Monday, March 31, 2008

Rednecks on their day off...

Playin' in the dirt again...

I had a rare opportunity to get away from my work for a day and join my friend Jim on a little redneck adventure. We hopped in his off-road go-cart and raced up and down a gnarly fire road on his property in Dawsonville, Georgia. It had just rained and everything was muddy... including us!

I have to give fair warning, though. This isn't exactly environmentally friendly driving. And, on the surface, may seem to contradict what I'm doing with my Vanishing America project. However, it was a closed course specifically designed for this kind of fun, and we didn't destroy anything in the process (except for one of Jim's daffodils). It was a blast, and an invigorating experience. We got to be kids again for a couple of hours.

I'm still scraping mud off my teeth.

I'm posting the video from my YouTube page. I hope it works here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Time Out

It's been a tough day...

Although I was treated to a little 5 minute flurry of Atlanta's famous March snow, I had to watch it from the warmth of the RV while I recuperate from a bit of a bug. No coughing, sneezing, or aches and pains normally associated with a cold or the flu, but I'm dead tired, and weak. It hit me late last night with some dizziness and some spasms in my legs, and today I feel like I just ran a marathon. Very strange.

Aside from that, I've been spending my time submitting articles to magazines, working on the new website, and talking with potential sponsors. Haven't had time to do much shooting since I've been working on finding ways to keep the Vanishing America project moving forward, but I promise, I'll have some images of my hometown of Alpharetta very soon.

Media notes:
The newest article about the project will be in a signage trade magazine called Sign of the Times. They called me after one of their editors (a University of Georgia alum) saw the blurb about Vanishing America in UGA's alumni magazine Georgia. I just completed a phone interview with them this morning and am sending over some images of the vinyl wrap on BABS. I'll post up the link to the online issue when it comes out.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Team Vanishing America

Hey everyone. I'm sorry, I've been slack on updating the blog once again. Woe is me. Really, though, I've been busy contacting potential sponsors, giving presentations, submitting articles, and generally trying to find ways to keep Vanishing America moving forward. I gave a presentation to the Peachtree-Atlanta Kiwanis Club on Tuesday, and I just got articles accepted in Land Rover Monthly magazine (a UK mag with huge US distribution), Overland Journal (a high-end expedition magazine), and RV Life. I'll let you know when they go to press.

As some of you are aware, the Vanishing America Team (BABS, Reggie, Missy and I) just got back from a two-week trip to Washington D.C. where I was meeting with scientists and Department heads at the Smithsonian Institution. And, let me tell you, that was an exciting, and educational experience. I've even been invited to join some of them in their field work. Should prove to be a huge boost for the project!

Okay, updates are out of the way. Are you ready for a shocker?

While I was in DC, an accident almost ended my photography career. I almost lost the use of my shooting hand because I was trying to make my tow bar do something that it isn't really designed to do.

I was at a campground unhooking my Land Rover from the RV on what I thought was level ground. Well, apparently it wasn’t level enough. I’d released the parking brake on the Rover in order to give the vehicle enough freedom of movement so that I could release the coupler from the ball hitch. (Often, if there is too much pressure on the ball, the coupler won’t release.) That was my first mistake.

My second mistake was in thinking that I could stop a 6000lb truck from rolling downhill. I was able to release the coupling easily enough, but when I did, the Rover began to creep forward – with my right hand still on the tongue. Instinct told me to push back (silly instinct), but that was just too much weight. The tow bar pressed my right hand (my shooting hand) up against the rear engine panel of my motorhome and stopped, sandwiching my hand between the two.

After several seconds, I was able to wrench my hand free, and as I did so, the Rover continued forward, embedding the tow bar in the engine compartment. Were the compartment’s panels made of anything but fiberglass, the tow bar would have crushed my hand, severed three of my fingers, and rendered that hand all but useless. Fortunately, I walked away with a few lacerations, some bruising, swelling, and intense pain. Ice, pressure, and some ibuprofen reduced the swelling enough to allow me to gain about 80% of my movement back within a few hours, but I’ll never forget the lesson learned: Get a better tow bar!

Really, though, generic tow bars are a bear to use (especially alone). There are some really good ones on the market, but they cost upwards of $1000. Too much money (I thought). But what good is an extra $500 in your pocket when you prematurely end your career by using an inferior product? Bottom line: Buy the best product for the job. It may cost more in the beginning, but it will more than pay for itself over time.

