Thoughts and Ramblings
Thu, 18 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 11For the final day in Scotland, we decided to take a last minute tour to see Rosslyn Chapel, Melrose Abbey, and then cross the border down into England to visit the World Heritage Site, Hadrian's Wall.
The first time I heard or read anything at all about Rosslyn Chapel, was in "The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown. It was a surprise addition to the trip and one that I was excited to be able to go visit and see in person. The ideas of the mysteries buried there in symbols and codes were pretty intriguing so it was fun to see some of those things and find them on the walls of the chapel myself. I can totally see why it's made people wonder if there was more to it than just blueprints for work on the church itself. I wish I could have taken some photos from inside the Chapel, but it wasn't allowed so this was all I could really shoot there.
Just down the hill from here is the family home and another set of ruins where parts of the movie starring Tom Hanks was filmed, so I had to wander down there for a look and shoot a couple of photos from that location as well. It was really fun to see where some of the filming took place.
After having about 90 minutes here, it was back on the bus and on to the next stop in a small village called Melrose. The town was really pretty and situated just on the edge of town was the Melrose Abby, most famous for being the location of Robert The Bruce's Heart. The King's heart is said to have been buried in the church, perhaps brought back from a crusade with the body of Lord Douglas in either 1330 or 1331.
After walking around the Abby and having some lunch, it was back onto the bus and across the border into England and a visit to see Hadrian's Wall. It's also known as The Roman's Wall, and runs 73 miles, spanning the entire width of England at one of it's narrower locations. The story as it was explained was that the Roman's had gone north to take all of Scotland along with England as they ruled most of the known world back then, but for some reason decided against claiming Scotland for the Empire. They then decided to build the Wall to protect themselves from what they called the Barbarians north of the border and this wall marked the northern-most point of the Romane Empire. Construction of the wall ran from 122-128 AD.
This shot gives more of a close up of the construction of the wall and how well it has held together after all these years. I think it was between 5 - 6 ft high along this stretch of wall.Here you can see the wall running off into the distance up and over the hill in the background.
If you'd like to read more about the wall, check out the link here.
After leaving here, it was time to head back to the apartment, pack up the bags and get ready to head back home. 11 days may sound like a lot, but there is just so much that Scotland has to offer, that we barely scratched the surface on things to do and see if you ever go there. I could have spent months there an never ran out of things I wanted to see. It's truly a beautiful country.
I'm sad the trip is over but ready to head back home. I will be back!
Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:55:00 +0000Scotland - Day 10After a very long first 9 days, today was going to be much more relaxed and easy going. A few of us decided to head to the Edinburgh Zoo today and take a bit of a break from hours in the car. It was really nice to just use the local transit system and see what the zoo here was like. The zoo was advertising a new baby Polar Bear, the only one in the UK I think, but once we got there we discovered that the baby Polar Bear was on loan to another location right now. I was a bit disappointed but new there was still so much more to see. The zoo itself was really nice and I liked to see that the animals had bigger enclosures than I expected and they had the freedom to decide between a big outdoor area or being inside where it was warmer. Almost every enclosure had little tunnels or ramps between the inside and the outdoor areas.
If you decide to ever visit the zoo while here, the one thing to be ready for that I didn't expect, was that you'll be walking a lot of pretty steep hills throughout it. It still didn't take very long to see everything here, and we were pretty much done after 2.5 hours.
Next, we met up with the rest of the group and headed out to find something to eat for lunch. We walked around the castle area of the city for a while until we found lunch and then afterward just headed back to the apartment. Tomorrow is going to be an early day as we have a 9.5-10 hour but tour down into England for our last day in the UK.
Tue, 16 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 9Edinburgh Castle was the only thing on the agenda for the day today other than some shopping for everyone else in the group. It’s pretty amazing to just look at the castle from the distance and see the way it looms over the city, high on a steep cliff of bedrock. It was a beautiful day out, but that made for tough conditions for photos, well, that and the fact that it’s Easter break for a lot of Europe right now so the crowds were pretty big everywhere in Edinburgh. I think I saw more people on the Royal Mile than I did in all of the rest of the country the previous 8 days.As great as the castle is, and as interesting as it was to explore, with it being as crowded as it was today, it was just hard to get to really see and read things the way I would have enjoyed to. Luckily I had been here before though so I didn’t mind skipping past a few things and just seeing some of the better sights here.Once everyone had enough of the crowds, we headed back down the hill and did a little shopping and walking around. Since shopping isn’t my thing, I mostly just people watched and browsed the stores until we headed back to the apartment and then out to dinner.I finally broke down at dinner and had to have some Haggis… which I’d heard so many horror stories about, but I can honestly say not only didn’t it smell the way it had always been described to me, but it was actually delicious! Now I’m kicking myself for not trying it earlier into the trip so I could have it a few times before heading home. I’m really going to have to find a place to get some again before I leave Scotland.
