Foggy Beach

One day last week, I visited the beach on my lunch break. It was just a day or so after a snow. The snow had melted, but I was treated to a misty midday fog by the ocean. There were only a few other souls out there, a sharp contrast to the crowds of summer. They, like me, were wrapped up in their scarves and coats, braving the cold just to be near the water. I could not see them til I was right up on them, and as soon as we exchanged polite nods, if that, we faded from one another’s views as the mist enveloped us.  I felt as if I had the beach to myself as I walked along in silence through the fog.

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Black and white photos 2017

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/2017-favorites/

I’m an amateur photographer at most. The busyness of my life and my scattered interests has not made it easy for me to focus in detail on the more technical aspects of photography; but in some ways I’ve delved a little deeper into the world of pictures this year. A while back, I experimented with transforming some of my color photos into black and white. This simple act produced more than one aha moment as in many cases, I could actually see more depth in my photos in black and white than I could in color. At the very least, it altered the dimension in such a way that it gave me a different perspective on the experience I had when I took the photo. Some of my favorite transformations are below.

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A Day in Charleston

Recently, I took a day trip to Charleston with a couple of friends. It was not our original plan, to be honest. We had originally planned to go hiking in Dupont Forest. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, and it rained at Dupont during the time of our trip. It did not, however, rain on the coast that day so we re-calculated and went to Charleston instead- which of course was still a lovely day.

 

On our excursion, we stayed around the downtown Charleston area. There is so much to do in that area that we found plenty of sites to see on our day trip. A friend of mine arrived prepared, having printed a map of downtown Charleston, and from there we made our selections. We parked near Waterfront Park and met at the Pineapple Fountain. From there, we wandered down to Rainbow Row then decided to tour the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

 

Afterwards, we started looking around for a place to eat. One of my friends was a vegetarian so we walked from restaurant to restaurant reading menus on windows until we settled on the Sweetwater Cafe.  I had a delicious tuna melt on sourdough with a side salad and sweet tea. My friends both had breakfast dishes. We discussed our next move over lunch. The City Market was close by so we decided to go there next. There were hundreds of vendors at the market with a plethora of unique and beautiful items, including the famed sweetwater baskets of Charleston. I bought a couple of small gifts. I might have bought more but I was traveling on foot and knew that I would have to carry the bags.

 

After the City Market, we went to visit the horses. Charleston, like so many historic cities, offers carriage tours. We had heard that the public was welcome to visit the horses-carriage ride or not-just to say hello so we found a stable and met this beautiful guy, who was resting when we stopped by.

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The remainder of our trip was pretty much a self-guided walking tour to view old buildings that we thought might be of interest. We saw some churches

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cemeteries

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and an old prison.

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We also saw some beautiful historic homes. One thing I loved about Charleston is that, even though the homes are beautiful, they aren’t always uniform. There’s a “Charleston style” that carries throughout the city, but I literally saw homes side by side of different styles and colors, and the effect was charming.

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Before we ended our day, we treated ourselves to a Belgian Gelato. I chose chocolate hazelnut. It was delish! Full of gelato, we wandered back to our cars and prepared for the drive home. I looked at my phone and saw that we had walked 7 miles throughout the day. I guess we got in our hike, anyway.

Old Baldy

Old Baldy, located on beautiful Bald Head Island, turned 200 years old in 2017.  The longest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, Baldy was originally built to mark the entrance of the Cape Fear River.

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According to the website Baldy has:

108 steps and five landings with a ladder into the lantern room.

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It is 110 feet tall with one door and six windows.

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I climbed the lighthouse about a month ago. So far, I’ve been to three of North Carolina’s seven main lighthouses and Old Baldy is the first one I’ve been able to climb. The panoramic view from the top was breathtaking and an amazing reward for all of the huffing and puffing it took to get there.

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Bald Head Island can be reached by ferry which leaves from the Deep Point Marina out of Southport. Once on the island, you can get around by foot (the island is 4.8 miles long and 2 miles wide) or bike or you can rent a cart. There are restaurants on the island (I stopped in at Mojo’s on my trip), walking trails, beach access and a conservancy that features events like kayaking, surf fishing, touch tanks, birding and even stargazing after dark.

