As has become my tradition, I have made calendars as gifts for my family. This is my eighth year of doing this. The photos usually come from the previous year, but not necessarily. I keep an album of calendar potentials, and sometimes pull from those if I don’t have something seasonally appropriate.
When I started this way back in 2006, I was using Qoop to create the calendars. They have long since gone, and for the past couple of years I’ve been using Lulu.com. I like their layouts, and I get a bit more room to add captions. That just wasn’t possible with Qoop. Because Qoop didn’t allow much room for captions, it had also become my tradition to do a blog post with a description of this year’s photos. Captions or no, I decided I’d still do a post on the photos, with a behind-the-scenes story.
BTW, if you want your own calendar, they are still available. Just click the link and you can order one.
If you’ve gotten one of the calendars, the cover photo is something of a mystery. I didn’t have room for a caption, other than the title of the calendar itself. The photo is the pulpit Bible from Palmer Methodist Chapel, located in the Cataloochee Valley of North Carolina. My friends Ken Cothran and Keith Dover accompanied me on a trip up to the valley in April of this past year.
The valley is very remote, and can only be reached via twisting dirt roads over a narrow mountain pass. The views, however, are worth the trek, and there are even elk down in the valley. In addition to the Palmer Chapel, there are a couple of farm houses and an old school open to visitors.
January’s photo is of Mulberry Chapel in the Asbury Commmunity of Cherokee County, South Carolina. This African American chapel is not too far from the mill town of Pacolet. Tommy Thompson and I took a photographic ramble out that way last February while looking for concrete aviation arrows.
It was a cold winter day, and there was still snow on the ground when we arrived. The chapel still has some beautiful stained glass, and its original bell. There is a small cemetery around back that has some surprisingly modern graves. I understand that reunions are held annually.
To me, the online version turned out better than the print version in the actual calendar. This was my only disappointment with the series. The print version looks a bit washed out, whereas you can still see the snow on the ground in the online version.
One of Amy’s favorite places to visit is the Kissimmee Prairie in the middle of the state of Florida, just north of Lake Okeechobee. The phrase “beautiful desolation” comes to mind. It’s an area covered with scrub palmettos, dotted with live oak hammocks. The clouds are usually quite astounding. We’ll often take visits out to this area to do some bird watching and even some kite flying. This particular shot of the main road was taken in 2011.
In August we took a long road trip, driving a Mustang convertible from San Francisco to Laura’s mom’s house a couple of hours north of Seattle, Washington. The trip took two weeks, and we drove mostly along the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. Along the way we stopped and visited with Laura’s family – cousins in San Jose and her aunt in Coos Bay, Oregon. As we were taking the trip, Laura said that this year’s calendar should be photos from this trip. While I didn’t use those photos exclusively, I did use lots of them, and the photo from March is the first from that trip.
The photo shows North Head Lighthouse near Long Beach, Washington. Long Beach is right at the mouth of the Columbia River, and this lighthouse was one of several that tried to steer ships along the tricky coast. It was also one of many that we saw in our travels. There was a few to visit this lighthouse, and since we had already visited several, we opted out. It was very cold and windy on this particular day, and we were happy to be in the lee of the trees on this path.
In December of 2013 Laura and I celebrated 25 years of marriage. We celebrated by going on the first cruise of our lives to Nassau, Bahamas. However, it wasn’t the first time we had ever been to the Bahamas. The photo for April was taken in January of 2009. It’s a view from our hotel window in Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island. Several times on that trip I got up early to photograph the fantastic sunrises.
I’m fascinated with the architecture of old schools. I maintain a database of extant old schools in South Carolina, and try to visit and photograph these when I’m within range and have time. Many of these are abandoned, but some have been renovated and serve as community centers. Others have fallen into ruin.
Last October Dwight Moffit and I explored parts of Kershaw County. Toward the end of that trek we came upon Mickle School, near the banks of Lake Wateree. The school was apparently abandoned, but we didn’t explore the interior. I took several shots of the exterior, but I liked this photo, showing the weathervane and the contrast between the rusty tin roof and blue sky.
June’s photo is another from our western states sojourn. We were visiting Laura’s Aunt Ellen, who lives in Coos Bay, Oregon. We’d had dinner, and decided to drive out to Bastendorf Beach to watch the sunset. There were lots of surfers, all wearing full wetsuits to protect against the chilly water. I snapped this shot as two of the surfers returned.
Here’s another one from out west. We visited Redwood National Park near Eureka, California. It’s impossible to capture the grandeur of these trees. Just about the best way to take a shot is to aim the camera up.
For much of California’s coast Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, hugs the cliffs overlooking the ocean. At one point PCH turns eastward and ends at US 101 in the town of Leggett. It was hot in the interior of the state, and we wanted to stay along the coast. However, along this stretch there are no good roads along the coast. We took twisting, turning roads over mountain passes until we reached the town of Shelter Cove. From there we took even more twisting and turning roads, some of them dirt, until we reached the “Lost Coast” of California, near the community of Mallotte. This section of highway was extremely remote, and a bank of fog was rolling in. The road stayed along the coast only for a few miles, then ascended another pass to the town of Ferndale, near Eureka.
Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of the many lighthouses dotting the coasts of Oregon and Washington. It is north of Coos Bay. This view is from the Sea Lion Caves, a tourist attraction featuring…well, sea lions in a big cave. We drove on over to the lighthouse, an approach that took us through a tunnel then over a dramatic bridge. We toured the facility, and walked along the beach below the lighthouse. The views along the coast from this point were spectacular.
What could be more fitting for October than a bucket of pumpkin-like gourds? Glynda, Houston, and I were taking a photo trek through mid-Georgia and reached the town square of Madison, the “Town Sherman Refused to Burn.” In one of the stores on the square we found this scene, and I snapped the photo.
I knew I needed to include at least one paddling photo. Oddly enough, the November photo was actually taken in November of this past year. Our paddling group, Lowcountry Unfiltered, was doing a section of the Savannah River, starting at Stokes Bluff Landing. Along the way we encountered old headstones used as riprap along the banks, and we ventured far back into amazing cypress groves like the one seen here. It was an incredible trip full of surprising scenery, and one I’m sure we’ll repeat. This photo features fellow paddler and adventurer Alan Russell.
I figured it would be appropriate to end with a sunset shot. This is one of the photos from the aforementioned Bastendorf Beach, Oregon.
I guess we’ll have to see what photo adventures await for 2015. We’ve got several budding photographers in the next generations of the family. Perhaps some of them can start contributing photos, and we can make this a family effort. We’ll see.
All of the photos are collected below for your convenience: