The weather was absolutely magnificent today; crystal clear skies, 75°F, humidity hovering around 40% and only the barest hint of a breeze! This afternoon THE BOSS and I grabbed our cameras and the livestock, piled into Godzilla and headed out to see what we could see. We ended up in and around Rural Retreat, a little town about 10 miles due west.
Of course gas is down to $3.00 a gallon today…..I filled up yesterday at $3.15! Big deal? Well, Godzilla gets around 12 miles per gallon in town, 16 MPG highway and has a 30 gallon tank. Do the math.
The fate of the old railroad depot in Rural Retreat was in doubt because of a dispute over who actually owned it. Thankfully, a non-profit foundation has been established, secured the deed and a drive for funds to restore it is under way. One more piece of history saved from the wrecking ball!
THE BOSS was putting “her new camera” through the paces, the DSLR she commandeered from me, capturing this handsome young man exercising his small horses. The shot above and the next three are Frankie’s hence the NRVGirl (New River Valley Girl) watermark.
You’ll note that the livestock tend to go in opposite directions until they A) decide where the best smelling stuff is or B) dislocate my arms.
Molly on the scent of the small horses’ newly discovered delicacy, grasshoppers. Someone has apparently told Buddy and Molly that grasshoppers taste just like chicken because they sure love hunting and eating them!
In case you’re wondering, the T-shirt bears the US Air Force Pararescue logo. I served as a proud Pararescueman, or PJ, for most of my 9 years of active duty in the USAF Reserves following my tour in ICBMs.
“Come on, Molly; one good tug and we’ll see if the old guy can still swim like he used to!”
I’m really stoked about the frames above and below. Both were featured on the local CBS affiliate this evening! I’m grinning about it and Frankie’s doing the YEE-HAW! dance!
The moon, BOSS, the moon!
We still have a couple of weeks before the fall foliage reaches it’s peak but the varied altitudes here in the Blue Ridge Mountains actually causes prime leaf peeping season to last longer than it does back home on the coast.
At higher elevations the color change occurs earlier than in the lower, protected valleys.
The change is governed not just by temperature but by wind, as well. All around we see trees with red and yellow leaves near the top or on one side and bright green leaves closer to the ground and on the leeward side of the tree.
Hope, y’all don’t get tired of Autumn leaves before I get tired of shooting them. It won’t be long before I’m posting burds and snow!
Preparations are under way for our trip home to celebrate Mom’s 88th birthday.This means the sorting, packing, re-sorting, re-packing, re-re-sorting…..well you get the idea….. is underway and I’ll be out in the backyard cursing at the trees any minute now.
This is good practice for the trip home because it’s a proven fact that the idiot per mile population on Virginia’s highways increases exponentially as you travel east until you get to the gridlock that is Hampton Roads, road rage capitol of the known world. Add to that the stress from having to keep a sharp eye out for speed traps and it’s little wonder my blood pressure spikes every time I have to make the trip.
If there is one thing the USAF taught me that stuck it’s how to pack. I can usually get my bags packed (duffle, camera bags and computer bag) in 10 minutes but Frankie, Queen of the Pack Rats, always has a terrible time cramming everything into and on top of the truck. If we had a tractor trailer she would find a way to overload it! I’m always amazed that a fidget (Female mIDGET) always needs a suitcase that’s at least twice the size of everything I carry, combined.
Once Frankie finishes overloading Godzilla I have to wait until she falls asleep before going out and unloading enough
junk crap trash “good stuff” to allow room for me to drive the truck and use the rear view mirrors. When she wakes up she always tries to stuff the excess back into the truck until I get that look in my eye and start searching for matches. Then she squirrels it away until her next attempt at setting a Guinness Book world record for most junk hauled across Virginia in a passenger vehicle.
Internet access at Mom’s involves a trip to McDonald’s to use their free Wi-Fi access because Mom views computers as one of the greatest evils ever visited upon mankind. My Internet Service Provider does not offer dial up access and the cost of a wireless plan would put a dent in my camera gear budget and that ain’t happening! I do have a 3G cell phone but I’m an old geezer and only use my cell for phone. I dropped the data plan after realizing that I only used it for about an hour total during the 3 month mandatory prescription period when I first got the phone. I figured the extra $49 a month would be better spent on that huge lens I wanted……and I did!
