Monochromia: Riding the Storm Out

My contribution to Monochromia this week.


The Roanoke Sound

This was the sky that met me as I left the beach on the bike a couple weeks ago.  Even though the rain threatened (and eventually soaked me), I could not resist stopping to take the shot.

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So many things at the beach are camera worthy, and let me tell you, I sure do have a lot of  photos to work through!

The water!  The sunsets! The wildlife!

and yes, the signage!


No Pets, No Fires, No Parking




So many places you can’t go …


and things you can’t do.


Don’t litter,


pick up after your furry friends,


and be sure to call 473-5252 if your vehicle is gone.


But you know what?  It’s all worth it!


More photos from Nags Head soon!


Nags Head, NC

This woman is on vacation!  Woop Woop!!


The 420 mile ride to Nags Head, NC included

*wonderful views and roads,

*a downpour that thankfully lasted only 15 minutes,

* riding in the dark with my way illuminated by lightning (which also illuminated the “Bear Crossing” signs –  I SO want to see a bear!),

and as always, a cold beer at the end of the ride.

I wish I was better able to express myself with words so that you would understand what it felt like to ride across the Intracoastal Waterway in the dark, to smell the water, and to see the lights in the distance, but not see the water.  To see the huge orange moon and not be able to stop and capture it with my camera.  To know that somehow I had to share the glory of that ride in words instead of photographs.

You’ll just have to trust me.

Pittsburgh: Rivers and Bridges

Venice is known as the City of Bridges, but Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania actually has more.  Three more in fact, for a total of 446!


Ruth and I planned our trip to Pittsburgh with a primary goal of watching a football game, but we had plenty of other fun things planned as well (see the posts about Fallingwater and the drive through southwestern Maryland and western Pennslvania).  We spent most of Friday exploring the city, walking over bridges, and soaking up the history, architecture, and culture of Pittsburgh.  Over 6 miles, and too many photos to count later, we felt we’d gotten a real taste of the city.

Many of you have posted photos of locks of love on bridges from around the world, and it appears that Pittsburgh is getting into the act, too.


Some of the bridges in this river city have pedestrian walkways which join a riverwalk. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail evolved from five separate trails and today comprises several unique sections over 37 miles.


The confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River is at Pittsburgh’s 36 acre Point State Park.  It is there that they form the Ohio River.  As we walked along the riverwalk, we passed a vibrant collection of runners, walkers, cyclists, and dogwalkers.


Expansive views of the city can be found from many vantage points, including the Monongahela and Dequesne Inclines (more on these in the next post).

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Three of the 446 bridges are known as The Three Sisters.  Similarly built self-anchored suspension bridges that span the Allegheny River, the bridges have been given formal names to honor important Pittsburgh residents:  Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and Rachel Carson.


We walked over 2 of the 3.


We were never at the right vantage point to catch a photo of the 3 Sisters in one view, so I downloaded this one so you could see how beautiful they are.


The melding of the historic and the modern are everywhere.

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What a fabulous city!

Next post:  Pittsburgh – Buildings and Architecture



Continuing our ride through western Maryland and into southwestern Pennsylvania (see On the Road), we reached Fallingwater in Mill Run, PA with a few minutes to spare before our 10am tour.


Fallingwater, “one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most widely acclaimed works, was designed in 1935 for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann Sr”. (comments taken from Fallingwater literature).


Wright designed and built the house to rise above the waterfall rather than face it.  Fallingwater “exemplifies Wright’s concept of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature”_MG_9080

Constructed between 1936 and 1939, the home was made of sandstone quarried on the property and was built by local artisans.  The stone serves to separate reinforced concrete trays that were cantilevered over the stream.


Our guided tour (no indoor photography allowed) lasted about an hour and while a bit rushed, was fascinating.  We enjoyed hearing about Wright’s architectural themes, the extensive process involved in making this masterpiece, and the occasional design disagreements he had with the Kaufmanns.  New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger called Fallingwater Wright’s “most sublime integration of man and nature”.


Fallingwater was the weekend home of the Kaufmann family from 1937 until 1963 when Edgar Kauffmann, Jr entrusted the house, it’s contents and grounds to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.  The home was opened to the pubic in 1964 and over 5 million people have toured the home since that time.


