V is for Vegas- #AtoZChallenge

V” is for Vegas! “Las Vegas” technically, but what the heck. I figure I can play a little fast and loose with the technicalities, right?

So, I actually made (most of) this post a couple of years ago. The last time I went to Vegas.  It was for a challenge using the word “dreamy”. But I figured, it never really changes much there. So, why not do it again. 🙂

Here goes…

I already posted one photo from my trip to Las Vegas, but it’s such a dreamy kind of place. I thought about it and came up with some more ideas.

I posted another one about an Elvis impersonator who was performing right outside my hotel. Lots of women thought Elvis was pretty ‘dreamy’. Then I posted some dreamy girls for the guys. 🙂

Las Vegas really is a dreamy kind of place. I think it’s one of those places that’s built on dreams. All kinds of dreams going on there. People go there dreaming to hit the jackpot and get rich. They go there hoping to hit it big and make a name for themselves as a singer or a dancer or chef or…

I love to hang out in old downtown. It’s not like the Strip (which is interesting in a different way), where things are spread out and isolated. Every casino has it’s own attractions and you pretty much stick to one since it’s a pain to move on to the next.

Downtown is different. Everything is close together. There’s lots to do (Mob Museum, Container Park, Neon Museum), and all kinds of things going on. Fremont Street is the hub of all the action. There are at least a dozen different casinos all within easy walking distance. It’s easy to hit one for drinks, another to eat, try the poker at one, blackjack at another…

Fremont Street is really pretty cool. They have a light show projected on a huge blocks-long overhead screen. You can go zip-lining right over the top of all the crowds. There are artists at work, lots of little shops along the street. They have all kinds of bands and performers scheduled to play on the various stages. And then there are all the unscheduled ‘performers’. People who just like to come out and play. 🙂

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               

U is for Underground City- #AtoZChallenge

U” Is for the underground city of Derinkuyu in Turkey. It’s only one of the most famous of them, there are quite a few others in the area (200+). They are very old. Derinkuyu is supposed to be at least 2000 years old. I was impressed with the amount of work it took to carve out the huge labyrinths of rooms, tunnels, wells, and even defensive falling stones. All underground. All done without electric lights, or power tools.

 

The people lived their lives down there. Their whole families, even their animals (sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, etc). I kept wondering how much smaller than us they must have been. I barely made it through some of those tunnels, and was really glad to get to one of the larger spaces.

It’s hard to imagine how someone could spend so much of their lives below ground like that. No wind, no sun, no rain. I don’t think they lived like that all the time. Just for especially dangerous times. But it must have been pretty dangerous a lot of the time to make it worth all that effort, right?

T is for Travel- #AtoZChallenge

T” is for traveling. One of my all time favorite things! I love a good book, but I love it even more when I’m reading it in some new place, somewhere I’ve never been.

My last trip was a big one. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere for a while. I pretty much accept now that I won’t be able to go back to work for months, if not years. Until I start ‘earning a living’ again and have more than enough to just barely pay the bills by using up my savings, I won’t be going anywhere.

I did go to the big Travel Show in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. That was just to see what’s on the RADAR. Exploring what I can work on for my new travel writing and photography career.

I took a detour on the way home, stopped in Ennis and did the Bluebonnet Trail. The flowers were beautiful. Fields full of bluebonnets, indian paintbrush and other spring blooms.

I will be going to the TBEX in Huntsville AL next month. I’m really looking forward to that. I hope to make some contacts and improve my blogging. 🙂

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite travel quotes. I hope they inspire you, like they do me. Enjoy. 🙂

     

Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush

Here’s a post for Cee’s Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush. 🙂

S is for Spike- #AtoZChallenge

S” is for Spike. Today, I’m posting about the letter S for both the A to Z Challenge and the Daily Post. I love it when I can do double duty here. 😉

It’s easy to come up with S words, not so easy to come up with things to say about “spike”. Then I remembered those beautiful doors from my last vacation. Stone Town, Zanzibar has the most ornately carved doors. Many of them have spikes, “to keep out the elephants.”

 

N is for New Orleans- #AtoZChallenge

51b8d-n

“N” is for New Orleans, a city like no other. It’s one of my all time favorite places to visit. I first started going to New Orleans back in 1978-79.

I was in the Ocean Marine Technology Program at Brazosport College. It was a 2 year program where I would be able to earn my AB and QMED certificates from the Coast Guard. One of the things we had to do was to take fire-fighting training. We also had to take a ‘Spring Cruise”. We combined them and took a couple of boats up to Delgado Community College in New Orleans to take their fire-fighting course.

That’s me, 2nd from left, back row

I was 17 at the time and the youngest in class. We had a nice and easy trip up, the weather was fine and we all got to practice our celestial navigation skills. We all looked forward to seeing New Orleans and we were not disappointed. We all had a blast and will always remember getting underway bright and early after a late night out on Bourbon Street. 😉

I used to go home to Florida to visit family a couple of times a year and always stopped in New Orleans if I could. I liked to hang around the French Quarter and recharge my batteries for a day. Maybe longer if I met up with some ‘cool’ people. 😉

Years later, when I got older and had to slow down on the partying, I started to enjoy more of the city than Bourbon Street. I’ve gone for conferencesworkshops and training, and layovers for traveling to and from work offshore. I always try to spend a little extra time just to relax and enjoy the city.

