Tag Archives: 2019

A Little Taste of Fall?

No, this is from last year!  From Colorado….

Kathy & I woke this morning to a temperature of 68 degrees and a noticeable drop in humidity.  We had our morning coffee & tea on the screened porch and almost needed our sleeves! 🙂

Kathy & I met our friend Paul for lunch today, and on the way home Kathy said that the shadows and colors on the houses looked like fall.  The air is crispy clear and it does have that fall look.  But we’re not fooled!  This will only last a few days before the heat and humidity return.  In the meantime we’ll enjoy it!

A Recalibration of Compromises

Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Kirk Tuck recently used this phrase in regards to making choices between camera options, specifically about different lenses.  The full quote follows:

The “science” of optical design can not have changed a tremendous amount in four or five years so you have to understand that the “new versus old” shift is largely a recalibration of compromises. Buy the new one and watch your left biceps atrophy. Buy the old one and suffer the dreaded effects of manual portage. Suffer the ruinous added weight of the original for the extra 1% of quality in the corners or choose the lightweight version and forever wonder how much optical magic they had to remove to get the lens corpulence under control.

It occurred to me, however, that the concept applies in a much broader context, especially in recent months.

Every decision we make requires some effort to balance the options, to compromise.  Do I want the camera with the big sensor that is huge, heavy and requires a large suitcase to cart around, or am I better off with the compact camera with a smaller sensor, small but excellent lenses and “good enough” image quality?  We want to travel – we love to fly but not not any time soon.  We have spent a lot of time on cruise ships but won’t for a while.  Our trip to the beach worked out really well – just like living at home but with better scenery. 😉

We love to eat our but have limited our restaurant outings.  We’ve gotten even better at preparing simple but delicious meals at home – much to the delight of the bathroom scale!

Kathy and I are currently in the process of planning a road trip to the Pacific Northwest.  The places we’re planning to visit are the places where we’re less likely to encounter big crowds.  As crazy as it sounds, we’ll probably drive within a few miles of Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks, but have no intention of stopping.  First, crowds are not our thing.  We probably would be doing pretty much the same thing even without all the Coronacrisis hoopla.  But second is that we don’t want to have to deal with the logistics of large crowds.  Third is that when we do go to those parks we want to be able to spend several days or even a couple of weeks there.  That isn’t the plan for this time.

Our recent drive to Ohio and Wisconsin taught us that we can eat, sleep, pee and get gas just about anywhere.  Sometimes it requires a little compromise on location or timing, but it can get done.  Ultimately, once we solve that basic equation we can go just about anywhere!

People ask us why we don’t buy an RV.  For some people it’s the perfect solution.  For us, we like knowing that when we get to the motel, tired after or driving or exploring all day, we don’t need to spend another hour setting up camp.  I can have cocktails made within minutes after arrival!  And the next morning, we grab a cup of coffee, drop the keys at the front desk and get on our way again.  Neither option is right or wrong, just different ways to calibrate the compromises.

None of our choices are either/or or yes/no.  We need to consider what we can do instead  We have to look at the options and recalibrate our compromises.  Our priorities, if you will.  It can be hard, particularly for those of us who don’t care for change.  But the effort is worth it, because there are still plenty of things to do once we have worked out the details.

Big Meadows area of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

The Frog

Frog – The Frog Formerly Known as Prince

After recently commenting on Monte’s post, Monte asked me to show him my frog.  I’ve given him a corny name, but most folks who read my blog will get it.

I found Frog at a shop in Bryson City, NC this past fall.  I had previously photographed one of his cousins in Columbiana, OH.  It is his cousin’s photo that I’ve been using as my avatar, but I may need to change it now that I have my own.

Frog lives on our front porch.  He has a solar panel on the back of his head that will make his eyes light up at night.  I haven’t turned it on yet.  I’m waiting for someone to move into the house across the street. 🙂

Tilting At Windmills

Wind generators off US 36 near SW Lakesite Road near Osborn, Missouri

From Wikipedia: “Tilting at windmills is an English idiom that means attacking imaginary enemies. The expression is derived from Don Quixote, and the word “tilt” in this context comes from jousting.

