Funny how those of us with a photography problem can take something amazing like a riverside view of an autumn sunset and turn it into something disappointing.
I sat in the departure gate and snapped on a manual focus telephoto lens, then aimed my camera around at the various travelers sitting across the room. I don’t use that lens much, but when I do I always get at least one shot I like.
It occurred to me that mobile phones have made waiting areas quieter places. Sure, you get the occasional talker, but for the most part those with phones were texting or browsing the web, or in some other way silently reaching out to those they know rather than striking up a conversation with (and potentially annoying) the strangers in the same room.
I wondered whether the shoeshine lady should sit with her head buried in her phone’s display or look up and try to catch the eye of potential customers. Her marketing style was in stark contrast to a smartly-dressed woman I saw later that day, who kept arbitrarily repeating, “Sir?” at various male passersby. She was not shining shoes, but had she been, the leather in that airport would have gleamed.
At my layover point, Charlotte, North Carolina, I ran in hopes of reaching a distant terminal in time to catch my next flight. The two laptops in my backpack and the camera bag over my shoulder made this harder than it had to be, and I used the moving walkways to my advantage. Besides the extra speed, it makes me feel like I’m walking on the moon.
(click any pic to enlarge)
I had 17 minutes to spare when I handed the gate agent my ticket.
I descended stairs and walked along the tarmac to my next plane — a turbo-prop with landing gear attached to the wings. As I walked up the stairs onto the plane, I imagined I was an ambassador embarking on his first adventure to a foreign land.
In a way, I was.
Although I had spent time in North Carolina on previous trips, I had never been to its east coast. Granted, Washington, NC is not actually a seaside town, but it is part of the inner banks, and features an historic waterfront district on the Pamlico River. That leads to the Pamlico Sound and the outer banks, and then the Atlantic Ocean.
Armed with directions to various locally-owned restaurants I had researched extensively on Trip Advisor and Yelp, I ventured out rather than staying in my room every night.
I headed out after my first day of work and, using my archaic printed Mapquest directions, drove toward the end of a peninsula that jutted out into a wide spot of the Pamlico River. Whichard’s Beach, it was called, and it called to me.
In my rental car, I meandered through flat ground lush with wetland grasses, further whetting my appetite for the river view. The road my directions wanted me to take was marked with a majestic brick sign announcing, alongside the subdivision’s pretentious but forgettable name, Private Drive. I stayed on the main road, hoping to take one of the other feeders I saw on my printout. Each time I arrived at another, a similar marker shooed me.
I stopped alongside a man and a woman fishing from a narrow canal. They sat on folding metal chairs. “Can you tell me how to get to Whichard Beach?” I said.
“This is Whichard Beach,” the man replied.
I gazed out and saw no open water as the map promised. I saw only large homes, many on stilts, and I could tell from my map that I still was not in the right spot. The next road was private, too, so with little time left before sundown, I turned tail and headed back to the waterfront district. I snapped a few shots that did not make me happy, and then had dinner and returned to my hotel.
It wasn’t the last time that the landowners would thwart me, but it was the last time they would win. My next trip to the waterfront, and my next sunset photos (not pictured here), brought me at least a little vindication.
(to be continued)