Category Archives: Travel

Travel related posts

Misty Mountain Hop

Morning Fog

I’ve lived in North Carolina for 10 years and I have yet to make a trip to the mountains in the fall. Visions of picturesque mountains vibrant with color and crystal blue skies danced in my mind as to what I would see.

Getting there, at least for me is hard. Its hockey season, which means my disposable income is trips for our boys hockey habits. Four hour trips with overnight stays and meals get expensive and finding a free weekend to go the other way for photography has historically not been practical. This year, I got an opportunity to go to the Mountains.

Blue Ridge Clouds

I planned this weekend a couple of months ago along with my friend, Lori, who lives there. The middle of October should be the peak of color. I had the weekend of October 10 free and so we decided that would be the weekend to go.

Mother Nature took a lesson from Murphy and his Laws.

RedandGreen

The trees are late changing. Warm temperatures and a wetter year has pushed the peak color back two-to-three weeks. About 1/3 of the leaves above 4,000 feet were changed. Saturday was a complete wash with rain and fairly dark skies. We had planned on Saturday for other activities so that wasn’t so bad, but Sunday, our morning to drive the parkway was fairly well fogged in.

I had actually hoped for foggy conditions, but not mountains in the clouds. I thought that the crystal blue skies and loads of color with fog laying low in the valleys would have been cool. The plan was to drive up to several spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway, ending up at a location called Graveyard Fields where you can access a couple of waterfall’s with an easy hike.

But as we headed out around 9:30 we realized that conditions were not good. A light rain was falling and you could barely see the mountains. With hopes it would pass and burn off, we trudged on. We would drive for a while and see a clearing where some sun was peeking though and find a pull off. But as we grabbed the cameras, the fog and clouds would move in and close off the shooting opportunity. This happened several times.

FoggyWaterfall

The original plan was to have a model with us to pose in the landscapes. But given the cold, wet conditions it was best that we didn’t have a model.

We passed a group of four photographers, cameras mounted to their tripods and aimed into the fog, patiently waiting for the fog to clear. Ironically as we returned, they were still there, still pointing at the fog. That’s dedication! At times visibility was less than 50′.

We eventually got to Graveyard Fields and caught a few moments before the fog rolled in. Since we were not going to get any sun, we headed down to the stream that feeds the Lower Falls. We stopped to photograph a nice spider web dripping in water droplets. As we reached the creek, there was a fairly nice scenic with the fog filling the gap between trees as the running brook ran with water. This was a good opportunity to try out slow shutter speeds to blur the water.

SpiderWeb

Not having a polarizer or a neutral density filter and only being able to get to ISO 100 meant cranking the F-Stop up to F32 or higher, to try and get a 1 second or half second exposure. The problem with that is two fold. Most lenses stink above F11 with regards to sharpness. With that tiny of an aperture, every spot of dust on my sensor stood out. Boy is my sensor icky.

We headed down to the lower falls. Getting down is easy. We shot around there for a bit and decided to head back as I had to return to Raleigh. As we drove back, the sun was finally staring to peek through and we stopped to get more traditional landscapes.

While I didn’t get those post-card photos, I think I prefer the bad conditions as they provided a much more moody landscape to photograph.

Overall I think were happy with the results.

Waterfall

FrenchBroadRiver

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

Our Kentucky Derby Festival Vacation Comes to an End.

syndey

Nine days ago we packed our bags and loaded up our Expedition for the long ten-hour drive from our home in North Carolina to our native home of Kentucky. It was a trip we had not made in several years. We picked this week specifically because it was the main week of the Kentucky Derby Festival. For my wife, a native of Louisville, Derby Week is ingrained into the soul and its been hard for her over the 15 years we have been gone and hopefully we satisfied her yearnings for a while.

The week will go down as her most memorable vacation in a long time. I wanted this week to be all about Sherry. If she wanted to do it, we did it and if I got to take photos, all the better. She had a very packed and aggressive schedule planned and we made most of the events and made all the key events.

