Weekly Photo Challenge: Magic Hour

The first thing I thought of when I saw the theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge was one of my favorite films ‘Days of Heaven’.  It’s a Terrence Malick film that was filmed mostly during the last hour or so of daylight on each day of filming.  The blueish-pinkish skies make each scene look more like an oil painting rather than film.   I saw that films years ago and I’ve been trying to take a lot of photos during that time of day ever since.   While I’m sure I’ll never be able to take any photos that would approach the cinematography of a Terrence Malick film, here’s a few ‘Magic Hour’ shots from some of our recent travels.  (Yes, I know, I just like the term ‘Magic Hour’ better.)

Sunset over Vineyard Haven harbor, Martha’s Vineyard




Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico – This one is a bit blurry since it was very cold, maybe 25 degrees or so and my hands were getting very cold!




In a canyon near the Rio Grande river in New Mexico.  This was taken on Christmas Day, near sunset.



A late in the day trip to a beach on Martha’s Vineyard.   In just a few minutes the sky will turn black and sheets of rain will come pouring down.  The mystery of why the  beach was empty is solved!   I guess everyone had checked the weather report before going to the beach, I forgot to check myself.




This is one of my favorites.   Taken on a recent trip to Seattle.  The little figures are Mr. C and Ms. J are racing around the International Fountain at the base of the Space Needle.  I’m not sure why the place was so deserted, it was a little eerie.  The eerie silence was soon broken by the echoing sound of Mr. C yelling ‘Looooook at Meeeeeeeeeee!!!!!”  as he raced around the fountain.






This one was taken on the ferry ride back from Martha’s Vineyard.





OK, just one more.   Here’s a closer view of that fountain shot above.

‘Dada!,  Dada!, Dada!,  Loooooooook At Meeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!’



Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

On our recent trip to Seattle, we spent an evening at the International Fountain in Seattle Center. Partly to just to see it, and also partly to try to tire out our over excited 3 year old.   He ran in circles around the perimeter of the fountain a few times, and then we went up to the top of the Space Needle.

I probably took about 300 photos on this trip, a lot of them are blurry since Mr. C doesn’t stay still for long.  I have to act fast if I want to get a photo, otherwise he’s on to something else.  So there’s more than one meaning to ‘Fleeting’ for this post.    I usually keep the blurry ones anyway, they have to be really unidentifiable for me to delete them.  I think I’ve been taking so many photos as some kind of compensation for how fast time is going by.  It’s already been close to 4 years!

I’m showing some photos in reverse order, so you can see the “Fleeting” one first.

How long will these hand prints last ?  Not too long, he stepped on them within seconds, covering them up with shoe tracks.


Here he is about to make the hand prints.  Can you stay in the frame please ?  No ?

Here he is on his way around the fountain, with Ms. J watching.  I’m not sure if this is lap number 8 or 9.




Lost in the Seattle Zoo

Seattle Zoo Security Employee:   “How old is the missing person ?”

Ms. J:  “He’s 47”

Zoo Employee; “Oh…. Ok”

On our recent trip to Seattle we spent an afternoon at the Seattle Zoo.  It’s a much larger zoo than I had expected.  There are large exhibits for elephants, lions, monkeys, birds, a large area devoted to the mammals of the Pacific Northwest, and beautiful zoo architecture throughout. I saw very little of it though.   After about an hour into our visit I got lost.

While we were at the meerkat exhibit, I saw one of those information poles with arrows pointing to a number of other things in the area.  Arrows pointing to where the elephants, lions, birds, food, and rest rooms could be found.  I decided that going to the rest room would be a good idea so I told Ms. J: “I’ll be right back, I’m just going to run over to the rest room.”    At least that’s what I thought I said.  Maybe I was in such a rush that I said it while I was starting to do my run to the rest room, so maybe she didn’t hear me.  What she heard was “I’m going to the restroom”. It will soon become apparent why I  then proceeded to get lost in the zoo for the next two hours.

I had assumed that since everything else on the info pole was nearby, then the rest room must be nearby too.   That turned out to be incorrect.  The restroom the info pole was referring to was all the way at the entrance of the park, about a 1/4 mile away.  Maybe less, I’m not sure, it seemed like a long run to me at the time.  Or it might have just seemed far, because by then, I really did have use the rest room.  So, as I was passing everything else mentioned on the various arrows; elephants, lions, food court, I started to wonder where this bathroom was supposed to be.   After running through what seemed like the whole park, I finally found it, and realized that I was back where we started, at the entrance.

When I exited, I ran back to where we parted, at the meerkat exhibit.  Ms. J and Mr. C were not there.  So I waited, and read all about meerkats, and took a picture of them, and watched them run around their enclosure.  I started to get concerned after about ten minutes.  Took out my cell phone and saw that I had no coverage.  So, I decided to go back to the entrance area.  Maybe they had followed me and thought I was going to meet them there.  I waited around at the vast entrance plaza for a few minutes and started to wonder if they were back at the meerkat exhibit.  So I went back there and wondered why we didn’t have an emergency meet up area planned.   Because we have cell phones, that’s why.

Yes, meerkats, I’m back.  Please stop laughing at me.


When I was a kid, my parents always told me to stay where I was if I got lost.  That always seemed like sound advice.  So maybe it would be a good idea to stay here at the meerkats since that was the last place we were all together.  So I stayed with my new friends, the meerkats.  Did you know that the meerkats are native to the Kalahari Desert regions of Botswana, Namibia, and SouthAfrica.  They have sentries that help to protect their burrows by making calls if a predator approaches. They are very social, with burrows having long histories of meerkat families living in them.  Yes, all very interesting, and all this and more I learned while reading about them at the Seattle zoo over the next hour and a half.  I started to recognize some of them after awhile.

