Saturday, January 25, 2014

Happy New Year... Belated, Anyway...

Yes, I've been slackin'.

After getting settled in St. Augustine, I've found that I'm actually a Helluva' lot busier than I expected, and I'm not even shooting all the time. When I do shoot, it tends to be out of town, which requires a good deal of driving. My three biggest shoots were two football tournaments and a medical device convention. Yeah, the excitement there was palpable. All three of those were several hours from St. Augustine, though. They paid, but they were time intensive.

I've tried to make some time to shoot recreationally and, to some degree at least, I think I've accomplished that. My last gig had me shooting over 1,200 pictures over two days, and then having to get the photos to the client (who was on the west coast) a day earlier than previously agreed upon. So, it's been nice to go out, shoot, and then let the photos ferment on my hard drive for a while before even opening them up.

Now, it's no great secret that I enjoy visiting historic places. Not all of them are battlefields, or carry any military significance at all, but all conjure up thoughts and ideas about how life may have been, wherever I was, in the past.

One such place I visited recently was the Cowpens National Battlefield in Gaffney, South Carolina. The battle at Cowpens was a pivotal one in the fight for independence, and it didn't even last an hour. What was cool, though, was that our visit coincided with the 233rd anniversary of the battle. 

The visit to Cowpens lasted longer than the actual battle did.

Being that it's the actual battlefield, we were told that re-enactors don't play out the actual battle, simply out of respect. That being said, there was no shortage of re-enactors on hand to offer a look back into January of 1781.

It had been very, very cold in North Carolina the last week or so. It was as cold as Vegas can be hot, but decision was made to brave the elements and drive across the border into South Carolina.

The main entrance to Cowpens...


It actually looks pretty peaceful... Now...

A lone tree out in the middle of a field at Cowpens...

This could be almost anywhere. Yet, it's the site of one of the most important battles of the American Revolution...

Pretty self-explanatory...
 
The re-enactors all looked pretty good, and it was a little surprising to learn that many of them had been sleeping here at night instead of at home or a nearby hotel. No doubt they were dedicated to their craft, though:


























Overall, it was a very, very cool visit to a place I'd never really considered visiting. Okay, so sometimes the re-encators can be a little... um... nerdy, but they're really the only ones who, I think, could convey the proper impression of what life here was like 233 years ago. Their nerdiness, you see, permits them to be so over-the-top with their depictions that you can't help but start to think that you're the one, in your jeans and Columbia jacket, carrying your iPhone, who's out of place.

Is this a "must see"? Well, perhaps not in the same way that someplace like Mt. Rushmore is a "must see" but, for anyone truly interested in the American Revolution, yeah, I think it is...





Orange County Choppers...

While in New York, Greg and I decided to make a trip over to Orange County Choppers. If you're unfamiliar with "O.C.C", they've been featured on the Discovery Channel show "American Chopper". There was an infamous battle between majority owner Paul Teutul Sr. and his son, minority owner Paul Jr., that resulted in Paul Jr. leaving the company.Now, if none of that means anything to you, it's okay. It doesn't mean a damn thing to me, either, as I've never watched the show.

Be that as it may, however, O.C.C. has an enormous facility in the town of Newburgh, so Greg and I decided we'd need to take a peak. Greg's the biker of the family, so he went for the motorcycles. I merely went for the photo ops:


Here I am in front of Orange County Choppers in Newburgh, NY (photo by Greg Parr)...

Being a Jets fan, this was one of my favorite bikes on display...

One of the many motorcycles hanging overhead...

Here's Greg with "343", built by Paul Jr., to honor the 343 firemen who bravely gave their lives on 9/11...
Another of the many motorcycles hanging from the ceiling...
 
Another of the many motorcycles hanging from the ceiling. This one is in the O.C.C. Cafe...





Another of the many motorcycles hanging from the ceiling. This one is actually in the O.C.C. Cafe, as well...


 
Don't know what to say about the bike, other than it was begging to be shot from this angle...
 
This chopper was built for Lance Armstrong's "Livestrong" foundation...

Another of the many motorcycles hanging from the ceiling at Orange County Choppers...

Santa's ride...
 
A peak inside the shop...
 
An O.C. Chopper for sale. The price was a surprisingly low $34,000.00...

You could buy this one for only $23,000.00...

Before heading up to the hospital, we decided we should have lunch. What better place than the Orange Country Choppers Cafe?

We took a seat at the bar and ordered up a local brew, and decided on what to have for lunch. In this case, it was some crazy fried BBQ beef concoction called "Beef Rolls", and they were insane. They reminded me a bit of the deep fried Reuben sandwich I had in Tennessee back in June, but different... and quite possibly better:


The Rib Rolls at the O.C.C. Cafe. Highly, highly recommended...

It would've been easy to spend an entire afternoon here but, of course, we did have more important matters to attend to. So, we finished lunch, and found our way past the stage and bowling alley (yes, they have both on site), and walked back into the showroom. We picked up the obligatory t-shirts and stepped back into the frozen wasteland that was Newburgh, New York.