Mon, 15 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 8
Today was filled with stops at some great castles on the way to Edinburgh. The first was Kilchurn Castle which was an amazing looking ruin standing on the edge of a Loch on our route east. It was almost surreal looking as we walked up this long gravel path towards it. One nice thing was that It was also free to enter and explore which was a huge plus as we’d been spending a lot of money on castle visits so far on this trip.Here is a view of the castle as you approach it.Here are a couple of views from inside, although they just can't do it justice. I didn't have a lens that was nearly wide enough to capture anything in one shot.Next on the trip was Doune Castle, which many of you may know was used in the filming of many movies and shows over the years. It was used as Winterfell in Season 1 of Game of Thrones. It was also used as the castle in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and in the series Highlander. Those alone made it really fun to walk through the entire castle and try to recognize the different rooms and what they were used for.Blackness Castle was the last of the stop along the way, and was also used as a backdrop in Highlander. It’s another amazing looking castle that sits right on the water front.On a hill just outside the main castle walls, there sits the ruins of a chapel that I almost missed seeing. There was a plaque that stated that unfortunately for the chapel, the spot where it sat was an ideal place to position artillery attacking the castle, which meant that the chapel suffered from Cromwell’s troops, making way for their guns when they laid siege to Blackness Castle back in 1650.After finishing exploring Blackness Castle it was on to Edinburgh for our last apartment of the trip and our last 4 days in Scotland.
Sun, 14 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 7The first stop of the day today the Distillery in a very nice little town called Oban. This was the second Whisky tour of the trip but this one was actually a much more entertaining tour as the guy leading it could have seriously been doing stand-up comedy for a living. He had us laughing hard more than a few times on the trip, but also knew his stuff and I learned a a few more things about the process than I had on the first Whisky tour.After the tour we just walked around the town a little and ended up having lunch at the pier from a great food truck there. It was a little cold out but fun to sit and watch the people while we ate. Our parking spot had a two hour limit so we decided it was time to head out of town and back to the house.On the way back, we stopped at Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel which was an old ruin that was very interesting to walk around explore. I’ve actually been enjoying the ruins much more than the castles that are more like museums on this trip.The house we rented for two nights in Taynuilt was really nice and maybe my favorite place to stay on the trip so far. It is so very quiet here and the view from the upstairs is beautiful. The only downside to the place was that the staircase is very steep and narrow and getting the bags up to the third floor was an adventure.Tomorrow morning will be another early start, as we’ll be heading out for our final stop on the trip.
Sat, 13 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 6Everyone was up early this morning so that we would have time to head to the fairy pools before leaving Skye for the mainland. The road leading to the fairy pools was another very narrow winding road and took a little longer to drive than expected, but we got pretty lucky and got there early enough that there weren’t very many people there yet. The pools were just a series of small waterfalls that dropped into deep crystal clear pools of water. The photos just don’t do them justice, but here are a few from the morning.As I got to the last of the big pools I turned around and saw big groups of people walking down the path toward the pools so it was perfect timing to get out of there. Especially since almost every group I passed was walking out into the middle of the rocks at the falls and would have been in the way of any possible photo I took.On the way to the next hotel we also stopped at a very cool castle called Eilean Donan which might have been one of the more picturesque castles we got to see on this trip. The only problem was that the sun was almost directly overhead when we got there and made it so very hard to get really good photos of the castle. Here are just a couple of quick shots and hopefully I might have a few more once I get home and get a chance to edit them a little bit.After spending a good hour touring the inside of the castle we went into the small café here to have some lunch and sat at a table that let me look out the window at this as I ate. It was one of the best backdrops I've ever had while eating lunch.
We got back into the car and headed to the next house we were staying at. The drive took us through the heart of Glencoe which was absolutely stunning, but no one wanted to stop along the way so I have no photos to share from there. I think everyone is tired from a few of the long days we've had and wants an early night so we can just relax and have some dinner. No idea what the plan is for tomorrow yet, but hopefully we'll get out to see something good.
