Category Archives: Photography
Status of Caddie… So, after two hail storms and torrential downfalls at the campground near Hill City, SD our concerns turned toward the plane which was at the airport in Rapid City (KRAP). The weather map on the iPad had the storm that was on top of us heading straight to the airport. After limited sleep, we popped up early and drove straight to the airport to lay eyes on Caddie. She was fine! The tie downs were secure, the Bruce’s Custom Cover was a little askew, but there was no water inside or hail dings to be found. The folks at the FBO said it had not rained that much there, apparently it is usually much more severe in the hills than down on the plains where the airport is.
Road Trip… So, with our fears of damage to the plane put to rest, we decided today would be a good day for a road trip. We had 200 miles per day allowance on the rental car and had only driven a hundred or so. We decided to head north and then west to Wyoming to see the Devils Tower.
Almost Rally Time… Our first stop, up I-90, was the infamous town of Sturgis, SD, home of the annual bike rally. The rally was still two weeks away, but this little town was preparing for the arrival of thousands of biker dudes and babes! A lot of them come up early and were cruising the hills on “Softails”, “Fatboys” and choppers. We stopped at one of the large T-shirt vendors and ran into a couple of guys from Birmingham that were running the business. We bought a couple of T-shirts just to proclaim we had been to Sturgis and continued west.
Close Encounter… After nearly an hour of driving, we went over a hill and “WOW”, there it was. Just rising up from the plains was this large rock formation unlike anything we have ever seen. As we got closer, I could see how this site held such a spiritual significance to the local tribes. It was one of those “goose bump” moments as we arrived at the monument welcome center. The goose bumps got a little bigger when I realized there were people scaling the sides of this thing at varying elevations. I did not realize that, not only did the Park Service allow climbing on the monument, but promoted it also. While listening to a ranger give a talk about the turkey vultures (we call ’em buzzards) that were circling the monument, I heard someone behind me make a comment about “being caught in a storm in a tent the night before”. I turned around only to see Jason and his family, our new friends from North Dakota that we camped next to. What a small world… we were over a hundred miles from the camp and they had pulled up stakes that morning to head home by way of Wyoming.
“What an incredible Cinderella story!”… “Licensed to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations.”, Caddyshack’s, Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) would have come unglued at the sight of the area leaving the monument. Hundred of prairie dogs infested the grounds with warning signs not to feed them. The warning didn’t keep us from stopping and “shooting” them with a camera, nor did it stop them from coming right up to you to beg. These little buggers had holes dug everywhere and kept popping up at random as far as the eye could see.
More Beautiful Views… On our trek back to camp, we took the Spearfish Canyon Highway route. Once again we found ourselves looking up to some of the most beautiful bluffs and scenery we have ever seen. At the end of this road was the town of Deadwood. Besides the HBO TV series, Deadwood was best known as a gold rush town that saw the likes of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Now, this clean looking town has lots of saloons and gaming establishments, but would justify further investigation at a later date… we were tired!
There’s Goats in Them There Hills… We didn’t see any gold but we did see the local heard of bighorn sheep just outside of Hill City. Most of the sheep had collars around their necks, which I suspect is what set off the flashing lights on the highway when they get near. This area is such a photo trap for us tourists, that they have paved “pull over” lanes to protect us from crashing into each other. So after several hundred miles on the road, we arrived at the KOA to find that their workers had done an incredible job of rebuilding the roads from the prior storms. With more bad weather forecast for the next afternoon, we decided that we should probably cut a day off of our stay in the Black Hills and head out early the next morning toward Oshkosh. So we had a nice dinner at the camp restaurant, washed up some clothes and packed the car for an early departure…
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Windy Ride… The wind always seems to blow in the Ozarks and rarely down the runway, but we decided to wait until late in the afternoon to fly up, thinking if we get there about dark the winds will have died down a bit. This time our thinking was right, the afternoon winds had been gusting to over 25 knots and mostly a crosswind at KFLP, but had now calmed down to 8 to 14 or so. The ride to Flippin was uneventful and when we got there, the car cranked and we were on our way to the camper, waders & fly rods in hand!
