Thursday, September 30, 2010

Post Card

Post
Card

These are the two words in this weeks 2 things challenge.


2 Things Challenge Rules:
Interpret the 2 weekly subjects any way you wish, in a photograph, collage, painting, poem, song, or whatever you can dream up and post on your blog. When done, leave a comment here to let us know.
This might not be my most creative 2 things submission, but it definitely fits.
A playing card on top a fence post!


Getting Ready for some BBQ

Squealin on the Square starts tomorrow.  This is an annual Barbeque festival and competition in downtown Laurens, SC.  


My buddies Jeff and Steve of the Piglet Enemy BBQ team will be entering the competition.  Steve sent me this photo.  It looks like they are ready!  Time to roll on down to Laurens and fire up the smokers! 

Photo by Piglet Enemy

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rain Guage

As I mentioned yesterday, we finally got some much needed rain!  I checked the rain guage this afternoon and saw we ended up with a little over 2 inches!


The best part about it was that it was not one of those intense storms that dumps boatloads of rain in a short periord of time.  It was about 36 hours of mostly light, but steady rain that really gets a chance to soak into the parched earth. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rain Out

I woke up this morning to the sounds of a light rain.  It was a delightful sound considering it has been six weeks since our last drop of rain!

I checked the radar and quickly decided to scrap any hiking plans I had today.  However, I did see what looked to be a short window of opportunity before the heaver stuff moved into our area.  So I grabbed my camera gear and drove on down to Hatcher Garden here in Spartanburg, SC. 

I was there about 10 minutes before the sky opened up and a torrential downfall caused me to retreat to my vehicle.  But not before I was able to snap this series of shots.

Raindrops on a Spiderwort Bloom


Not sure what type of flower this is




Rain Drop Macro

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Morning Project!

Our driveway slopes downhill from the road causing a small lake to be formed at the end of our driveway after a good rain. To remedy this problem, we had a drain installed. This worked great, except along with all the rainwater, a lot of debris also gets washed down the drive. After a while, the drain gets clogged up with Debris and the lake forms again.


This hasn't been a problem lately since it hasn't rained in weeks, but we still wanted to address the problem for when the rain eventually comes back. So we moved the drain about a foot away from the end of the drive and surrounded it with rocks. Hopefully, this will still allow the water to flow to the drain, but the rocks will filter out all the debris from clogging the drain. We will see if this works!

Friday Night Lights!

I love watching football!  Therefore there is no better way to spend a Friday night than checking out a local High School Football Game.




For High School Football, I choose to root for and follow the Byrnes Rebels.  While technically it is outside the school district that we live in, it is still the closest High School to our house.  More importantly, we root for Byrnes, because my buddy Tom's sons play for the Rebels.

Actually, Tom's older son Lee graduated last year, but his youngest son Craig is a senior on this years team.  In fact Craig so far is the only one of this years seniors to receive full-ride college football scholarship offers.  Unfortunately, Craig is recovering from an injury and had to sit this one out.  I still managed to get a few shots of him on the sidelines and messing around during halftime:

My buddy Tom's son Craig



It is also nice to root for winners, and Byrnes has won 6 out of the past 10 South Carolina state Championships!

I didn't take a whole lot of photos during the actual game, but here are a few more shots from pre-game and halftime:
Go Rebels! 

Little Cutie!

Halftime Show

Byrnes up 34-0 at the half



Byrnes was up 34-0 at the half.  So with the game in the bag and since Craig wasn't playing, we decided to beat the crowds and leave at the end of the 3rd quarter.  The visitors came up with a few late scores against the 2nd and 3rd string defense to avoid total embarrassment and the final score ended up 40-18

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nailed

I was roaming around my looking for something interesting to photograph and spotted this nail on top of a brick retaining wall alongside our driveway.  I have no idea how the nail got there or how long it has been there, but it's my shot of the day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Linville Falls Adventure
Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
Burke County, NC
Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Photos are posted here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/578616485zgJOIM

Linville Falls is always an impressive sight, even during times of low water flow. In fact, the low river level and absolutely zero chance of rain was exactly why we were planning this adventure for today.

Linville Falls
Located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway with a series of short and easy trails to various overlooks makes Linville Falls a very popular tourist stop. We knew that the beginning and ending of our day would be among crowds of people. However for the majority of our hike, we would almost certainly be alone as we planned to explore a seldom visited section of the Linville River downstream from the main falls.

We started out on the main trail the leaves from the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center hiking among the crowds and stopping to take a few obligatory photos from a couple of overlooks.

Obligatory shot of Linville Falls from one of the Overlooks

We quickly left the tourists and found the “Marion Wright Trail”. You won’t find this trail on any official forest service map, and you would never spot this trail unless you were looking for it. Linville Gorge is filled with dozens of unofficial trails. To truly experience the Gorge, you have to get off the beaten path. The best place to learn about the extensive unofficial trail network is:

http://www.linvillegorge.net/mapindex.php

Once we found it, the Marion Wright Trail was easy to follow and in pretty good shape (at least the short section we hiked).

Now for the adventure part! We wanted to get to the river which was about 500-feet below us. We left the MW Trail and started heading down hill in a south-easterly direction. At times it seemed we were following some sort of scramble path, but mostly it was just heading through the forest following the path of least resistance. For the first 3/4 of the way the going was easier than we expected.

Then things made a quick turn for the worst! The path of least resistance had ended and we were faced with shear drop-offs and/or walls of Rhododendron Hell! We chose the Rhododendron Hell which was actually a mixture of Rhododendrons and Briers. It was so thick, we might have given up if we didn’t spot the river which was only about 50-ft below us.

