All photographs by Paul M. Clayton unless otherwise noted. Click on a picture to see it larger.
This page includes posts from 10/1/19 through 5/12/20.
Current posts -
Faith took this picture on a hike with Marcia and Joe along Mill Creek at Bethabara. According to Joe, "she took this photo at full zoom", since they were all certain it was a copperhead. I think it is a northern water snake, frequently mistaken for a copperhead.
Speaking of snakes, I was hiking at Bethania on the Orchard Trail when I heard something rustling in the dry leaves and brush just off the path. I stopped and heard one distinctive warning rattle. Though I diligently scanned the area, I never saw the snake.
Here's a test. For each county, match the towns that existed there in 1901. To make it easy, use the map below.
After fooling with this for quite some time I finally have a hands-off, regulated solar installation up and running. The charge controller shows that the panel is bulk-charging the battery at 14.2 volts and also supplying a usb port which is charging three AA batteries.
This is the simplest possible installation for someone who wants to get hands-on with solar. The 25 watt panel is set in a south-facing window. It is vertical and behind glass, both things that reduce the output, but in my situation, living in a condominium and not having permission to roof-mount a panel this is the best I can do. The charge controller sits between the panel and the battery and regulates the voltage coming out of the panel to something the battery can stand. This is not a smart controller, it simply bulk charges at 14.2 volts for around two hours and then drops back to whatever is set for float (I have mine set to float at 13.5 volts). This is an acceptable regimen for a deep cycle battery. Any amperage that the panel produces above what the battery can accept is free power that can run something else.
The panel is a 25 watt module from Eco-Worthy which I ordered straight from the company and received shipped for less than $30. The Allpower controller came from Amazon for under $20. The battery is a Duracell Deep Cycle - at $100 about as cheap as you can get, and more a deep cycle in name than in reality. It is probably rated at around 40 amp-hours and realistically provides 10 amp-hours or less between charges. The battery is the weak point, and the biggest expense, in solar.
In addition to regulating the battery charge, the controller has a couple of other nice features. It has two usb ports for charging cell phones or batteries (the picture shows my EBL battery charger plugged in with three batteries charging - most new chargers don't require the batteries to be paired like old ones). It also has connections to run a 12-volt load straight from the battery, with settings that allow the load to be timed or to shut down automatically at low battery voltage. I have a lamp attached which has its own switch so I have the controller provide power 24 hours a day, and cut off at 12.2 volts.
This is a nice little setup that should work even better on the boat, because the panel can be on deck rather than behind glass, and can be oriented better.
Stella Brew is open so on my walk today I ducked in to get a six-pack. I'm almost out of alcohol and don't plan to go to the grocery store before Monday. A six-pack of Foothills Seeing Double should tide me over nicely.
I have to wonder why beer stores are open when so many other establishments have been required to close. My research turned up nothing specific to North Carolina, other than a posting by big commercial law firm Nexsen Pruet at jdsupra.com stating that the State of North Carolina has decided that "[b]eer, wine and liquor stores are deemed essential functions and will remain open". I must say, I agree with the state on this one.
In some states, there is no specific licensing for beer stores. They are considered the same as convenience stores. Since convenience stores can sell groceries, so can beer stores. Groceries are a necessity, therefore convenience stores are deemed essential. Since beer stores are convenience stores, they too are deemed essential. That may be the case in North Carolina. However, I am fairly certain that the main reason that beer, wine and ABC stores are still open is the enormous tax revenues they generate. Regardless of why, I'm very glad to see my favorite beer store open for business.
Pictures from a walk around Ardmore today. Baptist Hospital has put up their Moravian Star that usually only can be seen during the Christmas season, and many neighborhood residents have followed suit.
One of my favorite financial commentators, Wolf Richter of Wolfstreet.com, always said "nothing goes to heck in a straight line", but he admits that many charts in the last month have shown precipitous, straight-line descents. He's good at spotting potential problem spots in the economy, but even he wasn't ready for Covid-19.
Wolf, like many bloggers, sells advertising on his site. That's one way to make some revenue, but most people nowadays have heard about Ghostery, Ad Block Plus, and various other browser add-ons that keep out the ads and trackers. All kinds of media outlets are starting to withdraw behind firewalls and charge subscriptions, or at the very least require readers to lower the firewalls, in order to see content. But not Wolf - as he puts it, "Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? Using ad blockers – I totally get why – but want to support the site? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how..." I couldn't resist that plea, so now I am a proud owner.Another good commentator is NYU professor Scott Galloway at his No Malice/No Mercy site. He made some interesting predictions regarding FedEx and Amazon a few months ago, suggesting that FedEx had fallen so far behind Amazon that it would be wise to try to arrange a merger with WalMart or Shopify. Covid has turned the shipping world upside down since then,and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Marcia, Joe and Faith have taken to hiking at Bethania. It is just a few minutes from home for them. Joe has been sharing his camera with Faith, and she took this nice picture of a daisy and ladybug. She's showing some real talent.
A house finch enjoys the seed my neighbor Eugene puts out in feeders next to the porch. Along with the finches, I see cardinals the most, with doves ground-feeding below.
I got a good night's sleep last night and woke up at 6:00, with a small project in mind. I had a set of six photographs and needed to find a way to get them printed. Usually when I need some hard-copy snapshots I walk up to Kinko's/Fedex and print them there, but they are closed due to Covid-19. A Google search suggested Walgreen's, and since I own the company (200 shares), that seemed like a good idea. The store is just four blocks away. I went to the Walgreen's website and found a link where I could upload the pictures, with a promise that they would have them ready by 9:20.
Around 7:00 I got an email from Walgreen's to let me know that my pictures were ready. Since I needed groceries I decided to stop in for the photographs and then proceed to the Harris Teeter just across the street. A few minutes after 7:00 I walked into the deserted Walgreen's and picked up six 4x6 snapshots, paid the clerk $2.18, and proceeded to Harris Teeter where I found most of the things I was looking for. Still no whole-wheat flour. I have a couple of pounds that will last me a while.
Back at home I looked over the photographic prints and admired their fidelity. Then I put them in an envelope, addressed to Lars, and dropped them in the mailbox in time for the morning pickup. Thanks, Walgreen's, for your part in my morning project.
