So, who will it be in 2012?

Now that we have elected America’s first black president…what’s there to look forward to in 2012? We know that if all goes as planned Democrats will be behind Obama again but the big question is…will the MSM?

Let’s face it, the MSM by rallying the great American two legged cattle around their call for everyone to be a part of history is what won the election for Obama. Even with the record amount of money that the Obama campaign raised that money didn’t do near as much for him as the billions of dollars of free coverage he got from the MSM.

I believe that future historians will see Americans of 2008 as the MSM cattle with the reality show mentality and the MSM with the true electoral power. In this election the majority of Americans behaved like a heard of preteen and teenaged girls at a Jonas Brothers show.

So, who will be the 2012 rock star? If he don’t totally screw up Obama will have a good chance of repeating his performance. So who could still the spotlight from him? Some think Palin will be there and then there are still the diehard Hillary fans who will want to see her run but no. Hillary had the only chance she will ever have this year and it was stolen by the DNC who jumped on the MSM for Obama bandwagon…they knew that Obama would be a sure thing with the American MSM behind him.

No, I don’t think that 2012 will se a white woman who will be able to contend. I believe that the MSM will still be a little perturbed by the Hillary fans that challenged them this year

I believe that if Obama is to be beat in 2012 and especially if the Republicans want back in then they are going to have to pull a rabbit out of their hat. What do I mean by that? A strong and intelligent black woman…A Condoleezza Rice perhaps.

That’s what I see for 2012…if the repubs can talk Ms. Rice into it.

So, for 2012 I see Obama vs. Rice with Rice winning. I really think that the MSM electoral board would go for a black female over a second term black male!

Writers block? Inspire and Motivate Your Imagination!

If you are experiencing writers block or just need to refresh your imagination a simple, interesting, and enjoyable way to do that is to get out in nature and or read scientific articles like this…I guess it’s really more like science news.

Monday night, or rather Tuesday morning at 3 am Molly, our puppy, got me up to take her out, so I did and when ever I am out like that at night I watch the stars, wish I could fly among them, any way I had a brief encounter with primordial man and how superstitions got started came to mind. I was standing there watching the stars and sky and in the distance a lone coyote was howling, I supposed, at the setting moon when suddenly a meteor shot across the sky and like I said for a fleeting moment I could have been a primeval man in total wonder of what I was hearing and seeing. I felt a slight moment of fear, superstition, and loneliness as man may have felt it in those times and I could just imagine this prehistoric soul going back to his cave, or what ever, and drawing his story on the wall. It thrilled me to death and I felt like I had never given enough thought to these things before and for that brief moment that I had time traveled back and experienced it. It was amazing and for me a spiritual experience!!!

I have had similarly experienced such feelings while visiting museums where they had exhibits of prehistoric man on display but for the most part I experienced the loneliness of it only.

Never have I ever experienced any of these feelings while watching a film on the same subject I think because of the sheer mechanics of making a film…I can’t help it, when ever I watch a movie I think as much about the writing and everything that went into making that film.

So, I guess the point of this is to say read scientific articles to inspire and motivate your imagination. Also, get out and experience nature, not just in parks and not just in the daylight Night can be a major motivator and inspirer of the imagination…it can take your mind to places and experiences that you will not find anywhere else. Graveyards at night are also good places to find inspiration. I would also suggest that you embrace any fear that may be derived form doing this instead of running from it. Sometimes, especially at night I will take a small handheld recorder with me to record my feelings (emotions), thoughts, and even catch some of the night sounds to use as I begin writing…

Copyright © 2008 D L Ennis

The Smile and Wave Initiative

A Sociological Experiment:

The Smile and Wave Initiative

The first time I smiled and waved at this gentleman he looked at me like I was insane…now look at that big smile…he waves and smiles like that every time he sees me now.

This is in an attempt to start at the most basic level to get people to start being kinder to one another…to ease some of our social woes and smooth relations between racial and class tensions.

This kind of thing will work but it takes time for people in our society to take to good habits and deeds. A large part of our society easily gravitates to bad habits and misdeeds which is counterproductive and builds walls between us. It’s been said before but I don’t think it’s been said enough or loud enough…

”We have to become a kinder and gentler people and nation!”

The best place to start and get everyone involved is to start in the most basic place with the most basic deeds.

