Saturday, December 19, 2009

Put Aside the Blackberry and Enjoy Life for a Moment

"The child with his sweet pranks, the fool of his senses, commanded by every sight and sound, without any power to compare and rank his sensations, abandoned to a whistle or a painted chip, to a lead dragoon, or a gingerbread dog, individualizing everything, generalizing nothing, delighted with every new thing, lies down at night overpowered by the fatigue, which this day of continual pretty madness has incurred. But Nature has answered her purpose with the curly, dimpled lunatic. She has tasked every faculty, and has secured the symmetrical growth of the bodily frame, by all these attitudes and exertions /an end of the first importance, which could not be trusted to any care less perfect than her own.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we grow older so do our responsibilities. Our focus turns away from the frivolous and sets upon the challenges of the day. The unexpected which were once moments to be enjoyed have become annoyances. The world around is no longer something to be marveled at. It is a blur as we hurry on to our next appointment. We are consumed by our responsibilities and forget how to live and enjoy the world around us as we did as children. Sometimes when I am admonished to act my age I say --No.

Another ramble through the Commonwealth without a plan or purpose..........

A Sunrise and Now a Sunset Courtesy of Development

King George County. It had rained most of the day but by late afternoon the sun decided to make a spectacular appearance as it set. My problem was geting a good shot. Tree along the road blocked my shot. Just as the sun was going down I noticed a break in the trees where an area had been clear cut for a development. I pulled over and got the picture. This photo has not been enhanced.
Fading Dreams?
King George County. Instead of a cornfield the boundary of this baseball field is a forest and its posted with "No Trespassing" signs. My guess is that even a grounder into the trees is an automatic home run.

I played a lot of baseball growing up. Went to see the Washington Senators play and kept the stats on the games I watched. Now I see a lot of baseball fields in disrepair and ad campaigns trying to encourage children to spend at least an hour outside a day. Today we play baseball on a computer. Isn't technology amazing?
A Little Unique in the Grand Scheme of Things
Downtown Ashland. The only town I am aware of where the rail road track runs down the center of town.
A Moment to Remember
The National Cemetery, Fredericksburg. This past weekend was the 147th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg.

"The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last Tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn, nor screaming fife,
At dawn shall call to arms.
Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead,
Dear as the blood ye gave,
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave."
A Different Perspective
A view of Fredericksburg's most famous bridge from a different perspective. Most pictures and paintings of this bridge show a more distant view placing the bridge in the setting of the picturesque Rappahannock River. This view takes the bridge out of that setting and shows the cracks, the discolorations, the graffiti. Showing the imperfections shows the true character of the structure and makes for a more interesting picture. There is beauty in imperfection.
Jabberwocky's Getaway
"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe. "

Between Montross and Foneswood in Westmoreland County. The trees are covered in lichen which gives them the green color. It does look a bit surreal. No Russ I didn't "enhance" the picture.

A Roadside Mystery?
Abandon cars and farm equipment are not unusual in rural Virginia but this was my first crane. Traveling on a single lane road in Gloucester County in the middle of nowhere I came across this scene. My guess is some kid a few decades ago took this thing for a joyride and ditched it. Hard pressed to come up with any other explanation for how this got out in the middle of nowhere.
Quintessential Virginia
The Essex County Courthouse in downtown Tappahannock. Built in 1848 it has had some renovations and additions over the years but still is in use today. As with most old Virginia towns the statue to commemorate those who served in the Civil War stands in front. Dedicated in 1906 the main plaque reads--

"To the soldiers of Essex and those who fought with them. They fought for the principles of state sovereignty and in defense of their homes. To maintain these rights the gallant sons of this gallant county marched gladly to the front and did their duty like men, from the opening guns of First Manassas to the final charge at Appomattox."

My guess is that this was not written by a veteran.
The Recently Old and the Not so Old but Old None the Less
Port Royal, VA at the intersection of Rt. 17 and 301 in Caroline County. The historic section of the town is along the Rappahannock River. First settled in mid-seventeenth century the town was chartered in 1744. The early history of the town centered around a warehouse and a tavern. You will find that a number of Virginia's most historic towns began with a tavern.

