Posted on September 6, 2021
Can you believe it is September? A few more weeks and life is going to change again. I will go from being a parent to a grandparent. It is so exciting and a little stressful as well. Having a baby during covid makes my heart beat a little faster.
With all this going on there has not been a lot of photography done. This year has run me down to be honest. But we did try to get a 2 day away in before the baby comes along and Richard and I traveled up to St Augustine. A place we used to visit regularly but have not been for a few years. We did take a detour last year on the way to Georgia and it was so busy we kind of by passed and went away from the historic district.
It turns out that this month Lynne chose a quote and it work perfectly with our St Augustine trip.
“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport”
— Steve McCurry
We love to travel. We have been doing the odd get away. Richard has been a little nervous taking his vacation because he doesn’t know whether he will need his vacation. I on the other hand am conscious that I still have 3 weeks vacation to take.
So we hit the road and 4.5 hours later we booked into a quaint little Bed and Breakfast right in the historic district of St Augustine. It was a 5 second walk to the main street and all the restaurants. A 10 minute walk to the cruise. This trip we did something different, something that we have never done in St Augustine. We took in the winery, the distillery and the brewery. And that was all before lunch. Oops, I needed food. Seriously though, they only give you tiny little glasses which are half full. But if you are heading to St Augustine I would recommend you check them out.
Richard loves the sunset cruises and so that was our goal for the first evening. We quickly grabbed dinner at Harry’s and then headed down to the quay to wait on the cruise. The weather was iffy to be honest and I was not optimistic that I would get anything worth while but I did manage capture a few images I was happy with.
When I looked at this picture I thought that Richard looked like he had been out in the sun all day. This is one of the side effects of the immunotherapy. His skin turns really red. The other side effect is that he gets a very itchy rash.
The boat trip was just a intracoastal trip and not out to sea, but I do enjoy seeing the under carriage of different bridges and this was was not too bad.
The company on the cruise was quite fun, and very chatty which made the slow moving boat a lot more interesting, and I managed to get a few sunset images as well.
We were fortunate that we made it back to land dry and we were able to get back to the guest house and to relax.
Day 2 was a marathon of walking. This was our booze walk, if you can call it that. We headed up through Flagler college, which is an incredibly beautiful university in St Augustine. This was the first time I had actually walked through the college.
On the far side of the buildings grounds, there is a fence that looks like it has been made out of old cannon balls. St Augustine’s history is that this is the oldest city in Florida, originally Spanish founded and occupied in 1565. St Augustine has a really interesting fort that you can visit. Richard would try and find a bit of shade while waiting for me. Me on the other hand was just distracted by all there is to photograph.
With it’s history, St Augustine is well known for it cemeteries and we passed one I had not seen before. Just to the side of the bench I see a little squirrel digging deeply for it food.
Our first stop was San Sebastian winery. They gave us a tiny tasting glass and we made our way around tasting wines at various stations. Some I liked and some I didn’t. We each have our own palate. What I did walk away with was a really smooth bottle of sherry. We also decided to buy some cheese and crackers and have our own little cheese and wine evening in the gardens of our Bed and Breakfast.
Next stop was the St Augustine Distillery where we got to taste, gin, rum, vodka and bourbon. I am a rum person and it was pretty good. The distillery has an eating place upstairs but we had one more stop before we planned to eat, so it was back to walking again until we arrived at Dog Rose Brewing Co.
I am also a beer person, but I tend to stick to something like Heineken, whereas Richard likes IPA. So he is at home at these different brewing companies and I find myself really restricted. When we were in Naples I discovered that a larger kind of works for me, and so I asked to taste a larger at Dog Rose Brewing Co, and I was not disappointed. In fact, after all that walking the first beer went down super fast and the second I took my time.
Last stop was a lunch garden before heading back to put our feet up and relax and catch up on the highlights of the Tour de France.
St Augustine is a great place to visit if you are looking for history. There is so many different areas to seek out that we did not visit this time around. It is definitely worth stopping at if you are heading to Florida.
Just a reminder if you are hitting Florida, remember the suntan lotion and a big floppy hat. It is hot here and you want to take care not to get seriously burned. Richard is dealing with the results of plenty of sun and not enough sunscreen. Melanoma is not something to play with.
This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly artistic friend Lynne of Lynne Grant Photography is up next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Facebook page or Instagram page. Definitely take some time to check her out.
Posted on January 25, 2021
So, January is practically over. It has been a tumultuous start to the year, just when I thought things were going to be better for all of us. Some days I just need to get away from it all. For the most part I am hibernating in my office working fortunately. Aside from the virus, and the political stuff, my daughter and her husband packed up their apartment in preparation for it being sold, and along with their 2 cats, moved into our house. So we are a family of 4 adults, 4 cats and 1 bird. My Ms Moo is not a happy cat right now. She is scared of her shadow and now Amy’s two cats are stalking her. She is in hiding most of the time. Snow has also taking to staring down the bird.
