Friday, January 1, 2016

My Daily Photo Walk: First Day Hike at Sugarloaf

Many people and cultures have traditions for the first day of the New Year:  eat black eyed peas, make a resolution, visit the temple, or avoid sweeping the stoop.  Some of these traditions are connected to superstition, others to family ritual.  One such ritual, encourage by America's State Parks, is to take a hike.  Free ranger-led hikes are conducted at state parks in all 50 states on New Year's Day.

Sugarloaf Mountain is not a state park, but a privately owned one.  I had been on a hike there before, so I chose it for today's hike with my nephew Tim.  We dressed warmly and I took my walking stick.  At the uppermost parking lot, we followed the blue trail uphill along easy paths, until it took a rocky turn toward the top.  That's when I had Tim take my photo.

At the summit, we looked out over the Potomac River, then chose the orange trail down.  Halfway down, I realized we should have gotten a map.  This trail was narrow, steep, and very rocky.  Luckily, there were trees to grab onto for stablility, in addition to my walking stick, which came in very handy.

At the steepest point of the descent, I threw out all dignity and chose to slide down in the dirt on my rear end; the man behind me said, "Better dirt than hurt."  I liked him instantly.

When we finally arrived at the bottom, we were at the eastern parking lot, which meant more walking on flat road, but it was invigorating, and I was just thrilled that I had negotiated the trails without fear or injury, which proved how much my balance and agility have improved in the past year.  My broken ankle from 2014 did not bother me at all, but my knees do feel the effects of all that climbing and negotiating around rocks and trees and ruts.  I am very proud of myself for completing a challenging hike today.

Happy New Year to all!

All photos in "My Daily Photo Walk" are available for sale upon request.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Life Through My Lens: On the Way Home

Silver Thread Falls
Mountain Laurel was still in bloom!
I honestly thought I could make it home in two full days on the road, with only one night in a hotel, but I was wrong.  So wrong.  My love of taking the slower roads is one reason, lots of road work is another reason, and weekend traffic is surely another.  I made it as far as Lancaster, PA, and then I looked for a place to stay.  I used my reward points for a free stay in a Holiday Inn Express.

Dingman's Falls
All of that driving takes its toll on my legs, so my first big stop today was at Dingman's Falls.  I was following Rt. 209 through the Delaware Water Gap in eastern Pennsylvania, when I decided to pull into the Visitor Center and walk to the falls.  There is a nice boardwalk that takes visitors on a stroll through the woods.  I found the Silver Thread Falls first, and just as soon as I got the tripod and camera set up, hordes of kids came pounding by, bouncing the boardwalk up and down.  I had to wait a good 10 minutes until everyone cleared out.

I did a quick plein air painting
while I was there!
I continued my walk to the larger falls.  The kids were busy climbing the set of 150 steps up to the very top of the falls.  I did not join them.  I knew they would probably come thundering back down the narrow steps as soon as I was halfway up.

My second stop was at a Wegman's in Easton, PA, for lunch, and then traffic caught up with me around Kutztown and Reading, where it was stop and go for miles and miles.  I arrived in Bird-in-Hand around 5:00, having driven through beautiful, pristine farmland.  I passed lots and lots of horse-drawn buggies and Amish teens on their bicycles.

Cool old drinking fountain
Golden Rain
I found a room near Lititz, PA, and went into town for dinner.  Not much was going on, at least that's what I thought, until I walked by the outdoor patio at the General Sutter Inn.  Half the town must have been drinking and dining there.  Obviously, I was not in the know about the cool place to go!

My route tomorrow will take me from Lancaster to Hanover, PA, and then on to home.  Sixteen days away from home has been a long haul, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.  I hope you've enjoyed my trip, too!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life Through My Lens: A Floral Day

Late this morning, my friend Sally and I went to a garden here in Oakland.  Julie, the garden's owner, gave us a tour of her yard, which was beautifully manicured.  There were hostas, spirea, echinacea, hydrangea, rudbeckia, kiwi vines, liatris, and more.  We worked a while on photographing in the garden, then went out to lunch at a restaurant that grows its own greens for the salads.

Afterwards, we came home and I attempted to get some pix of Sally's beautiful fuchsia, but the wind was working hard against me.  Although it is breezy, the heat has turned on here in Maine, and the humidity is on the rise.  It's feeling a little more like Maryland here.

Gardens in Maine seem to be so lush and green.  It's got to be the cool nights and much cooler days than we typically get in Maryland this time of year.

Floral photography is always fun.  I hope you enjoy these pix!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Life Through My Lens: Going Loony in Maine

This one came up right near the boat.
A new pump needs new buckets.
Today I drove to Oakland, Maine, where my friends Sally and Chris have a house on East Pond, part of the Belgrade lakes area.  The lovely lake is surrounded by homes and summer camps, and it is very quiet and peaceful here.

Mother and baby
Backlit grasses at water's edge
After lunch, Chris took us out in the boat to tour the lake.  I did not take my big lens, and coupled with movement on both my part and the part of the boat, most of my pix are of little, unfocused birds.  But we did see a number of loons, and even a couple with their babies.

Osprey nest
Beaver Dam
People were out fishing, floating in chaise lounges, or reading in Adirondack chairs by the lake edge. Later on we may go out again, when the light is better.  I'll be sure to bring my big lens. 

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life Through My Lens: More of the Harpswells

Although the sun did not make an appearance until two hours before sunset, the diffused light made for a pretty good day for photos.  I left at 7:30 this morning for the Harpswell area again, this time to visit Bailey's and Orr's Islands.

