Florida Trip 2011, Part 2

I headed back to the condo, taking I-95 back north from Stuart, which is free and then turned on Hwy 192 which goes west back to Kissimmee from the Melbourne area. I should have considered the time of day I was returning and then maybe common sense would have taken over, but apparently I was too tired to do that. The first 25 miles were fine and I made good time, but boy, when I got close to Kissimmee, traffic light after traffic light popped up out of nowhere, and you couldnt drive any further than one to the next for the next fifteen miles and within a few miles, I hit the eastern edge of the city limits and traffic became bumper to bumper very fast. It took an hour and ten minutes to drive those last fifteen miles…I was so glad I didnt have anyone waiting on me, seemed like it took forever….hence why I keep telling everyone, you couldnt PAY me enough to live down there….if you think traffic is bad where you live or work, you should take a few days off and go down there…what a wake up call that was….

Decided to try another Chinese Restaurant and found one just down 192 west of the resort entrance that was very good, buffet style again and very reasonable prices and nice scenery again. Once back at the resort, I walked around and shot a few night reflections of the lakes and buildings…

Night Reflection


Night Reflection 3


Night Reflection 4

..and one with the super moon out….


Super Moon Reflection

..the next morning, while walking over to the Town Center to check on my email again, I saw several hot air balloons flying from east to west….


..and they can be seen in the distance between the buildings here…

Balloons Fly Across Resort

..I then drove over to a little town called Mims, where I met up with a gorgeous young red haired babe named Aspen…I was lucky enough to be able to work with her Sunday morning at the home of one of her friends…I was interested in photographing her at the beach, however she wasnt available and so I had to settle for the home…but as luck would have it, it turned out to be a very nice home and had excellent window light and features…

Column Babe in Dress

She answered the door in a glamorous purple dress and silver high heels…talk about legs…wow….

Column Babe in Dress 2

…if you like these images, wait til you see the rest….in another section yes….worked with Aspen for two hours and then we headed back to the condo suite for a much needed nap…this time I traveled the toll interstate and made very good time…learned my lesson….and once back at the condo suite, laid down on the nice soft leather couch in the living room and drifted off to sleep…twenty minutes later I was JARRED awake by a loud screeching noise coming from the back area of the building…I rolled off the couch and walked back to open the blinds and look out…to see a live band right behind my suite and set up for the pool area…didnt see hardly anyone around or inside the pool, but apparently they had to have a live band playing on a Sunday afternoon….just great….another good reason I wish I had been able to get the nice quiet building for my suite…so my best advice to anyone who decides to go to a Westgate Resort…is DEMAND a quiet suite in a quiet building, that is if you want peace and quiet as I did on my trip….

By 4 pm I was headed over to Sea World to meet up with my Mom and Dad, and my sister JoAnn`s family,  to attend the Polynesian Luau dinner there….Mom had made all the arrangements and we were to meet outside the gate at 5 pm…we all arrived in plenty of time, several of them had spent the day at SeaWorld taking in the shows and rides…while my Dad, Brad, and Zach went to watch the Atlanta Braves play spring training baseball at the Walt Disney World of Sports close to where I was staying.

While waiting for the gate to open, we had about twenty minutes to wait, I walked over and photographed the dolphins in rehab, in a giant blue swimming pool….

Dolphins at SeaWorld



…these guys were quite cute to watch and photograph….

Dolphins at SeaWorld 5


Dolphins at SeaWorld 6

..and some of the would simply swim by and look you over while others would practically stand up and smile at you. 🙂

Dolphins at SeaWorld 7

..and they seem to swim in pairs sometimes too….

Dolphins at SeaWorld 9

..and these two dolphins were quite neat to watch….

Dolphins at SeaWorld 10


Dolphins at SeaWorld 11

…and then I walked back over to the gate and shortly after, we were ushered through the gate toward the entrance door to the theatre…we were first greeted by a few of the performers who ” leied ” us….