In addition, I joined 52 Frames. So this is my 4th project 52 for the year. I feel like my goal so far is to get out and take the photo’s I need for each week. This weeks theme was water. There is a great pond up at the national park that I love to take photos at. So Thursday evening I packed up 5 lens (17-40 mm, 28-135 mm, 70-300 mm, 150-600 mm & Lensbaby Sweet 135) and I headed up to the park to check out the owl, take photo’s of the pond and watch the sunset. While our property backs up to the edge of the Everglades there is no access into the area from our home. We are also separated by two small canals.
In the end my 52 Frames image was taken at the sunset and I will post it here as it is the only image in black and white.
The owl was high up in the tree so it is really hard to see him that well. The female is in the nest and she seems to sit behind the main part of the tree. This was the best I could get of him.
It always fascinates me how the the setting sun changes so much. I started out at the pond and the light was this golden brown color.
I headed down to the water line at the edge of the Everglades and I really did not think this was going to be a great evening. The cloud was thick and low and I was not going to bet the full sun. It felt dark and sort of dingy for a sunset. I also did not realize that I had moved my FStop to 9. Obviously I must have done it up near the owl. I started out with the Lensbaby Sweet 35. One of my P52’s is to use the Lensbaby Optics that are taking up space in my lens drawer.
From here on out it was a case of changing lens to get wide angle, a bit closer, much closer and super close. One of my favorite things that typically happen at sunset is the birds flying by. Quite often, although it did not happen this evening, you get to watch the murmuration of the grackles and that is a beautiful dance in the sky. Below is a flock of Ibis flying by.
People aside, we often get a number of different species, below is the Great Blue Heron.
Fly by’s happen fast and you have to keep watching. Below is a larger flock of Ibis, all heading south. I would love to know where that land up each evening. I have no idea what bird is in the second image below, but chances are it was a slow moving Ibis.
Grackles will fly into the area in the hundreds. On Thursday there were not that many but I was so glad I had brought up with beast with me to get in super close.
What was pretty neat was that the Grackles on the edge of the water were taking a bath at sunset. Hence the first image and the water drops.
As the sun got lower the sky got more reddish orange and really intense.
More Ibis below as the sun is setting. From the silhouette, the birds in the second image look like a flock of cattle egret.
At this point I kind of figured the sun was done, and the mosquito were going to be out shortly, so I headed back to my car. I could not resist turning around to take a silhouette.
Halfway done the ramp, I discovered my friend walking up. She told me not to leave, she wanted to talk to me, and she convinced me that the final rays would get better. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. This time it certainly did. The sky lit up and I was so glad that she told me to stay.
Nothing like kayaking at sunset in a alligator infested water. Oh yes, there are often alligators swimming in the water.
Finally the mosquito’s got to much for us and we headed back to the car. I managed to capture the last silhouette before diving into my car, with a couple of mosquito for company. Nothing like being bitten all the way home.
The Florida Everglades is a grassy, slow moving river, a natural marshland, which is habitat to hundreds of animals. There are various different different areas to the Everglades. There are the mangroves at the coast, the sawgrass marshlands and the pine flatwoods. You will find endangered species like manatee, American crocodile, and the Florida Panther.
This particular park, that I go to, has walking trails, and it would not be uncommon to have an alligator cross the trail in front of you. I recently saw Turkey Vulture eating a dead animal. There is a lot of birdlife if you get out and walk, and the owls have come in to nest. Two weeks ago there was a pair of mating Sandhill Cranes. There are also Bobcat in the park.
The walking in the area is great. I managed to get out and do a two mile walk but I was constantly watching for Alligator on the edge of the banks. I didn’t see Alligator but I did see a great big iguana. Unlike the wetlands, here we are on the same level as the Alligator.
When the bushes behind out house were cut short we used to be able to see the deer running along the edge of the Everglades past our home.
The park is great for walking, however, my this is by far my favorite spot to go and watch the sunset.
Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Stacy of Threadbarems. You will definitely love what she shares. I am always inspired with what she has to offer.
Posted on August 31, 2020
This does not happen very often but there is the occasional times in the year when both 30 Minutes in the Life and Tell me a Story go live on the same day and at the same time. In the 30 Minutes in the Life I shared Day 1 in Key West. In this blog I will share day 2.
As I said in the other blog we decided to head to Key West for the weekend. At some point you get tired of not seeing anyone, not doing anything other than working at home and not going anywhere. For Rich and I traveling is something we are trying to do more of and so to be stuck at home has been challenging especially for Rich.
