Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art: Blog https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog en-us (C) Victoria Jean, Victoria Jean Photo Art - DO NOT COPY [email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Fri, 24 May 2024 12:35:00 GMT Fri, 24 May 2024 12:35:00 GMT https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/img/s/v-12/u863365744-o916956116-50.jpg Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art: Blog https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog 97 120 Moonlit Launch https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/moonlit-launch It's been a bit since I got out to shoot a launch. I've been busy studying for my next adventure to come in the Spring, but more on that later. We were fortunate to have two night starlink launches in a row. Of course, I skipped the first, being Thursday night (I was actually simply too tired to get out in time). I did manage to make it out to the dock for last nights launch though. Being a full Moon rising directly over the launch area, I wasn't sure how well I'd be able to expose the launch itself. It takes anywhere from five to eight minutes of leaving my shutter open to catch the arc, and with the brightness of a full Moon directly overhead, I was not expecting a great result. I guess you can be the judge.

The first image was nearly eight minutes. It was so bright, it washed out the booster return. You can see an elongated Moon due to it moving during that timeframe.

The second image was the moonrise as I arrived on the dock, a beautiful orange and low enough yet to make a lovely scene.

Click on the image to see a larger version, or to explore more in my galleries.

Moonlit LaunchMoonlit LaunchStarlink satellites launch into space at 10:45 pm on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Seen here during a full Moon over Santa Fe Lake, FL. Full Moon RisingFull Moon Rising

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Falcon 9 FL launch NASA rocket rocket launch Santa Fe Lake space space coast Starlink 6-63 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/moonlit-launch Fri, 24 May 2024 11:09:41 GMT
Southern Summer Dock https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/southern-summer-dock How about another sweet sunset? These sunsets on the local lakes just get me, especially with the cypress trees and Spanish moss. But there were (very literally) hundreds of mosquitos that swarmed inside my truck while I had the door open, getting my gear ready. I normally wear a clip-on butane operated repellant, but this time, I had to leave it running clipped to my seatbelt inside the truck with the windows cracked to chase all those damn things out. It worked, and only took 15 minutes. Ridiculous. But the sunset was worth it.

Click on the photo to see a larger version, and to see more in my sunrise/sunset gallery.
Southern Summer DockSouthern Summer Dock

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/southern-summer-dock Fri, 17 May 2024 17:28:24 GMT
ISS Lunar Transit https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/iss-lunar-transit I've been waiting for this shot for a while... The International Space Station with Crew 8 on its orbital path brought it across the crescent Moon on Saturday night. I've been watching its path projections for a few weeks to make sure I would have the location right, so when Saturday night arrived, I drove out to the coordinates in Alachua and set up the Seestar telescope as well as my Fuji with the 600mm (900mm effective) lens on and began waiting. I knew I had to be on my toes because the projection can sometimes be off by a few seconds, and that's all it would take to miss this shot since it lasts only a few seconds itself. I had my countdown timer app going just to make sure. As 9:22 closed in, I hit record video on the Seestar and glued my eyes to my camera viewfinder.... would I catch it? I wasn't sure. I had missed my last attempt. Then all of a sudden my eye caught a glimpse of what looked tiny bug in my viewfinder and I knew instantly... NOW NOW! I told myself, as I pressed in and held the trigger of my shutter release and at the same time, breathed a sigh of relief as I watched it fly across the crescent Moon off and out of the frame on its continued journey around the Earth, all in a matter of two seconds.

YESSSS!! I danced a little in glee (I was by myself, nobody to see) and softly exclaimed into the dark night, "I got it! I GOT IT!", then quickly texted my husband and Mom because I was so excited.

This was special to me because on March 4, 2024, I also captured the ISS Crew 8 as they launched into orbit toward the Space Station (see that image by clicking HERE), relieving Crew 7 from their duties. They continue to conduct experiments and gather data on their 6-month stay. Hopefully, I will yet capture their Solar transit as they cross the Sun, and their splashdown as they return to Earth sometime in September of this year.

Below, the first image is from my Fuji camera with a shutter speed of 1/1000, and the second is a video from the Seestar slowed to half speed for better viewing.

ISS Lunar TransitISS Lunar Transit ISS Lunar Transit VIDEO

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Crew 8 FL Florida International Space Station ISS Kennedy Space Center lunar lunar transit moon NASA rocket space SpaceX https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/iss-lunar-transit Mon, 13 May 2024 22:21:10 GMT
The Magic of the Suwannee River https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/the-magic-of-the-suwannee-river Yes, I did attempt to chase down the Northern Lights during the recent G5 storm, but I was a day too late I'm afraid. Don't despair because that gives me a reason to travel to one of the epic locations where they are dramatic and far more visible.

Instead, I went out on Saturday night, for some dark sky photography. It started with attempting to capture the International Space Station as it transited a crescent moon at approximately 9:22 pm. If you want to see how that went for me, check back for more on that in a later post.

I also captured a few deep sky clusters and galaxies... more on those later as well...

Then, I drove an hour and a half up to Southern Georgia to a dark sky site in an attempt to get the Milky Way rising in the early morning hours of Sunday. I wanted to have it rising over the Suwannee River, with a reflection on the water. I found the perfect spot for that, on the banks of the Suwannee near the Stephen C Foster State Park. This photo was captured around 1:30 am over the calm and quiet Suwannee River. Surprisingly enough, there were no mosquitos or bugs to contend with! Though, I heard plenty of coyotes howling and yipping in the nearby forest. I would hear a ripple on the water every now and then and the hair on the back of my neck would rise, fearing an alligator was creeping up on me. I'd swing my flashlight in that direction as if it were a light saber cutting through the thick darkness toward whatever menacing threat was crawling out of the water toward me, only to discover the blips of water splashing was from small fish along the waters edge plucking off a bug from the surface every now and then. I think it was safe to say I felt a bit uneasy under the cloak of darkness. 

While this is not the best shot, I feel safe telling you all that I'm learning better ways to photograph and process Milky Way images (currently in class to learn this). One thing I do know, practice makes... well, I won't say perfect, but it sure can make my imagery better. So, I'm putting this one out there to depict a starting point. I may come back and re-edit it (reduce the purples?) after I learn better editing techniques. It all just takes so much time, something I wish I had more of.

Your feedback is welcome, constructive criticism can only help me grow.

Click on the image for a larger version and to see more in my Astrophotography gallery.

Magic Suwannee RiverMagic Suwannee River

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/5/the-magic-of-the-suwannee-river Sun, 12 May 2024 15:08:57 GMT
California Dreaming https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/4/california-dreaming Here's a throwback. I loved the symmetry in this single photo, seemingly too painterly to be real, but that is exactly what drew me to stop to photograph it. This is a scene from a California vineyard taken many years ago on one of our roadtrips. I can still so vividly recall this field. I was totally taken with the colorful contrast and satisfyingly perfect rows of lushious greenery starting to mature in the warm California sun. Not a single weed in these rows, creating such perfect separation it almost felt unnatural. And that sky, such a perfect sky. The hills gracefully rolled along the roadside of our drive. It was the first time I had seen vineyards of California. I wanted so badly to pull over and park in the crunchy gravel and sit at the top of one of those hills with my husband; barely shaded but letting the sun tenderly burn my cheeks as we enjoyed artisen cheeses and sipped a delicious red wine. Sigh, but that was just my imagination. We had no fresh cheeses in the vehicle and certainly no good wine. And I think we may have been arrested had we frollicked up into those fields. I'll sit with my imagined version of events instead.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version, or to see more in the Scenic gallery.

CaliforniaCalifornia

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) CA California California Dreaming fields hills vineyard winery https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/4/california-dreaming Tue, 30 Apr 2024 12:55:39 GMT
My Epic Eclipse Adventure https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/4/my-epic-eclipse-adventure I promised you the story, so here it is. If you are not a reader, I suggest scrolling to the bottom where you will find the photography. I need to write this out mostly for myself, so I don't forget the epic adventure my mom and I had.

First, a few fun facts about the Sun, Moon and eclipse!

  • The solar eclipse can only occur at the new moon phase, when the dark side of the moon faces us
  • The sun is 400 times the diameter of the moon, but at the point of eclipse it is 400 times farther away, making them appear the same size
  • The solar prominence (red flares) can reach up to 93,000 miles high and can last days to weeks and contribute to our Northern Lights
  • The planets Venus and Jupiter, as well as Pons-Brooks comet can be visible during totality of 2024 eclipse
  • The eclipse creates a 360 degree sunset effect in the path of totality
  • Temperatures drop dramatically during totality
  • Einstein's theory of relativity was proven during a 1919 solar eclipse
  • Eventually, Earth will not have total solar eclipses as the Moon moves away from Earth approximately an inch each year, causing only annular eclipses to be visible when that time arrives

And now, the rest of the story...

After getting more exposed to the world of astrophotography, I shot my first eclipse last year, an annular eclipse, but it was really motivating for me. I wanted more. I knew a total eclipse was in the works for this year and I was determined to make it mine. I began studying and planning, learning about all the special techniques and filters and processes I would need to capture the imagery I wanted. I followed this course for the next seven months, digging into books, videos, anything I could consume to learn more about the photography aspect. 

Since the path of totality would not cross where I lived, I eventually determined Texas for my destination for viewing (Austin to be exact) because it would have the best probability for clear skies in April. You see, if you're not in the path, your experience just cannot measure up, and in hindsight now, I cannot stress that enough! I wanted the full experience right within the path.

I then spent the next thirty days pinpointing a good location along the path of totality, before attempting to book (six months out at this point). Thats when I first learned how important this was, how many people were on the same journey as I. You know what that does to the law of supply and demand...  price gouging had already begun, and I was not willing to pay upwards of $700 per night for a hotel.  I found a reasonable Air B&B right in the path, a close enough drive to the centerline. After hearing other stories of how hosts cancel reservations last minute (likely because they got another guest willing to pay more), leaving the guests scrambling to find alternate accommodations, I booked at two different places to have one of them as a backup. Yes, I felt guilty, but you know what? I was investing so much in this, doing so much research and planning, I did not want to get screwed out of a place to stay.

Having my lodging taken care of, I then booked my flights only to find that at six months away, everyone else had already started doing so, leaving no available rental cars to accompany my flight plans. My recourse was with an app and system I was unfamiliar with, Turo. That one made me nervous, renting a car from a total stranger, hoping it all pans out for me and I don't somehow end up damaging the car. I booked it anyhow. Flight, car and accommodations are all set!

For the next two months I continued studying and examining the general Texas landscape for the best opportunities. I learned all state parks were closing access for eclipse day unless you bought a special day pass, so I found three parks that could work, and I got my day passes. When I checked for availability a week later, they were all sold out. I was very happy to have settled on some good locations, and if mother nature was in my favor, the blue bonnets would be in full bloom there!

So I continued studying and practicing my day-of routine, using a special app as a timer so I would know when it would be safe to remove the solar filter from my lens, and when all the various events of the eclipse would occur, practicing quickly changing my camera settings to account for the rapid change in light through those phases that would pass in a matter of seconds. I think the more I practiced, the more nervous I got. 

At the three-month point, the first Air B&B cancelled on me, just as I feared, claiming booking errors. I was glad I booked the fall back because a quick search revealed sparse availability with insanely high prices. I reached out to the host to have her reassure me she would not cancel, and everything was set in stone.

The months fell to weeks as eclipse day approached and my dreams began to be consumed by eclipse photography. 

I was hawking weather apps and charts, following the ever-failing forecast for Texas. Heavy clouds were now expected for almost the entire path of totality from Texas up to Ohio and my heart started sinking. Had all my preparations been for nothing? Had I wasted my money? Would I ever get another chance?

The weeks fell to days and now it was quite evident my sweet spot in Texas had soured, along with my excitement. Mother nature left me scrambling to make alternate plans somewhere else if I wanted any hope of seeing, much less photographing the eclipse. The forecast was showing fairly clear skies for parts of Arkansas and Illinois, and even New York. But how on earth was I going to find accommodations?

I had friends in Illinois offering up a place to stay near the path and their forecast was pretty damn good. The 11-hour drive one way was very tempting. I kept that on my radar.

My sister up in New York also had good weather anticipated and was within a few hours of totality. She mentioned wanting to take her family to view, so there is another possibility. Another very quick search for airfare showed the cost of tickets at that point was $2000. 

Or do I chance it that Texas would ultimately clear just in time? I could possibly drive a bit in Texas if I had to, but I had that weird rental with mileage limitations.

All these things were swirling around in my head now with my eclipse techniques and weather watching. I found myself checking weather apps hourly in the preceding days before finally (with much support and encouragement from some wonderful people) I pulled the trigger on New York. 

What better way to do this than with family? It should make for some good memories! I quickly cancelled all of my Texas reservations and watched as many more began doing the same for that area. The severe storms forecasted even had event hosts cancelling their viewing events. Perhaps I made the right choice after all. Time will tell.

I landed in Albany, New York and it seemed those pesky clouds followed me up there. Again, I was filled with dread as the forecast worsened the day before the eclipse. We made plans to take two cars; one for my sis and her family for their viewing and one for my mom and I for our viewing. Mine would take many hours longer and we didn't think the kiddos could make that long of a commitment.

I was trying like hell to find good spots to set up all my gear and shoot from. A place where my sister's car would not get towed and somewhere that had restrooms close by. A place with a clear open view of the sky and interesting foreground. This was not as easy as you'd think. I used google earth and google maps quite heavily that day. My sister’s husband even picked up an Atlas for me to use because it was highly likely the network would be overwhelmed and my navigation wouldn't work.

That night was a restless one with little sleep. I was so excited. I kept replaying the different sets of images I wanted over and over in my mind. The next morning, my mom and I were up at the crack of dawn. We packed the car with my equipment, a few lawn chairs, and a bunch of snacks for the road and we left at 6:30 am. The general direction was northern Vermont. Traffic and cloud cover would ultimately determine where we ended up.

The roads were surprisingly clear, despite what local radio stations were warning of. They did mention a few times that the city we wanted on Lake Champlain was becoming inundated with visitors, so I quickly scratched that one off my list and we kept going north, around Burlington. The next town on the map was St Albans in Vermont. I had not considered that one at all, but it was at a point where I could quickly turn and go east to further outrun the clouds. We got there around 11:30 and the sky looked great, so we drove in and found a PERFECT spot at a tiny park on the lake. I think we were probably the last of a few cars they allowed in before closing the parking area.

We dragged out all our gear and plunked down on the lawn with hundreds of other viewers. The crowd slowly grew, music was playing, everyone was buzzing around, setting up cameras, telescopes, and cell phones to capture the magic. It felt like a fair. I attempted to recalculate my timing app for our specific geographic location, to also account for the few seconds of difference in lunar limb contacts (important to catch the images I had in mind) but there was no signal available for my phone. So, I resorted to calling my tecch support, my husband back home. I briefly explained what I needed and sent him to the website to look up calculations based on where he could see us on the map, and with success, he was able to provide me with the updates I needed. I finally had all my gear ready and tested a few shots. Now we wait. Mom was all comfy, crocheting while she waited. I was pacing. I did manage to put my drone up in an unoccupied area, I wanted to capture something showing the crowds and the lake area. I knew I wouldn't be able to fly during totality (unless I cloned myself) so these drone images would have to suffice. We tried some of the food from a food truck vendor and waited some more. I impatiently watched a far off front of high clouds begin to approach. I knew they would ultimately arrive with the start of the eclipse, I could only hope they would stay thin enough as to not impair my plans.

First contact was mere minutes away! I was giving Mom the countdown. And then it was time. Like a gentle tap on the door, the moon cautiously presented itself.

"IT STARTED! IT STARTED!" I was exclaiming to her, so she could put her glasses on and watch. Granted, the start of the partial phases is not too exciting unless you've never seen it before (or you're a bit of a geek like me). The tiniest curve of the Moon began to merge into the Sun. It proceeded ever so slowly, almost as if it were shy from all the viewers watching its performance. Yes, it is a very slow progression, and Mom went back to crocheting, looking up on occasion to see how far it had passed. Meanwhile, I was snapping away with my camera, catching all the partial phases for my composites later. Soft thin clouds floated through every now and then, darkening my exposure and dulling a crisp focus, but I carried on. When the Sun was close to a sliver, I was bubbling with excitement. My hands started to shake as darkness began to roll over us, now is when I need to make all my fast adjustments within a matter of seconds for the totality phases.

My brain didn't fail me, and it felt seamless. The bright white light of the sun withered to a hairline curve and eventually disappeared, I immediately took the filter off to let the Diamond Ring and Bailey's Beads present themselves. "Mom, look without your glasses! It’s amazing!" I couldn't believe what I was seeing through the 600mm lens on my camera. Heckin amazing! My mouth was hanging open in awe the whole time. And the crowd agreed, they let forth cheers and screams and applause, music began to play again with all the excitement. I kept snapping away like crazy. I did pause for a moment in the middle of totality to soak it all in. That black dot in the sky felt otherworldly. It was so bizarre and moving. How insignificant I felt at that moment for some reason. The darkness above revealed the bright planets that could normally only be seen at night. A faint glow of yellow and orange was on the horizon. It felt so sublime. Birds had come into land and nest with the darkness falling. Then the faint peeks of light began to creep out from the other side of the Moon as it continued on its journey. I was quickly manipulating my camera for this second set of quickly passing phases. I was shaking so much, I didn't know if I'd slip up and miss the shot. I was glad I had a remote trigger to press for shutter release. The temperature dropped so fast, it was very cold, probably in the low 50s. The warmth from the sun faded as quickly as its light. I was relieved when the light began to reappear on the other edge of the moon. Then just like that, the darkness dissolved and daylight returned, along with quite the clamoring from birds. They were making more noise than the crowd, squawking and chirping. The sky was full of gulls flying to and fro. I would have like to known what they were thinking. It was chaos in the sky.

I breathed a sigh of relief and jumped up and down like a kid, squealing to Mom, "I GOT IT, I GOT IT!!", knowing that my one goal for imagery had been captured; Baileys Beads. But I got so much more than that. The sun (moon?) dog that appeared around the sun like a halo during partial phases. The Diamond Ring phases when the light returns, creating a phenomenon that looks like a solitaire diamond engagement ring. Bailey's Beads where the light is totally obscured by the Moon except for where it filters through the craters, causing a string of beads to appear. Solar prominences (which was a complete surprise for me) where the flames of the sun shoot out far enough to be seen from around the Moon. These coronal mass ejections can reach 500,000 miles long, and we were lucky enough to have them occurring during totality. The full corona of the Sun which is the gas-filled outer most edges of the Sun's atmosphere. Some wide angle shots with my back up camera, and a little bit of pre-eclipse aerial imagery with the drone. So much! I was beside myself.

We stayed and continued out the remainder of the partial phases while most others left the park after the main event. At least we wouldn't have to battle that mess of congestion... but wait...

After it ended, I packed up, we started on our journey back. We did see some lovely scenery as we skirted along the Canadian border heading back to the highway. That's when we hit the rest of the masses that had traveled up from NY City and every other place known to God to sit on what seemed like the only road going through Vermont. The highway was literally a parking lot. Barely getting over 20 mph the whole way back, we crawled along into darkness with the river of car lights. What took 2.5 hours getting up took 6 hours getting back. We were exhausted and giddy all at the same time, reflecting back on the whole day's events and it was marvelous.

My takeaway in the end?  

IT WAS ALL WORTH IT. 

But in all seriousness, this was a learning experience, just like the last eclipse, and I'm getting better each time. This time I was prepared with a solid sturdy tripod and a better filter, and used a few more techniques to allow stability and manual tracking. Next time, I will want to try using an auto-tracker for more freedom, and perhaps a more exposed diamond ring and Bailey's Beads phase. I'd like to have a better plan for wide angle timelapse, I don't think I properly exposed for that on this run. I'd also like to have a specific plan for exactly what times I will take partials, so that I have perfectly timed partials without having to cull through hundreds to find matching phases on either end. And of course, a clear sky would be nice. I'm actually eager to give this another try, but that will mean travel to another country for the next eclipse. I guess that would make me an official chaser! 

There's so much beauty out there if you only take the time to look and seek adventure. Stuff your eyes with wonder, and remember, "Ones destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." ~ Henry Miller

I want to give a big shout out of gratitude to my husband for allowing me to follow my dreams and adventures, to my boss for his extreme generosity and encouragement, to my sister and her family for being so gracious with me for the last minute planned trip, to my mom for being my adventure sidekick for many of these events. You are all so very much appreciated, I can't express enough how much it all means to me.

Now, for those of you that scrolled all the way to the bottom without reading my story, here is what you came for...

Click on any photo to see a larger version and to see more in the Astrophotography gallery.

Alignment Solar Luna Chaos

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) 2024 eclipse astrophotography Bailey's Beads Diamond RIng eclipse eclipse photography elcipse photo Explore More moon solar solar eclipse Solar Prominence St Albans St Albans Bay Park sun total eclipse Vermont Victoria Buckman Victoria Jean Photo Art VT https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/4/my-epic-eclipse-adventure Sat, 13 Apr 2024 20:29:27 GMT
I'm Speechless https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/4/im-speechless Oh. My. Gawd.  That eclipse was AMAZING. I can't really put into words how magical this experience was!! I now have over 700 images to cull through, but I have to go to work today. I squeezed out a couple very quick and rough edits just to show my captures. My biggest goal was Baileys Beads, AND I GOT IT! ...and then some!  There is a whole story about my adventure coming shortly, with all the imagery, but for now, these two lonely images will have to do. I was using a new solar filter, one without orange hues to it.

May I present, Bailey's Beads and the Diamond RIngs!  Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Stay tuned for more...

Update: You can now find the full story with all images here: My Epic Eclipse Adventure

Baileys Beads 2024 Total Solar EclipseBaileys Beads 2024 Total Solar EclipseThis is a phenomenon that occurs as the Moon almost entirely covers the Sun, only allowing the sun to shine through the very edge of the craters of the Moon. Light is entirely blocked except for what spills through those craters on the edge, creating a prismatic string of beads effect. Diamonds 2024 Total Solar EclipseDiamonds 2024 Total Solar EclipseThis phenomenon occurs when the Moon passes just far enough beyond the Sun to allow for light to begin pouring back into view. The very edge of that light reveals itself as a bright prismatic "diamond" set on a less bright ring of the silhouetted Moon. It presents as a solitaire diamond ring, or a pair in this case.

 

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) 2024 eclipse astrophotography Bailey's Beads Diamond RIng eclipse eclipse photography elcipse photo Explore More moon solar solar eclipse Solar Prominence St Albans St Albans Bay Park sun total eclipse Vermont Victoria Buckman Victoria Jean Photo Art VT https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/4/im-speechless Wed, 10 Apr 2024 11:56:01 GMT
Titusville Trees https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/3/titusville-trees I try not to waste opportunities where I'm able to spend a few hours with my camera in hand. Last week, when I traveled down to Titusville to attempt to photograph the Crew 8 launch the first night (but alas, it was scrubbed), I did spend the day in the area shooting things other than a rocket launch. Some of you local Rocketographers will recognize this spot, I'm sure you know it well! The view across the water is actually the Space Center, but with this high key contrast on the horizon, its impossible to make out the buildings. I just love how the palm trees hang over the shoreline. I need to find more of these.

It was a little overcast at the time of these photos, so the color is not that punchy. But I do really like how they look in a monochrome set. I hope you do too!

Click on the images to see larger versions, or to enjoy more scenic images in the gallery. If you like the set, I hope you know, I do sell my images!!

Titusville Trees 2Titusville Trees 2 Titusville Trees 4Titusville Trees 4 Titusville Trees 3Titusville Trees 3

Titusville Trees 1Titusville Trees 1

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) beach coast coastline FL Florida palm palm trees Titusville https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/3/titusville-trees Thu, 07 Mar 2024 12:16:08 GMT
More Images From Crew 8 Launch https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/3/more-images-from-crew-8-launch I finally had time to get to the rest of my images from the Crew 8 launch. I would have loved to stay up all night after I got back to process a few, but I do have a full time job, so that takes me away from this fun stuff. At any rate, here are a few extra images from the launch of Crew 8 on their journey to the International Space Station to relieve Crew 7. They will spend approximately 6 months up there conducting various experiments, some of which will help prepare for future Artemis missions and our planned return to the Moon and eventual trip to Mars!

I do plan to follow these astronauts as they orbit the Earth for 6 months, so stay tuned for more images of their journey aboard the ISS.

Click the image to view a larger version and to see more images in the Rocket gallery.

Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 launches to the International Space Station on March 4, 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center where they will spend the next 6 months conducting experiments and collecting data while orbiting Earth at over 17,000 mph!
SpaceX Crew-8 is the eighth crewed operational NASA Commercial Crew flight and the 13th overall crewed orbital flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Commander
Matthew Dominick, Pilot Michael Barratt, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin are riding aboard.

Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 launches to the International Space Station on March 4, 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center where they will spend the next 6 months conducting experiments and collecting data while orbiting Earth at over 17,000 mph!
SpaceX Crew-8 is the eighth crewed operational NASA Commercial Crew flight and the 13th overall crewed orbital flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Commander
Matthew Dominick, Pilot Michael Barratt, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin are riding aboard.
Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 launches to the International Space Station on March 4, 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center where they will spend the next 6 months conducting experiments and collecting data while orbiting Earth at over 17,000 mph!
SpaceX Crew-8 is the eighth crewed operational NASA Commercial Crew flight and the 13th overall crewed orbital flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Commander
Matthew Dominick, Pilot Michael Barratt, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin are riding aboard.
Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 on Falcon 9

View my previous post with the initial launch photo.

  Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 launches to the International Space Station on March 4, 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center where they will spend the next 6 months conducting experiments and collecting data while orbiting Earth at over 17,000 mph!
SpaceX Crew-8 is the eighth crewed operational NASA Commercial Crew flight and the 13th overall crewed orbital flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Commander
Matthew Dominick, Pilot Michael Barratt, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin are riding aboard.

 

Also, a video of the "Nebula" effect as the stage separation occurs.

Crew 8 Nebula VideoCrew 8 launches to the International Space Station on March 4, 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center where they will spend the next 6 months conducting experiments and collecting data while orbiting Earth at over 17,000 mph!
SpaceX Crew-8 is the eighth crewed operational NASA Commercial Crew flight and the 13th overall crewed orbital flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Commander
Matthew Dominick, Pilot Michael Barratt, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin are riding aboard.

 

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Aleksandr Grebenkin astronauts Cape Canaveral Crew 8 Crew-8 Dragon Falcon 9 FL Florida International Space Station ISS Jeanette Epps Kennedy Space Center KSC launch Matthew Dominick Michael Barratt NASA rockets space Space Coast Spaceflight SpaceX https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/3/more-images-from-crew-8-launch Wed, 06 Mar 2024 14:22:37 GMT
Crew 8 Launches in Dragon https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/3/crew-8-launches What a spectacle! After being postponed a few times due to inclement weather, and even a last-minute discovery of a crack in the seal of the crew's capsule hatch threatening the launch again, it finally lit up the sky in a glorious fashion! The crowds did indeed gather to view this one, and all roared to excitement as the rocket ignited and lifted off from Kennedy Space Center with Crew 8 on board heading to the International Space Station. The excitement was as thick as the humid Florida air on a stormy summer night. I myself made the 5-hour round trip drive two nights in a row to witness this launch, so I was very happy when it successfull launched.

NASA Dragon Crew-8 on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The capsule will travel to the ISS where it is expected to autonomously dock with the station at around 3:00 am EST early Tuesday morning. There, the Crew will relieve Crew-7, and will stay aboard for 6 months, conducting various science experiments while they orbit the earth some 250 miles above us. Keep an eye out for more photos of this Crew and their paths as they become visible to me during their time in orbit, I will be sure to share every encounter I can capture!

Click on the photo to see a larger image, and to see more rocket images!

Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 on Falcon 9Crew 8 launches to the International Space Station on March 4, 2024 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center where they will spend the next 6 months conducting experiments and collecting data while orbiting Earth at over 17,000 mph!
SpaceX Crew-8 is the eighth crewed operational NASA Commercial Crew flight and the 13th overall crewed orbital flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Commander
Matthew Dominick, Pilot Michael Barratt, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Mission Specialist Alexander Grebenkin are riding aboard.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Aleksandr Grebenkin astronauts Cape Canaveral Crew 8 Crew-8 Dragon Falcon 9 FL Florida International Space Station ISS Jeanette Epps Kennedy Space Center KSC launch Matthew Dominick Michael Barratt NASA rockets space Space Coast Spaceflight SpaceX https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/3/crew-8-launches Mon, 04 Mar 2024 14:04:25 GMT
Project At The Pass https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/project-at-the-pass I'm trying a new compilation project, much like the one I did several years ago on the Ocoee River in Tennessee, but with a twist. My goal is to capture all of the beautiful colors of the view over The Pass on Lake Santa Fe, during different seasons, various times of day, whenever the mood strikes me. This is the beginning.

Enjoy from a 200-foot birds-eye view of the pass, all of its various forms (when weather allows me to fly that is). 

Click on the photo to enter the gallery and view my progress.

Project At The PassProject At The Pass

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/project-at-the-pass Sun, 25 Feb 2024 21:24:57 GMT
Historic Lunar Landing! https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/historic-lunar-landing Oddie made it!!  "We can confirm without a doubt the equipment is on the moon," Dr. Tim Crane said on the NASA broadcast. "Odysseus has a new home."

A nail-biting and exciting evening as we listened to hear the fate of Odysseus, after facing some problems that were worked out during a few additional Moon orbits, the lander made a successful landing in the South Pole region of the Moon. This is the first time in over 50 years that a US built spacecraft has landed on the Moon.

Intuitive Machine's lander launched last week on a Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center, which also was a milestone for myself as it was the first launch for me to ever photograph the nebula effect during a launch.

Now, as I gaze up at the moon tonight,  I wonder what part of the South Pole that little guy is hanging out at, excited about the potential and possibilities
this will bring for further exploration.

Click the photo to open a larger version, do you think you can see anything?

Feb 22 Historic Moon Lunar LandingFeb 22 Historic Moon Lunar Landing

 

Nova C Lunar LanderNova C Lunar Lander

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/historic-lunar-landing Fri, 23 Feb 2024 01:10:20 GMT
Storybook Sunset https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/storybook-sunset "...He decided that the sunrise and sunset brought wild, free sadness; the sunset, a lonely yet a comforting one."  "He worked at night until the sun had set, and the red and orange faded through the pines, and the split rails merged with the color of the earth."

Excerpts from The Yearling, written in 1938 by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; a fitting set of prose for these images, as they were both shot from what I imagine was the very spot where this local author stood to absorb those red and orange rays as they fell over her while watching the sun settle below the edge of the lake.

This coming-of-age story about a boy that adopts a yearling fawn, set in the backwoods of Northern Florida, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1939 and remains a literary treasure. Marjorie used a lot of what she had in her surroundings to influence her stories in The Yearling, Cross Creek and many other wonderful fictional stories. She lived and worked in the small community of Cross Creek, a short ride from my house. Now, it is a State Park where visitors can step back in time when they enter her farmhouse or stroll through her gardens.

The dock where these images were taken is actually part of a boat ramp, which proved VERY challenging in capturing. While the sun only sets at this exact angle and location for a short time, I had to make the most of it. The first attempt failed, as there were far too many boaters constantly in my frame, ruining the peaceful nature I was seeking. On a second visit, the colors were a bit prettier, but the boaters were just as numerous. However, they managed to time their exits off the water infrequently enough to allow me to capture at least one good shot of the sun before it fell too low. In the process, I decided to make the best of it and catch a boater in the reflection of the sun for an alternate style of the image. Either way, I'm satisfied.

Click on the image to see a larger version or to see more sunscapes.

Storybook SunsetStorybook SunsetSun sets at the edge of Orange Lake near Cross Creek. Storybook SunsetStorybook SunsetSun sets as the fishermen come in off Orange Lake near Cross Creek.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Cross Creek dock lake Lake Orange Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings reflection sun sunset The Yearling https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/storybook-sunset Mon, 19 Feb 2024 10:30:00 GMT
Valentines and Rockets, Part 2 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/valentines-and-rockets-part-2 Let's continue with my Valentines night of rockets, while not that enamoring to most, it is for me. If you're just joining us, you can read PART 1 HERE. Where did we leave off... Ah yes, I stayed up after getting back home from the USSF-124 launch from 5:30 pm earlier that evening. The Nova C launch was scheduled for around 1:00 am, so I went out around midnight, with the intention of capturing star trails leading up to launch time so I could composite them with the final launch image. Of course, I was a bit nervous for the actual launch to take place, it had been cancelled the night before so I was hoping it would go off without trouble tonight. I wouldn't be able to place my camera in the same position again to make my plan with star trails work if I had to come back.

I had the live feed of narrators playing on my phone, talking about the mission, the payload, the rocket, it all adds to the anticipation and helps me to understand this world of rocketography a little better. (Yes, I made that word up). As the final countdown approached, I quickly switched my camera settings from star trails to what I needed for an 8-minute exposure for the launch itself, a little worried about the cloud cover that had moved in, but I was rolling with it. I also knew with a due East trajectory, I would be able to see more of the stage separation and burn back maneuver, which if I were lucky enough and made the right camera setting selections, I might be able to capture the elusive nebula effect on my second camera that I was hand-holding.

It launched right on time, but did disappear a little under the layer of clouds, but reappeared just in time for stage separation! I was ready. I pointed my 600mm lens at the magical effects unfolding in the sky far above me, and I was wonderstruck with the detail I could see from so far away. It was fleeting, disappearing as quickly as it came, but I knew I caught several nebula images, even at this distance. I did a little happy dance knowing exactly what the final image for this launch would be if I could do my post-processing properly.

And now, after finally finding the time to invest in processing the whole evening, star trails to nebula, this is the final result.

I love rockets!

Click the image to see a larger version, and to see more rocket images. I am currently working on a short time lapse video of all the nebula, so stay tuned for that to appear later.

Nova C Lunar LanderNova C Lunar Lander

Below is a time lapse video of 33 images captured of the nebula effect, close crop.

Nebula Time Lapse

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Falcon 9 Intuitive Machines launch Lunar Lander moon NASA Nova C Nova C IM-1 Odysseus rocket space SpaceX https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/valentines-and-rockets-part-2 Sun, 18 Feb 2024 16:36:57 GMT
Valentines and Rockets, Part 1 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/valentines-and-rockets-part-1 It was a spectacular couple of hours for me starting the evening of Valentines Day.

First up was an up-close view of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the confidential payload of United States Space Force on the mission, USSF-124. We had special access to view this one from just a few miles away on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station itself. Of course, sharing a launch with my hubby is not a bad way for me to spend the holiday. My mom was also able to attend this one. It was my goal to share as great of an experience as I could on a launch with the ones I love, and what perfect timing, on Valentines Day.

The roar of the engines did not disappoint from this viewing area. Paired with the tumultuous building of the fire, smoke and steam, it was nearly overwhelming and elicited exclamations of awe and amazement came from everyone. Even better, the booster returned to the landing zone very near to us, so even after the climax of the launch, we still had a smashing closure as the booster re-entered the atmosphere and came back into view nearly right over our heads, shocking everyone with the dramatic sonic boom it creates upon re-entry. Even with all that raw power, it seemed to almost gently float back to the landing zone as if it were light as a feather.

I was left with shaking hands with all the excitement, just praying and hoping I had caught some of the spectacle in my camera that I was hand-holding at the time. This stuff never gets old, and at this range, is unbeatable!