Hawaiian Performer Hands Out Leis

..he was standing in some beautiful foliage and plants, backlit by the setting sun behind him…

Hawaiian Performer Holds Leis

..we were then led inside the theatre and seated at dinner tables…we were down in front near the stage and we didnt have to wait long to order our food and drinks, and the show began shortly after that….

Polynesian Show Opening Show

..at the opening of the show, a few guys wander out on to the stage in colorful outfits and costumes, blowing into a large seashell to create a horn like signal…and the following images show you what we observed…a very good show to see if you are in the area…food was great and filling too….

Polynesian Show 3


Polynesian Show 4


Polynesian Show 5


Polynesian Show 6


Polynesian Show Drummers


Polynesian Show Female Dancer 2


Polynesian Show Female Dancer 3


..and a fire dancer came out and put on a great and safe show too….

Polynesian Show Fire Dancer 2


Polynesian Show Fire Dancer 3



Polynesian Show Fire Dancer 9


Polynesian Show Fire Dancer 12


Polynesian Show Hula Dancers


Polynesian Show Hula Dancers 2


Polynesian Show Hula Dancers 3


Polynesian Show Hula Dancers 5


Polynesian Show Hula Dancers Male


Polynesian Show Warrior 3


Polynesian Show Warrior Dance


Polynesian Show Warrior Dance 3


Polynesian Show Final Show


Polynesian Show Finale

You get a wide variety of food and dancing and lights and sound show, a great way to spend two hours and educational as well.

Missy and I headed home early the next morning, taking off about 4:30 am…stopping at this rest area in southern Georgia to let Missy stretch her legs and I snapped this image of this pretty Spanish Moss laden tree there…


Spanish Moss Laden Tree in Georgia

I thought I was going to have a shoot or two up in Illinois on the way home but the weather kind of nixed that…and originally I figured I would stop up near Nashville and spend the night, but as we got closer to Nashville, the weatherpeople were talking about thunderstorms to drive home in on Tuesday. I wasnt too tired and only six hours from home, and didnt really want to drive in thunderstorms, so I decided to drive on home and stayed on the interstate and up through Illinois and home. As we crossed the Poplar Street Bridge entering St Louis, I snapped this photo of the Arch and Riverfront, little shaky but I really liked it….

Arch and St Louis Skyline

Sixteen hours and even got in early enough to have supper at Cracker Barrel. All in all though, it was a good trip, brought back about 300 lbs of beautiful rocks and crystals, and took about 2500 photos. My prayers were answered with good weather, safe travel, and great fun with family and friends for all involved….doesnt get any better than that.

Florida Trip March 2011

My Mom decided back in the fall that she wanted to celebrate her ten year remission from cancer, in a warm and sunny location during the winter this year, and when my sister told her that she and Brad and my nephew and nieces were planning a trip to Orlando during spring break, Mom decided that would be the perfect time and place to go as well.  When she asked me to go with them, I decided it would be a great opportunity to do some rock and mineral collecting and some photo shoots as well. With the problems everyone was having getting through the airline security lines and anticipating taking my rockhounding tools with me, knowing what problems it would create, I opted to drive down instead. One night at work, I figured out the mileage roundtrip,  and figured out my fuel consumption would average out to the same cost as airline tickets round trip. So I planned my vacation the week before my Kentucky Mine Dig weekends, taking off eight days for the trip. Monday the 14th, we woke up to five inches of snow on the ground and I sure hoped this wasnt going to be a treacherous drive down, but my prayers were answered the next morning when Missy and I left town mid morning to a cool but sunny day.

