Tag Archives: Photos

Clet The Sign Guy

Florence, Italy

I had heard or read about this guy long before we visited Italy two years ago.  When we were in Florence I started seeing some of his art, which consists of “modifying” street signs to make whimsical or sometimes political commentary.  I only saw them in Florence, although I understand that he (or copycats) have made this art all around the world.

Clet Abraham was born in the UK in 1966 and was educated in art at Rennes before moving to Italy in the early 1990s. He is a well known and respected painter, sculptor and restorer.  The “modifications” are easily removable adhesives that Clet and a few friends apply at night, sometimes in plain view of security cameras.

The artist explains:

My street sign work stem from a reflection upon our “common visual space”. The omnipresence of street signs, other than being a sign of the [Italian] culture of “anti-responsibility”, can verge on the absurd. The message is very poor (sometimes I feel like I’m being treated like an idiot by them) and yet they have a highly invasive aesthetic. As a professional in the world of visual space, I feel called to intervene, both to notify the public of the absurdity of the situation, and to propose a constructive and respectful alternative. My adhesives are developed to add a further level of reading [to street signs] constructed on the base of their original signification in order to maintain its utility but give it some intellectual, spiritual, or simply amusing interest. The final objective? That traffic keeps flowing without us feeling spoken down to!”

I had forgotten about these photos until recently, when I was selecting photos for the last post.  I’m glad I was able to dredge them back up!

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Interesting Times

Sunbeams through the fog along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the intersection with US 23/74 near Waynesville, North Carolina

Interesting times these are.  According to Quora, the saying “May You Live in Interesting Times” is misattributed to Confucius.  It was first used by Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1936, and later popularized through a speech by Robert F Kennedy in 1966. The phrase “live in interesting times” dates at least to the late 19th century. The “Chinese curse” element was likely added by Sir Chamberlain as an (effective) embellishment. There is no evidence of a Chinese origin.

Rosebay rhododendron along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

When we’re not traveling, I’m usually content to be a homebody.  Why is it then, when I’m told not to go out, I want to go out?  When we saw Monday’s announcement that people should stop eating in restaurants, almost immediately followed by an announcement from our favorite fine dining establishment that they would be closing immediately, Kathy & I did the sensible thing and dashed out to our favorite Italian restaurant for pizza!  That’s essential travel, right? 🙂

Turk’s Cap Lilies along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway
Turk’s Cap Lilies along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

When I walked this morning, it was business as usual at our local Micky D’s and Eat Mo Chikn, but now we’re getting word that the governor has ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms after 5:00 today – take out and drive through only.  So it’s a good thing we brought home extra pizza!  And a good thing we like to eat our own cooking!

Yellow jewelweed along the Blue Ridge Parkway Waynesville, North Carolina

The grocery stores should still be open, although there’s no telling what the shelves will look like.  Kathy & I are well stocked with vittles to get through, although we’ll continue to shop as long as we’re able to get to the store.

Wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 437 near Waynesville, North Carolina

The whole thing seems like a ridiculous overreaction from here at this point, but I know that we see a very small sliver of the world, and I know that we are – for the moment – mostly out of the epicenter of the exposure to this nasty bug.  Hopefully we can keep it that way.  A reminder like this video from people in Italy helps keep the perspective.

Wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 437 near Waynesville, North Carolina

So we’re good for now.  We’ve got food & wine, music, internet, LOTS of photography books to look through, and several thousand photos to process if I choose to.  So I think as long as our neighbors don’t try to sing we’ll be able to get by just fine!  I told Kathy earlier that, since the economy (and our retirement fund) has gone to sh1t, we might as well do our best to stay healthy and keep ourselves occupied while it has a chance to recover.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 437 near Waynesville, North Carolina

The links are from friend and photographer Jeff Curto’s blog.  He and his wife are “stuck” in Italy (by choice – read the blog) and he has been posting about his time there.  Because Italy is a few weeks ahead of us in terms of the virus, they are experiencing what we might have to endure if things progress in this country.

