Tag Archives: vacation

Vacation is over …

and tomorrow, it is back to business as usual.

The Outer Banks is a fond memory, both recent and distant.

It seems that, while I know I was there, I wasn’t there at all.

A week isn’t enough time to find everything I left there the year before, or the year before that or the one before that.

I feel, while I am there, as though I am as much a part of that world as the marshes and gnarled, wind-withered trees.

Yet now that I am back in the world I know, I wonder if I were ever there at all.

Will it remember me?

The sea, the sand, the wind, the beauty, the essence?

Will it long for me as I do for it?

I think not.

I am an outsider, a passerby, an intruder.

I am a stranger.

It doesn’t make it any less compelling or beautiful.

It simply makes me sad to know that there was nothing of myself I could leave behind to remind that place who I am so it will recognize me when I return.

 

Sunrise in an orange sky

Sunrise in an orange sky

Sun melting into the Sound

Sun melting into the Sound

Sunset fisherman

Sunset fisherman

Currituck light

Currituck light

Bridge at Whalehead, near Currituck light

Bridge at Whalehead, near Currituck light

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Just Another Day in Paradise

The trip from Southwest Virginia to the beautiful area on the Gulf Coast of Florida known as Madeira Beach seemed to take forever, but, as with all great things, the time is passing rapidly and, all too soon, it will be time to return to the mountains with nothing but a tan and some wonderful memories.  While vacations are meant to be taken at a slow pace with sleeping late, lazy brunches, lounging around and doing a whole lot of nothing, those things have been elusive.  Before the sun shows its face, I’ve been out on the beach looking for shells in the moonlight, listening to the song of the ocean and watching the fishing boats going in and out of John’s Pass, a Channel which was named, allegedly, after a peasant turned pirate called John Lavique.  Spanning the Channel is a magnificent drawbridge, waiting patiently for the tall masts of the sailboats to signal their arrival or departure, then slowly lifts to allow them passage.  Although I’ve seen drawbridges before, I continue to be fascinated by the mechanism and the whole idea of breaking the road in half, raising it up to a near ninety degree angle and then putting it back in place again.

Even though it is quiet in the wee morning hours, before the beachcombers and kids start pouring onto the sand and into the surf, there is no way to get up too early for the fishermen.  With their tackles, nets and

waders, they come out early to try to catch the big one out of the sea.  For many fishermen, my dad included, it doesn’t really matter if they catch anything or not, although it is always cause for excited celebration when they feel that familiar tug on the line.  Just the act of having a line in the water is enough for them and outwitting a fish is just a bonus.  One of the birds that hangs out near the outcropping of concrete and rocks that bellies up to the Gulf has befriended my dad, or rather has learned that he is quite adept at outsmarting the fish.  He’s also learned that if he hangs around, there’s a good chance he’s going to get a saltwater snack and is ever so willing to wait.  While he doesn’t mind that other birds come near where he waits, when the fish comes in, he starts moving closer.  At first, he would only come within ten feet or so of where Dad would stand, but this evening, when I went down to photograph the sunset, the bird was just a couple of feet away.  He has obviously learned that the hand that feeds him is a safe place be near.  Although I can’t prove that it is the same bird, I am fairly sure, just from the markings, that it is.  Why mess with success has likely become his new motto.  I’ve seen pelicans dive into the water and these large cranes skimming the surface, but until this past Sunday, I had not witnessed one of them actually eat a fish.  Usually, squeamish would describe me best in such situations, but in this case, I couldn’t take my eyes off the bird as it maneuvered the fish into a position where it could just gulp it down.  That long skinny neck doesn’t look like it could swallow a fish, but as with many things of nature, looks can be deceiving. Before long, the throngs of people will flock, pardon the pun, to the water and the sand, bringing with them their chairs, towels, toys, sunscreen (hopefully), drinks and children.  The kids will splash, the adults will toast and the sounds of summer fun and helpless laughter will fill the muggy, tropical air of this little slice of perfection that we have been allowed to enjoy.  The sky is a blue that is often seen in October, the water a lovely shade of light aqua blending, churning and merging into a deeper, darker shade of the same beautiful tones.  The Channel is alive with activity including wave runners, parasail boats with their smiley face parachutes, motorboats, yachts and of course, the ever-present fishing trawlers.  I can’t say I have a favorite as I like to watch them all, but hope that I never have to be out in the ocean on something that lets my legs hang in the water.  Irregardless of the beauty in front of me, if my feet are in the water, the image of Jaws is always in the back of my mind.  So for now, I will  continue to feast my eyes on the beauty and activity around me, watch my nieces play and splash in the surf and be content that I get to be a part of what the locals would consider just another day in paradise.

