Journey to Alaska part 2

Im pretty new to this blog stuff. My past self would have scoffed at doing this type of thing. But here we are. If you have read any of my other stuff it is most likely obvious I don’t really know what I’m doing. I suppose that is part of the fun of this project. Like most of the other tings in my life I am unsure about what this blog is supposed to be. Is it just a vehicle to get my pictures somewhere someone can see them and hopefully appreciate them? Is this a journal of my thoughts at any given moment? Is this blog personal or professional? Should I try to approach it as a strict marketing device or should I just approach it as a hobby? There are a lot of serious questions there. At this time, I am just going to do whatever I want with this blog at any given time. I suppose the purpose and structure will reveal itself in time.

What does any of this have to do with Alaska you may ask. I know my thoughts seem all over the place. Bear with me, I’m getting back on subject. I took a vacation with my family recently, see part 1. We flew to Seattle and met up with my Dad’s sister and her husband. This is the first time in my adult life I have met my Aunt Connie and her husband Mike. I met them once a long time ago when I was a little kid too young to remember anything that happened. Even the adults in that long-ago scenario don’t remember much about that visit approximately 40 years ago. It’s difficult to visit with family when they are on the other side of the country thousands of miles away. And pretty much all of my extended family has been very far away and I have seen very little if any of them. So it is very nice to have had this opportunity to in essence meet my aunt for the first time.

We spent a two days with my aunt before embarking on the Alaska cruise. My aunt was invited, but she declined due to health reasons. There was a lot of catching up to do and sharing of ideas and opinions among relatives who haven’t seen each other in a long time, and that was the bulk of the first day of the visit. Plus there was a little recovery time from a long day of traveling and jet lag. From that day, I present you pictures of my aunt, her husband, and my mother and father. I’d also like to add a picture of neat model ship they had at their house. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of their house, and I regret that. It was decorated with a lot of interesting artifacts and artwork. Unless I’m outside or specifically taking pictures for some reason I don’t often think about lugging around my camera. Part of me want to always have my camera with me, but part of me feels like a weirdo for doing so.  In my experience, most people are not particularly excited about having someone around taking pictures of everything, especially with a big ole DSLR camera. Even the proliferation of cell-phone cameras and selfie-people, a lot of people are uncomfortable with cameras and think it is weird for someone to taking pictures of random this and that. I am sure I have crossed that “weird” line many times. I can feel it, and it doesn’t feel good. But I need to stop worrying about what other people think and just get comfortable doing what I like to do.

Beyond the general visiting we did with my Aunt Connie and her husband Mike, they took us on a trip to visit the Mount Saint Helens Volcano National Park. I was a kid when this volcano most recently erupted, and still remember how crazy people got at the time. If my memory serves, we got a little ash from the eruption where we lived in Oklahoma. But I was a kid, and my mind may have blown things out of proportion/imagined this into my reality. Regardless, it was a pretty big deal.

The park was amazing. It was pretty remote. It took about an hour to drive there from the interstate exit. There were quite a few people there, but it wasn’t too crowded. It was a very nice park with a very nice observatory/information center for people to visit. There was a good bit of parking, and probably a mile, give or take, of paved trails along a ridge for visitors to enjoy. There are also more rustic trails and camp areas for the people who want to spend more than an afternoon visiting this monumental park. I would love to camp out here and do some hiking at some point. I am very glad I got the opportunity to visit this majestic site at all.

Of the pictures I took at Mount Saint Helens I have a few comments and thoughts:

My first thought is that the small amphitheater you see here would be an amazing place for a small concert with your favorite band. Granted the noise pollution would be a factor, so it would have to be a bit dialed back or completely acoustic. And getting a group out that far would be a bit much to ask of most people, but true fans would certainly make the journey. Im not sure about the acoustics there either. The sound may just drift off into the expanse. I wonder if it has ever been done.

My second thought, did the builders of the observatory work around these old tree remains from the volcano blast, or were they placed there after construction? Both seem possible. That one stump looks like it may still have some roots in the ground. Not sure why I thought this, but once I did it really got stuck in my craw. The park makes a big deal about not disturbing the plants and wildlife, so I wonder how careful they were during construction. Just a random thought from a random mind. Also here is a  picture of some uprooted trees and several tree stumps that were destroyed in the eruption. Pretty amazing the devastation that hit this area all those years ago.

Here are a few pictures of the park facilities. A few signs to let you know where you are, and where you are going. I like taking pictures of signs. There is a topographical relief map that plays a light show to educate and entertain. And the park has a nice film you can watch, and when it ends the screen raises up and reveals the volcano for a spectacular finish.

