Initially I thought that being this close to the mountains would mean that I’d never make it up to Munich, but since December I’ve been there nine times, mostly to its airport. The weekend after bauma was one of these times, though for this trip I was heading back across the ocean to attend a friend’s wedding. The venue was Jekyll Island, which until receiving the RSVP for the wedding I hadn’t heard of before. But with clear blue skies, perfect lawns, and a gentle breeze, what’s not to love?
I wasn’t particularly expecting it, but heading back to the States brought back all sorts of memories. The reception was held at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, whose stately architecture somehow reminded me of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The humid weather, with abundant sunshine and unending humidity, was likewise familiar. The no-see-ums that attacked me while I sat poolside — I ended up with 40-some bug bites — were also a[n irritating] reminder of Charleston; we have none of these critters in the Allgäu, so this ferocious nuisance was a happily-forgotten memory for nearly a year.
There is a huge amount of Spanish moss growing on trees in Charleston, yet despite its prevalence I don’t think I have many pictures of it during my time there. (Chalk that up to never having formally visited a plantation, perhaps.) On Jekyll Island, the stuff is if anything even more rife, again prompting bursts of recollection.
I could have spent days marveling at the massive trees and seemingly detached elegance of the island, but to be frank I’m not too sure how I managed not to for over three years in Charleston. For now I’m blame it on the bugs and the humidity. After my assignment maybe I’ll test out the theory.
My trip to the Charleston-like city didn’t last long, however, due to a computer failure that brought me back to Jacksonville one day earlier than anticipated to try to sort out. Though I didn’t end up fixing it there — it took another trip to, well, Munich, naturally, to remedy — one nice touch was that I could finally do an effortless beach sunrise shoot: wake up, put the camera and tripod in the car, drive two minutes, park, and walk two minutes to reach the soft sand. My go-to beach sunrise spot in Charleston, Botany Bay, in contrast required a good two and a half hours of preparation and travel time, so the ease of shooting on Jacksonville Beach was marvelous. I hoped for clear skies but was pleasantly surprised by a rather colorful morning. This is rare: of all the sunsets or sunrises I’ve deliberately gone to, this was one the easiest to shoot and I also got more color than I had bargained for. Consistent landscape photography demands both diligence and being in the right place at the right time; the pairing this particular morning was certainly not a familiar acquaintance!
Though the long exposure obscures the actual frothing of the Atlantic waters, the stillness of the morning was not reflected by the attendance at the pier. By the time the sun rose above the horizon, probably three dozen other visitors had come to watch the show; the ease of beach access wasn’t alluring to just me.
Perhaps the best part of the morning, and the most typical and dare I say comforting, was that four hours after sunrise I was due to leave all the familiar warmth and southeastern coastline and begin the return to Germany. What’s a trip without a risky departure itinerary? I had chosen a two-stop return flight in order to fly on the 747-8I for a third time. I couldn’t upgrade on my 747-8I flight last year due to multiple technicalities of international upgrade rules within Star Alliance, so once again I asked if there was still a seat free on the upper deck of the iconic jumbo. A lifelong wish came unexpectedly true as there were still a few seats open. The astonishment that began earlier that morning continued for the next eight hours as I had my first — and arguably last — exposure to the upper deck of any 747.
While I was far more emotional while flying Swiss Airlines’ first 77W, knowing that this would in all likelihood be my only exposure to the upper deck of such a legendary aircraft was chilling in its own right. Thankfully, even with sharply tapered sidewalls, the cabin still felt airy and unrestrictive.
When we left the sun-drenched Jacksonville runway, the temperature was about 31 °C. In Frankfurt, the temperature that greeted suitcases as they streamed out of the cargo hold of the -8I was also about 31°, only this time measured in Fahrenheit. At this massive airport, formerly firmly the realm of the 747, a light rain was falling, pooling just slowly enough on the windowpane as to shed a tear for the magnificent plane.