Fri, 12 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 5The morning started off a little overcast and I had hopes that the clouds would hold on until we could make it out to Neist Point. For a country that is described as even worse than Seattle when it comes to rain and overcast days, it’s sure been sunny and warm every day since the first morning here. So sunny in fact that it’s made most photography really tough on this trip. The lighthouse was already going to prove to be a tough location to photograph without dealing with the sun too, so my fingers were crossed, but true to my luck with Mother Nature, those perfect cloudy skies cleared up JUST as we got to Neist Point. The light was harsh and I was stuck trying to shoot into the sun to make things even tougher but I actually still think I managed to get a few okay shots.This first photo is of Neist Point itself, just showing how the land kind of swoops up just before a shear cliff wall drops off to the ocean. When you first get here, you can’t even tell there is a lighthouse out there.I wandered up the cliffs to the right of the parking lot and headed out until I could see past the cliff, and then got my first glimpse of the lighthouse way out there on the point. As you can see it’s not the greatest photo of this beautiful location but it gives you a bit of an idea of what it looks like.I then made the long trek down to the lighthouse itself which was a nice little hike with amazing views of the cliffs all along the coast. Photos really can’t even do it justice!Once we all met back up at the car and had a snack and some water, we decided to try to head to the Fairy Pools, but along the way, we passed a small farm that had a sign out that their sheep were currently having their babies, and there were newborn lambs we could stop in and see. Everyone wanted to stop to see them as we’ve been seeing sheep everywhere with babies but no places to turn off the road and get a closer look. There were two lambs that had just been born in the last hour so you really can’t see them too much younger than that. It was very fun to wander through the barn and see all the lambs at different stages … from the newborn lambs to some that looked to be about a month old. I forgot my camera in the car so didn’t get any photos but just take my word that those little sheep were so very cute. JWhile talking to the woman that owned the ranch, she told us of a Corel Beach on the northern coast of the island that was covered in coral and sand…. And was the only stretch of beach like it anywhere on the island. Everyone decided that we just had to go see that and we could visit the fairy pools tomorrow morning instead, before having to leave Skye. It really was kind of wild to see this tiny stretch of beach that was so different than anywhere else we’d seen in Scotland so far. Still not sure what it’s just this one section of beach that is sandy and filled with little bits of coral right at the waterline, but it was fun to see in person.The day was another long one with everything taking much longer than expected, so we decided we should head back to the house, or at least get much closer to it before the sun fully set. On the drive home there was one more surprise view in store for us, and that was seeing Dunvegan Castle from across the bay. It almost seems unreal to see these castles like this and really makes you wonder what life must have been like when they were all first built.We got back to town and then decided to hit the restaurant that was the busiest around, because we’d heard they have the best mac n cheese in the world. That and their pizza was a high recommendation and it turns out that both were very good. It was also a nice change of pace from all the fish and chips we’d been eating. JTomorrow, it’s time to leave the Isle of Skye, but we are getting up early to hit the fairy pools for sure before leaving the island.
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 4Some of you may have realized that things didn't go as planned on keeping this blog up on a day by day basis. Turns out that one of the houses we stayed at had Wi-Fi, but the signal was so bad that only one person at a time could even connect to the internet with their phones and then when I tried, I couldn't get anything to work. So the blog is going to be running tape-delayed :)The 4th day started off with a long drive to Isle of Skye. There was a private tour of the Talisker Distillery that had been set up and in order to get there in time for the tour, we had to skip a number of sites on the way there. We were quickly learning that if Google Maps told you a drive would take 2 hours, it would actually turn out to be much closer to a 3 hour drive and we didn’t want to risk missing the prepaid tour. The day turned out to be a nice day though and the drive to Skye was amazing with so much beautiful country to see on the way there.The Distillery tour was very interesting and I learned there was a lot more that goes into making Whiskey than I thought and the process was fun to see in person. Our guide was very good and very happy to answer all of our questions during the tour. Here are a couple of shots from inside the distillery.
After leaving there we stopped at a very nice little restaurant and had a great lunch before heading on to see Dunvegan Castle. The castle began its life in the 1200’s as a simple masonry wall surrounding a former Norse fort. Most of the current Dunvegan Castle was constructed in the mid-14th century by Malcolm MacLeod and has been home of the Clan MacLeod ever since. Dunvegan is famous for being the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. If I remember right, the current resident is the 30th generation of the MacLeod Clan to inhabit it.
Sadly the day was so nice that the sky was so bright behind the castle I had a lot of trouble getting any good shots of it. This might be one of the better I was able to get from outside. One plus side of the bright day though, was the the rooms inside the castle were pretty bright and I could get some photos inside that weren't blurry.The day seemed to fly by and it was already getting dark by the time we left the Castle and got back to town. The roads are extremely narrow and not lit at night so we didn’t want to be stuck far from the house after dark. We decided to stop at a local pub and play some pool and darts to end the night. We made plans to get up early and head out to one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland if not the world. It’s one of the locations I was most looking forward to seeing myself so I am excited to see it.
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 23:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 3Day 3Well, today was another cloudy and cold day. The first stop was the Culloden Battlefield which was the site of the last Jacobite uprising which many mistakenly think was a battle between the Scots and the British or a religious battle between the Catholics and Protestants, but was really just a battle for who two groups wanted to have at the King of England. Scottish clans fought for both the Jacobite army and the English Government Armies.The history here was interesting to hear about and to see where it all happened. The biggest surprise to me was to hear that the mass graves there each contained close to 100 men women and children in each and there were many of them scattered around the battlefield. If you have some time and interest, you should read up on the history here.After leaving there, we headed into the city to visit Inverness Castle. The city turned out to be bigger and busier than I expected and finding a place to park was super difficult. After all the trouble in finding a place to park, it turned out that the castle isn’t open to walk through and appeared to have been converted into a courthouse or something. There was entry to the highest tower though which would give you a 360 degree view of the city so I had to go up and take a look and shoot a few photos from up there. It was so windy up there though that I couldn’t stay up there too long.There was one last stop today but that one stop turned into two when we passed by this very old graveyard and church. After a short stop here we continued on to see Red Castle. We learned from a local that the castle was now a ruin. The owners of the castle had been hit with extremely high taxes on the castle and were at risk of losing everything and so they burned the castle down, or at least attempted to destroy it. There was nothing left but the stone walls…. And then this is all that was left of those after all these years. The ruins were off limits though due to its protected status and the fact that it had become too dangerous to enter any longer.
