Pics by CJ: Blog en-us (C) Pics by CJ [email protected] (Pics by CJ) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:37:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:37:00 GMT Pics by CJ: Blog 80 120 Architecture or Tree Bark??? _1020148_1020148

Our friend, Carol Leigh, spent a week with us in San Diego recently.  We planned on just hanging out, and taking occasional outings with our cameras.  However, as the temperatures began to rise, our desire to be outside taking pictures rapidly diminished.  Carol especially is a bit of a heat wimp...she's used to the mild to cool temps of the Pacific northwest, so anything above 65 qualifies as hot for her.

On Tuesday morning we got an early start to avoid the heat and bright sun and headed out to the Presidio,  We had slightly different goals for the morning.  I love taking images of architectural detail, so I headed for the beautiful white arches, while Carol is currently into abstract macro images of tree bark.  She's especially taken with the colors and patterns to be found on eucalyptus tree trunks.

Accordingly, I spent a good deal of time around the chapel...

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While I was taking these images, Carol was climbing around the hillside stalking colorful eucalyptus bark with interesting patterns.  She got some wonderful shots, which I envy.  I did try a few, but I obviously have a lot to learn, and I probably need a little more patience as well.




Once Carol was finished, and I had reached my frustration level with the tree bark, we called it quits and headed out to the Original Pancake House and introduced Carol to the wonderfulness of a Dutch Baby Pancake.  

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) arches architectural bark detail eucalyptus Presidio Tue, 30 Jul 2019 02:47:27 GMT
The Last Hurrah!  



Saturday morning we had one last photo stop as a group at the round barn.  Then it was breakfast at The Breakfast Club in Moscow, Idaho before members of the group began to head home.  The Breakfast Club turned out to be a great breakfast place, with a standout being the cinnamon roll pancake which John strongly suggested should be ordered as a shared side dish and enjoyed by all.  So we did....and he was right!!



Here's a view of the round barn.  While I'm sure there are many to be found, the only other one I've seen is in Vermont, so it's fun to see and photograph this one,  We spoke with a homeowner across the street from the barn property.  She was very friendly,  gave us some info about the history of the area, and was quite willing for us to take photos of her wonderful garden, which included some vibrant red poppies.




While most of the group was headed home this morning, there were five of us staying over.
Here's a picture of our group before we all went our separate ways.


  Rich and I, Megg, Rosanne, and Lynne decided to spend the day together on one last photo adventure.  I asked John at breakfast to recommend some spots for us, and he gave us some pretty detailed directions to a couple of locations which we did manage to find, after a couple false starts. Our group divided into two cars, and had a great day exploring.


As we headed out with John's directions in hand, we passed an old barn, and then an old silo - both of which required photo stops.

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Unfortunately this silo didn't even come close to being as interesting as the one we saw Friday in Uniontown.


Our next destination was to be a farm on Conrad Road that John had recommended.  We got a bit turned around along the way, and as we were getting ourselves headed in the right direction, we came across a cool row of old cars that John had mentioned in passing.  He had told us if we saw them and wanted to photograph them to go up to the house and ask permission.  We did that, sending Lynne since Rich declared she was the cutest.  The homeowner did give us permission for right then, but made sure we understood that we did not have permission for any other time.  The story behind the trucks is that the father used to collect them.  When he died, his son decided to line them all up on a small bluff facing the road as a memorial to his dad. 


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John had advised us to "look over our left shoulder" when we reached the junction of Almota and Klaus.  We did, and it was gorgeous.  Here's one view I really loved.



So once we got ourselves turned around and heading in the right direction, we found the farm immediately.  It was, indeed, very picturesque.  In addition, there were many beautiful examples of the rolling hills the area is famous for, and Rosanne wanted some shots of those.  You can see from the images why no one was arguing with her.


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While Roseann had a yen to photograph the green, rolling hills one last time, I wanted a final opportunity with the canola.  We found ourselves on a side road not too far from the wheel fence, and spotted some bright yellow fields.  Going up the road to the cemetery gave us a better look, and so I was able to get some more of that happy yellow.  I decided to play with the Slow Shutter app, and the pictures below show the same field both with and without using the app.  I'm kinda' partial to the blurred image, what do you think?





And...two more iconic shots of the Palouse landscape.

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Our final stop was an old wood silo that doesn't look as though it will last another winter.  We had passed by before, but decided we really should stop and take a closer look.  Once again, the texture just ropes me in, love stuff like this!


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After the silo, the group called it quits.  Lynne had a really early wake up call for Sunday, and all of us except Rosanne were leaving in the morning.  It was a good day, and gave us a chance to get to know each other a little bit better.


Earlier Saturday morning I received the sweetest email from Rad, along with a photograph he had taken of Rich and I.  What a special way to end our week.  We had a wonderful photographic experience, met some great people that I'm sure we will see again on another workshop, and thoroughly enjoyed the leadership, and camaraderie of both John and Rad.


Here's Rad's email and photograph.


Dear CJ and Rich,

Seeing you two together in such a loving way all week was a joy and inspiration. THAT’S marriage. As a relative newly wed (approaching five years) watching you made me miss my wife even more than usual!

I took the liberty of making this image of the two of you. The background is a Palousian sky.

Safe travels home and I look forward to the next time our paths cross!


Rich and CJRich and CJ




[email protected] (Pics by CJ) canola old Palouse silo trucks Sun, 30 Jun 2019 03:00:00 GMT
A Barn, A Fence, Some Trees, AND The Coolest Grain Elevator _1010755-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit_1010755-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit Our last full workshop day was a busy one!  We gathered at our usual 7:00 am and headed south toward Uniontown.  Our first stop was a big, red barn on a hill which could have been really cool, but the sky was totally devoid of clouds.  There was nothing to enhance the barn, so we finally walked up a long driveway to get a side view of the barn, and a few clouds heading towards it.  I'm sure this barn has the potential to be a lot more picturesque, but it was kind of blah on this day.



Our next stop was the dreaded Wheel illustration of my photographic failures.  The fence is constructed of over a 1000 antique wagon and tractor wheels, and is found surrounding the Dahmen yard and barn.  It SHOULD be a photographer's playground.  However, I have tried to photograph this fence at least two other times, and all I have to show for my efforts are a bunch of very mediocre images.  So, although I gave it a valiant effort once again, this fence and I are just not friends!  



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My spirits picked up considerably during our next stop.  We crossed the road and were allowed to photograph the outside areas of the Uniontown Silos and Grain Elevators.  What a cool place!!!  As I understand it, the silos are for storage of grain, and the elevators are towers which contain either bucket elevators, or pneumatic conveyors to scoop up the grain from lower levels and deposit it in a silo. There were so many interesting patterns and grungy abstracts to photograph, I could have easily stayed there another hour or two.  The image at the top of this blog post shows wonderful detail of nuts and bolts, and terrific shadows made by the neighboring silos.  And you can tell by the number of images below that I was reveling in the subject matter.


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It was time for our lunch break, so we headed back to Pullman.  We had a learning session scheduled during lunch, but no one had access to lunch, so it became either you had lunch, or you went to the session.  We opted for lunch and a little rest break.


When we all met again for the afternoon, we headed off to Green Hollow for images of a beautiful lone tree - much enhanced by the wonderful cloud shadows.  Oh, and some more terrific rolling, green hills as well!

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A quick ride in the car and we were now at the location for "John's Three Trees."   It's a kick to watch John get so excited about things (see my blog on sunset at the Weber House).  In this location, it was all about the cloud shadows.  I admit to not realizing previously how important those shadows are in bringing the viewer's eye right where you want it to be.  But believe me, I do know now.  John's kept up a running commentary, "Here they come, get ready."  "Oooh, look at the way the trees are lit up."  "Oh, better wait a bit, no clouds are overhead right now."  The again, "Here they come, here they come!"  And, for those doing infrared photography there were many "oohs" and "ahas" about the way the scene looked as well.  What a fun stop!

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Rich was getting a bit frustrated because there were so so many beautiful skies with wonderful white, puffy, stacked clouds - and he wasn't getting the opportunity to stop and shoot he staged a "mini-tantrum" at John requesting a puffy cloud stop.  John and Rad conferred and decided to take us to a place they called "the top of the world" for some beautiful views, and hopefully some clouds for Rich.  The image on the right shows Steptoe Butte from a distance, while the images at the end of this blog show views from Steptoe Butte.

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Our final stop for the day was back to Steptoe Butte for sunset once again.  I can't see that these images were that different than the ones we took Tuesday evening - maybe the quality of light was slightly different, I don't know.  At any rate, we were there for over an hour taking pictures, and hoping for something unusual or spectacular to happen when the sun set.  Finally Rich and I, along with Lori who had been riding with us, and another participant decided we'd given it our all, and headed down the hill.  When we were almost at the bottom, there was a wonderful pink sky for a brief minute or two, but it took us too long to get to a decent vantage point, so we only caught a bit of it.  I do love the almost-purple fallow field here.


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) abstracts Butte elevators fence fields grain grunge Palouse silos Steptoe trees wheel Fri, 28 Jun 2019 23:08:00 GMT
A Truck and A Speedwagon _1010509_1010509

When we headed out Wednesday morning for the day's activities, there was still some evidence of last night's rain...wet windshields, damp dirt roads, and raindrops on the plants.  Our first stop was listed on John's itinerary as "Sally's truck" off Glenwood Road.  


_1010470_1010470 Sally's truck turned out to be quite photogenic.  It was abandoned in a wheat field, "parked" at an angle, worn and torn, and riddled with bullet holes.  We had to carefully step through tall grasses and muddy, uneven ground to get some good vantage points, but it was well worth it.

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The remnants of the rain clouds made for some beautiful soft lighting this morning!

When we finished photographing the truck, the caravan started up a small hill on our way to our next destination.  It was a dirt road, what John calls a summer road.  He had warned us previously that summer roads tend to get very muddy and slippery when there's been a rain, and can be more than a little scary to drive on.  So, John headed out, leading our caravan, and the rest of us followed.  Three of the five cars were part way up the hill when John came on the walkie-talkie to tell us to stop.  The going was getting very slippery where he was, and he advised us to slowly turn around and go back the way we came.  That turned out to be a little adventure in itself, with each car carefully backing up, then turning around in a wide spot in the road.  There was definitely some slipping and sliding going on during these maneuvers, but we eventually all got turned around and back to the main road.  

Our next stop on Omar Brown Road offered something for old house with lots of interesting texture, an old Dodge parked in a field, and an area further afield with an old bus and car.  I opted to stay with the house and Dodge, not trusting myself to stay upright on the uneven terrain out to the other field, and I found plenty to occupy my camera.  Referring to the "No Trespassing" sign, we DID have permission to be there.


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From here we traveled a short distance to see something I didn't even know existed.  It was an actual REO Speedwagon!  I was (somewhat) familiar with the musical group of the same name, but had no idea their name came from an actual truck that was designed by a man named Ransom Eli Olds - thus REO.  The keyboardist of the musical group, Neal Doughty, had learned of Ransom Olds in a college class on transportation history and decided to use the name for his band.

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We were now ready for our lunch break and headed back to our hotel where we had pizza provided by John and Rad, and participated in a classroom session of Lightroom and iPhone apps.  These guys have so much knowledge, wish I could just soak it all up at once.  After our classroom time, we had a break, then headed out to dinner at a place called Nectar, located in Moscow, Idaho.  Good food (grilled meatloaf!) and good company.  The group was going to head back to photograph another sunset at the Weber house, but Rich and I, and three other participants decided a little rest time at the hotel was a better choice, so we all headed back to Pullman to get some R & R and be ready for tomorrow.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) cars Dodge old Palouse REO Speedwagon trucks Thu, 27 Jun 2019 07:11:00 GMT
Barns, Barns, and More Barns! _MG_1686_MG_1686


Day two of our Palouse photo workshop began at 6:30 am!  Since day one had stretched from 7 am to 8:45 pm, it was a somewhat groggy group that gathered in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express this morning.  Once we were settled in our caravan of cars, we were told that our first stop was to be a double barn, and the group seemed to perk up a bit. These two barns are in the small town of Oakesdale about 30 miles north of Pullman, our home for the week.  Never happy with just one view of something, not only did we shoot the barns from the road, but from a longer distance away, and from the top of a nearby hill.  Because you can never have too many barn pictures, right?



