Tag Archives: General Nonsense

Travel With Friends

Luc’s ‘Bonaire Photo Shoot’ van on the island of Bonaire

Most of the travel that Kathy & I do is by ourselves, but many times we arrange to see some friends along the way. We have started doing a pretty-much-annual “Friends & Family Tour” each summer, since for some reason a lot of our friends won’t travel to see us. Likely because we’re “never” home! 😉

Oktoberfest Celebration in Vilshofen, Germany

We do have a few couples who we can count on to let us know when they are planning a trip and who ask us it we want to come along, or come along with us on a trip we are planning. Most of these friends are retired and travel nearly as often as we do. We did a river cruise in October with three other couples and it was great. We all did things that suited our interests and went different places in different combinations. Our travel agents – who have also become friends – even booked a cruise after they found out we booked it, and we’ll be cruising with them in February! Other friends arrange to meet for a weekend or a few weekdays in an equidistant location.

Tom, Peter, Kathy and Stephanie at Over The Bar Restaurant at North Park Boathouse near Pittsburgh, PA
Jim, Lisa, Kathy and Tom at Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky

We enjoy travel with friends because it sort of forces us to change up our routines, perhaps look at places or things a little differently, and sometimes we just end up someplace we haven’t thought of. Group photos are fun, too. Although more often or not we’re having so much fun we forget to have someone take them. I do take a few photos with my camera, but then I’m never in them! Selfies are okay, but we do like the occasional group photo taken by someone else. Especially if it is a large group – my arm isn’t long enough for a selfie!

Tom, Kathy, Cathy and Bill in Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia
Tom, Kathy, Peter, Stephanie and Spero at Sorobon Beach on the island of Bonaire
Spero contemplating the crashing waves along the eastern (Atlantic) coast of Bonaire

What’s Our Role?

Statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague

As hard as it is to believe, Kathy & I will soon be celebrating 6 years of retirement. Time has flown by, for sure! When we contemplated retirement, we talked about what we would do, and occasionally talked about some kind of volunteer activity, like reading to grade school kids, financial counseling or something to use our former work skills. Interestingly, that has never transpired. Why? Most likely inertia or lack thereof, although we’ve rationalized a bit with the idea that our frequent travel would prohibit us from committing to a regular schedule and that anyone looking for volunteers would probably want a more reliable attendance. I have no idea if that is true because we’re never checked. But we keep thinking that we could be doing more without compromising free time or travel.

Downtown Prague, Czech Republic

For the last 10 years, Kathy & I have lived in a 55+ neighborhood. When we first moved here, we were barely 55 and still working, and even after 10 years we are still among the youngest residents. We have struck up a nice friendship with a few other couples of similar ages, although even they are a little bit older than we are. We have had rotating dinners at our respective homes and recently did a holiday progressive dinner. We find it much more fun to drink and eat at our and our neighbors’ homes as opposed to overstaying our welcome at a restaurant and then having to drive home. Much safer to walk!

Night time in Prague., Czechia
Night time in Prague., Czechia

Kathy & I have had peripheral involvement in our neighborhood, with Kathy participating on the Social Committee and me on the Finance Committee. We have mixed feelings about participating more, such as board membership or committee chair. We’re pretty protective of our time at home, generally preferring to mind our own business and stay out of the way.  But we’re also aware that we have skills and knowledge that would allow us to contribute more.

Downtown Prague, Czech Republic
Scene from around Prague Castle
View from our hotel room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Prague, Czechia

Kathy & I were talking recently about how so many of our neighbors are old enough to be our parents’ ages. Many of our neighbors are widows or widowers, and although they have children and other family around, they spend a lot of time on their own. For the most part they’re nice folks and we enjoy spending time with them. Like all of us, they have their foibles, but they have been a source of encouragement and inspiration. Encouragement because many of them have been travelers themselves, and are quick to tell us to “go while you can” and “don’t wait.” Inspirational in both positive and negative ways, unfortunately. Positive as in having done things we aspire to do, negative as in seeing the unfortunate result of years of not taking care of their health or finances.

