Myrtle Beach, June 28th, 6:08AM

We just got back from a vacation in Myrtle Beach; my brother and sister-in-law moved down there and I am always–always!–a fan of visiting family, particularly if they’re in new/fun/interesting places.

D) All of the above.

I’ll be discussing more of what we did in later posts, but as is my penchant, George and I (and my brother, who really didn’t have to get up with us, but he’s a trooper) went to the beach for a sunrise photo shoot.  Bear in mind that sunrise on the beach was 6:08AM.  And it’s like a fifteen minute drive from their house to the actual beach-beach.  Yeah, we were up at 4:30.  That doesn’t happen much, if indeed ever at all.  But you know…you’ve got to go where the photo ops are, they don’t come to you (unless, maybe, you’re Annie Leibovitz, but I digress).

So we went to Surfside Pier, a fishing pier that was built in 1953 and rebuilt three times since then.  I wanted something that would add an extra bit of visual interest, since relying on waves and sun can be suspect, especially if you’re looking at the weather reports and they’re telling you it’s going to be cloudy.  Sure, I could have looked at the forecast and not gone, but I was awake at 4:30 in the morning.  There’s no going back from that.

And so, with no further ado…here is Myrtle Beach, 28 June 2013, somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning.

Alongside the pier, insanely early in the morning.

Alongside the pier, insanely early in the morning.

George and my brother, and acres of empty beach.

George and my brother, and acres of empty beach.

The moon was still far from setting.

The moon was still far from setting.

Across the tidal beach.

Across the tidal beach.

One of the maintenance vehicles left its mark.

One of the maintenance vehicles left its mark.

I know it's not a boardwalk. I still want to sing...that song.

I know it’s not a boardwalk. I still want to sing…that song.

Now we're starting to get some color.

Now we’re starting to get some color.

The first other people we saw on the beach.

The first other people we saw on the beach.

Seriously. I. Frigging. LOVE. This picture.

Seriously. I. Frigging. LOVE. This picture.

Thankfully, Mr. Metal Detector Guy showed up.

Thankfully, Mr. Metal Detector Guy showed up.

The tide can do funky things to the sand.

The tide can do funky things to the sand.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Hats off to the lone fisherman.

Hats off to the lone fisherman.

From under the pier.

From under the pier.

The pull was such that I lost my flipflop twice under this thing. Retrieved it both times. Score!

The pull was such that I lost my flipflop twice under this thing. Retrieved it both times. Score!

The cover refused to break, but it was still pretty.

The cover refused to break, but it was still pretty.

And the sea is liquid gold.

And the sea is liquid gold.

From behind the dunes at the edge of the beach.

From behind the dunes at the edge of the beach.

This makes me want to run back down to the sand.

This makes me want to run back down to the sand.

Groovy? Funky? Crappy? Hotel, right on the beach.

Groovy? Funky? Crappy? Hotel, right on the beach.

With lots of places for creepsters to hang out. I can only hope The Warriors came here for refuge.

With lots of places for creepsters to hang out. I can only hope The Warriors came here for refuge.

And finally, one of my favorite things about Surfside Beach…

Who wants to be a member of the elite Sunbathing Patrol?

Who wants to be a member of the elite Sunbathing Patrol?

That’s it for now!  I hope you think they’re as worth the 4:30 alarm as I do.  Thanks for dropping by.

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Travel Theme: Pale

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? celebrates the subtle side of life, asking that we look at things that are pale.  I will spare you all pictures of my pasty white skin that burns to a cinder without adequate sunscreen.  You’re welcome.

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, in Rome, is more well-known for its portico, which is home to the Bocca Della Verita (the “Mouth of Truth”), made famous because Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck were charming while standing right next to it in the film Roman Holiday.  Everyone who visits sticks a hand in the Mouth, feigns relief that a mythical river god didn’t bite his or her lying hand off, and leaves.  The Basilica, however, is  lovely, and because everyone thinks the good touristy stuff is on the outside they leave after seeing the Mouth.  Consequently, it’s one of the few quiet places in Rome.  Along the upper walls of the Basilica you can see frescoes that have been dated back to at least the 12th century, but some of the paintings could go as far back as the 8th.  No wonder they’ve faded, but when you really think about it…for a 1200 year old paint job, these frescoes look pretty good.

A faded fresco at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

The faded frescoes at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

When George and I went to Keuka Lake a while back, we had a wonderful time, but it was rainy.  Quite gray, actually, and foggy.  Every.  Day.  Though you can rest assured that the weather did not for a second deter us from our wine tour.  Anyway.  While mucking around with my camera I took a bunch of pictures just to see how they’d turn out–out the open window, through the screen, through the clear glass with the screen pushed away.  Blah blah entertain myself entertain myself.  And so, that was how I ended up with the following picture of the soft-focus leaves and the misty trees on the opposite shore in the background.