Low Water!… After years of high water and flooding conditions on the White River, things appear to have returned to normal. Several weeks of low or no power generation has made the river safely wadable again and now we have nice new breathable waders (see old wader post!) and are ready to put them to the test. I had called our fly fishing instructor, Ron McQuay before we left, to check his schedule for the weekend and was able to arrange an outing with him on Saturday morning, but tomorrow was Friday and we were going fishing! We started at a familiar location just up from the camper, Wildcat Shoals. Wow, we have never seen it this way, we waded completely to the other side of the river and never got in over 2 feet of water. After fly fishing for hours without any bites, we had our usual picnic lunch next to the river. We decided to pull out out spin fishing equipment when we returned to the water and still had no luck. We could see dozens of fish just under the surface, but could not get them to bite. I even saw a very large brown trout and was able to get so close to him that I took a picture of him with my waterproof camera. We fished for a couple of more hours and gave into the hope of catching fish with Ron in the morning.
Beth’s Second Baptism… We met Ron for breakfast and discussed the water conditions and decided to start our fishing for the day down at Rim Shoals. The outfitter down there offers a water taxi service so we went up the river to where a creek enters the river. As we prepared to enter the water, Ron pulls out this jointed “stick-like” device and starts putting it together. “Hmmm, what is that?” I said, Ron’s reply was “a wading staff, they are nice to have…”. I’m thinking yea, well we waded all around yesterday without incident, so that should not be a problem.
We moved into the water, fly rods in hand and just as we got above knee deep, I hear Kuplush… I turned around to see Beth, my lovely bride of 30+ years, with her fly rod held high in her right hand and her whole left arm, up to her neck in the frigid water. I’m thinking, good girl, don’t drop that new L.L. Bean rod & reel into the water… only GOD knows what she was thinking. The good news is that the new, properly fitted, waders didn’t let a drop of water in and that fancy new fishing shirt she had on would dry out in a flash and we now have matching wading staffs on order…
First Trout… I had caught my first trout on a fly the last time we were on the White River with Ron (story here). Ron did not totally like the look of the water where we were, but we started casting, stripping & mending (cool fly fishing words, huh – only one of those words had anything to do with fishing before we met Ron). Soon, the fight was on… Beth had her first trout on a fly and it was a good one! After a few minutes of wearing him down, Ron netted the rainbow, pictures were taken & the fish was released. Just as I had been hooked by this sport a few weeks ago, Beth too, was being taken in by trout fever. We continued to fish Rim Shoals and Beth & I both caught another fish, but we left the island with Beth up two fish to my one.
Let’s Go, The Water is Coming!… Since the water at Rim Shoals was not exactly like Ron wanted, we decided to drive down to the Norfork River below the dam. The generators were shut down and the only water flowing was from dam and generator leakage. Wading in this area was simple, but Ron warned us of the very little notice we would get if/when they turned on the generators. So we waded upstream several hundred yards in mostly ankle deep water to find some nice looking pools that had fish that we could see. Ok… there she goes again, catching fish. Beth quickly caught a couple of rainbows in the pool of slow moving water while I was just casting away. We had been fishing for an hour & a half or so when something changed. I noticed the slightest change in the sound of the rapids just above us, so I picked out a rock to watch just to see if the water was coming up, then I heard Ron yell, “It’s a BROWN!” Beth had her first brown trout ever and it was on a fly rod! So, I moved down to where they were to take some pictures. About the time I got to them, one of the fellows fishing down stream from us yelled, “Let’s go, the water is rising”. As Beth and Ron took care of releasing the brown trout, I started the trek back to the access point. I was amazed at how fast the water rises when they turn on the generators. What had been a gravel bar when we walked upstream was now under a foot of water in just a few minutes, a great lesson to learn for future outings to the Norfork… at the first sign of changing water – get moving! When we got ready to leave the parking area, Ron invited us to a pot luck fish fry up at Copper Johns Lodge on Sunday night. That sounded like a good idea, especially since all of the fish Beth had caught had been in the catch & release areas and we had no fish to eat. So, we took the beautiful drive back to Cotter with more great memories in our rearview mirror and another day of fishing ahead.
Watch Video Below…
Beth’s turn to talk… Part 2 will come in the next few days and will be written by Beth about our fist successful day, fly fishing by ourselves…
You can subscribe to our blog by entering your e-mail address in the box to the right or “LIKE” our Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/2FlyAmerica. Once again, I would like to thank Ron McQuay for taking an interest in us. Ron is a very patient teacher and is very knowledgable of the White River fishery. Ron’s website is ronsflyfishingforbeginners.com.
