Archive for Jun 15, 2010

A recent trip to New England paid huge dividends. I returned with a veritable cornucopia of photographs – 225 images on my memory card — taken over the course of a week (end of May/early June). All of them are now edited and posted to one or another of my galleries. Here is one of the barns in Massachusetts I shot.

rustic old barn New England expedition yields bountiful harvest

My wife Pat and I flew from San Francisco into Hartford, CT, where we rented a car and headed west, into New York State and up the Hudson River Valley.

Our first tourist stop was at FDR’s magnificent 900-acre estate in Hyde Park. A guide showed us about the grounds, and, on our own, we visited the museum, abundant in historical artifacts.

Regardless of one’s political persuasions, it should be a must-see for every American. As an auto buff, one of the attractions for me was FDR’s 1936 Ford Phaeton, customized upon delivery from the manufacturer by a mechanic at a local dealership. By dint of his handiwork, FDR — paralyzed from the waist down by polio, contracted at the age of 39 — was able to operate the vehicle solo, using hand controls substituting for conventional brake and clutch. It even had a steering-column-mounted gizmo that, at the touch of a switch, delivered a lit cigarette. FDR loved to smoke, as did Winston Churchill, co-architect of Allied activities in WWII.

We overnighted in Glens Falls, a charming town (birthplace of celebrity chef Rachael Ray) that, sadly, has visibly fallen on hard times economically.

Before crossing into Vermont south of Burlington, I had several choice photo ops – mostly of old barns, including one on a working merino sheep farm – shown here – that has been declared a national landmark. I’d have taken (even) more photographs that day had a thunderstorm not intervened, denying me shots of several choice barns. As much as I was tempted, it’s not worth risking one’s expensive, non-waterproof camera to the elements.

red old barn photo New England expedition yields bountiful harvestWe had expected to stay in Burlington that night, but learned, to our surprise and chagrin, that nary a room was to be found. A big marathon run was to be held the day following, and we had no choice but to head south in search of a place to hang our hats for the night (and do laundry).

We lodged instead in Montpelier, the state capital. Had a marvelous dinner at the Main Street Grill, operated and staffed by students and faculty at a local culinary arts school. Great food, great service. We lucked out.

The day following took us through Waterbury, where we stopped to indulge in some gourmet coffee served at a train station-turned-retail store run by Green Mountain Coffee Roaster, whose headquarters are across the street. Coffee addict that I am, I was hoping for a tour of the roasting plant, but, alas, no soap. Public tours not offered.

As we continued south, I took pictures of several comely old barns, including a round one (actually octagonal) tucked in hills above an enchanting hamlet named Waitsfield. But for a tip from a local, I never would have found it. Once a working farm, it’s now a luxury B&B. large circular barn picture1 New England expedition yields bountiful harvestHere’s the barn, shaded by several magnificent maple trees. Note the reflection in the pond. Being in the right place at the right time is a welcome bonus for any photographer!

We pitched our tent in Brattleboro, then continued south into Massachusetts, spending the night in Springfield. On the way out of town the next morning, I took photographs of a couple of vehicles chanced upon, a rusting 1951 Ford sedan and an old moving van converted into a retailing marquee. The real bonanza, however, was encountering on the backroad not only several more supremely photogenic barns, but also a pair of discarded vehicles, each of which eminently qualified as “abandoned art.”

rusted old ford truck New England expedition yields bountiful harvestOne was a 1940s Ford truck replete with a “Warning Attack Dog” sign on the front bumper (I shot away undaunted … and, luckily, unscathed) and the Rusted Relic gem of the entire excursion, what remains of a 1926 Reo tow truck parked outside a class-car restoration shop. Here it is.

By the day following, we had traversed the southeastern corner of New Hampshire and into Maine. Since we were beginning to run short of time, I concentrated on shooting a “destination” property owned by a woman who was a college classmate of my wife’s. It features a great old barn that offered up several excellent shots, thanks in no small part to a beautiful, cloud-streaked blue sky.

rustic old barn window picture New England expedition yields bountiful harvestMy favorite in this series is this barn window, the 200-year-old panes of which reflect a portion of the barn behind. We had enough time to make our way to Freeport, a coastal town in Maine and perhaps most famous as the intergalactic headquarters of L.L. Bean. (We visited the retail store, but somehow managed to keep our wallets undisturbed.)

The morning following we departed for our ultimate destination, Cambridge, MA, where, on June 4, my son Andrew graduated from MIT with an MBA. Here’s a photo of The Graduate, who starts a job in September, working in the San Francisco office of McKinsey and Co., the oldest and perhaps most prestigious management consulting firm in the U.S. (Not to be outdone, my daughter Jessica, who obtained a doctorate from Stanford two years ago, has joined the faculty of Boston College as a tenure-track professor/researcher in the Graduate School of Social Work. As much as it pains me to see her leave the Bay Area, it’s a wonderful career opportunity which, I am certain, will serve to propel her on a distinguished career in academia, clearly her métier.)

andrew graduation New England expedition yields bountiful harvest jessica graduation New England expedition yields bountiful harvest

I don’t expect to undertake another serious shoot until this fall. I have an invitation to stay with friends in Upstate New York, near the Finger Lakes. I may well elect to seize the opportunity to capture some of the resplendent fall colors found only in our eastern states.

Between now and then, the Big Event on my calendar is my high-school reunion in suburban Cleveland. I won’t divulge year of graduation. Suffice to say we’re all certified senior citizens. Out of a class numbering 224, since commencement day I have crossed paths with only two. I (sort of) look forward to it. In case everyone looks better than I do, I am taking a ski mask as a precaution. Will I take pictures there? Sure. But you won’t see any of them.