The Port Royal Country Store is obviously not on of the "Blue Blood" buildings of the town but has a charm of its own. The Horne's restaurant across the street opened as part of a chain in 1960. It's competition was Stuckey's which is a part of my childhood. Go to the Horne's website and learn about the whole Stuckey's Horne's rivalry. The Horne's chain has long since gone under and this location is privately owned.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Search for the Meaning of Something

"The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about."
Winnie The Pooh

So as one of the great philosophical minds of our time did so shall we.........Ponder the meaning of whatever for no particular purpose in the hopes that we may too discover something that we were not looking for in the first place. So let our great journey begin!

An Auspicious Beginning to Our Trip
Sunrise in King George County. This moment could not be missed. I pulled off the road, got out of my car, took along my coffee and donut and enjoyed the show.
What Lay at the End of the Road?
Westmoreland County. Had to fight the urge not to find the answer to the question but I had to be in Heathsville by 8:30a.m. On this day I had to choose the road more traveled. But there is always tomorrow......

View from the passenger seat of life
Perhaps too long
I've sat
in the passenger seat of life,saying I could
see the world
just as well,
even from the back seat.
Time to turn
the ignition on myself,
pop the clutch
push off in first gear,
then coasting in neutral,
turn the corner,
and roar into overdrive.
Mother Nature Struts Her Stuff
Again what you see is what I saw in King George County. The colors of fall in Virginia never cease to amaze me. Mother Nature can be a real eye turner. Anyone got her number?
Remember When Gas was Less Than a Dollar?
Hyacinth, Virginia. The gas pump is for Texaco Lead Free gas. Texaco started selling lead free gas in 1974 when a gallon cost around 53 cents. Based on the ads in the window and the condition of the building the 70's was probably the last time gas was sold here. At one time this building probably housed a small grocery store, possibly the area post office, as well as the gas station. It was probably also one of the social centers for the area. A new "Quickie Mart" is a few hundred yards down the road.
An Old War Horse
The early farm tractors had all metal wheels. Rubber wheels came into use in the early 30's. This tractor looks to have been a late 30's early 40's model. No idea of the manufacturer. Today it sits rusting off Rt. 3 in Westmoreland County.
This is Rural Virginia
I feel sorry for those of you who stuck in offices while I get to enjoy scenery like this in Northumberland County. I can picture a Norman Rockwell moment inside.
A Final Resting Place on the Side of the Road
Westmoreland County. This small cemetery sits alone. There is not a church or home nearby. The names on all the markers have been worn away.

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.

Mary Elizabeth Frye
Quonset Hut Decked Out for Saturday Night
The former John Deere store on Rt. 203, Westmoreland County. Not many of these still around. The name comes from their site of first manufacture, Quonset Point, at the Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center in Davisville, Rhode Island. They were all the rage in WWII. Add some cinder block, some green highlights and you still have a rather ugly building. But it is a rather interesting ugly.
The Limits of Knowledge
Somewhere outside Doswell. Don't know what it is, what it was used for, or when it was used; but I do know I find it interesting.
I'll Let Frost Explain It

Tree At My Window
Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.
"Lost Satellite Reception"
A common phrase from my Garmin when traveling the back roads of Louisa County. So you drive around till you are told to, "drive 6/10s of a mile and turn right." Or something like that. It is amazing what one finds when you aren't looking for anything in particular. Looking from a bridge across an unnamed stream on an unknown road at a bridge leading somewhere else.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Light, Color, a Story, and Another Warm Blooded Mammal

“After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked—as I am surprisingly often—why I bother to get up in the mornings.”
Richard Dawkins

Been a busy few weeks on a number of fronts and photo ops have been few and far between. The reason I took the following photos was more related to lighting and color as opposed to any specific object or scene. I have also thrown in a thought provoking photo, an abandoned building with a story, and, to keep a few of you happy, another warm blooded mammal..........