I've made a few of these for myself and friends. The volunteers of Project Mask WS have made 25,000 of them for local health care workers. That is helping bridge the gap until the textile industry gets tooled up for mass production. Dr. Satterwhite and his team at Wake Forest have designed a simple, economical mask that local knitting mill Renfro Corp. is starting to produce. The first 300,000 have been promised to Winston-Salem, and 25,000 were delivered yesterday. Renfro thinks that in a few days they will be able to produce at the rate of 1,000,000 a week. The masks will be sold at Lowe's grocery stores for $2.50 apiece. They are washable and reusable.
Bethania was the first town the Moravians established, in 1759, when they migrated to North Carolina from their earlier settlements in Pennsylvania. Bethabara is older, but it was more in the nature of an exploratory settlement for scouting the area in search of good places to settle permanently. Bethania is almost completely surrounded by Winston-Salem now, but much of the land in the municipality has been preserved and is undeveloped. The town has established several trails on preserved land. For hikers wishing to explore them, parking is available at the Historic Bethania Visitors Center at the corner of Main Street and Bethania Road.
To hike the Orchard Trail, follow Main Street north to Bethania Moravian Church. Cut through their parking lot and around the back of the church to end up on Bethania-Rural Hall Road. This saves some walking along the narrow shoulder of this busy road. Immediately across Bethania-Rural Hall Road is the recreated orchard. Walk through it to the other side, where there is a sign for the Orchard Trail. The ground will probably be wet in the recreated orchard, as there is a spring in the middle of it.
Just past the Orchard Trail sign, the trail forks. Take the right fork as the left fork is just an unmaintained loop back into the main trail. Follow the trail to the top of the ridge, where you will come out into an open field. Follow the mown path around the field, passing the stub trail down to Innsbruck Lane. At the end of the loop, follow the main trail back down to the recreated orchard.
From here, you can backtrack to the Visitors Center, or you can turn left on Bethania-Rural Hall Road and go a short distance to where the unmapped Leinbach Trail starts across the road and heads up to the Upper Field Trail behind the Bethania Moravian Church cemetary (God's Acre). A stub comes off the Upper Field Trail to the crossing of the old Colonial Road. Around the Upper Field Trail is the Graveyard Hill Trail which leads down to the Old Mill, across the street from the Visitors Center.
All told it is around 3 miles, an hour's walking, to do all these trails. The map provided by the Bethania Visitors Center doesn't show the Leinbach Trail, so I have added it to this copy, which lays out the route described here in red.
There are two more trail networks in Bethania, the Walnut Bottoms Trail, which is an easy, level loop, and the Reuters Trail, which has a couple of strenuous grades. Note that the map supplied by the Visitors Center is not extremely accurate, but if you have any sense of direction you won't get lost.
These trails provide pleasant recreation convenient to area residents.
Here is a little Boker pen knife, made in the New York plant before it closed in 1983. The American plant was established by a branch of the original Boker family from Solingen. Amicable relations were maintained, and both companies shared the Tree brand for their knives. The Solingen plant was bombed into oblivion near the end of WWII, and the Tree brand was confiscated, but the American company managed to hang onto their rights and eventually got them restored to the German company. So, American and German Bokers both used the Tree brand. The Argentinian-made knives used the Arbolito brand. Some sources claim that there were Boker plants in Canada and Mexico as well.
Mark sent me this picture of a local buzzard who stopped by for a drink. Mark's department at the plant is shut down due to a couple of positive Covid-19 tests so he has had plenty of time to work at home recently. You can see the enormous stack of firewood he worked up in the background. The back yard grass has never looked so neatly mown, as far as I've seen.
At Round Meadow Overlook on the Parkway, the bridge towers far over Round Meadow Creek. It was built in 1938 by the Virginia Bridge Company of Roanoke. There may once have been a view from the overlook, but the trees and undergrowth have filled in. There is a nice trail from the parking lot down to the creek.
The unincorporated town of Henry, VA is located a few miles southwest of the slightly larger Rocky Mount, VA. Neither town is really up in the mountains, but culturally they are both Appalachian communities. Rocky Mount is hanging on with a little bit of commerce, but Henry... There is a "store", selling gas, beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, a post office in a trailer, and Blue Ridge Solvents & Chemicals. The company, comprised of the owner and 12 employees, blends and ships specialty chemicals. The decrepit building in this picture is part of the Blue Ridge Solvents & Chemicals property, but it appears current operations are in a slightly newer building nearby. The facility used to be Blue Ridge Talc Company, which evidently left a mess when it went out of business, as the EPA undertook a hazardous materials cleanup that ended in 2016 with human and groundwater exposures "controlled". It is all part of the legacy of industrialization that still scars many mountain communities long after the benefits have ceased.
Blue Ridge Talc started operations in 1920, grinding soapstone from their adjacent King-Ramsey quarry. The April 1961 newsletter "Virginia Minerals", published by the state Division of Mineral Resources, reported that two part-time employees blasted rock at the quarry and transferred it by motorized rail cars to the plant where it was processed and packed in paper bags for shipment to foundries for facings, and to use as insecticide. The February 1982 newsletter stated that the company had started buying iron oxide pigments from midwestern suppliers to blend into the ground soapstone to use in paints. In 2002, Blue Ridge Solvents & Chemicals started operations, so perhaps they bought the assets of Blue Ridge Talc out of bankruptcy or in some type of management buyout.
The only thing in Henry that looks modern, clean or cared-for is the track and rolling stock of the Norfolk Southern. Henry is on the "Pumpkin Vine Line" that connects Roanoke and Winston-Salem. On the siding in front of the old talc crushing plant can be seen several maintenance of way flat cars, including NS 986903, a specialized car for transporting rail-laying equipment and supplies. 986903 started life as Southern 50422 and is resplendent in a fresh coat of MOW orange.
The knife is a senator pattern, two blades, one of which is broken, cell scales in typical state of deterioration. The lettering reads "Compliments of|'Railroad' Jones Oil Co|Winston-Salem, N.C.|1927". There's not much to be known about Railroad Jones Oil Company other than what can be gleaned from old city directories, but this is what I have found. It was a wholesale oil and gas supplier which also ran several service stations clustered around downtown Winston-Salem. The 1927 Miller Press city directory for Winston-Salem shows the wholesale operation at 1130 S. Main, which today is the site of the YWCA. That would have put it on the long Winston-Salem Southbound spur that once ran along Main Street all the way to the edge of downtown. The company ran a service station at the wholesale location, and others at 21st and Liberty, 2nd and Main, Summit and West End, 4th and Poplar, Main and Liberty.
