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Monday, January 28, 2008

Photos of Three Waterfalls, 2006-2007

Snoqualmie Falls, Snoqualmie WA 2007






At Heather the Raven Lady's request (see her 'blog by clicking on my link), I have posted what began as one waterfall photo and now has evolved at the suggestion of my daughter Amy into a montage of three waterfall photos. Snoqualmie Falls in Washington state was a pretty long drive from Tacoma where Amy and her family live, but it was well worth all the effort. When we got to the site, we could hike along one of the ridges and get better and better views of the falls. At the end of the trail was a covered viewing platform that jutted out over the canyon and afforded a spectacular viewing area. I chose to photograph the falls from a little bit different vantage point, along the trail leading up to the platform. I have to say it was a magnificent delight to see these falls.


Falls Under Bridge, Mt Ranier WA 2007




Another really memorable "waterfall moment" was on our way up Mt Ranier that same year. We had stopped for a photo-op (I appreciate all the passengers for putting up with too many of those) and hiked through the woods to a good spot, and I shot a few photos like this one. I have this photo enlarged and waiting for a frame, and it brings back that trip for me as few other photos I took that day do. Makes me take a deep calming breath almost every time.


Shoshone Falls, near Twin Falls, Idaho 2006






Shoshone Falls was a side trip we took as we drove from Texas to Washington to bring Amy and the boys to their new home near Ft. Lewis. Chad had gone on ahead by plane, but we needed to get her Uplander to Washington so we drove it. We went through Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington in just over 5 days. What a wonderful trip! Exhausting, yes. Exciting, YES! Beautiful? Let's just say that given even a small chance to do it again, I would in a heartbeat.
The falls themselves are touted as the "Niagara of the West," and actually fall farther than Niagara does, although not all at once. The falls begin in the second photo at the middle of the left side, and continue down to the floor of the canyon. The Snake River has several falls, but we were told these were the best. They certainly looked great to me! And the time of day, just as the sun was setting behind us, made the colors a rich gold and brown that these poor photos just don't do justice to. If you look closely at the base of the falls, there is a great rainbow from the spray. Great moment!



I wanted to end this post with a photo of the "weary travelers" aka Jan, Amy and the boys. We were on the platform that jutted out over the Snake River, and you can see the beautiful canyon beyond them. We were holding up pretty well, don't you think?

I hope you like the photos. As I looked through the folders trying to find these, I saw so many others that could be in their own post. I had forgotten how many great sights and places we drove by on that trip overland to Washington. Hope your week is the best!

Mike

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jackson Square and St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans Lousiana



Now that I am back at work, one of my first assignments was to attend a national sales/training meeting in New Orleans, La. I was very excited by this because (as some of you know) Jan and I grew up in that wonderful old city. We spent a lot of "date time" at various eating and shopping places around the city, and we loved the French Quarter (though it has changed a lot since the '70's) for it's old-world architecture and great ambiance. We have not been back very many times since moving away, especially after Katrina devastated the city, but we do enjoy the visits when we are able to go.

Monday, being a US Holiday, was a travel day for my fellow sales reps and me. I purposefully booked the first available flight that day to NO in order to do some walking on my day of leisure. I did not have room for the "real" camera, but decided to take a chance on one of the disposable cameras available for $10 or so at many places near the hotel. The Westin, a fairly new hotel in the downtown area, is located close to the Mississippi River, and on the French Quarter side of Canal St. So, with new camera in hand I went on my first tour of New Orleans. I figured that it would be a good workout for my ankle.



Firstly, I apologize for the quality of the photos. I did the best I could with Photoshop to correct some lens distortion and grainy skies, but I didn't "enhance" the colors except to add some contrast and balance to the photos. Whatever mistakes I made with that, please understand I am still learning all about this.

That being said, I will concentrate this post on Jackson Square, about six blocks from the hotel. Jackson Square, St Louis Cathedral and the surrounding streets are probably the most instantly recogizable of the sights in the city of New Orleans. The number of tourists and locals that frequent that small square outnumber the traffic at almost all the other tourist stops in the city. You could miss many wonderful places in New Orleans and still feel like you had seen it, but no tour or trip to NO would be complete without seeing this landmark at least once. The two photos of St Louis Cathedral above were taken in Jackson Square, just between the gate and the statue of Andrew Jackson on his horse waving his famous hat in salute to the city.


Note added 2/15/08: I got this from a friend and wonder if it applies here. "If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes."

I will have to do some research on the life of Andrew Jackson! My recollection is that after his leadership at the Battle of New Orleans, he went on to be the President of the United States. We shall see if my memory is correct, I suppose...

