Posted on June 24, 2019
At some point in your life, you tend to come up with a bucket list of things you would like to do, and you set out to achieve them. Most of my bucket list has involved traveling, and we have done a fair bit of it. We have traveled through Europe, done more traveling in the USA than I ever imagined us doing, and I still continue to look for places to visit.
One of the places on my bucket list for the USA was Niagara Falls. To be honest I really did not think that we would get there any time soon. However, 2 weeks ago my 2 work colleagues and I headed up to Rochester, New York for training for a program we are in the process of implementing in our offices.
I knew that if we were going to go all the way up there, we needed to make time to do the trip to the Falls. We had to fly up the day before to be there to start training the next day at 9am. So with some creative planning I figured if we caught the 5:30am flight to Rochester via Atlanta we would have enough time to drive to Niagara Falls and back before it was too late in the day.
Of course, I am the furthest from the airport, so I woke up at 3am and began my hour drive. It becomes a very long day when you only get back to the hotel at 9pm but it was well worth every minute that we took to go out there.
On recommendation we decided to drive along the 401, the scenic route, through small towns and farmland. The downside is always the changing speed but the towns were pretty and it was good to be able to see them. Florida is one housing community after another and this was definitely a change of pace.
The day was bleak, cold, windy and overcast, which leaves the images feeling just a little gray. My first view of Niagara Falls took my breath away. The falls are amazing and the force of water going over the falls was just incredible. Water is so incredibly powerful.
Some moments you just had to stop and stare. The image below is one of those moments. Due to the wind there was a lot of water spray coming off the falls and it leaves this hazy effect.
While we heard that the view from the Canadian side of the falls was spectacular, one of us did not have a valid passport, so there was no slipping into Canada to view the falls. However, I suggested that we head down the elevator and take a boat ride into the bay.
I realized that potentially there would be some water. I have a rain sleeve for my camera. What I did not realize was just how much water there would be and how misty the images would look, partially from the water in the air and partially from the amount was water sitting on my the front of my lens.
My thirty minutes technically ends here, but I did want to make the trip one blog post and so I have shared the rest of our days outing.
There was constant wiping of the lens, and doing my best to keep my camera dry. I will admit I had a few worrying moments when my camera started blinking at me. For a while I put it under my rain poncho and did nothing, but the beauty of the place had me pulling it back out again.
We were seriously wet. My colleagues managed to stay slightly drier than I did. I found it difficult to try and focus on the camera and have the hoodie slipping around my face, so eventually I just lost the hood and decided to allow my hair to get wet. I carry a mini brush with me so at least I could tidy up my hair at the end of the ride.
The last image before I put my camera under cover was this boat coming out of the falls.
Arriving back on the base we had the option to walk up this pathway to get closer to the falls. At the base we were already getting wet, I could not imagine taking my blinking camera up closer to the falls.
Back at the top I resonated on what I had seen from the top and the bottom of these incredible falls. If you have the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls, I would encourage you to do so. We still had 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive back to Rochester. We took the lake road, and so now at least I can say that I visited and touched the water of one of the great lakes, Lake Ontario. To be honest there was not a lot to see along the lake road, but we happened to stop in one small town for dinner. Being the planner, I researched the menu before recommending the stop. I had a cup of lobster bisque to warm me up, and then my all time favorite calamari. I have to be honest the last stretch of the road trip was catching up with me and I was happy when we arrived back in Rochester at the hotel.
Thank you for joining us for another month of 30 Minutes. Just a reminder that this is a circle blog. We have a number of new ladies join the 30 minutes group, making us now 14 bloggers, and so I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Caroline of Elles & Eux Photographie , and see what she has for you this year. I am pretty excited to learn more about these wonderful ladies from all over the world. I would certainly encourage you to visit their pages.
Posted on June 3, 2019
Yes I know it says May, and it is now June, but truth is we delayed it one week so that we would all have a chance to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. For me it was an awesome 11 days of vacation. 5 of those days were spending in the stinking hot sun down in the Florida Keys. Phew, when shade is at a minimum, happy hour seems to be the way to go. But more about that another day.
For this month I wanted to continue with the San Antonio trip. My flu that I had just before the trip left me in a funk and so I am really behind on editing. For our afternoon session of sightseeing, my brother was going to join us. I know that he likes to visit things like Botanical Gardens and such. So we decided to jump on the local transportation (which I highly recommend as a way to get around San Antonio), and head to the Japanese Gardens, and then on to the Botanical Gardens. These photos were exactly 35 minutes of walking around the garden.
We have a Japanese Gardens locally at home, and I know what that one is like and so my expectation was that this one would be bigger. The one we have at home is a 2 mile walk. It normally takes me 3 hours to get around.
The upside of the short time frame was that we were not sure how long it would take us to get around the Botanical Gardens.
