THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Never stop exploring

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Monday. I blink my eyes and a day is gone. But even though I accomplished little in the chore and creative endeavors I carved a place in my granddaughter’s heart by playing with her intently for hours today.

So back to the final (hopefully) series of images from Berlin Maryland.

Brick buildings line Main Street. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe this is what is meant by a slower pace of life. I can dig it. I’m into boards and bikes. Plus I like the flatness of the Eastern Shore.

Main Street transportation takes many shapes. Photo by Mike Hartley
Even the cars/suv’s come with bikes. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love outdoor dining. Well, most of the time. There certainly isn’t any shortage of it available in Berlin Maryland.

One of the great pleasures in life, eating well. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are so many unique stores to visit I can’t list or photograph them all but I did enjoy most of them.

Juice me. Photo by Mike Hartley

Not a town with your average storefront windows.

I wonder if there is a tortoise model? Photo by Mike Hartley
This is a town of Front Porches. Photo by Mike Hartley
A swinging and rocking place. Photo by Mike Hartley
You would think a Mermaid Museum would be on the water. Photo by Mike Hartley
A nice little bakery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s too late in my career for a new manager again. But here we go.
  • There are only so many chances to do it right. That is why I try to do it at least once a day.
  • Today was the definition of spotty showers.
  • Just squeaking in under the deadline again.


More Exploring

Back to some shots from Berlin Maryland. The two favorite spots in town for me besides the World of Toys store was the Beach Memories and Jeffrey Auxer Designs. The few shots I took don’t do their shops justice.

Inside Jeffrey Auxer Designs. Photo by Mike Hartley
More from Jeffrey Auxer. Photo by Mike Hartley
Artist working at Beach Memories. Photo by Mike Hartley

After a very good meal at the Hotel Atlantic on Wednesday evening, we had breakfast at the soda fountain across the street.

Good breakfast. Photo by Mike Hartley
They do pull off the old soda fountain feel. Photo by Mike Hartley.

There is something for everyone from formal to informal.

Open parlor at Hotel Atlantic. Photo by Mike Hartley

Brick, is the decor of the town.

It’s an easy walking town but I suggest bikes also because there are wonderful homes surrounding this town. Photo by Mike Hartley

The business was hot for this cold shop. Island Creamery

Homemade ice cream enjoyed. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I’ll finish editing another batch of the town of Berlin and then move on to photographing the next one.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’d like to feel better.
  • I’d like to do more work here and with my cameras.
  • I’d like to be on vacation again.
  • I’d like to be closer to retirement.
  • But as Bob Marley once said “don’t worry, be happy”

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A trip to the shore (Ocean City) and the little town of Berlin Maryland on Wednesday and Thursday with my better half. A few hours at the beach and a few at an old town made for a nice mix of good old Maryland experiences.

As the sign says “America’s Coolest Small Town.” Photo by Mike Hartley

Being my time at the beach this year has been limited, I used the day to soak it in. No photography at all there. The feeling of fingers and toes in the sand, the sound of crashing waves, the laughter of children, the warmth of the sun, and the coolness of the ocean breeze.

But that evening and the next morning I got to take a few as we wandered the town of Berlin.

The side of the Welcome Center. Photo by Mike Hartley

We had a nice stay at the historic Hotel Atlantic. Great staff and meal at the hotel on Wednesday night. The beds were a little soft for my liking though so I was up early to take a few shots before the courtyard filled.

Sunrise on Thursday. Photos by Mike Hartley
Hotel Atlantic at sunrise. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s late now and I’ve got a lot more editing to do so I’ll post some more images tomorrow and elaborate on what I liked about the town.

Have a good Sunday morning. I’m sure this and the many churches I saw in Berlin will be open. Photo by Mike Hartley

I promise a day of shooting at the beach in September.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t believe schools are starting already. Not that I go to school. We just help watch children so our daughters can teach school.
  • Having worked all my life I can see why a lot of workers are dissatisfied.
  • I don’t feel good, but I feel better. So I’ll take that and run with it.
  • My confidence in management and ownership in this country to wake up to the fact that a lot of workers are dissatisfied is slim to none.


Tuesday Times

What a wonderful day. Sunny and cool for August but very comfortable. Today was that wonderful ritual of cutting the estate. And I use the term “estate” in humor. I have a little over an acre of property. And yes that is a nice amount but it looks like a postage stamp when I compare it to some of the spreads I saw on the eastern shore this past weekend.

My friend says these ospreys will be leaving the nest in about a month to head to warmer climates. Photo by Mike Hartley

One of my best friends has a home on Kent Island and we decided to explore a bit. We took a spin Saturday morning and he throws me the keys to his Vette. We tooled around the communities and back roads on the island and surrounding small towns, with a stop at the Owl Bar to meet a friend, before heading back to his home.

Yesterday’s shot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was Saturday night. This was Sunday morning. It’s an impressive structure. That is a cruise ship that has passed under it and a freighter about to go under it. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though I would look at these estates with wonder, I didn’t feel the need or wish for one. They were wonderful homes with great views and sometimes multiple structures on the property. But I would feel guilty not cutting that and contracting it out. So there it is. Rich people will never know the solitude of sitting on a mower for an hour or two being totally consumed by the roar of the motor and blades doing their work and just getting lost in thought.

And it’s GOOD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh, by the way, it’s a blast driving a car with a stick and with over 600 horsepower.

Stuck? Looks can be deceiving. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How can you not smile when you see a child?
  • A good evening for a ride with the top down.
  • Enjoy the next month or two, I have a feeling after that it’s going to get a little crazy for a while.
  • I guess I’m at that age where I actually have to start listening to my body.
  • I surprised my daughter with the color of gym shorts I purchased recently. I’m glad this old guy isn’t entirely predictable.

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2 and 4 wheels

I was reading a thread on the neighborhood site Nextdoor and the topic was bicyclists and cars sharing difficult roads in Howard County. And boy did it seem to start a firestorm. As you can suspect bad drivers were an issue but also bad cyclists also. There might be a few people in this county that have put more miles on a car and bike here but the number is small.

Share the road. Photo by Mike Hartley

As a youth, I put on many miles on the bicycle. We used to live on our bikes as youngsters. A large paper route for a few years as I grew, peddling to jobs anywhere from 5-6 miles from home before I got my license. And yes I’ve been clipped by a car on a bike. I’m so old we used to ride on Rt 29. I’ve ridden motorcycles for 3 decades in this county. I was driving years before I had my license so 50 years in a car now.

These are just my observations. Pretty much no matter where you lived in this county in the 60s you could ride a bike and there wasn’t an issue for motorists or cyclists. In the ’70s with the expansion of Columbia and Rt 29 and other roads became much more active, wider, and faster. This is the decade police stopped me for riding a bike on Rt 29 to my job at the Mall. But it was still pretty safe in a lot of the county.

In the last 4 decades, the volume of both types of traffic continued to increase at staggering rates. And here we are today with beautiful back roads and scenes choked with cars and bikes. On top of that our tolerance for each other went out the window a few years ago and now we have games of chicken repeated in front of us over and over.

Uncaring people trying to pass in blind spots for oncoming traffic instead of having a few seconds of patience to safely pass on a good vision spot. Then there are the ballsy ones that Mr. Karma is about to take issue with who regardless of what oncoming traffic will attempt to run head-on to you because they are going to pass that bicyclist no matter what.

