Feeling Like Less Than A Million Bucks

I admit it, I am tired today. I guess that’s natural after coming home from vacation.

The weather was perfect yesterday but now the skies are cloudy all day. I miss Wyoming where the deer, antelope and just about every other sort of wildlife play. I’m thinking that an RV (recreational vehicle) would be the best way to see everything without having to double back to the hotel each day. Probably out of my price range but it sure would be nice to be able to take an afternoon nap in the back of the bus or grab something to eat out of the built in mini-bar.

I was less than happy with most of the photos I took on this trip but that is typical when you are rushing around from one site to the next. Sometimes the best you can hope for is a blurry record of your trip under murderously contrasty skies. Rush, rush and more rush. We did get to see a lot in the short time we had to spend there.

X marks the spot. I liked the way these fallen trees formed a pattern in the foreground. It would have been nice if I had checked the ISO setting before I took this photo.

I’m sure there is a better composition to be made here but I was so stunned by the colors that they were all I could think of at that moment. There is a boardwalk path going through these thermal springs so I suppose one person takes about the same photo as the next. This was one of my favorite spots in the park.

Buffalo posing for a nickel. Usually they have their heads down in the grass minding their own business. This was taken at a spot where a lot of buffalos were crossing the road and the traffic was stopped. The world really has no need for more photos like this but I took one anyway.

Homeward Bound

Up before dawn and off to the airport. We are first in line at the check-in counter. The Jackson Hole Airport is currently being renovated. Half the lights are out and there is no PA system. The gate agent shouts above the gathering crowd. They don’t have jet bridges here so you get to climb up stairs outside to board the plane. That’s fine with me because I can take a few more photos as we walk from the terminal to the plane.

On Sunday morning I had an allergic reaction to some contact lens solution that I’m sure was long expired. I ended up going to the emergency room that evening to get my eyes flushed out (very unpleasant) and to get some medicine. All day long my whole face had been raw and irritated. My eyes were constantly watering and my nose ran like an old worn out faucet. My left eye hurt a lot. It hurt when I blinked. I had to wear my sunglasses all the time. I would have looked pretty cool wearing sunglasses in the dark except for the runny eyes and nose. The worst part was that we had to cut the day short and I was nearly blind for two days.

Time and painkillers helped a lot and I was back to taking photos the next day with the aid of my Nikon autofocus lenses.

The altitude seems to be affecting me as well. The nurses measured my oxygen saturation at the hospital but I forgot to ask what it was. I guess it was close to normal for old farts but I still feel a little short of breath, especially when we are going uphill.

We wanted pizza yesterday and that turned into a mini quest. We checked out one place and the pizza looked bad. We searched for another place that no longer exists. We went to the Snake River Brewery and ordered a custom made pizza, which is to say something close to our idea of a normal pizza should be.

Breakfast seems to be the best meal here in Wyoming. The other day for lunch I had a trio of small hamburgers (sliders) made of antelope, buffalo, and elk. It seemed like they could have all been improved with some mayonnaise or mustard but our waiter Kenny disappeared before I could ask for any.

Around sunset we came to some hot springs and I bolted from the car with my tripod in an effort to catch the backlit steam. We saw lots of buffalos on the way back towards Old Faithful Lodge. No time to stop and miles to go.

We had a long day of driving on Tuesday so we “relaxed” on Wednesday, which only made me realize how tired I was. It rained in the afternoon so I took photos of some neon signs and got wet. After it rained the temperature started to drop and we put on our coats. I took some sunset photos across the road at the Elk Preserve, being mindful to avoid the goose droppings. The sun set behind the Tetons and we went back to the Lodge to pack.

I wish I had more time, money and energy. There is a lot to do and see here and I barely got started. I hope one or two of my photos turn out but there are a bunch where I couldn’t really see what i was doing or where we couldn’t stop long enough to set up for a proper shot.

This morning we missed the earlier connecting flight in Dallas, which gave us just enough time until the next one to eat more bad airport food. I’m so tired that every little thing is beginning to annoy me including the guy sitting in front of us who is wearing a towel as a scarf.

Soon we will be home and there will be chores to do.

Vacation Time

The “big grin” came this morning on the shuttle bus from the airport parking lot to the terminal. The big grin usually comes on a large sweeping turn when I ride my motorcycle. I wanted to take Isabella for a spin this morning but we opted to take an earlier flight than we originally planned so she will have to wait until I get back home.

I’m using the Lowepro Fastpack 350 on this trip. I left the battery grip on the camera so I need extra room for the chargers and batteries that go along with it. Sort of silly but I do prefer having the grip on my Nikon D300 camera except when I take long steep hikes or ride my bicycle. Even then I miss it.

I checked my tripod so I hope the baggage handlers don’t tear it up. We have to catch another plane in Dallas so I didn’t want to carry the tripod all through the airport. I also thought about bringing a film camera but I decided I already had more gear than I wanted to carry (or needed) and opted for the small Nikon binoculars instead.

I wish I had thought to stick a waterproof stuff-sack in my already bulging Travelpro bag, on the off-hand chance that I might get in a canoe while I’m on vacation.