 The phrase is sometimes used to describe either confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications. It may also connote an importune, unfounded, and vain effort against adversaries real or imagined.”

Here in the east we don’t have many, if any, opportunities to see wind turbines in the huge farms like they have out west.  There are a few in eastern North Carolina and I’m sure more in other locations, but I haven’t come across them in the numbers that we encountered out west.  I had seen photos of wind farms in the west, but seeing them in person made an even greater impression.

Seven Mile Wind Farm near Medicine Bow, Wyoming

Wind turbines are not without controversy, certainly, but I find them to have a graceful beauty, spinning like a dancer in slow motion.  I don’t profess to be an expert on wind turbines or any other methods of producing electricity.  But as someone living within 20 miles (technically 20.5 miles) of two nuclear plants, two coal plants and a few other types, I think I would rather see a few dozen (or hundred) wind mills on my horizon than the steam plumes from the cooling towers of nuclear plants.  They may not work here or make sense for an area as densely populated as Charlotte, but I see turbines as a viable alternative for producing electricity, particularly in rural areas such as Nebraska, the Dakotas and Wyoming where constant wind is a fact of life.

Wind generators off US 36 near SW Lakesite Road near Osborn, Missouri

We were fortunate enough to come across a few sites at times when it was conducive to making photographs, and I hope I’ve done a reasonable job of presenting them.

Wind farm along US-487 south of Casper, Wyoming

Been There, Done That. Let’s Do It Again!

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

I know this may seem like boasting, but Kathy & I had a very good year.  Kathy is the recordkeeper and spreadsheet queen around here, and by her count we were away from home for 125 nights during 2019.  The two questions we get asked most often by friends and neighbors are “how long are you home for?” and “where are you off to next?”  We love it!

Charlotte, NC
Harvey Firestone Park, Columbiana Ohio
Train station in Landrum, South Carolina

Yes, it has cost us some money, possibly more than our financial advisor thinks is prudent.  But I’m the financial guy and manage the flow of funds, and with the good year the markets have had I feel confident that we’ve done the right thing.  We didn’t retire to sit home and watch Jeopardy or Faux News.  We retired to spend time together and see the world.

So – no apologies.

Highlights of the past year:

  • 4 cruises for a total of 43 days
  • Added 18 new states, for a total of 32
  • Over 19,000 photos
  • Almost 20,000 car miles
Marigot, St Martin
Old Town, Fort Collins, Colorado

I admit that traveling over a third of the year might be overdoing it.  I suppose the reaction (or over-reaction) to retirement is normal and to be expected.  But having the time to do anything we want means we want to do everything!  Frankly, the biggest challenge has been keeping our weight under control because of all the eating out.  We essentially broke even for the year, which should probably be considered a win.  But we’re always looking for ways to manage that, since being able to sustain that amount of travel requires being healthy, and one of the best ways to be healthy is to maintain healthy eating and exercise routines while away from home.  We do great at home, but find old habits hard to break when we’re away.

Clifton Hall Great House in Barbados

So, what’s in store for 2020?  We’ve got a few weeks scheduled in Florida in February, where we’re going to go “cruise ship hopping” and spend some time near the Everglades.  Sometime in April we’re going to head toward the Southwest to bag a few more states and explore Route 66.  We’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary in October with a – what else? – cruise.  But there are a lot of empty spaces on the calendar which we’ll be filling in as we get closer.  The year is young!

Cherry Pocket Steak & Seafood Shak in Lake Wales, Florida
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

I’ve included a few of my favorite photos from 2019 in this post, and as I’ve been doing lately, I have added some more galleries to my Adobe Portfolio site.  This should cover most of the highlights from the year.  So stay tuned!  I think 2020 will turn out to be another interesting year.

