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As Edwin and I headed west over the great dividing range, we hit a large area of thick fog...

 

From a beautiful sunny morning, we travelled into an oncoming cold front which dumped rain and created this fog.

 

Once we headed back down to lower elevations again, the fog burnt off to reveal a lovely winters afternoon.

 

This shot taken in Black Springs on the Central Tablelands.

This island is a little north of West Point. The building that looks like a castle was an ammunition dump. It blew up, and burnt up, so now it is a shell of it's former self. I took the tour of the island hoping to get some "Wall Hangers" I first noticed the supports holding up the building on the approach. Those supports were a disappointment in my dreams of a wall hanger,because they seemed to take away from the ambiance of the castle, but still a nice trip. The tour was a bit restrictive because there were a lot of roped off areas, so viewing angles were limited.

Thank you very much for the visits, faves and comments. Cheers.

 

Cattle egrets having a squabble. There were literally thousands nesting near a lagoon. Not sure whether this is a pair or not... This male got short shrift from a female on a nest. Great display.

 

Cattle Egret

Scientific Name: Ardea ibis

Description: A relatively small snowy-white egret, the Cattle Egret is distinguished during breeding season by its orange crown, neck and breast, with similarly tinted long loose neck plumes. The long sharp, slightly down-curved bill is yellow to pinkish yellow, but becomes bright red during breeding season. The legs are normally grey-green out of breeding season, turning bright red or orange-brown during breeding.

It is a gregarious species and is most commonly seen foraging with grazing stock and in wetland areas.

Similar species: Outside breeding season, The Cattle Egret may be confused with other white egrets such as the Intermediate Egret, A. intermedia, which has a longer neck and is less stocky or the Little Egret, A garzetta, which always has a very slender black bill and is much slimmer in profile. The Great Egret, A. alba, is much larger, with a longer neck and legs and a slimmer body. In breeding season, the orange plumage of the Cattle Egret makes it unmistakable.

Distribution: Originally found in Africa, Europe and Asia, the Cattle Egret is now found on nearly every continent, with birds in Australia originating from Asia. In Australia it is most widespread and common in north-eastern Western Australia across the Top End, Northern Territory, and in south-eastern Australia from Bundaberg, Queensland to Port Augusta, South Australia, including Tasmania.

Habitat: The Cattle Egret is found in grasslands, woodlands and wetlands, and is not common in arid areas. It also uses pastures and croplands, especially where drainage is poor. Will also forage at garbage dumps, and is often seen with cattle and other stock.

Minimum Size: 48cm

Maximum Size: 53cm

Average size: 50cm

Breeding season: October to March

Clutch Size: 2 to 7, usually 3

Incubation: 24 days

Nestling Period: 42 days

(Source: www.birdsinbackyards.net )

 

:copyright: Chris Burns 2014

__________________________________________

 

All rights reserved.

This image may not be copied, reproduced, distributed, republished, downloaded, displayed, posted or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying and recording without my written consent.

What a sight this was to witness. You would not want to be any where near when they drop the water. It would kill you if you got dumped on.

 

Please note, I will be posting a lot of photos from this fire over the next day or two. Be sure to check out the whole gallery: Sandilands Bush Fire

 

Best Viewed On Black

 

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This is actually a former munition dump. It blew up and burnt up, so this is a shell of its former self. The supports are needed to keep the walls up.

shortly before the black cloud in the top right hand corner dumped a ton or so of rain on top of us. The wind moved the tree foliage about too much for my liking and the sun ! ! made a brief appearance, enough to burn out the sky behind the tree so apart from those two things and getting a soaking, it was a good day. ;)

© All Rights Reserved

 

Thanks to Fairway Kev for the title!

The children who work at La Chureca very often eat the food they find on the dump, none of them goes to school. Many of them sniff the shoe glue, the drug of the poorest. [Managua, Nicaragua] © www.jansochor.com

This image was produced using many of the processing techniques covered in my Tonality Control Video. It's available here: www.zschnepf.com

 

Winter mountain photography is extremely challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding. This is a shot I've been after for 7 years. Last week I saw a promising looking weather window, I packed up my winter gear and headed to Bend.

 

I left town at 2:30am and started snowshoeing at 3:30am on Friday. It was 5 degrees at snow park when I left and only got colder as I climbed. I received a couple minor frostbite burns when I took my gloves off and accidentally touched a metal piece of my tripod. It dumped snow on me the entire climb, and the wind was howling. The snow was so deep and cold, even with snowshoes I was sinking to my knee with each step. I had my doubts on climb up the mountain, it was snowing pretty hard, but I could see an opening above my head and stars shining through. I pressed on and hoped for the best.

 

I was rewarded for my effort. When I reached the top it was 40 minutes before sunrise. I looked back at Mt Bachelor and saw the clouds parting around the mountain in the predawn light. It's hard to describe the sense of awe and wonder I felt as I watched this incredible scene unfold before my eyes. Majestic, and awesome come to mind as applicable superlatives. In any case it was a moving experience.

 

The mountain was only clear of clouds for 5 or 10 minutes, by the time the sun came up the mountain was under the clouds once again. I was extremely grateful for those few minutes working in light my buddy Sean Bagshaw dubbed salmon light.

 

Thanks for commenting!

Proud team member of Photo Cascadia

 

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Ostrava, Czech Republic

February 2015

 

A photo from an active slag heap that I had taken about a week ago. It was exciting to walk around this area, because I had never seen anything like this before. I was also surprised, that this place was easily accessible for anybody. No fences. No warning signs. I saw a guy walking around as I did, but he didn't tell me anything. This slag heap is just a couple of minutes ride by car from my office.

 

Despite it was quite cold weather with temperatures around freezing point I felt very hot after a while since the heat was coming from the ground. That smoke had a very special smell. It smelled like a mixture of spoiled eggs and burning coal.

 

It is an artificial hill formed by stacking of coal dumps from the nearby coal mine. Mining company still operates here.