Unfortunately, we found ourselves at the edge of a 50-ft high cliff! So we had to backtrack a bit though more Rhododendron/Brier Hell and find a safer way down. A few Devil’s Walking Sticks were added into the Rhododendron/Brier Mixture! We eventually made it out to the river and what a relief that was!

Iggy even decided to crawl out of my pack to catch some rays on one of the rocks by the river.

Iggy by the Linville River

It wasn’t that hot or humid and our route was almost entirely downhill and shaded. However, we were still drenched with sweat from one of the toughest bits of bushwhacking I have ever experienced. This spot along the Linville River offered the perfect opportunity to cool down and break for lunch.

Andy cooling off in the Linville River

After a nice break, we started following the river to the north. Since the area hasn’t had a drop of rain in weeks, the river was only at about 30% of normal flow, making travel surprisingly easy. This would be much more difficult under normal or high flow!

Andy hiking through the Linville River

There were still plenty of spots were we had to wade through the river, but the deepest we had to endure was about waist high. It was a nice scenic stretch of river and I was surprised at the number of summer flowers blooming along the river.

Summer Wildflowers blooming along the Linville River

As expected we hadn’t seen another person since leaving the main trail several hours ago. When I spotted a few people on the rocks upstream, I knew we were getting close to the base of Linville Falls.

Downstream from Linville Falls

I have viewed Linville Falls several times from the upper overlooks, but for some reason I have never made it to the base. Until now! What an awesome sight! It is easy to understand why this is a very popular spot! The base of Linville Falls even comes with its very own kick-ass swimming hole!


Me next to the swimming hole at the base of Linville Falls

The low flow doesn’t seem to affect the beauty of this waterfall and makes it much easier to work your way back and forth across the river to capture it from all angles. The only complaint I had was the bright sun! Also, I forgot my polarizing filter which I like to use when photographing waterfalls.

Linville Falls

After taking in the falls and waiting in hopes that a stray cloud would diffuse the sunlight for a brief moment, we decided it was time to head on.


Andy and Boone hiking back from the base of Linville Falls

We hiked up the east side of the river to another Linville Falls overlook area. Since by now we were only a short distance from the parking area and there was still plenty of daylight left, we decided to check out another unofficial trail.

The start of the Yoricks Trail would be almost impossible to pick up if you didn’t know where to look. In fact, even with directions we had trouble finding it. However, once on the trail, it was fairly easy to follow.

We hiked this trail for a little over a mile. It was a nice stroll through the woods, but nothing particularly noteworthy. We started to hear vehicles and knew we were getting close to the parking area. We seemed to have missed the left fork spur trail back to the parking area as we started climbing away.

Once we confirmed we were definitely headed in the wrong direction, we started backtracking looking for the side trail back to the parking area. We must have found it without even realizing it, because before we knew it we could see all the cars!

It was a beautiful day and a great hike! I really enjoy these summertime creek/river walks! I’ll definitely have to get back to the base of Linville Falls during better photo conditions and with my Polarizer Filter!

Thanks Andy for coming up with this plan!

The full set of photos is located here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/578616485zgJOIM
Chain / Game


Chain
Game

These are the two words in this weeks 2 things challenge.

2 Things Challenge Rules:
Interpret the 2 weekly subjects any way you wish, in a photograph, collage, painting, poem, song, or whatever you can dream up and post on your blog. When done, leave a comment here to let us know.

Way back when I was a kid, I used to love playing with Dominoes!  Now, I never actually played the game Dominoes, but I definitely played with the Dominoes!  I would stack them on their ends and make long chains.  The fun was after you make the chain, you knock the first one over and watch the chain reaction of tumbling Dominoes.

For Birthdays and Christmas I was always excited to receive additional sets of Dominoes so I could make longer and longer chains.

The Chain/Game theme gave me the urge to create my first Domino chain in 30 years.  Here is the result:

Because I only have one set of Dominoes here at the house, the chain is not anywhere near as long as the ones I used to create as a child, but it was still fun.  And the most fun at all is starting the chain reaction and watching them all tumble!

For that I set up a 30 seconds exposure.  About halfway through the exposure time, I started the chain reaction.  Here is the result:



As for lighting, I turned off all the room lights so only a tiny bit of outside light was filtering through the blinds making the room fairly dark.  I used a small LED flashlight to "paint" the Domino chain during the exposure.

Here is another earlier attempt:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Piglet Enemy Practice

In less than two weeks Piglet Enemy will be heading to Laurens, SC to compete in the Squealing on the Square BBQ competition.

In anticipation for this event, my buddies Jeff and Steve were spending Saturday over at Steve's house preparing for the event.  All day Saturday, the smell of BBQ would fill Steve's neighborhood and they experiment with different recipes and combinations of sauces and rubs.

Amy and I graciously volunteered to come on out to sample their efforts and give them our honest feedback.  It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so we decided to take the Bug!

Our 1979 VW Beetle


Steve is also a fan of VW Beetles and also has an old Bug!

Steve's 1962 VW Beetle
(note: The Fender Damage is thanks to Steve's Ex-Wife)


 
A pair of Smokers!


And of course, I can't be around this little guy without taking a few shots
Jeff's Son Austin!

Jeff and Austin

Jeff and Austin

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Linville Falls Adventure

Here are a few photos from today's Adventure!

I'll post a trip report and the full set of photos in a few days.

Boone by the Linvlle River


Andy wading through the Linville River


Blackmail Shot! - That's one way to cool off!


Me and Boone Downstream from Linville Falls


Linville Falls

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Argentine Ant

Not the greatest of all shots, but it was the best of the bunch I took this morning.  It's a challenge to get good focus when attempting hand held Macro photography of tiny critters.
I believe this is an Argentine Ant, but I am not 100% certain.