Looking Down To Fayette Station & A Little Boy’s Dreams Of Flight

Tonight’s post contains extra information for Facebook users who are being blocked from using the links on my blog.

The New River Gorge is one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia. Normally photos taken of this area feature the New River Gorge Bridge spanning the gorge 876 feet above the water. However, once per year the bridge is open to pedestrians and there’s a chance to get the opposite angle featuring Fayette Station. The view of the canyon is as good as it gets without a helicopter. I remember back in late 70s and early 80s there was a hang glider craze and at least one time I saw gliders on the canyon rim. I have no idea if it was a good idea due to wind but it sounded like fun. The big concern would have been winds blowing the glider into a rock. I’ve stood up on a ledge along the canyon walls and experienced the rain coming up from valley below due to those winds.

Walking the bridge and the high cliff overhangs of West Virginia always inspired the sensation of flying for me. As a child with a very active imagination I always pretended that I could build a giant paper airplane and sail it from the edge of canyon. In my little fantasy I would bank by leaning one way or the other and sail all the way to Gauley Bridge. It’s a fantasy brought back to me by standing on the edge of the New River Gorge Bridge and looking down at Fayette Station.

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A Perfect Day In The Gorge

Have you ever been asked about what your perfect for looks like? Some people describe the perfect day as winning the lottery and having the check delivered by their favorite celebrity. Who of course arrives on the back of a magical unicorn that you get to keep. While that’s an “interesting” vision and would make for an awesome day it’s not quite for me. I was never really awestruck by fame and rumor has it that unicorns are high maintenance. Lottery winnings might be nice though. But my perfect day would have to involve the freedom to roam the hills of Appalachia. I think I would like nothing more than to pick a trail along the river and slowly amble my way downstream while exploring all the little nooks and crannies that are seldom seen. I have even fantasized about packing up a fleet of canoes documenting all the rivers and streams in West Virginia. Perhaps even find some pre-columbian ruins and photograph mysterious petroglyphs before the elements obscure them forever. Or perhaps find a rare flower that has never been seen before. These were the dreams of my childhood. Not that fame and fortune were a bad thing but it was a lifestyle of simplicity and the wonder of discovery that I found attractive. And, while I may never really be the first person to stumble upon a grand discovery there is the very real possibility of seeing something that’s new to me. And that’s still awesome.

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Crossroads And Transition

Where do you go in your dreams? Are you at home or in some distant world that is alien to your waking self? Are you ever at a crossroads? I’ve read that dreaming about a bridge is symbolic of transition. Dreams about a crossroads is symbolic of making a decision. Do we take the iron ribbon that pulls us straight forward or travel up the mountain and find our way to the bridge? What if there’s a third choice? A pathway that’s not obvious. If you look closely at the road into the mountains there’s a sign that indicates it’s the wrong way. But the railway is built for travel by train and since I’m in the Big Blue Truck that route is also an invalid choice. But, just out of frame is another bridge.

The Low Road And The High Road

The real world likes to present us with false choices. We can see where we want to be but there seems to be no way to get there. It’s in these time that we need to step back and change our perspective. It’s very likely that the third option is just outside of our field of vision.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook. Recently, I’ve been made aware that many of my posts on Facebook are being buried in the feed. So, if you don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website at the bottom of theWelcome Page.

Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Crossroads In The Gorge” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using the Contact Form on my website. (Note, I do not share or sale contactinformation. EVER)

Tonight’s bonus Image is titled “The Low Road And The High Road ” and is also available for purchase.

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I’m also available for portraits by appointment. Use the Contact Form or message me on Facebook for details.

Go Jump Off A Bridge (Bridge Day 2018)

Since before history mankind has dreamed of living flight. Even long before the aircraft Leonardo Da Vinci invented a parachute designed with the idea of base jumping in mind. At this point I’ll need to leave the finer points of that history to the real experts and leap straight into Bridge Day. Celebrated annually in Fayetteville West Virginia Bridge Day marks the crossing of our most challenging natural barrier. Namely, the New River Gorge. Today was the first time I attended Bridge Day in a long time and the first time ever as a photographer. I also want to give a Shout out to Adventures On The Gorge for the courtesy bus ride and free parking. As well as to “Mama Dee” (I’m hoping I got the name right) for being a very entertaining bus driver. I’m also going to keep the writing shortened to brief description tonight and let the photos do most of the talking.

Walking into the event from where the bus dropped us off.

As I look down into the New River Gorge the fog is sticking around a longer than normal today.

The objective is to hit the bullseye and not the tree. ( He made it just fine)

Looking at the event from one of the overlooks.

It’s a long way down!

The wind seemed to carry him along rather quickly but he makes the bullseye.

Back up on the bridge the crowd gathers to watch the jumping.

