Category Archives: Destinations

Travel destinations

I almost died at Meat Cove

After exploring the Bay of Fundy, our next destination was Meat Cove. We heard of an interesting campground that sits on the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean and cove below. You are literally camping on the edge of the cliff. Sounded intriguing, so off we went.

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Meat Cove campground sitting on the hillside overlooking the cove.

It was an 8 hour drive, so we decided to split it across two days. The first was a lazy crawl to Linwood Nova Scotia with sightseeing along the way. We did enough sightseeing that we left at 11am, and arrived at Linwood 9 hours later. Most of the morning was nice, but toward late afternoon it started to rain once again.

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We found a small hidden turnout off the road and along the cliff overlooking the ocean. A perfect stop for lunch. There were many seals playing in the surf which made for a fun spectacle. If we were in a larger motorhome, as in the past, we would’ve had to pass by this great spot. I love the trade off on size versus convenience of the Class B RVs over larger versions.

The rain was on and off, but the issue was the wind that came with it.
30mph sustained with frequent gusts made for some white knuckle driving. We arrived fairly late at the campground, around 8pm, but the owners kept the office open for us. Very accommodating owners, greatly appreciated, thank you.

I loved the wind whistling through the windows during the night. With 25-30mph winds, there was plenty of it. But then again, I am one of those nutcases that you will find wandering around photographing during a hurricane. Stormy weather always fascinates me, and I try to experience it, albeit safely. Other than the heavy rocking of the RV that sometimes woke me up, I slept very well, helped by a full day or driving to tire me out.

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Another class B RV was here when we arrived. I noticed far more class Bs, and a distinct shortage of class As, while in Canada. The opposite of what I see in the US. Canada knows how to travel light 🙂

Linwood Campground was on a hill overlooking the harbor. A small campground, but clean and friendly. We didn’t see much of it, due to arriving late and then leaving first thing in the morning. Rather than have breakfast at camp, we like to find a nice place along the road with a great scenic view. We have the capability to do so in the Roadtrek, and it was one of the draws to a smaller RV versus something larger. So we take advantage of it whenever possible.

Oh yea, back to the topic, Meat Cove.

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One of the campsites at Meat Cove Campground is on the other side of this rock. A picnic table barely pokes out from behind the rocks. I wouldn’t want to have to walk to the bathrooms from this site at night. There may be a liability waiver that needs to be signed to camp on it.

The final portion of the drive to meat cove was adventurous. The road turned to a mix of dirt, gravel, and occasional paved sections. The paved sections were on the steeper sections to allow for better road conditions during the winter months. A few sections were literally driving along a very steep and long drop off. Important to keep your tires on the road and pay attention! Pot holes were everywhere.  Due to the rain and wind, everything was muddy.  It really felt more like off-road back country driving.

Wait, that is pretty much what we are doing!

Meat cove is in the middle of no where. My wife said it very well, “We are driving to the edge of the earth, and the top of the world”. Somewhat of an exaggeration, but the furthest tip of Nova Scotia high on a cliff sounds close enough.  I wouldn’t venture to Meat Cove in a anything larger than a Class B. While you could make it on the road to the campground, once you are there it’s really only big enough for cars, vans, and tents, and maybe a small class C up by the parking lot.

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Campfire overlook the cove. Wonderful sunrises and sunsets each day. Wind was constant being on the ocean and up high.

Now the ‘How I almost lost my life at Meat Cove’ story. Click bait? Not really, but maybe a little. Remember the rain and mud along the drive? The howling wind and rain the day before? Keep that thought.

After finally arriving and pulling into the campground, we needed to find a spot and park. We were directed to a great spot right on the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean. The attendant dropped the rope separating the camp area from the road. A nice grassy knoll with small tiered campsites. I put the van in drive and slowly crept forward toward the edge. Once the rear wheels left the dirt road, I might as well have been on a sheet of glass covered with olive oil. The rubber tires had no grip on the wet grass. I knew immediately what the problem was. While the rain stopped an hour or so ago, everything was still wet and slippery.

I skidded for nearly 20′ and stopped 10′ from the edge seeing nothing by ocean below me through the front windshield. I can’t tell you what it did to my heart rate, but my doctor would most likely tell me I just passed the cardio stress test. Luckily, my wife was outside the van and had no clue what just happened. Only later when she saw the skid marks coming back from the restaurant did she panic. And yes, the campground at “the edge of the earth, top of the world, in the middle of nowhere” had a restaurant. And surprisingly an very good one.

