People + trains + planes = maximum fun

16 December, 2018    People + trains + planes = maximum fun

Jose, Jackie, me, Evelyn – Copper Canyon restaurant, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, Friday, 14 December, 2018


That’s Evelyn’s longtime friend Jose on the left, then her sister Jackie, then me, then Evelyn Friday evening at dinner. We all wish you could have joined us! But it would have been a squeeze – the restaurant was not sprawling. “Cozy” is a much more appealing adjective on a cold December evening, and that’s what it was. We were having dinner at the Copper Canyon Atlantic Highlands, the restaurant inside the Blue Bay Inn.

These stones were holding open the pages of the guest book at the Blue Bay Inn:

Caption unnecessary – just read the words:


The next morning was cold and damp and gray but no rain, so we went out walking on the piers. We looked at buffleheads (seriously!) and seagulls and dogs and water and boats and people and shattered clam shells the gulls drop. We took a break mid-pier for a selfie:

Evie’s warm heart takes away the chill



We also celebrated over the course of our wonderful weekend with several other friends and family members. I wish I’d photographed them all! Besides Ev’s sister Jackie and their friend Jose and me we visited Evelyn’s Mom (also Evelyn!), who graciously hosted us all in her home. The same home where Evelyn was born and raised! Evelyn took this picture in their backyard Tuesday morning:

Evelyn’s Mom’s backyard – #noplacelikeit



We met Evelyn’s friends Lynn and Ben Saturday for  a snack at a place called The Flaky Tart (hard to beat that name), also in Atlantic Highlands. I don’t recall what this was called, only that I thought “OMG” when I looked at it, and the entire time I ate it. Sadly, I was unable or unwilling to restrain my voracious appetite and it didn’t last long. See how awesome it looks? It tasted like 1,000x better. It was worth the trip by itself:

From the Flaky Tart. I have no idea what it’s called. Make up your own name. It is beyond compare.










I left a picture out! This was inside The Flaky Tart:

Wise words inside The Flaky Tart:

Evelyn’s  friend Ben makes handcrafted soap, body butter, and lip balm. Everything is created with his family in mind so only the purest ingredients are used. It all smells fresh and amazing and is a joy to use! This is a picture of his white tea and ginger soap (Ev’s favorite) from his web site. Look on his web site to see this and more at Tropical Bath and Body:

Ev’s friend Ben’s Tropical Bath and Body white tea and ginger soap


There were (of course) trains involved too. I snapped this picture as I crossed the tracks at Amtrak Staples Mill station around 8:00 Friday morning:

Ready to leave Richmond early Friday morning.


And it practically seems like another lifetime on another planet, but I took this picture before I went flying Tuesday morning:

Tuesday morning before engine start. Planes fly better in cold air – not even kidding


We’d planned a lot of landings – we had nine airports on our flight plan. But some small airports hadn’t cleared their runways after the big snow. We’d come over the airport at around 3,000 feet and see a long unbroken white stripe – an unplowed runway – and shrug and fly to the next airport. Where generally we’d see a long unbroken black stripe – a plowed runway – and we’d land. I immediately thought “black runways matter.” Because that’s the only kind we could land on!

Here’s a picture flying over Buggs Island Lake:

Flying over Buggs Island Lake


Chase City Municipal Airport had a black runway (thank goodness) so we landed and I went in to get a stamp. There was no one at the airport – I don’t know who plowed it – but I went in and got my passport stamped. The stamp is always inside. After I stamped my passport I turned around to go back to the plane. I took this picture before I made a second set of footprints heading back out to the plane:

Path to the plane


Flying is phenomenal every single time I do it, and so is riding Amtrak. But spending a wintry weekend with Evelyn and her sister Jackie and her mother Evelyn and their friends Fred, Jose, Larry, Lynn, Ben was indescribable – “all true living is face to face.” Thank you Evelyn! And everybody else! I hope to see you again soon!

Much love,



Posted in Fun, ice, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Trains | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Peace and love, goat stew, Farmer’s Market, snowstorm – wow!  

9 December, 2018            Peace and love, goat stew, Farmer’s Market, snowstorm – wow!  

I am totally using this image without permission. I took a screenshot of my niece Aileen’s instagram page. Aileen drew the pictures of the foxes – probably foxes from near her family home in rural Maryland. I know nothing about this picture or this quote, except that she drew the pictures of the fox, and she chose this wonderful quote from the late, great, Johnny Cash. Check out this level of talent:

Thank you Aileen! I hope you don’t mind that I used this!


