We’re closing in on the last quarter of 2021, which is our 10th year of leading our travel-based photography workshops. I know many of us had high hopes of a return to “normal” this year, after all the challenges that COVID caused in 2020. While there have been improvements, notably with several vaccines becoming available early this year, we are still facing difficulties related to travel as summer comes to a close.
Fortunately, we have been able to have some exciting excursions this year! We started with our “Sanibel Island Time” workshop on Sanibel Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida! We left winter behind us during February and explored this unique island paradise with its views of lush tropical vegetation, miles of beaches and hundreds of bird varieties.
From the southeastern tip of the country, we traveled to the north-eastern tip, as we experienced the “Magic of Maine” in June! This was a personal “bucket list” trip from Ron, and Amanda had visited a few years ago, so we knew we wanted to take a group of “Workshoppers” there. We enjoyed stunning views from some of the fishing villages, sunsets along the roadway, and sunrise on the granite shores. One of the special stops was the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec. Our Workshoppers were the first in the country to see the sunrise at 4:41 am form this easternmost point in the continental United States! We also included two cruises…one to see the colorful puffins and beautiful lighthouses, and another to hunt for whales! Our Workshoppers came back with wonderful experiences, new friends, and amazing photographs!
Now we’re looking ahead at our last two workshops of 2021: “A Colonial Capitol – Williamsburg” and “Jenny Wiley Fall Photo Workshop.” Our Williamsburg workshop will be focused on the historical locations and events that brought America into existence! This is where the idea of America was born, where our ideals we stand for as Americans were defined. We will also be visiting historical sites at Jamestown and Yorktown, with a special added venue: The Presidents’ Heads!
Next is our only annual destination, the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY. Amateur and advanced photographers have come to our previous workshops in the Park and enjoyed attractions there and elsewhere in the area. The Park consists of almost 3000 acres, over a third of which is Dewey Lake, all of which is surrounded by towering pines and peaceful mountains. Our two highlights of the weekend will be our “Elk Tour,” where we’ll see and photograph the wild elk herd nearby…just part of the 10-15,000 free-ranging elk in eastern Kentucky; the second is our “Pontoon Boat Cruise,” where we’ll explore Dewey Lake, watching for birds, wildlife, and beautiful autumn scenery reflected in the water.
In between all these workshops, Amanda and Ron have been scouting for new locations and exploring some familiar area for added venues for 2022 and beyond. We have some exciting destinations in mind that we’ll be sharing details on soon.
As a teaser, here are the ones we’re sure of right now….
In March, we’ll “Explore the Crystal Coast” of North Carolina. Along the southern coast of North Carolina is a region rich with history, amazing views, and thrilling experiences. This is the Crystal Coast! Also known as the Southern Outer Banks, it is a stretch of 85 miles of pristine beaches. It consists of different towns and areas, all with their individual character and history. In addition to the beaches, we’ll visit the Old Burying Grounds in Beaufort, Fort Macon, and the Morehead City Yacht Basin. The Crystal Coast is home to beautiful beaches, varied wildlife, delicious food, and almost endless stories of its history.
In April, we’ll return to a familiar location, but with a special interest, as we partner with the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) for their Spring “Regional Event in the Outer Banks!” We’re taking photographers to the Atlantic Coast, the Currituck Sound and Alligator River Natl. Wildlife Refuge for sunrises, sunsets, shorebirds, and black bears. The Outer Banks is North Carolina’s easternmost point and is the first to see the sunrise. As you walk on the beaches, you will share the space with more than 400 bird species. While this is designed for Members of NANPA, anyone can attend!
During the Summer of 2022, we plan a return to northern Ohio and Lake Erie, as we visit “Put In Bay & Marblehead!” While we have visited the area two times previously, it has always been a favorite of our Workshoppers. In 2022, we will be there on the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the Marblehead Lighthouse. This Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the United States.
The rumors are true…yes…we are returning to Maine! In October, we will offer the “Colors of Maine,” as we return to the beautiful “Pine Tree State” during what may be the most colorful time of the year!
So, as 2021 winds down, Mountaineer Photo Excursions is already winding 2022 up for you to explore exciting locations, with opportunities to improve your photography and make new friends! We didn’t get to do much “celebrating” this year, so we’re going to focus on 2022 being our “Tenth Anniversary!” We’ve scouted the locations, we know where to go, and we can help you come back with amazing photos! Make your travel plans to include us!
P.S. We have been featured in NANPA’s upcoming blog. We will be sharing it here next month, so please stop back!
Ron Gaskins & Amanda Haddox