After the excitement settled and I was able to review what I captured, I was absolutely gleeful! I had several images of the different stages of a launch, and even one of the very image I had hoped to capture; the rocket as it lifted from the launch pad with the fire and smoke billowing all around. I couldn't wait to process all these to share. So, here they are for you, late, but better late than never! Click on the image to open in a larger version, and to see more rocket photos. But scroll down, there's more!

USSF-124 Stages of LaunchUSSF-124 Stages of Launch

USSF-124 LIFT OFF!USSF-124 LIFT OFF!

After the 3-hour drive home, I decided to stay up to try to photograph the 1am launch of the history-making Lunar Lander going up on another Falcon 9, but with a due East trajectory, making it a bit more visible from our dock over 150 miles North of the launch site. Again, stunning launch, with another BIG FIRST for me in what I captured.

Click on the image to learn more about THAT launch in Valentines and Rockets, Part 2!!

 

Nova C Lunar LanderNova C Lunar Lander

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) booster return Cape Canaveral Cape Canaveral Space Force Base Falcon 9 FL Florida L3Harris launch Lift off Missile Defense Agency NASA Northrop Grumman rocket satellites Space Force stages United States Space Force USSF 124 USSF-124 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/valentines-and-rockets-part-1 Sun, 18 Feb 2024 16:36:48 GMT
Another Beautiful Morning https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/another-beautiful-morning One more stunning sunrise over the lake, a bit better than yesterday's I'd say!

Click on the photo to see a larger version and to enjoy more in the sunrise/sunset gallery.

Dreamy SunriseDreamy Sunrise

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) FL Florida lake Melrose Santa Fe Lake Sun Sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/another-beautiful-morning Wed, 14 Feb 2024 00:55:02 GMT
A Beautiful Morning https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/a-beautiful-morning Spring is on its way! A few thunderstorms have been creeping up, which means soon, lightning season will be here! Until then, I'll continue to enjoy the beautiful sunrises (and sunsets), and maybe still sprinkle in a rocket launch or two.

In this photo, the February Sun rises over Melrose, Florida with Santa Fe Lake in the foreground.

Click on the image for a larger version, or to enjoy more sunrise/sunset photos in the gallery. Have a beautiful day!!

Beautiful Morning Over The PassBeautiful Morning Over The Pass

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) FL Florida lake Melrose Santa Fe Lake Sun Sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/a-beautiful-morning Tue, 13 Feb 2024 12:03:51 GMT
Space Station Transits Sun with Axiom Crew 3 & SpaceX Crew 7 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/space-station-transits-sun-with-axiom-crew-3-spacex-crew-7 On February 7 at 7:52 am, I was able to capture 1.5 seconds of a 2-second solar transit by the International Space Station while the Dragon Capsule with Axiom Crew 3 was still attached; it undocked a few hours later that day to begin it's return to Earth with Crew 3 onboard. Riding along on this solar transit as it cartwheels past the Sun are the four members of SpaceX Crew 7, due to return to Earth late February/early March. I also captured their departing launch several months ago. Hopefully I will be able to also capture the Crew 7 return to earth very soon! Other current ISS Residents are the three members of SOYUS MS-24.
The crew gets to see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day as it orbits Earth at a stunning 17,500 miles/28,000 kilometers per hour! At this speed, the ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes.
Catching a solar or lunar transit is rare though, as it does not stay on the exact same orbital path. Plus, it depends on where you, the viewer is standing and where the sun or moon is at the exact time you are viewing from. Tricky math stuff.

PRESS THE PLAY BUTTON TO WATCH THE SPACE STATION TRAVEL ACROSS THE SUN

Find more groovy Space Station facts HERE.
SpaceX Crew 7 & Axiom Crew 3 ISS Solar Transit Video

 

 

 

 

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) 3 Astronauts Axiom Crew Dragon Capsule International Space Station ISS ISS Transits Sun NASA NASA Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli NASA Astronaut Loral O'Hara NASA Astronauts Solar Transit space SpaceX SpaceX Crew 7 Sun Transit Sun https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/space-station-transits-sun-with-axiom-crew-3-spacex-crew-7 Sat, 10 Feb 2024 13:27:52 GMT
Fires Leave Blanket of Smoke and Beautiful Sunset https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/fires-leave-blanket-of-smoke-and-beautiful-sunset Prescribed burns in Alachua County leave a blanket of smoke over parts of the area. This beautiful sunset is viewed from the Lake Santa Fe area. 

These prescribed burns are a way to reduce hazardous fuel buildup and control overgrowth. It also contributes valuable nutrients to the ecosystem.

To view prescribed burns, you can use THIS INTERACTIVE MAP from the Florida Forest Service.

Click on the photo to see a larger version or to see more sunsets in the gallery.

Smoky Sunset SkySmoky Sunset SkyA prescribed burn in Alachua County, Florida leaves a smoky blanket and a beautiful sunset at Lake Santa Fe.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) alachua alachua county burn controlled burn fire fl florida forest forest fire lake santa fe prescribed burn smoke sunset https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/2/fires-leave-blanket-of-smoke-and-beautiful-sunset Thu, 08 Feb 2024 13:18:13 GMT
2023 In Review https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/2023-in-review Help me select the favorite image of 2023!

PhotoSphere Favorites 2023 copyPhotoSphere Favorites 2023 copy

It's been a year of growth for me with regard to photography. I've been having a blast! A lot of late nights, some disappointments, many amazing sights that caught me in wonder (this world is an amazing place). I'm telling you, it makes it hard for me to focus on my real job and not want to do this stuff all the time, but this certainly does NOT pay the bills. But GAWD, it's so wonderfully amazing!

Learning all about rockets has been fun. It is a bit of a curve, there is so much to learn as you can suspect, and to be so far away makes getting the shots I daydream about just that much harder, but I'm getting there.

Learning astrophotography is even tougher. I'm focusing on Milky Way photography right now, leaving deep space for those with bigger wallets. Chasing the Milky Way will prove challenging enough. Season is approaching, so get ready to start seeing more of those images soon.

Next up will be IR photography. I just got my first full-spectrum converted IR camera from my mentor and Photography Professor from out in Washington State and can't wait to dip my toes into that!! It should be a beautiful addition to the Milky Way nightscapes I'm planning. 

But before all that, April's total eclipse is my next big goal, with the hope of catching Baileys Beads, or at the very least, the glowing white corona of the sun during totality. Wait.... what's wrong with me, I'm blathering on about 2024 when this is a post about 2023! Let's get back on track. These are the highlights of my 2023.

2023 In Review

Revived my blog!!

1 Solar Eclipse

14 Rocket Launches = 14 of 69 vehicles launched from Florida = 20% viewing rate for me!

Took my drone photography to "new heights".

Caught a few great storms in the lightning capital of the US.

Witnessed the miracle of the blue bioluminescence for the first time in the Indian River Lagoon.

Started polishing my astrophotography and nightscape photography skills.

 

Of course, here are my 12 (ok, maybe a few extra) favorite images of 2023... but I can't pick an overall favorite because some have more sentimental meaning to me.

That's where you come in.

Help me select the favorite image of 2023!

Which do you like most?
Pick your favorite by tapping any photo to open larger images,

then clicking/tapping the heart in the corner of your screen.

Stargazing In Style With American CoachStargazing In Style With American Coach

Atlas SilentBarkerAtlas SilentBarker

Real EclipseReal Eclipse

Flower FrogFlower Frog

Swamp Marigold Sunset, FLSwamp Marigold Sunset, FL

Super Moon over Melrose, FLSuper Moon over Melrose, FL

Cooper River Marsh, SCCooper River Marsh, SC

Lightning on Santa FeLightning on Santa Fe

Fall in Florida Swamp DaisiesFall in Florida Swamp Daisies

Falcon 9 Starlink 6-14Falcon 9 Starlink 6-14

Graphite Range Community ForestGraphite Range Community Forest

Santa Fe Milky Way, FLSanta Fe Milky Way, FL

House of Refuge As The Bird FliesHouse of Refuge As The Bird Flies

Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-34Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-34
Suwannee Springs Graffiti BridgeSuwannee Springs Graffiti Bridge

Wood DucksWood Ducks
Van Life Launch ©Van Life Launch ©

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) 2023 Photos 2023 Photos In Review Best Florida Photographer Best Landscape Photos of 2023 Best of 2023 Best Photos of 2023 Favorite Photos of 2023 FL Florida Florida Photographer landscape Landscape Photography https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/2023-in-review Sat, 27 Jan 2024 22:19:24 GMT
Manatee of Crystal River https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/manatee-of-crystal-river What else does the cold of January bring? Manatee!! The lumbering gentle giants from the salty shallows of the ocean come to the sublime warmth of the crystal clear waters of Florida's consistently warm springs! They maintain a balmy 72°f throughout the year and due to this fact, the beloved manatee congregate to these waters to keep warm during winter. As you can see, some of the springs can get quite crowded! Locals and tourist (like ourselves) travel to catch a glimpse of these protected and very mellow 'sea cows', or as I like to call them, 'floaty potatoes'. They look like big boulders in the water, slow to move as they gently roll and play, stopping on occasion to graze on grasses.

You can see in the drone shot that much of the area around Three Sisters Springs is roped off. This is to provide a sanctuary for the manatee, a place of safety where tourists cannot encroach. While people are allowed to float in the waters to view, they are not allowed to engage with them. The manatee are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, which states: "It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee."  At this particular spring, there are many volunteers and park rangers keeping a sharp eye on the manatee to ensure their safety.

Manatee AerialManatee AerialAerial view over Three Sisters Springs on the Crystal River in Florida, showing the manatee as they huddle in the warmth of the springs during a cold January day. Manatee BreathManatee BreathManatee taking a breath in the Crystal River, Florida. Manatee MomManatee MomMom and baby manatee in the Crystal River, Florida. Manatee MomManatee MomMom and baby manatee in the Crystal River, Florida.

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Crystal River FL floating potato Florida Florida Springs Manatee sea cow springs Three Sisters Springs https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/manatee-of-crystal-river Tue, 23 Jan 2024 20:41:41 GMT
Frosty Florida https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/frosty-florida The recent cold snap brought below freezing temps to parts of Northcentral Florida. We were on a trip early the other morning and came upon the beautiful sight of frozen blueberry bushes of Straughn Farms! A very rare and unusual sight for Floridians (but not for this Wisconsin girl).

They were sprinkling the bushes in an effort to protect the tender blossoms from the freezing temps that had creeped down from an arctic air mass. Don't despair! This is method many berry growers use to protect their crop when temperatures are expected to fall below freezing; however, this method can only work if that range doesn't fall below 24°f and if the grower keeps the ice wet. If the ice stays wet, it maintains a temp of 32°f and the precious contents encased within should not succomb to the nips of the falling frigid air around. 

With the rising sun, and the showers of the spraying sprinklers over the frozen berry bushes, it made for a magical little pitstop along the way, and I was lucky enough to have my drone with for this!

Click the images to open a larger version, and to see more in the Scenic Gallery.

Frosty Florida BerriesFrosty Florida BerriesBlueberry bushes are spared a harsh freeze by being encased in freezing srpinkles on a blueberry farm in Florida. Frosty Florida Berries AreialFrosty Florida Berries Aerial

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) blueberry cold FL Florida freeze frost ice winter Winter in Florida https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/frosty-florida Tue, 23 Jan 2024 15:52:23 GMT
Vulcan Rocket Maiden Voyage To Moon https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/vulcan-rocket-maiden-voyage-to-moon What a rollercoaster of emotions. The nervous anticipation waiting until 2:18 am on January 8, 2024 to see if the new ULA Vulcan Centaur Rocket would actually launch on time from SLV-41, and without incident. I was so full of excitement. I had arrived in Titusville to photograph a Falcon 9 launch much earlier in the day and had hoped to rest in between launches but that was not going to happen. I found my vantage point and set up, then waited the 6 hours for 2 am to arrive. I had taken several test shots much earlier in the night when the stars were clear and bright. I was ready. I sat there waiting, watching the remnants of bioluminescence twinkle on the shore of the Indian River Lagoon like tiny blue diamonds. Tonight was going to be magical, I could feel it. So could the little raccoon that briefly came by for a visit, I whispered gentle greetings to the little fella as he paused to see if I could offer him some late night snacks.

2:18 am was upon us. The culmination of prep and bleary-eyed waiting broke free as soon as the skyline burst into a ball of fire. With much success, the ULA Vulcan launched with extreme brilliance, so bright I was not prepared! The engine burn was a strange blue hue, and much bigger than I expected. As the rocket lofted high into the sky, huge sparks showering down all around as it rose (which I've never witnessed before). The clamoring engine roar rolled across the water through my chest and beyond. I could see the launch pad still glowing orange as it burned off remaining gas from the launch, another unusual feature. So many interesting things happening all at once, it was a lot to take in! I was so excited it went up without incident! So excited! This is the stuff that makes these launches so very addicting.

But alas, the mission's success may not last. Today, a few days later as I write this post, the mission may be in peril. It was supposed to orbit the earth several times before slingshotting to the moon where it was supposed to then orbit the moon several times before deploying the lander to decend for landing on February 23rd. However, due to problems discovered several hours after launch, that landing may not ever happen. The Pittsburg-based company that built the lunar lander, Astrobotic, has been posting regular updates on their Astrobotic Press Page as well as Astrobotic X Feed.

(UPDATE AS OF JAN13, 2024 FROM ASTROBOTIC:  "Our latest assessment now shows the spacecraft is on a path towards Earth...")

The Peregrine Robotic Lander carries experiments, scientific instruments, two prototype satellites for Amazon's Kuiper boradband constellation, and cremated human remains.

On a mission called Luna Tranquility, the cremated remains (lunar memorials) prepared in small metal capsules with only a few grams of remains each were to be deposited into the Lacus Mortis region of the moon. 

Interestingly, the Vulcan rocket has another mission called Enterprise Flight, a deep space flight carring more cremains. These remains and DNA samples are from over 200 people including former presidents George Washington, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy as well as remains from the creator and several cast members of the original Star Trek TV series. 

View configurations of the ULA VULCAN ROCKET.

The image below is a composite of my initial test shot from earlier in the evening when the Orion constellation was low in the sky, paired with the streak shot of the Vulcan launch itself. What an absolute beautiful launch to see in person. Pure magic!  Below that is a closer view of the Vulcan rocket as it soars toward space.

Click the images to see larger versions in the gallery (more rocket photos there!)

VulcanVulcan Vulcan FireVulcan Fire

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Astrobotic Centaur Enterprise Enterprise Mission Kennedy Space Center KSC launch Luna Tranquility lunar lunar lander Moon Peregrine Rocket space ULA ULA Vulcan Vulcan Vulcan Centaur Vulcan Rocket https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/vulcan-rocket-maiden-voyage-to-moon Tue, 09 Jan 2024 15:06:56 GMT
Rockets At The Beach https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/rockets-at-the-beach What better way to start my 2024 rocket season than at a location I've been wanting to shoot from for a while! Playalinda Beach, within Canaveral National Seashore. It is a gorgeous location with a perfect view South toward the launch pads of Kennedy Space Center. The tricky thing is that it is not always open during launches due to safety concerns (if a launch is too close to the beach, they will close access), and sometimes it reaches capacity quickly and they close access at that point as well. Today was a normal Falcon 9 Starlink launch so I gambled on a Sunday hoping for normal crowds. It was originally scheduled for a 2:00(ish) launch time, but typical of rockets, it got pushed to 5:35 pm. YIKES. Great for photography with a beautiful sunset sky, but getting terribly close to gate closing at 6:00 pm when they then would kick everyone out of the area. But obviously, it launched right at 5:35. 

I arrived at noon, loaded all my gear for a two-camera system into my little wagon and towed it for a 30-minute trek down the beach to the closest point we are allowed to get, a fenced barrier limiting access to NASA property. This was my first time at this location, I didn't know what to expect. I surveyed the area and realized that on that spot on the beach, while so very close and beautiful, was also very low. The tide was coming in and was due to peak right at the launch window. I didn't want to be contending with that while managing my cameras. From past images I've seen from this location, the water does indeed swell up around the fenced area right where we can stand. Plus, I liked the higher vantage point I saw from the platform waaaaay back on my way in, and all the spectators in the foreground would make it just that much more fun. Sigh. Trek back I must. Thank goodness for the little wagon. I passed quite a few fishermen, I stopped to talk with one particularly successful fella taking off a large 24" fish from his line; "BLUE!" he shouted with a big smile on his face. Blue fish is what he called them. He obviously knew what he was doing and had absolutely no interest in the impending rocket launch.

I made it back to the point I felt to be the best angle and set up. I was surprised how quiet it actually was.... until approximately 10 minutes to launch, then it got crowded, but that energy is what makes this fun, and it never gets old. I feel the same, every launch, a very nervous excitement as the countdown winds and I wait for the glow in the horizon. And with every new location, I'm making notes on pad location and orientation so I can learn which pad is situated where and what I am able to see from that particular location. It's like collecting fossils in a way, I'm collecting data and recording it, trying to get as much as I can and the best I can. Anyway, you probably just want the photo. Well, here it is. A composite of a time-lapse, several stacked together. No long-exposure arc due to the time of the day, I would have risked an overexposed image. Plus, I wanted something new. I hope you enjoy the beach as much as I did. I'll go back for sure.

Mission details located below the image. Click the image to open in gallery.

Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-35 PlayalindaFalcon 9 Starlink Group 6-35 Playalinda

 

Mission Details:

Falcon 9 Block 5 Starlink Group 6-35

  • Thrust: 7,607 kN
  • Stages: 2
  • Height: 70 m
  • Fairing Height: 13 m
  • Booster B1067 Flight #16 landing on Drone Ship ASOG
  • Type: Communications
  • Launch Cost: $52,000,000
  • Location: SLC 40, Cape Canaveral FL

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Beach Canaveral National Seashore Cape Canaveral Falcon 9 FL Florida Kennedy Space Center KSC Launch NASA Playalinda rocket Satellite Space-X Starlink https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2024/1/rockets-at-the-beach Tue, 09 Jan 2024 12:43:35 GMT
Stargazing In Style With American Coach https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/stargazing-in-style I recently had the opportunity to take out an American Coach Ford Patriot Class B RV from for a concept photo I had in mind, to demonstrate the capability of RV lifestyle in a Class B size, doing the things I would imagine doing in an RV. On this night, stargazing in a remote area of Florida. The concept is alluring to me, having all my gear neatly stowed within the comfort of a very handy RV and the convenient size to drive nearly anywhere. The additional benefit is that when my hubby grows weary of staring up at the sky, he can simply go inside for a comfortable few hours of rest.

What you are looking at is an end result after several hours of photography; 204 separate 20-second photographs taken in succession of the stars as they "move in rotation" around the center Northern Star Polaris (which never moves), carefully examined to remove any (and there were A LOT) airplanes that made their way to the northern international airports. These hundreds of images were then stacked/overlaid together to show the "motion" of the stars as they "rotated around" the Northern Star (Polaris) for the final star trail effect. I use those terms of motion loosly because its actually the Earth doing the moving, not the stars but from here, it appears as though its the stars. There is no special photoshop effect done to make the swirl you see, that is simply how the rotation of the Earth makes the stars apperar to 'trail' during a long exposure or stacked photography. Polaris, the North Star, stays in the same place in the Northern sky, which is how we can create such a dramatic and beautiful swirl.

The van is a Class B RV, 2023 American Coach Patriot on a Ford Transit chassis, which I loved because it was nearly exactly like driving my Ford truck, but nicer! I especially loved that the rear couch folds down into a large comfy bed, so that one could leave the back doors open (with mesh closed to keep bugs out) and gaze up at the sky all night long. I could tell you more about this unit, but honestly, I don't yet know a whole lot about Class B RVs even though I work at a dealership (bookkeeping), so I'm going to point you to speaking with our competent sales staff if you need more information. Shameless plug for Sunshine State RV here, Florida's #1 Class B dealership.

It was a very clear December night, which also meant very chilly, but the end result seems worth the few hours spent out in the cold, no complaints here!

Click the image to open a larger version in the gallery, where you can see more astro photos!

Stargazing In StyleStargazing In Style

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) American Coach Astrophotography Class B RV FORD Ford Patriot Midwest RV night sky North Star REV RV star trails stars https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/stargazing-in-style Sat, 30 Dec 2023 19:52:58 GMT
Falcon Heavy Carries Top Secret Spaceplane To Space https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/falcon-heavy-carries-top-secret-spaceplane-to-space The launch I've been waiting months for, which has been delayed multiple times, finally went up last night, December 28 2023, from Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39-A right on time at 8:07pm. This launch of the USSF-52 mission was actually the seventh mission of the Space Force’s X-37B spaceplane that rode into orbit on the Falcon Heavy and will spend its time in low earth orbit, with an unknown return date. With each successive mission, it has spent longer and longer in orbit, its last flight lasted 908 days!

While many of its missions are top-secret, we are able to know one of the tasks for this flight; to study the impacts of radiation on various plant seeds during long-duration spaceflight. I'm pretty sure there will be other spy stuff in the mix as well, which they are calling “experimenting with future space domain awareness technologies”. Nonetheless, when it does return, you can bet it will be in the dark of night with little notice, not allowing us to build the anticipation that its eventual launch had.

This night, the clouds were not in my favor, but it still led to some beautiful final images. One of the engine burn as it revealed itself from between the clouds composited with the moon, and the other from a test shot over the lake as I was preparing for the eventual launch, which is when I realized how the wide angle would not work and made sure to have my long lens ready. Not every rocket shot has to be an arc after all, right? I hope you enjoy them!

Click the images to open larger versions in the gallery, where you can see more rocket photos!
 

Falcon Heavy and the MoonFalcon Heavy and the MoonThe launch I've been waiting months for, which has been delayed multiple times, finally went up last night, December 28 2023, from Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39-A right on time at 8:07pm. This launch of the USSF-52 mission was actually the seventh mission of the Space Force’s X-37B spaceplane that rode into orbit on the Falcon Heavy and will spend its time in low earth orbit, with an unknown return date. With each successive mission, it has spent longer and longer in orbit, its last flight lasted 908 days!
While many of its missions are top-secret, we are able to know one of the tasks for this flight; to study the impacts of radiation on various plant seeds during long-duration spaceflight. I'm pretty sure there will be other spy stuff in the mix as well, which they are calling “experimenting with future space domain awareness technologies”. Nonetheless, when it does return, you can bet it will be in the dark of night with little notice, not allowing us to build the anticipation that its eventual launch had.
This night, the clouds were not in my favor, but it still led to some beautiful final images. One of the engine burn as it revealed itself from between the clouds, composited with the moon.

No Rocket Streak TonightNo Rocket Streak Tonight  


 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Spaceplane SpaceX Space-X USSF-52 X37B X-37B Falcon Heavy FL Florida Kennedy Space Center KSC Lake Santa Fe: Launch NASA rocket Space https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/falcon-heavy-carries-top-secret-spaceplane-to-space Fri, 29 Dec 2023 14:09:08 GMT
The House of Refuge https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/the-house-of-refuge The House of Refuge

Friends and Fans, I need your participation. 

I don't normally ask you to participate, but this time I need your help. I need to narrow these down to just a few picks, and I can't do it without bias, so your selective eyes are required. Its really quite simple, click/tap on the photo to open it, if you like it, just click/tap on the little heart that appears on the photo when you hover on it. That will help me decide which to cull out.

This is my 'study' of the House of Refuge, in Stuart, Florida. This is one of my absolute favorite places to go on Florida's Atlantic coast. The rocky coastline is utterly dramatic, unlike anything else you will find along the sandy beaches of Florida. While visiting family over Christmas, we went every morning (and even one evening for star gazing) hoping to catch sunrise, but it was a stormy weekend to be there. Alas, it was still as beautiful as always. 
It was built in 1876 to help stranded and shipwrecked sailors. In 1915 it became a US Coast Guard Station, carrying on its life saving traditions. Today, it is the oldest surviving building in Martin County and is an active museum providing a look back to Hutchinson Island life dating back from 2000 BC.

Click the images to open larger versions in the gallery, where you can see more scenic photos!
 

House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL. House of RefugeHouse of Refuge As The Bird FliesThe House of Refuge in Stuart, FL.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Atlantic Atlantic Ocean Beach Coast FL Florida Gilberts Bar House of Refuge Hutchinson Island Ocean Stuart https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/the-house-of-refuge Thu, 28 Dec 2023 12:55:15 GMT
Christmas Kayak on Lake Santa Fe https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/christmas-kayak-on-lake-santa-fe What better lake to take a Christmas cruise on than Lake Santa Fe? Decked out with Christmas lights on the kayak, Justin floats along on a chilly but crystal clear night with a sky full of bright stars above.

Click the images to open a larger version in the gallery, where you can see more scenic photos!
 

Christmas KayakChristmas Kayak

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Christmas kayak lake Melrose Santa Fe Lake https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/christmas-kayak-on-lake-santa-fe Wed, 20 Dec 2023 00:08:16 GMT
Daylight on Dirt Roads https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/i-am-actually-awake-during-daylight I wanted to make sure I could still manage to capture images during daylight. These days, it seems all I've been doing is lurking in the dark, shooting the night sky... which I love. But I wanted to add a spash of lighter scenes to my recent collection.

I've been on the hunt for old growth tree canopies over dirt roads in our area lately. Here is a sampling of what we've found, four images of craggy old oaks with whispers of spanish moss swaying in the Florida breezes.

Click on the images to see a larger version in the gallery, where you can see more scenic photos!

Florida Dirt RoadsFlorida Dirt Roads


Florida Dirt RoadsFlorida Dirt Roads Florida Dirt RoadsFlorida Dirt Roads Florida Dirt RoadsFlorida Dirt Roads

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) country Country Road Dirt Road FL Florida Live Oak moss oak Spanish Moss tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/i-am-actually-awake-during-daylight Wed, 13 Dec 2023 20:02:32 GMT
Falcon 9 Starlink 6-33 With Orion Constellation https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/falcon-9-starlink-6-33-with-orion-constellation Starlink satellite group 6-33 launched by SpaceX for its 90th mission of 2023 in the early morning hours, just after 12am on December 7 from Cape Canaveral SLC-40. This was the first clear sky I've had in a while so I wasn't going to miss it! The view from Lake Santa Fe, with the constellation Orion high above made for a magical night in the crisp cold 40° Florida temps.

Another new location, with a malfunctioning phone compass, left me half guessing the trajectory, but I'm rather happy with the end result. Very happy with how Orion settled nicely into the frame.  Also in this image, albiet very faintly to the left of the launch arc is the booster re-entry burn as it returns for landing on the drone ship, JRTI out on the Atlantic ocean.

 

Mission Details:

Falcon 9 Block 5 Starlink Group 6-33

  • Thrust: 7,607 kN
  • Stages: 2
  • Height: 70 m
  • Fairing Height: 13 m
  • Booster B1077 Flight #9
  • Type: Communications
  • Launch Cost: $67,000,000
  • Location: SLC 40, Cape Canaveral FL

Click on the photo to see a larger version with the Orion constellation.

Falcon 9 Starlink 6-33 With Orion ConstellationFalcon 9 Starlink 6-33 With Orion Constellation

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Boathouse Cape Canaveral constellaiton Falcon 9 FL Florida Kennedy Space Center KSC Launch NASA Orion. rocket Santa Fe Lake Satellite SpaceX Space-X Starlink https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/12/falcon-9-starlink-6-33-with-orion-constellation Thu, 07 Dec 2023 13:45:29 GMT
Happy Holidays from Wisconsin https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/happy-holidays-from-wisconsin Irvine Park's Christmas Village 2023 (Chippewa Falls, WI) officially opened Thanksgiving night, but this aerial view was taken the night after. It showcases the lovely twinkling of over 100,000 Christmas lights and over 100 life-size Christmas scenes that replicate the Victorian era and the city's early history. The new Chippewa Area History Center can also be seen in the lower right of the image, a wonderful multi-level museum filled with treasures of the past, bringing to life the rich history of the Chippewa Valley, culminating with a birds-eye view over Irvine Park from the watch tower on the top level. 

The Village will be open 5:00-9:30pm daily until Jan 1. It first opened in 1987, providing Christmas joy for families throughout the years. 

While this frigid 18° evening didn't have a blanket of snow, we left Wisconsin just in time the following day, being chased out by the wintery white that dumped across much of the midwestern states.

 

Feel free to leave comments if you feel so inspired!


Irvine Park 2023Irvine Park 2023Irvine Park's Christmas Village 2023 Aerial View

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Chippewa Chippewa Area History Center Chippewa Falls Christmas Christmas Lights Christmas Village Drone Irvine Irvine Park Irvine Park Christmas Village Orion WI Wisconsin Zoo https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/happy-holidays-from-wisconsin Wed, 29 Nov 2023 13:27:24 GMT
Star Trails Over Gainesville https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/star-trails-over-gaineville I thought it would be a good idea to visit the boardwalk overlook at Paynes Prairie after dark to shoot star trails in the vast openness of the prairie. Boy was I wrong, for so many reasons. Let me explain why.

First of all, it's not at all as secluded as I had hoped. There were people coming and going along the pier all night. I had both cameras with remote triggers all set up and tried waiting out a few couples, only to be greeted by yet another group of people bouncing down the pier boards. Impossible circumstances for the long exposures I needed. I finally gave up and moved the set-up off the pier out to the banks of the wetlands.

However, that was not without risk, you see, this is a preserve, in Florida... filled with gators!  There were so many in the water, I could hear them growling. I swept my flashlight across the water and was shocked to see 20-30 pairs of red glowing eyes staring back at me! I giggled with glee, because that is a photography bucket list item of mine, to get imagery of the dark swamps filled with these prehistoric creatures in the dark with their red eyes glowing, but that is for later.

I was also shocked to learn it was not as dark as I expected for a preserve, but that makes sense when to the North is the city of Gainesville, the source of the light pollution. I knew I could work with that though, getting most of it out of the images in post production. But I forgot about the airport. So. Many. Planes. If you know what it takes to shoot star trails, you know it takes literally hundreds of images to make a single trail image. I cringed at the thought of editing out all those planes from hundreds of images, but I continued on.

After a few hours of shooting, I had enough photos to put together for the final image you see below, shot with two separate cameras over the course of a couple hours. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it is the best with what I had to work with. Oh, and so I don't let you down, I'm throwing in a few photos of the glowing eyes...

Star Trails Over Gainesville, FLStar Trails Over Gainesville, FLStar trails spin over Gainesville, Florida with the wetlands of Paynes Prairie in the foreground.

Gainesville GatorGainesville Gator Gainesville GatorGainesville Gator

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) astrophotography FL Florida Gainesville gators night sky north star Paynes Prairie polaris star star trails stars https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/star-trails-over-gaineville Mon, 13 Nov 2023 12:14:11 GMT
Keep On Shining https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/keep-on-shining I'm going to send you all a bit of sunshine on a gloomy day. Enjoy some more of Florida's fall color (yes, its a bit gloomy here today as well). Over the course of the past few weeks, I visited a local lake to photograph the swamp marigolds in their different stages of show. Each time, they took my breath away, and I also come to understand how important they are to our pollinators. They were always teeming with butterflies and bees. You can see a few of them enjoying the fruits of their labor in the following photos, and you can also see how quickly the color of the yellow flowers fade between the two aerial images below.

Take a few minutes to enjoy Florida's fall colors, and click on each image for a larger view.

 

  Swamp MarigoldSwamp MarigoldSwamp Marigolds fill the marsh and swamps in the fall in Florida. This lake is surrounded by the golden colors of the yellow flower, so thick, you are unable to walk through them. Swamp MarigoldSwamp MarigoldSwamps thick and full of golden color. Swamp MarigoldSwamp MarigoldPollinators hard at work. Swamp MarigoldSwamp MarigoldSwamps thick and full of golden color.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) aster beggartick daisy FL Florida flower lake sunset swamp swamp daisy swamp marigold yellow https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/keep-on-shining Sun, 12 Nov 2023 21:32:45 GMT
Sending Supplies to the Space Station https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/sending-supplies-to-the-space-station So, we got to see the Space Station, now let's watch them send supplies to the Space Station! The last resupply mission is launched from the Space Coast for the year. What a spectacular show with the clear skies overhead.

The 29th Commercial resupply services mission to tie International Space Station operated by SpaceX is viewed from Lake Santa Fe, Florida as it flies in a Northern trajectory from launch complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center during the Thursday, November 9 launch. Also visible in this photo is the booster return to landing zone 1.

Take note of the burn-back maneuver at the end of the arc, where after stage separation, the booster begins its return to the launch site, a magical sight to behold! This is the second flight of booster B1081.

The Cargo Dragon 2 delivers supplies and payloads like science and research experiments to the ISS. This is the second flight of C211.

Mission Details

Falcon 9 Block 5 Dragon CRS SpX-29

Price: $52 Million

Thrust: 7,607 kN

Stages: 2

Height: 70 m

Fairing Height: 13 m

Booster: B1081 Flight #2

Type: Resupply

Location: SLC 39A, KSC FL

ISS Resupply Mission Falcon 9 Dragon CRS-2 SPX-29ISS Resupply Mission Falcon 9 Dragon CRS-2 SPX-29The 29th Commercial resupply services mission to tie International Space Station operated by SpaceX is viewed from Lake Santa Fe, Florida as it flies in a Northern trajectory from launch complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center during the Thursday, November 9 launch. Also visible in this photo is the booster return to landing zone 1.<br/> Take note of the burn-back maneuver at the end of the arc, where after stage separation, the booster begins its return to the launch site, a magical sight to behold! This is the second flight of booster B1081.<br/> The Cargo Dragon 2 delivers supplies and payloads like science and research experiments to the ISS. This is the second flight of C211.<br/> <u><strong>Mission Details:</strong></u><br/> Falcon 9 Block 5 Dragon CRS SpX-29 <ul> <li>Price: $52 million</li> <li>Thrust: 7,607 kN</li> <li>Stages: 2</li> <li>Height: 70 m</li> <li>Fairing Height: 13 m</li> <li>Booster B1081 Flight #2</li> <li>Type: Resupply</li> <li>Location: SLC 39A, KSC FL</li> </ul>

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Florida launch Dragon Falcon 9 FL International Space Station ISS Kennedy Space Center Lake NASA rocket Santa Fe Lake space SpaceX https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/sending-supplies-to-the-space-station Sat, 11 Nov 2023 15:22:49 GMT
Another Space Station Flyover https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/another-space-station-flyover The International Space Station passed over Lake Santa Fe early on the morning of Wednesday, November 8, 2023. A crescent Moon illuminated the early sky with a bright planet Venus hanging underneath. It became visible in our area approximately at 5:41 am located 29° above NW direction (approx 321 ° ) and proceeded very quickly overhead, decending in a SE direction (approx 134 ° ). The duration of visibility was nearly five minutes, at a brightness of -4 (Keep in mind, the more negative the number of magnitude, the brighter of visibility; a full moon has a magnitide of -13 for comparison.)

In the past, I've shared a few fun apps to track the ISS before, but I'll share them again in case you didn't see them. What makes this fun is some of these apps allow you to listen to the live feed and conversations between the astronauts on the Space Station and Ground Control, or view what their onboard cameras see when looking down toward Earth and screenshot images as they pass over your favorite areas! You can also track other satellites like the Hubble and Starlink trains.