The subject of our next stop might seem a little strange to some, but we traveled a curvy, gravel road to the top of a hill to shoot the wind turbines.  One of our leaders, Rad Drew, showed us how to set up our iPhone in a holder on our tripod, and set it on slow shutter speed which produced a really cool effect.



While we were there, another participant who happens to also teach classes in iPhoneography showed me how to do a vertical pano, so I practiced on the wind turbines.


And, one more perk from this stop, yet another view of the two barns we started with this morning.  The barns are way back in the center of this landscape photo.




Our next stop was listed on our itinerary as The Wyeth House.  It's an old, abandoned house sitting atop a small rise.  I wasn't sure if it was actually known as the Wyeth House, or if that's just a name given to it by our two leaders.  I tried to Google "Wyeth House in Palouse" and came up with many images of many different houses.  So, I'm guessing Rad and John just used that name between themselves so they could communicate about the same house.  At any rate, it provided some fun photographic fodder for the group.


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After a break for lunch, we headed out barn hunting once again.  First we stopped at a barn I had seen previously, a Salt Box barn on Ide Road. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant, so here's what I found on the net.  "A saltbox house is a traditional New England style of house with a long, pitched roof that slopes down to the back, generally a wooden frame house. A saltbox has just one story in the back and two stories in the front."  This barn definitely hits the mark with the long, pitched roof.  It's in a beautiful mini canyon with an amazing view.  If I owned that property, I would certainly have my house there as well!

Our next barn stop was billed as a "double barn" but it turned out to not be at all like the twin barns we saw first.  In this case there was both a red and a white barn visible in the same landscape...kind of a neat picture.  Notice too that some really cool clouds have begun to gather over the barns.

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Speaking of clouds, LOOK AT THESE!  We drove up to the top of a hill to photograph these wonderful storm clouds.  I loved these views with the combination of the bright green crops, and the blue tinged storm clouds.  


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Those clouds finally opened up, and gave us a bit of a drenching.  Good timing though, since it was time for our dinner break at the Black Cypress restaurant in Pullman.  

After dinner came the highlight of the day.  We drove to a location known as the Weber House.  The Weber House is an old abandoned house which was built around an original log cabin.  It's located near Pullman, and is one of the most photographed locations in the Palouse.  The owners of the Weber House now live across the street and down about a quarter of a mile, and are quite used to having groups of photographers spread across the road from their home to the abandoned house.  We spoke with the owner, Charlie, and he told us how much he enjoyed meeting photographers from all over the world.  Our leaders, Rad and John, know Charlie, and always make arrangements with him when they are bringing a group.  Charlie says they do have issues with people they don't know coming in at night to photograph, light paint, enter the house illegally, and to generally party and have a good time.  Apparently there is a rumor that the house is haunted, so it becomes a "thing" for local college kids to enter after midnight.

The house sits in a beautiful field backed by rolling hills.  That in itself is a wonderful image, but when the sun sets, there is a chance you will see a golden glow light up the front of the house.  If you happen to be there when this happens, you'll never forget it.  We spent about an hour photographing the house from various angles, and our leader, John, kept yelling, "it's coming, it's coming!"  And I kept wondering, "What's coming???"  And then I saw it.  The light only lasted two or three minutes, but those minutes were magical!

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And here's what made all the waiting worth it!





[email protected] (Pics by CJ) abandoned barns house Palouse turbines Weber wind Thu, 27 Jun 2019 03:13:00 GMT
Old Cars and The Palouse  



Rich and I attended a photo workshop in the Palouse area of Washington state.  We've been there before, but because this workshop had two leaders - Rad Drew and John Barclay - we thought it offered us many new learning opportunities both with the DSLR and the iPhone, so we signed up!  We were not disappointed.  We were extremely impressed with their organization, knowledge, and enthusiasm, and we experienced an excellent week of learning and camaraderie. 


Usually what comes to mind when you think of the Palouse is beautiful rolling green hills and pastures.  So why is the first photo in this blog old trucks?  It turns out there are lots and lots of old cars and trucks in this farming area. Our first stop on the first day of the workshop was in Sprague, Washington where we visited a really interesting collection of old trucks, then drove about half a mile to a cool fenced area with many antique cars.


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Most people think I'm crazy, but I love old cars and trucks - specifically the bright colors of rust you often find on these vehicles.  Just look at how fun these images are!


And the amazing colors you find!


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So, we spent the whole first morning taking pictures of rust, broken windows, fenders, and grilles.  Then we were ready for lunch and a break.  Little did we know that John and Rad had a monster afternoon planned for us with visits to an old (falling down) schoolhouse, some typical beautiful green Palouse landscapes, some cheerful, yellow canola fields, and a sunset shoot for Steptoe Butte.


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Here's the old schoolhouse, which John said was actually standing when he was here last year.


Some landscapes from the Clear Creek area, then some beautiful green, rolling hills, and some bright yellow canola.



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Finally, near sunset, we drove up to Steptoe Butte to shoot the fields and the unique patterns created by the various fields - wheat, canola, and brown fallow fields.  It's an amazing sight, and it's different every time I go there.  The light changes, the fields change, and the weather changes.  On this particular night, it was lovely!


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An exceptional day photographically.  We'd seen so much!  And we were exhausted!!  We headed back to our hotel arriving around 9:30.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) antique Butte canola cars colorful fallow fields old Palouse photo rust Steptoe trucks wheat workshop Tue, 25 Jun 2019 23:20:00 GMT
Playing in Photoshop  

Touring York


It's hard to believe it has been well over a year since I last posted here!!  Somehow I've gotten out of the habit, and now I have a huge learning curve to remember all I'm supposed to know to get a post up and seen.  


Rich and I have been working with some photo buddies to try and learn some of the many photo apps we've put on our iPhones and iPads.  We all acknowledge that although we've downloaded several apps, that's just not going to do it.  We need some motivation to get us to play around with the apps and actually see what we can do with them.  Our solution?  Food!  Works every time.  Oh, and deadlines helped too.  We decided to meet once a month for lunch, and at our lunch "meetings" we would all share a few photos that we had processed using our "app of the month."  So far, it's been a great success...we've spent a month each on several apps including the Lone Star filter in Camera Awesome, the Brush Stroke app, Leonardo, iColorama, and we're now working on HaikuHD.  The results have been mixed, but we've all created some very cool images using photos we had already taken and stored in our computers.  Last month's app, iColorama, was a particular favorite for Terry and Judy, and they shared some really cool stuff.  I really liked a technique Terry had perfected, so she gave me some step-by-step instructions so I could practice later.  Then, Rich decided it would be cool if he could figure out how to do a similar treatment in Photoshop on the computer, thinking that would then make the resulting image of a quality suitable for offering for sale on our Fine Art America sites.  And that's what I'm sharing today.


Each image involves masking, then "painting" over with a brush to reveal part of the original photo.  Then the edges of the original photo are isolated, masked, and revealed to whatever extent you want.  I can't say that I totally understand what I'm doing yet (still using a tried and true step-by-step approach), and thank goodness I'm married to a man with infinite patience, because I certainly wasn't the quickest study today, but I did end up with a couple of images that I really like.


The original image at the top of this post was taken a few years ago when we visited York, England on a cruise that took us to England, Scotland, and Norway.  We were walking in a park when I saw this small group and tour leader near some ruins.  I loved the "professorial" look of the the group leader as well as the beautiful stone ruins.



Here is another photo from the same park in York.  This was a pretty little floral setting tucked away in a corner of the park.  I love the way the edges or sketch part of this process continues the "idea" of colorful flowers and weathered stones without actually having the color.




This photo was taken near Kristiansand, Norway.  I totally fell in love with the sights of Norway, and these wonderful red boathouses were everywhere!  I love color, and I love boats - so this scene is a win-win for me.


A barn in the Palouse area of Washington state.  I guess maybe I'm a sucker for the color red!  This was my first attempt at using this sketch technique, and while I like this image OK, I think I did a better job of selecting images suited to this treatment as I went along.


These little lambs were on a farm near Inverness, Scotland.  Cute little guys.  Again, this image is OK, but perhaps not as well suited to the treatment as the first three.  At any rate, I had fun learning this, and I really like the way the first two images came out.


Which image would be your favorite?

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) apps Norway Palouse photoshop Scotland sketch technique York Wed, 03 Feb 2016 03:36:55 GMT
Kyoto Revisited - Tenryu-ji Monastery _MG_7704_MG_7704

Our next adventure involved going to a completely different area of Kyoto and visiting the Tenryu-ji Monastery - with yet another beautiful garden.  But on this day we also visited the 200 year old Hogo-in Villa on the monastery grounds, ventured into the town and tried to find a place for lunch (one where we could understand the menu and order something we thought we would like) and finished with a walk through the bamboo forest on the way to the home of a Japanese period film actor. 

Our first stop, the monastery gardens, are some of the oldest in Kyoto.  They were designed by a renowned priest, meditation teacher, and garden designer in the 1300's.

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We left the gardens to walk to another area of the monastery to visit the 200 year old Hogo-in Villa, which is an wonderful example of a very inventive type of Japanese architecture.


The exterior of the villa.


The gardens seen from inside the villa.


Another view of the garden, this time taken through the rippled glass of 200 year old windows.



A detail from inside the villa.


We wandered around the monastery grounds both before and after lunch, enjoying the garden details and interesting statuary.

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Eventually our group left the monastery grounds and took a short walk to the bamboo forest - which turned out to be completely mobbed with people!  There were tourists from other countries, but primarily Japanese families were enjoying the walk through the forest.  Personally, I was disappointed in the area, the bamboo was fenced off, so we walked a path that was surrounded on both sides by a six foot fence.  Somehow, it wasn't what I had imagined.





[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Hogo-in Japan Kyoto Tenryu-ji bamboo gardens monastery Sun, 05 Apr 2015 22:10:33 GMT
Kyoto Revisited - Ohara _MG_7472_MG_7472

Our second day of the workshop in Kyoto took us to the countryside.  We all piled into taxis outside the hotel and took about a 40 minute ride to the agricultural village of Ohara.  The weather was very pleasant, and we spent the morning slowly walking up the hill past farms, small businesses, and restaurants to Jakko-in, a Buddhist nunnery.  We then met at the best restaurant of the whole trip, which served all vegetarian and locally grown ingredients.  The food was wonderful, and it seemed like lunch went on for hours.  I think we had around eight different courses to enjoy.

After lunch we walked back down the hill, across the street, and the group headed up another hill to a temple.  I opted out of that walk and explored the small town down below. It was a very pleasant day and I loved seeing this side of life in Japan.


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As you can see, the beautiful fall colors were also present in this little village.  I love the reflective color in the third photo!



One small outdoor shop was selling condiments.  Notice how attractively packaged the product is.



‚ÄčThis little shop attracted quite a crowd.  Patrons could sit here and "enjoy" some frothy green tea while admiring the view and soaking their feet in some lovely warm water.  This is our new friend, Karen, trying it out.  The remainder of the shop was devoted to selling tea, and painting ceramics.  An interesting combo.


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I loved everything about this restaurant!  The food was wonderful, and the presentation even more wonderful.  In addition, the owners also made and sold scarves, placemats, coasters, and napkins which you can see in the photographs above.





After lunch I wandered around by myself because I was concerned I wouldn't be able to walk up the hill to the monastery.  Turns out most people only went partway, and I could have (should have) given it a try.  I did see this little shop with a local man roasting tea leaves, and some beautifully wrapped packages of tea for sale.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) agricultural Japan Kyoto Ohara village Sun, 05 Apr 2015 00:17:30 GMT
Revisiting Kyoto - Daitoku-ji Monastery _MG_7261_MG_7261


Our first full day in Kyoto was amazing.  Everywhere I looked there was the gardens, the architecture, the people, and even the presentation of our lunch!  