 

Other photos from this heap hike series.

  

Thanks for faves and comments.

 

Aminbazar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

 

Don't think of a different universe.

Don't think of an alien world.

 

It's one noxious hell present in this world....

Where the filths, the sins of us...are burnt to ashes.

 

Captured from Aminbazar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Almost all the garbage which the city dwellers produce are dumped and left for natural composting in this area. Some of the garbages are burnt to reduce the noxious smell. Amid this intolerable odor, a child and his mother is collecting waste papers, which is the only way of their livelihood.

 

All rights reserved worldwide. DO NOT use this image in any commercial, non-commercial or blogging purpose without my explicit permission. Otherwise, you'll face legal action for violating national or international copyright law.

 

For permission, mail me at:

monir.micro@gmail.com

monirmbdu@yahoo.com

Yep, just a picture of Sebastian :/

I still don't feel well today. Not physically, but emotionally ^_^;; Sorry to dump all my problems on you all, my confidence has just been shot, and I can't seem to take a pic I sincerely like. I haven't posted a pic I've been really proud of in a while :/

I'm hoping this phase will pass soon, I don't want to feel like this over the holidays :/

The January 'Wolf' Full Moon through a mixture of clouds and smoke from a burning tyre dump, which was visible from Space.

Went to Drake's Beach for some sunrise photography today. No clouds, but a very lovely quality of light that I easily burned and dodged into this little ditty. At one point, the cliff above me gave way and dumped a truck load of rocks on me and my camera. Camera is still working and I have a headache as I type this ... but I think i will likely live to see another day!

Last Dump'n'Burn at Riverfire. Brisbane 2010

Primorje-Gorski Kotar

Gulf of Kvarner

croatia, former yugoslavia

coke burning eurco power station

at 250m high one of europe's tallest and most polluting

chimneys

built 1978

closed in 1995

demolished 2005

:copyright:chris dorley-brown

  

my website

  

see here for "now" shot

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Bakar

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakar

 

skyscraperpage.com/cities/?buildingID=92782

 

www.emporis.com/building/chimney-of-bakar-eurco-bakar-cro...

The F-111 Aardvaark, also known as the "The Pig," served for thirty years in USAF service, and with the Royal Australian Air Force for over a decade more, with the type finally being retired in 2010. One of the things missed the most about the swing-winged Pig is its incredible ability to set the sky ablaze.

 

The "Dump & Burn" as it is known (other names include the "Zippo" and the "Torch") is a relatively simple operation. The F-111's fuel dump is located right between its turbofan engines, and if the jet's afterburners are engaged while the fuel is being dumped it will ignite starting at about five feet behind the aircraft. The resulting fiery spectacle was widely denounced by the USAF but became something of a source of national pride for the Australians, and the F-111's flame throwing ability was displayed at national events as well as air shows around the country and the region.

 

Photo taken by my son William John Jardim.

   

Ten Things.

 

So, the other day Kristin posted this picture of a leaf in my yard. She came to visit and I wasn't home (dang it all) and I joked that I knew that leaf. Well, today while I was standing looking out the window and thinking about winter and the cold and the snow and the ice and the long winter-ness of it all I noticed that there is in fact ONE SINGLE LEAF hanging on to the maples out front! So I went out to take that very same picture. Well, you know, more or less.

 

I was feeling pretty clever about this. And I was kind of cracking myself up about emulating my pal Mainemomma when next thing you know: the kitchen is FULL OF SMOKE!!! You see, I was also cooking dinner at the same time as being so clever. I had gotten tired of waiting for the onions to cook so I had turned up the heat high on the pan and thrown in the mushrooms and garlic and then I wandered outside to take pictures and POW! SMOKE EVERYWHERE!! Quick quick I dumped in a goodly amount of red wine to unstick the whole mess from the pan! I flung open the front porch door and propped it open with a pair of boots! Then I ran to the back porch door and propped that one open with a shovel so the smoke could blow right out -- which it did! At just about that very moment, Lucian came back from a walk.

 

"Is everything all right?!" he sounded very concerned.

 

"Oh yeah! Everything's just fine! Just cookin' dinner, not to worry!" and I waved him away as if the smoke pouring out two open doors on a January night was really nothing to remark on.

 

And I think I got my ten things. Ready?

 

1. I have a flickr friend turned real friend, Kristin.

2. We took a picture of the same leaf in my yard.

3. We both struggle with winter.

4. Apparently I think it's clever to take the same picture someone already took : )

5. When I've had too much coffee I can't focus on more than one thing...

6. I always get impatient and turn up the heat on the onions.

7. Wine is really good for unsticking what you stuck with the high heat.

8. More often than not, I smoke up the house when cooking dinner.

9. The only reason I didn't set off the smoke alarm tonight was because it was still unplugged from when I did this the other night...

10. Lucian was kind enough not to jump to the conclusion that I was just burning dinner again and instead to wonder if I was doing something new and burning down the house instead...

 

Want to do your ten things? Please consider yourself tagged. : )

Yesterday the clouds were building on the horizon near Point Mugu making for a fabulous sunset on the Pacific Ocean, as SoCal awaited the first of up to four consecutive powerhouse storms -- predicted to dump up to a foot and a half of rain in some areas, and snow above 4000 feet.

 

I can hear it pounding the roof as I type this. They're saying some areas will get over an inch an hour -- three counties that were hit hard by the wildfires are now facing flash flooding and mudslides.

 

Six straight days. I hope the burn ravaged hillsides can take it.

 

Extra points for those who can spot the fishing line.

TBH unleashes his fire twirling skills upon unsuspecting drain dwelling creatures. Hundreds of cockroaches died during the making of this series but were promptly washed away when a few hundred litres of water was dumped upstream from us.

 

No this is not photoshopped.. that's how good he is.

Thank you very much for the visits, faves and comments. Cheers.

 

Cattle egrets having a squabble. There were literally thousands nesting near a lagoon. Not sure whether this is a pair or not... This male got short shrift from a female on a nest. Great display.