Anyhoo, I’ll be off line for most of the next week. When I get back I should have loads of pictures to share. On the other hand I may make the papers if I succumb to temptation and open fire on the idiots in a Virginia Beach traffic jam. At least tourist season is over so I’ll only have to deal with local idiots wandering around lost and not the summer time imported variety (mostly from Ohio, New Jersey and Quebec), as well.
See you when we get back….. unless I’m incarcerated or involuntarily committed!
P.S. If you happen to find yourself on a Virginia highway anywhere between Mount Rogers and the Atlantic Ocean during the next week you may want to re-consider your trip. That large green object with a dog head hanging out each side rapidly growing larger in your rear view mirrors will be Godzilla moving at a high rate of speed in and easterly direction tomorrow and westerly a week from tomorrow. I’m not braking for anything! You have been warned.
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!
Another day in the yard, experimenting with lens and camera settings. The lens is actually very user friendly and I’m at the point now where I can find the controls by feel and feel very comfortable using them. I’m even getting used to the weight of this beast!
Today I managed to get a few shots of this pine siskin before the finches chased him off the thistle sock.
He got a few seeds before retreating and there’s no danger of him starving because there are tons of thistles growing along the tree line behind the house.
Maybe the finches are dealing a little payback to the siskins. Normally they’re the ones arriving in droves and chasing the other birds away from the free eats.
Frankie has the day off tomorrow and the weather forecast looks spectacular so we’ve made plans to load up Godzilla and go on a little photo trek. The price of gas has even dropped to the point that we don’t feel guilty about burning a few gallons for a ride in the country.
I have one destination on the agenda that will really allow me to put my new glass through it’s paces. On past trips I’ve discovered a nesting pair of bald eagles but could never zoom in tight enough for decent photos. Now that I have the big lens I can’t wait to pay those magnificent birds a return visit!
As usual, pictures to follow.
WOO-HOO, I’m back online at maximum speed and I am happy about that! Now all I have to do is catch up on the 300 or so blog updates I haven’t been able to read over the weekend due to modem malfunctions. At this point I would like to thank Mrs. Francisco, my fifth grade teacher, who made us learn speed reading whether we wanted to or not! Even though I wasn’t very happy about it back then I am now.
Buddy is home again, after a “sleepover at the vet clinic” last night. I don’t think he has discovered his missing parts yet, poor guy. It may be my imagination but I’d swear his voice has risen a couple of octaves. He’s a little puzzled by our refusal to play Buddy Ball …. throw the ball, he chases it down, you try to get the ball away from him, repeat …. but the post surgical instructions say no vigorous exercise until the sutures come out in 10 to 14 days. It’s just as well because he’s having a terrible time keeping his eyes open.
Buddy will need all the rest he can get in the coming days. He absolutely loves snow and it looks like he’s gonna have plenty to romp in if the National Weather Guessing, Star Gazing and Palm Reading Service get’s this one right:
Winter Storm Warning 331 PM EST TUE JAN 25 2011 …HEAVY SNOWFALL WEDNESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY NIGHT…. A STRONG LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL TRACK FROM THE CENTRAL GULFCOAST INTO EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA ON WEDNESDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON. SIGNIFICANT COLD AIR ALOFT COMBINED WITH SIGNIFICANT MOISTURE FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO WILL RESULT IN HEAVY SNOW AS WELL AS PERIODS OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN BEGINNING EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING AND LASTING THROUGH WEDNESDAY EVENING. …WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM WEDNESDAY TO MIDNIGHT EST WEDNESDAY NIGHT… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BLACKSBURG HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW, SLEET AND AREAS OF FREEZING RAIN WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM WEDNESDAY TO MIDNIGHT EST WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE WINTER STORM WATCH HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO A WARNING. * HAZARD TYPES…PROLONGED HEAVY WET SNOW IS EXPECTED. * ACCUMULATIONS…4 TO 8 INCHES OF SNOW ARE EXPECTED. *
* TIMING…RAIN OR A LIGHT WINTRY MIX WILL CHANGE TO SNOW BY MID DAY WEDNESDAY AND CONTINUE INTO WEDNESDAY EVENING. * IMPACTS…DANGEROUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS DUE TO SNOW COVERED ROADS ARE EXPECTED. DOWNED TREES AND POWER LINES ARE POSSIBLE DUE TO THE HEAVY WET SNOW. * WINDS…NORTHWEST WINDS WITH SPEEDS INCREASING TO 10 TO 15 MPH AND GUSTS UP TO 30 MPH ARE EXPECTED WEDNESDAY EVENING. * TEMPERATURES…FORECAST TO BE IN THE LOWER 30S WEDNESDAY WILL DROP INTO THE 20S WEDNESDAY NIGHT. *Taking past performance on the forecasters’ part into consideration this translates to either no snow at all or 4 to 8 feet!
