Thanks to the American Taxpayer, I have seen the world. At the bidding of the Army, I went where I was told to go, and did what I was told to do. Mostly, I saw sand and pine trees; that's where army bases are built.
Since retiring, I'm traveling where I want and doing what I want. I rarely drive anywhere without stopping to see the sights and I always have my camera.
My goal is to take at least one interesting photograph at each place.
October 2022: Williamsburg, Virginia
Kady, wanting to do this trip for the longest, bought tickets, and off we went. I didn't think It would be much, but I changed my mind when we got to the site. The shear amount of work and artistic ability it took to make these busts was astounding.
Created by Houston artist Davis Adickes, they were displayed in President's Park in Williamsburg until 2010 when the park land was sold and the park closed. Howard Hankins, who happed construct the park, moved them to his family farm for safekeeping. Many of then show signs of the move and were in pertty sad shape . . . which makes them more interesting to me.
If you'd like to see this, google it first; there are rules. Wear your Wellies.
The Cabin in the Woods
October 202: Appomattox, Virginia
I've been talking about renting a cabin since the day I retired. Kady surprised me by renting this place for a week. If you are looking for a place to unplug, reconnect with nature, and have a lot of quiet time, this is your place.
Situated on fifty acres in rural Virginia, there is no cell reception, but the WiFi is decent. It is quiet here, almost spooky. There are trails, but you aren't going far. The trail to the River and back is a workout.
The Cabin is nice; perfect for a couple. The bed is comfortable and spacious, the fireplace and living room nice, and the kitchen has all the things. They supply a nice assortment of coffee for the Keurig, though I brought my own Lavazza. The back porch faces East for nice Sunrises, We didn't really use the TV or the Fireplace.
We appreciated the quiet beauty of the place, but it was no big change to our normal at-home existence.
The AirBnB link for this place is here.
Sunrise Coffee Spot
14 September 2022: Sharpsburg, Maryland
I've been here numerous times and it never disappoints. The Battlefield at Antietam is a fitting tribute to the soldiers who fought and died there on the bloodiest single day of the War. It is well protected, quiet, rarely crowded, and inspiring.
I've been there with The Army, Cadets, friends, and solo. I prefer solo trips. They give me time to reflect, read, and photograph what I see.
The West Woods
DJ at the Visitor's Center 2010
Maryland, Honoring Her Sons on Both Sides
August 2022, Charlottesville
If you are visiting Charlottesville, you need to put Monticello on your To See List. The place is clean, quiet, scenic, and instructional. The people who work there are helpful, polite, and friendly. They do an amazing job of preserving history while telling the whole story. You will come away from the place a better American and convinced of the genius of Thomas Jefferson. I suggest doing the self-guided tour. There are plenty of people around to ask if you have questions. Spend most of your time in the house, but don't miss Mulberry Row.
8 June 2022
Since the kids moved to Frederick, I have been planning to visit South Mountain. It has taken ne a while, but I finally got around to it.
Like Wilderness, this is a hard battle, actually, three battles, to visualize. Plus, it was hot as hell this day; no fun was had.
After the successes of the Spring of 1862, Lee took his Army into Maryland to drum up support, give the Virginia Farmers a break, and convince Europe to show their support for the cause.
Strategically, this entire campaign was a Lee failure
McClellan was handed a copy of Lee's orders showing the Army of Northern Virginia stretched out from Harper's Ferry to Hagerstown. Rightfully emboldened, he sent his units to cross South Mountain to split the Confederate forces in two, intending to defeat them in detail.
He was too slow, giving Lee the time to become aware that his plan was discovered and time to fortify the passes over South Mountain to delay the Yankees. The defense of Turner's, Fox's, and Crampton's Gaps, which I like to think of as The Southern Thermopile, delayed the Yanks long enough to take Harper's Ferry and consolidate at Sharpsburg, along Antietam Creek.
The Blue Ridge
I live in Charlottesville, east of the Blue Ridge. The Parkway is one of my favorite drives and favorite places to photograph. It is beautiful up there and much less crowded than Skyline Drive.
