The Neon District and Why Norfolk Rocks

I have lived in Chesapeake, Virginia for over a decade and for the most part love living here. Chesapeake is a largely rural city and lacks a lot of the things that an urban city like my neighbor city Norfolk abounds in. Among those things Norfolk has is an abundance of art and cultural resources and fine dining and entertainment. The adjacent city of Portsmouth also has more art and cultural resources and restaurants than Chesapeake. The good thing about Chesapeake is that it is very close to both Norfolk and Portsmouth so I can enjoy the suburban living of Chesapeake and partake of the arts, culture, fine dining, and entertainment of both Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Norfolk especially has an abundance of places to eat. You can partake of just about any cuisine you can imagine. Chesapeake, on the other hand, is more a Sonic and Burger King kind of city. It is even hard to find a good hot dog in Chesapeake. Did I mention that another adjacent city, Suffolk, also outshines Chesapeake in the areas mentioned? Sad, but true. Norfolk has a major Zoo, sporting venues for college football and basketball, professional Hockey, and semi-pro baseball, a botanical garden, and an actual downtown.

It is the downtown of Norfolk and the art aspects that I want to talk about today. Norfolk has some beautiful architecture, including the Chrysler Museum, a world-class art museum. Norfolk has recently undertaken a project to paint many of the old buildings in downtown Norfolk in what is now being called the NEON District. Many volunteers have gotten together to paint fantastic art on the walls of buildings in over 30 areas of Norfolk from the Chrysler Museum to Granby Street in the heart of the city. I first heard about this project on local television and I had to go take a look. I am a lover of great architecture and especially enjoy murals and painting done on buildings.

Here are a few of the photographs I took of some of the fantastic art adorning buildings in Norfolk. All of them are within walking distance of each other.

 

 

Out and About

I decided to take a ride the other day and just go where my instincts pointed me. I ended up in the little towns of Holland and Franklin, Virginia. They are both quaint small towns located off U.S. 58 as you head west. I was hoping to find some interesting things to photograph. The weather was quite nice for a change and I really enjoyed just taking in the scenery.

Our Sunday school Bible class has started with a new book by Beth Moore titled A Woman’s Heart – God’s Dwelling Place. It is about the Tabernacle of the Old Testament. I have done the first weeks materials and am really enjoying it. I am also attending a Wednesday evening Bible study led by our Pastor. It covers the Acts of the Apostles and our Pastor really brings new understanding to my previous knowledge of the book of Acts.

That’s about it for now. I really enjoy this time of year. So many things to do and the weather is gorgeous. My brother Skip called and we are thinking of going to Skyline Drive in the Appalachians to take in the Fall colors. It has been quite a while since my last visit and it is one of my favorite places to visit.

God Bless.

Storm Finally Over

Hurricane Joaquin fortunately missed us completely. It is a good thing too, because if it had combined with the massive low pressure system that flooded this area for days, it would have been a major disaster. The whole East cost was affected by the massive low which brought sustained high winds and major tidal flooding. South Carolina was especially hard hit but Virginia took a beating too. I live in Chesapeake, which for the most part is not near any rivers or tributaries so we were spared much of the flooding although we got lots of rain and high winds. Cities like Portsmouth, Hampton, and Norfolk were not as fortunate. I live very close to Portsmouth and got to see a lot of the tidal flooding first hand. Luckily, for Virginia at least, the flooding, while doing a lot of damage, took no lives. But the “storm” will be remembered here for a long time due to the amount of tidal flooding which was nothing short of what we usually get from a hurricane, nor’easter, or tropical storm. It was truly an awesome event, showing how Mother Nature rules over man. I got out Sunday afternoon and took numerous shots and videos to record the event for posterity.

I hope that if you lived in the areas affected by the system, that you were as fortunate as we were to escape major damage or injury. God Bless.

 

Fall is here and so is a Hurricane

Fall has arrived and with it it is bringing a lot of rain and maybe a visit from Hurricane Joaquin. For the last week we have had endless rain and the ground is now saturated. If Hurricane Joaquin passes nearby, we are assured of 10+ more inches of rain and tropical force winds. Heavily saturated ground with high winds equals trees and power lines down. Not anticipating a fun weekend. Being that I have been through many hurricanes in my life this is nothing new and we are as prepared as we can be. At least I hope to get some interesting photos and videos of the storm which I will post as soon as I can.