 

Cattle Egret

Scientific Name: Ardea ibis

Description: A relatively small snowy-white egret, the Cattle Egret is distinguished during breeding season by its orange crown, neck and breast, with similarly tinted long loose neck plumes. The long sharp, slightly down-curved bill is yellow to pinkish yellow, but becomes bright red during breeding season. The legs are normally grey-green out of breeding season, turning bright red or orange-brown during breeding.

It is a gregarious species and is most commonly seen foraging with grazing stock and in wetland areas.

Similar species: Outside breeding season, The Cattle Egret may be confused with other white egrets such as the Intermediate Egret, A. intermedia, which has a longer neck and is less stocky or the Little Egret, A garzetta, which always has a very slender black bill and is much slimmer in profile. The Great Egret, A. alba, is much larger, with a longer neck and legs and a slimmer body. In breeding season, the orange plumage of the Cattle Egret makes it unmistakable.

Distribution: Originally found in Africa, Europe and Asia, the Cattle Egret is now found on nearly every continent, with birds in Australia originating from Asia. In Australia it is most widespread and common in north-eastern Western Australia across the Top End, Northern Territory, and in south-eastern Australia from Bundaberg, Queensland to Port Augusta, South Australia, including Tasmania.

Habitat: The Cattle Egret is found in grasslands, woodlands and wetlands, and is not common in arid areas. It also uses pastures and croplands, especially where drainage is poor. Will also forage at garbage dumps, and is often seen with cattle and other stock.

Minimum Size: 48cm

Maximum Size: 53cm

Average size: 50cm

Breeding season: October to March

Clutch Size: 2 to 7, usually 3

Incubation: 24 days

Nestling Period: 42 days

(Source: www.birdsinbackyards.net )

 

:copyright: Chris Burns 2015

__________________________________________

 

All rights reserved.

This image may not be copied, reproduced, distributed, republished, downloaded, displayed, posted or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying and recording without my written consent.

 

:copyright: Chris Burns 2015

__________________________________________

 

All rights reserved.

This image may not be copied, reproduced, distributed, republished, downloaded, displayed, posted or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying and recording without my written consent.

I actually took this shot a couple of weeks back but used a different one for the week, I just didn;t get the oppurtunity to get out today as I had hoped, This shot isn;t to far off of what I would have found today after another good dump of spring snow. We had at least 6-7" of that nice wet white stuff, with supposedly more coming on Sunday.

 

Should add that the sun was just finishing up burning off the fog when I took this shot,

 

HFF everyone

 

Looks better when you hit "L"

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

40,000 acres around the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon burned in wildfires in August, raging within 100s of yards of towns and populated areas. Firefighters dumped fire retardant in aggressive (and successful) attempts to protect the town of Simnasho, where this photo was taken.

 

Boracay is hands down the finest of all white sand beaches in the Philippines. Its so fine white most say its like walking on sugar. Its characteristics make one comfortable to walk on it barefoot even during the hottest of days without getting your feet burned. Besides walking barefoot on the beach makes you experience nature better.

 

So whether its your first or the nth time to go to this famous island, dump the sandals and walk barefoot the boracay way....

I just found this very old photograph of a series I took from 1995-2000 (my photostream has five shots of the tree in various seasons). This tree borders a preserves owned by the Audubon Society in the mountains east the some of the best wine lands in the country. Unfortunately, during the tenure of this series, vineyards encroached into the canyon below as the industry outgrew the Alexander Valley (you can't stop the political and economic power of the wine machine). The view of the oak laden canyons below were changed overnight. That was 1995. During this time, the city of Santa Rosa, some 30 miles south, decided that dumping their treated wastewater into a geothermal region in the heart of these mountains was a good idea. Sonoma County agreed. The pipeline was built in the late 1990's and a pump station was put in about 50 yards away from the tree (sound polution). The pipeline now runs right into this photograph. The following year a fire ran through the area and the tree was partially burned. It was sad to so quickly see the demise of such a beautiful area. I don't visit any more.

 

This is happening all over Sonoma County. Oak forests (and their habitat) are in decline, coming down for vineyards and McMansions.

 

These photographs remind me of a cool period in my life, and they allow me to recall the serenity of the area. May it rest in peace.

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

police aware... nicked, dumped but not burnt..

A modified DC-10 VLT (Very Large Tanker) suddenly appears above the mountains and dumps retardant on the Courtney Fire and passes above us on the shore of Bass Lake California. The fire burned a number of structures and I am sure a few were sadly homes.

 

:copyright: Darvin Atkeson

Yosemite Landscapes

Follow me on Facebook

 

Many thanks for the visits, faves and comments. Cheers

 

....from a walk through Oxley Creek Common. Oxley Creek Common is home to a remarkable variety of birds. An experienced observer can find as many as 70 species in one hour of observation during the spring about 10% of all Australia's bird species and several times the diversity one could find walking the suburbs. In the past eleven years over 190 species have been recorded on the Common. (Source: University of Queensland)

  

Cattle Egret

Scientific Name: Ardea ibis

Description: A relatively small snowy-white egret, the Cattle Egret is distinguished during breeding season by its orange crown, neck and breast, with similarly tinted long loose neck plumes. The long sharp, slightly down-curved bill is yellow to pinkish yellow, but becomes bright red during breeding season. The legs are normally grey-green out of breeding season, turning bright red or orange-brown during breeding.

It is a gregarious species and is most commonly seen foraging with grazing stock and in wetland areas.

Similar species: Outside breeding season, The Cattle Egret may be confused with other white egrets such as the Intermediate Egret, A. intermedia, which has a longer neck and is less stocky or the Little Egret, A garzetta, which always has a very slender black bill and is much slimmer in profile. The Great Egret, A. alba, is much larger, with a longer neck and legs and a slimmer body. In breeding season, the orange plumage of the Cattle Egret makes it unmistakable.

