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15 Minutes Will Not Save You.

I took my 85-year old mother and my cousin to stay at a friend’s house on Bald Head Island, NC this past weekend. None of us had been there, as it’s very much out of our price range. One of the things I noticed – other than the absolute tranquility – was the wildlife, specifically the SPIDERS. They were everywhere!

At the corner of the front porch of the house we stayed, there was an average-to-large brown looking spider that had a big web built. We intentionally avoided the web as to not disturb the food chain – and the mosquito eating-machine!

On the last day, I walked down the steps (avoiding the spider’s web) and took bags to the street to await the tram to take us to the ferry (no cars allowed on the island). On my way back – a 30-40 second walk – I noticed the web was in tangles and this gecko had gone to the eave where the spider slept and “got him”.

I ran into the house, got my camera, hoping he wouldn’t scurry away, and he didn’t. Apparently he wanted to world know the real Gecko!

(And maybe it’s just a green lizard, but “Gecko” makes for a better story!)

Yum.

Gecko Eats Spider

Gecko Eats Spider

Gecko Eats Spider

Gecko Eats Spider

Gecko Really Eats Spider

Gecko Really Eats Spider

Visit to Fontana Lake and Dam

My 85-year old mom loves the mountains, I love the beach – though I don’t mind the mountains. So when I take her somewhere . . . we go to the mountains. (sigh) But it isn’t bad and she loves the views. I took a few shots of Fontana Dam, the Lake and other things I found interesting.

Fontana lake from Hwy 28

Fontana lake from an overlook on Highway 28.

There are a couple of overlooks on the way to Fontana. The photo above shows just one of the great views.

Mom at the Overlook

Mom at the Overlook

My mom enjoying the overlook. Then the one thing happens that a photographer should NEVER do – give him mom the camera.

Whale-Ho.

Whale-Ho.

Of course, she wants to take my picture. (Let the nightmares begin!)

Fontana Lake from another Overlook.

Fontana Lake from another Overlook.

This is just another shot of Fontana Lake from a second Overlook.

Same overlook, but a view of the mountains.

Same overlook, but a view of the mountains.

It was a nice sunny day and the clouds made some great patterns on the mountain-sides.

A group of bikers ride by.

A group of bikers ride by.

A group of bikers ride by.

A group of bikers ride by.

A group of bikers ride by.

A group of bikers ride by.

One thing you can always see in the NC mountains . . . motorcycles, and plenty of them. I’ve brought my bike up here on a couple of occasions.

There has been a lot of rain in the NC mountains lately and the water level was pretty high. You'll notice logs and debris by the overflow drains.

There has been a lot of rain in the NC mountains lately and the water level was pretty high. You’ll notice logs and debris by the overflow drains.

These overflow drains were very interesting – as you will see in a couple of photos below. There has been excessive amounts of rain in the NC mountains and the water was flowing! This shot is taken from the nice picnic pavillion just before you get to the dam.

Lake view from the picnic pavillion.

Lake view from the picnic pavillion.

This was taken from the picnic pavillion and is another great view. This would make a great place for a picnic reunion or just a family outing.

Found along a trail from the pavillion to a little overlook.

Found along a trail from the pavillion to a little overlook.

Yellow Flower and Bee.

Yellow Flower and Bee.

There were several different flowers and mushrooms along this little meandering trail that went from the picnic pavillion to an overlook.

 

Water entered the overflow drain from two points and ran down one large tunnel, emptying to a river at the bottom of the dam.

Water entered the overflow drain from two points and ran down one large tunnel, emptying to a river at the bottom of the dam.

I’ll have to admit that if you have a fear of water and heights, this view (and the next) can be a bit disconcerting. This is water from the overflow drains at Fontana Dam.

Water charging down the concrete "hole"!

Water charging down the concrete “hole”!

I had to lean over a safety railing and hold my camera out over this “pit”! (Yes, I was very nervous!) I love this angle. Even the shot doesn’t show the magnitude in size of this drain!

Welcome to Mount Airy – February 8, 2013

I took my mom on a day trip about 70 minutes away, down US 52 North to Mount Airy. The town is famous for a couple of “stars” – Donna Fargo (the song, FUNNY FACE) and more notably, Andy Griffith’s hometown. It is said that Mayberry is modeled after Griffith’s memories of Mount Airy.

While there are major events held at the small town of about 10,000 during the year, we wanted to see what the town offered without being in a huge crowd – like during their annual Mayberry Days celebration.

After some research on the internet, I found that I could park for free in a municipal lot two blocks from Main Street. However, after parking there and walking the two blocks, I found there were spaces ON Main Street. (sigh) My mistake, but I wouldn’t have gotten this photo of part of mural on one of the buildings.

