An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

February 19, 2014

Winter Walk-Off 2014

     It's time once again for my annual Winter Walk-Off, and this winter in particular needs to be walked off, or better yet, run out of town with an angry mob quick on its heels. Some of you may recall that this meme of mine is a way of to enjoy a little armchair traveling, as I really like seeing other parts of the globe. So show me what your corner of the world looks like. As always, the rules are simple, the rules are flexible.


  • On your own two feet, leave the house and share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home (if you want to drive to your walk that's OK too).  Your post does not have to be about gardening or a travelogue, unless you want it to be.  Maybe instead you will find some unusual patterns, interesting shadows, signs of spring, a favorite restaurant or shop, questionable landscaping or local eyesores.  Whatever, just keep your eyes and mind open, be creative and have fun, but don't show anything from your own garden.
  • Post your own Winter Walk-Off on your blog, and link it back to this post.  Also, please leave a comment here when your post is up.  If you have recently written a similar post, you are welcome to recycle.
  • I will keep the challenge open until midnight on March 19th, the last day of winter (or summer for those of you below the equator).
  • Everyone who participates will have a chance to win one of two prizes, and a totally disinterested teenager will randomly draw the names. This year I am giving away some treasure from Virginia's Eastern Shore. One person will win an assortment of hand-selected seashells I pulled from the Atlantic. The other prize is a local delicacy called Crab House Crunch, which my family refers to as Crab House Crack, because it is that addictive.  I will contact the two winners and mail the prizes after the Walk-Off is over. 


  • I hope these guidelines are simple enough and that you will join in.

    *****
         Now, please join me on my own Walk-Off, which took place in downtown Norfolk this past Sunday morning. It was a quiet day, and there were only a few people out. Despite seeing the recently scarce sun and clear blue skies, I hope you brought a coat with you, as the temperatures barely made it above freezing. This year I tested the flexibility of my own rules and drove to my starting point at the Pagoda Garden.
    The Pagoda (3)

         This blog has been here many times before, it is one of my favorite downtown spots. I really appreciate its Asian makeover, as I am old enough to remember when this was a giant molasses tank.
    The Pagoda (2)

    Although the city has made strides to diversify its economy, at its core Norfolk is still very much a navy town.
    The Lone Sailor

    USS Wisconsin (2)

    USS Wisconsin (1)

    The Homecoming (1)

         The first time I lived here the downtown waterfront was a mere shadow of its former self. Much of it was a vacant field of rubble interspersed by a few tumbledown, rat infested warehouses and derelict piers. It was a sad place. Fast forward, and it is now an attractive destination and a place people want to call home. At its center is Town Point Park, which also recently had a makeover. Its first incarnation was that of a park forced to function as a festival site. Town Point Park 2.0 is a festival site with a park-like qualities. I'm not sure I like it, a lot of beautiful sycamores were sacrificed to make it happen.
    Town Point Park (2)

    Town Point Park (3)

    Town Point Park (5)

    Cormorant

    Working Waterfront

         Soon after I graduated from college, I got a job at the Omni Hotel (now a Sheraton). It was one of the first new structures built on the waterfront in many decades. Never a dull moment, it was a fun place to work, but at the same time it was very stressful. My stint lasted not quite two years, I quit and moved away, swearing never to come back to the hotel or to Norfolk again. Those were words I ended up eating, because years later I did come back to Norfolk, and got a job at the same hotel. That stint didn't end well either, and it was the last hotel job I ever had. 20 years later I still have bad dreams about the place.
    Waterside Sheraton (1)

         A few blocks from the river is one of Norfolk's oldest buildings, St. Paul's Episcopal Church. It survived (more or less) the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War and urban renewal. One of Norfolk's most cherished relics is embedded in its wall, a gift from the British.
    St. Paul's (1)

    St. Paul's (2)

         Here is another relic, the Monument to Our Confederate Dead. Every southern town has at least one. In 1951 Norfolk hosted the last Confederate soldier's reunion, when only four very old men were all that remained.
    To Our Confederate Dead (2)

         One last relic for you, the tomb of General Douglas MacArthur, housed in Norfolk's first City Hall. I'm not going to show you the current City Hall, as I have no love for the place.
    MacArthur Memorial

         Are you still with me? Good, one more bit of history, a few pics and then you are on your own.

