despite the amazing number of railroad tracks, there are numerous bridges and pedestrian walkways, so getting around is easy. Our hotel had a walkway right across from the entrance, so we could be in town within minutes of leaving our room. And with the exception of going out to the gallery, once we parked our car we didn’t need it again until we left. My kind of place!
We didn’t visit the Transportation Museum, deciding to spend our limited time seeing more of the town. We did visit the O. Winston Link Museum on Sunday afternoon and learned the story of Link and is railroad photography. The Link museum is a fascinating place, located in the former N&S passenger depot. It’s definitely a must-visit for any photography and/or railroad buff.
The Taubman Museum of Art is across the tracks from the Link Museum, and provides an interesting architectural contrast with much of the older architecture in the area. I got the impression that there were only two opinions about the place most residents considering it either a hideous eyesore or beautiful. In my opinion there’s no point in making an art museum look like a Wal-Mart, so I guess I would fall into the “beautiful” camp. I’d vote for spending my tax dollars on it.
We had a nice weekend in Roanoke, a wonderful visit with Steven and Cheryl, and hope it isn’t another 30 years before we return for another look.