I’ve noticed bad behavior on both sides but far less from cyclists than motorists. But riding a motorcycle is by far the most dangerous around here because you are out on the major roads and people don’t look to see you. I’d say this is the highest incidence per mile ridden of almost being killed and that is saying something because I’ve been hit badly in two car accidents, one where it took them forever to get me out of the car because it was mangled so badly where the roof had to be cut off because they couldn’t get any of the doors open. That is after they took the pickup truck off the front and top of the car. Strange things happen to a car when it’s hit at a standstill by someone doing 60mph from behind.

I found some stats for Howard County from 2016-2020 from the state in a PDF that is all numbers. Numbers of people injured and killed in many situations including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and vehicles. I hate numbers. Because when you are talking people, we are not numbers. I hate what I see us doing to each other on the roadways no matter what your mode of transportation is.

Selfishness is killing and injuring us needlessly. Some of these stats are not accidents.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I got up too early.
  • I’m staying up too late.
  • Good thing I took a nap.

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Maryland Day

The promo before the basketball games at the University of Maryland does before each contest where past stars and coaches appear saying “I have Maryland Pride”, is fitting for today. I will also say I have Maryland Pride and I love this state and its beauty and most of its people.

From shore to mountains. The colors fly. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have lived here all my life and I can’t see going anywhere else. Will probably have some of my ashes scattered here when I’m gone. But until then, I’m going to enjoy the beauty and people I love here.

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Maryland flag Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

And I got to get work on making it even a better place to live.

Flags at attention today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nothing like being chased by or chasin after a 3 year old all day.
  • There are only so many hours between now and when I wake and I intend to sleep every one of them.
  • Some nights I get a head start on sleep.

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The gift of time

Time is a gift I smile about each day. I’ve always appreciated being given another day, more so each day now the older I get. It’s a gift that also comes in many ways. Time to accomplish a goal at the job, time to share a meal with a loved one. Time to play with a grandchild.

Wandered up this street many times. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think a lot about time now because I’m so torn on how much longer to work. It would be an easy call if we were well prepared but like many, we are a little short of what I had hoped for. And the longer I work the more comfortable we will be if we live a long life.

I’ve seen my best friends change and start to do more activities, trips, cultural and fun things. And on all fronts. Wives, friends, children all are getting more time. Not one to be the last out of the pits I’m getting organized and moving.

You know, sometimes it doesn’t have to be that killer trip that makes a year. This will be the first year our family doesn’t take a trip together to Ocean City. So the planning begins with that. Where and when can everyone make it to for some short visits?

There are so many options my head is spinning about it so I’m going to let the others think and talk about it and see where the wind is blowing. I’ll throw suggestions out and I’m very flexible.

But I also hope to really get back to exploring Maryland and the surrounding states. I already have several days and weekend trips to be thrown out for consideration. I want to roam the Chestertown area. I’ve been to Ocean City for at least 40-50 years but I’ve never been down to Assateague Island. That is a must-do. It has been 3+ decades since I’ve been out to Deep Creek MD.

I’ve never been to Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg Maryland. Yep add that to the list of places west of home.

I’d like to visit the 3 art museums in Baltimore. Of course, I have to try out the new Horseshoe casino while we are down there getting cultured. It’s been decades since I’ve been to Sandy Point state park. I made my first trip to Gibson Island last summer and I must go back there.

Maybe a weekend bed and breakfast in St Michael’s and a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. I know we have never been to Smith Island and if we go for no other reason than to get a cake, that alone is good enough.

Also, I’ve heard The National Cryptologic Museum is a good visit. Not the photographic places I normally like but would be interesting to know more about that art. And if I’m in that educational vain I might take in NASA The Goddard Space Flight Center. And while I’m there I might as well continue down the road to the new National Harbor and see how that is developing.

Another neglected site is St Mary’s Maryland. I know that area is beautiful. Also Chesapeake beach for a stay on the water at one of the fine hotels.  As well as the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and National Historical Park in Williamsport Maryland.

The Air and Space Museum in Dulles VA would also be good to spend a day at. Then take a real ride back in time on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

So it looks like I have a start to a good list of things to do this year. Let me see what interests my better half and what others I can add to it. I just hope we can get a couple in because it’s a very busy year with work and family expanding.

I saw a flurry of activity on a post on the NextDoor site about the amount of trash on Rt 70 and 29. They should add Rt 40 and 99 and 144. All the major arteries that lead to the dump. I’ve lived up in this part of the county now for 36 years and the problem isn’t getting someone out there to clean it up, the problem is how is it getting there in the first place.

And from what I’ve observed it’s a lot of people taking stuff to the dump and not having the load covered or secured. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen stuff dropped or blowing out of a truck bed. Maybe if each of us tries better we can have a bit less trash to pick up.

I think I’ll do my part while wandering the county for photos and pick up stuff as I see it. Every little bit helps.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The free time of the day was short, the list of chores for the day was long. I’m not satisified with either.
  • Some days I don’t start with the confidence that I’ll create a new post here. But I’m glad I overcome that. Helps give me confidence in other things.
  • A piece of advice for young people. If you got questions for older people, don’t wait to ask them.
  • Baseball doesn’t have Cal Ripkin to save it again after another lockout.

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Damp and cloudy

Yes, it was lightly raining and very cloudy but that didn’t dampen our spirits. It’s my mission to start to explore more and take my better half to more places and see more things. So this coming year while the pandemic still ebbs and flows I’m looking for outdoor events.

Even though I’ve explored a good bit I still don’t feel like I’ve scratched the surface of this wonderful state. I was looking around at holiday events and saw this in Frederick Maryland so off we went last night. I like the feel of this town.

It’s not like we haven’t been here before, just never around the holidays.

Photos by Mike Hartley

It was also the first time in a good while I felt like taking the heavy Nikon out for an extended period. The shoulder is healing nicely but that thing is a cinder block. Nice camera, don’t get me wrong, just heavy for an old out of shape guy. And yes we are going to fix the out-of-shape part this coming year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Just because you get one good nights sleep it doesn’t mean its going to be followed by another.
  • Just to be clear and transparent I’m not clear and transparent.
  • A voice of a generation or two for the NFL. RIP John Madden. At least in the booth he was seated or just standing. On the sidelines he was quiet animated.
  • I’m going to take my own advice and RTFM tonight.
  • Any day you see a grandchild is a great day.

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A wonderful evening with friends out on the water. A good dinner a Nicks and an evening ride back to the docks. While we were just sitting there a blue heron landed on the dock near us and didn’t leave till we were about 45 minutes later.

I’m sorry, I just can’t contain myself. Photo by Mike Hartley

A father of one of my best friends’ childhood friends took us out from Canton to Nick’s. We ate outside and there was a breeze coming off the water. We were on the edge, so even though there were many people, the air was moving the other way. Funny how I think about those things now.

A good meal and lots of laughs. We ate well and treated our Captain. Events like this bring balance to what seemed to be getting out of control again. It helped put things in perspective.

Getting ready to tie us off and tie one on. Photo by Mike Hartley

Anyway, back to reality today. Rainy morning with a flash flood watch for this Friday in central Maryland. I guess that is the balance that comes after a beautiful evening. Today is going to be spent with my better half and continuing to set balance to my mind and body. And while hours of hard work await this weekend my mindset today is to have a great time.

I hadn’t been to this dock since one of our friends passed. If you had anything to do with the beautiful day Dan, thank you. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe a little exercise for the mind and soul. I think I’ll try to whip together a few posts and of course capture some new images to go along with the aimless wanderings of my mind. And with the job that pays the bills in the rearview mirror for the week, I’m looking forward to a great day despite the raindrops.