My Story:

For the last few months I have been doing a lot of shooting in the nearest city to me, Lynchburg, Virginia. There are two reasons for this…one is due to circumstance; the price of gas has stopped a lot of my riding the back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains doing the kind of photography I have always loved. The second reason is a desire to grow and shoot things I have never done much of, people, city streets and buildings etc.

While shooting in the city I noticed that so many people I see are walking around looking sad, complacent, and some look very angry…no one acknowledging one another as they pass on the sidewalks. I thought how cool it would be if we were different…if we offered each other a “good day,” “how are you?,” or “hello” or if nothing else a nod of the head and maybe a smile.

So, I thought maybe I should give it a try! I began as I was driving through the city streets that every time some one looked at me I would smile and through up my hand. Some folks waved back, some smiled and waved back, and some looked at me like I had lost my mind.

I have continued this practice and it is amazing how many people now smile and wave at me as I go by and usually before I have time to greet them first…some even run out to my truck at stoplights and ask me how I am. There are places in Lynchburg that before I started this I would have been leery about getting out of my truck and now I feel perfectly safe. In fact, when I am walking on a sidewalk in town I speak to everyone I meet whether they look at me or not and more and more often a lot of these same people, even ones who turned their heads the other way when I spoke are now speaking and saying hello to me. People in stores, shops, restaurants, offices, and banks through up a hand as I walk by…it’s a good feeling!

Doing this won’t cost you a thing and will not only make you a better person for doing it but you may be surprised how good it will make you feel, and others! Please try it and get your friends and families doing it!

It’s an easy start to making this a better world!

Hey, and if any of you try this, and I hope you will, let me know how it goes for you!

Vote for who ever you want, but vote for them for the right reasons

John McCain, no matter what you think of him is a real American. Some people scoff at his hero status…well, to me John McCain is an American hero, if for no other reason, because all of his life he has given to America…both in this country and overseas. He has served America in more ways than most living Americans have or will ever do. Most of all he stands up and says I am an American and proud of it.


Barack Obama on the other hand has never served America and doesn’t even refer to himself as American, but African American. I’m Scott-Irish but I don’t run around saying that’s what I am…I’m an American. If we are born and raised in America are we not Americans? If Obama wants to be president of America shouldn’t he speak of himself as an American? If he is President of America shouldn’t he be a president who represents all Americans and not just African Americans?


I heard part of a speech yesterday on NPR radio that Obama gave in New Mexico and he said he would fight for improved conditions for Hispanics and African Americans. Does that mean that Obama, who claims to be so in touch with the plight of regular Americans (working people), doesn’t know that there are white people suffering a lot of the wrongs and being kept poor in this country? Or is it he doesn’t care about whites?


Oh, I can hear it now…you’re a bigot some will say. I have been called a bigot and many other things when commenting on articles by the MSM this year by other people commenting on the same articles. About the mildest thing I have been called is a “white buhhba.” Why? Because I don’t support Obama. Barack Obama sat in a church listening to the likes of Rev. Wright for 20 years…Rev Wright baptized Obama’s children…Wright was a family friend, yet Obama didn’t know what Rev, Wright was all about? Give me a brake…The good Rev. Wright is a bigot and a man who does not love America yet in twenty years Obama didn’t see this? To me that suggest that Obama sees and cares about only what he wants to see and care about and that is not what’s best for all Americans.


Well, if because I don’t support Obama makes me a bigot, then what does it mean that my only human hero is Martin Luther King? What does it mean that I have always been at odds with my parents who were brought up with that mindset and who aggravated me to no end with there prejudice? What does it mean that when in 1969 when schools were first integrated in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where I spent my teen years, and blacks came into our school terrorizing white kids and stealing young whites lunch money and beating the hell out of them, raping white girls along with many other violent acts that I came away from that still despising the injustices that blacks had always endured in this country since being traded by there tribal leaders for beads and trinkets during the era of slave trade? I am not a bigot!  


For the sake of all of us and America I would suggest that if you are white, be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you are not voting for Obama…why? If you find that it is because he is black then you need to grow up and accept the world we live in the 21st century. I would also suggest that if you are black and voting for Obama ask yourself why? If you are voting for Obama simply because he is black then you are not doing your share to improve race relations in America and to be quite honest that makes you a bigot. Statistics show that 95% of black American will be voting for Obama and most of them because he is black…Who’s the bigot here?


