Lens Envy

I just thought I'd brag a little about the gift Rick got "me" for our anniversary (I say it's ours, he says it's mine). It's a super wide angle lens. My normal lens that I use for day-to-day stuff, otherwise known as my "walk-around" lens in photographer's lingo is a 28-135mm lens. For our cameras 1 to 1, or as the eye sees is about a 50mm lens. Anything with a smaller number is closer than 1 to 1. Lenses that bring the distant objects closer are zoom lenses and have bigger numbers. So my 28-135 is slightly wide angle and zooms in a nice amount too. But I've seen shots with the really wide, or "ultra wide" lenses that completely warp a picture and make for some really interesting stuff. Nothing can be done in Photoshop to mimic this, you just have to have the right lens.

So here is a little comparison of my walk-around 28-135mm lens and the same shot taken with my, er, OUR new 10-20mm lens, both set at the shortest focal length possible (28mm and 10mm)

28mm on the left                                                      10mm on the right

Thanks, Dear, for my - OUR new lens!

Wrap up Frisco to Go...

Saturday morning we still felt that we needed to catch more of the essence of San Francisco. Since our motel was on the far southwest corner of the city and the bridge that we would need to use to leave town was on the northeast we got to choose a route that would offer sights we hadn’t yet seen. We ended up turning into and driving through the Golden Gate Park. It’s similar to the Central Park in New York, a large, partially natural park in the heart of a large city. The west half of the park was the mostly natural part, the east half was where everything was happening. I had already scoped out some spots in the park I would like to see, from a photography point of view and as we drove I spotted one – the Shakespeare Garden. So we visited that, it was quite small but I WANT ONE!! Rick kept hearing a noise that he wanted to check out so we began to wander. We never found out what the noise was but found the Music Concourse, an architecturally stunning amphitheater with benches, trees and grass in front of it. There were a few dozen people doing Tai Chi and a man serenading his wife on the violin.

Next, when attempting to find the carousel, instead found a really neat playground area done in an underwater theme with that really soft, foam ground stuff they use in playgrounds now. We thoroughly enjoyed our impromptu visit to the park.

We made it over to the Fisherman’s Wharf area again so Rick could get the shot of the cablecar coming down the hill that he was yearning for. But that place is where all the action is; Ghirardelli Square, a wooden ship anchored in the harbor, cablecars, bikers, shops, street musicians, etc, etc. We again had a great time wandering and discovering something to shoot around every corner.

One of the things that was hard to ignore was the myriad of modes of transportation available. As every normal city has, San Francisco offers the usual cars, buses, and taxis. Then there’s the renowned cablecars. Some oddities should be expected, though, from a city as colorful as Frisco and there was no shortage of those either. One were these little, bright yellow 3 wheel motorcycles that fit 2 side-by-side called Gocars. They were outfitted with GPS to lead you to all the tourist destinations. There were also tour buses with the tops cut off, similar to the London double-decker buses but not quite the same, much cheesier. But probably the funniest ones we saw were guided tours done on segways. Those are the 2-wheeled vehicles that resemble an old push-mower and are ridden standing up. We saw 3 or 4 groups of around 10 people on these riding down the side of the road, usually wearing brightly colored vests and helmets.

So that pretty much wraps up our trip to the beautiful Bay area. We opted to just hit I-5 and head for home, we’ll save the Oregon coast for another trip so we can spend a 3 day weekend and see everything we want to see there.

In the future, we’d like to go back and spend some time in Grant’s Pass, OR, Fort Bragg, CA on highway 101 and Mendocino, CA on highway 1. All 3 towns had lots of interesting buildings, cars, and people. Very unlike the desolate, nearly dead small towns we ran across on our trip to eastern Washington a couple months back. These towns were all very much alive!

I’m writing this blog on the road, on my laptop. We’re in central Oregon and Rick says “the ‘check engine’ light just came on.” Uh-oh, might be the beginning of another story….

