"For me, photography is my yoga, Taking photographs puts me in a relaxed, focused state of mind, forgetting the daily riggers of life. "
Welcome to my travels blog.
I have made many travels in my past but have never written about them. Of course most of my travels have been made before blogging was around. Now that it is, I thought I'd take advantage of it as many are doing.
I just recently bought a 19' travel trailer which will be my new 'photo-shop' for my domestic travels and photo taking. I look forward to showing off some of my favorite photos from my trips domestic and international in this blog. The majority of the others will be in a gallery section of my portfolio.
So let's begin as of............
August 20, 2016
This was my first time taking the trailer out for a test run. This RVing is all new to me and is a huge learning curve. I wanted to test drive it and take it someplace close by (Emma Long Park here in Austin) to make sure all was functioning inside and out. It went well and all tested out 100%!
We got some rain. Was surprised how well the awning kept the rain off the covered area. Thought it would soak thru but it didn't. Was able to sit under it the whole time it rained. Very nice! After it rained the sun came out. I noticed how nice the rain drops clung to the tree leaves with the sun shining thru the leaves and rain drops. Photo op!! Here are a couple of shots:
After the photo op, it was time to grill my steak filet with my salad and of course a glass of wine or two:)
Thanks for viewing my first trip. I look forward to my next one soon and hope you join me for that one too! Chow
September 2-5, 2016
Labor Day week-end (took Friday off so had an extra day). This was my first long trip with my new RV. A 9 hour drive from Austin (well, I did make 4 stops, only drove 65mph and had a nice lunch at a rest stop for a while in my trailer). Stayed at a small RV park in Fort Davis for hook-ups. All went well and really enjoyed:)
West Texas, Davis Mountains. Beautiful scenery and great climate.
It's also home to McDonald's Observatory. At night, it's the darkest spot in North America, hence, putting this observatory here. I took my first 'astrological' photos. Have to say, I need a bit more practice:(
Got some pretty decent photos but nothing to really write home to mom about as they say:)
All and all had a great trip and look forward to my next one! Keep in touch.
September 16-18, 2016
Took another quick 3 day week-end to head down to Huntsville State Park which is a part of Sam Houston National Forest. About a 4 hour drive (normally about 3 if your not pulling a trailer). Very beautiful, however, the weather was very humid which put a 'damper' on the trip. Tried to make the most of it and still enjoy it. Got a few nice pics, did some reading and a lot of relaxing which is hard to do in humid air. Didn't just want to sit in the trailer with the windows closed and air conditioning on. Could have been at home to do that. Anyway, did some hiking and picture taking. Here are a few I like:
Have a few more you can see, just click on any of the pics above and it'll take you to the gallery.
So, again, all and all was great (but the humidity). Loving the trailer:) See you on the next trip!
October 25-28, 2016
Well, it's been a while since my last trip and good to be back. That's the problem when one still works full time. Not complaining about work mind you, but one's mind is always some place else, at least mine is.
This time it's magnificent Caddo Lake in northeast Texas bordering Louisiana. It was about a 7 hour drive from Austin. Can't believe I drive over 7 hours and I'm still in the same state. The lake is primarily bayou, especially on the Texas side which makes it a photographers paradise. Some of the beautiful and unique vegetation had already expired unfortunately. The leave colors were just starting to turn just a bit. It's been a warm Fall for us causing the little leave change color that we do get, is later this year. I rented a guide (don't try this by yourself....can very easily get lost) to take me around at sunrise and again around sunset. Anytime actually would be really good in this situation.
I would strongly recommend Caddo Lake as a 'go to' place. I stayed in the Caddo Lake State Park which is also very nice. Great picture opportunities there too with a water inland with beautifully cypress. Canoe rentals avail of course...and you won't get lost:).
Anyway, here are a few pics. Hope you take to time to view the entire gallery. Sorry for too many pics but had a hard time editing down.
My next trip is planned between Christmas and New Years to White Sands New Mexico area. Hope the weather will be nice and not too cold:)
Till then, Happy Holidays and Be Safe!