Distribution: Originally found in Africa, Europe and Asia, the Cattle Egret is now found on nearly every continent, with birds in Australia originating from Asia. In Australia it is most widespread and common in north-eastern Western Australia across the Top End, Northern Territory, and in south-eastern Australia from Bundaberg, Queensland to Port Augusta, South Australia, including Tasmania.

Habitat: The Cattle Egret is found in grasslands, woodlands and wetlands, and is not common in arid areas. It also uses pastures and croplands, especially where drainage is poor. Will also forage at garbage dumps, and is often seen with cattle and other stock.

Minimum Size: 48cm

Maximum Size: 53cm

Average size: 50cm

Breeding season: October to March

Clutch Size: 2 to 7, usually 3

Incubation: 24 days

Nestling Period: 42 days

(Source: www.birdsinbackyards.net )

 

:copyright: Chris Burns 2017

__________________________________________

 

All rights reserved.

This image may not be copied, reproduced, distributed, republished, downloaded, displayed, posted or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying and recording without my written consent.

Illustration I did of the runaway train that dumped the burning oil cars in Lac-Mégantic and killed fifty people. For the front of the National Post tomorrow. Four hours start to finish. Adobe Illustrator.

 

web newsillustrator.com

 

tweet @newsillustrator

Original Caption: Entrance to the Moab City Dump. Signs Warn Local Residents That Cattle Carcasses Are Not Accepted. Along with Automobiles the Dump Seems to Be the Main Source of Air Pollution in the Area the System of Open Burning Is Used. The Dump Is About Three Miles from Arches National Park to the North and Fifteen Miles from Canyonlands National Park to the South, 05/1972

 

U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-3259

 

Photographer: Hiser, David, 1937-

 

Subjects:

Moab (Grand county, Utah, United States) inhabited place

Environmental Protection Agency

Project DOCUMERICA

 

Persistent URL: catalog.archives.gov/id/545746

  

Repository: Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001.

 

For information about ordering reproductions of photographs held by the Still Picture Unit, visit: www.archives.gov/research/order/still-pictures.html

 

Reproductions may be ordered via an independent vendor. NARA maintains a list of vendors at www.archives.gov/research/order/vendors-photos-maps-dc.html

   

Access Restrictions: Unrestricted

Use Restrictions: Unrestricted

 

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Oscar Wilde

 

I much prefer looking at clouds, even if I am still in a dumpster. But Wilde I still revere.

 

The skies seem to be inconsequential this day, but I persisted. This was taken from the base of a dumpster behind a Goodwill store. I nearly burned my knee on the hot asphalt trying to balance myself...and I was wearing jeans.

 

Somehow, it reminds me of the constrasty images of Mexican cinema of the 1940s. Luis Bunuel had a period where he worked and produced movies in Mexico, one of which is "Los olvidados." I don't quite know why this came to mind, but it did and I am sharing it with you.

This Commodore Ute was no doubt someone's pride & joy before thieves helped themselves to it. Found at Turner's Marsh, Tasmania

trying to stich my leg proved a complete mess.

I probably bled more trying to fix it than i did when it was a fresh wound.

 

for now its wrapped with a clean towel and duct taped tight.

Bellevue proved a great place to rest and hide, but the lack of

doing something and trying to find other people just made me think

entirely too much. i began to fall into the cycle of "what does it matter"

and began questioning my resolve to live another day. so i put my

mind to a purpose.

 

Rainbarrels on the roof provided enough water for me to use

the BBQ and pots and pans to get myself a hot "bath". after i was done,

the bathtub looked like somebody had dumped mud and blood in it.

the first time i have felt clean in months, and i got a change of some

of the clothes i coud fit into.

 

that was last week now ... ive made my way back towards Seattle ...

the farther from it i went, the more groups of diseased people i ran into.

Ran FROM is more correct i guess. The last encounter ended with me running

thru a burned hardware store and climbing out the backroom window.

which is where my leg got even more cut up. If i dont give this time to

heal and close up,i am going to wind up slower and then dead for sure.

 

As i was walking into georgetown,a faint ringing caught my attention...

 

it ... sounded like a phone ..

  

Previous episode ---- ---- The Beginning ---- ---- Next Episode

 

..

Took these plus quite a few more in a rush so forgive some faults guys. I'll post some more when i have a chance.

They were taken in Manchester off the cadishead bypass alongside the ship canal. The grounds used to be a trailer park for an industrial company. It has since been long closed, the trailers were never removed ,so now they lie rotting, vandalised burned and full of graffiti. I must geo-locate for anyone who wants to visit.

Shot across the Brisbane River from the Performing Arts Building. I wanted the blown out water at the top so I metered off the "beach" which was in deep shadow and it worked :)

The usual dodge and burn routine though I used a desaturated green on the sand part. Don't know why. Sometimes I do things in a subconscious mode and then get totally surprised by the result.

A device releasing methane from the ground burns bright at the old dump in Lyndhurst, NJ.

Construction date: 1905

 

The site of today’s Victoria Park Markets was once the central refuse collection area for Auckland City. Disposal of refuse was a pungent city issue throughout the latter part of the 19th century. In the 1870s collection was contracted out and dumping occurred ‘out of the sight and smell of citizens’. In the 1890s however, citizens were required to dispose of their own rubbish and vacant allotments became convenient, informal tips. Fear of the bubonic plague in 1900 prompted the council to consider a municipal refuse destruction plant and in 1904 a tender of £16,840 was accepted from J Barre Johnston Ltd of Sydney for the construction of a Meldrum destructor, completed in 1905.

 

The complex of polychromatic brick construction included the council’s Works’ Depot, blacksmith’s and carpenter’s shops, stables and a 38m high chimney. Alfred Wrigg (City Engineer from 1899 to 1906) probably supervised construction. He was also responsible for supervising the Auckland electric trams and for paving Queen Street with asphalt.

 

The capacity of the destructor was increased during the 1920s and 1930s, but by 1960, as controlled dumping grew in popularity, it was disposing of a mere 10% of the city’s rubbish. The plant was closed in 1972 and it was subsequently converted into the Victoria Park Markets.

