Friday, September 30

Pastel Sunset

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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Thursday, September 29

Spread your wings

Spreading his wings at Mabry Mill, on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

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Wednesday, September 28

Relaxing in Retirement

Old millstones relax in retirement at Mabry Mill, Virginia on the Blue Ridge Parkway on a fall day.

As you drive along the back roads of the South, you'll find old millstones resting in front yards and at historical sites.

The small local grain mill used to be one of the centers of the community, much like the general store. They've been replaced by large commerical operations and mostly have been abandoned. Luckily a few, like Mabry Mill have been preserved and can be enjoyed today.

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Tuesday, September 27

Milling around at Mabry Mill

The workers inside Mabry Mill shoot the breeze with visitors in this fall 2010 picture.

Mabry Mill, Virginia
Fall on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a magical time for capturing images of changing colors, but it is always a great place always to capture a black & white image.

Mabry Mill is one of the most photographed locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

See more of my photos of Mabry Mill in every season.

Sunday, September 25

Photo of the Day - Sharing the Road

The Norfolk Southern shares a busy street on September 24, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia

Thursday, September 22

Chance to be an Engineer!

Courtesy: Norfolk Southern Corporation

The Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car provides a look behind the scenes of the railroad allowing visitors to experience the world of the engineer and dispatcher.

Learn more about the exhibit car here.

Wednesday, September 21

Should I shoot Black and White?

There are a lot of image makers who do not shoot in Black & White, color is the normal for the "point-and-shoot" photographer and the average tourist on the street.

Today's photographers are given choices which were not available in the past.

BW Landscape - Gene Bowker

Film photographers were limited to choosing between black-and-white and color fim in their cameras, so the easiest way to shoot both was to carry two bodies, one loaded with each.

In the digital world, most dSLRs and even consumer point-and-shoots give the user an easy way to take either black-and-white and color photographs in the field or studio.

Learn more here

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Tuesday, September 20

Fabulous Fall in Pennsylvania

The forest will soon be alive in the Allegheny National Forest Region with colors right from Mother Nature's palette.

Route 6 - Allegheny National Forest Region
The Allegheny National Forest Region, the site of the only national forest in Pennsylvania, is located 90 miles south of Buffalo, N.Y. Fall is bigger in this neck of the woods with thousands of acres of northern hardwood forest. With the diverse species of trees within the forest, in the fall leaf colors will be sunshine yellow, brilliant orange, butterscotch and deep apple red.

There's no wrong turn to be made during this time of the year here where the roads meander through some of the most scenic area in the Northeast. Plan your trip from late September to mid-October for peak leaf peeping.

One of the premier places to view the leaves is the brand new Kinzua Sky Walk, located at the Kinzua Bridge State Park on Route 3011 in Mount Jewett. The 329-acre Kinzua Bridge State Park was listed by the state as one of the 20 must-see parks in the state.

You'll be sure to fall in love with the view of the Kinzua Gorge from this platform with a partial glass floor built on the remains of the historic Kinzua Viaduct, which was once the longest and tallest railroad bridge in the world. Visitors are once again able to walk the "Tracks Across the Sky" - something that heightens a person's adrenaline as well as his or her senses.

Another must-see attraction is the Longhouse National Scenic Byway - listed by USA Today as one of the most scenic drives in the country. This 29-mile loop circles the Kinzua Creek arm of the Allegheny Reservoir and includes some of the best scenery in the area by combining the colorful forest canopy with water vistas. Jakes Rocks and Rimrock overlooks offer you an opportunity to view the forest shoreline from rocky overlooks, plus take advantage of the family-friendly picnic areas and hiking trails nearby.

This scenic byway is also close to the Kane, which is the perfect place to pick up something to eat and drink.

Be sure to stop at Jack's Meat $ Poultry on North Fraley Street to purchase some of the local fall harvest of apples, squash and pumpkins. Jack's family recipes are used to make more than 17 varieties of sausage, including Swedish korv, apple, and Greek. This is a delightful stop and taste for "foodies."

Call ahead at 814-837-7321 to order Jack's invention, a one-of-a-kind "griller" - chicken or pork stuffed with sausage and cheese and topped with bacon. You will never forgive yourself if you pass through without picking up one of these amazing, one-of-a-kind concoctions.

Flickerwood Wine Cellars & Lounge at 309 Flickerwood Road is the home of award-winning wines that are available for tasting in the wine lounge. Flickerwood's gift shop features a wide assortment of varieties for purchase. This family-owned winery brings the best of what grapes have to offer to the visitor.

Flickerwood is located just off of Route 6, the major west-east corridor in northern Pennsylvania. National Geographic Traveler named this roadway as "One of America's Most Scenic Drives."

Meander through the rolling forestlands of small Americana towns as the terrain turns into increasingly rugged hills. Stop in the Victorian town of Smethport where the homes of lumber barons from times gone by are part of the Smethport Mansion District Walking Tour.