December 25-31, 2016
Well, it's been a while, but finally got a chance to take a few days off and head West to New Mexico again. Spent some time in the White Sands and surrounding areas. The weather was great for this time of the year......low 60's in the afternoon and mid to upper 30's at night.
White sands was pretty awesome. Very unique. Definitely recommend it. Depending on the crowds, you may have to do some hiking out in the more remote areas to get some decent shots of some undisturbed sands. Some very nice vegetation in some parts also.
Also took a drive up to Mescalero and Ruidoso, then up to Ski Apache on Mount Blanca, then over to a lava flow that occurred about 1500 years ago, The Malpais Nature Trail, outside of the town of Carrizozo. It's pretty much covered with local vegetation but still interesting to check out.
Here are a few pics from White Sands. You'll see the other locations in the Gallery site.
Again, another wonderful trip. Getting to be winter time even here in Austin, TX, so probably will lay low till Spring. Want to take the trip I wanted to take last Spring.....Gran Tetons, Moab and Monument Valley. So hope to make it this Spring........stay tuned:)
February 18-20, 2017
OK! 2017! Been a real warm winter here in Texas, so just a quick trip to a state park not too far from Austin, Inks Lake. Never been there, heard a lot of nice things about it, been meaning to go there but every time I tried to book a site, always 'NONE' available. It's a popular family spot.
OK, a popular spot but after going there......not my style. First of all, not really a unique spot for unique photo ops (and that is my primary objective) but knew that so I made it just an R&R, get out of town type trip.
It's a nice enough area and surroundings but it's a HUGE RV site. 60+ RV sites not to mention a number of cabins and of course tent sites. I felt like I was in a middle of a huge suburbia community. And this was OFF season! So needless to say, this is not my type of 'hang-out'.
They do have some nice typical Central Texas geography type trails. Some trails have a decent shot of the lake, but nothing to write home to mom about. The nicest as far as a decent photo op was the Valley Spring Creek Waterfall Trail. If you're lucky enough to catch it when it's flowing (which may not happen mid summer) you can get a nice waterfall shot:
So all in all a nice R&R couple of days and was able to come back with a couple of decent pics.
My next BIG adventure will be in mid May. Taking 3 weeks off to head up to Wyoming for the Grand Tetons, then down to Utah for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, then over to Arizona for Monument Valley. And last but not least Antelope Canyon. Really looking forward to that trip and hope you come back for some pics from all that. Till then.....Happy Shooting!
May 13 - June 2, 2017
Hi! Good to be back! 20 days on the road and 3,760 miles.
Quite the adventure! Left Texas for Wyoming, to Utah and Arizona and then back to Texas. Happy to report all went well with a couple of small hiccups.
Did have a flat on my truck the first day. Fortunately it was a slow leak. A small town was 5 miles away and was able to make it to a tire repair just in time in that it was flat when I got there. They patched it and I was on the road again in 2 hours.
The weather was great the whole trip.
Bit cold one night in Wyoming at the Tetons. Got down to 21 degrees. Froze my pipes but happy to say no damage was done when they thawed out. Lots of blowing sand in the desert regions of Utah and Arizona but the temps were comfortable.
My first stop was the Grand Teton National Park. Pretty awesome mountain range. Again, it's not the Alps, but still awesome. Snowed off and on a couple of days which hindered the view but had enough breaks to get some decent shots:
After 3 days at the Tetons, was time to move to warmer climate, so off to the Arches and Canyon Lands. Did 5 days there dry camping. Had no reservation but got VERY lucky and got a nice spot at Goose Island Campground (which was the spot I was hoping for!). Used my generator on the 4th day for a few hours to charge up the bats.
The Arches too were awesome. Big crowds already for being fairly early in the vacation season but hey, what can ya do?
The Canyon Lands was nice but didn't spend much time there. Vast overviews which are great depending on sunrise and sunset. Helps if you have nice cloud formations too which I didn't have. My big disappointment was the iconic Mesa Arch sunrise shot. Got there about 30 minutes prior to sunrise and was shocked to see already a throve of people. Asked one couple what time they got there--said 4am.......2 and a half hours before sunrise! I did the best I could for the spot I was able to finagle.