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Definitely got my heart pumping. After it finally stopped, I slowly rolled into the position where it now sits. Wet grass and tires from the rain caught me by surprise. The hill wasn’t that steep.

Nearly on the very edge, I had two choices. Either abandon the idea and let it sit, or continue on. I’m adventurous, so you know what I did. But I am also cautious. I sat for a minute to evaluate my predicament, then unbuckled my seat belt, cracked open the drivers door, and proceeded very slowly to the left and get the van sideways to the to drop off. Any hint of sliding and I was bailing out.

Luckily, it slowly rolled into place without further incident. I was level and safe. Emergency brake, wheel chocks, and the van isn’t moving until we got a couple days of sun to dry out the grass. And we did, several days of sunshine and great sunrises and sunsets from our perch. The weather was perfect for the rest of our stay there.

This part of the trip was worth every penny, inconvenience, hours on the road, and accelerated heartbeats. No obstructions between us, the ocean and cove below, and Newfoundland in the distance. You couldn’t walk around the campfire pit since the back side is on the edge of the drop off. Needless to say, midnight walks after an evening of adult beverages are not recommended.

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Some of the campground sites behind us, and the cottages in the background.

A very unique campground in a very unique location. Spectacular views, no services per se, yet a restaurant that had the feel of any decent restaurant in town. Water is available at a single tap for the whole campground. No electric, no dump station, no other services. They did have showers which was nice, although they are in a building mimicking a 1950’s back country hunting shack. Pretty rough, but the water was warm!

Most class As or Cs are likely to bottom out coming off the road and into most of the campsites, so not recommended. It literally is a campground built on a sloping hill on the cliffs to the ocean. Which makes it unique and precarious, but great nonetheless.

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1500 miles ago, the van was clean and shinny. The rain washed off most of the mud and dirt, but the trip from Massachusetts to the tip of Nova Scotia still shows. The bugs on the front of the van may never come off.

The sunsets and views were so spectacular, we extended our stay for an additional day. Then another. Considered it yet again, but did have other interests we wanted to pursue. Next year, we will book a week and just stay.

Just you, the ocean, and spectacular views. Roughing it done right. A unique place worth the travel time to get there.

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So peaceful. This was a common activity.

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Another great morning sunrise to start the day.

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This never gets old.

 

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Bay of Fundy

Arrived in Alma New Brunswick, Bay of Fundy National Park, and stayed at Chignecto Campground. It was our base camp for the next few days of exploring.

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For the most part, we were greeted with great sunrises and sunsets throughout the trip.

During the days we explored around Alma, Bay of Fundy, and Cape Enrage. The evenings usually ended with a sunset, a Manhattans and Lindt chocolate around the campfire, and an episode of a new series we started to watch called “The Americans”. Basically Russian spies posing as an american couple living among us and carrying out KGB operations. Done well, and interesting.

One morning I drove to the Bay of Fundy overlook at 5:30am for a sunrise, as the weather forecast was heavy morning fog. I had hoped to catch the fog lying below the overlook as the sun rose in the distant. I was disappointed as there wasn’t a spec of fog anywhere. Just a mediocre sunrise that morning.

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View from dinette in the van with the doors open. Had breakfast here while planning our destinations for the day.

So we headed off to sight-see and found a nice spot overlooking a marsh area to have breakfast. Then headed to Cape Enrage where there were some very nice scenic spots to hang out, hike, and enjoy the day.

At one point we were driving slowly on a hillside road that dropped off to the ocean below enjoying the scenic vista. A bald eagle flew nearby and was nearly pacing us hovering in the wind about 50’ outside my drivers window. The sensation was as if I was flying beside him. I reached for my video camera just as he started a slight left turn away from us, and then descended to the cove below. An opportunity for an outstanding image vanished.

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Lunch stop along the way. New Brunswick.

Later in the day we found another scenic spot to stop and have lunch. We lingered there for a while just enjoying the view, warm temperatures, and cool breeze.

We traveled along a nice scenic drive, captured a few good photos, and walked along the bay as the tide was out. I met a woman, Liz, who had been traveling for the last three weeks in the areas we were heading to. She gave me some great tips on out of the way places. She also reaffirmed that heading up to Meat Cove was worth the effort. That was our next destination.

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Restaurant view during dinner in Alma harbor during low tide.

Here are some images from the areas explorations.

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Alma Harbor, low tide. Looking down on the boat from the dock 15′ above.

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Low tide, Alma Harbor

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Leaving Cape Enrage. Stopped to check the map for another destination.

