One Day One Place

After a day of driving around visiting multiple sites we wanted to spend the entire day all at one place. We decided to spend the day at Taughannock Falls State Park. If you are not familiar with Taughannock Falls State Park its most well-known feature is its namesake, Taughannock Falls which plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge.

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After a couple day’s worth of long drives we decided to try and stay closer to home. But, I still wanted to see some new sights. I thought I knew just how to make that happen. 

First up was Stony Brook State Park. I had been there once before, but the trail leading to the waterfall was closed at that time. I wanted to go back and get a good view of the waterfall. We arrived. I unpacked the camera gear. We started walking to the trail. WHAT?!?!?! Trail Closed!!! Oh no. It never occurred to me that the trail might still be closed. I should have checked the website. I was so bummed.

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Go North

I talk a lot about wanting to and trying to relax on this vacation, but maybe that is just self-delusion. I did have some goals I wanted to accomplish on this vacation.

Visiting New State Parks

I wanted to visit state parks that I had not visited before. Since it was supposed to be hot all week I thought maybe it would help to go north. We live on the southern border of NY right near PA. So, we went north to the shores of Lake Ontario. FYI, it was just as hot there as it was at home.

Our first stop was Selkirk Shores State Park. Selkirk Shores was a nice little state park. When we arrived there was fog or steam rising up off the ground in the woods.

The area where we parked initially was right at this nice wooded picnic area at the edge of the woods. There was a trail that went off into the woods at one end. We stays in the picnic area to enjoy the views there. The trees in this spot were majestic. I don’t think I did them justice in my photography.

Selkirk Shores State Park
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On day 3 of our vacation we went to a location I am familiar with and enjoy but lately never seem to find my way there as much as I would like. We spent the day relaxing near the shores of Tioga Hammond Lakes. This time it was a day for just my wife and I to relax and enjoy. No dogs this time.

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Relax at Allegany

With the format of our vacation being composed of individualized day trips we really wanted to make sure we found ways to include our dogs in our vacation. Two challenges that arise with that is number one, one of our dogs has some issues with her hind legs so she cannot do much extensive hiking with us like she used to, and two it has been and is forecasted to be quite hot so it might not be particularly safe to take the dogs on long hikes requiring lots of exertion.

Allegany State Park
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The challenge of planning to do vacation as a series of road trips leaving from home each day and returning home each night is planning and deciding where to go each day. I had already done some research and developed a list of possible options for us to visit.

The next difficulty is that if you don’t end up going somewhere on that day does it still feel like a vacation? On a typical vacation where you leave and travel to someplace for a week or so once you get there you are “on vacation” no matter what happens during the day. Even in bad weather you are still on vacation.

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Getting Back on the Path

Well, I’m back. This has been one of the longest breaks I have taken from writing here in a while. It has been a mostly unintentional break.

I have several pieces written and ready to go. They have been written for a while and just awaiting addition of my photography before publishing and for some reason I found myself stuck on that and unable to move forward. Usually my photography has been the one part I am able to make progress with most fluidly without much hesitation. Once a piece is writing selecting the photographs to accompany it and publishing is almost automatic. I don’t know what this hiccup was all about. Anxiety, stress, self-doubt, self-sabotage, procrastination, lack of desire, lack of motivation? I don’t really know. I hope I am over that. So hopefully I will be getting the train back on the track and making steady progress in the near future.

Flowers in our deck flower box on our first day of vacation.

One difficulty of living in the times of a global pandemic is that on top of the uncertainty and constant mental strain of thinking about a pandemic is that life continues to throw its regular curve-balls at you and now you just have to try to hit them while blindfolded. About a month ago my computer died. The hard drive was a complete and total failure. Nothing was recoverable. Fortunately I was able to get it repaired locally and up in running in not too long of a time.

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The other day I was out creating some photography. My goal for the day was flower and macro photography with some scenic shots mixed in. I used four different cameras over the course of the day. One of which came in handy in a way I was not expecting.

When I set out to take photographs and I have a goal in mind, I take the gear I need to create those types of photographs. I often will also carry one other camera body and lens combination that will be useful if I come across just the right subject. I may not be planning for that subject but I want to be prepared just in case I am presented with that opportunity.

These two fox pups appeared like magic right in front of me.

Being Prepared

Frequently my subjects are flowers or scenic nature shots as they were on this day. I plan accordingly and take the gear I will need for the shots I have in mind. But I also love wildlife and I would hate to miss an opportunity to capture wildlife images if the opportunity presented itself while I am out. Usually what I think that means is photographing some birds I encounter along the way or also some turtles like I did during this outing. To that end I try to always carry my 300 mm lens attached to a body when I am out.

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Bird near Cayuga Lake

My photography tends to vacillate greatly between very planned photography where I have a subject and location that I will be photographing to basically what I would call adventure photography. Adventure photography is more like I get out in nature and enjoy myself and photograph whatever strikes me creatively or inspires me. Maybe I am exploring a new place and I want to be open to all possibilities.

One thing I try to do is to be open to opportunities that may arise unexpectedly. My photography occurs outside so even when I have a plan for my photography there is a lot that is beyond my control and I try to be open to it and ready to take advantage of it.

Recently I was working to create images for an athlete. We were working at a local park. When we were done I wanted to look around and see if anything else interesting was going on. Would there be any other subjects I could capture.

Pileated Woodpecker along the shore at Cas Park in Ithaca.
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Finger Lakes Trail panoramic

The Challenge

In the past I have never been a big fan of virtual races. I don’t think I had ever done one before this year. However, with the unusual circumstances we all find ourselves in it is a good time to embrace something new. As everyone is away most events are cancelled and this has included races for runners. I haven’t run a regular race this year and all the ones that I had signed up for or planed to sign up for have been cancelled up until now.

I don’t typically run a lot of races. But it is always nice to have a race that you are looking forward to somewhere on the calendar. This helps provide a little added incentive to get out for runs. I’ve gone through periods this year where I haven’t really felt much like running for various reasons. Maybe it is because of lack of races or the ambiguousness we all find our lives in.

So for the first time I signed up for a virtual race and ran the Aravaipa Strong and I ran it as a 50K across the Finger Lakes Trail on my own. I enjoyed the challenge that provided for me. I have been a fan of Aravaipa Running from afar through Jamil Coury and his YouTube Channels like Mountain Outpost. I was interested to see they were going to offer more virtual races.

The next virtual race offering would be a joint venture form two of their brands Aravaipa Running and Run Steep Get High. This virtual race was different than most virtual races or other running events. The event was called the Limitless Vertical Challenge and the goal of the race would be to climb as many feet of elevation as you possibly can. The race would run for a week and you could use all week to accumulate as many feet of elevation gain as possible.

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