Dames Rocket


Smyth Co Dames Rocket Barn photo by Roy Burke

In 2005 on his annual Blue Ridge sojourn, Roy logged an amazing amount of things, including Dames Rocket(Hesperis matronalis) on Day 5 of his trip, in Smyth County Virginia on County Road 660 East. It was one of his favorite wildflowers, easily accessible, not exotic, reliably found along many of his favorite country roads.


May 22 2007 Mitchell Co NC Dames Rocket photo by Roy Burke


North Fork, Cherry River, Nicholas County WVA, May 25, 2007


Nicholas County WVA North Fork Cherry River  photo by Roy Burke

By 2007, Roy’s vacation road logs had become a model of organization and a data mine into the ecological and aesthetic ebb and thrum of the backwoods he traveled. On May 25, 2007, Day 5 of his annual Blue Ridge ramble, he logged the following botanical observations: cinnamon fern, yellow daylily, fire pink, butterwort, black snakeroot. Wildlife sightings that day were limited to a single box turtle. He took this pic of the North Fork, Cherry River around 5:21pm that afternoon.

1965 Doc Holds Diploma

1965 Doc Holds Diploma, photo credit unknown.

1965 Doc Holds Diploma, photo credit unknown.

As I hit the road for a three day tour of colleges with my daughter, I can only hope that she applies herself as diligently to her studies. This pic is one he saved to digital from his graduation day from the University of Virginia. There would be more degrees to come.

Hoe Exposed

Hoe Interior Exposed photo by Roy BurkeDoc’s final trusty iron horse  was a Chevy Tahoe named The Hoe. In the years he invested in traveling back roads, he started with an ancient 70s Chevy Vega named Lotus Blossom, which spit oil by the quart and was not optimal for Forest Service roads. In the mid 1980s he intensified the experience with a GMC Jimmy named The Beagle. The Hoe was the apotheosis of Roy’s roadworthy education, with enough space for him to sleep in at campgrounds when he wanted, room to stow all of the critical gear needed for backwoods photography, with enough torque and tread to make it out of the occasional unpaved road too far. This is a representative example of the field-dressed Hoe, gumboots at the ready should wetlands abound.

Seven Flags Speedway, Douglasville GA May 20, 1995

Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Infield 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke

Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Infield 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Pace Lap 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Check In 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Infield 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Rob 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Blur 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags Wreck 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke


Douglas Co Ga Seven Flags No 33 5/20/95. Photo by Roy Burke

Doc and I became enamored of NASCAR and small Southern race tracks in the early 1990s. By the time we had ridden that obsession out a decade or so later we had attended big time races at Bristol, Talladega and Rockingham.We also watched Saturday night specials at Tri-County Speedway in Brasstown, NC or the old paved track at Senoia Raceway, south of Atlanta. My media jobs in those years allowed me access far beyond the average ticket-buyer, and Doc often came along as my ‘producer’ and unofficial photographer.

Through an odd confluence of events, for most of a year split between the  1994 and 1995 Southern Dirt Track seasons, I served as  public address announcer for Seven Flags Speedway, a 3/8 mile red clay “bull ring” operating at the lowest reaches of grass-roots motorsports, a past it’s prime motorsports facility, playing out its final seasons before being overwhelmed by the tsumani of suburban Atlanta development. Good old boys who wrenched on old engines all week and then tried to lay it all out on Saturday nights, spinning wet packed red clay into fine orange mist that found every crack and crevice, aerosol clay I would still be washing out of my ears days later. Doc came out a few times, and recorded audio and took photos. He digitally archived the ones above, for which I am grateful. Seven Flags Speedway has long since been replaced by a subdivision, much to the relief of the encroaching suburbs of 1995. “There’s chaos in turn four,” I shouted into the mic. There certainly was. I miss my racing buddy.