I guess we would be lost without all our toys but getting them from once place to another can turn out to be a lot of work. I’m just happy to be traveling again.

Odds & Ends

A lot is happening and yet not very much seems to be getting done. I’m planning on taking a trip but I don’t know where yet. I’m planning a photo shoot but I don’t know why. The hot air balloon race is this weekend and I am planning on going to that even though balloon photos seem a little pointless. On the other hand if we have good weather with blue skies it will be good to be outside taking photographs of just about anything.

I took some photos at Atomic Dust the other day for the Alive Magazine web site. The painters have been at our place all week repairing the hallway ceiling so I’ve been getting up early and feel like I am running on half power. I did manage to get my Hasselblad film scanned but I have not been able to get very far with editing those photographs.

Here is a shot of my pretty little BMW 650 Funduro motorcycle named Isabella. I took this photograph with the Hasselblad camera using 120 format B&W film. Morning clouds (see below) gave way to bright afternoon sunshine that bounces off the crushed limestone parking lot and provides fill light in the shadows.

This is a nice classic bike over at the BMW Open House last Saturday. This was also shot with the Hasselblad 501c with Kodak color negative film. My scanner was producing a weird yellow color cast so I had to spend a little time correcting that and of course removing all the dust and lint that always seem to be attracted to negatives.

A Lot To Do

Another great weekend and I am totally beat. I went to the open house at Gateway BMW on Saturday morning. It looked like rain but in the afternoon the clouds parted and we went for a long motorcycle ride ending with some really bad fast food. I was too tired to keep going. Should have just gotten something to drink.

On Sunday James and I took photos around town, grabbed some lunch and headed over to the transportation museum under clear blue skies. We had the Nikon gear with us and a Hasselblad to shoot some medium format film. At one point in the morning we were surprised by a couple of very large dogs living in the ruins of an old house. They didn’t seem too aggressive but that could have changed in a blink.

I used some fill flash for a lot of my shots at the transportation museum. The bright sun is just too contrasty to show any details in the shadows.  Inside I actually liked the look of the ambient light better than the flash so I used ISO 800 and shot hand held for the most part.

Wayfarers On Baby

A long weekend is just what I needed. The sun is out, the air is dry and cool. We drove over to Millstadt, IL to see the homecoming parade and listen to the marching bands.  At the fairgrounds we ate fried chicken and listened to the Shriners play more music. Summer really is coming to an end.

I walked around looking for something interesting to take photos of but nothing really captured my interest.

The quintessential Midwestern small town of Millstadt, IL. Homecoming 2010.

At the parade a whole Swiss village comes by on one float.

Commuter Special

I finally worked up the nerve to ride the Funduro to work. This involves running a gauntlet of very bad drivers along the way and then negotiating the garage ramp with blind turns and extremely bad drivers hell bent on leaving the multiple level parking structure at the same time I am trying to get in.

I usually see these fools before they see me and simply come to a stop and let them pass on the outside arc of the turn. I was a bit worried about stopping the motorcycle in mid-turn but the garage was about half empty today because of the holiday weekend. I only met three cars on my way up to the fifth level. Getting out of my home garage presents its own challenge because it also has a ramp with tight turns at the top and bottom. There is another steep pitch (with a speed bump) just outside the garage. If you make it all the way to the street unscathed there is a nice sharp dip with lots of loose gravel. The rear wheel of the motorcycle comes to rest there and then you are unable to see up and down the street so you have to pull out into the traffic lane to see what’s coming and hope that the passing cars do not clip your front wheel.

The restaurant down the street also has a “commuter special,” which looks like an upscale offshoot of a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. The problem is that they never seem to be able to toast the English Muffin enough to suit me, thereby reducing the overall special-ness. We had far worse food this morning at another old haunt of ours. It was so mediocre that it seemed like a waste to even protest. I guess it’s an ex-old haunt now. People laugh at me for buying things from the “dollar menu” but at least it’s consistent and I can be disappointed many more times for the same amount of money spent. Two dollars for bad food hurts less than twenty dollars for bad food.

So I made it to work and into the garage with only a couple of near-death experiences along the way. Backing the Funduro into the motorcycle parking spaces (between steel posts) took longer than I thought because of the width of the side luggage. Those cases are so handy that I am reluctant to take them off the bike though it’s not a big deal to do so.

When I was ready to go home, I discovered that I had left my keys with the motorcycle when I unlocked the seat to try and lock my helmet to the bike so it would dry out. The cable seemed too short (and flimsy) for the job and I left the keys in the lock (behind the side case). I guess no one paid any attention to that or I might be minus a motorcycle today. I saw somebody else do the same thing about a week ago but they also left their turn-signal on advertising the fact to everyone walking by. I guess we have too many keys and pockets to keep track of. While I’m on the subject of dumb things to do, it’s not a good idea to leave your wet riding gear in a waterproof case for a week either.

The air was cool on the ride home at midnight. There was still too much traffic to suit me and I felt like I was dodging bullets most of the way. Maybe the next time I commute on the Funduro I will be able to take all the obstacles in stride just like a real biker.