This was the first thing I saw at work Wednesday morning – this great blanket:



And we went to Whole Foods to get coffee, and the guy sitting next to me was wearing this hat, and I showed him the blanket picture (above) and asked if I could photograph it. He enthusiastically agreed:



Evelyn and I had a late lunch/early dinner at Fresca that day and went window shopping down the street – and saw this mug. This is a wonderful season:



It’s a wonderful season for flying too. Ernest and I had a great flight Tuesday, we went to Franklin, Suffolk, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Newport News. It was flawless weather and we saw new sights everywhere we landed. Including in Norfolk, our lunch stop. The flight service there, Signature Flight Support, loaned us a car. We went to the MP Island Cafe in Norfolk and I had goat stew for lunch. Because they were serving it, and when will I have that opportunity again?

I took this picture when we were flying above Newport News:

4,500′ over Newport News Tuesday around lunch time


I took the picture above at 12:10 on Tuesday. Twenty minutes later we were walking near the runway at Norfolk International Airport (KORF) and looking at some military surplus aircraft parked behind a hangar. This is an old North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco:

Northrop Grumman OV-10 Bronco at Norfolk airport Tuesday


Our next stop was Chesapeake Regional Airport. Since I often indulge the geek/nerd aspects of my personality (they’re never far from the surface), I wanted to do a closeup of this fascinating plane that was parked in front of the airport. I have closeups but also limited blog space. And I could not resist the sky in this image. The plane is in the foreground in the center. It’s an Aerofab Inc. Lake 250 Renegade seaplane. I love this image – the plane and the clouds and the sky:  

Lake 250 Renegade seaplane Tuesday at Chesapeake airport. And look at that sky! 


And Mackey and Turner and I went to the South of the James Farmer’s Market here in Richmond to pick up maple syrup from our favorite Highland County maple syrup operation, Back Creek Farms.

Mackey, Turner and me at the Back Creek Farms maple syrup stand at the South of the James farmer’s market yesterday


I got a GIANT Oatmeal Cream Pie (they call them “OCP’s”) from tABLEspoons by the next move program. It fueled me up to go home and cut the grass for the last time in 2018. Mostly to mulch in the leaves. So check out this OCP:

They say “OCP”; I say “OMG”


I gobbled it down and cut the grass. Here’s my front lawn yesterday afternoon:

My front yard yesterday afternoon; I just cut and mulched it, fueled by OCP OMG


Same picture almost precisely twenty-four hours later:

Grass cutting to snow shoveling in <24 hours


Anyway. So in between those two pictures, Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I took a quick, snowy three mile hike at Pony Pasture. This was before the snow began in earnest:

Mackey, Turner and Yuki at the river this morning. “Yuki” is Japanese for “snow” – seriously!


There was a moderately large herd of whitetails stamping around in the snow near Charlie’s Bridge. The photography conditions weren’t great; this was the only image I got. Maybe next week will be better. If I don’t say that every week I certainly think it every week:

Snowy whitetail at Pony Pasture this morning


I hope your week’s been wonderful! I hope next week is even better! All best, 



Posted in Birds, Dogs, Fun, goats, James River, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), whitetail deer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


2 December, 2018            Cheerful 

It’s hard (for me, anyway) to look at this picture and not feel cheerful.


That’s my old friend KD; we were hiking at Deep Run Park in western Henrico County Friday before lunch when we came across that sign in the woods. You may recognize KD’s kind smile from a blog post where it was featured prominently in 2014. If you missed that post or want to see it again, it has nine more images of KD; he’s smiling that much or more in most of them. Take a look again, it’s like the sun comes out: smile

The title for this post came from a chat I had with my brother Kevin many years ago when his three daughters were very, very young. I’d been hiking with them or running around outside or something and I remarked to him later that they were fun kids to be around. He just nodded and said, “they’re cheerful.” That is a nice, nice adjective. They were indeed cheerful, and KD was cheerful, and the thing about being with cheerful people is, it makes you cheerful too. What’s not to love?  

I got a picture this morning at the river with my phone that came out better than I’d anticipated. Unfortunately, our big buddy Yuki (the white German Shepherd) who normally joins us for our Sunday hikes was unavailable so it was just me, Mackey, Turner and our two friends Lola and Luna. The only color here is Turner and Lola (both on the right). Everything else is black or white or somewhere in between: 

Monochrome river this morning. Mackey on the left, then Luna, then Turner then Lola.


