I saw a lot in 2018 and looking through old posts and photos to find my favorites was a real trip down memory lane. Oddly enough, all five are geographically pretty close to each other, considering I traveled the length and breadth of the US and eastern Canada this year.
A: Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
2018 marked my second trip to Gettysburg, this time allowing myself enough time to explore the battlefield area by area. I had spent time reading up on Gettysburg since my first trip in 2017 and it paid off with a clearer understanding of places and strategies during this visit.
Why I picked it: This place made me realize that I don’t know much about the Civil War and what came after and so it became the springboard for one of my current projects: reading up civil rights from the 1860s forward and planning to visit several cities in the South in 2019 to more fully understand racism’s past and how it still affects life in these United States.
B: NASA Goddard, Maryland
Several years ago, I won the #NASASocial lottery via Twitter and was able to attend events like an AGU conference in San Francisco and the launch of Mars Curiosity in Florida and meet a lot of wonderful people, including NASA scientists, rover drivers, multimedia experts, and, of course, social media mavens (some of whom won an Emmy this year for their Cassini end-of mission video). At AGU, I met a planetary geologist who now works at NASA Goddard and when she learned I was in the area this spring, she invited me to visit and join a tour with a college group. Yeah, I was all over that in a heartbeat!
I toured several labs, listened to PhDs talking about equipment now being used on Mars, and got a look at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) control room. And then my friend talked about collecting meteorites in Antarctica. Talk about a brain-expanding day!
Why I picked it: Listening to scientists talking passionately about their work will literally never get old for me, especially when that work involves building something that will do its work on another planet. I spent my working life in a different branch of STEM, so hearing about what NASA teams are doing and how they do it is fascinating to me, from both STEM and project management perspectives.
- Many, many thanks to my friend for hosting my visit and then sharing a wonderful dinner with me afterwards.
- The deal with NASA Socials is you get access to a special event, but you provide your own lodging and transportation, so it’s not cheap if the event happens to be far from home. But there might be one close to you… Click on THIS LINK to learn more more about NASA Social events.
C: The Outer Banks, North Carolina
I spent two weeks on the Outer Banks: two ferries, two campgrounds, two lighthouses (out of three) and so much surf. I walked the beaches every single day, rain or shine, windy as hell or flat calm. It was early April, way before the crowds show up, and sometimes I was the only person as far as I could see. Perfect.
Why I picked it: This place had been a siren song to me for years: coastal, remote, wild, windy, and all beach. It did not disappoint in any way at all.
D: Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina
I walked into the side door because the front area was completely under construction. I could barely hear the receptionist because of the hammers and drills about 10 feet from us. I had half a mind to walk back out on to the street and find something else to do but when she said it was free admission (due to the noise), I decided to stay. And I am so glad I did.
The museum groups their small but deep collection by themes, rather than by period or geography or other usual manner by which museums decide to display pieces. So instead of seeing all the sculptures in a rather staid sculpture gallery, there were two in the Portraits room, another two in the Spiritual Beings room, and a few more in other themed areas. It was a fascinating museum as a result, and a bit like a treasure hunt. I wasn’t sure what the next theme would be, but there would probably be at least one famous artist in it and another amazing piece or two to surprise me. Let’s name drop for a second: Botticelli, Warhol, Monet, Miro, Gehry, Lichtenstein, and Chihuly. Yep, pretty impressive.
I really enjoyed the Modern Art-themed, which included the chairs above and the beautiful camera below.
Why I picked it: Museums usually bore me within 30 minutes or so. This one kept my attention for a full two hours and I loved every minute of it. The curator’s idea of grouping pieces by theme made for a clearer historical view of the pieces, while the themes themselves were clever and well thought out.
E: Wormsloe Historic Site, Savannah, Georgia
Live oaks with spanish moss are the definitive image of the Low Country. This place has a mile of live oaks and I spent a couple of hours walking up then back down the road playing with compositions and exposures. And I’ll do it again next Spring when I’m passing through this area, I’m sure.
Why I picked it: Just look at those trees. Man, oh, man, it was a photographer’s dream. Being here re-sparked my love of photographing the personalities of trees, a nascent project for me in 2019.
Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.