Advisory: Sea Fog

lifeguard stand at Fort Fisher state recreation area in North Carolina

Yesterday my family went to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in North Carolina, in the Wilmington area. We wanted to hang out by the ocean in the unseasonably warm weather and test out a new kite that my sister-in-law and her husband gave the kids for Christmas. As we approached our destination my wife checked the weather and saw a special advisory statement for dense sea fog rolling in from the ocean. I don’t think there’s anything more alluring to an amateur photographer than fog, except perhaps decaying buildings.

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this other than the kite was terrific, and the chill of the fog was an oddly welcome break from climate change’s late December spring temperatures.

Brain Worst

It’s commonplace in liberal circles to talk about friends and family “lost” to Fox News. There’s “Fox News brain”, “Fox News brainwashing”, and other variations of what I’m starting to feel like is a form of denial. I’m sure there are folks who really have been duped by false and/or misleading information from that god-awful TV network, but I suspect the truth is more depressing. We just don’t want to admit that Fox News has merely provided pithy soundbites and new dog whistles to our loved ones that have always believed some terrible things.

I’m Pumped for Lightyear

The trailer for Pixar’s upcoming scit-fi feature Lightyear has been out for a little bit now, and I’ve been mulling over why I’m so excited about it. Because seriously, I am super excited for this movie. There was a lot of weird confusion and questions around the Extremely Online set following this trailer mainly because folks were trying to figure out whether this is supposed to be the backstory for the toy in Pixar’s Toy Story franchise, or if it’s simply a spin-off based on the character.

I don’t actually care how and why it connects to Toy Story. I know trailers are frequently made by different groups that have nothing to do with the movie production and they’re working from incomplete footage, but the tone of this one has all the wonder and excitement of a classic space adventure story. A beautifully grandiose take on Bowie’s Star Man plays behind shots of launch preparations, spaceports, longing stares out the window, action and adventure in strange locations. There’s even a shot of Buzz’s ship on a marshy planet reminiscent of Luke’s X-Wing on Dagobah.

Still frame of Buzz's ship on a swampy planet from the trailer for Lightyear
Buzz’s ship
Still frame of Luke's X-Wing on Dagobah from The Empire Strikes Back
Luke’s rescued X-Wing

If you grew up watching anything Star Wars or Star Trek, how could you not be excited by this? Yeah, I know this will likely have plenty of silly humor and call-backs to Buzz’s haughty toy persona from Toy Story, but I’m hoping it can also be an exciting sci-fi adventure film that’s accessible for kids, but enjoyable for anybody who dreams of traveling between the stars.

Town of Charles: Here we go again

Metal Church Street sign stamped into the sidewalk in Charleston, SC

Today the weather was BEAUTIFUL. And it was a walking kind of day. We walked about 5.3 miles, actually. It would have been more but we took advantage of the free and excellent downtown bus service several times. In the morning we left the B&B after pancakes and headed for Waterfront Park. It was almost chilly that early and the wind by the ocean certainly added to the feeling of autumn’s late arrival.

Palmetto fountain in Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC
Modern fountain in Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC

We were simultaneously enjoying the outdoors and killing time until the opening of Robert Lange Studios where we could see a painting by our friend Cassandra Loomis Kim. It was wonderful to see our friend’s work in a group show (her work is “King Grizzly”) away from home, but it was also a really cool gallery in its own right. I’m a particular fan of Nathan Durfee’s work which reminds me a lot of children’s book author/illustrator Dan Santat.

After the gallery we wandered uptown toward the College of Charleston, grabbing an okay lunch at Basic Kitchen before visiting a disappointing triceratops-themed coffee shop. It’s called Tricera Coffee, but it’s really just a sad, slow business with a bunch of triceratops toys in random places around the interior.

My wonderful wife sitting in a banquette at Basic Kitchen
A toy Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle riding a triceratops toy.

We made up for the disappointment by meandering through Marion Square before grabbing some truly delicious pastries from La Patisserie at Hotel Bennett.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC
A royal chocolate pastry from La Patisserie in Charleston, SC

Here is where we grabbed our first bus to the western end of the old market, after which we walked a short distance to our true caffeine destination: Second State Coffee. This place just straight up delivered. The espresso was delicious, the cappuccino was perfect. I bought a bag of beans to take back to Virginia, it was so good. The barista was terrific and even tipped me off on a different way to try brewing a Chemex (going to look up “double blooming” when I get a chance). Turns out they have a second location now just across the bridge from Charleston, so we’ll likely grab some brew on the way back to NC to get the kids tomorrow.

The afternoon consisted of meandering around a bit more, killing time before our dinner reservation at 5:30 (reminder: we are olds). So we walked by the old Dock Street Theater and the French Huguenot church, hit the market so Valerie could get souvenirs for the kids, and even snagged a little cocktail before din-din. We supped at Poogan’s Smokehouse – part of the same group as Poogan’s Porch where we ate so many years ago. The food was pretty good, but the service left a lot to be desired. The one cocktail I ordered? Truly abysmal.

We didn’t want as early a night as yesterday so we grabbed another bus to head up Meeting Street to Little Palm, quite possibly the coolest bar I’ve visited in a long time. There was a real Miami Beach club vibe in this bar at The Ryder Hotel without feeling kitschy, and the drinks were super inventive. Great staff, great interior, even greater drinks.