If you ever happen to find yourself in Newburgh, or if you ever have to be passing by on the New York State Thruway, this is a worthwhile stop which will satisfy the inner biker in anyone...


New York...

Recently, my brother Greg and I decided to visit our Dad near Newburgh, New York. Dad's not getting any younger, and he had to go into the hospital to have some tests done. We decided to take the opportunity when we both had the chance to make the 18 hour drive from St. Augustine.

Initially, the drive wasn't bad at all. We'd made good time during the day, and even had some time to take breaks here and there.

We made the obligatory stop at South Of The Border, although I won't bore you with the photos you've seen a bazillion times taken by everyone who's ever been there. Suffice it to say, if you've traveled along the I-95 corridor (and I-95 is a freeway, by the way), you've seen everything there is to see of SOTB. Except for, maybe, these:

Of all the plastic garbagy crab you can waste your money on at South Of The Border, I can't think of a finer way to waste your hard-earned greenbacks than to buy a pair of these. I've since been advised that I made a wise choice in deciding not to buy a pair of these. But you should. 'Cause they'll look good. You know... On you...

Our next prolonged stop was at a place known as Kenly 95, which is located in Kenly, North Carolina, or just about 70 miles south of the Virginia border. Just as I was thinking to myself  "This is the biggest damned truck stop I've ever seen", I learned that it was, at least, the largest truck stop on the east coast. It was H-U-G-E. It had the usual fare you'd expect to see at a truck stop: Bathrooms, showers, restaurants, etc. But this place also had what can only be described as a department store. You could buy everything from tactical uniforms to suitcases to toiletries, and you could even get your oil changed and your rig washed.

A festive holiday truck stop display...
For those of you who like pirates (and you know who you are), they've got one at Kenly 95. 'Cause, you know, nothing says "North Carolina truck stop" better than a pirate...

Need some more chrome of new lights for your rig? Well, here ya' go. I was thinking that Greg should've bought some for the Chevy Cruze, but I was out-voted... 

I'm still kinda' at a loss for this one. It makes only a little more sense than the pirate...
 
As confirmation that, sometimes, he does know best, Greg had the Dairy Queen guy make our chocolate shakes with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla which, oddly, is the norm. It was amazing...

As we made our way north, the weather, as you might suspect, started to change. Gone were the sunny, balmy days of St. Augustine. Now we were facing snow, ice and temperatures which would kill a penguin. Simply put, as much as we thought we were prepared, I think both of us were a bit taken aback by just how ungodly cold it was:

I'm sorry, but humans just shouldn't have to be subjected to such things...

Six inches of global warming fell on Dad's deck before midnight...

The next morning, we made our way over to the hospital to see Dad and, once again, the weather had its way with us. While this may be standard fare for the fine folks in Ulster County, it is decidedly not so for the two gentleman from Florida. It was cold. It damn cold, and neither of us liked it. Neither of us liked it one little bit. I just checked the freezer in the kitchen. It's nowhere near 3 degrees. Why? Because 3 degrees is just stupid.

We got over to St. Francis Hospital and found Dad to be in good spirits, if not completely miffed by the fact that he was stuck in a hospital bed. He wasn't happy, but there he was. After talking for a bit, I decided to go to the cafeteria and get some coffee and some breakfast. Now, I have to say, forget everything you know about hospital food. Not only was the food being served to Dad looking pretty damn tasty, so was the food in the cafeteria. I couldn't help myself:

This bacon, egg & cheese on a roll rivaled anything you'd fine in New York City...

After a few more hours of visiting, I decided it was time to take a walk and get some fresh air. I tried not to think about all of the germs and infectious diseases I was breathing in while indoors, so I though maybe a blast of cold, fresh air would counter it. I stepped outside into a Hellish white tornado of coldness:


It was a nippy 14 degrees when I took these pictures so, clearly, we were in the midst of a warming trend...

After leaving the hospital that evening, we decided to stop by Cafe 32, the bar and restaurant that Dad's friend Bert owns. Bert is a true and loyal friend to Dad, and we felt it was important to stop by. Of course, upon leaving, there was more snow to contend with:

I'm fully aware this hardly measures up to the snowstorms experienced by much of the country this year, but save it. We're from Florida. We don't have snow. I lived in San Diego for 30 years, and we didn't have it there, either. Greg left Long Island in 1983. Simply stated: WE'RE NOT 'USED' TO THIS, AND WE'RE NOT BUILT FOR THIS".

Somehow we managed to find our way through the howling blizzard of whiteout conditions back to Dad's house, where we elected to call it a night. Surely the next day would bring more of the same, and I think we both figured that we would be no more prepared for it than we were the first time around...


Let's Talk Apps...

From time to time, I'll be talking about cell phone apps as I find good ones. Let's face it, it's almost impossible to get thro...