It’s nice to stand here

We have a new kick: we head for mountain views when the weather’s bad.

It was born of necessity, but we’ve adopted it with vigor, because we have so much fun with the results!

Several weeks ago, Robyn checked her weather app and found every day for the next 14 days showed a likelihood of rain exceeding 50 percent. Bummer.

But we knew from one experience that rain here at the coach didn’t guarantee rain in the mountains. And further, we knew from several summers of experience here that rain now didn’t guarantee rain for the day.

So when it fits our schedule to run to the mountain views, we simply look for a break in the weather to load into the car, and we head out.

And sure enough, we’ve been rewarded every time!

Sometimes it takes awhile…the other day it rained or was gray fog for nearly an hour as we got onto the Parkway and drove along its curves and hills. But sure enough, eventually there was golden sunshine up ahead.

Which is what we experienced this day. That golden sunshine kept being around the next corner…no, the next corner…but no, the next corner.

Here is where we finally found it.
And around another corner…another nice place to stand and gaze in wide wonder at this incredible world.

The value of mobile

You’ll recall we made this run clear down to Brunswick, GA…from where the coach was parked south of Asheville, NC…to explore winter-time options along the East coast that would still be north of Florida.

We spent a night at a lovely hotel outside Charleston, SC, explored several parks, enjoyed some outstanding southern cuisine, and thoroughly enjoyed a tour of the ocean front.

And so thoroughly enjoyed all those things that we didn’t click a single frame….

Then we moved down the coast to a lovely hotel outside Savannah, GA. We ran over to Hilton Head, Tybee Island, and some other fun spots. Checked on several parks for the coach. Were so caught up in all the great sights and sounds and tastes…that we never clicked a single frame….

Good thing we stayed another night there, so we could run down to Brunswick, GA. Really enjoyed visiting an RV park there, and had a very fortunate conversation with several of its staff.

We asked about any bugs in the winter months. They looked at each other, and started rattling off a list of tiny beasts…that changed by the month. All winter. We said “Wow, all winter?” They laughed and said, “You DO know this is the south, right?” HA Ha ha. Hmmmm.

We can’t do bugs with Ross and Ryan. The boys don’t defend themselves at all, and they scratch any itch or bump until it bleeds, then scratch it some more!

Oh well, there went this quest.

Except we caught Driftwood Beach right near sunset. Just as the moon was rising off shore. With a lovely blue sky that kept coloring up more and more, the closer we got to sunset!

And a tiny jet trail….

Ahhhh….I can die happy!

Still mobile

Oh my, Driftwood Beach!

Entire trees that have blown onto this fairly lengthy stretch of sand, many buried quite a bit by the constantly washing sand.

We arrived near sunset. With a rising moon. Such a photographic extravaganza!

This portion of a tree reminded me of the front portion of an elephant…and that eye watched every movement I made.

The golden sun behind the camera, the clear blue sky, the rising moon….

Going mobile

You do understand we may park the coach for several months at a time, but our Lil Taxi keeps us mobile all the time!

Awhile back, we got an itch to explore an alternative to Florida for our winter respite.

The South Carolina and Georgia coast lines offer some wonderful areas to visit and explore: Charleston, Savannah, Hilton Head, Brunswick.

So much colorful history, so much remarkable ocean shoreline!

We needed to consider a large number of parks that were available for the coach, and decided to make it light and lively by driving the car and staying in hotels in a couple places along the coast. We didn’t limit ourselves to only looking at parks…this was significant new territory to explore.

Oh what fun!

On Jekyll Island, along Brunswick, Georgia’s shoreline, we ran across Driftwood Beach.

It’s not simply a jumbled pile of logs. This is the ocean, so the driftwood here is entire trees that have been tossed and scrubbed for who-knows-how-many miles and months.

And we showed up as the 55 percent moon was rising!

The novelty sunset photo

I really love to have some fun when there’s a really colorful sunset.

Actually, the real fun begins well after sunset. Like 40 minutes after.

This image gets some extra juice from the fabulous vista provided by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I made the first image almost exactly one hour before sunset. I banged it off with my cell phone, just to keep a reminder with me as we scouted several Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks for the evening’s sunset festivities.

We actually shot the pictures that you saw in the posts from the past two days at another overlook. We drove past this one again as we were headed home.

When I saw this smokey scene (there’s no smoke, but the scene just smokes!, don’t you think?), I almost slammed on the brakes. That’s pretty disruptive to the other occupants of the car, so I drove on until there was a chance to turn around.

I’m still learning how to use all the abilities of a new camera, and it took me about 15 minutes to make about a dozen images. The night image below was the last one.

Isn’t it interesting to compare these two photos? Who would guess from the daytime shot that there were so many homes and businesses in the scene? (And a broadcast tower almost dead center in the image.) Can’t see them.

But the lights at night make it easy in the second image. And yet, the array of clouds on the horizon in the night scene are easily confused with the line of mountains…we need the daytime shot to set us straight.

But I think there’s no chance anyone will prefer the daytime photo to the night shot….

BTW, I can just barely make out the details of the second image on my phone…you’ve gotta see it on a big computer screen to appreciate all that’s going on!