Find some apps here:

https://james.darpinian.com/satellites/?special=starlink&fbclid=IwAR2pXCIbILo_xGYjJLKBc-9nMqkpo9PwRj7p4VhubN1PI7GTdGfQEjOSZSo
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/iss-live-now/id1138994692
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/iss-live-now/id1138994692
https://www.issdetector.com/

 

ISS November 8, 2023ISS November 8, 2023The International Space Station passed over Lake Santa Fe early on the morning of Wednesday, November 8, 2023. A crescent Moon illuminated the early sky with a bright planet Venus hanging underneath. It became visible in our area approximately at 5:41 am located 29&#176; above NNW direction (approx 321 &#176; ) and proceeded very quickly overhead, decending in a SE direction (approx 134 &#176; ). The duration of visibility was nearly five minutes, at a brightness of -4 (Keep in mind, the more negative the number of magnitude, the brighter of visibility; a full moon has a magnitide of -13 for comparison.)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) astrophotography FL Florida International Space Station ISS Santa Fe Lake satellite space Space Station Victoria Jean Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/11/another-space-station-flyover Wed, 08 Nov 2023 14:22:05 GMT
Sunset Starlink Streak https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/sunset-starlink-streak It's another streak. A sunset Starlink launch,  this time, a lot more challenging for me because of how quickly the light changes. It is nearly impossible to get test shots for proper exposure (remember, I'm new enough to shooting rocket streaks that I don't have exposures dialed in just yet). Knowing that each test shot takes between 5-7 minutes, a lot can change with regard to light. I also had the challenge of incoming clouds which, while they make a beautiful photo, they also diminish the burning glow of the rocket. Nonetheless, it was still viewable and still lovely from 150 miles north!

This was a new location as well, so I wasn't confident with the trajectory, but I had a tool for that. The app called FlightClub.io is a powerful toolkit designed just for rocket photography enthusiasts like me. I used its simulator and photography toolkit to show me how the streak would look from where I was standing and to get the exact azimuth reading in degrees so I knew just where to point my camera. You be the judge at how accurate it was. Below is the rendering from the app and my actual photo, which shows both launch from SLC 40 and booster landing.

 

Mission Details:

Falcon 9 Block 5 Starlink Group 6-25

  • Thrust: 7,607 kN
  • Stages: 2
  • Height: 70 m
  • Fairing Height: 13 m
  • Booster B1077 Flight #8
  • Type: Communications
  • Launch Cost: $67,000,000
  • Location: SLC 40, Cape Canaveral FL

Click on the photo to see a larger version.
Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-25Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-25 FlightClub.io

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Cape Canaveral Falcon 9 FL Florida Kennedy Space Center KSC Launch NASA rocket Satellite SpaceX Space-X Starlink https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/sunset-starlink-streak Tue, 31 Oct 2023 11:31:47 GMT
I Saw The Rings of Saturn! https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/i-saw-the-rings-of-saturn This was officially the second time I was able to see the rings of Saturn... and this time, even some of Saturn's Moons, and it is mindblowing to me. Looking through the end of an 8" telescope, my neighbor was able to give me a vantage point I've never been able to enjoy before. From the rings of Saturn, we turned our gaze to the craters of the Moon, which is equally impressive. I felt as if I could almost see things moving about on the lunar surface.

My astro-friend and neighbor Steve tells me, "Saturn is 30 times larger than our Moon, but since it’s approximately 857 MILLION miles away and the Moon only 240 THOUSAND, it appears 100x smaller. This astrophoto illustrates this principle perfectly!"

During an October 23, 2023 conjunction, the Moon and Saturn were aligned as they rose in the southeastern sky.
This image was created with 6 captures on a Fuji XT-4 fitted to the end of a Meade LX90 8-inch telescope. The planets moved so quickly through the telescopic view, I couldn't believe my eyes!
Those shots were then composited together to make this final image.
 

Saturn and MoonSaturn and MoonDuring an October 23 conjunction, the Moon and Saturn were aligned as they trose in the southeastern sky.
This image was created with 6 captures on a Fuji XT-4 fitted to the end of a Meade LX90 8-inch telescope. The planets moved so quickly through the telescopic view, I couldn't believe my eyes!
Those shots were then composited together to make this final image.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) astrophotography conjunction Meade Telescope Moon planets Saturn space telescope https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/i-saw-the-rings-of-saturn Wed, 25 Oct 2023 12:58:03 GMT
Breaking Records In Style with Winnebago https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/breaking-records-in-style-with-winnebago This is Van Life! While waiting in the luxury of a 2023 Winnebago Travato, we enjoyed the recordbreaking 58th mission to launch this year from the Space Coast in Florida! Last year, a total of 57 rockets launched, and after this 58th launch in late October, we know that record will be "blown away" with a few more months left of the year. If that's not good enough, this was also a record-setting heaviest ever payload a Falcon 9 rocket has hoisted into orbit at 40,600 pounds (23 mini Starlink satellites).

What you are looking at is the launch 'streak' from the engine burn of the rocket launch from SpaceX Starlink Satellite Group 6-24 launching from Launch Complex-40 at 10:17 pm on October 21, 2023. It is a long-exposure photo, executed after several weeks of planning for trajectory of the rocket and specific placement of the van to get the arc streak just right as it roars out to orbit over the van in this image. The arc shape is due to the curve of the Earth as the rocket must follow Earth's orbit in order to deploy it's payload into orbit. Once in low earth orbit, a chain of satellites will be deployed to join the vast array of Starlink satellites being deployed by SpaceX for the Starlink system.

The van is a 2023 Winnebago Travato 59K; posh leather interior complete with swivel bucket seats, queen size RV bed (splits into two single beds), kitchen area with sink, stove, microwave and fridge, wet-bath with toilet and shower, and lots of storage. It also has a retractable awning, but we had no need for that on this crisp evening. This classy ride sits on a Ram chassis with a V6 engine. Driving it was a dream! I couldn't even tell I was in an RV. It was quiet and smooth the whole 2.5 hour ride down to Titusville. We averaged 18mpg for gas, which is far better than what our monster Class C used to give us. But, what I was most pleased with was the ease of maneuverabliity on this rig, especially since I had such a specific spot and angle in mind to create this specific shot. I could tell you more about this unit, but honestly, I don't yet know a whole lot about Class B RVs even though I work at (bookkeeping) a dealership, so I'm going to point you to speaking with our competent sales staff if you need more information. Shameless plug for Sunshine State RV here, Florida's #1 Class B dealership.

More about the launch for the space nerds:

Mission Details

  • Type: Communications
  • Launch Cost: $52,000,000
  • Location: LC-40 CCSFS
  • Orbit: Low Earth Orbit


The Falcon 9 first stage B1080 landed on ASDS ASOG after its 4th flight.
A Shortfall of Gravitas – ASOG
The fourth ASDS barge, A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG) is currently used to recover Falcon 9 and Heavy boosters in the Altantic Ocean.
Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship – ASDS

Van Life with Winnebago TravatoVan Life with Winnebago TravatoThis is Van Life! While waiting in the luxury of a 2023 Winnebago Travato, we enjoyed the recordbreaking 58th mission to launch this year from the Space Coast in Florida!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) cape canaveral fl florida kennedy space center launch nasa rocket spacex space-x starlink sunshine state rv travato van life vanlife victoria jean buckman victoria jean photo art winnebago https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/breaking-records-in-style-with-winnebago Mon, 23 Oct 2023 15:30:41 GMT
Lemonade Out Of Lemons https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/lemonade-out-of-lemons A good friend always tells me, make lemonade out of lemons. Thats just what I did. After driving a total of 5 hours and waiting 2 hours through delays to attempt to get a streak shot of a night launch in a setting I had envisioned, the launch got scrubbed 20 seconds from launching. Wow was I frustrated. But hey, I do like lemonade! 

This is actually a test shot photo that would have had a rocket streak in it, had it launched, but I think it looks pretty smashing just the way it is. Kennedy Space Center At NightKennedy Space Center At NightA long exposure of Kennedy Space Center on the horizon at midnight as clouds pass overhead during a scrubbed launch attempt.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Cape Canaveral Space Force FL Florida Kennedy Space Center NASA Space Force https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/lemonade-out-of-lemons Fri, 20 Oct 2023 10:30:00 GMT
Wave To The Space Station https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/wave-to-the-space-station Today, the ISS was the brightest it has been in a while as it streaked across the sky above my front yard in Gainesville. I was tipped off to look up at 6:30 am this morning to track it. I do follow the Starlink Trains by app, but was turned on to a few new and fun apps for following ISS and when to see it at its brightest over my area. 

The fun part about tracking the ISS is with these apps, you can also see the video feed and listen to communications!  If you care to follow, here are a few fun apps you can use:

Starlink Trains:  https://james.darpinian.com/satellites/

ISS: https://www.issdetector.com/

ISS: https://www.isslivenow.com/

ISS Oct 19ISS Oct 19International Space Station (ISS) streaks across the early morning sky above the bright planet Jupiter. Clearly seen by the naked eye and lasting only a brief moment.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) International Space Station ISS NASA space Space Station https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/wave-to-the-space-station Thu, 19 Oct 2023 11:10:51 GMT
Another Falcon Flies https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/another-falcon-flies Viewed from over 150 miles North of Cape Canaveral is the launch and booster return from Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-23; a batch of 22 satellites for the Starlink mega-constellation - SpaceX's project for space-based internet communication system, successfully launched October 17, 2023 at 8:39 pm EST from launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL.

Launched on a Falcon 9 two-stage rocket, Block 5 variant (the fifth major interval aimed at improving upon the ability for rapid reusability).

The B1062 core can also be seen in this same photo, landing out on the Atlantic Ocean on ASDS (Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship) JRTI (named Just Read The Instructions) barge after its 16th flight. It lands here because this was a high-velocity mission, which meant it did not carry enough fuel to return to the launch site landing pad after propelling the spacecraft into orbit.

Mission Details:

  • Type: Communications
  • Launch Cost: $52,000,000
  • Location: SLC 40, Cape Canaveral FL

 

Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-23Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-23Viewed from over 150 miles North of Cape Canaveral is the launch and booster return from Falcon 9 Starlink Group 6-23; a batch of 22 satellites for the Starlink mega-constellation - SpaceX's project for space-based internet communication system, successfully launched October 17, 2023 at 8:39 pm EST from launch complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Cape Canaveral Falcon 9 FL Florida Kennedy Space Center KSC Launch NASA rocket Satellite SpaceX Space-X Starlink https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/another-falcon-flies Wed, 18 Oct 2023 10:50:43 GMT
Fall in Florida https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/fall-in-florida Just a brief show of what fall looks like in Florida. We don't really get the delicious autumn tones I'm used to seeing from Northern Wisconsin, but we do get color. In an eruption of golden glowing yellow, fields of swamp sunflowers burst in bloom this time of year to signal the arrival of fall. These guys can reach up to 10 feet tall! Some merely sprinkle the ditches while others take over swamps and fields. The blankets of blooms are an important nectar source for pollinators, then after the blooms have long gone, the seeds stand as a food source throughout the winter for visiting birds and other wildlife.

Fall in Florida Swamp DaisiesFall in Florida Swamp DaisiesFall in Florida is like no other. The swamp sunflowers are in full bloom during the humid hot days, but wait a day and you will be blessed with a crisp refreshing cold front.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) daisy Fall FL Florida palm sunflower swamp Swamp Daisy Swamp Sunflower https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/fall-in-florida Wed, 18 Oct 2023 10:30:00 GMT
2023 Annular Solar Eclipse https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/2023-annular-solar-eclipse I had a lot going on this weekend. I had tickets to photograph the historic Psyche Mission launch from KSC from a special viewing point I didn't want to miss, but it was facing weather delays. I also wanted to make sure to be ready to photograph the entire solar eclipse, start to finish on Saturday. If the launch got delayed to Saturday, I was going to have a mess on my hands. But alas, it all worked out. Even the cloudy skies parted for brief periods during the eclipse, long enough for me to capture some good shots of each phase.

This was the first actual eclipse I witnessed with my own eyes. It was amazing.

This is a compilation of the three hours I stood out in the Florida sun with a good friend of mine while we viewed the eclipse. I shot over 600 images in my excitement. I was at least prepared enough to have the proper solar filter on the end of my 600mm (approx 900mm on my crop sensor Fuji camera) and eclipse glasses so that we could properly enjoy the event.

Had I been even more prepared, I might have planned to be in the path of totality so that I could photograph the "ring of fire" that the annular solar eclipse produces. Sadly, I may not have that chance for many many years now. Next years will only pass over land at the farthest point of South America. The next to pass over this continent will be in 2039.

You see, the word "annular" does not mean every year in this instance, it means "ring shaped".  That meaning comes from the ring of light the moon allows to pass through when it is in totality. An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, but when it is at or near its farthest point from Earth. Because the Moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the Sun and does not completely cover the Sun. As a result, the Moon appears as a dark disk on top of a larger, bright disk, creating what looks like a ring around the Moon.

To learn when and where the next annular eclipse will be, click THIS LINK
 

Here are the images I created from the 2023 annular solar eclipse as viewed from North-central Florida, Santa Fe Lake area.

2023 Annular Solar Eclipse, FL2023 Annular Solar Eclipse, FLAs seen from Lake Santa Fe, Florida, the Annular Solar Eclipse had around 55% coverage. Not a bad view between all the clouds. Eclipse Trio, FLEclipse Trio, FLAs seen from Lake Santa Fe, Florida, the Annular Solar Eclipse had around 55% coverage. Not a bad view between all the clouds. Annular EclipseAnnular EclipseAs seen from Lake Santa Fe, Florida, the artist rendition of the Annular Solar Eclipse had around 55% coverage. Not a bad view between all the clouds.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) 2023 eclipse annular solar eclipse eclipse eclipse photo eclipse photography moon solar solar eclipse sun Victoria Buckman Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/2023-annular-solar-eclipse Sun, 15 Oct 2023 18:44:32 GMT
First Time Ever Humans Will Explore A World Made Of Metal - Psyche Launch https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/first-time-ever-humans-explore-a-world-made-of-metal Psyche SunrisePsyche SunriseThe sun rises over the Psyche Mission at KSC
This was a highly anticipated launch!  The mission has been in the works for 12 years! And after missing a launch window last year, the team had to wait a full year before another window would open. Then again, more delays pushed two more launch dates to finally a successful launch on Friday, October 13, 2023. I would say this was one of the luckiest Friday the 13th I've experienced. People from all over gathered to take a chance on the weather, hoping for the best, and the sky would clear just enough. As the countdown began, we all held our breath... then the sky began its soft red glow in the distance and the crowd erupted in excitement. Not to be outdone by the crowd, the slow rumble to roar of the rocket rolled across the water and overcame us as the glow grew to an eruption of fire and smoke and the Falcon Heavy took flight! 

Psyche Launch VideoA video from my cell phone of the launch.

At launch, Psyche had a mass of approximately 2.6 tonnes. The Falcon Heavy's side boosters returned to landing zones 1 and 2 successfully with the sweet sound of double sonic booms which brought another round of cheers and applause from the crowds that gathered to observe the launch.

The Psyche Asteroid Mission, one like no other, taking human exploration to new boundaries, to a world made of metal - not the rock and ice of the terrestrial scapes we have come to know. Arizona State University leads this mission, partnered with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent the payload of the Psyche Spacecraft and its research equipment that includes an imager, magnetometer, and a gamma-ray spectrometer propelling into space toward their target of the Psyche asteroid. The Psyche Spacecraft is scheduled to begin its scientific operations in 2029, where it will orbit the asteroid for approximately 26 months while conducting various experiments. 
This Psyche asteroid itself  is located between Mars and Jupiter, and scientists believe it to be the core remnants of an early planet that is made up primarily of nickel-iron material. For the first time ever, humankind will be able to test and study planet core material if their suspicions prove correct. This information could provide us with the building blocks of early planets and give a glimpse into a whole new kind of world. As it is not possible to penetrate the depths of our own planet to the core nor have we been provided with such an opportunity in the past, this will indeed be an unprecedented event where countless members of the scientific community will be impatiently awaiting any feedback from the success of this mission. 

What a fun launch this was to witness. Wishing the best of success to this mission, to Psyche's 2.2 billion mile journey and hoping for fruitful and exciting discoveries for our scientific community that will foster continued growth in understanding our universe.

Psyche MissionLiftoffFalcon Heavy liftoff with Psyche Spacecraft on the Psyche Mission Psyche MissionLiftoffFalcon Heavy liftoff with Psyche Spacecraft on the Psyche Mission Psyche MissionPsyche MissionFalcon Heavy rocket headed toward space with Psyche Spacecraft aboard on the Psyche Mission
 

These are the Mission Details, straight from NASA:

  • LAUNCH PROVIDER: SpaceX
  • ROCKET TYPE: Falcon Heavy
  • LAUNCH PAD: Launch Complex 39A
  • BOOSTER(S): Re-usable, Landing Zones 1 & 2 • Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

Science Goals

  • Understand a previously unexplored building block of planet formation: iron cores.
  • Look inside terrestrial planets, including Earth, by directly examining the interior of a differentiated body, which otherwise could not be seen.
  • Explore a new type of world. For the first time, examine a world made not of rock and ice, but metal.

Science Objectives

  • Determine whether Psyche is a core, or if it is unmelted material.
  • Determine the relative ages of regions of Psyche's surface.
  • Determine whether small metal bodies incorporate the same light elements as are expected in the Earth's high-pressure core.
  • Determine whether Psyche was formed under conditions more oxidizing or more reducing than Earth's core.
  • Characterize Psyche's topography.

Mission Timeline

  • Launch: October 13, 2023
  • Solar electric cruise: About 6 years
  • Arrival at (16) Psyche: 2029
  • Observation Period: 26 months in orbit, mapping and studying Psyche’s properties

Mission Events

  • 2023 – Launch of Psyche spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
  • 2026 – Mars Flyby of Psyche spacecraft
  • 2029 – Psyche spacecraft arrives in asteroid’s orbit
  • 2029-2031 – Psyche spacecraft orbits the Psyche asteroid

Scientific instruments and Investigations

  • Multispectral Imager
  • Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer
  • Magnetometer
  • X-band Gravity Science Investigation

Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC)

The Psyche spacecraft will carry an experiment that will demonstrate NASA’s farthest-ever test of high-bandwidth optical communications. DSOC will send and receive test data using an invisible near-infrared laser, which can transmit data at 10 to 100 times the bandwidth of conventional radio wave systems used on spacecraft today. As the first demonstration of deep space laser communications, DSOC could pave the way for broadband communications that will help support humanity’s next great leap: When NASA sends astronauts to Mars. The DSOC team is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Arizona State University asteroid Falcon Heavy launch NASA Psyche Psyche Mission rocket space https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/first-time-ever-humans-explore-a-world-made-of-metal Sat, 14 Oct 2023 13:14:57 GMT
New Adventures in Florida https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/new-adventures-in-florida This past weekend, my husband planned a few fun excursions for us to do locally. 

Saturday was Carson Springs Wildlife Sanctuary (CSWCF), "a conservation and educational facility that rescues exotic animals in need. Sitting on 275 acres of lush Florida woods and farm land, it is home to approximately 30 rare and endangered species and over 100 animals.  CSWCF is a 5013c nonprofit registered in the State of Fl ( #CH36249), licensed by USDA, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Alachua County and ZAA accredited facility. It has never had a citing or violation."

It was their annual open house and we spent a few hours roaming around viewing the animals and learning a little about them, observing feedings and interactions. At one point, a volunteer even had one of the big cats up at the fence purring for us, and it was a loud and lovely sound!
 

Click on the photos to see more in the gallery.

TigerTiger TigerTiger WarthogWarthog HyenaHyena

The following day we headed up north to Ichetucknee Springs Blue Hole for some SCUBA Diving in the cavern of one of the headsprings. This is one of our favorite spots because it typically is not as crowded due to its more remote location; however, this day it held more visitors than normal. No matter though because where we hang out, few dare to venture. Its a crystal clear spring with a dreamy blue color, and a small crevice opening into a cavern system below where the springs strongly force their water through, contributing to the 233 million gallons of spring water Ichetucknee feeds into the Santa Fe River. Once we make it through that crevice past the force of the surge and drop 45 feet to the bottom, we are able to peacefully explore more of the beauty and depths of the cavern system, all while keeping a careful and watchful eye on the opening above as it grows smaller and smaller. It is completely otherworldly down there! The way the water has worn away the limestone and tiny pockets of air being held, the darkness in the gradual light as we float along...it actually feels like we are on another planet. Nothing can match it.

Click on the photos to view more in the gallery.

(GoPro imagery shot by my wonderful husband, video shot by me and let me say, I am NOT an underwater photographer!)
Ichetucknee Springs-2Ichetucknee SpringsIn the Cavern of Ichetucknee Springs Blue Hole Ichetucknee SpringsThe crystal clear blue springs of Ichetucknee (Let it be known, I am no underwater photographer!!)

 

To end the day, we headed a little farther north to Live Oak to a spot Justin learned about, the Suwannee Springs Graffiti Bridge and Suwannee Springs Park. The bridge is a gem of a discovery I will have to revisit to photograph more as this was a quick stop at the end of our day, but a wonderful surprise it was! (Note to self, next time, bring spray paint). It was a hell of a windy day too which made me very apprehensive with flying the drone within the structure. I was able to get three good enough images for posterity sake though. I'll expound more on this work of art after a later visit and more photography. Who knows what might inspire me further there. Just down the riverbend are the remnants of Suwannee Springs, a sulpher spring where during the late 1800s, early Floridians would visit the Spring House (remnants in photo) to bath in the healing waters. 

Click on the photo to view more in the gallery.

Overhead Paited BridgeSuwannee Springs Graffiti BridgeAn aerial view of the Suwannee Springs Graffiti Bridge spanning the Suwannee River in Live Oak, FL.

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Carson Springs FL Florida Ichetucknee Ichetucknee Springs Springs https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/10/new-adventures-in-florida Tue, 03 Oct 2023 23:13:00 GMT
Revisiting The Lagoon https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/revisiting-the-lagoon While waiting to have an opportunity to travel and shoot another launch, I revisited one of my recent favorite experiences, the visit to the Indian River Lagoon in Florida where I got to see bioluminescence for the first time in my life!

I wanted to composite the few photographs I made into one single image to represent that night, so here it is! Kayaking on the water, disturbing the bioluminescence to flush out a glow of blue under the force of the whirling water.

While I was working on it, I noticed a tiny detail I hadn't seen before... I actually caught the Starlink Train low on the left horizon in the photo, double win! It's funny to me because I had been joking of how it would be a great shot if I could also capture the Milky Way, a rocket launch and lightning all at the same time. Don't laugh, it could happen!

The bioluminescence of the Indian River Lagoon in Florida releases a glowing blue light in the dark of night when disturbed. This twinkling light is caused by dinoflagellates, microscopic single-celled organisms that releases light as a defense when it receives pressure on its cell walls. This lagoon is so full of these organisms, you can't avoid making a disturbance. Even the fish swimming through the warm water create an eerie glow. It's truly a magical experience.
Enjoy the photo, or better yet, make a trip to experience this magical phenomenon yourself! You won't regret it.

 

Bioluminescence CompositeBioluminescence CompositeThe bioluminescence of the Indian River Lagoon in Florida releases a glowing blue light in the dark of night when disturbed. This twinkling light is caused by dinoflagellates, microscopic single-celled organisms that releases light as a defense when it receives pressure on its cell walls. This lagoon is so full of these organisms, you can't avoid making a disturbance. Even the fish swimming through the warm water create an eerie glow. It's truly a magical experience.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) bioluminescence dinoflagellates FL Florida Indian River Lagoon Titusville https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/revisiting-the-lagoon Fri, 29 Sep 2023 00:07:29 GMT
Lightning Storm Passes Through Santa Fe Lakes https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/lightning-storm-passes-through-santa-fe-lakes I was preparing to go out to attempt to photograph the International Space Station passing overhead when I got the weather alert on my phone of an approaching storm. I looked outside and sure enough, the sky was quickly clouding over, spoiling any chance at seeing the space station transit Florida. I was disappointed, but the growing grumble of thunder in the distance abated my disappointment. Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love thunderstorms... and this one was proving to be ripe with lightning! So, I made lemonade out of lemons.

Instead, I took my gear out to the dock to try to catch some lightning. Typically, Easterly moving storms don't prove to be worth shooting as all the lightning is on the approaching end, not a good vantage point for me on the dock, which has a great westward view. However, this particular storm had a few pop-up cells trailing behind it. I waited until the rain passed and headed out. I watched the sky dance with the glow of all the rain-wrapped strikes, not seeing any distinctive bolts for almost a half hour, then the trailing pop-ups came through for me, fast but furious. They blew threw within a matter of seven minutes. I must have lost a good twenty strikes between changing lenses, but this is what I caught.

I'll catch ISS next time, for now, I'm happy with the lightning.

Lightning on Santa FeLightning on Santa FeA sliver of the sky as a storm passed through on September 12 over Santa Fe Lake. The sky was crawling with lightning. Lightning on Santa FeLightning on Santa FeThe tail end of a rain-wrapped lightning storm on September 12 as it passed over Lake Santa Fe.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) FL Florida lightning Santa Fe Lake storm thunder thunderstorm https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/lightning-storm-passes-through-santa-fe-lakes Wed, 13 Sep 2023 11:50:15 GMT
Atlas V Rocket Launches from Florida https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/top-secret-atlas-rocket-launches-from-florida ULA Atlas V NROL-107 (Silentbarker)

Atlas V successfully launches from AMSPACE LC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, Florida at 8:47 am Sunday, September 10 after two delays (one from inclement weather threads due to hurricane Idalia).

MISSION DETAILS:

  • Type: Government/Top Secret

  • Launch Cost: $153,000,000

  • Classified space situational awareness (SSA) payload for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

  • LAUNCH PROVIDER: United Launch Alliance (ULA)

  • ROCKET TYPE: Atlas V 551

  • LAUNCH PAD: Space Launch Complex 41

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket launches the SILENTBARKER/NROL-107 mission, a joint National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and U.S. Space Force (USSF) capability to improve space domain awareness. 

In plain terms, it will form a watchdog type of satellite formation to search for and monitor threats from other countries, able to track objects as small as a basketball, watching their position and movement. The payload this rocket carried was heavy enough to demand ULA's most powerful engine configuration, the Atlas V 551. It was a sight to behold from the Gantry, a mere 2.3 miles from the launch pad site.

Atlas Silent Barker 1Atlas SilentBarker Atlas Silent Barker 2Atlas SilentBarker Atlas Silent BarkerAtlas SilentBarker

SilentBarker Video of Launch

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Atlas Atlas V Cape Canaveral Space Force Center FL Florida Kennedy launch NASA rocket space ULA United Launch Alliance https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/top-secret-atlas-rocket-launches-from-florida Sun, 10 Sep 2023 22:49:57 GMT
SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Blazes Into Orbit Carrying Starlink Group 6-14 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/spacex-launches-falcon-9-rocket-carrying-starlink-group-6-14-satellites SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Blazes Into Orbit Carrying Starlink Group 6-14

Mission Details

  • Type: Communications
  • Launch Cost: $52,000,000
  • Location: LC-40 CCSFS
  • Orbit: Low Earth Orbit

After a few hour delay, a batch of 22 satellites for the Starlink mega-constellation – SpaceX’s project for space-based Internet communication system, successfully launches at 11:12 pm on Friday, September 8, 2023 from LC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Block 5 variant is the fifth major "production run" aimed at improving the ability for rapid reuse of the rocket, better reliability and performance. Following the stage separation, the first stage (reusable part) will return to land on a droneship on the Atlantic Ocean, so there will be no booster return burn to see in this photo, but the sonic boom was still heard and felt upon booster return!

The Starlink satellites are actually a fun spectacle to watch for in the night sky. They are called the Starlink Train. Take some time to look up and see if you can spot the train moving through. Use this interactive locater to see when they will be visible in your area. It uses your actual location, even giving you a VR type of viewer to help you know where to look and visualize what they may look like in the sky in your exact area. Play with it a bit on your desktop monitor then give it a try on your cell phone. I hope you have as much fun with it as I do!

https://james.darpinian.com/satellites/?special=starlink&fbclid=IwAR2pXCIbILo_xGYjJLKBc-9nMqkpo9PwRj7p4VhubN1PI7GTdGfQEjOSZSo
 

Falcon 9   Starlink 6-14Falcon 9 Starlink 6-14SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Blazes Into Orbit Carrying Starlink Group 6-14 Satellites

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Falcon 9 FL Florida launch NASA rocket space SpaceX Starlink Starlink 6-14 Titusville https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/spacex-launches-falcon-9-rocket-carrying-starlink-group-6-14-satellites Sat, 09 Sep 2023 20:17:30 GMT
A Visit To New York https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/a-visit-to-new-york Labor Day weekend always brings another special holiday for me, my Mom's birthday. This year was a special milestone that I wanted to make sure to share in person with her, so off to New York I go for a quick weekend. She stays in Saratoga Springs for the summer, with my sister. My sister's place is a beautiful historical home that sits on the edge of the Graphite Range Community Forest, over 200 acres of forest for recreation like hiking, biking, skiing and more. We have enjoyed many hikes up in these woods, and have enjoyed the remnants of the old graphite mines that can still be seen today. It is such a gorgeous area to enjoy, I can say this photo really does not do it justice. If you want to learn more about this treasure, visit Saratoga PLAN.

About the photo: Shot with DJI Mini Pro drone, approximately 15 images, carefully stitched together for 3 different panoramic levels, then once again for a solid frame and hand blended to get proper exposure throughout. A painstaiking process that was worth the extra effort to maintain the detail in the shadows of the trees while holding the glowing vibrance of the setting sun.

Graphite Range Community Forest ©Graphite Range Community Forest ©Hiking and biking trails at Graphite Range Community Forest at the foothills of the Adirondacks in Saratoga County, New York. It has 200+ acres for recreation for hiking, biking and skiing. Get out and enjoy it!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adirondacks Graphite Range Community Forests mountains New York NY Palmertown Range Saratoga Saratoga County Saratoga Springs Sarratoga PLAN sunset https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/a-visit-to-new-york Tue, 05 Sep 2023 12:36:33 GMT
It Actually IS Rocket Science https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/its-actually-rocket-science From the moment I first saw a photo of a rocket launch, the sweeping graceful arc glowing in the sky, I knew it was something I wanted capture and perhaps even see in person. Now that I'm living in Florida, I have more of an opportunity. Then came Artemis. The mission that was going to take man back to the moon. The big rocket. History in the making.

I live approximately 150 miles from Kennedy Space Center where rocket launches are occurring on a regular basis. I could make the 3 hour drive to go down and see one after work or on the weekend any time I wanted to, but did I mention, 3 hour drive?!

So I resigned to watching Artemis from the dock on Santa Fe Lake where we live. Bonus, it was a night launch, so this was my chance to try my hand at creating my coveted arc shot, a long exposure single shot of the launch from start to finish. Single exposure, meant only one chance to get it right, and with Artemis being such an historic launch, I had better not muck this up. 

I spent several weeks leading up to the launch reading up on how to shoot a nigh launch, how to follow trajectory, getting good resources to follow. Little did I know I was just dipping my toes into what was going to be a glorious ocean of vast experiences and loads of fun (and a lot of work).

The night arrived when Artemis was scheduled to go up. My husband and I waited impatiently on the dock to see if we would be able to make it out from so far away, we had no idea what to expect. I had my camera on a tripod all set up with what I hoped were the correct settings, ready for one long shutter speed single shot. I was so excited, I couldn't wait. More people started to wander onto the dock for viewing. I was getting more excited. We started the live feed on our phones to listen to the play by play, how thrilling. The sounds of the shuttle as it worked to ready itself for the historic launch. T-60 seconds. I started shaking I was so excited. T-30 seconds...  THE WHOLE DAMN SKY IN THE SOUTHEAST BEGAN TO GLOW... Thats when we learned there was a delay in the live feed to real time.

It was happening!  I fumbled to hit my shutter release cable. Did I catch it in time?  The glowing sky grew as if a bomb had gone off (or as I imagined that to look) with a slow red golden glow expanding across the entire horizon, breaking the black of night. As it slowly faded back, we saw it, the rocket rising above the tree line in a slow climb, steady and confidently toward space. I saw the graceful arc into orbit and prayed I had it all on camera. 

I was totally dumbfounded, my mouth hanging open at how magnificently bright and beautiful it looked from so far away. It was from that moment I knew I was hooked. 

It took all of 4 minutes. It seemed to last forever. Did I catch it? I couldn't wait to check, but I dare not stop the camera too soon and miss any part of that graceful arc. As soon as I couldn't see the shuttle any longer, I stopped the exposure and quickly hit the playback button to reveal the one single photo, the only chance I had for this historic launch.... moment of truth, I would be crushed if I didn't get it.

And as if I heard angels singing, when the image came up on the screen, there was that beautiful glowing arc, I HAD DONE IT! My first attempt at the rocket arc, and on such a meaningful launch, I had done it!

Thing is, it isn't as easy as I though it should be, it actually IS rocket science (pun intended). I've tried several since, I totally missed one (heartbreaker), messed a few others up, but with each one, I learn something new. This is certainly a skill I am working on growing, and I'm loving it. It takes dedication, long drives, staying up until wee early hours of the morning, carefully learning and researching manual exposures on my camera, learning all about rockets (the coolest part) and learning my way around a town I'm not at all familiar with which is also strictly controlled by NASA security during launch events. And its all worth it.

 

Artemis Launch, my first ever rocket launch photograph.

Artemis 1Artemis 1Off to the Moon! Artemis 1, the 322 foot 5.75 million pound rocket launches from Cape Canaveral FL on November 16, 2022, at 01:47:44 am from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. It is seen here from Santa Fe Lake, over 150 miles away. This is the first in a series of launches to return man to the moon after over 50 years!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) artemis fl florida Launch rocket rocket launch titusville Victoria Jean victoria jean photo art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2023/9/its-actually-rocket-science Fri, 01 Sep 2023 22:17:51 GMT
One Year Ago https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2019/2/one-year-ago Its hard to believe this epic 3-month RV trip across the country was a year ago (began 2018)!

Looking back at all the pictures and reading the posts makes me feel like I'm living it all over again!

If you missed it the first time, you can relive it all by clicking HERE! You can relive every moment with us, siply click on "next post" at the bottom right of each entry.

2018 RV Trip2018 RV Trip

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) adventure RV travel trip https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2019/2/one-year-ago Sun, 17 Feb 2019 13:52:19 GMT
Honey, I'm Home!! https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/baby-im-home The 2018 RV Trip Comes To An End

South CarolinaSouth Carolina

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Tuesday, April 10

Leaving the Suwannee Park area today, sadly because I love this place. We need to make it to Boca by the 12th and have one more cool place to stop along the way. We drove east for several hours and made it to the Silver Springs area just outside of Ocala. This was as far as we'd go today. Time to rest up and do some laundry. We found a nice RV resort to pull into just before the rain started again. 

Wednesday, April 11

Up early today with a short drive to get to Blue Springs State Park. Justin found this as a good spot to dive; a clear spring that forces out over 100 million gallons of water daily. It was a clear and sunny day around 68 degrees. The park was quite large. We checked in with the ranger, who gave us a brief outline of what we were not allowed to do while diving. First being not to mess with the two remaining manatees, second being not to enter the cavern system deep within the springs we were diving. I perked up at the mention of manatees, not expecting to see any, how lucky was I? This springs system is one of many they congregate to in masses during cooler winter months. The water stays a consistent 73 degrees for them. Right about now, they all should be moving back out, but two remained behind.