         Before World War II, Norfolk had one of the country's largest collections of antebellum structures, and if circumstances had been different the city might have been able to draw in tourists the way Charleston and Savannah do. But Norfolk was a casualty of the war. The city was inundated with shipyard workers, sailors and many,many others. It's old homes were carved into apartments and boarding houses, then divided again. Shift workers shared the same bed, one sleeping at night and another during the day. Downtown Norfolk brimmed with rough bars, tattoo parlors and burlesque theaters. The city was ridden hard and put away wet. In response, after the war, the city father's graciously accepted federal dollars for urban renewal and promptly bulldozed half of the city. So much was lost, and with few exceptions the land remained vacant for decades. Finally, downtown has come back to life, and is now one of the most desirable places in the area to live. A new condo or apartment development seems to arise every week, and the downtown music and restaurant scene is lively. It's a vibrant mix of the new and what remains of the old, and a place I am glad to call home. Now if we can only figure out how to hold the rising sea at bay.
    The Customs House

    The Tide

    The Wells

    Granby St (1)

    Gull

              Thanks for keeping company with me on my Walk-Off. Hopefully you will have one of your own soon.

    83 comments:

    1. I've been looking forward to your walk-off challenge! Good to see you treasure the gift we British gave you ;-) Norfolk has been through some dramatic changes, I can see why the loss of mature trees and old buildings would be a sadness, but what a vibrant place, and anywhere with a vibrant port and big ships at its heart is going to have character.

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      1. Janet, traditionally Virginians have always appreciated whatever the British gave us, no matter the intent. You will not find a more anglophilic state.

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    2. Lots of history in Norfolk and lots of modern updates too. I lived in Norfolk from Dec. 1989 to July 1990, We had just come back from Heidelberg, Germany and my husband was at the Armed Services Staff College and we lived on the joint staff college base, although that no longer exists for that purpose (we were the last class). Still didn't really get to know Norfolk very well as I had a 1 yr old and was involved on base with the other families, mostly. I will see if I can actually come up with something for your walk off this year...time will tell. Take care!

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      1. Jan, I am sure your experiences here mirror that of many military families. We were actually here together for a few months. I moved back to Norfolk in April of 1990, so maybe we passed each other on Hampton Blvd..

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    3. Hi Les,
      Your collection of photos of this great city should be required reading by all Norfolk children - great viewing and great history. Thanks so much!

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      1. Sheandoah K., you are are quite welcome, but the thanks should be mine for the compliment.

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    4. Not blogging myself I'll participate, as I do each year, by reading other's adventures with great delight. I enjoyed your tour on Norfolk (although it was really cold out!) and if I ever visit a southern town, your corner of the world is number one on my list (the only one so far). I've grown to love it through your amazing posts. The navy ships are awe inspiring as always. The 'gift' from Lord Dunmore is priceless.

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      1. Chav, on your trip south there are other places you may want to move to the top of the list. Don't get me wrong, I love where I live, but there are prettier spots.

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    5. These are wonderful.
      And I'm entering, hoping to win the Crab House Crunch.
      I have a new camera. Don't worry… you don't want to see what's in my yard!! So I will be walking out and snapping.

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      1. Linda, I am looking forward to your entry.

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    6. What a wonderful city! I might join your winter walk this year if you allow skis. There's something like 2 feet of snow out back and more is coming down now. Ugh - mixed with sleet, hail and rain.

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      1. Sarah, of course skis would be fine!

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    7. Wow, thanks--I learned so much about Norfolk that I didn't know. For example, I wasn't aware it had similar homes and structures to Charleston and Savannah before the war. Those are two cities we're planning to visit one of these days. Beautiful photos. Sorry about teh bad memories with the hotel. I do hope to link in--probably next weekend, after the polar vortex recedes again.