Mural

Mural

Since we were a bit late starting out, we wanted to eat. My mom – who doesn’t eat pork or red meat – can make it hard to find restaurants sometimes. So when walking to Main Street, a gentleman suggested we go to Speedy Diner – famous for pork chops. Obviously we didn’t go there, but instead decided to go to Walker’s Soda Fountain.

Walkers Soda Fountain

Walkers Soda Fountain

Upon entering, we were the only people in the place – other than the owner, but several people came in while we were there. The soda fountain is original from 1948 and the homemade chicken salad is excellent! There is also this mural on the back wall (someone is making a killing on murals in Mount Airy!):

Walkers Mural

Walkers Mural

After waddling out of the soda shoppe, I spotted Floyd’s Barber shop. After all, this is Mayberry!

Floyd's Barber Shop

Floyd’s Barber Shop

Next, I wanted to see the historic movie theater I read about online. In Greensboro, there were no less than five downtown theaters “back in the day” and now only one remains – The Carolina, which opened in 1927. So when I read about The Earle - a 1938 movie house/theater located on Main Street, I knew I had to see if I could get inside. You can read the complete history using the link above, but with the new multi-plexes popping up, theaters like The Earle were becoming obsolete. Thankfully, the Surry County Arts Council were deeded the building and began renovations. Please believe me when I say my photos do not do this charming theater justice!

The Earle

The Earle

Once inside, you see a neat little concession stand, tended by a very nice young man (I’m sorry I neglected to get his name).

Concession Stand

Concession Stand

The Earle still shows movies on Saturday and Sunday and has a live country music radio show twice weekly since 1948! Inside the auditorium, there are three sections for seating, a main stage and screen.

Auditorium

Auditorium

There is also a balcony section.

Balconey

Balconey

Balcony Downstairs

Balcony Downstairs

Balcony

Balcony

Even the restroon area was neat. The retro doors led to a very simple, but clean facility. For all I know, these are the original fixtures!

Men's Room

Men’s Room

Clean and Serviceable

Once out on the street again, we strolled back towards our parking lot, passing by a building labeled Bank of Mount Airy. Built in 1923 using granite from Surry County, it is now closed to banking and is an Art Center.

Bank of Mount Airy

Bank of Mount Airy

After a short stop in an Antique consignment market (where mom bought a table), we headed back home – very happy that we finally visited “Mayberry” – Mount Airy, NC!

 

 

12-25-2012 – Merry Christmas Lights

I grew up (60s-70s) with big, gaudy, colorful Christmas lights. Lights on the tree, lights on the windows, on the bushes outside – the bigger the better.

But somewhere along the way, someone made (the mysterious “they”?) big, colorful lights tacky. Cheap. White trash. (insert additional terms here) You could (should) only have white lights. And not too many either. Be discreet. Tasteful. Don’t embarrass the neighborhood.

I never lost the love of the big colorful lights. Not mini-lights. Definitely not white lights. BIG. COLORFUL. BLINKING.

So it’s all about taste and nothing else. Colorful isn’t wrong . . . and neither are the white lights. Both represent families who honoring CHRISTmas.

So I rode around two neighborhoods near my apartment and took a couple of dozen photos of various homes. Some were white lights, some were colorful, but one stood out. And to that I say Ho-Ho-Ho.

Enjoy.

I'll have fries with that.

I’ll have fries with that.

December 16, 2012 – Blue Heron Trail – The Old Car

A friend of mine rides his mountain bike through one of Greensboro’s many hiking/biking trails (for something called exercise) and told me of an old car sitting in the woods. He knows I like to take pictures of old, abandoned things so I decided to take him up on the suggestion and hike to said vehicle.

1trailhead

 

In this photo, I’m standing about where the car comes into view. The trailhead begins where the parked cars are seen across the cove. If I could walk in a straight line (across water), it would be a 5-10 minute walk.

But no, the trail meanders through the woods where I know hidden beds of chiggers and dens of snakes are just waiting for my city-bought adidas shoes to come bumbling by.

1trail

 

But it’s a pleasant day with temps around 60F and I know my doctor would be proud when I tell him I went hiking . . . once, so off I go, carrying my water, Canon and Manfrotto  monopod, dodging drug-enhanced mountain bikers (one talking to his friend about cauterizing a blood vessel), and feeling like Daniel Boone.

As I look around me, all I see are woods. Thick, dark and filled with dangers. Whether it be the aforementioned chiggers or Texas-Chainsaw-Wielding crazies (who lost their GPS and ended up in NC), I wonder how far in the wilderness I have to go to see this car.