We found a great spot to park thick with shade. Lil would rest comfortably while we spent some time diving. We donned our gear and walked the boardwalk to the divers entrance. It felt like a jungle, with a lush green canopy of trees and plants around us. The water was crystal clear, absolutely beautiful! Right away we were able to spot the manatees, marked by park service with buoys on their tails. As we dropped into the shallow waters, I was surprised to feel the force of the current working against me. We sure wouldn't be swimming to the crevice, for this current was very strong. We could stand, with water at our chest, so we slowly waded through the water into the mouth of the spring. In my grace, I stumbled a time or two over fallen logs, clear as day to see, but I was watching the manatee buoys instead of where I was walking!

Once we were as far back in the springs as we could go, we put on our masks and dropped below the surface. Damn! Beautiful does not do it justice. The way the sun was splitting across ripples on the surface, it made diamond shaped illuminations that danced across the sandy bottom. It was so clear, I could see the lumbering giant sea cows 30 feet from me. Since they are protected, and it is illegal to bother them, I just stared for a while as they gently poked around the bottom picking at plants to eat.

We swam up on the crevice we were to dive. At first, the pitch black gap felt too ominous and uninviting to me. I felt just fine hanging out here in shallow water watching manatees play. Justin was first to descend, down between fallen trees into the crevice. It wasn't very wide, but opened up more as we dropped. I followed, and my eyes eventually adjusted so it wasn't a black hole any longer. Rather, it became a surreal underwater mini canyon. The force of the springs had worn away stunning formations in the limestone. I wanted to see more, so we kept diving farther down, pushing against the force of the surging water, until we eventually reached the depth of 60-something feet where the cavern system began. No farther could we go, which was fine with me, it was pretty dark this far down. I rolled over and looked up to see the remarkable image of sun rays streaming into the opening far above. Once again, I paused to appreciate it for a minute. Eventually, more divers entered the crevice, making it a little too crowded for my liking, so we eventually made our way back up into shallow water. It was at that point that I turned my GoPro to video to record bits of the swim through the shallows, letting the current carry us. There were so many fish, huge pan fish and even some long gars near the end. You'll have to watch the video to see what I saw.

Manatee!Manatee!This one was around 6 feet. The attachment on its tail is a buoy marker so park rangers can see where it is at in the springs. It's illegal to disturb or bother them so the marker helps boaters steer clear as well. They are very friendly and will approach swimmers and make physical contact.

Click on the photo above to see pictures from the dive.

Click on the video below to see the drift through the current in shallow water.
Blue Springs Apr 2018

After the excitement of the dive, we returned to the RV to clean up and start heading for Boca, where we would spend the next few days with family.

Friday, April 13

Friday the 13! I didn't even realize that until the day was almost over. It was a quick visit with family, but we had reservations with a dive charter in Venice for tomorrow, so we had to get moving. Venice is said to be the fossil shark tooth capital, with divers able to find many teeth along its waters. I was itching to see what the buzz was all about. We left late in the day after dinner, and arrived 4 hours later in the Venice area, around 9:30 pm, both fully exhausted from an eventful couple days. The spot we reserved would have been the perfect size for us, had the thickskulled self-important moron in a huge motorcoach in front of us not attached his trailer with car- it sat at least 25 feet over in our space and we had to work around it to get the RV hooked up. I was just glad we had a spot and could fit in, I was too tired to stress over it.  As the story seems to go, another early morning in store for us, so we needed to get some sleep.

Saturday, April 14

I dreamed of shark teeth last night, excited about the charter dive with Florida West we had scheduled this morning. The RV park we chose was close to the dive shop, and had electric so we could leave Lil in the AC to relax (she spent the last two days with a house full of doggies to play with). We rolled the scooter off and stuffed our few pieces of dive gear on, then burned off to the dive shop. There we were outfitted with the remainder of dive equipment we'd need for diving off the coast in the gulf waters. The last time we tried this, the charter was cancelled due to high winds, but today looked perfect with the only signs of bad weather rolling in later tonight.

We boarded the dive boat with several other eager divers, and they carried us out into the gulf. A warm morning, salty breezes on our face, turquoise blue water, it felt like paradise. The dive master dropped in the water, checking for good spots for us, and when he was satisfied, he gave us the thumbs up to plop on in. Justin and I dropped to the bottom at a depth of around 30 feet, ready to start hunting for teeth. The visibility wasn't perfect, seeing only around 10 feet in front of us, but it was far better than that of the Cooper River. I poked around with my hands, trying not to stir up too much silt. I knew I was on the search for fossil teeth, but the marine life down there simply captivated me, distracting me over and over again from the task at hand. We found a seahorse, many live seashells, and attracted a school of fish along the way. The teeth however, not as plentiful as advertised. Justin and I each found a partial megalodon tooth, and a handful of smaller teeth. We completed a total of two dives in the 77 degree water, and I was exhausted and chilly by the end of the second. The weather was changing, bringing in wind and higher swells on the surface. While we could surface swim to the boat after the first dive, the captain had us stay put on the second, bringing the boat to us instead. Exiting the water with all our gear and weights was more challenging with the boat rocking and bucking in the wind. All in all, it was a great experience and we didn't leave empty handed. Let me just say, there really isn't much that is sexy about diving; the wetsuit is tightly adhered to every roll in your body, hair becomes an entangled mess of algae and debris, the mask leaves a long-lasting indentation around your face, the regulator in your mouth bulges your lips out like a swollen fish, and let's not forget the snot or saliva strings drizzling from your face just after emerging from a dive... but I wouldn't trade it in for anything.

The DiveThe DiveMy view after surfacing from my first dive, with the charter boat off on the horizon.

This photo is my view as I surfaced from my first dive.

 

 

 


The FindsThe Finds

 

 

This is a photo of our collective finds.

 

 

 

Play the 10 minute video below to see our dive highlights.

While the water looks green, it really is much clearer.

The GoPro rendered to the best of its (and my) ability.

 

Venice Dive Apr 2018

After the dive, we scooted back to the RV, showered and cleaned up and pulled out to find lunch. We were both starving, and butter burgers and frozen custard from Culvers sounded perfect! After lunch we drove another 3.5 hours north back to the Live Oak area to look again at some land we were interested in. It was a hot day, in the 90's and very humid. When we arrived in Live Oak, it was late, but still hot. We crawled around in the woods along the river, looking at uncleared lots. When we broke out of the jungle-like brush, Lil sought relief by laying in some cool clay mud, leaving knobs of sticky clay to dry on her fur like cement. 

After land hunting, we pulled into the Spirit of the Suwannee Park where we'd stay the night. It was a huge hippy-like music festival complex outfitted with over 600 RV sites. My priority was to clean off Lil as soon as we hooked up. She took a shower in the RV after a failed attempt to use the hose outside while fighting off mosquitos. Once everyone was clean and fed, we all crashed for the night. Tomorrow's highlight...returning home!

Sunday, April 15

Everyone slept in a little, well earned I would think. We couldn't procrastinate long though, we had a long drive ahead of us and severe storms were rolling in. It was a windy ride home, and we felt we were being chased by the bad weather. A few stops along the way, including one flower photo op with Lil, and we arrived back in Charleston by late afternoon, just in time to feel the rain on our backs as we quickly unloaded the RV.

Ah, a sigh of relief to be back home!

Below, from the beautiful Boca coast we left behind to the weather that chased us home, a Georgia sky and a South Carolina roadway.

Florida BeachFlorida Beach Bad Weather Following UsBad Weather Following Us Georgia AfternoonGeorgia Afternoon South CarolinaSouth Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a final tally of my collection; 93 pounds of fossil ammonite, 40 pounds of fossil trilobites and trilobite material, 94 pounds of quartz crystals, and other assorted rocks and fossils total a whopping 320 pounds!! 

The Final CollectionThe Final Collection Justin drove over 10,000 miles from coast to coast over the two and a half months we roamed. I managed to collect over 300 pounds of fossils and rocks. Lily hiked the desert canyons and frolicked in the snow covered mountains. From boondocking on sandy beaches, SCUBA diving in the middle of a desert, prospecting for gems, eating in the streets of Mexico, to seeing the many natural wonders of our states... it was an epic adventure all the way, leaving us with many wonderful memories to look back on.

And hey, thanks for following along! Stay tuned for a highlight reel of my favorite photos from the entire trip.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Ammonite Blue Springs State Park Boondocking Coast to Coast Crystal Dive Florida West Fossil Shark Teeth Fossils Landscape Photography Landscapes Manatee Megalodon RV SCUBA Shark Teeth Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trilobite Trip Venice Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/baby-im-home Wed, 18 Apr 2018 18:17:57 GMT
Soggy Days https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/soggy-days The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Raining On Suwannee River CypressRaining On Suwannee River Cypress

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Saturday, April 7 continued…

We arrived in the tiny town of Wilmer where we camped at a private RV park along a river. It was empty, but quite nice. Yet again, no excursions, a simple walk around the grounds with Lil ending with rain showers singing us to sleep later.

Camp RiverCamp River LilLil

 

 

 

 

Sunday, April 8

After leaving the Monroe area, we arrived in the Tallahassee late in the afternoon and found an RV park with laundry and wifi so I could catch up on some chores. We grilled surf and turf for dinner and enjoyed an evening of warmer temps.

Monday, April 9

We started off for the Suwannee or Withlacoochee River area near Live Oak. Our goal today was to look at several properties along the rivers in the area, hoping to find a nice little piece we could buy for recreation use. Along the way was Vortex Springs, a place Justin wanted to SCUBA dive, so we swung through and dove  for a short while. It really was a short dive, lasting only around 20-something minutes with our mini SCUBA sets. The water was a cool 65 degrees and crystal clear, teeming with panfish. The limestone and ancient coral formations below the waterline were stunning. There was a cave system farther down, but we just swam around the outer edge of it enjoying the character with the black hole beckoning us to enter the caves. I'd love to come back when its warmer outside and we have more time, and when my gopro is charged; unfortunately no photos were captured due to a dead battery. After drying off, we got back on our route to the Suwannee River to check out land.

We stopped at several properties, poking around through the overgrowth, gauging how suitable each was. Lunch was at one of the only restaurants around, just outside of the dying town of Lee. After lunch, we tried our luck at finding a camping spot at our favorite park in the area, Suwannee River State Park. We've been there before and knew we could only book online, which told us all sites were taken, but often times, people no-show. We pulled in and asked at the gate and sure enough, a spot was available. Before setting up, we drove back out with our reservation in hand and went on to explore a favorite spot of mine nearby where I’ve been able to find fossil sea urchins (echinoids) in the past. While I didn’t collect as many as before, I was happy with the specimens we were able to leave with. I actually got very warm while hunting, it was 87 degrees and 70% humidity, no wonder! Time to go back to the state park, plug in and turn on the AC!

The fossils of the Suwannee River!

Fossils At SuwanneeFossils At Suwannee Fossils At SuwanneeFossils At Suwannee Fossils At SuwanneeFossils At Suwannee Digging For Fossil EchinoidsDigging For Fossil Echinoids Fossil EchinoidsFossil Echinoids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we settled in, I took Lil for a walk down to the river and let her swim a while. She loves going just deep enough to be able to float and paddle around. While we were walking the shores, I found outcrops of fossil coral and beds of hundreds of tiny seashell fossils, no wonder I love this place!

We eventually made a small dinner and watched a movie. As night crept in, I took Lil out for one last walk with Justin. We wandered in the dusk to a part of the park we’ve not investigated before and found a large rock perched over the river where we could crawl out and sit, just soaking in the warm night breeze and fresh air. With light sprinkles coming in, we decided to head back to the RV. It was dark enough to notice the special spectacle of the plentiful fireflies twinkling among the woods. It felt so magical, we just had to pause and enjoy the show for a while. What a wonderfully enchanting night on the river! I was grinning from ear to ear with how lifted this place makes me feel.

Tuesday, April 10

Justin convinced me to rise before the sun this morning, I mentioned the night before how beautiful a sunrise would look on the river. I begrudgingly rolled myself out, gathered up my equipment and walked down to the river with Justin and Lil. They stayed a little while, but left me there to play with catching some images. It was very overcast, so I knew I wouldn’t see any colors of the sunrise, but the mist and lush green around the river was too beautiful not to shoot. It was a refreshing morning with the smell of rain in the air. I could hear low rumbles of thunder off in the distance and it made me smile. It wasn’t long before I started to see flashes of lightening around me, then the rain started. I wanted so badly to stay out in the showers, taking long exposures of the drops hitting the water, but I soon became drenched and couldn’t protect my camera enough to merit staying out. When I got back to the RV, I literally had to wring out my coat. We waited for a lull in the rain, then packed up and pulled out to continue our search for properties.

We toughed out the intermittent showers, squishing our way through soggy woods, braving saturated and sticky dirt roads with a few we wouldn’t attempt driving farther on for fear of getting sucked into the mud. It stayed warm enough, but we were soggy most of the morning.  Along the way, there were some picturesque areas, I don't think anything around here would be necessarily a bad find. Alas, the search was over as the weather made it difficult to get into some of the areas. We found rest just outside of Ocala in Silver Springs, still soggy and raining.

Click on any photo below to see the Suwannee River area.

Adventure LilAdventure Lil Suwannee River State ParkSuwannee River State Park Suwannee RiverSuwannee River Raining On Suwannee River CypressRaining On Suwannee River Cypress

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Coast to Coast Echinoids Fireflies FL Florida Fossils Landscape Photography Landscapes Lightening Bugs RV SCUBA Springs" Suwannee Withlacoochee Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art Vortex https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/soggy-days Tue, 10 Apr 2018 22:56:46 GMT
Driving Days https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/driving-days The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Lily the Flower GirlLily the Flower Girl

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Friday, April 6 continued...

We arrived at a small RV park in Monroe, in southern Louisiana. Our goal is to arrive in the Live Oak area of Florida by Monday, so we're not stopping for adventures these next few days. Looks like it was a good idea too because we arrived just in time to sit through a night of severe weather. It was 85 degrees and lightly raining when we parked. Justin started some quick maintenance on the RV while I started laundry, dinner and bathing Lily in the RV tub. Within a half hour, it was torrential rain and heavy winds. I love thunder storms, the excitement of it, but poor Lil was huddled in a corner in the safety of her blankets. Justin and I both became soaked to the bone the few minutes we were outside, and for a while we worried of lightening strikes or wind taking down branches. Nonetheless, it was an eventful night.

Severe WeatherSevere Weather Severe WeatherSevere Weather Flooding in MonroeFlooding in Monroe Flooding in MonroeFlooding in Monroe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, April 7

We woke to temps in the low 40s, a cold front came in swiftly after last nights storms. No wind damage, but the park was flooded in areas right behind us. I was thankful we were not assigned any of the spaces along the edge of the lake. We pulled out and headed for Mississippi, stopping at a delicious southern buffet for lunch. Our camp for the night was on the Mississippi and Alabama border, in a little park along a small river. Once again, no excursions, so all you get for photos are those of Lil sitting in the many wildflowers blooming along the way. It sure does feel good to be back in a more lush environment.

Lily the Flower GirlLily the Flower Girl Lily the Flower GirlLily the Flower Girl Lily the Flower GirlLily the Flower Girl Lily the Flower GirlLily the Flower Girl Lily the Flower GirlLily the Flower Girl Lily the Flower GirlLily the Flower Girl Camp RiverCamp River LilLil

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Coast to Coast FL Florida LA Landscape Photography Landscapes Live Oak Louisiana RV Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/driving-days Sat, 07 Apr 2018 23:06:54 GMT
Ammonites Anyone? https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/ammonites-anyone The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Windmill In Flower FieldWindmill In Flower Field

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Wednesday, April 4

On our way out of Amarillo, we stopped by another canyon to let Lil get in a hike or two. Palo Duro Canyon is the country’s second largest canyon, cut through the high mountain desert by the Red River and spans across the panhandle area of Texas. It was a comfortable 55 degrees outside, and the wind dried our skin and dusted our faces. We all crawled around some of the canyon formations and walked along some of the many trails on the canyon floor among the hardwoods. We passed a segment of the red rock full of gypsum veins, also where Lil took a refreshing dip in the little creek that ran through.

Justin & Lil In The CanyonJustin & Lil In The Canyon

 

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see Palo Duro Canyon.

 

We left that area and drove east on through Texas through modern day ghost towns and past junkyards. We caught lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant on the side of the road, where the wind nearly ripped off the side door to the RV. After lunch, we drove on, passing a small wildfire burning as it was fueled by the winds.

We arrived in Wichita Falls to stay the night. The only reason we stopped here was because it was a halfway point to our next point of interest which I picked based off a Facebook post I saw just the other day.

Thursday, April 5

I couldn’t sleep well, dreaming of the next stop where we would have the opportunity to hunt for fossil ammonites! We left Wichita Falls early, knowing we had only a few hours to hunt before we needed to hit the road again. Our goal this morning was Lake Texoma, where hundreds of ammonites of all sizes could be found in the limestone formation (Duck Creek Formation). I was pretty excited. Once again, I had all our excavation equipment packed in my backpack, eager to use it. We walked along the shore with Lil, my eyes panning back and forth looking for the circular formations. I was discouraged at first, not seeing whole pieces but finding many fragments discarded by past hunters. We eventually came to a spot where they were more plentiful, although tenaciously embedded in the hard rock. Justin and I worked hard extracting these from the hardened stone. We walked over mammoth sized ones searching for more manageable pieces. We found a few 5-8 inches wide, and two around 12 inches wide. I bloodied my knuckles and blistered my hands working to aquire a few to bring back. When we were satisfied with our finds, we walked back to the RV. It felt like miles for me, weighted down with what I would guess is 70 pounds of stone. We have a deal, if I want it, I have to be able to carry it out, and thankfully I’m a stubborn fool willing to break my back getting my finds out of their resting spots. I was absolutely overjoyed with what we came out of there with.

For the other fossil hunters I’ll share this with, I hope you get some good direction from this if you want to give the place a try. For other readers, forgive me a moment while I digress into detailed directions for other hunters.

We parked the RV in a gravel lot next to the Lake Texoma Spilway just off highway 91, next to where all the boat trailers were parking. We immediately walked along the shoreline, but if you go, you will want to walk to the end of the lot to a gate with a gravel road behind it (see photos). Walk that gravel road past two boat ramps, the second is pretty broken up and not used. You will descend a short way down to the shore where the limestone banks open to cliffs. Fight off the urge to dig and hunt here, better areas are ahead, though you’ll see a lot of fragments of ammonite as you walk.  Continue west along the shore past the first small cove into the second cove into an area that looks like limestone ledges you can walk on out to the water. Most whole ammonites can be found embedded within the limestone you are walking on. Either stroll back and forth looking for the unmistakable circular patterns, or begin prying and breaking away segments of the rock to see what you can reveal within. Work carefully, these fracture very easily. With patience and luck, you’ll discover many rewarding pieces. Tools you must bring; gloves, chisels, rock hammer, 3-pound mallet is useful, crow bar, safety glasses, a way to carry back 50-100 pounds of ammonite the mile or so you’ll walk, water, sunblock and patience. These pieces can be very large. We saw some the size of car tires! I carried one out that was approximately 12 inches wide and it was very heavy and awkward. I had a backpack for the smaller ones, but didn’t realize I’d have such a heavy load to carry, though I was damned determined to get these all back to the RV.  It was 60 degrees and very overcast when we went. A t-shirt and jeans was sufficient to keep us warm, you’ll be working hard to liberate these treasures so don't overdress. Respect other hunters you may encounter, follow property and state laws, and good luck!

After all our hard work, we left Lake Texoma, headed for Bluebonnet Ridge RV Park where we’d rest up for the night.

Our FindsOur Finds

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see the ammonite adventure.

 

Friday, April 6

This is a lovely park, bluebonnet flowers bordering the site here and there, and plenty of lush green space to spread out. Justin spent a bit of the morning fishing in their catch-and-release pond. The air was humid with stormy skies in the distance. It felt refreshing to be in green humid air after so much desert driving. I took advantage of the extra free time to rearrange all my fossils and rocks I’ve been collecting. Once we got everything situated, we left for Louisiana.

BluebonnetsBluebonnets Windmill In Flower FieldWindmill In Flower Field

Lily Enjoying Green GrassLily Enjoying Green Grass

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Ammonite Bluebonnet Ridge Coast to Coast Duck Creek Formation Fossils Gypsum Lake Texoma Lake Texoma Spilway Landscape Photography Landscapes Palo Duro Canyon RV Texas Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip TX Victoria Jean Photo Art Wichita Falls https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/ammonites-anyone Fri, 06 Apr 2018 18:17:14 GMT
Catching Views of Colorado https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/catching-views-of-colorado The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Lil Loves WindowgazingLil Loves Windowgazing

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Sunday, April 1

Today is Justin's official retirement day, retiring after 20 years in the US Navy. Congratulations babe, you've earned this time off!

We left Utah today heading into Colorado. We decided to give Mesa Verde National Park a try even though portions were still closed from the winter. The landscape through Utah remained unbeatable with the constant rising ridges falling into spanning valleys. We stopped briefly at a few viewpoints along the way, just long enough for me to gawk in awe at the view and try to capture it in camera. It is still astounding to me, how diverse and incredibly beautiful this land is; the different layers of rock, blending together in kaleidoscopic patterns with shapes and holes whittled by time. We drove through Moab, hoping to stop for lunch but it was teeming with tourists, way to busy for our taste. I swear there were more 4x4 dune buggies than there were people though, apparently this place is known for its desert 4x4 recreation. We caught a glimpse of some arches off the road, but didn’t brave the masses to get a closer look. Farther away from that bustle was something that caught our eye, the Hole In The Rock. We thought, sure, they’ve got to have food there, right? That too turned out to be a tourist trap, with a meager grocery store as its only source for food. It is apparently a 5,000 square foot “house” build into the mountain and can be toured for a small price- which we opted out of. I'm sure it would have been a really neat thing to see, but we were on a somewhat strict timeline. Instead, we scrounged together a lunch in the RV and went on our way.

Scenic WaypointsScenic Waypoints

 

 

 

Click to see photos of the trip from Utah to Colorado.

 

Our stop for the night was at BLM land in Cortez, Colorado, just beyond the Mesa Verde park. Before pulling in, we let Lil run for a while at the dog park in town. It was a fantastic park for her; very large, lots of brush to “hunt” in. She played for a while, then we left to go claim our spot at the BLM land. It was the first spot we found upon driving in. The area had around 12 spots along a rugged dirt road far off the main highway. It was all surrounded by trees and brush, so every spot felt very secluded. We walked all the way back in to see what the remaining spaces looked like, some were only suitable for tents while others could manage an RV. There were some pretty deep ruts in the road, and I was glad we didn’t decide to drive back in farther. By the end of the night, I believe every spot had been filled. We were treated to a gorgeous sunset as well, with the colors seeming to drench everything around us until it slowly faded away.

Suset on BLM Land ColoradoSuset on BLM Land Colorado

 

 

 

Our BLM sunset in Cortez, Colorado.

Monday, April 2

We left the BLM spot this morning and drove into Mesa Verde park, stopping at the visitor center to get a better idea as to what we would be able to see today. We had only 3-4 hours to burn here before we needed to get back on the road. Mesa Verde’s attraction are the multitude of cliff dwellings carved and built within and around the the cliffs and ridges of the area. The earliest known structure is dated somewhere near 640 AD and they continued building and rebuilding for several hundred years. Our tour was mostly a driving tour, stopping along the way to peer over the ledges to see ancient sites. It was astounding to imagine what it took to build these, then to come and go on a daily basis with having to climb the cliffs by way of foot and hand holes carved out of the stone. Some seemed as elaborate as small neighborhoods, containing up to 150 individual rooms and many other chambers for worship and gathering. We were unable to take any tours of the sites this day, but perhaps sometime in the future. As we drove back out, I couldn’t help but snapping a pic or two of the skeleton trees left behind from wildfires decades earlier.

Cliff DwellingsCliff Dwellings

 

 

 

Click photo to see the cliff dwellings.

 

We drove on to Albuquerque, a stop of necessity more than anything else. We had to stop at the military base there to get new identification cards since Justin’s official retirement was April 1. We arrived at the base late in the afternoon and simply made dinner then hit the sack.

Tuesday, April 3

After a surprisingly quick visit to the ID center on base, we were back on the road. Our trip back is going to be much faster than the trip out to the West coast. We’re trying to make good time, with hopes to get to Florida in 10 days or so. Our goal today, we picked Amarillo. The only reason was because it’s within our range of 300 miles, and the Cadillac Ranch popped up on Google Maps while I was looking. For some corny reason, I wanted to see that. We drove on through New Mexico, through the wind and pollution induced haze. Eventually, the horizon flattened out leading me to believe we finally crossed into Texas. It was still very windy when we arrived in Amarillo. We saw the Cadillac Ranch from the road and pulled over in the parking area to see what the draw was. I expected it to be more elaborate, but I’m guessing everyone that doesn’t research it said the same thing. It’s simply an art piece of a sequence of Cadillac cars erected in a cow pasture that people come to visit and paint sentiments over on a regular basis, reminding me of the Folly Boat. I took Lil and walked out into the field for a viewing, and was so cold from the wind, I didn’t take the time to photograph it like I wanted. Besides, there were so many people coming and going, many spray painting their own expressions upon the car bodies. Even on a windy day in a wide open Texas field, the smell of spray paint was heavy in the air, making me wonder if these things ever had a chance to dry before the next fella came along with a new coat of paint. Walking back out, I noticed hundreds of spray paint cans strewn about in the pasture.

Discarded Paint CanDiscarded Paint Can

 

 

Click photo to see the Cadillac Ranch photos.

 

We arrived on the outskirts of town a few minutes later and checked into a nice RV park, where I could catch up on a few chores before we scooted into town to have Texas steaks at Hoffbrau Steak House. It was a ff-ff-ff-ffreezing ride on the scooter, but the delicious coffee rubbed steak was totally worth it!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Cadillac Ranch Cliff Dwellings CO Coast to Coast Colorado Dwellings Hoffbrau Steak House Hole In The Rock Landscape Photography Landscapes Mesa Verde National Park RV Texas Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip TX Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/4/catching-views-of-colorado Wed, 04 Apr 2018 01:54:37 GMT
Hunting Fossil Trilobites https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/hunting-fossil-trilobites The 2018 RV Trip Continues

The BiggiesThe BiggiesAround two inches each.

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Friday, March 30

On the road again after a refreshing break. Today we head south to a site rich with fossil trilobites, a place I’ve had on my radar for a long time and can finally go see what its all about. What’s a trilobite you ask? Well, let me introduce you to the little “bugs”. They are an extinct marine critter, known to be the first invertebrate life on earth. They look slightly like a segmented beetle or maybe a crab. These prehistoric little things scuttled about the sandy bottoms of the seas that have long disappeared, encasing their hard outer shell in limestone shale. These particular ones can range in size from a pinhead up to two inches in length and are quite fragile upon excavation, some 500 million years after their demise.

The site was U-Dig Fossils, declaring themselves to be the best place in the world to find fossil trilobites. We stayed the night in Delta, about 30 miles from the fossil site, at Antelope RV Park. It was an ordinary RV park, but while walking Lil, I happened upon several nuggets of obsidian! These days, I spend most of my time with my head hanging down in search of unusual rocks or fossils. Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic “glass”, created when lava rich in silica cools too fast for crystals to form, and is shiny like broken glass so it’s very easy to spot.  After our walk, and after my pockets grew too heavy with rock, we returned to the RV and Justin and I took the scooter over the bridge to grab lunch at the Ashton Burger Barn. Upon returning to the RV, I made sure we had all our tools together for the quarry the next day; rock hammers, spades, buckets, gloves, and so on. I was quite excited!

Saturday, March 31

Up and at it bright and early! It’s time for bug hunting! We pulled out and headed for the quarry. We turned onto a gravel road with a sign pointing us toward Death Canyon, which I was hoping we would avoid. It was 20 miles down this dirt road before we hit the fossil place. Nothing makes you feel more chubby than driving down a washboard gravel road and feeling everything on your body jiggle in rhythm. We finally arrived at the quarry and parked the RV. After a brief introduction to hunting, we gathered our tools and with Lil in tow, headed into the pits. It was a relatively small quarry, but the black splinters of shale were everywhere. We picked a spot and began hunting, eagerly splitting rock in search of the elusive trilobites. It’s quite a gratifying feeling when the hammer strikes the shale with a strong but hollow hit, fracturing open to reveal even the tiniest body. Lil quickly became bored being tied to my waist, so I built her a shade shelter from the rocks and perched her bed atop for the roof then laid my shirt inside for her to spread out on. She was quick to take advantage of the shade hut while Justin and I grew more burned in the afternoon sun; a 74 degrees at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet was warm for all of us. After a few hours, some blood blisters, and aching arms from hammering, we were satisfied with our buckets of finds. We collected nearly 30 small specimens which were smaller than a nickel, around 8 large specimens an inch or two in length, and several in between. I was thrilled! We sorted and stowed them and went on our way, with visions of trilobites dancing in my head yet.

We decided to continue on out of town to see how far we’d get before stopping for the night. We made it an hour and our dust covered aching bodies wanted rest. We still needed to see what kind of adventure we could find for the next stop.

These are the only photos of our excursion this day.

The QuarryThe Quarry Heartbreakers - Broken TrilobitesHeartbreakers - Broken Trilobites The HammerThe Hammer Lily's Shade ShackLily's Shade Shack The BiggiesThe BiggiesAround two inches each. The BiggiesThe BiggiesAround two inches each.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Ashton Burger Barn Coast to Coast Fossils Landscape Photography Landscapes obsidian RV Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trilobites Trip U-Dig Fossils UT Utah Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/hunting-fossil-trilobites Sun, 01 Apr 2018 02:47:38 GMT
You Gotta See Utah https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/utah The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Portion of Great Salt LakePortion of Great Salt Lake

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Monday, March 26 continued….

I forgot what character Justin’s grandpa was. It was good to see he hasn’t lost his feisty personality.  Lil took to him right away, loving up and sitting on his lap. He kept us laughing with wisecracks and stories of the old days while he showed us around his town a bit. Justin drove the RV with grandpa in the passengers seat, getting direction to a few local points of interest with only the kind of narration grandpa can give. One was Whiskytown Lake, a lake created when one of the first mining communities died off and was intentionally flooded after creation of a dam. The area now serves as a lively recreation lake with a small marina.  The second site was the Shasta Dam, holding back the Sacramento River to provide flood control, water storage during California’s dry seasons and also a source for power generation . Between tours, we sat and enjoyed lunch and dinner with him. When it was time to go, he reluctantly bid us good-bye, giving Justin a few more sly tips on life and love.

Spring  BloomsSpring Blooms

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see all of the Redding area.

 

We drove on into the night through the elevations of the Lassen National Forest, with the moon casting shadows of the tall pines over the snow. I had forgotten how beautiful and peaceful night shadows on snow really is. Our stop was in the valley town of Susanville where I can proudly say we spent our first night boondocking in a Walmart parking lot! It was great to finally find a safe place to stop and rest our head for the night.

Tuesday, March 27

As we head back East to return home, it only made sense to swing through the Salt Lake City area to visit with Justin’s sister. We couldn’t make the drive across Nevada all in one day, so we broke it up by boondocking one more night at BLM land on the Humboldt River in Nevada. This was one of the most serene spots we’ve found so far. It was a flat gravel pad on the edge of the river in a small canyon with ridges on either side. It sat on a dead end road of what was the old highway cutting through the hills before the interstate took over. We pulled in late in the afternoon, just as the sun started to set. While Justin walked Lil along the river, I made us a hearty pork steak dinner. We stuffed ourselves and settled in for the night.

Sunrise On Humboldt RiverSunrise On Humboldt River

 

 

 

This is the BLM area in Nevada.

 

Wednesday, March 28

We woke to a beautiful sunrise, which I didn’t roll out of bed in time to capture. By the time I got dressed and grabbed my camera gear, the sun was already above the ridges, but I was able to get a good image of the river with the flame red brush along the banks.

We pulled out and headed for Ogden, UT.  I was eager to see the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah. We came upon them just after crossing the state border. It was easy access since the interstate cut right through them. They haven’t always been so easy to navigate. Before the area was developed, early explorers would traverse them to find and settle new land. Even today, the environment is harsh and unwelcoming; back in the 1800’s it proved to be tragically dangerous for unprepared explorers to cross. The salt flats were created when the ancient Lake Bonneville covered nearly six times the area of the Great Salt Lake. As it became cut off from connecting waterways, eventually evaporating but leaving behind vast deposits of salt. Today, wind and water work back and forth to create the spanning flat rock-like crust of white salt. True to form, I couldn't leave without a quick taste!

Bonneville Salt FlatsBonneville Salt Flats

 

 

 

Click the photo to see all of the salt flats experience.

We arrived in the Ogden area that afternoon, where Justin’s sister warmly welcomed us in with a scrumptious meal, big bed, free laundry and long hot showers! Her two sweet doggos were full of kisses and overly curious about the scruffy hot blonde we brought along.

Thursday, March 29

Another thing to knock off my bucket list of must-see icons in the states- the Spiral Jetty right here in Utah! Justin’s sister was just as excited to see this spectacle and navigated us along long dirt roads to find it. I learned it was actually a work of art, from the day it was created, it remains in a constant state of decay as part of the artists intention. The Spiral is a 15 foot wide spiral formation of basalt rock which sticks out in stark contrast to the white salty sand surrounding it on the edge of the Great Salt Lake. It took approximately 10 days to create in 1970, and was covered by the changing waters of the lake within a year. It stayed covered for the next 30 years before water receded enough to reveal it again. Today, it attracts tourists to see it in its constant state of change; salt encasing the some of the black rocks, waters ebbing in and out from it’s edges, appearing just a little more intriguing by the magenta colors of the water made rosy by salt loving organisms in the water which has a salt content 10 times more salty than the ocean. This is one of those locations a person needs to visit on several occasions to see it in the many beautiful variations to the landscape that Utah offers.

Spiral JettySpiral Jetty

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see the Spiral Jetty.

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Bonneville Salt Flats Boondocking CA California Coast to Coast Great Salt Lake Humboldt River Lake Bonneville Landscape Photography Landscapes Lassen National Forest Nevada NV RV Shasta Dam Spiral Jetty Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip UT Utah Victoria Jean Photo Art Whiskytown Lake https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/utah Fri, 30 Mar 2018 17:47:41 GMT
Finding Gold https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/finding-gold The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Artistic Rendering of FallsArtistic Rendering of Falls

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Friday, March 23 continued...

After leaving Springville, we headed to Yosemite. Justin found an RV park just outside in the town of Oakhurst that participated in the wonderful Tents For Troops program, giving us a complimentary night for the RV. While driving in, we saw a few signs luring tourists to panning for gold in their area. I guess this part of California was a good spot for finding some. We read the largest “nugget” found in these parts weighed around 75 pounds!  I don’t think I’d call it a nugget at that weight. I won’t lie, part of me wanted to try panning, but we had other things to do.

We arrived at the RV park, which had recently been flooded from heavy rains. They were still cleaning up the Fresno River overflow sediment with small excavators. We were lucky and got a spot right on the river in a section they just reopened. You could see how far the river had overflowed, there was sand swirled in a churned pattern everywhere outside our RV. I also found fresh prints from a curious raccoon exploring what the river may have left behind for him. By the size of his fatty paddies, he had to be a big fella. Then I noticed it, shimmering golden flecks intermingled with the upheaved sand… could it be? Were we camping on a bed of gold dust? Of course, I let my imagination run with it even though I knew it was only flakes from the granite this area is also known for producing. No matter, I’ll be the fool and collect some of the shiny stuff just to keep as a memory.

