Saturday, September 26, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon

"If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing."
Saint Augustine

Far be it for me to buck a saint. Especially with my Catholic upbringing. Also it's been raining all day, I pretty much caught up with my paperwork (translation--It can wait till tomorrow), and I've got some time on my hands. So accepting the sage advice of Saint Augustine I shall keep pushing buttons, sliding some bars and keep on moving forward enhancing photos. We are falling off the wagon boys and girls! Let's put the old lamp shade on our head, put down a few, and see what this computer can do. I did mention I'm Irish Catholic didn't I?
Up Yours Too Buddy!
Rt. 29, Culpeper County. I've have tried for months to get a photo of the flags and yellow ribbons on these signs up and down Rt. 29. On prior occasions there was someone behind me or too much traffic. On this day I decided to just put on the brakes and pull off the road. The guy behind me didn't appreciate this maneuver much and was quick to express it. Needless to say I had to respond in kind--rules of the road you know.
My eldest son served a tour in Afghanistan and Iraq with the 29th Division as a member of the VA National Guard. Came home safe and sound and is now finishing up his college education.
A Learning Moment
I'm sneaking in another dilapidated building in under the guise of education. Note that the wall framing goes straight up to the top without the usual break between floors. This is known as balloon construction:

"Balloon framing, as heretofore explained, is the term given to that system of construction in which the skeleton, or framework, of a building is spiked together with butt joints, and depends almost entirely for its strength and stability upon its exterior covering and the manner in which this covering is applied."

As noted, without the siding the building is leaning rather precariously. As an insurance adjuster I refer to this type of construction as a pain in the (expletive deleted). Note the lack of fire stops and insulation. Once the fire breaks into the walls the house either burns to the ground or smoke travels everywhere behind the walls. The result is extensive demolition of the walls and ceilings to seal the framing to stop the smell.
Just Liked the Shot
Lignum, Culpeper County. Nothing special here folks just liked the shot. An old unused grazing field and farm building in the background. Just got to love rural Virginia.

A Mystery to be Solved
Lignum, Culpeper County. This structure is down a back road leading out of the "town." What is intriguing about this building is that the few windows on the first floor are shuttered and barred and the only two windows on the second floor have bars on them. I've googled Lignum but have been unable to find anything on this building. Next time I'm in Culpeper a stop in the Visitors Center will be on my itinerary.
Not the Bate's Motel
Rt. 301 in Caroline County. This was once a roadside motel. In fact you can see the "old" Rt. 301 in front of the building which is now partially overgrown with grass. The "new" Rt. 301 is about 20 yards behind where this photo was taken. This building is now used for church functions.
Rose Hill
As you drive into old town Fredericksburg you will pass this house. By the way, one block over and you will pass my house. The main section of the house was built prior to the Civil War. The family who owns it are a bit reclusive but I have been in it once. In addition to being a beautiful and historic house the grandfather of the current owner served with the "Great White Fleet" (Learning moment...President Teddy Roosevelt sent an American fleet around the world, 1907-09 to show the flag). There are pictures of this little adventure on the walls.
Not Quite "The Field of Dreams"
On a back road in the Northern Neck. No baseball diamond here but there is an electrical post for some lighting. My guess is that, while abandoned, no one wanted to tear down a perfectly good house. It's like that wierd aunt (Not you Aunt Berta) we all have who won't throw something away even if they don't have any use for it anymore. Never know when you'll need a house. So what the hell we will just plant around it.
Stephen King Are You in There?
On a back road in King William County. This reminds me of the Crypt Keeper episode (Old TV show for the youngsters in the audience. Could only watch it when my parents were not home) where Stephen King plays a farmer who gets some spores on him after finding a meteor. They begin to grown on him and in the end he is covered in growth and blows his brains out. The ivy has not only overgrown the telephone poles it has also begun to cover the trees.
Off the Beaten Path
Travel all the way to the end of Lee Drive in Fredericksburg you will see Meade's Pyramid. And see is all you can do--Big NO NO to cross the train tracks. CSX doesn't like you playing on their tracks.

"The 30-foot square, 23-foot high pyramid at Prospect Hill in the Fredericksburg Battlefield Park marks where Gen. George Meade and his federal troops broke through the Confederate defensive lines on December 12, 1862. They were soon driven out after sustaining 40% casualties.