As for the other aspects of Fall, the weather is cooling, the leaves are changing colors and falling, and there have been lots of festivals. I am looking forward to all things pumpkin, along with lots of hot cocoa. Our church is having its Fall Bazaar this Sunday and as a part of that we cook and prepare over 400 quarts of Brunswick stew for sale. It is a LOT of work but we always manage to pull it off and everyone enjoys the fellowship. While I can’t give you the exact recipe for the stew (Top Secret), I can give you a list of the ingredients, except for the spices used. (Top Secret).

  • Chicken
  • White Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Lima Beans
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Chicken Stock
  • Bullion cubes
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Water
  • Fatback
  • Butter
  • Top Secret spices

We cook it outside in large pots with wooden paddles over propane burners. It takes 6-7 hours to cook enough batches to fill all the orders. That does not count the pre-cooking of the chicken, peeling and chopping of vegetable, etc. At $7.00 a quart it is a great deal. Wish you could stop by and try some. Now if only Hurricane Joaquin will go away…

College Football Go ODU!

Last week I went to my first college football game. I have been to high school football games, NFL football games (1), college basketball games, but never a college football game. My brother Jeff called me and invited me to go as he had an extra ticket. So off I went to see my first college football game. The teams that were playing were Old Dominion University (the home team) and visiting North Carolina State. ODU is a Division 1 NCAA team, while NC State is in the Atlantic Coast Conference. So ODU was playing the big boys and as it turned out, they were the big boys that day. Both teams had records of 2-0 and the stadium was packed to capacity and everyone was expecting an awesome game.

The weather was perfect, we had great seats at Foreman field and the atmosphere was electric. The rules for college football are somewhat different than those for the NFL, but for the most part, it was what I expected. There were a few surprises however. There were no turnovers, very unusual, and only two penalties in the entire game. Both teams utilized the no huddle offense, so the game proceeded at a quick pace, which I really appreciated. The ODU Monarch Marching Band was awesome, as were the cheerleaders. Although the final score was NC State 38, ODU 14, it was still a great game and I really enjoyed it. Did I mention ODU has a canon that they shot off twice? My brother warned me about it the first time but the second time I was caught unaware and jumped out of my seat.

Anyway, I took quite a few photos with my Sony a6000 and a 55-210mm telephoto lens. I also captured some video. Some of the photos are below along with a link to the video. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

Video of ODU Offense in Action

Bugs and Beaches

With Summer ending and Fall arriving very soon, I thought I would take a ride to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach and walk the trails and the beach. Back Bay is one of my favorite places to visit. It is located at the end of Sandbrige, Virginia, near the North Carolina border. In past trips I have been able to photograph all types of wildlife and I was hoping for the same this visit.

It was a beautiful day for being outside surrounded by natures beauty. This time of year there were very few people visiting, which was fine by me. It was very quiet and peaceful. Although I didn’t see any of the wildlife I usually see, you can guess by the title of this post what I did see and photograph.

Before I entered the refuge I stopped at my favorite place to grab a bite, Sandbridge Seaside Market. As the review says, they have a great deli and fresh donuts. After lunch I headed to the refuge. At the gate, the gentlemen taking admission fees sold me a seniors discount card for all National Parks and Refuges. It will save me a lot of money over time as I love visiting National Parks.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

A Painful Week

Three days ago I was unfortunate to have stepped barefoot onto a swarm of fire ants. As a child living in Florida I well remember fire ants and stayed far away from them. I had no idea they had moved as far north as Virginia. Too bad I had to find out the hard way. When I first stepped on them it felt like I was being shocked. I immediately saw them and luckily I was only a few feet from the pool (the reason I was barefoot) and jumped in. I guess I was fortunate as I was only bitten about 30 times. The good news is that the pain went away within a few hours but the itching soon commenced. Fortunately the itching was not on a par with poison ivy or chiggers. But the bites look really nasty. I will spare you any photos of the damage. If you want to get an idea of what a fire ant bite looks like, try Google.

While I wait for my ant bites to heal I have been trying to stay busy. I took a ride out to one of my favorite places nearby and took some photos. I am still experimenting with my new camera. My lens collection now consists of the original 18-50mm lens, a 50mm f 1.8 lens, and a 55-210mm lens. I bought a camera backpack from Amazon to store all my equipment. I have not had an interchangeable lens camera since my film days. I’m really enjoying the versatility I now have. Anyway, the photos I am posting are from two little burgs named Rescue and Battery. They are very quaint, peaceful, beautiful places. I saw a home for sale there and I was thinking it would be nice to live there.