The book "The Gas Station in America", Jakle and Sculle, states that Railroad Jones ran 10 stations in 1930. Shell was coming on strong with their distinctive shell-shaped stations. I have an unsourced note stating that Railroad Jones merged with Pure in January of 1930, so perhaps the owners saw the writing on the wall and decided to sell out to one of the big corporate suppliers while their holdings still had some value. The 1930 Miller directory still listed Railroad Jones, with a new station at the corner of Hawthorne and 1st, and included the notation "100% Pennsylvania Motor Oils". That suggests some kind of association with Pure, a major Pennsylvania refiner.
Railroad Jones hung on into the depths of the Depression, even expanding to Rural Hall, with two stations listed there in the 1932 Hill's directory. By 1934, the directory listing included new verbiage - "Operated by Pure Oil Co. of the Carolinas, Inc.". The 1935 and 1936 Railroad Jones listings curtly referred the reader to the Pure Oil listing, which showed that Pure was based at the S. Main location with all the former Railroad Jones retail service station locations still listed, plus a few others.The 1937 Hill's directory did not include a listing for Railroad Jones, and the Pure Oil listing referred the reader to the listing for Supreme Oil Company, which operated out of the same S. Main location as Railroad Jones and Pure. Most of the old Railroad Jones locations were still included in the listing, along with a few new ones.
I would posit that the Railroad Jones Oil Co. sold out to Pure in 1930, which kept the wholesale and retail locations and continued to operate under the Railroad Jones name until 1933 or 1934. At that point, the stations all were rebranded as Pure. In 1937 Pure sold the whole operation to a new company, Supreme Oil, which continued to operate using the same physical plant.
The coin is a 1937 Spanish 25 centimos. Note the Falangist yoke and arrows symbol.
During the war, Hamilton made millions of military-issue watches, and the Langdon was a favorite of servicemen returning from the war. Here's what one collector posted to his (now defunct) website many years ago: "A round Hamilton we'll endorse... crisp 'Langdon'. One of the first round Hamiltons to appear from Lancaster. Yellow gold filled case is very crisp, with desirable curved lugs, a tight snap back case and the solid Hamilton feel you expect. Dial is terrific with applied gold numerals and a larger sub-seconds ring. Standard manual wind movement is strong. This is an ideal starter vintage watch, and is one you can wear everyday and with most styles. Pre-1955 round models are few and far between, and one good one is a must for every collection." Mine belonged to Gordon Burgess, and his wife Peggy gave it to me when Gordon died. I wore it regularly for many years. My currrent every-day watch is a Citizens Eco-Drive.
"English Miracle Plays", 4th Edition 1904. The stitched binding is not something you see very often any more, or the deckle edges. If you can identify the author and the play from the picture, you are a true scholar of medieval literature.
Here we have a Case 1199 "Whaler" customized by noted Oregon cutler Dale Vincent of Orvet Custom Knives. I have several of Dale's knives. He's a gentleman, a fine craftsman, and a generous contibutor of his knowledge at several of the internet knife forums.
The Case 99 pattern was a big capped jack knife that went way back in the Case catalog. The two-blade versions - 3299, 5299 and 6299 - were known as "log-splitters", probably due to their size, and were very popular back in the heyday of Case collecting.
Mark has wisely arranged his life so as to have a pond on his property. He took this picture while social distancing at the pond. It's interesting to see that he was bobber fishing, since I know that he is an accomplished fly caster and quite adept with spinning lures. Forty years ago we used to get together regularly to fish the waters of Watauga county for trout, and of the Outer Banks for bluefish and red drum.
With a statewide "Shelter in Place" order looming, I decided to make a quick trip to Edenton to pick up a sail that needed stitching. Chowan County is still free of reported Covid-19 cases, so I felt pretty comfortable about visiting, while making a point of staying out of the stores and library.
I got to the marina early in the afternoon and called my friends "Cowboy" Bill and "Sailor" Jo. Shortly they arrived at the marina and we gathered at social distance for a round of beers, then walked to "Pilot" Dan's boat and caught up with his news. Dan has flown all his life and is the FAA Inspector at Northeastern Regional Airport, just outside Edenton. He keeps a hanger there with five vintage planes, several unassembled engines and frames, plus a couple of cars. He mentioned that he needed to move three of the planes out of the hanger to extract a 1982 Corvette that he wanted to give to his daughter, and Bill and I immediately volunteered to come out the next morning to help.
Bill picked me up in the morning and we drove out to the airport. Dominating the front of the hanger was Dan's pride and joy, "The Bomber", a 1939 twin-engine Cessna T-50. The manufacturer built thousands of these planes during World War II for the military to use as trainers, helping bridge the new pilots from single to multi-engine. After the war the government sold them off, sometimes for no more than the cost of the fuel in their tanks, and they dispersed all over the world. Very few remain flying.
We found Dan deep in the hanger, sitting in front of his horizontal stabilizer from a B-29, chain-smoking Winchester little cigars and planning the moves needed to get the 'Vette out. According to his calculations, if we rolled the bomber out onto the tarmac, along with the biplane and the Piper Cub, then we could push the other two planes deeper into the corners, move assorted cans, compressors and boxes of engine parts, and then snake the "Vette out.
I was a little concerned that the bomber would gain momentum and crush us like bugs as it rolled out of the hanger, down a short slope, and out onto the tarmac, but Bill told me if it started to build up speed just to let it go and get out of the way. So with Bill and I each tugging on a propellor and Dan in the back, steering with the tail caster, we started inching the plane out. I was surprised at how easy it was to roll, and we soon had it safely out of the hanger. Next we turned our attention to the biplane - a Fleet Model 2, built in 1929.