Maybe they went over to see the lion cubs ?  J mentioned that she wanted to see them.  Hmmm… not there.  Maybe they’re back at the entrance.  Now back to the meerkats.

It continued like this for an embarrassingly long time so I went over to a large map of the zoo and decided to plan my next move.  When I turned  around a zoo security man sitting in an SUV called out to me “Does your name happen to be Peter?”   I’m sure that the zoo security had given my disappearance a low priority considering how concerned he looked.   After confirming, to his surprise, that neither my cell phone had service, and that he could not call Ms. J on her cell phone either, he told me where they were and I ran to meet them.  Yes, even though he was in an SUV, I was not offered a ride.  So for the unknown number of times, back to the entrance area I went.

They met me back at the entrance, where we immediately decided to start having a designated meet up spot when we go on one of these outings.  They had been at the entrance area pretty much the whole time.  Seems as though it’s just such a large area that I missed them and they missed me in my journey back and forth between the meerkats and the entrance.

We also discovered that while my parents favored the ‘Stay Put’ plan when lost, her parents favored the ‘Go back to the entrance’ plan.  A plan that I’m not about to disagree with, but one which I had never heard of.  Luckily it was just me who was lost and not Mr. C.

We then went back into town for a delicious meal, and since I had more than my share of exercise for the day, I fell asleep within minutes of returning to the hotel.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sign Says

We just returned from a West coast trip that included Seattle and San Francisco, and I just happened to have taken a few pictures of signs that fit in well with the challenge this week.

Seattle is a great city for neon signs.  I’m not sure if it’s famous for that, but it should be, they’re everywhere.  Old hotels, old retail shops, anything neon from the 50’s seems to have survived well there.  Here’s the sign for Top Pot Doughnuts, an exceptional baker of one of my favorite foods.  I only eat very good donuts, if I didn’t I’d probably weigh 300 pounds.   My 3 year old son and I spent an enjoyable breakfast here about a week ago.  ‘Brown donuts are my favorite’ Mr. C says.


This might be one of the more famous signs in the US.  It’s the neon sign on top of Pike Place Market.  We had a memorable breakfast at a French bakery across the street from the marketplace.  All of the pastry was labelled in French, and since my French is pretty much non-existent, I ordered by asking for ‘The raspberry thing that I can’t pronounce, and an almond thing that I also can not pronounce, and that twirly cookie thing too.”     When we travel, it really is all about the food for me!


Then we went on to San Francisco to attend a wedding.  I have no idea how anyone can drive or park a car in this city.  I’m not the best driver so all driving was handled by Ms. J throughout the trip since she had been there many times and I’ve only been there twice before and only for brief client visits in flat parts of town.  We were visiting my sister-in-law who lives at the end of a dead end street, on a hill of course, at a 45 degree angle, where the street is so narrow that barely more than one car can drive down it at a time.  At the end of the street is a concrete wall, on the other side of the wall is a steep cliff.  If I had been driving, I’m sure the car would have ended up going through that concrete wall at some point.  This one below with the huge ‘Stop’ on the ground, and variety of parking regulation signs isn’t her street though.  This one isn’t so bad but it’s still pretty steep.   I had to carry our  very tired 44 pound 3 year old up and down these hills more than once. 20130531-195716.jpg

The city motto could easily be ‘No Outlet’, since there’s so many dead end streets that lead down or up steep hills.

After a few days though, I was able to give directions to a tourist who might have thought I was a local.  Who would be carrying a 44 pound 3 year old around on their arm, a fellow tourist ?  No, this guy must be a local and he’ll know how to get to the ferry building.  I was surprised that I did actually know how to get there, even though we were about 20 blocks and many many dead end, no outlet, streets away.


The food in San Francisco is of course awesome,  more on that later, so I can’t wait to go back!

Maybe I’ll actually do some of the driving next time.



Where Did We Go ?

I’ve been away from the blog for a few days since we took an almost vacation trip for close to two weeks.  ‘Almost Vacation’ since the first half of the trip was me and Mr. C tagging along with Ms. J for a conference, and the second half of the trip was to attend the wedding of Ms. J’s sister.

So, where did we go ?  Can anyone guess where we went based on this photo ?


This is a huge fountain that randomly shoots massive jets of water through 40 or so spigots while “world music” plays in the background.   Hours of fun for Mr. C.   I have no idea how many hundreds of times he ran towards the water to see how close he could get without getting wet.   I also have no idea how he was able to not get wet at all, except for his shoes.  I got soaked trying to keep up with him, yet he was completely dry.    How about guessing from this one  below?


Yes, anyone who guessed Seattle would be correct!

A delightful city of wonderful restaurants and a variety of other things to do, especially for kids.   Wish we could have spent more time there, but all we had was 3 days.   So, me and Mr. C spent quite a few hours on the monorail in the mornings, and then we would go over to the “Children’s Museum” for an hour or two before meeting Ms. J for dinner.  I say “Children’s Museum” because as nice as it is, I would not call it a museum, it’s really more like a nice educational indoor playground.  But I guess you can’t really call it the “Seattle Indoor Somewhat Educational Indoor Playground” and still charge $8.25 to get in.

Something else we found out was that Mr. C is starting to not believe us when we make things up like calling it the “Space Noodle” instead of “Space Needle”, and saying that the round thing on top will take off into space once we get out of the elevator.

Our trip was way too short, there’s a lot of things to do and so many great restaurants in Seattle that we wanted to try, but we’ll have to go back some other time.

The rest of our trip was spent in another exotic destination that will have to wait for the next post since I now have to spend the rest of the evening on a call to Southwest Airlines to complain about one of the worst flights back that we’ve ever had.  Which will be great material for another post, but was not so much fun at the time.