It’s so easy. New Orleans has it’s own special vibe. They say it’s got “soul”. Yeah, I agree. It feels sultry, hot and humid most of the time. It almost oozes history. You can see it in the architecture all over the French Quarter. It smells delicious. Chicory coffee, beignets, seafood gumbo, salty oysters, and boozy concoctions around Bourbon Street.

The food is amazing! Classic French, Creole, Cajun and all combinations thereof. Soul food, muffaletas, po-boys, fresh seafood, fine steaks, you can get all that and more. Some of the best cooks in the world call New Orleans home.

New Orleans is a city of music. Jazz, Cajun, Creole, Rock, Soul, Blues, it’s all there. All over the place. I love wandering around the French Quarter, finding musicians playing out in the streets. You can almost always find some around Jackson Square or Royal Street. Then there are the second line parades. It’s always fun to join in the party. Where else can you get that?

New Orleans has so many parades, parties and festivals. I love it! I wonder if I would ever get anything done if I actually lived there? 😉

L is for Lion- #AtoZChallenge

“L” is for Lion. I was lucky to be able to see some of these amazing animals in the wild. I went on a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing (GEP) in November. We spent a week exploring Northwest Tanzania. We saw lots of lions and their cubs. I could have spent hours watching them, but we had to move on. So much more to see.

  

J is for Java- #AtoZChallenge

J” is for Java. One of the main islands of the Indonesian archipelago. I love to explore and Indonesia is an incredible place for that. 🙂

I usually go to Bali, but Java is the next island over to the West. It’s very easy to get there from Bali. You can take a quick flight, or take a ferry over. I was on vacation when I went (and so short on time), so I decided to fly over to Yogyakarta. It turned out to be an excellent choice and I only wish I had more time to spend there.

There are a lot of things I would love to explore on the island of Java. So many things I just didn’t have the time to do. I’d love to see the sights of Jakarta and especially check out the harbor. I must definitely find a guide this time so I can communicate with the sailors. I am still very interested in their beautiful Pinisi schooners. 🙂

If I ever get to go again, I’d like to hike up Mt Bromo, and catch the sunrise. Cool off at the Hill Stations and hike the rice paddies. Cruise the Green Canyon. Watch the Shadow Puppet shows and a few troupes of traditional dancers. Wander through the markets, investigating all the different things on offer than what we see at home.

One of those things I did manage to see was the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur. It’s long been on my bucket list. 😉 I’ve always loved to explore. I love history, old buildings, ancient civilizations, different religions. Borobudur was a combination of all of those things. It is also a world heritage site (along with the nearby Hindu site of Prambanan– which I also got to visit on this trip). 🙂

Prambanan temples Java Indonesia

I is for Istanbul- #AtoZChallenge

“I” is for Istanbul. Turkey. I was able to take a nice long stop there on the way to my photography safari last November. I’m so glad I did! Here’s a recap of my first day…

Istanbul! What an exciting city! I hear the seagulls cry, the ships distant whistle, the calls of the street vendors selling roasted chestnuts and corn on the cob. I smell the sea air mixed with cumin, coriander, cinnamon and apples.

The sense of history here is intoxicating. The locals are used to it, but it amazes me to walk along the hippodrome past the Spiral Column sunk almost 10 feet down into the ground. The ground level of 2000 years ago.

I spent yesterday soaking up the history of this place. I started out practically next door to my hotel. Walking up the street to the Arasta Market and right next door to the Mosaic Museum.

Again, the mosaics were at ground level from 2000 years ago, so we walked along a platform to see them on the ground. Some smaller ones were mounted on the walls where we could see them close up. There were good explanations in English (and other languages).

Outside the Mosaic Museum is the Blue Mosque. Just across the street is the Islamic Arts museum. Pass by the construction in front of the entrance door and climb the stairs. Make your way around dozens of small galleries showcasing various ancient civilizations with an Islamic focus.

I was most impressed with the books (Qu’rans mostly). They were absolutely gorgeous! The fine, delicate decorations, the flowing script, the golden ink. The information cards listed the calligraphers (as they should), their work was simply stunning!

From there, cross over behind the Aya Sofia (museum) to find the Carpet Museum. This one was not included on the Museum Pass (85 TL for 5 days). It cost 9 TL. There were 3 galleries to look at. The carpets were displayed very nicely, but except for the 2nd gallery they were very short on information.

Outside the Carpet Museum is the main gate into Topkapi Palace. I managed to look at the Aya Irini (another old Byzantine church), and the Archaeology Museum before being chased out at closing time (5 pm).

The church is old and empty, you’re not allowed to go upstairs and there’s netting to keep the pigeon shit and feathers from falling on you. I would skip it if I was pressed for time. The Archaeology Museum is another story. It was very impressive!