A shadowy figure. He’s about 4′ tall like that. I bet he is 5′ when he stretches that neck. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is no bad day to photograph.
  • I have a music deficiency and I must remedy that today.
  • As summer draws to an end my mind thinks about my daughter and daughter inlaw returning to the classroom. It is with an unusual unease this year. Normally would be thoughts of, I hope they get a good group of kids. Now my thought are more worry about them staying healthy and the kids parents.
  • Water brings calm into my life. It also brings work, had an area with some washout with that monsoon this past week. So between the raindrops this weekend I will be working on that mess.
  • It’s funny how the pandemic has changed my desire for getting a haircut as often. And everytime it starts to get a little long I think about letting it grow real long again. And then another week or two go by and I say holy crap.

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I need some crabs

I might have to go get a few Maryland Blue crabs this coming week. Maybe some melted butter for dipping. Hey, it’s summer in this state and that is what we do.

I could claw my way through a few of these. Photo by Mike Hartley

Crabs are finger food. Maybe a mallet for the claws but nothing else is needed. Just some room. And yes with those sharp edges come some finger nicks from time to time and when that Old Bay seasoning hits it the reminder to grab the cold tall glass of beer in front of you kicks in.

Thankfully I was taught at a young age how it works. How to make short work of the de-shelling part. I’ve seen some good pickers but the wife of one of my best friends still stands out in my mind almost 5 decades later. He would be eating along at a good pace but all of a sudden you started to notice this mound of picked crabmeat beside him. You glance away for a minute and the mound became a pile. You take a sip of beer, the pile is now a small hill and then a mountain. She was fast.

By the bushel, and BUY the Bushel. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s easy to recall a lot of good experiences both crabbing in our youth to eating them this summer. I guess a common theme also is that they are enjoyed with family and friends always. Rarely have I eaten crabs alone. Could probably count it on one hand and have a few fingers left over. No, I’m not including polishing off the last few crabs the next morning after the feast. That is part of the feast.

You can get just about anything as examples below with crab in Maryland. I believe the Baltimore National Pike Crabhouse on Rt 40 served a heaping crab pizza many decades ago. One of our good friends could grill up a mean rockfish covered with crabmeat from a crabcake mixture. May he rest in peace, I can still picture him weaving in front of the grill after a day of fishing together. Of course, we were all weaving that day if I recollect correctly.

Bloody Mary from the Crabcake Factory. Photo by MIke Hartley

I like my homemade crabcakes but picking fresh ones is right there at the top of the ways to have them. We are constantly in search of the best cream of crab soup. Crabs are a blessing to this area. Many always thought lobster was at the top of the seafood chain but Blue Crabs from Maryland prepared fresh are a treat that I think tops the larger crustacean.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This past year or so has shown me in a new way that the adage “Ignorance is bliss” is really true.
  • I still get excited when I clean my glasses and put them back on and can see again.
  • I have no problem with people using mowing services. I have a problem with the services showing up at 7:15am.
  • Looking forward to learning is the way to live.
  • I had a south of the border start yesterday, taco’s for breakfast.

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Surfs up again

By the time I finished editing, I had 89 photos so instead of piling them on here, I put a gallery up on my Zenfolio site, link below. The first 15 were posted yesterday. The first 2/3 of the shoot it was pretty dark out. Got some better shots as time went on. 6:45 am to 9 am between 33rd and 45th streets.

I didn’t know you could pull waves along. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing I was smelling that salt air but nope, back to reality and the thought of work tonight. Sort of like doing a face plant.

But not all is lost. A refreshed spirit. A renewed sense of hope and inspiration. Time is taken to reflect and plan. A relaxed mind and attention to the body. Learning to let things run off my back. Seeing things closing in and putting some distance between them and me. Learning to turn on a dime when called for instead of a straight path. Being mentally strong, taking a shot, and still coming out upright. Not letting highs and lows affect the focus.

Surfing has a lot in common with life. Maybe I should try it when this shoulder heals or is fixed.

Actually, I shot these on the morning of July 9th. I got up early to do 2 things. I wanted to see what damage that tropical storm had done overnight and I wanted a couple of minutes of solitude on the beach. I was thinking about my Dad who passed 55 years ago this day. I told my daughter I would be back in 30 minutes when I left. The sun had risen but you couldn’t tell with the heavy cloud cover.

I like the water and I believe my Dad loved it. He was a career Navy man till his medical discharge. A veteran of WWII in the Pacific on a Destroyer. Also a Korean vet and Operation Deep Freeze Task Force 43. I wish I had a chance to know the man much better and get his experience and wisdom, I hope he is proud of me.

I also know my father-in-law loved the beach. Also former military.

I was stunned by the crowd on the beach so I hung back in the sand for a few moments because I was having trouble with my composure thinking of my father and my recently passed in-laws. But as a few guys with boards passed by I heard their excitement and chuckled to myself. So I wiped a tear from my eye and proceeded down to the water where it was thriving with people much earlier than normal.

I’ve been getting in the habit of carrying my camera with me all the time now and using it more. I had thrown it over my neck when I went out just in case of dramatic damage from the winds. But I soon discovered a unique day. The winds were blowing offshore for a change of pace. The water was alive with hundreds of surfers. A very friendly group of people. Several came up and asked if I would be posting pictures. I told them my blog name and they also suggested a Facebook group called Ocean City Maryland Surfing so added them there also.

I completely lost track of time and 2 hours later I had a ton of images. I had felt as gloomy as the skies that morning when I touched the sand. As I walked off it the sun was shining through and my spirits were positive. Just one of the many times in life I feel like someone who’s passed is looking out for me. I could have easily gone back to bed in sadness, or just sat on the balcony and missed some great action in the water and interactions with friendly surfers. Maybe someone got my backside out there for a purpose.

Have a great day all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A cold Coke in a glass bottle always taste much better.
  • Only a few more years tilll every day is a vacation day.
  • Time to remove the beach unintentionally bright back from the shore from the SUV.
  • I think I’ll schedule a day off for a day trip to the beach soon in the convertible.

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Surfing OC

Went out this morning and caught a few waves. Well more accurately I caught some people on waves, I was onshore with the camera. It was so overcast early when the waves were good I didn’t get the sharpness I had hoped for. That and my slow lens and lack of skills kept things less than optimal. I’ll add more excuses later with the next batch.

I’ve got dozens more to edit and will post some of the better ones later today. I asked to join the OC Facebook site today so I’ll post some there if they accept my membership.

I learned surfers are a friendly bunch of people. I learned both old and young can surf. I learned there is some good from strong storms. But I also know that with a torn shoulder muscle I’m not strong enough to swing in that mess.

Have a good afternoon all.

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It’s going to be HOT

Here in the northeast, it’s HOT. My favorite season and I can take it. But I’m smart enough (finally) to be careful with the heat. I just read this morning that it was the hottest June on record in North America. To my liking but disconcerting still at the same time.

Water is needed on a day like today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of hot, it’s so nice to go out to eat and get a hot meal from the kitchen on plates instead of carry-out plastic. To have someone wait on you and take the order and bring you a drink. All the things we took for granted for so long no longer are. But for how long before we start to think we did before the pandemic.

I for one won’t forget that and hopefully, we won’t have to experience that again. Actually, I’m thankful for every meal I have be it being served to me, or carry-out or fixing it ourselves. So many people without the ability to eat well or regularly. This reminds me it’s time for a donation to the Maryland food bank.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Children are like learning sponges.
  • Weather comes and comes, whether you like it or not.
  • Ah the first tropical storm of the season, Free car wash.
  • I haven’t met a nap I haven’t liked.

