Hello and welcome to my Blog!
I have established this as a means to keep Family and Friends informed about what the heck I am thinking/doing these days! I also hope it might serve as a chronicle of sorts to my Daughter one day.
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Sunday, March 13, 2016
Recently, we decided to spend a night in a Seattle Hotel that we had actually toured some 20 years ago...thinking we would stay there sometime during that 1996 summer. At that time, we were relatively recently married and we were enjoying different romantic places to stay throughout the Northwest. If I recall correctly, the places we were exploring were from a book titled "The 50 Most Romantic Places To Stay In The Northwest". We stayed at the "Inn At Langley", "The Channel House", (in Depot Bay) "The Sorrento Hotel", (in Seattle) and the "Four Seasons River Inn" (in Leavenworth) just to name a few.
I recall that none of these places were cheap. In fact, they were all quite exclusive and like most things, you get what you pay for! So, when I called and booked our 1 night stay at the "Inn At The Market", a half block away from the Pike Place Market, I found myself wishing I was paying the 1996 rate!
We arrived early on a Sunday morning and were able to check in early. We loved the location of this place as everything that we would be visiting or doing, would be within walking distance of the hotel. If you are spending the day in and around Pike Place or Post Alley, there is no better Hotel to stay in. The bed was ridiculously comfortable, the room modern and spotless, and the bathroom was the nicest I had ever stepped into! During the summer, the outside, 5th floor terrace gives a fantastic view of Pike Place and the entire Bay....looking all the way across to Alki.
View from our room
Later that afternoon our daughter and her boyfriend met up with us and hung out. We all enjoyed some fresh market food...clam chowder, fresh crab, some french pastry's...good stuff! I had planned on getting over to Alki Beach around sunset, to try to capture a night skyline photo of Seattle. It was raining, but I had never photographed Seattle from Alki and I figured since we were so close, why not take 30 minutes and get a few photos! We got into my daughter's car and drove to Alki, where I snapped off a few photos as the cloudy skies darkened over the Emerald City.
Seattle skyline from Alki
We then spent 20 minutes trying to decide where to have dinner. My daughter's boyfriend, Darren, said he had heard great things about an Italian place called "The Pink Door" near our hotel. We all agreed we should give it a try and within about 20 minutes, we were back in the area of Post Alley, and walking into the restaurant thru it's pink door! We enjoyed a truly fantastic meal at this highly regarded Italian restaurant. Fresh pasta, fantastic sauces, Limoncello...perfect little doughnut things with a hazelnut dipping sauce for dessert...amazing! We congratulated Darren on his highly successful recommendation!
My daughter and her boyfriend said goodbye and headed back home, as we walked back to our Hotel room. It had been a very pleasant day, rain or not...and we still had the next morning to shop at the Market and pick up flowers...something Sandi never leaves Pike Place without!
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Driving up Mt Rainier
For some time, I had planned on taking some "winter" photos in the Cascade Mountains, and figured I would do some snowshoeing or hiking to get a less than "common" photo of Mt Rainier and the surrounding area. When I told my wife of my plans, she said she had not been up to Mt Rainier in the winter for many years and wondered if she might tag along. She advised me that she did not want to hike in "the cold snow", (She shivers just looking at a picture of snow) but would love to go along for the ride. We decided to ask our daughter to come with us, and we made it a family trip! So....snowshoeing was out!
We took our time driving through Orting and up into the Cascade Mountains where we enjoyed a sunny day and virtually dry roads all the way to the Paradise Visitors Center. I wanted to catch Mt Rainier in the more interesting, evening light, but discovered that the road past Longmire would be closed at 5 pm!
As we made our way toward the top, we stopped and I hurriedly snapped off a few photos from a roadside Viewpoint I believe was "Glacier Vista Viewpoint"? (Hike/climb up as high as you can opposite the view from where others simply snap pictures from...the extra 10 or 20 feet of elevation will really help your composition!) The lighting was quite nice and the view was beautiful. Back to the car! Let's go!
The drive to Paradise was a bit longer than any of us remembered (We hadn't been up there for about 15 years!) and we got to Paradise at around 4:45 pm. I took a few more photos from an area just off the parking lot at Paradise and we took a bit of time to just enjoy the view of the majestic and snow covered Mt Rainier.
The time constraints prevented me from setting up a tripod and composing anything fancy or "unique", but Mt Rainier National Park is simply beautiful in the winter and getting a few good photos is hardly a challenge.
As the sun started to set, we headed down the mountain. We stopped and snapped a few more photos but as we descended, we lost the glorious, snow laden branches of the Douglas Fir trees, and the otherwise heavy snow that we enjoyed at the higher altitudes. We enjoyed the leisurely drive home and ended our day with dinner at a local sushi restaurant.
We had not been out for an extended "scenic drive" as a family for some time, and the consensus was...it was a great day! Below are a couple photos I took on our drive to..."Paradise"!
Glacier Vista Viewpoint
Paradise Visitors Center Area
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
So I haven't been much for writing the past few months. Seems the Holidays and some of Life's twists and turns took me a bit off guard and before I knew it...2016!
I have been contemplative and at the same time, attempting to plan a few adventures and family travels for the coming year. Through it all, I have thought much about my elderly In-Laws, and the care my wife has needed to provide them, and I have thought more about my own Father...all of whom faced significant challenges in 2015...Unfairly, I might add.
World events and society in general have left me confused, and less hopeful than I have been in the past. Some days, when I put on my boots and head out the door for work, well...I just don't know.
Over the past year or so, I have begun listening to my CD collection during my daily workouts. Recently, while jamming to some STYX, a song snuck up on me and really struck a chord. I will let it speak for itself.
Show Me The Way
Saturday, October 24, 2015
I was asked if I would do some "Senior Pictures" for Haley, by her Grandmother. When I first met with Haley to get a feel for who she was and what she had in mind, I remember her saying, "Well, I am a wrestler"! What?!?!!
We talked for a while and she spoke of her fondness for her Grandmothers house and property, where she had spent so much time growing up. We decided that we would spend a little time at her Grandmothers to capture her in the surroundings that she grew up with. We talked about a few other possibilities, especially if it was raining. As luck would have it, we never had to implement the "rain session" plans, but we were ready to!
Over the next week or so, Haley would send me a couple of pictures that she wanted to emulate. One of these photos depicted a stern-faced High School football player, harshly lit, in a locker room. It was a great photo and quite powerful in its effect. She wondered if we could do something similar with her, in her wrestling gear. I agreed that it was a dramatic photo and told her, "let's set it up"!
For our first session, I met with Haley at her school, with Sandi acting as my assistant. We had obtained permission to use the girls locker room to take the photos and Haley made sure the coast was clear! No fake back drops here!!
We shot a few dozen photos in the cramped space of the locker room, with me setting up the tripod and taking the photos from inside the showers! The harsh, flash lighting was a bit tricky, but we got it done and I was happy with the pics that I reviewed on the camera's small LCD screen.
Now, Haley had been pretty casual in appearance when I first met her, and she looked pretty formidable in the locker room, giving me her "all business" look! (I wanted her "I am going to pin you" face!) When I met her at her Grandmother's place a couple weeks later to do some location portraits, and she came out of one of the bedrooms, I actually didn't recognize her for a few moments! The confident, fit, competitive wrestler I had taken photos of, appeared to have transformed into a feminine and very beautiful lady!
We walked around the expansive property and captured a few photos in places that Haley was fond of, dodging a bit of rain in the process.
I had a great time capturing a few different "sides" of Haley. When taking "portraits", I try to capture my subject's character, or personality and often this is accomplished with impromptu, candid photos that capture the subject relaxed and being themselves. Oftentimes they are not even looking at the camera!
Here a a few of my favorites from her photo shoots, both planned and candid.
Friday, September 11, 2015
Thunderstorm rolling into Panama City as seen from atop Cerro Ancon
Part of my rather "Trip Filled" year, was a visit to Panama back in September.
I had asked Sandi, almost a year ago, if she wanted to take a trip to Panama. Her Mother is native to Panama and met her Father while he was serving there while in the U.S Army. She has always balked at the idea of going back...perhaps because it had been so long since she had left there.
