Tag Archives: vacation

Between Thanksgivings

Yesterday, here in the U.S., was Thanksgiving.  We celebrated it with a few members of our family out of town.  Tomorrow, members are coming here for the big family gathering, from east and south and west.  So, Wednesday we made pies, and today we set up the tabbouleh, tzatziki, zhuk, and marinating chicken for tomorrow’s feast.  Lots of chopping and such, along with a fun grocery trip to a market that sells all sorts of foods not seen in the ordinary middle class market . . . this one caters to Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, and Mexican tastes, so there is a lot of fun and strange food to be had.  On top of it all, it’s so reasonably priced!  If you enjoy cooking, nothing like an exciting market and a family which loves good food.

So, did I spend my entire day prepping?  No, I didn’t.  I did some napping, had some coffee, edited some photos, and then had an epiphany:  I can use my photos for subject matter, whether sketching, ink-and-color, or pure watercolor.  I went through a few photos from our summer on the road throughout the Southwest and Western U.S., to places like Mesa Verde, Ft. Laramie, Yellowstone, and Teton National Forest.  Lots of wonderful things to see.  Now, a lot of wonderful things to recall with a drawing . . .

Photo from Fort Laramie in Wyoming:

A quick ink-and-color sketch of the same:

They don’t really look like each other, but what the heck.  I liked the roof and chimneys against the blue of the sky.


Traveling Light, and the Laptop Adventure

In about 5 days we leave for a 2-week road trip throughout the American Southwest.  We leave California and head to Flagstaff, AZ, for a few days, then on to Four Corners in Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park.  Then, a stopover in Colorado Springs.  From there, we will be in Laramie, Wyoming about 4 days, to explore as well as to visit the University of Wyoming and Fort Laramie as there is family history related to Fort Laramie in particular.  After that, on to the Teton National Park and Yellowstone, home of beautiful mountains and hot springs and geysers like Old Faithful.  Then, Salt Lake City, Utah, and St. George, Utah, and finally, home.

There will be four adults, two of whom are photographers.  We take up space.  Then there is the need for technology, too.  Not to mention knitting and drawing and reading (thank goodness for the Kindle!).  Space needs to be considered very, very seriously.  I’ve narrowed it down:  I am going to take only my Nikon V3 and its small lenses – I can pack them up quite tidily.  I am also going to bring the Olympus OM-1n and its 50mm and 35-70mm lenses, the latter of which has a close-focus element.  I also want a point-and-shoot film camera, which will be either the Trip 35 or the XA4 – possibly the latter as it is more versatile and has a wider lens, having close-up and 28mm capacities.  I will also tuck a medium format folder in amongst the camera selection, and maybe a tripod, though I seldom use them.

And then . . . there is the laptop.  It pays to have a serious IT guy in the house.  He restored the laptop to Windows 8.1 by doing some research and installing it as a bare-bones system.  I need to still install Lightroom and such on it – but I’ve decided I am not going to spend the time on it between now and the day of our departure.  I will bring my Chrome Book and use Pixlr and Polarr for post processing, and use an external 1.5 TB mini hard drive as storage.  This should do.  I would prefer to bring the laptop – thank goodness I have a genius of a husband! – but don’t want the time hassles at the moment.

Film is another decision which needs to be made.  I have JCH B&W in the OM-1n at the present, and a yellow filter as I want to try my hand at b&w landscape and nature photography (and maybe some street).  The 120 film decision can be either Kodak or Fuji . . . I chose the Perkeo as it has an automatic film stop that works, and with Kodak not having numbers dark enough to read through a red window, it’s important when choosing cameras and film.

By choosing the V3, I am going to give myself an opportunity to master some of its features that I have not yet done.  I want to try long exposures with it, to smooth out waterfalls or just the rivers we will cross.  I may need to bring a bushing for the Perkeo if I want to use it for landscape and a tripod . . . but that may be more than I want to think about!  The OM-1n should be fine as it is, and the point-and-shoots are fine in the hand.  The Chrome Book and affiliated software will be another learning curve, and it should be fun.  Polarr seems to leave a signature on all the images, but it might be it can be removed.  I haven’t had time to fidget with it too much, but like what I see.  Pixlr is like Photoshop, and some of its key features should work well in conjunction with Polarr.

So, the technology and camera questions have been sorted.  Now I have to do the bills and begin putting things in the suitcase, tech bag, and camera bag.  So much to do!  So little time!


First View of Mt. Shasta

We are off on a road trip for the next few weeks!  It is so exciting to “get out of Dodge” and see other parts of the world, familiar and new.  The morning of the 6th is when we slid out of town, stopping for a fast food breakfast just because we could.  And then out to the I-5 to head up to Chico to stay at our favorite place there, the Goodman House Bed & Breakfast.

I always enjoy the drive up to Chico.  There are so many changes in the landscape on the trip.  Where we live, in the suburbs, we move into the congestion of Los Angeles to connect to the I-5, and from there drive through the craziness of the Grapevine, only to end up in the vast expanses of the Central Valley.  This valley is one of the most productive areas in the country for crops, ranging from rice and cotton to stone fruits and nuts.  Unfortunately, with the drought of the last few years, irrigation has become a problem as water is becoming more scarce and more stringently rationed by the state to farmers.  Some crops require more water than others, which means some farmers suffer more than others.  Fruit and nut trees take time to grow, as do vines, while other crops may be seasonal.  I wonder, though, what the future holds for us as the planet continues to warm – what can we do as far as sustainable food production with more drought-tolerant crops?  Some farmers are blaming it on Congress and the Democrats – there were signs posted along the roadside saying “Thank Obama and Congress for another dust bowl” or something like that.  These days, water is power.

That said, the San Joaquin (another name for the Central Valley) is impressive!  The closer we got to Chico, the closer the hills came, and the more the crops became fruits and nuts.  Orchards never cease to draw my eye; I love trees, and lines of trees are endlessly fascinating to me.  Chico is a college town, with a state university in its midst, as well as the famous Sierra Nevada Brewery.  Walking around Chico is very pleasant as there are tall, old trees lining so many of the streets.  It was rather sticky and muggy, but still worth the bit of sweat we worked up just to be able to enjoy another city.

At the very top of the Central Valley along the I-5, you move into mountains formed by volcanos, the most famous of which is Mt. Shasta.  To me, that first look at that snow-covered ancient volcano is awesome – snow in the middle of summer, pointed, and unlike everything else around it.  That, to me, tells me I am moving into new territory.