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Keuka in the rain.

Boston, my beloved city.  My penchant for wintertime northerly vacations pretty much determines that when I’m up there, I’m looking for things that involve being inside a structure with a working heating system (though to be fair, you could also say in the summer that my disdain for the heat, especially if it’s a humid heat, also drives me indoors.  Never happy, I guess).  Their Museum of Fine Arts is fantastic and fits almost any seasonal bill.  Huge!  There’s always something new to see.  And it covers everything from textiles to modern art.  In their ancients section, they have a repaired alabaster statue (part of it is missing and I assume is lost forever) of Egyptian King Menkaure, who built the last (and the smallest) of the Giza pyramids.  I love the cool almost-translucence of the stone.

Hiya, King!

Hiya, King!

When in Tours, do what any self-respecting tourist would do and get to their cathedral.  The Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours is a gorgeous place to spend a day.  It’s absolutely true (though I didn’t think so at first) that you most certainly can overdose on frilly architecture when you’re in France, but the Tours cathedral is worth toughing it out.  It’s got some crazy-awesome vaulting and gorgeous stained glass (bring binoculars to feast your eyes on the best of it).  It also had this solemn little nook lit by a single candle, which had a line of luminous marble plaques attached to the wall, all asking for some kind of saintly help or protection for their families.

Ummm, a little help over here?

Ummm, a little help over here?

And finally.  The Outer Banks in North Carolina are gorgeous.  They’re a series of barrier islands so there’s something wonderfully unmanageable and massive about being right at the edge of the deep blue sea.  Being on the beach at sunrise is about as easterly-facing as you can get, so you can feast your eyes on some pretty amazing early morning sights.  Especially if it’s a little bit cloudy and you’re there just before the sun actually comes up.  It helps if the universe provides you with a guy who’s surf fishing, for added photographic interest.  I adore this picture, how there’s only a little bit of the strong pinks of sunrise poking out, and everything is pale and calm and surprisingly serene looking.  Until you remember that waves store tremendous energy; an average 4-foot, 10-second wave striking a coast puts out more than 35,000 horsepower per mile of coast.  That’s a lot of wallop.  Glad the colors here can help us relax.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Stop on over and check out the rest of the travel themes on Ailsa’s blog.  But this is it for me, we’ve reached the end of my “pale” travel theme.

Oh yeah, one more thing, because I am a giant nerd.  A trailer, for Pale Riderone of the greatest Clint Eastwood movie ever (just sayin’).

Thanks for stopping by!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward!

Or, Ever Forward!  As my sister and I have been known to adopt as a motto.  Particularly while moving me to Pennsylvania from my former home in Texas.  But that’s not really important right now.

Anyway.  I dig things that make you think of movement, and progression, and the not necessarily negative inevitability of change.  It’s all about the liminality, man.  Because to move forward you have to engage in the journey to get there; it’s not just done by closing your eyes and having “forward” happen to you.

So.  This photo–probably more than any that I’ve taken recently–says “forward”.  There’s the curve of the tracks, and I always find myself sort of craning my neck to try and see what’s around the bend.  It’s a great unknown out there; do we stay where we are and not explore, or do we see what’s around that bend, and the next, and the next?  Plus, it’s taken at sunrise, so hooray to the dawning of a new day!

Onward!

Onward!

Ever forward, my friends.

Go check out the other photo challenge participants here.  Or bust out some pictures and join in the fun!

Travel: Sunrise, Belhurst Castle

My boyfriend and I spent an amazing, romantic couple of days at a beautiful castle–CASTLE, FOR CHRISSAKES–on the Finger Lakes.  Belhurst Castle, located right along Seneca Lake in Geneva, NY, is a gorgeous spot for couples.  The rooms are huge and lovely; mine had a lake view and a fireplace, and a jacuzzi complete with a complementary rubber duckie.

Hi.

Hi.

The spa was amazing (ask for Lindie), the winery was impressive (try the Cabernet Franc).  The restaurant…meh (my steak was cooked correctly but the vegetables were steamed into oblivion, everything needed seasoning and the breakfast was entirely uninspired and unimaginative).  However, Geneva has some really good restaurants to choose from nearby (starting with Pure, the Indian place that’s maybe a five minute drive up the road, try the vindaloo and their spicy food is no-joke hot) so it’s no big deal.  And the surroundings were extraordinary and facing eastward, which is why I decided it would be in my best interests to get up before the sun and take pictures of a sunrise over Seneca Lake.