I’d rather (NOT) be staked to an anthill after all

The first leg of the 2011 Family Vacation began this morning, uneventfully, at around 7:30 am.  The trip over the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, well into the muggy depths of South Carolina and into the swampy terrain in South Georgia went at a fairly fast pace.  There was a good bit of traffic and actual congestion in some places, but the Indie certified driver I was following changed lanes at the speed of light with very little use of that little stick on the steering wheel that makes either the left or right back light blink, depending on which way you are swerving… i mean merging.  Not far from Savannah, we decided, as I was begging for food, to stop for lunch at Burger King®.  I was in the mood for a hamburger and didn’t really care where it came from.  My family, willing to accommodate me as I think they were close to collapse from hunger themselves, were just as happy to be at Burger King®  as I was.  After eating my junior whopper without ketchup and what onion rings Sophie didn’t steal from me, I hurried outside to photograph one of my favorite things… Spanish Moss.  It was hanging from the branches of the huge trees like the tresses of some long ago princess, blowing in the hot breeze of a South Georgia Summer, but unperturbed by the heat or the wind, it was just there and it was beautiful.  I managed to get several shots with my Pentax, but being an avid droidographer as well, (a phrase used by a fellow tweep, @Curt Fleenor), I wanted to get some shots on my motodroid.  There were several  large trees all with an ample amount of the lovely moss hanging, in places, nearly to the ground.  As it was a public place with an access road passing by, I wanted to be certain that I wasn’t in the road.  It is hard for me to concentrate on anything other than the subject once I get started photographing something and being ran over by a passing car was not on my list of things to do today.  Between the access road and the Burger King® parking lot, there was a lovely little patch of grassy-looking flowers with some shrubs in the middle.  It looked like the perfect oasis to stand while I scouted the best vantage point for the droiding shoot.  I stepped into the grassy mound which seemed to sink under my feet.  I remember thinking it reminded me of a bog-like area at the top of Sammy’s Hill near my home.  Before the thought was complete in my mind, I felt this intense burning sensation.  I looked down and, much to my horror, I could not see my feet or, two inches above my ankles, my legs.  They were red with FIRE ANTS.  Now, such beating, jumping and swiping you have never seen.  I had heard of fire ants and their ability to cover their intended victim quickly, but had never, first hand, experienced anything like this.  I counted, once I was certain all the ants were off my person, 72 bites on my feet an ankles.  Now while that number seems really high, at least to me, it is important to remember that the ants were on my person no longer than ten seconds.  The other important thing to remember and one I am trying not to find fascinating, is that there were hundreds of them.  It was appalling, frightening, horrifying and completely, totally enthralling that they could do what they did in so little time.  As completely befuddling as it was to my parents and, if I have to say it, to myself, I consider it a rite of passage that I was deep in the Southern recesses of Georgia where the Spanish Moss grows, photographing a beautiful thing of nature and was attacked by fire ants.  It may seem lame that it was in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant and it may make some folks roll their eyes and think that my sister was right and that I am a dork.  I don’t deny it anymore than I deny getting a real taste of Savannah was a cool experience, even if it did require benadryl to thwart a potentially severe allergic reaction.  While I’ve never had a severe reaction to an insect bite, I’ve never been bitten by so many at the same time.  I’m sure the patrons of the restaurant thought I was having a seizure, but no one came to see if I were dying.  After the initial OMStars! moment, I found it to be pretty neat.  I have decided, however, that this experience has taught me two things.  First, it turns out that, after all is said and done, I actually would prefer to go to WalMart than be staked to an anthill.  While I hope not to be devoured by an alligator or attacked by a rogue dolphin while in Florida, I do hope for some more interesting, fascinating and OMStars moments in my otherwise boring life.  I could just have easily been in the wilds of Africa or deep in the Rain Forest for all the excitement I felt at this small, though painful, event.  Who knew that being staked to  (well, actually just stepping on, but staked to sounds more profound) an anthill could make me feel so proud to be a photographer.  I guess there are some things that are only to be understood by a photographer’s heart. And second on the list of things this experience taught me… it was so worth it to get shots of the moss that so fascinates me.  So it was, in the end, since I didn’t have an anaphylactic reaction and die, a quite remarkable experience and as I said, well worth the pain of a few hundred biting, stinging, itch-inducing, burning-sensation causing, ants.  With such an experience on the first day, well before our destination was reached, I can hardly contain my excited expectations of what I will experience tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.  I love being a photographer, even when it hurts.  Tomorrow is a new day and I can’t wait to see what awaits…