We began with a visit to this garden in a sub-temple at Daitoku-ji Monastery which was so wonderful that I totally ran out of time and never actually walked IN the garden, I spent my time strolling around inside the temple, marveling at everything I was seeing, and taking photographs of the garden from various vantage points.  Suddenly it was time for our group to go to lunch, and I wished I could have stayed there another hour or two.  As you can see the colors in the garden were both beautiful and calming.

The walkway entrance to the temple and gardens was divided into three distinct sections, giving the visitor time to quiet themselves for the experience.



Section two of three before entering the garden.


Fence tops along the entrance path.


The actual entrance gate.


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After our time in the garden, we walked to another area of the monastery, admiring the varied and unique architectural detail along the way.  Then, following lunch we visited another sub-temple with an entirely different type of "garden" known as a dry garden.  Still very beautiful in its own way.


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Couldn't have asked for a more impressive beginning to our time in Kyoto.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Daitoku-ji Monastery Japan Kyoto gardens Sat, 04 Apr 2015 21:45:48 GMT
Revisiting Kyoto - The Imperial Gardens _MG_7103_MG_7103


Just the other day I received my annual bill from Zenfolio for this website, and that made me think about how I have totally neglected this blog for the better part of the last two years.  It's not that my interest in photography has waned, but for some reason I haven't made the time to collect my thoughts and photos and put together blog entries.  Which is a shame, because we took this wonderful photography trip to Kyoto, Japan in November where I fell in love with both the city and the culture.  And,  I made some photographs that I love and would like to share.  So, I'm sort of making a late new year's resolution to pay more attention to this blog, and to think about making and sharing images.   And for starters, I'm going to revisit our wonderful trip last fall, and share some of my favorite images from the trip.



Our first day in Kyoto was rainy, which really brought out the saturated colors in the trees located in the Imperial Gardens across the street from our hotel.  We got totally soaked, but had a great time exploring the area.








We had a wet and wonderful time exploring the park...there were beautiful trees, interesting paths, a line of youngsters in colorful raincoats, unique architectural details, a small shrine, hanging lanterns, and a beautiful Japanese woman entering a tea house.  What an excellent start to our trip!





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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Imperial Gardens Japan Kyoto rain Sat, 04 Apr 2015 02:15:27 GMT
King Tides 2014 _MG_0999_MG_0999


The last couple of days we have been having what the newscasters are referring to as "King Tides."  I'm not even sure if that's a real term, but it does a great job of describing what's been going on.  For us, these are pretty big waves, and they have certainly captured the imagination of the locals.

I spent a couple of hours over the last two days at The Children's Pool in La Jolla.  I thought it would be easier to show the force of these tides if they were crashing against something, and the sea wall at the Children's Pool seemed perfect.  Both days have been bright and sunny, and large numbers of people have been stopping by to take pictures, or show off the area to relatives visiting for the holidays.

It's been fun to watch the waves develop, then try to predict where I need to have my camera focused when they get near the shore.  The next four photos were taken in a series to show the path of the wave splash.







It seemed like every set of waves had a different approach and a different splash pattern.  So I took way too many photographs, but had a great time doing it.  An inexpensive morning's entertainment...and yet, a lesson about how powerful the ocean can be.  Here are some favorite images from this morning.


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Children's Pool La Jolla high tides king tides waves Thu, 25 Dec 2014 08:20:25 GMT
Morning Workouts _MG_4202_MG_4202


Tuesday morning Rich and I, and our friend Mary decided to drive up to Del Mar to watch and photograph the morning workouts.  We belong to a photo group that schedules photo shoots at the morning workouts, and also full day photo shoots at Del Mar that include entrance to the barns.  We really wanted to get into the barns, but that shoot filled up quickly, and the waiting list did nothing but wait.  Maybe next year...

So, we did a little morning shoot on our own.  It turns out that at 7 am you can just park and walk in to watch the workouts.  Nobody questions you, and every once in awhile the jockeys will stop and chat, or "pose" their horse for you.  That part was easy.  Getting the running horse in sharp focus is a whole other matter!  I had lots of "almosts" and a few that were right on, but it was fun trying, and maybe if I go again next year I'll get a little better at this.

The workout jockeys walk the horses from the barn to the paddock area, take a few turns around, then head out to the track.  Each horse is accompanied by another horse and rider, not sure exactly why.  




The horses are then ridden out to the track, where they appear to do a series of sprints from one end of the track to just past the scoreboard.  They walk back, and repeat.  This gave us lots of opportunities to try to shoot them in action. They also ventured out to the far side of the track, and I'm assuming the same thing was going on out there.  



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It appears that each group of horses gets about a 30 minute period on the track, then their jockeys lead them back to the paddock area to cool down.


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The jockey on the left stopped for awhile so we could get a couple of good shots...I loved that they were so friendly!




While the results weren't perfect, we had a great time trying!  It's just fun to get a glimpse into this behind-the-scenes activity in the world of horse racing.  Although I know almost nothing about horses or racing, I think they are beautiful animals, and I'd love to get an opportunity to go to the barn to see them up close, and try some "portraits."




[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Del Mar horse horses jockey racing Mon, 01 Sep 2014 23:20:50 GMT
Tall Ships Parade _MG_4731_MG_4731


On Thursday, we boarded the Lord Hornblower for a two hour cruise in the harbor to watch the tall ships parade in, prior to San Diego's four day Festival of Sail.  It was a great decision on our part because we wanted to try to take photos of the ships, and Captain Rich (who also gets to be the Captain when the Star of India sails!) did a wonderful job of maneuvering us around the ships so we had many opportunities and viewpoints for our photographs.  We got seats on the top, open deck, where it was plenty HOT!!!   Luckily, once we were underway, the wind helped to cool us off a bit.


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The Captain went out to "meet" the ships, so we could see them pass by on our starboard side, then he turned around and caught up with the ships as they sailed in so we could see them again off our port side.  Later we cruised down closer to the Coronado bridge so we could do some photography with the bridge in the background.






We enjoyed being close enough to the ships to see the crew members working to bring the sails down as they prepared to dock at the Embarcadero.  Yikes!

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Just the sails themselves are totally cool, and make good subjects for photos!








Rich and I shared this adventure with our friends, Andy and Mary, and then finished off the morning with a most delicious sandwich from Mona Lisa in Little Italy...once again reinforcing the belief that "retirement is a good thing."



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Hornblower bridge cruise harbor ships tall Sat, 30 Aug 2014 22:44:20 GMT
Writerz Blok  



This week a friend of mine decided to feature or showcase the websites and blogs of the members of his Facebook Group, Mickey's Photo Friends.  So far he's given us three links to follow, and I've thoroughly enjoyed seeing some wonderful images, and the variety of ways others have set up their websites.  So, of course, that got me to thinking about my own long-neglected website and how it compares to those I'd seen this week.  I took a look at my site and was dismayed to see that I had not posted anything since last October!!  Talk about letting things slide.  And yes, I have a few excuses like my hip replacement surgery, and several trips, but I hadn't even bothered to post anything about our recent travels.  Yup, I'm totally ashamed of myself.  

So, today I thought I'd put up a web page, just to remind myself how to do it (and, of course, I needed Rich's help on the "remembering how" part).

Today's images were taken in May of this year, when our friends Chris and Carol were visiting from Oregon.   I had read about a place on Market Street called Writerz Blok, where graffiti artists are allowed and encouraged to paint their graffiti art on huge boards scattered around a half-acre lot. Originally the idea was to prevent vandalism, but the reality has become so much more...providing creative outlets and artistic exploration for graffiti artists in a gang-neutral spot.  And, the art has been featured in photo shoots for music videos, dance crews, magazine covers and much more.  It's a constantly changing scene with some art being preserved or protected for months because it was done by a well known artist, and others murals being covered up within 24 hours.  


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I took a few photos of entire was fun trying to do some panoramas with my iPhone.  But as you can see, I really enjoyed trying to isolate interesting smaller elements of the murals.


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While I hate graffiti when it defaces private property and public buildings, I found Writerz Blok an interesting attempt at highlighting the artistic elements, and I applaud the attempt to contain it in a sanctioned area.  Wouldn't it be great if all graffiti were done in this kind of environment?   


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) San Diego Writerz Blok graffiti murals Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:59:57 GMT
Not What We Expected...  


Lobster Transport

On our second full day at Nonantum, we climbed in the car armed with a not-very-good map of Maine and decided we would explore the coast to the north of Kennebunkport.  We had gone just a couple of miles, almost to Cape Porpoise, when we turned a corner and saw the O'Reilly Lobster Coop and this very cool old truck next to it.  We made an immediate stop, grabbed our cameras, and crossed the street to take some close-ups.  This is definitely not what we expected to find, we were on a search for "boats with character," but ever since taking a class from our friend Carol Leigh titled "Car Art" we've been a lot more aware of the interesting possibilities when photographing cars...and then if you add in rust, peeling paint, and dings, giving the car lots of character, we're there!  This is a great truck!


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Kennebunkport Maine old cars, rust Thu, 10 Oct 2013 23:59:03 GMT
It's A Lobster Sort Of Day  


 Captain Bob


On our first full day at the Nonantum resort in Kennebunkport we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to spend 90 minutes on a New England wooden lobster boat known as The Rugosa, which was docked in the Kennubunk River right by our hotel.  The Rugosa travels out of the Kennebunk River, past our resort, and into the open sea...even giving passengers a glimpse of Former President Bush's compound just outside of town.

_MG_7255_MG_7255                           The Nonantum Resort from the river.                _MG_7250_MG_7250                Our room is the last one bottom right-great view!
_MG_7240_MG_7240                    Looking back towards the mouth of the river.   _MG_7213_MG_7213             George H. W. Bush's compound outside Kennebunkport.


On our way to the open sea, we passed some fishermen on the banks of the this point, it didn't look like this guy had been very successful.  I love the way he is silhouetted with the sun behind him.



During our trip Captain Bob and his crew mate, Matt, gave us the short-course on lobsters:  life cycle, molting, size limits, banding, telling a male from a female, and what it's like to live the life of a lobster fisherman.  The Captain pulled in traps from three different locations, taught us how to band the claws to avoid getting pinched, let us hold the lobsters, and eventually threw them back in the water. It was interesting to learn that for the past couple of years there has been an over-abundance of lobsters, causing the price to drop so much that many lobstermen cannot afford the fuel to go out and fish.  A good thing for the consumer, but tough for those making a living from the lobsters.


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It was a beautiful day to be out on the water, and we saw several other boats taking advantage of the calm, sunny weather.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Kennebunkport boat fishing lobsters Thu, 10 Oct 2013 22:06:49 GMT
Small Town, USA  



We had all day to drive north from Boston to Kennebunkport, Maine to begin our one week stay at the Nonantum Resort in early September.  That meant a little bit of a sleep-in at the Hampton Inn, and the leeway to take any turnoffs that looked interesting along the way. And it wasn't very long before the town of Newburyport, MA caught our eye.  First of all, we liked the name!  Secondly, on the map it looked like there might be shoreline/fishing boats to photograph...something that we hoped to concentrate on during our two weeks on the east coast.  And finally, when I googled it, it sounded interesting.  So, we turned east off the highway and headed for the center of town.  As we approached the main part of town, Rich noticed a large grassy area filled with American flags, so we parked, grabbed our cameras, and checked it out.


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It turns out the town does this for two weeks each year.  Townspeople purchase the flags in the name of someone who has served our country, the flag and name are displayed for the two week period, and then the person who purchased the flag takes it home.  We spoke with a couple of veterans who were in the area, and it was moving to hear how proud there were of the display.

Following directions given to us by a local, we headed into the town proper.  It's just what small town America should look like with flower boxes on the windows, and streets named Pleasant and Liberty.  We walked around for awhile, then went to lunch at Grog, which we were assured was where the locals went, and where I had my first lobster roll ever.

