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The little kiddies go back to school soon, and vacation is on the 11th…

August 3, 2004, 12:00 AM

I don’t care if it’s only two days. I plan on making the most of those two days at Virginia Beach, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And at this last count, it will be a week and a day as of tomorrow. I can’t wait. And this time I know exactly how to get there, since no one changed the route number on me this time.

Recall from 2000, when I last went to Virginia Beach, that I actually rode almost completely around the Hampton Roads area, or as it’s also called over there, the “Hampton Roads Beltway”. Before 2000, I had gone to Virginia Beach only once before, on a one-day trip in 1999. I consider that trip a mistake in retrospect, since for all the driving my friend Andrea and I did, we only got a few hours on the beach before it was time to go back home. And we still didn’t get home until 4 AM. But in that 1999 trip, the actual road to the beach was signed as a state highway, VA-44. As a result, this is what I was looking for on the highway:

Virginia State Route 44 green sign

Instead, in 2000, this is what I got:

Interstate 264 green sign

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Things we do on our off-days…

July 28, 2004, 8:37 PM

I was off yesterday and today, and it was quite an interesting time. The highlight of the days off was going to Roanoke on Tuesday afternoon and evening. I did some very minor photography, mostly night photography at Mill Mountain Park, home of the Roanoke Star. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just a certain draw to that location for photographing it at night. The only problem is that with the warmer months, darkness comes later, and thus I get far less time topside before they kick us out of the park at 11 PM (that’s when the gates close) than I would during the winter when it gets dark at like five.

Still, I managed to get a few gems. My only major problem up at the star this time was children. Elementary-aged children running around doing child-type stuff, getting in my way, tromping around on the wooden overlook platforms, messing up more than one shot. One child actually bumped my tripod, creating a double image with some strange trails on it.

On this trip, I also realized why winter is the better time for visiting the Roanoke Star. Besides there being more dark up there at night, the leaves are gone from the trees, permitting us to see more of the area. Foliage is a big blocker, let me tell you.

And then after I was finished at the star, I went over to Hooters, where I had a meal, and also got into a conversation with Cierra, one of the Hooters girls, about the Metro in DC, MARTA in Atlanta, and other transit-type topics. Also found out that Roanoke indeed does have transit service – a bus service called Valley Metro. I will have to chase this and photograph service one of these days. It may be more difficult than I would like it to be, considering that I had never even seen buses in Roanoke before this trip. Still, we’ll figure it all out in the end. May pair it up with the BT in Blacksburg.

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Photos of the Skyline Parkway Motel fire, and some other stuff

July 15, 2004, 1:56 PM

First of all, before I start showing you photos, guess who I saw on Tuesday afternoon at Wal-Mart. I saw Mrs. Kucs (pronounced “kooch”), my sixth grade math teacher at Stuarts Draft Middle School. That was a lot of fun. She’s retired now, so I don’t see her around SDMS when I go visit. Still, Mrs. Kucs was a great teacher. The one phrase that has stayed with me that I learned from Mrs. Kucs was “That will be fifty whacks with a wet noodle!” All in all, great math teacher, and it was great to see Mrs. Kucs again.

Anyway, after seeing Mrs. Kucs as I was leaving work, I headed out to Afton Mountain and then beyond. Going to Afton, I went by way of downtown Waynesboro, because I had a few other photo spots I wanted to hit on the way. For one, the “scar” on the mountain in Waynesboro:

The scar on the mountain in Waynesboro

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It was nice while it lasted…

July 11, 2004, 10:38 AM

Remember this?

Skyline Parkway Motel, September 10, 2003

For those of you who don’t know, this is the Skyline Parkway Motel, which, along with the Howard Johnson’s Restaurant, and the Skyline Parkway Motor Court, I photographed on September 10, 2003 for the Afton Mountain: Victim of Progress photo set.

Things have changed since then.

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See anything in this picture that raises an eyebrow?

June 14, 2004, 10:24 PM

I don’t know what happened, but it definitely looked unpleasant

June 12, 2004, 11:59 PM

On my way back from Charlottesville, where I spent the day today (somehow I got a Saturday off without asking for it – go figure), on US 340 right before the intersection of 340 and 608, I had to slow down considerably. It was the only smart thing to do considering that there were northbound cars traveling in the left southbound lane. I’m like, what in the heck and slowed down and got in the right lane. Once I got closer, it all made some sense. First thing I saw was lots of shattered glass strewn across four of the five lanes of US 340 right where Stuart Avenue meets 340. I looked left, and I see two cars in some poor innocent person’s front yard at a weird angle. Looks like they didn’t go there on purpose. Some other cars were parked nearby. Then there was a guy putting out flares. I don’t know any details other than what I saw, and don’t know how bad the damage was or whether anyone was hurt or not. But I can tell you this. It definitely doesn’t look pleasant.