Tue, 09 Apr 2019 08:56:00 +0000Scotland - Day 2Day 2Today started off bright and early in the hopes of catching a great sunrise over Dunnottar Castle, a ruin that sits high on a cliff overlooking the sea. Yesterday was such a sunny day that I had pretty high hopes when going to bed, but woke to find that the weather in Scotland can and does truly change drastically day to day and even hour to hour. It was a cold and rainy morning and no sunrise was to be seen, much less there being a pretty one today. That was totally okay though as the castle ruins themselves were pretty amazing to see. The only downside to getting there so early and not getting to see the sun rise over the castle, was the fact that it wasn’t open yet either to let me look around and explore it some.Next was on to Cowie Chapel which was rededicated to St. Mary of the storms in 1276. The church ruins sit right on the ocean side cliff just as Dunnottar Castle does, but instead of there not being much around, there is a golf course here that sits right up to the church and graveyard and made for a very interesting backdrop to the course.Next up were a couple of lighthouses to see, but there was construction going on at the port and the road to the lighthouse was closed off to traffic until the end of the month. So didn’t stop to take photos and just decided to move on to the next Castle on the list. This one was called Crathes Castle. It sits on hillside and is bordered by what is probably a beautiful garden area later in the spring and summer, once everything begins to bloom. It wasn’t actually so much a castle as it was a fortified home, but taking the tour of the house was pretty interesting and just walking through a place like that and trying to imagine what life must have been like in those times was very interesting.The tour ran a bit long and took up a lot more of the day than planned, so had to change up plans a little as the day went on and just decided to drive past the next two lighthouses on the list and head to Drum Castle instead.This was another “castle” that turned out to be much more a fortified home as well, but it did appear more castle like than the last one. Another bonus here was that you don’t have to take a guided tour and can just go in and wander through at your own pace and look at what you wanted and skip the things that didn’t look at interesting. My favorite room in this castle was a giant reading room that was a huge library with wall to wall, floor to ceiling bookshelves, filled to the max with old books. It’s a room I would love to have in my house! I think I might have gotten a few photos of it but didn’t see them on my first run through my photos tonight so I’ll just post one from the outside for now.The last stop of the day was another ruin, this one was Slain’s Castle. I first heard of this castle watching a VLOG by a photographer from Scotland named Kim Grant. She had made a couple of videos here that were so interesting to watch, and made me put this on my list of must see stops. As good as her videos were, it didn’t even do justice to this place and make you realize just how big it was. Like the castle ruins from this morning, this one also sat atop a steep cliff helping to protect it from the ocean side, but what made it my favorite stop of the day was that it was wide open to explore and talk through. It was cold and the ground muddy, but I could have probably spent another hour there easily just exploring every nook and cranny of the place. The biggest disappointment though, was that there was trash left behind by people who just don’t care about preserving places like these and they are the reason many of these places are made off limits to everyone. People just can’t help but destroy these awesome relics from the past and it’s so frustrating to see. For now, it is still free to visit and explore this castle, but something tells me that might not be the case soon.The day was a very fun and interesting one, but it was getting late and there was a LONG way to go to the next stop for the night. There were still so many stop on the list for the day, but we all hit the road and stopped for dinner about half-way to the next house on our stay. Even with skipping all the other stops, it was still just after midnight when we rolled in here. As I type this it’s almost 3:15am… and I need to get some sleep before heading back out in about 4 hour or so.
Sat, 06 Apr 2019 15:00:00 +0000Scotland - Day 1Today was mostly just a travel day. The plan was to try to see a few things on the way to our first stop, but the travel day took longer than expected and everyone was dead tired by the time we got the rental car and made our way to Stonehaven.
Since everyone was so tired, we just walked around the town a little bit and then went to get some dinner and decided that we'd get an early start tomorrow. The good news is the trip went smooth and I'm in Scotland now, the bad news is no real photos or sites for today.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll have something more exciting to post and some photos to go with it.
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0000New England Fall - Part 8This post ends my series on my trip to New England which I'm sure most of you are tired of reading about by now. I just wanted to finish up with a couple of quick thoughts about the one thing I didn't enjoy about my trip, other than the fact that I missed fall peak colors yet again this year. This is something that always bothers me no matter where I am in the United States: Telephone Poles, Billboards, and wires...
It seems like any time there is something to take photos of, you can't find an angle to shoot it where you don't have at least one of those three things in your shot, distracting from the view! The more beautiful the view you have, the more signs, poles, wires, etc you have to deal with. It's almost like someone sees a spot that is really pretty, and they decide that's the perfect spot for a HUGE billboard or the perfect location for a telephone pole with wires coming in from every angle possible. LOL
There were so many cool buildings and towns and vistas that I would have loved to take photos of, where the photo was ruined by that kind of stuff. I know there isn't really anything we can do about it as I don't think we'll ever see a time where all of our powerlines are buried and run underground like they are in Europe, but I dream about it all the time. *sigh*
Okay, so maybe this was a little tongue in cheek and just me trying to be a little funny but anyone reading this that has pulled out their camera to shot something that caught their eye probably gets it! :)
Here is an example of why it drives me crazy... here were tow more churches from my trip that were so very cool looking. They almost looked more like castles than churches to me, and I wandered all the way around them, trying to find some way to shoot a photo of them without all those distractions in the way. I almost gave up and just put the camera away, but the buildings were just too cool to not take a few photos.