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After our lunch (delicious!) we decided to drive a short distance to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and check it out.  The refuge has six miles of road to drive, and several trails or paths from the road to the shore to see wildlife.  We read that during several months of the year, the beach area is closed so the breeding birds are not disturbed.  To be honest, we didn't see much wildlife, but we enjoyed the drive, the scenery, and a few of the walks to the coastline.


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We thoroughly enjoyed out little detour on the way to Kennebunkport, and talked about how we should have days like this more often, not just when we're on a trip.  Great day!

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Massachusetts Newburyport flags preserve wildlife Wed, 09 Oct 2013 04:16:39 GMT
Groupon Goodies  


A couple of months ago Rich and I bought Groupons for each of us to have a 90 minute falconry lesson to be held at the Torrey Pines Glider Port.  We made reservations for this morning, and it turned out to be the perfect day, with beautiful blue skies and warm weather.

The birds we worked with today are Harrris's Hawks, which are considered among the easiest to train, and most social.  They are the only birds of prey that hunt cooperatively, so when they're trained, the human becomes their hunting partner...making the hawk much less likely to fly away during hunting.  Our workshop leaders today, Eric and Denise, own four Harris Hawks and one red tailed.  For our lesson they brought three of the Harris Hawks-one adult male, one adult female, and a juvenile.  Denise and Eric are passionate about their birds, and their place in the world, and they were able to transmit some of that passion to all of us.

Someone in our group asked Denise how she got started doing this-her response was that she'd been interested in birds of prey since she was a child...which struck a chord for the teacher in me.  We have so many opportunities as teachers to spark the curiosity and interest of the kids in our room.  Something that is so much more important than all the testing and preparing for the test that is sucking up our classroom time now.  I remember watching my kids become totally absorbed in studying birds of prey, and specifically owls and owl pellets, and I know another "Denise" could easily have come from that group of sixth graders.

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Eric and Denise spent the first half hour or so giving us information about falconry and birds of prey.  We learned that falconry dates to at least 10,000 years ago!  Another interesting fact is that over 80,000 birds of prey are killed each year by wind turbines!  Because of that, Eric supports some possible remedies like adding reflective surfaces to the blades of the turbines, so the birds are more likely to see them

We were each given a falconer's glove and were instructed on how and where to hold our arms in relation to the hawks, how to hold our hands, and how to call the birds.  Eric then spread a little bit of "chicken paste" on our gloves, to ensure that "Dude" got a reward when he flew to someone's glove.  We formed a circle with the participants (about 12) and had an opportunity to call the bird and have it fly across the circle to land on our arms...which was completely amazing!  We created a couple of other configurations of the participants and had additional experiences calling the hawk, and eventually we stood alone for a "photo opportunity" and had the hawk fly to us.  We also had the opportunity to count out 1...2...3...then throw a chicken foot (yeah, a little icky) into the air for the hawk to catch in mid air.  Really amazing!


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When I told a friend about buying this Groupon, her comment was, "Why?"  My thinking is why wouldn't you take an opportunity like this, to learn about these beautiful birds and have an opportunity to observe them up close?  What an interesting way to spend our morning!   I'd do it again in a heartbeat.




[email protected] (Pics by CJ) birds falconry hawks of prey Sat, 28 Sep 2013 05:06:34 GMT
Free Flight-One More Time _MG_6830


Since we were in Del Mar this morning to shoot the morning workouts at the track, we figured we might as well take advantage of it and visit Free Flight (again for me!) since it's right down the road from the track.  Rich was anxious to visit and take some photos, and we both enjoyed out time there this morning.

I learned a little more about this sanctuary today...for example, some of the birds we saw are just being boarded here.  There's a variety of reasons, from the owner being out of town, to the birds needing to be socialized a bit more.


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Another interesting piece of information we got today concerns the two birds who are always together, grooming each other, "talking" to each other, and just keeping each other company.  The birds were donated to the sanctuary after their owner died with the stipulation that they would live out their lives there, and not be adopted.  They have been together over 30 years, and one of the birds is 40+ years old, and the other over 50!!

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Most of these birds live longer than our average lifetimes!  The worker at Free Flight said the best approach is to purchase your bird when your child is one year old, then the bird will live his life with you, and later your child.  That's quite a commitment.




Rich had a great time inviting the various birds to hop on his arm for a little up close and personal time.

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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Sat, 24 Aug 2013 06:18:56 GMT
This Is Not Easy!! _MG_6120


This morning Rich and I had an opportunity to photograph the morning workouts at the Del Mar Race Track with a group of about six other photographers.  We got to the race track a little before 7:00 am, and there were already many horses out on the track...some just galloping and some doing speed runs for time.  It was really fun to watch the horses and workout jockeys, and everyone was extremely friendly.  It turns out that anyone can go watch the workouts at no cost - what a cool thing.  You can bet we'll be back.


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It also turns out that taking a decent photograph of horses in motion is a LOT harder than I thought.  I put my camera on continuous shooting mode so I ended up with a gazillion images, but only a very few "keepers."  Some are just flat-out out of focus, some cut off the horse's tail, many cut off one or more of the horse's feet, there are composition issues, and then there is the problem of all the junk in the issue being that there are white posts everywhere, and they often appear to be coming out of the jockey's or horse's heads.  And, of course, many of the photos had more than one of these problems. End result...I got a few that are OK, but now I really want to go back and try again.  Hopefully there will be some improvement.


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I tried to do some panning...moving the camera with the horse (but still keeping it in focus) and blurring the background.  When done correctly, the viewer gets the impression of speed.  Turns out, that's not so easy either.  The image above left is one of the few that came close to what I wanted to accomplish.  Need more practice on that too...



No matter the results, it was a fun morning!  We've recently joined the Pacific Photographers Meet Up Group, and this was one of their scheduled meet ups.  They have several a week and many of them are to new and interesting places.  It's been fun to meet some new folks who also enjoy photography, and to try making images in new settings.


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Sat, 24 Aug 2013 02:45:10 GMT
Free Flight _MG_5557 A couple of months ago I read in the newspaper about an exotic bird sanctuary in Del Mar called Free Flight.  I'd never heard of it, and looked it up on the internet to see if it might be possible to visit and take photos.  Then, the next week I had lunch with my two photo pals, Judy and Terry, and in one of those weird coincidences,  Judy started talking about having visited Free Flight with yet another photo buddy.  Judy had enjoyed taking photos there, so the three of us decided to schedule a visit in August.  We met there last Tuesday, and spent about an hour and a half wandering around taking pictures and enjoying the antics of several beautiful and exotic birds.

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The sanctuary opens at 10:00, but the birds are brought out one at a time and placed on perches, so for that reason it's probably better to arrive sometime after 10:30.  You can walk right up to them, feed them fruit, and even offer your arm for them to climb on.  The day we were there, several birds were being fed by visitors, but none seemed interested in stepping onto someone's arm.  We were also warned that not every bird is totally good natured, and it is not at all unusual for one to deliver a little nip on the finger or arm.  As you can see, there are some pretty strong beaks on these birds!  It was fun to watch the children who were visiting try to feed them fresh fruit without getting their fingers nipped.  



We asked how these birds came to be at the sanctuary.  It turns out that Free Flight was originally established as a boarding and breeding facility that eventually evolved into this exotic bird sanctuary with a mission not only to care for the birds, but also to encourage public interaction with them.  In recent years, as a result of the economic downturn, some bird owners have found themselves unable to afford to care for or provide a home for their bird, so Free Flight has accepted many of these birds as well, and given them a safe home.


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There was one very colorful pair of birds that seemed to really enjoy each other...they played with, groomed, and talked with each other the whole time we were there.



This is a really fun place to visit, one that adults and children both enjoy.  I totally enjoyed being able to get so close to the birds; they're entertaining, beautiful, and very photogenic and I'm already planning to go back with different lenses, just to see what other images I can make.

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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Sat, 17 Aug 2013 07:24:44 GMT
Discovering Chicano Park  



Rich and are are excited about recently joining the Pacific Photographic Society's Meetup Group.  We heard about the group through our friend, Judy Tilson, and we were impressed with the variety of interesting outings they scheduled.  In addition, attendance is limited at each event, so we know we'll be able to move about and get some good photo opportunities.  On Saturday, we joined a group in Chicano Park to photograph and learn about the culture and history of the park.  Our leader, Salvador Torres (at left), has painted many of the murals in the park.  He was one of the creators of Chicano Park and led a movement to create and preserve it's freeway pillar murals.  Today he gave us background of many of the murals, and helped us understand the meaning of many of the illustrations.  He was a wonderfully informative and approachable leader.

Mr. Torres actually grew up in a home that was demolished as the ramps to the Coronado Bridge were constructed.  At first he resented the construction, but later he began to envision the concrete pillars as huge canvasses for public art.  In 1969 he created the Chicano Park Public Mural Program to promote his ideas, and in 1970 when bulldozers showed up to build a highway patrol facility on what the community considered a park site, there was a 12 day community uprising and occupation of the area to block construction.  Finally in 1973 Torres and the community received permission from the state to begin creating their murals.

The park and murals are constantly evolving, and there are plans to create art on the pillars "All The Way To The Bay."




  As you can see here, I had almost as much fun photographing Mr. Torres as I did taking pics of the murals.  


_MG_5359 Each mural has dozens of individual elements, and it was interesting to isolate sections and see if they would stand alone. _MG_5357


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  Clearly the muralists love to use bright colors as they tell their stories!  


[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Mon, 29 Jul 2013 00:03:14 GMT
Fun In Ketchikan _MG_5073    



Our last Alaska port was Ketchikan...another short day, just 7:00am to 1:00 pm.  We chose to not book an excursion, but instead wandered around the town, had breakfast, shopped, and took some photos.


On a whim, we first boarded a city bus (50 cents each - a bargain!) and just rode around for about 30 minutes enjoying seeing some of the non-touristy areas of the town.  When the bus got to Creek Street, we climbed off to do a little shopping and photography.  We had decided to have breakfast ashore, and a shopkeeper recommended we take the funicular, which is located right in the Creek Street shopping area, up to the Cape Fog Lodge for a nice breakfast with a view.  Sounded like a good idea to us...


_MG_5093   _MG_5120                           View of our ship from the restaurant at the Lodge.

Not only did we have a delicious breakfast at the lodge, we enjoyed photographing a small area of totem poles situated in a grassy park area in front of the lodge.

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After breakfast and totem-time we got a call from our friend, Carol, telling us there was a gentleman at the entrance to the Creek Street shops with a bald eagle...and some good photo opportunities.  So we took the funicular back down and went looking for the "man with the eagle."  He had drawn quite the crowd by the time we got there, everyone taking the rare opportunity to be so close to such a magnificent bird.

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I wish we could have stayed longer in Ketchikan, but we managed to pack a lot of fun into our day, and enjoyed the views as we slowly pulled away, heading towards Victoria, BC.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Thu, 27 Jun 2013 23:38:00 GMT
Sitka...more whales, and sea otters too! _MG_4875   _MG_4877


Today our cruise ship visited Sitka.  It was another short day, just 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, and once again we have elected to take an excursion out on the water.  Just can't seem to get enough of this!  We've chosen another tour run by the Allen Marine Company, but this time we'll be in the waters of Sitka Sound, and the focus is sea otters, which are very cute, but pretty darn small when you're photographing them from the top deck of a boat!  We did see several groups of otters, but this is about as close as I could get.




We were fortunate in that we also saw some humpback whales (though no bubble-net feeding like we saw in Juneau), seals, and eagles.


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Sitka Sound was beautiful as well, and we totally enjoyed our three hour wildlife adventure.



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Once back on board, we really enjoyed the scenery and myriad of fishing boats we saw as our ship slowly departed the waters near Sitka and headed for Ketchikan.


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Alaska Sitka eagles sea otters whales Thu, 27 Jun 2013 00:33:00 GMT
A Gorgeous Day in Glacier Bay!  

_MG_4632 On the third day of our Alaska cruise we entered Glacier Bay and slowly made our way to the north end of the bay to see the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. The weather was just about as perfect as it can get, and we were able to stand on deck and take photos feeling very comfortable in just a light jacket.  We had blue skies, and truly amazing views.