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Station Break

Sorry about the absence but I took a couple of days for some outside work, a grandchild and also some fun. I get to see my granddaughter once a week and I can’t tell you the recharge that gives me. I also got time to spend with my closest friends and their better halves on beautiful Kent Island yesterday. Days like that have been a long time in coming. It’s like a sign of returning to the past times that made life special.

It also begins a new chapter in our lives. One couple is retiring in short order and is a bit apprehensive. One couple just got what I think will be their forever home and I’m so happy for them except it does change one dynamic. We all have lived fairly close to each other for decades. And by we, I mean my best friends. (except for our brother in Florida). And when I say close 10-20 minutes max. Now we have over an hour’s ride to one of the group. But things like that don’t stop us. We will just have to plan better and adjust. We always do.

The more I ride bicycles on the flatlands of the Eastern Shore the more I like it. I’ve always enjoyed riding bikes. From my days when I could first ride and then having a paper route, and to riding to a real job in high school just before I got my own 4 wheels. Riding in Howard County used to be fun when I was much younger. Traffic now prevents the kind of freedom and you either have to cart your bikes to areas that are also getting increasingly crowded.

Riding a bike around a coastal town or boardwalk and along a bay are some of the most relaxing and enjoyable experiences. It’s the beautiful views, sounds, and smells. It’s peacefulness, mostly found in the offseason but you can also get it in season if you’re up early or late at night. But yesterday the 10-mile jaunt to the south end of the island was great.

The more I go across the bridge the more it feels like another world. And by a bridge, I mean this span below. It’s just a more relaxed life across the bridge.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel like I’m using each day better.
  • The smell of salt air is refreshing.
  • If you both appreciate your significant other more each day, life is easy.
  • This pollen season seems heavier than some past. Maybe because it’s been so dry this month.


Little time but productive

That rainy day allowed for some good sleeping yesterday. Longest I’ve been out in a while. And even though I rose late, I remembered it was a Giving Day for the Red Cross and American Cancer Society. So I pried my wallet open and gave some to each. They were doing a matching funds day. So the day was a success before the workday even started.

My best days are always when I can help someone else. Giving money is the least of them. Not everyone can afford to, but everyone has time. The giving of time is the most precious gift of all. Well, I guess blood and organ donation might be up there also. But I need to do better with my time in helping others.

Anyway it felt good to help a bit.

Of course, I could not let the day pass without acknowledging that it is Maryland Day. Too bad all the events were this past weekend according to this Maryland link. Well, the state doesn’t have a corner on the market for celebrations and events. I can have my own because I love this state. Plus it’s the start of my weekend so let the party begin.

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

Yes, it’s probably going to be expensive to retire here. Yes, it’s way too crowded now. Yes, we have problems like every other state. But we have Maryland blue crabs and Old Bay seasoning and a great flag to start with. We have some really cool highways if you like driving at 3am. Otherwise, we have a lot of parking lots.

Just some sun and the two most important flags to me. Photo by Mike Hartley

We have some great people and some idiots. We have oceans and mountains and bays, rivers and lakes. We have history and historic sights. We have all 4 seasons. There are big cities and large farms. Beautiful state parks to bustling industry. Anyway, I like it despite its few flaws.

I’ve finished the workday and caught a few ZZZ’s, it’s time to shower and throw on my Maryland tee shirt and hat and kick off the festivities.

Oh, I can’t go without mentioning the Lady Terps in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. That is one well-coached and well-run program and we are lucky to have the consistency and excellence they have shown. And I think they have a great chance of going all the way. I go to Maryland games with my Son. Maybe I should start taking my Daughter to see the Lady Terps next year. I can’t wait to get back in that stadium and hear the roar and see the Maryland flag come down through the stands. of the student section.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If a majority of people hate having to cut grass why do we buy so many products to make it grow more?
  • An old friend just retired. I’m jealous.
  • I’m also dreading the day if I ever have to return to the office.
  • I used to enjoy the sound of a clock ticking. Not so much as I age now.
  • The search for a shot begins.

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It was a good morning to catch up on some rest so that is what I did on Thursday. Friday was a burl. Now starts another weekend that I’m both looking forward to and apprehensive about. So I’m going to hope for the best.

You really didn’t say that did you? Photo by Mike Hartley

Patience – So I’m relaxed when I got up the other day and then I saw Governor Hogan said he wants schools open on March 1st. But I thought I heard him say last week how difficult it was to get the needed doses of vaccine and getting them to the people when they were in hand. And we are in phase 1 right? I thought it was going to be late summer at best before 75-80% of the people had the vaccine. So for the sake of having the kids in school for 3 months and not having to listen to some parent’s bitch, you’re going to risk more sickness and death.

I’m trying to be patient but I get these conflicting messages and I wonder about safety. Yes, I know all the reasons to get kids back in school. Yes, I know it has an impact on the economy complicating care/work. But what is a life worth? Be it a child, teacher, administrator, bus driver, cafeteria server, what cost are you willing to pay personally. I have two children who are teachers. I hope both get their vaccine and second shot in time but what if that doesn’t happen? Neither has happened to date. I’m sure I don’t want the Gov playing Russian roulette with my children and their family’s health.

He says there is no public health reason for schools not to reopen. And he sounds like he’s going to be a hardass about it. Well, that kind of pushes a few of my buttons so let’s rock. Let me ask you something Gov, your stats don’t back up your statements of no risk. Either that or the logic in the spring was all F’ed up or now you have a different set of standards. We are averaging double the number of cases we had in the spring and the number of deaths per day as of today and the highest peaks in May is only slightly lower than the spring 43 to 56 per day average. Not to mention the more contagious form of the Virus now starting to circulate in this country and has been found in Maryland. So who’s backside did you pull that statement of no public health reason for schools not to reopen from? Really I’d like to know because both of you need to be rethinking threatening people like this.

And let me give you something to ponder Gov. If you do pull this off and someone or many people pass, who do you think will be blamed for these deaths? And who do you think will be held accountable? I know the answer to those questions and if you think the answer is someone else, think again. And if you’re just grandstanding for a bunch of parents who march in Annapolis, then shame on you also.

Governor, in my opinion, you would have been smarter to say “Obviously we are looking at schools and having kids and teachers back in them asap. We are assessing this week by week along with the risk and possible phased plans. But it all depends on the risk to the community, availability of the vaccine, and our ability to prepare the facilities. We will keep you updated weekly with our findings and reasonings because the situation fluctuates so fast we have to be responding the same way. All school systems or communities’ availability of the vaccine might not be equal. The virus has mutated and new risks are coming to light that also has to factor in. To base decisions off one week’s statistics and then have a spike and have to shut down doesn’t make any sense. We are working with the facilities to make sure they can be maintained safely. We are working with the teachers union on protocols and safety and guidelines. We are making sure everyone from the person serving your child a meal or cleaning the school to the bus driver and everyone in between has been fully vaccinated. Also, it has not been determined even if you are vaccinated that you can’t carry the virus so it is important even when the return to school facilities happens that safety protocols in place are still followed. Obviously, I have no control over individual county’s school systems but as the Governor of the state of Maryland, we are deploying all resources in helping communities best determine when schools open safely with as much information and financial support needed. Thank you for your patience.”

But NOOOOO, you start with threats. For someone who does a lot of things right, when you screw up you don’t fool around. Of course the same can be said about me, so we are bedfellows who don’t use our best judgment from time to time.

Good luck with your next decision/action. Remember, live and learn.

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Nice start to the week

Vacations don’t have to be exotic locals to be great. Not that we don’t have a lot of exotic locals here in the great state of Maryland, we do and the Eastern shore is one of them.

