It’s Omaha Time!

Two years ago this weekend, we were packing for our first trip post retirement. We’d be immersed in college baseball for four days in Omaha at the College World Series.

We will not be making a return trip this year but as pictures of this year’s teams arriving continue to show up in my Twitter feed, it seems like a good time to revisit a bucket list event and share want we learned.

You don’t need to buy tickets in advance. I used the CWS ticket site and purchased all tickets a couple of weeks before the games. Tickets would have been much cheaper in Omaha, either general admission or using the same ticket site purchasing resell tickets.

Attend all games, regardless of which teams are playing. You’re in Omaha. You’re there to watch baseball. Make the most of the experience.

Four of the teams we watched play in 2015 are making return appearances this year: LSU, TCU, Cal St, and UF.

Wear sunscreen and a hat. Games start at 2:00 each afternoon and since the sun doesn’t set until after 9:00, you’ll need to protect yourself from the heat.

Take pictures at the entrance gate, the dog pile statue and from inside the stadium. You need to prove you really were there!

Meet a winning team exiting the stadium to board the team bus. After each game, the teams board their buses around the side of the stadium. It’s easy to find the location since these 45 foot monsters are lined up waiting for the team long before the game ends. Players celebrate with family, friends and fans.

Visit Rosenblatt. The site of the previous home of the College World Series, across the street from the zoo, houses memorabilia making it an outdoor museum to the game.

Eat at the stadium. It may seem like a good idea to get away from the stadium for a meal, but grazing on ballpark food is definitely the way to go.

NO! THIS IS NOT STADIUM FOOD! Omaha is famous for steak and in the stadium you can feast on Omaha Steaks Burger, Steak Sandwich or Gourmet Frank. No need to search for a steak dinner.

Walk across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge and straddle the Nebraska Iowa border. Within site of the stadium, this 3,000 foot bridge crosses the Missouri River and provides a wonderful view of Omaha. Since it’s also connected to miles and miles of nature trails, it’s a good place to stretch your legs and get some exercise.

Spend some time at the Lauritzen Gardens. Omaha’s botanical gardens provide a change of scenery and since no afternoon games are scheduled on some days, this is a good place to spend some relaxing down time.

No trip to Omaha this year. Instead we’ll be watching from home. A good way to spend rainy afternoons and evenings in Florida.

Celebrating Nature Photography Day

Today the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) along with millions of photographers and photography lovers across the nation will observe Nature Photography Day.

Sunrise at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.

Nature Photography Day was designated by NANPA in 2009 to promote the enjoyment of nature photography and since my phone is filled with this type of photography, I thought I should participate. It only seemed appropriate to start with a sunrise.

Mount Moran and reflection in Lake Jackson, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”~Albert Einstein

Bison and geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

“Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

Green oasis of Fruita surrounded by eroded rock layers in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah.

“The Earth has music for those who listen.” ~George Santayana

Tributary of Colorado River, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” ~William Shakespeare

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus, Natural Bridges National Monument.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” ~Lady Bird Johnson

Owachomo Bridge, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Colorado River, Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to the body and soul alike.” ~John Muir”

Arch in Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

“Those who dwell among the beauties of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” ~Rachel Carson

Courthouse Towers, Arches National Park, Utah.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Broken Arch, Arches National Park, Utah.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ~Ansel Adams

La Sal Mountains at sunset as seen from Hell’s Revenge, Moab Utah.

Celebrate nature photography day by posting your nature pictures and use #NaturePhotographyDay in social media.

(I took all photos using the camera on my phone, an iPhone 7, no special equipment or filters.)

 

6000 miles later…

Continue reading “6000 miles later…”

Sunrise Sunset 2017: One of 17 in 17

Make it five years in a row! Yes, for the fifth straight year, we awoke on the east coast of Florida to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and then ended the day by watching the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.

This year we began the day at Hillsboro Inlet watching the sunrise only minutes from the house I lived in while in high school.

