Homemade

These four shots were all taken within a few feet of home . . . three at my home and one on Pat’s sidewalk when I dropped her off at her home. Facebook friends will have already seen the last picture; one with which I am very pleased. I don’t give tips on taking good pictures very often, but I will venture out with two very basic and very important tips. The first is be ready. Be ready with your equipment on hand and your mind’s eye looking for images that attract you. The second tip is take a lot of pictures. The more pictures you take, the more familiar you will become with using the tools at your disposal. Like every photographer, you will also learn from mistakes. Careful analysis of your work will help define and clarify your particular point of view; what it is that you get excited about taking pictures.
Well enough tutorial. Here are four pictures with brief brief, explanatory captions.

From our Deck

From our Deck


Bees in our Flower Garden

Bees in our Flower Garden


On Pat's Sidewalk

On Pat’s Sidewalk


Our Garden Toad

Our Garden Toad

Full of Hot Air

Pat and I were at the launch site a little before 6:30 AM (yes AM!), but the balloons weren’t ready to launch. The pilots were looking at maps to try to figure out what to do. The usual launch site was at the west end of an open area, but today the winds were blowing east to west; contrary to the usual prevailing winds. After much discussion they decided to move the launch site about a quarter of a mile to the east, confident they had enough room to clear the trees. These pictures tell the story of the effort and teamwork needed to get a balloon off of the ground with hot air. Today they decided to use propane instead of politicians.

The balloon is pulled out of the basket.

The Balloon is Pulled out of the Basket


A large fan - powered by a gas-powered generator - begins to fill the balloon with air. The fan to the right will be positioned once the balloon is fully laid out.

A large fan – powered by a gas-powered generator – begins to fill the balloon with air. The fan to the right will be positioned once the balloon is fully laid out.


Balloons in various states of filling. The balloons in the back have switched to propane to heat up the air in the balloon.

Balloons in various states of filling. The balloons in the back have switched to propane to heat up the air in the balloon.


The beginning of the switch to propane to heat up the captured air,

The beginning of the switch to propane to heat up the captured air,


We have lift off!

We have lift off!


The ascent.

The ascent.


Off they go.

Off they go.

Beach, Bar, & Surf

Before returning to the dock, our bus took us to the the northeast corner of the island of Cozumel. There was a pull off from the road to a small scenic overlook. Here some entrepreneurs from the area had set up some crude kiosks and a very tiny bar hunt. The structures were made from driftwood, wood from pallets, and plywood. Along with the usual touristy bangles and baubles, they were selling beautifully finished driftwood. The day was beautiful and the brief bit of ocean air was delightful (as was the margarita). Hope these images capture some of the loveliness of the spot . . . even with driftwood hut owners persistent hawking of their wares.

Waves and Walkout

Waves and Walkout


Driftwood Art

Driftwood Art


Driftwood and Coral

Driftwood and Coral


Construction Equipment

Construction Equipment

Bar

Bar


Driftwood and Sea

Driftwood and Sea

Cozumel

Like most cruise ship ports of call, Cozumel welcomes visitors with stores, kiosks, and music; all seeking your money.

Kiosk

Kiosk


Street Musicians

Street Musicians


Once we found our guide and bus (air conditioned!), we went to visit a Mayan historical site. The roots of Mayan culture are found in Guatemala from early in the second millennium BC. The culture spread northward as far as southern Mexico. The peak of the culture was around the 7th century AD. The place we visited was a site for fertility. Couples would come to this site to walk up very narrow steps to an altar to be blessed under a full moon. The steps were narrow because ascent was done climbing sideways instead of straight on.
Altar Steps

Altar Steps


Close Up of Steps

Close Up of Steps


One of the mysteries of Mayan construction are the red hand prints found at many cultural and scared sites. Hands with fingers up are presumed to indicate life and birth, while fingers down are believed to indicate death.
Red Hands