One more thing I'd like to mention about Moab. There is a VERY beautiful15 mile scenic drive (Route 128) that runs along the Colorado River. Highly recommend that drive. Also has a very nice trailhead hike (Negro Bill Canyon)
After 5 days in Moab, I'm looking forward to Monument Valley and all the classic icons there.
I spent 3 days there and enjoyed every minute of it Got some decent sunrise and sunset shots. The drive thru Monument Valley Drive was awesome but very rugged. Would not recommend using your own vehicle unless it has a fairly high clearance. You won't need 4 wheel drive. Try not to take the tours. Very expensive and doesn't give you many stops. Seems almost impossible to try and shoot as the vehicle is moving in that it's so bumpy.
After 3 days in Monument Valley, I'm eager to get to my last stop......Antelope Valley.....been really looking forward to see how well I do with this challenging setting.
My first stop was Horse Shoe Bend. Real happy with the shots I got. Recommend the sunrise over the sunset shot. Careful not to get too close to the edge.....no guard rails......it's a long way down!
I took two photographer tours. One day the Upper Valley and the second day the Lower Valley. Glad I did, both very nice. Even though I paid extra for a photographers group, you still have to deal with the general crowd, and I do mean CROWD! A real zoo. The only advantage with a photographers tour was they held the crowd back for a couple of minutes so you can get a clean shot. Your have to shoot quick and hope for the best. It's a challenging shoot. Shoot in manual on a tripod, low iso, evaluative exposure setting. If the highlights look too overexposed, bracket down a stop. The shoots will come out a bit dark in the shadows but shooting in Raw with bring them up. Shooting low iso (100) will hold those shadows well. Think considering all the obstacles I came away with some pretty decent shots:
So after 3 days in Page, it was time to head back home.
It would be a 3 day drive but I was eager to make it in 2 to get off the road and sleep in my 'other' bed. So I drove about 13 hours the first day and 14 hours the second. Pulled in my driveway bout 8p. Just enough light left in the day to unhitch and straighten up a few things.
This trip has been a real blessing. Enjoyed it very much. Have gotten pretty used to the travel trailer now. It's been a real champ. Have about 4,500 miles on it for it's first year. Look for many more in the near future. Still have a couple of weeks vacation time. I need to have my 'international fix'. Will leave my trailer home and fly to Hong Kong for 9 days in November. That will make for some wonderful pics for sure:) Hope to share with you right here shortly thereafter......
......till then, thanks for visiting!
October 7, 2017
Took an unexpected quick trip this week-end. Received a photo pass to shoot Miss Tanya Tucker giving a show at the House Pasture Cattle Co. in Concan, TX. Was a 378 mile roundtrip. Powered my RV up a couple of days prior to my departure Saturday morning. Was about a 3 hour drive through mostly Texas Hill Country. Arrived about 1p and was able to park my truck and RV along side Tanya's tour bus and her bands tour bus. The show that evening was great. Tanya Tucker was always one of my favorite country western stars. She's aged some as we all do:) but still performs well and with great energy.
Just before the show she signed my book of her autobiography and also gave me a signed CD of her favorite his........awfully kind of her. I spend the night at the site, got up the next morning a both buses were 'back on the road again'
I made myself a nice Sunday breakfast and then left for home. All and all a nice quick trip......always happy to get the RV 'on the road again'.
Next trip (without the RV) in 3 weeks is my 9 day Hong Kong trip!!
November 6-14, 2017
Hong Kong! So what can I NOT say about this mega city. It has all the excitement, charm, glamour and fascination as any major international city and more. I really enjoyed my brief time there and found it to be one of the more interesting cities of all the places I've been in my life thus far. I was there for 8 days. After about 3 days I felt pretty much like a local:) It's pretty easy to get acclimated to this large city since almost all the signs are in both English and Chinese, something you don't have in most other foreign cities. Also, I do have to say I felt safer in Hong Kong with all my camera gear than I do in most American cities including the town of Austin where I live. Having strict laws has something to be said for. The public transportation system is THE BEST system I've ever used. It is a real people mover! It can get you anywhere quickly and efficiently. On top of that it's cheap and very clean. Between the subway, trams, busses, ferries and taxis, you can get from point A to point B in no time. There are lots of sky walkways and can pretty much take you anywhere without even walking the streets. I walked from my Air BnB apartment in the Soho district to the ferries completely with sky walkways.......amazing! People are friendly and are not much different than in any other large city like New York, London or Paris....they just move quickly. The traffic is not so bad either due to the excellent public transportation system. Most of the traffic is composed of busses, trams and taxis.
