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Monday, January 16, 2012

Of Mills and milling...

Last August, my lovely pillion ran down to her sister's for a quick visit, leaving me solo for a quick jaunt up to the Parkway, and Mabry mill...
Foggy start to the day's ride
The day started out pretty foggy, but it started burning off as I made my way up north to the Virginia line. My route of choice is to burn Hwy 58 in Virginia out to Meadows of Dan, usually stopping in The Poor Farmers Market for either a coffee if arriving early, or more likely a nice lunch from their deli counter.
This trip, I headed right to Mabry Mill for some quick photography. For some reason, as often as I've ridden here, I have few decent photos of the Mill. This day's results wouldn't prove stellar by any means, but made a great excuse for the ride nontheless.
Mabry Mill
Since the light had become rather bright and flat since the fog burned off, I decided to concentrate on some details in the shadows. Mid-day photography is usually the least interesting due to this flat light, and why photographers usually try to photograph early in the morning or late in the day when the light is low, colorful and generally more interesting.
In this case, I could do little about the lighting, but chose to enhance interest by concentrating on some interesting details. Here, the mid-day light actually is creating somewhat dramatic shadows deep under the waterwheel. I was particularly interested in the gear teeth as set off against the siding.

After milling around Mabry Mill for awhile, I decided I had endured one too many bikes zooming past, and that the Parkway was calling. Throwing a leg over the Concours, I headed South down the Parkway towards the NC border.
Groundhog Mountain Lookout Tower and Connie
One of my favorite places to stop at on this leg of the Parkway is the Groundhog Mountain Lookout Tower. This from the Park Service:
"This high point, 3,030 feet above sea level, along the crest of the Blue Ridge Escarpment affords a stunning 360 degree view of the countryside. To enhance the view, an observation tower was constructed that resembles an old tobacco barn. Buffalo Mountain and the Carolina Piedmont can be seen from here in the distance. The site features a picnic area with many tables and grills. A historic cemetery is also located at the site. The National Park Service has an interesting collection of wood rail fence types available for viewing to help interpret a long past fencing approaches once used in the mountain. The overlook is 10.7 miles east of the parkway access point at Fancy Gap (near Interstate 77)"

Here's the view looking North from the raised knoll next to the lookout tower:
View North from Groundhog Lookout
Here, the rule of thirds works out nicely in the horizontal, with Mtns occupying upper third, and rail fence and bales giving some nice weight to the lower portion of the photo. This framing saved an otherwise flat and potentially boring image in the mid-day light.

After riding the Parkway south a little further, putting in some saddle time enjoying the scenery and the gentle sweepers, I pointed the bike back North to be home in time for dinner. All-in-all it was a great day, where I was able to combine two great passions: photography, and motorcycling one of the greatest roads in America.

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