Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chasing Letters in Southern Virginia

hoosing a road trip destination is an art form. This past weekend I wanted the chance to further explore my new home state of Virginia. I spent a while staring at the map on Friday trying to decide what town might hold the next great letter or number for my collection. The town that kept calling my name was a little place called Bristol. I thought it was cool that the state border splits the town's main street down the middle. One side of the street is Virginia and the other side is Tennessee. Bristol held a healthy dose of mystery for me. I had high hopes of finding some great photos.

As soon as I set foot on State Street, I realized Bristol is not so mysterious to a large number of Americans. In my defense, I am not a NASCAR fan or country music afficiando. So I was unaware that Bristol hosts a famous car race each March. I also was not aware that Bristol lays claim to being the birthplace of country music. Despite my lack of knowledge about Bristol, it turned out to be a great photo destination. This "C" was hiding on a fabric store sign on the Tennessee side of town. I harvested a healthy number of letters while wandering the walkable downtown area.

While I spent a lot of time driving this past weekend, going from the northern end of the state to the southern border, it was a fun trip. I stumbled across several interesting sites along Lee Highway as it winds its way toward Tennessee.

Just before sunset on Saturday I found the Moonlite Theatre, an old drive-in movie theatre near Abingdon, Va. As darkness fell, I broke out my camera and flashlight to do some "painting." I quickly learned people are pretty friendly in southern Virginia. At least 5 people pulled over to ask why I was walking back and forth shining a flashlight at a broken theatre sign. I tried to explain how setting my camera to a 60-second exposure and spotlighting parts of the sign could create a cool effect. But all I got was blank looks.

One driver told me he watched the original Star Wars at the Moonlite. I can't tell whether the theatre is still open. The website says it is closed for the season. You can see one of my Moonlite photos on my new Flickr photostream. If the Moonlite is going to open this season, I hope they get the "O" and "E" back in place soon. Keep watching my Flickr account as I share my various road trips and local photo excursions. And I am inching closer to getting GDL Studio up and running. Thanks for your patience!

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