$100 Beignets??… In the spirit of the $100 hamburger, we set out for the land of sugar & spice and red beans & rice – New Orleans! With a lot of long distance travel days ahead of us in the next few weeks, we decided to make a short hop, Saturday day trip to the Crescent City. Years ago, when we lived in Laurel, MS, we went to New Orleans on a regular basis… Saint’s games, concerts, boat shows and even the occasional monster truck rally (yep, we are rednecks at heart – I really liked the “Grave Digger”). Since we moved to Madison, the 3 plus hour drive made it a less attractive destination and then Katrina came along, and well, you know…. Now it’s 2012 and things seem to be a little different in NOLA.
A friend of mine had told me that they had a cabdriver that they would call and he would pick them up at the Lakefront Airport and take he & his wife downtown and then pick them up when they were done exploring for the day. So before we went “wheels up” at KJVW for KNEW we called Henry the cabbie. Henry was not sure if he could pick us up, but would make sure someone was at the FBO when we arrived.
A little IMC… We left the Raymond Airport (KJVW), for the +/- 60 minute flight to Lakefront (KNEW) in great weather. As we approached Lake Pontchartrain, the clouds below us thickened and the likelihood of an instrument approach looked pretty good… not what was forecast, but, no problem. “24G, descend and maintain 3,000”, this put us right in the middle of the clouds. For the next fifteen minutes or so, we were in and out of the layer “over the lake”. Finally, we saw Lakefront through the broken clouds and were given a visual to RW36L. After landing, we taxied to the Flightline First FBO building and started to unload. The line guy was very nice and allowed our cab to drive right up to the plane. This was “red carpet” service for a couple of Mississippi rednecks! He asked if we needed fuel and I said no… we only burnt 8 gallons getting here, it wasn’t worth bringing out the truck. So we threw our backpacks in the cab and off we went to the Vieux Carré.
Irma Thomas’ Drummer… I asked the cabbie if he was Henry and he said no, his name was Larry and that Henry was on another “gig”. As we chit-chatted our way downtown, Larry was telling us a story about running out of gas in the everglades and fending off alligators with guitars and drum sticks… OK, I’ll admit, I had not really been listening up until this point. “So you play music?”, I asked, “Yep, I’m the drummer for grammy award winning artist, Irma Thomas”, he replied. Cool, now thats a real story to tell… Larry “Choo” Campbell went on to tell us about his travels in cars, busses and now airplanes! He has been to many countries playing the drums for Irma and will be headed to Japan soon. We enjoyed the rest of our ride into town with Larry and soon we were in the middle of the French Quarter where we parted company for our day of adventure. (BTW… I am now friends with “Choo” on Facebook, this guy is real cool!)
First Thought – FOOD!… So, what is the first thing you think of when you hit New Orleans on an empty stomach? FOOD! I “Googled” Cafe Du Monde to see how far away it was from where “Choo” dropped us off. Not too far and Beth agreed with my plan – Cafe au lait and beignets for brunch and then a late lunch of cajun faire later in the afternoon. We decided to split an order of beignets (Beth’s idea, if it had been up to me, we would have split three orders) to go with our coffee… It was as good as I remembered! After our brunch, we started our photo walk.
Taking Pictures… One of the things I wanted to do was to make this day into a photo assignment to take a lot of pictures to enhance my skills. This was fun and Beth enjoyed it to. I set up my tripod in a few locations and snapped some HDR shots and even tried a time lapse sequence. I also got some interesting shots of street performers and the normal New Orleans targets. We spent most of the day walking around, camera in hand, trying to look at things from a photographic perspective. Later in the day, we even decided to take a horse drawn carriage tour that was very enjoyable and gave us an hour or so off of our feet. I will be creating a separate post with some of the photos I took in the next few days…
More Food!… After hours of taking pictures & walking in the quarter, we decided to get some creole food before we flew home. We were close to the Market Cafe on Decatur Street when hunger set in, so we worked our way into the outside porch seating area. Nice shade and cool Jazz being played, set the stage for a great meal. We had an order of boiled crawfish and the “Taste of New Orleans”, a sampling of seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya and red beans & rice. The only thing missing was a mimosa or a glass of cab, but since we were flying, that will have to wait until we got home.
After our meal we caught a cab back to KNEW and loaded Caddy up for the ride home. The line guy at Flightline First thanked us for “prettying up” their ramp with Caddy! With a few late afternoon “boomers” on the horizon, we had to alter our route a little to the west, but eventually made it home safely at about dark with a camera full of memories and full stomachs. 🙂
’42 Flathead… This black and white version of a photo I took at the Barnstormers Air Festival shows the detailed but simple beauty of a 1942 Harley Davidson Flathead. The bike itself was very colorful and well restored, but the engine had a real industrial look to it that represents well in B&W.