Downtown Prague, Czech Republic
St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czechia
Views from atop the castle hill in Prague, Czechia

Since we no longer have living parents, I mentioned that maybe we should try and get to know some of these older folks individually. I still cherish the memory of time spent with my grandparents, and feel that some of our neighbors would probably appreciate the attention, and we would undoubtedly enjoy the conversation. Group activities are okay, but once the group gets to be more than 5 or 6 people, “conversations” are more challenging, especially for those with difficulty hearing or being heard. I’m a little leery of a friendship evolving into some kind of surrogate caregiver role, but I think it’s possible to be aware and set limits if necessary.

The Palladium shopping mall in downtown Prague
Public market in Old Town, Prague

Anyway, this whole thought process revolves around my idea that we all have various roles to play. Child, parent, spouse, worker, traveler, customer, friend, mentor, etc. Just because we aren’t “working” doesn’t mean we don’t have something to contribute. Helping others is a lot more rewarding than watching the news or playing video games, and it behooves all of us to spend some time considering our place in this world. It’s an evolving concept and I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.

Why Do People Litter?

Shete Boka National Park, Curacao

Monte’s recent post reminded me of this sign I came across on the island of Curacao. Litter, and trash in general, is a problem everywhere. This particular sign was in a national park, which thankfully appeared to have its litter problem well under control.

I need to get a sign like this and post on the road in and out of our neighborhood.

Random: Jive Turkey

Street sweeper in Prague, Czech Republic

I was looking through my news feed earlier and saw a headline titled “New fast-casual turkey leg restaurant called Jive Turkey Hut opening in north Charlotte.” Out loud I asked “why does Charlotte (or anyone) need a restaurant that serves turkey legs? To which Kathy answered “because there are more of them than there are of you.” 😉

According to the article, they are known for their “stuffed, smothered and sauced turkey legs including a shrimp alfredo turkey leg and a crawfish macaroni and cheese turkey leg.” A location in Houston typically has lines wrapped around the building.

I realize I live a sheltered life and that we don’t frequent many restaurants, but I can’t imagine.

Inspiration and Motivation

Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio

I recently cancelled the subscription to my last photography publication. Once upon a time I subscribed to all the usual physical magazines – Pop Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Shutterbug, etc. That I happened to hang on to Lenswork has no significance other than I had not bothered to cancel it previously. Realistically I could never figure out how to cancel it, until one day I happened to be on Paypal and found that I could cancel my recurring payment through Paypal. It just so happened that it was the day before the day they were planning to send the renewal payment!

Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio
Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio
Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio

At one time I found the articles in all these various magazines to be informative and inspirational. For an aspiring photographic rookie who had never processed film in a darkroom, went to school to be a banker then spent 40 years behind a desk, these publications were a source of information that helped me build the inventory of vision and inspiration that I have today. The “old school” magazines (are they even in business?) slowly became a collection of advertising disguised as articles, with even more and more actual ads and very little inspirational content. Lenswork is a fine publication, and of course doesn’t have any advertising, but listening to Brooks’ ramblings and looking at endless sepia toned photographs just wasn’t doing it for me. It was past time to move on.

Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio
Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio
Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio
Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio

So where so we get inspiration these days? Once upon a time I was an avid listener to several excellent podcasts, where I learned about the history of photography, the creative side of photography and the craft and vision of photography. Sadly those podcasts have gone dormant or their owners have gone a different direction, and they have been replaced by endless camera reviews and videos about the latest software or newest Photoshop trick. And let’s not get started on all the non-photography shows with people shouting about all the things we should be scared of or peeved off about.

Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio
Old mill equipment at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio

I’m sure there are still quality shows out there, but – ironically – I haven’t been motivated to look for them. I follow a lot of photographer’s blogs, and have a very closely curated list of photographers – and nearly only photographers – that I follow on Instagram. I’d much rather read a book than watch videos so I don’t spend a lot of time on YouTube, but I’d be interested in suggestions of quality sources of inspiration and motivation. I don’t even mind paying for content if it is worth it – this isn’t about the money although there is a limit to my generosity. I don’t really want to deal with another so-called social media platform, but I’m open to suggestion. Let me know in the comments if there are any recommendations.

January 1942 calendar at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio

We’re off on another adventure shortly and I may have a few postcards to toss out along the way, so stay tuned!

Staircase at the Baltic Mill Winery in Baltic, Ohio

A Little Something New

Relative size of tripods in folded configuration.