Otherwise, I had fun in Charlottesville. First, though, I got the Previa’s front end aligned at Eavers Tire in Stuarts Draft. That was related to the blowout I had two weeks ago. While I was waiting, I worked on my phone some, downloading a new version of Mobile IM (remember that my AIM screen name on my phone is Schumin Wireless), plus downloaded Tetris and Ms. Pac Man onto my phone.

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It seems that carbohydrates have become the new fat…

June 11, 2004, 1:24 AM

After having just seen two commercials in a row about low-carbohydrate foods, I have to believe that we’ve officially gone off the deep end.

The first commercial was for Special K, which acted as though people were just crushed to death, showing people sitting on the ground with their head buried in their knees and crying if that tells you anything, about not being able to use their cereal bowl due to their low-carbohydrate diet. That’s why this new version of Special K is supposedly so great, because it’s only nine net carbohydrates per serving.

The other commercial was for CarbWell salad dressing, which promotes having no carbohydrates. Not nearly as bad as the first, but still pretty bad…

I’m just amazed, really. I grew up with something else, and it wasn’t long ago when it was the case that fat was the enemy. We counted our fat grams, and counted our calories. And food manufacturers announced how low in calories they were and how low in fat they were.

Now it’s carbohydrates. Sugars. All of a sudden, fat and calories are left by the wayside. The key to slimmer thighs is to lose the sugars now! The way it’s come around, it seems like a huge national fad.

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“I am thunder and nothing can happen till I bellow, and I rumble, and wake everybody with my roar!”

May 27, 2004, 9:32 PM

After Tuesday’s disaster, I went to Covington for a soak in Lake Moomaw on Wednesday. At least that was my intention. Let me tell you what happened.

I got all the way down to Lake Moomaw and parked and all that at the swimming beach. Changed into my swimsuit, and got into the lake. Fast forward about ten minutes. Thunder! Lots of it. And lightning. Regardless, it’s enough to send me to shore, and seeking some cover, and in a place that is designed for outdoor recreation, there’s some cover, but not a lot.

So I had to find something to do until the storm passed. Going back to Covington, the nearest town, was not really feasible, as Lake Moomaw is a ways from Covington. So I basically hung around. I drove back to the dam for a little while. I drove up to the picnic shelters. I sat in the car and pondered my thoughts. I walked a few times around the bath house.

Meanwhile, it was doing just about everything outside. Rain. Lots of it. Wind. Lots of it. Thunder. Lots of it. Lightning. Amazing amounts of it. I’d never seen lightning like this. It was like a strobe light the way it flashed. Filled up the whole sky (this was during the day, by the way), and really lit up everything.

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Categories: Lake Moomaw, Weather

Strange group of people with weed eaters in the neighborhood…

May 25, 2004, 9:20 PM

Yes, Sis and I encountered a strange group of people across the street from the house today. They were using weed eaters to weed-eat the area around the creek that runs near our house. Still, we were trying to figure out what this group was. Most of the people were wearing blue pants with a red stripe down the leg. These same people also wore bright orange T-shirts, the official don’t-run-me-down color.

Then there was also a person there in a blue work shirt, and a uniformed officer from somewhere. I couldn’t make out the uniform, and I wasn’t going to break out the binoculars.

We figured it was likely that these people were inmates of somewhere, considering the bright orange shirts plus the uniformed officer. But then I thought that the sign of inmates was the that the guy supervising was always very obviously holding a large shotgun. Plus, think of the children! This is a residential neighborhood, and I didn’t think they could use inmates in a residential neighborhood.

Still, it was definitely an odd sight seeing all these people running weed eaters at once.

Categories: Stuarts Draft

Let me tell you about Lake Moomaw…

May 21, 2004, 2:25 AM

What a wonderful day on Wednesday! I admittedly got a late start, not leaving for Covington until 1 PM. But I still had fun. Stopped at Wal-Mart in Covington to grab some cheap flip-flop sandals (palm tree print!) and some sunscreen, and then went off to the lake.

I found the swimming beach, and the little bath house next to it, and changed into my suit, and went to soak for a while. It was fun. Very cool and refreshing. Very quiet, with the Interstate and the city of Covington far away. It’s really a great place to let your mind just go. Way out in the mountains, where you can just let your mind relax. I do love Lake Moomaw. I need to go out there again some time.

Meanwhile, the Covington Wal-Mart is amusing. I think it’s perhaps the smallest Wal-Mart Supercenter I’ve ever seen. It’s also what I’d describe as a “transitional” store. On the outside, it looks like the older-style Supercenters, like Staunton. But on the inside, it’s just like the Dayton Wal-Mart, which is a newer-style Supercenter (the ones with “Always” over the entrances). But it’s painted gray inside like the older Supercenters. It’s also amusing about the signage. You know how practically every Wal-Mart says “Thank you for choosing your (city name) Wal-Mart”? Well, in Covington, over the Grocery entrance, it says, “Thank you for choosing your Covington Wal-Mart” (right over the doors, mind you, vs. over the cart area). Over the General Merchandise entrance, there’s nothing at all. My semi-humorous interpretation is, thanks for shopping at Wal-Mart if you’re buying groceries, but if you’re not, thanks for nothing. We realize that this is probably an omission rather than something done intentionally, but it’s amusing.