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Air Festival… So we got up early Saturday morning to head to the Jennings, LA Airport (3R7) to fly into the Barnstormers Air Festival. We intended to be “wheels-up” at around 08:00 with us in “Caddie” and our friends Charlie & Tupper England in their RV-4, but the weather at the destination was 100′ and overcast. The forecast was for it to clear out to VFR around 10:00 or so, so we decided to wait around until about 09:30 to leave. After an hour & 15 minute flight down, we found some holes in the clouds to descend into Jennings. This is a BIG airport covering lots of acreage with two paved runways and one grass strip. Runway 13/31 was closed by NOTAM and was being used by the car show folks, so we landed on 08 and taxied into parking. After securing the plane and meeting up with Charlie & Tupper, we headed to show center to see the what there was to see. There were only a handful of airplanes at this time and most were “spam cans” with a few RV’s and other homebuilts. There was one food vendor and a lemonade stand next to a stage and that was about it for food. At noon or so, the band cranked up and they were very good. Unfortunately, they just did not have much of an audience to listen to what they were playing.
Cars, Cars, Cars… Lots of cars, I actually think there were more cars there than airplanes. There were a lot of good looking classic and antique cars along with several chopped up rods… There was plenty to look at and I took a bunch of pictures. But, after a couple of hours in the spring sun and not a lot of airplanes to look at, we decided to head back home. Charlie had told us about the Jazz Festival in Ridgeland, MS that was featuring some folks he was interested in hearing, so off we went…
Final Thoughts… While we were a little disappointed in the turnout at Jennings, it was understandable due to the low IFR conditions that plagued the area up until 10:00 AM. Most folks just aren’t going to file IFR to go to a casual Saturday event or “Scud Run” at 800 feet to get there. So, take a look at the car photos (click them for larger view) and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog by entering your e-mail address in the box in the right hand column. You can also “Like” us on Facebook in the right hand column.
RC Jets… Once a year the Raymond, MS Airport (KJVW) hosts a group of remote control jet enthusiasts from all over the country. The Mississippi Afterburner Jet Rally is a 3 day event showcasing some of the best examples of remote controlled jets that can be found. This event is a fundraiser to generate scholarships for the Aviation Technology Department at Hinds Community College. Mississippi Jets Radio Control Club established the scholarship fund to enhance and support aviation education in our local community. The Mississippi Afterburner Jet Rally is the sole funding source for these scholarships. These are not your average “weird uncles” remote controlled airplanes… (no offense, i’ve been that guy) – these plane have real jet engines burning kerosene at tens of thousands of RPM’s! Some of these guys have the same amount of time in building their RC planes as we do in building our full size homebuilt plane and you could buy a really nice Cessna 150 for the dollars they have invested.
I tried my hand at remote control airplanes about 15 years ago… I was much better at building the planes than flying them. Take it from someone who has done both, it is much easier to fly a real airplane from the left seat than it is to fly an RC plane headed toward you at 100+ MPH and some of these planes are flying at 200 MPH!
Check out the video below…
HDR… As usual, I had to take a few handheld HDR pics as seen below and to the upper left. The photo below was so full of color that it really stood out in my eye and the vertical crop on the above photo shows the guts of one of these complicated birds. Click on the images for a larger view.
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The Loudest Plane on the Field… When the Harrier pumps water into the jet engines as it hovers over the runway and the black smoke begins to roll out it truly becomes the loudest plane on the field! This photo was taken at Sun-N-Fun 2012 of a Marine Corps Harrier AV-8B. The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B Harrier II is a second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) ground-attack aircraft. (Wiki) This shot was another 3 shot, hand held HDR taken with the D7000 and processed in Adobe Lightroom 4 and Photomatix PRO. Click on the photo for a larger view and let me know what you think of the processing level…
OK… time for a little photography, since we can’t afford to fly off somewhere every weekend and no one has offered us a new pair of waders…(see last post). This 3 frame (handheld) HDR shot was recently taken at our home airport, John Bell Williams at Raymond (KJVW). The Waco was being flown by Dan Fordice of the Southern Heritage Air Foundation located at the Tallulah-Vicksburg Airport (KTVR). Dan is a member of our local EAA Chapter and flies one of the museum’s beautiful birds in when he can. Currently the museum is open by appointment only, but plans are being made to open it to the public later this year. You can see more about the activities at SHAF at their website.