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Another roadside breakfast.

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5:00 am rise, only for a mediocre sunrise and no fog 😦

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Fundy National Park welcome center at sunrise

Wildwood NJ – Morey’s Piers

Wanting to take a trip with my son before he starts his new job, we decided to head a little south and cruise some of the boardwalks and amusement parks along the Virginia and New Jersey shores. Other than the fact New Jersey and I don’t get along, it was a great idea. But every time I visit New Jersey, something unpleasant happens.

This trip didn’t disappoint in the department, but thats a whole other story. I’ll keep it positive and refrain from bashing New Jersey. The state does have it’s good points.

One of the stops along the trip was Morey’s Piers. Long boardwalk, lots of cheesy souvenir shops, unhealthy food, rides that will leave you feeling ill, whats not to like.

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Entrance into the amusement park area

 

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A very nice tribute to our veterans

We found a parking spot 2 blocks from the beach, and used that as our home base. The Roadtrek serves in that capacity nicely. It’s a nice retreat to sit and relax in the air conditioning and beat the heat and humidity between the morning and evening activities. We wandered around for a few hours in the morning and early afternoon, then retreated to the Roadtrek for a hour or so break, then back out for the evening.

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Overlooking the entrance area from an upstairs bar

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One of the rides at the park

I love wandering around and taking photographs in well light areas as night. Urban streets, amusement parks, concerts, and so on. The lighting is always interesting and moody, which makes for good photographs.

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I’ve never seen a two level carousel before

I shared my camera with my son, and give him an impromptu course in night photography. Balancing the available lighting with shadow details, color correction, adjusting aperture and shutter speeds and the effects each would have on the image. He enjoyed it, and created some very nice images.

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Another one of the roller coasters

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A vertical ride with the ferris wheel in the background

The weather cooled off in the evening and it was quite pleasant. We browsed the gift shops and picked up a t-shirt or two. Decent burgers for dinner at a diner overlooking the boardwalk for good people watching.

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Along the boardwalk

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Lots of games of chance along the boardwalk

We left a few internal parts of our wallets on the games of chance. Kind of like the lottery, fun to play, but you’re most likely to walk away empty handed. Although Eric did manage a small score.

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And if so inclined, end you evening with a tattoo to memorialize the day

We did a few of the rides, but mostly just hung out together, walked, talked, and enjoyed the ambiance. With him moving for his new job, and starting his career, I knew it was going to be a ‘Cats in the Cradle’ scenario for the foreseeable future. It was good quality time over the 4 day trip. The only down side was returning to our campground one night only to find our entire campsite had been stolen. Grill, chairs, wet towels, partly full gallon of water, level blocks, and ground matt. Who does that!

Did I say New Jersey and I just don’t get along?

 

Beijing Blues

While on a work trip to China, I also had a list of personal photography I wanted to accomplish. I arrived in the country on a nice sunny afternoon. Checked in the hotel, got settled, everything unpacked and charging. I had a free day before my work commitments and I wanted to take advantage of it.

The next morning I woke up, ready to bounce around Beijing. I looked out the window and the excitement plummeted.

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Day 1, First Light in Beijing

I felt a strong need to gasp for air. This can’t be real.

There was a haze of pollution that could be cut with a knife. This continued for the first couple of days I was in China and I wasn’t sure when, or if, it would clear.

I tried to use it to an advantage as best I could. Once the sun had risen, some of the haze dissipated, some nice images could be taken using the haze and sun creatively. Not as expected, but lemonade from lemons.

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View from my hotel room in Shanghai

It finally cleared on my fourth day and the haze didn’t return during my trip. I had heard of the pollution prior to arriving, but never expected it to be this dense. Even my haze filter looked as me and threw up its threads as if to say “What do you expect me to with this mess!”.

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Sometimes you just need to play the hand dealt. I did manage to create a nice series of ‘China Smog’ images, and overall the trip was a success. I’ll post a series of images from my China trip in the near future.

Night Photography – Desert Ridge Resort AZ

Balancing available and natural lighting can make or break a night image. In situations such as skylines, lighted buildings, interiors with exterior window views, photographers rarely have the control over the lighting, except in commissioned situations, and even then not always. So timing is crucial.

The best time to balance the natural sky and available lighting is an hour or so before sunrise or after sunset. During this time the sky will balance well with most normal lighting used for exterior scenes, and create a pleasing backdrop for the subject matter.

The following are a few quick images I took while at the Desert Resort in AZ. I had no control over the lighting at the resort, but they do illustrate what can be accomplished with no added lights and good timing.