1woods

 

The trail parallels the lake shore into the woods. Then the lake ends and trail keeps going. And going and going. Into the woods. It isn’t a difficult trail and has some nice little dips and bumps for the drug-enhanced cyclists. There are also some things that made me wish I brought more equipment, like my close-up tubes, but I managed to find a couple of interesting shots along the way.

1moss 1log

 

Also along the way, there are a few subtle signs that you’re heading in the right direction.

1hubcap

 

And one not so subtle sign.

1bonnieClyde

 

I’m not sure the Barrow gang ever made it into North Carolina. Also, I didn’t see this sign until after I shot the photos of the car – because I came from the other direction. But luckily, I did see the car from the trail, after about a 30-40 minute hike.

1carApproach

 

I’m not sure what kind of car it is as it’s pretty rusted out. So I decided to several photos for those who might want to try to identify the auto.

1carFront

 

It’s (obviously) stripped down pretty bare and there are sheets of metal beneath the leaves around the car.

1carSide

 

This shows it’s a four-door and the back doors could be some of the metal laying beneath the leaves.

1carBack

 

Spacious trunk holds bodies – like in the movie Goodfellas.

1car1

 

I really don’t like litter. It’s seems to be an American pastime. At least I didn’t find old tires, refrigerators or other trash.

1doorHandle

 

It’s a good thing the emergency brake is engaged or the car could have rolled down the hill. Wait, it doesn’t have tires. Never mind.

1backseat

 

From the back window. I see where the speedometer, clock and radio went, but couldn’t find the hole for the CD player. Must have been an economy car.

So after about 20 minutes or so of shooting, I decided to make my way back to my own car (with a CD player). However I didn’t relish the thought of walking 40 minutes back through the chainsaw-crazy woods. So on the way back, I walk back to the point where the cove ends and decide that I can cut THROUGH the woods and make it to the trail (on the other side of the lake) and cut at least 30 minutes off the walk back.

Uh huh.

First, just because the lake isn’t there, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. And it leaves mud. The kind you sink in. At least I didn’t lose my shoes.

Next, while the cove ends, it turns into a creek. Just wide enough that I can’t jump over (I’m 6’4, 250 lbs, 55 years old and diabetic) and deep enough that I don’t want to try. However, I see a fallen tree that bridged the creek at an angle. All I have to do is step on the log, push off and land on the other side of the creek. While holding a water bottle, a camera and monopod. Did I mention that I’m 6’4 and . . . oh yeah, I did.

So I take a step back, step up on the log and leap to the other side, landing well over the bank . . . and in the soft mud-ground, falling forward onto another fallen tree. Lewis and Clark would have been proud. My old scoutmaster, not so much.

But I did make it to the other path and it did cut about 30 minutes off my walk, making it well worth the mini-adventure!

Saturday, November 17, 2012 – American Flag Retirement Ceremony

I joined the local Elks Club this spring and have really enjoyed the experience. Especially since the Lodge is right across the street from my apartment! But the Elks do good work. This particular Lodge has many charities and functions, but primarily concentrate on veteran’s assistance and placing new flags in schools.

They also have a Flag Retirement Ceremony once a year and I took some photos of the event, held yesterday (11/17/2012).

I learned a lot about the ceremony. There is no law for retiring a flag – but that it be done in a dignified manner. The ceremony conducted at the Elks was very nice.

There were dozens of individuals in attendance, mostly veterans. One flag was displayed as a symbolic flag for the ceremony, while other flags lay on a table in the back – cut into pieces (I’ll explain that below).

 

While an Honor Guard stood by the flag, a speaker led the crowd with the playing of patriotic songs and what the flag means.

 

Included was a great reading of the origin of Frances Scott Key’s inspiration of our National Anthem, where he was aboard a British ship in the harbor, trying to negotiate a prisoner exchange. He viewed the 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry where 1500-1800 cannon balls and bombs were lobbed at the Fort.

Next, the flag is removed from it’s mount and dissected – removing the blue and stars from the stripes. By doing this, you have two pieces of cloth to be burned, not a flag.

 

 

Next the the Blue and Stars, along with the Blue and Stars from the previously dissected flags are burned.

 

 

 

Next, each stripe is dissected separately, with each strip representing one of the original 13 colonies – in order of statehood.

 

 

After the flag is completely dissected and all stripes are incinerated, Taps is played and the ceremony is complete.

Rough Surface

I like toys. So imagine my excitement when I found some inexpensive close-up rings for my Canon. Delivered to my office, the only thing I could find to try them out on was the brick on the wall! I thought it looked neat.

Enjoy.

Could be the Martian surface in a bad sci-fy movie!

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