Category Archives: vacation

A beautiful view


I’ve been gone for a few weeks, spending time with friends, seeing new places, and sometimes just enjoying a beautiful day watching the scenery blur by, in places like this somewhere in Normandy:

A beautiful day in Normandy, near Colleville-sur-Mer

Thank you to all who have stopped by in recent weeks and have enjoyed a virtual meeting with some amazing photographers in the 5+5 x 5 series.  I plan to do another series soon — look for details early next week.

As much fun as I had in my travels, it is good to be home, enjoying the local scenery and spending time with family and friends closer to home.  Hope you are enjoying the view wherever you are.

At least 17 stories


When we began to plan our recent trip to Florida, I told my husband that I wanted to drive, rather than fly. I argued that it would be more economical than flying and renting a car. Of course, I wasn’t sure that was really true, especially if adding in the hidden costs of vehicle maintenance and the additional mileage on the car. Still, I had my mind set on driving. I wanted to see the land between here and there; I wanted to look at fallow fields and old barns, and muse about interesting roadside signs. Mostly, I wanted to have a slow travel experience, taking our time to arrive and slowly wending our way back to the cold north when we returned. I tried to explain this to a friend whose response was: “If you fly, you might end up with one interesting story. If you drive, you might have — who knows — 17 or 27 different stories. Tell him it’s fodder for more short stories.”

In the end, flights were very expensive and my ears had been bothering me a lot, so I won and we drove. Armed with a few audio books and CDs, my GPS and T’s TripTik (who knew that AAA still did those!), we set off. Despite someone’s alarmist fears that we would have ice and fog crossing the mountains in Chattanooga, we had excellent weather in both directions. (I hope he didn’t see the news reports of the massive pile-up on I-75 near Gainesville. We missed that by a day.)

I don’t know if I came across the seeds of 17 different stories, but, on the return trip, bored by the long drive and without the anticipation that marked the start of our vacation, I picked up my camera. Shooting photos out the window of a car going 70 mph is not the easiest thing. I’m surprised that I didn’t send more shots directly to the electronic circular file than I did. But, as always, when I look through my camera lens, I see interesting things. Like this:

Red Clay of Georgia

The landscape whirled by, but stayed the same. For miles. And miles.

There were billboards that appeared to have been remnants of abandoned stores. Like these, that pointed to an empty building:

Too good to be true -- at least for long

Lowest Price: Would that be zero?

I didn’t get a picture, but next to this abandoned store was an RV and Boat lot, now closed, with a lone, stranded motor boat. Signs of the weak economy are everywhere.

There were frequent reminders that I was traveling through the South, the “Bible Belt” and the part of the country that has referred to the American Civil War as “The Late Unpleasantness” or “The Second American Revolution” or “The War of Northern Aggression”. I have never spent sufficient time in the South to understand the deep-seeded nature of Southern loyalty, but I know that the region is different from “up North” where I have always lived.

It's the sign, more than the theology, that I find startling

There was a confederate flag flying above. No American flag nearby.

Sometimes, when I wasn’t driving, I was intrigued by the idea of capturing the motion of tires on the semis passing us.

Can you look at this and not hum a Willy Nelson song?

I especially like the shadow of the mudflap on this shot. But there were also skylines to shoot as we looped around major cities.

Music City From the Highway


And plenty of furling flags in the slight wind:

Whose broad stripes and bright stars...were so gallantly streaming

And clouds on the crisp blue sky:

A beautiful day

When we stopped, there was graffiti that I found interesting:

BabyGyrl's graffito make no sense 2 me

Did BabyGyrl change the spelling of her name? Makes more sense.

If miserable, I don't think I'd pick the Reststop Restroom to tell the world.

And, of course, there was plenty of farmland: cows, horses, silos, barns old and new.

Raw Milk

I love the color of this barn's roof.

The only stone silos I see around me are ones that have yet to be torn down.

Horses: More comfortable than Mitt's dog?

Love this barn.

This was another favorite.

A source of firewood?

There's a story or two in that decaying barn!

