In Pursuit of Unique Places and Fine Art Photographs

Woody's Travel and Pictures

White Sands National Park in February 2020

Annette and I visited White Sands National Park this month.  It’s an interesting place just full of great pictures, if you can find them.  Here are some of my attempts at finding great pictures. When I am shooting, I like to look for textures, light...

Annette and I visited White Sands National Park this month.  It’s an interesting place just full of great pictures, if you can find them.  Here are some of my attempts at finding great pictures.

When I am shooting, I like to look for textures, light & shadows, shapes and scenes that elicit a response.  Hopefully you will see all of that in this series of images.

When you enter the park, the dune field starts on your left and has some vegetation.  It is sparse and consists of plants that have adapted to the arid climate.  Many of the plants are of lighter shades than their cousins that live in less harsh environs.

These first two pictures were at sunset.  I was rushing around trying to find something that was lit with the warm glow.

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From the long shadows, you can tell that this next image was also close to sunset.  This image was just as we were leaving the area for the day and was the last dune before the parking lot.  But the long shadows and the quality of the light caught my eye.

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The next several images are examples of vegetation in the park.

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Sometimes the sand is the hero.  Sometimes the sky is the hero.

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Annette and I took the 5 mile Alkali Flat Trail early one morning.  It was a bit of a struggle to climb the dunes.  Sometimes we found a way to follow the adjacent dunes so that we would not have to go up and down so much.  I took over 300 pictures and Annette took over 3 times that many, so photography was the main goal of the morning for us.  It’s a good thing, because it took us 5 hours to complete the loop even though the signs at the trailhead recommended that hikers allow 3 hours!

As I walked (I would like to say, “as I hiked”, but it was more of a stroll!) through the dunes, I tried to imagine what the pioneers encountered with their wagon trains.

-Was it beautiful to them?

-Was it a disheartening obstacle to circumvent?

-How did they figure out the best way through or around the dunes?

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I hope you enjoyed this visit to White Sands National Park!

 

 

Fort Pickens

Earlier this month (January 2020) Annette and I were fortunate enough to camp in the Fort Pickens Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are islands in this National Seashore that are in Florida and in Alabama. The Fort Pickens Area is in...

Earlier this month (January 2020) Annette and I were fortunate enough to camp in the Fort Pickens Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are islands in this National Seashore that are in Florida and in Alabama. The Fort Pickens Area is in Pensacola Beach, FL.

Annette was concerned because on the webpage where we reserved our site there was a note that indicated that campers should call the park on the day of their arrival to check on the status of the road into the park. Flooding and washouts of the road are possible! But we made it just fine.

BUT! While we were there, there was a storm predicted on all of the weather outlets. A couple that we met there actually left the day of the storm because they were worried. But, again, we were just fine.

We toured Fort Pickens with a guide who was entertaining and educational. It probably didn’t hurt that, by the end, we were his only 2 tourers! 

One of the interesting points the tour guide told was that the men, who manned the large cannons within the fort, would go deaf from the cannon’s report. In fact, he said that many of them actually bled from their ears during battles where the cannons were fired!

Annette and I took the tour and listened to the information without the distractions of our cameras. The next day we came back, with our cameras, and took pictures undistracted by any tour guide spiel.

Here are some pictures:

You will notice in all of these pictures that arches played an important part in the design of the fort.  Nearly every room had some sort of arch.

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This is a view through what was described to us as the Officer’s Quarters.  It’s hard to believe that they would place the officers in the rooms adjacent to the cannons.  Maybe the officers were there to ensure that no one had unfettered access to the cannons and could sabotage them???

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The door in this picture led into the gun powder storage room.

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This is the same door, except we are looking out from inside of the gun powder storage room.

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I found the pattern of bricks on the ceiling of the gun powder storage room interesting.  I tried to imagine what the builders had to do to get these bricks to form an arch that could support itself and any structure or ballast above it.

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These four images are from different points in the fort.  You can see how patterns are repeated.  (Hey!  If you finds something that works, keep it going!)

I’d love to know what you think about Fort Pickens and this blog.  Email me at wgarthwaite@gmail.com.

 

Our First Major Renovation!

Annette and I have hated the dinette from day one.  The cushions were too thick and unsupportive.  You sunk into them and after brief time you were sliding down under the table, well, all almost. Also, there was no place where we could both set up ou...

Annette and I have hated the dinette from day one.  The cushions were too thick and unsupportive.  You sunk into them and after brief time you were sliding down under the table, well, all almost.

Also, there was no place where we could both set up our laptops to work on our photography.  In addition, there was no place where we could set up large monitors so we can work on our images in a larger view.

So we started talking about what we could do and we came up with a design that has many features:

-Desk space for two that doubles as a dining area

-More storage

-Space for the monitors, and a way to store them .

IMG_20190922_094118Here is the dinette the way it came from the factory. Wish we could get them to buy it back!

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Here are a few pictures of the dinette being torn out.

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We contracted with my brother-in-law Terry Thompson in DuBois, PA to build the new desk/table/cabinet.  My design was mostly in my head and Terry did a great job listening and understanding what I was trying to accomplish.  Terry’s craftsmanship was also great.  I was impressed with the way the parts fit and the whole thing fit together and fit the space.

Speaking of the parts fitting together, I know this because a complete cabinet would not have fit through the RV door, so the unit had to be brought into the RV in pieces and assembled inside of the RV!

Here are some pictures of the Assembly stage of the project.

(I can’t figure out how to rotate the vertical images.  I’ll have to Google it!)

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Here are some pictures of the finished cabinet.

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Please notice in the picture below that the top surface of the cabinet pulls out.  This does a couple of things.

-Sliding the top out provides knee room so that your knees are not constantly banging into the cabinet doors.

-Sliding the top out means that there is a gap between the top and the wall.  It is up through that gap that a TV lift will lift the monitors. Obviously, the monitors will go back down for travel.

-With the top slid in, the cabinet takes up the least amount of room, which is important in an RV and especially during travel.

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I mentioned two monitors and their storage and that is not quite there yet.  I ordered a TV lift.  Terry and I installed it, but it wouldn’t work.  I called the service department at the company and after trying a few things, they sent me a new controller.  It is at Clayt and Ashley’s house.  We will pick it up this weekends and give it a try,

The picture below show the monitors laying on top of the desk.  At least you can see the spacing.  I will try to update this post once I have the TV lift working properly!

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Annette and I are very pleased and excited.  It has been a great change and has been working well!

2019-02-02 – St. Augustine

St. Augustine Recently (February of 2019), Annette and I visited St. Augustine Florida. St Augustine is an historic city.  In fact, they are claiming that St Augustine has the longest history of any city in the US. St Augustine is a touristy, beautif...

St. Augustine

Recently (February of 2019), Annette and I visited St. Augustine Florida.

St Augustine is an historic city.  In fact, they are claiming that St Augustine has the longest history of any city in the US.

St Augustine is a touristy, beautiful, tropical (at least compared to Pennsylvania where I have spent most of my life!) place that has capitalized on its resources, namely Castillo de San Marcos, Old Town, churches and homes that the wealthy built in the early 1900’s. 

Castillo de San Marcos is a national monument, so my Lifetime Senior National Parks Pass allowed both of us to visit for free!  (If you are over 62 and haven’t bought yours yet, you really ought to!  It is $80, but it gets you into all of the National Parks and lasts the rest of your life.)

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We were fortunate enough to be at the Castillo on a weekend when some re-enactors demonstrated the highly prescribed drill to fire a canon.  There were a gazillion steps, such as cleaning the bore, cleaning the fuse port, ramming the charge, etc, that led up to the crescendo;  the big BOOM when they lit the fuse! 

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St Georges Street in the old town has been converted to a pedestrian walkway.  (The street is narrow and would have been cramped for cars anyway!)  There were shops lining the street.  Many were  tourist traps, but some were artisans and their crafts.

When the appropriate time came (Lunchtime!), Annette and I made our way to a restaurant where the previous patrons had written their names on dollar bills and stuck them on the wall.  You could make a couple of mortgage payments with all the bill there!  The food was good, although it could be heart attack inducing.  Annette had the deep fried shrimp and I had a burger that was coated in breading and deep fried.  Like I said, very yummy, but Oh! The fat!

We chose the first Friday of the month to go to St Augustine.  By dumb luck, we were there for the monthly Art Walk.  The art galleries and artisan shops were open that evening.  There were many beautiful pieces, but one gallery on the square had world class art!  It was stunning.  Many pieces we just had to stop, stare and take in!  I wish I had the money and display space to become a collector!

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After the Art Walk, it was dark, but we did take the opportunity to walk over to the Bridge of Lions.  Because of the darkness, we did not get the full effect of the bridge.  I think we are going to have to go back!

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If you are ever down in the area, I think St Augustine is worth a day of your time to explore!

How is the mail forwarding working?

