Thursday, December 6, 2012

As 2012 comes to an End

Greetings for this special season.

Another year is almost over and what a year!   I invite you to scroll backwards through the previous posts and read about my year and see all the photos.   Often the postings are more photo essay than essay so it makes easy reading.

This year found the relationship with Chris expanding and growing stronger.   We managed, despite our different lifestyles, to spend a lot of time together.   It was a year of some magnificent and special travels.  It was also the year I lost my good friend, Alice.  

The year began in the Sonoran Desert with Chris joining me for New Year's weekend. And I am headed back there now.   In between there has been an African safari, a look at Dubai, a visit to Hawaii, Maine, and up the coast to Halifax, and time in the Southwest and California.   I didn't work this summer, the first time in a number of years.  I missed the role of tour guide but this year had plenty of new rewards.

I look forward to hearing about your year, your adventures, your families, even the trials and tribulations.  But I hope it was mostly a positive year for you.   And that you enjoy the holidays, be it Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, solstice.   And that the new year holds great promises for you.

Scroll thru the older blogs to see my adventures this year.  At the end of each section you can click on "older posts" to continue.   By going back to Jan 2012 you will have covered the year.   You can click on the photos to enlarge. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

October in Maine

      New England, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in October conjures images of brilliant red, orange, yellow foliage against the dark green of conifers, small fishing boats hauling up lobster pots, rocky, narrow coves following the the north, north-east pattern of past glaciers, rocky headlands, small towns with old houses and simple white church steeples, and farms with rock fences enclosing pastures. 
Remember, you can click on photos to see them enlarged
       And so, off we headed to Northern New England and to two of the Maritime Provinces.    Chris, his father and I hopped a plane for Portland, Maine where we spent a couple of nights before heading to Bailey Island, where we stayed in a lovely cottage.   Bailey Island, part of the Harpswell Peninsula, not far from the town of Brunswick, and north of Portland, is a quiet fishing community with a number of summer homes.  One of them belongs to friends of one of the people Chris and his dad had met on a previous photo cruise.   We were able to stay at this great spot and use it for some exploring along the coast before our cruise.

Here is the delightful "cottage" where we stayed.  
     The original plan was a bit more complicated, with a flight to NYC, a visit with an "adopted" relative on Long Island.    But since he came down with a nasty case of shingles, we changed flights and went directly to Maine, for-going the train ride from Connecticut to Maine.    We missed the socializing,which was a disappointment to Theron and Chris.  Actually to me too, as I have heard much about John Kuo.   It will have to wait.
     The second half of the trip was a cruise from Boston to Halifax. The reason for this particular cruise was a photo workshop led by Arthur Bleich. Chris has taken previous photo tours in Tahiti\Marquesas and the Caribbean with Arthur. More on the cruise portion in the blog entry below. This one will deal with Maine, mostly through photographs.

This view was a walk of 50 steps from the house where we stayed.

One of the harbors on Bailey's Island

Access to Bailey Island is over this causeway, a crib stone bridge, the only one known in the world.   Large blocks of granite have been laid in a crib pattern, allowing the tides of the north coast to flow through the bridge support.   A small opening allows fishing boats, like the one shown, to enter the harbor.


One of our side trips was to Bath, Maine.  The Bath shipyards are famous for their ships over the years.   The current project is the new Stealth Destroyer.    Near the shipyards is the Maritime Museum.   These two scenes were taken on the grounds.  The small white building overlooking the deep channel which makes Bath such a great place for major shipbuilding, is the old  caulking shed.
Since Chris and I both love maps, a visit to the Delorme Map headquarters in Yarmouth, Maine was a must.   Inside is the world's largest rotating globe.   It was a grey, drizzly day which made the foliage outside beautiful, but we realized the most dramatic shots of the globe are taken outside the building at night when the inside lighting is focuses on the globe.  Oh well, it was still a worthwhile side trip.  The globe is three stories high and balconies allow you to view the globe from the Arctic to Antarctica.  Since it is topographical all the faults and land shifts are visible.  Chris loves geology.

At the end of our delightful stay in Maine, we caught Amtrak for the trip to Boston.   It was an inexpensive and easy way to make the trip. One of the train stops was Durham, NH where I worked and went to grad school.  

Here is the Old State House in Boston, now surrounded by high rise office buildings.  It was here that the Declaration of Independence was read to the public for the first time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The North Atlantic

  In Boston we had an evening and morning to explore.  We did some of the typical historic sites, all close to our hotel.   These included the Old State House and the cemetery where Paul Revere,  members of the Boston Massacre, including former slave, Crispus Attucks, John Hancock and other famous names from our history classes are buried.  We walked to the Boston Commons, Fanueil Hall, and had  lunch at the Beanery where we ate brown bread and baked bean.  In late afternoon we  boarded the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas for a seven day cruise and photo workshop.
I am shooting at sunrise, from our balcony towards the Queen Mary 2 which shared our berth one night and day.  I thought our ship was huge.  The QM2 is far larger.

The elevators which rose 13 floors through a central atrium were glass.  We could see out hug "portholes" in one direction and had etched  designs of ancient maps on the other.

The ship's central atrium.  They had dancing and singing every night.   But evenings were when we were in our critique sessions with Arthur Bleich and our fellow photographers.

This was my first real cruise.  I've been on small tour ships for a week long photo workshop in Alaska years ago, and the small ship that took us through the Galapagos Island when I visited AnaMaria and Ted in Ecuador in 2010.  But this was a huge cruise ship with all the amenities of large sea cruising vacations.   I am glad I did it, but decided that that kind of traveling is not my style.  Since I don't gamble, and nightlife isn't quite my thing, and most of the time you see water off your room rather than interesting land sites, I would rather travel by motorhome, car, rail, or small boats that travel through canals or narrower waterways.  
    We visited some great places: Halifax, Nova Scotia; St. Johns, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine.   But there was hardly enough time to see the sites, and certainly not at the kind of leisurely pace that 20 years of full-time RVing have accustomed me to.   Still, all the stops were worthwhile and we managed some fun photography and that was the purpose.   And Chris got a chance to relax, something that is hard for him to do with job demands.  Even then, there was one crisis to handle via phone calls and emails.   But once that was done, he did relax and unwind.   I need to get him to more of my out-of-the-way boondocking spots where none of the outside world crowds in.
Our cruise ship from the top of the mountain in Acadia National Park

    Halifax is a grand city, but we opted to rent a car and drive to Peggy's Cove and along the coastal area. Somehow the day got away from us, and after a delightful lunch in a little spot about half way between Peggy's Cove and Lunenburg, a town noted for wooden boat building, we realized we needed to hightail it back to the ship. We dropped the car, cut through a hotel,ran the last block and across the street and parking area to make the final call. Turns out a whole tour bus hadn't showed up yet. We could have walked. But we certainly could not have made it to Lunenburg.
The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove has been photographed a million times.  Our lighting wasn't great, but when the man and his dog walked in front, I managed something a little different.  At least we arrived before the onslaught of tour buses when the place gets mobbed.

The low bush blueberries had finished their season and the leaves had turned red.  This was in the Peggy's Cove Area.

This scene and below were on the drive to Peggy's Cove.

In St. Johns, New Brunswick we took a short train ride to the bridge overlooking the reversing tides.   Since the Bay of Fundy has one of the most extreme tides in the world, this can be a fascinating spot.  However, timing wasn't right to see a whole lot of activity.  Later in the day, I took this photo of the mud flats in the harbor.   

This bobby went with the great VW police car above, outside the police museum in St. Johns.

We spent the afternoon wandering the streets.  Much of the city was burned in a huge fire but there is a few block area of old homes which was fun to photograph.   Here are a couple of steps, since our assignment was to simplify our photos.

After taking photos in the old part of town, we were wandering in a leisurely fashion toward the waterfront and eventually our ship.   A car pulled up beside us.  It was one of the conductors from the short train ride.   We wondered if we were lost (he didn't think the neighborhood we were walking through was the best).  He was eager to show us a little more of the area around St. Johns.  He drove us to the old fort overlooking the town, through some areas where he hoped the fall color would be good, and past some other sites.   He wasn't looking for payment; he simply wanted us to enjoy our stay in his city. 

Photos below are Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park

Views in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine above and below .

The Rockefeller family summered (still do) in Bar Harbor and were one of the leading families in getting Acadia made a national park.   John D. was also a prime mover in getting the Grand Tetons saved as a national park.  This elegant stone home was for the gatekeeper to the estate, a man who acted as manager.  Today the gatekeepers house is used as summer housing for rangers.  It is unheated, except by fireplaces, and is not used in the winter.

Another scene in our drive around the island

In Bar Harbor (or Bah Haabah as the locals say it) we ended up taking a great taxi cab tour. We didn't want a bus tour. I learned that the high guiding standards to which Leslie Quinn held us in Yellowstone, standards of the National Association for Interpretation, are not the norm among guides. Since we didn't want lots of corny jokes, hurried stops, etc, we opted for renting a car in Halifax and going at our own pace. We mostly walked in St. Johns, and took a taxi in Bar Harbor. We enquired about a car rental, but by the time we rented a taxi to get to the tiny airport where we could rent a car, tour, then get the car back and take a taxi back to the ship, it wasn't making sense. This guy offered us a deal and we took it. And it was a deal. He was having as much fun as we were and went 1.5 hours beyond the agreed upon time and refused payment for it. We tipped generously. Above are a few views from our time in and around Bar Harbor and Acadia.

     When I lived in New Hampshire back in the early 1970's, Portland Maine seemed a sad and depressed place.   Not anymore.   While it has kept its downtown waterfront a working waterfront, it is also a lively and interesting place for visitors and locals alike.  There are great restaurants, active arts scene, and the old cobbled streets have been maintained.  Our photo instructor urged us to take photos of people.  Its isn't something I am comfortable doing.  But Chris has no fear of asking total strangers if he may photograph them.   I tagged along and got several shots of my own, which I add to my blog just to show I can do it.

Mural in downtown Portland, Maine.

clerk in store in Portland

This woman was playing along the port facing street of Portland.
Owner of a great pub (we had lunch there twice) called "Andy's"  And is this gentleman's name Andy?  No, he named his pub after a developmentally disabled friend.  

Enjoying a last great weekend of good weather, these folks posed for us next to their motorcycle.

Great gentleman from Nova Scotia.  Unlike the ones above where we initiated the conversation, he walked by with his Canon and shared the usual banter that goes on between Canon and Nikon DSLR users.   We had a great time talking for over half an hour.  His wife is used to it....she just told him where she was headed and left him to chat with us.  

And finally, we returned to Boston.   WE flew out on Sunday late afternoon, well in advance of Sandy although we saw preparations all along the coast as lobster men brought in their lobster traps, small boats were being hauled out of harbors, people were being warned to prepare.   The areas we visited were not hit with the ferocious strength that the storm displayed in New Jersey and New York.

Entering Boston Harbor in the morning.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I am delighted to report that I took First Place in the photo exhibit in Concord at the aRt Cottage during October.

The event, titled OUR NATURAL WORLD,  was the first gallery exhibit by the Diablo Valley Camera Club.   On this page, see the beautiful flyer designed by club member, Mark Pemberton.   Then take a look at the link to see some of the photos and comments by the judge.  
I urge you to take a look.   Besides my image, see a number of spectacular photos by other members of our club.   I especially like Cathy Pemberton's snow photo, taken in Yellowstone when she made a winter visit. 

Reunion of the USS HAGGARD

     In mid-September I hopped on a plane for Mason City, Iowa for the 25th and final reunion of the shipmates of the USS HAGGARD.

    I still remember the day, back in 1990, when Lin got off the phone after a call from  Bud Weigand.  He was so excited his feet barely touched the floor. "We are going to Seattle for a reunion of my shipmates."
    Until that time, Lin seldom spoke of his WWII experiences except for a story about all the stills on board his ship.  He said that all  the water beakers, meant for emergencies if they had to abandon ship, had alcohol in them instead of water. 
    My response to his announcement about Seattle was something along the lines of "you can go, I can't imagine wanting to attend."   Despite his assurances that there would be plenty of other spouses (not much of an encouragement as I figured I would be years younger than anyone else there), I finally agreed to go.  It was clear it was important to him and he knew my weak spot....he extolled the virtues of exploring Seattle, easily done from our hotel location.  I  figured I'd explore the city while shipmates sat around in some stuffy hospitality room swapping old stories.
     But I came home with an entirely new view.  I had a great time, met wonderful people, found myself looking forward to the next reunion, and perhaps most importantly, began to realize the importance those 4 years in the Navy had played in Lin's life. 
    As we traveled to Seattle I asked him how many people he remembered.  There were 6 or 7 names but that was it.  He didn't recognize faces when we arrived, but as he began talking to people, memories came back.   Those memories were of people, of situations and experiences.  People brought their photo albums and those brought back lots of memories.  The stories rolled.  Yes, they did tend to get embellished.  Yes, there were incredibly different versions of the same events, but then, each person had a different reaction to what was happening.   But each story jogged a memory of those years.
    Eventually most of the shipmates wrote an account of the day the "ship stood still."   That was the day a kamikaze plane hit their destroyer mid-ship stopping it in the water.   Men died that day.   The hole in the ship, at the waterline,  was huge and the Captain ordered all hands to prepare to abandon ship.  But the ship remained afloat and the crew built a patch allowing the  HAGGARD to limp to -Ulithe for better repairs.   Then they began the journey back to the states for major repairs.   With all shipyards on the west coast filled to capacity, the ship was in the Panama Canal when news came of the end of the war.
   Lin, who was on board for the shakedown cruise out of Bremerton, WA,  also helped  decommission the HAGGARD.  Deemed too badly damaged for post war repairs,  she was  scrapped in Norfolk, VA.
    I learned about boot camp at Farragut, Idaho, going aboard the HAGGARD for its shakedown,  wild baseball games on Pacific Islands, invasions of islands throughout the Pacific, surviving the worst typhoon on record when the ship pitched so far from side to side all hands expected her to go over, the decorations for ship's actions, the attacks, the lousy "lamb" (Australian mutton which they tossed overboard in fire bucket brigade the meat came on board on one side the line of men snaked to the far side where they tossed it over board as no one could stand to eat it.   Due to the lack of popularity of mutton, no ship could get any other rations until they took aboard their quota of the stuff).    I learned about the camaraderie, the mail calls, the movie nights, the stills the men made and the perfection of their liquor making skills.  I learned about the popular officers and the stories of one so unpopular even the captain and doctor did not save him from harassment.  I heard stories about the skills and idiosyncrasies of the shipmates and the strong sense of camaraderie and loyalty. 
   After attending several reunions, Lin and I offered to host one in Santa Rosa, CA.   Between our offer to host and the actual event a year later, we sold our house.   By the time the reunion rolled around, we were living in our motorhome.   Doing all the planning from our new home was a great experience in learning the ins and outs of RVing and coordinating with the traditional fixed home based world.

    Most destroyer sailors were young.  Lin and his compatriots were mostly in their late teens.   Lin, not unlike many of his shipmates, dropped out of high school and went in at 17.  Even their Captain was only in his mid-twenties.   But today, those teenagers are in their late 80s and 90s.   The decision was made that this year would be the last year for a reunion.     Many of the shipmates are gone.   The names of the departed during each year's memorial service grew longer and longer.   And of those still living, traveling across country to attend reunions was becoming more and more of a burden.  And so, a year ago, the decision was made that this reunion, in Mason City, would be the last.
    Over the years, different shipmates hosted the reunions and the group moved around the country to where that shipmate (s) lived.   Each host or host group made sure we all got tours of their communities.  So, reunions became not only a chance for the shipmates to see each other; they became a chance to get to know more about the variety of places in our country.   This year we got to see Mason City Iowa, boyhood home of Meredith Wilson who based his  MUSIC MAN  on this community.    We visited his home, the museum which honors the musical, the large Winnebego factory, and drove past several of the Prairie School of Architecture buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and his students.
       As time went on, reunions also became a time for the families to get to know each other.    In the early days it was just spouses and perhaps the children of the hosting family.  Over the years,  more and more children and even grandchildren attended.   Often siblings came along.  This reunion had  sons and daughters and younger siblings arriving with the shipmates.  There were a number of widows and a good complement of children of deceased HAGGARD mates.
    In a touching moment, the daughters of one shipmate arrived with his ashes.  Harry died weeks before the reunion.   Attending was important and one of the daughters had promised him she would do whatever it took to get him there.    She was prepared to drive him no matter what.  But it wasn't to be.  And so she arrived with a box and said she had fulfilled her promise to get him there.  

                                      Photo of the poster of the HAGGARD signed by shipmates.  And below is a photo of a photo, this one of the patch to be applied to the hole in her side.


                                      During the Memorial Service many sons and daughters of shipmates, living and deceased spoke of how the reunions brought a greater understanding of their fathers and their experiences.

And here is a statue of Meredith Wilson who wrote the Music Man.  The River City of his musical is based on Mason City.  At one time his mother campaigned to change the name of Mason City to River City.