Another Class and Some Photo News

Class number 2

I took my lunch very late today so I could leave work early. I missed some of the traffic and made it to class with time to spare. Class #2 was pretty basic. But I did learn some tips about menus, not the restaurant kind, and had a good review of various hosting companies like, Bluehost, Go Daddy. Word press and others.

This week’s enhancement

The change I made to the site from the class was to add some more Tabs. Right below the heading photo where the Home, About and Contact live I’ve added 2 more choices. One is My Photo Page and the other is Travel. If you right click on My Photo Page it will take you right to my zenfolio web site! No more searching to find my pictures. The Travel Tab will take you to all my previous posts that have to do with Travel. I’m not sure if I’ll keep them all. I may have to “tweak” them a little but time will tell. Comments are welcome!

Some Photo News

I’ve been found again! Yay! This time I was approached by Landesblasorchester Baden-Württemberg, What’s that you ask?  They are an amateur orchestra who compete on the world stage.

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This is from their email to me:

After several reflections, we have chosen a serious theme: “Every child has a right to future”, which is accompanied by pictures during the music. We will play at the Wind Band World Championship in Kerkrade/NL,

They found one of my pictures and want to use it. I am honored and of course gave my permission.

The photo they asked to use it the one I called the Longest Dirt Road in the World from our South Dakota adventure. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Their interpretation is “The Road to Nowhere”. Without knowing the history of the picture I can certainly see why that would come to mind. I don’t know if there will be any photo credits but that’s ok. In this case I am just honored to have my work included. It amazes me that my little picture has come to the attention of someone from Europe! It’s a small, small world.

The #1 Vacation

It’s so hard to chose one vacation as the best. Every vacation has a high point, a sight or event that makes it special. Some have several but as I sit back and review the places I’ve been so far I keep going back to one particular vacation. It may come as a surprise to you when I tell you that my #1, absolute favorite vacation so far was our trip to South Dakota.

Maybe it was because I had no expectations for it so it couldn’t fail to live up to anything.

 As Sandy and I prepared for the trip my friends all asked me, What’s in South Dakota? What could I say at that point? Mount Rushmore? I really had no idea.

 We stayed in Rapid City. I remember that even though we were tired from the time zone changes and plane travel, I insisted we start exploring right away. We were burning daylight and thus started a jaw dropping adventure where each day was better than the one before.

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 Our first view of the Badlands was as an afternoon sun was dropping toward the horizon. The lower angle brought out the colors and made the whole scene surreal. Throw in some animals, deer, rabbits, pronghorns and it was magical.

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Wait, was that a Unicorn?

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The vacation continued like that.

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Buffalo herds in Custer State Park along with some silly wild “beggin'” burros.

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More pronghorns, prairie dogs, wild horses, big horn sheep even dinosaurs.

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We laughed ourselves silly on what we named “the longest dirt road in the world” when we got lost on the reservation looking for a Pow Wow.

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We passed through beautiful land and saw more animals and very few people.

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We road an 1880’s steam train and went deep underground in Wind Cave National Park.

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And oh yes, we did see Mount Rushmore. That was pretty awesome too but not the main event by any means.

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So you see, I get excited just reliving that vacation. Even though I love Hawaii and Florida and so many other places I’ve been,  this one is still the #1 Vacation.

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The Great Whale Photo Search

I’m starting to get excited for my trip back to Maui. My timeshare called me. They tried to hook me up for a Luau and a special evening of wine and food put on by the executive chef. I said no to both. I’ve done enough Luau’s now that the thrill is gone. They are enjoyable but my mouth doesn’t hang open in wonder any more, not even for the fire dancers. As for a special culinary evening, I don’t drink and I’m not an adventurous  eater. Probably the most exotic thing I like is escargot. Calamari? Not a fan, salmon? Nope. Even with dessert I prefer plain and simple. Flans and crème brulee? Not interested. I’ll take a dish of chocolate ice cream, a slice of apple pie or a strawberry shortcake. A foodie vacation would not interest me.

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 What does interest me are animals. I’ve chased Elk all over from South Dakota

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(where I struck out) to Tennessee (where I finally caught up with them)

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So this trip to Maui is all about the whales and the posts on Facebook are really getting me in the right frame of mind. Just look at this photo taken by Anna Smith on a sunrise Whale Watch out of Lahaina. What an awesome shot!

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 Then there is this one from the same place  captured by naturalist Jackson Kowalski. Hats off to this photographer too.

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I want to capture my own version of this behavior. I’m ready. I can’t wait!

