Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wheels & Wood

Yet another sweltering weekend down at Rob's and I huffed and puffed because we had to get up early on Saturday to change out Stuart's front brakes and rotors. Rob wanted us to start early to avoid the heat and although I could see the sense behind his reasoning, I SO wanted to stay in bed. We're heading up to New York August 8th for a week and wanted Stuart to be in tip top shape for the journey, plus his inspection was due by the end of July.
 So here I am getting stuck into the job, acutely aware that I'd had NO BREAKFAST. It's actually amazing that I'm smiling despite my most unfortunate conditions, being tired and hungry and all, but Rob had a camera in one hand and a whip in the other so I soldiered on.
 Really getting amongst it here but Rob gave me a bollocking because I had my leg under the car and since Stuart wasn't up on ramps, apparently this is dangerous. Well, a girl has to be comfortable, hello.
 And here I am nearly all done. Just got to throw the wheel back on and finito. Wasn't so bad after all.
 So now I have to come clean. I did nothing except push a brake pad on and open the boxes. Rob did the whole job but suggested I pretend I did it instead. Sorry babe, not stealing your thunder. You're the man! But you can be sure we went straight to the diner afterwards for a big breakfast!
 Kota did nothing to help either but did manage to look boofalls as he relaxed in a shady spot.
Even the cows were chilling. It was too hot for any action and I have to admit that I couldn't really muster up the energy to lift the camera a great deal. So nothing more to report for Saturday apart from a lazy afternoon and evening watching TV, drinking and eating. But that's what weekends are about, right?
Sunday was only slightly more active and I dragged my feet around the yard as Rob watered his pumpkins and sunflowers.
I managed to grab a 5 minute session of tractor watching but once again, the camera was just too heavy to hoist about. Then for some crazy obscure reason, we decided to chop logs. I think the sun had got to both of us but we thought it was a splendid idea and went over to the woodpile in the blazing sun.
Rob showed me how it was done and made it look completely effortless splitting the logs with just one slice of the axe. I was very impressed and was itching to have a go.
I could barely lift the axe let alone hoist it over my head but I got a few swings in. It took me about 6 or 7 goes to split a log but I thought I was doing OK until I looked at the photos.
I cut wood like a girl. Damn, and I thought I was doing swell. 
I decided to walk down to the cows and take some photos. I adore the pine woods and was pretty pleased with the way these photos came out. The cows were all hanging around the byre chomping on their hay so I walked across to join them.
This one, Sunflower?, was the closest so I gave her neck a rub. She promptly turned round and headbutted in the chest me nearly knocking me to the ground. Salvaging my dignity and brushing myself down, I meekly sat on the hay and watched her from the corner of my eye as the others sniffed me curiously. 
I grabbed a few quick shots while swatting away the flies and managed to stroke a few noses. I slowly stood to leave and thought I'd try Sunflower with a furtive pat on the neck again. She wasn't having any of it but I avoided the head swing and walked back to the fence keeping her in my vision. 
It was too hot and humid to be outside so once again, TV and popsicles were calling our names for the rest of the day. But it was nice to be in the cool AC and very soon Rob, Kota and I were all stretched out in full relaxation mode for the rest of the evening.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Hot Day of Exploring

On a sweltering Sunday, Jeff, Emily, Jason and I went back to our old haunt, the hospital in Maryland. It was too hot really to be lugging camera gear around but what the hell, we hadn't been for a while and we all had itchy feet. As we stepped down into the grounds, the old familiar rush of excitement returned and we prepped our gear. By the way, Heidi, there will be a creepy crawly photo a little further down :)
I had hoped inside the buildings would offer some coolness but the humidity was sticky and there was little change in temperature. After we had strolled through a few buildings, we were lagging so decided to focus on just the laundry building and try to concentrate there. It was difficult to be creative when we were constantly mopping brows and pulling clinging material away from our bodies.
 The laundry was more trashed than the last time we'd been here so I wanted to get some images before the place was destroyed completely by vandals. A few areas have been mauled in this way and I don't really like taking too many shots of vandalized places, only decay that's taken place naturally.
After a couple of hours, the heat was wearing us down and gradually less photos were taken as it became a chore to set up the tripods and adjust camera dials. We wandered over to a tool shop but Emily and I talked mostly while the boys checked out the old tools and car parts that had been left behind.
By late afternoon, we admitted defeat and were longing for beers. We moved a little faster as we headed back to the car.
Jason suggested this bar in Hyattsville which served excellent beer and also had a toy shop adjoining it. I found a little friend for Quackster.
I sent the photo to Rob who promptly sent back an image of the ducks at his place.
Still having a good time then!
We left as it got dark feeling revitalized but deciding we'd have to forgo any serious urbexing until the weather became more tolerable.
Jeff had earlier suggested an iPhone camera application and both of us took some shots during the afternoon of our group. I really liked the dreamy old fashioned feel of the images. Here's a selection:

