Thursday, June 23, 2005

Philly Flickr Meetup

Feeling a little burnt out from work and other commitments, I indulged in a little mid-week getaway last night. I flew down to Philadelphia, figuring to drop off some CAP paperwork but mainly to meet some of the local Flickr users, who were having a photo meetup. I posted a message begging a ride from the airport, and Gregory kindly offered to pick me up at the Northeast Philadelphia airport, not far from his home.

The last thunderstorm
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
The weather was cloudy and warm through the day, with some thunderstorms wandering through the area; but all the forecasts called for clearing, as a block of cool air moved south across the area. Scranton was already clear when I left, but near Allentown I caught up to the last big storm cell. The air traffic controller warned me that he had heavy rain and lightning ahead, but I could see it all clearly; I was able to avoid it by detouring a few miles to the west.

When I met Gregory, I offered to show him the plane, and take him for a ride around town; a ride for a ride, only seemed fair! As we strapped in and took off, the storm I had bypassed had caught up to me, but it was passing just off the eastern edge of the airport - we took off into some heavy rain, but as we turned west towards Brandywine the skies cleared. We loitered north of town, waiting for the clouds to part a little and let the last of the day's light in on downtown Philly. Gregory got some shots of downtown, and we circled over his neighborhood before landing back at PNE.

Seuss purchases ice cream
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
Soon we were downtown, catching up to the rest of the group, who had just started walking near the waterfront. (It wasn't hard to identify the knot of people wandering ahead, what with the telltale flashes!) I knew a few of them from their online albums; mostly amateur photogs, although Gregory is a pro, and several of us are designers. All very friendly and fun, and nice enough to let the out-of-town kid tag along. We all walked south, into a part of old Philly that I hadn't been to in decades - the Italian Market, the oldest and largest working outdoor market in the United States. The markets were closed, but the aged storefronts and their neon signs offered interest for photos. (And lingering odors of the day's wares, more pleasant than otherwise.)

Neon pig
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
I took in the sights, and tried to photograph them, but my Panasonic has always been weak in low-light situations. I got a few interesting shots, and filed away a few places that I'd like to go back to with Gail when she gets back. Mostly I enjoyed chatting and strolling with the new company; it was a pleasant evening to unwind a bit.

When the group broke up, Gregory drove me back to the airport, and I took off into a smooth night sky. The full moonlight was brilliant, bright enough for me to see pale blue forests below, and the Tri-Pacer droned along rock-steady. I listened as a bizjet over Allentown got some disappointing news; there was some system-wide delay in air traffic, and they were asked to hold for an hour before going on into New York airspace! Luckily, I was the only one heading into rural Pennsylvania, and I chugged by underneath as they circled above. (Probably sipping drinks in their comfortable leather chairs... but hey, I got home first!)