We entered the bay around 7:00 am, but it was closer to 9:30 or 10:00 before the amazing scenery drew us outside, and nearly 11:30 before we actually made it to the Margerie Glacier.  Our ship traveled very slowly and cautiously through the bay, and as we neared the John Hopkins Glacier the water was littered with large and small pieces of ice, which made for even more interesting photographs, and I'm sure made the captain and pilot even more cautious as we proceeded.


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Just after passing the John Hopkins Glacier Inlet, our ship entered the final inlet before coming face to face with the Margerie Glacier.  The water cleared of ice floes, but retained that curious glacial teal green color.  Once we reached the face of the glacier, the captain very slowly rotated the ship through 360 degrees during the next hour, so everyone had an opportunity to see and photograph the glacier.  Of course, we were all hoping for some exciting and impressive calving, but although there was plenty of noise coming from the glacier, we saw very little calving during the time we were there.

One huge bonus (or visual bon-bon as our photographer friend Joe Englander would say) was the sighting of a brown bear swimming in the frigid waters to cross the inlet.  According to the ranger on board, this was a very unusual sight to see in this location, and we were all pretty excited about the sighting.




As we made our return trip through the bay, I noticed these interesting "wake patterns" created by our ship.  There was so much to see!


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We later heard that another cruise ship, The Star Princess, which entered Glacier Bay later in the morning than we did, did not get to see the actual face of the glacier...the fog descended on the bay, and in the interest of safety,  their captain was forced to turn the ship around.  Pretty sad for the people on board, and highlights even more how fortunate we were with our beautiful weather.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Alaska Bay Glacier cruise ice mountains pattern snow Wed, 26 Jun 2013 05:38:00 GMT
Whale Watching Alaskan Style!  


Juneau was the first stop on our Alaskan cruise.  Rich and I had been there two years ago, and enjoyed the whale watching trip we took with Allen Marine, so we decided to do it again.  

Our ship arrived in Juneau at 1:00, and we tendered ashore for our excursion soon after.  We boarded a bus which took us to Auke Bay, about a 25 minute ride from town. On the way we were entertained by a very funny and personable bus driver who kept us laughing with jokes and one liners about Alaska, Juneau, and even Sarah Palin.  Once there we boarded a catamaran for our three hour adventure in the waters of Stephen's Passage.  Our vessel had a very comfortable and weather-protected downstairs, while on the top deck there were some inside seats, and a viewing platform which was terrific for seeing and photographing the wildlife.

We had a wonderful day!!  Of course we spent our time up top so we could photograph as much as possible...even though having your camera pointed in the right direction at the right time is a lot harder than you would think!   The on-board naturalist estimates that we saw about 15 humpback whales, most of them in two different groups.  Apparently humpbacks are usually solitary, but occasionally they work as a group to accomplish something called "bubble-net feeding."  We were fortunate enough to see this several times during our trip.  What happens is the whales form a loose circle and begin blowing bubbles.  The "circle" of bubbles fools the herring into thinking they can't get past, that there is a wall of sorts there.  Then one whale dives down below the group of herring and suddenly turns upward and makes a loud noise which frightens the herring and signals the whales, and at this point all the fish, and all the whales come up out of the water.  It is an amazing sight - there are open whale mouths, fins, tails, fish, and birds circling all in the same space at the same time.  The whales get a mouthful of fish, and the photographers get pictures so full of "whale parts" that you can't really tell how many there are, or which part belongs to which whale.  But it is pretty darn exciting!  Check out these videos on You Tube.



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Whale watching boats are supposed to stay 100 yards away from the whales, although there's no telling where the whales might choose to break the surface.  We saw one bubble-net feed that happened within 50 feet of a small whale watching vessel.  Those passengers must have gotten some amazing photographs! Although my pictures were taken from a longer distance away, it was still exciting to watch for the whales, anticipate where they might come up, and try to create a decent photograph or two.


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We had an incredible day.  The weather was great, the waters calm, and the whale watching extraordinary.  If I ever get to Juneau again, I'll be on another one of these trips as soon as possible.

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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Alaska Juneau bubble-net feeding whales Tue, 25 Jun 2013 02:09:00 GMT
Departing Seattle  



I love the city of Seattle!  It's one of my favorite places to visit, but on this visit we were just here to overnight before picking up a seven day Holland America cruise on the Westerdam to Alaska.  Our good friends Carol and Chris were cruising with us, and it was Carol's first cruise, so I was really hopeful they would enjoy it.

Things got off to a good start when they were assigned an aft cabin, giving them a large balcony and a wonderful view of Seattle as we left in the late afternoon.  I admit to being just the teeniest bit jealous of their aft cabin, but it did seem slightly less glorious when a man standing on the deck above dropped his can of ginger ale on Carol's deck as we were departing, and later the large "flakes" of soot weren't exactly wonderful (according to C & C).  But,I still think it was a cool room...the balcony was big, the room bigger than ours, and the view was terrific!




There were three ships departing Seattle at almost the same time.  Our ship was the first to leave the pier, then The Star Princess, which was also at Pier 91, followed us out, and the NCL ship you see here departed from Pier 33.  Both ships followed us for quite awhile and, in fact, the Star Princess docked in nearly all the same ports as the Westerdam.


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We spent a fun hour on Carol and Chris' balcony, watching the Seattle skyline disappear, checking out the two cruise liners following us, taking photos, chatting, and enjoying the scenery.  Oh, and there might have been a gin and tonic in there as well...  A great beginning for our coming week's adventure.




[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Sat, 22 Jun 2013 23:07:00 GMT
Arriving In Venice

Once again it has been almost daily event on our "sunny" Mediterranean cruise.  Our itinerary had us arriving in Venice at 2:00 pm on Friday and leaving at the same time on Saturday.  We were pretty bummed when we got up Friday and it was raining again, but luckily the rain stopped just before our ship entered the Venice lagoon, leaving us with a wonderful light and sky.  The arrival was slow and careful as we entered the lagoon and passed by the entrance to the Grand Canal, which was a terrific experience for us as we stood on our balcony taking in the incredible views.

I love the colors of the buildings, the tile roofs, and the graceful domes.  We enjoyed getting a quick peek down a small canal crossed with many bridges, and pretty much fell in love with Venice all over again.




Later, we would take a bus, then a water shuttle to St. Mark's Square to explore, take pictures, and have dinner.  But for now, we just enjoyed the view.


[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Sat, 25 May 2013 20:20:00 GMT
Our Mediterranean Cruise - Foreshadowing IMG_2239

We boarded our cruise ship, The Celebrity Equinox, in Barcelona on May 17th, and sailed for Nice that afternoon.  We were anticipating a sun-filled Mediterranean cruise with visits to several ports in Italy, Dubrovnik, and Montenegro.  Our first port, Villefranche, was the very next day, May 18th.  Villefranche is the gateway to Nice and other beautiful sites in the French Riviera.  We know from a previous visit that the architecture, beaches, and sea shores are lovely.  So this time we opted to take a bus tour through Nice, and end up at the small town of St. Paul de Vence, which we have heard is a charming, artistic French town.  Our vision is of walking leisurely through this charming town, taking photographs, shopping, and eating lunch at a sidewalk cafe.  Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

When we woke up, the view from our cabin was of a water soaked harbor in Villefranche.  It was cloudy and rainy, and the weather forecast didn't sound promising.  Luckily we had brought our raincoats, so we figured what's one day.  We'll get this bad weather out of the way and the rest of the trip will be fair and sunny.  

We took our bus ride through Nice in the rain, then headed to St. Paul de Vence...and it began to really pour!  We did walk through part of the town, but it was not a leisurely walk, there was no picture taking except with my iPhone, and very little shopping.  After walking up the hill from the bus, and venturing just a bit into the old, walled portion of the town, it was raining so hard we ended up taking refuge in a local creperie for lunch...where we hid out pretty much until it was time to make a dash for the bus again.  So, we were really disappointed to miss seeing most of this cute little town, and would love to come back in better weather.

You can see from the couple of photos I did get of the town, it has a lot of potential.  Hopefully we'll get another chance some day.


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On the plus side, the little crepe restaurant was warm and dry, and the food very good.  I had a cheese and ham whole wheat crepe, and Rich got a little more adventurous with a ratatouille filled crepe topped with a fried egg.  Interesting.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Nice St. Paul de Vence Villefranche cruise Sat, 18 May 2013 20:53:00 GMT



After a year of waiting and planning, we have finally begun our trip to Barcelona!  We arrived here yesterday morning after a looooong travel day which involved leaving home at 3:40 am.  But the flights were smooth, and the hotel was very accommodating, giving us a room even though it was not yet 11:00 am.  We took advantage of the room and opportunity to catch up on our sleep with a 6 hour nap!!  Finally went out about 7:00 pm to walk along La Rambla, the famous pedestrian walkway that runs right in front of our hotel, the Hotel Montecarlo.   We wandered to a nearby park area known as the Placa de Cataluynya to people watch and take pictures.  Finally, as it got dark, we had some dinner and headed back to the hotel where we slept for another nine hours.  Hopefully we are all caught up now, and ready to board our Celebrity ship, the Equinox, for a 12 day cruise to Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro.  Then we'll have four more days to explore Barcelona when we return.

Here are a few photos from our walk yesterday:

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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Barcelona Fri, 17 May 2013 17:00:00 GMT
Queen Califia's Magical Circle  




Over and over again photographers preach that you don't need to travel far and wide to find interesting things to photograph...that there's plenty right where you live.  I even have a photographer friend who has set herself the task of taking one quality photograph each week for a year - within a half mile mile of her house!   Today's photo excursion provided plenty of proof for that school of thought. 

Earlier this year Rich and a group of five women worked on a team proctoring tests in the our schools.  The team had great chemistry, worked well together, and enjoyed each other's company, so they planned to get together after their testing window was over, and today I was invited to join them for lunch and a photo outing.  We went to see a group of mosaic sculptures known as Queen Califia's Magical Circle, which is set in Kit Carson Park in nearby Escondido.




I'd heard of this grouping of sculptures before, and had often thought about taking the short drive to see them, but just never made the time.  The French artist, Niki de Saint Phalle has some other sculptures in the city which I have seen, including two right outside the Mengei Museum in Balboa Park, so I figured this group would be fun to see, and great to photograph.  And that is so true!  The pieces are set into a large, circular "maze-like" structure, which in itself is pretty photogenic.  It's made of pieces of black, white, and mirrored tile pieces, and topped with some wonderful mosaic snakes which appear to be "guarding" the perimeter.  

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The centerpiece of the sculptures is an eleven foot tall golden Queen Califia (a fictional warrior queen of the Island of California) standing atop a most colorful thirteen foot eagle.  Also in the central area are eight additional totems which appear to have a basis in both native American and Mexican art.




Luckily, the day was overcast, which made it easy to photograph the sculptures...on a sunny day there's just too much reflection and bright light.  The flip side of that is that these look so much better against a bright blue sky, rather than clouds and an overcast background.  The problem is I can't have it both ways.   At any rate, I had a great time exploring this magical circle and will probably make more photographic trips to visit "the queen."



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On the right is a detail from Queen Califia's eagle, and the image on the right is an element from one of the eight totems in the courtyard.



Part of the "sky" that is depicted on the underside of the eagle, just above the golden egg fountain.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Califia's Circle Escondido Magic Queen mosaic sculpture Fri, 10 May 2013 02:31:46 GMT
The Next Best Thing To Being In The Tulip Fields...  



Our hotel in Seattle is just a half block from Pike's Place Market, and last week we made a couple of trips through the market because it was overflowing with gorgeous tulips!  In the past we've visited La Conner, Washington and wandered the tulip fields, which is such fun!  But since we weren't going that far north this trip, the market was an outstanding second choice. It's impossible to describe what we saw there...booth after booth filled with buckets of tulips of all colors and sizes.  Would have loved to have taken a bouquet (or two or three) back to our room, but we just weren't going to be there long enough.  Just know that for a tulip-lover like me, this was paradise!


