While we were in California, we actually did see a bit of rain! It lasted all of about 20 seconds. Fortunately, I was on the balcony during that time. The sun was shining at the time, too. In the South, we say that “The Devil is beating his wife” when this happens. Go figure! It would appear that a number of other cultures have their own sayings for a Sunshower!
15 sec @f/4 – 18mm 6:18 AM EDT
This morning, as I took Hobbs out to perform his morning ritual, I looked up into the eastern sky to see if twilight had begun. High above, I saw the constellation, Orion. Orion is probably the best known constellation in the world. It seems that quite few cultures have their own mythology, story, or belief about this constellation. It’s quite fascinating.
Looking at that constellation brings back all sorts of childhood memories. I used to really like astronomy. I had a refractor telescope and would spend hours gazing at the stars. At one point, I even knew how to read a star map and find what I was looking for in the sky. I would gaze off into the heavens looking at stars, planets, and the moon. Mostly everything was still a small dot, even though I had a 455x telescope. Talk about a narrow field of view! I could, however, see craters on the moon very clearly. I liked to see if I could spot the craters that were featured in my textbooks. At that time, I was wasn’t interested in photography, so I didn’t have a camera rig or anything. It was a cheap K-Mart telescope anyway, so I doubt that it would have had such fantastic attachments.
15 sec @ f/4 34mm – 6:16 AM EDT
I had fantasies of purchasing a reflector telescope, lower magnification, but higher light gathering abilities. I still don’t have one. We lived in the city and there is so much light pollution as to render a telescope useless except for some of brightest stars in the sky, like those featured in Orion. I still live in the city. I also wanted to be an astronaut and travel amongst those same stars.
Perhaps, one day, if I live far out in the country, away from the city lights, I’ll get a reflector telescope complete with camera rig, hook my camera up to a power adapter and take some 12 hour exposures and get to see my first galaxy, first hand. As for being an astronaut, probably not this time.
For now, Orion will have to do from a ground based view.
Preferred meditation area
This weekend has been dedicated to painting and assembling furniture. Our house has a formal living room and formal dining room, both of which we never use as we are not in anyway, formal. The formal living room used to have a few pieces of furniture, which have all been donated to the Salvation Army. It also used to be my source of a few photographs because, by far, this room has the sweetest light coming into it.
Home based solution
I spent Friday evening applying the first coat of paint to the walls, Saturday morning saw the second coat applied. Tony helped me to assemble the furniture. It’s all done. Now, what remains is for my wife to assemble the room. This room, whose function will be as a meditation/yoga room, just looks peaceful to me, especially with the color of the room that my wife picked.
I’ve always found the space photographically attractive, as I do a number of areas in the house. I guess that comes with familiarity. I’m rather excited at the prospect of photographing it when it is finished, but I wanted to see if I could come up with something interesting during the in-process phase.
A view from on high
OK, I had planned to write this yesterday, but sometimes, plans don’t just work out! Prior to going up on Broadway, where the other half lives, we had gone to a park to just sit for a few minutes and watch people play and interact.
It was quite fun. We sat in the park, watched people play Frisbee, talk on the ubiquitous cell phone (I got so many shots of people talking on cell phones that I just may do my little ‘out of touch’ series!), walk their dogs, talk to friends, etc.
All four of us began taking pictures of one lady who was sitting in the grass, talking on the cellphone, and eating a sandwich while her dog attempted, quite unsuccessfully to get a bit of the sandwich. It was quite comical. This lady was so engrossed in her phone conversations that she didn’t see 4 guys, not more than 20 feet away from her taking her picture. We weren’t not even trying to be inconspicuous. We were standing up, snapping away, and laughing all the while.
That’s right. Talk to your friend … You will giiiivvvvvvveeee me the sandwiiiiiichhhhhh
After leaving the park and heading for the hills, we stopped drove through Chinatown and then we stopped at Lombard Hill, the crookedest street in America. John, our official, and quite knowledgeable tour guide said that no trip to SF is complete without this stop. We took his word for it. We found that it is not possible to get a good shot of the street to show it’s crookedness without doing an aerial view. Since John’s helicopter was in the shop at the time, we had to settle for a ground view or two.
