Yesterday started my second day on this grand adventure! I am excited to make it back to North Carolina, this is one of my very favorite states on the East Coast not only do I have amazing memories here along with friends and family but the country itself is just beyond beautiful. I love how this state you can be in the mountains on one side of the country winding around the Blue Ridge Parkway and then on the opposite end you have white sand beaches in Outer Banks! Sadly, on this trip, I won’t be going to either one of those locations but I am going to Jacksonville to see my best friend Lizzy who is a Sargent in the Marine Corps stationed on Camp Lejeune.
Starting back at the beginning of the day though I was still in Georgia. I woke from my slumber behind the small-town Baptist church I parked behind at 6:15, wanting to start the day early to avoid being woken by a Pastor knocking on the window, I crawled back into the front seat and set off! There are few words that can properly express the overwhelming feeling of gratitude when you start your morning driving into the sunrise. As the sun’s light crested the horizon the sky looked as if God took a paintbrush across the hillsides. The sun peaked the mountain tops and before it had time to warm the air it completed the heavenly painting. I thought since I started off earlier then I was originally planning, that I would make it to Jacksonville around lunchtime…then reality hit and I realized that I am who I am and the plan changed a little.
When I finally made it to Augusta I decided that it was time for coffee I stopped at a Loves gas station and saw a sign for historic Augusta. So I took a little detour on my way back to the interstate and followed the signs leading me to the historic downtown, I crested over the bridge that dropped into downtown and I saw the most amazing building! It looked like a castle! Coming to the intersection I saw the signs leading me to downtown going to the left and the building was going to the right…decisions decisions…of course, going with my adventurous instinct I turned right. Going into a neighborhood that went from bad to worse I nearly started to regret my decision to check out the building until I made it around the corner and saw it!
The building was the Sibley Mill designed by Jones S. Davis in 1880 to house the Confederate Powderworks and was completed in 1882. Though I wasn’t able to see the inside of the mills, because apparently they offer haunted tours, the building only stopped being used in 2006 though now it is only used to house the ghosts. What is interesting about this building is that since it was built next to the Augusta Canal it was designed to be run off of hydropower and still generates electricity to this day!
After getting my fill of photos of the mill I finally continued my venture to the historic downtown of Augusta. What I have found and come to love about the South is the communities are extremely adamant about preserving the integrity of the historic buildings. Thus far I have seen entire cities that have been designed from the ground up around the historic architecture that has stood the test of time. I mean think about it? The Sibley Mill was built not long after the Civil War, just think about all of the changes, conflicts, and adaptations that this building has seen especially where it is located? That to me is something that is so important there is not enough being done, in my humble opinion, to preserve this country’s history for our future generations.
Finally getting back on the road it was time to put down some miles and try and make up for some lost time. Now only stopping for HIGH-interest points, bathroom breaks and to take pictures with state signs I pushed on to North Carolina. As the day got warmer it was time to try to work on the left side tan I have going for me right now as I would be arriving in Jacksonville just after high noon, I wanted to find a way to make the time go by just a little faster. Thus I broke out the iPod and I must say there are many times I am thankful it is just me on this adventure because if anyone was to see half the weird ridiculous things I do to stay entertained while driving…I might be handed off to the nice men in the white jackets!
Once I hit Jacksonville the voice of Tory, my OnStar navigational voice, that yells at me when I take the wrong turn was turned off, I knew where I was from here. It never seems to matter how much time passes between my visits to Camp Lejeune I always have a weird sense of feeling at home on that base. It might be because my Marine Clan and the 22nd MEU that was on deployment with me is based on this establishment or because I have so many fond memories here but it was a wonderful feeling wash over me to be around somewhere that was familiar to me again.
After spending a few hours running errands, catching up, watching a movie (by the way if you haven’t seen London Has Fallen…you should) with Lizzy we decided that the night still wasn’t over. Even though it was a Saturday night and I am sure there would have been something to do or go visit any one of the hundreds of bars around the local scene…but instead, we went to a beach far away from lights or people and just listened to the waves.
The sky was nearly perfectly clear the stars out and fairly bright and I set out with tripod in hand to practice my night photography again but this time it is a little different than last time I tried. Though the night was sitting at about 52 or so degrees the wind coming off of the water was biting at our skin and yanking on our clothes. The surf from the tide rolling in was coming in high on the beach so there was no way to escape the wet cold sand sinking beneath your toes, with the added wind it didn’t take long before my Alaska toes were nearly frozen. Now Growing up in Alaska I know a thing or two about the cold weather but this is a different kind of cold. What I was not used to growing up was the wind factor of cold weather, I live in a valley that is protected on three sides and the only open passageway leads you to the sea. Trying not to focus that now not only were my feet freezing but they were getting swollen and I started to lose feeling in my toes moving faster and faster taking over my entire foot before long. The only place to escape the biting wind was to stand with your feet in the water…crazy I know but the water protected my feet from the wind and attempted to thaw my toes which worked for a little while.
But working with night photography, even though of all my genres I work with I love to photograph, this style is special to me. I haven’t quite figured out why yet but I am drawn to the single light or a multitude of tiny specks of light scattered across the universe capturing thousands of lost wonderers I truly love setting up and trying to capture that single life-changing moment on camera. Spending hours trying to capture the perfect night shot. At this point in the evening, I am counting down shots knowing that my feet wouldn’t last much longer without someone having to carry me or amputate my feet! Since I didn’t really have a choice in either of those options I instead called it a night and Lizzy and I waddled back to the truck to blast the heat on our feet.
Days like today help me appreciate my small accomplishments in life. Many would think I would be referring to awards, accomplishments, recognition the list goes on and on but to me, my list of accomplishments and things to brag about are the quality of people I have been honored and privileged to have in my life.
Wanting to leave you something to think about in the future!
Traveling Photographer Out!