 

As Auckland grew, so did its requirement for electricity. The council was vested with the public supply of electricity by the Auckland City Electric Lighting Act 1900 and an Australian engineer, W T G Goodman, was employed to report on the feasibility of using the destructor to generate electricity in 1906. His proposals were accepted, although he criticised the council for failing to incorporate a generating plant in the original design, despite a series of earlier reports endorsing the potential of electricity.

 

The electrical contract was won by Turnbull & Jones for £11,808. The cost subsequently escalated with revisions in potential demand and the provision of additional boilers and new feeders. In 1908, electricity was provided to the first 12 customers. Within four months demand exceeded supply and coal was used to supplement the burning of rubbish. It was replaced in 1913 by the Kings Wharf coal fired power station, again built by the council.

 

Information sourced from the excellent booklet, "Heritage Walks - The Engineering Heritage of Auckland" produced by Tourism Auckland.

Built in 1954, the incinerator Dickson was, at that time, the most modern in North America. It has been built to replace these old incinerators where horses were used for harvesting waste.

 

In the 1920s, the city of Montreal was struggling with dumps that gave off strong emanations, sources of diseases of any kind. This explains why at the end of the decade, it was decided to build a first incinerator at the corner of Papineau and des Carrières Street and a second at Atwater Street.

 

But, with the advent of the first garbage dumpsters, the existing facilities have became obsolete and a new incinerator was required. In 1954 begins the construction of the new incinerator on Dickson Street. The unloading platform was located above the street level to facilitate the unloading of trucks and allow the discharge of waste directly into large pits. Also, the exterior routes to access the platform were heated to prevent ice formation during winter and all operations were mechanized and dry waste was organized to burn without fuel. The heat emitted by the combustion was recovered and used to heat municipal buildings nearby.

 

The Dickson incinerator was equipped with two chimneys and represented at the time a gem of waste management technology . However, as this source of pollution was too large, it was responsible for the degradation of the air in the area. The authorities have decided to cease its activities in 1978.

The Chariot, ז) & 7) - by Levi.

 

& Flannery O' Connor- "Everything that Rises Must Converge"..

& - yes BP is still EVIL - VERY evil, are they going to clean up long term?? Or what?

 

& - Taraf De Haidouks -

-

 

THE CHARIOT

 

Weapon, sword, cherubic sword of fire, the sacred septenary, triumph, royalty, priesthood.

 

Hieroglyph, a CUBIC CHARIOT, with four pillars and an azure and starry drapery. In the chariot, between the four pillars, a victor crowned with a circle adorned with three radiant golden pentagrams.

 

Upon his breast are three superposed squares, on his shoulders the URIM and THUMMIM of the sovereign sacrificer, represented by the two crescents of the moon in GEDULAH and GEBURAH; in his hand is a sceptre surmounted by a globe, square and triangle: his attitude is proud and tranquil.

 

A double sphinx or two sphinxes joined at the haunches are harnessed to the chariot; they are pulling in opposite directions, but are looking the same way.

  

They are respectively black and white. On the square which forms the fore part of the chariot is the Indian lingam surmounted by the flying sphere of the Egyptians. This hieroglyph, which we reproduce exactly, is perhaps the most beautiful and complete of all those that are comprised in the Clavicle of the Tarot.

 

THE septenary is the sacred number in all theogonies and in all symbols, because it is composed of the triad and the tetrad.

 

The number seven represents magical power in all its fullness; it is the mind reinforced by all elementary potencies; it is the soul served by Nature; it is the SANCTUM REGNUM mentioned in the Keys of Solomon and represented in the Tarot by a crowned warrior, who bears a triangle on his cuirass and is posed upon a cube, to which two sphinxes are harnessed, straining in opposite directions, while their heads are turned the same way.

  

This warrior is armed with a fiery sword and holds in his left hand a sceptre surmounted by a triangle and a sphere.

  

The cube is the Philosophical Stone; the sphinxes are the two forces of the Great Agent, corresponding to JAKIN and BOAZ, the two Pillars of the Temple; the cuirass is the knowledge of Divine Things, which renders the wise man invulnerable to human assaults; the sceptre is the Magic Wand; the fiery sword is the symbol of victory over the deadly sins, seven in number, like the virtues, the conceptions of both being typified by the ancients under the figures of the seven planets then known.

 

1-7

Balance, attraction and repulsion, life, terror, promise and threat.

    

The link to this excerpt/description is censored & removed by Flickr every time I post it- so it's in the tag at right- if it disappears from there, email me for it..

  

-

 

The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention. -- Flannery O'Connor

  

-

  

Late in her life someone asked the American writer Flannery O'Connor why she wrote. She said, "Because I am good at it. "

 

She was good. Yet, she was not always as good a writer as she became. She improved because she listened to others. She changed her stories. She re-wrote them, then re-wrote them again, always working to improve what she was creating.

 

Flannery had always wanted to be a writer. After she graduated from Georgia State College for women, she asked to be accepted at a writing program at the State University of Iowa. The head of the school found it difficult to understand her southern speech. He asked her to write what she wanted. Then he asked to see some examples of her work.

 

He saw immediately that the writing was full of imagination and bright with knowledge, like Flannery O'Connor herself.

 

VOICE TWO:

 

Mary Flannery O'Connor was born March twenty-fifth, nineteen twenty-five, in the southern city of Savannah, Georgia.

 

The year she was born, her father developed a rare disease called lupus. He died of the disease in nineteen forty-one. By that time the family was living in the small southern town of Milledgeville, Georgia, in a house owned by Flannery's mother.