The R.F.& P. railroadmen built this using Virginia granite for the Confederate Memorial Literary Society. It sits adjacent to the railroad tracks as a reminder to train travelers that they are passing through the Fredericksburg Battlefield."
Red Sky in the Morning Sailors Take Warning
Sailors may look upon this scene with some trepidation but Frederickburg hasn't been a port for over a century. Dawn over the famous Purina Tower in downtown. By the way it did start to rain about an hour or so after the picture was taken. Still the scene was worth being stuck in the house for the day.
Coming into a New Day
Coming into the Fredericksburg train station at the dawning of a new day. The metaphors here are endless.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Road Trip, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King William Counties

"Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything."
Charles Kuralt

Taking Charlie's advice I avoided I-95 I taking the back way to King William County through Spotsylvania and Caroline Counties by way of Rt. 2, Rt. 301 and Rt. 30. It is amazing what one can discover when you slow down, stop to look over a bridge abutment, or just make a random turn just to see what lurks off the beaten path...
How the Mighty Have Fallen
Heading south crossing over Ruffins Pond on Rt. 2 you will see off to your left in the distance two old bridges standing alone in the middle of the pond. I've always wanted to take a closer look at them and so I took the first left I could make to see if I could get a closer look. This one lane road today is known as Bartlett Lane. In the day of wagons and horses, and the dawn of the automobile, this was Rt.2 & 17--Tidewater Trail. In talking to some of the locals it wasn't paved until the early 20's. The road dead ends at which point there is a chain across it with a "No Tresspassing" sign. The property owner was kind enough to give me permission to travel a bit further...........
Remains of a Bygone Day
The remains of one of the bridges spanning Ruffins Pond in Spotsylvania. Note it is only a single lane bridge. This was the main road prior to the advent of the automobile. The second bridge is in the background. At one time a railroad bridge ran parallel to these bridges.
A Bridge to Nowhere
For those who have lived in the area for a while the title for this picture should not be lost on them. But unlike that other bridge this one truly goes nowhere. A view of the second bridge span taken from the first.
Looking From the Past to the Present
A view from the old Tidewater Trail bridge looking towards the current bridge in the distance.
A Story Told
Caroline Co.--I cannot pass by an old church cemetary without stopping to take a look. There was a time when a grave marker, like this one, had more etched on it than just a name and dates.


To the Memory of Jane
The Beloved Wife
Of the Rev. Henry Wall
Rector of this Church
She Died February 19, 1854
In the 35 Year of Her Age
Leaving Her Bereaved Husband
And Two Helpless Children
To Mourn Her Untimely Loss

"Even so Father
For so it Seemed Good in Thy Sight"
On the Other Side of the Abutment
Over the past quarter century I have driven at least a hundred times over the Mattaponi Bridge on Rt. 301 in Caroline County. On those occassions I was focused on what was ahead of me. This was somewhat understandable because the cement abutments along the bridge shoulders obscure the view. Today I pulled over and took a peak over the abutment to see the Mattaponi River.
Welcome to Rt. 30, King William County
A typical section of Rt. 30. As you can see this is not a heavily traveled road. And I would have to agree with Mr. Kuralt that this is a much better view than anything you would find on I-95.
Todo, I Don't Think We Are in Kansas Anymore
King William--When you get off the main roads don't expect to find your 7-11, WaWa, or chain supermarket. The country store can still be found in rural Virginia. When I see one of these I stop in and buy a soda and a snack to do my small part in keeping these establishments going.
Fields of Gold
A typical scene along Rt. 30 in King William. The prominent crop here is soybeans. At this time of the year the leaves have changed color from green to yellow and it can be a pretty impressive site looking over what seem to be fields of gold.
Fresh Produce--Self Serve
King William--There are roadside fresh produce stands like this along rural Virginia roads. A few are like this one where you pick up your produce and leave the money in a box on the table. I've talked with a local farmer who has a stand like this and was told that at the end of the day the money in the box covers what has been taken from the stand. Don't know if this would be the case elsewhere but its nice to know there are good people out there.
Hello, My Name is Matt Kelly and I'm an Addict
Since getting my new photo editing program I can't stop pushing buttons, sliding bars, and using different enhancement options on my pictures. But thanks to a recent intervention by a close friend I have come to recognize I have a problem. That I need to let the photos speak for themselves, unencumbered by modern technology no matter how cool it is. So I have fought the urge to tinker too much with the photos on this post...until now. I just can't go cold turkey. There are no patches or chewing gum for this problem. So here are some digitally enhanced abandoned farm vehicles on the side of the road in King William County. Please keep me in your prayers. I know with help from people like you I can get through this.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Moment to Remember and Reflect.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13

As we go through life we are presented with opportunities to reflect on how our lives impact others. We tend to ignore these opportunities because they come at an inconvenient time or because they may force us to reevaluate ourselves. Fight the urge to ignore them and take them as they are--an opportunity to make us better people.....

