We are fortunate to live just two miles from the oldest NASCAR track: Martinsville Speedway. Racing began here in 1948 and the “paperclip” shaped track is the shortest (half-mile). A large percentage of fans consider racing here to be some of the best. This was especially true during the Fall 2015 NSACAR Sprint Cup race last Sunday, won by one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers, Jeff Gordon. It was his ninth win at Martinsville, and his 93rd career win during his storied career. This latest victory locked him into the “final four” drivers racing for the 2015 Sprint Championship later this month. I’ve been to most all the races here since 2002 and love it. While fans often see photos of the race itself and associated activities, few ever see it like I can, living so close … after the race.
Category Archives: Photo Stories
I love Fall in Southwestern Virginia. I’m using my photo above to make a point why I love this colorful season so much. First, I have to pay attention to the weather and pick a time when to be out in the country. Second, I have to be somewhat lucky, such as I was when I found this nice composition above. (It just YELLS look at me!) And third, when I go out seeking Fall colors on trees above 3000 feet elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia as I always do, I really don’t know if there will still be enough leaves on the trees, and I have to hope they have not yet passed their peak in terms of oranges, yellows, and hopefully some reds. Last year, for example, I waited too long and most of the colorful leaves had fallen. In sum, I like this time of year because of the “not knowing part” of what my hour long drive up to the mountains from lower elevations at home will give me in terms of good color opportunities. The best part of it all for me this year was that my wife Barb rode along. That must have been the ticket I needed because the colors were far better yesterday than they have been for me over the past several years. God is good. He created all this beauty for us, and made it so special that it’s not around for long. If you have been following my photo blog, you’ll know I won’t be able to limit my Fall color photos to just the one above. I’m processing those I made and will over the next several posts here, show you what Barb and I saw, on our wonderful drive yesterday through the winding roads of SW Virginia. Cheers!
I was headed down a very narrow country road, seeking a place to turn around to get back to the highway I had planned to take (no, I wasn’t lost, just following my nose) when I spotted this very nice, old and deserted home, with NO TRESPASSING signs posted. I had to stop and get some photos, and I did. I figured I’d obey the signs and just wander around the yard, getting some photos, thinking the “no trespassing” applied to the house itself. As I got my last photo, I heard angry dogs barking from over a nearby hill. Time to go I told myself, and just as I got into my car there came the first (perhaps) unhappy farm dog looking for the trespasser (me). As I drove off, the dog looked at me and wagged his tail, I guess not so unhappy after all. But, I thanked the Good Lord for making me end my photo shoot when I did. There surely were other dogs around. It was a great experience and I took away some nice images.
Oh how nice it might be, to go back in time to shop in stores where just about everything was hand/machine made and locally grown in America. Not that foreign made goods and produce are not acceptable today, they certainly are, overall. My point is that life seemed much simpler early in the 20th Century. Choices were much more limited than they are today, and people interacted with store owners and employees more than they do today, such as standing in line at a chain grocery store check out, with automated scanners and payment terminals. I share with you some recent photos I made at two General Stores in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Enjoy.
For a good portion of the fifty-plus years I have been married, I’ve watched my wife perform magic with thread, needles, and her skilled hands. She’s like many other ladies in that regard who sew and make wonderful items, and in the case of this brief photo story … quilts … colorful quilts. I’d like to introduce you to a quilting and sewing shop in Stuart, Virginia. Stuart is one of my favorite locations to visit, being that it is located about thirty or so minutes from home. When I go there, my camera is always in hand.
Stuart is home annually to the very popular “Strawberry Festival” and hosts other gatherings of this nature, attracting thousands from across the region. The town is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and takes its name from the famous Confederate Civil War hero, Major General J.E.B Stuart. Sitting in the middle of the town on Main Street is “Quilted Colors.”
When you enter the shop you are immediately made aware that “colors” is what this place is all about. Susan Branham manages the shop, in addition to teaching music to middle and high school students in Henry County. Susan taught all three of our grandchildren, so I’ve seen the excellence of her abilities in that regard. I was not always aware, however, of her interest in sewing and quilting. But, through my wife, I gained a new appreciation of the breath of her skills.
Susan is offering her shop space to other quilters in the area, to display their personal quilting projects. Many visitors to the area will thus have an opportunity to see some “mighty fine work” (as is said hereabouts). For instance:
I couldn’t end this story without showing at least one photo of some “tools of the trade.” And in summary, Quilted Colors is a special place to visit, and of course to enjoy being a part of the Piedmont Region of Virginia’s quilting family. Happy sewing ladies!
My wife Barbara is an avid and skilled “quilter” who has decorated our home (and others) with her beautiful work. She has formed a strong bond with others locally, who share her interest, and I have to say after spending almost 30 years in the Army, with her having to move from place to place an average of every 2-3 years, she deserves having such close friends. Her group travels in our region of Virginia and North Carolina to visit “quilt shows” and to buy what seems to me to be an endless amount of cloth material from which to make their quilts. “Fat Quarters” they call it. I’ll call it “material.” Anyway, one place they frequent from time to time is Boone’s Country Store about an hour’s drive from home. I decided I had to go see this place myself and took my camera along. Besides the large amount of sewing and quilting products in the store, they sold fresh cooked products such as bread and pies. That’s what I was interested in, plus some homemade cinnamon hard candy. Below is what I saw, in part. Note the last image being my contribution to some “country-style” photos I normally make.
I’ve posted photo stories before about the wonderful neighbors we have where we live in SW Virginia. I’d like to continue this now by highlighting the family who lives across the street from us. This year, they decided to do some “extra” Christmas decorations about their home and adjoining yard. When I saw what was going on as the decorations were being put up, I immediately saw a great photo story just waiting for me. So, here is that story.