AND now when I look at those photos... All I see is light poles, telephone and power cables and signs. Yes, sometimes those things can be fixed in Photoshop but wouldn't it be a prettier world if we could look that stuff like this without all of that other stuff in the way? :)
I hope you enjoyed reading my little rambling stories about my trip and hope the photos at least kept it interesting. I should have actually written this series while I was on the road or at least as soon as I came back. I think I could have made it a lot more entertaining while I was in the moment.
I plan on posting from the road on my next trip... which will be to Scotland, one week from today. I hope some of you check in to follow my trip and I will do my best to post every night with photos if I can. Photos without powerlines and signs in every shot. :)
Mon, 25 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0000New England Fall - Part 7When I travel somewhere I've never been before, there always seems to be something that really stands out to me as I start to look around. I'm not sure why but I almost always start to pick up on patterns of some kind. I've been trying to think of good examples to help explain what I mean, but the only thing that comes to mind on this trip is how one of the first things I noticed, was a large number of older buildings throughout the towns and the states in the North East that shared the same unique architecture that I hadn't seen anywhere else before. They had these cool bell towers that were topped off with what almost looked a crown. I wish I could have found more information about the origin of the design and whether these buildings were all built around the same time or not. Here is a photo showing what I mean.
I also couldn't be sure if most of the buildings of that style were churches, or used for something else. Some had signs out front to make it pretty easy to know what they were, but every not and then I'd see one and find out it was a library or a city hall. It didn't matter though, I thought they were all very cool looking building.
The other thing I noticed is the number of churches as well. I lost count of how many churches I saw as I drove around, but after a while, it started to feel like there was one church for every 1000 people in the state. Well, okay maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but I think it was the highest concentration of churches I'd ever seen outside of the bible belt.
So many of them had the look of that one in the photo above, but every now and then I would run across some a little more unique. Here are a few photos of some of them that I found very cool looking. There is something about brick churches that really draws my eye. Most look best when shot in black and white to me.
But like all things, there are always exceptions to the rule. This shot was nowhere near as nice in black and white and the color version. Mostly because the trees had some color left in them and the fact that it also had a very boring clear blue sky. I was able to add a tiny bit of interest to the sky by waiting until the sun got low enough to just poke out from behind the church, letting me shoot it with that starburst effect.
And just to really show how there is always an exception to the rule, the builders of this church decided to be different than all the rest by not only avoiding using a pointed steeple, they figured why use square walls? I think this might be the only circular church I've ever heard of and for sure the only one I've ever tried to shoot.
It was a challenge to shoot a cool photo of thing. Buildings always look better to me when shot at an angle where you use the walls to add perspective and depth to the photo. Without square walls, there was just no way to do that. I mean come on... didn't those people who built this thing think about us photographers when they designed it? ;-)
Thu, 21 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0000Vermont Covered Bridges - Part 3One thing I found that was pretty interesting is that there were a number of homes I saw in Vermont and New Hampshire that had their own private covered bridge that crossed small creeks at the bottom of the homeowner's property. Some of them were very cool looking and were built in the same style as the 1800s styled bridges around the state. Here are two private bridges I ran across. The first actually had a padlocked gate on the backside to keep people from driving across it.
I know I've shown a number of photos already, but most of the photos I've shared so far were bridges that were a little unique in one way or another. I think I've mentioned how most of the covered bridges in the state all have the same kind of look, and this bridge is a perfect example of what the majority of them look like. I would say that 80% of the ones I saw and drove across looked just like this and all were about the same length even.
There was one bridge though that was much longer than the rest. It was so long that it was hard to find an angle to get a good photo of it until I climbed down to the river's edge and down the bank a little. The problem here was that the sun was blasting directly into the camera lens though so I shot it two different ways. One with most of the sun blocked by the tree branch, where I knew I could create a sun star that might be kind of cool in the photo. Then for the other, I just used the bridge itself to block the sun.
And then for my last covered bridge photo, I saved what was my favorite bridge on this trip and also the newest one I saw. This one was built in 2012 and you could tell right away that it was very new, but I loved how they stuck to the same style of all the other bridges across the state. I think this bridge was my favorite for a couple of reasons. One is that the colors of the wood and roof really played well off of each other, and the surrounding colors of the bushes and hillside. As soon as I shot this photo, I knew it was going to be my favorite of all the bridges.And B... was that it had a set of train tracks running in front of it that made for a composition that made this my favorite shot of all the covered bridges. I tried this shot in both color and black and white and the black and white version was my favorite of the two by far.
One last note about this bridge. I loved how they not only stuck to the look of all the other bridges, but they also built it the same throughout. I really thought I was going to see that the outside was just a shell on a concrete and metal structure inside.
Okay, that's the last of my covered bridge posts (for now anyway). I think I shared all the best shots I got on this trip and probably won't post anything else about covered bridges until I can return to Oregon and re-shoot the 52 bridges I know of down there, under better weather conditions than I had on the last photo trip there.
