Took a Hike out to La Chua

Today, Sarah and I had the day off together for the first time in, well… what seemed like FOREVER. So, instead of just sitting around the house, we decided to get out and enjoy the warmer weather and go for a hike. This time, we went a little north to Paynes Prarie and hiked the La Chua Trail.¬†

When we arrived, to the entrance to the trailhead parking lot, it became apparent that all of Gainesville had the same idea. Cars were lined up all along the road, parked in every last bit of available space. I get it, though, it’s the first day of spring, completely understandable. We were lucky enough to get a parking spot, strapped on our (highly unnecessary, but incredibly comfortable) hiking boots, and headed off for the three mile hike.

It was neat to see so many different animals in their natural habitat. Although, it was pretty odd to see wild horses and Bison in Florida, but that’s what happened after the Spanish settled here all that time ago. As a photographer, this is a good place to get some excellent wildlife shots. There were three or four photographers there with immense lenses strictly to get those crazy close-up shots of the birds, gators, and more.

While we were there, I shot a little bit of video on the Fujifilm X-T2, which I’ll edit together eventually, probably. Unfortunately, tragedy struck my favorite camera. After folding my tripod back up and flipping the screen back into place, I noticed that the screen looked blank. I thought it was maybe because the camera had gone into standby, and I woke it back up. Nope. I guess as a direct result of the tilting screen, I can no longer use the screen when it’s flush to the camera. It still works great in ANY OTHER POSITION, but no, not in the standard alignment. I’ve already fired off an email to Fujifilm USA to see what they have to say about it. It is a little worrisome that after about seven months of use, I’m having problems. Maybe I’ll try to upgrade to the GFX 50s. Who knows! I’ll keep you all updated, because I know you’ll be waiting with bated breath.

Overall, despite the crowds, despite the technical difficulties, we both had a good time, and that’s all that really matters. 10/10 I would recommend this little walk to anyone wanting to just get out for a couple hours with the chance of wildlife interaction.

All photos shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 Lens and edited in Lightroom CC, except the monochrome photos, which are straight off the camera from the Fujifilm X-T10.

Heather & Jonathan Got Married!

These two kids have been together for about four years, now, and have FINALLY tied the knot! The ceremony took place in a spot of Sholom Park in Ocala that I have been oogling over for the past four years, inside a vine-covered gazebo. It was very intimate and just right for the two of them. The only thing more beautiful than the location, of course, the bride.

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I’ve been friends with Heather for what seems like forever. Basically, since I moved to Citrus County 11 years ago. She’s always been there for me, and I’ll always consider her one of my best friends. I knew that one day her and Jonathan would be married not too long after meeting him. They just seemed to fit together so well, and I’m ecstatic that they’re finally bound together.

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Jonathan is a great guy, and I know he works hard at everything he puts his mind to. You can tell that there’s a lot going on up there, thinking of other people and what will come next. I’ve never seen either of them as happy as they did today.

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On a technical note: I shot all these photos with my Fujifilm X-T2 and 27mm pancake lens. They’re all shots for me, photos that just help me remember the day for when I need a good, happy, cry or whatever. It was nice to see how it could perform not only in near-darkness, but also what I could get from a single spot.

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Also, some of them are of Mr Personality, himself, Seth “Big Pony” who shocked me when I saw him in a suit, which does fit the long hair fairly well.

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Anywho… once again: Congratulations Jonathan and Heather! I am so proud of you guys, and I know I keep saying it, I am so so so so happy for you both. I love you guys and can’t wait for what comes next.

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NC Trip Day Seven – The Last Day

Today was our last full day here in North Carolina. For our final adventure, we went to Grandfather Mountain. As we entered the park, we were warned that there might be some rain. Fortunately though, we didn’t encounter any rain. However, we did get a few dark clouds and just a bit of wind.

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First thing was first, we crossed the mile-high swinging bridge and climbed to the top of the mountain. With the high winds, crossing the bridge was a little more nerve wracking than usual what with the howling through the metal bits of the structure. Once we were up on top, we had 360 degree views of the area. It was absolutely stunning.

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After being properly chilled between the dropping temperature, the raising humidity, and the sustaining wind, we headed down to the museum and the animal habitat.

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Down at the habitat, we spent most of our time with the bears, because they were the ones that had the most personality, and of course they were very cute. We hung around long enough to hear about one of the first bears they had in the habitat, named Mildred. They say she didn’t know that she was a bear, and when they released her, she came back and just hung around.

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We moved on from the bears after a large crowd formed, and looked at the rest of the animals they had there. We didn’t, however, get to see the cougars, because they were in the process of renovating their habitat.

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After going through the museum, we decided it was time for lunch, so we ate the lunch that we had brought in a little picnic area, and then headed back towards Little Switzerland to have some ice cream.

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Before ice cream, though, we stopped at one overlook that I absolutely needed to see before we left: the Chestoa View. It’s an overlook viewing the Linville Gorge, and it is absolutely staggering. The photos any person takes, no matter the skill, no matter the equipment, will never do it justice. However, every time I’ve stopped there I’ve tried. Every photographer will try, and I wasn’t the only one this time, even. I’m so happy to have seen it again.

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Once we returned back to the cabin, it all came to realization that this was our last day, and tomorrow will primarily be packing the car up and heading out. It’s unfortunate, but the real world needs us.

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I hope my daily documentation of our trip has been insightful or entertaining or inspiring or some other positive adjective. I’m hoping that this practice in writing will lock in the habit of doing something like this every day. I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve missed it, and I thank you for reading whatever kind¬†writing you can call this.

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NC Trip Day Six

Today we ventured into civilization. Well, as much as you can really call it that. Downtown Asheville still maintains a small town feel while also having the look of a big city, except still not a big city. It’s hard to describe, really.

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We started our day parking over at the chamber of commerce. Pro tip, if you’re okay with a short walk, the chamber is the best place to park for free. Then we headed to the Mellow Mushroom for some lunch.

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Mellow Mushroom is more of a franchise that is all over, there’s even one in Orlando, but it really fits in with the aesthetic of Asheville perfectly. So, there we got ourselves some pizza, which was delicious! I definitely recommend it if you’re ever near one and craving a slice. It’s even good as leftovers.

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After filling up on food, we then walked street to street, popping in various shops, galleries, and book stores. Of course, we didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to look.

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Looking through the galleries reminded me why I do what I do, and why I continue to try to be the best at it. It also reminded me that I should probably start selling prints of my photos. I love creating and I’ll keep doing it for the rest of my life.

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Tomorrow will be our last full day in North Carolina, so we are going to savor it as much as possible. What will we do? That’s still up for debate, but we’ll probably, begrudgingly, start the packing process.

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NC Trip – Day Three

Today, we made our way to the Biltmore Estate. They seemed pretty strict about photos and video, but fortunately, I was able to loophole my way into taking all the photos I wanted.

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After touring the mansion and the gardens, we went for dinner at a local BBQ place, which was alright, definitely no Southern Pig & Cattle. I always feel like I’m taking a risk when I’m trying a new food place.

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After we ate, it started pouring down rain. Since it was too much like home, we decided to head back to the cabin and take it easy for the rest of the day.

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