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What a rube…

April 18, 2004, 9:13 AM

I love using words that have generally fallen out of use sometimes, and rube is a favorite of mine.

And I certainly did run into quite a rube today after work. I went up to the Blue Ridge Parkway after work to kind of gather my thoughts and such on one of the overlooks. It’s nice up there. It’s dark, it’s peaceful, and it’s quiet.

Then this fellow showed up at the overlook. God knows how many tattoos this guy had, plus he’s driving an old beat-up Ford Bronco (big thing). And he’s got the radio cranked up loud. He parks his car at my overlook. That radio is still turned up loud.

What a rube. How unsophisticated could he be? We came up to the parkway in part for the quiet! You could just tell by how flamboyant tattoo-man was with his music that he wouldn’t understand the idea of turning it down, so that unfortunately was the end of my night on the parkway, since his music was that much of a disturbance. A shame, indeed.

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And a “Happy New Year” to you, too.

January 1, 2004, 1:06 AM

It’s 2004! That’s a frightening thought.

I spent my New Year’s up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, taking an hour or so to myself in the quiet. This is the first time in at least twelve years that I did NOT do like most people do – sitting and watching the TV, watching the ball drop at Times Square. Instead, I spent the time deep in thought, allowing my mind to completely release itself with a view of the Shenandoah Valley below.

And you could tell exactly when the ball dropped anyway, based on what happened in the valley below. From my vantage point on an overlook in the mountains, I saw a bunch of fireworks going off all across the valley. All kinds of illegal (in Virginia) fireworks blasting high up in the air, to ring in the new year. And that’s another thing – they really did appear small from my vantage point. Sure, they probably seemed huge from below, but since I was above the people’s fireworks looking down on them, they really seemed kind of diminutive.

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This time, I met all my goals without any problems…

December 29, 2003, 3:46 AM

I went down to Roanoke on Sunday to take the new tripod out for a spin and get accustomed to how it operates. I consider the mission a success.

I also didn’t have anyone call the police on me this time thinking I was a peeper or something. Of course, my location was different. Still all public places, but this time, the park was different, being up on top of a mountain (I visited Mill Mountain Park again). I also photographed some of downtown Roanoke at night after the park.

I also was recognized from the Web site by a Taco Bell employee at a combination Taco Bell/Pizza Hut restaurant on US 220 in the same shopping center as a Wal-Mart. I thought that was rather interesting, if I do say so myself.

So all in all, that went well. Will I make a photo set out of it? I don’t know yet. I’ll have to let the images “cook” in my mind before I’ll know for sure.

I also lost a headlight on my trip, as my drivers-side headlight bulb burned out at some point. This is when we’re glad that my father is a “car guy”, as he knows what he’s doing. And a bulb is probably cheap. Compare this to me, where I can stare at it like an idiot all day, and then get bored and more likely break it before ever doing anything like fixing it.

And so that’s my day… all told, I’d mark it off as a success.

Categories: Roanoke

“That’s not a telescope!”

December 28, 2003, 1:40 AM

It’s amusing what happens when you try to take photos sometimes. Let me explain what I mean…

For Christmas, I got a new, heavy-duty tripod, that is MUCH better than my old one. It’s taller, has more features, and a lot of other things that I haven’t figured out how to best use yet.

So on Christmas night (the night of December 25), I took the tripod for a spin to try it out. I went over the mountain to Charlottesville, where I headed to McIntire Park (where I’ve previously photographed on a few other occasions). I chose McIntire Park because it was relatively safe, open until 10 PM based on signage, and a public park (meaning public property).

So I have Big Mavica hooked up to the tripod and I’m doing my thing. A Jeep comes into the park, parks in the lot, powers off, sits for a few minutes, then starts up again and leaves.

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I saw a falling star tonight

December 2, 2003, 12:29 AM

After work I went up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to kind of have a moment to myself, which I’ve found to be a great way to unwind after work, and I saw a falling star (actually a meteor) right ahead of me. It made a lovely streak over rural Nelson and Albemarle Counties, and was a greenish color as it appeared to fall straight down from my vantage point on Afton Mountain.

After the meteor burned up in our atmosphere, as most tend to do, someone else drove up to the overlook where I was standing and commented on how neat it was. I agreed, and he said that maybe we’d see another one.

I didn’t see another one in my time up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I did get to spend a great hour to myself up there on the Parkway, in the quiet, in the dark, just kind of taking a moment to let my mind wander as I reflect on whatever I want to reflect on, think about whatever I want to think about, and basically just relax as I look up at the stars above and down on the valley below. Very nice, very calming.

Categories: Blue Ridge Parkway