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      1. PlantPostings, I do highly recommend a trip to Charleston and Savannah, they are two of my favorite places. I do hope you will join in my Walk-Off.

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      2. Sorry for the delay in finding the link, but I have it now. Thank you!

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    8. Thank you for this post! It's historic part is very interesting, and I also want to notice the high quality of your photographs.

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      1. Tatyana, thank you for noticing the photos and saying something about it. One or two may make it to my Best-of 2014.

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    9. You really live in a wonderful place. All the history, beautiful buildings, the water, and all the natural places. Loved your tour today.

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    10. Les, you never disappoint when it comes to your photos! I am pleased to see Norfolk's makeover.

      That first photo is outstanding and reminds me of a photo we took while visiting Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Chinese garden in Vancouver http://vancouverchinesegarden.com. I'm sure you'd love the garden.

      As for the walkabout, I'm afraid mine would be rather boring_ a few houses and some pasture and after I walked down the hill about two miles, I might not make it back up again. ;)

      Hope you and your family are having a wonderful weekend.

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      1. Diana, please don't let fear of disappointment keep you from posting a Walk-Off entry, especially since I appreciate all efforts. However, not being able to make it up the hill again could be another story. Perhaps someone can pick you up?

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    11. A fascinating old town with a lot of history. I have never been there. When they were small my kids would have loved those navy ships, they are most impressive.

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      1. Jason, I am far from small or young, and I love those ships.

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    12. love the photo of the ship from the front, thanks for taking me on your walkoff

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    13. Love this concept and will give it a try myself soon. Great travelogue and photos. Have enjoyed your blog for some time, though usually just as a lurker. BTW, do you know about this: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2014/02/national-parks-travelers-essential-guide-paddling-parks24637 National Parks recently pub'd guide to paddling. Cheers.

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      1. Sarah, it is better to lurk than not look at all. Thank you for the link, I have added to my "Paddle Places" bookmark folder.

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    14. What a wonderful walk about your town. I learned a lot! Your photos really show it off! I especially love the last one!

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      1. Jayne, I like that photo as well. I took several shots, each one getting a little closer, and the gull never flinched. He just turned his head a little, maybe to show off his best side.

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    15. Love the photos and concept. That one of USS Wisconsin surely stops one's eye! Wow.

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      1. Anne, in an agreement with the Navy, the Wisconsin is open without charge. I probably could have gotten more shots from the deck and interior of the ship, but I was there too early. Perhaps in another post.

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      2. I've always had a soft spot for the Iowa class battleships, probably because a very early memory for me was seeing them in action in the Gulf War.
        I love the walk concept, by the way, I'm definitely going to try to do one this year.

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      3. Ages ago, back in the 70's, I met a man who served on the original Iowa during WWII. He was very friendly, but you could quickly tell he was challenged. He grew up on a farm in the middle of the country, joined the navy, and when his service was over, never again ventured more than a few miles from the pier. He would make a good short story.

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    16. Hi Les, Here's my Winter Walk-Off. Thanks for hosting!

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    17. Sorry--forgot to leave the link. http://allandnothingemily.blogspot.com/2014/02/garden-winter-walk-off-2014.html

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      1. Emily, thank you so much. You are the first entry. I will have a wrap-up when the contest is over.

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    18. Les, thanks for hosting. I've posted my winter walk on skis in Maine here:
      http://blog.sarahlaurence.com/2014/02/a-winter-walk-on-skis.html

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      1. Sarah, thank you, I will read it very soon, and I am very glad it is on skis.

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    19. Great post and, as always, wonderful photos! It meant a lot to me as my husband is a Norfolk native (Willoughby Spit) -- born right after the end of WWII. He remembers, sadly, how much the city's zeal for "urban renewal" took out so many historic places. He also grew up with the prevailing local sentiment of hating the Navy, noting that there were signs posted back then like "Dogs and Sailors Keep Off the Grass". Ironically, he was ready to get out of town while still in high school and his solution was to enlist in the Navy (!!); in four years he really did see much of the world.

