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So I’ve been in Morgantown since 1992 and in all that time I have never ever managed to see the hot air balloons ascend in mass. Back in college it surely had to do with me being not terribly inclined to get out of bed before dawn to watch balloons. Post-college it most likely had to do with me being not terribly inclined to get out of bed before dawn to watch balloons AND me not remembering when the heck the Mountaineer Balloon Festival was scheduled.

Well this year was different. Oh yes. Different (actually this year has been entirely as different as possible in a whole host of ways) because I knew when the MBF was and I happened to be in town (although I was not supposed to be).  I also managed to remember to set my alarm to get up so I could drive like a maniac to Mylan Park only to find out that there was no way the balloons were going to launch at 7:30 Saturday morning due to the fog.  And it was wet, but that was just an issue for me and my not-waterproof 16 year old Doc Martens.  (Anyway, the delay meant I had time for a schmagel at Sheetz and a GIANT cup of coffee before the balloons got about the business of inflating. It also meant I drove around and took some random photos)

And this is where I mention how I choose poorly when it came to my location. First off, i think I was one of the few people who actually paid to park. Everyone else had just pulled off the side of the road near the FCX Lane sign. Me? I felt a little guilty and so I paid to park. That wasn’t the poor choice. The poor choice was when I decided I’d climb the hill and take my shots from the Mylan Park (and not the road) side. This was dumb for oh so many reasons.

  1. I parked as far as possible from where I ended up taking photos
  2. I wasn’t really dressed for a hike through dew laden grass (please see 16 year old Doc Martens)
  3. The sun was in front of me (well, ok. the sun was behind the clouds which were in front of me – see below).

Did I mention it had been foggy? Oh yes. And cloudy. And you know what does not make a great background if you want to see anything BUT silhouettes? A huge bank of clouds lit by an early morning sun. And I should have known better. It isn’t like this is the first time I have taken a photo. But by the time I puzzled it out (note to self: next time use Big Gulp size cup for coffee)  and realized I was not going to get much in the way of good photos, the balloons were starting take off.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out that while I shot and shot and shot, what I got were  100+ raw images of balloon silhouettes.  Some days it does not pay to be me.

But it just so happens that there was a second mass ascention scheduled for 4:30 that afternoon. Which boded well for me.  As long as the weather held and it didn’t rain.  And surprisingly enough, the weather did hold. The sky was a stunning blue and the evil wretched clouds had drifted off to bother someone else.  

 So once again I found myself barreling out to Mylan Park only to come to a screeching halt as there were small children and people walking in the road, cars were parked along both sides of the street and I was begining to worry that the small green stamp on my hand (you know the one I got for paying to park?) may be just a little too faded for the guy controlling the parking to see.  And that’s when it became apparent that it really does pay to wear an unusual coat.  The guy directing traffic and taking money recognized me (or most likely my long, metallic blue coat) from the morning.  I saw that with great confidence because as I stuck my hand out with the tiny smudge of green and said pitifully, “I was here this morning but my stamp is mostly gone…” he looked from my hand to my coat and said, “Oh yeah, I saw you this morning.”  NICE. Because honestly, I was so not paying to park twice.

Once again I took up my spot on the Mylan Park side of the hill (the sun being behind me and the sky being blue this time) and proceeded to get some very nice, crisp, pretty shots. 

This time I moved around a little and ended up on the hillside where a fellow photo-taker (because I’m not a photographer in any sense of the word) started quizzing me about where the balloons were going.  So there I am, on the side of a hill with my slightly expenisive camera (and not much in the way of gracefullness) trying to shoot and answer questions.  Seriously dude, stop asking me questions. I don’t know squat about balloons and I’m clumsy.  Go. Away. Please. Thank you.

Enjoy the pics.

chris on November 4th 2009 in Galleries

Halloween Part One

Halloween is my second favorite holiday (right after my birthday of course – yes I am stuck on me). And I do so adore getting all dressed up. There’s just something about getting dressed up that let’s me be a little more outrageous than usual. And how better to be even more over the top than putting on a HUGE dress made with yards and yards of fabric and tons of pearls. Just don’t ask me to count how many specifically, I’m trying to not focus on it right now.

