While Rob worked on Saturday, I decided to explore on my own and drove to an old building that had caught my eye a few times in Cismont. I parked down the road and walked back to find an old lady clearing the verges outside the property. We started chatting and I discovered that she was the current owner of the building and it had once been a school for exclusively white children from 1908 to 1961.
She very kindly allowed me on the property to photograph the building on the understanding that I wouldn't attempt to go inside. Bugger! But I had to respect her wishes and I was excited to be able to look up close. There was originally a library, 3 classrooms, an auditorium, an athletics field and stables. As well as being an educational center it was also a hub for community activities.
I walked all around the building peering in wherever I could. The blank wall in the photo above once held a blackboard. Vandals have been in and stolen many artifacts but Mrs Spicer and her husband saved a blackboard and restored it, then donating it to the local Stone Robinson School. The building was well secured making it a little easier to keep my promise of no entry.
She told me her husband's father used to attend the school and would ride his horse down from the mountain every day. The school closed down when larger more central schools became the norm and has since slid into structural decline. Demolition is pending. After thanking Mrs Spicer, I walked back to Stuart and carried on driving down country lanes.
About half an hour later I drove past a driveway, promptly braked and turned around.
This driveway was lined with large black obelisks, animals and torpedoes. I parked and walked up the driveway marveling at the unique decoration.
The owner has made some of the structures himself and this one had a missile attached to a crown that had golf balls on its spikes. The fact that there were dozens of black crows sweeping across the sky added to the atmosphere.
I lingered a while hoping the owner would emerge and talk but nobody came out so I had to continue on.
I finally arrived back at Rob's and stopped to chat to Jim and photograph his awesome Ford tractor and cart. I love the Ford badge on the front with the sweetcorn emblem.
Later Rob came home and we went out to Lance and Nicole's to see his new motorbike.
He'd just had it delivered from a guy that had owned it from new but only put 4000 miles on the clock in 10 years and also kept it garaged. It was like brand new.
Apparently Honda were sued by Harley because this Shadow Aero model resembled a Harley too closely so not too many were made.
Sunday morning was spent lazily and we went to Lance's again as Rob had to help him collect a bed for Declan in the truck. I went outside to bring Kota in but he failed to come to our calls and whistles. After about an hour of looking and calling and talking to Jim and Jessie who promised to keep an eye out for him, we had to leave. I was distraught with my mind working overtime imagining the worst possible scenarios. Needless to say, I was not in any mood to take photos and the only image I got all afternoon was of Ripley balancing a plate on her head.
I struggled all afternoon to remain calm and playful with the kids and actually bonded well with both of them but I was anxious to get back before it got dark. When we reached the house, there was no sign of him but as I climbed down from the cab, the little rascal emerged from my kayak that was leaning against a wall. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry and as I held him tightly I think I did a little of both. He was completely unperturbed and more concerned with getting his dinner than having me fuss him so he was promptly grounded for the rest of the day.
I was emotionally drained and headed for the bed to lay down for a while but when I realized I hadn't taken any photos, I went out for a walk. The best therapy for me is always a nature walk with my camera in hand and I slowly headed down to the creek through the pine trees.
I saw this doe staring at me and as I took her photo I started feeling better. We stood and stared then she slowly walked away and I carried on down the path. I found a tree by the creek and sat down leaning back against the trunk. I just relaxed and listened to the sounds around me. It was wonderful to be completely alone with no need to rush anywhere and with no agenda to follow.
I could hear bullfrogs thundering around me and as I looked through my lens trying to see them I spotted this cool image of trees reflected in the water. I sat for about 20 minutes then carried on walking.
Strolling through a woodland area, I came across my cow buddies and slowly skirted them.
They all looked my way as I sat down and then laid on the ground. I used to do this a lot in England where we had a cow field next to our house. Cows are incredibly nosy creatures and simply cannot ignore their curiosity. As I took photos of them, they started ambling over to me sniffing my arms and legs. Their noses tickled my arms but I stayed still making sure all my camera movements didn't alarm them.
Once they were all satisfied with their sniffing and blowing I gradually sat up and then walked away, and they headed back to their hay.
I wanted to stay out longer but thought I should get back as I didn't want to worry Rob. I entered the house to find it empty but filled with a delicious smell of cooking. He was cooking perogies which I'd never had before. I walked back outside as Rob came belting down the driveway on his bike having adjusted the saddle for our vacation in a weeks time.
We had a banquet of perogies, chocolate fudge cake, twinkies and cool whip, mine washed down with red wine. I'd barely eaten all day and was now starving. We had an early night and it seemed too soon when I found myself driving back to Centreville with Rob's bike on the back and a naughty cat on the front passenger seat. The next journey will be up to New York and I can't wait to have 9 days off work. Roll on Friday!