Anyway, here are the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

I Love Where I Live

I have lived in the Hampton Roads area since the 11th grade, which means since 1966. You figure out how old I am. Before that, as a Navy brat, I had lived in Newport, Rhode Island (my birthplace), upstate New York, Texas, Florida, and finally here in Southeastern Virginia. Although the area has seen tremendous growth since I first came here, not all of which has been good, I would still be hard pressed to find a better place to live. We are very close to the ocean and a 4 hour drive to the Appalachian Mountains. There are no really big cities in Virginia, which is fine by me. It is not as rural as it used to be, but it is still a wonderful place to call home.

There is a lot of history in Virginia, a lot of it very close to where I live. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, from the first English colony at Jamestown, to the Lost Colony at Roanoke, North Carolina, there is a lot to see and do, and most important of all, take photos of. Yesterday I took a little trip up to Smithfield, which is a beautiful, quaint town with lots of Colonial and Victorian houses and shops. It is also home to the world famous Smithfield Meats. Smithfield is also home to St. Luke’s Church. Historic St. Luke’s is the oldest church in Virginia and oldest church in British North America of brick construction.  Anyway, as I said this area is a photographers delight and Smithfield is a typical example. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took of the area.

Night Photography

Since I received my Sony mirrorless a6000 camera with its 18-50mm kit lens, I have been taking more photographs than before. This new camera is a big step forward in capabilities than my old Panasonic. Since I have gotten my Sony I have purchased two news lens; a F1.8 50mm and a 55-210mm telephoto. I have to admit I love the ‘nifty fifty’ the best. I love the shallow depth of field and low light capabilities of the 50mm. Last evening I went down to the waterside at Portsmouth with my tripod and 50mm and tried my hand with some night scenes. The results, in my humble opinion, were pretty good. Take a look for yourself at a couple of them.

Fall is fast approaching. The leaves are starting to change colors and the temperatures are dropping. I will miss Summer but I love all the seasons. They are all chapters in the book of Gods creation of the Universe. Soon I will be doing fall foliage photos and before you know it winter scenes. Can’t wait. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Making the most of Summer

While Fall doesn’t officially arrive until September 23rd I have noticed that it is getting cooler in the mornings. So I am making the best use of the final month of summer. The city of Portsmouth was visited last weekend by the USCGC Barque Eagle. The Barque Eagle (WIX-327) is a 295-foot barque used as a training cutter for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. While I missed its entrance and docking, I did get down to have a look. There was only one open house, which I missed, so I couldn’t go on board. But I did take quite a few pictures. It is a breathtakingly beautiful ship and I would love to have the chance to sail with her one day.

This weekend, there were two events that occupied my days. The first one was the Seawall Art Show at Portsmouth waterside. There were many vendors with some fantastic art to view and buy. There was one photographer there whose work was wonderful. I should have gone back and bought one of his photos. I think I took one of his business cards so I might go to his gallery yet and buy something. There were different live musical groups there and I listened to the Top Hats Orchestra while I was there. They play mostly big band music and they were very good. One of the vendors was selling fish with all the trimmings but I wasn’t really hungry although the smell was trying to convince me otherwise.

Sunday I attended the annual Tefft family picnic at Red Wing Park in Virginia Beach. It is one of my favorite parks and we have had a lot of picnics there. I have 5 brothers but two of them couldn’t make it. But the rest of my brothers and their families were there. The weather was beautiful and as always my brother Jon, who is a great cook, made it a big success. It is always amazing to see how fast the young ones grow up. I need to spend more time with my family. After I left I stopped at the beautiful Japanese Gardens which are a part of the park to take some photos.

So I have had a great summer so far. The weather has been great, the pool as always is relaxing, I have gotten to see my family, and enjoyed several events. The only downside to my summer has been that my Golden Retriever Max has been diagnosed with cancer. He has been on chemo and prednisone and is doing OK, although the chemo has its side effects, the main one being that it is affecting his vision. He will be 12 years old soon and I hope he will be around for a few more years, God willing.

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Hope everyone has a wonderful summer. Take care.