After our tour we walked the trail to the Visitors Center, Museum Store, and Cafe.

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We enjoyed lunch in the environmentally friendly cafe with food that was healthy and locally sourced.  Reusable dishes and utencils! Recycling! and a relaxing view.

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If you are anywhere near this National Historic Landmark, I urge you to go.  Definitely a highlight to our trip.


Next Stop:  Pittsburgh!

On the Road

Each year, my friend Ruth and I take an annual “Road Trip to Watch the Hokies … and Explore a Cool Town”, and what started as attendance at an away football game has turned into an opportunity for adventure in a new place. (If Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer knew our Road Trip / Loss to Win ratio, he would ask us to stop planning our trips around a game!)  Thankfully, the game has become less of a focal point.  Once the destination  is chosen, we research places of interest to visit along the way and no matter the outcome of the game, we always have a great time!!

This year’s trip was to Pittsburgh and in order to get there, we drove from southwest Virginia, and into western Maryland.  Low lying mountains, curvy rural routes, fall foliage, and historic small towns made for a great ride.  We left for Hancock, Maryland on Weds after work, and were up and on the road for Pennsylvania early the next morning.

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We’d not gone far when we saw this farmhouse and just had to pull over.

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The view of Cumberland Narrows, a water gap in western Maryland, had me calling out “I need a picture!”.  The sunrise and the misty hills were a site to see, but finding a spot to pull over was a bit of a challenge.  These next two photos were taken through the front windshield of the car, and even though the quality suffers, they offer an idea about how pretty this part of Maryland is.


For those interested in history, we were traveling on Rt 40 also known as the National Pike, a section of road that passes through the Cumberland Narrows and lots of rural farmland.  Sections of this road are also called the  National Road.  This road was the first major improved highway in the United States to be built by the federal government and was a gateway to the west for thousands of settlers.  It was also the first US road to be surfaced with macadam.  The National Road now has a multi-state tourism / historical partership that collarborates various towns, cities, and counties. 


Even when pulled over, photography remained a bit of a challenge.


Between the traffic, the road signs, and the lightposts it was hard to capture an unobstructed view of the early morning mist.


I had the same problem catching this rainbow.


The photos may not do justice to the morning, but I’ll not forget it anytime soon.  It was a wonderful start to the trip!

Next Stop:  Falling Waters – One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most widely acclaimed works


My friend Ruth and I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia  this past weekend, the latest installment in our annual road trip to watch the Hokies.  As avid Virginia Tech Football fans (and basketball fans, too, for that matter),  we choose one away game to attend each year.  We’ve traveled to Chapel Hill, NC;  Huntington, WVa;  Morgantown, WVa; and to Washington, DC and Atlanta twice.  We try to find a town or place to explore along the way, and search out the historic downtown of any community we visit.  This was our 5th year in a row, and our 7th road trip overall.

We posed for the traditional start of the trip photo and then hit the road!


The normal 6 1/2 hour trip turned into 9 due to a combination of Friday afternoon rush hour, labor day weekend, and football traffic.  A stop in Kings Mountain, NC and dinner at the Cherokee Grill was just what we needed.



We finally saw the lights of Atlanta a little after 10pm.  I was so excited about finally arriving that I attempted to take a picture … with my cell phone … while Ruth navigated the interstate at 65mph!  This picture doesn’t reflect it, but the night skyline of Atlanta is beautiful!


The next day dawned hot and muggy, but we had plenty of time to explore a few of the neighborhoods of Atlanta while waiting for game time. Theresa, our host for the weekend, was an excellent tour guide.

Photography on a trip with friends is a bit of a challenge.  How do you find time to shoot quality images while spending time with friends?  I definitely want to document the trip but I don’t want to spend all my time behind the lens.

We explored the neighborhood near Emory University and had a delicious breakfast at the Rise-n-Dine.

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Theresa drove us through the Krog Street Tunnel, which is known for it’s street art.  I jumped out of the car and had less than a minute to shoot what the locals call their “living bulletin board and urban art gallery”.

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The CNN Center and Olympic Park were both crawling with Tide and Hokie fans, although Virginia Tech fans were far outnumbered.