Spring time in Kentucky means unpredictable weather. It has been known to snow this week and rain is always a problem. Temperatures can soar into the low ’90’s or can require the heat to be on all week. When attending festival events the weather can make or break a trip. Winds and rain threatened almost every outdoor event this week. The rains came during off hours, the winds delayed but didn’t cancel any events and even for those attending the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby were granted dry conditions making it almost a near perfect week.

This website’s blog posts have been a daily diary of our exploration. We hope you have enjoyed reading the stories and viewing the photos as we got to experience the events first hand.

The week was full of favorite moments and very few forgettable ones. The highs include:

And the two low points, besides the weather concerns included:

  • Not getting all the Carolina Hurricanes playoff hockey games
  • Not having a DVR. We didn’t have a clue how much we use the rewind live TV feature.

As tradition before each running of the Kentucky Derby, just after the “Call to the Post” and the National Anthem, Stephen Foster’s song “My Old Kentucky Home” is played. Never has the song meant as much to me as it did when it was played Saturday as the final lyrics struck me:

Weep no more my Lady. Oh weep no more today.
We will sing one song for my Old Kentucky Home,
For my Old Kentucky home, far away.

…”Far away”…

Kentucky is my home, not North Carolina, though thats were I live. Staying away all these years from family and friends is not good. We should not be bound by distance, gas costs, schedules, or the other excuses of life. Being away from your home is not healthy for the mind, body or soul. We must work harder to make sure that our old Kentucky home isn’t as far away.

But for now, its back to work on Monday. Time to hit the ground running and act like we never missed a beat during our nine-day excursion.

I thank you for following along.
Rob & Sherry!syndey

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Movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’ was released in March 23, 2016 in genre Comedy. Kirk Jones was directed this movie and starring by John Corbett. This movie tell story about The continuing adventures of the Portokalos family. A follow-up to the 2002 comedy, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

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Kentucky Derby Horses Work at Dawn at the Downs.

Derby Favoriate "I Want Revenge"

One thing is generally consistent with the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby…. Weather will come into play. And so was it today as a cold front danced its way through Louisville and destabilizing the air for the rest of the week with rain in the forecast.

The signature event today for the Kentucky Derby Festival was the “Run for the Rosé”, an event where people run trays of rosé wine around an obstacle course. The contestant with the most un-spilled wine at the end wins. The contest used to be local bartenders and servers, but its expanded to include teams from the local media, local colleges and universities, etc.

We didn’t go. It was raining and we didn’t feel like getting out in the bad weather. However, we made it to another event early in the morning just as the rain was beginning to arrive: Dawn at the Downs.

Dawn at the Downs 04

Dawn at the Downs is a free event (well you pay $5 to park!) and you can watch the horses during their morning workouts at Churchill Downs. This is a nice low pressure event and fans can get down to the rail to watch the horses up close. For many, who won’t be able to attend the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, this is their only chance to get to see these champion horses before they race for the Triple Crown.

We got a late start and missed the first group of horses to work. The sky was brooding with dark rolling and very watery clouds and they were moving toward us. The rains came, then they stopped, then they came, then they stopped, but the rains were not enough to stop the practice or stop the fans. Those that wanted to be dry could just move up under the covered area, those not minding the rain could stay by the rail.

Dawn at the Downs 01

The horses continued to work.

Eventually we go to see three Derby horses work, Papa Clem, Summer Bird and current betting favorite I Want Revenge.

The rains eventually came harder and with a pause in the action, we decided to leave as I had way too many photos to edit and process. I hope you enjoy these. Click on the photos to go to their Flickr page and then click on the “All Sizes” and “View Large” to see how well ripped these athletes are!

Dawn at the Downs 02

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Chasing the Great Balloon Race

balloonrace01The alarm went off promptly at 6:00am. Tired from another late night, Sherry and I rolled out of bed and made our way upstairs to the TV. High Winds have been a problem for ballooning all week and today’s winds were forecast to be over the safety threshold as well. Саман своими руками

Dancing around the dial of the four local TV stations in Louisville, we searched for a “Go/No Go” for the event. Good news, the race was on. However it was expected to be a short race with the winds expecting to pick up early in the race.