Mon, 18 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0000Vermont Covered Bridges - Part 2Most of the covered bridges I saw in Vermont seemed to be older bridges and from what information I could find on most of them, most were built before 1915, with the majority built in the mid to late 1800s. That makes it very impressive to me, that not only are they still standing but most are still in use every day. It was pretty interesting to drive across them and think about how they must have been built back in the horse and buggy days and to think about how much has changed since then.
Here are a couple of bridges that are starting to look their age, but still in use.Not all of the bridges were still in use though and just taking a look at them you could see why. I think I found 3 or 4 that were no longer in use which is still very impressive when you realize Vermont has over 100 covered bridges in the state.This bridge might have been the oldest one I drove across on my trip and it was still in great shape. According to the plaque on this bridge, it was originally built in 1836. I wish there was more information about each bridge posted near them but I don't think they are really treated as landmarks and just used as normal every day bridges.This was another of the few bridges I saw that had a plaque on it showing when it was first built. 1842 in this case, if you can't read the sign.This next bridge was different from most of the others I saw because the sides were open to the weather and you could actually see out as you drove across it. I was surprised to see that most of the covered bridges were totally walled in or that they would only have one or two small windows. I'm trying to remember how many I saw that were open on the side like this one and can only remember seeing 3 maybe 4 that were open.I left all of these photos in black and white as I really think it conveys the age and time these were built. Well, that and the fact that the trees were bare and it was pretty bleak when I took them.When I first drove up on this bridge it first appeared to be much newer than any I had seen so far, but then as I got closer and read the sign, it totally cracked me up and made me realize it's been around a very long time too. I wonder what that $2 would translate to in today's dollar.And just because I really liked this shot in color, I'm going to add one bonus photo of this same bridge looking back towards the small waterfall that you can see on the right-hand side of the first photo of it.
Thu, 14 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0000Vermont Covered Bridges - Part 1Okay, so I had to change up the title for the next batch of posts, mainly because I was starting to feel like I was as bad as some of those people that come up with titles for Hollywood movies and I was quickly approaching double-digits for my "part..." titles. I mean really, who wants to see Taken 12? I was tempted to come up with some kind of bad pun for this next one, but who would really ever come to read a post called "Spans and the Spurious"? And then, of course, there would be all that pressure to keep one-upping myself and let's face it, wordplay is not my strong suit.
So, I'll just stick to babbling on about whatever pops into my head when I'm trying to write something about these trips. I know in an earlier post I made a comment about the covered bridges in Vermont being a little disappointing, but looking back on my trip, that's not entirely true. Just looking through my photos, I think I've counted more than 20 separate bridges that I actually stopped at and took time to walk around to photograph. And I know I looked at a number of others on my trip that just didn't have a safe spot to attempt to shoot.
Instead of just posting 20+ photos of these bridges here I'll try to remember what the area was like around them and what if anything special I can remember about each one.
This first bridge is Scott Bridge, which is the longest wooden span in Vermont. I won't write too much on the history of this bridge as you can just read about it here:
I can remember thinking how impressive this thing looked when I first came around the corner and saw it there, crossing the river. I was disappointed to see that you could no longer drive across the bridge (one of the few I visited on the trip that couldn't be driven on any longer) but saw that you could still walk it so I found a spot and pulled over to check it out.
What I didn't realize at first was that this bridge was actually made up of what was once two separate spans that had been joined together. I didn't stop to read the sign when I first walked through it and about midway through, you can see and feel a definite seam where they were joined as it wasn't exactly flat and smooth. At least now I could see why they didn't let people drive across it any longer. If you look closely at this photo you can see the change in the angle towards the far end of this shot.
It was really interesting to see all those huge beams and bolt that hold this thing together and really, for it looking mostly plain from the outside, it was still pretty to look at from the different angles. These are all just quick photos of the bridge, straight out of the camera with no editing at all.
Mon, 11 Mar 2019 15:00:00 +0000New England Fall - Part 6One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to get away from the tourist locations and just wander the back roads and out of the way places, just to see what I can see. This trip was no different as I think I spent the majority of my time driving back roads, certainly twice as much time as I did on any main highways. You really just don't get to see much from the highways.About mid-way through my trip, I was driving one of those roads when I came across yet another barn that I thought was very cool looking. I got out of my car and took a few photos of it from the main road as I didn't want to walk onto private property ... and just as I was starting to get back into the car the owner of the house came out and got into his truck to leave. I could see him looking at me and at first, I thought he was going to ask what I was up to, but he started to head off in the other direction until he saw me start the car up. I saw him stop and begin to back up to where I was parked and now figured I was going to get all kinds of questions about who I was and what I was I doing there with my camera since I was well out in the middle of nowhere and parked in front of his house.Turns out he was just a very nice guy that saw my plates were from out of state and he was backing up to see if I was lost and if he could help point me in the right direction. When I told him I had just stopped to take photos of his barn and that I hoped that he didn't mind, he shut his truck off and was more than happy to tell me the story of his barn and about the area around there. He then pointed to this huge Sugar Maple tree that was in front of his house, and asked me if I'd noticed it, and then proceeded to tell me how it was one of the largest Sugar Maples in Vermont. Kind of like a proud father, he told me about the history of the tree, how many times it had lost huge branches in storms, and how now there was another tree that has just passed it as the biggest Sugar Maple in the state.I guess someone from the state would come out every year and measure his tree and compare it to the other one and depending on the year, the number of branches lost to storms or tree rot, the two trees would leap-frog each other for the distinction of being the largest Sugar Maple in the state. I think we sat there talking for just over 30 minutes and then he said he really should get to running his errands. I asked if he would mind if I walked onto his property to take a few more photos and he told me to please feel free to go up there as far as I wanted.