BHI is a tiny island with a lot to offer if you are looking for an interesting, relaxing and unique day trip.

Oak Island Lighthouse

Currently, there are seven coastal lighthouses in North Carolina. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting three: Cape Lookout, the Oak Island Lighthouse and Old Baldy. I hope to visit them all.

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I traveled to the Oak Island Lighthouse a few weeks ago. It was a Sunday afternoon, I wanted to get out the house, and I remembered that I’d been planning to visit the lighthouse, which was a little less than an hour’s drive from my home, for quite a while. As I drove through the rural route that would take me to the lighthouse, I remember thinking, I would never live out here, because there didn’t appear to be much to do. I would see things a little differently once I reached my destination.

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The light from the lighthouse, located on Caswell Beach Rd on Oak Island, can be seen for 16 miles. It’s rather exciting to see it flashing in the distance as you approach the beach. The lighthouse was built in 1957 to replace a steel lighthouse on Bald Head Island (Bald Head and Oak Island are very close to one another) and when it was first lit in 1958, carbon-arc mercury lamps, which were used prior to incandescent lights, provided so much light that it was the brightest in the United States and the second brightest in the world. The light is currently powered by a 1,000 watt halogen bulb and displays 4 one second flashes then 6 seconds of blank. It stands 153 feet tall and has 131 steps that can be climbed to reach an outside balcony, although you must schedule a time to climb the lighthouse. It is not open during any set hours.

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It is very easy to access because it sits just by the road. There is a tiny parking lot directly in front of the lighthouse with free parking for 30 minutes. I saw another public access parking lot just down the road. Across the street is a walkway onto Caswell Beach. After I poked around the lighthouse, I crossed the street to check out the beach. It was super quiet compared to the beaches where I live, and I saw several pelicans flying so close to the shore that I could actually make out their little pelican faces. I glanced behind me to see the flashes from the lighthouse, and it occurred to me how fortunate the locals are to live so close to such a quiet beach adorned with their own personal lighthouse. Ok, I thought, maybe I would live here.

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Layers between Dunes

On the south end of Ft Fisher, there is an area designated for people to take 4-wheeled drives onto the beach. A lot of fishermen use the access. As a child, I went down there with my family. My father and one of my uncles both owned 4-wheeled drive vehicles, my dad a Bronco, my uncle a Jeep. The adults would find wading pools for the children to play in while the men fished. I remember those outings with contentment and happiness. Some of my best memories.

While visiting the beach a few weeks back, I ventured down to the south end on foot, eventually walking along the access between the dunes. I got this picture of tire tracks in the sand with the dunes behind them. Layers between the dunes.

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The picture below was taken the same day. I loved the view of the sun shining over the dune.

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Staycation Days: Cameron Art Museum

When I take a staycation, I always try to strike a balance with my time. That is to say that part of my time I devote to recreational pursuits, things that I always say I want to do but never seem to have the time to do, and productive pursuits, those items on my to-do list that need to be done but never seem to make it to the top of the list. If I can strike a balance of both recreation and productivity during a week off at home then I don’t consider it a waste of vacation hours.

One of the items on on my recreation list was to visit Cameron Art Museum, a local art museum in my city. I work very close to the museum and have said several times that I wanted to go back through it (I toured it years ago), but despite my close proximity, I had not been back to the museum to tour the galleries. One afternoon, on my week off, I returned to the museum. Ironically, not all of their galleries were open that day so I guess I will have to go back again. But I did see a few nice things.

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The picture above is by Minnie Evans. a folk artist who lived in Wilmington, NC. The inspiration for her art came from her dreams as a young girl. I actually had the privilege of meeting her briefly when I was a girl and she was an older woman. Her story is pretty fascinating if you would like to read more about it at the link above.

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This 2nd piece is by an artist named Claude Howell, titled appropriately “Sorting Fish”. It’s a little difficult to tell in my picture, but this is a ceramic tile mosaic. I’m in awe of people who have the patience and ability to create something like this.