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And here's my guy wearing his new Seattle fedora, posing among the tulips.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Tue, 23 Apr 2013 00:27:59 GMT
Chihuly Abstracts _MG_1348


Not only did I absolutely love seeing the Chihuly Exhibit while we were in Seattle last week, I also had a blast taking photographs.  Chihuly's work is all about bold color, beautiful curves and shapes, and well defined edges.  So, while it was fun to photograph his pieces and installations, it was even more fun to identify pleasing abstract compositions within his works.  These are some of my favorites of the day...


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Chihuly. Seattle abstract curves glass red shape yellow Tue, 16 Apr 2013 05:41:53 GMT
Big Birthdays And How To Ignore Them  



So, last Thursday was my birthday.  A BIG birthday.  One that seems incredible to did I get to be that old???  To make me feel better about all things age related, I decided a short trip was in order.  And, as luck would have it, I received an email from my very favorite hotel, The Inn At The Market in Seattle with an offer of a package deal including admission to the Chihuly Glass exhibit and monorail passes to get there.  That was all the encouragement I needed, so we booked a short trip to Seattle and called it my birthday celebration.

The Chihuly Exhibit is at the Seattle Center, near the Space Needle, and it's huge!  We had seen the temporary installation a couple of years ago at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, and I figured this would be just slightly larger.  Wrong!  There are several rooms devoted to different types of Chihuly glass art...The Northwest Room which is inspired by American Indian art, The Sea Life Room, The Persian Ceiling (incredible!), Float Boats, and several others.  In addition there is a huge glass house which contains one continuous "vine" of beautiful glass flowers.  And, after all that, there are the gardens to explore.  Needless to say we spent a wonderful afternoon enjoying this amazing exhibit.  If you have the opportunity to see this, you should absolutely do it.



Included in The Northwest room are several of Chihuly's baskets.  These are wonderful large vessels containing anywhere between three to five smaller "baskets." The colors are primarily warm bronzes and golds, and the curves and shapes are sensuous and beautiful. 

In the center of the next room was a huge (probably 18 feet tall) sea life glass sculpture made up of hundreds of spiral pieces in various shades of blue which cradled bright gold depictions of sea life. 


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_MG_1218 From the sea life room we entered a hallway, about eight feet wide and twenty feet long.  The attraction there was the ceiling.  It was clear glass, on top of which had been piled hundreds of beautiful glass pieces in vibrant shades of red, orange, yellow, green and so many other colors that were created by the overlap of separate pieces. _MG_1200


Probably my favorite section is the float boat, an old wooden boat filled with spherical floats in the brightest of hues.  All the elements are sitting on a shiny black floor, in a mostly dark room...and the result is just eye-popping.




And, there is so much more to the exhibit...



Mille Fiori



The Macchia Forest





The Glasshouse...

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And the gardens...

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After sorting through my photographs to put this blog entry together, I realize that it's almost impossible to convey just how impressive, beautiful, and intriguing this exhibit is.  I absolutely loved it, and wish everyone could see it.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Chihuly Seattle color glass Tue, 16 Apr 2013 04:44:05 GMT
An Art Adventure  


Reductive Stamp Carving


I've been taking an art journaling class from Jane LaFazio for the past five weeks.  This is my second go round with this class - I took an earlier version last year.  My goal was to learn enough about using watercolor so I could keep an art/travel journal when we're out and about.  I have to admit, it is a very humbling experience to be in a class with so many talented and creative women...I am most certainly on the bottom rung of accomplishment in this group.  But, I really enjoy going to class.  Jane is an excellent teacher, and the other participants are all extremely positive and supportive.  So, while I do not appear to have any "natural" talent with watercolor, I am at least learning something, and am really enjoying the atmosphere of creativity.


This week Jane taught us a technique called "reductive stamp carving."  The image above is a print of my second attempt at this technique.  It's actually four different stamps...first a stamp with no carving for the base color (yellow), then three more versions, each with successively more area carved away on the stamp (orange, then red, then black).  While there are lots of things I could have done better, I do kind of like the overall look of this one.  And, Jane says this is a process learning lesson...not one where you'll necessarily end up with a beautiful, finished product.  So, here's me learning something new... 


Even though this class doesn't appear to have helped me uncover any hidden artistic "gifts," I am having fun and enjoying the company. 

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Fazio Jan La art carving class stamp Sat, 16 Mar 2013 17:57:46 GMT
A Rare Foggy Saturday  


Rich and I had to run an errand in Coronado this morning, and for once we actually had our cameras with us when we found something cool!  

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As we were driving over the bridge, we noticed it was so foggy you could hardly see the boats that are usually anchored at Tidelands Park.  Thinking we'd get some cool, foggy/misty shots, we made a quick right at the end of the bridge and drove to the parking lot of the park.  But by the time we got there...maybe all of five minutes, the fog had lifted just enough to make things uninteresting and to show all the ugly stuff in the background.  So we shot a few frames, then headed off to do our errand.  Leaving Coronado about an hour later, we looked over the side of the bridge and noticed the fog had returned - with a vengeance!  So, Rich took the exit, made a turn around in Barrio Logan, and drove us back across the bridge for another try at "boats in the mist."  Notice the fog is so thick that the bridge is not even visible in these pictures.




 This time the fog stayed around a little longer, and we had fun taking fog pictures as well as some photos of the occasional interesting dingy on the beach. 

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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Coronado boats fog mist Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:27:25 GMT
San Diego Botanical Garden  



Last Monday a small group of us gathered at San Diego Botanical Gardens for a little informal photo shoot, followed by a group lunch after the morning's activities.  My photographer friend and teacher, Carol Leigh and her husband were visiting from Oregon, and we were joined by some friends and former students of Carol's,  affectionately known as the "Carolites."

This was my first time at the gardens, and I was only able to see a small part of it, but my friend (and fellow Carolite) Judy says the bamboo section is her absolute favorite, so that's at the top of the list for next time.  For now, here are a couple of photos from this trip.


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) San Diego Botanical Gardens flowers plants Sun, 16 Dec 2012 07:02:28 GMT
Roger's Gardens  

_MG_0573 Have you ever been to Roger's Gardens?  If you love flowers and plants, you need to go sometime soon.  And, if you love Christmas, you need to go now!

On Monday my two photographer friends, Terry and Judy, and I headed up north to Newport to visit Roger's Gardens.  I had heard it was an amazing place, and that turned out to be a true statement.  Right now, the grounds are filled with Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, poinsettias, decorative kale, and all manner of interesting plants - including some pretty cool succulents.  AND, there are several rooms full of Christmas goodies...Santas, gift wrap, ribbons, cards, decorations and just about anything else you can imagine.  It's absolutely huge!  What a great place to wander around, especially with a camera!  Just think what it must look like in the spring.  I think I'll go back then and check it should too.

Here are some images from Monday:





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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Christmas Roger's Gardens plants poinsettias succulents Wed, 05 Dec 2012 05:41:37 GMT
Beautiful Day For A Thank You! _MG_0404 My job with the San Diego Visitor's Center is ending as of January 1st.  Beginning then, I will be doing essentially the same job, but I will have a new employer - The La Jolla Merchants Association.  Change always makes me a bit nervous, but it sounds as though working for the Merchants Association is going to be just great.  First of all, we'll be in a building that's nearly 2400 square opposed to the approximately 40 square feet we now have!  And, we'll have a bathroom, a really big improvement as far as I'm concerned.  In addition, the Association is planning on some neat interactive technology for our new information center.  Should be very cool.

I volunteered for ConVis for two years, then became part time staff a little over two years ago.  While the other staff members have been given gift cards to mark their five year anniversary, I obviously will not reach the five year last week they gave me a Thank You gift certificate for lunch at the La Jolla Shores Hotel.  Rich and I decided to go this Tuesday, a glorious, sunny day at the shores.  The food was very tasty...ending with the butterscotch bread pudding you see above.   But before we had dessert there was warm bread and butter, a tasty, lightly dressed salad, and some delicious crispy skin salmon.

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A beautiful presentation, don't you think?  The foamy stuff is some kind of butter and pine nut mixture...interesting.  And Carol, the pretty green "bed" the salmon rests on is chopped Brussels sprouts.  Since those are definitely not on MY "approved" vegetable list, I decided they were strictly for looks.

Our table was right by the window, with an up close and personal view of La Jolla Shores, so we spent most of the meal watching visitors enjoy our beautiful beach.  There were kayak classes, fishermen, scuba divers, sun bathers, joggers, paddle boarders,  swimmers, and surfers to watch.  We had a great time, and probably prolonged our meal by about 30 minutes because of all the rubbernecking we did.  Certainly a fun afternoon, and a very nice thank you from ConVis. 

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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) La Jolla Shores kayaks lunch Fri, 02 Nov 2012 18:20:16 GMT
Fall Foliage...Yup, Again!  


After we spent the night in Bishop, we woke up the next morning feeling that we would be foolish not to drive north back to the June Lake Loop and check out the fall color there.  It's not often we even get near this kind of beautiful color, so we figured we could drive north for an hour, spend an hour or two photographing, then head back to Bishop, and on to San Diego.  I'm so happy we did since the color was wonderful, but this certainly did turn into a marathon day.  

We found this flag standing tall among the aspens in the very first turn off we took along the loop...loved how bright everything looked.


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As you can see, there was plenty of color along the loop, which actually provides glimpses of June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake.   However, our favorite scene of the morning was the fishermen patiently waiting in their little boats, seemingly oblivious to the seasonal golds and yellows surrounding them.


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As usual, we spent more time here than we planned, then drove the hour back to Bishop where we stopped for lunch at Schat's Bakery (cookies too).   By the time we were ready to actually head home, it was nearly 3:30.  So, we headed south, through some of the most boring countryside I've ever seen, and finally arrived home a little after 9 pm.  A long day, but well worth it.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) June Lake Loop fall fishermen foliage Fri, 26 Oct 2012 01:07:40 GMT
Swoops And Swishes _MG_0232

Aspens are perfect trees for a little camera play.  The contrast of their light colored trunks against the background foliage lets us "know" that the subject is trees, even if the actual image has been deliberately blurred by moving the camera down or sideways during the exposure.  Once again, I know these don't appeal to everyone, but I enjoy them.


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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) aspens blurred Tue, 23 Oct 2012 02:11:43 GMT
Mono Sunset  






It was nearly dark when we hit the overlook for Mono Lake, but the sky had some beautiful tints of pink and blue, so we stopped anyway to see if we might get a shot or two.  Somehow it looked better in person, but this gives you an idea of the lovely pastels in the sky.














[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Mono Lake sunset Tue, 23 Oct 2012 01:32:05 GMT
Conway Summit _MG_0172


Our week in Tahoe ended on Friday.  In the morning we drove north for an hour to drop Carol and Chris at the Reno airport.  We then retraced our steps towards Carson City where we had lunch.  Our plan was to head towards Bishop where we would spend the night, stopping along the way at Conway Summit, the June Lake Loop, and whenever we found something interesting.   As usual, we made too many unscheduled stops, and our plan didn't quite work...but we did make it to Conway Summit and found some wonderful color.

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[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Conway Summit aspens fall yellow Tue, 23 Oct 2012 00:38:05 GMT
Emerald Bay _MG_0102

On our last full day in Tahoe we lazed around in the morning, then went down to the lake to take a two hour cruise on the Tahoe Queen to Emerald Bay and back.  We were hoping the cruise would take us along the shore line, so we could see more, but we made a beeline directly across the water to Emerald Bay, circled in the bay slowly, and headed on back.  So that was a bit of a disappointment.  However, the boat captain/narrator was interesting, and the weather was beautiful, so it was a very pleasant way to spend our last afternoon in the area. 


Named for it's beautiful emerald green water, Emerald Bay is not easy to get to.  You can climb down a rather long and steep trail from the highway to the lake, or you can arrive by boat.  Our boat captain said it was "about a half mile down, and what feels like five miles to come back up."  On the shore, with a gorgeous view of the bay,  is a home, known as Vikingsholm, which was built in 1929 by over 200 workers hired by Mrs. Lora Knight.  This was to be her summer home,  containing 38 rooms.  In the middle of the bay is Fanette Island, where Mrs. Knight decided to have a 16 x 16 foot stone tea house built.  Mrs. Knight and her guests would take a boat to the island, and sit at an oak table to enjoy the view and a cup of tea.  There was even a fireplace in case the weather was too chilly.    Sadly, in recent years the tea house has been vandalized, but the stone outer structure remains.