I guess I'm writing about this for two reasons. One is that I just saw an article a week or so ago, that the owner had to have the tree cut down due to it just having too much rot and it had become too weak to safely leave standing, and it made me feel kind of lucky that I'd taken that side-trip that day and actually seen the tree and talked to the owner about it just a few months before he had to have cut down. It was just a fluke that I even heard the story about the tree as I wouldn't have noticed it if he hadn't been a really nice guy and struck up a conversation.
The other reason I'm writing this is to say that sometimes the best part of these trips isn't really what you get to see or do, but it's the cool people you meet and stories you hear when you take the time to chat with the locals. I've met so many nice people in my travels just from striking up random conversations either while I'm taking photos, or just wandering the back roads and alleys to experience something other than the list of must-see places you can find everywhere online.
I've always had the best times on my trips when I'm not standing in front of a tourist attraction with a huge crowd of other people jockeying for a look at something. I mean, honestly, those places can just be too peopley for me at times.
Get out and wander... get lost for a while off the beaten path and who knows what stories you may hear or things you might see.
Thu, 07 Mar 2019 16:00:00 +0000New England Fall - Part 5After I left Sleepy Hollow Farm, I had a pretty long list of things to try to find and to see if they would make for any cool photos or not. The list consisted of a lot of covered bridges and a handful of farms and barns, and a couple of old mills I was excited to check out. I had put most of those locations into my GPS, but hadn't really done a good job of keeping track of which ones had the most potential so I decided to just pull up the closest places and drive past as many as I could, just to see what they looked like. I knew that there wouldn't be many places that were famous on my list so there was no rush to get to any one place in particular.I drove past a number of bridges that afternoon, and hate to say it, but was very disappointed to find out that most of the covered bridges in Vermont and New Hampshire seem to have been built to be used, with very little thought to making them pleasing to look at. LOL That's not to say that covered bridges still aren't cool to look at and drive over, but most of the ones I was running across really didn't lend to "pretty" photos. Maybe if the weather conditions had been different they could have been great to photograph, but I wasn't that lucky on this trip.So once I realized the covered bridges weren't going to be a goldmine of photo opportunities, I turned my attention to looking for a couple of the farms and barns that were on my list. Luckily I did know that there were three more farms on my list that would at give me a chance to take some more nice photos.This was the first of those three. This was Stonewall Farm which sits in a nice out of the way valley that made for a beautiful drive. The clouds had really begun to move in by the time I got here so the light wasn't great but I still managed to get a photo that I liked of one of the barns and what looked like the main farmhouse running off behind it.Stonewall Farm
I kind of wish I would have stuck around here for a little longer just to see if the sun would break through the sky and light up the barn and trees a little better. It's getting really late so I'm going to cut this entry short. If you're still here and reading this though, here are a couple of more photos I'll toss in to those post. These weren't really taken anywhere near here each other, but they do keep to the theme of farms and barns. :)
This was a very cool old barn I saw, that was really weathered and painted white, and it just lent itself to a black and white photo
Then one day while just driving some random back roads, I came across a field where the hay was sitting out there in this cool pattern and it totally caught my eye as having the potential for a fun shot so I did a quick u-turn and pulled off the side of the road to take this photo. It didn't turn out how I had first hoped, but I still liked it.One thing I was really loving was the number of great red barns scattered all over each state. Some were much harder to get good photos of, but these two were a couple of my favorites from the trip as well.While shooting the "big picture" stuff, I try hard to look for little details or even possible abstract type shots but it's certainly not a strong point of my photography. I have a great photographer friend that loves the details and always seems to see things I don't when we shoot photos together, and I try to see if I can maybe find something she would shoot if she was there. This probably would be a shot she took, but hey, I kind of liked it for its simplicity and just something about the reflection in the old glass against that red was pretty cool.
Mon, 04 Mar 2019 16:00:00 +0000New England Fall - Part 4I think I left off my story at the point where I was packing my camera gear up and calling it a night at Sleepy Hollow Farm. As I was putting the last of my stuff into the car, one of the locals came by and started up a nice conversation about the farm and telling me a little about its history. They told me how the farm used to be owned by Joe Perry of Aerosmith who actually grew up in the area. I think I had heard that story at some point, years ago but had totally forgotten about it until now. I could totally understand why he would have loved living there as the area is beautiful and the farm is far enough out of the way that he would have been afforded plenty of privacy while not out on the road touring with the band.
