The brutal heat continues but our humidity plunged this afternoon, enough so that I could breathe comfortably so Frankie loaded me and the dog into the truck and we set out to look for deer in Crockett’s Cove.
We were not disappointed!
It was a fine ride!
Santa Claus came to visit in his Big Brown Truck again today. He brought me my new Ape Case!
Yes, it’s big.
Yes, at 31 lbs. loaded with all my gear it’s a little heavy for my wrecked back but I won’t be climbing any mountains or hiking any great distance with it on my back.
The interior has loads of space. I copied these images from the web site to show you just how much. With all of my gear packed inside it’s not full yet but that just means I need more
It even has room for my laptop and there are two more interior compartments and pockets all over the exterior
Actually, there is a method to my madness. Now I have everything in one bag instead of three or four. Since I do most of my shooting from the truck lugging it around won’t be a problem. When I want to get out and shoot away from the truck I’ll just use my smaller shoulder bag to carry what I need. I also ordered a lightweight folding luggage cart to move this thing around at air shows or similar events along with our folding chairs and cooler.
Now all I have to do is teach Buddy how to pull the cart and get him fitted for sun glasses, a panama hat and noise cancelling ear phones so the jets won’t frighten him.
Wythe County Police, Fire & Rescue. What is the nature of your emergency?
WHOOF! WHOOF! WHOOF!
Buddy….is that you, boy? Did your daddy tell you to call for help again?
What’s the problem this time?
WHOOF! WHOOF! WHOOF! WHOOF! WHOOF! WHOOF!WHOOF! WHOOF! WHOOF!
I’m sorry boy; I didn’t catch all of that. Is your mama home?
Well, put her on the phone.
Who is this and what do you want? Did that dog dial 911 again?
Frankie, it’s me, cousin John!
Oh hey, John! I’m a little busy right now. Can I call you back?
I thought you were gonna call last week. When are you coming over to get some vegetables? I’ve picked so many from the garden that I’m out of storage space.
Well you know, I’ve been working and…….
**unintelligible screaming in the background**
SHUT UP YOU BIG SISSY OR I’LL GRAB YOU BY THE EARS, DRAG YOU OUT FROM UNDER THAT BED AND WHACK YOU A FEW MORE TIMES!
I’m sorry, John what were you saying?
Have you been hitting Chip with the cast iron skillet again, Frankie?
You know how he is, John. I told him it was too hot to mow the lawn but would he listen? I had to go out and turn off the mower, splash him with cold water until he came to and help him stumble back indoors where it’s cool. The lawn does look good though.
Does he need another ride in the ambulance?
Hang on a second, John….. WHANG! …..he does now! Do me a favor; this time have the crew take him him to a different emergency room. I need to get a few things done around here and you know how he is.
Sure thing, cousin, where do you want us to take him….Roanoke…Charlottesville…..Richmond
No, I’ve been thinking more along the lines of Oklahoma City. It’ll take him a month to walk home from there after they release him…….unless he has amnesia again in which case I’ll have a laptop and a whole bunch of camera gear for sale, cheap.
Okay, Frankie, the ambulance is on the way. Pat Buddy on the head for me. Don’t forget to come get some vegetables.
Okay, John, I’ll be there. Thanks!
Reposted from my Blogger page. Give me a break folks I’m rapidly losing what’s left of my mind…….and here’s why:
Copyright note: Feel free to ignore the copyright notice in the right sidebar. I stole all of these images from the Internet. The same holds true for the video. The insane rambling is mine, all mine!
The “heat dome” covering a huge section of the land of the formerly free and home of the useless, do nothing but shovel manure and tell lies about their opponents politicians has had me trapped indoors for days where the A/C allows me to breathe. It’s comfortable but I’m going stir crazy!
Let this be a lesson: Smoking will kill you! A pack a day for 40 years left me with 40% lung capacity which will never improve. It also gave me the “gift” of COPD in the form of chronic bronchial asthma which at this time of year is triggered by even a little exertion (read waving my cane and cussing like a sailor on shore leave every time I see that idjit across the street out tryin’ to herd her cats) in high heat and humidity.
If you are a smoker put that damned thing out! This is a smoke free blog!
While I sit here wishing for a foot of snow to magically appear I’ve found myself being drawn into the clutches of online retailers who carry stuff I just gots to have! One of those items is a larger camera bag. Just as some of you who are of the female persuasion amass a huge collection of shoes, purses, whips and chains, oh my!, etc. the past two+ years spent amassing enough photo equipment to shoot pictures of everything in the known universe has caused me to purchase an assortment of camera bags, each larger than the previous one. At current count I have 6 …… 7 if you count the tripod case and none of them are large enough.