The Fleet Model 1 was originally a project of Consolidated Aircraft Company, famous for their line of flying boats that culminated in the PBY Catalina. The company built land-operated planes as well, including the B-24 Liberator. After the war, Consolidated merged with Vultee Aircraft to form Convair, a major builder of military and civilian jets into the 1990s. The Fleet Model 1 was going to be their first attempt to enter the civilian market, but they got cold feet and sold the rights to the designer who was also president of the company, who built them in his own factory and achieved great success. At this point, Consolidated bought the rights back and parlayed them into a long line of planes based on the same basic design and incorporating improvements. The Model 2 featured a Kinner K-5 engine to replace the original 110 hp Warner Scarab. The chief claim to fame of the Model 2 is that stunt pilot Paul Mantz flew one through 46 consecutive outside loops, a record that stood for over 50 years.
The last plane out was a well-maintained 1946 Piper Cub, with a fresh rebuild on its Continental A-Series engine and extensive maintenance and repair of its fabric skin. The Cub was built from 1938 to 1947. In the lead-up to World War II, the Civilian Pilot Training Program adopted the Piper Cub as their primary trainer, and 75% of the 435,000 pilots trained by the program learned in a Piper Cub. Many of these new pilots went on to serve in the various branches of the military during the war, and it is estimated that 80% of all military pilots got their initial flight training in Piper Cubs. The demand for these light, tractable planes was so great that, at the war's peak, the plant was rolling them off the assembly line at the rate of one every 20 minutes. In addition to functioning as trainers, the military used thousands of them as artillery spotters, reconnaissance, and medical evacuations. During the bocage battles in Normandy, Cubs were fitted with observers and radio equipment, often far in excess of their rated weight capacity, and used to spot hidden German tanks and artillery. The very low speed and high maneuverability of the planes, plus short take-off and landing capability, made them able to function in ways that we would use helicopters for today.
After the war, the Cubs were dispersed all across the globe, and many of them are still in operation. Piper Aircraft superseded the Cub with a whole line of Super-Cubs and Cherokees, and remains in business to this day - although only a shadow of its war-time self. The Cubs are in better shape than the manufacturer - a well-maintained Cub is worth three times it's orginal cost - even accounting for inflation. A Cub that cost $2,000 in 1947 can easily sell for $60,000 today. The planes are in such demand that two companies - Cub-Crafters and American Legend Aircraft - currently make slightly updated and up-engined replicas of the original planes.
With the planes out of the way, Dan fired up the 'Vette and gingerly backed it out, with Bill and I spotting at the corners. The 1982 year marked the last of the third generation cars. After a hiatus for most of 1983, the new body style 4th generation cars hit the market late in the year as 1984 models. Dan's is a 1982, for those who need to be told. He is replacing the interior, fixing all mechanical issues and installing side pipes, then he will give the car to his daughter. He drives a 2018.
With the car out of the hanger, we started packing planes back in. First, we pushed the biplane deep into a corner. It was light, and the three of us had no trouble moving it. The bomber took more muscle. Bill and I drove over to the airport office and persuaded the manager and his helper to come assist. Another pilot, a prospective buyer of the Piper Cub, wandered over, and he gave us a hand. Between the six of us, we shoved the bomber up the slight incline and into the hanger.
For now we left the Cub on the tarmac. Dan wanted to run the newly-rebuilt engine. The plane is powered by a horizontal opposed-piston 4 cylinder Continental that makes 65 horsepower. In other words, a boxer, like a BMW motorcycle or a Subaru. A few steps had to be taken before fire-up. First, Dan went to a maintenance shed and brought back the airport tractor. He tied a rope between the tractor and the tail wheel bracket of the plane. This was so the plane wouldn't get away once the engine was running - seriously. Cubs don't have a transmission. No neutral, no reverse. When the engine is running, the propellor is spinning, and it doesn't take much to move a 765 pound weight on wheels. If a Cub is not tied down, it is liable to start trundling off down the runway, and if someone has foolishly reached into the cockpit and advanced the throttle, it will take off by itself.
With the plane tied down, Bill climbed a ladder and poured a couple of gallons of aviation gas into the tank. The low compression engine in the Cub will run on 80 octane avgas, but it has to have lead to lubricate the valves. Long after tetraethel lead was phased out of auto gas, it is still used in avgas. Incidentally, people talk about "jet fuel" as if it is something especially potent. In truth, it's almost identical to kerosene.
Dan made a few final checks, positioned the throttle and stood in front of the plane. He grasped the propellor with both hands and gave it a spin. Nothing. He backed up, gave his heart a minute to settle down (he has had open heart surgery, and proud of it), and spun it again. This time it started up, coughed a couple of times and settled into a steady, even beat. Pretty impressive for a new rebuild to start that easily. The plane sat on the tarmac, gently tugging on its leash, ready for flight.
Due to the amount of work done on the plane, FAA regulations call for three take-offs and landings before the plane is released for general service. Dan apologized that he couldn't take me for a ride, but had to have a second qualified pilot in the passenger seat to meet regulations. I told him not to worry, I'm petrified of flying. He laughed and said he was petrified of flying commercial, having seen the work done by some of the airline mechanics. Truthfully, my fear is a phobia and rationally I know that Piper Cup with Dan at the controls is far safer than driving down the highway.
We didn't see any other activity at the airport except the daily UPS plane-truck transfer. The plane flies a regular route out of Raleigh picking up and delivering parcels to small airports in northeastern North Carolina. It usually stops at Edenton early in the morning but today the airport had been fogbound, so it continued on and swung back by on its way home. By then the UPS truck had finished its morning route and been waiting at the airport for quite a while. The plane taxied in and the pilot motioned the truck back to the cargo hold, where a quick transfer of boxes took place. Then the truck was able to cover its afternoon route and the plane could get on its way to Raleigh.
Northeastern Regional started off as a Marine Corp Air Station in World War II. It was decommissioned in the 1960s and turned over to the town of Edenton for development as a civilian airport. That is how Edenton, population 4,708, ended up with an airport all out of proportion to local demands. Northeastern sees very little commercial traffic, just an occasional corporate air taxi servicing the Albemarle Yachts plant or one of the other businesses, plus the UPS transfer.
It was an enjoyable day and I just wish Lars had been along to enjoy it. Bill dropped me off at the marina and I packed the car, then spent one more night aboard before driving home in the morning.
