Category: Red Shirt’s log

Jan 17

“Worst Day Ever” = 9 out of 10 stars


Photos and words
by Mike Tripp

When my youngest daughter learned we were going to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, the first words out of her mouth were … “This is the worst day ever!”

I have to give her credit. … Abi got it back together fairly quickly and never complained.

Once there, she asked if she could see something Egyptian, because she had studied Egypt a bit in school.

It was a request easily satisfied as not only were we able to take her into a display from that cultures history, but showed her a mummy that’s over 4,000 years old.

What REALLY got her in a good mood, however, was when she spotted a Chinese wine / water vessel that looked like … well … a butt.

From then on, she had fun spotting “butts” and “boobs” along the way.

And yes … She also developed a real appreciation for the various forms of art along the way.

As we were leaving, her mother asked her to rate her day on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the worst and 10 the best.

She gave it a 9 and asked if we could return someday.

Jan 02

My Personal Favorites from 2015

What follows are some of my personal favorite photographs that I captured for work last year.  They aren’t necessarily my absolute best, but are simply … the ones that spoke to me the most.


Dressed as Mary Poppins, actress Liz Leone holds her umbrella and bag as she receives instructions from director Hank Fitzgerald who is off stage. They film against a green screen for a commercial on July 8, 2015. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — When I see Liz Leone dressed in that outfit and holding the umbrella and bag … she *IS* Mary Poppins. My time following this production from beginning to end was among my favorite memories of this year.  I learned a lot about community theater and for a brief time was allowed to experience and see the family that they are when they come together.  Awesome group. Awesome people. 



A Republic commando stormtrooper, aka. Adam Hackworth of the Garrison Tyranus of the 501st Legion, stands between Rowan Walker of Staunton and Kirsten Katzenvach of Waynesboro as they take a selfie picture together at the Staunton Performing Arts Center’s annual Pac’n the Streets in downtown Staunton on Sept. 12, 2015. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — Ok, it is no secret that I’m planning to join the 501st Legion within the next year.  Just waiting on my armor kit to be delivered and then the time it takes to fashion it to fit my frame.  This photo, however, captures the fun spirit of one of the members as well as the love and excitement of the community when they encounter these troopers. This picture is an awesome moment capturing that carefree fun and excitement. 



“I thank you. … I thank you,” says newly naturalized U.S. citizen Hardy Nalasw. He places his hand to his heart and stops at each person in line after crossing the stage to receive his certificate of naturalization. A naturalization ceremony held at the Frontier Culture Museum on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — With all the fear of other cultures circulating about American currently, this photo speaks with an inner strength and truth that will always touch my heart.



Riverheads’ Tyler Smith works his fingers to come away with a 43-yard pass completion and will run the ball down to the 4 yard line during the Group 1A football championship in Salem on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. Riverheads lost to Galax 7-6.  (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — What this photo says to me is …. this player is determined to catch this ball no matter what. 



Tristan Painter, 15, of Crimora falls backward off and away from the bridge as he does a back-flip into a deep section of the South River below. Painter joined friends in jumping into the river from a bridge on New Hope-Crimora Road in Crimora on Thursday, July 16, 2015.  (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — This moment is pure fun. I loved it when I first came across these guys doing this and love it still. 



Jenna Gochenour, 15, wears special contacts to help finish the look of her zombie persona. She waits to chase after racers in a quest to snag the ribbons hanging from their belts in the Twisted Zombie 5K Fun Run in Waynesboro on Saturday, May 2, 2015. The event was held to benefit Camp Light. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — Love the eyes. The contacts she wears for her zombie persona catch the eyes in this one. 



Sporting a fake mustache, Kimberly Shrewsbury, 10, of Waynesboro decides carrying her barrel beats rolling it as she participates in a barrel race during Oktoberfest at the Frontier Culture Museum on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015.  (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — This photo has always made me smile and laugh.  I love the mustache and the fact she chose to carry it instead of rolling it. 



Framed by a fence and sign, a herd of horses graze in a pasture at Star B Stables alongside Barterbrook Road near Fishersville on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — Both of my daughters love horses which makes them always catch my eye. The fence did well with the framing but the sign took it to the next level. 



Four runners from McSwain Elementary’s 100 mile club hold hands and plan to finish together as they compete in the Valley Children’s Advocacy Center’s 4th annual Turkey Trot 5k Run/Walk at the Club at Ironwood in Staunton on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Members of the school’s club are dedicated to running 100 miles during the course of the school year. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — Teamwork.  These four hold hands and will cross the finish-line together.  Nuff said. 



Pastor Randall Black and News Leader reporter Laura Peters jump into the 37 degrees water of the South River during Living Grace Ministries’ polar plunge at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. The event served as an incentive for people to donate to the church’s mission trip this year to Honduras. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — Was a neat moment for one of our reporters.  Made it an honor to be there to capture it. 