I don’t necessarily need to carry EVERTHING when I go out shooting. I just like to keep all my gear together where I can find it. Splitting my gear between several bags is a cast iron guarantee that while out shooting 40 miles back in the hollers I’ll say “%#@*&@!! I need such and such and it’s in the other bag at home!”
Well, today I ordered a new bag and it should be large enough to hold everything and still have room for the gear I already have and any items I accumulate over the next few months……. I hope. For some strange reason I have the feeling that I’ll be buying a steamer trunk in the not too distant future.
This is what I ordered. It even has detachable wheels! If I post a photo of a motorized version in the near future it will mean that A) It’s too heavy for me to carry, B) Ditto for Buddy, C) my riding mower is no longer operational D) My bag is now motorized and E) I’m living out in the storage shed because THE BOSS done found out how much I’ve spent on camera gear!
…… that I’m actually reading the user’s manual for the new camera that arrived on the Big Brown Truck today!
Note to the reader: This was originally posted on my Virginia Through My Lens Page on 20 July. Reposted and updated here for my Word Press audience.
That’s right, I Roket Man, king of computer crashes, undisputed master of falling down in a most spectacular fashion, poster child for crutches and bandages, am READING A MANUAL! And I don’t mean I’m just looking at the pictures, either.
You may want to mark your calendars because the odds of my doing this again in my lifetime are very slim.
The new camera, a Canon T3, is no leap forward in technology over the Canon XS/1000D DSLR I’ve been using. In fact it’s a little simpler but what it does do is shoot HD video. Since our old early 90s vintage Panasonic VHS behemoth camcorder bit the big one a few years ago I’ve been thinking about switching to digital video. Those thoughts always fell to the wayside when some new toy for my DSLR caught my eye……like a lens, tripod, camera bag, etc. I have at least 5 or 6 bags because my collection of goodies keeps growing and the bags don’t. At least the T3 accepts all of the lenses I already own which is a good thing because I have so much gear now that I find myself shopping for a pack frame and saddle bags for Buddy so he can help tote my gear.
Come to think of it, I don’t even know if we have a functioning VHS deck but we do have 2 DVD players and there’s a DVD-RW in this laptop which I know for a fact works.You see, most computers with Windows 7 pre-installed DO NOT come with recovery disks and one of the first things I did when I took delivery of this machine was to create one because there hasn’t been a computer built that I can’t crash!
If the weather forecast for the rest of the week holds true I’ll know this camera inside and out before I soot the first frame…….or you may see some extremely boring video of the moon because chances are the heat and humidity may drop enough after sunset that I’ll be able to breathe outdoors. COPD is a b***h!
Well, this isn’t getting that manual read so I had better get back to it. Once I finish the book I think I’ll also go through the tutorials on the DVD included with the camera. I may even run some of the free tutorials on the Canon web site.
No, I’m not being conscientious. I can’t use the new camera yet because the battery pack is taking FOREVER to charge!
Naturally this camera doesn’t use the same battery that my XS uses. That figures because I have 2 fully charged spare battery packs for it.
NOTE TO SELF: Order spare battery packs for the T3!
The man in the Big Brown Truck came to see me again today! I already call him Santa Claus and greet him with a hearty HO! HO! HO! when he pulls up in front of the house but if he keeps this up I just might forgive him for not bringing that pony I wanted when I was 6.
Today he brought my new remote shutter switch and a high capacity 32Gb, high speed read/write SDHC card!
Now if the weather would only return to the normal hot, hazy and humid but the weather guessers are saying we’ll be in hotter than blue blazes mode for weeks to come. If they’re right don’t be surprised to find nothing but videos of Buddy chasing his tennis ball collection for the rest of the summer.
What a terrible thought!
Let’s all pray for a freak blizzard or two or three. Right about now two feet of snow sounds like heaven!
No blog/photos for a few days. Dislocated right shoulder playing Buddy Ball. Buddy knows he hurt me but didn’t mean to. He’s “nursing me back to health” with sloppy dog kisses…….especially if I start to nod off!
Can barely type w/ both hands. Left handed is nearly impossible! Camera w/one hand IS impossible! Can’t use track ball either but I do have a touchpad.
If I don’t leave comments on your blogs you’ll know why.
Y’all play nice now. Don’t make me stop this clown car!
THE BOSS had the day off and we both needed a breather so we loaded the Big Red Puppy in the truck and went out wanderin’.
Our route over the mountain, unpaved and one lane with rocky outcroppings on one side and a steep drop on the other for most of the 6 mile distance. Frankie got a lesson in white knuckle driving but she also swore that if we met any oncoming traffic we wouldn’t be the ones pulling over!
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia) (above and below).
Big Red Puppy (Buddy)
Even though I didn’t shoot many frames the weather was cooler than it has been and it felt great to just get out and go where ever the road took us!
I know, I know….I haven’t published anything in a couple of days and some of you are beginning to worry that the space aliens have returned to take me back to my home world. The truth is is far more sinister.
My darling bride, Frankie, aka New River Valley Girl, aka THE BOSS, aka SHE WHO SHALL BE OBEYED has trained me as a domestic servant! Worse still, I didn’t realize just how well trained I had become until she showed me this photo on her itty bitty point and shoot camera. At the time I was doing the dishes while the lasagna was in the oven.
My question for you: does this apron make my butt look big? Or could it be that screwy hat she makes me wear?
On the days when I can’t get out and about I still get my exercise.
Nothing will keep you on your toes like a Lab with 8 tennis balls!
I’ve developed the habit of carrying a camera everywhere I go because you never know when an opportunity will present itself. Today was one of those days.
The heat and humidity were oppressive and the sky was dark and heavy with the threat of thunderstorms, standard summer afternoon weather for Virginia. Godzilla needed a fill up and even though THE BOSS took the truck away from me when she discovered how much fun it is to drive filling the tank is still my job. At least she lets me ride in my truck from time to time.
After giving a large chunk of Frankie’s pay check back to her employer (Godzilla has a 30 gallon tank) we stopped off at the visitor’s center so that I could take a crack at shooting the restored buildings of Wytheville’s Homestead Museum with my long lens.
For some reason this settlement, recreated with components salvaged from old building sites all over the county, is only open to visitors one day a year. Nobody I’ve asked seems to know why but I’ll keep asking.
I’ve shot a few frames of the settlement in the past ……. from the window of the truck, stopped in the middle of the road…… but was never quite satisfied with the results. This afternoon Frankie parked the truck and I walked over to the sign announcing that the site was posted private property and used it as a rest for my 4 lb. 400MM lens.
Which do you prefer, color or black and white?
I think each has it’s own merits.
As I mentioned, the settlement is only open to the public one day a year. The last two years we had frog choking rain on Heritage Day but that didn’t stop the organizers from carrying on with the exhibits and re-enactment of life in a frontier settlement. It did stop me but I’m ready now with an over size poncho for me and rain covers for my equipment in my camera bag. Now all I have to do is watch the local paper for the date of this year’s Heritage Day.
I made a tactical error last month. Using the sink or swim training method I pulled Godzilla over on a peaceful little country road, climbed out of the driver’s seat, walked around to the other side and told Frankie to slide over because it was time for her to learn to drive the truck. She soon discovered that the big green beast is not only huge, it’s a lot of fun to drive!
I’ve been a walking man ever since.
This means that Buddy and I don’t get to go out and wander the countryside shooting pictures every day. While I miss doing that, only having to fill the bottomless pit of a gas tank a couple times a month instead of four or five is nice. Godzilla is very comfortable and rides beautifully even on unpaved roads but it takes a lot of gas to make 3.5 tons of Detroit iron climb mountain roads!
Today we splurged a little and Frankie learned how much fun it is to go out with no firm destination in mind, get totally lost and find all sorts of interesting things to see while trying to figure out how to get back home again.
We had to leave the house for two hours anyway …….. Buddy had fleas.
After saturating his double coat with flea spray, closing up the house and setting off twice the number of bombs called for on the package we loaded up in the truck and set off for wherever we ended up.
This is a view of the New River near the Byllesby and Buck Dams, two of five on the river operated by the Appalachian Power Hydroelectric. Now that we know camp sites and cabins are available in the area, which is part of New River Trail State Park, we will be back when the weather is a little cooler!
For a while Frankie and I thought we had missed seeing the mountain laurel in bloom but we found ourselves surrounded by blossoms as we followed the road between the two dams. There is also an online magazine called The Mountain Laurel which celebrates the Appalachian culture and heritage.
Wild Sweet Pea also lines the roadside as well as the hiking and horseback riding trails.
Laura wasn’t with us today but you can bet she’ll be visiting the park with her boyfriend John in tow in the very near future. He lives nearby and the way her face lit up when she heard that raspberries are growing wild along the trails was priceless!
I must be settling in to the country way of life. Back home I would be laying on the horn and cussing a blue streak at slow moving traffic hogging the road. Today I just grinned and leaned out the passenger side window to snap a few frames. I even waved at them….using all the fingers…..when they finally reached a place where they could move over and wave us past.
