A little adventure in Virginia, mostly in the woods…

26 minute read

October 6, 2022, 8:06 AM

From September 13-15, Elyse and I had a little weekend adventure in Virginia, where we went down to Augusta County stayed in Staunton like we usually do.  This one was a little different than most because it was partly a solo adventure.  Prior to this trip, Elyse had been down in Roanoke attending to business related to a nonprofit that she volunteers with, so she traveled up from there on Amtrak, and we met up in Charlottesville.  My original plan was to go the easterly route down, taking I-95 to Fredericksburg and then taking Route 3, Route 20, US 15, and a few other routes that would take me through Locust Grove, Orange, and Gordonsville.  However, at the last minute, I had a change of heart, deciding that (A) I didn’t feel like wading through traffic on the Beltway or 95, (B) that easterly track would get me to Charlottesville far too early, meaning that I would have to kill time before Elyse would arrive, and (C) I had ideas that necessitated taking other routes.  So I took the westernmost route, which primarily utilizes I-81, and took the “alternate” version of that, which goes through Harpers Ferry and Charles Town in West Virginia via US 340, and then taking Route 7 to meet I-81 in Winchester.  Yes, I’m going north to head south, but the distance and time for going out to Harpers Ferry is almost the same as it is to go through Northern Virginia on I-66, so it works.

My first point of interest was a relatively obscure sign in the middle of a field in Verona:

Image: Google Street View

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Looking back on some old photos…

3 minute read

January 29, 2019, 1:32 PM

Recently, Elyse and I were coming home from Frederick on a night with a very bright full moon.  The discussion turned towards how it was moonlight that was making everything so bright.  I was no stranger to this concept, and remembered a set of photos that I shot on July 31, 2004.  There, I was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia near Rockfish Gap, shooting photos after work using Big Mavica with the tripod, under a full moon.  It was late at night, but the photos might have almost led you to think otherwise:

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Google Camera is my new favorite toy…

5 minute read

September 6, 2014, 12:38 PM

I recently went on a trip down to Stuarts Draft to see my parents and sister, as well as my sister’s friend Vickey, and I came armed with a new app for my Android device: Google Camera.  If you’ve never used it before, Google Camera is a camera app that will function as a regular camera plus do a few other things.  Besides shooting regular still photos and videos, it will also do a lens blur effect, it helps in shooting panoramic photos, and it also shoots “photo spheres”, also called “spherical panoramas”.  That last one is what I took for a spin on this trip.  Those are the ones that I can post on Panoramio, and I believe that they go in as Street View (but don’t quote me on that just yet, because they haven’t fully propagated to Google Maps/Earth as of this writing).

Shooting them is surprisingly easy.  Here’s a screenshot of the app in action, taking a photo sphere at my place:

Google Camera app in action

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Day tripping it to Stuarts Draft…

6 minute read

May 29, 2012, 8:46 PM

I certainly had fun on Monday!  I went with Isis and Cubby to Stuarts Draft and surrounding areas.  First I picked them up, and then we headed down to Augusta County, Virginia.

Our first stop was the old DeJarnette Center in Staunton.  For those not familiar, DeJarnette Center was constructed in 1932 as a privately funded mental institution named for Dr. Joseph DeJarnette.  The facility became a state-operated children’s mental institution in 1975, and was abandoned in 1996 when the DeJarnette Center moved to a new facility across Route 250 from the original.  The facility was renamed the “Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents” in 2001 due to Joseph DeJarnette’s strong support of eugenics.  The facility was boarded up in 2009.

On our visit, we stopped the car nearby, and then took a walk around the outside of the building.  We didn’t go inside for a few reasons.  First, due to the board-up, there was no light inside.  Second, asbestos.  And lastly, snakes.  I’m told that the building is infested with snakes on all levels of the building.  And snakes creep me out.  Speaking of snakes, while walking around the grounds, we found a snake, laying on the ground partly in our path as we walked behind the building.  It was a long black snake.  It wasn’t interested in us, but still, snakes creep me out, especially so when Cubby indicated that it could either be a black king snake (not poisonous), or a cottonmouth (very poisonous).  In any case, I didn’t really want to find out for sure which one it was.

