Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Virginia Sublime Part 2

Posted in Adventure, art, beer, family, Fuji, Hike, Jason Gray, links, Park, photography, prime lens, prime lenses, Travel, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on July 21, 2019

Virginia is a state where the Nation’s history unfolds, but it is also a place of great natural beauty and strong, local community. It is home to saltwater sunrises, cool mountain mists, and almost everything in-between.

If you read Virginia Sublime Part 1, then you already know how this survey of the State is structured, but just in case, this is a report back from my family of four’s recent trip to Virginia (and nearby). The State has essentially five distinct regions, of which I have now visited three. In the last article, I covered the Valley and Ridge Region and the Piedmont, while this post will focus on the Coastal Plain/Tidewater Region.

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Virginia Sublime Part 1

Virginia may be for lovers, but it is also easy to love. The State possesses an incredible diversity of landscape (from the Atlantic Coast, to tidal marshes, historic towns, rolling mountains, mighty rivers, and busy cities), and even a great diversity of people (ranked 14th overall in the U.S. for 2019, whereas my home state of Missouri comes in at 37th). Its proximity to other interesting places is also good, being essentially centrally positioned along the east coast of the U.S.

My family has now had the chance to visit Virginia twice, though we’ve seen much of the State on those trips. Consider this post part travelog and part recommendation, though it only truly scratches the surface on all there is to do there (perhaps I’ll expand it in the future as we return to explore other sites). Nonetheless, I’m quite confidant that you could plan a stellar trip using the info contained herein, after all, we already did!

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History of Nature and Landscape Photography, Transition to Artform

George Shiras and John Hammerin a canoe equipped for jacklighting, Whitefish Lake, Michigan, 1893; © National Geographic Creative Archives

Around the beginning of the 20th Century, significant innovations in camera technology, chemistry, and photographic equipment coalesced at a time when photographers were beginning to recognize the expressive potential of their image-making. An era was fast dawning wherein the photograph would no longer be simply relegated to the realm of science or to cheap novelty, but would instead serve to drive culture, both in and out of art.

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Fuji X-E3

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I’ve been shooting on Fujifilm now since December, so I figured that’s long enough to beginning offering practical reviews of my experiences with that equipment. Up first is the Fuji X-E3, a nimble, lightweight, rangefinder-styled mirrorless shooter that both appeals to specific needs in photography and to the photo everyman (that’s a feat in itself).

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Chouteau Island

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The Mississippi River provides so much recreational diversity throughout its over 2,300 miles, across ten U.S. States. In Missouri, the river bottom is a place that makes all of the life around it possible. It also carries the weight of death, in the form of floods and drought.

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Hickory Canyons Natural Area

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I am well aware that much of the country does not think of Missouri first when they think of “outdoor adventure”, and that’s just fine. As a state positioned dead center in the continental U.S., we enjoy an abundance of resources that result from being a point of convergence: the convergence of cultures (and the legacies of those cultures- often this is a struggle too), the convergence of the largest rivers in North America, the convergence of a once sprawling ocean and once soaring mountains, lost in time, but leaving a geological uniqueness found little elsewhere on Earth. It’s all here, and frankly, if you want to flyover it, that’s fine too; it just keeps the crowds down for those of us that choose to revel in it.

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St. Francois State Park

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St. Francois State Park is a pleasant park with a surprising variety of landscapes to explore. On our visit, we hiked the shortish Mooner’s Hollow Trail (2.75 miles), but still found ourselves transported through Ozark fens and glades, past a gentle cascade, and even across bridge-less streams. Our son, Harper surprised himself (and us) when he slipped into a creek (!!). The cool water was a relief, however, and he was quickly all smiles.

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Cliff Cave County Park

In May of 2018, the new additions to Cliff Cave County Park, in Oakville, officially opened to the public, including 2 miles of trail extension, connectors and bridges to improve access, and a scenic overlook of the Mississippi River (partial view from pictured above). All of this was a project of Great Rivers Greenway, which continues to assert itself as a important steward for the outdoors in the metro area.

I couldn’t make the opening, and I had not had a chance to explore it since, so I took a sweltering June afternoon (100 degrees at midday) to do just that.

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Castor River Shut-Ins Natural Area

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There are some places in nature that you just luckily stumble across. Places that are in the vicinity of your regular spots, that you finally take notice of, and are amazed that you could have missed them all this time. Castor River Shut-Ins Natural Area is not one of those places. It is tucked away inside the Amidon Memorial Conservation Area, down remote gravel roads, susceptible to wash outs after a heavy rain, that dead end at your destination. From St. Louis, it is also a bit of a haul (to be more precise, it is about the exact distance away as to necessitate ten or twelve “Are we almost there?!”‘s from a growingly impatient five year old). That said, it is totally worth all the effort.

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Riverway Getaway

jason_gray-40

Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) is Missouri’s largest National Park Services property, of which there are twelve, and the first national park in the United States to protect a river. It is a wonderful space for family camping or for an outing with friends, and summer float trips here are both a State tradition and right of passage. 

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