They look like flowers, but conifers don't have flowers - they have bracts, special leaves that surround the developing cone. These bracts, on a juniper, are tiny. The photograph was taken with a 55mm SMC Takumar on a 36mm extension tube.
Through the good offices of the Samaritan's Purse Administrator of Flight Operations at PTI Airport in Greensboro, Lars and I were given the opportunity to tour their DC-8. Lars got to sit in the pilot's seat, and then we went back through the cargo hold and the section in the rear with spartan seating and facilities for the personnel who fly with the plane. Afterwards one of the mechanics took the picture of Lars and I on the ladder.
A few days later the plane flew to Italy with a load of supplies and 30 volunteer medics. I'm sure Lars will never forget going aboard the big white plane, and I will forever be grateful to Samaritan's Purse for their hospitality to us and for the work they do all over the world.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone makes this porter. Malty with a dark chocolate flavor. It's growing on me.
AMB is a component of mini-comglomerate Craft Beer Alliance. Kona, Redhook and Omission are other CBA brands. Anheuser-Busch has long held a stake, and is in the process of buying the remaining shares so it can effect a merger.
Northbound 76, the Piedmont, is running 40 minutes late as it passes through Jamestown NC the afternoon of March 20th, 2020. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the consist was usually four cars, but recently it has been reduced to three.
Near the end of the hike, both Lars and Lex claimed to be too tired to walk, and wanted to be carried. They are both too big to carry so they had to finish up on their own. When they saw the playground, they found some energy, and since it was deserted I let them play for a while.
Lars, Lex and I went to a local park and took a hike yesterday. Next time we might bring some supplies and have a cookout.
Something new from the local brewery. Foothills just released this a couple of weeks ago, and I picked up a six-pack at Stella Brew earlier today. Festival Express is a session beer even if it isn't marketed as such, with alcohol by volume at 5.7%. It's carbonated and clean on the palate. I like it even though my preference is for a stronger, more alcoholic brew. This is the first Foothills beer I've seen in an aluminum can.
Picture of Lex on the trail yesterday. He walked a mile with no difficulty. Great background separation with the Vivitar 19mm f/3.8. This $20 Craigslist lens is optically sound, especially stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8. It doesn't exhibit the severe chromatic abberation that some vintage lenses do - I'm thinking of my Canon 70-210mm f/4 in particular. Wide open it's a little soft, and it is prone to flare. But as long as its weaknesses are allowed for, it makes good pictures.
Unavailable in North Carolina for several years, Luzianne Coffee & Chicory is now on the shelves again at Food Lion. This medium blend in the red packaging is my favorite, so I'm very happy to be able to buy it. Even Amazon doesn't offer it, and the white-packaged dark blend that they do is prohibitively priced. Cafe Bustelo with chicory can be found fairly easily, but it has never been to my taste. It is way too bitter and strong, kind of like Starbucks coffee. Does anyone actually like Starbucks coffee? Most of what they sell looks more like coffee-flavored milk drinks.
Luzianne coffee is a product of Reily Foods Company, a family-owned business in New Orleans. The current CEO, William B. Reily IV, is the great-grandson of the man who founded the company in 1902, William B. Reily. If you've got a good thing going, why change it?
The body style is 4th generation 1961-1965 so if the "Twin I-Beam" plate is original it has to be a 1965 - the year the Twin I-Beam suspension was introduced.
Built in the early 1990s for CSX, 8783 was recently sold to Yadkin Valley Railroad parent Gulf & Ohio Railways Inc, relettered and pressed into service. It says a lot for the modern short line that it can run enormous engines like this SD60M on track that not many years ago was almost ready for abandonment.
In the background is the passenger terminal at Smith Reynolds Airport. Built during the Depression, it features marble walls, stained glass windows and a mural depicting the history of Winston-Salem. It was paid for with money from the enormous R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune, to memorialize a son who died young.
When I worked as a cost accountant, my job involved following products from raw materials to work in progress to finished goods, but only in the abstract. Sometimes the part names gave a clue as to what we were making, but for the most part I didn't have a clue as to how the item looked at any stage of the process. My job was to accumulate and store costs, so that at the end we could know whether the work was profitable, and either go after more of it, or try to get better terms from the customer, or just avoid it in the future. It has to be done, or the factory will go out of business in short order.
At the woodshop, we don't have to worry about any of that. Almost all our raw materials are free, our time is free, and we don't sell anything. We have to buy finish, glue and hardware, but we rarely buy wood. For the most part we use materials salvaged from old, broken furniture, or buildings being demolished. Joe watches Craigslist and comes up with a lot of good stuff. I pulled a lot of nice dieboard out of the dumpster at the plant before I retired. On occasion, we get to take wood all the way from the tree trunk to a usable item. The first time we did that was when I found some rounds from a big Leyland cypress that had been cut down in my neighborhood. We actually split these out, planed, sawed and drilled the splits and made a local specialty, a Moravian stool, by hand, no power tools involved.
More recently, our friend Mark gave us some yellow locust logs that had been laying around his woodlot for many years. Locust is mainly used for fenceposts because it is straight and almost impervious to water and weather. It is very hard, high in silica, and has a reputation for dulling saw blades. On the other hand, it splits, planes, drills and sands easily. We figured we could do something with it.
The process began with splitting the logs lengthwise. This involved getting an axe in the end of the log, pounding it in with a sledge hammer until a crack started along the length, then working wedges into the crack, pounding them with a mallet, the whole length of the log until it broke open. Joe got a crack started on one big log and then I took over, driving wedges at a measured pace. After a while Joe got impatient and took the mallet, finishing the job quicktime and working himself into a lather. Mark looked on with interest as Joe threw down the mallet and broke out his bandana, while I chuckled to myself and took pictures. After this it was easy to go back through the process to quarter the logs.
Next step was to work on getting a flat side on a quarter that would ride along the fence of the circular saw. We did this mostly with Stanley bench planes. Then the quarters could be carefully run through the saw to get small boards. We were limited by the maximum height of the saw blade, but that was ok since we have perfected our technique on building boxes with stacked boards, staggering the courses at the corners. We also cut some thicker boards which made good mallet heads.