And when in Rome, eat like the Romans. So I had a crabcake sandwich for lunch in the middle of our walk around the town in St Michaels yesterday.

Crabcake from Foxy’s Harbor Grille in St Michaels MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

The whole town was hoping for a Monday. And with the weather in the mid-’90s and humid, it was a day I thought might be quiet. And it was probably quiet compared to a weekend.

Was a little crowded at the Crab Claw. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is one of the things I like about small towns. You can ride bikes around and really see the place and not get run over. That is what I love about Bethany Beach in September and October.

The way to get around town. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course if you can be pushed around there is nothing wrong with that mode of transport also.

A town for both young and old. I’ll have to stop at the brewery and winery they have there next time. Photo by Mike Hartley

I look at the shot above and remember the day we would push our own children around. Time has passed so fast. Now we push grandchildren.

We were looking for benches in the shade. Photo by Mike Hartley

Looking out over the water while having a nice lunch with the love of your life can make any day.

I never get tired of water. I do get tired in water though. Photo by Mike Hartley

On the way to St Michael’s on Rt 33, we saw this cast of characters below saying Thanks for the Memories and Farewell. Of course, I had to come home and look up what it was related to and found this Nugget about it.

Roadside Theater. Photo by Mike Hartley

So after the fun of yesterday today it was back to the home projects on Tuesday. Much was accomplished. I hope to get out early Wednesday morning before daylight and grab some night photography and some early morning shots.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a big difference in a push and riding mower on a hot day.
  • Comedians are funny but they don’t replace laughs with friends.
  • Time for a ride at night with the top down.

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Looking for it again

It seems like forever that I’ve seen this view. I can’t wait to see it again. A lot of people don’t like driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is rather long and tall. I guess practice makes perfect. I remember riding my motorcycle over it and that open mesh part at the highest point where you could look straight down 186 feet through the metal grate and see the water. Of course, I would try to stay off that because it gave a wobble to the bike.

Video by Mike Hartley

I can sense the morning coming up that I see a nice weather report and I just say screw it all and throw a beach towel and sunglasses in the car and head east. Just doing that reminds me of my youth. I hope I never lose that desire.

Instead of some shooting today I worked on getting a small studio set up in my basement. But I did run across an image from last week that I liked.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are few things as encouraging as seeing someone close to you getting better physically and mentally day by day.
  • With Arlington National Cemetery closed it feels significantly different than when I’ve visited in the past. And I kind of like it that way but wouldn’t deny the country the opportunity to visit when this is over.
  • This virus illustrates how lazy, selfish, and stupid this country can be.

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My time

I think I figured out why I can’t sleep. I can’t wait till I get to wake up each day. Early mornings and late nights are mostly my time. I never thought about that before but it’s nice to start and end a day that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a loaner. I have a great number of people in between those times.

Give me sunrise, give me sunset. And another day to enjoy them again. Photo by Mike Hartley

And I enjoy people greatly but I also like my time. Having a few minutes to create or just veg on the couch. Maybe a quick read or jot down a few ideas. Maybe clean the workroom or office a bit. Maybe make another print after changing inks again. Or pick up the camera for a few frames.

When I don’t get my time, I get out of sorts. Yes, usually I make the decision to sacrifice it for one reason or another, some good and some poor. But I’m finding those few minutes or an hour or two can make a huge difference. I’m thinking of slowing down and not sacrificing them as much in the coming days.

The mental health benefits are too great to ignore. Just like I’ve come to realize a good night’s sleep is worth its weight in gold. Another reason I’m so poor. But I’m working on these things.

Grief – I’m watching people go through it, and experienced some myself. I’m amazed at the strength of my mother-in-law. I’m also touched by the depth of her hurt. They say losing a child is the most painful event, but losing your lifelong partner/husband of almost 7 decades has to be a close second. I’m amazed at the strength and resiliency of my better half in dealing with both the loss and becoming a caregiver. I was impressed by how well most of the family pulled together.

The hurt sometimes lasts forever for some. Yes, you can also move on but there is a missing part of you. Those shared memories that only you have now. That special person missing to sometimes recall them and smile or laugh or cry upon hearing again.

As I get older myself, sometimes I sit back now and just listen intently to a best friend tell one of the many stories of our past. One we have probably shared many times before. And now I take it in, put it in a memory bank so if one day I’m recalling that story and nobody else is around that remembers it, I’ll replay the glory and zest my best friends tell it with now. But I’ll have to imagine the wink or laugh or shot to the gut or back of the head if I tell it right or mess any part of it up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have so many lists I need a directory for them.
  • We can change, we prove it to ourselves all the time. It’s just taking those final steps after that long walk.
  • One day I will prove time moves faster on days off.
  • United we stand said no one at the bar.
  • You can love as much as your heart can give. Just try it, you will be surprised how deep that well is.


How much

When you hear the words how much, most people think of the monetary cost. Today when I wrote that title I was thinking of how much I can cram into this day. Not a bad thought being there are so many options and opportunities.

It’s not there yet, but the strength is returning to this town.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well at the end of the day I can say I crammed a lot into one day. A mixture of work and enjoyment. After playing yard man we took a trip to the Ellicott City Main Street Music Festival for a few hours. We walked to the city and saw all 3 outdoor stages. The bands sounded pretty good and it was so good to see this city alive again. We had a quick bite to eat in town and then went for a cruise till dark.

The temps were hot, the music was cool.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll make this an annual event to attend in the future. And I hope it continues to be a great success for the city. If the crowds on the street and in the shops and parking lots were any indication it was.

Packed sidewalks bring a smile to my face.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The day was filled with the sounds of classics to modern.

A bit of something for everyone.
Photo by Mike Hartley
I couldn’t believe this was a Honda Shadow. I used to ride one of these for decades.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Behind the Old Howard County TImes building. I always have some great memories of working in this town.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Next to the Wine Bin. What would you expect? A crowd?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I was very glad to see the youth of the world concerned and making their presence felt by voicing global climate issues/effects. Maybe they can inspire some adults.
  • Weather-wise it was a good week to be off of work.
  • I need to work on my patience.
  • Do you believe the nonsense and all the wasted time with that Storm Area 51 crap? Proof that a dumb ass idea or thought can go way too far.


A weekend and a lifetime in Maryland

Hey its mid summer, what do we do in Maryland? We eat crabs and lots of them. One of my favorites meals prepared many ways, all of which are satisfying. From sitting at a picnic table with newspapers as the tablecloth and a pile of fresh crustaceans in front of you to maybe a crab imperial or crabcake or stuffed shrimp or maybe a crab scampi. Of course don’t forget the soft shell options.


Crabs everywhere, even 8 foot ones on walls.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well of course that cost money, and that is why we work. But my work week is done and I’m feeling better after getting dehydrated in the sun this afternoon. I think a late night drive might be in order. Maybe some attempts at night shots. I did take the tripod upstairs earlier.

I read today where Maryland is ranked the 48 worst state to retire in by this site. Well here are my short feelings about that. Yeah cost of living is through the roof. Yeah its on the wrong side of crime on average. The highest ranking we got in any category was in weather and that was ranked 20th.

I almost painted a 4 on one butt cheek and a 8 on the other to take a picture and send to them, but then paused and calmed down. Lived here all my life and I love it. I will most likely pass here if my children and friends are still here. And those two look like pretty strong bets. You get all 4 seasons here but not usually extremes at any. If you live mid state (and its a small one if you haven’t looked at a map) you can be at the ocean or mountains in less than 3 hours. You have the Chesapeake Bay (one of the most beautiful waterways in the world). You have cities and rural areas.