We can’t move beyond all of this 19th and 20th century crap by dragging it into the 21st century…whites and blacks…get over it already!


Vote for who you truly believe is right for this country but do it for the right reasons…not the Wright reasons! I will not vote for Obama because I don’t think he is ready and experienced enough to lead America and that is the only reason!


It’s Time to Boycott Mainstream Media

Mainstream media in the United States has always tried to dictate how we should think and sway us to believe that their word is the last. Now, they have pushed a lot of us over the edge!

It seems that every mainstream media outlet in this country is on the Obama payroll; they’ve leaned so far left that they are about to tip over and we have the power to make them fall…or at least hurt.

If you are like me and many others I know you are sick of this belittlement of our intellect and ready to hit back!

Now is the time to cancel hard copy (newspapers, magazines etc.) of all outlets who practice this one sided approach to journalism. If they have paid website subscriptions and you are a subscriber cancel it. If you visit online media sites that are free and want to keep doing that, don’t click on any ads. Boycott any advertisers who buy time on television during news programming. NPR radio is as big a violator of our rights to fair and unbiased reporting as anyone and if you donate money during their fund drives don’t do it next time.

Apparently, the only way that we can fight back is to hit them where it hurts…the money!

I hope you will join me in this fight and spread the word as well as apply some of the suggestions I’ve made. If you blog then write about who you feel about their practices and encourage others to write and boycott too.

If they start seeing their profits beginning to dwindle perhaps they will realize that if they want to earn our trust and keep it they will have to learn to practice responsible journalism!



I spent a good part of my Monday afternoon this week talking with this gentleman in Lynchburg, Virginia. Emit is his name and if you have ever gone to the Bateau festival or a Civil War Reenactment in Virginia you have probably seen him. He rides and works on a Bateau from Lynchburg to Richmond, Virginia every year. He and some friends even take their Bateau to the upper James River and the New River to ride the rapids.

At events such as Civil War Reenactments and other history related events you will find Emit with a congregation of other musicians playing Civil War era music. Emit plays bagpipes, spoons and a host of other instruments unique to the era he represents.

This guy is a heck of a story teller as well and I could talk about him all day but I will stop here for now. Suffice it to say, I will be getting together with Emit again for more stories, music, and hopefully some great pics.

2008 D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts

NOTE: Commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

An Abbreviated History of Railroads


Railroading has been referred to as “the biggest business of 19th century America.” Animal and gravity-powered rail transport had been used by quarry companies in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the Northeast in the early 1800s. The United States quickly adopted the steam railway once reliable locomotives suited to long-distance public transportation were available.

After 1830, and the creation of better locomotive types, railroad investment in both England and the United States accelerated almost simultaneously. Britain’s first true public railroad, the Liverpool & Manchester, began operations in 1830, as did the first such American railway, the South Carolina Railroad.

In the 1830s and ’40s America’s railroads were small private affairs of limited mileage, scattered along the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Georgia, with a few enterprising companies pushing westward into the Appalachians. By 1852, thanks to merchants demanding faster and more reliable means of transporting their goods, more than 9,000 miles of track had been laid, mostly in the New England and Middle Atlantic states. During the next decade, American railroads grew into a coordinated iron network of more than 30,000 miles serving all the states east of the Mississippi River.

Railroad construction slowed during the Civil War (the first American conflict in which railroads played a major role as movers of troops and supplies), but resumed on a large scale immediately afterward. By 1880 the United States had 94,000 miles of track binding the country together; 20 years later it had 193,000. By the end of World War I in 1918, the country could boast more than 254,000 miles of track and 65,000 steam locomotives.

As the railroads expanded, so did the country. Between the Civil War and World War I, the United States was transformed from an agricultural to a manufacturing nation, thanks largely to the railroads. They brought raw materials like coal, oil, iron ore, and cotton to the factories and carried away steel, machines, cloth, and other finished products. They moved livestock, grain, and produce from farms to the cities. And they carried people everywhere. Most of the immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Valley traveled there by train, just like the immigrants who settled Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas in the 1870s and 80s.