Once we got to Florida and got settled into the RV site, we decided to go to the Mail Forwarding Service that we are using and check the place out. So we jumped in the car and drove down. It’s almost an hour from where we are staying. It’s a good thi...

Once we got to Florida and got settled into the RV site, we decided to go to the Mail Forwarding Service that we are using and check the place out.

So we jumped in the car and drove down. It’s almost an hour from where we are staying.

It’s a good thing that Annette called! They are not at 411 Walnut Street. If I was guessing (and I am), I would guess that they out grew that site and moved to a larger site, but would have a mutiny on their hands if they tried to have all of their clients (they say over 4000) change their addresses!

But we found the place without any problem, once we knew where to look.

The place was very clean. From the counter you can see back into the “operations” and it surprised me that it looked manual. There were rows and rows of bins and a half dozen people putting mail into the bins.

A person promptly greeted us and asked for our mail box number. When she brought the mail to us, she asked for identification, which we showed and that was it.

The first time we went in we got over 20 pieces of mail and two packages. We went in again a week later and picked up 6-7 pieces of mail and two more packages. Annette thought that another package may have arrived and the employee was happy to look through the packages that had not yet been sorted.

So far, we are pleased with how it is working out.

The next test will be having them forward mail to a campground where we are staying. But that’s in the future.

By the way…We ordered a book from a couple of Rvers who are technically savvy about mobile internet and it was really cool to see their address on the receipt. It was the same as ours! 411 Walnut St. Green Cove Springs, FL! (just a different box number.). It’s good to know that there are others like us who have chosen the same service!

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January 25, 2019 – Retirement, Week #2

The second week of retirement has been good. The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh had a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit that closed on Sunday. We were fortunate enough to get tickets for Saturday. (They only sold so many tickets for each hour of the...

The second week of retirement has been good.

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh had a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit that closed on Sunday. We were fortunate enough to get tickets for Saturday. (They only sold so many tickets for each hour of the exhibit.) As part of the exhibit, they had current artists use the Georgia O’Keeffe paintings as inspiration for some works. It was a cool idea, but we would have been happier if they would have just stuck to the O’Keefe works.

After the museum, we went to dinner with some friends and then went to a bar to hear a Jazz Singer. However, the sounds of the conversations in the packed bar pretty much drowned out the sound of the band. So we didn’t stay very long.

During our time at the museum, we only saw the one exhibit. So, one day during the week we went back and toured the rest of the museum. We enjoyed this very much.

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Our friend goes to a local coffee shop for an hour or so each morning. There is quite a collection of characters. We met Jim, who is a black smith, cartoonist, studied engineering and plays in a band. We met Sandy, who had a long career as an art professor at a liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania. And we met Brian, a male nurse, who has battled three different cancers and told funny stories about dealing with them and another funny story about meeting his wife.

Wednesday was a travel day, but before we got going, we had another RV issue. The airbags in the suspension would not inflate. (The air bags deflate just before leveling the RV so that the body sinks lower and the leveling jacks do not have to extend as far.) I called the factory and they called Freightliner (the chassis manufacturer). They had me re-retract the leveling jacks and that fixed the issue. The leveling jacks have to hit a limit switch in the retracted position before the air bags will inflate. Cool. Now I’ll know that for the next time!

On Wednesday, we made it to Walterboro, GA and the New Green Acres Campground. They claimed the widest and longest pull-through sites east of the Mississippi. Since I haven’t been to every campground east of the Mississippi, I can’t verify their claim, but the sites were definitely wide and long.

On Thursday, we made it to Florida!

We are staying at Kelly’s Countryside RV Park in Callahan, FL. Well, actually it is 6 miles north of Callahan. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but that is 6 miles you have to go every time out. The park is nice, but these are very definitely NOT the widest sites this side of the Mississippi! You can’t drive a car between the RV’s!

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We finally figured out how to get TV through the Antenna! Yay! Some people ask why you would need TV in an RV when you are going out to get away from everything. But, when you are full-time in an RV, you want to keep up with the news in the rest of the world!

Internet has been an issue. We need to figure some thing out. Most campgrounds advertise free wi-fi, but you are sharing it with everybody else in the park and the farther away from the office you are, the weaker your signal. A lot of campgrounds are in rural locations and may be a distance from the cell phone tower. Consequently, the signal is weak. We have also talked to a lot of people who have a hotspot from Verizon. Since we have AT&T, the Verizon hotspot may fill in some areas in the country where AT&T coverage is weak. I’m still researching.