Corporal Ryan C. McGhee, 21, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 75th Regiment, Army Rangers, died of wounds sustained on May 13th while participating in an operation to rid Iraq of a weapons facilitator and a suicide vest cell known to be operating in the area.

Before last night's football game at Massaponax High School, where Ryan McGhee graduated in 2006, family, friends and those who served with Ryan gathered to dedicate a memorial in his honor. His jersey number, 33, which he wore as a player on the Massaponax football team, was also retired.

Those Left Behind

Members of Ryan McGhee's family and those who served with him in Iraq and Afghanistan.

" care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
What Does The Future Hold?
We must not only recognize those who gave their lives to protect our freedom and way of life but also to rededicate ourselves to ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain. Each of us, no matter our position in life, has an obligation to ensure that those freedoms that they fought for, and we enjoy, are passed on to the next generation. Through our efforts, both great and small, we not only honor the memory of the fallen but also instill in our children the understanding that our freedom cannot be taken for granted. The examples we set will determine whether we will remain a free and open society.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A "Wrong" Turn--Rt. 663, Stevensburg & Batna Roads, Culpeper Co.

"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves."

Henry David Thoreau

Off to Culpeper this morning . My usual route is straight up Rt. 3 into Culpeper. My Garmin tells me that the best route into Culpeper is to take Stevensburg Road, Rt. 663, which takes me north of Culpeper to Rt. 29 and I would then have to turn south and come back into town. Usually I blow past Rt. 663, listen to my Garmin informing me it is, "recalculating" and head on down Rt. 3. Today I decided- What the hell- I'll make the turn. On the way back I made another what the hell decision and crossed back over Rt. 3 where Rt.663 turns into Batna Road just to see what was on the other side. And when I got home I thought to myself, what the hell, let's play with Photoshop again and see what happens..........
My Day Begins........
Fredericksburg--Before I brave the highways and by-ways of this great land I must make a pilgrimage downtown for my morning coffee. A view of my favorite morning "watering hole" at 7 a.m. coming down Princess Anne Street.
Abandoned Building Meets Modern Technology
Right after you make the turn onto Stevensburg Road you will see this abandoned building. The signs on the wall and odds and ends in the yard screamed to be enhanced.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What is Not in This Picture Thanks to Modern Technology
Stevensburg Road--As I cross the bridge over this quaint little stream I noticed a Blue Heron standing in the middle of it with one leg tucked-up. Looking for the nearest driveway I quickly turned around and drove back to the bridge and saw the Heron was still there. Obviously a passing car or two was an accepted part of life for this beautiful bird and he didn't take much interest as I got out of the car and came over to take the picture. What the heron was not accustomed to was the (expletive deleted) sound my digital camera makes when I turn it on. So you'll have to take my word that there was a beautiful Blue Heron and settle for a picture of an (expletive deleted) quaint stream.
Welcome to Stevensburg
A beautiful old brick house in the town of Stevensburg. This home, and maybe three others, make up the town. The rest of the buildings in the area are abandoned. That is a porch worth kicking back on with a Guinness or two, some chips, and watch the grass grow. An then get my 16 year old to mow it. An then start the process all over again.
Battle of Mountain Run
Stevensburg Road--Site commemorating the Battle of Mountain Run on June 9, 1863. Roughly 400 Confederates held off 4000 Union cavalry near here. The main engagement that day was fought up the road at Brandy Station. The small memorial to the left was placed in honor of Will Farley killed during the battle. He was a well-known "scout" in the Confederate Army.
It Is Farm Country
Stevensburg Road--I would be remiss if I did not include at least one picture of farm buildings. Culpeper County is a farming community.
Enhance Me...Please
Stevensburg Road--The hay to the left. The mountains and fields in the background. The old tree and fence to the right. A slide here. A pushed button there. What is not to like.
A line of cedar trees planted as a wind break for a field off to the left. They are almost in a straight line and form what can only be described as a tree hedge.
Batna Road
A typical section of the road with a little help from Photoshop.
What Every Homeowner Needs........
Batna Road--Their very own railroad freight car for storing those hard to store things. No tracks in the area and no idea what the average homeowner would have that couldn't be stored in...let's say......the storage shed to the right.
" Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign......."
Batna Road-- NO Hunting, NO Fishing, NO Trespassing

"And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on site.
So I jumped on the fence and shouted at the house, Hey, What gives you the right.
To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in.
If God where here, He'd tell you to your face, man you're some kinda sinner."