Virginia Tech met Alabama in the Georgia Dome, and while we did not beat the #1 team in College Football, our defense was outstanding.  We held them to fewer yards and our offense gained more yards than most teams did in 2012.

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Sunday morning came quickly and it was time to head back home.  We briefly stopped in Spartanburg, SC and I wish we’d had more time to visit.  The downtown area, while quiet for a Sunday, showed evidence of historic renovation and revitalization.

Loved this Urban Art installation called Artcycle.


The sun was bright at midday and the photos aren’t the best, but the artcycles were great!


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Locally owned businesses have the most creative signage and curb appeal.

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We were back in Radford in the late afternoon and had a short visit with friends who had gathered for labor day.  A lovely way to end the weekend … even if we did miss the music.


Myrtle Beach on the Bike: The People and The Bikes

This is the second in a series of posts about Myrtle Beach Bike Week and my experience as a first timer.

Myrtle Beach Bike Week – motorcycles, music, people, bars (some only in business during bike week / 2-3 weeks per year) and restaurants – so many sites to see and things to do.  I was there for less than 48 hours and still managed to walk on the beach, log some miles on the bike, listen to fun music, enjoy good food and drink, and spend time with great friends.

People watching is a favorite activity.  Find a rocking chair, a beer, and watch the bikes and people go by.


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The problem I had with the rows of rocking chairs is that they were lined up right in front of where I had to back the bike into a long line of bikes.  Do you know how unnerving that is? Angle the bike wrong and the whole row goes down … or at least that was my fear.  Knowing everyone was watching made me even more nervous.  Deciding to make a positive out of a potential negative, I jokingly asked the crowd for a little love.  Everyone began to cheer and clap and I backed in without problem.  Phew!




Once the bike was parked, I was able to grab a cold one, hang with my friends and get down to some serious people watching.

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Juli and I with our multi-tatted friend

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Then there are the bikes!  The models, colors, styles, and sheer individuality of them would keep you busy for hours.

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Of course for me, the best part was having an unplanned, extra day off from work and using it to spend time on the bike and with friends. It was a fabulous mini-vacation!

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Next Post:  The Music, Bars, and Restaurants

Myrtle Beach on the Bike: Getting There and Back

This is the first of a few posts about the experience that is Myrtle Beach Bike Week.

I was anxious to put some significant miles on the bike.  Because of the constant rain, I’d only been able to ride a total of 450 miles since purchasing my Softail Slim on March 29th.  I’m not opposed to riding in the rain, but I’m still learning this new bike and wanted to get to know it better before riding on wet roads.

When friends told me that they would be heading to Myrtle Beach, it seemed like a good opportunity to get those much needed miles.  I’d ride down Saturday and come back Sunday, accumulating a minimum of 700 miles.  Most folks go for the week; I would go for 2 days.

Saturday morning dawned and it was still raining off and on … but I am nothing if not game, and decided to go for it anyway.


I followed my friends Lake and Juli, who had decided to trailer their bikes and gear down in preparation for a week long stay.


We’d not gone 2 miles when I noticed that the mirrors and cables were loose.  Thankfully, Lake had tools with him and fixed me right up. I do have a couple tools on my bike but not an Allen Wrench … lesson learned!


Despite the weather, I was so happy to be riding and I was loving the new bike!!


Thankfully, by the time we got to Rockingham NC the rain had stopped and the sun was shining most of the time.


I was shedding clothing with each stop.


By the time we got to the beach, I was down to t-shirt and vest and that first view of the ocean from the deck of the house brought even more smiles to my face.


The ride back 48 hours later found me layered up and leathered up, too.  I usually like to take my time and explore the route, but the further north I got, the more the temps dropped.

I took a few moments to shoot some pics in a cemetery in Blenheim, SC.


And a couple more of Pilot Mountain, NC



The views were beautiful, but it was 50 degrees and that makes for cold riding at 70 miles per hour.  By the time I got home, 850 miles and 60 hours later, I was chilled to the bone.  A hot shower was what the Nurse Practitioner ordered and it felt great!!

Even with the less than optimal traveling weather, it was a wonderful first road trip!