Frankie must be picking up my bad habits. She’s already talking about another photo excursion on her next day off!
P.S. The fleas is D – E – A – D!
P.P.S. That #@%$&!! house fly that was driving me out of what’s left of my mind survived the flea bombs. I’m gonna kill that damned thing if it’s the last thing I do!
At my mom’s house there are two large white oaks in the front yard. Squirrels in the yard were a common site, especially after she began putting peanuts out for them. She eventually stopped doing that after my brother came home to discover that a squirrel had chewed through the screen on his bedroom window and was sitting on his bed, waiting for a hand out.
This is when I began calling him Squirrel Boy. Frankie and I even went so far as to make him a T-shirt that read “They call me Squirrel Boy!” across the back and had this image on the front.
Being the oldest, and arguably the meanest, of six siblings I have been known to saddle each one of them with nicknames, usually after they’ve done something spectacularly funny…..or stupid……and made the mistake of letting me find out about it.
He didn’t seem to mind the new moniker too much at first. In fact he was happy that people finally stopped calling him Gorilla Lips. (This being a family blog I won’t go into that.)
Then his drinking buddies began asking about the real reason that rodent was in his bed.
I thought that was hilarious!
He did not.
But I digress.
In June 2004 my family moved to Southwestern Virginia where Frankie, our daughter and I settled into small town life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Squirrel Boy stayed behind to try to live down his perceived perversion earn another nickname so people would stop looking at him that way! in the hope that people would stop asking how he came to be known as Squirrel Boy.
So far they haven’t.
It wasn’t until we had been here for a few months that I realized I hadn’t seen many squirrels even though our yard backs up to a heavily wooded ridge. We’ve seen a lot of whitetail deer, chipmunks, possums, raccoons and even the occasional coyote or black bear in the backyard but never any squirrels.
That changed this afternoon.
I’m not making the same mistake my mom made. This little guy seems content to eat sunflower seeds that have fallen from the feeders in Burd Town.
We’re not putting out any peanuts!
I’m not waking up with any squirrels in my bed!
According to the National Weather Service:
Our indoor/outdoor thermometer is reading 94 °F (34 °C), it is HUMID and the hottest part of the day is still to come. It is so oppressive out there that Buddy opted to bark at a cat from the shade on the porch rather than chasing it!
Thank God for air conditioning! ours is working just fine and, thanks to a rare bout of common sense, I’ll be staying indoors where I can breathe. Even if I could tolerate the weather it would be near impossible to shoot any pictures with my glasses fogged up. That’s how I know the A/C is working properly!
Redneck tip for 4th of July safety: If you hear someone holler “Hey y’all, watch this!” DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE FLASH!
Random shots to bring June to a close.
This guy startled me last night when it flew within inches of my head as I was taking Buddy out for his midnight constitutional. I thought I was being dive bombed by a bat!
To give you an idea of his size, the slats in the lattice measures are 2 inches wide. I’m pleased with the way these two shots, made at night in “full auto” mode using nothing but the built in flash, turned out.
“AHHHHHHH! Rolling in the grass feels SO GOOD!”
The Mimosa down the road finally bloomed while we were gone. Frankie has a couple of seedlings growing in her “pot farm”. Mom had one in our yard when I was growing up and I learned, the hard way, that those pretty blossoms are murder on a car’s paint job.
Frankie’s Knockout Rose is blooming nicely and loaded with buds.
Her Daylilies are finally blooming, as well. It was odd to arrive at Mom’s and see hers in bloom while Frankie’s were just beginning to bud.
Even though Mom only lives 325 miles east of us our higher altitude (approximately 2500 feet above sea level vs. 9 at Mom’s) makes for a fairly drastic difference in the growing season.
There’s that goofy dawg again….always ready to pose for a picture.
Petunias waiting to be transplanted. Mom always loads Frankie up with plants and seeds from her flower beds. Judging by the number of bags and pots I helped unload from the truck when we got home Frankie now has enough to turn the entire ridge into one huge flower bed……twice!
This farmer is slow putting up hay this season. The field at the top of our road was mowed, bailed and hauled off in about a month ago and the second crop is growing nicely thanks to the abundant rain last month.
Okay, time to break out the portable hard drive, transfer the June photos and make room for July. I do this the 1st of each month and also do a full back up of the laptop hard drive while I’m at it. After 17 years of computing and some disastrous crashes I’ve become a back up fanatic……..and it’s saved my butt several times in the last few years.