 

Life in a small town in the American South was what O'Connor knew best. Yet she said, "If you know who you are, you can go anywhere. "

 

VOICE ONE:

 

Many people in the town of Milledgeville thought she was different from other girls. She was kind to everyone, but she seemed to stand to one side of what was happening, as if she wanted to see it better. Her mother was her example. Her mother said, "I was brought up to be nice to everyone and not to tell my business to anyone. "

 

Flannery also did not talk about herself. But in her writing a silent and distant anger explodes from the quiet surface of her stories. Some see her as a Roman Catholic religious writer. They see her anger as the search to save her moral being through her belief in Jesus Christ. Others do not deny her Roman Catholic religious beliefs. Yet they see her not writing about things, but presenting the things themselves.

 

VOICE TWO:

 

When she left the writing program at Iowa State University she was invited to join a group of writers at the Yaddo writers' colony. Yaddo is at Saratoga Springs in New York state. It provides a small group of writers with a home and a place to work for a short time.

 

The following year, nineteen forty-nine, she moved to New York City. She soon left the city and lived with her friend Robert Fitzgerald and his family in the northeastern state of Connecticut. Fitzgerald says O'Connor needed to be alone to work during the day. And she needed her friends to talk to when her work was done.

 

(MUSIC)

 

VOICE ONE:

 

While writing her first novel, "Wise Blood", she was stricken with the disease, lupus, that had killed her father. The treatment for lupus weakened her. She moved back to Georgia and lived the rest of her life with her mother on a farm outside Milledgeville. O'Connor was still able to write, travel, and give speeches.

 

"Wise Blood" appeared in nineteen fifty-two. Both it and O'Connor's second novel, "The Violent Bear it Away," are about a young man growing up. In both books the young men are unwilling to accept the work they were most fit to do.

 

Like all of Flannery O'Connor's writing, the book is filled with humor, even when her meaning is serious. It shows the mix of a traditional world with a modern world. It also shows a battle of ideas expressed in the simple, country talk that O'Connor knew very well.

 

VOICE TWO:

 

In "Wise Blood", a young man, Hazel Motes, leaves the Army but finds his home town empty. He flees to a city, looking for "a place to be." On the train, he announces that he does not believe in Jesus Christ. He says, "I wouldn't even if he existed. Even if he was on this train. "

 

His moving to the city is an attempt to move away from the natural world and become a thing, a machine. He decides that all he can know is what he can touch and see.

 

In the end, however, he destroys his physical sight so that he may truly see, because he says that when he had eyes he was blind. Critics say his action seems to show that he is no longer willing to deny the existence of Jesus but now is willing to follow him into the dark.

 

The novel received high praise from critics. It did not become popular with the public, however.

 

VOICE ONE:

 

O'Connor's second novel, "The Violent Bear it Away," was published in nineteen sixty. Like "Wise Blood," it is a story about a young man learning to deal with life.

 

The book opens with the young man, Francis Marion Tarwater, refusing to do the two things his grandfather had ordered him to do. These are to bury the old man deep in the ground, and to bring religion to his uncle's mentally sick child.

 

Instead, Tarwater burns the house where his grandfather died and lets the mentally sick child drown during a religious ceremony.

 

VOICE TWO:

 

Critics say Tarwater's violence comes from his attempt to find truth by denying religion. In the end, however, he accepts that he has been touched by a deeper force, the force of the word of God, and he must accept that word.

 

Both of O'Connor's novels explore the long moment of fear when a young man must choose between the difficulties of growing up and the safe world of a child.

 

(MUSIC)

 

VOICE ONE:

 

Flannery O'Connor is at least as well known for her stories as for her novels. Her first book of stories, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," appeared in nineteen fifty-five. In it she deals with many of the ideas she wrote about in "Wise Blood," such as the search for Jesus Christ.

 

In many of the stories there is a conflict between the world of the spirit and the world of the body. In the story, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," a traveling workman with only one arm comes to a farm. He claims to be more concerned with things of the spirit than with objects.

 

VOICE TWO:

 

The woman who owns the farm offers to let him marry her deaf daughter. He finally agrees when the mother gives him the farm, her car, and seventeen dollars for the wedding trip. He says, "Lady, a man is divided into two parts, body and spirit. . . The body, lady, is like a house: it don't go anywhere; but the spirit, lady, is like a automobile, always on the move. . . "

 

He marries the daughter and drives off with her. When they stop to eat, the man leaves her and drives off toward the city. On the way he stops and gives a ride to a wandering boy.

 

We learn that when the one-armed man was a child, his mother left him. Critics say that when he helps the boy, he is helping himself.

 

VOICE ONE:

 

In nineteen sixty-four, O'Connor was operated on for a stomach disease. One result of this operation was the return of lupus, the disease that killed her father. On August third, nineteen sixty-four, Flannery O'Connor died.

 

She was thirty-nine years old.

 

Near the end of her life she said, "I'm a born Catholic, and death has always been brother to my imagination."

 

VOICE TWO:

 

The next year, in nineteen sixty-five, her final collection of stories, "Everything That Rises Must Converge," appeared. In it she speaks of the cruelty of disease and the deeper cruelty that exists between parents and children. In these stories, grown children are in a struggle with parents they neither love nor leave. Many of the children feel guilty about hating the mothers who, the children feel, have destroyed them through love. The children want to rebel violently, but they fear losing their mothers' protection.

 

In nineteen seventy-one, O'Connor's "Collected Stories" was published. The book contains most of what she wrote. It has all the stories of her earlier collections. It also has early versions of both novels that were first published as stories. And it has parts of an uncompleted novel and an unpublished story.

 

In nineteen seventy-two this last book won the American book industry's highest prize, The National Book Award. As one critic noted, Flannery O'Connor did not live long, but she lived deeply, and wrote beautifully.

 

(MUSIC)

 

VOICE ONE:

 

This Special English program was written by Richard Thorman. I'm Shirley Griffith.

 

VOICE TWO:

 

And I'm Ray Freeman. Join us again next week for another People in America program on the Voice of America.

  

From: www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2005/07/10/00...