We headed out the door and made our way just outside the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center where the balloons were inflating on the East Lawn. We needed to get some gas and while we were pumping, the “Hare” balloon took off. The winds were projected to carry the balloons north over down town and into southern Indiana, but the winds were pushing the Hare north-east towards Shelby County along I-71.

balloonrace03-sm

A hot air balloon race isn’t about speed, its about accuracy. The race is played by launching a lead balloon, the “Hare”, first then a few minutes later all the “Chase” balloon’s head out hunting the hare. The hare balloon finds a field where it can land and puts a large X target on the ground. The hare balloon, piloted by last year’s winner, has to make sure the target location is safe for the balloons to descend and drop a bag of Kentucky Bluegrass seed at the target. Closest to the target wins. The target spot also has to provide the balloons a place to land after they make their drop attempt.watch full movie I Am Heath Ledger 2017

We headed down Preston Highway towards downtown. With the change in winds, and the hare balloon heading more east, we cut down Eastern Parkway before deciding we needed more speed, so we made our way back to the Watterson Expressway (I-264) and raced around Louisville to near where I-264 and I-71 meet. The hare balloon started heading down in a field behind a shopping center off of Brownsboro Road just past Anchorage.

We were following one of the official Kentucky Derby Festival vehicles until a red light at a left turn caught us. We found the shopping center as the chase balloons were starting to make their drop attempts. We found a road that looked like it would lead us behind the shopping center, but instead it took us further out towards some open farms. Dozens of vehicles were following along, each trying to figure out just where to go.

Frustration set in as we tried one way, then it appeared to be the wrong way, so we turned around to go back only to see more of the team’s chase vehicles going where we just came from. They didn’t have a clue either. Finally we decided to follow a group of three chase teams and the caravan of traffic with them. We came to a field where seven or eight balloons had landed and was probably near the drop point, but by that time, the balloons were down and the pilots and crew were already packing up waiting on the trucks to show up.

It was a lot of fun until the final 20 minutes of changing directions in the middle of some wooded wilderness.

Part of today’s expedition was to photograph horses so we headed back to that farm and photographed the horses for a few minutes.

Derby Week Day 2 — Family Time

Today was filled with frustration, though we did have some successes.focuz.ru

Today was to be “The Great Balloon Race”. The alarm went off at 6:00am. We actually got to “sleep in” since we were not going to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center to watch the takeoff, but instead going to wait along the projected path to chase the balloons to their destination. Mother Nature scrubbed the race due to high winds. A second attempt later in the day would also be scrubbed as the winds did not abate.

Instead of going back to sleep like sane people would, in particular after having stayed up late the night before following the Balloon Glow, we enjoyed breakfast with my wife’s family. Sherry instead decided that we needed to go shopping to try and find our “Derby Shirts”.

So we headed out to the Mall at St. Matthews to find a “Taste of Kentucky” store. Along the way we passed a “Yard Sale” though a big sign said it was a “Honey Moon Fundraiser”. While I can’t disclose what we got, since they are gifts, we scored big on two gifts, one at the yard sale and another at the mall. We also found a “Sheldon Shirt Folder”, the same shirt folder that Sheldon uses on “Big Bang Theory” a CBS sit-com.

We felt the day was off to a good start.

We returned home to the sounds of kids as two of her nephews and a niece had arrived to visit. Today ended up being family day more than Derby event day. She also got to spend some time with another niece as well.

I did some nature photography around the yard and spent some time getting pics of the kids. All and all, it was a fairly light day. But the frustrations continued as we found out the afternoon race had been scrubbed.

Earlier while at the “Taste of Kentucky” store, I saw a photo of the Louisville skyline. The last time we were here a few years ago, I tried to get a good shot, but the weather wasn’t cooperating, but today was a beautiful day.

After dinner, Sherry and I headed out to try and find the Derby shirts we wanted. We stopped at Mejier’s and the Liquor Barn, two of the event sponsors and had no luck finding the shirts we wanted.

We trucked down town to a small Clarksville Indiana park on the riverfront and worked on the skyline until I had something I liked. We stopped by Walmart in a last ditch effort for the day to find the shirts — FAIL.

All and all, it was a good day to spend time with the family and we landed two really good gifts. So through the frustrations, it was a successful day.

Tomorrow, we go hunting horses and spend time with my family.