SS Noordam, May 2016

We selected Holland American for our Alaska cruise.  One reason we selected Holland American was that they had options to extend your cruise to a stay at Denali.  Another reason was that their customers were older than most cruise lines and, since we’re not getting younger, we liked the idea of a fairly quiet cruise.

We had never been on a cruise before and we soon found out that a cruise ship is basically a resort hotel and mall that floats.  There were plenty of opportunities to send lots of money- casinos, shops, an art seller, a jeweler, a spa, even an acupuncturist- but we did our best to avoid the temptations.  We looked at the cruise ship as another part of an adventure and explored the many areas of the ship.

Holland America is famous for the art aboard their ships.  The Noordam had several million dollars worth of art, including several Andy Warhol prints and a Warhol painting of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.

Warhol CFX Detail Extractor Low Key

Warhol seems to be a favorite of Holland America.  In addition to the prints above and the Queen Juliana portrait, the entrance to the nightclub had a Warhol theme.

Entry to Nightclub HDR Chrome Preset

There were a lot of really beautiful places on the ship and we spent a lot of time just exploring the spaces.  We enjoyed the library and the game  room, but one of my favorites was the Ocean Bar, which had a jazz theme.

One of the most grandiose spaces on the Noordam had to be the central staircase, which was three stories high and featured a huge Waterford crystal compass.

Central Staircase HDR Outdoor 2

Here’s a view of the Waterford compass.

Waterford Compass Ektachrome 100E

There was artwork everywhere.  Ship paintings and models, a bust of King William II, sculptures, antiques, and more.  There was always something to catch your eye.

 

As you would expect with a resort hotel, the service was great.  One fun thing was the towel animals we found in our room every day.  They even had a towel folding exhibition to show how to make the animals.

Towel Bunny

But, even with everything there was to do inside the ship we spent a lot of time on deck enjoying the views.  The Inside Passage is truly spectacular. The Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains run along the eastern edge of the Inside Passage.  To the west are a series of islands including Vancouver Island, Princess Royal Island and Pitt Island.

Canada's Inside Passage

The weather, other than in rainy Ketchikan, was great and we had plenty of opportunities to enjoy the sites from on deck.  We especially enjoyed watching the sun set.

Sunset last night CFX Sunset Landscape

We had expected the ship to be just a way to get to the various ports so we could enjoy the nature and history of Alaska.   It turned out that there was plenty to enjoy aboard ship as well and being on ship didn’t keep us from enjoying the natural areas around us.

Vancouver, May 2016

In May of 2016 we were fortunate to be able to take a trip that we had always wanted to take, an Alaska cruise.  We selected Holland America for the cruise line and opted to extend the cruise with a couple days in Denali.

The cruise departed from Vancouver, British Columbia.  We flew in the night before the cruise began so we could have a little time exploring the city.  We didn’t have a lot of time but we made the most of it.

We’re big into finding good restaurants to enjoy and we’d done a little research in advance.  We had dinner in Chinatown at Bao Bei, a modern Chinese restaurant a block or so from the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Garden.  We arrived at 10pm and the place was packed.  We sat at the bar, which had the benefit that we could watch the bartenders show their skills with a shaker.  The food was good, the drinks were good and, despite a long and trying day, we enjoyed our time there.

I’m not sure what was going on, but Chinatown and downtown Vancouver were packed that night.  There were lines of limousines cruising the roads and literally thousands of young people dressed to the nines filling the sidewalks.  My guess is that it was prom night, but it gave Vancouver a young and vibrant feel.

The next morning, Sunday, we had a few hours before we had to be at Canada Place to begin our cruise.  We found a great little restaurant in the shadow of the hotel called Scoozis.  We were the first customers through the door that morning and we were greeted by the very friendly owner.  We had one of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had, a deep dish casserole breakfast that was absolutely wonderful.  If you have the opportunity I highly recommend breakfast at Scoozis.

Vancouver is a beautiful town, with a mix of ultramodern, art deco and classical European style architecture.  It also has a lot of green space, including the world famous Stanley Park.  One of the architectural highlights of Vancouver is the art deco Marine Building, a skyscraper opened in 1930.  Although it is now dwarfed by the surrounding more modern towers, it was Vancouver’s tallest building until 1939.

Marine Building CFX Stormy Sky

As I said, there are a lot of green spaces in Vancouver.  This little park was just a couple blocks from our hotel.

Downtown Vancouver HDR Deep 1

Another architectural highlight is the beautiful Canada Place, the place where all cruises start or end.  A fabric roofs resembling sails covers the structure.  It’s quite a sight.