      It is still fun to visit and I recognize just about all of the sites you feature. Like you I particularly enjoyed the Pagoda Garden.

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      1. bfish, please tell your husband that those signs are gone, and I think most citizens have an appreciation of what military families sacrifice, and for what the navy contributes to the city.

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    20. Thanks for the tour of Norfolk. It does look like a fun place to visit or live. We need that angry mob up here where it was four degrees two nights ago.

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      1. Carolyn, you do need that angry mob. I was in your neck of the woods this past weekend, and the amount of snow on the ground amazed me. Check out my next few posts, they will all be from Pennsylvania.

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    21. Marvellous images Les. Many of them remind me of Halifax. We are also a Naval port and we have some marvellous statues along our boardwalk. I particularly like the prow of the massive ship, and the cannon ball embedded in the wall. You have inspired me to give you my Halifax version of a waterfront. Friday when I'm in town, I'll go for a walk about, camera in hand. I'll come back and give you the link when I'm done. Thanks for the inspiration.

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      1. Thanks in advance for participating. I spent several days in Halifax back when I was a child, but remember nothing, so maybe your walk will jar a memory.

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    22. Here's my post, about a walk around Seattle. http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2014/03/winter-walk-off-in-big-city.html

      I doubt any of my photos are as good as yours, but I had fun walking and then putting the post together. I enjoyed your post too -- all that blue sky and sunshine.

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      1. Thank you Alison! I am so glad you joined in, especially with pics from one of my favorite cities I have never been to, yet.

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    23. Thank you Les. I worked in downtown Norfolk many moons ago just as Waterside was being built (my office was right across the street.) Downtown has really changed since then. No more stopping at Smith & Welton for a slice of lemon chess pie! It was good to stroll with you to see new sights as well as old ones.

      Hope to participate this year but winter has been really ugly here. I haven't even looked for hidden waterfalls. Trying to put on my thinking cap on and come up with a fun concept.

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      1. Hey Lynn, we must have crossed paths, because I was working downtown about the same time. I also hope you can participate in the Walk-Off.

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      2. Les, My thinking cap worked and I will be posting before the deadline!

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    24. Les, at this late date I'm going to retread an old post for my submission to the winter walkoff, since the submission deadline is not far off. This neighborhood is one I walk to many times:

      http://agrowingobsession.com/?p=52400

      Just to let you know, Long Beach, being an old port/Navy town too, has that very same sailor statue. And I've been told there's one in San Francisco too. It really gets around...

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      1. Denise, I am firm believer in recycling, and I appreciate your entry. Funny about that stature.

        I tried to leave a comment on the post, but it appears they are closed. I love the idea of parklets, and they seem to be well worth the loss of a couple of parking places.

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    25. OK, Les, I'm done. But I warn you ... I cheated ... http://crittersnus.blogspot.ca/2014/03/halifax-winter-walk-off.html

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      1. Sybil, I am OK with a little cheating every now in then, it helps smooth rough edges. Thanks for joining in.

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    26. I took a walk through my neighborhood...just for you, Les--exactly 1 week ago. http://thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/2014/03/winter-walk-off-2014.html

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      1. I feel very special Jan, and look forward to reading your post. Thank you!

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    27. I am glad I stopped by here tonight, need to get crackin' on the post! Sure do miss the Tidewater area for history, you captured some great aspects of it. What? No pic of the NorVa? hahaha I do like the Wells Theater.
      Time to jump back into blogging. Will let you know when my post is up.

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      1. Funny you mention the NorVa Janet, my son went to a concert there last weekend, It was his first visit. I do hope you have time to post a Walk-Off, you are a legacy, but I understand if you don't have time. Life's a busy proposition.