Look around after sunset

Sometimes the most amazing late afternoon skies completely crash at sunset, because a solid bank of clouds forms down at the horizon. No sun.

Ahhh, but stick around, because the sun could still shine through a bunch of clouds beyond your horizon…which adds color to its light…and shine that wonderful color all over some clouds above your head or over your left shoulder.

Like this image.

It was taken only 10 minutes after sunset and at an angle about 90 degrees from where the sun actually set…which just happened to be where that 24 percent moon was showing so nicely!

Sunset is a cheap shot

Everybody loves to take the picture on vacation with the bright sun and the gorgeous blue sky background.

But everybody loves to shoot the glorious colors at sunset. Nothing else, just the colors. It’s a cheap shot, but we all love it!

I have two suggestions: first, try to get something in the foreground with those glorious sunset colors. Cell phone cameras these days can handle some really dramatic range of light. Try some shots that have some fun stuff close to the camera…you might get an interesting cheap shot!

Two, hang around after the sun has actually disappeared. Often, the color gets even more dramatic…and often the drama is away from where the sun actually sets.

Today’s picture was actually clicked at the instant of sunset. And even though we were up on top of a mountain, the sun was setting on the other side of some other distant mountains…so it actually disappeared from our sight about 10 minutes earlier.

The sky was still going strong, and it provided quite a bit of ambient light in front of us that produced all kinds of colors and textures. For about half an hour before this image was made, we had been watching low fog pouring over and around several mountains and filling a distant valley in the direction of the setting sun.

We remember August 2017

Do you remember where you were on August 21, 2017 about 2pm?

We do!

It was our first summer parked outside Asheville, NC. In June we learned that the path of totality for the August eclipse of the sun would run just a few miles from our coach!

We started scouting a good vantage point to photograph the event. I wanted a light-colored building for the foreground, because it would show more readily in dark surroundings with the sun still showing as a funny bright ring in the background. A church with a steeple would be nice. The building needed to face the right way…the sun would be roughly in the southwest sky.

Google Maps and I were very close companions for several weeks.

We drove to a number of possible sites. One of the most promising was 100 miles away! It was a private K-12 school with a large white and brick administration building with a white bell tower, and it was set on a hill that allowed me to shoot from down below the front, aiming up past the building into the sky to *perfectly* catch the eclipsed sun! I made this photo two weeks ahead of the eclipse at almost exactly the same time as it would occur (how fortunate to have all the clouds blocking the sun this day!).
The next day I read more about the school…and discovered they were closing their property on the day of the eclipse to all outsiders!

This event was a HUGE deal in the path of totality and for miles around. We discovered that several campers were scheduled into our park for the eclipse.

After more scouting, I found a church only 50 miles away that would work. I even talked to their pastor to confirm I could shoot in their front yard while the church staff sat outside to watch the eclipse.

The eclipse was eerie! It really did get fairly dark. Although the moon totally blocked the sun, the sun’s light was still so bright it showed as a small ring around the moon, and it cast slight shadows around us.

In the first image below, if I processed it so that the sun’s ring showed up the same way we saw it…the rest of the image would be mostly black. Like the second image below.

The second image I took with a 300mm lens that only showed the dark sky near the moon blocking the sun. I shot it after the moon had just barely begun to move away from the sun enough to allow the slightest view of the sun’s globe. The tiny points of red around the ring of light, the bulge of bright light on the right, and the distinctive shafts of light are all peculiar artifacts of a solar eclipse.

By the way, the small point of light to the right of the church steeple was…I think…Jupiter. The early afternoon sky was soooo dark that we could see that bright planet!

It was a day to remember!

Close, but no cigar

In yesterday’s post, I told you about stumbling upon a view of Asheville’s largest water reservoir from the Parkway.

Today’s photo is my consolation pic from a day spent trying to find a view of that reservoir!

We decided to spend a day driving around the lowlands, which can be just as hard as driving in the mountains, because no roads are straight or flat. You need Google maps to get from here to there, because there are no thruways!

We often found ourselves driving 15 miles per hour on twisty roads without center lines. I saw more creeks that day than I had seen in a year.

We could see a large lake on our car nav screen, and we could see flashes of water through the trees, but never was there an opening, and never was there a sign directing us to a park or boat ramp.

We eventually put 2 and 2 together after we saw a fair number of “Asheville Watershed” signs that prohibited parking alongside roads that were beside the lake.

When we finally got a decent cell signal, we pulled up a map that showed Burnett Reservoir. Ahhhhh.

But we passed a lovely, tiny, lake across the road from the reservoir where a creek fed into the reservoir. I backed up and took a snap.

I’ll take good luck any day!

We drove up to Craggy Gardens, a lovely area along the Parkway that hosts large sections of rhododendron.

Turned out we were about a week late…most buds had opened and dropped by the time we got there.

I found one view with a few buds left, and I liked the clouds. Click.

Ha, it turned out that I sneaked a shot of Burnett Reservoir, Asheville’s largest source of water!

It’s not convenient to get a photo of that lake, because it is off-limits to visitors, and so no overlooks are built around it and no trees are trimmed to provide a view.

I’ll admit it’s not much of a picture of the lake, but still….