Earlier this week I was going to title this blog post, “I got to fly a new plane this week!” and use this for the first picture:

Beechcraft T-34C Turbo Mentor at KJGG (Williamsburg Jamestown airport) 


I just didn’t get to fly that new plane. I got to fly this new plane:

Tecnam P92 Eaglet – I actually got to fly it!


And when we landed at Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (KJGG) the T-34C was parked on the ramp. The pilots were inside in their flight suits, having lunch at Charly’s Airport Restaurant. Ernest (my flight instructor) and I ate there too – you should go if you’re in the area. If you’re in the vicinity, you should stop for a meal – even if you’re not flying. Just drive in if you’re going to Busch Gardens or William and Mary or something. Great place to eat. Great view of the runway too. 

The first plane is a Beechcraft T-34C Turbo Mentor, a Navy and Marine Corps flight trainer. Civilians don’t fly it. The second plane – the one I did fly for the first time – is a Tecnam P92 Eaglet and it was really fun to fly. The Cessna 172 I normally fly is really fun too – there’s nothing about flying I don’t love. But it was a great experience to apply the seventy or so hours of instruction I’ve accumulated to a new type of plane. It was also fun to land at a new airport and eat at a new restaurant – what’s not to love?  

The light this morning at the river (as seen in the picture of the dogs) was monochromatic from start to finish. I took the picture of the dogs not long after we arrived, at around 9:00 AM. Between hiking and photographing deer and birds and dogs and more, the hike took just over two hours. The fog had not burned off even a little bit. When we got back to the parking lot, these two crows were perched in the top of a tree. Perfect day for shooting all black birds:

Two crows at Pony Pasture this morning. I should have tried a cardinal.


Yuki did come over later today – after Mackey and Turner got home from the river. I think he was hoping they’d play but they fell asleep in front of the fire. I almost did too! Yuki’s a shepherd; they keep an eye on things. Thank goodness our front door is red – a little color!:

He barks at the UPS truck but not FedEx. I think the white truck looks more familiar.


The next meeting of the Wildlife Center of Virginia Wildlife Book Club will be Tuesday (the day-after-tomorrow) evening at 7:00 PM. It meets every other month on the first Tuesday at 7:00 PM. You should log on Tuesday night and check it out. Especially if you’re a reader or an outdoors lover or both. You don’t have to be a member of anything, there’s no cost or log in fee, no passwords, nothing. You also don’t have to read the book – you can just “lurk” and see what it’s like.

Our book for Tuesday is Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird by Katie Fallon. I’ve just loved it and I’m really looking forward to Tuesday. Some of the books I don’t love that much and I skip book club but this one is excellent. If you click on Wildlife Book Club you can scroll down and see the list of the 26 books the club has read since August of 2014. It’s a nice list, very creative and comprehensive – I’m always excited to hear what they come up with next.

I’m a little thin on content this week, I apologize. I just scrolled down here and realized I have a pano of when Ernest and I were at Williamsburg Tuesday. They warp the perspective but in bright light (unlike today) with a lot of space (like at an airport), the results are good. I’ll close with it in a second.

The first time I flew into (and out of) Williamsburg airport with my friend Pat’s son Daniel – as I’ve mentioned umpteen times. Daniel was an instructor there and we flew from Williamsburg to Tangier in a Cessna 172. Pat and I were passengers on that trip; I was fascinated by flying but mostly by watching the ground and water and sky go past, and by the experience of flying in a light plane – it is 100% delightful 100% of the time. That blog post has twelve pictures on it, and a variety of different subjects. But mostly flying and Tangier. Have a look here: I went flying yesterday! . Meanwhile, a bright pano from Tuesday, and I hope I’ll see you next week! All best,


Williamsburg Jamestown airport – KJGG



Posted in Birds, Cessna 172, Dogs, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Wildlife Book Club, Wildlife Center of Virginia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Giving thanks for great luck (luck counts too!)

