Sunday, July 3, 2005

Winchester Days...and Nights

Situated in the mountains, right next to a beautiful lake not too far from my home is the small town of Winchester, so named after the world famous rifle (yep, it's still the Wild, Wild West).  Total population 308; except during the first weekend in July when the population swells with tourists and local citizens from nearby towns who gather to join in the annual celebration of Winchester Days.  Travelers fill up the campground at Winchester Lake State Park, as well as the locally owned mom & pop RV parks, and motels.  The town is a buzz with parades, music, dancing, and people.

Here's an interesting fact about Winchester: there are more men (age 16 and over) than women

Throughout all the years I've lived here I've been to Winchester many times, but never for the fireworks show; armed with my camera, last night I decided to venture up to the lake.  The American spirit is alive and well in this town.  Within minutes of arriving, I was welcomed by the sight of a large American flag hanging in a pasture between two pine trees.  It was one of those moments...I'm driving along, see the flag (can't miss it), think to myself, Oh that's cool and keep driving.  Then Hey, wait a minute! hit the brakes (thankfully no one is behind me) turn around, drive back, park, grab camera and take photos.  See, living here, sights like this are really common place, I see them all the time.  Sometimes I forget that everyday stuff to me, can be interesting stuff to you.  

Very cool, no?  That's Winchester Lake in the background between the trees.

It didn't take long to find a place to park and watch the show, after I paid the Park's $4 day use fee.  Looking back now, I should have just parked along the road and thumbed my nose at the Park Ranger's.  Ah well.  Showtime was 45 minutes away so I walked about searching for just the right place.  I found it.

Well, I had it all to myself for all of five minutes...then about 25 energetic, excited kids showed up and took over the tiny dock.  Sigh.  I moved.  Call me crazy but I suspect that tiny dock isn't designed to handle all that weight, and frankly I really didn't want to find out.  Even though one of the boys was bound and determined to test that theory.  Two minutes of listening to some woman screaming at him and the others, I picked up my chair and walked back to my car.  Fine, I can see just as well from here.

Once the sun dropped down, so did the temperature.  On my chair I sat, warmed by the heat of my Jeep's engine.  Then something in the air caught my eye.  Opps.  I forgot about the bats.  Well, I could get up and sit inside the Jeep, or just stay put and hope there aren't any bugs hovering near me.  I opted to stay, with both eyes intently watching the sky overhead.  For the most part, the bats kept a respectful distance, but there were a couple of times I had to sink down into my chair.  Hey watch it!

Then came the skunks.

A whole family of them.  I never saw them, but I sure smelled them.  Phewwww.  I may never wear these clothes again.

You'll be glad to know I stood my ground.  Ah, the great outdoors.  A least there weren't any mosquitoes.


:::scratch::: :::scratch:::: :::scratch:::

And finally, what we were all waiting for.  I had my camera set on Night Scene, so the photos will be a bit grainy.  I'll let the photos take it from here. 


Halfway through I decided to sit inside the Jeep, where it was warm, and without the bugs.  Well, the live ones anyways; I did take some pics from inside my Jeep, through the bug splattered windshield.  In case you were wondering what those fuzzy thingys in those two pics are.  The bugs were thick on the drive up.  Note to self: During summer months it is advisable to carry windshield cleaner in vehicle, especially if one is going to be taking pictures from inside.

Had I kept my place on the dock, I would have unobstructed views...possibly from the water...with or without my camera.  But, truth be told, I think the outline in the trees adds something extra to the display (no comment about the bug splatter tho).

UPDATE:  Almost forgot a somewhat worthy mention.  Traveling to and from Winchester requires taking a 'back road.'  On the drive back home, a couple of miles outside the city I got pulled over by a county mounty for speeding (said he clocked me at 54 mph in a 45 mph zone).  But, he let me off with just a warning.  :D  It does pay to be nice and smile.  Good thing, because I did not want a speeding ticket!!!! 


lv2paynt said...

Wow, those are great shots!  We missed our fireworks here in town because I was busy with my daughter's sleepover and midnight bowling excursion.  So thanks for a few shots of the fireworks.  Thanks too for stopping by my journal and your comments.  Make sure you post that tattoo when you get it!  Take care...Diane

karebear4x4 said...

AWESOME PHOTOS!!!!   and i've been wondering what type of digital camera do you have?   still contemplating getting one  haven't decided...thanks for sharing this adventure   wish i was there~kbear

pixiedustnme said...

great pics......and, hmmm, a town with more men than women?  I am SOOO there!

cathyterv said...

Great! I Love the story, love the pics....
And if you'd stayed on the dock you would've been COLD,,,, and a Feast for the bugs! See - those pesky kids did you a favor!! ;-)
Thanks for sharing!

redpoppy007 said...

Thank you for the wonderful story and pictures..
So beautiful where you live..

mkolasa101 said...

Oh thank you for those neat fireworks, love your flag too.  If I don't make it to the fireworks tomorrow evening, you have just made my 4th of July.


debbted said...

WOW! You have my vote for best fireworks entry. ;-) I feel like I got to go along with you, which is great cuz I don't get to go see any fireworks as my honey is working and I am carless! The lake and the flag are both excellent shots. Thanks for the outing! ;-) Sassy

cneinhorn said...

wow, you got some amazing photographs!  I love the one with the flag and the horses below the flag...just perfect!

stupidsheetguy said...

The pictures you posted had their own charm. Felt more like "being there". No worries with the bug splats!

I have the feeling I wouldn't be able to ticket you, either!


moltenhalo said...

Thanks for sharing your photos with us!  :)  I like the one of the horses and Winchester especially.

moltenhalo said...

gwatcdr said...

Oh I wish I had the talent for picture taking like you do.  Loved the pics.  Nicki