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The bay is lovely, and the stories about Mrs. Knight, her home and tea house were interesting to hear.









[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Emerald Bay Fanette Island South Lake Tahoe Tahoe Queen Vikingsholm Sun, 21 Oct 2012 23:59:42 GMT
From The Shore To The Ridge To The Valley  

Today we decided to visit the little town of Genoa, which is on the east side of the mountains.  But first we wanted to check out a couple of lakes that were marked on the map and/or mentioned in the series of Tahoe novels by Todd Borg that Carol and Chris are currently reading.  So we headed up the east shore of Lake Tahoe, stopping whenever we felt like it to take photos, or just enjoy the day.  Turns out both lakes were a considerable hike from the road (5 miles in one case) and unfortunately, that takes me out of the equation.  So we just enjoyed the coastal scenery.

We drove as far as Incline Village, then turned around to head back to Highway 50 to cross over the ridge.  Along the way we spotted a bright grove of aspens at Spooner Summit.  Since we had the same sun and shadow problems we'd had on Sunday, Carol advised trying some up-close-and-personal shots.  So I tried coming in close to the leaves which had fallen on aspen bark.  I liked the geometry of this shot.


After finishing at Spooner Summit, we drove down the hill, turned south on 395, then west towards Genoa - population 250!  We had a wonderful lunch at the Genoa Station Bar and Grill, then wandered through a couple of antique shops where we even managed to find a little souvenir to bring home.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Genoa Tahoe aspens lake shore Thu, 18 Oct 2012 02:46:14 GMT
There's Hope After All

After a not-so-successful search for fall color in the Lake Tahoe area on Sunday, we took the advice of several folks and headed south to the Hope Valley area today.  The drive was lovely, and as we neared Sorensen's resort, we began to see large areas of yellow and orange aspens. About a hundred yards past Sorensen's resort, we stopped, crossed a meadow to a stream, and found these wonderful landscapes.


Following that, we drove down to Sorensen's to's a wonderful, rustic resort with cute little individual cabins, clever bear topiaries, and a pretty darn good cafe.  The owner warned us their service was known for being consistently slow, but the food was all freshly made.  So we settled in for a relaxing and tasty lunch.  

After lunch we headed west and found more colorful hillsides, and even a narrow dirt road to explore, which provided access to some colorful meadows.


Our final stop was to photograph the rustic building shown at the top of this blog.  I loved the variety of colors the trees provided as background.  We don't have a plan yet for tomorrow, but I'd be surprised if we found anything as beautiful and photogenic as what we saw today.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Hope Valley aspens fall color orange yellow Wed, 17 Oct 2012 05:20:34 GMT
In Search of Fall Color  

Diversity was the name of the game yesterday.  We spent the morning scoping out a classic car show at a little shopping mall in South Lake Tahoe (see yesterday's post), then after lunch at a Mexican restaurant in the mall, we drove north on Highway 50 just to see what we could see.  We passed Zephyr Cove and Cave Rock, and soon came upon a grove of brightly colored aspens.  We stopped, grabbed our cameras and tripods and started wandering among the trees in search of wonderful images.  Although we spent over an hour there, you won't find any of those images on this blog.  There was lots of color, but I just wasn't successful at isolating a group of trees or leaves to make a good composition.  I was getting really discouraged when we noticed that the angle of the sun had changed enough to create some beautiful reflections on the nearby pond.  So, that's what I have to post today...beautiful reflections, and memories of a fun day. 




[email protected] (Pics by CJ) South Lake Tahoe autumn color fall reflections Mon, 15 Oct 2012 18:59:07 GMT
Car Art      

We spent some time today at a small classic car show in South Lake Tahoe.  Although I am far from being a car buff, several years ago I did have a photography class assignment titled "Car Art."  I remember thinking I was going to hate doing the assignment, but surprised myself as I learned to appreciate some of the the details associated with cars...things like contour lines, ridges, hood ornaments, lights, insignias, and reflections.   I discovered that I could have fun with the "abstract-ness" of these elements as I wandered among the cars on display.  So that's what I have here...some abstract photographs of the cars I saw today.




[email protected] (Pics by CJ) car art cars classic Mon, 15 Oct 2012 05:15:17 GMT
South Lake Tahoe

We're spending a week near Lake Tahoe using a time share exchange.  Our friends Carol and Chris are with us, and so far we're having just as much fun laughing and hanging out as we usually do.

We arrived late yesterday, and today was our first day to explore, so we headed to South Lake Tahoe to look for fall color in the aspens, and to check out the spawning salmon in Taylor Creek.  It turns out that it's lots of fun to see the hundreds of colorful salmon in the very shallow water, but it's not so easy to photograph them.  So...although I managed to take a few sort-of- sharp pictures of these guys, I'm a really more drawn to the purposely blurry abstract shots like the one above.  No matter what, the whole thing was a very cool experience!


In addition to the colorful salmon, there were lots of ducks in the water...their mission in life apparently was to stir up the water to find and eat the eggs the salmon had laid.  According to the info signs, each salmon lays between 400-1200 eggs, and 3 out of every thousand actually survive!!!


This one duck had obviously eaten his fill, and had found himself a very cushy spot to watch all the goings-on. 


As you can see by the lack of photos, we weren't so successful with colorful aspens...but there's always tomorrow to see what we can find.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) South Lake Tahoe ducks salmon Sun, 14 Oct 2012 05:37:47 GMT
Carol's Influence

My good friend and photography teacher/mentor, Carol Leigh, is (and even she admits this) just a tiny bit weird.  What catches her photographic eye these days, is a good bit different than what most photographers are drawn to.  While other people are photographing the grand landscape, she's involved with images of the patterns in tree bark.  Everyone else can be busy taking photos of old buildings, but Carol will be gathering pictures of cracks in the stucco on the old buildings.  So, it was no surprise that when we got to spend some time together in Astoria last week, we spent an hour or so walking up and down boat docks taking abstract photos of colored boat reflections...and being pretty excited about it.

_MG_9044   _MG_9053

Both of us think they're pretty darn cool...but I understand not everyone is on that same page with me.  When I spent time in Oregon with Carol a few years ago, taking what I thought were really cool photos of crab nets, pots, and colorful buoys, my friend Chris, who is always really supportive of my photography, said she really preferred my landscape photos...thank you very much.  So I suspect she won't be a big fan of these either.  But, that's OK because I like them.




And why do I like them?  I am amazed at the wonderful abstract shapes, the bright, bold colors, and the fact that they change in a nano second.  Just standing in one spot on the dock, I could aim my camera at the same spot and come up with hundreds of different images in just a few short minutes.  So, would you hang them on your wall?  No, probably not.  But I might.  I can see a set of three, printed small but matted large, in a square format, framed in black.  As a matter of fact, I might just try that.


_MG_9066   _MG_9155


[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Astoria boats reflections Thu, 11 Oct 2012 03:04:26 GMT
Heading Up The River A couple of weeks ago a Holland America ad arrived in my email.  It suggested we should take a little four day cruise from Vancouver to San Diego - for a bargain price.  Sine I'm a sucker for both cruises and bargains, we did what seemed logical, and signed up!  We flew to Vancouver a week ago Sunday, boarded the Westerdam about 3:30 pm and set sail by 5:00 pm.

On Monday morning, about 11:00 the ship turned east, and started up the Columbia River, headed for the port of Astoria.  This first image was taken just as we entered the river.  According to several passengers we talked with, this area can often be fairly rough sailing, but on this day the sun was shining and the waters were smooth.


          It took us about 50 minutes to travel up river and dock at Astoria, and we had fun standing on deck checking things out along the way.

_MG_8945   _MG_8966


Our friends, Carol and Chris, live about three hours south on the Oregon coast.  Even though it was their anniversary weekend, they drove up to Astoria to see us, and spend a couple of days.  They picked us up soon after the ship docked around noon, and we had a great day taking pictures, eating, shopping, and just hanging out.  We needed to be back aboard by 7:30, but first we checked out their cool hotel room and balcony right on the river, and less than an eighth of a mile from the ship.  Although it was getting dark, the light was lovely, so we took a few pics from their balcony of our ship, and the beautiful four mile Astoria-Megler bridge that connects Astoria, Oregon to Point Ellice, Washington.  A pretty cool day!


_MG_9227   _MG_9234


[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Astoria Columbia River Oregon cruise Tue, 09 Oct 2012 02:02:16 GMT
More Excitement  


In an earlier blog post I related the story of a crew member being injured when our ship, Jewel of the Seas, hit a power line approaching the Faroe Islands.  The crew member was evacuated to a hospital on the islands, and after a couple of days he was flown home to recuperate.

One our next to last day of the cruise, we left yet another crew member in a foreign port.  On the morning of the 15th, Captain Steig announced there was a medical emergency with a crew member and that he had requested a helicopter evacuation from the Canadian Coast Guard.  We could expect a helicopter landing in about 30 minutes.  Then, about 20 minutes later we were told the helicopter evacuation request had been refused.  We weren't told why...I hope it was because they didn't have any available.

Now we would be diverting to the port of Halifax, meet a rescue boat just outside of the harbor, and transfer the crew member for transport to a hospital.  We later learned the crew member had suffered a burst appendix.  The captain said we would be able to view the transfer on deck 5 port side, and that the ship would need to list two degrees to port to accommodate the size difference in the two vessels. We watched a very efficient transfer, and passengers cheered as the rescue boat sped off toward shore.

After spending time and 500 extra miles to avoid two hurricane systems, hooking a power line and sustaining damage to the ship, and off-loading two crew members in foreign ports, I'm sure Captain Steig was quite happy to dock in Boston on the morning of September 16th.


[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Jewel of the Seas rescue ship Fri, 21 Sep 2012 18:56:03 GMT
Amazing Iceland Day 2 _MG_8618 For our second day in Iceland, we signed up for a ship's tour called "Action and Lobsters."  I'm not sure which was the biggest draw, the "action" or the lobsters, but it was an absolute blast. 

There were seven of us in an off-road vehicle that had tires almost as tall as me ...see the first photo here.    When the passenger door was opened, a little set of steps descended so the passengers could get in.  One big legs were too short to reach the bottom step!  So...Rich had to help me get a foot up on the step, then give me a not-very-graceful push on the butt so I could pull myself into the vehicle.  Not too bad a solution if I only had to get in one time, but of course that wasn't the case.  We were in and out of the vehicle several times during the day, and each time we had to go through this same slap-stick approach. Oh least we provided a little amusement for the rest of the group.


Our first stop was at the deepest lake in Iceland (no idea of it's name!) where our driver/vehicle owner took us down on the lava sand shore to see a very stark but intriguing landscape.  As we left, the driver made several attempts to get back up on the main road by climbing a hill that must have been about 75 degrees, but no dice!  We just couldn't quite make it to the top. Apparently we had too much air in our tires.  Great fun trying though!

_MG_8624 _MG_8613


Next we went to Krysuvik to walk around the Seltun geothermal area where we were treated to a very strong sulphur smell. The landscape is amazing, with craters,  mud pots, hot springs, and brightly hued soil.   We followed a gravel pathway around the field, and spent about 45 minutes exploring the area.


Our next stop was along the southern Icelandic shore at the "promise church," Strandarkirkja.  The story goes that some sailors were facing certain death at sea so they knelt in prayer and promised to build a church if they survived. Immediately they saw a light ashore, the fog lifted, and they made it safely to land.  That spot has been called "Angels Inlet" ever since, and the men kept their promise and built a church right there.  A short walk away is a rock wall which we climbed for a stunning view of Iceland's southern shore.


