Ideas for Travel Operating close to the Car

Discussion in 'Travel' started by carbon_dragon, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. I'm in my 60s and have some fitness challenges and injuries that make it hard to do more than a limited length easy hike. Yet I would like to do some trips for landscape photography purposes (including maybe some urban landscapes). I'm going to Cade's Cove this weekend because of the loop road (though the weather doesn't look to be cooperating).

    Does anyone have any other ideas of places that can be accessed, at least somewhat, from relatively near the car. Barring that, places which require only an easy hike with no climbing of a duration of no more than say 45 minutes to and 45 minutes from the location?

    Bonus points for being within 1 day's drive of Atlanta, GA.

    Note the Blue Ridge parkway and Bodie Ghost Town have both been mentioned as possibilities.

    James Bryant likes this.
  2. Some ocean beaches have parking lots quite close by. Also some farms offer wagon/hat rides during daylight hours. And some scenic railroads are really quite scenic. Good luck.
    carbon_dragon likes this.
  3. While walking around Bodie is not very strenuous, it's elevation is about 8300' so breathing is a bit labored.
  4. Thanks. Keep those suggestions coming. I lived in Colorado Springs when I was in my 20s at 6000+ feet and worked at 7000+ every day. But I'm a lot older now. It's a good thing to keep in mind. How hard is Bodie to get to from somewhere reasonable to stay? Any suggestions?
  5. You can stay in Bridgeport, CA, which has some nice places. From there, it's only about 15 minutes to the turnoff to Bodie. If I remember correctly, Bodie is three miles up a well maintained dirt road from the turnoff (I could be wrong on the distance on the dirt road). You can also get in Mono Lake on the same trip. In fact, I'm planning such a trip for myself and a friend. We'll stay in Bridgeport overnight, get up about 3-4 am (depending on what time of year we go) drive down to Mono for the sunrise on the tufa formations then stop off in Bodie on the way back to Bridgeport.

    Bear in mind that due to the elevation, if there are early or late snows, the roads to Bodie will be closed in the shoulder seasons, and are always closed in the winter.

    If you are in the (relatively) same area of California--San Francisco, you could drive up into Marin County and visit Muir Woods, which has some very nice redwood trees. The walkways are pretty much level and there are places to rest all along the trail. You need to get there early though or parking is a real problem.
    carbon_dragon likes this.
  6. BTW, that Grand Canyon panorama is only a hundred or two meters away from the parking lot on reasonably level ground.

    Fewer national parks in the East, but battlefield parks (Revolutionary and Civil Wars) and historic sites are not too far away.
  7. Some of my best images in Acadia National Park and Bryce National Park were taken just a few hundred feet from the trunk of my car.
  8. @cd
    Consider a lighter system.
    I am a senior citizen also.
    I primarily shoot Nikon D7200, but for vacation I got an Olympus EM1 (micro 4/3 system). MUCH LIGHTER and smaller. At the end of 2 weeks, I was not worn out as I would have been with the heavier dSLR kit.
    The EM1 is my long term system, for when I am not able to handle the weight of the Nikon D7200 (or its replacement). And that date seems to be coming faster than I thought.

    Yes, there are lighter dSLR bodies and lenses (like the Nikon D3400 + 18-55), but I felt that they gave up too much, and did not save enough weight and size compared to the similar m4/3 kit.

    I recently hurt my knee. So while it heals, it is the Nikon D7200 in a pull cart, or carry the lighter Olympus EM1. If I can't pull the cart, it has to be the EM1.

    One warning, the battery of my EM1 only lasts me about 4 HOURS of heavy use, whereas the battery of my D7200 will easily last me 2 DAYs or more. This is not a deal breaker, but a big change in how I use the camera. I was caught short a couple times with an empty battery. I HAVE TO carry spare batteries with the EM1 (and probably all mirrorless cameras).
  9. Hi Gary, I also owned the Olympus system. In fact, I traded in all my Nikon gear to get an entire OMD setup. That was about three years ago. Beautiful glass, light weight and I really, really liked the EVF. But unfortunately, out of three cameras (1-em5, 2 em-1s) two (both em1s) gave me constant shutter lock up problems. To the point that I felt I just could not rely on them anymore. Now perhaps I'm just unlucky, but I am a member of an Olympus OMD group on Facebook and I see people with the same problem occurring with great regularity. So, I recently made the switch back to Nikon. Now, of course, I'm really, really wanting the new Z7! Granted, it still uses the same big lenses (full-frame), but the body is very small and light. I wish you good luck with your Oly gear. I wish I could have felt comfortable with it.
  10. Also a senior citizen, I prefer to photograph within easy walking distance of my car. While this may not satisfy purists, I do get good coverage of a wide area with minimal distress to my body. When traveling, I tend to carry a lot of equipment for maximum flexibility, but I don't carry all of it all the time. Sometimes just a lens or two will work for a given situation. Everything else can stay in the car.

    For several years I have carried gear in a backpack (ThinkTank Airport Essentials), which holds a lot of gear in a single layer. You only unpack what you need at the time. A backpack is nice, in theory, because you can carry it over rough ground and for long distances. In practice, however, I only do that in air terminals, and between the car and lodging. That trek from ticketing to terminal to baggage pickup is becoming onerous. I haven't used a roller because they're completely useless on cobblestones, gravel or grass. That's going to change. I now have a roller (ThinkTank Airport Advantage Plus) with the same capacity, small enough to fit overhead (or underneath) in an airplane, and light enough to hoist as needed.