Entryway to Little Palm bar in Charleston, SC

We caught one more bus further downtown so we could finish the night with some fantastic frozen treats from Off Track Ice Cream. Bellies full and tiredness setting in to our aging bones, we headed back to the B&B where we’re now recuperating and winding down. We head out after breakfast tomorrow, but it’s been a spectacular return to this old city in The South. There’s a lot of fun to be had and sights to be seen without feeding the Plantation Tourism Complex, and I hope we can make it back sooner than another 10 years.

Town of Charles: Day First

Giant old pink house on Bay Street in Charleston, SC

I don’t have quite the energy of my evenings in Maine to write about this little weekend away, but Valerie and I are in Charleston for the weekend alone as a slightly late celebration of our anniversary. The kids are with my mother-in-law in North Carolina and we’re staying at a B&B (not the house above – that’s a private home for some wealthy NewYorker). This afternoon and evening were chill; walking around The Battery, meandering up Bay Street until we dropped in to an incredible (and incredibly renovated!) favorite from our first visit 10 years ago: The Gin Joint. This place is still the absolute jam. I wish they were open on Sundays so I could go again tomorrow night.

Just a random old house in Charleston, SC with some cool sunlight hitting its facade and dramatic clouds in the sky
Just a random house off Bay Street with some cool light hitting it.

We caught a Lyft all the way to the other side of town for our dinner reservation at Chasing Sage, an impossibly cool vegetable-focused restaurant that did almost everything right. The decor, the menu, the music, the dang bathrooms! This place was cooler than me. The food was great, the cocktails were great, and Valerie and I felt like we were on the verge of 30 again like our first visit, instead of nearly 40 as we are now. Turns out this place is in the super-hip neighborhood of Cannonborough/Elliotborogh which, as you can predict, is a post-gentrified district of Charleston. Now the gentrifiers are complaining about the encroachment of college students, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

a cocktail and a prickly pear soda on a table at Chasing Sage restaurant in Charleston, SC

Anyway we have a light itinerary for tomorrow that includes lots of walking. The weather turns sharply autumnal tonight which should make that walking lovely. But most of what I’m looking forward to tomorrow is sleeping in without my kids climbing in bed before 6 AM.

Westward Expansion

Westland Shopping Center cactus sign on West Broad Street in Henrico, VA.

The Westland Shopping Center was built in what used to be the “Far West End” on West Broad Street back in 1963, and boy does that sign place the strip mall marvelously in that decade. I know being way out in the counties was considered the hinterlands at the time, but a saguaro cactus? Hilarious. Anyway, this was shot on Kodak E100 slide film with my Hasselblad 500 C/M.

Maine Day 4 Film Photos

The top of the Portland Head Light (lighthouse) in Maine

And here’s the final post of my film shots from the Maine trip. If you read the proper blog post for that day then you’ll remember it was the Portland day. I don’t have any photos of the incredible bagels or coffee I consumed, but I still managed to snag some goodies along the way.

Tandem Coffee Roasters' cafe in a repurposed service station in Portland, ME.

Tandem was, of course, a highlight of the day because of its thematic resemblance to Richmond’s own Lamplighter (bike themed, first cafe in an old service station, etc.).

Of course, Tandem is all about the two-person bike, not the tall bike. But you get the idea. Really missing that pistachio cake I ate there. Chef’s kiss, man.

After hitting one more coffee stop we drove to the south end of Casco Bay to Fort Williams Park so we could check out the Portland Head Light. I loved this park so much.

Portland Head Light and house on the cliffs at Casco Bay in Portland, ME.

And we headed back to into town for one more coffee stop which we enjoyed in Post Office Park while a busker played the harp.

A busker plays a harp in Post Office Park in Portland, ME.

Everything from this day was shot on a roll of Lomography Color 400. I think I let this film age a bit too much as its saturation and contrast bumped up a bit too high for my taste, but that last photo still managed to retain some natural-is skin tones and dynamic range. Anyway, as I’ve said before – I didn’t got to Maine for the sake of photography, but I’m going to bring a camera with me wherever I travel, and these three days’ worth of photos are exactly why. The memories are truly great, but the images provide that extra reference, texture, and detail to my recollection.

I head to Charleston, SC for an anniversary weekend with my wife this coming Friday and I’m sure I’ll fire off at least a roll or two while I’m down there. We’ll see whether I get anything worth sharing 😀

Maine Day 3 Film Photos

Mount Katahdin with its peak in storm clouds viewed from the Katahdin Woods & Waters picnic area

And here we go with my film photos from the 3rd day in Maine (really my 2nd full day if you recall). These were pretty much all from Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Loads of time on gravel roads, stopping occasionally for some gorgeous sites, and high-tailing it out of there once we realized the storm was headed our way 😀

All of these were shot on Kodak Portra 160 using my Hasselblad 500 C/M.

triangular, vertical slate formations in a river bed

This isn’t the most beautiful photograph I took that day, but it was the most fascinating thing I saw – naturally-occurring, triangular slate formations that protruded near-vertically from the river bed.

Hill visible above trees opposite a wetland pond

Unlike Acadia, with which my friend Robert is deeply familiar, I don’t know what all these places are called. Somewhat anonymous beautiful spots, I guess. Whatever their names, it was the most breathtaking scenery of the whole trip.

Denuded trees in a wetland reflecting the clouds
Reflection of denuded trees and clouds in a wetland pond