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One of the earlier images, the sky is almost too bright to suggest a true night shot.

Overall, the balance between the sky and the ambient lighting is good. Although the color doesn’t really suggest a night image. This was kind of a cheat shot, as the lighting is coming from the distant city lights. When you have no control over the lighting, you take what you can get.

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If allowed, a couple of lights to illuminate the foreground would really enhance this image.

The sky in this image is balanced well, and makes for a nice effect. It might be a little bright, but if I darkened the sky the foreground elements would also darken. Waiting a little longer would darken the sky and improve the image without effecting the foreground elements.

Unfortunately, in this area the trees were not lit as was the case in other areas in the resort, and thus lack detail and interest. That really kills this image for me. But I like the balance between the pool, distant buildings, and the sky.

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Good balance between sky and building. Foreground a little dark and needing supplemental lighting.

This image was taken a few minutes later in the evening, better balancing the sky and ambient lighting. The sky is deeper in color, and stars are visible. I’m not really fond of the composition, the umbrellas, and darker foreground and uneven light in the pool.

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A nice image, but could be better with control over lighting

Overall, this is a well balanced image with regard to the sky and ambient lighting. I would have loved to back light the water falling, add some foreground lights to accentuate the structure. Some of that can be performed in post, but having the ability to add lighting would clearly enhance this image.

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Sky getting darker and darker as the evening progresses.

Almost past its prime, the sky is loosing detail, color, and falling toward black. Any later in the evening, and the results would be less than ideal. I do love the trees lighted as they are, and the balance with the buildings in the background. I would have loved to move the chairs hiding the pool and cluttering the right side of the image, adding more on the trees.

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Taken later in the evening, the sky is almost black and lacks interest.

I wish I had time to shoot this composition earlier when they sky was brighter. The sky is too dark for my liking, and I didn’t have an opportunity to re-shoot it as I was due on a plane the next morning.

It was hard to wander around this resort taking photographs without the ability to have more control. Adding some lighting here and there would enhance the existing lighting and accentuate some of the water features and landscapes.

Needed a few days for creativity

When you feel like you are in a creative slump and have work that requires you to be on your game, sometimes a change of scenery and pace is all the kick you need. And this place kicked for sure. Steps to the ocean from where I camped, the sound of breaking waves lulled me to sleep, and a constant breeze blew through the van. It was a welcome retreat for a few days of script writing and video editing.

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Setting sun over Horseneck Beach

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Setting sun over Horseneck Beach

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Camping steps to the ocean, cool fall temps kept any bugs away.

Horseneck Beach is located in southern MA just east of Cape Cod in Westport MA. It’s great during the early spring and late fall as you avoid the summer crowds. Not as nice as Assateague Island National Seashore where I literally camped on the sand and had a 1/2 mile of beach all to myself (early spring). But it was uncrowded and there were few people on the beach. There is a reasonably nice campground with a modern bath house, but no on site hookups. For the oceanfront sites, each has a private path to the ocean which is steps away.

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Day 3, an even better sunset!

After a couple days of a good solid peaceful environment, lots of work done, its time to head back 😦 However, I returned with my wife the following week to spend some quality time together 🙂

 

Assateague Island National Seashore

Here are some random images I shot while exploring the beaches at Assateague Island National Seashore. I primarily used my EM5 and iPhone6, which ever was at hand. I stayed for 3 nights and rarely saw anyone else on the beaches. Days were reasonably warm in the mid to high 60’s, nights were cool in the low 50’s.

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Sand dunes along the stretch of Rte 12 between Ocracoke and Point Beach. A mad dash to catch the last ferry to Hattares, then on to Assateague. I loved this stretch of road.

I was lucky to snag an oceanfront campsite. I had no reservations and wasn’t planning on spending more than one night on my trek by to Boston. When I got settled into the campsite, saw the gorgeous beaches, lack of people, I went back and reserved a few more nights. How could I not!

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A quick stop at a beach along Rte 12 for lunch. Stormy skies, some drizzle at times.

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Always time for a quick selfie. Late afternoon at Assateague Island National Seashore.

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Along the beach at Assateague. A few other campers can be seen in the upper right.

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Assateague Island National Seashore. It was spring with hardly any visitors to be seen. I had miles of beach to myself for most of my stay.

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Ripples in the sand. Assateague.

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I love when the sun has just set, and the pastel colors appear.

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The view from the Van at my campsite. Just steps to the beach just over the sand dune.

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The view from the other side of the sand dune from my campsite.