Posted on January 4, 2020
Happy New Year. I find it hard to believe it is 2020. I feel like I just started out with 2019 and now it is gone.
I could sum up the year in just a few words, family, travel, work, and photography.
We spent an enormous amount of the year traveling. In March my brother came over to a conference and the whole family headed up to Orlando to spend the weekend with him. We visited Epcot and managed to last the whole day, finally seeing the fire works at the end of the evening.
My boss, a work colleague and I also headed up to Lakeland Florida for an overnight scouting trip to view a new system.
In April my brother was back again, and we headed to San Antonio to meet him. We got to do the famous Riverwalk, explore the city, view the Alamo, however my favorite part of the trip was the missions. Each one that we visited had such incredible history, and the beauty of each mission was amazing. I love that they have kept them restored and that some of them even function as an active mission.
In May we took our new son in law on his first camping trip to Bahia Honda. It was hot and there was not enough shade. We were camped at the edge of rocks and that made cooling down an interesting exercise in rock climbing. He says he enjoyed it. Kudos to him for sticking it out.
In June I headed to Rochester New York with 2 of my work colleagues for training. I convinced them to fly early (even early for me) and I agreed to drive the 2 hours to Niagara Falls. What a spectacular sight it was and well worth the hours behind the wheel. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see these incredible falls. The view from the Canadian side is apparently better but from the boat it is just as nice seeing it from the US side.
We were into the second half of the year and my brother was back again. He was going to be in Philadelphia. However, he also wanted to go to New York. So, we skipped Philly and rented an apartment in Brooklyn and spent 4 days exploring New York. We did a lot of walking, my feet were tired, but it was great to see for the first time. There is a lot to see and do in New York. We did not touch the surface of it and I have yet to finish editing the images I took, but I will make the time to do that.
October Rich & I squeezed a short 3-day trip to Cumberland Island in Georgia. I had heard that there were wild horses on the island and research showed me there were some ruins as well. The horses were not so wild, and the ruin were awesome, and we walked that island. The beach was gorgeous. We also stopped off at Fort Clinch and walked through what was once an active fort. It appears that they have re-enactments on the weekends.
In December we impulsively did an overnight trip to St Petersburg in Florida. We stopped at the John’s Pass boardwalk, Fort de Soto Municipal Park and the Sunshine Skyway for a night shot. We both agreed we would like to go back, but for a little longer next time.
The last trip of the year was back to Orlando to where my son and his wife had moved to. The weather was iffy and so we headed to Disney Springs Outdoor Mall and meandered around and had some dinner. The next day the weather turned nasty and we headed home earlier than I had anticipated.
We also did a day trip down to Viscaya, Miami, to the beautiful home of John Deering. If you are stopping in Miami, this is one home you may want to visit. Every corner you turn has something unique and different. You will love it.
From July, through December I worked on a huge project at the office customizing an EMR system. It was a real learning curve. I enjoyed the project management aspect of it. It kept me busy and it took a lot of personal time to meet the deadlines. Suffice to say we did enough to have the staff actively working in the program in December. There is still work to do but a lot of the pressure is off.
Part of me wants a slower less stressful 2020 but the other part wants to travel just as much.
So what does 2020 look like. Chances are we will have a quiet first half of the year. Perhaps some long weekends out of town. Our big plans come at the end of August when we are joining Amy and Daniel on a trip to Macedonia. Whether we travel by plane, train, automobile or boat – that is still to be decided. They are finally heading over there to have a reception for his family and friends. While his friends and family were able to watch and celebrate their wedding it was via the internet and not the same. So that is our goal. We are going to spend time meeting all of his family, exploring Macedonia and possibly head to Croatia or some other country around there.
I wish you all the very best for 2020. Take time to remind those you love that you love them. Time is too short to waste it. I become more conscious each year how time is rapidly slipping away. I hope your year is good. That it is filled with family and friends, old and new. I wish you love in a very challenging world. I wish you laughter and joy to counter the sorrow. I wish you adventure and the opportunities to see and do new things. I wish you those moments of quiet reflection and time to rejuvenate. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you.
From our house to yours, Happy New Year.
Category: Travel Tagged: #bahiahonda, #cumberlandisland, #disneysprings, #floridakeys, #fortclinch, #fortdesoto, #newyork, #niagarafalls, #ontheroadagain, #orlando, #outdoors, #sanantonio, #sharleenstuartphotography, #travelphotography, #vacation, #viscaya, #wildhorses, @sunshineskyway, beach
Posted on December 31, 2019
We were back on the road again in December. This year has been one of travel. I loved every minute of it. In March we were in Orlando, April in San Antonio, May in Bahia Honda, June I was in Rochester NY, July we traveled to New York City, October we headed to Cumberland Island, and in December we traveled to St Petersburg one weekend and Orlando again the next weekend.
St Petersburg, Florida, has been on the bucket list for a while. One of those quick lets head out of town kind of visits. We only went over night but both agreed that a two day trip would have been better. When packing, I packed a few lens, my zoom 70-300mm which I am having a few issues with and may need to replace, my 24-70mm, my new 17-40mm and my lensbaby sweet 35.
St Petersburg is about a 4.5 hour trip for us from the East Coast of Florida to the West Coast. When you cross the Sunshine Skyway, you know that you are heading into St Petersburg. Since this was a first for us so high up the coast line, I wanted to to take in everything.