Bridge detail -- all granite blocks
Bailey's and Orr's are connected by a granite block bridge built in a grid, with open spaces to let the tides flow through.  It is the only one of its kind in the world.  The 1928 bridge was built to allow for tides, ice floes, to minimize salt water and erosion damage, and to allow boat traffic through.  It looks a bit lumpy and awkward, but it does the trick.

The Cribstone Bridge
I stopped at a little cafe for coffee, currently in a former school house.  I stopped again at another cafe, this time to photograph the bridge.  I continued on to Mackerel Cove, where I got out and did a nice walk.  It was quiet in the morning, since lobster boats cannot go out on Sundays.

Morning Swing
Black and White Buoys
A little girl was swinging by the water, watched over by her grandmother.  Gulls squawked nearby.  A tent was being prepared for an outdoor wedding.  Lobstermen were gathered in groups talking by the wharf or working on their boats.  Music could be heard from the church service at the entrance to the cove.
Giant's Stairs

View from near the end of the trail at Giant's Stairs
Another site I visited was the Giant's Stairs, a natural rock formation leading down to the water from above.  It is along a well-maintained path lined with beach roses, wood poppies, and Queen Anne's lace.  I even found a lupine.  I spent a lot of time photographing the flowers.

Mackerel Cove
Me again.
On my way back to Brunswick, I stopped at Cundy's Harbor, where I visited a gift shop and the general store.  I also bought a giclee print at an art show being held in a former school building.  I was happy to support the local artists.

Beach Rose
This evening I returned once again to Bailey Island to eat at Cook's Lobster House.  I watched the sun come out over the water as I worked on my triple lobster tail dinner.  It was heavenly.

Tomorrow I leave the coast to go inland to the Belgrade Lakes area to visit my friend Sally.  I've had a wonderful time on the coast.  I hope you enjoy my pix!

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Life Through My Lens: The Harpswell Area

Best friends.
Window at the Chocolate Church
Today I left Rockport and came south on Rt. 1, arriving in Brunswick around 11 a.m.  I did a good walk through town, browsing the shops and enjoying lunch (lobster salad in a roasted red bell pepper).

After lunch I continued my walk, ending up in a park where I purchased some ice cream and sat and watched the people enjoying the summer afternoon.  There was a beautiful inn with a large front porch across from the park.  The front walk was edged by a white picket fence decorated with flag bunting.
 A garden party was in progress -- it was either a wedding shower or a baby shower, because gifts were being opened and desserts were being passed.  I was reminded again of how much I love small town America.
Done for the day

Let's be clear about the prices!
I checked into my motel and immediately opened the windows in room #40.  Clearly the non-smoking signs in this room have been regarded as only a suggestion by the previous occupants of this room.  But everywhere there are No Vacancy signs, so I am glad to have a room for the next two nights.

A peek inside the church.
Harpswell Commons Graveyard
Around 4:00 I left to explore the Harpswell area.  On the way to the Dolphin Marina and Restaurant, which was recommended by my guidebook, I found a beautiful historic church and graveyard, known as the Harpswell Meeting House.  Built in 1757, it had hitching posts, a stone fence, and a mounting block.  A peek inside the church window showed Windsor style pews and pew boxes.  It looked just like it did 150 years ago.  The last grave interred in the yard was in 1900, because gravediggers kept discovering other graves when they dug new graves.

The Camera Bag at the Wharf
My future Maine house?
I continued my journey to the end of Basin Point Road, where I found the Dolphin Marina and Restaurant.  I had a lobster salad and enjoyed the view of the harbor.  After dinner, I drove around more of the side roads, finding small clusters of homes along the waterfronts.

Tomorrow will be a day of further exploration of this beautiful area.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Life Through My Lens: On the Rocks at Pemaquid Point

There's nothing like getting up at 3:30 a.m.  to go and photograph a lighthouse at sunrise.  Well, yes there is.  Sleeping late is a close second.  But this is Maine!  And the weather was clear!  We had no excuses, so off we went.  After all, if you are in Maine, this is one lighthouse not to miss.

The lighthouse at Pemaquid Point sits on an outstanding geological swath of rising sheets of rock so weathered that they look like planks of wood.  The ocean crashes upon those rocks, and the lighthouse guides fishermen to safety each night.  By morning, it attracts photographers.  By day, tourists.  All summer, the mosquitoes lie in wait, in droves.

Having recently recovered from a broken ankle, I was somewhat leery of traversing the sheets of rock at Pemaquid in the darkness, but I got halfway across, only to realize that if I stood where I wanted to stand, I would be in the line of sight of another photographer.  So, I relented and spent sunrise time at the top of the hill by the lighthouse, feeding the mosquitoes.  Thank goodness for long pants, hooded jackets, and bug spray.  I practiced, somewhat unsuccessfully, trying to get long exposures to smooth the crashing waves.

I have no idea why this long
exposure turned out green and red,
unless it is refracted light.
I fixed it by turning it black and white
We finished up at 6:30 a.m. and made the hour long trip back to campus in time for breakfast.

My course here at Maine Media Workshops has come to an end.  It was fun and I learned a lot.  I have a bunch of great prints to bring home.  We had a show tonight of student work, and it was a treat seeing what the classes produced, especially the teens.  We laughed and laughed at their humorous videos and oohed and aahed over the work of the adult classes.  It was a wonderful week of creative learning and fun.

OK, I cheated.  This is a
photo from when I was here
three years ago. 
Tomorrow I am off on my own to continue exploring this beautiful coast.  Happy Friday night to all!

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