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So Katie and I had fun yesterday…

5 minute read

November 26, 2008, 5:23 PM

Katie and I went out and about in Staunton and Waynesboro yesterday, and we had fun. I can’t believe it had been three months since last I saw Katie, but indeed that was the case. But of course, that doesn’t mean we had any less fun.

First thing we did was go over to the nTelos store, since it was just about time to upgrade Katie’s cell phone, and so we were seeing what the scene looked like. I think Katie’s going to get a really good phone this time around – one with an on-board camera, and one that can do all of the cool things that cell phones can do nowadays. And I demonstrated the picture feature on one of the demo phones:

Katie at the nTelos store

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Sometimes, the way I set up a shot is amusing…

2 minute read

October 22, 2006, 1:02 AM

I’m looking at the photo feature I’m running right now, described as “Headlights illuminate a sign marking the Buena Vista overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.” What I find amusing is how I used practically everything I had with me except for the Blistex that I keep in my camera bag in order to get this shot. Seriously. Even the Sable got into the act. Where do you think the headlights that illuminated the sign came from? Sa-a-a-a-a-able…

I was actually trying to get a nice long-exposure shot of the sign, which is how this all came about. The sun was down enough to where the shot would come out dark, but light enough to where it would be blue. So I fiddled with things, and also, since I was parked right in front of the sign, I fiddled with my headlights to get things how I wanted. In the shot I ultimately used, I timed things. I set the camera up at an eight-second exposure, and then using the remote, unlocked my doors (which makes the headlights come on) with two seconds to go. I used other exposures and length of time with the headlights on as well, but that’s the one that looked the way I liked.

I also had some fun taking some long-exposure shots of the Sable while I was up there in the dark, with the tripod all set up. I reached into the car and hit the switch for the interior and door lights. Then I fired off a few long-exposure shots of that. Thus we have the Sable, an island of light in the midst of darkness…

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Should we call it “close encounters of the deered kind”?

< 1 minute read

August 24, 2006, 3:18 AM

The Blue Ridge Parkway is very quickly becoming a dangerous place for the Sable. And before you ask, no, I did not hit another deer (thank goodness). But I did have a close encounter near the Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook. This deer was along the side of the road, minding its own business. I kept an eye on it as soon as I spotted it, waiting for it to make a move. It sees me. It did that deer-in-the-headlights thing. Then, as I continued, it just darted out in front of me. I slammed the brakes, enough to activate the anti-lock brakes. It was a close encounter, but we missed each other.

I contemplated adding deer whistles to the Sable after the repairs are completed, but according to this article, this article, and this article, they’re junk. So that goes out the window.

I don’t know what it is, but it seems that the deer are really out and about this year. I didn’t see nearly as many deer on the Parkway this time last year.

“So who gets the deer: me or the dog?”

3 minute read

August 15, 2006, 1:08 AM

I am sad to announce that my Sable got into its first accident tonight on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I hit a deer. I was going southbound at 40 mph (five below the posted speed limit of 45), and two deer darted out in front of me closely enough that I didn’t have time to stop or swerve. I barely cleared the first one, and then I nailed the second one head-on in the body. That deer bounced off the front of the car, and then rolled stiff-legged off the road and landed in the grass. It looked as if it was one-piece construction and not a real deer, because no parts of the body moved – the whole thing just rolled off, appearing completely rigid. I don’t know what happened to it from there, because I couldn’t stop right there due to lack of available shoulder space. The rule is that if you stop on the Parkway, you have to have all four wheels off the road. I was able to accomplish this about a quarter mile down the road.

Thankfully, the Sable survived intact for the most part. The deer left a big dent in the right fender, left a dent in the hood, and jarred the grille loose, but the car was driveable, and both headlights survived intact. I was not injured at all, though I can’t say the same for the deer. I guess the best way to describe the Sable’s post-deer condition is “walking wounded”, since it walked away from the accident, but didn’t make it out unscathed.

