First Snow in Richmond

The Winter Storm Helena arrived to Richmond, Virginia on January 7, 2017, making it the River City’s first official snowfall of the year. We received over 8 inches of snow and with temperature highs around 20s F, it created for the perfect winter wonderland. We spent the weekend playing and exploring this new landscape, blanketed in snow.

We first dominated the slopes of Forest Hill Park and somehow ended up on local TV. We were a little older than the average sledder by about 20 years but that didn’t stop us. We drank at the local craft brewery (Ardent) and hung out at cafes. Despite the condition of the roads, we all gathered to celebrate the wedding of some old friends. The snow made for some great pictures for them.

 Unlike your northern US cities, snow in Richmond falls maybe 3-5 times a year. The average US city accumulates 26 inches of snowfall per year. In Richmond, the yearly average is about 12 inches. The city is not really equipped to deal with it, and as a result, everything essentially shuts down. Everyone is in full relaxation mode – getting outside to build snowmen, sled down the hills or gather at breweries. I sure do miss snow.

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The iced over Nickel Bridge
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The James River, and Nickel Bridge in the background

Happy New Years

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The North Fork of the Shenandoah River

We spent Christmas in a cabin along the Shenandoah River, just west of Shenandoah National Park. The weather was warm enough to paddle, so we paired up siblings and went head to head in canoe races up and down the river. It was rare for all of us to have a holiday break together so we naturally had to make the most of this occasion. I had never been to the town of Shenandoah (population 2354 in 2013) before this outing. And as we drove through this sleepy town, it was hard for me to imagine that this place served a key role during the civil war. There were three iron ore furnaces around this town which smelted raw iron into pig iron. Apparently in the days before the war, this pig iron was shipped down the Shenandoah River to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia. During war time, these goods were transported by wagon to Gordonsville, VA and then subsequently by rail to Richmond where it could have been used at the Tredegar Iron Works. Both of these Virginia mountain towns now are peaceful and quiet as can be. I was especially impressed by Gordonsville’s display of Christmas Lights. It was certainly a welcoming sight while driving through the winding, dark and foggy roads of the mountains.

I just realized that I have not been able to produce any new videos of canoe trips this year. I have several projects in the works right now but they have yet to be polished. I’ve been very happy overall with the performance of the Sony a6000 both as a still and video camera. Lately I’ve been experimenting with different lenses and shutter speeds in videography and have been able to catch some pretty decent footage. For our trip in Quebec, I also brought along an external audio recording device to see how the audio quality would compare to the native mic. Here is a demo reel of random shots I was able to capture in 2016.

2016 Demo Reel: by John Le

As the holidays come to a close and a new year around the corner, I look back at how much time I was able to spend with family and friends and the total number of nights I camped outdoors. While it was a good year for paddling and hiking, the total number of nights I spent outdoors, totaled just five. Four of those nights were in the La Verendrye Wilderness Reserve of Quebec, Canada and the other night was spent camping in St. Mary’s Wilderness. I’ve made up my mind….in 2017, I’m going for double digits. Happy New Years to all!

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Gordonsville, Virginia – all decked out for Christmas. In the middle of the Virginia mountains.

Pike Place Market – Seattle, WA

One of the first places we visited in Seattle was the Pike Place Market. Open since 1907, it is one of America’s oldest public farmers’ markets. It attracts more than 10 million visitors annually, earning it the rank of 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world. Certainly a place to overwhelm the senses; the smell of fresh cod in the air, vendors bargaining, the fresh, salty air from the Elliot Bay and of course tastes of all different sorts. I was able to pick up a cool book on canoeing in British Columbia, serving as a little incentive to return one day.