Boats parading through the channel and a lighthouse were an extra bonus, and the sunrise did not disappoint.

Cooking and eating breakfast on the picnic tables at Hillsboro Inlet Park served as fuel for our cross state road trip.

Next stop: Corkscrew Swamp for a stroll among wild things on the boardwalk cutting through the path of Landmark Cypress.

Then on to the island for a bike ride, walk on the beach

and obligatory sundae at Dairy Queen.

Waiting for sunset included a few casts and even a couple of trout.

With waves washing over our feet, the sky changed from gold to orange and finally pinks and purples as 2017 Sunrise Sunset came to an end.


Where would you suggest we plan this adventure in 2018?

Parking Headaches

Why have parking meters become so complicated? I’d read articles in the newspaper recently about the confusion caused by the new parking meters in downtown Ocala. My first thought, what’s wrong with these people? Can’t use a parking meter?

Then a couple of weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the new meters. To start, I nearly walked right past it. I exited the car and didn’t notice the meter. When I passed a second meter, it occurred to me that parking along the street in front of Brother’s Keeper is no longer free. I returned to the meter to see a list of payment options. I finally decided that searching for a couple of quarters would be easier than figuring out the other choices.

Upon returning to my car, a woman approached me and asked if I could help her with the parking meter. She’d deposited money but couldn’t determine how much time she’d paid for or if perhaps she’d paid for the wrong space (easy to do since each meter manages two spaces).

Another meter, another problem…this time at Hillsboro Inlet Park. The sign reads: pay with your phone, download the app, pay by web, use apple pay, and warning that if paying with cash, no change would be given.

A couple of years ago, we came across a similar meter in Miami and were happy to download the app, Pay by Phone. This is a great idea. Paying for parking will be so much easier.

But then, on the same trip a different meter required a different app, this time Park Mobile. Grumbling, we downloaded a second parking app, set up another account and paid for parking.

Not long after, another trip, another city, and you guessed it, another parking app, Green Parking. And, yes, we downloaded yet another parking app.

However, when the parking meter required a fourth app, we decided against it. Instead, we dug around the in the car and the bottom of my purse until we found sufficient change to pay for parking.

Of course, the meters at Hillsboro Inlet are connected to an app we don’t have, and we’re done with app managed parking. We now carry a change purse full of quarters.

Going to the beach on Sanibel or Captiva? No app required. And quarters won’t do the job. Instead, pay the $4.00 per hour fee with a handful of one, five, ten or twenty dollar bills ($4.00 minimum, no change) or just insert your credit card.

I really don’t mind paying to park. Just make it easy.

Falling Prices

Filling the tank on our Camry yesterday brought a smile to my face since a fill up cost only $20. What satisfaction at pulling into a station with a sign proclaiming the price of gas $1.99 per gallon.

But then this morning crossing the border into Alabama I couldn’t help but feel we’d been ripped off when the first station in the state laughs at Floridians with the large yellow sign singing Sweet Home Alabama’s price for gas at $1.77.

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Really $1.99 is an exceptionally low price, much better than 30¢ gas of my youth which is equivalent to $2.32 in today’s prices or even the 19¢ ($3.26) of 1935. It’s only because the prices are posted so prominently that we obsess over every extra penny added to the cost of travel.

However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t make a left turn across three lanes of traffic to take advantage of the $1.73 gas price available to Sam’s Club members. It felt good to be able to take advantage of such a bargain.

And really, who doesn’t love a bargain?

Photos in the Garden

A walk through the Birmingham Botanical Garden seemed like the perfect way to begin a cool, actually a cold, Saturday morning. The garden was dressed in its best holiday attire.

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But unfortunately that meant at every turn another photographer was set up to shoot engagement photos, baby pictures, and lots of family photos for Christmas cards. In many places it was a challenge to keep from photo bombing these sessions.

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Only two weeks before the first day of winter, fall colors were still evident in many areas of the garden.

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And of course artwork added to the natural beauty.