San Francisco Trip - Day Two

Come Friday morning we have about 45 minutes between us and the Golden Gate Bridge. We found our way there and I grabbed my phone to get a picture to send to my family with the caption “the Golden Gate Bridge” and when I got the shot and looked at it there was nothing to see! Too much fog! I should have sent it anyway, it would have confused everyone but it’s what it was! Fog!

We originally thought it would have been a good idea to set up a home base so started to let the GPS lead us to the Day’s Inn on the Beach in south San Francisco but got led right to a photography spot I wanted to try to find – the Palace of Fine Arts. Free parking! It was spectacular. Then we began to meander and promptly got lost. Rick became aware of the need to fill up the car and we couldn’t find a gas station to save our lives! We finally found an edge of town that was flat and found gas for 3.91 a gallon – hey, still under $4! We maneuvered our way to Haight / Ashbury, Lombard Street (the really curvy road), shot a cable car or 2 and “the painted ladies” (no – not what you’re thinking) a set of houses kept original and painstakingly maintained. We headed toward the coast to grab a few sights I saw on the internet that turned out to be a bust, mostly due, I think, to the grey coastal sky, then made some lunch and headed towards the Fisherman’s Wharf and our one and only appointment – our trip to Alcatraz!

There’s really not a lot to say about Alcatraz that you can’t just see in the pictures that we took. It took us 2.5 hours to thoroughly shoot everything we could find. Besides the actual “grey-bar hotel” aka cellhouse, there were many other buildings including a morgue, machine shop, warden’s and guards rooming, a lighthouse, guard tower, water tower, the exercise yard and gardens, a “parade ground” that was overrun with mother and baby seagulls and therefore closed off to the public. Some buildings were mostly intact and some were just shells. There were overgrown gardens blooming everywhere and screeching baby birds and mother seagulls warning you to stay clear. Being the derelict-building-lovers that we are we had a great time!

That was the one place we ended up having to pay parking for and wouldn’t you know it – we stayed just a little over the limit on “the Rock” and our time had expired. We were sweating bullets that we’d have a ticket welcoming us on our windshield but, alas! We lucked out!
We finally headed out to get our room and found it to be in a very quiet end of town, across the street from the zoo, actually. We couldn’t get our internet to work but when we walked 2 doors down to Java Beach to have a dinner of hoagies and hefeweisen we discovered they had great wifi so I walked back and got my laptop. One last shoot attempt was atop “Twin Peaks” which gives a fantastic overview of the city but it turned out to be too foggy. The place was overrun with partying teenagers so it was just as well, I felt particularly out of place up there with all the revelers.

The rest of the story coming up next...

Road Trip Days .5 & 1

Yep, another road trip. We kinda both came up with the same idea simultaneously – San Francisco! Rick negotiated a second week of vacation every year so he decided to take a day or two every now and then and make a bunch of short vacations instead of a long one since we won’t financially be able to do that for a year or two. We’ve discussed the San Francisco idea from time to time because he’s never been there and I haven’t been for quite a few years. My dad had relatives that lived there and we would visit, so I’ve been there and mostly visited China Town. I remember seeing Ghirardelli Square once. And since that’s right across the street from Fisherman’s Wharf we saw that too, I’m sure. But it’s been like (gulp) 40 years! So it was time for another visit.

Rick threw in the idea of doing part of the drive south on the coast highway and seeing the redwoods. We’d drive down I-5 to the southern Oregon border, then slip over to highway 101 or 1.

So that’s how our trip began, we headed straight down I-5 after Rick got home on Wednesday, put a good dent in the driving before our vacation even began you might say! Rick started to feel a little leery about the trip, though, when, in a construction area south of Olympia we hit bump so hard that it turned the wipers on, and then we watched a pop can get thrown into our windshield by a truck before we even got out of Washington!

The rest of that day was uneventful to the best of my recollection. We ended up stopping in Roseburg. I was hoping to have a good experience there since we both had only bad things to say about Roseburg. I’d just run into some very rude people when I stopped there on a previous trip and Rick got a speeding ticket there. Well, our experience was nice, our motel 6 was the nicest room we’ve stayed in so far as a couple. We even got 2 beds! Rick enjoyed being able to spread himself over the whole bed and I could fidget to my heart’s content without fear of disturbing Rick. The wifi worked very nicely too!