We did a short walk with Lil to see how far back the river went, and saw where it rolled over a tiny falls at the edge of the campground. It really was quite lovely. After the stroll, Justin consulted the maps to learn which roads in Yosemite were still closed due to snow, and see where we could go in the park the next day. Another couple of campers pulled in to a spot nearby and wandered over to chat. We talked about how far we’ve traveled so far, about traveling with our pets, and so on. One thing I’ve enjoyed on this trip have been the brief encounters with other campers and hearing their stories. Then on occasion, bumping into some of those same ramblers at other stops along the journey. It really feels like a kinship of sorts to be able to share our experiences.  After dinner in the RV, we turned in, ready for a chilly night.

Saturday, March 24

Chilly, but not freezing. The crisp morning air felt good with the wash of sun breaking through. We pulled the RV out and stopped by the visitor center in town for a little more park information. It was a good thing too, the sweet ole gal we spoke with informed us of a storm coming in this day, a winter storm… snow! She asked if we had chains for our vehicle if we were driving up into higher elevation, which we were to get into the park. Knowing we were not prepared for winter driving, she advised us of the best places to hit up first in the park before the snow started to fall at noon. With her advice, we quickly went on our way. The sky was a beautiful blue, no sign of the impending bad weather, it was easy to get wrapped up in walking the trails and such.

The first sight we stopped to take in was Bridalveil Falls, though there were a few other falls waaay off in the distance we could see on the drive in. Bridalveil had a nicely paved walking trail to it. We walked along the path, making our way to the overlook, getting noticeably wetter as we walked. The falls overspray hung heavy in the air and turned into outright rain at the end of the trail. The temperature up there was so cold, the falls rain froze on the trees and plants around it. What a sight, everything from the sturdy branches to delicate leaves encased in an icy jacket, twinkling in the morning sun. I tried to walk up to the overlook to get a better photo of the frozen branches, but simply slid back in my tracks on the sheet of ice coating the path, so I dropped to my hands and knees and crawled up the path, of course. With as much precipitation that was falling, it was a quick stop. My coat clung to me under the weight of being soaked, and I quickly retreated, sliding back down the path.

Once back at the RV, I glanced across the meadow where a healthy sized bobcat caught my eye as he sauntered along the edge of the forest. I kicked myself for not having my zoom lens ready, but shot a quick photo anyhow. 

We drove on, stopping at a point where we could take Lil out on a path in the valley. I walked with her and met back up with Justin in the parking area of our next spot. Along the path, we saw more wildlife, a pair of coyotes snooping around in the meadow. They didn’t mind the tourists at all, and it made me a little uneasy knowing Lily was with, but thankfully she didn’t see them. After our walk, we left her in the RV while we went up the path to the Yosemite Falls. These double falls were stunning, strong and fast, swollen from all the recent rains. Along this path, the wildlife display consisted of a bluebird and a fat squirrel, both of which I had my zoom lens ready for. We walked along, with a small snow covered ice river to our side to remind us of the incoming storm.

By this point, it was after noon and the snow started falling in tiny ice beads that bounced off our cheeks. We decided not to push our luck and drive the 1.5 hour trip back out of the park before it got too heavy. A few times along the way, it was falling heavily enough to block out any distant objects, and as always, I was anxious rolling the RV through freezing rain, down the twisty turns on the road out.

Once out of Yosemite, we stopped at another RV park in Groveland on the other side of the park where we stayed the night. When we checked in, the gal told us several of the area roads had washed out from all the heavy rains. I hadn’t realized it was such an inundation, but sure enough, one of their main roads lay in ruins with large chunks of blacktop heaved over for the new little valley of water to run through. The sky over the park was dark and ominous, I was thankful we made it out before conditions deteriorated too badly. The freezing rain moved into our area soon after, dropping tiny pellets of ice everywhere. It was going to be a night hunkered in the RV, warm and dry. I took the opportunity of extra time to work on photos.

Sunday, March 25

It was just at freezing when we woke today, and the grounds around us were coated in thin crunchy ice, the kind that would melt away with just a warm breath, but no evidence of the freezing rain from the night before. We let the sun rise high enough to melt most of it away before we ventured on. Our goal this day was to reach Redding to visit Justin's grandpa. It was a long drive on fairly scenic highways that we broke up with a Walmart stop for groceries. The RV park we had for the night was quaint, poised on the Sacramento River. The banks were flat and abundantly populated with river rock, and noisy seagulls. Maybe I would find some gold nuggets here?

Monday, March 26

It's a beautiful morning! Cool, but not cold. The gulls, ducks and geese we had for neighbors were relatively quiet this morning. Our adventure today was to hang out with Justin's grandpa in Redding. It's a charming enough community, and I recalled the stories his grandpa told of how often gold was found here in this area. I will tell you, we found gold alright, real gold, not fools gold, shiny and lustrous... floating in a bottle of Goldschlager liqueur. 

ReflectionsReflections

 

 

 

 

 

Click on this photo to see all of the Yosemite area.

 

 

Artistic RenderingArtistic Rendering

 

 

 

 

 

Click on this photo to see artsy fartsy pieces.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Bridalveil Falls CA California Coast to Coast Fresno River Groveland Landscape Photography Landscapes Oakhurst Redding RV Sacramento River Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art Yosemite https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/finding-gold Mon, 26 Mar 2018 15:47:55 GMT
California Dreams https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/california-dreams The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Roll Back AroundRoll Back Around

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Friday, March 23

What a great break with the family these last couple days! It was wonderful to see both Mom and Dad Buckman. While in Westminster, we visited Knotts Berry Farm; I expected a commercial sized farmers market, but Justin knew better. It was a huge amusement park, featuring the Charlie Brown comic characters and Knotts berries everywhere. The shopping area was nicely set in an old west theme. I learned that the Knotts Berry Farm is where the boysenberry became famous, being created in California then made popular by the Knotts restaurant. I was able to procure a small amount of boysenberry flavored souvenirs, only after nearly making myself sick riding all the wild coasters.

Old West ThemeOld West Theme

 

 

 

 

 

Click on photo to see cell phone pics from our Knotts visit.

 

After leaving Westminster, we spent the last two days in Springville, where I was able to get out and play with my camera while I was here. Sure, the weather wasn’t sunny 70’s California typical, it was still very enjoyable for me with rain and even a brief thunderstorm.

Let me tell you a bit about the Springville surroundings. If you have ever wanted to travel abroad to Ireland to see their lush green slopes and rocky ridges peeking out of the morning fog, you really don’t have to go farther than Springville in the springtime! I don’t know if the rainy weather contributed to how magical the surroundings felt (I obviously love the rain ), because while we were scooting around the upper hills, I felt transported to another country. The air was thick and fresh, and the sights down into the valley were dreamlike with the Tule River, angry from heavy rains, rolling through the abundantly green pastures and meadows. I looked to either side, surrounded by equally green hills punctuated with boulders, peppered with smaller rock then lightly sprinkled with colorful spring flowers- it all really lifts your spirits. We didn't venture further for the roads to the higher elevations were still closed due to snow. Down below, Lily ran free in a very large area fenced in with Justin’s father’s two dogs, where she could hound around in the rock or tear around the yard in pretend chase. It was a great place to rest up a few more days. The surrounding countryside is vineyard area, some areas so perfectly arranged in symmetric fields, it felt like a painting. It inspired me to make some of the photos into photo art, giving them a painterly effect. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Rolling HillsRolling Hills

Click above photo for Springville area.                                                               

Spring FieldSpring Field

Click above photo for artsy-fartsy pieces.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Boysenberry CA California Coast to Coast Knotts Berry Farm Landscape Photography Landscapes RV Springville Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Tule River Victoria Jean Photo Art Vineyards https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/california-dreams Fri, 23 Mar 2018 16:02:59 GMT
West Coast Arrival https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/west-coast-arrival The 2018 RV Trip Continues

California BoundCalifornia Bound

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Tuesday, March 13

We started this morning with one last hike through Red Canyon before driving out of the area. Lil enjoyed it just as much today as the first day, climbing rock like a mountain goat.

Day Two Red CanyonDay Two Red Canyon

 

 

 

Click on photo to see Day Two of Red Canyon.

 

On our way to the next stop somewhere between Bryce and Las Vegas, we cruised up into some beautiful wooded mountain tops covered in snow and adorned with stark white birch trees sprinkled among the tall pines, the Dixie National Forest. The elevation was so high, it made the drive down quite nerve racking for me; extreme grades with the RV chugging into the declining curves like an out of control locomotive. O-kay, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but that’s how it played out in my head. We went along some back roads, riding atop washboard gravel, and found the first possibility for camping. It required squeezing the RV through two very narrow and short tunnels under the highway. We stopped right before going through to mentally measure the fit, and to measure our courage, of which I had none. Justin decided to go for it and slowly but expertly maneuvered through both tunnels with no difficulty. However, once we got through and into the campground, we struck out on finding any open spaces, so back through the tiny tunnels we went. Our next possibility was within the red rocks of another beautiful park. We drove in, again on gravel roads and every spot we came upon was occupied. We decided to go as far as spot 8, and if that was full, we’d  turn back. The farther in we drove, the more narrow and sketchy the road became. At one point, it was only wide enough for a single car, and as I glanced out my window, all I could see was a sheer drop off into a ravine after the soft shoulder. I squeezed my eyes closed and leaned far to the center of the RV, as if any of that would help if we slid off. Once again, Justin got us through it just fine, and not one line worry on his brow, though I will say he was getting tired of my anxiety fits. I was quite relieved when we got back on blacktop. We headed into the small town to get some lunch and decide our next move since we’d struck out at both camps. After lunch, it was decided we go the whole way to Las Vegas and rest up there for a few days.

Dixie National ForestDixie National Forest

 

 

 

 

 

Click on photo to see more of the Dixie drive.

It was later in the day when we arrived in Vegas, but Justin found the perfect spot for us to get some R&R at. It was the Oasis RV Resort just a ways off the strip. An easy night with pizza delivered right to our RV, then tomorrow we’d investigate more.

 

Wednesday, March 14

What beautiful weather!! Sunny, 70’s, and breezy. We walked Lil out to the dog park for some morning exercise then let her relax the rest of the day in an air conditioned RV. She seemed ready for a long nap after all the hiking.

We spent part of the morning at the pool in the RV resort. This place was pretty posh. Mostly filled with snowbirds staying for the winter, and they had all the amenities they could want here. For us just driving through, we appreciated those extra perks! After the pool, we had lunch at the RV with Lil, took another stroll to the dog park, then tucked her back in while we caught an Uber to the strip. Down on the strip, we strolled and drank while taking in the sights. We saw a fella dressed as Elvis come zipping by in his scooter. Ha, how awesome is that? I raised my hand to give him a high-five as he zipped by, and his only response was “Where’s your money? Where’s your camera?” and kept on rolling. Anything for a buck I guess, this is Vegas after all. Justin and I had a chuckle over it though. We deliberated catching a show, but opted to treat ourselves to what Google had told me was the best buffet in Vegas, The Buffet at the Wynn. I was more impressed by their décor at first; huge fresh floral arrangements of whimsical colors and other varied vibrant ornaments embellishing the fresh green vines growing throughout the lobby. What a gas! Even the buffet area was vivacious and stylin’. But the food, ohhhh maaan. They even had the crab legs already split so all we had to do was spoon it out and gobble it up! I gorged myself and felt like I was going to split open after eating so much. That brought an early end to our excursion, we both were too stuffed to do anything else.

Pool Time At RV ResortPool Time At RV Resort

I didn't bring my real camera into the city, so all you'll get for Vegas pictures are these few.

Thursday, March 15

We departed Vegas, satisfied we had seen all we wanted to. Our next stop was close enough, Bullhead City just outside of Laughlin, Arizona. There were a few things nearby we wanted to check out before leaving the area, and the RV spot Justin found at another snowbird village was free for a few nights. It sat high atop a hill with a perfect view overlooking Laughlin and the Colorado River, probably the best RV park around with this view.

Before settling in for the night, we parked over in Laughlin and took Lil on the riverwalk stroll, letting her play along the banks of the river. When we finished, we drove over into Bullhead City, just across the river from Laughlin, and had lunch at the Black Bear Diner; a very busy place with good ole café food. I ordered a taco salad thinking it would be a light lunch, and they brought out a salad the size of a watermelon! How the hell am I going to eat all that!? Who am I kidding, I tore into it and managed to make most of it disappear. We settled in at camp for the night and would check out Laughlin more tomorrow.

Bullhead City SunsetBullhead City Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the cactus to see a little bit of the Bullhead City area.


Friday, March 16

Still having great weather, even had to turn on the air conditioner last night, I sure am happy to be out of the freezing weather. Today’s outing was to Oatman where wild burros (mules) roamed the streets, eating from your hand. We kept Lil in the RV because the burros are known to try to kill dogs, thinking they are coyotes. The town itself was very small, and still mostly kept in an old western theme with wood plank sidewalks. The burros originally came from back in the 1800's when this town was a mining community. The burros would carry ore and tools back and forth in the mines. After the mines were shut down, the burros were released to make it on their own and the town mostly died. Today, the burros are abundant and have made friends with most of the townfolk, often being shooing off the wooden walkways. For the most part, they are welcomed, and a few even have names and will do tricks. Tourists arrive by bus and car and drive among them, slowly weaving past them in the roadway. We had a few cubes of feed we were treating them to. At one point, the burros were quick to remind us they are still wild animals and don’t give a shit if you’re in their path when they break out in a tussle or mini-stampede. A handful of them got feisty, kicking up their heels in a cloud of dust and chasing each other in an unruly fashion, barely skimming by myself and a few other tourists. That was enough to keep me away from the groups of burros, and spent a few more minutes photographing some of the younger ones, then we decided we saw enough and hit the road back to Laughlin.

Oatman BurroOatman Burro

 

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see our Oatman visit.

 

 

We played with Lil a while back on the riverwalk and eventually made it back to camp where we parked the RV and broke away on the scooter to check out the “nightlife” in Laughlin. We ate some appetizers at a few places while catching some beers. Most of the casinos were packed, and like Vegas, each had a stale smoky atmosphere. Laughlin is much friendlier and a slower pace than Vegas, our favorite spot was a cow-themed tiny casino on a second floor above a tiny convenience shop. Once again, after filling our bellies, we called it an early night.

Saturday, March 17

Happy St. Patricks Day! This morning, we went to check out a trail called Grapevine Canyon with Lil. It required traversing some steep granite-type rock which held a small spring, trickling through the middle. At the beginning of the hike were some 1,000 year old Native American petroglyphs. Interesting enough, though much looked as if modern imitation petroglyphs were carved over them.

PetroglyphsPetroglyphsWhile it almost looks like chalk on the rock, it is really images carved deeply through the "desert varnish" that builds up on the stone over many years.

 

 

 

Click on the Petroglyphs to see our Grapevine hike.

 

We left the Laughlin area and headed straight for Westminster, California to Justin’s childhood house where we would be able to relax for a few days with his Mom and little doggie, Martini. Maybe even catch up on maintenance on the RV. I hadn't been to Southern California since our wedding on Dana Point in, oh when was that again... 2012? I had forgotten how beautiful it was. The hills were rolling green with dense cities settled in the valleys. I had also forgotten how tough the traffic was, and I was certainly thankful I wasn't driving. We could immediately tell when we crossed into California, the price of gas increased drastically! We were happy and relieved to finally arrive at the house where Mom Buckman had already started corned beef and cabbage for dinner. What a great night!

The RoadThe Road

 

 

Click on the photo to see a few along the way to California.

 

With great food and company, there may not be much for blog posting over these few days, but I'll be back at it when we start touring again.

See ya later!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Black Bear Diner Bullhead City Burrows Coast to Coast Dixie National Forest Grapevine Canyon Hiking Landscape Photography Landscapes Las Vegas Laughlin Nevada NV Oasis RV Resort Oatman Oatman Burrows Petroglyphs Red Canyon Riverwalk RV The Wynn Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip UT Utah Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/west-coast-arrival Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:35:39 GMT
The Voodoo that Hoodoos... Do https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/the-voodoo-that-hoodoos-do The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Bryce Canyon Day OneBryce Canyon Day One

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Sunday, March 11

It rained all night at camp, and it was pretty chilly. I worried it may have changed to snow up near Bryce Canyon where we wanted to go next. With the time change, we slept in then had a late breakfast at the Thunderbird Café across the road. It was a large scale classic diner kinda place, historic to the area. We waited long enough after breakfast that the sun warmed the day, melting anything that may have frozen on the roads over night. Leaving the Mount Carmel area was a scenic drive with cute little towns filled with rustic old buildings and antique junk cars. It wasn’t long until bits of Bryce Canyon formations started to tease us. I was getting anxious to see it all. We had to stop at Red Canyon so I could catch a few photos and Lil could get in a hike. We climbed up some pretty steep rocks to get a great view of the area below.

Red CanyonRed Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on photo to see more of Red Canyon area.

We drove to an elevation somewhere near 7500 feet where the land flattened out into a vast plateau. Our camp was at a small RV lot in the Ruby Inn area. After we checked in, we thought a quick drive through Bryce would help us know where to hike the next day. It turned out to be a long drive along the scenic road with many overlooks beckoning me out to photograph the spectacle of the canyon formations below us, which are called hoodoos. The ground became less barren, heavily filling with tall pine the higher we drove. Eventually, we got to the highest point near 9100 feet. I can’t even describe how astonishing it was. The hoodoo formations are a strong reminder of how 15 million years of wind, rain and tectonic shifts can carve out such intricate designs, some resembling small cities in the grand panorama. I stood at the top, the air felt so rich and fresh, I could virtually taste the melting snow, and the fragrance from the pine; it all rolled together in each intoxicating breath. Our excursion for tomorrow would take us down into the belly of all that, I couldn’t wait.

Back at camp, we warmed up and had dinner at the restaurant buffet then waddled back to the RV for a cold night.

Monday, March 12

Damn, did it get cold last night! I wanted to stay in bed until it warmed enough outside, but I was also eager to get going on our hike. We first took Lil out for her exercise so she could rest while we hiked down into the canyon.

Our hike was amazing! The sights enthralled me as we started down, but the farther we got, the more stunned I was by our surroundings. It felt like we were strolling through a fairytale land with rock cities rising above us in tall thin pinnacles. There was symmetry to a lot of them, their patterns so striking against the perfectly blue sky (my sky yesterday was not as pretty, so I was tickled). The trail wound through the pines, along broken colorful rock, and rose up through arch doorways in the rock. I couldn’t get enough of it. We eventually emerged at the top again, with the rock cities laid out below us. Man, what a view. I must have said that a thousand times. On the way back to camp, Justin dropped Lil and I off at the trail where we could walk a mile back so she could play, stopping to roll in what was left of the quickly melting snow. Today was a good day…

Bryce Canyon Day TwoBryce Canyon Day Two Click on the photo to see all of the Bryce Canyon images. The first half is day one, the second half is day two when we hiked down into the hoodoos. 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Arizona AZ Bryce Canyon Canyon Coast to Coast Hoodoos Landscape Photography Landscapes Red Canyon RV Thunderbird Cafe Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip UT Utha Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/the-voodoo-that-hoodoos-do Tue, 13 Mar 2018 15:32:52 GMT
I Survived!! https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/i-survived The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Angels LandingAngels Landing

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Thursday, March 8

On our way to Utah today!  We had several stops on our agenda before spending a few days in Zion. First stop were The Toadstools. These are some pretty neat formations, looking just like you’d guess, a giant mushroom.  It was a short hike in, and it revealed to us an unusual surrounding that felt a little like walking on another planet. The limestone eroded away into interesting mounds and hills, future toadstools in the works. The toadstools that were present were few, but nonetheless impressive. Time had worn away so much limestone, leaving large rocks precariously perched atop their pinnacles as if giants gently placed them there. We had fun climbing around a while before heading back. Lil seemed to enjoy climbing the rocks as well, but was ever so cautious when crossing gaps in the rock; she gets braver every day.

ToadstoolToadstool Click on photo to see The Toadstools.

Next stop along the way was Johnson Canyon Scenic Drive; a simple road along some noteworthy attractions. They are all on private property, so no hiking just yet. There was a list of things for us to watch for, making it feel a bit like a scavenger hunt. A few rock formations along the cliffs that resembled certain animals, and most interesting to me was the old set to the Gunsmoke series, or at least what remained of it.

Old TractorOld Tractor Click on photo to see more of the scenic drive.

Back on the main road, the last sidetrack was Huntress Slot (aka Diana's Throne), a few mile hike down into another well known slot canyon with striking mountain views. We parked the RV along the dirt road and started in on foot, sinking and sliding in the sand. It was brushy enough with quite a few tall trees, and the trails were well worn by 4x4 vehicles sporting about in the past. Somewhere along the trails, we missed the path to an easy way down into the slots, so instead we opted to scurry down a steep and slippery track made by rugged riders. Our mountain goat of a dog did just fine, though we struggled a little. Once at the bottom, the sandy trail wound through impressive scenery, multi-colored mountains looming over us with occasional trees dotting along the ridges. I was taken by how tenacious some of these plants were; with everything fighting for resources, trees clinging to sides of mountains, cactus and grasses squeezing out from cracks. Farther along the sand changed color a tad from an light orange to more vibrant coral, the contrast was subtle but eye catching. I had a hard time keeping up with Justin and Lil due to my frequent photo stops. We got to the end and had to turn back, giving us another vantage point of the path we just took. Then, the dreaded climb back out, it kicked my ass but Lil bounded up with no problem, pulling Justin a little as she climbed. Back at the top, I was breathless, thankful the rest of the evening would be low key. We found an RV park to stay at not too far outside of Zion, so we tucked in and called it a night.

Slot CanyonSlot Canyon Click on photo to see the slot canyon.

Friday, March 9

Up early, excited to start the day inside Zion National Park. We decided to drive the RV in and have a home base for the day. The one thing that made me slightly nervous was the tunnels. One is large enough for us, the other we were unsure of, so we paid the extra few dollars to have them close traffic going in one direction so we could drive down the middle. Now wait, don’t think we are unusual, this happens many times each day with the number of RVers that drive through. We eventually found a parking spot near the trailhead of the hikes we planned on for the day.

First hike planned was Angels Landing. This was the next thing I was apprehensive about. It is a few miles up some pretty steep switchbacks then a hazardous trek along the edge of the ridge, often described as a knife-edge 1400 feet in the air with sheer drop-offs and only chains to grip onto for dear life as you inch along the ridge. Some have fallen to their deaths on this particular hike, and I did not want to be the next name on that list. We got to the top just before the chains started. I gawked out over the thin ridge that laid before me, seeing only maybe a foot or two of walking space before the sides cut out drastically, then looking to either side of me and seeing the eensie weensie thread of a road and cars waaaay down at the bottom. OH HELL NO, nope, not doing that! I looked at Justin like he was crazy, because he was, and he convinced me I could make it. I was never so scared, and gripped on to that chain like a mad woman. The few spans where there was no chain, I felt like sprawling out onto my belly and inchworming myself along, but I couldn’t embarrass him that way. Instead, I shuffled along in squatty baby steps with my butt out and arms way out to balance. The sandstone was very slippery where it was covered in sand, which was EVERYWHERE.  A kid slipped in front of me and my heart leapt out of my chest as I squeezed my eyes closed and whimpered. But obviously, I made it to the peak and back. We even managed to sit at the top and eat a little (though I felt like vomiting), and snap some photos to prove we’d done it. I hadn’t taken many of the climb because I was way to stinkin scared. At any rate, I’d do it again, though next time I’d calm myself more so I could properly photograph it, because the view is stellar from way up there.

Angels Landing In The DistanceAngels Landing In The Distance Click on photo to see the hike to Angels Landing and more of Zion.

Back at the bottom, we were beat. Not just from the hike, but from the fried nerves from braving it. I took Lil for a walk along a pet friendly trail so she could get her excitement in for the day, and lucky for her, there was a herd of deer on the trail. After fussing at them for a minute or two, we moved along. The river ran along the trail, and at the first access point, she bounded down to the water and waded around lapping it up. She managed to hit up every river access point along that trail, and was also pooped out when she got back to the RV. We drove the scenic drive farther into the park, and squeezed and inched by all the cars crowding the road near the trailheads along the way. We stopped at the gift shop and picked up some t-shirts to commemorate our accomplishment for the day, then drove back out. Lil had the best seat, atop my lap on a pillow with her ears flapping in the wind as she hung her head out to see the park pass by. We bailed on our last hike we had planned, we were all worn out and ready for rest.

Saturday, March 10

After a well earned night of rest, we wanted to go back into the park but wanted to take the scooter this time. We decided to go later in the day so it would be a warmer ride. For the morning’s excursion, we went to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. I was so impressed by the white dunes, I wanted to see more, and the color must be spectacular based on its name. We got out to the area, it was more wooded than I expected with ridges outlining it, but the dunes were still remarkable. Lil was so eager, she bounded through the cold sand the entire time we were out there. I wanted a better vantage point, so we decided to climb the biggest dune in front of us. It was deceivingly sizable, much taller than we expected, and the sand ran out from under each step we took, almost feeling like we were walking backwards at times. When we finally made it to the top, everybody collapsed to rest. The colors seemed to change between lovely facets of orange and coral as the sun faded in and out of the clouds. My favorite part were all the little tracks we could see from the dunes residents, most notably the tiny plump paw prints of the kangaroo mouse and scuttle tracks from the endangered tiger beetle. It was a great time, and a good way to burn off energy in the pup.

DunesDunes Click on photo to see the coral dunes.

We took the RV back to our camp and let Lil rest while we bundled up in layers to scooter into the park. The ride was quite comfortable, and we were able to peel off all our layers and squeeze them into the scooter trunks to take on our next hike. It was an “easy” one up to the Emerald Pools. Most of it was paved and led to meek trickles for waterfalls and somewhat puddle sized pools.  We opted to continue up farther on the less improved path of rocks and sand. At that point, I was feeling the burn of all the hiking we’d been doing the past few days. The upper pool was a little more picturesque but sadly, not that emerald. The excursion left me with some good photos anyhow. By the time we got back to the RV, it was after 5:00 pm and we were bushed. A light dinner with some photo editing, and this day was done.

Mountain GoatsMountain Goats Click on photo to see all of the Zion photos including Emerald Pools.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Angels Landing Arizona AZ Coast to Coast Coral Pink Sand Dunes Diana's Throne Dunes Emerald Pools Gunsmoke Huntress Slot Canyon Johnson Canyon Scenic Drive Landscape Photography Landscapes RV Toadstools Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip UT Utah Victoria Jean Photo Art Zion https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/i-survived Sun, 11 Mar 2018 05:59:52 GMT
Not What I Expected https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/just-a-hole The 2018 RV Trip Continues

The BendThe Bend

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Tuesday, March 6 

Today marks one month on the road so far!

A cozy morning snuggled up with Lil in bed, it felt good to sleep in a tad. We had a big day planned, so we pulled out and hit the road as soon as our coffee was ready. We took the RV around to places today, just in case Lil needed a rest (really, it was because I was too cold to tough it out on the scooter, and I wanted Lil to get some hikes in). Our first stop was Horseshoe Bend. It was just a few miles out of town. This was on my bucket list; hiking out in the desert to the edge of a canyon where in the peace of the day I could take my time getting just the right shot to capture such a magnificent view of the Colorado River cutting a perfect horseshoe deep into the sandstone, a serene scene in my mind. Let me keep it real for those of you that haven’t been there. My idea was shattered when we pulled into a parking lot holding several tour busses and many other cars, people streaming up and down a trail. The place was packed and the hike was just a stroll up over a knoll where just beyond fell the bend. People were speckled everywhere and scurried about jockeying for position at the rim to get their selfies. Some were even posing, getting pose direction from their photographer. All this activity going on around a rim without railing (yet), and the hard sandstone coated with microscopic marbles making parts of it quite slippery. I half expected someone to trip over the edge, echoing their scream as they fell. The canyon itself was massive in size making us all look tiny, and thankfully, the people everywhere really didn’t ruin my shot. Though it wasn’t peaceful, it did turn out to be entertaining to watch everyone. I wanted to come back later in the day when the shadows were not so overbearing, so we left. While it wasn't what I expected, I was still not disappointed and looked forward to coming back later in the day.

The BendThe Bend Click on photo to see Horseshoe Bend, see if you can spot the people on the edge.

We drove out to Antelope Canyon next, taking our chances on getting in on a tour of the lower canyon. This area is privately owned by the Navajo Indians, so we must get a permit and go with one of their tour groups. We got in on the 10:15 tour with a group of 8. People were streaming in masses down into the canyon with other groups, so I wasn’t expecting a very private excursion. Once again, my expectations were shattered. It was more impressive than I imagined. We climbed down extremely steep staircases like ants into their hill, disappearing into the wavy engulfing curves of the canyon walls. The trail at the bottom was so winding and narrow, seldom did others come into view, so it really did feel like a private tour, and I was snapping away. The shapes and curves of the walls were absolutely remarkable. The colors would change as the sunlight changed. It’s one of those places that make you feel so small and insignificant in the world, and must be experienced in person rather than through photos. It took about an hour to wind through it, and at the end, I was amused by how we all emerged from a small gap just a few feet wide in the crust of the earth. This time, I was blown away by what we just experienced.

Lower Antelope Guided TourLower Antelope Guided Tour Click on photo to see all that is Antelope Canyon.

Next stop, lunch! We grabbed a quick bite of BBQ at a joint in town before moving on. It seemed like the right time of day to try Horseshoe Bend again, so out we went. There were more people there now, but I didn’t care, I knew the view was going to be great. Lil had a little more fun hiking it this time too, climbing up on rocks with Justin, really getting into the adventure spirit. I got what shots I could, and quite happy with that, we left again.

Still not tired out yet, we drove on to check out Lake Powell. We got out at the park area, letting Lil dip her paws in the water for a bit. Stunning views of Navajo Mountain painted the horizon. Along the shoreline, some of the sandstone were turning white from mineralization. It was a beautiful area to play around in. We drove up and over to the other side where we could get a view of the Glen Canyon Dam holding back the water of the Colorado River. The viewpoint we walked out on was a bit dizzying. The sandstone rolled and split in asymmetrical layered chunks. I crawled out as far as I felt safe on one ledge, imagining the flaky sandstone layers giving way beneath me. After a bit of playing around on the stones with Lil, we all were exhausted and decided to call it a day.

Lake PowellLake Powell Click on the photo to see the Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam area.

A few hours to work on all my photos, have dinner and then get some good rest for the next big adventure.

Wednesday, March 7

We rolled out around 8:00 this morning after making sure we reserved one more night here. We wanted to get out to the Antelope Canyon Tribal Park Office this morning to inquire about getting a permit to hike a more secluded portion of the canyon on our own. They happily granted access and out we went. It started as an easy hike through sandy canyon trails, and got more challenging the deeper we got into the canyon. Eventually, it narrowed to barely a foot wide but towered over us. Sunlight was reflecting off the slot walls illuminating it in a beautiful golden color. Lighting dramatically affects the look and colors of the canyon. It was a significant difference between the two days we walked within its walls. Lil was doing great, in fact, she was having a blast. She stayed out in front of us climbing rock almost the whole way. The only obstacle we came across was a cobbled together ladder around 10 feet tall. Justin carried her up as she clutched on to him, and as soon as her toes hit the sandstone, she was off again. We hiked in as far as we were allowed, somewhere around 3 miles, then sat for a while to absorb the awesomeness of it all before we hiked back out.

A bit of an afternoon rest after grabbing some supplies at Walmart, then back to one last adventure for Page, catch a sunset over Lake Powell. We hiked up about 1000 feet, straight up a very steep mound, the tallest in the area. We had a grand view of the lake and surrounding area. Sunset was masked by clouds, but a sliver of pink burst through at the very last minute. We hiked back out in the slimming remnants of light, drove back to camp and had a quick dinner. I think we've all earned a relaxing evening.

Hiking Back From Sunset Over Lake PowellHiking Back From Sunset Over Lake Powell

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Antelope Canyon Arizona AZ Coast to Coast Colorado River Glen Canyon Dam Horseshoe Bend Lake Powell Landscape Photography Landscapes RV Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/just-a-hole Wed, 07 Mar 2018 22:30:47 GMT
The Colors of the Desert https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/the-colors-of-the-desert The 2018 RV Trip Continues


Abandoned Car On Old Route 66 In Painted DesertAbandoned Car On Old Route 66 In Painted Desert

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Sunday, March 4  continued…

Our next stop was at Petrified Forest National Park. As you guessed, it has one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world, but wait, there’s more! The drive along its roads reveals the magical marvel of the Painted Desert, more ancient petroglyphs, ancestral Puebloan homes, fossil dinosaurs, a portion of the original Route 66 and so many vistas to pull aside and attempt to take it all in. Today was a lovely day for this stop too, nice blue skies with just a smattering of fluffy clouds, and a gentle breeze, well actually more like a fierce striking wind. It was so damn windy, I had trouble standing upright at times, and Justin mentioned a point where he felt the RV would actually flip on its side. Apart from that, it was an overwhelmingly fun day. I couldn’t believe the palate of colors mother nature conjured up in just one area, it was impressive. There were areas of “forest” we could walk to get a close-up view of the crystalline tree trunks strewn about. There was one particular area called the Rainbow Forest where the most abundant and colorful pieces could be found, with remnants splintered around in sparkly wood chips as if they crumbled off a dead tree just yesterday. Actually, this area used to look like the tropical jungles of Costa Rica today, back over 200 million years ago when trees were dense and dinosaurs called this place home. Well protected since becoming a National Park in 1906, there is so much to see, we made a day of it. After we all were winded out, exhausted and dried out from fighting the intense desert gales, we parked just outside the park at a souvenir shop where they welcome boondockers. It was time to relax, work through the zillion photos I took and get some grub in our bellies. Even Lil was worn out.

Painted DesertPainted Desert  There are a ton of photos to click through here, trust me, it's worth it!!

Monday, March 5

It got cold last night! 17 degrees when we woke, and the water in the RV froze (not the first time that’s happened to us). I was very thankful we had the propane heater to keep us warm through the night. It didn’t take us long to get things together to meander on.

We were headed in the direction of the Meteor Crater in Arizona, so we thought, why not stop? The terrain was so flat and boring as we drove on, I thought I’d be able to spot this thing miles away, after all, it is over 4,000 feet across and 700 feet deep. But surprisingly, it wasn’t that easy to distinguish; what appeared to be foothills were actually the rim. When the meteor struck (estimated to be about 150 feet across, weighing several hundred thousand tons and hurtling into the crust at 26,000 miles per hour), it raised up and folded back the plains sending rock and debris the size of houses flying for miles. They found large fragments of it, and sell small fragments in their gift shop to suckers like me.  Some people were not impressed, calling it “just a hole in the ground”, but me, I geek out about this kind of stuff. It was damn cool to be teetering on the edge of this massive event that happened some 50,000 years ago, knowing that we are not all that strong and untouchable of a planet. It was a quick visit, and thankfully, active duty military get in free, or we may not have seen it at all. In the first photo, look for the people standing on an overlook to the lower right. That should give you an idea as to its size.

Crater View With People In DistanceCrater View With People In Distance Crater ViewCrater View

On we drove, through mind-numbing sameness as Justin said. We were close to the Navajo Nation Reservation, and were seeing a lot of signs along the road beckoning us to come visit their shops. We fell for the one with a large photo of a mouthwatering Navajo taco, and swung in there for a nibble. It was a large complex in the town of Cameron, selling all sorts of Native American creations and trinkets. The restaurant was also oversized, able to handle the busloads of tourists that come through during busy season. We split the Navajo taco, good thing too because it was more food than we could eat. It was just as good as the photo made it look; frybread layered with cowboy beans, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and some spicy green chilies. I got some of the frybread to go to have it with syrup later (Dad called it “stretchers” when he made it as a treat for us). Imagine warm slightly doughy and chewy bread deep fried just enough to give it a faint crunch. I should have gotten a bag full.