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Following the paths we met many others enjoying an early morning walk in the garden.

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The greenhouse full of cactus and succulents added some color

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in contrast to the bare crepe myrtles lining the entrance.

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No professional photos for us. Just a holiday selfie.

The Twilight Zone?


What started out as a Sunday morning drive to a small Oregon town on our way to touring the wine country turned out to be a trip to the Twilight Zone. The signature music of the 1960s television program and the creepy voice of Rod Serling looped through my head as Lisa and I walked up and down the streets of a deserted town searching for a place for breakfast.

We stopped in Forest Grove looking for Maggie’s Buns, a bakery recommended by a tourist guide we’d picked up at a Visitor Center. Of course the guide failed to mention that Maggie’s is closed on Sunday, and apparently the entire town of Forest Grove is closed on Sunday. No bakeries, no cafés, no restaurants, not even a coffee shop could be found, this in a part of the country where coffee is king.

The dead streets were only the first of many strange events that day. Seeing many cars at the end of one street led us to what turned out to be a church, but on the corner of the church we found a mattress leaning against a power pole labeled for sale $100 then marked down to free.

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As we walked on we saw a truck driving down the street, the first vehicle we’d encountered. But in the truck bed…a raft with a ladder tied on top of it. Strange.

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We even found a pay phone with a phone book. Surely a sign we’d been transported back to the ’60s.

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Then turning to the sound of a barking dog, we looked up to see the sound coming from the roof of a warehouse. Yes, a dog stood on the roof 25 feet above the street barking at nothing.

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Curiosity led us to take a closer look at this strange sight only to find it stranger still, for this dog was barking on the roof of a warehouse that had its picture painted on the side of the building. After taking a few pictures, it was time to leave Forest Grove before we became part of some unexpected twist like those that occurred in the Twilight Zone.

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Off to find one of the wineries. Wine tasting would put this creepy place out of mind.

 

Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Yesterday we spent the morning at the Venice Airport, the site of the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Artists illustrated this year’s theme ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry!’ in images that boggled your senses like this shark rising from the runway.

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Scores of temporary works of art attracted visitors for the week long event.

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My favorites were designed to let those in attendance become part of the art. I joined the children dancing around a shark’s tooth.

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While John was served on a silver platter.

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And we reached in a trap and posed with a pelican.

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Each piece of art was marked with a pair of feet labeled “stand here” to ensure perfect viewing.

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The event is recognized as the first international street art festival with more than 250 artists from around the globe…absolutely amazing.

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Thanks Venice for a great event.

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More Lighthouses: Maine Style

Maine wasn’t on our radar when we set visiting fifteen lighthouses as one of our goals for 2015; but when we decided to take a September New England trip, Maine lighthouses were a natural part of our time along the coast.

Our first night in Maine, we stopped in York, the site of Cape Neddick Light. From Sohier Park we viewed the lighthouse located atop a rock island a short distance off shore,

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and as I turned around, the view of a white rowboat beached on the rock below with an inn in the background brought together everything New England.

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Later that afternoon, we burned off our seafood lunch by walking eight-tenths of a mile out to Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse along the granite breakwater.

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Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day surrounded by the blue sky and waters.

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Egg Rock, the small island with a lighthouse, was barely visible from the mainland; but that couldn’t keep us from counting this as lighthouse number twenty-one. Located in Bar Harbor, we were able to photograph the lighthouse from Acadia National Park.

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From Acadia’s Schoodic Point, the Winter Harbor Lighthouse is clearly visible, but again its location on an island in Frenchman Bay prevents an up-close visit.

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Our final Maine lighthouse visit…the Prospect Harbor Light. Located behind a fence and a Coast Guard manned security booth, makes access by the public impossible. However, by climbing down on the rocky beach along the road leading to the light, it is possible to get a good, unobstructed view.

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Twenty-three lighthouses. Looks like we underestimated our abilities. And with a camping trip in the Panhandle yet to come, I don’t think we’re finished.