    It's easy enough to carry a small camera bag on a domestic road trip for "day" use, but generally not practical when traveling by air. They would count as a "personal" carry-on, which I prefer to be a laptop case, and are too bulky to pack in checked baggage. However I found a small pack (ThinkTank "Hubba Hubba Hiney")which folds flat enough to pack in luggage, but holds up to 4 prime lenses or one large (24-70/2.8 or 70-200/4) zoom lens. The padding is very thin, but it isn't likely to get knocked about much, nor attract unwanted attention. I prefer primes for scenery, but zooms are useful if bulky and heavy - fewer lens changes = fewer dust bunnies to clean up in post.
  11. I currently use a Leica M digital (or 2) with 2-3 lenses. I can't hike that far anyway (maybe 1-1.5 hours if the terrain is pretty flat with no climbing) but with that I take just 1 camera and maybe 2-3 lenses. With Leica that still fits in a tiny bag. To get lighter I would need to switch to something like the RX100 or some similar camera.

    I used to use a Contax SLR outfit with 2 bodies and a bunch of lenses in a backpack. Just thinking about that makes my back hurt! Those old zeiss lenses were metal and super heavy.

    For periods of 30 minutes or so, I can carry a light tripod. I still have my Gitzo carbon fiber from the old days at about 3'ish pounds.

    And Ed that is exactly what I'm shooting for. Though it's been a while since I've flown. Recently I've been driving when I can do that in a day.
  12. The last two years, my younger brother and I have taken a week-long photo excursion to places neither of us had been - Iceland, then Ireland. He calls it a "bucket list", which is more truth than hyperbole. This involves a lot of driving and stopping, not to mention air travel to and from the destination. We both had backpacks which held all of our equipment (his including a Mavic drone) because rollers were no good on a trail. In practice, the backpacks stayed in the car, and we would pick a lens or two, depending on the occasion, and walk anywhere from a few feet up to a mile or so to the scene. In Ireland, you routinely park in a wide spot, then walk to a gap in the hedges. A few landmarks had parking lots, but not many, and usually some distance away.

    All things considered, a roller will make life easier where it counts, and a light bag can carry stuff better than pockets. The "day" bag is the same size and type which has been accepted by museums in the past.

    I carry a decent tripod, but mainly for panoramas. Sony In-body image stabilization works well enough for most shots, including bracketed HDR sequences and video, or when the maximum resolution is desired.
  13. I too am experiencing age-related issues with walking/hiking and I've found that my Canon G7x gives me almost all the benefits of my Canon 7D without the weight and bulk. The zoom range is limited on the G7x, but the high ISO performance is much better then the 7D. I carry a sling-type day pack with glasses, water, etc, and the G7x fits in well.
  14. I'm older too and use a RX100iv. I've got a bad back and try to keep the hikes short from the parking lot which I mostly did on my National Park tour in the Southwest. Some shots easily gotten. The movie clip of the cows was gotten from the driver's seat as we waited for them to pass. What could be easier than that?
    American Southwest 2018 - Digital
  15. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Gents - I have a variety of physical issues as well, a year away from 3/4 of a Century - still carry whatever I care to, including a full bag with 2 FX Nikons and several lenses,and walk at length. Quoting Mom, who made it till 89 "Once you stop making yourself do what you can, pretty soon you can't." Never surrender!
    bgelfand, AlRohrer, frigo and 3 others like this.
  16. Agree Sandy,
    The problem is atrophy, so you have to keep active, or your muscles will atrophy. And at our age, it happens faster than for youngsters. But when it HURTS, you have to back off. Pain is your body telling you that you are injuring yourself. And it takes longer for us old fogies to heal. So you have to watch that border of what you can and cannot do, and adjust as necessary.
  17. I'm assuming that eventually I'll be using advanced point and shoots, but I'm not there yet. But I tried (as an experiment) carrying the RTS III and the Canon 5D (separate occasions) and even with good straps, they were just too heavy. But a lot depends on how hot it is. The Leicas are small but a bit dense so they're not super lightweight but they're under my current limitations for the moment.

    I'm on day 4 of the Cade's cove trip. Operating from the car is great, but it has some limitations. Dodging traffic is a major one. Also often you can't get into the fields at all to get around trees (sometimes you can). The cabins are exceptions as are some overlooks. I think these are places where they don't expect the animals to be. There are some hiking trails. I may try one of the shorter ones today. Yesterday I only had issues walking around the mill area with the tripod and that wasn't too bad. On the whole I'm doing well, but not ready to go on long hikes.
  18. Try to take a day and drive to Sugarlands via the park road, or through Townsend to Gatlinburg, then hence to the highest point of the park, Clingmans Dome. The lookout tower is only 3/4 mile from the parking area with an asphalt path, but it's uphill all the way. The road to the top has many overlooks where you can get some great photos. Have a picnic by the stream near Chimney Tops. I've taken most of the trails over the last 50 years, but sadly, no longer.

    Tourists there are not early risers. If you get to where you want by 10 am, you'll have the place to yourself, including Cade's Cove. After 3 pm, you'll be lined up for hours behind oglers who have never seen a deer (or live groundhog) before, on the backend of the loop road.

    I recall a small bear, bounding through the Chimney Tops picnic area, crashing through a picnic and leaping into the stream, with two or three rangers in close pursuit. A poor woman didn't see it until it landed in the water in front of her. Yes, Yogi Bear steals picnic baskets ;)
  19. I had good luck next to the road between Sugarlands and Oconaluftee. The farm museum at Oconaluftee is also a possibility. If you don't want to walk to the tower on Clingmans Dome you can get good pictures from the parking lot. Morton overlook it good.
    carbon_dragon likes this.

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