Below are some other beautiful pieces I saw at the museum that afternoon.

 

Even though I did not get to tour every gallery that day, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I think sometimes less can be more, anyway. Part of the fun of viewing art is taking the time to appreciate each piece. With less pieces to view, I took my time with each one.

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Views of New York

Recently, I decided to take a short trip to New York City with a friend. It was a bit of a spontaneous trip, we planned less than a week out, but the idea for the trip had been knocking around in my head for a while. I live on the east coast but I had never been to New York, and in my mind, it was overdue. In typical fashion for a trip to the city, I ran the entire time I was there. I told my friend that in a lot of ways, I felt that the entire trip was an exercise in resourcefulness as we moved from one mode of transportation to another. We drove from home to RDU airport, located in Morrisville, NC to catch our plane. We parked in one of the most distant parking lots to get a better price for parking then caught a shuttle to the airport. Once we were in the airport, we walked to the appropriate terminal. We flew on our plane, landed in New York and grabbed a cab to the hotel. Once we were situated at the hotel, we obtained a map of the subways, used the subways to get around and then walked where we wanted to go. 14, 986 steps one day.  We visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We caught the Staten Island ferry for the excursion. At the end of the visit, we caught another car back to the airport, walked to another terminal, flew on another plane, took another shuttle to our car and drove back home. Phew!

Obviously, I have lots of thoughts about everything that happened in between which I’m sure I will write about over time. While in the midst of all this moving about, I did manage to write a couple of haikus and of course, snap some pictures. The haiku below is about my impression of the city as I flew in that first day. I was struck by how tiny the enormous buildings looked from the sky, like an architectural model. In fact, from my seat on the plane, they didn’t even look definitively like buildings at first, but rather large rocks standing up to reach or worship the sky.

Jagged rocks reaching

to the sky, lined up Legos

or modern Stonehenge

Below are a few more pictures that I snapped of buildings from other angles. The first set are pictures I took of a few buildings from the opposite direction, underneath, as I explored the Brookfield Place shopping center.

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The last picture is a view from my plane as I left the city at sunset on my last day.

 

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Change

via Daily Prompt: Savor

Life is full of changes. My job was recently complicated when one of my leads resigned to take another position. A new team was put in place and I found myself in the position of being one of the most seasoned members on that project. Now, I’m perfectly capable of leading. I’m even kind of good at it, but I still don’t always look for excuses to lead. I love mentoring, but being the leader is a different ball of wax. Being the leader requires more commitment, more stress and frankly, less freedom; and if I’m going to be perfectly honest about myself, freedom is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So it’s a struggle. As per my normal reaction, I’m trying to find a happy balance with the situation.

In addition, my baby sister has decided to move to California which is literally on the other side of the country. I’ve been scrambling to get some time with her before she goes; and I’m already thinking ahead to my first visit, which has been difficult to pull together due to conflicting timelines.

Last night, our large family came together and we took her to dinner. There were seven small children total in our group so I imagine the restaurant is still nursing the wounds of that trauma 🙂 (Needless to say, we tipped our waitress very well). Afterwards, my sister and I stood outside of the restaurant and talked to one of my brothers and his family for about 45 minutes then she and I went for a drink with a couple of her friends.

As we stood outside of the restaurant, I looked up to see the sky in all its glory as the sun set behind the clouds. A sense of awe and freedom and gratitude washed over me as I stood under the sky and talked to my siblings in the parking lot. Afterwards, my sister and I went out and extended our visit.

Sometimes, life takes twists and turns and we don’t know where it’s taking us. I was talking to a friend a while back. She was looking to make some changes in her life and was overwhelmed by how she should do it.

“I have a tendency to get bogged down with the big picture,” I said.

“Me, too!” she answered.

But I think the key is to just take the next step. We can be aware of the big picture, but most of the time, we won’t be able to just jump to the end. We just have to take the next step and savor the good times along the way. Make the most of a visit when the opportunity presents itself and always glance up to see the sunset.

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