Our first view was of the beautiful lakes with pathways going through them.
In the water were koi, and the random ducks.
We meandered along random pathways taking in the beautiful stonework, the rich colors of gardens.
And were impressed by the creative building behind us. Layers of rock had been used to build the pillars, the pathways and the bridges.
The gardens were very peaceful and I guess we were fortunate that there were not too many people visiting at the same time as us.
There were small waterfalls and large waterfalls.
Amazing bridges to cross. Each stone layered one on top of the other.
Typical of our walk about, Richard is 10 steps ahead of Barry, and I am lagging with the camera another 10 steps behind. There was too much that captured my attention.
We walked past the waterfalls and slowly climbed the pathway to get a view of the area below.
We continued to meander along this random pathway until we found our way back to the building area.
My brother started out his career as a Civil Engineer, and he spent a good bit of time looking at the structural layout of these pillars and how each stone had been laid uniquely above the one below.
As we walked away from the structured building I looked down below to what was probably garden storage buildings.
Barry and I meandered along this short bridge to a deck adjacent to what appeared to be some kind of silo.
It gave us a better view of the buildings below.
Of course, it was hot, and so we ventured inside to get some liquid refreshments and sat for a while in the shade of the umbrellas. We all got to try Japanese beer.
We also had company while we were relaxing.
I took one final lookout from the sheltered area. The trip to the Japanese Gardens had been fun and it was definitely well worth going to visit.
Last but not least, this was one of my favorite images of Richard, and I just felt like it had to be in black and white.
Beers were drunk, bags packed up, we are off to the bus stop. Next stop is the Botanical Gardens. Look out for a blog post soon.
Thank you for joining us for another month of 30 Minutes. Just a reminder that this is a circle blog, so take some time to visit my friend Stacey Markel Photography, and see what she has for you this year.
Posted on May 31, 2019
If you did not read my previous post we are in San Antonio for a few days. After visiting the Alamo, I had a list of places in the “town” area that I wanted to see. First on my list was St Fernando Cathedral. So we meandered through the town until we reached it.
We passed canals and interesting buildings.
We stumbled across a lock wall. I have seen this a couple of times in different cities. This has probably been the biggest one I have seen.
We passed the courthouse, which I initially thought might have been the Spanish Governor’s Palace. But no, his palace was not as lavish as this beautiful building.
And finally we had arrived at the San Fernando Cathedral. A incredibly beautiful building set in the heart of the city.
I went inside to discreetly take some images. The building was as beautiful inside as out.
Both side walls showed the various stations of the cross, along with stunning stain glass windows.
This was definitely a stop to make.
In contrast to this incredible old building, just down the road was a glass building stories high. These are the sights of San Antonio.
Despite the straight lines this building has, it felt like it was tipping over.
The last place on my list was to see the Spanish Governor’s Palace. To say I was a little disappointed would not be lying. Not sure what I expected but it was not this.
This building was the residence of the captain of the San Antonio de Béxar Presidio, José de Urrutia was the first presido captain in the 1730’s. His son Toribio de Urrutia, took over from his father in the 1740’s and lived in this building as well.
San Antonio is an interesting city of old and new and well worth the visit. Watch out for more blogs on the places we got to visit.
Tell me a story is a circle blog so take some time to check out Beth Williams Photo Blog and follow the links around all the blogs. I don’t know about you but I love to see what is going on in the lives of our friends.
Posted on April 30, 2019
If you did not catch yesterdays post, we are in San Antonio. My brother is in town and we are catching up once again. It’s Wednesday and we are up bright and early. Or rather once my brother left for the convention center. Today we are heading to the Alamo.
The Riverwalk has a single canal that goes off of the U, and that heads up to a few restaurants, to a shopping center and eventually to the Alamo. So off we went. The morning is peaceful, with few walkers, and one or two joggers.
This is our second day in town and I am still in love with the bridges and the serenity of the nature side of the walks.
I spotted this church in the background and it turns out is St Johns Lutheran church. I visited it later in the week and discovered it was a beautiful church with gorgeous stain glass windows. A bit about the church – in the 1800’s many German families moved to San Antonio for a new beginning.
The families traveled by wagon, many of them settling in San Antonio. A church was established and led by Pastor Phillip Zizelmann, starting out with only 15 members.
The current church was established in 1932 during the Great Depression. The church is absolutely stunning, hosts gorgeous stained glass windows. If you are in the area, make sure that you get to stop by St John’s Lutheran Church. Sit in a pew, relish the silence, be in peace.
Continuing up the Riverwalk we finally arrived at the shopping center, did a quick walk through there and came out on the other side.
Since we had opted to have a late breakfast, Starbucks was on the agenda.