I initially tried to call 1-800-PARKWATCH (Blue Ridge Parkway emergency dispatch) from the accident scene, but got no signal. So I drove up to the nearby Boston Knob overlook, and after two tries, I got a good signal, and reported the accident. They got my contact information, and said that a ranger would call me and do the accident report over the phone.

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“I don’t look at porn!”

2 minute read

June 18, 2006, 2:35 AM

Funny what comes up in the breakroom sometimes…

A few of us were discussing churchgoers and possible hypocrisy regarding them, and the idea came up that a particular coworker, about whom customers had said “looked like Jesus” when he had a certain hairdo coupled with a beard, should start his own church. Someone suggested that he would make one related to porn, which elicited the response, “I don’t look at porn!”

What made us all turn our heads was when another coworker, who was just passing through the breakroom to get to the smoking room and caught wind of our discussion, said, “I do!”

The thought that crossed most of our minds was, I did not need to know that. Seriously, we did not need to know that. I don’t think I’ll be able to look at this coworker with a straight face for a while. Of course, people didn’t look at me with a straight face for a while after the pants incident from a couple of months ago.

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I went to Roanoke yesterday…

2 minute read

June 14, 2006, 7:38 PM

I went to Roanoke yesterday, and it was an interesting trip. I don’t find Roanoke to be nearly as fun as Washington DC, but it was still pretty good.

The trip down was via the Blue Ridge Parkway for the most part, taking Indian Ridge Road (a local road from Stuarts Draft to Greenville that roughly parallels US 340) to US 11 to US 60 at Lexington to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Buena Vista. Then I took the Parkway down to US 460.

I took my iPod with me on this trip, and it did fairly well. The iPod’s battery lasted all day, and all was well. However, my FM transmitter didn’t do quite so well, as I had to change the batteries on it twice. I think I need to get a car adaptor for it, since I burned through four AAA batteries over the course of the day.

The Roanoke Star seemed to be having a rough night, though, as two sections of red went out.

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderful place for a drive, provided you have the time.

2 minute read

April 19, 2006, 11:31 PM

On Tuesday morning, I made a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway down to Roanoke. What a wonderful ride. The time in Roanoke was rather uneventful, but the ride down was awesome.

First of all, I took I-81 down to Lexington. This bypassed the section of the Parkway that I take more frequently, and allowed me to start on the Parkway with virgin territory. Thus I started at the Parkway’s intersection with US 60 and headed south.

I also got to drive through a fog-shrouded Lexington and Buena Vista. My April 19 photo feature illustrated this fog quite well. It was clear on the mountain, but quite foggy down in the valley below.

This was a fun photo trip, too. I photographed all kinds of things both on the Parkway itself, and off of the overlooks. I went through a tunnel, I viewed Otter Lake for the first time, crossed the Harry Flood Byrd Memorial Bridge, stopped at Peaks of Otter Lodge, and kept on photographing.

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“I must dance my dance… at last I am Jeffrey!”

2 minute read

April 14, 2006, 11:07 PM

First of all, yes, I realize that the title of this entry is a mis-quote, from “A Visit to the Opera” on Today’s Special. The correct end of that line is “at last I am set free!” I wrote it with “Jeffrey” in there because that’s how I initially heard it as a child. A little mondegreen right there. It made sense to me – the character of Lightning in “The Rainmakers” was played by Jeff Hyslop, and while it seemed odd that he would sing “At last I am Jeffrey,” it made sense.

But the reason I mention this is because you should have seen the lightning this evening! It looked like a fire drill in the sky with all the flashing going on. And it wasn’t just the twinkly kind of lightning. There were some serious lightning bolts, both in the sky, and also going towards the ground. Some of them really lit up the landscape in this very eerie blue color. They’re very spectacular to watch, but not so fun when you’re out and about, as I was. I hit the Blue Ridge Parkway after work to relax, which I take as far down as Buena Vista, where I cross over to Lexington and then go back home via US 11.