These are the photos I most liked of the mountain. I played around with some panoramas as you can see. 

Finally here is a lucky volcano grasshopper for a strong finish.

Journey to Alaska part 1

I have just returned from a fantastic vacation journey. This is the first real vacation I have taken in my adult life, and it may well be the last. My life has been pretty mediocre up to this point, and while I am trying to break out of my long running rut, I am finding myself ill equipped for the journey into the promised land. I take too long to do things. I can’t decide what to do, in no small part because Im not even sure what exactly it is that I do want. The life of a professional photographer is considerably more complicated than most people could imagine. Most people are happy enough to go to work and be told more or less what needs to happen. And as you can probably tell from this brief paragraph my mind is all over the place.

Part of me supposes that I would most like to be a travel photographer, what ever that means. There are many facets to being a travel photographer as far as my inexperienced eyes can see. And my desire to be a travel photographer is based on assumptions. As I said earlier, I don’t have a lot of vacationing experience, not that travel photography is a long vacation. I have no illusions that it is anything other than hard work with relentless schedules and often unfavorable traveling conditions. I have done a good bit of professional traveling in my life, and it was often unpleasant. After all, if something is fun and pleasant people tend to pay for the experience not get paid to do it.

On this vacation I took a lot of pictures. I suppose this was a way to get the feeling of what it may be like to be a travel photographer. Granted, the travel conditions were pretty good considering I was a guest on a nice cruise ship. But there was a good bit more to the trip than just the cruise.

I started the trip from my home in Central Georgia. This was a trip with my parents and my uncle, and we also met up with my aunt. It was a family affair. I may often refer to we when there is a we required. I drove my parents to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. We had a short, about 45 minute, layover at Denver International Airport. Then we proceeded to our final destination, to our port of call, Seattle.

Commercial flying has never been fun for me. I am a big boy, I always have been. Unfortunately I let myself go physically over the last several years.  For the last 10 years I got paid to sit on my posterior and watch television, and that took a terrible toll on my physical and mental well being. But my past is another topic entirely. The point is I am fat and tall and that makes flying coach nothing short of miserable. But I am happy to say I am working to improve my health both physically and mentally.

When we got to Sea-Tac Airport we were met by my aunt and her husband. They picked us up and took us out to dinner at a nice restaurant and lounge just across the street from the airport. The 13 Coins Restaurant was my first glimpse of Seattle, and I liked it.

The photos I am adding to this blog entry are from the 13 Coins Restaurant. I didn’t take a lot of pictures here. I was more interested in eating and drinking after a long day of traveling. I do wish I had snapped a more of the surroundings. 

We got to the restaurant around 9:30 pm Seattle time. By Middle Georgia standards this place was very nice. There was a wait, so we had a drink in the lounge, which was pretty busy and had live music. The place is open 24hours a day, which is also nice, and doesn’t happen in Middle Georgia unless it is a Waffle House. Waffle House has its charms, but is nothing compared to the 13 Coins Restaurant.  Not even close.

I had the wagyu burger which was very tender. I like taking pictures of food when it is something out of the ordinary, and for me wagyu beef is very out of the ordinary. My Mom brought along a pink flamingo named Glenda of Gilda, or something like that, my nephew, her grandson, gave her as a travel companion. My Mom and my Aunt Connie enjoying some company from a flamingo. And the booth we were in had a very interesting light fixture that played optical illusions on your naked eyes. I tried to capture it with a photo, but the real life view is much more perplexing.

Visit to Providence Canyon state park

I took a trip to the Little Grand Canyon of Georgia, which is more formally named the Providence Canyon State Park. Im not sure where I heard about it, but once I did I knew I had to see it.

This is an amazing place. Visiting it at the beginning of August may not have been the best idea. It was hot. I mean really hot. And naturally being South Georgia the humidity was very high, making for a sauna like experience. Im sorry to say that my less than physically fit self had a rough time.

After a two hour drive to reach the park, I spent only about an hour. Probably half of that was going down trail and then back up from the canyon floor. Oh the back up part was rough on me. Some great exercise was had. It’s probably good that I left when I did because the late afternoon thunderstorms started not long after getting out of the canyon. Since the canyon floor is a little creek, I wonder just how much water flows through there when there are storms like that.

Naturally I wanted to take some pictures of the sight. Pictures of interesting places are one of my major motivators. Even though I didn’t spend enough time here to get as many pictures of this amazing landscape as I would have liked, I am happy with what I did come back with. There were several miles of trails I left untried. No telling what I missed. I need to come back again when it is cooler and explore the whole place. Maybe even camp.

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