It was pleasant to sit outside that morning. The weather was cool and since we were early for the Alamo, we just sat back and enjoyed the beautiful day.
From Starbucks it is a very short walk to the Alamo. I loved all the metal work we were passing through.
Arriving at the Alamo, I was amazed at these stunning, sprawling trees that lined the sidewalk and inside the actual gardens.
Arriving at the Alamo I was surprised at how small it actually was. So why is the Alamo so significant to Texas, and San Antonio history. The way I understand the video that I watch was that the land originally belonged to the Mexicans, but was not thriving. In order to develop the land they invited settlers into the area. Due to new policies on the Mexicans part, along with increased tariffs and new enforced immigration laws, the immigrants started to rebel.
In the October of 1836, the Texas Revolution occurred. This was the first battle between Americans and Mexicans. The Mexicans were defeated by the Americans. The President of Mexico, Santa Anna, was enraged. A new resolution by Santa Anna, resulted in any immigrant fighting being executed. When the Mexicans fled San Antonio, the Americans captured the Mexican garrison, now known as the Alamo.
The original design of the Alamo had been to prevent Indians from attacking and gaining entrance to this Spanish Fort. However it was not built to withstand military with artillery capable to destroying the walls. Early in 1936, the commander, Colonel James Neill wrote requesting additional troops and supplies to boost the remaining 100 soldiers housed in the Fort. The government was not able to supply much assistance.
Colonel Neill requested help from Huston, and the result was that 30 men under the command of Colonel James Bowie were sent to aid Colonel Neill.
In the interim the army under the Mexican President Santa Anna had swelled to over 6000 troops. Soon they began to march on the Alamo. A slow and tedious march, but march all the same.
Santa Anna marched on the Alamo, hoisting a red flag to signifying that no quarter would be given. No agreement could be reached through representatives and at that point a siege began. On February 25 about 200 Mexican soldiers managed to get to some wooden huts close to the forts. The Texian soldiers were able to drive them back.
On March 3, the Mexican soldiers numbered more than 3000 men. Seeing the number swell Colonel Travis sent 3 men, including Davy Crockett to try to find troops that were supposed to be on their way. They did find a group of about 50 men, and were able to drive their way through the Mexican troops to get to the safety of the Alamo
History has it that the Mexicans bombarded the Alamo relentlessly, and then eased off. The easing off allowed the Texian soldiers to rest and for many to fall asleep. In the early hours of the morning, Mexican troops silently marched on the Alamo. The fort was surrounded.
The guards stationed to watch were killed in their sleep, and the Mexicans moved closer. At this point the Mexicans began to celebrate their impending glory. Shouts of Viva Santa Anna went up and the noise woke the sleeping Texians. The Mexicans stormed the fort.
The Texans escaped to the chapel and the quarters. The fort was taken over by the Mexicans and the last fighting Texian group was lead by Davy Crockett. By this time the Mexican troops controlled all of the outer walls, and they turned their attention to the flag. Replacing the American flag with the Mexican flag resulted in the death of four Mexican soldiers.
The Mexican systematically took control of the fort and within hours all the men were killed and only women and children were left surviving. Santa Anna hoped that with the recapturing of the Alamo and the knowledge of the size of his troops, things would be restored back to normal with the Mexicans controlling the area.
However, the events at the Alamo had the opposite effect and on April 21 the Texian army attacked the Mexican troops. Within 18 minutes the Battle of San Jacinto was over. While the Mexicans were slaughtered shouts of “Remember the Alamo” could be heard. Santa Anna was captured, but his life was spared. He and his troops were forced out of Texas. This ended the Mexican control of the area and allowed for the beginnings of a New Republic.
The Alamo today is not this huge fort, but rather the grounds along with what is left of the buildings. The grounds are beautiful, in fact despite the tourists, they are peaceful.
Suggestions of what living back in those days are created for us to view.
The Alamo building like the rest of the historical buildings, have the same design, same stone, similar structures.
I love old buildings and these that we saw at the Alamo, and the missions really captured my attention.
In a quiet courtyard is a tribute to the men who defended the Alamo. Colonel’s Bowie, Bonham, Travis and Crockett. This is an area for peaceful reflection.
One of the aspects of this style of building is the beautiful arches. You will see them again in a different blog on the Missions of San Antonio.
There is the unique contrast of old buildings, each with their own style and details.
And like most cities there is the contrast of old and new. If you are thinking of visiting the Alamo, make sure to swing by and watch the video on the history of the Alamo. There was only one downside to visiting the main building of the Alamo. Photographers were not allowed to take photographs inside the building. When asked why, I was told that the building is “reverent”. Fortunately there was not a lot to take inside.
I hope that you enjoyed my walk through the Alamo. It is definitely worth the visit. Oh, and a bonus, it was free to visit.