Narnia Before the Fall
Near Hurkamp Park in Frederickburg. This scene reminded me of C. S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The lamp post where Lucy first meets Mr. Tumnus. Also liked the coloring and lighting. Late afternoon.
Let There be Light

"So much the rather thou Celestial light
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight. "
Mother Nature Makes an Appearance
The corn has been harvested and flowers have begun to spring up in the fields.
Light vs Darkness
The sun is setting behind me and setting off the fall colors in the trees. And in front you can see the storm coming in.
Welcome to Louisa
Like most towns here in Virgina they have a welcome sign which includes the fraternal organizations and groups that have chapters in the town. Lousia is typical of a lot of towns with groups like the Future Farmers of America, 4H, the Ruritains, and VFW. What caught my attention were the signs for the NAACP and Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Light & Color
Just liked the colors and lighting here. This house is located only a few blocks from mine.
Somewhere in Louisa County
I turned off my Garmin and made a right turn and then a left one etc. Don't know what road I was on when I took this photos. I thought it was interesting with the sunning blue sky contrasted by the storm front coming in from the left.
A Story
This abandoned store is located just outside the town of Louisa. Just behind where this photo was taken is another house that had been badly damaged in a fire--thus my reason for being in the area. The owner of the house is an elderly gentleman who was raised in the area. On asking him about this small building he told me that it was a grocery store that his family had owned. In 1941 he, his two siblings, and his mother, who was expecting, ran the store and lived in a back room. His father had left to go to Washington D.C. to look for work and they eventually moved up there with him. I was told that there had been to gas pumps in front with glass containers on top where the gas was pumped into and then drained into gas tanks.
Mirror, mirror, on the River.......
Late afternoon on a fall day along the Rappahannock River. I'll shut up now....
I Swear Its Not Been Enhanced
Driving back through Lousia County on Rt. 208 I drove by this cemetery. The light from the setting sun created the coloring on the leaves not Photoshop.
The Warm Blooded Mammal of the Week
Meet Morrison the family mutt. Our son Brion brought him home as a puppy before shipping off to Afghanistan. Mom and dad took on dog duties while awaiting his return and the fulfillment of his promise to take the dog off our hands. About three months into our son's deployment my wife Cindie had had enough and we walked the dog down to the SPCA to put him up for adoption. We were told we would be contacted when a home for Morrison became available. When the call came a week or two later it was not returned. When our son returned Morrison was no longer his dog but rather Cindie's dog. Today he is about 90lbs and where Cindie goes so goes Morrison. And yes he is on the bed! My side of course.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumn Roads

"No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face"
John Donne

Autumn is in full swing here in Virginia. I made a conscious effort to stay off the main roads this week so I could take it all in. I also took a moment for a stroll through a forest and across a field...

Starting Close to Home

River Road at Falmouth Bottom. The bridge is Rt. 1 going over the Rappahannock into Fredericksburg heading from left to right. River Road, after crossing under the bridge, travels along the Rappahannock and intersects with Rt. 3 and then across the Chatham bridge into Old Town Fredericksburg. While this looks to be a quaint rural scene one has only to continue back up to Rt. 1 to behold one of the most congested intersections in the region--Rts 1 and 17.

We Aim to Please
Some have expressed a wish to see more people in my photos. Can't explain it, but I don't like people in my photos. Well, not wishing to disappoint I thought I would start off small and work my way up to people. So here is a cat in a window.
We Have Come A Long Way
Off of Mine Run Road in Orange County. This piece of farm equipment has become a lawn ornament. However, it is not uncommon to see older pieces of farm equipment still in use having been passed from one generation to the next. If it runs it is still used.
God's Country
A view off of Marquis Road in Louisa County. It is scenes like this that make me forget the hot and sticky Virginia summers and the cold, damp and rainy winters to come.
Enjoy It While You Can
Spotswood Furnace Road, Spotsylvania. A large section of Spotswood Furnace Road is unpaved and has no significant development along it. Spotsylvania is part of the 4th largest and fastest growing regions in Virginia. Don't know how much longer you will be able to enjoy scenes like this one. I'm going to have to go back and check our Constrained Long Range Regional Transportation Plan to make sure this road is not scheduled for paving anytime soon.
Beats the Hell Out of I-95
A typical section of Elys Ford Road in Spotsylvania. During the Civil War this road which leads to Elys Ford, along with the roads coming off of U.S., Banks, and Kelly's Ford were major routes of advance for the Union Army of the Potomac. Needless to say the view beats anything you would see on the interstate.
A Trek Through the Woods
Elys Ford, Spotsylvania. Before crossing the Rapidan River into Culpeper County I took the opportunity to pull off at a boat ramp and took a stroll on a path beside the river. I wish I had brought my digital recorder with me. This scene needs the sounds of the birds and wind through the trees to do it justice.
At the End of the Trail
Coming to an opening along the trail I slid down the bank to view the Rapidan River and the fall foliage.
Another Story to Be Told......
Off of Elys Ford Road in Spotsylvania--

"But I weary for you at morn and eve, O, children of my love,
Come back to me from your pilgrim ways, from the seas and plains ye rove,
Come over the meadows and up the lane to my door set open wide,
And sit ye down where the red light shines from my welcoming fireside.

I keep for you all your childhood dreams, your gladness and delights,
The joy of days in the sun and rain, the sleep of carefree nights,
All the sweet faiths ye have lost and sought again shall be your own,
Darlings, come to my empty heart¬ I am old and still and alone! "
A Quiet Field at Dawn
The Pierson Farm outside of Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862 at this time of the morning Union troops were eating breakfast and getting their equipment together. Later in the day they would cross this field to attack Confederate positions located along the tree line in the background. By the end of the day 9,000 men on both sides were killed or wounded and this site became known as the Slaughter Pen Farm--

"Stretcher bearers followed behind to gather the wounded while the lines closed mechanically, filling holes left by fallen soldiers and striding ahead. The Northern ranks dressed snugly shoulder to shoulder , making an impenetrable wall of blue coats. A hare , frightened from its warren, dashed frantically up and down the line before it made its escape."
Unforseen Obstacles
The Pierson Farm--

"Taylor's brigade fumbles and wallowed across the waterlogged plan. Mud caked on shoes and trousers, weighing down the already heavily encumbered troops. The ragged line tumbles through several ditches and gullies which further disrupted the formation."
"A Terrible Slaughter in Our Ranks"
Ground covered by General Meade's Pennsylvanians--

"Shells ripped through the packed ranks, and the attack faltered. A Confederate shell snapped the flagstaff of the 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves in two. One of Pelham's rounds wiped out seven members o the 121st Pennsylvania in a single flash. Another shot tore a soldier in two."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gordonsville Past & Present

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. "
Anatole France

Today we are taking a trip both in distance and in time. Our destination is the town of Gordonsville in Orange County.

The town began in 1794 with a tavern established by one Nathaniel Gordon at the crossroads of what are now the Rockingham and Blue Ridge Turnpikes. By 1813 the area had grown enough for the appointment of a Postmaster who was none other that Mr. Gordon and the town took on the name of Gordonsville. Soon the railroads arrived. The Orange & Alexandria Railroad running north/south and later the Central Virginia Railroad running east/west from Richmond to Staunton. During the Civil War the town was a major supply point for the Confederacy and also was the site of a major military hospital. Later a new rail line through Barboursville bypassed Gordonsville and its role as a major center in the region began to decline. In 1916 a fire devastated the downtown. Today there still exists evidence of its past prominence.

Thanks to a little on line research you will get a glimpse of both Gordonsville's past as well as its present............

When Rail Was King
Two views of the Gordonsville railroad station when the town was still a regional transportation hub. The main station is gone. The rail switching building still stands as well as the water tower and one of the out-buildings.
Not Much Remains
Most of the original station buildings are gone. When CSX took over the rail line what remained of the station seen here was to be demolished. CSX agreed to leave the building as long as it was moved away from the rail lines. Efforts have been made to stabilize the building and it has been placed on a new foundation. It has obviously seen better days. Its future is unknown.
Some Things Remain Relatively Unchanged
The rail switch house looks much as it did in the old photo above.

The Water Tower Today
The tower still stands but is now surrounded by trees.

A Step Back in Time
The photo on top is a view of the Gordonsville business district in 1908 prior to the fire of 1916. The second photos looks to have been taken of the business district after it was re-built. The photo looks to have neen taken in the 30's. The railroad bridge is visible in both photos.