Red Hands


The Mayan culture was very advanced with paved roads 8 feet wide and 3 feet deep as well as sidewalks and arches.
Road

Road


Arch

Arch


Sidewalk

Sidewalk


The site has flowers and iguanas as well as ancient ruins. It seems that nature perseveres even when cultures disappear.
Flower

Flower


Iguana Posing

Iguana Posing


Hope you found this brief peek at a mysterious culture interesting.
Window

Window

Cruisin’

Cruises can be a fairly reasonably priced all-inclusive vacation (if you remember that “all-inclusive” doesn’t include everything). Jo and I took some time to reconnect and enjoy each other in a brief (4 night) cruise in the Western Caribbean. The boat population was almost twice the population of Joanne’s hometown. We started and returned to Miami with ports of call in Key West (previous photoblog post) and Cozumel. Here are some shots of the boat, from the boat and while at sea.

Our Ship

Our Ship


Leaving Miami

Leaving Miami


Life Boats

Life Boats


Elevator and stairs

Elevator and stairs


Mini Golf (on top deck)

Mini Golf (on top deck)


Sunset at Sea

Sunset at Sea

Key West

Joanne and I took a brief cruise from Miami through the Western Caribbean and back to refresh ourselves. Our first port of call was Key West. Key West packs a population of 25,000 into an island only 4 miles long and 1 mile wide; the largest island of the nearly 1800 islands that make up the Florida Keys. The early industries of Key West were as a port of trade and the salvaging of shipwrecks in the barrier reef that runs through the islands. Most of the islands are the exposed parts of reefs.

Key West is also where U.S. Route 1 begins its 2400 mile journey to the tip of Maine. The primary industry today is tourism.

The island has many reminders of its history.
US 1

Key West Morning

Key West Morning

Old Boat

Old Boat


Anchors

Anchors


Wagon Wheel

Wagon Wheel

Chickens run free throughout the island. The ubiquitous roosters frequesntly announce their presence.

Rooster

Rooster

Crowing

Crowing

Tourism includes tours of Hemingway’s house and Truman’s get-away-from-D.C. “Whitehouse”.
truman

Old Man and the Sea (with cellphone)

Old Man and the Sea (with cellphone)


We also saw a stained glass window of the patron saint of ice cream and sherbet. (I had key lime sherbet.)
patron saint of ice cream

Our stop was relatively brief. I hope to return some day as there was beauty everywhere.

Pink Cabs

Pink Cabs


Roots Breeching Stone Wall

Roots Breeching Stone Wall


Palm Shadows

Palm Shadows

Next stop Cozumel.

Amish Countryside

The Amish countryside has a gentle tranquility and inviting, humble hospitality to it. We saw many rare sites, including this round barn.
round barn
The terrain is gently rolling with a beauty that is very hard to capture.
hills
It was laundry day for some homesteads.
laundrylaundry2
Even driveways had an eye-catching beauty.
driveway2driveway
The farms gave evidence of a modest prosperity in the midst of living a simple life. We saw beautiful homes as well as well-kept farms and fields. Most farms had corn storage as well as a vegetable garden near their houses. Many of the vegetable gardens were bordered with beautiful flowers.
corn criblilies
One barn that caught our eye had gently aged wood and a beautiful green roof.
barn
As we came closer, we realized that the round silo was also constructed of wood.
silo
I chuckled at the sign below. I don’t want to give the impression that Pat and I look for bakeries (we do, but I don’t want to give that impression), but sometimes they come looking for us!
bakery
The Amish live a simple life in the midst of a complex world. Not all of the countryside population was Amish which seems to illustrate the paradox of the lives of the Amish. They do not drive motorized vehicles, but will accept a ride in one. The women dress plainly and modestly, but make beautifully colored quilts. They harvest in fields with nearby cell towers. They have paradoxes, but live lives mindful of a quieter, gentler time. A simpler time that many today sometimes envy.
paradox
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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