Tuesday, April 30, 2013

San Francisco - a city in motion

Every now and then, when I think about it, I like to put movement into some of my photos.

And that usually takes a little thinking (or non-thinking) and a slower shutter speed. It also helps if the light is somewhat subdued so that can be accomplished.

With a bright sun, its hard to get really good motion shots because a higher f stop and higher ISO is needed to get a decent photo.

We had been in the City by the Bay the previous weekend last October, just passing by on our way north.

But there was going to be a lot of people and action this following weekend. The Giants were in the baseball playoffs at home, the 49ers had a home game, there was the America's Cup sailing regatta going on and a well-known maker of sports apparel was sponsoring some kind of run.

There were people, people, people everywhere. And I wanted to capture some of the hubbub of the moment. And that meant slowing down the shutter speed to show people.

I had gotten on the cable car just north of Chinatown. We were on Powell Street heading toward Market Street. Descending the hill from the California Street intersection, we could see the crowds below. Union Square was overrun.

While standing in the outside front on the cable car, I set my shutter to a slower speed and opened up the lends. With one hand keeping me bonded with the cable car, the other started triggering the shutter.

Trying something different is always an adventure, since one doesn't know exactly how they will turn out. But its worth a try, especially with digital cameras. Shoot a lot and discard most of them.

Its just another way to remember the city.

Next post: May 7, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Farmers' markets - they're so delicious

Wifey and I are drawn to farmers' markets.

Well, wifey is, and I am pulled to them whether I want to go or not.  But that's not really the case. I enjoy visiting stalls and displays of food that someone else has produced seeing that I find it hard to grow things.

I usually try growing tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and this year we are into peas and green beans, corn, also some sunflowers not to mention babying along a strawberry plant that made it through the winter.

But I digress.

Last October after we had breakfast in Eureka, CA, we drove around town a little and there was, guess what, a farmers' market, and that was on a Tuesday morning.

Most cities have one on the weekends.

But anyway, we stopped, got out and walked a couple blocks to see what was happening.

It was interesting. Plants, fruit and even some bluegrass type entertainment was on tap.

We surveyed the whole place and then made our purchases which included some blueberries.

And then we were heading on down the coast enjoying the great weather and exceptional scenery.

Next post: April 30, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A West Coast treat for hungry travelers

Golden grown empanada with sidedish and salsa

What's an empanada?

Until last October, I don't think I'd ever heard of one. And then I ate one.

And one could say that was the start of something new. But that's not the case.

My first experience with such a treat occurred on our nine-day trip along the West Coast back in October.

We had spent the night in Willits at the Old West Inn and then decided to head to the Coast for the final  leg of our trip down to San Francisco.  We were hoping to find a coffee shop in Fort Bragg, but that didn't pan out.

We headed south and, since having spent time in Mendocino previously, we decided we were going to give some place in that community our business.

We drove around taking in the scenery and seeing what kinds of shops were open and busy.

We decided on the Goodlife Cafe and Bakery. There were a lot of people coming and going and enjoying the food and atmosphere.

Goodlife had a wide assortment of items, all of which looked really delicious.

And then our decision was the pastry stuffed with a variety of ingredients and then baked or fried. Our empanada included cheese, egg and sausage, a well-enjoyed treat for a late-morning meal.

I always get some type of coffee drink, usually a latte or cappuccino while wifey orders tea.  That is what we did.

The counter by the window offered some good people-watching while we devoured the offering. 

I haven't had an empanada since. I haven't seen it on any menus. I guess down South we're just more likely to enjoy eggs and grits and biscuits and bacon.

Next post: April 23, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Old train station takes on new personna

Bay St. Louis Historical Depot

Old train stations are fascinating.

And for the most part, a lot of cities have turned them into a spot for either chambers of commerce or tourism centers.

Such is the case for the old facility in this west Gulf Coast Mississippi town.

Bay St. Louis, MS was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 and it is growing back. 

The city sits on a bluff that overlooks the Bay of St. Louis to the north and the Mississippi Sound to the south. The US 90  bridge and the CXS railroad cut across the open water connecting the area to Pass Christian on the east.

There once were a number of businesses hanging off the bluff that catered to tourists and locals. But they are gone. The hurricane swept them away.

But the old L&N Train Depot, inland a couple of blocks, still stands and has been refurbished and is a welcoming site.

Wifey and I visited a couple months ago when we took a daytrip to try something different.

She was on the lookout for a new dining experience and I was just along for the ride and the excellent food that we found at Cannella International Creperie on U.S. 90

And on the way we visited the Bay St. Louis Historical Depot which houses the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau. 

On that rainy day, we meandered around the facility taking in a few displays which included Mardi Gras costumes, miniature replicas of trains along with an old railway wagon which was used to move luggage and other items.

The second floor is home to the nationally acclaimed folk artist Alice Moseley's museum.

Next post: April 16, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sequestration closes some Smokies sites

 (Note: My Apple MacBook Pro is back from the hospital. That means a resumption of posts.)

Great Smoky Mountains

I was wondering how the governmental sequester issue was going to affect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Well, I found out this week that what they are going to have to do will affect us somewhat but not mess up our trip to the area this coming July.

We already have reservations for seven nights for a site in Elkmont Campground which is about six miles outside of Gatlinburg.

Cascading waterways add to enjoyment at park

The good news is that Elkmont, so far, is not affected. That's a relief.

But a location we planned on staying a few days will be closed, and that is the Balsam Mountain Campground.

That site is up the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Cherokee. We like to spend time there because it is not as crowded and is at a higher elevation, meaning the days and nights are cooler.

My wife and I belong to the Great Smoky Mountains Association and, among other publications, receive a monthly Email letting us know what is going on in the park.

Laurel Falls, a favorite spot

The monthly E-Newsletter is called "the cub report" and has a lot of good information. To become a dues-paying member and support the park go to the GSMA fundraising site.

Quoting from the publication:

'Sequestration has left its mark on the Smokies in the form of a 5% budget reduction. Three campgrounds, two picnic areas, one horse camp, and associated access roads, will not open during this year.

Facilities to remain closed in 2013 include:
- Look Rock Campground and Picnic Area and the Abrams Creek Campground in Tennessee
- Balsam Mountain Campground and Picnic Area, including Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain roads
- Tow String Horse Camp in North Carolina

In addition, several campgrounds and roads that usually open in March will be delayed until mid-April.

"We regret this will cause inconvenience to park visitors," said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, "especially those who have enjoyed these more remote areas of the Smokies year after year.  We have focused our workforce to maximize the utilization of facilities throughout the remainder of the park in order to serve and provide recreational opportunities for our millions of park visitors."'

It is not as bad as it could have been and we hope those are the only locations that are going to be closed.

Next post: April 9, 2013