I decided to take Highway 185 south through Potosi and Farmington over to I-55, as mapquest showed that to be twenty miles less than the normal route I take of I-44 to Eureka and then over to I-55 at Barnhart and Peveley. Unfortunately, I didnt check MODOT`s website regarding road construction and found out the hard way that Washington County road crews were replacing culverts on Hwy 185 not far south of town, and within fifteen minutes of departing town, I was soon rolling to a ten minute delay and then yet another ten minute delay at the second construction site only five miles further south near Indian Creek. After being assured there were no further road repairs going on along 185, I continued south and soon rolled down the ramp to I-55 south and headed south toward Sikeston. There I picked up I-57 east toward Charleston, where I normally take Hwy 60 over to the Illinois steel bridge over the Mississippi River and then the Ohio River bridge into Kentucky. However as I neared Charleston, I observed detour signs that indicated that the Illinois bridge was closed to all traffic, so I drove on to Cairo and crossed the Ohio River Bridge into Kentucky, stopping at Wickcliffe to grab something to eat and as I was paying for the food, the cashier told me that the bridge had suffered extensive damage from a barge hit and would likely be closed for a year due to repairs.

We continued east into Paducah and then south on I-24 toward Tennessee. I stopped in the Fort Campbell area to gas up, and found prices there a bit higher than up here, at 3.54 a gallon, and figured up that I was getting 25 mpg on the first leg of the trip down. We rolled through Nashville, first greeted by the heavy traffic around 3 pm and then the Batman Building came into view….


Batman Building Nashville Closer

The heavy traffic continued for about an hour south of Nashville, and the temps warmed up as we dipped south toward the Georgia line. We climbed up and over the curvy mountain range just north of Chattanooga and saw many waterfalls going up and coming down, one even shooting water out of a bluff wall about midway up…I didnt get a chance to shoot it nor the neat looking huge railroad trestle in the curve halfway up, but they were both very neat looking. I stopped a few minutes later tho, at a beautiful Tennessee rest area which sat on the Tennessee River, that backed up into a small lake there…and after letting Missy out to stretch her legs a bit, I snapped a few images of some nice sunbeams over the lake as the sun was beginning to set…


Sunbeams At Sunset Tenn Rest Area NF

…which just got better and better…

Sunbeams and Sunset Tenn Rest Area


Sunbeams At Sunset Tenn Rest Area

We got back on the road and picked up I-75 south just prior to darkness and I started down the mountain into Atlanta in full darkness…as I drove through the suburbs of Atlanta on 285, I discovered that southern people have a real fascination with truck drivers being pulled over by troopers, to the point that all five lanes of traffic come to a stop so the drivers can get a good look at it. I thought I had seen everything in Missouri…I was like whateva…..

We rolled into my buddy Tad`s driveway about 9:30 pm and stopped for the night…Roger and Tad graciously putting me and Missy up for the night in their beautiful home in Mableton. After Missy met their dogs, Tad showed us to our apartment in the finished basement and we sat and talked a bit so I could unwind a bit after the long drive down. He showed me my bedroom and inside was a beautiful four poster bed, that sat very high, the mattress coming up to my belly button, which would be approximately 48 inches high. He asked if I needed anything else and I said, ”  a stepladder maybe ? “….he said he could prob find one if I really needed one but I figured I could prob climb up just fine, and I was indeed able to. 🙂

The next morning Missy and I slept in a bit, and visited with Tad and checked my emails and then Missy and I headed over to Watkinsville, to visit with a new rock and mineral dealer friend, Chet Karwoski, who I had been talking to for about a year regarding the Diamond Hill Mine, and skeletal quartz specimens. Up to recent times, Chet had owned and operated the mine, only recently selling the mine to a friend of his, and we had discussed possibly trading some crystals, so I brought some poker chips and druse quartz down for him. We had agreed to meet mid afternoon and about 3 pm Missy and I arrived at his beautiful rural home and visited with him and his wife Gail, who is an author of childrens books. We talked about various mines and minerals and crystals a while before getting into the actual show and tell and trade. Chet has some gorgeous large specimens of skeletal quartz in his front yard, four of them shown below that required a small crane to place into position in his yard….

Large Skeletal Quartz Yardrock at Chets

..this one a very pretty specimen with both the iron oxice stained orange crystals and the black manganese coating on the crystals…

Large Skeletal Quartz Closeup

and this one a close up of the large specimen above…..