 

-

  

British Prime Minister's words fail to placate US's anti-BP sentiments www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKW-19Th46Y

  

Messy cleanup of BP oil spill damages the Gulf

 

By CAIN BURDEAU (AP) – 29 minutes ago

 

FOURCHON BEACH, La. — The 5,600 vessels taking part in the oil spill operation on the Gulf of Mexico make up the largest fleet assembled since the Allied invasion of Normandy, according to the Coast Guard.

 

Hordes of helicopters, bulldozers, Army trucks, ATVs, barges, dredges, airboats, workboats, cleanup crews, media, scientists and volunteers have descended on the beaches, blue waters and golden marshes of the Gulf Coast.

 

That's a lot of propellers, anchors, tires, and feet for a fragile ecosystem to take, and a tough truth is emerging: In many places, the oil cleanup itself is causing environmental damage.

 

Part of that is inevitable — the oil has to get cleaned up somehow, and BP and the government will be subject to second-guessing no matter what.

 

"Absolutely nothing you do to respond to an oil spill is without impacts of its own," said Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11, and oil began gushing into the Gulf, federal, state and BP officials say they have been guided in their response by picking the less damaging cleanup method.

 

Still, environmentalists and veterans of other spills say the torrent of untested cleanup methods rushed into practice by panicked officials and unqualified experts is wreaking havoc and, at least in spots, may be unnecessary.

 

"The more you disperse (with chemicals), the more you bring in these big machines, the more you bring in inexperienced people and the more sand berms you build, the less chance you have of letting Mother Nature and skimmers and booms do the job," said Mike Brewer of Buras, La., who ran an oil spill response company and is working on the BP cleanup.

 

For starters, the EPA allowed BP PLC to spray a chemical dispersant, a product called Corexit, to break up oil right as it came out of BP's broken well nearly a mile below the surface. The idea is to save shorelines from being clobbered with vast waves of crude.

 

In practice, the use of dispersants that had never been tested that far beneath the surface has made the oil much more difficult to track than it would have been in a single, massive slick. And environmentalists and marine biologists still aren't convinced the chemicals are safe for sea life.

 

The EPA halted underwater spraying while it tested samples collected by BP, then allowed it to resume once the results came back to the agency's satisfaction. Further tests are ongoing, and crews quit spraying dispersant once the well was contained this week, Jackson said.

 

"Basically, we conducted uncontrolled experiments in the open ocean — that does not seem like a good idea to me," said John Hocevar, the oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA.

 

Jackson said there was little evidence that the chemical dispersants had caused damage and called their effects "relatively mild."

 

Eager to be seen as taking charge, Gov. Bobby Jindal began building a series of untested sand islands and other barriers along the Louisiana coast, making construction of these berms a personal crusade. In theory, sand berms and jetties will stop the oil from entering sensitive estuaries.

 

But berms and jetties interrupt shrimp and fish migrations as well as tidal flows; the work can even undermine what little is left of Louisiana's gooey and sediment-layered shoreline.

 

"None of the coastal scientists have signed onto this thing," said Leonard Bahr, a former adviser to both Republican and Democratic governors in Louisiana on coastal restoration issues.

 

Fishermen and locals, however, almost unanimously agree with Jindal's unorthodox barrier plans.

 

"We know these (berms) stop the oil. It worked on Fourchon Beach," said Windell Curole, a levee manager in south Lafourche Parish, an area long struggling with erosion. "The people that are pushing for these things are more invested in it than the scientists."

 

In a move that put its compensation costs toward curtailing the spill's environmental effects, BP hired truckloads of inexperienced oil spill responders — shrimpers, unemployed workers, college students, and migrant workers. The manpower is essential, but their footprint can be huge, especially if they're not used to watching their step.

 

"It was like the Wild West there for a while, and it still is to some degree," said Drew Wheelan, a wildlife biologist with the American Bird Association Inc., a conservation group.

 

Wheelan said cleanup crews trampled on numerous nesting bird colonies, including at least one batch of least tern eggs he saw. Wilson's plovers and endangered black skimmers on Louisiana's Grand Isle and East Grand Terre islands were threatened by intensive beach cleanups.

 

"The whole entire area in the past two weeks has been completely crisscrossed by tire tracks. The entire cleanup there has been entirely sickening," Wheelan said recently of East Grand Terre. "There are tire tracks from the low tide line all the way up into the dune vegetation. Not an inch of that frontal beach has been spared from traffic."

 

Out on the Gulf, BP brought in a super-sized skimmer from Taiwan — the "A Whale" — capable of sucking up 20 million gallons of water a day, aiming to corral huge quantities of oiled water at once. Like some of the other methods, it had never been tested and scientists worried that it could cause serious damage.

 

"It will suck in a lot of biology," said James Cowan, a Louisiana State University fisheries scientist.

 

Coast Guard officials questioned its effectiveness, noting that it would be better for attacking a single huge slick than for the countless smaller pools that the dispersant helped create. Authorities announced last week that the massive ship was dropping out of the spill operation.

 

Forrest Travirca has seen the cleanup's side effects up close as a land manager for the Wisner estate, a public land trust that includes Fourchon Beach and a large marsh area that has seen some of the heaviest oil so far.

 

On an airboat cruise through marsh, signs of the messy cleanup jumped out. Reddish-brown and sticky tar coated the blades of marsh grass behind a beach lined with sand baskets brought in by Army dump trucks. Absorbent boom lay washed up against shorelines. Crews had staked down shade tents every few hundred yards.

 

Almost as soon as he stepped onto the sand, Travirca saw something he didn't like: Two ATV tracks meandering carefree across the sands. Someone with the cleanup had strayed from designated traffic corridors.

 

"This really upsets me," Travirca said, standing over the fresh set of tracks. "They're not supposed to be driving back here. They've got to drive along the front of the beach. Birds nest back here."

 

He walked a few paces away and pointed out another set of ATV tracks he discovered a few days before. "This track here was inches from a tern nest with eggs."

 

At least now, more than three months after the spill, the cleanup is becoming more organized.

 

In the beginning, he said, the beach "looked like the autobahn."

 

From:

www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h69WGhR_2XJBoQ...