This is a circle blog so take some time to check out Lupji Photography and follow the links around all the blogs. I don’t know about you but I love to see what is going on in the lives of our contributors.
Posted on April 29, 2019
I am not going to lie – this post is more than 30 minutes but I am going to share it all anyway. This month we headed to San Antonio to meet up with my brother. Yes he was back again for a conference. That man puts more mileage on his suitcase than anyone else I know. We flew in Tuesday and flew out on Saturday.
Richard had spoken to a few people who said two days in San Antonio was more than enough, I had spoken to people who said that there was so much to do. To be honest we landed on the happy medium – four days was a good fit for us.
It was a good feeling not to run foul of the TSA peeps this time around. I packed those stupid liquids (most of which are eyes solution, drops, cleansers etc) into the tiny allowed bag, and I managed to get through without any issue. We always travel with carry-on’s so it makes it very limited to what you can get through. Ha ha, Richard on the other hand had his laptop pulled out and checked.
We opted not to hire a car but rather use local bus transportation. Kudoes to San Antonio bus system, it was amazing and timely. We got dropped off 2 blocks from out hotel and walked on down. We were staying at the Hilton on the Riverwalk. After checking in we headed out to explore the Riverwalk and find some food. All of my images today are reflective of our walk.
So what is the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Some cleaver person decided to add some attractions to the City. The Riverwalk is a U shaped man built canal created off the main river, the San Antonio River.
While we meandered the Riverwalk looking at what it was about and different restaurants, our goal was to eat. We had got up at 3am to go to the airport, flew out at 5:30am and arrived at 11am. We were hungry. Being of English decent and growing up in a very English influenced home, my go to meal is always a British or Irish pub, and decent pork sausages are what I want. The USA does not have great pork sausages.
So lunch was enjoyed at Mad Dogs on the Riverwalk with a pint or two. I got my traditional bangers and mash and Richard opted for fish and chips.
Something that fascinated me in San Antonio was that means of transportation that stood all over the place. Some of the items were linked to Uber. Pay your price and scooter all over town. Suffice to say we did not do that. I would be hazardous not only on a scooter but on the road as well :).
The River walk has two sections, the busy restaurant driven area, which is a hustle and bustle of people, and river boats, and then the quieter more nature inclined walk area. At random points there are these beautiful bridges to cross.
Richard took a liking to this wooden chair made out of tree branches. It fitted in with the beautiful aspects of nature.
Talking nature, the trees in San Antonio were stunning. The Riverwalk had these beautiful tall trees. When we were at the Alamo they had gorgeous sprawling trees. Look out for them in tomorrow’s blog.
I always like to convert some of the images to black and white and I thought the bridges would be a good conversion. This area is opposite the outdoor amphitheater and was really so pretty.
Artwork always appeals to me and this was a pretty big statue sitting above one of the restaurants. I am not sure who it is supposed to depict but it certainly got my attention. San Antonio has an interesting history of Mexican / American occupation but more about that tomorrow when we visit the Alamo.
I cannot resist the beauty of nature in the middle of a city type area. I think this was a common weed but I kind of liked it.
I loved the mix of old world and new world that you find in San Antonio. The architecture and aged look are amazing, inside this bustling city. There were so many places to stop and smell the roses, and have a beer or two.
We did a short walk along the quieter side of the Riverwalk and came across this cattle drive iron works. I have seen something similar in Dallas on a bigger scale. The artwork is incredible and depicts the beginnings of San Antonio cattle history.
We did not go far, before we headed back to our hotel, seen below. The hotel itself had an interesting history. The builders of the hotel were given a short time frame within which to build the hotel. The hotel is a 21 story hotel (and we were staying on the 20th floor) and hosts 500 rooms. This history was that the hotel was being built for a fair in 1968 and the time frame that they had did not allow for the hotel to be built in the normal manner. They built the first 4 floors and then the rest of the hotel was built offsite as modular units. Each modular unit was complete with the plumbing, electricity, artwork, and apparently even down to the ashtrays. The rooms were stacked in 42 days and the hotel was completed in 202 days actually opening 5 days before the fair. The hotel is situated perfectly for the large convention center across the road and perfect for the explorer wanting to see the Riverwalk.
This appears to be one of the iconic views found on the Riverwalk. It is a Mexican restaurant. The colorful umbrella’s can be found on magnets, posters etc.
It is always good to meet up with my brother. With him living in another country I never know when I will see him again. So while he is traveling to the US, I plan to meet up with him. Next time he will be in Philly, and I am considering heading up there. Probably on my own as Richard does not seem to interested.
Look out for the Alamo blog tomorrow.
Thank you for joining us for another month of 30 Minutes. Just a reminder that this is a circle blog, so take some time to visit my friend Ceri Herd Photography, who lives in the UK, and see what she has for you this year.