4 Wheelin’ it to Barney’s Wall

Typically when my friend Karen organizes a hike, it is the walking in the woods and the view at the end that provides the memories.

Barney’s Wall provided that, for sure, but getting there was the adventure!  We all piled into my truck and hit the road for the trailhead.  And what a road it was!

What was initially a lovely ride through the trees,

turned into a challenge for my 4 Wheel Drive skills.

We made sure our seatbelts were locked in place and the windows up.

I took my time and drove carefully … until we saw these huge puddles.

I mean, what fun is a puddle if you can’t make a big splash?

What a fun mess!

After a bit of searching (see Karen’s post for the story) we found the trailhead.

And what a beautiful trail it was!

We’d not gone far when we learned that it was the 1st Day of Rifle Season.  You’d think that the sound of gunfire in the distance would have cued us in, but it was not until we saw hunters coming towards us that we realized the significance of the day.

We perservered and it was not long until we received our reward.

The drop off was severe and soon enough we were scrambling around on the ledge.

As always, we were thrilled with the view, and with the comraderie and friendship.

Sometimes the hike is long. Sometimes not so much.  No matter the length of the walk, the memories will last a lifetime.

Cruising: Food and Drink

Are you ready to be done seeing photos from the cruise that I took with friends in April?  I promise, this is the last one!  If you’ve followed along so far, you’ve seen a recap of the whole experience, the birds and flowers, the ship, and the windows and doors.  You’ve read that I had my reservations about cruising, that I’m not sure I’d do it again, AND that I had a great time with friends and with my camera.

I also enjoyed great food and drink! There were 13 bars on that ship, and Kerry, from Love Those Hands at Home, asked if we managed to visit every one.  I’m proud to say that over the course of one week, we did!  In fact, I carried around the “List of 13” and we would check them off one at a time.  Several of the bartenders got into the spirit with us.

And of course, I couldn’t help but turn my drinks into photography.

Beer

Wine

Cocktails

Frozen Drinks

The best part?  No need for a designated driver!

Thanks for hanging with me through all of these posts about the cruise.  Someday, I’ll be able to look back and remember the fun.

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It’s been almost 2 months since I’ve been back from the cruise and I’ve been on the road, working, and taking care of civic duties.  It’s my goal to visit all of you over the next week or so.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!

Cruising: Doors and Windows

* This is the fourth post in the series about the cruise I took 6 weeks ago.  Life has moved on, but the cruise pictures keep coming!  You can see those images, and read my thoughts about cruising here, here, and here.*

Believe it or not, a cruise keeps you busy!  It seemed that my friends and I were always on the go.  We never took an elevator and instead took multiple flights of stairs several times throughout the day.  We joined excursions off the ship and participated in activities on the ship.   Even still, I never felt that I was forced to do any one thing nor eat in any particular place at a specific time, something I had worried about before starting the cruise.

I loved the contrast of in and out,

and photographed several windows along the way.  From inside the bar, of which there were 13,

from inside one of the many restaurants,

and from inside our room, looking out to the balcony where I would enjoy my coffee and book each morning.

The doors of Mexico were intriquing, and so narrow!

Many of the buildings were old and in need of repair,

except in the tourist area, of course.  I definitely enjoyed my cold beer at Woody’s.

In order to avoid the near constant panhandling, cruisers are able to visit ports of call created by the cruise lines.  This was one of the disappointments for me.  I didn’t feel like I learned much about the culture, and it seemed that the cruise lines try to “hide” the reality of the noticeable poverty.   They build what I call the “Disney Land” ports of call, this one in Roatan, Honduras.

Beautiful for sure, but how real?  I consoled myself with knowing that these ports create jobs.

This next shot is from Harvest Caye, Belize,

and this last image, a selfie, was taken in Ybor City, a neighborhood in Tampa Bay, that we visited after docking at the end of the cruise.

Next Cruising Post – Food and Drink

Cruising: The Ship

My last two posts about the cruise have focused on the experience and the flowers and birds.  You’ve read that I had my reservations about cruising, and while I’m not sure that I’d do it again, I found much to enjoy.