Canada Centre HDR Deep 1

It took a few hours to work our way through the embarkation process and to get settled in our room.  Once we were on board and settled we grabbed a drink and headed for the deck to enjoy the cruise out of Vancouver.  We said goodbye to Canada Place and began our journey.

Canada Place Grad ND Ektachrome 64 HDR Hyperrealistic

The sun came out for a minute as we passed the Point Atkinson Lighthouse, marking the Burrard Inlet.  Once we passed under the Lions Gate Bridge, we were officially in the Inside Passage and on our way.

Point Atkinson Lighthouse

 

 

 

 

Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, Georgia

It had been many years since I’d visited Cartersville, a small city of 20,000 north of Atlanta.  In October of 2017 my wife’s sister took us to the Booth Western Art Museum.  I never imagined that this gem of a museum was in the little town famous for the world’s first outdoor Coca Cola sign and the Etowah Indian Mounds.

The museum is home to the largest collection of western art in the United States and is the second largest art museum in Georgia.

Booth Museum of Western Art
Booth Museum of Western Art

The grounds contain sculptures by leading western artists, including the wonderful “An Honest Day’s Work by Fred Fellows.

The museum hosts hundreds of paintings and sculptures from artists as diverse as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell to Andy Warhol and Leroy Neiman.  The art is divided into galleries focusing on various aspects of western art.  There are also galleries dedicated to the American Civil War and U.S. Presidents.

 

 

The Millar Presidential Gallery is fascinating, with portraits and information about each of our presidents.  There is a trivia question for each president.  Did you know that the “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything and that Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to be pulled over for speeding?  Interesting and fun stuff.

My favorite gallery was the Modern Art gallery, but all the galleries were full of beautiful works. There was a lot of art by Native American artists and African American artists as well as famous artists like Frederic Remington.  Here’s a wonderful painting by Shonto Begay titled “Our Promised Road”.

Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road
Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road

Bob Vann has a couple pieces in the museum including “The Victorio Campaign”.

Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign
Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign

Andy Warhol’s “Sitting Bull” is one of the highlights of the Modern Art gallery.

Andy Warhol - Sitting Bull
Andy Warhol – Sitting Bull

And now for something completely different.  Bill Schenk’s beautiful “From Dust to Dusk” celebrates the beauty of the western landscape with an unusual jazz theme.

Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk
Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk

We spent hours at the museum and could probably return to find new art or art that we failed to notice on the first trip.  If you’re in the Atlanta area I hope you’ll visit this wonderful museum.

Winter Storm 2010

We’re in the middle of a winter storm here and while I’m not looking forward to the ride to work tomorrow it is beautiful.  We seem to get a winter storm every two years or so.  Here’s a photo of our house taken during the winter storm on 12/4/2010.

House HDR Efex Pro Detailed 1

Seneca Falls, New York

In August 2015 we visited Seneca Falls.  Seneca Falls is a beautiful little town in the Finger Lakes region of New York famous for its ties to the women’s rights movement.  Seneca Falls may also have been the inspiration behind Bedford Falls, the fictional town from Frank Kapra’s classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life.

Seneca Falls Canal Ektachrome 100 HDR Bright 1

The town is built along a canal linking Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake.  By 1828 the canal had been linked to the Erie Canal and industry began to move to the area.  The town was established in 1829 along the canal and was incorporated as the Village of Seneca Falls in 1831.

In 1848 the first Convention on Women’s Rights was held at the Wesleyan Chapel.  Among the organizers of the convention was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the most famous figures of the women’s rights movement.  Today the Wesleyan Chapel is part of the Women’s Rights National Historic Park Visitor Center.

Seneca Falls Wesleyan Chapel Ektachrome 100 Outdoor 2

Tourism has become a large part of Seneca Falls.  In addition to the Wesleyan Chapel, you can visit Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house, called “the Center of the Rebellion” by Stanton.  Stanton and her family lived in the house, now managed by the National Park Service, from 1847 until 1862, when the family moved to New York.

Seneca Falls EC Stanton House Ektachrome 100 HDR Deep 1

Stanton’s presence is all over Seneca Falls.  A few blocks from the Stanton House is a statue commemorating the first meeting between Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  The two were introduced by Amelia Bloomer after an antislavery lecture.  The beautiful sculpture is by Ted Aub.