Second thoughts? Not on your life. He’s just testing the wind.

Catching the catapult in operation was harder than I thought. Even with countdown. Apparently, throwing your friends from the highest single arch bridge in North America is a great way to pass the time.

It’s a bit late for second thoughts now.

“CANNONBALL!!!!”

These guys are going to do a tandem jump.

I’m not sure what he was saying but it looked like a prayer to me. He stood there for several minutes with his hand stretched out over the river.

This guy was going for the high dive.

“I BELIEVE I CAN FLY!”

This guy did several flips on the way down.

A still from the GIF above.

Another one goes off the high dive.

I decided to pull back from the jumpers and give the rest of the crowd space to get in a few shots. Perhaps the next time I’ll make it down to the Landing Zone and get some shots as they come in. The dark sky and lack of rain gear was my motivation to head home and do my editing.

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Looking Forward to Bridge Day 2018

Rising up from the New River Gorge is in my opinion one of greatest feats of engineering in the modern world. The New River Gorge Bridge. To give the outside world an idea of scale there’s a four lane highway at the top. The height of the bridge allows for base jumping. And in just a few short weeks that’s what will happen here. A crowd will be gathered at the top and tourists will hike across. I have not been able to make it out for Bridge Day for several years now but I’m hoping to get a chance to photograph something special. I was there several years ago when a parachute malfunctioned and the jumper executed a successful cutaway and redeployment of her spare chute close enough to the bottom that she said she could see her own face in the water. ( and the high dive at the swimming pool gives the rest of us the willies). I think that the experience of jumping into the canyon has to be the closest thing to living flight that human could feel. I can imagine the wind pressure on my face as I descend into the river and then touching down gracefully on the flat rocks at bottom. I was able to find a short video of the human catapult launching the jumpers off of the bridge Here. (The video is not mine) The spectacle itself is a full fledged carnival. There are vendors set up offering everything from trinkets to Gourmet Foods. This happens to coincide with the peak color of Fall most years which makes it one of the most beautiful occurrences in my mountains. The competition for a premium spot to shoot from will be pretty fierce and I expect that those who are already connected have a claim staked out. But I’m crossing my fingers.

If you’re a person who likes the outdoors, festivals or extreme sports and if you think that you might want to attend then here’s a official Bridge Day Website. The Event is Saturday, October 20, 2018!

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The Tale Of The Twisted Tree

The darkened sky hangs ominously overhead as a chilled wind races across the ridges. I can already smell the rain in the damp air. I quicken my pace as the first few drops begin to change the color of the pavement. The old gnarly sweet gum tree seems to reach out to offer shelter for those who pass by it’s grounds. It has stood here on this windy ridge for hundreds of years and witnessed the passing of many generations. There was a time when it was not so tall and strong. A time when the Shawnee hunting parties passed silently by in moccasins. Then came the lumberjacks with axes and saws. But the gum tree was too twisted and crooked for their needs. Then came the farmers whose cattle rested under its boughs. Finally, a workman came with transits and plumbs and cement. With the skills of an architect and the heart of a poet. He fell in love with the knots and twists in the wood. This ancient and weathered tree would be a centerpiece of his creation in the park. As the people came and admired the old tree it felt a new sense of purpose and loved them back. Today it stands on the rim of the New River Gorge and welcomes all who pass down the trail. Including a photographer who sheltered from the rain a few days ago and imagined it’s story. In your travels through the heart of West Virginia take a few minutes to view and enjoy the New River Gorge Bridge at the little park just outside of Fayetteville and stretch your legs under the friendly old sweet gum tree in the park.

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Stepping Out Of The Comfort Zone

It’s not easy to step out onto the edge. There’s something about that place if transition from one state of being to the next that really gets our attention. We get butterflies in our stomachs and our knees begin to tremble. We can feel our hearts pounding as adrenaline surges through our veins. That’s the feeling I would have during a repelling exercise or leaping from the tall cliffs into the water. In my young mind I knew that this is what it felt like to fly. Fear, excitement and recklessness all come together to form the experience. When I was a kid I had the opportunity to spend some one on one time with some of the Blue Angels flight team and I like the way one of the pilots described this feeling. He said that “There’s no difference between the thrill of flying and the fear of falling.” His point was that it’s in overcoming your desire to remain comfortable with your circumstances that we become more than we was yesterday.

It doesn’t have to be piloting the latest and hottest high performance jet at beyond the speed of sound. It doesn’t even have to be leaping into water or sliding down a cliff on a rope. (In fact especially not the cliff in the feature image. There’s no water under the rocks here and it’s not a legal place to repell from.) It could be as simple as deciding to strike up a conversation with that person who you’re interested in or starting a blog where you share your deepest thoughts with the world. Whatever it is know that when you overcome that shaky feeling that this is what it’s like to fly.