A drive through the South

UntitledDriving through back roads in the south is a lot like a trip through time. Abandoned and deteriorating service centers and gas stations run along sides the highway, no longer greeting the road-trippers that once stopped there. There wasn’t enough time in the day to absorb each one in, yet alone take a picture.

Midway Service Center

Their conditions varied, from those that might have been alive and in use only a few years ago, to those that might have been weathering the elements for 20 years. Other structures (not captured) were so far gone, it couldn’t be determined what they were. Mother nature and the elements had taken them over.

UntitledOther stretches of the highway had modern “rest-stop”-like stations. These establishments were always at an interstate interchange. It was also clear that the Interstate had clearly caused travelers to bypass these stations, the towns they’re in, and to some degree, time.

The return home was via Untitledthe Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Always a fun trip, but too far away from home to really enjoy for any period of time.

All the pictures can be seen here.


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California 2014 – Pacific Coast Highway, Betteravia Sugar Plant

It’s been almost four months since my last past – wow, way too long. While not as glued to the camera as I should have been, there still were plenty of things to share/post/babble about.

UntitledThe first adventure to be lived through the lens was in early November. Work had taken me to California for a week and I added a few days off at the end of the trip to see an aunt and uncle in the Santa Barbara area. The only way to get there had to be via the Pacific Coast Highway. UntitledAfter picking up the rental car, I began my way via 101 South. I cut over to Monterrey and Carmel and picked up the PCH – my trip was a go. My first stop was Point Lobos where I caught my first glimpse of the ocean – it was absolutely stunning. It was after I left this vista that the true reality of the PCH would kick in – long windy curves, beautiful landscapes, and no cell phone service 🙂

Bixby BridgeOne of the sites on my “to-do” list was the Bixby Creek Bridge. Recommended by coworkers and seen a few times in my research for the trip, this was one of the destinations I made it a point to get out of the car and see. Apparently, so did every other tourist on the Pacific Coast Highway as well. It was also where I was introduced by the “Selfie Stick”… As the day got longer, patience wore thin. I drove into (and out of) the parking lot of the Hearst Castle. This would have to wait for another time. A nap would have been much appreciated, but I had to get to my aunt and uncles before sunset.Betteravia Sugar PlantI had doubled my trip time due to the PCH adventure.

Betteravia Sugar PlantWithin an easy driving distance was the Betteravia Sugar Plant. After closing inthe 1990’s, it has been left to the elements. The silos remain, as well as what appeared from the distance to be a factory or processing facility.Betteravia Sugar Plant

The railroads were still operational in the area and seeing helicopters drop pesticides onto the crops in the area was something I had never seen before.

My drive back toward the Bay Area was via the 101 – no Pacific Coast Highway North – just freeway. I made it to the Golden Gate Bridge and thought I’d catch a sunset, but got the pleasure of experiencing the fog rolling in and almost zero visibility. While it was initially a disappointment, it truly was a wonderful experience.


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Weather Station Repair

UntitledSo without further ado: hopefully *fingers crossed* the weather station is fixed. [Update: yup, it’s fixed!] When the humidity hit approximately 91% over an extended period of time (typically overnight), the weather station would fail to report either the temperature or humidity. It’d send either that it was 0° F, or a balmy -39.3° F! After researching on the ‘net possible solutions, they all seemed to point at the temperature and humidity sensor. Not necessarily a cheap fix, but certainly an easy one. UntitledThe technical support team at Davis confirmed that it was the sensor and roughly a week after a followup call, the replacement part had arrived.

Six (and almost) seven years after the station had been mounted (including an ER visit…), I had to perform more than a rain bucket cleaning or battery replacement. This was easy – solar panel removal and a disconnect of the wire to the existing sensor was the first step, followed by rain bucket removal and unscrewing of the radiation shield.

UntitledThe radiation shield came down with ease and I moved to the picnic table. Removing the layers showed how dirty it had become. The old sensor certainly looked like it had seen better days and was rather easy to remove.

Installing the new sensor was just as pain-free. Unlike the old one which sat and pointed up, this new one sat on the insulation disk and faced down.

IMG_6698Returning the weather station to form was easy. Three screws reattached the radiation shield and the rain bucket went on without a hitch. Connecting the new sensor to the ISS was a breeze, and so was the solar panel.

We’ve got a nor’easter heading this way tonight. Let’s hope we hit 91% humidity – and still be able to report the conditions 🙂

You can find the stations report here, or in near real-time on Weather Underground.


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Hurricane Sandy Revisited – August 2014

After driving through Holgate in March of this year, it was time to return. Had anything changed? What was new? What hadn’t yet been touched? Were the signs of Hurricane Sandy still evident?

UntitledThe town was alive with people – those that were building or repairing houses, or those enjoying the sun and sand of southern Long Beach Island. Untitled

Houses that I saw in the start of their building process (after seeing their predecessors sit in ruin be removed) were closer to finalization. Rather than timber frames, crews wrapped up putting on railings and nailing in woodwork.

UntitledOther houses looked as they did almost two years ago – untouched, battered, and appeared abandoned. No stairs to take people inside, and no sign of any attempts to repair; these Untitledocean front properties looked forgotten.

New and rehabbed houses also sprung to life in the town. Either newly built and/or rehabbed, or slapped with a fresh coat of paint, these houses were stunning. They stood as if nothing had happened here – no storm – nothing. Beautiful to see, but with the memory that what is here today may be gone tomorrow.

UntitledThis also highlighted another issue that probably isn’t as prevalent in Holgate. Most of these houses are second homes, rentals, and other forms of investment property. These aren’t primary homes that were lost to the storm. These aren’t the houses that haven’t seen Hurricane Sandy funds payed or had issues with insurance paying out on premiums. That’s the true and ongoing tragedy of this storm.

This will be my last Hurricane Sandy visit to Holgate. Perhaps another visit in October 2015?


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Trolley Car Graveyard

UntitledToday’s trip was much needed. Just walking around with the camera helped a bad few days seemingly disappear (albeit just for a few hours). After waking up earlier than the body wanted it to, I was off. The goal? A trolley car graveyard. UntitledPulling onto the site, I was met with train cars. These weren’t ordinary cars – they were trolleys, and at least upon entering, most of them had been flipped onto their sides.

I made my way to the back of the property with the 17-55, but quickly realized I should have gone wider. Vegetation had over grown the area, with some of it previously cut down. A machete might have been more beneficial than the maglite I usually take on these trips.

"Retired" SEPTA TrolleyRegardless of lens, the colours of these dilapidated and rusted old trolleys dotted the landscape. Multiple tracks of yesteryear’s memories from SEPTA, Boston MTA, New Hope/Lambertville were in various states of decay.

UntitledSome could be entered and explored, others? No steps – you could walk “into” the train at eye level because the metal had been eaten away and completely disappeared.The onsite shop had what I believed to be a jewel. From the years of visiting the Strasburg Railroad, I thought I’d seen another Pennsylvania Railroad car. Alas, it was a faux-PRR car – it’s roots were in New Hampshire and was only painted to look like what had become so familiar.

A few hundred miles and numerous hours on the road were completely worth it. Sites such as this don’t necessarily remind me of the decline in American production, but the things of yesteryear that haven’t been recycled, repurposed, or reused. A vacant industrial building could be a sign of jobs and goods that went overseas, never to return again. The trolley car grave yard? Nothing more than Untitledyesterday’s machinery being left to Mother Nature…

The entire set of photos can be seen here.


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