Thursday, December 31, 2015

Asheville, NC.

Sarah, Kylie and I have been spending this week in a beautiful Bed and Breakfast just a mile north of downtown Asheville, NC.

Yesterday, we headed to downtown for the usual Tops for Shoes shopping spree.  Rather than spend an hour sitting in the chairs set about for fitting shoes on women, I decided to walk around on a wet afternoon, shooting the town with my new camera.

I find Asheville to be a wonderful place,  It is full of great restaurants, bars and I hear as many as 30 craft breweries.  The town is old enough to have many preserved, historic storefronts,  It has a large park in front of the two major government buildings, city hall and the county courthouse.  Both of these were built in the 1920's and are well preserved.

The location of the city in the mountains with surrounding smaller towns, and availability of these fine stores and restaurants brings people from all around.  This makes downtown a very vibrant and active place.  Driving in is very easy too.  There are several garages downtown that are free for the first hour, then one dollar an hour for each hour over that with a cap of eight dollars for the day.

We have done our share of shopping and dining and I must say that I find Asheville to be a very good place.

Old stores and restaurants take up this entire block.

An Art Dexo cafeteria and office building.

Stone detailing.

Beautiful entrance

A corner filled with restaurants at the corner of a government square park.

The very popular Chocolate Lounge with the City Hall and Courthouse in the background.

Inside the Chocolate Lounge

Light fixture, with the wrong bulb, on the Art Museum building.

The courthouse building on the left, City Hall on the right.

They were supposed to both be designed to match, in the Art Deco style.  But the Courthouse building design was denied with a more traditional design selected.  Both are good to me.

Entry to the Art Deco City Hall building

Art Deco light fixture flanking the entry to the City Hall building.  It is probably eight feet tall.

Groin vaults at the entry to City Hall 

The perfect expression for an entrance to a very large building.

The perfect entry door to the County Courthouse.  This is what happens when idiots are allowed to make changes to good architecture.  

Details at the entry door (now exit only) to the courthouse.

One of my favorite buildings downtown.

Another block filled with fine historic structures.

The city is sensitive to trash collection and recycling.

The big draw for Sarah for the past 40 years.

Inside Tops.  Mural of storefronts.

Like all towns, Asheville had its share of bad buildings constructed in the late 20th century.  Who could possibly think that this building fits into the urban environment.  Blank ugly walls surround this bad one.

Bad design leads to bad uses and maintenance.

Still work to do.  Many buildings appear to be vacant above stores and restaurants on street level.  There is wonderful potential here,

More photos from the next day.  Sarah and Kylie were in Tops, so I wandered around with my camera.  The Grove Arcade is a fine building.

Inside the Grove Arcade.  First floor full but the offices above are not.

Outside corner of the Grove.  Wonderful glazed terracotta panels on the exterior.

Inside the Green Sage Restaurant

And Wicked Weed brewery

Courthouse and city hall from a distance.





Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holiday Trip to Asheville

Sarah has been wanting to take a family trip around the holidays for the past several years.  But Sam likes coming home from Chicago.  But this year, he and his girlfriend were traveling to New Zealand and Kylie liked the idea of a quick vacation to the mountains from her new home in New York City.

The three of us drove up on Monday, staying at a very nice Bed and Breakfast just north of downtown Asheville.  It is in an old house that has been well cared for and offers a fine place to stay.

These trips are usually filling space around eating, so yesterday, I wanted to see some mountains, so we got onto the Blue Ridge Parkway heading northeast, but ran into a roadblock only a few miles in.  So we looped back to town over some wonderful mountain roads.  Then off to the Folk Art Center, then downtown for lunch and the usual stop at Tops for Shoes.

A little time at the inn, then back to town for dinner.  It s a fine little city for anyone looking for a place to visit.

Christmas lights at the Inn as we arrived

Morning walk around the Inn,  Nice morning light.

Sarah, Kylie and me.

View along the parkway.  Looks like winter, but it was almost 70 degrees.

Winter scene along the parkway.

Road Block

Lounging in the room.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pushing Rocket

i took Rocket out for a ride to Beach Boulevard Automotive to check out a cheap Toyota Tacoma, Ironically to carry my scooters tu get repairs done when I can't do them.

Going there, Rocket stumbled a couple of times, but it cleared up once warm.   Heading home, it stumbled at first but was fine once moving. But after getting off the highway and looping to Riverside Avenue, it stopped running.  It wouldn't start after several efforts so I removed the air filter. Gas poured out of it when opened, but still no starting.

I had to figure out what to do.  I tried Boris as I was only three blocks from the warehouse, but he is moving to Orlando and did not answer. So, I decided to push it the mile and a half to my office. From there I could drive the Miata the rest of the way.

I tried to start Rocket several times along the way and at the office. No spark.

It is a good thing that I have extra scooters in the garage.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Camera

I have been wanting a quality, small camera for some time now.  I mentioned it to Sarah recently and found one that I thought would be a good one.  It is a Canon G9X, a newer model that looks great and has features that make it a great choice.

The new camera.  Probably a very good choice.  Has the look of an old Leica.

This morning I got on Rocket with the intent of trying some new photos in the line of Steve Williams wonderful Scooter in the Sticks blog.  So I headed to spots where I thought views and subject matter would make for interesting photos.

By accident, I had turned the controls to a setting where multiple shots are taken with one press of the shutter, where the camera takes from five to as many as twenty shots.  Each of these can be an effect or cropping that the little computer inside the camera decides will turn the photographer into a better one.

My first stop was to the Shops of Avondale, around the corner from our house.  I got a few there.

Anita's Garden Store around the corner from home.

Then a half mile down, while passing the Loop in Avondale, I noticed a good view of the river with the sun rising.

Sunrise over McGirts Creek.

We then traveled to Baker Point where I got a few more with downtown shrouded in fog.  The drawbridge there, and boats in the protected harbor offer nice subject matter too.

Rocket with downtown in the mist behind.

Docks with the River House I designed, under construction in the background.

Rocket and the drawbridge.

The drawbridge in black and white

Rocket with boats moored in the Ortega River.


I then headed down Ortega Boulevard, where I found a couple of my projects to work as background for a couple of more shots.

A house I designed fifteen years ago, then renovated last year.

Another choice of the camera among many.

A garage I designed thirty years ago.  It held Ferraris at the time.  Now appears to be used as a garden house.  Another effect created by the camera, this one zoomed in with a watercolor type filter.

Downtown was my next destination, where I found a great view from the exit ramp to Forest Boulevard.  There, one of the camera's selections was the coolest lighting on Rocket's rear, making a great photograph.

Stopped on an off ramp.  This is a black and white version of the photo....

And the camera gave me this one too.  Rocket never looked better than bathed in this light.

I got downtown, where there were more opportunities at the new, horrific courthouse and along Laura Street and Hemming Park.

Duval County Courthouse from one of the empty parking lots in the area.

The courthouse in one of the selections made by the camera....

From this photograph.

Laura Street with the Barnett Bank and Greenleaf Crosby buildings in the background.

Rocket in front of one of my favorite buildings on Laura Street.

Old car and Rocket in front of Chamblins Bookstore.

The new Library (now ten years old)

City Hall, in the old Cohen Brothers Department Store, Henry John Klutho's best design from the early 1900's.


I must say that the photo quality and variety afforded by this camera is awesome.  I can't wait to truly learn to take advantage of having such a good one.