25 November, 2018            Giving thanks for great luck (luck counts too!) 

This picture (of a Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum), was 100% luck (11:40) 

I got two pictures of that Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) before it vanished, and that was one of them. That’s luck. It’s really, really good luck, and I got the picture because I was hiking in the woods with my camera on Thanksgiving, but it’s still luck. I took that picture at 11:40 on Thanksgiving. We kept walking, and I took this picture eleven minutes later at 11:51:

Deer 11:51

It’s not an award winning image (I call my favorite shots “magazine covers”) but I’m always happy to see a deer. 

Speaking of non-award winning pictures that I’m still always happy to take, look what was in the dumpster in the parking lot when I threw some trash in. I took this picture seventeen minutes after the deer at 12:09: 

Raccoon 12:09

Obviously the background is not something you’ll see in a nature documentary, but we see them where we see them. I took a 27 second video of it munching away on its Thanksgiving dinner down there. It’s not an attractive background, but you get a good view of what it looks like when a raccoon is eating. He’s drinking the last drops of a venti no whip pumpkin spice three pump latte. I’m kidding. It’s some sort of plastic bottle with who knows what inside. But the raccoon is industrious about getting it out. I have no idea what this animal’s gender is:

Also on Thanksgiving – all the same day – I finally got my first buffleheads of the year. I apologize (yet again) for the inferior quality of this image. But I am fond of buffleheads. More soon, but here’s my first one of the season – a male:

My first bufflehead of 2018 – on Thanksgiving Day

When I began thinking about “luck” as it relates to this post, I was thinking about that cedar waxwing – images like that with me are pure luck. And I’d gotten the bufflehead a few minutes earlier, and the deer and the raccoon in quick succession afterward. But deer and  bufflehead and raccoon (in a dumpster!) photography at Pony Pasture don’t take much luck – you can pretty much just show up and get those pictures.

But at 4:30 Thanksgiving afternoon Evelyn and I fed the dogs and drove out to my brother Kevin’s house in Doswell for our family Thanksgiving. And I was looking at my siblings and my nieces and my in-laws and our friends and all that food and thinking this is lucky. Because I’m from a family of seven, and they’re all excellent human beings, and that is pure luck. I  did nothing to make that happen. I just got lucky. I sure am thankful for it!  

I was lucky when I rode my bike Monday afternoon there were no insects swarming out of this nest. This is the time of year when hornet’s nests become visible – all the leaves are off the trees. They’re also empty or dormant, or they have been so far. I’ve found hornet’s nests in autumn many times. I posted one earlier this year (on Sunday, January 14) and my wise friend Kim taught me these are Bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nests. And that they’re not “true” hornets – they’re actually yellow jackets. But this is just the nest – about eighty feet in the air and (I presume) unoccupied:

Bald-faced hornet’s nest in West Creek Monday, 11/19/2018

I was planning to fly Tuesday but it didn’t come together. First the Cessna 172 I normally fly was in the shop, so I began preflighting N2551U, a Piper Warrior. It’s very similar to a Cessna 172, but unfortunately this one had another similarity – it went into the shop. So on our third try we pre-flighted a Tecnam P-92 Eaglet. I’ve pre-flighted Cessna 172’s dozens of times so I’m able to do it quickly and efficiently. But I’m slower with the other two. Finally we were ready to fly the Tecnam and we went inside to get a weather briefing. The wind had come up and there were 19 mph gusts. My instructor Ernest decided (wisely) that we should fly another day. So we will. He told me something about his decision that I wouldn’t have thought of. Let’s say we were landing into a 19 mph gust and we’re coasting in about fifteen feet above the runway and the gust stops. We’d drop like a stone. I’d never thought about the problem from the wind stopping – I only thought about the gust itself. Fascinating.

Here’s the Piper Warrior I preflighted first:

Piper Warrior I preflighted and almost flew Tuesday

Here’s the Tecnam I’d planned to fly. If it hadn’t been so windy!:

Tecnam P92 Eaglet I’ll get to fly another day

I later learned another fact that I’m sure contributed to Ernest’s not wanting to fly in the Tecnam in the wind. I went home and read up on it and learned it weighs less than half as much as the Cessna. The Cessna’s I’m used to flying weigh 2,550 lb. The Tecnam weighs 1,212. Isn’t that incredible? Just look at those two numbers and think about the way a 19 mph wind gust would affect them. We can fly again next week! 