Rosebay rhododendron along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

We’re also tracking the progress of some friends who have been on a world cruise.  When the cruise line decided to shut down operations and send everyone home, they started looking for a place to dock.  They are currently in the Pacific Ocean somewhere, headed to Australia, but Australia might not take them.  The good thing is that they have been sailing since early January and no one on board has been exposed, so hopefully they will be able to land somewhere!

Rosebay rhododendron along Balsam Mountain Road, Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

The photos are ones I’ve recently rediscovered from a macro workshop in 2009.  I’d forgotten about them and am having a blast with the processing, especially using software technology that didn’t exist back then.  Looking at these photos reminds me to get my macro lens back out! (And yes, a few of them have some nasty fringing from the closeup diopter I was using at the time.  Others really do have pink edges!)

Morning fog in the valley from The Orchards Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 444 near Waynesville, North Carolina

Fuzzy Concepts 2

Motion Blur in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

Panning with moving objects to convey a sense of speed and motion.  I need to do more of this, although people can be weird about a guy standing on a street corner with a camera.  Maybe now that I’m older they’ll just think I’m eccentric but harmless. 😉

Motion Blur in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Motion Blur in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Motion Blur in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Motion Blur in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

Thoughts on Three Cruises In Four Weeks

Brilliance of the Seas docked next to Liberty of the Seas in Cozumel

We didn’t set out to book three cruises, honest!  It just sorta…happened. 🙂

Carnival Breeze in San Juan, Puerto Rico

We had previously booked two weeks on Royal Caribbean’s (RCCL) Freedom of the Seas out of San Juan in January.  The ship was scheduled to go to drydock for extended renovations the week after we were due to get off.  But due to lots of reasons irrelevant to my post, Royal Caribbean needed to move the drydock back one week and cancelled the second of the two weeks.  We didn’t want to travel all the way to Puerto Rico for just a week (our preference – lots of people do it), so we decided to cancel the first week, too.  We re-used the plane tickets to go to San Juan this past November instead.

Norwegian Dawn in Roatan, Honduras

Because of the cancellation of the first week, we ended up with a credit that needed to be used by February, so we found a 5-night cruise on Brilliance of the Seas, another RCCL ship sailing out of Tampa.  We had never sailed out of Tampa before, and figured with our credit that this would be an inexpensive way to take a short cruise and check out Tampa.

Sunrise aboard Brilliance of the Seas

Meanwhile, friends of ours had booked a Carnival cruise out of Port Canaveral for the following week and “suggested” that we might want to go along.  It doesn’t take much “suggestion” to get us interested in a cruise!  So, we booked a cruise on that ship for the next week.

Aboard Brilliance of the Seas

Our son Kevin likes to cruise also, and he has been sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).  He mentioned that he wanted to take a cruise in February and suggested (there’s that word again!) that it might be fun if we went together.  So we checked around and found a cruise on Norwegian Dawn out of Tampa.  But the catch was that there was a week’s gap between the two cruises, so we would need to find something to do for a week.  In Florida, in February?  Not hard to do.

Schooner Bar aboard Brilliance of the Seas

We have been working on visiting different National Parks, and had never been to The Everglades.  So we decided to find a place to stay in South Florida for a week, where we visited Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park and drove through some of the Florida Keys.  More on those later.  Then we drove back to Tampa to meet our son and take the third cruise.  When it was all done we had logged about 3,000 car miles, who knows how many cruise miles, and about 4,000 photos!

Grand Atrium aboard Norwegian Dawn

A few thoughts:

– People ask us about the different cruise lines, and although it sounds like a cop-out, they are all good.  Different lines tend to cater to slightly different demographics, but things like ship size, home port and cruise length tend to make a bigger difference than the name of the cruise line.

– We tend to prefer smaller ships and this was borne out on these cruises.  The RCCL and NCL ships were each about the same size – approximately 2,000 passengers, while the Carnival ship was about 4,000 passengers.

– We’ve always assumed that shorter cruises would attract more of a party crowd, but the 5-night RCCL cruise was one of the most laid-back we’ve done, and seemed to have a very high number of repeat cruisers.  The Diamond Club, a lounge for passengers with a certain level of cruises with the line, had so many people that it overflowed into an adjacent lounge.  The Carnival and Norwegian cruises each had a high number of first-timers – a very interesting contrast.