Local inventor Josh Lotts holds the ‘ZRO trigger’ he invented to be used with certain RC vehicle controllers during an interview at Staunton Makerspace on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — Simply a simple composition that I enjoyed the end results of. 



Bigfoot researcher Mark Oswell wears a “Gone Squatchin'” t-shirt as he checks his phone. The East Coast Bigfoot Research Organization searched the George Washington National Forest near Elkhorn Lake for evidence of Sasquatch during a weekend investigation on June 20, 2015. (Photo by Mike Tripp/The News Leader)

Photographer’s Note — My favorite assignment of the year was going out in the wilderness and looking for Bigfoot with local Bigfoot researchers.  Loved it so much, I’m betting I go out again. 

Dec 14

JMU Marching Royal Dukes with Alumni

Aug 31

Visiting the wetlands

This morning we ventured to Augusta Springs Wetlands Trail in the national forest for a family outing with Benny. Everyone seemed to enjoy the trek. Walked about a mile as a result.


Aug 31

One happy pooch at street festival

Early afternoon found us as a family with Benny exploring the Rockbridge Street Festival in downtown Lexington. I’ve always loved that festival from the first year I moved to Virginia.

We even found a very special and priceless Christmas gift for a dear family member. 

May 18

Life Lessons at Jones Run Falls



2015-0318-JonesRunFalls-03146-RSpIt started as an adventure, but ended as a life lesson.

This was a few months ago.

To be honest, I had reached an emotional low point in my life and needed to simply get out and explore.

I needed to get back to adventuring with the hope it might rescue me from my personal funk.

My goal was to hike the 1.7 miles trail to Jones Run Falls plus the return for a round trip of 3.4 miles.

Depressed … out of shape … yeah … LET’S DO THIS!

Armed with heavy backpack weighted down by camera gear and  tripod while carrying a walking staff, I passed the Appalachian Trail marker and headed down the mountain.

Please note I said … “down the mountain.”

It didn’t take long for me to realize that every step downhill was a step I’d have to make on the return trek UP hill.

Still, I pressed on keeping all this in mind.

Took photos along the way and enjoyed the trek.


The falls were well worth the stroll downward to see.

Spent time roaming around them, enjoying my time there and even played the flute for a time.

2015-0318-JonesRunFalls-03182-RSpThe big question, however, was if it would be worth the trip back …. the one ALL uphill.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m out of shape and quite often huffing and puffing.

The journey ahead of me was not gonna be easy and one I put off for a time.

I delayed the hike back, but what was I gonna do? … Live in the woods forever and never go back?

And did I mention I was carrying about 40 pounds of gear?

Enter birds chirping as It was time to face the music.

I made a choice to go down the mountain, it was time to go back.

The moment of decision to head back plus the trek back were both moments of clarity for me.

They were moments that opened my eyes and showed me things I needed to see.

On the way back, I huffed and puffed … I would walk a short ways and then take a break before doing so again.

Ok, I admit there were times I gave serious consideration to ditching the tripod and other odds and ends, but I didn’t.

I would reach a rest point … points many would say came too often while I felt in that moment didn’t come often enough … and plop myself down on a rock or sometimes the ground itself.

I’d slurp down some water, catch my breath and push onward again.

Whenever I ran across others on the trail, I’d act as if I wasn’t gasping for breath as I was … partially out of pride and partly to keep them from thinking I was having another heart-attack.

In the end, I found my car and myself in the process.

Many reading this likely will laugh and not understand why it truly was life changing for me as they have never been in shoes like mine, huffing and puffing out on a trail like that.

But *I* know and feel the change deep in my heart … my soul.

In the days since, I have made decisions and taken the reigns of my own life’s direction.

Truthfully, it’s we that control our life.

Sometimes we make decisions we know will lead us down a path that will be an uphill climb on the way back.


Other times, it’s as simple as we choosing how we respond to the challenges life throws at us.

And let us not also forget, the choice is ours as to if we sit there watching television or playing computer games, shriveling up and wasting away …  or …  to get up and push onward, weary step by weary step … one foot in front of the other.

On that trail, I refused to sit on a rock in the wilderness forever just as I refuse to give up on myself and my life now.

Just as I made my way out of the woods, I now work to get my life firmly on the path *I* want it to be on.

I’ve chosen to get out of my chair, turn that computer off and see what’s out there.

I’ve chosen to spend time with my family, to get back into shape and to lose the extra weight I’ve gained.

Yes. … This is not an overnight transition, but an ongoing journey.

It’s why I get ready as I write this to head out the door with the dog for a hike in the woods.

Also why I’ve taken up martial arts again.

I choose to live this life and to enjoy the adventures it offers.

Who knows. … Maybe next time that long climb uphill will not feel so steep or hard a climb.