Imagine the look on the bellman’s face when he saw our luggage as we checked in. The poor man finally he just asked what the heck the hoop was for. I guess not everyone shows up with their own farthingale any more. My how times have changed.

Not ones to be wallflowers, our merry group paraded through the Greenbrier, led on by Uncle Sam. You have no idea how amused some of the guests were…and the other half seemed to be quite confused. Earlier in the day while on the elevator one of the guests looked at Chad, Kris & I and said, “You’re the first people I’ve seen without grey hair.” Which would probably explain the confusion we caused in the dining room.

I was pretty happy with the inagural wearing of my dress, it fit, it stayed assembled and it was comfortable.  And as far as I could tell, I didn’t lose any of the pearls or assorted beads from it. I’d call that a clear victory! The green dress fit Kris almost as if I had made it for her, instead of my sister-in-law. The wig though, well after the parade I declared it unfit and chucked it.

After our circuitious route through the hotel, we headed back to the Florida House and indulged in food, drink and general frivolity that is the hallmark of Halloween! Who says this holiday is for kids? Please…

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chris on November 4th 2008 in Creativity, Galleries

Long Range

Overnight temps were near freezing. The sun doesn’t really come up and warm the fine city of Morgantown very early this time of the year. And that begs the question of why we were at Pedlar WMA public shooting range around 9:15 a.m. Officially it was to get there before it got crowded. Something tells me the cold kept a good number of folks at home until noon-ish. Silly us.

The standard characters of me, Chad and Keith were joined by Mike, who brought along a nice selection of rifles and a shot gun. Combined with the glut of AR-15s (uppers & lowers) and pistols that Keith brought (and my poor lone ACP) we had a buffet before us. So profuse was our equipment, we managed to take up 4 or so of the bays at the range….oops.

My rifle experience is pretty much limited to the AR-15 and maybe two rounds out of Keith’s .308 whereupon I had my head smacked by the scope and my shoulder beaten to death. None-the-less I was way overstimulated at the possibility of enjoying the spread before me.

Just like I do at a food buffet, I tried a little of this and then a little of that. Of course somehow I always go back to my favorite the AR-15 that hates me and always jams (I’m such a glutton for punishment you know). I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try the shot gun, even though I was unable to hit anything. Yes, that is true. I was unable to even nip the poor yellow plastic jug. How this is possible I have no idea as everyone else was able to hit the darn thing.

I didn’t let that failure get me down since I did pretty well with some of Mike’s guns. Helped out of course by the totally mack’d out scope which made it seem as if the target was being held right at the end of the barrel. I was smart enough to keep my eye away from the scope which completely eliminated an embarrassing repeat of getting smacked on the recoil. See, I do learn after all!

There was much time spent sitting and aiming and trying not to shiver from the cold so you could actually hit the target.

The ultimate problem of letting me sample so many delicious goodies is that now I have developed additional expensive tastes for expensive things. And, as usual, expensive things that require specialized tools and so forth – which is so totally in my wheelhouse it’s scary. I see a really bizarre Christmas wish list forming here. Good thing my birthday is coming up too. Heck, I could have my own arsenal by the New Year! (kidding, totally kidding…it will at least take into the Spring and me using up my anniversary wish list!)

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chris on October 19th 2008 in Galleries

Football…or so they say

It’s Fall in Morgantown and that  means Mountaineer Football! Usually this is a good, fun, exciting thing. But lately, the best part of the WVU games is The Pride of the Mountaineers. True, you never get let down by the band, but that’s not really what we bought season tickets, that’s for sure. It’s just an additional benefit.  None-the-less, Chad has been able to muster some pre-game excitement during the season since we sit with some awesome people.

So in sum, for me this football season has been mostly about:

1. Food – I like food and I LOVE me some good tailgating food.

2. Drink –  No real need for explanation here, it is WVU

3. The Pride – Yay for the band!

4. Friends

5. Football – yes, they still do play, just not so well.

Still we have had great, sunny and downright hot weather for several of the games. And that means really good pictures even if I’m just randomly holding the camera up and shooting.

Let’s GOOO Mountaineers!!! Continue Reading »

chris on October 19th 2008 in Galleries