Driving after eating was even more sedating, and I hoped we’d arrive at our destination soon because I was fighting off sleep. Eventually, the town of Page came into view. We found a good spot in an RV park and settled in. We’d be here a few days based on what the area has to offer. We rolled the scooter off the back and burned around town a bit. It was very chilly, but we didn’t have far to go. We had a beer and munchies at one stop, then went back to the RV to crank the heat while we laid out plans for the next few days.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Arizona AZ Coast to Coast Landscape Photography Landscapes Meteor Crater Petrified Forest National Park Route 66 RV Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/the-colors-of-the-desert Wed, 07 Mar 2018 03:15:29 GMT
Amazing Albuquerque https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/amazing-albuquerque The 2018 RV Trip Continues


Hot Air BalloonsHot Air Balloons

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Thursday, March 1 continued...

We arrived in Albuquerque and found the RV park within the Kirtland Air Force Base which meant a good chance to catch up on the blog with their wifi and do some laundry. You know, I brought all these books, games and other things to do during the down time I thought I'd have. Turns out, this blog has been keeping me very busy with the photos and writing. 

Justin did a bit of research on this city, and there is quite a lot a person can see and do here. It's also a nice change from hiking dusty trails, though it's still plenty dusty here. Someone told us they had rain for the first time in seven months last week. 

Friday, March 2

After a night of rest and catching up, we were ready to check out the town on scooter. First stop was the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, after all, I'm married to a nuclear mechanic that has worked with both types of nuclear onboard a submarine- destructive power (nuclear bomb) and energy power (nuclear reactor).  This place was pretty fascinating, and the volunteer staff were quite helpful and friendly, adding in their own bits of experience and history. We strolled through for a while, viewing their extensive exhibits from the pioneers of the atom to the possibilities for the future of nuclear power. The things that struck me; I've never seen a ballistic missile before and the sheer size of the thing "blew me away" (bad pun, I know), and they also had pieces of Trinitite, melted sand and residue left behind on the desert floor after testing a nuclear bomb at the Trinity site in July, 1945. I bought a few small pieces from their gift shop, and they came in a tiny protective case with strict handling instructions.

After the museum, we buzzed into Old Town Albuquerque. Along the way, we traveled down part of Route 66 through the city. It was such a feast for the eyes. I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and hip this city was. The businesses were adorned with bright colors and interesting shapes and textures to catch your eye. There were still some of the old kitschy neon signs reminiscent of an earlier era of the city when Route 66 was an attraction.

Old Town was founded in 1706 by Spanish Colonists, and still had much of the original adobe houses and shops. It’s just what I was hoping for; vibrant yet slow paced, narrow streets and alleys leading to more stimulating décor, shops with all kinds of collectables, restaurants that had outdoor seating in clean and small patios. It was quite fun strolling up and down this small section of history. We caught lunch at a diner just outside the historic district then headed back to the RV.
Lil needed some attention, so we secured her into her scooter bucket, donned her doggles and buzzed off to a nearby dog park. She loved the open free space and chance to play with other dogs for a while. It wasn’t long before she tired herself and we headed back.

Saturday, March 3

I was excited for this mornings excursion, a hot air balloon ride over the city! We rolled out of bed early enough to catch the first ride of the morning with Rainbow Ryders. It was really something to watch them prepare for the ride, and how much of an orchestration it was to get the balloon inflated. Our basket held approximately 6 people, and we stayed warm enough being under the propane burners. As we lifted off, I did get that tiny butterflies feeling. We ascended to an altitude of around 7400 feet above sea level (2400 feet off the ground). The view was breathtaking. I could literally see the curve of the earth on the horizon, though my fisheye lens helped exaggerate that. We were one of nearly 30 balloons up in the air this morning. Apparently, this is quite a regular thing around here since it’s the perfect climate for hot air balloons. I’d love to see this place when they have their hot air balloon festival attracting over 500 balloonists. We landed safely and were welcomed back with an Irish balloonist prayer and a champagne toast; “The winds have welcomed you with softness, the sun has blessed you with it’s warm hands. You have flown so high and so well that God has joined you in laughter, and may he set you gently back again into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”

More to see and do! We drove just a little ways out of town to see another ancient attraction, the Petroglyph National Monument, Petroglyphs of the West Mesa. These were drawings carved into lava flows which erupted from the earth around 200,000 years ago. Ancient people carved stories and images into the sides of the black lava rock strewn across the area. It’s difficult to date exactly how old these are, but archeologists estimate some to be as old as 3,000 years while some may be as young as 500 years. The carvings have evolved over time, being added to and changed, and sadly destroyed by vandals in more recent times. It was fun to walk along the trails at the base of these rock to try to spot where they were. There were so many, it seemed at one point that every rock and been marked. Lil had more interest in the smells of other critters that played within the brush along the trail.

We worked up an appetite so we found a local pizza place to get our fix. The local favorite was cheese, pepperoni and green chili peppers, and I’d agree with locals, it was pretty tasty! After lunch, we worked our way onward. The ridges in the distance had perfectly flat tops, flattened by relentless winds that slowly eroded the facade exposing multicolor layers. An occasional dust devil would swirl by, uplifting tumbleweeds and debris into a dirty funnel. I even was able to catch a shot of a tumbleweed as it rolled by! There was a lot more lava along the drive; New Mexico is actually home to many young volcanoes which was interesting to me. Such beautiful countryside, much of which is held in protection by differing Native American tribes. We continued on to Gallup on Route 66 where we found a nice and clean RV park to stop for a night, rest and catch up on chores. They even had a dog park where Lil met a new friend and played a while.

Old TownOld Town

 

 

 

 

Click on photo to see all we did in Albuquerque.

Sunday, March 4

Chores done, weather is warming up. Time to pack up and pull out.

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Tuesday, Feb 27 continued…

After leaving Guadalupe, we went into Carlsbad. We were curious if the Carlsbad Caverns were going to be worth the stop so we briefly checked out the attraction’s visitor center and decided it was a definite! Lunch at a Mexican restaurant just outside the park, and we were done with our excursions for the day. I really wanted to upload some of the photos I took over the last few stops, so Justin was sweet enough to let me have a wifi stop in town while he and Lil went off to run errands (gas, groceries). Needless to say, I had so many photos, I ran out of time and wasn’t able to get them all up. We weren’t in any kind of rush, so he let me sit at Starbucks for a few hours while my laptop churned away. Our camp for the night was simply a patch of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) acreage outside of town, boondocking. When I noticed light starting to fade, I abandoned my wifi task so we could go find our BLM spot. We got there just as the sun was setting.

It was indeed a patch, of dusty gravel in the middle of a scrubby cattle field, polka-dotted with dehydrated cowpies here and there. It was very peaceful really, especially with the lovely sunset. We were the only ones there, and nothing for miles; the desert hills in one direction and a few lights from the town far off in the other direction. Reviews told us this was a good spot to let your dog run, and so… she did. At first it was cute; she would grab up a cowpie like a frisbie and run in circles like a nut. Then she caught wind of something that gave her the speed of Flash Gordon. She tore off into the desert brush as the last bit of sun slipped away. I ran after her as long as I could, but for every foot I gained, she gained ten. I’ve never seen that chubby dog run so damn fast, and within a minute she was out of my view. Yup, you can guess, I lost my shit. Thank goodness for Justin (my rock) or I most certainly would have had a meltdown. Here we are, literally in the middle of the desert, dangerous spiders and snakes all around, and my baby girl is lost, likely thirsting do death, and every terrible scenario possible is flashing through my mind. We walked for almost a half hour, back and forth on a dirt road in the darkness calling for her. I had just given up, hoarse from yelling and running. (Cue dramatic music) I dropped to my knees like a blubbering fool with my tears staining my dusty face. (Now cue angels singing.) Just then I heard a faint crunch of gravel in the dark in front of me. I raised the beam of my flashlight up and saw the glorious goofy face of my tired but still very excited mutt. I hooked on to her harness so fast, then rolled her up for some hugs. Man, were we lucky. I was ready to put down roots in this forsaken place until she came back to me. Learned my lesson too, never ever again will this spaz be off leash until she is trained on recall.

We got back to the RV and checked her over for any injuries, properly hydrated everyone, I took a long shower, then all exhausted parties collapsed for a restless night of slumber.

Fisheye of CavernsFisheye of Caverns Click on the photo to see more of our Carlsbad experience.

Wednesday, Feb 28

Restless night of slumber I was saying… Wind was gusty and kept knocking around a loose cap outside on the RV, keeping us awake. Of course, I brought Lil up to cuddle with too, still stupidly grateful she came back to us.

I made some bad french toast for breakfast, then we drove up to the Caverns. It was very windy and still chilly up in the elevation, somewhere near 4400 feet. Lil stayed behind in the RV while we walked the caverns. We took an elevator 750 feet down to the “Big Room”, an immense 8.2 acre area adorned with colossal features like “The Bottomless Pit”, “Giant Dome”, “Rock of Ages” and so on. Let me tell you, when I previously exclaimed how wonderful the Cathedral Caverns were in Alabama, I was woefully unprepared for the marvel of Carlsbad Caverns. If you ever find yourself in this area, you really need to make the time to visit the caverns, it will blow your mind. After taking it all in, we headed back to the RV.

With no real destination in mind, we started driving, aimlessly headed northwest. We wound up at a small RV park in the town of Mayhill, a tiny town up in the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains with one store and one restaurant. I was stunned to see snow flurries in the air. The spot was cute enough, a crystal clear brook babbling just outside, and flocks of farm geese grazing by driving Lil crazy. We even were visited by more deer and turkey. I'm keeping this dog under lock and key with so many tempting things to chase. We don’t need any more drama. We did walk up to the tiny town with her where the shop owner invited us all in to stroll around, telling us how much he likes dogs. It was cold enough, we hunkered down for the night to enjoy a relaxing evening for a change. Hot tea, soup and salad.

Thursday, March 1

The night was cold, but we stayed warm enough with the propane heater going. We woke to find a thin delicate layer of snow that quickly melted away with the rising sun. We were too cold to enjoy it further here, onward we go.

Desert SouthwestDesert Southwest Click on the photo to see more from Mayhill area.

We curled up and down through the twists and turns through the Sacramento Mountains, it was beautiful and quite a change from the desert we'd been seeing. Soon, the mountains broke to reveal a vast white area in the valley below too far off in the distance to make out what it was, but I knew, and we made our way down to those white sands, White Sands National Monument to be exact. It was just a stop off on our way to Albuquerque, but I was jazzed about seeing and walking on the tall white sand dunes. They are so large, they can be seen from outer space. It sits around 4200 feet above sea level, covers approximately 275 square miles. It's unique because it's sands are composed of gypsum and reflect the heat from the sun (typical sand dunes are crystal and absorb heat). If you want all the nerdy details, look them up at the Wiki site. We spent a fleeting half hour there, though after seeing them in person, I could have spent several days photographing them. It is really quite surreal, to be able to walk and sled along them anywhere you want, even camp if you get the permit. This is a place I'm coming back to!

The DunesThe Dunes Click on the photo to see more of White Sands.

After that brief stop, we were hungry, and we saw a sign for Del Taco along the way. Let me just say, I haven't eaten there since moving away from the Pacific Northwest, and had been googling close locations as we drove west. If you've ever had their chicken soft taco, you'll know why I'm nuts about it. We filled our bellies fast, it tasted so good, then drove on. 

Along the road, I kept seeing signs for Valley of Fires camping. How inviting, I thought. Then I understood why it was called that. In a small area, there was a massive lava flow field, huge knots of folded oozing lava from a nearby volcano many years past. It spans nearly 20 miles and is quite the sight to behold, a break in the daunting monotone desert and a lovely contrast to the white sands we previously played in. Of course, we stopped long enough to get Lil's picture atop one of the frozen flows.

Lava FlowLava Flow

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see more of Valley of Fires.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Carlsbad Caverns Caverns Coast to Coast Landscape Photography Landscapes Lava Mayhill New Mexico NM RV Sacramento Mountains Sand Dunes Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Valley of Fires Victoria Jean Photo Art White Sands National Moonument https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/3/white-sands-black-lava Fri, 02 Mar 2018 23:07:35 GMT
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Thursday, Feb 22  (continued)

On the roads to the next park, there were 3 or 4 different border patrol cars parked, we even had to drive through 2 random checkpoints. Easy enough because we must not look suspicious. They just asked if we were natural born citizens and let us drive on through. The song, The Traveler by Chris Stapelton played; “I couldn’t tell ya honey, I don’t know… where I’m goin’ but I’ve got to go. ‘cuz every turn reveals and open road… I’m the traveler…”

Blammy! Our peaceful wandering was shattered by another stinking blown tire! Same area as the last time. And now, we were on some road near the US-Mexico border with nearly non-existent cell service. We pulled off the side on to a gravel road and climbed on the roof of the RV to try to get a signal to call roadside assistance, again.  This time they were surprisingly fast, sending a couple of kind Mexican fellas in a pick-up equipped to render assistance. It happened at 1:30, and by 2:15 it was repaired and we were rolling again! We decided to make our next stop Del Rio. There was a Goodyear there where we could get 5 new tires to replace the old ones with to this doesn’t keep happening.

I noticed there were more goats and sheep than cattle as we drove along, and a lot of named creeks with not a drop of water- though they seemed to gradually fill as we got closer to Del Rio. Every now and then a citris tree heavy with brightly colored fruit would catch my eye and make my mouth water.

We arrived at our next camp just outside of Del Rio, Lake Amistad (meaning “friendship”  in Spanish). This was a huge National Park that lies on the United States-Mexico border.  It is a reservoir created for flood control, water storage and power generation. This park spans 81 miles up the Rio Grande and other neighboring rivers, which feed it giving it over 540 miles of shoreline; like I said, HUGE! (You should say that word in your best Donald Trump voice, otherwise it doesn’t hold merit.) So, with that much water, you would think this place is a tropical oasis- quite the opposite. It was very dry and the lake had receded so much, what would have been a water front camp site was a mile or greater from the water.  It had a warm and dusty charm, I say charm because we had previously been traveling through so much mist, I welcomed the dryness. Plus, most people will tell you the desert has its own way of charming people.

There were only 2 other campers in the entire area we picked. We were boondocking again (with the exception of paying for the site) and had no hook-ups, so running the generator wasn’t so bad with so few people around, but we kept that to an absolute as needed basis.

We went for a walk with Lil, in a feeble attempt to find the lake without trails to follow. We were surrounded by overgrowth of scrub brush, thorny and thick in spots and sparse in others. Tiny freshwater clam shells were crunching under our feet, we were walking on the lake bed. Not far into the hike, (or bushwhacking?) Lil caught the scent of deer and saw them bound away. The sun was setting low in the sky, giving a gentle glow on the tall yellow grasses and sage green brush. With still no water in sight, we aborted our adventure and started back to the RV. It would be very easy to get lost in this brush, for there was miles and miles of it, and who knows what kind of dangerous critters come out at night in these parts!

I watched the sun set from the roof of the RV, hoping to get some good photos. The thicket was still warmly illuminated by the long and low rays, and the sky started to turn all sorts of beautiful colors. They say sunsets in the Texas desert area are the most beautiful, I believe that now.

I made us un-stuffed peppers for dinner, worked on my hand-written journal until my hand cramped, then we fell off to sleep.

SunsetSunset Click on the photo to see more of the Lake Amistad area.

Friday, Feb 23

A very comfortably warm night, not too hot and not too cold. Lil and I went on a short walk around the empty camping area and saw 5 more deer cross the gravel road right in front of us. They moved slowly, curious and cautious about our presence. One walked with heavy stomping feet as if he were warning us off, or taunting Lil.
Soon after that we were ready to go, not much to unhook when we boondock. On the drive out, a couple large turkey flew up from the ditch. So much to see around here. We needed some supplies, most importantly, those damn tires, so into town we went. We had decided the day before to walk across into Mexico since we were this close, and it was deemed the safest area to cross around here.  We found a designated parking area for pedestrians where left Lil to guard the RV. The weather was mild, in the low 60’s and heavy overcast, so we knew she would not overheat. Our plan was to just stroll across into the little town, buy a trinket, eat some food, have a beer and come back, maybe 3 hours max. I was very nervous with butterflies in my stomach. I had so many bad stories about Mexico rolling around in my head. We paid our 75-cent toll to cross and made it over with not a single person manning the bridge. The Rio was actually very pretty, though very small. The town we crossed into welcomed us with tightly packed streets and plethora of  vendors selling crappy clothing and cheap souvenirs. Justin pointed out a bar called Crosby’s telling me it was made famous by George Strait in a song… I’ll have to look that one up later. Within under 5 minutes we passed by a guy selling tacos from a roadside cart. We passed, but I quickly turned when I smelled them, I was starving and would risk eating something from the side of the road in Mexico. They were little cheese, bean and beef filled corn shells rolled tightly then covered in sautéed onions, a pile of fresh veggies and drowned in a mildly hot guacamole sauce. Oh my gosh were they delicious! The vendor spoke fluent English, and helped me understand how much they would cost me… $2.00, a steal! We walked and ate those tasty little buggers and swung into another tiny store to grab a couple of cold Mexican Cokes to wash them down. Ahhh. A little more aimless wandering and I found a shop to get a set of carved marble turtles (because I saw a couple turtles in the Rio when we were crossing). Again, the clerk was very helpful but didn’t speak English. Justin talked to him in Spanish to get a good price for my little set and I walked out happily clutching my $6.00 set of little turtles. One last goal to accomplish- a quick beer. None of the bars were open this early in the day, probably a good thing. We did find a “fancy” restaurant where we could sit at their bar and we enjoyed a couple of Dos Equis. With that, our time in Mexico was over. We walked back, hoping there would be no trouble crossing into the US. The customs agent had a light casual conversation with us about our experience, throwing in his necessary questions, and once again we were back on US soil. In all, we had been gone around 1.5 hours, but that was more than enough for me! Next time we visit Mexico, it will be at an all inclusive resort.

Streets of MexicoStreets of Mexico

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see more of our Mexico experience.

 

We checked in with Goodyear, but our tires were in yet, but no luck so we found a laundromat and we sat there for an hour while I did my chores. Then, we decided to just go to Goodyear to see what they had in stock rather than waiting. While Justin worked with them to get new tires, I spent some time at McDonalds uploading photos. Feeling accomplished with everything we took care of this morning, we made our way to our next stop.

Seminole Canyon State Park was where we stayed. The draw to this place were the ancient pictographs; Pecos River rock art dating back 4,000 years. There were no open RV spaces, so once again we were boondocking for the night. The spot we had was still a campsite, although a primitive one. It had an awesome view over the desert and the trailheads were very close. We had a dinner of chili dogs then took Lil out to explore some of those nearby trails. Lil’s favorite part was a rabbit she found hiding under a bush. Mine was the who-knows-how-old broken glass strewn along the ground up off the trail. I let myself imagine it was from the days the Southern Pacific Railroad ran along this very spot (built in 1882 per a historical marker).

Saturday, Feb 24

This morning, we got out on the scooter to buzz up to the park office and see if we could get in on the 10:00 am tour down into the canyon to see the pictographs, and luck held out for us.  It was not a strenuous hike, but a significant one. We were led down into the belly of the canyon, where time had eroded a large dome under one of the walls. It was there that ancient people drew out stories of their times, displaying elaborate animals, Shamin priest figures and other meaningful symbols. They were considerably faded, but still remarkable. Nobody really fully understands their meanings, but it’s obvious this place was a magical one to the people. Along the path were some of the various limestone rock, split to reveal some of the fossils of long ago; 90-million year old sea creatures, and some mammal teeth, possibly camel that roamed these ravines long ago.

After our pictograph experience, we had lunch at the RV and took Lil out for a good hike to a canyon overlook. The sky was clearing nicely, mist fading off to reveal dreamy blue skies. I was stunned by the beauty of the canyon, vast and seemingly endless, bending and cutting deep through the heavy stone to make its way to the Rio Grande. This hike was maybe 3.5 miles round trip, but long enough. As the day drew on, it got hotter and you could almost hear the plants slurping up any remaining dew droplets. Looking across the landscape you could see the heat waves begin to ripple into the sky. Lil had plenty of drinking water we brought along but she chose to cool off by laying in one of the few watering holes on the rock. Through the trails, I stepped over many more of those 90-million year old fossils from when this was ocean. I’m still amazed at how much our planet has changed.

From Near the PictographsFrom Near the Pictographs Click on the photo to see more of the Seminole Canyon experience.

A busy morning left a tired doggy, she snoozed on the couch while we drove to our next destination. The rock formations along the way were carved out to make room for the road, leaving exposed the multitude of flaky layers of crust, folding and drooping in places.  The terrain became more hilly, and looked like someone had poured gargantuan piles of salt from the heavens, then sprinkled them with pepper and parsley leaving us looking like a flea scurrying among them. The view was endless and no civilization was in sight; no towns, no towers, just desert and scrub brush. I thought I saw a cell tower at one point, but that was just a mirage. In the distance, faint outlines of mountains came into view.

It was almost without warning that we fell into a valley of giants, Big Bend National Park. Once we passed through the entrance, the road edged in blonde grass went on for over 20 miles to the first stopping point.  Big Bend is over 800,000 acres! It’s named for the great curve of the Rio Grande where the story of Pecos Bill lassoed a tornado, which carved out the mountains we drove through.

The sun was setting low and started to cast long magenta shadows on the mountains and caverns. We were driving through a dehydrated dusty basin with jagged foothills shooting up around us in peaks and columns. This was the first time not having a plan didn’t work out so well; there were absolutely no spots left for RVs, and we drove around trying to locate an overflow lot, but this place was so large, we couldn’t find anything. We drove on another 30-something miles out of the park to the town of Terlingua where we found a spot with hook-ups at a big RV facility. It was just on the edge of the park, and had gas and a restaurant so we felt lucky. It was so dry and windy, we could taste the dust being kicked up. By the time we got settled in, it was after dark and we were tired. Dinner at the café was mediocre, but it filled the hole. All I wanted was food and sleep. I tried to take Lil out for a potty walk, but she couldn’t find a single patch of grass to go in, it was tough, but she found her spot eventually.

Sunday, Feb 25

The desert does have hot days, but man do the nights get cold! Low 40s last night after having temps in the upper 80’s earlier, such a swing. The sun brought a good view to the park we stayed at. Basically hundreds of RVs nestled in a dust bowl. The bright sun rapidly warmed us, leading up to a beautiful day to spend inside Big Bend. We decided to make the morning of it and drive on in the afternoon.  As we drove through the park, the mounts seemed to morph and move with each turn. The dust (and surprisingly- air pollution) in the air created a haze that softened the harsh features of distant peaks. There were a few gas stations located throughout the park, there had to be with a park this size. We took advantage of one to make sure we’d make it out ok. Our attraction today was the Santa Elena Canyon; a deep cut into one of the mountain ranges where the Rio passes through. One quick stop along the road to get a photo of some horses that stood below on the edge of the river. Those horses were grazing on the edge of the Chihuahuan desert in Mexico. All we had to do was walk across the shallow area of that river and we would once again be in Mexico. When we got to Santa Elena, we stopped briefly at some old ruins on the side of the road where I met a friendly horny lizard. Then again at an overlook just on the outskirts of the canyon. It was staggering, literally dizzying, the magnitude of it and how it loomed over us. On our way down to the river, a road runner scurried across the road in front of us. We parked the RV just under a tree surrounded by tall grasses and had lunch at a picnic table right behind the RV. I walked down to the water to get a better view of the Santa Elena, and man was she magnificent! It made me wish we had a canoe to paddle in. Lil was not allowed on these trails, so we skipped the hike in, I was satisfied enough with this view anyhow.

Big Bend SunsetBig Bend Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

Click on photo to see more of our Big Bend experience.

On our way back out I couldn’t stop gaping my mouth at the sheer size of the boulders that tumbled down off the mountains. Solid rock the size of cars or greater laid at rest in the grasses next to the road. Farther along we drove, a long and quiet ride aside from the wind gusts. Fence, windmills and grassy desert went on for miles with an occasional herd of cattle. It was tranquil, but lonesome.

We arrived at Davis Mountains State Park late in the day. We had hoped to partake in a late night stargazing experience at the nearby McDonald Observatory, but they were closed this night. That gave us time to take Lil on a stroll up the hill to check out their “Lodge” area. Now, it held a park store and restaurant, all of which was closed and absent of any life. This building didn’t look like a lodge to me, rather, I told myself it was an old secret research facility hidden deep in the mountains until it was purchased and made part of the state park. It held an eerie clandestine character to it. I imagined there were long corridors and many more rooms far below ground level. Justin just laughs at me when I tell him these things. A walk back crossing over a bone dry riverbed to the RV for ham, stuffing with gravy and green bean casserole for dinner!

SceneryScenery

 

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see more of Davis Mountain.

 

Monday, Feb 26

After leaving Davis Mountains, we wandered over to Balmorhea State Park. It held a natural San Solomon Springs that we wanted to SCUBA dive. It was a pool around 25 feet deep that covers 1.3 acres, holding 3.5 million gallons of water and gushing out 28 million gallons daily! We brought with a mini SCUBA system for each of us, something Justin designed to be more compact than a standard dive rig. The weather was low 70s but windy. The water was warm, around 72-75 degrees all year long. We donned our wetsuits and slipped (literally) into the spring. It was surreal to be in such a tropical feeling environment in the middle of a desert.  It was crystal clear, and teeming with friendly endangered fish that would nibble at our ears. We even spotted a turtle swimming around near us. At the bottom, we could see the springs jet out of the sand, making it writhe and wiggle like there were thousands of worms squirming about in it. I could feel the force as I waved my hand over it, praying that my gopro camera on my head was catching some of this. After about 30-40 minutes, we ran out of air and had to end the dive. What a great way to refresh after all the desert driving.

SpringsSpringsDCIM\109GOPRO

 

 

 

 

Click on the photo to see more of the Springs experience.

 

Our stop for the night was Guadalupe Mountain, where we scored one of the last RV spots in their “park”, which was really just a parking lot deep up in the valley of the mountains. We got the perfect corner spot, and the park was filled (holding maybe 20 RVs) by 6:00 pm.  A walk down to the office with Lil led us to read some info plaques telling us that these mountains we were viewing are actually fossilized reefs from an ancient time when the very spot we stood would have been an abyss within a vast ocean some 265 million years ago!! We walked back to the RV and I couldn’t stop staring in wonder at those towering reefs and how insignificant we really were in the age of this planet. While our SCUBA gear dried on the table, we sat and enjoyed the view.

Tuesday, Feb 27

This morning we wanted to partake in a hike but once again, no dogs allowed on trail. We chose the shortest and fastest one, leaving Lil to rest in the RV sitting in the cool mountain air. After halfway in, I was glad she hadn’t come, this terrain would have been difficult for her though she would have given it her best shot. It started as a dusty trail through grass, emerging into white rocky crevices and eventually crawling deep into gorges with sheer rock faces on either side. It ended within a canyon called the Devil’s Hall, quite the spectacle of nature with tall slate grey walls that echoed with our chatter. We turned back at this point, but I’m sure further exploration would have led us to more wonder.

Back at the RV, Lil was actually still sleeping, and greeted Justin happily for a walk along some picnic trails before we pulled out for the next destination.

It’s time to get out of Texas.

Guadalupe SunriseGuadalupe Sunrise Click on the photo to see more of the Guadalupe experience.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Balmorhea Big Bend National Park Coast to Coast Davis Mountains State Park Guadalupe Mountain Hiking Lake Amistad Landscape Photography Landscapes RV San Solomon Springs Santa Elena Canyon SCUBA Seminole Canyon Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/scuba-diving-in-the-desert Tue, 27 Feb 2018 23:03:18 GMT
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Abandoned Building at the ParkAbandoned Building at the Park

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Tuesday, Feb 20

The night was warm, and the air inside the RV grew stagnant. It must have been around 1:00 am that I broke down and turned on the a/c. The open windows and ocean breeze just wasn’t cutting it. I was awake early enough to try to catch the sunrise over the ocean this morning. I took Lil out with me, my camera and a hot thermos of coffee while Justin stayed back at the RV. The sun stayed hidden behind clouds, which turned out to my advantage for I wouldn’t have been able to get the photo over the water with the stirring blur in the water and rolling clouds. If you’ve ever been to the coast, you noticed how all the trees bow inland from the constant push of the ocean winds. While trying to make a dramatic looking photo of one of those trees near the beach, my sweet dog decided to photobomb the shot. I couldn’t resist, I had to snap it quick and include it in the gallery. That’s just my sense of humor, take it or leave it.

Gulf Coast, TXGulf Coast, TX Click on image to see more of Corpus Christi experience.

After getting back to the RV, we decided to try boondocking for our next stop. Boondocking is staying where there are no developed campsites, no amenities, no water, electric, and for free. We chose Padre Island down the coast a bit. It is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier islands in the world, and camping is allowed directly on the beach, in the salt and sand. Sounds lovely, but I was getting hangry, so we found a spot to stop for lunch, Mikels & Mays right on the beach 10 minutes from Padre Island. While we sat eating, I couldn’t help but notice how one customer was being refused service while he sat patiently on his chair waiting. I felt bad, so I threw him some of my sandwich, which he promptly flew down to gobble.

Padre Island… it was everything one could imagine for camping on the beach. We drove along the sand, careful to avoid the really soft spots, and snugged the RV up next to some dunes. Very few other people around, it felt as if we had miles of the beach all to ourselves. Some moody weather was rolling in again which had the gulf churning out some good sized waves. It sounded like a roar at times.  With still 3 hours to go before high tide and the aggressive waves making their way closer and closer to our wheels, we moved back up off the beach until the tide changed. Lil enjoyed al long walk on the beach with us, so many interesting smells for her, and there were Portuguese Man-of-war jellyfish blown up everywhere, we were careful not to step on any. Surprisingly, there were almost no seashells, but don’t be sad for me because I was able to find a perfect sundial, slipper shell and shark eye shell. By 6:00 pm, we were back down on our spot and all set up. We grilled hot dogs for dinner as the sun set. Then built a small fire to sit around and soak up the whole experience; camping in the sand on the beach with a fire. Lil was wrapped like a little burrito in her serape. She had curled up in my chair after I got up, and she was too damn cute there to move, so I sat on her beach bed and enjoyed the beach fire with her and Justin up in their chairs. After the warming glow of the fire faded off, we went to bed, leaving some windows open to let the sounds and smells of the ocean fill the RV. The occasional rain pattered on the roof throughout the night. Life is good!

Sand CastleSand Castle Click on image to see more of the Padre Island experience.

Wednesday, Feb 21

Two weeks on the road! I’ve got a lot more in me, this whole experience has been wonderful so far!

The high tide in the early morning had come up over our wheels, but did not entrench us in the sand. We were able to easily drive out of it. Another beach walk with Lil and we tucked her back in her bed in the RV so Justin and I could take the scooter down the beach farther than the RV could go. We puttered through soft spots, having to push the scooter at times, and made it about 5 miles before having to leave the scooter. At a certain point, only 4x4 vehicles are allowed, so we parked next to the warning sign and went on foot just a little farther. The beach was the same as where we had camped with the exception of those larger soft spots that would have trapped us. Apparently, near the 20-mile point there are much larger shells to be found, but since we only made it to the 5-mile point, we called it good. I did find a cool yellow float that I grabbed up. We puttered back to the RV, rinsed off the scooter (she was covered in sand) and consulted maps to find our next destination.

Onward into the west plains of  Texas. I found classic country road trip songs to sing along to (Texas Tornado by Tracy Lawrence or On The Road Again by Willie if you want a soundtrack for the blog). There were a few hokey roadside attractions along the way; a rusty iron longhorn, a giant snake, and even an oil rig outfitted with longhorns to look as if it were a bucking bronco while it worked the field. The farther we drove, the palm trees and sand were replaced by white rocky fields , scrub brush, yucca and cactus and every now and then you could see more oil rigs pumping away. Lil stayed curled on my lap most of the way, watching out the window and jumping up in excitement every time she saw cattle pass by. I knew we were getting close to our next stop of Laredo when we saw Border Patrol units more frequently.

We arrived in Laredo late afternoon. It was pretty much right on the border of Mexico. We picked Lake Casablanca International State Park to stay the night. I hadn’t expected much being so close to the city, but was pleasantly surprised as we pulled in. The grounds felt secluded enough, and were surrounded by rolling bluffs. There were trails strewn along the sites, covered in white shale and a fun mix of other beautiful rock. I immediately noticed a sweet fragrance in the air. It was warm enough to merit a t-shirt so after we parked, I quickly changed immediately took Lil and my camera out on some of the trails. Again I find myself picking up the precious pebbles, and even found an agate broken exposing the tiny crystal city inside. That sweet fragrance was coming from patches of colorful desert flowers. I stopped to get Lil’s photo in one while she stuck her nose up taking in the smells. There was also an old abandoned building atop a bluff, which was begging to be photographed. The park service believes it may have been used as a museum at one point, but it now sat empty, boarded up and watching over the park from its perch on the mount. We walked the trails past many cactus and some pretty intimidating crown of thorns bushes. While all the pokie plants didn’t seem inviting, I was loving the terrain. So different from where we had traveled from; arid and dry yet still vibrant and intriguing. After getting back to the RV, I took some time to work on photos and the blog, then made a dinner of tortellini. During dinner, we decided that while we’re in Texas, we just have to find a genuine Mexican restaurant and also try Texas BBQ. One last quick walk with Justin and Lil led me to run back to the RV to get my camera. The city lights were illuminating the sky in a lovely blended manner and barely lit the old building I shot earlier. With a brisk wind making me work quickly, I took a minute to shoot the building against the glowing night sky.

Abandoned Building by Night Lights of LoredoAbandoned Building by Night Lights of Loredo Click on image to see more of the Lake Casablanca experience.

Thursday, Feb 22

It got much cooler throughout the night, mid 50’s by morning. I made us eggs and bacon for breakfast, then suited up to go explore the nearby lake with Lil. I read that this place was rich with fossils from marine and mammals if one found the right spots. I walked along the lakefront with Lil, her bounding in and out of the water. Eventually, we came upon some bluffs that calved away washing into the lake. The stood a good 25 feet above the waterline and exposed several different geographic layers in time. Just below them, on the water, the waves had washed away enough to expose what I was looking for; fossil oyster beds where many fossils of both marine and mammal could be found. I was able to find a piece the size of my hand to look more closely at, hoping it would yield some nice tiny specimens. From what I've read, around 42 million years ago Laredo had large gulf waves breaking along a beach, and wasn't the dry dusty climate found today over 150 miles from the gulf.

We got back to the RV and tidied up. Justin had done some research on the maps and found a good trajectory to continue on in, so on we went!

 

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Boondocking Coast to Coast Hiking Lake Casablanca State Park Landscape Photography Landscapes Mikels & Mays Padre Island RV Texas Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip TX Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/texas-texas-and-more-texas Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:56:18 GMT
The Mist https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/the-mist  The 2018 RV Trip Continues

180213_00118Back Seat Driver

 

Click Here to Get to Entire RV Trip Gallery

Friday,  Feb 16

On through Oklohoma we drove, our next stop we decided would be the Broken Bow area. I needed to upload a few days worth of photos so we stopped at a coffee shop near the park. Internet was soooo slow (if you recall from my intro to the last blog post) I abandoned that task for the moment.