The ship itself, the Norwegian Jade, also offered wonderful opportunities for photography and I rarely went anywhere without my camera!

Was it the contrast between the natural and the human made world?

Or the wonderful patterns of repetition.

Perhaps it was how vast the ship was,

especially when standing between the Jade and her sister ship, the Dawn.

I loved the comparison of this classic tall ship and the new cruise style ship.

I adored having a morning cup of coffee on the balcony, one of the absolute best things about the cruise!.

I even slept on that balcony one night after dragging out a blanket and pillow, and laying on the deck.  The sea, the wind, the stars … it was an amazing thing to be in middle of the Caribbean Sea, and to feel so close to nature and to feel her power.

What a gift!

Next Cruising Post – The Doors and Windows and Architecture

The Cruise Experience

Almost six weeks ago I went on a cruise, a mode of travel that I never anticipated experiencing.

According to Cruise Ship Industry Statistics, over 20 million people cruise per year so clearly, it is a popular way to vacation.  Frankly though, I had my misgivings.

Even though I’d be off of work and with close friends for a week, I kept saying “I’m just not sure that I’m a cruise kinda gal”.  Even after having a super fun time, I’m still not sure if I’d do it again.

Not because I didn’t enjoy myself, but because there are so many things to do in this big, wide world and in that I have only 3 weeks vacation per year (thanks to unplanned and planned job changes), I just need to use the time I have to experience new things.

Having said all of that, I had an incredible time with dear friends, spent alot of time with my camera in hand, had a blast on a zipline (wow!), and enjoyed lots of good food and drink.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some images from the cruise.  You’ll see food and drink (mostly drink – ha!), flowers and birds, doors and architecture, scenes from the ship, and assorted miscellany.

Thanks for still coming to visit despite my protracted absences.  I’ve started a new organization and am working to encourage women to run for office or to support those who have decided to run.  I’ve also just finished working on our community’s annual Ride of Silence, and am looking forward to helping with the annual Memorial Day Service.

Next Post:  Cruising – Birds and Flowers

Bloggers: The Most Incredible Gathering of Friends!

We’ve all said it, and many of you have as well.

WordPress Blogging has become so much more than we ever thought it would be.  What started out as travel diary, forum for writing, sharing of photography, enlightenment about art, gardening, or crafting, or keeping up with family has become a community of international friends.

Over the last several days, 8 WP bloggers from 3 countries and 2 states, have met in various locations to continue in person, the relationships that have been forged through the world of blogging.

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Laurie, Boomdee,  PaulineAlys, and Julia in Old Town Alexandria.

We marveled that while most of us had never met each other, we talked and laughed as if we’d known each other for years.

Which, of course, we had.

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Laurie, Stacy, Boomdee, Alys, Lisa, Pauline, and Patty in Georgetown

What might have seemed unusual to friends and family (“you’re letting someone you’ve never met stay in your home?”), to us seemed natural.  No doubts.

Our days have been full of laughter, many hugs, lots of delicious food and the sharing of stories.

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Pauline, Shelley, Boomdee, Alys

We’re still in the middle of this amazing gathering of friends, but I wanted to share the joy, because of course, there are so many of you out there that I would love to meet!

Let’s get to planning.  I promise it is worth the effort!

We’ve got another couple days here in Radford before I put Boomdee, Kelly, and Pauline on the train back to DC.  Until the, we’ll fill every single moment with the joy of being together.

And now, while the others get a bit more rest, I’m off to work on the campaign for a couple hours.

Train Day in Radford, Now in Color!

Many of you agreed that a B&W format is perfect for presenting the images of a steam engine and for inspiring the feelings of nostalgia, mystery, and adventure.

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Even still, the train that visited Radford last weekend also sported pops of color.

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On the wheels, and other unknown and therefore unnamed parts underneath the train,

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on the doors and the windows,

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on the bell and lettering,

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… and by the crew members working the train that day.

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Despite the impression you might get from this gentleman’s face, the crew seemed to be having a blast, waving and smiling at the crowd as they worked.

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What a great day it was!

I’ll leave you with one final shot of our clock, set against the backdrop of historic building art, and we’ll anxiously await the return of the train in 2015.

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