We booked into a local hotel overlooking the harbor area and it turned out to have the perfect view. It also had a great swimming pool that we were able t cool down at, given that the summer heat in South Florida is so oppressive. I spent about 2 hours in the pool chatting with the 4 other guests escaping the heat. I love Key West with it’s authentic buildings and quirky well know stories. Key West has so much character and here are a few of them buildings that share it.
Day 2 saw I head into the town area. I was on a mission to find Mango Body Wash. The hotel had it in it’s showers and oh my it was so good. Rich wanted some T-shirts and I was also hoping to find some bath bombs that I had found in the hotel as well. I found the mango bath wash, he got is shirts but I bombed out on the bath bombs.
Roosters, hens and chickens are a common sight wandering around Key West. Six toed cats is another interesting view in Key West. It was sad to see the iconic Sloppy Joe’s closed. However, it did seem that it was temporary.
After doing the necessary shopping, we decided to head to the local Key West First Legal Rum Distillery for a free tour. If you are in Key West check it out. The tour is about 15 minutes and it is just a small warm area that you walk through. It’s awesome that they have ceiling fans to cool you down.
Step 1 tells us that they use Florida sugar cane in crystal form from the juice to create a unique flavor that allows us to drink a clean, clear and flavorful Legal Rum.
Step to the Tanks 1, 2, 3, 4 are where the cooking beings. This is their recipe buried beneath the floor with all the old bottles. The bubbles are the yeast breathing as it eats sugar and turns it into alcohol. The more vibration the more production, so they play music at night to keep the yeast moving.
Step 3 tells us that the brown wash that comes from the fermentation tanks, has the alcohol “stripped ” out of it. It’s like a magic trick, first it’s brown, now it is clear. All alcohol comes out of a still clear
Step 4 tells us that now that they have the stripped alcohol, they will distill it again 6 times. Why? They want the Legal Rum to come out in a lower proof so that it has flavors butterscotch, banana, and hints of vanilla. It says they also don’t want to give us a hangover, so all impurities are taken out.
Step 5 tells us that High Proof Legal Rum goes into the Chefs pot, travels through the copper which is filled with carbon activated charcoal. Rum should be warm in your chest, not burn your tongue.
We had the opportunity to taste raw rum and to do some rum tasting. I tried Coconut Rum and Key Lime Rum and Raw Rum. My favorite even though I typically like Coconut Rum, was the Raw Rum, and we left with a bottle of Raw Rum and some sampler Rums.
If you want something interesting to do on a hot day in Key West definitely check out the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery.
Beyond that we meandered along the wharf taking in the ships and views along with the opportunity to check out a healthy school of tarpon. We stopped for a cooling beer and watch the tiki boats heading out again.
Lastly Key West is always my favorite place for sunsets. Like I said in the other blog that I was disappointed not to be heading out on a boat but at the same time I did not want to be among the crowds. The sunset did not disappoint.
Being Key West refreshed me for the next few months. We have at least one more travel trip this year unless Covid puts a stop to that. I have found a cabin in the woods in Georgia. We are hoping that we will get to see the changing colors in the mountains.
Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog. Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what he has to share.
Posted on July 31, 2020
It’s nearly August. Time is passing one day at a time. I can’t decide if it is slowly or whether it is just way too fast. It’s hard to believe that I have now been at home 4.5 months. I am still busy working, but time seems in limbo. I wake up, make a protein shake, feed Sim, Moo & Hoo and then I sit down at my computer. My problem is that I do not move. I am trying to force myself to go down the stairs every hour and go on the elliptical machine for a few minutes just to move the old joints around.
Each day seems the same, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays we stay at home, most of the time, unless I absolutely have to go out, or Richard has decided he has had enough of home and needs to go out and eat.
I have been banned from feeding the ducks, the birds and the squirrels so I don’t have a lot of wildlife activity in my garden any more – which I will add I hate. Every so often I will get up and drive to a local park to watch the sunset but even that feels like too much effort some days. Other days I will watch it from home.
An update to this is we are stuck at home. Richard tested positive and we are in quarantine. Happily trying to avoid each other. Just remember if you are asymptomatic, it does not mean that you could not test positive. If you come in contact with someone or you know you may have been in contract for longer than 15 minutes and within the 6ft social distancing, remember that you could get infected. He does not have a single symptom that would indicate that he is sick. Wear the mask, keep the distance.
Last week Wednesdays was one of those days that I watched from home. I happened to move Hoo (the quaker parakeet) into the spare room as I was going to have a conference call (only to find out it was cancelled) and I looked out of the window and watched the clouds come rolling in. Below is a pic take with my old cell phone.
It was a little intimidating to be honest. I grabbed my camera and headed downstairs but the sky did not have the same effect.
The wind picked up, thunder happened at a distance but not a drop of rain fell. Clearly it happened on the east side of town. In fact there was a rainbow just a little later that I saw. However, I decided I would head out back and see what the sunset was like given the weather or lack of weather earlier in the day.