We pulled into Beavers Bend State Park. It was in a hilly area with a nice lake nearby, though we were not planning on partaking in activities, simply a stop over. We did get to walk the trails with Lil along the Red River though, which was a nice setting close to our RV.

180216_00108Beavers Bend Click on image to see more of this area.

Saturday, Feb 17

On through Oklahoma. This area boasted Native American heritage. The views were of rustic yet upscale log houses, horses and beef herds. Our breakfast was at this cool diner called the Gemini Coffee Shop in Oklahoma. On the outside, it looked like just another hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a dying strip mall, but when we walked in, I realized what a find it was. Bubbling with local regulars, and quaintly decorated in a friendly farm style, I felt right at home. We sat at the half moon diner style bar in retro 60’s chairs and placed our orders. The owner seemed to know everybody, greeting them all by name, and had regulars phoning in their orders for pick up. The food was great and the atmosphere was hard to leave, but on we must go into Texas!

Our next stop was Mission Tejas State Park in Texas. It was very small, and heavily wooded. We didn’t expect much here, but I was pleasantly surprised but the history this tiny park held. It contained a segment of El Camino Real (Royal Road or Kings Highway), a segment of roads leading up from Mexico that local tribes used for trade and travel.  On the grounds was also the Rice Family Home built in 1828 as a family home, but hosted travelers along the Camino Real. Also here is the Mission Building which was build by the Civilian Conservation Corps to demonstrate the style of log homes built in this area in the early 1800’s. Lil enjoyed walks along the nature trails which had recently been burned (controlled burn I’m guessing). It was here she had her first introduction to white tail deer bounding away from us on the trail and a large roly-poly armadillo scooting past the RV in the night.

The Mission HouseThe Mission House  Click on image to see more of this area. 

Sunday, Feb 18

Another early out morning. Nothing more to see here so we headed toward our next stop of Galveston Island. I will say, road kill is a different kind around here; black pigs and armadillos.  We stopped for gas in the small town of Crockett, Texas. While we were checking the maps, an old silver haired duffer in a faded wrangler shirt and a sharp military haircut pulled up next to us in his pickup to bend our ear a while. He liked our “rig” and was curious about it. The conversation carried on about work, health, honesty, discipline and respect. He had a true heart of gold and a genuine smile, telling us of his childhood when he trained with the great Roy Harris right in his own back woods. He spoke of his dog Zero and how he would “doodle off” to go get him ice cream treats from the kitchen every day. He melted my heart, it was such a treat to chat with him a while.

We drove on, headed south. This rain or mist seemed to keep following us. It now hung in the air around craggy oaks, silhouettes against the contrasting white wooden fences. I wondered if we were ever going to outrun this weather. At least it was warmer, 70’s I’d guess. Our lunch was at Whattaburger chain; we’re told it’s the bomb here in Texas. I’d call it only average. While stopped, I took advantage of the PetCo across the way to get Lily’s nails trimmed.

We made a quick stop at Sheldon Lake State Park, a day use park. Justin wanted to fish their sites. Lil and I walked the boardwalk while he fished. He caught one, but nothing he’d brag about, but it’s time spent fishing nonetheless, a good day.

Trail BoardwalkTrail Boardwalk Click on image to see more of this area. 

After leaving Sheldon, our resting place was Galveston Island State Park. We checked the forecast to see if the weather would allow a visit to the Schlitterbahn waterpark, but with a high only in the low 70s, it would be too cold for me to spend the day all wet. I’m hopeful we’ll hit up a waterpark at some point in this ride though. Our spot was on the bay side closer to all of the nature trails, which suited us just fine. Though, for some evening entertainment, we did scooter up and down the coastal road to see if there were any neat spots to stop at for a local drink. We had Lil in her bucket on the scooter, outfitted in her doggles. I swear she enjoys these rides more than me. She also brings a smile to everyone that sees her. We found one spot close by and stopped for a quick drink on the deck where Lil could sit with us. She won over the bartender, who brought her some dog treats.  We soon left, scooting along a back road, and passed the most random blip of a pasture with a few cows and chickens,  then ended the day with a taco supper at the RV. The sunset was almost a watercolor painting, perfectly blended and matte.

EstuariesEstuaries Click on image to see more of this area. 

Monday, Feb 19

I’ve come to really love these mornings. Lil gets invited up into bed to cuddle for the last hour of sleep we enjoy, and the sun slowly creeps through the windows. The smell of coffee brewing while I’m squished up next to Lil all warm and cozy. Plenty of breeze came through the open windows last night to keep us comfortably cool.  We took Lil on a walk along the many trails along the estuary. There were many birds to see, one being a type of large light pink spoonbill kind. We climbed the viewing tower to get a better view spanning over the bay area, it was very relaxing.

We left Galveston Island, next stop was Corpus Christi where today we were lucky enough to just score the last RV spot on the water at the Naval Air Station. Alas, our luck didn’t hold. With the sound of a sharp and very loud pop, we quickly  knew we had just blown out a tire. Justin safely pulled us off the road into the nearest driveway, just barely on the outskirts of a small town called Edna.  It was the passenger side rear inside tire (duels). While these RVs do come with a good replacement tire, they do not include the jack necessary to lift such weight. I called our roadside assistance, and after an hour, they still had no luck finding a service to aid us. And just like that our luck returned; the place we pulled into was a small shop of some sort and one of the workers just returned. He had all the tools needed to jack us up and spin off the lugs to get to the inner wheel. Justin and he had it replaced very quickly, and we headed into the little town to get the blown tire replaced… you know, in case it happens again. Back in business 3 hours later. We drove through a little town called Victoria. We had hoped to spend a bit of time there, but we had already run short of that so it was just a drive through. Corpus Christi was close, so we kept driving. All of the homes along the beach were so vibrantly colored; ranging from azure, yellow, kiwi green, coral, seafoam and so on. I adored the character. The names of the towns were equally charming; Jamaica Beach, Coconut Cove and so on. Then you had the names of the houses; Yappy Turtle, Banana Boat, Pelicans Nest.  A quick gas stop in Surfside Beach where there were food trucks and a place selling daiquiris to go.  I’m in heaven!

Closer to Corpus Christi, the landscape changed to a more industrious one. I spied wind turbine fields off in the distance, and what seemed to be refineries scattered along the skyline.

Upon arrival at the base in Corpus Christi, we found our spot on the breezy beach, on a concrete pad. It was very nice, though a full RV park. I was thrilled with the free laundry facilities nearby, and the wifi. It’s stops like this where I’m very grateful to be able to catch up on laundry, photos and my blog, but I feel terrible for Lil who sits staring off in the distance waiting to play.  After laundry and homework, it’s Texas steaks on our grill tonight! And we’ll be rocked to sleep in the arms of welcoming ocean breezes.

Gulf Coast, TXGulf Coast, TX Click on image to see more of this area. 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Beavers Bend State Park Coast to Coast Corpus Christi Galveston Galveston Island State Park Landscape Photography Landscapes Mission Tejas State Park OK Oklahoma RV Sheldon Lakes State Park Texas Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip TX Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/the-mist Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:55:57 GMT
Oklahoma Coffee and Slow Internet https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/oklahoma-coffee-and-slow-internet  The 2018 RV Trip Continues

180213_00118Back Seat Driver

 

Click Here to Get to Entire RV Trip Gallery

 

It's Friday...I think. We found a small "coffee shop" in the south eastern part of Oklahoma so I could upload. So far, the coffee leaves much to be desired and the internet is slug speed. As I type this, a server walks by to ask "We just got opened last week so is the internet ok?" and I feel guilty for complaining. At any rate, you should get some photos, and at the very least the text at this stop. 

 

Monday, Feb12

We left the caverns at 8:00 am, it was too damn cold to do anything outside anyhow. This was a driving day for sure. We stopped for an hour or so at a Starbucks in the nearest town so we could use wifi. I obviously was able to get all my photos up and a bit more on the blog while Justin worked on downloading some navigation updates to the nav system in the RV. It was then that we decided to head to Memphis, TN. We found an RV park there that boasted of free laundry and wifi, two things we seem to take for granted when at home. It was still cold, mid 30’s but the sky was blue. I’m thinking we try to head south after this, look for warmer weather.

When we got to the park, again it was very empty. It was on the edge of the Mississippi river with a cool view of passing barges and tugs. The banks were lined with broken limestone rock and the swift water was a gritty muddy brown. It was still cold, so I dedicated the afternoon to doing laundry and walking up and down the river banks with Lil. We did happen upon a fossil shell stuck in a large limestone rock, too large to carry and too tough to break out, sadly it stayed right there in the clenches of the stone. I was able to get a sunset photo, but didn’t try too hard because I’m a sissy in the cold, go figure.

Through out the night, I could hear the hum of barges working tirelessly on the river and it lulled me to sleep. Morning came and greeted us with frozen puddles in the park. Nothing on the RV froze, so that was a relief. A quick sunrise photo over the mighty Mississippi, a brief walk with Lil, and we pulled out to go check out the big city of Memphis.

All the night before, I was singing to Justin little excerpts of  “Walking In Memphis, walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale…”, I was sure he was sick of it, but he wound up playing it for us anyhow. We strolled with Lil past Union Avenue and up and down Beale street. It was still early, but the city still held a lively vibe, even when the neon lights were still resting from the night before. I could just imagine the night crowds, hear the blues rolling out of each doorway, see the glowing lights and smell all the soul food. Made a mental note to come back when we have time to experience it at night. On our way back to the RV, we strolled along the cobblestone banks of the Mississippi past the riverboats, then on we went in search of Graceland. Just a quick stop so I could get a photo of the outside, after all, they were closed for tours today anyhow. It was its own small piece of majesty nestled in a downtrodden area of the city, surrounded by kitschy souvenir shops. A few quick photos and some  support to the closest souvenir vendor and down the road we went.

Lil's Best Elvis ImpressionLil's Best Elvis Impression Click on photo to see more of the Memphis area. 

This was the first time we ran into heavy traffic, basically a parking lot on the interstate, but our navigation got us off and past it rather quickly.

Into Arkansas we went, south toward Hot Springs National Park.  There was so much litter along the roads, and any most roads leading off the interstate were dirt. A lot of the paved sections looked like patchwork pieces with all of the repair the’ve had. And with as many vacant business as I saw, I thought, this is where gas stations must come to die.

We passed through a few industrious in their time river towns; some had successfully bloated into a large city like Little Rock, but most seemed to be barely hanging on. Farther on we went until we started gaining elevation into the Hot Springs area. We got our RV spot right on a little river with many trails along it. Then scootered a mile or so into town to see what the area’s “hot spots” were.  This town was actually pretty cool. Stuck in time with the early 1900’s era architecture, but you could tell in its heyday that it must have been quite an attraction. The hot springs had been harnessed and commercialized into bath houses resembling ancient roman buildings encased in various creative stonework. They still had much of the original detail, and a few were open for tours while others had been slightly modernized to still accommodate bathers. I couldn’t help but feeling a little twinge of creepiness, like I was standing in the set of an old horror movie, waiting for ghosts to pass in front of me in a mirror or something. The whole town felt that way, but its also part of what I liked about it. We strolled up and down the main street until the rain started again. It was too cold to tough out, so we scootered back to the RV to warm up for the night.

 

Wednesday,  Feb 14

Today marks one full week on the road so far. I’d say we’re doing great. I love my office on our bed with squishy pillows, a cuddly dog, and the creek right out the back window.

Rain again last night, a lovely patter on the roof of the RV. I could also hear the creek babbling no more than 20 feet from the back of the RV. And true to form, the rain quit by the time we wanted to go outside. The morning started with eggs, bacon and mimosas. With that fuel, we took Lil on a hike through the trails up the hill (mountain?) behind us. It was a moderate hike uphill, around 4 or so miles. At the top was a lookout, but with the heavy mist in the air, one couldn’t see more than 50 yards, but that in itself was just as captivating, almost eerie at times.  Some of the foliage seemed to glow with color, almost as if they were radioactive. Every now and then an old foundation of a tumbled building or century old buildings themselves would creep into view from the mist, and again I felt like I was in a scary movie; you know, the one where someone escapes from the local insane asylum and tears off running through the woods to disappear into the fog. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination. Along the trail, there were so many different kinds of rock, ranging from white to rosey pink milky stone to jet black flaky flint stone. I can see why this area is known for producing such stunning gem and rock formations. Arkansas is one of the top places in the world to get high quality quartz, and there are several local mines in the Hot Springs area. Walking along the trail, I even found two lovely little crystal pieces mixed in the gravel.

After the long hike, we tucked Lil in and took the scooter into town, about a mile out. With this town being named for the bountiful hot springs, we had to partake. We opted for a soak in the mineral pools of the Quapaw Bathhouse.  Four different pools ranging in different temps from 98-108 degrees. It was so soothing to relax in them for the morning. Since they didn’t allow recording devices in the pools themselves, I have only a few quick pics from sneaking in my cell phone so please forgive the poor quality.

After the baths, we had lunch at the Ohio Club, the oldest saloon in Arkansas known for hosting gangsters like Al Capone and even the local celeb, Billy Clinton (he grew up in this town).  20’s era styled music played while we enjoyed our meal. Onward to another local attraction, the aquarium. Quite small, it felt more like a pet store selling fish, but still interesting enough for me.  There was a creepy old wax museum as well, but we didn’t brave that one, I didn’t want any nightmares tonight. One last stop on the way back was at the local mine’s gem and rock shop. So many eye catching stones, it was hard to walk away with just a few, but I did, with the promise of being able to visit their mine tomorrow and mine for some crystal myself.

And to end the day on a fantastic note, spaghetti for dinner!

Bath House RowBath House Row Click on photo to see more of the Hot Springs area. 

 

Thursday, Feb 15

It got a little warm last night, and the misty haze seemed to be lifting, just in time for our adventure we’ve got planned for today. We started the morning with yet another hike with Lil. Just a few miles this time, up to Goat Mountain. The view was exceptional with the clouds clearing, but wouldn’t ya know it, this time I left my camera behind. We found so many rock clusters that yielded lovely colored stones so I picked up a few (ok, I picked up a lot, filling every pocket I had) so I could send some home to the nieces and nephews. When we got back, we packed up and headed north 16 miles to find the crystal mine, Coleman Mines. They have an area open to the public to allow us to “mine” for our own crystals.

The weather was much warmer, and after all the rain, it was certain to be a red clay mess. We stopped off at walmart to get some throwaway clothing so we wouldn’t ruin our good clothes. When we arrived, we were greeted by an enormous quartz crystal rock the size of a garbage can with crystals the size of bread loaves emerging from it! They say we have to be able to carry out what we find, well I’m sure as hell gonna find a way  to carry that out if I find one like it! We got our permits to mine and drove the RV right out to the edge of the entrance. It was a gaping wound in the earth with heavy machinery excavating deep into the crust. I felt a little guilty for participating but the temptation to find crystal was too strong. We tromped up a surprisingly dry road into the public hunting grounds. While it was messy, it wasn’t muddy. There were tall dirt piles surrounding the roads leading into the active mining pit, so we climbed up one and began the hunt. At first I just raked through the dirt to look for them, but I soon realized it was easier to look atop the piles for glistening gems. I found plenty ranging from a grain of rice to a quarter, and was thrilled at those, glistening and purely clear. It was surreal. Then I began to collect the larger specimens of rock displaying the different forms and stages of crystal. When my load got too heavy and I got too hungry, we went back to the RV to unload and eat and sort through our finds. Of course, Justin outdid me in sheer size and quality of his finds, some of his crystals were the size of a candy bar! We went back out and finished up with one last sweep. With too many pieces to carry, we ended our search. Granted, most were not great quality, but we did get a couple dandies, I’ll sort through them later. I did learn one thing; I was willing to reach my hand into a fire ant hill to acquire crystal, then quickly regretted it!  The whole drive on to our next stop, I couldn’t stop thinking about how great of an experience it was, and the feeling of the smooth cold crystal on my fingers upon the first find. Memories that are going to last me a very long time.

Our RV at the MinesOur RV at the Mines Click on photo to see more of the Mining experience.

Friday, Feb 16

Our next stop was another nearby gem spectacle; Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. We were prospectors after all so why not try for diamonds? The night was warm upon our arrival and the park was quiet. The ranger told us we came at a good time, for they were turning away RVs for March already. The diamond field was walking distance from our space. The night was restless with the humid warm air and dreams of crystals and diamonds. When morning came, the weather shifted and brought in a cold and windy day with light precipitation. I took Lil on a mile or so walk down to the Missouri river, then we headed to the field sporting our throw-away Walmart outfits. The field had greenish soil from mineral deposits. Other than that, it looked like a regular farm field, plowed in furrows. They plow only monthly, and a hundred people or more must search this area daily. We set off to an outer edge to surface hunt, on our hands and knees picking at anything shiny. With an average of only 2 diamonds a day being found, we knew our chances were low, but we had fun anyhow. Our feet turned into elephant feet as the mud clung on, but we never lost a shoe! After three hours, I was so cold I had to quit. We screened our slim pickins and brought them to the shop for identification. Just as we expected, no diamonds but enough calcite and crystals. No matter, we can still say we mined for diamonds. A long hot shower, lunch in the RV and some research for our next destination.... Oklahoma, then south, way south, to warmer weather.

Unfortunately, there are no photos to go with this stop, too muddy to bring out my camera. I still see quartz crystal clusters every time I close my eyes.

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Coast to Coast Coleman Mine Crater of Diamonds Crystals Hot Springs Hot Springs National Park Landscape Photography Landscapes Memphis Mississippi Mississippi River Ohio Club OK Oklahoma Quapaw Bathhouse RV Tennessee TN Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/oklahoma-coffee-and-slow-internet Sat, 17 Feb 2018 18:26:34 GMT
We Found Internet! https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/we-found-internet The 2018 RV Trip Continues

Cathedral CavernsCathedral Caverns

 

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It's been a busy few days-  without internet and little cell service so I haven't been able to post. I can catch up now, and hopefully will get some photos up soon depending on this internet connection. But please do check back to see when all of the pics get up. Here are my last few days:

 

Friday, February 9

A cool crisp morning. Justin had n 8:00 phone interview so Lil and I went off for a walk. I grabbed some fresh coffee and poked around with her for a while. We got back just in time as he wrapped up his phone call.  Places to go, things to see! We packed up and were out by 9:30.  We are headed north.  Approximately one hour up is Calhoon Falls, SC so we stopped there for a break from driving.  The hike was refreshing, but do our dismay, no falls to be found within the park itself. At the very least, we got some more exercise in for Lil.

TrailTrail

Click on photo to see more of this area.

One of the things I am looking forward to on this whole trip is finding hole-in-the-wall places to eat when we have to eat on the road.  That’s what we did, found this place called Hudson Café; “You’ve tried the rest, now try the best!”.  How could we go wrong? It was a large shed type building with a few booths sprinkled around the inside. We ordered at the counter, then sat to wait for them to bring it out.  We waited, then waited some more. They sure were not fast, but the food was quite good! Score one for the dives! With full bellies, we hit the road again.

Headed north yet, aiming for Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia, the gorge there has some raving reviews for activities, if one gets granted permits to hike to the floor of it. I could see faint outlines of the Blue Ridge range in the distance. The rest of the drive held dramatic scenery of red dirt, small ravines and large limestone mounds among the tall pines, and every so often it was littered by the rotting remains of abandoned buildings.  There were a few towns dotted along the way, seemingly accidentally antique, leaving the feeling as if time had forgotten them.

Lil spent most of the drive snuggled up in her bed on the couch, but every so often she would climb up on my lap to watch where we were going. We arrived at Tallulah Falls and were set up by 3:00 pm, but unfortunately we were not granted permits to hike the gorge floor. It was too late by our arrival, and any for the next day were cancelled due to incoming rain. Not to worry though, we still had enough other trails to walk. We started with the North Rim trail around the gorge, I’d guess between 300-600 gain in elevation in the short distance it was. The views over the edge into the gorge below were captivating. A time or two, In peering over the lookout ledge, I’d feel myself sway a bit from the view. It was a strong yet fragile image with bold rock faces leading down to the falls and river far below.  Some of those mammoth rocks were precariously balancing, awaiting erosion to free them to fall to the gorge basin below. I kept wondering how often that would happen, and if any hikers had the experience of seeing the event. I suppose this is one of the dangers that require them to issue access by permit only.

Lil was again quite the adventurer. She was pulling us along the trails most of the day, but no off-leash today. I didn’t want to risk her running off trail into a dangerous part of the gorge where I couldn’t get her. At every overlook, she was up on her toes peering as far as she could get her nose to see what was below, but with such caution it melted my heart. That dog!

Tallulah FallsTallulah Falls

Click photo to see more of the Gorge area.

We got back by 5:30 pm and relaxed with a couple beers while sitting outside, waiting for the rain to move in. It was a gorgeous campground, hilly and with many trees but nearly empty this time of year. How fortunate were we that the whole place was nearly all ours. The temps stayed comfortable in the mid 50s, great for hiking!

Later that night, we looked at the map to see where to next. This is where Justin had to remind me that it’s not about the destination, rather the journey.  With a vague eastern direction in mind, we were satisfied.  Tacos for dinner, then I worked on some photos from the day, and we actually made it to bed at a normal time by 9:00 pm. This time, Lil is going to start sleeping on the couch. It’s just a tad crowded when she takes up half the bed.

 

Saturday, February 10

The rain moved in during the night, and such a soothing sound it made on the RV. Lil did great on the couch until the rain, she seemed scared so I put her back in the bed where she curled tightly next to me. The rain quit by morning, well, mostly. It was a fine mist in the air but nothing worth spoiling our morning hike. We went along the South rim this time, which held a more spectacular view. Stirring as described by Justin. Lil enjoyed it just as much as the one the day before. I proceeded down stairs to get to a suspension bridge while Justin and Lil went back around to the North rim to meet me on the other side.  The view of the falls from down there was quite something!  Such a closer view, and I was so close to getting on the trail to the floor, but I minded the rules and stayed on the proper trail. On my way back up, the some 600+ stairs kicked my butt a little, but I’d say it was worth the work.

When we got back to the RV, we decided to pull out since the rain was getting heavier. We left by 10:00 am headed East driving in the rain. The only radio station we could get in was blues playing on an old country station, which fit the weather perfectly. About an hour East, we stopped an a tourist trap of a town called Helen. It was a bustling small town tucked within the foothills boasting a solid German theme; from building façade to food. We lunched at a place called Old Heidelberg Restaurant and Pub. We were the first patrons of the day, and the food came rather quickly after ordering and delicious it was! We wandered the streets for a spell before getting back on the road.

German Town of Helen, GAGerman Town of Helen, GA

The rain got heavier as we drove, and the rolling hills with twisty turns made me a bit nervous. It was vineyard country, and some of the hills faded into the foggy rain. I guess it would have been a beautiful sight had I not been so nervous about our RV on these roads. Instead, it felt a little creepy.

Next stop was Amicolola Falls State Park. There was a steady drizzle but we went up to see the falls anyhow. I’m glad we did because this was the most impressive falls I’ve seen yet, so wide and monstrous that at one point while taking Justin’s picture with Lil, the falls seemed to come straight from the sky above. But more damn steps!

Upper FallsUpper Falls

Click on photo to see more of this area.

We were making such good time on these stops today, we decided to head East for one more park.  The rock façade changed from limestone to a heavier, more impressive lumbering landscape.

We arrived at Cloudland Canyon State Park by 5:00 pm. The rain was heavy again so I took the time to work on photos and the blog, staying cozy and warm inside the RV. I’m sure Lil appreciated the break too, she had a lot of hiking these last few days.

 

Sunday, February 11

It rained all night, heavy at times, and the wind shook the RV every now and then. Lil started the night on the couch but wound up in bed again, leaving me with only 12 inches of space for myself.  Not a restful night for me.

The rain did end by 7:00 am, the weather gods must be smiling on us because we’ve gotten lucky every day while this storm system works through the area.

The temps were mild in the 60s still, a good morning for a hike since we really didn’t get a chance to get out last night.  We drove the RV out to the parking area where the overlooks and trailheads were. The vantage point was pretty stellar with a sweeping view of the lower canyon and falls. The three of us hopped around peering over each overlook. Justin took Lily to a fishing hole where no license was needed and he fished a while so I could continue down the trails to photograph the falls. More stinkin steps! I quit counting after 550 on my way down because it was making me sad to know I’d have to climb them all on my way out. Both of these falls (Cherokee and Hemlock) were quite stunning. I could feel their booming force in my chest and I just stood there a minute to absorb it. One of those moments where it’s so forcefully loud but peaceful at the same time.  Again, we seemed to have the whole place to ourselves.  The mist from the falls was heavy in the air and it made it a little tricky to shoot them without getting my lenses too damp. Along the trail to the second falls was one of those gargantuan boulders hanging out above the path. I stood a moment to imagine that thing giving way wondering how or where it would land in the gorge below.  By the time I was done playing around down in the falls, I was pretty damp, but welcomed it because the hike out was quite warm.  We met back up and hit the road toward our next destination, eastward into Alabama!

Overlook ViewOverlook View

Click on photo to see more of Cloudlands area.

We stopped at a Walmart so I could find a gate to block Lil in our “living room” so she might stay on the couch at night. We’ll see how that works out.

Then in sticking to our goal for local eateries, we had lunch at Carliles in Scottsboro. The hospitality in this area is more southerly welcoming than in Charleston. The hostess was quite chatty; I tried my hardest to quiet the inside voice that was screaming “I just wanna eat, I’m starving!” and smiled while she carried on. Even our waitress had to bend our ear a while about how much she loves sweet tea. Goodness. Food was good though, I had some of their tomato pie, a first for me.

We got back on the road and arrived at our destination of Cathedral Caverns State Park.  I can say so far, Alabama seems to be somewhat behind Georgia in updating their park system. The RV site was a little scary, I swear I could hear banjo music off in the woods. Setting the unease aside, we went to take a cave tour. Holy smokes, I was blown away! I’ve toured a lot of caves and caverns, and none held as much splendor as this. Some of the rooms were as big as an auditorium with formations as tall as a water tower, the photos simply can’t serve justice. And wouldn’t you know, one of their charmed talking points was a fossil shark tooth exposed high above in one of the ceilings.  We saw many other fossils in the stone along the way. I wanted so badly to jump off the path and begin chiseling some out. We were also fortunate enough to see the caverns during uncommon flood stages, making the sight even more dramatic. I fully enjoyed the tour.

Cathedral CavernsCathedral Caverns

Click on photo to see more of the Caverns.

Spent the night swatting away mosquitoes while catching up on all the photos I took today, and hopefully tomorrow we will find wifi somewhere so I can upload them all to the blog.

Click Here to Get to Entire RV Trip Gallery

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure AL Alabama Amicolola Falls Calhoon Falls Carliles Scottsboro Cathedral Caverns Cloudland Canyon Coast to Coast GA Georgia Helen Landscape Photography Landscapes RV SC South Carolina Tallulah Gorge Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/we-found-internet Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:49:03 GMT
The 2018 RV Road Trip Begins https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/2018-rv-road-trip-begins 2018 RV Road Trip Begins

Rocky WaterfrontRocky WaterfrontClick on the photo to see more of this area.

Click Here to Get to Entire RV Trip Gallery

 

February 7

Wednesday

It’s a 72 balmy degrees in Charleston today, heavy humidity and moody storm clouds rolling by giving us warm gusts of wind. It feels like there is a heightened level of energy in the air; it’s either the stormy weather or it’s my anticipation and excitement of leaving home today to head out in our RV, living on the road for the next couple months exploring the states. Whatever it is, I love the feeling!  Just a few last minute checks and tasks and we’re on the road by 11:30 am.

Our goal is to only drive 3-4 hours before stopping for the day, and we haven’t laid plans out more than a day or two, we’re going to just see where circumstances take us!

It rained most of the way to our first destination, and the wind gusts were strong on our RV.  We arrived at Pointes West Rec Area near Augusta, Georgia somewhere around 3:00 pm. The rain had subsided, and the air reminded me of those warm spring afternoons in Wisconsin.  Our spot sat just above the edge of the lake, and since it was off-season, the place was nearly empty. Sublimely peaceful.  All we could really hear were the birds.

After setting up camp, we made a quick late lunch of hot dogs on the grill, then parked our butts in the chairs to sip a beer and gaze across the water.

Later, we took a short walk with Lily to investigate the grounds a little. We walked out to a point overlooking a larger section of water, and I was really taken by the scenery!  This place felt otherworldly with its outcroppings of shale and red clay mud.  The stone looked as if tectonic plates shifted, forcing them straight up out of the ground.  And the waterline at one point had washed away the red dirt beneath the tall pines, leaving gnarly black roots exposed, winding out on the shale as if reaching to the water to quench their thirst.

Like I said, the scenery was quite moving to me, and it seemed Lil enjoyed it just as much. We let her run off leash for a bit, and she couldn’t stop zooming from one place to the next, trying to fully investigate these new surroundings, red mud squishing between her toes, lapping at the water every now and then.  I think this dog is going to do quite well on this trip!

After rinsing off Lily and our boots, we hopped back into the RV to relax for the day. A little light reading and we were tired enough to take on sleep by 7:30, which means he’ll likely be up at 4:00 am!!

 

February 8

Thursday

A fairly restful night, with the exception of a goose honking at 2:00 am then again at 4:00 am, likely in defense of something. Based on what I heard, he may have held his own just fine.  We rolled out of bed after laying awake for a spell, just in time to see the remains of the sunrise over the water out on the point.  Justin and Lil went back and let me stay a little longer to photograph some scenery… until my battery died. Thankfully, two more fully charged ones are waiting back at the RV.  It was time for breakfast anyhow. 

Fried eggs and bacon with mimosas, fresh coffee, again while overlooking the water. I have to soak these moments up because I’m sure not every stop on this trip will be this serene. Today’s weather, marvelous!  No rain, and sunny, somewhere in the low 70s.  Another walk with Lil and my camera, trying to burn off some of her limitless energy. 

Later, Justin and I rolled the vespa off the back of the RV and scooted around some of the local area outside of the park.  It was much cooler on the scooter, and even though Lil could ride with secured in her bucket on the back, I was glad we left her home to rest. She might have been a bit too cold on this ride.  Found Mistletoe State Park and investigated that a bit, though it looked much the same as where we were camping. An old house did catch my eye on the way back and I snapped a quick photo.  After getting back, we ate a quick lunch of sandwiches.

Spent the rest of the afternoon reading and working through my photos. We’ll make steaks for dinner later and look on the map to see what may be a good direction to head, but we will pull out tomorrow and make our way up to Tallulah Gorge State Park in Georgia to see if we will be lucky enough to be granted a permit to hike within the gorge itself. After that, who knows what’s next!

WaterfrontWaterfront

Click on the photo to see more of Pointes West Rec area.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Adventure Coast to Coast GA Georgia Landscape Photography Landscapes Pointes West RV SC South Carolina Tallulah Gorge Travel Travel Blog Travel Photography Trip Victoria Jean Photo Art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2018/2/2018-rv-road-trip-begins Thu, 08 Feb 2018 22:10:37 GMT
Charleston360 #316 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/10/charleston360-316 #316

I had fun creating this photo. I could hear the waves crashing against the wooden hull. Stormy weather breaking with the sunrise.

El Galeon AndaluciaTall ShipsA historically accurate reconstruction of a 170-foot 16th-century Spanish galleon El Galeon Andalucia which carries an all-Spanish crew that lives onboard the ship and travels from port to port by way of the open sea.

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina Spanish galleon nautical ocean rough ocean storm stormy stormy seas tall ship https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/10/charleston360-316 Thu, 01 Oct 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #315 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-315 #315

Docked in Charleston for the weekend, being the subject of many photographs... I took my creative liberty on one shot of it, you'll have to come back tomorrow to see it!

A historically accurate reconstruction of a 170-foot 16th-century Spanish galleon El Galeon Andalucia which carries an all-Spanish crew that lives onboard the ship and travels from port to port by way of the open sea.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina Spanish galleon nautical ocean tall ship https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-315 Wed, 30 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #314 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-314 #314

Shooting the sunrise on the water in Charleston Harbor, I found this bike resting on a lamp post in Waterfront Park. I'm really digging this image. It sighs leisure.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina Waterfront Park bicycle bike park sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-314 Tue, 29 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #313 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-313 #313

I adore the symmetry and meticulous landscaping at some of the homes.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina brick symmetry https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-313 Mon, 28 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #312 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-312 #312

Brick streets, brick walks, brick walls, brick homes... I can't imagine how many times brick is repurposed in this historic city.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina brick https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-312 Sun, 27 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #311 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-311 #311

More of the beautiful iron work decorating buildings downtown.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina iron https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-311 Sat, 26 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #310 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-310 #310

The Old Slave Mart Museum.  Believed to be a privately owned slave auction house in operation during the  1830's to the 1850's.  

Nowadays, tourists visiting Charleston often mistake the City Market (at another location) as the place where slave auctions occurred; in reality, it was where slaves and farmers alike went to sell their goods.  

This is said to be an actual auction house. Many people do not realize that 35%-40% of slaves entering the US during these times entered through Charleston.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC Slave Mart South Carolina auction slave slavery https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-310 Fri, 25 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #309 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-309 #309

In a colorful downtown, a house appropriately named "The Pink House".

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina The Pink House house pink https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-309 Thu, 24 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #308 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-308 #308

The lovely buildings are adorned with unique and beautiful iron work.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina gate iron https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-308 Wed, 23 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #307 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-307 #307

The Dock Street Theatre, built in 1809 in the French Quarter of Charleston- it was the first building in America built exclusively to be used for theatrical performances.The first opera performance in America took place at the Historic Dock Street Theatre.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 French Quarter SC South Carolina building https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-307 Tue, 22 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #306 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-306 #306

The French Huguenot Church built in 1844.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 French Huguenot Church SC South Carolina church pink https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-306 Mon, 21 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #305 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-305 #305

My second favorite street. This one I see often depicted in wedding shots. Its just a cool building.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina brick building palm tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-305 Sun, 20 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #304 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-304 #304

St. Phillips Church

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina St. Phillips Church church https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-304 Sat, 19 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #303 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-303 #303

This is one of my very favorite walls downtown. When standing on this street, it really feels as if you've stepped back in time.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina brick building https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-303 Fri, 18 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #302 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-302 #302

So much character to all the buildings downtown. Imagine the stories they could tell.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina brick building https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-302 Thu, 17 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #301 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-301 #301

Charleston Harbor Sunrise

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina harbor sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-301 Wed, 16 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #300 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-300 #300

The marsh along Waterfront Park at sunrise, looking out over Charleston Harbor.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina Waterfront Park harbor sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-300 Tue, 15 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #299 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-299 #299

Another one of Waterfront Park's fountains shining in the golden light of the sunrise.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina Waterfront Park fountain park https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-299 Mon, 14 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #298 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-298 #297

Another view of the fountain at sunrise.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Pineapple Fountain SC South Carolina Waterfront Park fountain park sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-298 Sun, 13 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #297 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-297 #297

I finally got myself up early for a sunrise shoot at the infamous fountain at Waterfront Park. Sadly, the sunrise wasn't much of a show. I'll have to retry this when I get the gumption again.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Pineapple Fountain SC South Carolina Waterfront Park fountain sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-297 Sat, 12 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #296 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-296 #296

Another thing Charleston is known for, bow-ties.  These are hand made in a local shop on King Street. I love the one depicting Rainbow Row (the row of rainbow buildings, an actual place here for you out-of-towners).