You have one of the best Atlantic beaches. Lakes and waterways. Hunting and fishing in any direction. You’re a stones throw from the Nations Capital and all the wonderful sights there. Or maybe the Civil war battlefields at Antietam or just across the state line in Gettysburg.

You have some of the best schools in the country along with some of the worst ones. Work is plentiful if you want it. Or if you don’t you can snow ski or water ski in the same state. Lets see you pull that off Florida.

Yes it has changed. It used to be a much more friendly state. It used to be more of a blue-collar state but government and tech have boomed here so it’s a lot more white-collar now. It’s also far more diverse than it used to be and you see people struggle with it.

The worst plague on it seems to be the explosion of people and endless development. Infrastructure isn’t keeping pace and never really did in the last 5 decades I’ve been observing it. The endless traffic causes a lot of hostility. But then on the flip side if you’re not opposed to some late night rides you have some of the best roads around.

It’s a great sports state. Tons of very good college and pro teams within a short drive to support. Culture galore (obviously I haven’t explored that too well). I do know there is a fairly high degree of intelligent people here. There are also no shortage of selfish self focused folk also. But I meet far better than worse.

I love the Maryland flag. But all that stuff, except for the part about family and friends being here is the only one that matters. Yeah I could sell my home for a nice profit, I can take my very small pension and miniscule savings and social security to another state when its time to retire and make things stretch further. But then I would be dead from sadness in short order.

I know nothing in my own family and friends will ever stay exactly the same. But I kind of hope it does in terms of our locations. And that is here in Maryland and I’ll be glad to retire here. I mean once I don’t have to drive in and out of DC each day life will be a piece of cake. As in crabcakes with OLD BAY. To everyone else. I’m sorry, we would be #1 if we were including seafood in the rankings. But its always #1 in this household.

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No day, for props up

Some days you just have to say #&@%*!$  it and go for it. Today was one of those days. A ride with the top down to St Michael’s and my better half making my passenger seat happy. Everything was perfect, the weather, the food, the town, the ride down, the people, the ice cream, the pet store gifts and of course my company. One of those days that recharge your batteries. Yeah it was just a quick visit but its great to have the ability to be out and about and just enjoying a simple day with the simple pleasures of life and the beauty nature and people provide.

Put those props in the water.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Either this guy doesn’t have a flexible job or gas money because if those were my trio of power I think they would be getting some exercise today. You don’t get many better days weather wise. Of course the winds were up later in the day and the white caps were out on the bay on the return trip. We had a wonderful lunch at The Lighthouse and our server Kim was great.

Great meal, great service.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A view of the Lighthouse restaurant across the harbor. I would have taken a picture of the lobster tempura or the crab cake but I inhaled and they were gone. And no I don’t treat myself like that all the time. But its a special weekend.

We ate under those outside umbrellas today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Nothing like being near a body of water when mother nature is happy. Just a wonderful sight. And for those who work the water its a fine day indeed between the tough ones that they still work in.

Cleaning up from a days work on the water.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, better get moving. The fun of the day was had. Time for some chores. On second thought, on with the fun.

Nice spirit.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Take the wheel Scotty, I’m going for a slice of pizza.

Nice Wood
Photo by Mike Hartley

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Sizzling Saturday

As I sat and watched the morning news about the heat index being between 110-115 degrees I wondered how long the troops (family) would hold up today. Hell I should be worried about myself. The heat really seems to be getting to me like never before. I’ve always handled hot weather really well. So I’m going to summon that old spirit and even carry around that monster camera and try to get some good shots today.

The flag over the USS Constellation in the Inner Harbor Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

The flag over the USS Constellation in the Inner Harbor Baltimore.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think the key today is not staying out in it for prolonged periods. If we keep watered and ducking in and out of shops we will be fine. Sweaty but fine. So let the adventure begin. Its our summer family outing before our two teachers return to work next week. As you can see some opted for a different strategy.

Father and son in the fountain. Photo by Mike Hartley

Father and son twirling in the fountain.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Actually we fared very well with the exception of having our IMAX movie plans thwarted. We walked through the A/C of Harbor place’s. Had a Great lunch at Rusty Scupper and then a trip up to the 27th floor of the World Trade Center “top of the world” observation level. Of course Ice Cream was needed after this and then some more shopping.

It was a wise move to take breaks today. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was a wise move to take breaks today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

All I know is that it was a wonderful day with my children. I’m sorry my Son in-law couldn’t make it due to illness. We missed you. But as the summer season nears it’s close, my Daughter reminded me what a wonderful one its been. And it has been great. One that I will cherish and remember. And it’s not over yet so we have some time to crank up some more good memories.

Sweating with the oldies. Well the young were perspiring also. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sweating with the oldies. Well the young were perspiring also.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But first some photo editing of the rest of the day’s shooting and then out to practice some night shots this evening if sleep doesn’t get in the way. Here’s hoping your Saturday was a great one like ours.

I'm always 100% behind my family. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m always 100% behind my family.
Photo by Mike Hartley


  • randomthoughts9-5 – warm, warmer, warmest.
  • I hate wasting time on sleep but it’s so needed.
  • Rainbow sherbert on a hot day.
  • I will rise early on Sunday. At least that is the plan now.
  • I have to remember I’m not using film and click away.
  • Funny how some days turn out.

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First of many trips to the town of Westminster

With my daughter and her husband now living in Westminster Maryland I’m sure you will be seeing some images from this town more often. This place is huge compared to what I remembered. The college has changed its name from when I grew up but Main Street looks like I remembered but in better shape.

That is a cloud behind the Sherwood Distillery Smokestack Photo by Mike Hartley

That is a cloud behind the Sherwood Distillery Smokestack
Photo by Mike Hartley

We dined at a wonderful spot called Rafaels and had a great lunch last week. We walked out saying how good our service was in addition to the food. I wish I had gotten our waitress name so I could compliment her.

Westminster MD Photo by Mike Hartley

Westminster MD
Photo by Mike Hartley

So time to create a new tag and category. Or I guess I could just add it to the Maryland file. Hopefully I’ll have some random thoughts later to share. Haven’t been feeling myself the last 2 days. Probably the heat.

Just in case you forgot where you were. Photo by Mike Hartley

Just in case you forgot where you were.
Photo by Mike Hartley

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A/C or outside seating

We choose A/C, as this couple did yesterday to eat and drink. And it was the right choice even though the tables had umbrella’s and the shade had come over the dockside dining at Pusser’s, it was still hot as hell out there. Of course there were more than a few hearty soles outside. It was good to put in a few miles walking around town with my daughter. In and out of shops and down to the Market House for Storm Bros for Icee’s and Ice Cream.

Main Street Annapolis. Photo by Mike Hartley

Main Street Annapolis.
Photo by Mike Hartley

By the way it was a fine meal at Pusser’s. I will be out and about trying to squeeze in some more photos today because it’s a real treat for me to try my hand at this art. I’m so pissed at myself for not starting earlier in life.

Looking down Main St in Annapolis. Photo by Mike Hartley

Looking down Main St in Annapolis.
Photo by Mike Hartley

One would think it was cooler by the water. Only because of the breeze but it wasn’t enough. But nothing mattered to me because nothing can touch a day with your children.

Along Main Street. Photo by Mike Hartley

Along Main Street.
Photo by Mike Hartley

My sweet tooth was itching something bad but I resisted. I find myself regretting that decision today. Next opportunity I’ll utter that phrase “Resistance is FUTILE” to myself.

Sweets Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

For those about to BAKE.

About to be dough. Photo by Mike Hartley

About to be dough.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I used to love candy apples when I was younger.