Old and Red barn, somewhere in Tennessee

At the Georgia/Tennessee border there were plenty of signs encouraging motorists to “SEE ROCK CITY”. As this was my leg for driving, I have no photos. But, as we crossed from Tennessee into Kentucky, having turned over driving duties for a while, I knew that there would be some interesting images to capture as we approached Mammoth Cave. While I don’t mean to offend (turn away for the next paragraph if you might be), I used to find that an attraction in this area, named “Golgotha Go-Carts”, to be a very funny site. I don’t understand the theology that sees go-carting around three crosses on a hill as a witness of faith, a cause for conversion. It has been years since I’ve travelled this section of I-65, so perhaps it wasn’t on this road, but, rather, on the State Highway that leads to the cave. Regardless, it wasn’t to be seen. However, there is now a place named Guntown Mountain. And, apparently, lurking in the caves are dinosaurs. I’m not sure if the “life-size” refers to humans or triceratops.

Mommy, can we stop? PLEEEZZZZ?


But, like all places were there are lots of attractions — and some where there is nothing else around for miles — there seem to be places like this:

A roadside attraction?

Open 24 hours. I hope no parent answers the dino plea with After I make a quick stop here.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think I am halfway to the end of a novella. At the end of the trip, the best site was my mailbox! As fun and relaxing as vacation are, it’s always good to return home, and to all of the stories that reside there.

Lovely Leaves


Usually, this time of year, I’m vacationing in Southwest Florida. I love going to the gulf during October. It is still warm, but usually not too hot. The beaches aren’t crowded, and you miss the winter traffic. In fact, it’s a bit early for the snowbirds, so many places are like ghost towns. And, if you’re there Oct 15 or later, it’s Stone Crab Claw season.

For several reasons, we didn’t go this year. I thought that I’d really miss going. But, I realized the other day, that I typically remark, upon my return from the airport, driving up the leaf-covered driveway, that I feel like I’ve missed something with the turning of the leaves.

As I’m discovering this week — a glorious week weather-wise in the Midwest — the leaf-turning does happen quickly. Trees fully covered in the morning can be bare-boned by sunset. It’s been in the 70’s this week, above the average temperature, but since it was colder at night last week, the trees have received the message to stop photosynthesizing, revealing the magnificent colors that were in the leaves all along, hidden by the chlorophyll.

I remember years ago my former husband, who had grown up in high mountain desert, comment that he thought the landscape in the Midwest was boring, because everything was green. To me, that is like saying that the sky is the same color as the ocean. Yes, the leaves are green, but the maples differ from the oaks from the hickories from the firs, each reflecting light a bit differently. Perhaps it is their underlying colors, the ones you see only in Autumn, that vary the green. Doesn’t matter, though, how the color wheel of nature combines it all; it is beautiful.

Lovely Leaves

>And then the sun shone warm upon the sands


>As some of you may have surmised from the pictures I’ve posted recently, I’ve been at the shore since the beginning of the month.  And, as those of you who follow such things know, most of the country has been experiencing colder than normal temperatures.  As I stood in line at the airport a few weeks ago, I realized that I had not left my hat and scarf in the car.  It seemed such a silly thing to bring with me to Florida.   It hadn’t occurred to me that I might have to wear them, as I did last weekend when I was photographing birds at low tide.  Temperatures in the low 30’s are extremely rare in Southwest Florida, and while unpleasant for the vacationer or winter inhabitants, have caused serious issues for the growers whose crops cannot take sustained freezing temperatures.   There were even a few days when I shuddered as I looked at the sky and thought “snow sky”.   I didn’t see any flurries, although I heard a news report that some were seen about 30 miles south of where I am. 

Two days ago, it began to warm, although the mercury struggled to reach 60 degrees.   There were some sun-seekers who,  unwilling to be thwarted by capricious weather, decided to work on their tans.  The running joke has been where they are from:  Russia, Norway, Minnesota, Alaska, Siberia, North Dakota, Patagonia.  Even with the benefit of windbreaks constructed of beach towels and chaises, one must have a sturdy, winterized constitution to sit on a beach in a swimsuit at 55 degrees. 

Something is different today though.  It is in the 70’s.  There isn’t a cloud in the sky and air is still.  As I sit on my balcony reading, I inhale an intoxicating mix of cocoa butter, charcoal grills, beer, boat engines and the sea.  Yes, there is something about warmer weather to lift one’s spirit, as if the sun were capable of performing some sort of psychic photosynthesis on humans.   It is so much better to share the beach with the warmth of the sun, the salty smell of the sea, and the gleeful mix of surf, music, and child-like laughter as people gather to recreate.