This isn’t a decision I make lightly.  I enjoy a good sleep far too much.

Good morning.

Good morning.

As this is the sort of blog that provides its own narrative, I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story, with not so much text.  All pictures taken on Belhurst grounds, either down at the dock or from the back lawn.

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Down along the waterline.

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And up on the lawn.

And up on the lawn.

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Behold! Beautiful Belhurst Castle, in the morning light.

Sunrise at Nags Head, NC

We just returned from a trip to Nags Head.  I’ve never been to the Outer Banks before and, as I have a bit of an obsession with border spaces it makes perfect sense that barrier islands are on my list of places to visit.  (I like to go to places like “the southernmost spot in” or “the furthest expansion of”.  I am also dying to visit the Four Corners monument and would also love to make it out to Key West.  For a variety of reasons.  Some of them academic.  🙂  And I digress.)

As this was a vacation with family, George and I spent more time hanging out in the pursuit of quality time than we usually do and less time crawling around the night scene looking for foodie enclaves and loud music.  Everything in balance, people.  (Though here is my one foodie plug–if you’re in Nags Head and in the mood for Mexican, drive the ten miles to Bad Bean Baja Grill in Kill Devil Hills.  The salsa fresca is super-fresca!  The roasted habañero and tomato salsa is ain’t-messin’-around hot!  The nachos have pickled onions on them!  And the mole on the chicken mole burrito is great.  Nice and deep and smoky.  Everyone else at the table enjoyed their meals, too.  So, go.)

Anyway.

It was a little cold and dreary for the first two days that we got there, though the clouds seemed to break a little bit on the second night.  We noticed a clear patch of night sky, so George and I walked out to the beach to see what we could see, and got to feast our eyes on shooting stars zipping all over the sky.  I know they’re more prevalent than we realize.  It’s still a little startling when you go somewhere with way less light pollution than you’re used to.  The night was so clear–for a few minutes, anyway–that you could sort of see the stars behind the stars behind the stars and realize the three-dimensionality of the universe, which can be a heady concept to grapple with on a family vacation.  I wanted my most complicated question to be, “What’s for dinner?”  Instead I was faced with, “How infinitely small am I in this crazy vast universe I’m hurtling through?”  Yeesh.  I’d like another beer, please.

So.

Buoyed by the fact that there were clear patches of sky, I set the alarm for 6:15 so I could get up, shake the cobwebs out of my eyes, manage a cup of coffee and make my way to the beach before sunrise so I could take some pictures.  When I first looked out the window I saw cloud cover and had a few moments of “waaah” before thinking that the clouds had the potential to make things interesting.  And it was such a short walk to the beach; if it ended up being a glorious morning I would have kicked myself for missing out.  One cup of coffee later, George and I were on the beach anticipating the morning.

George, preparing for sunshine.

See?  Kind of grey, but what the hell.  Anyway.  We stood around and watched, and waited.  Wasn’t nobody there but us chickens.

Hello…hello…hello… Echo…echo…echo…

And then we started to get some little peeks of color through the clouds.

Patience, patience.

Sure, the promising gold and pink flecks of light on the water made a girl happy.  But something was missing, what was it?  Hmmm…

Thankfully, Central Casting apparently anticipated my needs and, as the sky turned more and more pink, provided me with Surf Fishing Dude and accompanying Birds.

One surf fishing dude stands alone.

And I know, I know, I promised you Central Casting Surf Fishing Dude with Birds, so here you go.

And I deliver you Surf Fishing Dude with Birds.

Oh, you like the birds?  Okay.

Check out the birds as the sky catches fire.

Here they are again.

On the hunt for some breakfast.

And don’t forget these little fellas in the surf.

Lest we forget.

OK, I’m going to drop the narrative now and just let the pictures tell the story.  I can’t do the morning justice, except by saying that we’re all very lucky we survived the sky exploding as it did.

And to think I almost decided against going.  So what to we do?  We look for the lessons.  If I had gone with my initial instinct and stayed home because of the clouds, I would have missed a spectacular morning.  If I hadn’t set the alarm (who wants to get up at 6:15 on vacation?) and taken the initiative, I would have missed a spectacular morning.  I like to walk around with my camera waiting for things to show up in front of me, and that has its benefits, for sure.  But rising to meet this opportunity paid off so, so spectacularly.  It’s only fitting that the beach (liminal) and sunrise (also liminal) are a potent combination for moments of self-reflection.  Is it corny that I think this is a metaphor for life?  Too bad if you feel that way.  I kind of dig it.

Oh, and lesson two: photographers, always…ALWAYS…have a spare battery charged and ready to go.  🙂

All photographs are property of me, Terri Peterson, and may not be used without my permission.

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