I love these but I like keeping my teeth a bit longer. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love these but I like keeping my teeth a bit longer.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I can hear some 5-year-old yelling MOM when they see these.

The sign says it for me. Photo by Mike Hartley

The sign says it for me.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Nothing like a good sky and the flag.

Good to see the disabled enjoying our state capital. Photo by Mike Hartley

Good to see the disabled enjoying our state capital.
Photo by Mike Hartley

An old staple of town.

Awning at Midleton Tavern. Photo by Mike Hartley

Awning at Middleton Tavern.
Photo by Mike Hartley

As the summer sails away.

Mast Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo by Mike Hartley

Young and in love it appeared.

Hearts beating Photo by Mike Hartley

Hearts beating
Photo by Mike Hartley

Nice toys.

Just a little to big for me. Photo by Mike Hartley

Just a little to big for me.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I promise more side street shots the next visit.

Love the color in this town. Photo by Mike Hartley

Love the color in this town.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe next time I’ll eat outside.

Save me a seat. Photo by Mike Hartley

Save me a seat.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Thanks for a wonderful day.

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Actually I think they call it “marine fog”, anyway it rolled into Ocean City yesterday morning just after sunrise. I had gone out to take a few shots and suddenly it was soup. I did enjoy the ride with the top down and tunes on just slowly tooling around town. Dreaming a bit of owning a beach place someday by checking homes for sale as I cruised. Watching out for birds on the bay which seem to be all hunkered down with the limited flight distance.

Sun has been up for an hour but its difficult to see from one light to the next. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sun has been up for an hour but its difficult to see from one light to the next.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Watching joggers or bike riders, the occasional Dude crossing the street with surfboard in his hand. I love beach towns. I worry greatly about them if sea level predictions are correct. And I’ve been going along with the other millions of visitors that hit the Maryland and Delaware shores each year enjoying this life. It would be a tragic loss.

Which way to the fish? Photo by Mike Hartley

Which way to the fish?
Photo by Mike Hartley

There is nothing like the beach. To me climbing a mountain is nuts. Yeah you got a view I can’t get, but how long you going to stay there? But the journey and cool temps and thin air and most importantly, lack of lodging makes it something that will never cross my list. Yes I get the accomplishment thing. But give me the sun/sand a good hotel or beach house to rent and I’m in heaven.

Bird activity has been grounded this morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

Bird activity has been grounded this morning.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I bet this Sunday morning it was great down there. A beautiful sunrise, low humidity and breeze to keep it clear and brisk. But I learned on Saturday morning that there was much to appreciate. I wish I lifted my camera a bit more that morning but was doing some mental refreshing also.

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Lunch view

I think I still may be relaxed from this lunch and view on Friday. The company of my better half, the outside dining, the view and comfortable temperatures made it a wonderful experience. We were heading to the Chart House to treat ourselves for some reason or another but that wasn’t open for lunch.

View from Carroll Creek Cafe in Annapolis. Photo by Mike Hartley

View from Carroll Creek Cafe in Annapolis.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So as we drove down we saw another restaurant as we crossed the bridge called Carrol’s Creek Cafe. So we backtracked from the Chart House parking lot to a pay lot (they will stamp your ticket 2 1/2 hrs) so do park there. It was a beautiful day and we wanted to sit outside where everyone else was. Sure enough a table for two right on the railing with a great view.

I need a boat to walk to. Photo by Mike Hartley

I need a boat to walk to.
Photo by Mike Hartley

We are very lucky and blessed to be able to do this once in a while. Yes its a lot of hard work and has been for decades but it is worth every bit of sweat when we can have a nice lunch and a day walking around town. Yeah we shopped but I think we got a coke and an iced coffee.

6th Street and Comprimize Ave. Photo by Mike Hartley

6th Street and Compromise Ave.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Don’t get me wrong. There is a ton of things I would buy in this town. There are stores I even like to go in and me and the word stores are like oil and water. They don’t mix well. And I’m dying to stay a night or two at that new Westin Hotel. I might save that for an off-season visit being they have an indoor heated pool.

Ready for sail class along Spa Creek. Photo by Mike Hartley

Ready for a sail class along Spa Creek.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Whenever I’m in this town I find something new to shoot. Even spots I have shot before seem to be fresh each time I go. Maybe its a reflection or shadow or the constant change of people. Maybe the change of season. But I find it endless when it comes to a great place to photograph.

As the sign says. Photo by Mike Hartley

As the sign says.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So what will be my adventure this coming week? Maybe a trip across the bridge. Or should I head West. I’ve been thinking of visiting the Antietam Area and that Civil War battlefield. And as I see by visiting that website that its our National Parks Service 100th Birthday this year. So get out an celebrate our National Treasures.

With the weather in the 80's this coming week I'm sure you will see more of these with sails up than docked. Photo by Mike Hartley

With the weather in the 80’s this coming week I’m sure you will see more of these with sails up than docked.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, another weekend down. Time to prepare for the next one.


Rocky Gap MD – WWWP5K challenge

On Monday 10/26 we completed the WWWP 5K challenge. My wife and I hiked the Lakeside Loop trail at Rocky Gap state park. This 5.3 mile hike was certainly challenging. Walking on all those rocks and tree roots covered with leaves was a challenge itself not to come back with broken ankles.

Flight in fog. Photo by Mike Hartley

Flight in fog.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It was a wonderful hike but I walked too much that morning out shooting photographs. I woke that morning to a cool feel and when I looked out before sunrise I could see the fog rolling off the water. It was beautiful but obscured the color of the season.

But there were a few treasures out there that morning. One of them were our winged friends coming to life. Both geese and mallard ducks were taking their morning flight and searching for breakfast.

The mountains in the morning were just beginning to peak out with the sunrise but still partially covered by the mist from Lake Habeeb.

I bet I covered a few miles that morning even before thinking about the hike. I know it was too cool for the shorts I had on but walking briskly kept me warm for short burst.

Morning mist from Lake Habeeb. Photo by Mike Hartley

Morning mist from Lake Habeeb.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So while freezing my behind off I strolled over to the beach off the state park. I wandered around the Rocky Gap resort where we were staying and walked a few holes along the golf course on the south side of the lake.

It was a wonderful morning and just the exercise I needed to start my day and work up an appetite for the breakfast buffet we were going to later that morning.

I didn’t feel like I was doing too much. As a matter of fact I intended to do that Lakeside Loop trail twice that day but that thought was quickly dismissed upon returning from the first trip around it in the afternoon.

I was glad I got a chance to shoot both that morning and afternoon on the walk because Tuesday was pretty overcast and was just getting worse with rain on the way.

Fog over Lake Habeeb Photo by Mike Hartley

Fog over Lake Habeeb
Photo by Mike Hartley

I really should have done a few more miles in the morning because I don’t usually have this scenic view and weather to awe me where I’m at. So this was a treat despite the cool temps and lack of a good sunrise.

But my stomach took control and said get back to the room, wake up your better half and take me to the food distribution point. And as I have done too often in the past, I listened to that part of my body and cut the morning shoot off after an hour or two of wandering the area.

One thing I love about this place is the tranquility. I know it’s hoping during the summer season at the park but a weekday morning in fall it was quiet as could be which is what we were also looking for in a relaxing trip.


Beach at Rocky Gap State Park and fog obscuring mountains around it. Photo by Mike Hartley

When we started the walk it was pretty cool out still. I put some sweats on but by the end of the walk I was wishing I had shorts on. Also by the end of it my feet and shins were barking at me. No problem, a night of rest and I’m ready to go again.