On to other news...
  • San Diego Magazine is doing a story about the Vanishing America project in their May issue (so, those of you in San Diego, keep an eye out for it!)
  • Vanishing America recently added Adams Avenue Bicycles to sponsor list.
  • Since I've been back in Alpharetta, I've gotten my hair cut twice at the lovely Borrelli Salon on Main Street. Christine and, the shop owner, Kelli, both did a fantastic job on my noggin'. If you're in the Alpharetta area, and are in need of a great style or cut, drop in. Tell them I sent you. You'll love the place!
  • Galerie Boutique, also on Main Street, just had their VIP Celebration last night, with exquisite wines from Vino 100 and a great selection of cheeses, imported olives, and hors d'Oeuvres from Slice Cafe.

And, finally, Holt's Green Tip of the Day!

Let there Be Light...

Most of you know that Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) are more energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. But, did you know how much more efficient they are?

According to Popular Mechanics Magazine, all CFLs use approximately 70% less energy than incandescents. Based on an average household of 45 light bulbs, if you were to replace all the incandescent bulbs with CFLs, you would save over $180 per year!

That's great, but, arent' CFLs more expensive? Well, they used to be. But, that's changing fast. Now, you can find CFLs running only a few cents more than a standard incandescent. And, many cities have bulb exchange programs where you can bring in your standard bulbs and swap them out for CFLs. So, with the average CFL lasting about 6 times as long as an incandescent bulb, costing about the same, and using less electricity, you're looking at tremendous energy savings and a fatter wallet!

How's THAT for a green tip?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Green Tip of the Day

Oh, I almost forgot!

This marks the beginning of Vanishing America's "Green Tip of the Day."

In every blog entry, I will provide an eco-friendly tip to help you participate in the "Green" movement.

Since I forgot to put it in the previous entry, I'll put it in this one:

Green Tip #1:

Saving Water.
Oh, relax. It's easier than you think, and you don't have to give up that nice hot shower you love so much.

Simply put out a few small buckets (or one large one) under your gutters' downspouts to catch rain and use that collected water to water plants. Don't have gutters? Just put them somewhere in the open.

Don't like plants? Well, use the water to wash your car. It's clean, it's free, and every little bit helps. (Unless, of course, your part of the country is getting Acid Rain. Then you're out of luck. Sorry, you'll just have to move.)

Visit for more information.

University of Georgia

For those of you who are University of Georgia Alumni, check out the latest issue of Georgia (the Alumni magazine). Don't just toss it out!

I haven't seen it yet, but there is a short piece on the Vanishing America project in this month's issue.

Maybe this will pique the interest of some alumni who are looking for a new project to fund... :-)

We could sure use it!

For sponsorship ideas or donations to the Vanishing America project, contact Holt at

Smithsonian Institution

Where in the world is Holt!?

I've been out of touch for the past couple of weeks. I apologize. I'm at a campground in Virginia and take the Metro into town to visit with scientists at the Smithsonian Institution in DC. The reason I've been out of touch isn't because I've been so busy (though that is certainly the case), but because the trees surrounding BABS block my satellite signal. The lesson here: have a backup. In this case, I have a wireless USB card for my laptop. It uses my cel phone account to provide "broadband" service. So far, so good.

So, why am I in DC with Smithsonian scientists? Well, that's a good question. I wondered that myself at first.

I have a great contact there who has been helping me set up interviews with some of the biggest names in the scientific community. These are the people who do the research that provides the theories and statistics that paint the pictures of our world and our universe, from the tiniest microbe to the largest galaxy. And, somewhere in there, somebody has to have something valuable to tell me about what is vanishing in America.

And, they do! So far, I've met with Marine Biologists, Anthropologists, Iceberg divers, grant writers, and department directors. I've heard wonderful stories of adventure, success, and disappointment, and have seen specimens and artifacts that the general public will never know existed. Each meeting has opened doors to other meetings, and each person has opened my eyes to new ideas for my project.

This summer, I may be traveling to New Mexico to photograph a herd of bison. Not because they are vanishing, but because they were vanishing, and are being brought back. In the Spring, I may be allowed to join a respected paleoanthropologist on a dig in the Chesapeake Bay to see how archaeological sites are being washed away by storms, development, and changing shorelines.

And, that's just scratching the surface. I still have over 40 scientists to talk with!

It's been a tremendous experience, and promises great things for the future of Vanishing America.