…we traded for some smaller crystals, most of them the pretty skeletal quartz, but I also selected a few of the amethyst and smokey quartz crystals too. 

Diamond Hill Mine used to be a neat mine with a huge tailing pile area to dig through that produces some very beautiful smokey quartz and amethyst crystals and huge plates and chunks, like those pictured above, of skeletal quartz. Its located about two hours north of Atlanta near Abbeville, South Carolina.  New ownership since my trip, has changed much of what it used to be since Chet sold it. Since I didnt have enough time this trip and since it had rained recently with the mud making it nearly impossible to dig there,  I decided I would come back, but have since then changed my mind.

Missy and I left early the next morning, before Tad and Roger woke up, and headed toward Orlando, hoping to arrive mid afternoon. We hit some construction stretches on I-75 through southern Georgia and quickly found out that most travelers driving through there, dont slow down for the construction zones, and if one does slow down for them, one can quickly get run over. It was also common to drive to nearly the end of the zones before coming up on crews actually performing work, and even then, the work crews were often located in the middle of the highway with a concrete wall between traffic and personnel and equipment, or way off to the side  and off the roadways. I really didnt understand the need to slow way down for that, since the crews were well out of the way of moving traffic.

We stopped in southern Georgia at a lovely rest area and I photographed some pretty trees with the Spanish Moss hanging off every branch, while Missy stretched her legs.

Moss Hanging From Tree in Georgia

..and its even found in some of the pine trees down there…and boy are there a lot of pine trees in Georgia….

Moss Hanging From Pine Tree


Moss Hanging From Tree GA Rest Stop

We took off and drove on down into Florida, and discovered in the northern part of Georgia that gas was a bit high priced, 3.68 a gallon, and I was glad I had filled up at Atlanta before leaving that morning, 3.43 a gallon there…as we drove down through Gainesville, where I stopped and filled the tank at 3.34 a gallon, the temps were quickly climbing into the 80`s. I called Mom to let her know the progress we were making and told her it was nice and warm down there too. I rechecked my mileage and discovered I was still getting 25 mpg even with the additional 200 lbs of rocks and minerals loaded up the day before at Chet`s.

We drove on down to Orlando, coming in the back way on Hwy 27 south from the Florida Turnpike, which I picked up just south of Ocala. The turnpikes I found out, dont cost alot of money and are very well maintained and nice to drive on. As we drove south on 27, we drove through several smaller cities and spotted a few brush fires as we approached the Kissimmee area, a couple of the fires looking like they were burning hot and heavy, columns of smoke visible for miles. I didnt have time to go check them out but did spot a fire station just off the highway near one of the fires, and saw that the doors were all open and not one truck left inside the station.

We arrived at the Westgate Resorts a few minutes later and entered the grounds past helpful and friendly security guards to the Town Hall and Welcome Center. I had talked to the condo suite owner, Steve Lebaron, on the way down and he had advised that I could likely check in early, as long as the resort had one of his suites cleaned up and ready to go by the time I arrived.  I parked out in front of the Town Center, locked Missy in the truck with the air conditioner on full blast, and walked in to the front desk and told the young lady there that I had reservations for a four day stay and would like to check in early if they had a suite available.

The Westgate Resorts is a time share Condo Suites Resort, one that has many activities for folks of all ages on their grounds, several buildings with condo suites of all sizes from a simple one bedroom suite to four bedrooms within each building on the property. At this particular resort, there were about sixty buildings on the property, several small lakes, about fifteen swimming pools, tennis courts, and a neat looking mini golf course that was laid out around the main lake behind the Town Hall, with statues of dinosaurs mixed in with the palm trees and putting greens. There were also a few deli`s and restaurants on the grounds, despite the many restaurants located on both sides of Hwy 192 not a half mile outside the entrance to the resort.  I took this image of the resort the next morning….

Westgate Resort Reflection

and the next image shows the mini golf course and one of the dinosaur statues as well as some of the unique swan looking paddle boats tied up at the dock on the far side of the small lake…

Westgate Resort Reflection 2

..and the next image shows many of the other buildings housing condo units….and the swan boats too….