– Cruise line food is very good regardless of the line.  Dining choices are either fixed, with the same table and waiter at the same time each night, or flexible, where you eat where ever you want each night, but with a different waiter and different table each time.  We have always preferred fixed seating, as we like to establish a relationship with our waiter.  But one of the disadvantages of fixed seating is that a lot of the food has to be prepared at once and can sometimes be overdone.  Flexible seating tends to be more cook-to-order, so the food is often fresher, hotter and usually properly done.  This is especially important with fish!

– We really liked cruising out of Tampa and did it twice.  The city is nice – much like Charlotte in terms of age and size, but on the water.  The port is very easy to get in and out of, and parking is a snap.

Sunrise aboard Brilliance of the Seas enroute to Tampa, Florida

I’m sure that’s more than anyone wants to read about my vacation, so I’ll leave it at that for now!

Big A$$ Yachts

Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St Thomas, USVI

One of the things I enjoy while cruising is checking out the huge yachts that appear in Caribbean ports.  They can be seen year-around, but mostly during the winter when it’s too cold for the French Riviera or Monaco, I guess.  They seem to gravitate toward St. Thomas, St. Martin and San Juan, probably because they have harbors and marinas large enough to handle ships their size, and airports to handle the private jets of the owners.  My understanding is that the owners don’t actually sail on them, they just have crew to take the ship to whatever port they wish to sail from, then the owners hop in on the private jet for a long weekend or a week.

Here are two of the notable spottings from our recent cruise.

Yacht “Eclipse” in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

From Wikipedia: M/Y Eclipse is a superyacht built by Blohm+Voss of Hamburg, Germany. Her exterior and interior were designed by Terence Disdale. The yacht was delivered to Russian businessman Roman Abramovich on 9 December 2010. At 162.5 metres (533 ft 2 in) long Eclipse was the world’s largest private yacht until the Azzam was launched in April 2013, which was 17.3 metres (56 ft 9 in) longer. The yacht’s cost has been estimated at €340 million. (Note: the Carnival ship we were on was 306 meters or 1004 feet long, but carried 4000 passengers and 1400 crew!)

Yacht “Excellence” in St Thomas, USVI

From Wikipedia: The 80m Excellence yacht was built in 2019 by Abeking & Rasmussen. She features an exterior design by Winch and an interior by Winch. She cruises at 14 knots and reaches a top speed of 17.0 kn. She can sleep up to 14 guests taken care of by a crew of 20.

Oh, and while not exactly a superyacht, a properly-equipped catamaran is always a pleasant sight. 🙂

St Thomas, USVI

An Unexpected Place

Nike Missile Base Historic Area in Everglades National Park, Florida

When Kathy & I were looking over information about the Everglades, we had noticed several references to a Nike Missile base located within the park.  There wasn’t a lot information online, but once we got there we saw signs  directing us toward the location and indicating that there were “open house” hours daily.  So we decided to check it out.

Nike Missile Base Historic Area in Everglades National Park, Florida
Nike Missile Base Historic Area in Everglades National Park, Florida
Nike Missile Base Historic Area in Everglades National Park, Florida

As it turns out, there had been three Nike sites located within the Everglades as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the close-the-barn-door approach that was taken after the fact.  There are several abandoned bunkers that are inaccessible due to asbestos contamination, an unused hanger and one that houses an actual but de-fused Nike missile.

Nike Missile Base Historic Area in Everglades National Park, Florida
Nike Missile Base Historic Area in Everglades National Park, Florida

It was an interesting side trip on an otherwise nature-oriented visit, but it was something unexpected in an otherwise natural habitat.

“Don’t worry, those signs aren’t enforced on Mondays.” We were there on a Monday. Whew!

Slowly But Surely

Early morning enroute to San Juan, Puerto Rico aboard Carnival Breeze

Kathy & I returned to home base this past Monday, and I’m currently halfway through the nearly 4,000 photos from our month-long adventure.  I’ll be posting galleries to my Adobe Portfolio site (keep checking for updates!) and expect to have some more stories to tell here on the blog in the near future.  Hang in there – I’m working on it! 😉