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Let's Try Again........

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted with taking the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."
Michael Jordan

....and so I continue to tinker with the scenes from my little piece of the world. Trying, and trying again to make you take a closer look, and take a little joy, from the world around you. To make landscapes and scenes invoke in those that see them a memory, an inspirational thought, or just provide a moment of serenity in a hectic world.........
How Much Longer?
310 Frederick Street,downtown Fredericksburg. This structure, which is actually two buildings, is 112 years old. In its day the building to the left had a coffee grinding operation in it. The adjacent building made candy. These building represent one of the few remaining original structures from the city's industrial past. A few years ago the owner was ordered to restore the buildings or tear them down. The resulting up roar when demolition was chosen resulted in months of negotiations for the purchase of the buildings by someone who would restore them. The buildings were subsequently purchased but as can be seen not much has been done. The new owner has submitted a plan to stabilize the buildings. Thought I would get a picture before it was too late.
Storm Clouds Over the 'Burg
A recent thunderstorm coming over Fredericksburg. The ominous clouds coming in over a church--you can read into it anything you like. For me it was just a great picture.
My House
Well..not really. The Rowe House, a Federal-style brick house built in 1828, is located just down the street from me. It sustained damage during the Battle of Fredericksburg and is still owned by the Rowe family. If I could own any house in Frederickburg this would be it. Note the two story porch! The house is currently being renovated for the next generation of the Rowe family.
The Good Ol' Days
On the back roads of Spotsylvania. The old Smith Store on Robert E. Lee Drive. Long since replaced by WaWa, 7-11, Racetrack and strip malls. A lot of these little store also housed the local post offices way back when. A reminder of a simpler, and slower, time.
Gratuitous Enhancement Shot
Fredericksburg--A blast from the past of the city's industrial history. This building is located just off the Rappahannnock River. When I saw the old sign, the building colors, shadows and sunlight I knew this was a candidate for the new photo program.
The Gangs All Here
Colonial Beach--Gulls taking in some rays at the beach. The Town of Colonial Beach is considering restricting beach goers from certain activities in the interest of public safety. It should be noted that these guys are following the letter of the law. Note--no barbecues, Frisbees, beach furniture, fishing rods, open containers, etc., ect.........
Ice Cream Break
Colonial Beach--Don't see very many of these pre-fab ice cream stands anymore. This one is one block off the beach. Unfortunately for me it was closed when I discovered it. Seeing that I need to lose about 20+ pounds maybe it wasn't that unfortunate.
"A Jug of Wine, A Loaf of Bread (A Spray Can) and Thou."
I suspect that Omar Khayyam didn't have this scene in mind when he first put those words to paper but the sentiment seems to be expressed by those who tagged this rock formation. And I would have to say it is a beautiful view--despite the "artwork.". Based on the debris around the site a little rewrite seems in order--"A six-pack of Bud, a bag of Cheetos, and you babe."

The Guns Are Now Silent
Tapp Farm, The Wilderness Battlefield, Spotsylvania--Between May 5th and 7th 1864 roughly 27,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed and wounded during the Battle of the Wilderness. In coming back across the Tapp Farm field; which was a pivotal point in the battle, I was struck by the position of the cannon overlooking a field of wildflowers.
Add some Shadowing here, Enhance the Colors There........
....and a view from under the Fredericksburg train station goes from the rather mundane to a bit sinister. What may lurk in the shadows in the arches to the right? It is amazing how enhancing colors, darkening shadows, and sharpening lines changes the perspective.
A Different Perspective
A view of the railroad bridge over Sophia Street and the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg. As I have noted previously the view of this bridge from the river appears in more paintings, photos, and drawings than most any other landmark in the city. This is a view (note the "No Trespassing" sign) that is not on the tour.