Winter Storm Warning
331 PM EST TUE JAN 25 2011
…HEAVY SNOWFALL WEDNESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY NIGHT….
A STRONG LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL TRACK FROM THE CENTRAL GULFCOAST INTO EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA ON WEDNESDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON. SIGNIFICANT COLD AIR ALOFT COMBINED WITH SIGNIFICANT MOISTURE FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO WILL RESULT IN HEAVY SNOW AS WELL AS PERIODS OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN BEGINNING EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING AND LASTING THROUGH WEDNESDAY EVENING.
…WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM WEDNESDAY TO MIDNIGHT EST WEDNESDAY NIGHT…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BLACKSBURG HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW, SLEET AND AREAS OF FREEZING RAIN WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM WEDNESDAY TO MIDNIGHT EST WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE WINTER STORM WATCH HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO A WARNING.
* HAZARD TYPES…PROLONGED HEAVY WET SNOW IS EXPECTED.
* ACCUMULATIONS…4 TO 8 INCHES OF SNOW ARE EXPECTED. *
* TIMING…RAIN OR A LIGHT WINTRY MIX WILL CHANGE TO SNOW BY MID DAY WEDNESDAY AND CONTINUE INTO WEDNESDAY EVENING.
* IMPACTS…DANGEROUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS DUE TO SNOW COVERED ROADS ARE EXPECTED. DOWNED TREES AND POWER LINES ARE POSSIBLE DUE TO THE HEAVY WET SNOW.
* WINDS…NORTHWEST WINDS WITH SPEEDS INCREASING TO 10 TO 15 MPH AND GUSTS UP TO 30 MPH ARE EXPECTED WEDNESDAY EVENING.
* TEMPERATURES…FORECAST TO BE IN THE LOWER 30S WEDNESDAY WILL DROP INTO THE 20S WEDNESDAY NIGHT.
*Taking past performance on the forecasters’ part into consideration this translates to either no snow at all or 4 to 8 feet!
Today Laura is getting a lesson in the downside of having her own vehicle. When she got her driver’s license 2 years ago we gave her the Jeep her mother had been using. While she has paid for such things as registration renewal, county sticker, fuel, etc. we’ve kept the Jeep in my name for insurance purposes. She’s covered under my family plan which means much lower rates than if she had her own insurance.
She and her mother took great pleasure in applying this decal on the liftgate window. I didn’t mind all that much because this happened just after my accident, and the incredibly stiff suspension, made it impossible for me to ride in it, much less drive it.
When Laura got the Jeep she added these decals and I have a feeling she’ll be wearing the same expression when she calls home during her break tonight. I just got a call from the garage. The $56 quote for safety inspection, oil and filter change and fluid top off has just gone up another $80 thanks to almost worn out front brake pads.
I shall not gloat. Godzilla is due for inspection in March and I already know of one minor suspension part that needs replacing. I’m praying that’s all it needs. This is the absolute worst part of learning to live with my physical limitations; paying someone else to maintain my vehicle. After 16 years as a master automotive tech knowing what is wrong and not being able to just crawl under there and fix it just grates on my nerves!
At least we have an honest, dependable and reasonably priced mechanic. We took our old minivan to a different shop once and their shop manager tried to convince me that it needed nearly $6,000 in repairs before they could release it to us because it “wasn’t safe to operate.” I very nearly got arrested over that…….and, NO, he didn’t get the $6,000 either! He was lucky to leave his office alive. Frankie had to use all her persuasive powers to keep me from beating him to death with his own clipboard……..because she wanted to do it!