That's not to say I didn't do much walking.....I know I walked at least 50 miles the 8 days I was there......that's an average of over 5 miles a day. Carrying a large DSLR, a couple of lenses, tripod and support gear (had a hard time leaving my long lens at home but now glad I did) in a back pack with water, walking up and down hills 12 hours a day makes you happy just to get back to the apartment at the end of the day for sure:) The only bad thing I have to say is that it was cloudy and hazy pretty much the entire time I was in the Hong Kong area. The only sunny day I had was on the island of Lantau visiting the fishing village of Tai O and the Po Lin Monastery along with the Big Buddha Tian Tan in Ngong Ping.
Also spent a day in the city of Macau. It's considered the 'Las Vegas' of China. They do have some pretty interesting and large casinos. The larger ones are across the bay from Macau in Taipa. I just stayed in Macau. The thing I liked most about Macau was the Portuguese influence that is still left from the colonial days in that area by the Portuguese. Beautiful cobble stone streets everywhere!
Kowloon (an extension of Hong Kong) across Victory Bay, is also a very bustling city. It's transportation system is just as elaborate and efficient (minus the trams). It's easier walking in that you don't have the hills to contend with.
Also took a day to visit the south island of Hong Kong in two towns, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen. They call Aberdeen a miniature Hong Kong. It was originally larger than Hong Kong itself hundreds of years ago.
Even spending 8 days in Hong Kong is not enough time to take in the whole flavor of the area. I feel I just touched the surface. The first time in any new city I visit, I just feel like a tourist and just do and take pictures as a tourist would. If I were to go there again (or to any other city I've been to before), I would photograph it differently. It was a great adventure and will cherish the experience the rest of my life! What next internationally? Thinking about it each day......St. Petersburg, Russia.....La Paz, Bolivia.....Vietnam....Morocco.......back to China? I also want to get back in my RV. Miss it a lot. Hope to take it out over New Years 3 day week-end weather permitting to maybe Lake Charles, Louisiana. Some many places to go and so little time..............
April 16-26, 2018
Morocco......what an adventure......4 unique cities in about 2 weeks. Most have walked at least 60 miles within all those days but loved every minute of it! Left Austin 4:30am Saturday, drove to Houston, flew from Houston to Madrid, then Madrid to Casablanca......long trip!
My first stop was Marrakesh. Landed in Casablanca. Took the train from the airport to Marrakesh. Was about about a 4 hour ride. It was school vacation for the kids so the train was FULL of vacationers. Ended up having to stand in the outside aisle for the entire trip but the view was nice:) Beautiful rolling hills mostly green due the amount of rain they were receiving this year. Arrived in Marrakesh about 6:30 Monday evening, stayed in the medina (old town) and had a very nice room in my riad (hotel). Stayed 4 days....people were friendly (but DID NOT like photos taken of them), food was wonderful, weather was nice for the most part and the architecture was beautiful.
After 4 days it was time to go to my second stop......Fez. Again I took the train.....this was an 8 hour ride......not as crowded:) Fez medina is much like Marrakesh's but larger and much more hectic and easier to get lost (more than 8000 alleyways). Spent 3 days here and enjoyed getting lost......well, sort of:) There was always a local to help you find your way to the main street or any location you were looking for but of course for a price.....mostly a couple of dollars unless they were a 'professional' (usually defined by age of the person and/or they carry a mobile with earphones connected to their ear probably to communicate with their other 'guide' partners). Again, interesting sights and beautiful architecture.