We got a fairly early start toward the coast (which was 2+ hours away) but even so, it turned into an exhaustingly long day. I had scoped out a few lighthouses to see while on the coast and we found “The Avenue of the Giants” off highway 101 to get some spectacular redwood shots. We kinda just blew by the Trees of Mystery with the giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues that seem to be a necessary shot for every tourist driving through to stop and shoot. I was a little bummed that we just flew through the redwoods without stopping for one single picture but, fortunately, the redwoods hadn’t ended and we saw some very fairyland-like settings, with ferns and oxalis covering the ground in the shade of the giants looming overhead. We also did another very touristy thing – we drove through the legendary “Chandelier Tree” that people have been taking pictures of while driving through for over 100 years! Cheesy? Yeah! Worth it? Heck yeah!

The cut over to the coast, to highway 1, was not the 10 mile straight shot that it looked like on the California map I’d picked up at a visitor center in Eureka. Instead it was a twisty, hilly, 22 mile road that top speed averaged in the 20’s, so took us nearly an hour to navigate! But the similar drive along the coast on that infamous highway was breathtaking. The drive from Crescent City to San Francisco was supposed to be a 7 hour drive but I’m sure that was NOT on highway 1. When it got dark and we wanted to eat and find a bed everything was closed and/or locked. We couldn’t even find a place to pull over to eat a bowl of the Costco potato salad that I brought (thank goodness I brought it!). Every “Coastal Access” road was gated and every other one was marked “Private – No Trespassing, No Parking”! We finally just found a wide shoulder and pulled off and ate. Then we decided to just put miles under our tires so I plugged in the GPS and the first thing it did to find “the fastest route” was to get us off highway 1! So back to 101 we went.

At this point, after being on the road for a grueling 15 hours we were just ready to find a room and crash. Even the internet was not calling out to us, only a bed. We got to Petaluma and the first exit had about 5 or 6 motels but Rick said “let’s see what else there is”. About 7 or 8 miles later there was no more town, we’d missed our chance. Next up? Novato in 9 miles. We spotted a Day’s Inn about a mile before town and I insisted that we get off the freeway at the next exit and find our way back to that motel – we were NOT going to miss this one! I don’t recall if there were any more motels in Novato but this one was fine.

Check back in a day or two for the next installment of our summer road trip '11!

Mix-and-Match Weekend!

Rick had a 3 day weekend this weekend and, for the most part, we stayed pretty busy.  None of it had to do with the holiday pretty much but plenty to keep us going.  And it was promising weather-wise to be pretty nice.  Sunny day - cloudy day - sunny day, hey, 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

I had been planning to do my daughter-in-law's maternity portraits when the time came and she chose a "high key" style shot in trees and grass.  I told her that what she shared with me was a sunrise shot.  Then while they were garage sale shopping she and Kevin found the "perfect" place for the shoot in Enumclaw.  So part of our plans for Saturday was to go check out the spot.

I had some thoughts about certain "looks" for the photo shoot so we had to do some thrift-store shopping for the clothing and a prop or 2.  I don't think I found anything on Saturday but we still had another day to go before the big shoot.

So after lunch we hit another Goodwill, then swung out to the abandoned farm in Enumclaw and ended up talking to the neighbor.  A good turn of events because, while we would like to get permission to use these properties when we want to do a shoot, very often the owners are nearly impossible to locate.  The neighbor filled us in on the situation with this particular location and assured us that they would be OK with us using it for our intended purpose.  Great!  All we wanted was to wander around and pose in certain spots.  We hadn't intended to enter any buildings so as long as no one calls the police, etc, there won't be any problems.  