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina bow-tie tie https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-296 Fri, 11 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #295 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-295 #295

Charming Charleston - one of the many captivating buildings downtown. More to come!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina building floral pink purple https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-295 Thu, 10 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #294 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-294 #294

Charming Charleston - one of the many captivating buildings downtown. More to come!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina building https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-294 Wed, 09 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #293 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-293 #293

Charming Charleston, one of many captivating buildings downtown.  More to come...

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina building https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-293 Tue, 08 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #292 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-292 #292

Charming Charleston, one of many captivating buildings downtown.  More to come...

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC building https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-292 Mon, 07 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #291 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-291 #291

Just your typical back yard scene in downtown Charleston.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC statue yard https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-291 Sun, 06 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #290 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-290 #290

Who doesn't enjoy watching these being created?

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC drawing farmers market market https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-290 Sat, 05 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #289 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-289 #289

Yes, I'm attracted to colorful things. Hand made jewelry at this market.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC farmers market jewelry market https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-289 Fri, 04 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #288 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-288 #288

Here's something I haven't seen at a market before - fresh made pasta! I've got to come back for some of this! 

Look at how colorful it all is...

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC farmers market market pasta https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-288 Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #287 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-287 #287

Fresh baked bread at this farmers market. Smelled marvelous!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC bread farmers market market https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-287 Wed, 02 Sep 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #285 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-285 #285

Fall brings abundant farmers markets!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC corn farmers market market https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/9/charleston360-285 Tue, 01 Sep 2015 21:37:35 GMT
Charleston360 #284 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-284 #284

Bidding August farewell with one more Charleston Harbor sunrise.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Ravenel Sunrise harbor ocean https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-284 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #283 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-283 #283

Tiny delicate white mushrooms.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island fungi mushrooms rustic https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-283 Sun, 30 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #282 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-282 #282

A good place to sit and watch the sunrise at Treehouse Island, overlooking the Edisto River.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island chair river rocking chair rustic https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-282 Sat, 29 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #281 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-281 #281

The Treehouse, Treehouse Island, South Carolina.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island river rustic https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-281 Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #280 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-280 #280

A quick bowl of chili-mac for our dinner at Treehouse Island.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island bowl chili river rustic https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-280 Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #279 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-279 #279

The treehouse on Treehouse Island; the destination point after our 5.5 hour canoe trip on the Edisto River. Here is where we'll stay the night, then head back out the next day.

While it looks like a free-standing cabin on stilts, it is actually built upon and anchored to two large trees (one of which is dead and partially cut down) on either side with the lower platform built for stability and extra outdoor space.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island river https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-279 Wed, 26 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #278 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-278 #278

Its pretty cool to have this beauty so close. So many different and beautiful scenes along the Edisto River as we paddled on.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island river willow https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-278 Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #277 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-277 #277

On with our canoe trip...

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island river willow https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-277 Mon, 24 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #276 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-276 #276

A scene along the Edisto River. I was taken by all the willows overhanging the river. If the water looks muddy, it's not. The river is stunningly clear, with a soft brown sandy bottom, so shallow in spots we bottomed out!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island river willow https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-276 Sun, 23 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #275 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-275 #275

Over the next few days, let me take you on a trip we did.

Unguided canoe trip down the Edisto River to a treehouse on an island where we spent the night.

What a fun adventure it was!

Say hello to one of the members that sent us on our way...

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Canoe Charleston Charleston360 Edisto Edisto River GoPro South Carolina Treehouse Treehouse Island cat go-pro https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-275 Sat, 22 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #274 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-274 #274

Another gorgeous sunrise in the harbor on a misty morning.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Ravenel Sunrise harbor ocean https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-274 Fri, 21 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #273 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-273 #273

Sunrise at the Port of Charleston where BMW vehicles manufactured here in the Lowcountry await loading to be shipped to dealers far and wide. Ravenel bridge in the background.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) BMW Charleston Charleston360 Ravenel Sunrise harbor ocean tracks train https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-273 Thu, 20 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #272 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-272 #272

Imagine this fella's body the size of a matchbook, overall close to the size of a coffee mug. I happened upon him after being clotheslined in his web- not even breaking it! I knew right away what kind of web I just ran into, and carefully backed up as to avoid damaging it further. These webs can be some of the most stunningly beautiful webs to see. While the spider itself is fairly harmless, it can bite, injecting a non-lethal but painful venom. 

Sometimes referred to as silk orb-weavers, giant wood spiders or banana spiders (genus Nephila araneomorph).

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina banana spiders giant wood spiders silk orb-weavers spider web https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-272 Wed, 19 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleasto360 #271 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleasto360-271 #271

Cypress swamps are everywhere in the south.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina cypress tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleasto360-271 Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #270 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-270 #270

 

Another image of the Cypress trees near the shore of Lake Marion, SC.  This manmade lake was created in 1941 by the construction of a dam and left some of the nearby trees flooded in its waters.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Lake Marion" "South Carolina" Charleston Charleston360 SC cypress tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-270 Mon, 17 Aug 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #269 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-269 #269

Cypress on Lake Marion, the largest lake in the state of South Carolina, covering 110,000 acres.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Lake Marion SC South Carolina cypress tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/8/charleston360-269 Sun, 16 Aug 2015 17:08:45 GMT
Charleston360 #268 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-268 #268

Now this is what I picture when I think of Myrtle Beach.  Hot sunny day on the beach with the festive city beckoning me for the nightlife.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Atlantic Charleston Charleston360 Myrtle Beach SC South Carolina beach coast ferris wheel ocean https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-268 Wed, 17 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #267 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-267 #267

Still in Myrtle Beach, the city in the background.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Atlantic Charleston Charleston360 Myrtle Beach SC South Carolina beach coast ferris wheel ocean https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-267 Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #266 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-266 #266

Feeding frenzy!  Up the road from Charleston by a few hours is another tourist destination; Myrtle Beach.

These crazy fish were found at "Lake Broadway" of Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC.  It's a popular attraction, parsing out quarters for fistfuls of fish food to toss into the water below the boardwalk.  These fish have been well conditioned.  They wait, mouths gaping open as if to scream out in starvation, waiting for the next gullible tourist to toss them food.  They aren't the only scavengers, they fight for this food alongside ducks and turtles.  From what I understand, when this attraction opened in 1995, this lake was stocked with Israeli Carp, Catfish, Japanese Carp, Bream and Hybrid Bass.  I'd say they are flourishing. It's certainly one of my favorite things to see here.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Broadway at the Beach Charleston Charleston360 Lake Broadway Myrtle Beach SC South Carolina https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-266 Mon, 15 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #265 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-265 #265

This was neat to witness.  It's a locust drying its new wings after emerging from its molt.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina bug locust https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-265 Sun, 14 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #264 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-264 #264

Back at Pitt Street Bridge again, with a softer feel this time.  That's historic downtown Charleston in the distance and the Ravanel bridge that connects it to Mt Pleasant.  Lazy Lowcountry Life.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Lazy Lowcountry Life Mt Pleasant Pitt Street Bridge SC South Carolina https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-264 Sat, 13 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #263 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-263 #263

A little laugh for you.  It almost has the makings of a bad joke, "Two goose butts and a turtle..."

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina goose pond turtle https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-263 Fri, 12 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #262 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-262 #262

I felt like going for a swing today.  It makes me feel like a kid again.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina swing https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-262 Thu, 11 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #261 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-261 #261

This just seemed to iconic of southern charm to me.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina gazebo https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-261 Wed, 10 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #260 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-260 #260

Can you believe there are only 100 posts left to complete this series?!

How about some baby duck fuzzy cuteness for today?

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 SC South Carolina baby duck duckling https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-260 Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #259 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-259 #259

There are three different shots of the morning sun washing over the wetlands as seen from Pitt Street Bridge. Not a bad morning at all.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Mt Pleasant Pitt Street Bridge SC South Carolina palm sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-259 Mon, 08 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #258 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-258 #258

Like I said yesterday, a gem of a place to sit and watch the sunrise.  This is a good depiction of how long and narrow the park is.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Mt Pleasant Pitt Street Bridge SC South Carolina bench sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-258 Sun, 07 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #257 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-257 #257

Yesterdays view was toward downtown Charleston.  If you turn around, facing the other direction is a view of Isle of Palms which sits right on the Atlantic ocean.  This is a gem of a location for watching sunrises.  If you look closely, you can see the little dots of palms that line the connector to Isle of Palms.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Isle of Palms Mt Pleasant Pitt Street Bridge SC South Carolina sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-257 Sat, 06 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #256 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-256 #256

Here are a couple photos with a view of historic downtown Charleston from Pitt Street Bridge.  That's it, waaaay out there in the distance.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Mt Pleasant Pitt Street Bridge SC South Carolina https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-256 Fri, 05 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #255 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-255 #255

Let's take a trip somewhere else.  A local treasure of a park, old Pitt Street Bridge in Mt. Pleasant.  No longer a complete bridge, it once spanned the waters between Mt. Pleasant and Sullivans Island. Now, it is a long and narrow park with a small pier at the end where the bridge once stood.  I can just imagine this bridge in its heyday, carrying soldiers and citizens across to go about their business in neighboring towns.  Today, to get from Mt. Pleasant to Sullivans Island is a much longer drive.  The photos over the next couple days will show you the serene surroundings of the Pitt Street Bridge.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Mt Pleasant Pitt Street Bridge SC South Carolina https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-255 Thu, 04 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #254 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-254 #254

Flowers and palm trees!  I can't decide which version I like better...

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina flowers palm https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-254 Wed, 03 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #253 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-253 #253  

Gorgeous magnolias are now in bloom.  Can't you just smell them?

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina bloom flower magnolia white https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-253 Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #252 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-252 #252

I love the tight unfurled fists of these blossoms.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina flowers orange https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/6/charleston360-252 Mon, 01 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #251 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-251 #251

Sit in the shade and take in the scenery at Hampton Park.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina bench https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-251 Sun, 31 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #250 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-250 #250

A closer view of the beautifully colorful flower beds at Hampton Park.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina floral flowers https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-250 Sat, 30 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #249 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-249 #249

Here are two more scenes found while strolling along the paths in Hampton Park. Spring is a lovely time to visit here with all the flowers in bloom.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina floral flowers path https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-249 Fri, 29 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #248 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-248 #248

Hampton Park is filled with beautiful old oak trees.  Not only do people like to come and relax here, but even the ducks find this setting quite tranquil!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina clover duck lawn oak sleep sleepy https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-248 Thu, 28 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #247 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-247 #247

We're at Hampton Park today.  Beautiful scenery here!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Hampton Park SC South Carolina geese pond https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-247 Wed, 27 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #246 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-246 #246

This scene was inspiring to me; to see life sprout next to such old growth.  I felt some symbolism there.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 sprout tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-246 Tue, 26 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #245 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-245 #245

Another backyard friend I actually encourage visits from!  I feed them corn and peanuts.  Did you know that they tend to eat only the nutritious rich heart of the corn kernel and throw the rest?  Eventually though, it all disappears if I don't feed for a while.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 squirrel https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-245 Mon, 25 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #244 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-244 #244

I adore these little fellas!  I'm trying to promote their survival in my yard by giving them proper habitat.  I know they like brush and vines to hide in, and decaying wood to lay eggs in.  I've even provided a few shallow saucers for water they get to share with the birds and squirrels.  

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) anole charleston charleston360 green lizard https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-244 Sun, 24 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #243 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-243 #243

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 goose https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-243 Sat, 23 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #242 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-242 #242

These little fellas were cah-yooot!   Turtles sneaking up to steal some of the bread we threw to the geese.  He looks like he's been sitting for a while withall that growing on his back.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 turtle https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-242 Fri, 22 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #241 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-241 #241

Well how about that!  You get a photo of me!  My husband actually shot this, I thought it might be a little fun to share our afternoon feeding the geese at the park.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-241 Thu, 21 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #240 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-240 #240

I totally dig geometry in nature.  

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) banana charleston charleston360 floral flowers green plant https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-240 Wed, 20 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #239 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-239 #239

There is just something about delicate spring wildflowers that gets me.  I know, I'm such a girl.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers marrington plantation https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-239 Tue, 19 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #238 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-238 #238

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers horse marrington pasture plantation https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-238 Mon, 18 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #237 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-237 #237

Another grand oak stretching out over the road on Marrington Plantation.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers marrington path plantation woods https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-237 Sun, 17 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #236 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-236 #236

Don't you just want to lay down in these?  

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers marrington plantation https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-236 Sat, 16 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #235 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-235 #235

I half expected Robin Hood to poke his head out from around this tree.  It really felt like an enchanted forest to me that day.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers marrington oak path plantation tree woods https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-235 Fri, 15 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #234 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-234 #234

Marrington Plantation.  These oaks are baby sized compared to some found here in the area.  Still an impressive tree.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers marrington oak path plantation woods https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-234 Thu, 14 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #233 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-233 #233

I'm going to keep you in Marrington for a few days, it's simply too pretty here and I want to share with you the beauty I have found.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers marrington path plantation woods https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-233 Tue, 12 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #232 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-232 #232

A path found on Marrington Plantation in Goose Creek.  It's so inviting! So mesmerizing!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers marrington path plantation woods https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-232 Mon, 11 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #231 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-231 Today is Mothers Day!!

In honor of my mom, I share with you my first Peony flower of the season!  I placed it in a milk can; they remind me of the farm where I grew up and used cans exactly like this one to bring in fresh milk from the bulk tank in the milk house.  Mom always grows the most beautiful flowers!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-231 Sun, 10 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #230 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-230 #230

Let me welcome you back with gentle spring breezes and swaying wildflowers.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) charleston charleston360 floral flowers https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/5/charleston360-230 Sat, 09 May 2015 15:04:33 GMT
Charleston360 #229 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-229 #229

Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia again.  Oh the little Lorikeets!  We can feed them here.  They are so used to human interaction, they are fearless!  They invite themselves to sit on you and search for food.  (see next image too).

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This is how they act, pecking at my earrings as well as my camera!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Columbia Zoo" "Riverbanks Zoo" Charleston Charleston360 bird colorful lorikeet tropical zoo https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-229 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #228 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-228 #228

Such pretty eyes.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Columbia Zoo Riverbanks Zoo SC South Carolina eye giraffe lash zoo https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-228 Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #227 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-227 #227

Another image from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, an African Crowned Crane.  It's hair looks like mine some mornings.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Columbia Zoo Eastern African Crowned Crane Riverbanks Zoo SC South Carolina bird zoo https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-227 Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #226 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-226 #226

We went to the local zoo in Columbia the other day.  I saw a lion.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Columbia Zoo Riverbanks Zoo SC South Carolina lion zoo https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-226 Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #225 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-225 #225

There are so many old homes in the Charleston area, so many on my list to explore.  This one was fascinating, it revealed a winding staircase to the third floor.  Welcome to the Nathaniel Russell House.

It was constructed for $80,000 in 1809.  I captured only a few photos of the interior, I MUST return for another more in-depth photographic tour.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Nathaniel Russel House" "South Carolina" Charleston SC spiral staircase stair winding https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/3/charleston360-225 Sun, 01 Mar 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #224 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-224 #224

Well, here is another little surprising scene.  Looks and feels like a jungle to me, but this was actually in the middle of an office complex lobby.  I'd love to have this right outside my office!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) fountain jungle palm plants rain forest rainforest tropical https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-224 Sat, 28 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #223 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-223 #223

It's surprising where I can find scenes like this...  while visiting a new local hospital/clinic.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) corridor hall https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-223 Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #222 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-222 #222

Something springlike today.  Believe it or not, it is coming!!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) floral flower green pink spring https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-222 Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #221 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-221 #221

It almost looks like the uninviting boundary to a castle.  In reality, its simply an ornate border around property downtown Charleston.  I am hoping the iron work is to deter seagulls from perching...

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 architecture fence https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-221 Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #220 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-220 #220

I was hoping to catch some pelicans this morning, but had to settle for this shot instead.  They are some kind of ibis or egret, not quite sure yet.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" Charleston Charleston360 birds egret ibis water https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-220 Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #219 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-219 #219

I spotted this glowing gem while strolling along one of the back streets.  It was simply glowing in the afternoon sun.  I adore greenhouses, and imagined this one to be a relaxing retreat of serenity and natural beauty tucked in the middle of downtown.  I could almost smell the sweetly humid tropical air inside.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 architecture building greenhouse https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-219 Mon, 23 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #218 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-218 #218

Yet another good example of the great architecture of Charleston.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 architecture building https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-218 Sun, 22 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #217 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-217 #217

The downtown area of Charleston has many captivating buildings to investigate.  I get caught up in the careful details of attentive landscaping and exterior accents, and sometimes let my imagination dictate what I think I see.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 architecture building symmetry https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-217 Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #216 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-216 #216

The Ravenel Bridge spanning the Cooper River at sunrise.  I love how you can see the distinct warm glow of the sun on the bridge as it rises.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Ravenel Bridge bridge cooper river river sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-216 Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #215 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-215 #215

An iconic Charleston image, the palmetto tree silhouetted against the rising sun.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 palm palmetto silhouette sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-215 Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #214 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-214 #214

I'm fond of interesting marina buildings, even if they are new.  This one is the Charleston Harbor Fish House and Marina Store sitting at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant overlooking the bay.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston Harbor Fish House Charleston360 Marina Mount Pleasant Patriots Point SC https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-214 Wed, 18 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #213 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-213 #213

Buzzards!  Hanging out in town, waiting for some easy lunch.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Daniel Island bird black buzzard https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-213 Tue, 17 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #212 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-212 #212

Sunrise fountain at Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Patriots Point fountain sunrise https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-212 Mon, 16 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #211 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-211 #211

A fun collage of some of the architectural geometry around downtown Charleston.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 architectural geometry deco decorative ironwork round square https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-211 Sun, 15 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #210 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-210 #210

Here is an early morning view of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier which sits retired at Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant.  Across the water is Charleston.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Mount Pleasant Patriots Point SC USS Yorktown https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-210 Sat, 14 Feb 2015 12:48:20 GMT
Charleston360 #209 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-209 #209

I love retro and colorful bikes.  They're everywhere down here.  I've yet to get my own, but soon enough.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 bicycle bike fence https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-209 Sun, 08 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #208 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-208 #208

I love the spanish moss of the south, swaying in the breeze.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 moss spanish moss https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-208 Sat, 07 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #207 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-207 #207

A departing shot from Oyster Fest, empty buckets of belly fillers everywhere.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Boone Hall Plantation" "Oyster Fest" Charleston Charleston360 oyster https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-207 Fri, 06 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #206 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-206 #206

Hungry yet?  Nothing better than southern BBQ.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Boone Hall Plantation Charleston Charleston360 Oyster Fest bbq ribs https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-206 Thu, 05 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Schedule360 #205 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/schedule360-205 #205

A few more of Oyster Fest to show the level of interest this fun event draws.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Boone Hall Plantation" "Oyster Fest" Charleston Charleston360 oyster https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/schedule360-205 Wed, 04 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #204 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-204 #204

Oyster Fest!  The largest oyster festival in the world, right here in Charleston, SC at Boone Hall Plantation.  It brings in well over 11,00 people consuming an estimated 80,00 pounds of oysters each year.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Boone Hall Plantation" "Oyster Fest" Charleston Charleston360 oyster https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-204 Tue, 03 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #203 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-203 #203

Fields of cotton!  I always wondered what this looked like.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Boone Hall Plantation Charleston Charleston360 cotton field https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-203 Mon, 02 Feb 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #202 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-202 #202

A popular piece of art here in South Carolina, sweet grass baskets.  Now I understand why they are expensive, there is a lot of work put into weaving them.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 basket oyster sweetgrass https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/2/charleston360-202 Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:31:35 GMT
Charleston360 #201 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-201 #201

An oyster shell beach along Wando River.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Wando River" Charleston Charleston360 Sunrise dock moss oyster pier river shell https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-201 Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #200 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-200 #200

Sunrise on the Wando river.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Wando River" Charleston Charleston360 Sunrise dock moss pier river spanish moss https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-200 Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #199 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-199 #199

Its beautiful to me even in monochrome, and I really love my colors so that's saying something!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" Charleston Charleston360 black and white monochrome mystical oak tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-199 Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #198 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-198 #198

I took a walk, needed some quiet and beautiful surroundings this day to clear my head some.  This is where I wound up.  Yes, it was this bright and beautiful.  I sat for a bit and soaked it all in. I couldn't help but smile at how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such beauty!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" Charleston Charleston360 mystical oak tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-198 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #197 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-197 #197

Still on Daniel Island looking out over the Wando River.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Mark Clark Expressway" "Wando River" 526 Charleston Charleston360 riverfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-197 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #196 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-196 #196

A sandy beach along the Wando River waterfront in Daniel Island.  

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Wando River" Charleston Charleston360 oak riverfront tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-196 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #195 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-195 #195

The many faces of the Wando River.  There really isn't an area around here where one couldn't capture great images!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Mark Clark Expressway" "Wando River" 526 Charleston Charleston360 bridge river riverfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-195 Sun, 25 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #194 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-194 #194

How about another sunrise along the Wando River?

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Mark Clark Expressway" "Wando River" 526 Charleston Charleston360 Sunrise dock pier river riverfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-194 Sat, 24 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #193 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-193 #193

Mark Clark Expressway, Highway 526 Bridge over the Wando River going into Mt Pleasant.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Mark Clark Expressway" "Wando River" 526 Charleston Charleston360 bridge river riverfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-193 Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #192 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-192 #193

More of the forgotten Lesene cemetery.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Mark Clark Expressway" "Wando River" 526 Charleston Charleston360 Lesene cemetery grave river riverfront tombstone https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-192 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #191 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-191 #191

Sometimes it's easy to forget what progress covers up or destroys.  In this case, a cemetery dating back to the very early 1800s was affected.  This is what remains of the Lesesne family cemetery.  The Mark Clark Expressway (Hwy 526) went through these grounds spanning over the Wando River connecting Daniel Island to Mt Pleasant.  The second photo is what you can see of the bridge through the forgotten grounds.

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Mark Clark Expressway" "Wando River" 526 Charleston Charleston360 Lesene cemetery grave river riverfront tombstone https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-191 Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #190 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-190 #190

Loving the sunscapes around here!  This is sunrise on Daniel Island on the Wando River.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) "Daniel Island" "Mark Clark Expressway" "Wando River" 526 Charleston Charleston360 Sunrise dock pier river riverfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-190 Tue, 20 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #189 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-189 #189

One of my most favorite locations, the waterfront on the harbor downtown Charleston.  A lovely pastel sunset painted the sky this evening.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 South Carolina harbor marina sunset waterfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-189 Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #188 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-188 #188

Imagine sitting here alongside the river, watching the sunrise.  This park in Beaufort, South Carolina is so beautifully landscaped.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Beaufort Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens South Carolina bench park waterfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-188 Sun, 18 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #187 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-187 #187

Man I love the look of shrimp boats!  This one sits along the river in historic Beaufort, South Carolina.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Beaufort Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens South Carolina boat shrimp boat https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-187 Sat, 17 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #186 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-186 #186

This is the last shot of Savannah as we cross back into South Carolina.  What a grand time in a grand city, so close, I imagine we will make quite a few more visits in the future.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah Savannah River capitol river riverfront https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-186 Fri, 16 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #185 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-185 #185

The Cotton Exchange building is a grand reminder of the heavy influence that cotton had on the local economy.  

 

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Cotton Exchange building Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-185 Thu, 15 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #184 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-184 #184

The view here in Savannah is so magical, I honestly felt like we were in an old city somewhere far across the ocean.  It really didn't seem like home was a short drive away.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia River Street Savannah Savannah River street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-184 Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #183 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-183 #183

Ah, the speak-easy.  Hidden along the back alley of River Street, Savannah, this still popular libation location is where only members or 'key holders' are allowed entry.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia River Street Savannah alley speak easy street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-183 Tue, 13 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #182 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-182 #182

The back alley of River Street, Savannah Georgia.  It really felt like we were taking a step back in time.  I couldn't help but wonder how many drunk sailors, pirates and 'ladies of the night' stumbled through these very alleys in the early 1800s.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia River Street Savannah alley street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-182 Mon, 12 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #181 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-181 #181

I love this memorial.  It's sheer size was impressive.  It sits at the end of River Street, Savannah Georgia.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia River Street Savannah WW2 Memorial memorial https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-181 Sun, 11 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #180 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-180 #180

Getting some lattes from a greek cafe on a cool December morning along River Street.  This jolly fella was our greek 'baristo'.

 

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia River Street Savannah The Olympian Cafe baristo coffee https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-180 Sat, 10 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #179 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-179 #179

Gulls circling in search of food leftover by tourists walking along River Street, Savannah Georgia.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah bird building seagull https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-179 Fri, 09 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #178 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-178 #178

Here are some scenes from River Street, Savannah Georgia.  I loved the energy of this area.  Even in the morning when shops were just opening and few were on the street, there was an exciting vibe.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia River Street Savannah pirate street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-178 Thu, 08 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #177 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-177 #177

I adore the nautical decor of Savannah's riverfront.  Heavily influenced by pirates, obviously.

 

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia River Street Savannah pirate street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-177 Wed, 07 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #176 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-176 #176

Savannah's riverfront lies below downtown, and as a result, many old cobblestone stairways still remain to gain access to the River Street area.  I'm told that sailors used to hide their gold under some of these stone, in hopes of saving it from robbery should they be the victim of an attack.

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah historic stairs street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-176 Tue, 06 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #175 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-175 #175

Inside the historic 250 year old Pirates House, Savannah Georgia.  Ghosts of departed sailors are rumored to be walking these halls.  None were found on our visit, sadly.

 

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Pirates House Savannah haunted pirate https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-175 Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #174 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-174 #174

Part of Savannah's rich history is that laid by pirates!  This building (or combination of buildings) are the oldest in the State.  With being constructed in 1734, and being the watering hole for many sailors and pirates that found their way here, you can only imagine how much history echoes through these walls.

Tunnels ran under its foundation leading out to the river.   Many unsuspecting young men came to the tavern to enjoy in drink and carry on with others, and instead they were carried away, shanghaied through these tunnels out to awaiting ships where they were sold and enslaved.

 

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Pirates House Savannah pirate https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-174 Sun, 04 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #173 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-173 #173

One of the highlights of our Savannah visit was the haunted tour of the most haunted parts of the city (which also included the most haunted house in the United States).

(For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!)

 

Of course, there had to be a full moon on this walking tour.

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Below is a photo of the Marshall House, used as a war hospital in its day.  They performed so many amputations on one level, they started disposing of the dismembered limbs beneath the floorboard.  They say only recently did they discover the bones beneath the floor during a renovation.

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This graveyard is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a little boy.

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The ghosts of children that perished during an orphanage fire haunt this vacant building.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah creepy haunted moon night scary spooky https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-173 Sat, 03 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #172 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-172 #172

This is Art.  No, really, his name is Art.  He is a piece of art sponsored by the Savannah College of Art and Design.

 

For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah art https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-172 Fri, 02 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #171 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-171 #171

Today is my birthday!  Have a drink on me!

Here we enjoy a dark and stormy before a Savannah ghost tour; this is one of my husbands favorite cocktails.  Appropriately named for it's look of dark and stormy skies over a calm sea.

 

For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah bar cocktail dark and stormy drink tavern https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2015/1/charleston360-171 Thu, 01 Jan 2015 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #170 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-170 #170

A historic train car at the Savannah Visitors Center.

 

For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah railroad train https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-170 Wed, 31 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #169 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-169 #169

The Savannah Capitol building, shot from a few different angles.

 

For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV lens Georgia Savannah capitol https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-169 Tue, 30 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #168 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-168 #168

While on our walkabout downtown Savannah, we stopped for refreshments.  This is my first taste of raspberry moonshine.  Pretty tasty!

For the photography enthusiasts, this was shot with a cheap $20 CCTV 35mm f1.7 manual lens on my Fuji mirrorless.  I found I really really enjoyed shooting with this little nugget!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Georgia Savannah bar drink raspberry moonshine tavern https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-168 Mon, 29 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #167 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-167 #167

Another monument in Forsyth Park, this one is the Confederate Memorial monument, dedicated to those who gave their lives fighting for the Confederacy.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Confederate Memorial Forsyth Park Georgia Savannah memorial park statue https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-167 Sun, 28 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #166 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-166 #166

This is a fountain in Forsyth Park, Savannah Georgia.  As we were told, it was actually ordered from a catalog and erected in 1858!  It is one of four such fountains, designed to resemble the beautiful fountain in Paris at Place de la Concorde.

 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Forsyth Park Fountain Georgia Savannah fountain park https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-166 Sat, 27 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #165 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-165 #165

Welcome back!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  Back to business.  

Where were we?  Ah yes, back to our local get-away to nearby Savannah, Georgia.

Yeap, I love cool retro looking bikes.  In an historic town with so much urban ornamental decor, this bike was begging to be photographed in these surroundings.  

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Georgia Savannah bike street yellow https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-165 Fri, 26 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Merry Christmas from the Coast https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/merry-christmas-from-the-coast No Charleston360 post today, I take liberty to use one of my 5 allowed days off from it.  Instead, I say Merry Christmas from the coast!  No snow? Well, here's a sandman instead of a snowman, enjoying a sunset.

I'm delighted to be away from the warm southern weather to spend some time in wintery Wisconsin today with loved ones and family I haven't seen for a while.

Merry Christmas!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/merry-christmas-from-the-coast Wed, 24 Dec 2014 13:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #164 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-164 #164

Such a nautical town.  This is a fountain sculpture along River Street, Savannah GA.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Georgia Savannah boat fountain sculpture https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-164 Wed, 24 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #163 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-163 #163

This is a view of the Old Talmadge Memorial Bridge which spans the Savannah River.  This river is the route of many cargo ships, sail boats and tugs like the little tug in this photo.  A very busy river indeed.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Georgia Old Talmadge Memorial Bridge Savannah Savannah River boat river riverboat tug https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-163 Tue, 23 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #162 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-162 #162

A tall ship docked along the Savannah River.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Georgia Savannah Savannah River river tall ship https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-162 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #161 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-161 #161

While most of you start traveling for Christmas, I will take you back to our recent little get-away. 

When you want a little vacation, but don't want to travel far from Charleston, where do you go?  Savannah, Georgia.

I revealed some of the holiday light photos earlier, and will now share the rest of my favorite shots from this lovely nearby city.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Georgia Savannah Savannah River river riverboat https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-161 Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #160 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-160 #160

Looks like a friend of our pet hedgehog.  Really, its a common sea urchin found in the tidal areas along our coast.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 aquarium sea urchin urchin https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-160 Sat, 20 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #159 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-159 #159

Hangin Out.

This is a unique look at the local alligators!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 alligator aquarium gator https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-159 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #158 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-158 #158

Here is a friendly face at the aquarium where I volunteer.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 aquarium octopus https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-158 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #157 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-157 #157

Can you see them?  Look closely.  
Flounder buried under the sand in hopes of hiding.  

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 aquarium fish flounder https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-157 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #156 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-156 #156

A fun part of their tradition in Savannah is a parade along River Street.  This was my favorite 'float'.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Christmas Coca-Cola Coke Georgia Savannah lights street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-156 Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #155 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-155 #155

A few more lovely decorations near the area, but the lack of snow makes it seem a little less festive.  

These were from Savannah, Georgia.  Average temps here are around 60 degrees during the day.  A short drive for a fun get-away.  Much as I miss seeing snow for Christmas, I do love the comfortable weather for outdoor activities!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston360 Christmas Georgia Savannah lights street https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-155 Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #154 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-154 #154

Getting ever closer to Christmas Day, and I still love seeing all the decorations out there.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas Georgia Savannah decoration ornament tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-154 Sun, 14 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #153 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-153 #153

My kind of Christmas decorations!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas Georgia Savannah decoration ornament tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-153 Sat, 13 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #152 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-152 #152

Saved the best for last on the holiday light show!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas James Island County Park Festival of Lights blur holiday lights https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-152 Fri, 12 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #151 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-151 #141

This one is my favorite light display.  I love spanish moss, and to make the lights resemble that was a cool idea!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas James Island County Park Festival of Lights holiday lights spanish moss https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-151 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #150 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-150 #150

Another take on speeding through the lights!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas James Island County Park Festival of Lights holiday lights https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-150 Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #149 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-149 #149

Warp speed!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas James Island County Park Festival of Lights holiday lights https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-149 Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #147 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-147 #147

While the snow is missing, having lights on the water is kind of pretty.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas James Island County Park Festival of Lights holiday lights https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-147 Sun, 07 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #146 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-146 #146

We took a "train" ride through this tunnel.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas James Island County Park Festival of Lights blue bridge holiday lights tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-146 Sat, 06 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #145 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-145 #145

Of course, palm trees even get lit up!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas James Island County Park Festival of Lights holiday lights palm https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-145 Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #144 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-144 #144

With Christmas trees comes holiday light displays.  The next few days will be photos from our visit to the James Island County Park Festival of Lights.  Somehow, it just isn't the same without snow.

Keep up, I'm saving the best one for last!

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV Movie lens holiday tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-144 Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #143 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-143 #143

It's officially that time of year!  We went to get our tree last night.  I brought my camera with a new $20 cheap-o lens I wanted to play with.  This is the result.  I kinda like the effect it gives, fun little investment.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Christmas Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV TV Movie lens holiday tree https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-143 Wed, 03 Dec 2014 15:05:25 GMT
Charleston360 #142 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-142 #142

Truckin. 

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 highway stop traffic truck trucking https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-142 Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #141 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-141 #141

Dusk begins another day's work at the mills along the Cooper River.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 Cooper River dawn mill river https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/12/charleston360-141 Mon, 01 Dec 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #140 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-140 #140

Fall leaves still litter the sidewalks.  More of that cool snake grass in the background.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 colorful colors fall green leaf leaves snake grass yellow https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-140 Sun, 30 Nov 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #139 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-139 #139

Snake grass.  I love the patterns it makes.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 snake grass https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-139 Sat, 29 Nov 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #138 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-138 #138

More from the fog.  This time, with an old photo feel.  Simply a shrimp boat waiting to start the day fishing.  I think I love these old boats, I need to find more of them to photograph.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 boat fishing shrimp https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-138 Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #137 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-137 #137

Strange weather on this morning...  warmer than normal temps, misty fog evaporating over the river as the bridge disappeared into the bright fog with the sun shining bright- it made everything glow.  This little boat was shining proud and bright under that fading bridge.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 boat bridge https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-137 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #136 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-136 #136

I don't know what this remodel is leading to, but I would go just for their vibrant color!  What a great repurpose of screen door frames.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 colorful colors https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-136 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #135 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-135 #135

With colder temps here, I think of warm sweaters and cozy scarves made of cotton.  Ever wonder what it looks like when it's just picked?  Here are some cotton clusters mingled with ivory seashells.  Yes, they go together!  They are both found right here in South Carolina.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 cotton cream ivory shells seashells white https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-135 Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #134 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-134 #134

I clearly am attracted to old and abandoned buildings and structures.  Sometimes I wish I were more of an Urban Explorer, but for safety, I generally don't poke around where I am not welcome.  This is part of the current Amtrak station in Charleston which is still in operation.  Although it has a newer building, the passenger canopy that extends over the tracks is still old and quite interesting looking.

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[email protected] (Victoria Jean - Victoria Jean Photo Art) Charleston Charleston360 train https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-134 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:00 GMT
Charleston360 #133 https://www.victoriajeanphotoart.com/blog/2014/11/charleston360-133