Unfortunately we are no longer at that wonderful site. (Rocky Gap Resort and State Park which is just a few miles west of Flintstone Maryland). We took a few days to celebrate our 35th anniversary there, but are back to reality and the treadmill.

So instead of boring you with more words I’ll share some of the pictures from my afternoon stroll and sights we saw. I feel good now for having done that and I’m hoping I can keep a few good lengthy walks in my workout each week through the difficult winter season.

So I hope you enjoy the images of some of the paths, lake and wildlife.


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Friday’s return

Wow, took a few days to do some writing and sadly I didn’t keep up with my primary goal of posting here each day. So I have a lot of catching up to do here so let’s get rolling again. Went to Mt Airy for lunch and had a chance to snap a few frames. Been a decade or two since visiting old Main Street. I was such a beautiful day, I know I didn’t capture that feeling of 83 degrees with low humidity and a slight breeze. But let me tell you it was wonderful.

There was a breeze today but that wasn't what bent those walls. Photo by Mike Hartley

There was a breeze today but that wasn’t what bent those walls.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I wasn’t a minute out of the parking lot after snapping the above shot when I looked over to a garage with a beautiful Chevelle SS that had a paint job that I won’t attempt to describe the color other than “stop in my tracks red.” I can’t figure if that is a 69 or 70 model. If my wife and I weren’t famished and on a mission to EAT, I would have wandered over and seen some of their work. I also saw what looked to be like a 71 Mach One pulled in front of the Chevelle. And outside across the street was a 69 Camaro. So my day was about complete. Only if I had the keys to one of them.

A beauty in the garage. Photo by Mike Hartley

A beauty in the garage.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Caution, school season again. Photo by Mike Hartley

Caution, school season again.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Just a general reminder. Schools start next week in Carroll County. Get ready so see a few of these going up and down Main Street. As traffic gets worse I see more and more people not watching out for stopped buses or emergency vehicles. Lets all take our time and respect the job these people do and keep everyone safe.

Well, as we got into the downtown area we decided on a place my wife had been to before and said was good. Well it was very good today with both food and service being top-notch. It was a sunny and nice day out so we tried outside dining. This worked out well and it was a wonderful dining experience. And obviously I was too hungry to snap a shot of the beautiful pan-fried scallops with angel hair pasta with a tomato basil creme sauce. A very tasty dish with the scallops cooked perfectly and a good number of them. The mozzarella caprese was also very good. My wife’s panini was very good I’m told. So overall it was a very good meal and our waiter was excellent. And we left him a very nice tip.

Time is a gift. Photo by Mike Hartley

Time is a gift.
Photo by Mike Hartley

This day also marked the return of my Fridays with my better half. Its my favorite day of the week because I get to spend it with her. I step aside during the summer months while her and my daughter do their summer adventures. But fall, winter and spring, she is mine. Sorry didn’t mean to gloat but I’m a lucky man. And time with my family and friends is living large in my mind.

Walking this town a sunny August day without breaking a sweat was a treat you don’t get many days in this month. I’m rediscovering exercise and it feels great. I think I’ll pull the cars back tomorrow afternoon and challenge my Son to a game of basketball.

But back to the town of Mt Airy Maryland. This place is an interesting contrast of old and new in terms of its homes and businesses. It’s so close by I’m going to have to spend some time out in this area seeing if I can find some gems to photograph.

As we walked up the hill to the north end of Main Street we came upon the Elementary School and boy was it packed for new student orientation and an open house. Looks like they get a good attendance for things at this school.

Vest Pocket Park Photo by Mike Hartley

Vest Pocket Park
Photo by Mike Hartley

Right next to this school is the Vest Pocket Park. A very apt name but a nice little spot in a nice little town. I should have taken a break here but he way back to town was downhill at that point so we walked on.

This place reminds me a lot of the early Howard County grown spurt. Of course its been going on for some time here judging by the strip malls and big box stores. But you can still drive through areas that make you feel it was 40-50 years ago.

As we strolled back into town I shot a few more porches and some businesses that I’ve put below in a gallery.

And just to confirm I avoided going in the ice cream stores. It was hard, I looked two or three times as we passed them.

Sorry to bore you with the verbiage but I’m trying to see if I can do more with layout instead of the standard display I’ve had before. A few more shots around town.




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Heading out to the Bay

As I was taking this photo and a few others yesterday I got to thinking about a departed friend. One who shared his boat and time on the water with his friends. I think I might have overlooked how much that activity would pulled us together. From an all day fishing trip to a happy hour at McCormick and Schmick’s, maybe pulled up along Pier 6 listening to whomever was performing that night. Sometimes a short boat ride out past Fort McHenry or sometimes sitting and laughing together just sitting in the marina.

Large and small, they all head out to the Chesapeake Bay.  Photo by Mike Hartley

Large and small, they all head out to the Chesapeake Bay.
Photo by Mike Hartley

We all miss this person for much more than the boating experience. He was one of our brothers. A close-knit group of friends that does include one set of actual brothers. So as I look out on the water or a spot we were pulled into at the Inner Harbor I think back to both times of laughter and fun, but realize the hole left by his absence.

So today I will remember him on the bridge of his boat, wheel in one hand, a beer by his side and that Yeah Buddy grin on his face. Here’s to a great weekend ahead Dan. I know you would be leading the charge to Head out to the Bay.

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Love All

I was trying to catch the reflection of the flag in the door as they were opening the Hard Rock Cafe in Baltimore this fine Friday. But I didn’t realize I had got the words “Love All” in the other half of the open door. It was such a good day I tried to practice what I had unknowingly caught in this picture. Actually at few times in this countries history, we did Love All. Maybe each of us can do our own little part to help it along again.

Reflection of the flag and buildings in the left side of the door and words Love All on the right side.  Photo by Mike Hartley

Reflection of the flag and buildings in the left side of the door and words Love All on the right side.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And to prove I did my best today, I didn’t T-Bone the idiot who ran a red light in Catonsville late this afternoon. I also found a pair of sunglasses on the ground in City Sports. I walked them up to the front counter and told the clerk I had just found these. The guy at the counter who he just finished checking out looked up and said they were his. About 10 minutes later a couple who was in town for a wedding asked what they could do in a few hours at the Inner Harbor so I gave them some options. I held doors for people. I tipped well. I nodded hello to total strangers after making eye contact. I said “sorry” when I accidentally cut someone off. I held the elevator for people.

I also helped revitalize the local economy by taking my family out to lunch at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. A new stop for us and it was very good. Great food and service. The ladies did their part and did some shopping. I have no idea what they purchased but I saw bags.  And it looks like from these other ladies on the street below, we weren’t alone.

Harbor East Shoppers Photo by Mike Hartley

Harbor East Shoppers
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I will revel in the sunshine and breeze we were given today. And most importantly the time with family and the smiles we shared. And I got to sneak in a fair amount of shooting so I’m going to go edit away. I still haven’t finished processing all the Annapolis shots from yesterday. It’s a nice problem to have. Usually its the lack of shooting that is the problem. Such a nice change of pace to have some time for it.

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Annapolis with my Daughter

Each summer while my daughter is on break from being a teacher we spend a day or two together during the summer to just wander and talk, eat and explore, shop and sit and generally enjoy each others company and catch up just the two of us. Yesterday we picked Annapolis MD. There is nothing more gratifying to have your children want to spend time with you. There are few things better in life than to see your children happy. There are few better things than when they grow into young adults and they display traits and skills your proud of.

So below is just a few shots I got while wandering the town. What a wonderful day. Thank you Melissa.