I was more interested in the people coming down the street rather than the street itself. I saw one guy running down the hill with his camcorder in hand filming the crazy curves of the street. Obviously he didn’t see the sign that said to keep off of the street! They have stairs next to the street, ya know!
Wait till my friends get a hold of this!
We were going to go out to some cliffs, but it was getting late, and as usual, some fog was rolling in. So, we headed to Will’s house for some California cuisine! We arrived there just before dark. Sue had prepared a snack for us, steamed artichoke. Well, not being ‘hip’ the California culture, I had no clue as to what to do with a steamed, or otherwise cooked, artichoke. Sue was nice enough to provide lessons for Richard and me. Apparently, it’s very simple: Pull of a leaf, dip it in the mayo or butter, your choice, and eat the very bottom of the leaf. That’s it! Simple instructions that I could follow! Simple was good. I was pretty tired.
Just a quick note. John is very spry and likes to hike a lot. Also, since he’s quite smoking (Yea! John!), he’s rather long winded. It’s kind of tough to keep up with that guy!
Now, back to the story: After the appetizer, and several thousand rounds of petting Cooper, the Labrador that doesn’t like water, it was time to eat. We were treated to John’s special Salmon recipe. Yummy!!! We felt honored.
After getting our fill, it was time for John to drop us off at home. He stopped by briefly and met the wives, and away he went, like a ghost in the night. We had a very good day, indeed! Much thanks to John and Will for the time and for being such great hosts!
In the end, I had seen a lot of wonderful things and, the best part was, I have added two new friends!
Out of the cold!
I must give a profound thank you to John and Will for being gracious hosts to me and my friend, Richard! They were, in a work, exceptional!
As I told John that I don’t like to plan, but rather go with the flow, he happily obliged. The only plans that we had for the day were to go start the day at 7:30 AM and to have dinner at Will’s house. That’s it. Everything in between would happen as it happened. What a day we had.
Our day started of with a wonderful ride along CA-68 and CA-101. We drove through the area known as The Salad Bowl, AKA, The Salinas Valley where most of our vegetables come from. We also had the great fortune to ride through Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world! You have to really appreciate garlic, as I do, to enjoy riding through this town. John warned us ahead of time, though. So he was fair about it! You’d have to experience the aroma to fully appreciate it, but let’s just say that everywhere in town smelled like spaghetti cooking and the chef had a very heavy had when it came to garlic!
So, during the 90 minute drive, John told us about the history of California, bits and pieces about his life, and just general small talk. We were getting to know each other. About 9:00 we arrived at Will’s house where I met Will, Sue, Ava, and Cooper, his dog. We didn’t tarry long as we had a very busy day ahead of us, as I would later come to find out. We unloaded out of John’s toyota and got into Will’s Escalade and left San Jose heading for San Francisco. Our first stop was for a bite to eat at the local Starbucks, one of which seems to be on every corner in San Jose.
John and Will conferred as to which should be the first stop and decided that we should stop at the Marin Highlands. To say that the view from the Marin Highlands was spectacular would be a great understatement! It was amazing. I could have stayed here for hours at a time, if I had a jacket. It was cold up there. I’d have to guess that it was somewhere in the 50′s, but with a solid 30 MPH wind blowing continuously. My tee shirt and shorts just weren’t doing the job. After a while, I got used to it, but, it took a while! I was kind of glad to come down out of the wind! John had already excused himself and had gone down the hill to allegedly use the ‘facilities’. We found him sitting on a bench sunning himself!
Point Bonita Lighthouse
So, off we went on to our next adventure, which was right around the corner, Point Bonita Lighthouse. This lighthouse is still in operation and helps to keep ships out of trouble when they are on there way into San Francisco’s harbor! Even though it was closed, we walked down the hill towards the lighthouse and got some pretty nice pictures. We also got some fantastic history lessons about California’s part in the Civil War as well as WWII. John is a fountain of knowledge and is eager and willing to share. It added so much depth to the journey.