He eventually got around to asking me where I was from and asked if I traveled all that way just to take photos of the farm. I told him it wasn't the ONLY reason I had made the trip, but it was certainly high up on the list of places I wanted to see when I finally got out to Vermont. I mentioned that I have the worst luck in timing my trips and how I had really wanted to be there during peak fall colors, and that's when I found out I'd actually only missed them by 4 days! He told me how the colors were amazing just the week before, but 4 days ago they had a really heavy frost in the area and that overnight most of the trees had dropped their leaves. *sigh* I was SO close! LOL
It was getting really cold out and I said a quick goodbye and headed to town for the night. I found a little motel tucked away on the edge of town and called it good for the night. I was planning on being up super early to get back out to the farm for sunrise anyway, so it was really nice that I was dead tired from a very long day of travel. I was fast asleep in no time.
My alarm went off 5 minutes after I fell asleep (okay, maybe it was more like 6 hours later but it sure didn't seem like it!). My body was thinking it was 2am and I was trying to trick it into thinking it was really much closer to the time I would be getting up back home anyway. I don't think it fell for my trick and demanded some caffeine before I hit the road again. I grabbed my stuff and opened the door to my room and was hit with a blast of cold air and a view of snow covering everything in front of me. What month is this??? LOL
Well, now I felt I really needed to rush back to the farm as I have the chance now to photograph it in two different seasons, within a 24 hour period. All I kept thinking was that this will totally make up for missing the fall colors! I just had to make sure I got there before the snow melted away as the sun came up.
I was really happy I was able to find a place fairly close by and think I was back to the farm in about 30 minutes. I got all my gear out, set up my camera and realized that my hands were already frozen from touching all that metal in the freezing cold air! Okay, I'm realized I wasn't going to be hanging out there for an hour shooting a lot of photos as it was just way too cold for that. Luckily the light and the snow were all great and I got what I think was my favorite photo on the whole trip within 15 minutes of getting out of the car.
I did fight the cold for another 10 minutes and took a few more photos just to make sure I didn't mess something up or not have the photo in perfect focus or any number of other mistakes that are easy to make when you're still half awake and freezing your tuckus off. Everything looked great though and I rushed to pack my stuff into the car just as a van full of photographers pulled up. I couldn't have timed the morning better if you ask me. I was really happy with this shot and those of you that know me well, know I don't say that often.
The trip was now officially a success in my book. I mean heck, I got a Fall and Winter photo of the place I wanted to photograph most in New England... all in one trip. :)
Thu, 28 Feb 2019 16:00:00 +0000New England Fall - Part 3Now that my mood had improved again after getting a couple of nice photos, I figured it was time to step it up a bit and make sure I got to Sleepy Hollow Farm before the sun went down. After all, it was the top spot on my shot list for this trip and if nothing else, the one place I really wanted to make sure I got a good photo before heading home. I'd actually planned my drive through Vermont and New Hampshire, in a way that it would bring me past this location on 4 different days, JUST in case the weather was bad on any of those days, or maybe the fall colors hadn't hit peak yet and I could see it over the course of a week and maybe get super lucky and catch it on a great day. That was my thinking anyway as I planned the trip out.
The closer I got to the farm's location to more I realized I really had missed the best of the fall colors. I was passing more and more areas where the trees were bare and the ground was covered in leaves. There were still a few trees that were holding on to the last of their fall colors, but the best of the show was already over.
It didn't matter though, I was going to go get a shot of Sleepy Hollow Farm either way, and I kept telling myself that maybe I'd get lucky and get a pretty sunset instead. I had no idea which way the farm faced or even if the sun would light it up during the golden hour, but hey, you have to stay positive in moments like this when you start to think about how far you've traveled just to take this one photo. LOL
As I watched the sun get lower in the sky, I kept thinking that maybe I would get lucky after all. The sky wasn't going to light up with amazing colors or anything, as there just weren't the right kind of clouds to make that happen, but the golden light that was falling across the valley was making everything look great and I was just about to the farm.
I came up over the next little hill and then suddenly there it was and I was so happy I'd planned on getting here 2 hours before the official sunset. It turns out that the valley the farm sits in runs north and south and the sun was already being filtered by the trees on the hill behind me. It would be dark here at least an hour before sunset because the sun was going down behind the hillside behind me at a scary fast pace.
I couldn't believe my luck though as everything was bathed in this really strong golden light. I grabbed my camera gear out of the car and set up really quick and this was one of the first photos I shot here.
It wasn't the shot I had imagined, with all the trees covered in vibrant fall colors, but heck, it still wasn't a bad shot and the golden light, and the trees in the background still having some leaves on them kept it from being a total bust.
I think I hung out here for just over an hour, waiting to see if more clouds would move in overhead and catch the last of the sunlight before the sun completely set, giving me a chance for an even better photo that day, but no such luck. I decided that I'd go find a motel in the area and stay the night close by and come back up first thing in the morning to catch sunrise here and see if maybe the light would be even better in the morning.
This post is getting kind of long, sorry about that! I will stop here and tell you about my morning in my next post. This one is scheduled to post on Thursday the 28th so if you want to hear the rest of the story, check back on Monday the 4th. I think I'm going to try to stick to the schedule of a new blog post every Mon and Thu until April when I have a trip to Scotland planned and will be trying to do a daily blog post from there while on the road.