I didn’t get the lightning, though, until I got to Lexington. Thankfully, I had clear skies while I was on the Parkway, though there was a slight haze in the valley below. By the way, the Blue Ridge Parkway is NOT somewhere that you want to be when it’s raining. Because it’s high up in the mountains, it gets VERY foggy up there, and visibility often becomes practically zero.

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Black Friday, FliteStar, and beyond…

3 minute read

November 28, 2005, 10:34 PM

Let me tell you… the day after Thanksgiving, when Wal-Mart had its blitz sale, was interesting.

First of all, I was somewhat disappointed about the results of my efforts to get coworkers to wear all-black with me. I bombed badly on that front, as I was one of only two people wearing black on that day.

Anyways, though, I worked 4:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon, as scheduled. I arrived in the parking lot at 4:15 in the morning. The lot was packed. Coming into the store, it was full of people, most of whom were kind of hanging around, waiting for the big sale to start at 5:00. Many told me that they’d been in the store since 3 AM waiting.

My exact reaction was to think, that’s hardcore. Me, I’ll happily pay full price and not deal with the crowds and chaos.

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What a wonderful two days off I had, and now back to the salt mines…

5 minute read

July 15, 2005, 5:35 PM

Wednesday and Thursday were such wonderful days off. I ran some errands, ran around a bit, and also got a lot of work done on the computer.

On Wednesday, I spent much of the day out. I first went to the RadioShack store in Waynesboro to return that RF switch that I ended up not needing to hook up my Super Nintendo. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the switch that was the problem, but rather where along the line I was hooking it up. So no problem. The Super Nintendo works, and I got my thirteen bucks back.

Then I went over to Staunton. Since the Harley-Davidson shop moved to its new location in Staunton, I’d heard a lot about it. Add to that the fact that they had their first annual “Rally in the Valley” about a month or so ago, and that generated a bit more buzz about it. So I went over to take a look. Now I’d never been to the old Harley place when it was in Waynesboro, so I had nothing to compare this to. Still, I was favorably impressed, even though biker stuff isn’t exactly my thing. First of all, the sense of space really gets you. The place is huge. And that’s not even the whole place. That’s just the main salesfloor. And on the salesfloor, there are bikes on display, there are sections for parts and accessories for one’s motorcycle, sections for men’s, women’s, and kids’ apparel, a section for shoes, a section with hats, helmets, sunglasses, and goggles, and even more. Then on the other side of the building, there’s a service area, and a well-appointed waiting area for people whose bikes are being serviced. And then outside the building, down a hill, is a course for people to take on their motorcycles. With it being down a hill from the main building, it makes for a great viewing area. As I said, I was favorably impressed with the place, even with biker stuff not being my thing. The place is very high-visibility (it rises high above the VA 262 loop), but actually getting to it is a little weird, since you have to go south on US 11, turn left onto Rolling Thunder Lane, which is almost right after you get onto Route 11. Then Rolling Thunder Lane is a longish, slightly-curving road with the Harley place looming up at the end.

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The combination of things people buy sometimes…

2 minute read

July 11, 2005, 12:08 AM

I saw what was perhaps the funniest thing on the self-checkout register today. A person bought a pack of condoms, and two different kinds of sandpaper. I’m just like, hmmmmmmm. You have to wonder about that. It leaves lots to the imagination. But if they like to sand in bed, that’s their business. Still, what cracks me up the most is the line I came up with. The couple is in bed together. He says, “So honey, do you want medium grit or fine grit tonight?”


Of course, the reason people buy condoms through the self-checkout in the first place is to be discreet. They don’t want anyone to know that they’re buying condoms in the first place.

This, by the way, is how retail employees have lots of fun doing their jobs. We are completely following established procedure, and laughing like heck on the inside the whole time. Person rings up condoms on the self-checkout. They put it in the bag. The self checkout machine goes off: “Item not recognized! Remove last item and try again!” So I come over. Me: “Hi, let me fix you up so you can continue.” I look into the bag (so as to visually verify that the items match their ticket). I see the condoms. I don’t say anything, but you can tell that they’re completely embarrassed by it. I’m laughing on the inside.

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