Westgate Resort Reflection 3

…and even more buildings in the next image….

Westgate Resort Boats and Reflections

…well I wish I could say that the check in process was nice and smooth, but as warned by Steve, the Front Desk experience can be a nightmare and it was for me…all I wanted to do was check in, settle in, and get a short nap in before grabbing some dinner that evening. I was looking forward to checking into a quiet condo suite that Steve had arranged for me, yet the young female at the desk opted to instead assign me to a poolside suite…I`m guessing now that she must have been having a bad day and just decided to take it out on me by doing so. I pointed out to her that it was not the building that Steve had arranged for me and got nowhere FAST with her regarding it.

She then started to push the daily activities that are available there at the resort, but again, as previously warned by Steve, I informed her that my schedule was completely full for the four days there and I wouldnt need anything further from the resort except peace and quiet. The last part of my statement to her didnt seem to be heard or absorbed by her at all, as I later discovered. I was directed to a man down the counter, since she was having no luck getting me to accept the resort policy of adding activities to my schedule. I told him that I had no need for anything more than peace and quiet while there and he pointed me to yet another desk and I was informed that the young lady manning it would help me to my room. She turned out to be  a lot nicer to deal with than the first young female and him combined, and a young man who was with her, asked me for my room number and pulled out a map and showed me in great detail how to get to my condo suite and once she provided the keys,  I was on my way. My whole check in experience took about thirty minutes and I was looking forward to a nice shower and nap.

I drove over to the suite, the directions provided by the nice young man at the third desk accurate and detailed. I parked and took a few bags inside to check it out and turn the air on, then went back out and hooked Missy up and took her out of the truck and inside to get her settled in. It was a beautiful one bedroom suite, I quickly learned…

Bedroom and Living Room at Resort

..here is the living room and the bedroom can be seen to the left side in a separate room…

Bedroom At Resort

..and there was a spacious bathroom to the left of the bed, with two entrances, one from the living room and one from the bedroom, with a nice glassed walkin shower, jacuzzi tub, and sink and toilet….nice tiled floors and beautifully furnished…

Walkin Shower and Jacuzzi in Suite

..have to say I was quite impressed with the suite itself..just not the location of the suite…would have rather been in the quiet building that Steve had originally arranged for me to be in, as it was in a more quiet location and I`m sure I would have been happier and less stressed in it. One would think that a resort would do its very best to make visitors happy and put them where they want to be placed…its called Customer Service….but I`m beginning to think some businesses just dont have a clue what that term means anymore…or they dont care….

Well I stepped into the shower and turned the hot water on, and wow, let me tell you, I absolutely LOVED the shower nozzle in that walk in shower !!!  The water flowed thick and heavy out of that nozzle like a lava flow…it felt GREAT and just like a heavy duty jacuzzi spray would hit your back…so nice after my long trip down, that I just stood there and let it flow down on to my shoulders and down my back…felt so good, I just couldnt move for several long minutes….time just stood still….it felt SOOOOOO GOOOODDDDDD…..twenty minutes later I stepped out and over to the couch and I laid down and took a nice 90 minute nap…Missy stretched out on the cool tile floor and pretty soon we were both out like a light….

Friday morning we woke up to a nice sunny 65 degrees with no humidity and I walked over to the Town Center to check my email. The resort advertises that it has a business center where one can check their email and print out tickets and schedules…what it doesnt tell you til you arrive is that they charge you twenty cents a minute and 75 cents a page to print…as much email as I have, I had to check mine so I furthered their cause a bit more while there. I had been in contact with a few models before driving down and a couple of them wanted to shoot with me over at Fort DeSoto Park Beach near St Petersburg, so I made arrangements to meet them there around noon, then headed back to get Missy and head that way, as I had an hour drive to get there.

The last time I had been to Fort DeSoto Beach was about ten years ago when I photographed several guys for a buddy of mine who needed some advertising work done and we were fortunate to get some nice sunset shots done while there. That was the one thing I didnt see while down there this year, were sunsets, just clear skies each day while there.