MJ in Sausalito checking out the sights!
Next, off to Sausalito: We went to downtown Sausalito to have lunch and check out the people. We had lunch at an outdoor cafe, chatted a little bit, then headed back into San Francisco for a little street shooting. We debated on whether or not to go on a ferry boat ride from Sausalito to SF, but decided against it.
When we got back into SF, I asked John about the famous hills that I’d heard about. He was only to happy to show me some of them!!! Wow! I’ve never seen such steep and long hills in my life. It was like being on a roller coaster. You didn’t see anyone, for sure, running up the hills, nor down. No joggers to be found here. I saw only one girl attempting to push her bike up the hill. Most of the hills were, I would have to guess, were at about a 45 degree angle, maybe more! Sheesh! It’s scary when you are about to go down a hill and you cannot see the street by looking over your hood because it is too steep to be seen. It takes an act of faith to go down the hill because it certainly does not look like it is there!
Where the other half lives! Broadway
John told us that Robin Williams lives up where we were somewhere, but we didn’t see him. I’m sure that if we had, he would have invited us for dinner, or at least some appetizers!
Well, I’ll save the rest for tomorrow’s post, as this is getting rather long. Thanks for reading!
A day at the bay
Though I don’t think about it actively, sometimes ideas pop in my head about why I photograph. I’ve thought about it before, but sometimes those little reaffirmations just pop up.
Yesterday, my wife and I went to Monterey to hang out. We had no agenda in mind; we just wanted to go and a walk around and let whatever happens, happen. We ended up going to a small area near Fisherman’s Wharf that had a small pond, benches, lots of seagulls and geese just waiting to be fed, and a lot of people going to and fro. We took a stroll toward the beach, ended up on the path, and just began to walk. For the first time since I’ve been here, I broke a sweat. We were in full sun and it was in the mid 70′s. This is in sharp contrast to Carmel-By-The-Sea, which is but about 8 minutes away, if that far, and is constantly socked in by dense layers of fog for most of the day. Mind you, fog makes for a great diffuser and you could take stunning portrait and macro photos all day long!
Wife + Beach = Big Smile!
It was a great day in Monterey, even though we only spent about 3 hours there. So, after our good friends, Richard and Tamami arrived, we hung out with them from the balance of the day, laughed, had a bit of wine, and in general had a lot of fun. We took them to the beach and to some cliffs. I found out that no one except me seems to care for heights. They don’t bother me, it’s just the widths that bother me!
So, after the day was finished and we had returned to our room, I grabbed my book that I had just bought: The Tao of Pooh. It’s a fantastic little book and is a description of Taoist philosophy based on the character, Winne The Pooh. Pooh is the perfect Tao character. He’s very simple, goes along through life kind of willy-nilly, and in the end, things just always seem to work out for him. He’s not intelligent, nor cleaver, he just is. Other characters are represented in the book as well: Owl as intelligence, Rabbit as Cleverness, Piglet as hesitation, etc.
Pooh’s meanderings remind me so much of my photography of late. I have thousands upon thousands of photographs that will probably never see the light of day, most of which have only been seen by me, but that’s OK. I’ve read lots of blog posts, etc. where people are taking photos to sell, compete, display, etc. All of that is cool. I’m not sure what my ‘goal’ is, but I am sure about the journey. The journey is to have fun and to explore.
No worries! No hurries!
It is said that when you have a goal and you reach it, it’s not so sweet as was the chase, which is why people continue to make more and more goals; they seem to relish the chase. Take, for example, people like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. These people have more money than they could possibly spend in perhaps 10 life times. If money is the ultimate measure of success then they have reached the pinnacle, yet, they continue to produce and to conquer. It’s about the chase/journey, not the goal. For what have you after you reach the goal, it’s over.