Cleveland, Ohio
Bike rack shadows in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Costa Maya, Mexico
Cruz Bay in St John, USVI
Aboard Symphony of the Seas
Dale Chihuly glass ceiling in the tasting room at Maker’s Mark Distillery
Indian River Inlet Lifesaving Station Museum, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Waynesville, NC
Pool Deck on Celebrity Summit

Views of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

El Cuartel de Ballaja (The Ballaja Infantry Barracks Building)

I never get tired of walking around Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Kathy & I spent two days there prior to our recent cruise on Celebrity Summit.  Every time we go I photograph things I have seen before, plus there is always something new to find.  For this visit, we concentrated on the two forts, Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro, both part of the San Juan National Historic Site and managed by the U.S. National Park Service.  So we were able to use our newly-acquired lifetime pass for admission and gather the appropriate stamps in Kathy’s Passport book.  And of course we managed to wander around town a bit.

Castillo San Cristobal

As I have been doing, I have posted a more complete collection of my photos from Old San Juan on my Adobe Portfolio site, with just a sample of some of the more “artsy” photos here.  Take a look and tell me what you think!

San Juan Puerto Rico
Castillo San Cristobal
Castillo San Cristobal
Castillo San Cristobal
San Juan Puerto Rico
San Juan Puerto Rico
San Juan Puerto Rico
Hotel El Convento

Been A While

Castillo San Cristobal, part of the San Juan National Historic Site in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Kathy & I recently returned from our most recent adventure, 14 days on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  One of the downsides of cruising close to or during the holidays is that it compresses the holiday “to-do” list just a little.  I added another 3500 photos to my inventory and am working my way through them.  But I see the light at the end of the tunnel! 😉

Blurry Aspen 2.0

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Long-time readers of this blog may recall a series of Aspen motion-blur photos that I shot during our first visit to Colorado in June 2015.  Because it was springtime, the vertical trunks of the Aspen trees made for great subject matter when combined with the fresh spring green.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Since our most recent visit to Colorado was in the fall, I hoped to add to my Aspen Blur collection with some photos of trees with the golden yellow of fall.  A lot of the trees we saw in the first few days of our visit were on the mountainsides, too far away to effectively get the results I wanted.  On our final day, a drive through the Poudre Canyon with my pal Monte, we came across several excellent stands of trees.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

It sometimes takes a lot of “misses” to come up with a handful of keepers.  In this case I shot a relatively light 200 photos, and came up with a few that I’m really happy with.  A couple have some really funky looks to them as a result of a happy accident or two.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

I suppose the next step will be to get out there in the winter and make some photos of Aspen with snow.  I’m not sure I’m up for that yet, but it may make it on to the to-do list, you never know! 🙂

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

We Got Planes!

EC-135A Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) – South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota

Years ago I hung out with a bunch of guys who were pilots.  Some of them owned their own planes – small homebuilt planes or private planes like a Piper Colt or Ercoupe.  I actually got my own private pilot license, although I haven’t actually driven a plane in about 30 years.  Photography is a very economical hobby compared to flying!  But I still like planes, especially big noisy ones. 😉

C-130E Hercules at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois
C-130E Hercules at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois
C-141B Starlifter at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois

One day a bunch of us were talking about going to the annual EAA Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  For a week at the end of July, the EAA “AirVenture” as it is now called, is the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration®.  Kathy was understandably skeptical about the idea of spending a week at an airport with a bunch of airplane geeks, so she asked, “is there anything to see there besides airplanes?”  One of the guys looked up and said to her in all seriousness, “well yeah, there’s parts!” 🙂

KC-135 Stratotanker at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois

We didn’t see many airplane parts on our western road trip, but we did see lots of planes.  We visited the static displays at Scott Field in Illinois and Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota.  There are a few photos here, but for those who need to see more, I’ve posted a gallery of airplane photos on my Adobe Portfolio site.

B-52D Stratofortress at the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota
B-1B Lancer – South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota
A-7D Corsair II – South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota