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"I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them." Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tucson: Nice Destination for the Winter Weary

Every winter about this time my thoughts start turning to warmer and brighter destinations--today I've been thinking about Tucson quite a bit. Tucson is a beautiful small city and it's surrounded by some of the prettiest desert scenery you'll ever see. One of my favorite places is the western unit of the Saguaro National Park about a half hour or a bit less west of the city. Once you're there you're surrounded by miles and miles of pretty desert scenes and thousands of giant saguaro. Nothing better than wandering around (careful where you sit, there are snakes and scorpions around!) with a camera and just shooting photos of these amazing plants.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Japanese Tea Ceremony

I've never been to Japan but it's at the top of my travel wish list. One of the things that I would like to see and participate in is the traditional tea ceremony. While doing some research on this, I went to Youtube (where else?) to look for a good tea-ceremony video and found quite a few. I was hoping to find one that was shot in a Japanese garden and did find one but it had subtitles that I found distracting. The one I've posted here was shot indoors in a traditional Japanese room, and it's very interesting and informative (there is no narration, so you just have to learn from watching). I'll keep looking for the ultimate video, but in the meantime, if you have a few minutes and are interested in tea, you'll find this video fun to watch.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Connecticut Update

Well, what a strange storm that was. Thank the Universe, I was able to keep electricity throughout, but around 2 a.m., just as the storm was abating, I lost cable-related services: TV, Internet and phone. (Never bundle phone with your cable services, by the way--a big mistake. I still had a cell, of course, but almost all the cell towers were down.)

My house was pounded (for lack of a more creative word) by winds that I estimate at around 80-90 mph for hours on end. It got scary at times, but I felt pretty safe in the house since I'm about 4-5 miles inland from the coast of Long Island Sound. But the wind was relentless. And several times in the distance I saw transformers explode and light the sky with a beautiful blue-green light. We're very fortunate that Sandy was, for my area at least, a very dry storm: only a few inches of rain, which is nothing.

Those a few miles from here were not so lucky and, as I'm sure everyone knows by now, the the shores of CT, NY and especially NJ took a horrific hit. I think the Pres and the Gov of NJ are doing a superlative job of handling this storm. Two professionals doing their jobs and exceeding their own talents and devotion.

Anyway, quite an interesting night, huddle up with my cats and just watching the storm on TV (until cable went out) and watching it out my picture window. I had a friend come over the day before the storm and help me board up a long bay window that is older and I was afraid might blow in. But once that window was boarded up, I felt pretty secure the house could take any amount of wind--and it did. You have to love the way they built houses 75 years ago.

I hope that those of you on the East coast reading this were spared any real damage. And I can tell you this: next week I'm going to invest in a good transistor radio, more flash lights and a lot of batteries. Although we didn't lost power, I was ill-prepared if we had--which is rare. Usually I'm over prepared!  (Photo: MICHELLE MCLOUGHLIN/REUTERS)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mastering Travel Photography Seminars

If you've ever wanted to get more professional results with your travel photos, National Geographic Traveler magazine is sponsoring a series of travel-photography seminars that sound like a lot of fun. They're being hosted by two of the world's great travel shooters: Bob Krist and Ralph Lee Hopkins. The seminars  are being offered in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

The topics covered in the day-long presentations (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) include: understanding the elements of travel photography, improving the quality of your travel images, making effective use of flash in travel photos, being on the road with your equipment and, of course, sharing your travel pictures. Bob and Ralph are two of the most published travel shooters out there; Ralph has a number of beautiful wildlife shots in my book The NEW Joy of Digital Photography and Bob has been one of my photo inspirations for my entire career.

The cost of the seminar is just $195--a small investment compared to the cost of almost any trip and you'll get your money's worth in inspiration alone. But fair warning: after seeing their beautiful work all day long you'll come away with a wicked case of wanderlust.

(Photo courtesy of Bob Krist.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tracking New England's Fall Foliage

If you're thinking of heading into Vermont or any of the other New England states to view fall foliage, there is a cool live map on the Yankee magazine site that will show you exactly where peak color is right now. From what I've heard on the news, the foliage is starting slow but it looks like this could be a great year! Be sure your camera is charged and that you have lots of memory cards with you. And remember too that the colors are most intense early and late in the day. Have fun!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Joseph Rosendo Wins Lowell Thomas Awards

I love watching travel shows on television, they're a great way to see the far flung places of the world and probably the best way to plan a trip to a particular area. One of my favorite travel shows is Travelscope, hosted by long-time world traveler Joseph Rosendo. Watching Joseph is kind of like watching your one of  your friend's or neighbor's vacation videos--the productions are very low key and somewhat informal and he's a very down-to-Earth person that relates to people in an extremely friendly and casual way. They're very fun too and there seems to be no adventure he won't try, no food he won't test and no person that he can't coax to smile.

And happily, good things happen to good travel hosts and it was just announced that Joseph recently won two of the very prestigious Lowell Thomas Travel Awards. These awards are presented each year by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation and they're kind of like the Academy Awards for the travel biz. Joseph and Travelscope (which can be seen on many PBS stations around the country) won two awards:  Travel Broadcast — Video Category for Guatemala’s Semana Santa.
You can get more information on the episode here or watch the episode with this link. Travel Broadcast — Audio Category for St. Vincent and the Grenadines – Close to Home and a World Away. The winning audio broadcast may be heard at this link.

If you've never seen the show before, check it out. You can also download a lot of episodes on Amazon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

National Geographic Travel Shot of the Day

This is kind of cool: National Geographic has turned what used to be a weekly travel photo feature into a travel-photo-of-the-day feature called Travel 365. So now you can go to their site daily for ideas and features related to travel destinations--and, of course, those amazing National Geo photos! The shot here is the Republic of Palau and here's their caption for it: "A boat speeds through the otherwise quiet waters of Palau's Rock Islands. Located in the western Pacific, this Micronesian archipelago is made up of more than 250 islands. Tourism is the country's main industry; its rich marine environment invites snorkeling, diving, and lounging." (Photo copyright National Geographic.)