I finally made it to Fort DeSoto Beach by 1 pm, after taking some wrong turns on the way and stopping for directions at a gas station…when in doubt, stop and ask…I was only thirty blocks from where I was supposed to be when I finally stopped to ask…and Justin, a hot Abercrombie model I had been talking to, was patiently waiting for me when I finally arrived. We met out on the east side and then drove down to the west side to begin shooting..I let Missy out for a walk and then put her back in the truck and turned the ac on full blast and locked her in…there is only one dog beach at Fort DeSoto and we were no where near it at that end…we took off walking down to the area where I had been ten years ago and found many people out there on the beach ahead of us…several photographers shoot there on a daily basis, so we were nothing new to them…we walked to the far end and around the corner from it we found some nice sand dunes and grass to start shooting at….Justin is a tall and muscular young man with long blonde hair and looks alot like a young Brad Pitt…

Dunes Grass Hottie


The one thing I forgot to grab and take with me was my suntan lotion…and by the end of the day I remembered it…oh well, at least I remembered to bring the aloe vera in case I did sunburn…a few hours after working with Justin, Greg finally joined us, and we shot a few photos at the pier and then moved up the beach to a deserted stretch near the park office. It turned out to be a good stretch cause there were sand and grassy dunes and a log laying in the grass, a section of fence and I could pose the guys with the Sunshine Gateway Bridge in the background easily enough. Plus when I started shooting them in the fire gear, there was a huge flag flying at the office and it positioned well behind them, as you can see….

FF All American Beach Hottie

..and the bridge looked good behind Justin as well…

FF Tampa Bay Art

…and the water there was a perfect shade of turquoise blue…which matched Greg`s board shorts well….


Beach Boy Flirt

..and he looked stunning in fire gear too…with the bridge behind him….I crossed this bridge a few years ago on a bus, on the way to a cruise ship, and it is a very impressive structure up close and from a distance….

Sunshine Gateway Bridge and Speedboat


Sunshine Gateway Bridge Tampa

….we finished at this location in the park and decided to go grab some dinner..Justin knew a nice Chinese restaurant that wasnt too far away and we went there…the food was great and there was even a fire truck and crew working public relations outside while we were there.  Afterward, I headed back to Kissimmee and the condo suite, arriving after dark. I called Sheriden, my model I was working with the next day over at the beaches on the east coast and made arrangements to meet him on the beach there about 11 am.

The next morning, Missy and I got up early and took off southeast toward the east coast, taking the Florida Turnpike South to Port Lucie, and then driving thru Jenson Beach to get to Stuart. It was a good thing I had researched mapquest a week before, and found a few alternate routes to the beach I was driving to, cause as soon as I got into Stuart and turned east toward the beach, I ran into a roadblock…an art festival held downtown and the main drag, Ocean Blvd, shut down for it. I made a couple of turns and quickly found one of the other routes that took me back to Ocean Blvd and we were on our way again soon after…crossed a couple of bridges over the bays and on to Hutchinson Island, then a right turn on to MacArthur Blvd and south to House of Refuge Beach, which was less than a mile to it. I called Sheriden and found out he was already there and photographing the landscape and seascape there with his new camera. I found a parking spot real quick and backed into it, turned the ac on for Missy and grabbed my camera and went to meet Sheriden.

While waiting for him to grab his swimwear and gear, I shot a few images of the beach…this fisherman taking it easy on the bluff above the water and a nice beach house in the background…

Hutchinson Island Beach


Hutchinson Island Refuge Beach 2


Hutchinson Island Refuge Beach


…and the tower is part of the House of Refuge Museum…the bluff is part of the original reef which used to sit further out in the water, dredged out years ago and placed up on the beach to hold the sand in…so there is a sand beach above the rocks as you see here, and….