So far we have made several mallets, a tool tote, and a beautiful box to hold my Panasonic Toughbook computer and give it some protection in the marine environment where it will serve aboard my boat as a chart plotter. Locust is not known as a particularly attractive wood, but Joe and I both like the looks of it.
I have worked in many media over the years, photographic film and paper, cloth, fiberglass and epoxy, paint, metal, styrene and polycarbonate, but only in wood have I been able to follow the process all the way through from raw material to finished good. I'm sure there are makers aplenty taking sheared wool all the way through from the sheep through the cleaning and dyeing process, spinning the yarn and then knitting garments. Beyond wood and fiber, the other media are all too industrialized to lend themselves to that kind of thing.
Two Hobie 16s and an old runabout inhabit a corner in the woods in western Forsyth County. One Hobie has a faded registration sticker dated 1998, the other no sticker at all. Is this really the end of the road for these old classics? Maybe not. The owner of the property has offered them to my friend Mark, who already has a Hobie 16, as does his brother. We towed one of them behind my jeep to Mark's place in Hillsdale and left it on his woodlot. At the very least the hardware and mast can be salvaged, but the sturdy fiberglass hulls and aluminum trampoline frame look intact. If the sails are ok, then maybe the boat can be restored to usable condition. The other Hobie looks equally promising. As far as the runabout goes - much less hope. Older small runabouts are a dime a dozen even in running condition, and that means the derelicts are hardly worth the time. Rebuilding the engine is the big expense.
Back in January we got a few nice days and I spent one of them hiking along Horne Creek at Seven Islands Park. Even then the water was high and my Mazda3 almost didn't make it across the creek crossings on the road in (should have driven the jeep, or the truck). This shot was taken with the kit lens, XC16-50, on a tripod, f/22, 1/4 second, at 22mm. The over saturation is due to Velvia emulation applied in post processing. I like the look.
Four inches of rain has fallen in the last 24 hours and Mill Creek where it flows under Highway 8 is way out of its banks. Another 1/2 to 3/4 inch is expected before things start drying out mid-day tomorrow. Local schools closed early due to the threat of flash-flooding and tornadoes.
Tom arranged a hike last week at Lake Townsend that I missed because I was out of town, so this week I proposed another one. I didn't get much interest, but Joe and I made the walk anyway. We started at the Lake Brandt Road trailhead of the Laurel Bluff Trail next to the pumping station at the Lake Brandt spillway. The website that I used for planning this trip proved to be woefully inaccurate, to the point of confusing Lake Brandt with Lake Townsend, but we eventually got our bearings and hiked east along the broad, marshy creek bottom of Reedy Fork, which eventually poured out into Lake Townsend. The trail sported a couple of minor uphill sections but nothing that would take it out of the "easy" category. We saw a blue heron and some ducks, and also beaver cuttings along the lake bank. After just over 3 miles the trail ended at Church Street.
We crossed Lake Townsend on the road bridge and then picked up Laurel Bluff Trail which runs back west to the trailhead where we left the truck. Just after we left the road we stopped for a rest near a rock outcropping or pile of rocks. It was hard to say, it didn't look completely natural but neither was there any clear reason why they would have been put there. Later I looked at USGS quads dating back to 1951 and didn't find any charted man-made structure there, so it is still a mystery. The Laurel Bluff Trail was, if anything, easier than the Reedy Fork Trail, with just one short grade and a very smooth tread. We met several bicyclists on this section. At the western end, shortly before coming out at the Lake Brandt Dam and pumping station, we ran across an active, well-engineered and constructed beaver pond on a tributary to Reedy Fork. On the main stem we saw a blown-out beaver dam with the remnants of a Clemson Beaver Pond Leveller embedded in the ruins.
Back at the truck, we felt the effects of a good workout, 6.8 miles in three hours. If we can work up to eight or nine miles, maybe we can get Ron to join us. He has declined to hike with us in the past on account of our mileage being too wimpy.
It was a fun hike and we may try to make this a regular Tuesday event.
The train departed Liberty Street Yard at about 1:45. I was waiting at the Walkertown car lot and followed it north. I got ahead of it between Walkertown and Walnut Cove for this picture, then caught it again at the old brickyard. I got another set of shots as it passed Wall Lumber in Mayodan at 2:45, and a final set at the 1927 bridge in Stoneville around 3:15. I let it go there, though I could easily have followed it to Roanoke and gotten home around midnight. It was a good day for train-watching, cold and clear.
The local Food Lion is having some trouble keeping household staples in stock - iodized salt, brown rice, bran flakes. This suggests to me that the store is not long for this world. The alternatives, Harris Teeter, Publix and Whole Foods are expensive and have their own stock-out issues. That leaves Amazon (or Wal-Mart, Target - pick your poison, anybody who will take an online order and ship).
Generally, with Amazon grocery items, you have to order in bulk to get a decent price, but that's ok with me. A fifteen-pound bag of Diamond G brown rice will last me at least six months, and I'm happy to not have to worry about finding it again soon. Brown rice only has a shelf life of three to six months, but will easily last six months in the refrigerator, and a year in the freezer. So I froze half of it, packed most of the rest into the refrigerator, and kept a couple of quarts out to use over the next few weeks. Along with the Diamond G rice, I bought a case of 12 cans of Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce, another thing that the local grocery stores have trouble keeping in stock.
Diamond G is a brand of the Farmers' Rice Cooperative with 700 growers, mostly in the Sacramento Valley of California. It is a medium-grain rice variety descended from the original Calrose hybrid that was released to growers in 1948.
This classic old southern farmhouse sits at the corner of Old Hollow and Stanleyville Roads just on the northwest edge of Winston-Salem. The whole area was once the large and prosperous farm of the Clayton family, and buildings on the property date back to around 1800. The house was built in 1879, and was occupied by James and Alma Clayton at least until James' death in 2002 at the age of 82. Marcia and Joe live nearby in a subdivision known as Clayton Acres on Gyddie Road, which I think is an adaptation of James' middle name Gideon. Previously they lived in the same subdivision on Alma Road, named for James' wife. I claim all Claytons as cousins and am gratified to see that this branch has prospered over the years.