The railroads shortened the time it took to travel great distances, thus bringing cities closer together. In 1812, for example, a trip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia took six days by stagecoach. In 1854, the same journey took 15 hours by train. By 1920, the trip was down to five hours. Rail deliveries of freight and passengers were generally faster and more reliable than those by stagecoach, wagon, steamboat, or canal packet. The railroad drove many canal companies out of business and lured away most potential passengers from river boat and stagecoach lines.

Until the end of World War I, railroads carried the bulk of all freight and passengers. After 1918, they faced increased competition from automobiles and trucks. By the 1950s railroads were hauling less freight, had reduced passenger service, and abandoned some lines altogether. By then the railroads had undergone dramatic changes, beginning in 1925 with the introduction of the diesel-electric locomotive. Within 30 years, the diesel locomotive, with its great reduction in labor needs, its operational flexibility, and its relative cleanliness, had replaced the coal-burning steam locomotive.

Image: Rails
CSX rails, in sepia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains on a foggy day…

© 2007 D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts

NOTE: Permissions for commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

Seeing America Her Way

Seeing America Her Way

I love the Blue Ridge Parkway for so many reasons. One is that you get to meet so many interesting people, and recently, I met the most interesting, and fascinating person to date; meet Sandy Miller.

Sandy lives in Washington State just north of Seattle. I saw her bike first-photo op-and thought it was military surplus at first, and then here come Sandy exiting a trail near the overlook where she was parked.

Right from the first word we spoke it was like talking with an old friend. Is that your bike I asked…”Yep!” and then she proceeded to tell me about it.

She told me she designed it herself and had a mechanic she knew build it for her. It has a modern Volkswagen engine in it, four forward gears and reverse, and a Harley front-end. She did the leather work herself. She said when it was finished she took it for a test drive-she had been a passenger on a bike but had never driven one herself. She said, “I took it out on the road and pushed it to 115 mph,” after which time she said she figured that both she and the bike were ready to start her journey.

Her journey…to see America; She told me, “I’m fifty-nine and I’ve never seen America…I thought it was time to do it before it’s too late.”

Sandy left Washington in April, 2007 and headed south to see the Redwoods; where she said it rained the whole time. In Arizona, while sitting at a stoplight, a woman talking on a cell phone hit her left rear finder and broke the bikes axel. She was having it repaired when she looked out the window and it was snowing; that night it went down to 19 degrees. She told me things got better after that.

Taking the back roads as much as she could to see the “best of America,” she said some kind folks in West Virginia had told her about the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. So she decided to take the Parkway to Tennessee.

I asked her how much longer she planned to be on the road and she said she had told her daughter that she would be home by Thanksgiving, “But, that all depends on how many times I stop…there’s so much to see!”

Now, you have to be tough to make a journey like Sandy is on; especially at fifty-nine years of age. However, Sandy is no stranger to “tough.” She told me she started her working life as a commercial fisherman and then became the third woman to enter the Pile Drivers Union in Oregon. She divorced at thirty-five and raised her own children while doing this kind of work.

When I asked her what she was going to do after this trip she said, “Visit my daughter and grandchildren and rest, but…this is my first trip. She said with a wink.

When she gets home she will be putting together a book about her adventure-she already has a publisher. She said, “Just look for my bike to be on the cover.” You can believe, I will be looking for that book!

Also published here.

Finding Inspiration—On the Back Roads

The RC Country Store

Traveling the back roads you will find many treasures, historical and visual. Take the back roads and see what treasures lie in wait for you!

Inspiration abounds on the back roads; no matter where you live. Around every curve, over every hill something interesting waits for you. The history in the old buildings forgotten by time, and omitted from the progress of the modern world, each telling stories of the people who built, worked, or lived in them.

Wildlife, flora and fauna, which you will not see in the suburbs or cities awaits you: a multitude of verities and opportunities.

As a photographer, you know that on the average day the best light can be found early morning and late afternoon. However, days of inclement weather can offer some of the highest inspiration and photo opportunities. You can find good light most anytime of day. Wildlife is usually more active on cloudy days…even in rain. Fog on back roads can offer an endless prospect for an inspired shot.

The inspiration and endless photo opportunities await you on the back roads no matter where you live, so get out there have fun, be safe, and find your inspiration. Happy shooting everyone!

