Don’t fancy the idea of crowds and traffic? Do your shopping online. If you have had it with traditional holiday shopping you are not alone. Even the most fearless and most organized holiday shopping divas tire from the endless crowds and cheesy holiday music. Luck for us in this day and age there is another option: internet shopping.
Internet shopping is sweeping the nation and is quickly become a very normal occurrence. Yet as any shopping diva knows there are a few ins and outs that can greatly increase your success.
First off, just because you can shop from home in your undies does not mean that you need any less preparation. You are a shopping diva, after all, and just because you are taking your list into cyberspace instead of retail space does not eliminate the need to check it twice. Once you have prepared your list with the utmost care, then you are ready to shop.
With identity theft being an ever-growing threat, one of the first things an internet shopping diva needs to know is how to make her funds secure. There are a few ways to do this. One of the first ways is to make certain you only give out credit card information on secured websites.
Check if the site is secure by looking for a padlock icon on your browser window. If there is no such icon, the site is not secure and you shouldn’t give out your information. Never ever give out credit card information in email. Email is not secure.
Other security measures include using the same credit card to make all your online purchases. This card should carry a low spending limit. That way if your information is stolen the culprit can’t rack up huge bills. Also using just one card eliminates the question of what card was used when or if you need to contest a charge.
One of the great things about taking the shopping online is that there are tons of review websites. When shopping in person at Holiday Toddler Toy Emporium, the only review you are likely to get about a toy is from the box, fellow shoppers or the teenage sales clerk. These resources often leave much to be desired.
Not so with online stores. Reviews are plentiful, detailed and have real life experience. This kind of information at your fingertips will help you avoid poor purchases.
Hesitate to shop online because you think the cost is too much? This is not true. You can use the same coupons online as in the store for cost savings. In addition to coupon savings you rarely need to pay sales tax on online purchases. This is a savings of on average 8% right back into your pocket.
Shipping costs are a concern, but if you shop early you can avoid high express shipping rates as well as the trip to the post office when you need to send your three-year-old nephew his Christmas gift.
What you just learned about baby presents is just the beginning. To get the full story and all the details, check us out at http://www.simplyuniquebabygifts.com for your baby shower diaper cakes. You will love the unique baby gifts.
Is shopping a chore due to crowds and general hassle involved? That’s why online shopping is really a lifesaver. As a result of today’s technology, you can do a price comparison, purchase the product you desire and get it delivered within a couple of days. This article will talk about many ways which you can use next time you wish to go shopping online.
Browse several different stores and compare products and costs prior to deciding to buy. Unless you have the mind set with a specific brand, you should make time to compare different products. Opt for the item together with the features you require then, compare pricing. Examine your favorite sites frequently so you don’t miss cool product offerings.
Check out online reviews before buying from your new retailer. This can provide a concept of their customer satisfaction quality along with the quickness in their delivery, for instance. If the seller has consistent low ratings, keep away.
Sometimes you may be given a discount off your purchase by entering a “promotional code” at the aim of sale. You can actually locate these codes online by simply typing the words “coupon code” and the retailer you are making a purchase with. You can find coupons on specific items or those that can be purchased site-wide, by simply finding the time to browse.
If you’re paying too much with expedited shipping online, try to be patient by utilizing standard shipping. Items that are shipped at standard rates often make their approach to homes pretty quickly. This choice will also help you save a ton of money.
Use sites that aggregate many different internet retailers when you enter a search term. Google are often very helpful, but it may offer you too many choices to be able to sort effectively. ShopStyle.com and other sites assist you to narrow your choices.
Hunt for coupons before shopping online. You will discover active coupon codes at websites like Retail Me Not. In the event you not find your code, search from the site name and “promotional code” to narrow it down. You simply may find a coupon.
You can easily get coupons from online stores when you join their newsletter or social media updates. The savings are definitely worth getting started with email alerts or subscribing to some Facebook page.
Deal with sites you may comparison shop with, like Froggle. This enables you to enter your specifications so that you can find the correct prices and shops. But, you must do not forget that websites like these may exclude a lot of on the net retailers. This may be a useful place to start, however, if the prices you receive back do not impress, continue searching.
As a result of online shopping, you will no longer need to dread working with crowds of folks. You may also shop with your sleepwear. What’s superior to that? But, ahead of jumping in, you must evaluate the information above to make sure you do things correctly.