Hutchinson Island Refuge Beach 2

…a section of sand beach below the reef rocks…which look like a bluff from a distance…

Hutchinson Island Refuge Beach 3

..and looking back the other way…

Hutchinson Island Refuge Beach 5

..one sees a dog running loose and free…yes a dog friendly beach, or at least one without restrictions on dogs here…you see a yellow lab on the beach running toward the water, which is what labs normally do, they love the water…unlike border collies like Missy apparently…we can go out hiking and she runs up and down the creeks but you get her near the ocean and she didnt want to have anything to do with it….

Hutchinson Island House of Refuge


House of Refuge Beach Tower

…from the other side of the beach house, down near where we started shooting…and we saw alot of fishing going on just off the coast there…grouper fishing I later learned…

Fishing Boat Off Shore

and so we walked down the beach a stretch and started shooting…Sheriden is a personal trainer and just getting started modeling…

Beach Hottie Gets Wet 2

…I felt fortunate to find him and be able to work with him, very hot guy…plus he is studying to be a firefighter and paramedic…

Rocky Beach Art


Beach Tower Hottie


FF Wave Action Stud 2

…so he looked naturally great in fire gear….more images of him in another post here…

I only had 90 minutes to work with him and we got some great images, then he had to run and work with some more clients…I felt extremely fortunate to get to work with him on such a busy day for him…I went back to the truck and took Missy down to the beach for a few minutes before heading back to the condo…and then stepped across the road to shoot these images of the scenery on the other side of the bay…

Hobe Sound Stuart Area



..and then I spotted this person rowing while standing on a surfboard…apparently a popular exercise activity down there…

Surfboard Rower

..I`m going to end here…stay tuned for Part 2….

Another Arson Fire

Missy and I drove over to Fire Station 5 last week one night to visit with the paid crew on duty and while there, our pagers kicked off and in the few seconds before the dispatcher announced the call, firefighters speculated on the call being a brush fire, due to the dry conditions and the many brush fires we had been running…however when she started rattling off truck numbers, I said ” thats no brush fire guys, thats a structure fire “, and sure enough, she announced a house on fire, flames through the roof and fully involved…on North and South Road and just a few miles due west of the station. I had experienced some pain in my back earlier in the day, so opted to drive my own truck to the scene, rather than take a chance on driving a fire truck and possibly injuring myself further and prompting medical care provided by the fire district. Missy and I hopped in my pickup and took off, taking the back way to the location…the ambulance and fire truck and crews following me to the scene.

As I rounded a corner about a mile north of the location dispatched, I noticed the heavy glow in the night sky from the flames and as I pulled up in front of the house, this was what I shot with my camera phone….

7 Duplex Well Involved

..this was a duplex, not a house, and the right side apartment was fully involved with flames through the roof…

10 Fire Thru The Roof


11 Heavy Fire Thru The Roof


12 Heavy Fire Thru Roof



…Jimmy and Captain Dave paused in front of the house to mask up and activate their air tanks, waiting for the hoseline they pulled to be charged by Bill, the Engineer.

3 Jimmy and Dave Pack Up

..they then took the line and went around to the back door to enter and attack the fire…I paused a couple of minutes to record the fire advancing through the roof….

13 Heavy Fire Gains Intensity

..and the next image shows that they have started their attack as the heavy fire cools quickly to heavy smoke instead…

14 Heavy Smoke in Front Now

…I then went around to hump hose for them, as there were no other responders on scene yet and assistance was needed at the back door. As more help arrived and they started getting a handle on the fire…I walked back around to the front of the duplex and shot the personnel and truck images with great reflections on the driveway and street surfaces….

15 Fire Trucks In Front


16 Second Crew Arriving

…and then walked back around to record the knockdown made inside the apartment…

17 Interior After Knockdown

…Bourbon Fire Department crews showed up and assisted inside with hooking the ceiling and pulling down the blown in insulation, as fire remained in the attic area …as this stuff was falling down it resembled big goose feathers floating down…

21 BFD Pork Chop Pulls Ceiling

…I walked around to photograph the front of the house after the fire was knocked down…

23 Fire Held and Extinguished

..and the next one shows the duplex next door, saved adn spared by a well built required firewall in between the two apartments over the garages…had this firewall not been installed by the builder, we easily would have had two apartments fully involved on arrival instead of one….

24 Fire Held Heavy Damage

Luckily no one was home at the time of the fire and we suffered no injuries on scene either. A suspect was taken into custody just a few days after this fire.

First Few Weeks of March 2011…

Wow what a first few weeks of March this year…was hoping I could simply coast down to the first days of my vacation this year, but from stress at work to changing weather and more fire calls, it just wasn`t meant to be I guess. Have to say though, there were some pretty sunsets along the way and the snow turned out to be fluffy and beautiful, as you can see in some of the images down below the sunsets.


and I also like the sunset I photographed up on our new Elmont Road Bridge over I-44 recently….

Elmont Road Bridge March

…I usually place it in my images from a distance and silhouette it, but in this case, it looked so good in the rearview mirror, I turned around and parked up on the shoulder and got out to shoot it…I hate shooting through the windshield unless absolutely necessary…

The farmpond I shoot at alot, is a great reflection pool and there is a nice tree off to the side that silhouettes well too…

Farmpond Sunset 3

and framed right, you can include the reflection of the tree in the water as well…

Farmpond Sunset 4

and just out of sight, the water is just like a mirror for the sky and God`s canvas…

Farmpond Sunset 5

and right down the road is a great Powerline that makes yet another great silhouette subject for sunsets…

Powerline Sunset March


Powerlines Sunset

and this set of trees is nearby with horses in the field below them…

Setting Sun March

…and then we come to the beauty of snow…a wet snow more than anything else…I dropped Missy off last week at the Beauty Shop with Sandy taking good care of her and took a spin around town to capture these images of the fluffy unexpected snow…

Bacon Ridge Road Sentinels

…capturing these sentinels along Bacon Ridge Road first…

Trees East of Town


..and these trees in a field at the east end of Sullivan….racking my brain on where to find a nice old barn to photograph…a wood sided barn mind you, they have much more character than their metal counterparts…and finally remembered where one was, so I headed that direction….

Late March Seminary Road 5

…these trees along a curve on Old Springbluff Road…

Late March Seminary Road 4

…and these trees on Seminary Road….

Late March Seminary Road

…and as I drove down the road, the biggest snowflakes I have seen in some time, started coming down hard and fast…flakes as big as my hands…

Wright Barn on Seminary Road 5

..and there it was, looking very comfortable in the snow covered field…

Wright Barn on Seminary Road 3

…had this been Christmas time, I would have been reminded of the Walton Shows on tv, where rural scenes always give you a warm and fuzzy feeling….I headed back toward town and crossed Boone Creek…

Late March Boone Creek

..and turned down Ernie Road where I found this neat looking creek crossing…


Late March Creek Crossing 3

..and down WW to Ehrhardt Road….

Late March Ehrhardt Road at WW

…and then turned down Landon Road to check out the farmpond that I frequently shoot the sunsets at…and found another beautiful scene awaiting me….

Late March Landon Rd Barn and Cow


…fluffy snow like this can take the most bland looking winter scene and turn it into a Christmas Card.

Late February Snowfall 2011

Well we had two weeks of teaser weather mid February this year and then, like always, had to pay for it the last week of February…and now we are in the first week of March and hearing of yet more snow this weekend possibly…after suffering through tornadoes even on the final days of February…unbelievable weather in February this year…last year it was snow every other day…..

Shaws Arboretum Lake Late Feb Upside Down

…I cant wait to see if I get any comments on this image..stopped at Shaws Garden Arboretum on the way home last week after the early morning snowfall, which became less and less as I traveled west but I was surprised to find an inch of snow at home when I finally arrived. The rest of these I shot on the way home….

Antire Hill East Side Late Feb


Antire Hill East Side Snow Late Feb


Antire Hill NorthEast Slope Late Feb


Shaws Arboretum Lake Late Feb