” Flash Back” – South Dakota

To the Lakota Sioux it was the malo shika, “the bad lands”. To the French-Canadian fur trappers it was Les Mauvaises a traverser, ” bad lands to travel across”. In the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die, it’s “Nature’s High Drama”. Whatever you chose to call Badlands National Park in South Dakota it all comes back to spectacular.

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Yes, I’ve been to South Dakota and I’m ashamed to say that when my sister suggested a vacation there my first response was “What’s in South Dakota”. Her answer was  “Mount Rushmore”. 488 copy

Although that’s true and Mount Rushmore is certainly awe inspiring, there was so much more to our South Dakota vacation and we only explored the area from Rapid City to Pine Ridge. That’s just the southwestern corner of the state.063a

This rates as one of the best vacations I’ve taken. We flew into Rapid City in the afternoon. After checking in and getting dinner it was still light out so I wanted to begin exploring right away. Yes we were tired but why waste good light?  We turned our rental to interstate 90 and headed east about 80 miles to a turn off for Badlands National Park. What a way to start the vacation! In the golden light of the late afternoon we got our first look at the canyons and rock formations of the Bad Lands. It took my breath away. The amazing vistas are exceeded only by places like the Grand Canyon. And we saw animals!

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Over the rest of the week we explored Custer State Park where the buffalo, pronghorn, and prairie dogs are an everyday wonder.  (Where the deer and the antelope roam.) The wild “begging” burros  of the park had no shame in their quest for handouts!

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After a critter jam of buffalo we entered Wind Cave National Park  following a ranger to a depth of 200 ft. below the surface.

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We drove the winding Iron Mountain Road from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore, twisting and turning on the horse shoe turns and “pig tails”, not a road for the faint of heart.485 copy

We rode the 1880 train round trip from Hill City to Keystone and watched a family of Mountain sheep cross the road as we headed to the station. On the train ride we learned about the history of the black hills and saw “summer cows”…”Some are white, some are brown”….

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I’m still following the Wild Horse Sanctuary.

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What a day that was! But it didn’t end with wild horses, it ended with Mammoths at a dig in Hot Springs.

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We went to the Pine Ridge Reservation  but got lost on “the longest dirt road in the world” (our name for  it) and never found the PowWow.

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And there was more but I’m running out of room. We never got to Deadwood, or Sturgis , and only saw Crazy Horse from the road. The Corn Palace is farther to the east in Mitchell, but we did go to Wall Drug Store where we had dinner and bought some mementos. And South Dakota is where I “met” Scout..my little prairie dog with the flower. Totally unexpected and so sweet looking. Glad I caught this moment in time.

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Yes, I can count South Dakota as a YES on the countdown, but I’d like to go back again. The count now stands at 16 / 25

Picking a Destination

Anyone who has been following this blog for any time knows that my travel goal is to visit all 50 states and not just as a layover on the way to someplace else. No I want to spend quality time in each state.

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I was watching a travel channel program today and it hit my why I have such a problem with that goal. I mean , really, I set it. Why should it be such a difficult thing to work toward? The reason, because each state has so much to share. You just aren’t finished with a state with one vacation. Each state needs time to get to know it. Like a person… you don’t get to know someone by sharing a drink at a cocktail party.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to Florida. I don’t always spend the time at Disney either. That’s a nice visit but not a priority for me.

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But as I watched them talk about the Coral Castle in Homestead, FL I realized that I’m not done with Florida yet.

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I haven’t ben to the Coral Castle, or the Miami Zoo.

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I want to return to the Everglades and explore it in a lot more depth.

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I haven’t spent any time in the northern part of the state or Panhandle and only touched on the sights in St. Augustine.

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I’ve been to Hawaii twice but really want to get back there again. I haven’t been to Maui or taken the “Fast Ferry” between islands. I need to snorkel off Molokai and see Kilauea pour lava into the sea at night.

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I can’t forget Alaska. My first visit was on a cruise ship . A nice trip but too tame for my taste. I want to set up a “base camp” maybe in Anchorage and explore out from there. I want to visit Fairbanks and see- no not just see-the northern lights, but photograph them.

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One of the best trips I’ve done was with my sister to South Dakota but we didn’t get to see a pow wow or visit Sturgis or many other old west towns and there’s the whole eastern side of  the state.

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It’s hard to turn away from unfinished business. Every state I’ve visited needs a return visit to finish the exploration started on that first visit but if I always do that I’ll never get to the rest of the states. What a huge amazing country we live in!