Sandi left Panama when she was 11 years old and had not been back since. I have always wanted us to connect with her family there, as Sandi's Mom is the only one (of her siblings) that left to live in the U.S.
On a night when she was in an especially receptive mood, I asked her about taking our vacation there this year. When she agreed that it "might" be fun to do so, I got on Expedia, checked out Hotel Reviews, discovered i could get a great price on airfare and booked the trip! The next morning she was more than a bit surprised when I told her I had locked us in for Panama. She told me, "I didn't know you were going to go book it! Yep, I did.
Long story shot, she connected with a couple cousins via Facebook and let them know we were coming. One of those cousins, Amett, would faithfully message Sandi and stayed in touch for the months leading up to our visit. He and another cousin of Sandi's, Malvira, would prove to be wonderful friends (and cousins!) and would make our trip incredibly memorable.
I will not attempt to condense the experience of this trip into a blog post. There was simply too much in the way of experiences, sights, and family connections to explain and properly write about.
I will say this. In over 20 years of marriage, I have never seen Sandi smile as much or as big...and have never seen her moved so deeply, as I did during this trip to Panama. She was able to retrace her beloved "Mama's" steps both figuratively and literally. She walked through "Mi Pueblito", her Mother's favorite place to visit every time she went back to Panama. She saw and re-connected with Cousins and Aunts and Family that welcomed her as their own...as though she had never left. She smelled the jungle, enjoyed the food and re-discovered the sights and sounds of Panama...the Panama that for the most part, had not changed much (outside of Panama City) since she had left. She visited her Great Grandmother's house where she played as a little girl and chased chickens...and there are still chickens there! She put her hands on her Mama's hand prints still preserved in the cement floor of a house built by her Parents, that sadly, no longer remains in the family. These were special moments and often, very emotional experiences. I think she had forgotten how "Panamanian" she is.
It was the first time I can remember, that Sandi was not ready to come home at the end of a trip.
Rather than even attempt to tell the story, I will select a few special photos and caption them. It will provide a glimpse into our experience in Panama.
I went through approximately 900 photos taken between the two of us, edited a ton of them and put together a 109 page Photo Book from Shutterfly, so that Sandi would always have a chronicle of the trip. I will post a pic here of the prologue contained in the book as well as the cover "quote". A picture (or several) is worth a thousand words...and saves me ALOT of writing in this case!
Front Cover of the Photo Book
Prologue in the Photo Book
Leaving Miami, heading to Panama
Arrival at the Airport in Panama! Sandi and Malvira. Two peas in a pod!
Sandi and Amett
Outside the Food Stand where we ate our first meal upon arriving in Panama City
Waterfront. Panama City
Church In Casco Viejo
We visited Many Old Churches In The Old Part Of Town
Old Town vs New Panama City
Tablet describing the idea of a Canal through Panama by the French (Plaza Francia)
Graffitti In Casco Viejo
Closeup of Casco Viejo, from atop Cerro Ancon
Nighttime, Casco Viejo
School Kids In Uniform
Malvira and Sandi, Late Night Talk
Portobello, Panama Cannons defended the Port from Pirates seeking gold in the 1700's
School girls in Portobello, Panama
School girls in Portobello, Panama
Portobello...just over the Old Forts' Walls. My favorite photo of the trip.
Portobello "convenience store"!
Ghetto, Panama City
Sandi in the Hotel Lobby
Sandi and Amett, Trump Tower, Panama City
Mama's hand prints and Name (Evida) in the cement
Family in Penenome! Pablo, Joyce, Malvira, Jaja and Sandi
Family in Penenome! Pablo, Joyce, Malvira, Jaja and Sandi
Night View from our Hotel. Downtown Panama City
Best cake I have ever eaten. (I had 4 pieces)
Jungle near Gamboa, Panama
Men's Room, Hard Rock Hotel, Panama City
Old Tower at the ruins of Panama Viejo, a medieval town of sorts
Another view from the tower looking down at what would have been a small village
Saying goodbye to Panama
I will try to update the captions and organize these pictures a bit better, until then these will give you an abbreviated visual of our trip!