Enjoy a bit of nostalgia - as well as a "Hubber Burger" and milkshake - at the Route 6 Diner, also located along Route 6 in Smethport.

For additional leaf-peeping suggestions, please visit which offers driving tour suggestions as well as downloadable maps and guides. Or call the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau at 800-473-9370 for a free brochure that features seven scenic driving tours with driving directions and mapping.

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Monday, September 19

Waiting for the train that never comes

Too many stations are left without train service.

The old equipment preserved there as reminders of how life used to be.

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Wednesday, September 14

Lady Antebellum releases Own the Night

Lady Antebellum released their third album "Own the Night" yesterday. My wife picked it up yesterday for us and I had a chance to listen to it on my iPod this morning.

Own The Night
Lady Antebellum continues to improve with each new album in my opinion. The new album has a love theme and includes several new love ballads which I am sure will become fan favorites quickly.

Augusta, GA considers Lady Antebellum their own as two of the members of the group hail from nearby Evans, Georgia.

Lady Antebellum will be in town on October 28th for the dedication of the new Lady Antebellum Pavillion at Evans Town Center Paker.

The album is available for download from Amazon for $7.99 and is available in stores now.

Find out about tour dates

Check out some of the new music below and let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 8

Security, photography, and railfanning in Post 9/11 America

The major impact of Sept 11th on the American Railfan has been the increased security designed to prevent terror attacks in the future. This security has led to an increased awareness by law enforcement to persons spending time around transportation infrastructure, places such as railroads, airports, ports, etc...

Railroad Crossing Sign
Many a photographer has bemoaned the new security measures closing off past favorite railfanning locations, rules against photography at train stations, and even questioning by law enforcement. Many of these railfans are quick to blame authorities and shout LOUDLY at times about their rights and the coming police state.

However, railfans are not immune to breaking laws in pursuit of their hobby. Many (but not all) railfans have been known to tresspass in order to get "the shot" that they want. This might be crossing the tracks to get to the right angle for the sun, driving past "no tresspassing" signs into railyards, etc...

So who is right in the post 9/11 world?

Do some law enforcement "professionals" or railroad employees overstep their bounds when dealing with photographers? Of course.

Do some photographers get "overworked" about their rights when Law Enforcement asks what they are doing? Yep.

BUT, If, or when, an attack occurs against America's railroads more people are going to say, "Why didn't we do more to protect the tracks and trains?" These were the same questions that were asked about airport security after 9/11 and led to the creation of the TSA and all the hassles we go through to fly now.

Just my thoughts. I'd love to hear your opinions.

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Tuesday, September 6

Boeing pushing fuel economy with 737 MAX family

Boeing recently announced a new 737 MAX family of aircraft which will build on the tradition of the 737 series which is the most popular airliner in their portfolio.

Delta's 737 fleet will be upgraded to 737-MAX family

According to reports..
The 737 MAX will deliver big fuel savings that airlines will need to successfully compete in the future. Airlines will benefit from a 7 percent advantage in operating costs over future competing airplanes as a result of optimized CFM International LEAP-1B engines, more efficient structural design and lower maintenance requirements

The commitment to reducing fuel usage is key to the continued success of the airline industry. Fuel costs are one of the most unpredictable factors for airlines, as well as most transportation forms. Higher fuel costs mean either less profits, or higher prices being passed onto consumers in the form of "fuel surcharges"

Thursday, September 1

Bye Bye Borders and hello Kindle?

If you didn't know, Borders Bookstores are closing. Well, most Borders books stores are closing, a few of them are being bought out by the Books-a-million chain which is good news I guess for patrons there.

The local Borders in Augusta is having a "Going out of Business" sale which has almost everything marked down 50-70% (at least this week) and surprising has a pretty good selection of stock still on the shelves. The Rosetta Stone software marked down 50% is tempting as well as the travel section of course. Borders never had much of a Railroad section to begin with...

From buying 90% of my books in physical stores a couple of years ago, I've gone full circle and now purchase at least 80% of my books on-line either from Amazon or at auctions on eBay.  A lot of those books from Amazon are for my kindle, which I really find myself reading on more each day it seems.

Kindle 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology
The electronic reader has been pegged as one of the reasons that brick and mortar stores such as Borders are failing. Many consumers are happy to save a few bucks (and maybe a few trees) and have their books to go electronically.

I still enjoy visiting bookstores, even chain stores such as Barnes & Noble, but even more used bookstores like the Book Tavern in Augusta or Ed's Editions here in Columbia. I still love to find an old book looking for a new home which I probably would of never bought on-line.

And I still enjoy reading physical books. Some books are just not the same on a kindle or PC or iPad. In particular books which include a lot of images (such as many railroad books) just are "better" in my opinion in print. Plus lots of older books are not available for e-readers (at least yet)

So for now, I find myself halfway into the digital bookcase and with way too may "analog" books according to my wife at least :)

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