My first thought was this was not going to be that great, but I persevered and sat outside with Sims and waited.
And it did not disappoint. Maybe not as spectacular as some of the other days but it was still a pretty sky overall.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what is going on in the world, the world is still beautiful and we can sit back in our own small space and truly enjoy this incredible creation that we live in.
Tomorrow is back to work, and another week will go by, but remember, there is beauty all around us, we just have to take the time to look for it.
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 Beth from Beth William’s Photo Blog is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share
Posted on June 1, 2020
The stay at home is kind of lifting in Florida, we’re in Phase 1. I confess to being a little skeptical about numbers in Florida. That said I have been at home for the past 2 months with a partner who hates to sit still. Me I love it. I love working from home, although I need to learn when to stop. That is probably my biggest problem. You don’t pack up and drive an hour home, so you carry on working. I am getting better, but even as I write this over the long weekend, I know there are things I need to do.
For the past few weeks I have noticed some friends heading out to the local section of the Florida Everglades, Loxahatchee National Park. I mentioned to Richard that it was open and that if he wanted to go out we could go there and hopefully not encounter to many people. This is typically my sunset spot and on any given night it is kind of lonely and there may be at most 10 of us.
Right now, I have not been going to the park because my zoom lens died and I have yet to get another one. I am challenged with what I want. Of course, I want the 150-600mm lens so that I can get up to the eyeball of the creature that I am photographing but the thought of carrying that lens around has me reconsidering. I also want a lens I can travel with.
So we headed out with our chairs, our tumblers of wine, and I took along my 17-40 mm lens, and my 24-135 mm lens. So no close up of the sun heading down, but that was okay because it turned out there was no visual of the sun and the evening was very cloudy.
When we got to the park half of the county was visiting as well. So we tried to practice social distancing and set up our chairs away from folk and then sipped wine as we waited for the sun to set.
In these images I played around with my 17-40 mm lens and I really loved the super wide angle the this lens offers. I cannot wait to use it in different settings.
In these images I switched to my 28 – 135 mm lens. This was the closest I was going to be able to zoom into the horizon.
I had bought the 18 -40 mm lens after using my daughters fish eye in Rochester. We were also supposed to be on the road in August, or rather on a plane 😦 , and I wanted the 18-40mm lens because I had visions of super wide open images. However, I am not sure that I see this happening. I am going to be pretty disappointed if it doesn’t. We had plans to visit my son in law’s family in Macedonia, and the kids were going to have a wedding reception for his family.
We were heading from there down to the Lake at Ohrid in Macedonia and then on to Skopje. From Macedonia we were off to Croatia, starting out Dubrovnik, then heading up to Split. then further north to Zagreb. From there I had plans to head to Berlin. I have traveled through places in Germany, but never to Berlin.
So with all that potentially on hold, I kind of suggested that maybe by the end of the year Australia may be an option. This is a trip we really need to do. So we have to weigh up where this virus is going to take us in a few months and what international travel is going to look like. Do we really want to be on a plane again? And landing in a foreign country may mean having to go into quarantine for 2 weeks. That’s like your vacation time. May as well just stay at home.
Looks like the virus is going to rain on our parade. As did the clouds in the distance. Fortunately for us, it never made it to where we were sitting.
We were happy to be honest, just to be outdoors and for me taking the sunset again. I tried to use people where I could to create silhouettes.
Silhouettes are a favorite of mine and there is that part where you don’t have to pose someone and the look is kind of natural and they are not aware that you are taking their pic.
Luckily the sun was starting to set and I was hoping that I could get something out of this cloudy sunset.
Evenings like this on the Everglades is always fun. You become the food source for all sorts of bugs, my favorite being the mosquito and the yellow fly. The yellow fly is actually worse for me as I react to it as I would to a bee sting. Nice sweet swelling that is as itchy as can be and normally results in me swallowing anti-histamine before I get any real relief.
I have learned to make sure, that even in summer, that I have a long sleeve sweater with me. That way I can try and stay away from being part of the food chain.
There were a few local fishermen hanging out, along with a couple of gator on the far side of the water. The Everglades is a natural habitat for gator. We have kayaked inside the waterways and come across all sizes of gators. It is kind of creepy, especially when the water is low or when the gator goes down under water. I keep wondering where it may come up and pray that it is not right alongside the kayak.
As the last of the sun was setting, I switched back to the 18 – 40 mm lens to try to get a few more wide angle images. The clouds created dynamic dark images with that tiny flare of light.
I was not the only person with a camera out there. Actually it is a popular spot for photographers and you never really know what kind of sunset you are going to get. Our day is done and all that is left to do is pack up and head home.
Thank you for joining me for 30 Minutes in the Life, and for chilling out with the sunset.
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