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    28. Having started life in one of Hilton Village's post war home, Norfolk was a destination, however I didn't recognize much on the waterfront in your tour...except maybe St. Paul's, The Wells, the Confederate monument... The transformation is amazing. Thanks for giving us a peek. My Walk-Off wasn't historic but it was an enjoyable walk in the New Hampshire snow.

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      1. Annie, thanks for posting your Winter Walk-Off. I have a good friend who lives in Hilton, and she likes it a lot. That area has also seen a bit of a renaissance.

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    29. I was a little concerned I wasn't going to make your "walk-off" this year but whadda ya know? An opportunity presented itself. Thanks for the reason to go for a walk:
      http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2014/03/winter-walk-off-in-salem-oregon.html

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      1. Loree, thanks for participating. I am going to head over to your blog and take a look.

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    30. Glad I checked this post again. I have time to participate, I hope!

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      1. Georgia, I am looking forward to your post.

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      2. Georgia | local ecologistMarch 19, 2014 7:10 PM

        Unfortunately, I could not pull a post together, but shared several photos via Twitter @localecologist tagged #WinterWalkoff and #ATidewaterGardener.

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    31. There are some great images in your walk-off. Love the ships (4-5) especially the one of the ship hull. Brilliant really! I also love the way you used an angle to add drama to the image of the Monument to Our Confederate Dead.

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      1. Jennifer, I am fascinated by giant ships. I don't necessarily want to know how they work, or be stationed on one, but I do like to look.

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    32. Les, my posting will be going up Monday morning the 17th!

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    33. Les, my post is up! First one for 2014! Having some trouble with blogger --many of my sidebar stuff is missing. Tried to do a preview of what I wrote, half of it didn't save. So, after much ado.... http://thequeenofseaford.blogspot.com/2014/03/harbingers-of-spring.html

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      1. Janet, I am glad you joined in. I think as of this point you are the only one to participate in all of them.

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    34. I very much enjoyed your walk off in Norfolk and learning a bit of the town's history! So sad to have lost so much! I finally got around to posting my own walk off which features mostly 100 year old homes in my neighborhood. Your meme worked - winter will be over in just a couple of days!

      http://www.outlawgarden.blogspot.com/2014/03/winter-walk-off-2014.html

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      1. I glanced at your post on my cell phone while at work today Peter. I can't wait to see it on the big screen. Thanks for your contribution.

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    35. Here's my post: http://sweetbay103.blogspot.com/2014/03/winter-walk-off-2014.html

      Great idea for a meme Les!

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      1. Thanks Sweetbay. I look forward to walking with you.

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    36. Les, I really enjoyed your winter walk pictures especially those of battleship Wisconsin. I served on the USS IOWA BB61 as the Weapons Officer. It was the best tour of my navy career. Just loved everyday . Here is my entry this year.

      http://genesgarden.blogspot.com/2014/03/winter-walk-off-2014.html

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      1. Gene, I am very glad you found the time to join my Walk-Off this year. You and Janet both have done this for each year that I have. Thanks!

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    37. I am cutting this one close! Just a few hours to spare, but I wanted to participate. I did some experimenting with a polarized lens and so my shots are so-so. Oh well! It was fun despite the snow. Here is a link:
      http://atidewatergardener.blogspot.ca/2014/02/winter-walk-off-2014.html

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      1. Thanks Jennifer. I look forward to seeing your photos. I have toyed with the idea of experimenting with different filters, but photoshop can sort of do that for you.

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    38. Thanks for the fun, Les, and inspiration to actually put a post up! Boy, am I rusty. It is 3 minutes to midnight in Chicago (once a procrastinator...). http://travelinbride.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/walking-off-the-longest-winter/

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      1. Lynn, I always did my best work in the last hour of a deadline, or later. Thanks for joining in!

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    39. Well, after being delayed by a March snow, I did get a contribution to the collection this year although after the deadline. Hope you enjoy your northern neighbor's walk off.
      http://leafychronicles.blogspot.com/2014/03/winter-walk-off.html
      Ray

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      1. Ray, I will gladly make an allowance for snow. Thanks for joining me this year!

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