You can see this essay, complete with photos, here

Image: The RC Country Store: This Royal Crown Cola sign is on an old country store (no longer in operation) on a back road in Rockbridge County, Virginia; in the Blue Ridge Mountains…

© 2007 D L Ennis, All rights reserved.

NOTE: Permission for the use of my images is granted for personal websites and blogs but is to include a link back to this site and proper credit given to me, D L Ennis. Link to be used…(Visual Thoughts

NOTE: Permissions for commercial use, and the creation of prints, must be purchased! For more information you can contact me here.

Autumn Hawk Migration in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Hawk Eyed

Beginning in early September extending through November, hawks and other birds of prey can be seen migrating from the northeast to the southwest to winter in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Using the Appalachian Mountains and, to a lesser degree, the Allegheny Mountain range as their flyway offering all who wish to view these magnificent birds a visual experience to be savored. The mountains also ease the long journey by providing updrafts that the birds use so efficiently that it’s possible for them travel hundreds of miles without a single beat of their wings—as witnessed by the late (1899-1980) naturalist, Edwin Way Teale.

Eagles, kestrels, ospreys, peregrine falcons, vultures can also be seen, but for the most part you’ll view broad-winged, red-tailed, and red-shouldered hawks (genus Buteo lineatus) and the smaller, Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks (genus Accipiter cooperii.)

The number of migrating hawks that travel the mountain flyway can, on a lucky day for the observer, can be enormous. On September 15th 1985 spectators estimated that upwards of 10,000 broad-winged hawks passed by Rockfish Gap at milepost 0 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. In a single day, during the third week of September, birders counted more than 17,000 broad-wings passing by Linden Fire Tower in northern Virginia.

Though picking a day for viewing is guess work you can increase your odds of seeing great numbers of hawks by being in place from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.—after the sun warms the air currents. Also the week of September 15 is normally the peak of the migration, and the week of October 1 offering the most variety.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive offer many excellent viewing areas from overlooks. Below is a list of some of the best viewing areas in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina…

Copyright © 2005 D L Ennis

Premier Viewing Spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Starting in Virginia
Rockfish Gap (Milepost 0)
Afton Overlook (MP .2)
Ravens Roost (MP 10.7)

In Shanendoah National ParkHawksbill (requires hiking)
Stony Man (requires hiking)
Mary’s Rock (requires hiking)
Calf Mountain Overlook

Irish Creek OL (MP 42.4)
Buena Vista OL (MP 45.6)
Peaks of Otter
Especially Harvey’s Knob OL (MP 95.3)
Mill’s Gap (MP 91.9)
Purgatory Mtn. (MP 92.2)
Sharptop (MP 92.4)
Montvale (MP 95.9)
Great Valley (MP 99.6)
Saddle Parking OL (MP 168)
Near Rocky Knob Visitor Center (MP 169)
Cumberland Knob (Park at MP 219)
Mahogany Rock, and nearby Scott Ridge (MP 235)
Jumpin’ Off Rock (MP 260)
Thunderhill OL (MP 290.5)
Grandfather Mtn./ Ship Rock (MP 302.8)
Table Rock Mtn. at Linville Gorge
Three Knobs OL (MP 338.8)
Black Mtns. (MP 342.2)
Licklog Ridge (MP 349.9)
Fire Tower on Green Knob (360 degree views, MP 350.4)
Mt. Mitchell Summit (MP 355.4)
Craggy Pinnacle OL (MP 364.1)
Craggy Gardens Visitor Center (MP 364.6)
Mills Valley OL (MP 404.5)
Devils’ Courthouse (MP 422.4)

Here are a few other places for birders interested in the migration…Viewing at other spots

In Pennsylvania
Hawk Mountain- This is the center of the universe for Hawk watchers in the eastern U.S., bringing on average more than 24,000 raptors of 16 species over it’s North Lookout. The Visitor Center has a museum on birds of prey, art gallery and gift shop. Their address is;
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Kempton, Pa. 19529-9449
(610) 756-6961.

Wildcat Rocks at South Mountain

In Maryland
Washington Monument State Park

Catoctin Mountain Park at Blue Ridge Summit Vista and Hog Rock

In North Carolina
Chimney Rock Park

In South Carolina
Ceasar’s Head State Park (Last year over 7000 Broadwinged Hawks were spotted here on Sept. 29)