I had seen some photos taken recently of the Sunshine Skyway, and wanted to to check out a pull off at the little island on the side of the road so that I could look back and see what kind of image I would get later in the day. Below is the beautiful Sunshine Skyway from that point. If you are looking to take a photo, pull off at the North Skyway area and look back.
Some years ago we were camping in the Collier Seminole State Park and met a couple in the site next door to us. They mentioned that the Fort de Soto Municipal park had great camp grounds. So that was our next stop. We wanted to check it out.
For a $5 entry fee, you get to spend the entire day at this beautiful beach park. Added to that you can leave and go back in the same day, which is what we did. There are some concession stores inside the park which will provide you with food, drinks and a few other things you may need. The park is huge. There is a great view of the Skyway from the one end of the park, there are some fishing piers and a ferry dock. We came across this brown Pelican at one of the docks.
Added to that there is actually a fort on the grounds. It almost appeared to look like a bunker fort. There was sand all along the wall and you could actually walk along the top of the fort. However, the canons were below the high wall so my thoughts are that the sand and roof walk were added later. Of all the forts I have been to this was the smallest and probably the least interesting. However, the view from the top of amazing,
We walked through the fort area. There was not a lot to see except empty rooms. Sadly the smells coming out of some of those rooms were not great. Moving back out into fresh air we spotted the canons. Somehow seeing these old pieces of history makes me want to edit in black and white.
Moving on from the fort we headed to the end of the park and out onto the beach where the sand is like powder and white and so soft. The seagulls are big and quite tame and we had no sooner sat down and they had moved closer. Obviously looking for handouts.
Leaving the Fort we headed towards the Beachcomber Hotel where we had booked to stay. However, it was early so I suggested we head to John’s Pass Boardwalk and walk around there for a while and perhaps grab a beer and pass some time. John’s Pass Boardwalk is a series of restaurants, shops and fishing charters that are interesting to meander through.
These pelicans below were being thrown scraps of fish from a table where the catch was being gutted and filleted.
As is with most of these coastal towns of interest, there is a pirate ship for hire.
Sculley’s was a seafood restaurant that certainly had some great smells coming out of it.
I happened to look up and spotted this cormorant flying towards me. Look at the wingspan and the number of feathers that make up the wings of this beautiful bird.
This boat, however, was probably the most interesting ship I have ever seen. The one end is shaped like a shark. We found a place right next door to it to sit down and grab a beer. Mmm, I keep thinking Jaws and hear that crazy music just as the shark was about to attack.
The Beachcomber Hotel was very nice. Nothing overly fancy but we were not paying out big bucks either. I appears that the owners purchased two older hotels adjacent to each other, rebuilt the front facade and created a green space in-between that became the hotel grounds. At the end of the hotel complex were two swimming pools, a restaurant called Johnny B’s and the beach. Really that is all you need if rest and relaxation are what you are looking for. Richard wanted rest and relaxation and I wanted to explore. Oh well, it was only a weekend.
One of the things that I love to do when at the beach is the sunset. We had lunch and then headed back to Fort de Soto municipal park to settle in for the sunset. A number of other folk had chosen to do the same.
For the next 3 images below I played around with my new 17-40mm lens.
Then I switched out to my Lensbaby sweet 35.
Then back to the 24-70mm and the 70-300mm. Richard waded down to the water and while he was there I grabbed some silhouettes of him standing in the water.
Slowly the sun begins to set. I played around with different settings as the sun was setting.
What was nice to see, was all of the seagulls that were lined up along the edge of the beach. They suddenly took off in mass and then fly back in and settle back down again.
Last stop of the night before heading back to the hotel, was to that little pull off point I made Richard stop at when we first came over the bridge. Why did I make him stop? For the night shots of course. I had seen recently that the Sunshine Skyway is now lit up at night. I wanted the night shot. I have to say it looks really neat and added to that the colors change. So if you are looking for a good night shot, this could definitely be one of the places to stop.
Once the nights shots were done, we headed back to the hotel and settled down at Johhny B’s for a light dinner and music. There was a live band playing while we were eating. They stopped before we had finished and started packing up. As they stopped playing the beach bar at the hotel next door started up. Do we go or do we stay, well of course we go. What a good choice!. Blues, Mowtown, Funk and Pop, 3’s Company was a great band to listen to. They definitely had me smiling with their rendition of “Killing me softly with his song” Took me back to my days of hanging out at a local joint in my 20’s. If you are in or visiting St Petersburg, Florida, and like that type of music definitely check out where they are playing and go and hang out a bit. They will have your feet tapping very quickly.
All good things come to an end, and after breakfast we were back on the road and crossing the Sunshine Skyway heading home, via Naples. We both agreed that we would definitely head back to St Petersburg again, this time for a longer stay.
In just one more day we see the close out of a very hectic 2019, and welcome in 2020. I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope that this will be a fantastic year for all of you, that you will be surrounded with family and friends, old and new. That you will experiences memorable moments of love, joy, laughter, and good times. That you plan escapes and get out on the road and see a bit more of the world.
This year will see us on the road a lot less I am sure. We are planning a bit trip in August to meet our new son-in-laws family. We will be heading to Macedonia for a “wedding” reception for Daniel’s family. I am excited about meeting his family, although I cannot speak Macedonian. We also plan to travel a bit in Macedonia and the Balkans. I can’t wait.
The only other big trip we have talked about this coming year is to possibly head up to New Orleans. This is definitely on my bucket list and I would love to check it out soon.
Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a circle blog. Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend Kim from Kim Sidwell Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share.
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