Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Triumph Register of America National Rally, Little Switzerland, NC

Not everything I saw and photographed during my weekend trip to the mountains was barn quilts. There were antique cars, too!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is much loved by motorcyclists and antique car aficionados due to its 45 mph speed limit and twists and bends. I've never driven the parkway without seeing packs of middle aged Harley Davidson riders and restored cars ranging from Model A's of the 1930's to muscle cars of the 1970's.

I drove up to Little Switzerland just off the BRP to see if I could get some good landscape shots. And this is what I found - all sorts of restored Triumphs.

This guy saw me in the parking lot and asked me to take his photo. His car is the only one I know the age of; he was driving a 1959 Triumph.

This was the Triumph Register of America's annual rally. It is associated with the British TR Register in the UK and is the national association for TR2, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, and 4A owners. They came from all over. I saw license plates from the Midwestern states and Canada in the parking lot.

The cars were gorgeous, but my brother owned a TR-7 back in the 1970's and it spent more time in the shop being repaired than being driven. I always regarded Triumphs as more of a weekend car and you better keep the phone number of a towing company nearby.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Brown's Bow Tie

This is the newest barn quilt on the McDowell County Quilt Trail and one that I thought was a Dresden plate pattern. See how much I know; it is called Bow Tie.

Here is a longer blog post describing how this barn quilt block came into being:


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Futures Dawning

Back from a weekend spent up in the Blue Ridge Mountains with plenty of pictures to post for this week. But I had to post this snapshot first as I have never seen anything quite like it.

I have posted in the past of snapshots that I have taken of the many barn quilts here in North Carolina. First started in western North Carolina in Mitchell and Avery Counties, the idea then spread throughout the mountain counties as a way to draw tourists to their areas. McDowell County joined the Quilt Trail of Western North Carolina back in 2009 with 16 quilt blocks which has grown to more than 100 quilts today.

One of the rules of joining the McDowell County quilt trail is that your quilt block cannot be similar to the others. I think this quilt block follows that rule to a T. I don't even think there is another barn quilt in the US that is comparable.

They call this "Futures Dawning". I would have called it Bear and Bull, but whatever. The building is home to a Raymond James Financial Advisers office and I guess they hope it draws more business to them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grey Catbird Fledgling

While I was sitting in the reception area at the emergency vet clinic, waiting on the results of the lab work on Miss Mouse (although I already knew the outcome), I listened to the receptionist field phone calls from several people who had found baby birds and wanted to know what to do with them.

I could hear the exasperation in her voice while she tried to convince her callers to just leave the babies alone, that this was all the process of them becoming adult birds.

"No, they are quite alright. The parents kick them out of the nest when they get big enough. At that point, they are called fledglings and they may spend the better part of a couple days on the ground. But don't worry, Mom and Dad birds are close by. No, don't touch them. No, don't pick them up. You might want to look this up in Wikipedia."

Yep, when all else fails, look it up in Wikipedia.

I had a close up view of this a few days prior to my rushed trip to the vet. The grey catbirds had kicked their fledgling out of the nest and he ended up in my small garden looking somewhat worse for the wear. Mom and Dad were close by, encouraging the youngster to try flying instead of hopping around the bushes squawking at the top of his lungs. He did manage to make it to the cast iron bell holder before I left to go back to work. I took this snapshot while he teetered on the hook pondering his next move.

He and his parents were gone by the next day. I read in the Smithsonian Magazine that almost 90% of grey catbird fledglings never make it past their first summer. I hope he was one of the 10% who actually do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Miss Mouse

1995 -2012
Rest in peace, Miss Mouse. You were a wonderful companion for 17 years. . . 

Monday, June 11, 2012

McGavock Mansion, Fort Chiswell, Virginia

If you drive Interstate 77 north out of North Carolina into Virginia, you will see this mansion sitting off in a field at Fort Chiswell, Virginia. It was a marker for my trips back to Ohio to see family that I wanted to be sure to take the correct exit in order to keep driving north and not head south as I did on one trip where I found myself in Bristol, Tennessee.

For many years, the house sat forlorn and covered in ivy. I figured it had been abandoned by the owners who were unable to keep up with what must have been a huge money pit. Soon it would just disappear either under the ivy which would take it down by destroying the mortar holding the bricks or someone would buy it and develop it as a truck stop or strip shopping center.

On our way to Wytheville to see the giant pencil, I stopped at the Virginia Welcome Center to pick up some brochures. Flipping through one of the pamphlets, I found out that the Fort Chiswell mansion was open for tours on the weekend. What a coup and so after traveling through downtown Wytheville, I drove over to the mansion to take the tour.

What a treat it was. The owner bought the house for $215,000 back in 2002 at auction and has set about restoring it back to how it looked when the McGavock brothers built it in the 1840's. There is more than 10,000 square feet in the main house and about 2,000 square feet more in the kitchen dependency and smokehouse. He has decorated it with antique furniture (huge pieces of Eastlake) that he has found on his travels as practically none of the original furniture was left in the house unlike the furnishing at Liberty Hall in Kenansville. Here is a great article out of the Roanoke Times about the history and renovation of the place:  Fort Chiswell Mansion Becomes the Grandaddy of All Renovations.

The one feature of the mansion that catches your eye every time is the huge Palladium window on the third floor.

They are an exact copy of the Palladium windows that Thomas Jefferson designed for Pavilion IV at the University of Virginia.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Big Pencil, Wytheville, Virginia

I'm told this is the biggest pencil in Virginia. My guess is this is the biggest pencil in the United States.

The pencil was made in the 1950's for Wytheville Office Supply store and as a counterpoint for a three-dimensional paint can that used to hang as signage outside a long-gone paint store. The original owner of the store wanted an eye-catching advertising gimmick to bring in customers when Main Street (which is US Highway 21) was the main route for travelers traveling from the northeastern states down to Florida.

The office supply store has moved several times since the 1950's and the pencil has always made the move with it. I wonder how many kids today are familiar with the No. 2 yellow pencil? They've stopped teaching cursive writing in schools and start keyboarding as young as kindergarten now. Outside of test papers where you have to fill in the correct oval, who uses pencils?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Friday's Thunderstorm

This past Friday, Greensboro was under a severe thunderstorm warning, a flash flood warning and, for a short period of time, a tornado watch.

Lake Brandt, down the road from me, is a great place to go and take snapshots of incoming storms (providing they are coming from the west and not the south). So down to the marina I went to get some photos before the storm broke.

I wasn't disappointed. The thunderheads rolled in, the winds picked up and when the thunder started I packed up my camera and went back home. It's not real smart to stand out on a pier when a thunderstorm comes in.

And it opened up and poured . . .  for 20 seconds. For all of the threats, the warning crawls on the TV, the threatening skies we got all of .2 inches of rain.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Waxing Gibbous

Taken from the patio just before sundown using just the extended zoom function of the Panasonic FZ150.

Wonder what it would've looked like if I used a telescope plus the camera?