_MG_8668 _MG_8685

We continued our day by heading toward our lunch spot, but since we were early, we were treated to another exciting off road beach run...basically taking the long way to the restaurant.  Lunch was wonderful.  We had fresh, warm bread, fresh veggies, couscous, and two huge bowls of lobster tails and boiled potatoes...basically an "all you can eat" situation, which Rich took full advantage of.

After lunch our driver really got into the "off road" thing.  He cranked up Credence on the radio and off we went through the valley and crossing the river several times.  Water was flying everywhere, and so were the sheep who all decided running from us was their best chance for survival.  This was so much fun!  Then we headed up this huge hill, ending on top of the mid Atlantic ridge, and giving us some jaw dropping panoramas of southern Iceland.  What a great afternoon.  We finished by driving by a major power plant and geothermal field, and eventually arrived back at the dock about 30 minutes before sailing time.


_MG_8743   _MG_8739




[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Iceland church off-road Thu, 20 Sep 2012 18:20:59 GMT
Amazing Iceland When we chose this cruise, we were excited because we would have two days in Iceland, and now, after our visit I know I could happily come back, rent a car, and explore for a week or more!

On our first day, we signed up for a mini bus tour of "The Golden Circle" which covers some of the main geographic features of southern Iceland.  Both days were packed with information about the geology of the area...what an amazing place! Earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, huge waterfalls, lava _MG_8415 beds, stunning coastlines, and you can even visit the place where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet.

Our first stop was in a little shopping mall to visit a bakery/tourist store which is built over a fissure in the earth's surface.  The floor has plexiglass panels so you can look down into the (lighted) furrow that runs right underneath the store. Driving away from the store, we were shown a large hole in the ground...which is where a hot spring appeared right under a house...a house which was quickly moved to another location.

Our bus driver was intent on getting us to the main areas of interest before the bulk of the tour busses showed up, so we changed up the "usual" itinerary, and drove straight to Gullfoss,  a huge two tiered waterfall.  The tiers are at right angles to each other with the first tier dropping 11 meters, and the second 21 meters.  Pretty darn impressive!  The mist wafting up caused us to dry off our camera lenses several times.

_MG_8486 We left the waterfall and doubled back to see a field of geysers.  The "Old Geyser" is pretty much spent, but the "New Geyser" puts on quite a show, erupting every five or six minutes.  Our bus driver dropped us off at one end of the geyser field and we spent about 45 minutes walking through the field taking pictures and watching this marvel of nature.  _MG_8493

Our final stop in the "Golden Circle" was Thingvellir National Park, a huge rift valley where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet.  This is the crest of the Mid Atlantic ridge and a location which produces bursts of earthquake activity. Lake Thingvallatn is here, and the area is very fertile and rich in vegetation.  As you can see, it is also very picturesque.



Throughout the day I had seen beautiful Icelandic horses grazing in the fields, and I asked our driver/guide if we could possibly make a photo stop for the horses before returning to the ship.  So, on the way back to town, we stopped at a horse farm and the owner directed us to the field where he had just released the horses.  Once we stopped, the horses were very curious and friendly, and we spent about 20 minutes petting and photographing them...a fun end to our day!  I later learned that Icelandic horses have few diseases, and the law there prevents horses from being imported.   And... once a horse leaves Iceland, it cannot return.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Iceland geology geyser horses waterfall Thu, 20 Sep 2012 01:02:13 GMT
Faroe Islands  


What a great day!!  The Faroe Islands are absolutely stunning!  I would love to spend several days here just doing photography…the massive hillsides gently slanting towards the ocean, the beautiful green grass, the wonderful wooden fishing boats.  What a treasure trove!


Our day started somewhat abruptly with an announcement from the captain that there had been a serious accident.  Our ship had snagged a power line coming into the harbor and part of an antenna on the mast had broken off.  The falling debris had injured a crew member who had been evacuated to a local hospital.  All the info and charts available indicated there was a 60 meter clearance under the power lines, and the ship is only 54 meters, so all should have been fine - but one of the three power lines was sagging for some reason, and thus caught on the antenna.  The power line did not come down, and with the crew working all day, we were able to sail away from the Faroe Islands toward Iceland with only a one hour delay.  A later report from the captain indicated the crew member was doing OK, no surgery would be needed, and he was coherent and communicating.  Unfortunately, we would be leaving him behind to recuperate .


Rich and I had hired a private car and driver for the day, so we could make more stops for photography, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day.  We saw charming villages, stunning vistas, fishing boats, a church dating back to 1100, the oldest farmhouse in the islands, and absolutely beautiful scenery everywhere.








Our "be on board" time was 5:30, and just to be safe, I had asked our driver to have us back at 5:00.  I know that if you book an excursion privately (not through the cruise line) they have no responsibility to wait for you if you are late, and I sure didn't want to have to figure out how to get from the Faroe Islands to Iceland on our own!  Unfortunately, our driver somehow misjudged the time, and it became a mad dash to the ship at the end of the afternoon…with my stomach churning we arrived at the gangway at 5:28!!   I think we might have been the last two passengers to reboard the ship. Not the way I like to run my life!  Guess I missed the adventure gene along the way.  Then, after all that stress, the captain announced a one hour delay for our departure to finish repairs.  No matter, we had a terrific day and I would love to come back here again.

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Faroe Islands boats coastline colorful houses trans Atlantic Cruise, Sun, 16 Sep 2012 02:44:05 GMT

On our day in Dublin we elected to ride the HOHO bus to get an overview of the city, and to get to the Guiness Storehouse, since Rich had purchased tickets for their tour before we left home.


Dublin turned out to be a very busy big city…lots of people, cars, and busses.  I found it a bit daunting, not knowing exactly what I wanted to see.  So the HOHO seemed like a good choice, but to be honest, you don't really see much on the bus…just get an idea of what's there if you want to go back and investigate.


The Guiness Storehouse was huge, and pretty interesting.  We learned all about what makes Guiness so special, had a sample (very strong stuff!!!), had lunch ( Rich had a pint to go with), and visited the shop where Rich found a Guiness rugby shirt that seemed to be calling his name.


After the storehouse, we got back on the HOHO and decided to get off at the Kilmainham Gaol, a jail that housed leaders of the various rebellions in Irish history.  The tour was interesting…they actually housed an 8 year old girl for stealing a blanket to keep warm (she served six months in the laundry) and a 5 year old boy for stealing something to eat.  In addition, many leaders of the 1916 rebellion were housed there before their execution.  The prisoners were kept separate from each other, and absolute silence was required!


Our last stop on the HOHO put us in the shopping area (big surprise) where we each located an  Irish sweater that expressed a desire to become an American citizen.  






A fun day, but I'm thinking I'm really more drawn to the smaller Irish towns.



[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Dublin Guinness Kilmainham Gaol, Rich trans Atlantic Cruise, Thu, 13 Sep 2012 20:44:39 GMT
A Little Bit of Ireland

Today our ship docked in Cobh which is the port nearest the city of Cork.  We originally wanted to visit Kinsale, a charming little town about 40 minutes drive south of Cork, but couldn't find any viable way to get there and back in the time we had in port.  So, instead, we walked the little town of Cobh, which was new to us. This turned out to be a great choice, we enjoyed the town and a lovely lunch at a local restaurant, Gilbert's.


We loved the colorful houses stacked nearly on top of each other.  Someone directed us to a street of brightly colored  "deck houses" which get their name because they supposedly look like a deck of cards stacked one beside the other.  All the rows of color made for some fun photography as we sailed out of the harbor as well.


In addition there was a little tiny harbor with working fishing boats, and we enjoyed watching the men make their repairs and prepare to go out on the waters.  Wish I could have separated out some of the boats to photograph them, they were so bright and full of character.


Also, the town has a beautiful cathedral which sits at an elevation that's midway between the harbor side homes, and those on top of the hill.  It provides a beautiful contrast to the rows of homes forming neat little rows along the hillside.














[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Cobh Ireland boats colorful houses harbor trans Atlantic Cruise, Sat, 08 Sep 2012 18:14:40 GMT
Exploring Normandy


Day two of our transAtlantic cruise began in Le Havre, France.  We were fortunate enough to connect with two other couples on Cruise Critic prior to sailing, and we arranged to share a taxi and driver with them for the day.  Our plan was to see Honfleur, Deauville, Entretat, and whatever else we had time for.


Our driver, Christopher, picked us up at 8 am by the ship and off we went.  Christopher said he'd had 10 years of English in school, and we thought he did a beautiful job.


We began in Deauville, a resort area for the very rich and famous.  The houses were amazing…and they were mostly used just for summer holidays.  The town was in the midst of an American film festival, and apparently there had been a Brad Pitt sighting a few days earlier. The beach boardwalk has little beach "casitas" labeled with names of American film stars, and the sand is covered with colorful "planted" umbrellas waiting to be unfurled and become a little cabana for someone.  It was a pretty amazing sight.


From Deauville we drove to Honfleur which Rich and I had seen briefly on a river cruise a couple of years ago.  It's a wonderful little town, with a colorful harbor right in the center.  Christopher wanted us to see a beautiful old church on a hillside, then we spent almost two hours exploring.  It was market day, so that was fun…and we had lunch (crepes!) right on the harbor side. Loved it.


Finally we visited the shore at Entretat, an area famous for it's huge cliffs.  The beach was very rocky, much like Nice, and the cliffs were huge.  There were many who climbed the cliffs, but we didn't have the time (and for some of us, the inclination).


On the drive back home, we got a tour of the wealthy homes in Le Havre, and enjoyed more of Christopher's stories.  All in all, a great day!


[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Deauville Honfleur Normandy boats harbor umbrellas Tue, 04 Sep 2012 21:32:59 GMT
A Taste of London London Eye



After a real treat of a flight from San Diego to London (Business class, non-stop…thank you FF Miles!) we arrived in London mid afternoon, and checked in to our hotel at about 3:30.  Since we only had the rest of the afternoon to sightsee before picking up our cruise the next day, we headed out to walk along the Thames River to see some sights.  Love, love, love  the architecture, of course, and the Parliament Building and Big Ben are impressive. 


Tilted Windows


Finally, toward the end of the day we bought tickets to take the 25 minute ride on The London Eye, and take a 360 degree look at the city.  Our ride on the Eye was great!!  So glad we did this.  And it would have been even better without the three screaming little girls in out car.


Lambeth Castle Wall


[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Ben Big Eye of London, London architecture trans Atlantic Cruise Sat, 01 Sep 2012 18:02:00 GMT
Photographic Challenges Wine Translucence_5995


I've been taking on-line photography classes from Carol Leigh for many years now...she comes up with the most unique and challenging assignments, although some have been a little more crazy-making than others.  "Car Art" made me wonder what the heck she was thinking, but I ended up loving those photos. Unfortunately, "Ice" doesn't trigger the same fond memories.  We've done "Hearts" (turns out they're everywhere), "Architectural Detail," (another favorite) "Alpha Numeric,"  "Office Art," and "Faces In Unlikely Places," which I was not very good at spotting!  

Today I was working on "Edges" and "Translucence."  What do you think?_MG_5979

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Carol Leigh classes edges translucence Sun, 19 Aug 2012 00:13:26 GMT
OK, so I don't really need these... _MG_5892 ...but aren't they cute?  The other day Rich and I were in Bloomingdales (first time ever!) when I spotted these cute little Le Creuset individual pots.  And they were blue - my favorite color.  And they were on sale!  They were most definitely calling my name.  When I pointed them out to Rich, he'd already spotted them, and knew I'd want to give them a good home.  Not that we NEED one more piece of kitchen equipment, but obviously "need" isn't the operative word here.   So, now they're here...and after several tries we've managed to shuffle things around so they actually fit in one of the kitchen drawers.

Now the question is...what do I use them for?  They measure 3.5 inches across by 2 inches deep.  Are they big enough for soup bowls, maybe a French Onion soup?  Or, maybe they would be a good size for a chicken pot pie?  Never mind that I've never made a pot pie of any kind.  Perhaps individual potato gratins?  What shall I try first?

[email protected] (Pics by CJ) Le Creuset kitchen Sun, 05 Aug 2012 22:25:38 GMT