This morning War Horse (the play – not the movie), enjoyed its Sydney media / production call.
It might have been a touch low on media attendance, but was high on talent, passion, and quality all around.
This Thursday War Horse will enjoy much more media attention with its Sydney red carpet premiere, however the Music News Australia and Media Man team were happy to get a leg up on the competition by getting an early look in at this world class production.
The acting, production, props and every other element certainly had a 5 star look and feel to it.
It’s little wonder media and audiences have been raving about the production the world over.
“War Horse is extraordinary theatre. Brilliant, bold, moving, it is a world-class fusion of performance, design and specially puppetry.” The Age
“Epic… Magnificent… Impressive. You can almost smell the sweat and leather and hear the galloping hooves of their magnificent “animals” manipulated by master puppeteers.” – Herald Sun
“Outstanding. The production confidently says: Come along for the ride.” – The Australian
“Unique and breathtaking theatre.” – Radio National
“Truly a spectacle that you have to experience.” – 3AW
"Everything about War Horse looks to be 5 stars. The overall production, acting, consuming, the animal robotics. The interaction between the actors, the horses and the audience is amazing and has to be experienced to be believed. This version of War Horse is just as satisfying as the movie – maybe more so in some regards. This may just be the best play to hit Australia this year. Highly recommended – Greg Tingle, Media Director – Media Man.
The Guardian’s Michael Billington wrote in his review:
Elliott and Morris recreate the kaleidoscopic horror of war through bold imagery, including the remorseless advance of a manually operated tank, and through the line-drawings of Rae Smith projected on to a suspended screen. Admittedly the performers are somewhat eclipsed by the action … The joy of the evening, however, lies in the skilled recreation of equine life and in its unshaken belief that mankind is ennobled by its love of the horse.
Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph had written that, generally, "puppets are often an embarrassment, involving a lot of effort and fuss for negligible returns"; in this case, he praised the puppetry as "truly magnificent creations by the Handspring Puppet Company." The Times’ 10-year-old guest reviewer called the show "movingly and realistically brought to life" and "an emotional and compelling adaptation of the book."
In reviewing the Broadway production, Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times, "…it is how Joey is summoned into being, along with an assortment of other animals, that gives this production its ineffably theatrical magic…Beautifully designed by Rae Smith … and Paule Constable, this production is also steeped in boilerplate sentimentality. Beneath its exquisite visual surface, it keeps pushing buttons like a sales clerk in a notions shop." Brantley suggests, "The implicit plea not to be forgotten applies not just to the villagers, soldiers and horses portrayed here, but also to theater, as an evanescent art that lives on only in audiences’ memories. Judged by that standard, much of War Horse evaporates not long after it ends. But I would wager that for a good while, you’ll continue to see Joey in your dreams."
Entertainment Weekly gave a positive review, calling the show an "imaginative, moving new Broadway drama … The play’s equine stars are the remarkable creation of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones’ Handspring Puppet Company. As manipulated by three handlers dressed in period costumes, the life-size creatures seem to breathe, snort, feed, walk, gallop, and rear up just as naturally as the genuine articles. In no time at all, they become characters as rounded and complex as any of the humans on stage." Time magazine ranked the play as its top choice among all theatre productions in 2011.
The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout praised the puppetry, but gave mixed reactions to the play: "The fundamental flaw of ‘War Horse’ is that Nick Stafford, who wrote the script ‘in association’ (that’s how the credit reads) with South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, has taken a book that was written for children and tried to give it the expressive weight of a play for adults. Not surprisingly, Mr. Morpurgo’s plot can’t stand the strain. Dramatic situations that work perfectly well in the context of the book play like Hollywood clichés onstage. In the first act, the craftsmanship is so exquisite that this doesn’t matter—much—but things go downhill fast after intermission. The really big problem is the last scene, about which, once again, the drama critics’ code commands silence. This much must be said, though: A play that is so forthright about the horrors of war owes its audience a more honest ending."
Theatre review aggregator Curtain Critic gave the production a score of 88 out of 100 based on the opinions of 21 critics.
WAR HORSE MEDIA RELEASE:
Internationally acclaimed critical and box office hit
The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures are proud to bring the multiple Tony and Olivier Award-winning War Horse, to Australia.
