Many folks all across America visit beautiful lakes, rivers and streams during vacation weekends, such as Memorial Day. When they do, most will find fishing success from powered and non-powered watercraft. For me, a kayak would be perfect.
Category Archives: Photo Stories
Before the arrival of railroads in the Dan River Valley region of SW Virginia, goods were transported to city and town markets via flat-bottomed boats. By the late 19th Century, railroads had taken over that purpose. A rail line was completed from Danville to Stuart in 1884 and passed through Martinsville. The “Danville and Western Railroad” was nicknamed the “Dick and Willie” by local residents and while train traffic was discontinued years ago, the roadbed of the line has been converted into a multi-purpose recreational trail as it passes through Martinsville. The 4.5 mile long trail is used today by thousands annually, and the name Dick and Willie remains affectionally in the hearts of many. Recently, I took a early morning walk along the trail, and was rewarded not only by the exercise I had, but by the beauty of wildflowers and greenery all along the route. Kudos to local government planners and officials for making this all possible.
To those young people undecided what to do with their lives, I’d counsel visualizing a “path” just like in the photo above. I’d say, look at that path in your mind as an adventure in discovering, through life experiences, what lies beyond each twist and turn. Other than taking a mental leap into the unknown, there’s often no major risk involved, and much to gain. Perhaps a few months or years may pass “walking” down this path of discovery, but events encountered during that adventurous span of time, simply add to one’s better understanding of their true mission in life. And, most importantly, to be able to perform that mission with much greater purpose and determination than they had when they set forth.
Change is never easy, especially when it involves heading into unfamiliar territory. But, that change may very well be exactly what one needs to make them realize what it is they really want to do in life. Be bold. Take a step out on your path.
We were visited recently by our daughter Amy, her husband Mark and son Daniel. They had traveled from their home in Texas to spend some time touring the mountains of North Carolina and SW Virginia. During the visit, I had the pleasure of watching Daniel play a match with his father. Both are excellent players and were evenly matched throughout the game, with the “old man” winning closely. I had my camera handy of course and got some nice action images. Note Daniel’s form. Very nice indeed!
Recently I was walking around a public park in Greensboro, NC and there were two specific aspects I saw, on a life-sized bronze statue on display, that got my attention. The first was a hiking stick being held, and the second were the hiking boots being worn. These two images reminded me a lot of my past.
Up until the time in my life when I was no longer physically able to do the sort of rugged hiking I once did, there were few things I enjoyed more than exploring alone, trails, woods, lake shores and mountain scenery on foot. I usually had a stout walking stick to help my balance, and always wore a sturdy and comfortable pair of boots. Most times I carried a camera to record what I saw. I recall one time specifically when I finally reached the bottom of a rocky gorge I’d hiked to in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, descending about 2000 feet elevation over steep twisting and ankle bending trails, when I had to stop, sit down on a large fallen tree trunk, and begin to regain my breath and to let my shaking legs rest. After eating an energy bar, and draining about half of my limited water supply, I asked myself if this sort of strenuous outdoor activity was really worth it. Well, after I continued on my way along a stream flowing through the base of the gorge, toward the trail that would eventually take me back up the steep gorge to where I had parked my car I discovered something that made it easy to answer my question of “worth” with a resounding “yes.”
Off in the dark woods, I spotted a rock wall about four feet high. It was obviously man-made, and surrounded what I saw right away was a cemetery. There were about twenty, crude stone-slab grave markers there, and the ones on which the carved letters were still legible, I determined that the people buried there had died before 1910. Many were the graves of babies who had died in less than two years after being born, a testament to exactly how hard life was in these mountain valleys during that time. Strangely, a few of the graves had artificial flowers neatly arranged on top. Someone, I thought, had been visiting this old cemetery recently. Who were they and how did they get here I wondered. Had they hiked down the steep trail I did, or was there some other way to the site? No matter how they got there, they deeply cared about the place.
As I began my hike back up the slope I concluded that doing what I was doing that day was not only excellent physical activity, but the real benefit was being able to discover such a relatively hidden place, clearly with a great amount of sentiment being given to it by those who had placed the flowers on those graves. When I finally made it to my car (again gasping and straining to walk easy) I finished off my water supply and promised myself that so long as I was physically able, I’d continue to hike and explore. It’s memories of such times that give me joy today. When I see objects like the hiking staff and boots on the bronze statue in Greensboro, I flash back to those days when I hiked.
Danville, Virginia is but a short drive of thirty minutes or so from our home. It’s a very historic place with many wonderful photographic opportunities. I’ve been there many, many times and each time I go I find some different view I’d missed before. Right after Christmas 2015, I made the trip with folks who had never been there. Our youngest daughter Amy and her three sons (in order behind Amy) Stephen, Brandon and Daniel had traveled from North Texas and I was of course most happy to have them with me on this very special “photo walk.”
One photographic attraction and popular visitor location I wanted them to see was the Main Street Historic District and it’s intricate and colorful Victorian Style homes. I was not the only one with a camera. Brandon (below) is very creative in both photo/video work and perhaps one day that will be his chosen life’s journey. Amy and Stephen had their phone cameras and the images they made showed a talent for composition. Daniel, being a high school athlete excelling in both football and tennis was the catalyst of the group, offering wise and inspiring comments along the way.
Here are a few photos I made for my personal enjoyment that day.
This trip to Danville was my last photo walk of 2015, and I have to say it was certainly my most enjoyable for that year. May those in 2016 be equally so.
Last year I posted a story about a rather large “live” Christmas tree our cross-the-street neighbor Daniel decorated in his home. Here’s my photo of that tree from a year ago.
You must agree that was a very nice tree. Almost eleven-feet high and natural. Well, Daniel out did last year’s tree with the one below: an approximate eleven-foot high, Virginia Pine, 100 inches diameter at the base. It’s beautiful.
Like last year, Daniel asked me to come over and make some photos of the tree and his lovely family, Sarah and Sophie. What a treat and honor that was for me to be so asked. Sophie was at first a bit shy, but after she became accustomed to me and my camera (a small, not so imposing Fuji X100T) she began to romp about the tree and smile a bit. After all, it’s not every kid who has parents so nice to bring into her home a tree like this one.
We are extremely fortunate to have neighbors such as Daniel, Sarah and Sophie living close, and I look forward returning next Christmas with my camera, to make photos of the family, and their special tree. Merry Christmas to all!
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.
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.