The statue of Andrew Jackson is located in the middle of the square, and all paths lead to or at least past the statue. There are many open areas for walking or lounging (in warmer times) on the grass, playing frisbee or just enjoying the day. There are gardens and large old oak trees at the edges of the paths and along the wrought iron fences that border each side. In spring the flowers are quite beautiful, but in January there is less color in the lawns and flower beds. That certainly does not diminish the beauty and splendor of Jackson Square, just gives one something to come back for in a different season.



All around the outside of the fences surrounding the square are artists and musicians of every sort who spend their day drawing caricatures of tourists, or displaying their art hanging from the fences. There are all genres of art displayed, from the garish "modern" school, to the more traditional street views of the French Quarter during rain or night or day. The artists would not let me take photos of their work understandably, but I did enjoy seeing the great variety of work they were showing. I highly recommend you spend some time looking and listening. You will come away with a peacefulness and greater appreciation for the City that Care Forgot.



Finally, I will add a photo that my brother Bill took a couple of weeks ago on his trip to New Orleans to walk in the 101st Jackson Day Race January 6th 2008. Named after Andrew Jackson and finishing in (you guessed it) Jackson Square, the 5.5 mile (9k) race is the oldest continuing race in New Orleans, and was one of our grandfather George Mike Ziegler's favorite races. It must have been, because he won it more times than anyone has since then. For more information, visit the New Orleans Track Club's website at:

New Orleans Track Club Jackson Day Race Results 2008

Well, that was the first of my walking experiences in New Orleans. I hope you enjoyed my post. I will be posting other photos and stories about the rest of my walking day in the Crescent City in a few days. I hope your week is wonderful and prosperous!

Mike

PS One thing I didn't do that I wish I had, was eat beignets (delicious square donuts covered in powdered sugar) and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde, located just across the street from the square. I meant to get back, but the weather turned cold and rainy on me and I was not able to get there. A reason to go back for sure!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Aquariums at MD Anderson Medical Center

(click on the picture to see the slideshow in Picasa)
Aquariums at MD Anderson


My "photo assignment" to myself last week was to take photos of the unusual and beautiful fish in the aquariums at MD Anderson Hospital, which I visit every 3 weeks. My grandson Sentry had enjoyed the fish so much when he visited with us a while back, that I wanted to give him a treat by capturing some of the fish that he had enjoyed.

I know some of the photos are blurry. I was practicing using manual exposure to get the fish in focus and not the glass of the aquariums. The autofocus feature on my camera is not helpful when trying to get the focus on the right object when there is something solid yet transparent in the way. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I didn't. Plus the fact that I had to take the photos without a flash, because of the reflection on the glass. And, (I know I am going on and on, sorry) I liked the warmer colors of the aquarium light lots more than the colder flash light.

Well I hope you enjoy them. I sure had fun taking shots of these little guys. I do have to tell one story about the fish with the bright orange tail. He must have been paranoid about having his photo taken, because every time he saw me lift the camera he headed for the hills! I didn't know that fish could have expressive eyes, but look at the photo below and tell me he isn't looking at me like Brittney looks at the papparazzi! I had to smile.



Enjoy your day! Come back often to see what else I am up to.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Birds in David's Back Yard



Well, 2008 has started out pretty mild but as the days go on, it's getting colder and wetter. Jan and I were in Houston this week, and we were "treated" to rainy, cold conditions that made us wish for December again! I had a few minutes before we were off to the doctor's appointment, so I decided to brave the cold and see if there were any birds about. In David's back yard is a tree that the small birds found to be some barrier to the wind. The sparrow above didn't move even as I banged about trying to get a better view.



I found a comfortable spot and got very still, to see if other birds would come by. I could see them flying all around, some singles and some in groups, and I was hopeful that they would come a little closer to get their picture taken. I think the bird above is a chickadee, but it is just a guess. I will have to find a wild bird identification website to confirm that. This one seemed pretty comfortable with the surroundings, and eventually flew on. The next visitor was a dove.




She started at one end of David's fence and walked gingerly along. I don't think she found what she was looking for.







When she got to the end of the fence, she flew away.


Eventually it got too cold and wet to take any more photos. I was pretty happy with the ones I got, as I was experimenting with manual focus due to the many branches in the trees that confused the autofocus too much.

We are back in Austin now, and it is still cold and wet. Thanks again for visiting. don't forget to sign the Guestbook and leave a comment. I appreciate hearing from everyone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Winter Rose at Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin TX


While we toured the grounds of Laguna Gloria Art Museum, I noticed some well-tended flower beds on the lake side of the property. Walking up to the beds, I spotted this rose and just couldn't resist trying to capture it in pixels. It had just a few frostbitten petals and seemed determined to stand up and face the cold.


The rose above was near the base of the bush, but it caught my eye as well. Just begged to be photographed!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Slideshow of the San Angelo Waterlilies




Happy New Year!

Thank you for keeping up with my blog.