Applauded by critics and audiences alike, War Horse held its Australian premiere in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre. After the Melbourne season War Horse will travel to Sydney for a season at the Sydney Lyric from Saturday 16 March, 2013 and to Brisbane for a season at Lyric Theatre from Saturday 6 July, 2013.
Since its world premiere in London in 2007, War Horse has won numerous prestigious awards including two Laurence Olivier Awards, five Tony Awards and four Outer Critics’ Circle Awards amongst a host of others. The Handspring Puppet Company has also won many accolades including a 2011 Special Tony Award.
“The ANZAC spirit is deeply entrenched in the Australian ethos. We expect War Horse to have a great resonance in this country not only because of our connection to World War I but because themes of the land, loss and the ultimate triumph of friendship have a special place in the Australian psyche. We are proud to produce this highly acclaimed show with the National Theatre.” says Carmen Pavlovic, CEO of Global Creatures.
Nick Stafford’s stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s book, War Horse is a magnificent drama which tells the heart wrenching story of Joey, the beloved horse of a boy called Albert, who is sold to the cavalry at the outbreak of World War I and shipped to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.
At its heart are astonishing puppets strong enough for men to ride, created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to life on the stage. Life size horses traverse the stage, their flanks, hides and sinews built of steel, leather and aircraft cables. Actors, working with these dynamic puppets, will lead Australian audiences on an emotionally-charged journey through history.
"War Horse is a life affirming story about friendship, courage and family, which appeals to all ages. This is a production that brings the family together, we get people coming back again and again, and they always have the same reaction. It awakens something in you,” says Chris Harper, Producer, National Theatre of Great Britain.
War Horse has played to packed houses at London’s National Theatre, the West End’s New London Theatre and New York’s Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. A further production opened in Toronto, Canada in February 2012 and a US tour commenced in June 2012.
Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, released by DreamWorks Studios in late 2011, was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse is designed by Rae Smith, with puppet design and fabrication by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company, lighting by Paule Constable, and movement and horse choreography by Toby Sedgwick; the puppetry directors are Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, with video design by Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer, songmaker John Tams, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Christopher Shutt.
A few years back, Internet shopping was unheard of because shopping meant searching for hours together in malls and small stores, without actually knowing what they were offering. In case you requested to shop from home, fat tomes of catalogs would be delivered making the search all the more cumbersome.
The shopping experience has now become more pleasant and simple because of Internet shopping. Internet has helped in linking many places like banks, shops, hospitals and other places that requires a money transaction. Shopping online is therefore simple compared to window shopping.
Internet shopping requires credit or debit card for payments. There are many cyber laws and security certifications that are provided by shopping sites keeping in mind the safety of the customer. Online shopping sites provide many kinds of searches which can used efficiently to choose our required product. They help us to narrow down the search from a sea of products and even help us to choose among the best deals available currently.
There are many shipping deals and convenient payment methods that have made online shopping a pleasant experience for many. There are even personalized shopping sites that help users find the best deals and provide valuable product advice for them. These sites offer rewards for user-provided best answer for any product related question to motivate them to provide authentic answers.
With the right knowledge about products and safe online money transaction, online shopping would prove to be more beneficial for modern consumers compared to conventional shopping methods.
It is essential for every online shopper to be aware of PayPal or Google checkout accounts. Here, the users personal credit card information is stored, which can later be used for future transactions with the other shopping sites or companies. Websites that offer to teach customers the exact way of making purchases in online auctions sites are also available on the Internet.
Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.
Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.
I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.
Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.
After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.
Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.
Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.
This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.
My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.
Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.
I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.
Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.
Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.
Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.
The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.
Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.
Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.
Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.
The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.
The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.
I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.
Folsom Prison Blues
Cheap Sun Glasses
“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”
Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.
150 miles today.
Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.
I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.
A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.
I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.
After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.
There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.
It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.
One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:
Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”
You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”
I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.
This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.
The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.
Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.
I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.
Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.
I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.
So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.
Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.
I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.
There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.
It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!
I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.
Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.
How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.
205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.
Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.
The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.
German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.
From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.
Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.
I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.
Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.
Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:
1 dead fox
3 dead possums
1 dead blob (undistinguishable)
No fearsome deer
I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com
Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:
I don’t know his last name
I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers
I know he works at a bike shop making choppers
You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.
If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.
Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.
