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Sweet Carolina

What little of North Carolina I have been fortunate enough to lay eyes on so far has done wonderfully to transport me to many of my most cherished memories from Idaho. In particular I've enjoyed, the pine trees, the birds, the winding country roads, the weather and yes, those backwoods, beat-up-truck-driving, trucker hat-wearin', tabacky-spittin', pull your car out of the ditch with a smile hicks. Those folks were dearly missed during my three year tour which in Austin.

I am re-adjusting nicely to the way of life here. We live in the country a bit, not too far back, but definitely out of the way. When we do head into town, we interact with nothing more than a neighborhood of people by Austin's standards. Parking is minimal, but so is the traffic and I've not yet been unable to find a place to nestle my full-size Ford. Rush hour is, well, cute. Our bottleneck comes when two off-ramps converge on the section of highway which slows to city speed. Construction eventually reduces us to a single lane and just like that, we all parade toward campus, literally.

I can stomach this traffic, however, as it's no more than a stoplight or two in Austin during peak hours, but my fellow drivers still seem antsy. I am also delightfully distracted by the scenery here. Apparently somebody in Austin grabbed the color palette and ripped out everything but brown, light brown, dark brown and black. I can say with every confidence, the grass really is greener here.

I decided to post a brief update here, for the benefit of all those curious about how Ashley, Ladybird and myself are settling, but mainly because I took a few photos I want to share. For the first time in years, I woke up to snow on the ground. A day and a half later, some of it is still fighting off the warmer air. I have no way of knowing how long we'll wait to see snow at our house again, so I intended to document the occasion somehow. I hit the road with a coffee, my camera and no idea what I was going to find. In the end, I found a couple, decent, Carolina winter photographs and as usual, I'm posting my favorites here.

Enjoy!

EDIT: Ashley and I took some time this past weekend to dirty up our boots and leave a few footprints on some of the trails near our house. As is usually the case, I dragged along the ol' memory-maker and captured a few landscapes. Given the nature of this most recent post, I didn't think these new photographs warranted a separate one so I am just tagging them to the end of this post. The photos from our weekend hikes comprise the final four below. I also just tacked on one last snow shot of our backyard after what was ultimately a 2-inch accumulation in our backyard not long after the original post here. It is the final image below.

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NatGeo TV Shoot

I have photographed more televised sporting events than I can count. I have seen myself on the broadcast many times. I've been on the news, on the big screen, in the mix, in the fold, in the background and interviewed but rarely do I take the time to watch a production to which I contributed that isn't somewhat sports-related. However, I have been anticipating this credit for a while and since the episode has now aired, I can share my experience.

I was hired by a production company to shoot production stills for an episode of the National Geographic series Doomsday Preppers being filmed about an hour outside Dallas in Gun Barrel City, Texas. I was on board for days two and three of what was penned as a four-day shoot with a wrap-up upon completion of the build. This should all make sense once you watch the episode or if you have seen the series. Essentially, Doomsday Preppers identifies people around the country preparing in some way for doomsday. The subjects outline a specific build - a bunker, a command center, a shelter etc. - and allow the cameras to follow them through the process. Ken Samford, with the permission of his wife Connie, two of the nicest people I've ever met, constructed a command center atop their two-story Texas house and I weaved my way through the action for two very long, hot days.

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Blue Devil Baseball

I wanted my first post as a North Carolina resident to have some relevance, so I decided to dig up photos from an NCAA baseball game I shot for Duke University when I lived in Texas. The Blue Devils opened the Longhorns' season a couples years back at Disch Falk Field in Austin and I was assigned to the game. I've photographed many collegiate sports, including baseball, football, soccer, rugby, even swimming and diving, and this game still serves as the high-water mark, no pun intended, for the most wet I've been while shooting an event. I photographed a Boise State football game in the snow and even that falls in line behind this Texas downpour.

Regardless, I made some nice photographs and really enjoy the rain in some of the shots. If only these images could convey the misery I endured to make the photos: Hauling 30 pounds of camera gear around a slippery stadium and trying to shield it from the rain while constantly peeling the wet clothes off my skin enough to at least walk and kneel.

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National Cancer Survivor's Day - 2014

Saturday morning, Ashley and I visited the North Carolina Zoo, the largest of its kind in North America. While we did spend several hours that morning and afternoon wandering through the enormous 5-mile loop, we went to the zoo because that's where Randolph Cancer Center was holding its 2014 National Cancer Survivors Day event. Just as with Relay, I got to meet some new people and say hi to a few I'd met previously. This particular crowd is always a blast and I very much look forward to these events.

On the menu Saturday were excellent breakfast items, Bingo and a well-thought-out way to record the presence of the year's attending survivors -- a tree, whose leaves were placed a thumbprint at a time by the survivors only. They also signed the bottom to fill in the grass. I found this especially fitting as well, considering the people really are the roots holding this support structure in place for survivors at all stages, including those going through the thick of it right now.

I'll never get over the way this group has come together and truly built a family within the RCC family to encourage each other and make certain nobody ever has to go through cancer alone. Credit to these people and I'm honored to repeatedly move among them at these events.

As I did for Relay, but on a much smaller scale, with many fewer people and a lot less time, I put together a few images and tossed in a little something to listen to which you watch. Hope you enjoy!

Relay For Life 2014 - Asheboro

I was recently fortunate enough to spend the day in Bicentennial Park in downtown Asheboro, NC, for the 2014 Relay For Life event. I met many great people, had a great time wandering through the crowd, checking out all the booths and talking to people -- people I'd never seen before but who felt perfectly at home stopping me for a chat. That's the kind of place Asheboro is; Everybody knows everybody else and as I'm told, everybody else's business as well, but that's OK by me. I have nothing to hide and I enjoy hearing the stories from around town.

The community of Asheboro is one which I really stumbled upon accidentally. I had no idea I'd be spending so much time there when Ashley and I moved to North Carolina five months ago. It's an hour down the road, but worth every minute of the drive, which isn't terrible in itself, what with all the scenery and postcard after postcard out the window. But forget about the landscape for now, it's the people who really make Asheboro special. I've never felt so welcome, or at least noticed in any city before. I can't even say with certainty my home town back in Idaho was this inviting, but I haven't been back there in a while, not for an extended stay anyway.

I won't go so far as to say Asheboro is your modern Mayberry, but it certainly has some of the fabled cities finer qualities and earns its community feel. Perhaps I'm just being optimistic or finding a way to block what I don't want to see -- and I'm sure Asheboro has its secrets as any small down does -- but I am happy to be there every week and hope to plug into the area even more.

Take a peek at this audio slideshow I threw together from the weekend event and see if you can see what I mean.

Rollin' Through Raleigh

Ashley and I had a little time to kill today. This time, instead of heading west, we went east and wound up in Raleigh. I parked in the first open, truck-sized spot I found. We hopped out, Ash with phone, me with my camera backpack, and we began to weave our way through downtown. We enjoyed watching a parade of vendors move in and set up for what we suspected was some sort of booze fest, then hit up the North Carolina Historical Museum -- free admission. The highlight for both of us were stock cars driven by Dale Sr. and Richard Petty on display. After an hour or so there, including a swing through the Call To Arms section, which showcased George Preddy's dress uniform and pieces recovered from his wrecked Mustang, we stopped by Chuck's for lunch -- excellent half-pound, medium-rare burger and fries with some spiced-up special sauce. We rolled down the windows for the 50-minute drive home on the highway, which the trees told us runs right where a thick forrest was once whole. As is often the case, I made a photo here and there. These are a few of the keepers from the trip. Hope you enjoy.

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