Again, after 3 days, was off to my 3rd stop......the Pearl City of Morocco, Chefchaouen, also known as the Blue City for many of its homes and alleyways painted in blue.
Took a bus this time.....not bad, pretty comfortable and was none stop (with quick pit stop 2 hours into the ride). Again, beautiful scenery. Going to higher elevation. Chefchaouen sits nestled against the Rif Mountains running east-west in Northern Morocco. Morocco has another and larger mountain range, The Atlas Mountains that run north-south along the eastern part.
I really enjoyed Chefchaouen. I knew I would in that it's much smaller, less hectic......and you can't get lost! It's a bit off the beat and trail but well worth the effort to spend a couple of days. A very charming town......if you go, make it a point to climb up the hill to the small Spanish chapel for a tremendous view of the entire town and mountains. It's about a 20 minute walk and not strenuous at all. The central market has some very good restaurants.
And last but not least, Casablanca. After a 4.5 hour bus ride back to Fez from Chefchaouen and then another 4.5 train ride from Fez to Casablanca, I arrived about 8p to my hotel. I only spent one day in Casablanca since I was not interested seeing a huge hectic city after two weeks on the road to my previous stops, however, I HAD to see the mosque.....Hassan II Mosque.....and WELL worth it! It was astonding. The only mosque that I have seen that even comes close is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Republic.....of course they are two very different styles and culture.
So, thus ended a great adventure.....enjoyed experiencing and learning more about a different culture. Time to come back home and adjust back to mine......but first another even longer trip back home most of being having to overnight at the Miami airport for my connecting flight to Houston and then the 2 hour drive home......oh well.....it was all worth it:)
As always, if anyone has any specific questions about these cities of Morocco, don't hesitate to email me and I'll do my best to give you my perspective on what I have learned.
My next trip I'm hoping for will be in mid-October with my 'photo-shop' trailer to hopefully catch the leaves changing in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park and then over to America's Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown area. Hope you all come back for that........safe travels!
October 5-22, 2018
Well, October arrived. Time to take the little camper (my photo shop) out 'on the road again'. I had all my plans finalized to take my first trip heading to the Eastern part of the US (Virginia) for the first time, however, a good friend of mine passed away in California so I changed my plans to go up to the Lake Tahoe area where his family were going to spread his ashes. I had some time before this so I decided to stop off at Joshua Tree National Park which is along the way, for a couple of days. Fascinating area for photos of the Joshua Trees and rock formations. Camping I found is pretty difficult if you have a trailer camper. Luckily mine is pretty small so I was able to find a spot. It's best for small motor homes or tents. The weather was perfect, mid 70's in the afternoon and mid 40's at night.....dry crisp air. Lots of photo opportunities. Hiking trails easy to moderate. Highly recommend two or three days in the park.
Then it was off to Nevada/California. I stayed with friends in Nevada just on the southeast side of Lake Tahoe. Spent a few days with them. They placed his ashes in a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. A couple of days I went with my friends son who is also a very good photographer. He specializes in wildlife and landscapes. He took me out to get a couple of wildlife shots. Hard to get any real good shots with a 70-200mm......one needs at least a 600mm, but he taught me a couple of tricks and was able to get me close enough to get a great shot of a hawk. Later, we drove to a couple of places on Lake Tahoe and spent a few hours taking some shots of 'the Blue Lake' as the locals call it. Been to Lake Tahoe a couple of times before but never get tired of it's beauty.
So after a few days with my friends I started my trip back home, but did make one more stop for photos to the Indio National Forest outside of Bishop, CA. I got there late morning and drove outside of the town making my way up the mountain hoping to catch some fall colors. I did have some luck since some of the Aspens had not all dropped their leaves.
The next day I got up early and headed for the LONG trip back home......3 days of driving 10-11 hours each day. Overnighted at highway rest areas. All went well and enjoyed the entire trip. Travelled 4,016 miles round trip:) Hopefully next October I'll make that trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains to catch the fall colors there. Don't know if I'll be taking too many trips next year. My daughter got engaged to be married next summer so I'm saving my money for that.....but, we shall see:) Keep in touch!