Each click of the shutter is another step in a never ending adventure of exploration. It’s about seeing. It’s about distraction. Surely, when I am walking along, with our without camera, unless I’m in a conversation, I am distracted somewhat by everything that is around me. I love to ‘frame’. Writing this blog is similar. I have no idea when it will end and I write it because I feel the need to write. Why do I feel the need? Need everything be answered? I write because, well, as Pooh would say:
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don’t know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.
Which means, I have no idea, but it’s not important, I do and that’s good enough for me. Herein, there are thousands of words that will never be read, except perhaps by me and a few others who honor me by stopping by, but the goal is not to increase my numbers. There is no goal, only a very fun, stimulating, and exciting journey.
As always, thanks for reading!
To start with, I was going to take a hiatus from writing, but my wife encouraged me to write as it happened. We each have our quiet time where she reads or I write or take pictures. So….
On Sunday, the day started out very well. My son dropped me off at the airport at about 7:45 for my 9:30 flight. I made it through check-in and security by 8:30, giving me an hour to relax by the gate, camera in hand, watching the ebb and flow of the airport hallways.
Soon, I was on my wife. We took off on time, landing in SFO a full 15 minutes ahead of schedule, only to have to wait for a gate for about 20 minutes. After leaving the plain, it was off to get the luggage and then to rental car counter to get my ride! The luggage came rather slowly, as is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for US Airways, who has the glory of being worst customer service for 3 years running! Go US Scare, I mean Air!
After waiting in line at Dollar Rent A Car, I had my vehicle and was on my way. I checked into the hotel and set about my journey. I had about 7 hours to kill until my wife came in from Dallas and thought that I’d take in some of the sights that Monterey John had suggested.
Treasure Island! Here I come! Eventually…
So, off on my journey to Treasure Island Naval Station. I got on the freeway, 101 North and headed for adventure. What I found was traffic! Lots and lots off traffic. The sign on the freeway gave me hope: Travel time to Treasure Island, 13 minutes. Well, I figured that I could wait for 13 minutes, I’m a patient kind of guy! Well, some 90 minutes later, I arrived at Treasure Island! There were signs everywhere proclaiming that the Bay Bridge was going to be closed for Labor Day weekend! As I sat stuck in the traffic, I wondered: Is the damn thing open right now?!
Anyway, taking advantage of the wait time, I just sat, listened to music, marveled at the view of San Francisco, and waited until it was my turn to exit. Here’s where being in the moment works really well. I was not frustrated one single iota. Not a bit. I was in traffic and that was the reality of it. Jump in the river and go with the flow.
Looking back to SF from Treasure Island
Before you knew it, I was on Treasure Island! John had advised me to dress in layers. I should have heeded that advice. I arrived in typical southern boy summer wear. I had on shorts, sandals, and a tee shirt! I, obviously, was not ready for what I got. As soon as I stepped out of the car and that 20 MPH, 62 degrees breeze hit me, I understood that I wasn’t in Charlotte anymore! I also understood why no one could have made a swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco. That water is cold ALL-OF-THE-TIME! San Francisco doesn’t have a summer. The sun may shine, but it sure doesn’t heat up the air much! I have to admit, though, this is my kind of weather. No air conditioning needed. I have the windows open all of the time and am quite comfortable. Delicious!
OK, on to step two: John also suggested that I head over the Golden Gate Bridge and check out the view from a park on that side. I gave it my best shot, but took an exit too soon and ended up in downtown SF with its cast of colorful characters! I thought about circling back around to try to find the bridge, but there was no way that I was going to get back on 101 North and spend another ’13′ minutes, AKA 90 minutes, trying to get back around to the bridge! It’d have to wait for another day!
Well, that’s one way that you can do it!
So, I cruised up and down the streets of SF seeing what I could see until I headed back south on 101. I was tired. I went back to the room, left again, shot a few more pictures of the bay, which was right behind the hotel, took a snooze until it was time to pick up my wife from the airport, and that concluded my first day in the wonderful city of San Francisco.
Every little bit helps!