Seneca Falls Meeting Statue Ektachrome 64 Pro HDR Outdoor 2

Stanton is also among the women depicted in the First Wave sculpture in the Visitor Center.  The sculpture features the women who organized the first Convention on Women’s Rights as well as a few of the men who supported the movement.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton is on the far left.

Seneca Falls First Wave Fujichrome Sensia 100 HDR Indoor 1

Finally, the Trinity Episcopal Church, along the canal, is one of the most photographed churches in the world.

Seneca Falls Trinity Episcopal Church Ektachrome 64 Pro HDR Outdoor 1

 

Chincoteague Ponies

Back in the 90s we spent Easter weekend on Chincoteague Island, home to the wild horses made famous in Marguerite Henry’s “Misty of Chincoteague” books.

There are actually two herds of horses, also known as Assateague horses, living on the island, one herd on the Maryland end of the island and one herd on the Virginia end.  Each herd has about 150 horses.

The Maryland herd, or Assateague herd, is owned and managed by the National Park Service and, other than contraceptive and emergency medical treatment the Maryland herd is treated like other wildlife, with no special attention or treatment given to them.  They’re one of the last free-ranging feral horse herds in America.

The Virginia, or Chincoteague herd, is owned and managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.  Through a special agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the herd is allowed to live and graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Each year the Chincoteague fire department holds a roundup and auction of the horses.  The auction serves two purposes.  First, it controls the size of the herd.  Second, it helps finance the fire department’s operations.  The auction draws as many as 50,000 people who watch the herd make its annual swim from Assateague across the channel to Chincoteague.

The horses are quite beautiful and seem oblivious to the tourists around them.  We saw many of the horses around the island, usually from a distance, but we did have the opportunity to see several of the horses grazing along a bike path.  While they may seem harmless, it’s important to remember that they’re wild animals and can easily run over a nearby person.

Here are a couple photos of the horses from our visit to the island.

Chincateague Stallion Color Efx Graduated Ektachrome 64p foliage

Grey Horse Chincatigue HDR Realistic

Lighthouses

I love to photograph lighthouses.  When we travel, if there is a lighthouse nearby we’ll take a ride to visit the site.  Here are a few we’ve visited over the years.

Bodie Island Lighthouse, Outer Banks, NC

The Hattaras Light is probably the most famous Outer Banks lighthouse but I think the Bodie Island Light is much prettier.  The light was built in 1872 and stands 156 feet tall.  It’s one of the few brick tower lighthouses and has an original first-order Fresnel lens.

Bodie Island LH HDR Efx Deep 1

Crooked River Lighthouse, Carrabelle, Florida

Also known as the Carrabelle Light, this cast iron skeleton lighthouse was built in 1895 to replace the Dog Island Light, which had been destroyed years before in a hurricane.  The light stands 100 feet tall and housed a fourth order Fresnel lens.  The light has been decommissioned and the Fresnel lens has been replaced with an acrylic replica.

Crooked River Lighthouse Ektachrome 100

St. Augustine Light, St. Augustine, Florida

This beautiful brick lighthouse was built in 1874 and stands 165 feet tall.  It contains a first-order Fresnel lens.  In 1980 The women of the Junior Service League of St. Augustine signed a 99-year lease on the house and grounds and began restoration.  Shortly after they began the restoration the League signed a 30 year lease of the actual lighthouse and began restoration.  At the end of the 1980s the League had the original Fresnel lens restored.

St Augustine Lighthouse HDR Efex Deep 2

Williamsburg in Winter

Colonial Williamsburg is one of our favorite places to visit.  It’s an incredibly beautiful and interesting place.  We love to stay in one of the taverns of colonial houses.  A couple years ago we went to Williamsburg at the end of February and stayed at the Market Square Tavern, just off Market Square.  The Market Square Tavern was home to Thomas Jefferson while he studied law with George Wythe.  This was the second time we stayed at the tavern and this time we opted for the only room with a fireplace.

We had a light snow the first night but not enough to affect anything.  The second night we got about six inches of snow and Williamsburg officially closed due to the winter weather.  Despite the closure of all the exhibits we enjoyed the beauty of Williamsburg in the snow.  Colonial Williamsburg was great during the closure.  We were offered a room upgrade to Williamsburg Inn, which we declined.  And that evening an employee stopped in to start the fire in the fireplace.  Here’s a couple photos of Williamsburg in the snow.

Williamsburg Snowstorm 2015 HDR Efex Pro Bright

Williamsburg Snowstorm 2015 2 HDR Efex Pro Deep 2

Williamsburg Wythe House CFX Detail and Vignette