Nothing. The mystical Georgia shortline that H. Reid and John Krause reported on in their timeless book "Rails Through Dixie" is gone, kaput, shut down in the mid 1950s and torn out at some later date. Reid wrote "Of the Central, photographer Krause casually remarked: 'There is nothing left like the Sylvania Central.' Enlarging on that, one might brashly conclude there never was anything like the Central before, either."
The town of Sylvania, on the other hand, is still there, and a stub of track, once Savannah & Atlanta, connects it with the world by way of Newington and points south. There was a time when S&A continued on northward through Hilltonia, Sardis and Alexander to a junction with Central of Georgia in Waynesboro. The little Sylvania Central meandered westward through the piney woods a short few miles to the town of Rocky Ford and its own junction with Central of Georgia. the On the first day of 2020 I found a maze of light, jointed rail on rotting ties in the former "industrial" part of town, with at least 75 GATX tank cars parked, some in fading paint and some in sparkling new. Had some up-and-coming small town Georgia entrepreneur snagged a contract to refurbish the cars for General American? Or was the big lessor simply storing cars on these out-of-service tracks?
The current operator of the S&A stub is the Ogeechee Railway, and their SW8 6707 sits in company with the tank cars with a 5 gallon bucket placed over the stack. 6707 is one of about 375 sisters built between 1950 and 1954, and quite likely one of the last still operating, if it is in fact still operational itself. Most of the little 800 horsepower switchers were built by EMD but a few were the product of GMD, the Canadian affiliate. I have a suspicion that 6707 is an immigrant. It rides on Dofasco trucks, and the number is in a series of 10 produced for Canadian Pacific.
Just north of Sylvania is a Georgia State Visitors Center, on the south bank of the Savannah River which separates Georgia from South Carolina. I stopped there to quiz the friendly staff about the GATX cars, about which they knew nothing. On the other hand, we were all able to agree on the fabulousness of Donna's Bakery in Sylvania, just as fabulous but not as mystical as the Central, since it is still in prosperous operation. I was asked if I had heard news of the catastrophic fracture of the local grain elevator, which had spewed corn all over the downtown, and gently replied that I hadn't, without pointing out the obvious - probably no more than a person or two from outside the confines of Screven County had heard that news. More germane to my interests, they filled in the details on the decline of Allendale, just across the river in South Carolina. As I suspected, the completion of Interstate 95 in the 1970s was a major factor, but equally, the gradual closure of the Savannah River Site, the huge nuclear facility built in the 1950s to provide fuel for atomic bombs, led to massive job losses for the area. Adding to the area's woes, many of the motels built along the fast, well-engineered Highway 301 can't be economically re-used or even torn down due to major asbestos contamination. As one Visitors Center staffer put it, it was a perfect storm that caused the devastation of the region.
Running 301 between Ocala and Columbia is the most reliable way for me to make the trip, considering the potential for lengthy delays on 95. The ghosts of history along the way make it even more worthwhile.
Resplendent GP11 1802 idles on the ready track of the Florida Northern engine facility in Ocala under a heavy overcast in December 2019. In the background, rebuilt GP9 7033, still in Canadian National paint, awaits service. GP18 59 is just visible behind 1802.
...listen to them, because they know all the best places. We ate at M-N-M BBQ in St. Petersburg a few days ago. From the street, it would be hard to guess that this would be anything special, but it proved itself, offering excellent beef, pork and chicken barbecue, delicious sides and a selection of craft beer on tap. Roy knows the cook (he picked him up once during his short stint as an Uber driver), who loaded our plates and even came out to visit for a minute. If I am ever in St. Pete on my own, I'll probably go back, but if I'm with Roy and Jeannie, chances are they will have another of their favorites to introduce me to.
One of my old lady friends ran her oil down too low, and the furnace shut down. She got the tank refilled, but the furnace still wouldn't run. I had an idea that maybe the pump air-locked if the oil got too low, so I asked my friends Marcia and Joe about it. Marcia has some rent houses and knows practically everything about appliance maintenance, and Joe spent a lifetime as a mechanic and builder. They both agreed, good chance of an air-lock. I wasn't too sure about my ability to bleed an oil line (go ahead and laugh, all you handymen), so she scheduled a service call. Unfortunately, a recent cold snap had the HVAC guys so backed up that it was going to be over the weekend before they could get out. So I googled "bleed an oil furnace", found a good, clear article with photographs showing what to look for, and steeled myself for the task. Of course, it turned out to be trivially simple. Five minutes work and the furnace was running. We called the HVAC company and they gladly cancelled the service call appointment. So, with the help of my friends Marcia, Joe and Google, I saved my old lady friend a $125 service call and a cold weekend.
Mid-day Friday I got an email from my friend Mark. He was at work and wrote that his wife Gretchen had told him "that I should not come home because she is hosting a cooking class for teenage girls from 6 until 9 and it will be chaotic drama". His idea was that he would get off work early and he would come home, but just for a few minutes. I could meet him there and we could run down to Lake Norman, take a spin in his father's Sea Ray runabout, check out the scene at Lake Norman Yacht Club, and then have dinner at the Bavarian Kitchen in Troutman, where a friend from work was playing accordian in a polka band that evening. It sounded far enough off center to be interesting, so I told him to count me in.
Along about 3:00 I drove out to the McKenzie residence in Hillsdale. Gretchen invited me in to wait, since Mark was running a couple of errands for her on the way home from work. Just one teenage girl was in evidence, working diligently on her Latin homework, and things had not started getting too chaotic yet. We had a pleasant conversation about astronomy, how Orion always rises dead east because it is on the ecliptic, the new trigonometry based on the unit circle and wrapping a tangent line around it (Gretchen, a math tutor, assured me that this trig was 25 years old and the true new trigonometry is based on polar coordinates), and sundry other topics of interest. Mark turned up after a while and we got on the road for Lake Norman.
We arrived at the Morningstar stack facility in plenty of time to have the boat brought out. Mark arranged with the staff that we would leave it at the dock when we got back, since the marina would be closed by then, and they would put it away in the morning. Sea Ray had a reputation for building good boats back in the day, and this one, from the 1990s, was clean, well-cared for, and ready to go. Mark's father is generous with the boat, and all the family uses it. Most sailors will tell you that lack of use is what kills the most boats, and this one clearly got used and maintained.
