Monday, July 28, 2008

Sirens In The City

My interpretation of David Baerwald's "Sirens In The City".
It's a rather dark and brooding look at the state of things.
It's only my second attempt at throwing a video together and I
hope it is a slight improvement over the last.

Hope you enjoy and discover the music of David Baerwald.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My First Movie

Long in the making, my first attempt at animation.

While the subject matter may be of questionable interest to many, I created this using my own photos with Photoshop 7 and Windows Movie Maker.

The soundtrack is performed entirely on my Fender Strat with a Roland GR-30 guitar Synth. The child's voice in the piece was borrowed, as noted in the credits and, reversed to add an aire of mystery.

The work involved, for such a short outcome, makes one appreciate the work of animators.

I hope you like it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

July 4th, 2008 - The Virginia Creeper Trail

Please click on photos and then click on "all sizes" to see the full size panoramic wonder. Thanks !

I got a call this week from my friend Tim, he and his brother have been my lifelong pals as we grew up across the street from each other, Tim wanted to know if I was interested in riding the Virginia Creeper Trail on the Fourth of July, or at least a section of it.

I had to give this some thought considering my bike has basically been in mothballs for a while and I have not been getting the exercise that I should of late.
Okay, I decided to make myself get in gear, pardon the pun, and get ready to see the trail again, it's been a while and The Creeper is an old friend.
Plus, I don't see Tim very often these days, life gets busy. He and Sheila are
pretty busy with Grandkids and such.

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a beautiful old railway bed, converted into a hiking, biking and horse backing trail. The grade is mostly around 3% with the exception of the last 3.5 miles or so up to White Top Station, which clocks in at about 7%. ( see maps at Virginia Creeper site, click title of this post ) the trail is 35 miles total.
Damascus Virginia being approximately in the middle, either direction away from Damascus would be an uphill run, so, it's like a mild "V" from both ends to the center.
There are several ways to approach a run on the trail and lots of folks prefer to start at either Abingdon, VA or White Top Station making it a downhill endeavor from start to finish.

This has created a boom for the shuttle business in Damascus, people leave their cars and buy a ride to either end and eventually arrive back at their vehicle again.
The trail winds through beautiful mountain settings, farm land and small communities. There are over 100 trestles along the way, most with gorgeous views of rivers or lake.

There are some gates here and there, through some of the farmland, where you have to open and close them for to keep the cattle stock and such where it belongs.

The Appalachian Trail crosses the Creeper Trail. Damascus hosts Appalachian Trail Days once a year which brings hikers from all over into the community for a fine festival.

I have done the entire trail several times but, when I go alone, I generally start in Damascus and go to White Top and back or, Abingdon and back. Both directions have their own rewards.
I need to get some more riding in before I attempt the uphills again.

My friend Tim had a cardiac event about six to eight weeks back so, I was worried whether he should be attempting this ride at all but, I was somewhat relieved that they had chosen to make the White Top Station to Damascus run, about 17.2 miles, downhill.

They were going to be camping for the weekend at Backbone Rock so, we decided to meet
at the caboose in Damascus.
( photo courtesy of, not panoramic. )

I got my trusty Diamondback out of the garage on Thursday and, not being very "mechanical" myself, I took it to Boyd's Bicycle for a check up. There are many bicycle shops in the area these days but ,Boyd's has been in business since I was a little whipper snapper and, I am still a loyal customer. They know what they are doing.
So, with two new tubes, whether I needed them or not, I had a good bill of health for my
"old school" steed. ( my bike has no suspension system ) I secured a new helmet and I was ready. I packed some essentials, a spare inner tube, a rain jacket, etc.

I was feeling rough when I awoke at 6:00 a.m. on Friday but that is par for the course these days. I had three cups of java to get myself moving and followed that up with a "sports" beverage on the way to Damascus. It supposedly had some vitamin B in there with all that high fructose corn syrup.
Note to self: less liquid before a trail ride next time, huh ?

I arrived at the designated caboose about 5 till 10, 10 being the designated meet up time, I wasn't sure what Tim & his wife Sheila would be driving as they have a penchant for trading vehicles . They were there but, I didn't see them and, they didn't see me.
I made my first "pit" stop. ( see note to self above )
They saw me finally and it was time to get the show on the road, right after "pit" stop number two. ( see note to self above )

We had missed the latest shuttle to White Top so we decided to take Tim's vehicle up and ride back to mine.
It was a bit difficult to get the three bikes on his rack as Sheila's bike had a baby seat mounted on the back, which I suggested they take off, but we managed to get them all on as is and away we went.