So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.
After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.
The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.
Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for -4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for . That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.
The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.
It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.
I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.
Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.
Miles today, 240.
Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.
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This set of photos is based on a very simple concept: walk every block of Manhattan with a camera, and see what happens. To avoid missing anything, walk both sides of the street.
That’s all there is to it …
Of course, if you wanted to be more ambitious, you could also walk the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. But that’s more than I’m willing to commit to at this point, and I’ll leave the remaining boroughs of New York City to other, more adventurous photographers.
Oh, actually, there’s one more small detail: leave the photos alone for a month — unedited, untouched, and unviewed. By the time I actually focus on the first of these "every-block" photos, I will have taken more than 8,000 images on the nearby streets of the Upper West Side — plus another several thousand in Rome, Coney Island, and the various spots in NYC where I traditionally take photos. So I don’t expect to be emotionally attached to any of the "every-block" photos, and hope that I’ll be able to make an objective selection of the ones worth looking at.
As for the criteria that I’ve used to select the small subset of every-block photos that get uploaded to Flickr: there are three. First, I’ll upload any photo that I think is "great," and where I hope the reaction of my Flickr-friends will be, "I have no idea when or where that photo was taken, but it’s really a terrific picture!"
A second criterion has to do with place, and the third involves time. I’m hoping that I’ll take some photos that clearly say, "This is New York!" to anyone who looks at it. Obviously, certain landscape icons like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty would satisfy that criterion; but I’m hoping that I’ll find other, more unexpected examples. I hope that I’ll be able to take some shots that will make a "local" viewer say, "Well, even if that’s not recognizable to someone from another part of the country, or another part of the world, I know that that’s New York!" And there might be some photos where a "non-local" viewer might say, "I had no idea that there was anyplace in New York City that was so interesting/beautiful/ugly/spectacular."
As for the sense of time: I remember wandering around my neighborhood in 2005, photographing various shops, stores, restaurants, and business establishments — and then casually looking at the photos about five years later, and being stunned by how much had changed. Little by little, store by store, day by day, things change … and when you’ve been around as long as I have, it’s even more amazing to go back and look at the photos you took thirty or forty years ago, and ask yourself, "Was it really like that back then? Seriously, did people really wear bell-bottom jeans?"
So, with the expectation that I’ll be looking at these every-block photos five or ten years from now (and maybe you will be, too), I’m going to be doing my best to capture scenes that convey the sense that they were taken in the year 2013 … or at least sometime in the decade of the 2010’s (I have no idea what we’re calling this decade yet). Or maybe they’ll just say to us, "This is what it was like a dozen years after 9-11".
Movie posters are a trivial example of such a time-specific image; I’ve already taken a bunch, and I don’t know if I’ll ultimately decide that they’re worth uploading. Women’s fashion/styles are another obvious example of a time-specific phenomenon; and even though I’m definitely not a fashion expert, I suspected that I’ll be able to look at some images ten years from now and mutter to myself, "Did we really wear shirts like that? Did women really wear those weird skirts that are short in the front, and long in the back? Did everyone in New York have a tattoo?"
Another example: I’m fascinated by the interactions that people have with their cellphones out on the street. It seems that everyone has one, which certainly wasn’t true a decade ago; and it seems that everyone walks down the street with their eyes and their entire conscious attention riveted on this little box-like gadget, utterly oblivious about anything else that might be going on (among other things, that makes it very easy for me to photograph them without their even noticing, particularly if they’ve also got earphones so they can listen to music or carry on a phone conversation). But I can’t help wondering whether this kind of social behavior will seem bizarre a decade from now … especially if our cellphones have become so miniaturized that they’re incorporated into the glasses we wear, or implanted directly into our eyeballs.
Oh, one last thing: I’ve created a customized Google Map to show the precise details of each day’s photo-walk. I’ll be updating it each day, and the most recent part of my every-block journey will be marked in red, to differentiate it from all of the older segments of the journey, which will be shown in blue. You can see the map, and peek at it each day to see where I’ve been, by clicking on this link
If you have any suggestions about places that I should definitely visit to get some good photos, or if you’d like me to photograph you in your little corner of New York City, please let me know. You can send me a Flickr-mail message, or you can email me directly at ed-at-yourdon-dot-com
Stay tuned as the photo-walk continues, block by block …