Category Archives: Travel

Goodbye, Sandy

Tonight there’s a Sandy-sized hole in my heart.

Sandy was a close, dear friend in high school. We had a lot of adventures together. We lost touch for a while after high school, but a few years back we finally reconnected.

Whenever I made it back to Vermont I always made a point to get together if we possibly could. When I couldn’t get to Vermont or she was off being a snowbird in Florida we would swap jokes and snarky comments online.

Today a fair-to-middlin’ shitty day got a whole lot worse when I got a call from Jackie, her partner of I-don’t-even-know how many years. Sandy had been fine on Saturday night, stayed up late to chat with her brother who was visiting. Sunday morning she was gone, peacefully, in her sleep.

We’ve had classmates that have passed away in the 45+ years. Some I barely knew, some I had at least a passing acquaintance with, one or two that I had been close to back in the day. But none so far that I had been this close to. This one hit me like a brick.

It will take a few days to process, and probably more to accept. I’ll never forget her smile, her laugh, or her bear hugs.

In 2015 when I was back in Vermont to visit my mother as she went downhill, Sandy took me out for a kayaking day around Center Pond in northern Vermont. While I’ll cherish my memories of her from high school, I’ll equally cherish the memories of this day on the lake with the loons. And I’m glad that we made time to get together in June when we were back for my 45th.

Goodbye, Sandy.


Filed under Paul, Photography, Travel

Conejo Valley Panorama #2

Where yesterday’s panorama was taken looking due west toward Moorpark, this one was taken looking more northwest, toward the far western end of Simi Valley.

This was taken from the replica White House South Lawn at the Reagan Library, which can be seen at the left hand side of yesterday’s panorama. Naturally, this means that the location from which yesterday’s panorama was taken is seen at the far right side of this picture. (Geometry, FTW!!)

You do get some fantastic views from up here – probably one of the reasons they built the Library in this spot.

It must have been an amazing place to be last November when about 90% of what you see was on fire. I’ll let the built-in security cameras take those pictures. There are pretty much only two narrow roads in or out of the Library grounds. If it’s surrounded, you might have a “bad day” on your hands.


Filed under Panorama, Photography, Travel

Conejo Valley Panorama #1

From last weekend, taken at the Reagan Library, looking out to the west toward Moorpark.

Who’s that in the turquoise, watching the goober out in the blazing sun taking pictures?

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Vermont Panorama – Fields O’ Green

We weren’t exactly “lost” – I knew we were still in Vermont since we hadn’t crossed Lake Champlain into New York, the Connecticut River into New Hampshire, or run into any border guards that might wonder why we were trying to get into Canada.

But for the third (fourth?) time that day, while I was quite sure I knew where I was and where I was headed, a quick check of the map on my phone before driving off again showed that I had missed a turn and passed my destination by about ten miles. As lovely as Canada is, it was time for a course correction.

But before I pulled that quick U-turn (and wound up on that one-lane dirt road for about eight miles, wondering if we would ever see pavement again but enjoying the absolutely stunning scenery) I took in this view:

(Click the image to see it full sized)

We were way north of Cabot and a long way west of the Connecticut River, but I still wonder if those big, tall mountains waaaaaaaay off on the horizon might be in New Hampshire. Probably not. Maybe on a more clear day, but then we wouldn’t have this wonderful interplay of white clouds and green mountains, sunlight and shadow, and the threat of rain in the distance.

Fair trade.

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Vermont Panorama – Small Town Parade Gathering

The parade’s an hour or so away. All of the fire trucks from miles around are gathering, the trailer and paper mache floats are being towed into place, the classic cars are rolling into town, and the various civic groups from the Shriners to the Elks to the Boy Scouts are finding their spots in the parade lineup.

(Click to enbiggenate!)

Along the parade route, through the town square here and in both directions along the main road that follows the river, folks with lawn chairs and coolers are staking out their spots. This isn’t Pasadena on New Year’s Eve. No need to start defending your territory a day or two in advance. There’s plenty of room for a front row seat – although the spots in the shade are at a premium.

Even the guy with the goat doesn’t seem too out of place.

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Vermont Panorama – Stoughton Pond

Springfield, Vermont was a national center for the machine tool industry a few decades ago. Machine tool factories are where you make the machines that make the machines. More to the point, it’s where you make the machines that make cars and washing machines. And in the 1940’s, it’s where you make the machines that make tanks and planes.

That’s important.

So the Army Corps of Engineers decided that having the Black River flood would be a bad idea since it runs right next to the factories for Jones & Lamson, Fellows, Bryant, and Lovejoy. They solved that problem by putting a couple of dams on the Black River. One is next to the airport, north of Springfield in the appropriately named North Springfield. Just north of that, up in Perkinsville on the North Branch of the Black River, is a second dam with a nice recreation area behind the dam. That’s Stoughton Pond.

It’s a great place to meet friends you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe the next time we’ll bring a kayak and go for a paddle. Maybe bring a fishing pole and see if we can find some of those smallmouth bass.

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Vermont Panorama – VT22

From our trip to Vermont two weeks ago. We had just parked at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne (seen at the far left) and I climbed this embankment to see what was up there and look at the clouds.

(Click to see the full-sized image!)

Aside from some nice Adirondack chairs, off in the distance I saw some planes and a couple of hangars. But where’s the runway?

See all of that grass?

This is VT22, Shelburne Farms airport, with a 1,900′ grass runway, and plenty of other grass on the side to park your plane on. A quick check on ForeFlight says you need to plan ahead to fly in there – no gas, no services.

In my flight training I’ve flown into small airports with no towers, but I’ve never flown into a grass strip.

Maybe next time we’re in Vermont and need a bear we can just fly in and walk over instead of driving all the way up to Shelburne!

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