Now it is a good distance to White Top Station and, as you can guess, I needed a third "pit" stop before we got there. Tim pulled over and dropped me at a field of rather thick brush and trees.
I was too "ready" to protest the locale and, it was during my relief stage, that I noticed I was surrounded by the dreaded three leafed monster, poison ivy. Now I have never in my life been affected by P.I. until just a couple of years ago at which time, I got a bad case of it, required a shot, it did.

We proceeded on to White Top. We arrived just behind, not one, but two shuttles which were loaded down with people and bicycles. The bad thing about such a beautiful trail is that, eventually ,it gets discovered by more and more people. I could not believe the vast numbers of folk who had the same idea we did for the 4th of July. jeeeshhh...
We tried to lay back a bit and let these people move on but, we found ourselves catching them again rather quickly and, passing them.


We are well familiar with trail courtesy but, unfortunately with this many people riding, you run into your share of folks who haven't a clue. Always pass on the left and announce yourself when passing folks. I have a thumbell on my bike for just such occasions. You can sneak up people and really give them a start if you are not courteous.

The trip down the 7% grade was going rather briskly, almost too briskly to enjoy the scenery, until, it was realized that Sheila's back tire was low. We pulled off at a nice spot by the river and put some air in it with my trusty pump but, alas, it was losing air at a rapid rate.
We stopped again to discuss our options. I had a spare tube and a tire tool but, it required a wrench to remove that baby seat and that, I didn't have.
After a short time of despair, a gentleman happened by who was better prepared then I was, he had a wrench.
Note to self: pack a wrench

We dismantled the baby seat contraption and managed to install a new inner tube on Sheila's bike. Neither Tim, nor myself, are all that mechanically inclined so, it was a miracle that we figured it all out. We thanked our wrench bearer profusely and off we went.


We breezed through Green Cove Station which appears in a famous photo by O. Winston Link who captured the last days of the steam driven drains with his camera.
"Maude Bows to the Virginia Creeper" - O. Winston Link 1957 - all rights reserved

and as it appears today:

Obviously, the Virginia Creeper was a train before it became a trail. That last 3.5 miles had to be a lot of work for that ol' steam engine. The Creeper now rests at the trail head, captured and caged.

We rode into Taylor's Valley which was to be our designated lunch stop. Taylor's Valley is a tiny community which features The Creeper Trail Cafe & Pickin' Porch, a lovely little place which caters to folk from the trail.
This day the place was packed and many bikes lined the lot out back. We had to wait in line but it was a welcomed break after out tire incident. The food was good and nourished the soul and body.
Courtesy of ( not panoramic )

Pop up rain showers had been predicted throughout the day and, as we sat indoors to dine, the sky opened up. Amazingly, it closed again once we were ready to ride.
The ground remained dry enough as to avoid the famous "racing stripe" on the back of our clothes.

The remainder of the ride was without incident and seemed shorter then I remember it.
Tim did fine, no nitro pills were needed. It was a great, fun ride and my soreness is minimal.

As we got into the heart of Damascus, Sheila decided to ride on another six miles to their camp site as Tim and I would drive back up to White Top Station and fetch his vehicle.

When we returned to their campsite ourselves, the sky opened once more. We canceled our cookout plans and I headed back home to apply a 30 minute, cold water rinse to the areas that may be affected by the dreaded poison ivy. So far, so good but, it may be too soon to tell...


I hope you haven't found my tale to be too much a bore. :-)


The panoramic photos were actually taken on a previous ride, I have a much cooler looking new helmet to sport about in...
The panoramic photos are small in the blog, if you click on them and then select "all sizes", you will see them
in their true panoramic glory.

Happy Trails...

Update: Monday, July 7th, still no signs of poison ivy... whew!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hey Stranger...

This is a hauntingly important song and now, thanks to another David Baerwald fan, Marcia Leer, it has a video to go with. I don't know Marcia but, she has done a wonderful job with the imagery for "Stranger". I'm glad the song has a vehicle for You Tube so that it may be heard by more people who perhaps missed it.