I like to say, "Skyline Drive is for the Yankees."
I took these at Raven Roost Overlook at mile-post 11, south of I-64. I had been looking for an overlook that looked southwest, up the Shenandoah Valley. I found it doing a map recon and then driving up the next day. It was perfect.
"Me and Birmingham don't have a history of working out." ~ Miranda Lambert
My hometown, once a jewel of the South, is now a sad city, infected with drugs, crime, corruption, and decaying infrastructure.
There is a move afoot to Bring Birmingham Back but I don't see much hope. The city has tried before. Seriously, how many times are they going to refurbish 20th Street and bank their dreams on a semipro football organization? Ask anyone in Alabama if they'd like to go on a vacation to Birmingham. The Flipping Down South show is lying. NO ONE wants to live in East Lake. Gentrification of that area will not work, just like it didn't work in Woodlawn.
The people who live there don't see what I see. You have to go away for a while and return, something I did for over forty years, to really see the decline. The city has too much crime, apathy, politics, corruption, white-flight, and poverty. The Tax Base is too small to save it. Already, this year, Birmingham has had over 100 Murders. Recently, there was a gangland-style execution, by multiple shooters, less than 3 blocks from my brother's office and 3 blocks, the other direction, from Legion Field.
I don't get there much now that our parents are gone. There is no reason to.
Also, I value my life.
When I retired, we moved to C'ville. It was quaint, large enough to have all the amenities, small enough that we don't have the problems of Richmond and DC, and our son, daughter-in-law, and the grandkids are here.
This is a foodie place with more restaurants than you can shake a stick at. The music scene is solid, including a few street performers, like ole Ricky here.
There are paths and trails all over the place and we are surrounded by battlefields and mountains. We're a two-hour drive from the beach.
The people are mostly nice, though a little self-righteous. It is a rare weekend when they aren't marching for some cause or another. Bless their Hearts.
Contax T2 with Ilford FP-4
I love it in the Keys.
If Kady loves me, she'll take me back there soon. Our last trip, I searched for Papa's Key West. Next time, I'll be looking for Seamus, Gumbo, Jojo, and Savannah.
The place inspires me; I take more photos and write more stories while I'm there.
I need about a week on the big island so I can bar hop and not worry about driving US-1.
How many sunset photos should you take in the Keys? All of them.
Located just up the road from my house are the ruins of Barboursville Mansion, designed by Thomas Jefferson and built by James Barbour. It was completed in 1822 and burned down on Christmas Day, 1884. A National Historic Landmark, it is a Must See when in the area.
No doubt this is one of my favorite cities. I've been there numerous times, visiting friends, St. Patrick's Days, and, most recently, to see my buddy-doodle, Cooper. Oh Yeah, my daughter lived there.
I've never had anything other than a Great Time in Savannah. Oh-Na-Na!
Taken in Ilford FP-4 with a Mamiya RZ-67 Pro. Great Film, Great Camera.
The Army assigned me to NATO in Izmir three times. Let's see - Three tours of duty on the Aegean Coast? Yes, Please!
Turkey is like a second home now. I love the food, there are ancient cities around every corner, and pristine beaches and beautiful women abound.
It is a photographer's paradise.
Send me back.
Most of these I took with my Canon AE-1 Program with a mixture of Kodak Plus-X Pan, Tri-X, and Kodachrome.
Gate of Hierapolis
Library of Celsius
Selcuk, I think.
St. Polycarp's Church
One of the coolest places in America, I love the Riverwalk and have to visit Mission San Antonio Valero every time I'm there. I had to shoot the Alamo from this angle to exclude the throng of people in front of it.
The other Missions and the Historic Home District are well worth seeing.
Mission San Jose
Mission San Jaun
I do not like Leavenworth Kansas. Sorry, Not Sorry.
I had to spend way too much time there when my soldier was attending Command and General Staff College. The people are really nice, but this place is crumbling to pieces, bit by bit.
The only place to eat that I found there that was worth writing about was The Depot. We found a good Chinese place with good food. Their delivery system was super fast but they could not make a decent Egg Roll. What self-respecting Chinese Restaurant can't make a good egg roll? These were terrible. The Mexican places had basic "Speedy Gonzales" menus . . . not bad but nothing spectacular.
The town's infrastructure is wonky. There are sidewalks everywhere, but going nowhere. Just try and walk around a block. Your sidewalk will always end. There is trash EVERYWHERE! The roads are potholed (I blew a tire when I fell in one), the stores mostly empty (see above), and Downtown is dead (Yawn). If you live in Leavenworth, you drive to Kansas City for a good time.
My camera was almost useless there, but I did like the houses. There are some beautiful old mansions there that people are renovating. Sadly, right next door is more than likely a shanty with junk in the yard. It was sad.
All of this is understandable knowing that the main industry of the town is Prison. Who wants to live in a prison town unless your loved one is incarcerated or the Army makes you live there for a year (which is the same thing).
Don't feel rained-on, Leavenworth; I haven't found much to love in Kans-ass. I still believe that the only thing good to ever come out of Kansas was Coleen McMurphy.
When I am gone, let it be said of me, "He walked the streets of Troy."
I skipped a trip here in 1985, thinking the Trojan War was a fable. Upon return to the states, I saw Michael Wood's In Search of the Trojan War. I was sick.
When I returned in 1990 Troy was the first place I visited. I have, since, led two groups of my soldiers there, telling the story and walking what is left of the ruins. I continue to read everything upon which I can lay my hands, be that fiction or current thinking.
Today, there is not much to see there, just a few sections of wall and the huge trench and mounds of rubble left by Schliemann in the 1800s. To enjoy it, you must love the story as so many have through the centuries.
Go West Old Man
I've trained in almost every State, but have never seen the sights. One of my first trips in retirement was Out West for three months.
There was so much crazily beautiful scenery out there, that it became overwhelming. I quickly tired of red rock formations. But there are other interesting things to see . . . and we did.
Ask me, though, if I would ever live out there. No. I prefer green. . . . hardwood trees, lush vegetation, and water.
Ashville & Biltmore
Kady and I took a weekend vacation to Ashville and visited Biltmore while we were there. I could absolutely live in Ashville NC. It is a cool town and the scenery rivals Charlottesville's. We stayed in a super nice hotel that we both loved.
The estate is something to see, but don't carry much and wear your running shoes. I recall my Fitbit saying that we walked about 5 miles. I was only disappointed that I couldn't go into the gun room. Not OK, Biltmore.
Rest Stop View
Blandy Experimental Farm
Kady advised me the night before to pack my camera and be ready to go the next morning. "We're going to see Ginkos."
I love these of Kady trips.
We ended up at Blandy Experimental Farm, The State Arboretum of Virginia. They have a large stand of Ginkos there and Kady had been monitoring the leaves, getting us there just before they fell. Perfect Timing!
On our way home, we visited Historic Waterloo Bridge before they tore it down. Happily, the community rose up against the plan and saved it. Mosby used this bridge during the war. It's said that if you visit the bridge at night you can hear his cavalry riding across.
A Promise Kept
I met Pat.
Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors - My Losing Season, The Great Santini, South of Broad, and The Lords of Discipline. He came to VMI as a guest speaker, one of the best I ever heard there. I got to tour him through Barracks. Basically, I TOLD everyone I was leading that tour.
As we walked around, we had a good long talk. As I assume he was always wont to do, he began talking about his home in the low country of South Carolina. He asked me if I had ever visited Beaufort. When I said no he made me promise that I would visit. "When you do, come see me." I forget when this was.
On 4 March 2016, Pat passed away. At my earliest opportunity, on 7 August 2016, I went for my promised visit. It took me a while to find him. In a small non-descript cemetery I found his site. Family, friends, and fans had lined the grave with pinecones and left meaningful trinkets at his headstone - a small basketball (from one of his Citadel teammates, maybe), pencils ( a shoutout to writing his novels in longhand), seashells (prince of Tides fans?) . . .
I apologised for being late.
I loved his town and plan to return for a good long visit.