   

Taraf De Haidouks - Turceasca -

 

Sooo brilliant - listen!!! You will DIE!! It's one of the most beautiful songs on earth!! - : www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnNCidccbG8

 

Taraf De Haidouks - Doina, hora si briu www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTuxzoLnBnU

 

-

 

The week previous I'd rang 101 to tell them this jeep had been dumped in the woods, when the call ended I was asking myself why I'd bothered, they seemed so reluctant to take any details arguing it was right on the line between two different forces (South Wales and Gwent).

101 is an awful service.

About

 

Another 12 hour day camping out for our Riverfire shots. ;)

 

Riverfire 2009 was a bit of a let down this year, it was a shame the RAAF F-111's didn't open with the crowd/photographer favorite 'Dump-n-Burn' (like last year) , as Matt, Dave and I had spent the entire day setting up for that shot ;)

 

Oh well .... we got it last year, and there is always next, maybe ...

 

Enjoy.

 

- Canon 50D.

- ISO 100, f11, 3 seconds, 10mm.

- Sigma 10-20mm lens.

- Tripod.

 

Processing

 

- Saturation reduction.

 

About Riverfire

 

It takes 1500 people, including 25 pyrotechnic specialists, months of planning to produce QBE Riverfire which uses 3,000 kilograms of explosives, 40,000 kilograms of equipment, thousands of electronic igniters and firing boxes and 60 kilometres of cabling.

The ‘Fire One’ software system enables programmers using 15 laptops to choreograph the visual display to the specially produced Triple M soundtrack down to one hundredth of a second by calculating the time between the launch of fireworks and the explosion seen in the air.

Taken at the last public showing of the F-111 - at the 2009 Avalon Air Show. Australia is the last remaining operator of this aircraft in the world and is retiring its fleet during 2010 - after 35 years of service.

 

F-111 is doing a fuel dump and burn with the afterburners glowing.

 

Additional note - the F-111 was finally retired in December 2010. It did not make an appearance at Avalon 2011 and so this photo was taken during what proved to be its last appearance at Avalon.

This image now available via Getty Images

 

www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?assettype=image&am... Clow Photography - Annapolis, MD

   

Friday

Entry One

 

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

 

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

 

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

 

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

 

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

 

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

 

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

 

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

 

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

 

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

 

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

 

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

 

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

 

Entry Two

 

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

 

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

 

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

 

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

 

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

 

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

 

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

 

Entry Three

 

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

 

Freebird

Folsom Prison Blues

Cheap Sun Glasses

 

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

 

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

 

150 miles today.

  

Saturday

 

Entry Four

 

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

 

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

 

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The $10 fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

 

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

 

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

 

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

 

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

 

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

 

Stranger“nice bike”

You“thanks”

Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

 

Short silence.

 

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

 

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

 

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

 

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

 

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

 

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

 

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

 

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

 

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

 

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

 

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

 

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

 

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

 

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

 

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

 

Entry Five

 

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

 

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

  

Sunday

 

Entry Six

 

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

 

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

 

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, $4 for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

 

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

 

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

 

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

  

Entry Seven

 

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

 

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

 

1 rooster

1 dead fox

2 cows

8 chipmunks

7 alive

1 dead

3 dead possums

1 squirrel

1 dead blob (undistinguishable)

No fearsome deer

1 dog

 

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

 

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

 

I don’t know his last name

I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers

I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

 

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

 

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for $2 a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

 

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

 

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

 

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

 

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

 

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for $3-4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for $1. That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

 

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

 

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

 

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

 

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

 

Miles today, 240.

 

Monday

 

Entry Seven

 

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

           

Bangladeshi people pass by garbage that is dumped and burnt on the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, January 29, 2017. The Buriganga river is afflicted by the noisome problem of pollution. The chemical waste of mills and factories, household waste, medical waste, sewage, dead animals, plastics, and oil are some of the Buriganga's pollutants. The city of Dhaka discharges about 4,500 tons of solid waste every day and most of it is released into the Buriganga. via 500px ift.tt/2pJBSCR

This fence runs along side a footpath which leads along the bank of the river Pembroke which flows around the North & Western sides of Pembrooke Castle:

 

Pembroke (/ˈpɛmbrʊk/; Welsh: Penfro pronounced [pɛnˈvroː]) is an historic settlement and former county town of Pembrokeshire in west Wales. The town and county derive their names from the cantref of Penfro: Pen = "head" or "end", and bro = "region", "country", "land", which means, "Land's End".

 

On both banks of Pembroke River to the west of the castle are many remains of early activities. The buildings of Catshole Quarry and the rare vegetation with the irreplaceable foreshore have recently been buried by dumped materials. The North Shore Quarries are relatively complete as are the remains of medieval and Elizabethan slipways where wooden vessels were built before the industrial Dockyard and Admiralty town was built on the grid pattern of Pembroke Dock.

 

There is a very early graving dock complete in what was Hancocks Yard, about to be buried by a massive infill of the mud flats to the North. The reclaimed land will be used to build high rise flats! The bridge which crosses and constrains the millpond was constructed to house a tide mill, originally granted to the Knight's Templars in 1199 which survived until it was burnt down in 1956.

 

At Pennar flats the early submarine base used for experiments in submarine warfare has been recently bulldozed to allow speculative development by executive housing. Three of the houses on the then foreshore, part of the shipyard before the Admiralty Dock Yard was built, are still standing but are heavily altered.

 

Pembroke Castle (Welsh: Castell Penfro) is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales. Standing beside the River Cleddau, it underwent major restoration work in the early 20th century. The castle was the original seat of the Earldom of Pembroke.

 

In 1093 Roger of Montgomery built the first castle at the site when he fortified the promontory during the Norman invasion of Wales. A century later this castle was given to William Marshal by Richard I. Marshall, who would become one of the most powerful men in 12th-Century Britain, rebuilt Pembroke in stone creating most of the structure that remains today

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pembroke,_Pembrokeshire

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pembroke_Castle

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