This is Daniel, Sarah and daughter Sophie. Daniel serves in Law Enforcement as a uniformed officer, while Sarah works at the local hospital as a Registered Nurse. Both have helped me on many occasions in numerous ways, and have always been extremely kind and generous. They are, in short, a perfect family to live near, as are others in our neighborhood. When Dan decides to “do something” he goes into the project with an extreme amount of energy and creativity, never letting anything stand in his way. Like, for example, when he decided this year to get a BIG Christmas Tree.
He found this very beautiful natural Blue Ice Cypress Tree, which he planned to locate in the high-ceiling family room of their home. Its original twelve-foot height had to be shortened at the base by a foot, because when he first drug it into the house, its top scraped across the ceiling. Once inside, and with step ladder close at hand, he decorated it and then stood by with pride looking at what he’d accomplished. I wish more people would use “natural” Christmas trees but alas times have changed. The sweet smell and touch of the tree made me harken back to when I was a young boy helping my family decorate our tree; much, much smaller I might add.
Now, let’s get to the heart of this photo story, the decorations. Unlike the popular seasonal movie, “Christmas Vacation” with a home almost completely covered with lights, Dan took care not to overdo it. Beautiful describes the results as captured by my camera lens.
Looking about the yard in front of their home, I saw several inflatable decorations which I felt added greatly to the festive scene, and together certainly serve as a prime “drive-by” attraction for those cruising through the neighborhood seeking Christmas cheer. One by one, here they are.
By the time I’d completed my photo session, the skies had darkened completely, and what I saw through my camera lens made me wish I could start all over. But, there are only so many ways to compose camera scenes, and I did not want to overdo my efforts. Keep it simple is my standard motto. But, what Dan and Sarah have created about their home this Christmas is far from being simple. It’s not easy to place all those lights, position and secure all those inflatable decorations, and to do everything in such a way that it looks (in a word) perfect. If you think young Sophie was not involved in this process, I can assure you she was. Nothing excites a child more than seeing “Christmas” all about them. Merry Christmas to all!
The weather was cloudy and a bit foggy when we arrived in Bryson City, NC early in the AM to board the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for a five-hour round trip into the Nantahala National Forest. My wife Barb and I, her brother Jerry and wife Mary Ann, along with 300 other passengers, lined up by the waiting 12-car train idling nearby.
We were greeted by a very friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff which made our trip most enjoyable, learning about the history of the region along our way. Once seated, I immediately noticed the historic atmosphere of the passenger car in which we were seated. It’s too bad we can’t routinely travel in such a manner today.
Views out of the seat windows were spectacular, as was the included lunch meal we had pre-ordered. The next photo is my sister-in-law Mary Ann enjoying the views and the second is my wife Barb enjoying her BBQ lunch while we rolled along.
Having been a passenger on trains several times in my life I knew that if I went to the open area in between cars where they connected, I could lean out the window (safely obviously) to make some interesting photos of the train and the surrounding beauty of the region.
The day after we’d completed our train ride, we drove elsewhere in the region to explore, and on the way back to our motel, we happened upon the train on it’s twice-daily journey, but this time we were across a fast-flowing river we’d been so close to the day prior. We stopped the car, and I got out to capture the following images. The last photo of the caboose at the end of the train is a fitting end to this brief story. It was, in short, a wonderful time together!
It was a beautiful sunny day this Saturday past when I went to Fairy Stone State Park near our home in SW Virginia. It’s a very popular place because of its beautiful lake and surrounding hiking trails. Only non-motor powered water craft such as canoes and kayaks are allowed on the fishing and recreational lake, so it’s usually a relatively quiet location. That is when the swimming area is closed for the season as it was the day I was there. In the summer when it’s fully opened, the noise of joyful kids and others swimming and running about the sandy, man-made beach overwhelms your senses.
As I approached the long boat dock with canoes lined up, I glanced out on the lake to see how many were out there exploring with happy paddlers on board. But, looking about I saw no one on the water; just these canoes lined up.
But when I looked behind on the dock area I saw definite evidence that there were indeed canoeists out there, shoeless and probably a bit wet.
Looking at the lake in front of me again, I saw no canoes on the water. But, that did not mean that they were not out there somewhere, probably in some remote cove looking for whatever nature had to offer them this day. I’ve paddled just about every foot of Fairy Stone Lake during the time we’ve lived here. It’s a wonderful place and the peace in spirit that results from just being there is something I will forever cherish.
Most families have a humorous story to tell concerning events in which they were involved, some significant some not. Perhaps a few of these stories might even become a permanent part of family lore. When we lived in Stafford Virginia shortly after I retired from the Army, our grandkids were visiting and while there we had a severe thunderstorm with very heavy rain and winds. Thankfully there was no major impact on us, but that was not true for a lonely squirrel who had sought refuge in a high tree above fast flowing, muddy, brown-colored storm water in a ditch along the street by our house. Young granddaughter Jennifer and grandson Michael sat with me on the front porch watching the rain, wind, and muddy water flow past when a large blast of wind hit and the unsuspecting squirrel was blown from the tree in which it had sought cover. We stared as it flew through the air headed for the muddy drainage ditch. Thankfully for the wet and probably terrified small animal it missed the water, landed in the street and then took off running away to safer territory. That rather insignificant event generated much laughter between us at the time and it still causes us to remember, smile and laugh today years after. Besides the squirrel’s “adventure”, what’s become a part of our family lore is the brown water that flowed past us in the drainage ditch during the height of that storm. Today, when it’s raining hard wherever we are, perhaps separated by many miles, we can convey to each other the severity of any rain storm simply by saying, “Brown water.”