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Archive for the ‘Landscape’ Category

Last weekend when I was staying outside of Roanoke for a wedding, I had the chance to walk a few miles of the Appalachian Trail. It was pretty awesome—now I have only about 2178 more miles to go to complete it.

Like most people, I had heard about the Appalachian Trail, but didn’t know much about it. Somehow I imagined that it was about as wide as a jeep and relatively smooth. My brief hike on the trail dispelled those notions. The trail is narrow, muddy, and steep, at least in those parts where I was walking.

I encountered the trail in Troutville, Virginia, a small town that is designated as an Appalachian Trail Community, where hikers can resupply along the way. Troutville marks a point on the trail where thru-hikers, those trying to complete the entire trail in a single year, will have completed about a third of the trail, assuming they started in Georgia.

It’s pretty exciting to think about hiking a 2200 mile trail, but it requires a lot of planning, training, and commitment. Generally thru-hikers spent five to seven months hiking on the trail, and quite a few people drop out along the way for many different reasons.

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

As I climbed a hill and came to a meadow, I noticed this small tent. Apparently a hiker decided this was a good spot to spend the night. You can see part of the trail, which is marked with white “blazes,” like the one on the wooden post.

Appalachian Trail
This was the scenic view from the top of one of several hills that I climbed during my short stint on the trail.
Appalachian Trail
 © Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.
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As I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge last weekend, I spotted some Eastern Amberwing dragonflies (Perithemis tenera) flying low above the surface of the pond. One of them, a female, kept returning to a particular spot and would dip down and touch the water to deposit eggs. A male would periodically make an appearance and I couldn’t tell for sure if he was guarding the female or was trying to put the moves on her.

This is my favorite shot of the encounter. The dragonfly on the left is a male Eastern Amberwing and the one coming in from the right is a female. I thought about cropping the image in closer, but decided to keep it like this in order to retain the ripples and the reflection, elements that I really like.

 

Eastern Amberwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I’d never before seen river barges, so it was pretty cool to watch these ones moving along the Ohio River in Wheeling, West Virginia during my brief trip there last month. I never realized that barges are pushed from behind rather than pulled from the front. How in the world are they able to steer?

barges

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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From a distance, it looks almost like they are drilling for oil in the center of Fort Benning, Georgia. Those towers, however, are not oil derricks, but are used for training soldiers who will become airborne-qualified. There are a series of towers of varying heights and as soldiers master their equipment and techniques, they are literally taken to greater heights.

In 1980 I was at Fort Benning for US Army Officer Candidate School (OCS), and I remember running on a track around those towers. During my Army career, I did not go through airborne training and I am happy to say that I have a perfect record—I have landed safely aboard every aircraft on which I have taken off.

I am currently at Fort Benning to celebrate my son’s graduation from OCS. Yesterday I had a chance to walk around the field on which the towers are located and to capture a variety of shots. Here are some of my favorites.

jump towers

jump tower

tower3_blog

jump tower

jump tower

jump tower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During my recent trip to Wheeling, West Virginia, I repeatedly encountered symbols of the town’s glorious past. Trains no longer run to the historic Baltimore and Ohio train station. The beautiful building has now been converted for use by West Virginia Northern Community College.

B&O Railroad

A prominent sign indicates the availability of the buildings of Marsh Wheeling Stogies. Could this possibly be a reference to cigars? As I did a little research, I learned that Mifflin M. Marsh began producing cigars in Wheeling in 1840. His cheap cigars were favored by the drivers of the Conestoga wagons that carried pioneers West and “stogies” are a shortened version of the wagon’s name. According to the website Archiving Wheeling, in 1877 almost 24 million cigars were sold in Wheeling. In 2001, the plant was closed after Marsh Wheeling was bought by National Cigar.

Marsh Wheeling Stogies

I suppose that Verizon now owns the Bell Telephone building in Wheeling, but Verizon is definitely not know for having buildings as interesting and beautiful as this one.

Bell Telephone

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past Thursday I made a quick trip to Wheeling, West Virginia and fell in love with the signs that had been painted long ago on the sides of some of the brick buildings in the downtown area. Here are a few of my favorite ones.

Wheeling

Wheeling

Wheeling

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the mood of the early morning—there is such a sense of tranquility. Here is what what things looked like this morning at Huntley Meadows Park. The most obvious subject was a male Northern Pintail duck (Anas acuta), but I love the way that you can see other ducks and geese in the background.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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