December 18, 2022

Manassas National Battlefield


Some time back, I stumbled across a “final post” on a blog I had never before heard of; Leicaphilia. I don’t consider myself to be a particular Leicaphile, but this final post was quite poignant.

The blogger, who was a dedicated Leicaphile, had been fighting stomach cancer for some time. He had just been sent home from his latest visit to the hospital to die. Doctors gave him a week, maybe two to live.

So he posted a farewell to all the friends he had made worldwide via his blogging about Leica’s and film photography.

Only. he didn’t. This was several months ago and Tim is still with us. He’s pretty much home bound now and has been getting his affairs in order, and posting some amazing insights into the minds of photographers.

It’s becoming apparent that he is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s both another train and the end of the tunnel.

I’ve been following his writings for a bit and thinking about what I’ve been doing here.

First thing is to be honest, he is a FAR, FAR better writer than I will ever be. As much as I would like to have the gift of words, I don’t. Over the years, my writing has improved dramatically. One of the primary reasons I began this blog was to help my writing skills.

And they have become much better, but it’s akin to saying that your feces doesn’t smell as bad now. It still stinks, but less so.

Not certain where this is going, but with retirement not that far off in the future my thoughts are that a lot more of my life will be posted here. I’m not a traditional social media guy, but if I can reach out to the world and perhaps make some new friends via this blog then that’s a major plus.

So, prolly in the new year, I’m going to open the blog to comments.

Starting with this blog, I’m also going to seriously ratchet down the number of photos presented, and providing dialog about the selected images. At this precise instant in time let’s say it will be 5 images or less. That will take some doing, as there are typically an order of magnitude more images than that available for a particular subject. As a compromise, I will make a separate page with all the photos linked from the main post.

Manassas National Battlefield:

In October, Melanie and I went to New Orleans on both a business and please trip. I had a contractor meeting to go to in Mandeville, so Melanie came with me. We stayed through the weekend and I flew back on Sunday and Melanie stayed in Baton Rouge with her Aunt.

She was still there the next weekend, so I got a wild hair and decided to go to the Manassas National Battlefield. Many, many years ago I had had the opportunity to walk around the park, but in the 15 or so years we have lived here, I had not been back. So, I packed the Fuji X-T2, XF18-55, XF10-24 and XF50-200 into a photo backpack I had bought off of e-bay a while back. The pack was big enough for provisions and a water bottle so off I went.

The first challenge was where to start. It’s a big park, with lot’s of trails as you can see below.

Looking at the map, I decided to park at the Stone Bridge Loop Trail and walk the First Manassas Trail. As it turns out, the First Manassas Trail is some 5 1/2 miles long. Since my COVID experience, my physical stamina has been drastically diminished. It has been a long time since I walked that far, and I was more than a little concerned about finishing and what would happen if I couldn’t finish.

In the end, I talked myself into it, saying I could rest as often as needed and to just pace myself. Normally I walk at a very brisk pace, but I purposely slowed myself down for this walk. A marathon versus a sprint if you will.

As we discussed, there are going to be a very select few images posted here. If you want to see the whole shebang click here. Of particular interest this day was collecting images I could post on my favorite photo web site Cameraderie. Cameraderie has a plethora of threads going of a particular subject to post images into. I had gotten sucked into the fun a couple of months earlier and thought his would be a great opportunity to collect images for some of the threads.

Moment of truth here. I wasn’t able to get this down to 5 images….. It’s 12 of the 122 images. I guess 10:1 isn’t a bad ratio 🙂

Getting out of car, you cross the Stone Gate Bridge and then you can veer right alongside the Bull Run River, or go straight toward the visitor center. I veered to the right as the route to the visitor center bisects the walking trail and that didn’t make much sense to me. It was a beautiful fall day, with color just coming into view. The river presented a lot of opportunities for good mirror types shots. I won’t say this is the best of the bunch, but it’s pretty good.

After separating from the river, the trail runs through the forest for a while and then dumps out onto this prairie. I was taken with this interaction of the grass, trees, clouds and sky with a bit of fencing.

Reentering the forest, I had stopped to take a look at the map, and turned back to look down the trail. There was this woman training her dog, and I found the interplay of their black shadows just added the right touch to this image.

There was a sign signaling the Carter Family Cemetery off the main path. This set of rock walls was all that was remained, with a sign indicating some 150 members of the Carter Family were buried here, albeit without any sort of markers.

Continuing on, I noticed this marker and sign in the forest. Out of curiosity I investigated to see the sign referencing Lt. Col W. M. Gardner and what once was a small monument which had been removed.

Heading out of the woods, there was a long walk back in the direction of the highway. Along the way, where a number of cannon installations and a long length of fence headed toward the highway. Prolly would have been a better image without the power wires….

There was literally about a mile of this stuff. I doubt it was original as it was in pretty good condition.

As the trail got to the highway, there is this house. It’s closed now, but it evidently withstood both battles at Bull Run, unlike many of the participants.

Crossing the highway, the trail led to this bridge in the woods. It was getting late, the sun was setting, and it was definitely getting cooler. And I was most assuredly getting tired.

Completing the loop on the South side of the highway, I crossed back over into more of the pain area that I had been in earlier. As you can see, it’s clouding up.

Near the end of the trail is this bridge. Ish. Sort of a bridge. Not certain why they built this, but is several hundred feet long over what I guess is marshland. Although it didn’t look marshy to me. Who knows?

And ultimately back over the stone bridge to the car. Whew. 5 1/2 miles, some 3 hours.

Some thought in closing. Memory is a funny thing, but I remember there being a lot more to see the last time, admittedly 15 years ago. It could possibly have been the Second Manassas Trail that I walked before, but that’s appreciably longer than the First and I honestly don’t think I walked that far before.

I purposely did not go into the visitor center.

Whew. That’s the latest going’s on to talk about.

Some time back, I had been doing some blasts from the past, and most likely I’ll do some more of that.