We idled down the cove until we got beyond the no-wake zone, and then Mark brought her up on plane. The Mercruiser stern-drive provided plenty of power. With a modified v-hull, the boat rode smoothly and comfortably, leaving a narrow, flat wake. Everything felt solid, no shakes, no rattles. A nice little boat.
I was amazed at the depths registering on the sounder, 45 feet in places. Down on the Albemarle, we rarely see over 25 feet, and frequently less than 10. On the other hand, the waters seemed ridiculously narrow and confined compared to the two mile wide Albemarle, or for that matter the 30 mile wide Pamlico. It's all relative; for the blue-water sailors I'm sure the Pamlico seems like a bathtub.
Whenever we saw a mast sticking up, we slowed down and motored in to investigate. Lake Norman is not much of a sailing lake, way too many powerboats and jet-skis, but we saw a few small Hunters in the water and Hobies on the bank. Mark just started sailing a Hobie and he is always on the lookout of compatriots.
Back at Morningstar we tied up the boat, snapped on the cover and studied the GPS for a route to the next location, the Lake Norman Yacht Club. We found the way and drove down the lake, arriving just before sunset. Mark's brother keeps his Hobie there, through a complex arrangement involving a cousin who evidently has some sort of youth membership even though he is now a mature adult and never actually goes to the club any more. Through the same somewhat tenuous relationship, Mark sails his own Hobie out of the club, but he trailers his home. The club has a large storage area with dozens of dinghies and cats on trailers, plus a floating dock marina with a good 60 boats tied up. After wandering around, we walked up to the clubhouse where the Flying Scot Fleet 48 was holding a dinner and party. The obliging commodore invited us to join in the festivities, but since we already had dinner plans, we went on after exchanging pleasantries. In the parking area we found a steady stream of Scots arriving from as far away as Ohio, setting up for the regatta the following day. We chatted for a while with the crew raising the mast on one boat, and then headed back to Troutman for the next item on the agenda.
It was approaching 7:00 but traffic was still streaming out of Charlotte, and we fought it all the way to Troutman. At the Bavarian Kitchen we found a packed parking lot but around back there was plenty of room on a dark street. I poked around and turned up a back door that got us inside, incidentally avoiding the line of people waiting at the front door for tables. We loitered around the bar until a couple got up to leave and snagged their seats. The friendly waitress brought us a round of Hofbrau Munchen Dunkel Bier imported from Hofbrauhaus Munich. Draft only, 1/2 litre or full litre. Not being ethnic, we opted for the 1/2 litres. Mine served me for the evening, but Mark went back for another 1/2 litre of Hofbrau Munchen Original Bier later in the evening.
At the front of the restaurant, the advertised polka band pounded out a bouncy 2/4 beat. My attention was more focused on the very diverse crowd, a subject for discrete photography. I watched open-mouthed as stolid Eastern Bloc Troutmanites worked through massive plates of food under an enormous mural of headdressed cows in the Bavarian Alps, then turned to see a local Scotch-Irishman liberally douse his plate of schnitzel and french fries with ketchup. Nearby I saw a quintessential older German gentleman, looking like the Kaiser in his later years. Sitting next to me at the bar, a Swede complimented me on my film camera, and I had to disappoint him and explain that it was digital. He was surprised at the "retro" design, and I explained how Fujifilm builds them like that to sell to old photographers like me. We had a great conversation, and he pointed out the various "regulars", including a large extended family at a nearby table, Slavs who had recently moved from the Midwest and found the Bavarian Kitchen a congenial reminder of home. I'm sure Troutman is a culture shock.
We placed our orders with the help of the barmaid - the menu being in Gothic script, small type, and largely in German - I asked for the Jager Schnitzel and Mark ordered a sausage dish, perhaps the Nurnberger Schweinsbratwurstl. The barmaid warned that it might be a wait, but we would eat. In the meantime, she brought us dishes of vinegar-soaked shredded cabbage, delicious in small doses.
Polka is great dance music, but the men were all shy, so some of the girls danced with their mothers and the boys danced with the waitresses. Three youngsters got up the nerve to go forward and do the chicken dance. Mark saw his friend from work come in and went to chat with him. He had just in recent weeks started playing with the band and had to down a litre of beer to get his courage up, but soon he joined with the band leader in several rousing accordian duets.
Eventually our dinner arrived. The schnitzel in mushroom sauce was delicious, though I found it a bit disconcerting that it was served on a bed of french fries - I suppose to make the dish palatable to the born and bred locals. I think a traditional schnitzel is made of veal, but Bavarian Kitchen makes theirs of pork, probably a reflection on the price of veal. It is an acceptable compromise. Mark dug in with a relish, not having eaten since 4:30 in the morning, before he went to work. I think if I eat at the Bavarian Kitchen again, I may skip dinner entirely and go straight to dessert. I saw some delectable Viennese chocolate and creme confections coming out of the kitchen.
The band played a final rousing medley of traditional polka tunes and shut down at 9:00. Most of the crowd had already filed out. Many in passing complimented Mark on his authentic Tyrolean hat, acquired in Fredericksburg (TX), which along with New Braunfels are the centers of Germanic culture in Texas. I can only imagine what kind of bastard progeny that has produced. After being introduced to the band leader by Mark's friend from work, we went out the way we had come, through the back door, scaring the wits out of a waitress from the neighboring Italian restaurant who was having a smoke.
We arrived back in Hillsdale around 10:00 after an uneventful drive and I continued home, hoping Mark didn't find a scene of chaos and drama.
It's getting to be the middle of fall but flowers are still in profuse bloom in Ardmore. SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 on a short extension tube, ISO 200, 1/200s, Fujifilm X-T20.
Not an easy subject for my 60 year old Super Takumar 150. The backlighting produced an enormous amount of purple fringing, fortunately RawTherapee was able to get most of it out. The moving subject and busy background made it hard to focus, and I'm sure a modern autofocus system would have done better than my tired eyes. 150 millimeters is not really enough to catch these wild squirrels so I had to do a lot of cropping. But I still like the colors and painterly effect and I doubt if a new lens would have done any better. Super Takumar 150mm f/4 at f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/85s, Fujifilm X-T20.
One more shot from the Hanging Rock camping trip. We found a stick bug (order Phasmatodea). I hadn't seen one of these in years. They are hard to spot.
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