Meanwhile – if anyone is interested – I use a program called ForeFlight to plan my flights. It’s remarkable – it accounts for everything. Altitude, speed, direction, weather, fuel, wind, runways, it is mind-bogglingly comprehensive. Tuesday we had planned to fly to four new airports to get my Aviation Ambassador passport stamped. We’ll do it another time. But this is the course I’d set up: 

My planned course to get my next four passport stamps















I keep thinking every week is the last week for flowers, but Evelyn keeps getting more from our yard. These nasturtiums are from this week:

Saturday it’ll be December! Look at those flowers!


I hope your Thanksgiving week’s been great, and next week’s even better. And come back next week! All best, 


Posted in Birds, buffleheads, cedar waxwing, Cessna 172, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, Pony Pasture, Raccoons, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), whitetail deer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

God must love common people…

18 November, 2018        God must love common people…

…because he made so many of them. Or so I’m told. You could say the same thing about common birds – like this robin I saw Friday at Deep Run Park: 

It is always cheerful to see a robin


Speaking of common animals, here’s one we see most days in most places. Or I do anyway:

It’s not as cheerful (for many of us) to see a squirrel. But they’re handsome little creatures


It’s been a tame week. It’s good to get some rest before Thanksgiving! But I didn’t get much in the way of pictures. So, of course, here’s a pair of Red-tails from Monday:

Red-tails are pairing up again now that the youngsters have moved on


I got a pair of pictures of the moon yesterday. Here it is at 3:40 PM, with information from an app called “World Clock”:

Moon 3:40 PM yesterday:


TMI #1





















So here’s the “TMI” (Too Much Information) part. See up there where it says “Altitude 15.01º”? If you’re at the beach looking straight at the horizon, that’s 0.00º. Directly overhead is 90.00º. So that moon was about 15º above the horizon and 70.9% full. It was also “waxing” which means it was growing. I took the next image about seven hours later at 10:30 PM. Here it is, followed by the data:

Moon 10:30 PM yesterday



TMI #2




















My brother Shane is reading E. B. White’s classic Stuart Little to my nephew Wesson; it’s Wesson’s first experience – Shane pointed out – with a book that actually has a protagonist. I guess as opposed to much younger books with contents like “A is for ‘Apple,’ B is for ‘Banana,’ C is for ‘Cat’ and so forth. So I reread Stuart Little this week too so I can have an informed conversation with Wesson about it. I recommend spending a little time reading Stuart Little; you can only feel happy when you do it.

Sorry about the thin content this week! Hopefully I’ll be more productive between now and next Sunday. I know I’ll eat a lot! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and an excellent week,


Posted in Rivers | Leave a comment

“All true living is face to face” – Albert Schweitzer

11 November, 2018            “All true living is face to face.” – Albert Schweitzer

My brother Kevin and my brother Shane’s wife Kristin both finished the Anthem Richmond Marathon half marathon yesterday. Over seven thousand people were in the race. And Kristin and Kevin finished twenty-four seconds apart!! That is astounding – I’m sure they never saw each other the whole race. If you’d like to know which one was twenty-four seconds ahead, you’ll have to step up and do some true living and ask them face to face! Or you can be a computer nerd like me and google it.

Shane and Kristin and Wesson and Teagan and Tara stayed at Kevin and Jenny’s house in Doswell, but they came to town and had pizza with Evelyn and me and Mackey and Turner and our friend Ariel and her dog Yuki. Who you  may recognize as the handsome white German Shepherd who goes to Pony Pasture with us on Sunday mornings. It was hard to wrangle those seven people and four dogs to get a picture, but here’s one attempt:

Yuki on the left, then Shane, Kristin with Teagan on her lap, Ariel with wings spread, Evie, Wesson, me, Turner, Mackey – but no Tara! oops! Later. 


That picture is of most of the humans and dogs that were here yesterday evening. Shane set the camera up with the timer to get all of us at once. Wesson (on my lap) pressed the timer button and sprinted back just before shutter clicked. He’s the quickest and the most nimble and he threaded his way through the dog and furniture maze in the nick of time. Just like his mom Kristin and his uncle Kevin, that guy is fast

I recently finished a book called The Library Book by Susan Orlean. At one point she’s speaking with a librarian and he says  “Well, my hero is Albert Schweitzer. He said, ‘All true living takes place face to face.’” That line really jumped out at me. Even more when Shane and Kristin and their family and our friend Ariel and all those dogs were here yesterday – face to face! 