An Exploratory Car Ride and Vineyards with Friends

After spending a relaxing evening with Rob, I got up on Saturday after he had gone to work and headed back to NoVA where I was meeting some British friends for lunch and winery visits. I was taking a slow drive back so I could explore some places I'd spotted on previous journeys but not had time to check out. My first stop was Orange where I took a photo of the old buildings lining the railway track. It felt like stepping back in time and the place was almost deserted with none of the rushing crowds always seen up my way.
The next stop was further down the road where I'd seen a run down building with old farm machinery, gas tanks, oil cans, mowers and other junk piled up outside and left to rot. I peered through the windows just to see more piles of stuff with barely any floor visible. 
I walked around the side of the building and came across this abandoned old truck covered in vines. I left after a couple of photos, this place felt sad.
I then stopped at a store called Charlotte's which had a great 60's feel to it. As I approached with my camera a gentleman walked over to me who turned out to be the owner, Bill Corbin. The store was named after his wife who sadly passed away three years ago. We stood in the searing sunshine chatting and I was amazed to hear his stories of his two tours in Vietnam and how he'd recently met many of his old comrades. He was a wonderful friendly man whose zest for life was still strong and who loved to laugh, even though he'd gone through some terrible times and suffered extreme loss. I forgot about the heat as I listened and wished fervently that I could spend more time there chatting. As I left I was sure I'd pop into see him again as I passed by his store.
I carried on driving and pulled in at an old country store at Brandy Station. The shelves were stacked with old fashioned foods and as I described some of the cakes to Rob on the phone I got, 'Oooh, I love those, get me one of them.' and 'Oh those are great, I'll have one.' As I walked to the counter with the cakes, I hoped the server wouldn't think I was going to woof them all down myself, although I was sorely tempted.
Just down the road was an abandoned church so I stopped to have a look round but couldn't see any access available. It was called Fleetwood, probably named after the nearby hill which featured prominently in the Civil War battles. I was intrigued as to why a sled hung on the wall, but it made an awesome photo.
After the church, I decided to head straight home. I fed and hugged Kota, quickly changed and rushed back out of the door to drive to Winchester.
We met at the Union Jack pub where I ordered a pint of Old Speckled Hen. My father had loved this beer and during a trip to America had dumbfounded my room mate when he told her not to put the beer in the fridge as he didn't want it chilled. We sat chatting for a while and then decided to visit our first winery, Veramar.
We all decided to do the tasting and lined up at the bar. We noticed Marti was only taking one sip from each of her glasses and then throwing the rest away. 'What's wrong, don't you like it?' asked Nancy. 'Oh no,' replied Marti, ' but I'm driving.' Nancy and I exchanged astonished looks. The glasses held barely a gulp, no more than a couple of sips. Whatever.
None of us were excited by any of the wines so we decided to move on to our next vineyard, Bluemont.
This was a more polished and commercialized winery and it's drawing point was apparent immediately, the views were spectacular. Apparently, on a clear day, the Washington Monument is visible. There was also a pretty gift shop but once again, the wines were lacking. We reckoned our old faithful haunt, The Hunter's Head, should be the next stop, so we jumped back into our cars and cut through the countryside on dusty gravelly lanes.
 Once there we sat in the garden and waited for a table to become available. After a few minutes, John and Angie turned up both sporting Eau de Toxic Gasoline Fumes.
 They had gone to fill up the car but the pump had failed to turn off and doused both of them in gas. We had a great laugh as we heard their story and tried to keep straight faces as the waitresses and other customers wrinkled their noses while we pretended that nothing was amiss. After a while, we barely noticed it and couldn't care less. Us Brits are made of strong stuff and always turn a tale of woe in a story of laughter. We had enjoyed a fabulous time and even Rob had injected some humor into my day from Gordonsville. He knew I loved ducks from my Quackster story and sent me a photo of some friends he found for my famous colleague.
They were so cute and arranged around an M&M's heart I'd left on the table. He then wanted to assure me that they were settling in well and sent another photo of them partying.
Drinking my beer, I notice.