I just bought myself a new toy tool. It’s hard to believe it was over a year ago, but I had written in March 2022 about having rented the Peak Design Travel Tripod. I liked it a lot but couldn’t justify spending $600 (at the time – it’s now $650) on a part-time tripod. And I wasn’t sure it was good enough to be an only tripod, so I had lots of excuses to not buy one.

Relative size of tripods in their storage cases.

There aren’t too many cases where I really want a compact, highly portable tripod. I had a Gitzo, that while wasn’t designed for travel was sort of portable – it would fit in a large suitcase with the center column detached, but just barely. My only tripod lately has my big and beefy RRS TVC-33 with the matching BH-55 ballhead. An excellent and steady base, but really overkill for my relatively light Fuji equipment. While it is great for car travel, it’s just a little too tough to jam into a suitcase. It was just the thing when I was shooting with the big-a$$ Canon equipment. Of course a too-big tripod to a photographer is sort of like a too-big diamond to a lovely partner. No such thing, right? But I had been looking for a suitable travel candidate, albeit not too hard. I had done a little research and identified a few likely candidates, but the ones I thought would do the job were still a little pricey for comfort.

A couple of days ago I saw a post on a Fuji Rumors site that B&H was having a MEGA DEAL ZONE – 100s OF DEALS TOO GOOD TO LAST! sale. Included in the sale was a “Benro MeFoto GlobeTrotter Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod Kit” on sale for $175, marked down from $365. The ad indicated that it was $300 off, which is a bit overstated, but it is still half the regular price. It was one of the “finalists” that I had on my Wish List, the price was too good to pass up, so I pulled the trigger.

FedEx delivered the package on Thursday, and while I haven’t had a chance to use it extensively, my initial impression is that it is quite a worthy tripod. The build quality appears to be excellent, and I have to say that it appears quite sturdy. Compared to the RRS model I have to wonder why they are so expensive in comparison. The specs indicate that it is designed to hold 26 pounds. I don’t know about that, but even my heaviest lens won’t come close to testing it. I won’t know how good until I have a chance to use it IRL (‘In Real Life’ as the kids say) but I have an opportunity coming up that should let me put it through its paces.

Side by side comparison with MePhoto center column down.
Side by side comparison with MePhoto center column extended.

Grammer, Speling and Other Pet Peaves

Sign in the bottling room at Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky

At a restaurant last week, I overheard a Loud Talker telling his tablemates about some conquest or other, and he used “like” repeatedly. How many “likes” does it take to make a sentence? Like, literally, dozens!

Literally is another overused word. Literally.

One of our neighbors was recently talking about her new Infusion stove. Ummm, Induction?

When our neighborhood has a function involving food, the signs and flyers sometimes say “BYOB Your Own Beverage.”

A woman I used to work with said she went to “Evolution Church.” I think she meant “Elevation Church” and I don’t think they discuss Evolution there.

I worked with a woman who did marketing for a bank, and she talked about their “Veritable Rate Loans.”

A boss of mine would email me to find out what I was working on, asking “What’s in your que?”

When we’re getting ready to go on a cruise, we check out various forums and message boards to get information about the ship, the cruise line or some of the policies. People often ask questions about the “Dinning Room.” They sometimes ask about “Making Whoppie” (but hopefully not in the dinning room) but I wouldn’t know about that. 😉

Artwork in the reception area of Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky
Artwork in the reception area of Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky

Challenging “Murphy”

Inside the rick house at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky. One of the loveliest smells in the world! Processed using “Denoise” in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

As in Murphy’s Law….

Kathy & I returned Sunday from a few days in Bardstown, Kentucky. We met our friends Jim & Lisa there, and spent a few days exploring distilleries and horse country.

This morning we needed to go to the grocery store. As we are in the beginning stages of what looks to be a week long monsoon, we went prepared. Raincoats and umbrellas, leaving the sunglasses at home. As it turned out, no rain, and the sun was peeking through the clouds as we left the store. Perfect!

When we returned home I decided to leave the car in the driveway, hoping for a “free car wash” to dispel the layer of dust we had accumulated over the week. Several hours later, no rain. Finally we got a nice heavy shower, just enough to wash off the loose crud. Good for a few more days!