A friend just posted a perceptive (IMO) observation on her instagram page. It had a pretty picture with it, but not as pretty as this one. I’m going to post the picture (taken at 11:00 this morning at Pony Pasture) and use her quote for the caption: 

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” – Van Gogh


 We hiked nearly four miles this morning. It was so beautiful and cool and fresh, none of us wanted to stop. We crossed Charlie’s Bridge at one point; I asked the dogs to stop for a minute so I could take this picture: 

Mackey, Turner and Yuki on Charlie’s Bridge


Mackey knew Charlie but I don’t think the other two ever met him. Charlie was a serious dog guy and that scene would have made him real, real happy. Fortunately I’m also a serious dog guy and that scene makes me real, real happy!

The place my love of nature most often helps me find beauty is hawk hunting on my travels around the Richmond area. A Red-shouldered hawk nests near the place I work in Glen Allen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. I don’t get this bird (or its mate) every week, but it’s generally a reliable bird. I apologize that this picture has a little smudge in it. I got a crisper picture of this same bird (or its mate) Monday morning but it’s sitting on a building and not a branch. I shoot tons of raptor pictures on man-made structures, but give me a perch in a tree any day:

Wednesday morning Red-shouldered hawk in Glen Allen

  That (Wednesday) was a three-hawk day. I took the preceding picture at 9:00 AM. I left Glen Allen a few minutes later and was driving east on Patterson Avenue near St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church at 10627 Patterson. There is also a moderately reliable Red-tail that perches above the swamp across the street. I pull into St. Bart’s parking lot, walk to the edge of Patterson Avenue and photograph the bird perched on a snag just over the guardrail: 

Red-tailed hawk beside Patterson Avenue (same morning)


Wednesday was a good day for hawks. I went home after photographing this Red-tail and did a bunch of work at home. Later in the day – still Wednesday – I looked across the street at the powerline near Freeman High School and saw this male Red-tail keeping his eye on the area: 

Male Red-tail on the power line tower at Freeman High School


I took a “pano” at the river this morning. I haven’t had a ton of success getting these to work in the blog, but let me give it another whirl here: 

Pony Pasture Panorama – this morning around 11:00:


I voted Tuesday; I hope you also made it to the polls. 

Before I forget – one more picture from yesterday’s small collection. Tara was hidden in the last picture; Shane’s holding her here: 

Tara got left out of the first picture – here she is! In Shane’s lap! 


Evelyn still has our plants flowering – in November! I took this picture on Election Day. It’s a Pineapple Sage: 

Pineapple sage blooming in our yard on Election Day, 2018:


I hear a lot – a whole lot – about how spectacular the leaves are in Shenandoah and on Skyline Drive. It’s all true – I’ve seen them every year since I was around thirteen. But remember my friend’s quote from Van Gogh that I used with the river picture up there? I’m going to use it twice this post – it’s the caption for this picture too. I took it at 6:45 Wednesday morning on my way to work: 

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” – Van Gogh


Speaking of truly loving nature. I ran into a post on a sled dog facebook page this week. I understood the sentiment well: 


That is a good, good, good idea to remember. For snow, but for a lot of other things you might choose to not find joy in. 

I hope you find joy in pictures of my cat Dash, or at least can tolerate them. It’s hard not to take pictures of him sometimes. Here he was Thursday evening. When he’s not eating he wants either the fire or somebody’s lap. There were no laps available at this time: 

When there are no laps immediately available:


I haven’t mentioned flying and my passport this week but I got three new stamps, bringing my total to ten. Only 56 left! That is a lot of stamps. One of the airports we flew to this week was KGVE in Gordonsville. This is a classic old country airport: 

Hangar at KGVE, Gordonsville Municipal Airport 


Every airport has a “Welcome to Virginia” sign:

“Welcome to Virginia” – it greets you wherever you land


I’m getting carried away! Let me close it up. On the Virginia Aviation Ambassadors program web site, there’s a list of places you can find stamps if the airport is unattended. A lot of these small airport don’t have full-time staff, so the stamp is in a mailbox. Here’s the stamp inside at KLKU Louisa County airport: 

Stamp inside at Louisa (KLKU):


Self serve stamp in mailbox plus two spare pencils and a spider egg case

Come back next week! Enjoy yourself! All best,


Posted in Birds, cats, Cessna 172, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, red-shouldered hawks, Red-tailed hawks, richmond marathon, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two words about politics: I vote

4 November, 2018            Two words about politics: I vote

If you think our country’s doing well, vote to keep it this way. If you think our country needs change, vote to make it. But don’t be passive. Vote. 

Mackey. Turner and Yuki on the banks of the James River this morning:


Monday morning I saw an unprecedented (for me) three different varieties of hawks in less than an hour. Red-tails (you may be aware) are the raptor I photograph most. I got one of those but I’ll spare you. In second place is Red-shouldered hawks; I got a nice one Monday morning. But at the same time I was photographing the orange striped breast of the Red-shoulder, I rotated my gaze about 180º to the left and saw the white striped breast of what I thought for an instant was a Red-tail. They’re common. But as I looked more carefully I saw the distinctive long tail of a bird hunting accipiter. This was an immature  Cooper’s Hawk

Immature Cooper’s Hawk


I’d planned to fly Tuesday but the plane was having work done and it wasn’t ready. I was bummed that I couldn’t fly but I got to see the engine of a Cessna for the first time – incredible. I took my first flight over a year ago, I’ve flown nearly seventy hours, and never seen an engine! I got to spend a lot of time looking and learning Tuesday though. Here it is with the cover off. They ran it with the cover off too; it is really loud. When you’re flying, you always have your headset on so you don’t even hear it. Quite loud: 

Cessna 172 with the engine cover off


Speaking of flying – I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned – but the FAA is making it more difficult for me to get a license than I’m willing to do. But I can fly as many hours as I want with an instructor, and all the ones I’ve had (three) have been excellent. Flying with an instructor only costs about 35% more than renting the plane solo, so it’s not a huge deal. I’m going to keep flying for a while. 

I don’t have any flying pictures from this week – Tuesday was my only scheduled day. I’ll add a leftover from last week a minute or two after we’d taken off from Ocracoke: 

Climbing out over Ocracoke on a pretty day


The Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV) has a program called the Virginia Aviation Ambassadors Program. We have 66 airports in Virginia (including Dulles, etc) and each airport has a stamp. When you begin the program, you get a passport. I started on October 4, 2018 at (of course) Hanover County Municipal Airport (KOFP). Here’s my passport: 

My Virginia Aviation Ambassador Program passport









I’ve landed at and gotten stamps from seven of Virginia’s 66 airports. It’ll take me a while to finish the remaining 59. You’re allowed to drive to airports and get a stamp if flying is not a good choice for you; I may not fly to Dulles. Or Reagan. We’ll see. Here is the inside of my passport showing my stamps from Tangier (KTGI) on October 23 and Blacksburg (KBCB) on October 13:

Two of the seven stamps I’ve accumulated so far








As I mentioned earlier, I’ve flown nearly seventy hours and have around 120 takeoffs and landings. I’m competent at both. I’m improving on my navigation skills with every flight. Communicating on the radio with Air Traffic Control is the most difficult for me, but I’m slowly picking it up. All of my current hours are in a Cessna 172. When I get up to 100 hours – in December or January, depending on the weather – I’ll probably start learning to fly a Tecnam P92 Eaglet. After I’ve gained proficiency with that plane – maybe after 25 hours or so – I’ll see about flying a twin-engined Tecnam P2006T. But that will all happen in 2019. For the rest of 2018 I’m going to fly a little less but work on getting more stamps in my passport. 

This is our proposed path for our next flight – next time the weather’s clear enough to fly for a few hours and my instructor and I and a plane are all available at once. As I said, I currently have seven stamps in my passport. This flight will add five more.  We start in Hanover (KOFP) then fly to Orange County (KOMH) then an 8 mile hop to Gordonsville (KGVE). Another quick hop to Louisa (KLKU) then down to Chesterfield (KFCI). Then to Petersburg (KPTB) then home. Our literal plan is for me to do all of the takeoffs, landings, flying, navigation and radios. I’m not making this up – my instructor is going to sit on the taxiway with the plane while I run in, get a stamp and come back out. Fun!: 

5 stamp flight plan
























Meanwhile – flowers. Maybe a few more this week – we all hope – but outdoor flowers will be finished for 2018 soon. A pair of Evelyn’s incomparable nasturtiums and a pair of the Y’s breathtaking roses – enjoy! 

Evelyn’s wonderful nasturtiums (1)



Evelyn’s wonderful nasturtiums (2)


The YMCA’s incomparable roses (1)


The YMCA’s incomparable roses (2)



























VOTE! And come back next week! 

All best, 


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