One of Rick's workmates has a tiny house on a Lake about 40 miles south of here and the lake people put on a fireworks show every year around the 4th (but not ON the 4th) and we end up there every couple years.  So we were heading out of Enumclaw southward and Rick decided to take some back roads.  We were just a couple miles out of Buckley when the traffic on the 2 lane country backroad came to a stop.  Looking up ahead we could see a large something laying in the road - dog? deer? cow?  No - PERSON!  His bike was on the left shoulder and he lay in a heap in the middle of our lane of traffic.  Someone was already tending to the man and others were already calling 911 so we chose to just turn around and leave.  That's such a hard thing to do when you witness something like that.  We wanted nothing more than to do our part to help but there's nothing that can be done, everything that can be done is already being done.  It was so creepy to see a human laying in the road.  (no news articles about a person killed on that road so he must have just been injured, but he sure didn't look good...)

So we tried a couple more back roads and kept hitting dead ends before we gave up and just drove the normal route.  It was a perfect day for sitting outside by the lake.  The lake folks had their water cannons and water balloons and as the boats did their "parade" around the lake the wars between boats and docks got people soaked.  It was great as long as you were in the sun but it would have been uncomfortable in the shade.  We stayed and visited with TJ and Debbie and her parents, eating brats and potato salad and left at dusk, 9ish.

I still wanted to collect some things for Shirley's photo shoot so suggested that Sunday, after my meeting, we go into Seattle to the HUGE Goodwill to look.  Sarah was in touch with Rick so she joined us.  We got some nice goodies including this little $100+ John Deere garden scooter for $13!  And I got the perfect gear for Shirley's shoot.

Sunrise came early after a night with nearly no sleep, my mind refusing to turn off even though I wasn't nervous or anxious about the shoot.  But we got up and picked Shirley up and drove out to the old farm, pulling around the back side of the house so as not to attract any attention that we were there on the uninhabited property.

It was a perfectly bright and sunny morning.  The grass was covered with dew which meant it would show up very nicely in pictures.  The worst thing, though, was that the grass was nearly waist high!  I wandered around a bit to see where I wanted to shoot and was soaked!  Shirley had to just hold her skirt up to her waist and her legs would have been totally wet!  We kind of broke our word and actually entered the old barn but were very respectful to not disturb anything except to rearrange some straw bales to use in the one little square of sun coming in the upper barn opening window thingy.  I peeked inside another barn, saw lots of bird droppings (we were looking for hay/straw) then something snorted!  I was listing what I was seeing "lots of bird poop, other little - - - and something alive!" as I slammed the door shut.  Later Rick peeked in too and as Shirley was warning him about the large animal we heard in there an hour earlier he noticed that the other little things that I was unable to identify were owl pellets - there was an owl in there and it made that snort?  Maybe!?!?

Our photo shoot actually went for 3 hours.  I did what I had in mind, then we did what Shirley had in mind, then Kevin and the boys joined us and we did a few family shots.  

Whew!  Glad that shoot was done!  For the rest of the day we just putsed around the house, I mowed, edged and washed cars.  Rick rotated the tires on the car that we're planning on taking on a road trip TOMORROW!  Keith put his new wheels on his car, washed it and went with friends up the hill to take pictures of their cars.

We ended the day with a nice salmon dinner.  I'm not a fish lover and kinda got a little freaked out when I saw that the fish was not filets but still had the skin and bones.  Rick didn't understand but I think he does now.  It was a good dinner and there really was no reason for me to freak, just one of those uncontrollable things that nearly all of us have, fears, phobias, etc.  Some things creep us out, freak us out and we can't stop it, we can only learn to make it a tolerable level of freaking.  I was trying to control it, but I guess I didn't do a very good job.  Sorry Dear!

So now Rick works for 2 days and then we're hitting the road for San Francisco.  I-5 to the Oregon/Cali border, then over to the coast for the drive to San Francisco on the slow, scenic route.  We'll tour the Bay area then head back up I-5 and, depending on our time, may head back over to the coast in Oregon, doing a figure 8 trip.

Stay tuned folks for the rest of the story...

About Me

My photo
After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.