There is a whole forest of ancient tombstones, columns, and statues outside. There are at least 3 different buildings to explore. The first one I looked at had a huge selection of tombstones and sarcophagi. It was very impressive. The detail work was amazing. Some of those things were huge! I wondered how many people did they put in there?

There is another building full of ceramics. It had a domed ceiling, surrounded by stained glass windows, and tile on the walls- some of them decorated with gold paint. How beautiful!

Each room showed the different styles of ceramic from different time periods and civilizations. Some of it was fairly crude work, some of it was extremely fine and delicate. I loved the beautiful swirling patterns of blue and white.

The last building I was able to explore was under construction. I had to walk through a long passage covered in white plastic. The actual museum started out with life sized marble statues of the gods. Artemis, Apollo and more.

They were setting up an exhibit with TV screens, ‘Are We Human’. It looked very interesting. I saw something about 2000 years of history in Aleppo, showing the latest destruction. I would have liked more time to try to figure out what was going on. There was something else about oil- ‘leave it in the ground’- which I really wanted to learn more about, but I was running out of time.

Upstairs, Istanbul through the Ages was a very thorough timeline of artifacts found nearby and more history of the people who lived around this area and Turkey. I was only halfway through the second floor when a guard told me it was time to leave (at only 20 til 5).

H is for Hadzabe- #AtoZChallenge

H” is for the ‘Hadzabe’, an African tribe of friendly people who have chosen to retain their traditional lifestyle. On a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing (GEP) last November, I was able to spend the day learning about how they managed to survive in today’s world.

A very early morning wakeup brought our group of photographers to spend the day with a couple of the traditional tribes of the area. First the Hadzabe, the hunters, next the Datogas, the blacksmiths. We had to meet the Hadzabe very early for a special treat, we would go on a hunt with their men!

#tribe of #Hadzabe #men

We left the beautiful Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge at 0545 and drove about 45 minutes to the Hadzabe camp. They still live a nomadic life, so we met them at one of their temporary camps. They had built scattered domed huts out of thin, flexible branches tied together in addition to their ‘rooms’ in a rocky outcrop atop a high hill.

#traditional #Hadzabe #hut made from flexible branches

When we arrived, we met the chief and through our interpreter, Joseph, we got an explanation of the basics of their lifestyle. The men brought us up to a large overhang of the rock where they had a fire going. They explained the different types of arrows they used for hunting (some were poisonous).

A couple of them showed us how they started a fire (no, not with a Bic lighter), the old fashioned way of twisting a stick until it gets hot enough to light the tinder. The Hadzabe men used the spark to light their pipes for a good long toke. A few of our troop tried it too- (lighting the fire, not smoking the weed)- but only one succeeded (just barely). It looked a lot harder when our group tried to do it. The Hadzabe made it look so easy.

starting the #fire

Similar to the Maasai, they were nomadic. But the Hadzabe were hunters, not herders. The chief also had more than 1 wife. The men spent their days hunting and preparing to hunt. They made their bows and arrows, sharpened their knives, kept the fire going, and smoked a lot of weed while they were at it. They offered some to us, but nobody was brave enough to accept.

After the demonstration, we left with the men on their daily hunt. I followed along for about 20 minutes, up and down the rocky hillsides, surrounded by thorny plants in the hot sun. The hunters were already so far ahead of me I couldn’t see what good it was doing to try to keep up with them. I was rushing- huffing and puffing- and not able to really pay attention to my surroundings and thought better about continuing on.

#Hadzabe #African #tribesmen going #hunting with #bows and arrows

I turned around and went back to camp. Joseph escorted me and a couple of others who also wanted to return, just to make sure we made it back safely.

Joseph brought us back to camp, introduced us to the women and then returned to the hunt.

#Hadzabe #woman and her #child

Like the Maasai women, the Hadzabe women stay in camp and tend to the household chores. They take care of the children, do whatever needs doing around the camp, and make items for trade. I watched as all the women and children sat together creating beautiful beadwork items (which they later showed our group- just in case anyone wanted to buy).

#Hadzabe #tribal #beadwork

It took a couple of hours for the men to return to camp- along with our group who stuck it out with them. Sorry to say, they didn’t catch anything. They’ll have to try again later. In preparation for heading out again, they practiced with their bow and arrows and a target stump a couple hundred feet down the slope. We watched as all the men (even the young boys) took their shots at the stump. They even offered to teach us how to do it.

#Hadzabe #tribesmen practice #target #shooting with #bows and #arrows

A couple of our group decided to take them up on it and took a couple of shots at the stump. No one managed to hit the target. I tried to pull the string of one of the small boys’ bow. No, I couldn’t pull it even halfway back. We all had fun, the Hadzabe had a good laugh at how awful we were.

we get to practice #target #shooting with #Hadzabe #bows and #arrows

Before we left, the tribe got together and gave us a farewell present. They put on a dance show for us and even invited us into the dance. It was a fun ending to our visit.

G is for Galveston- #AtoZChallenge

G” is for Galveston. It’s the closest city of any size to me. I consider the Houston/Galveston/Freeport area my stomping grounds now a days.

When I first moved to Texas (almost 40 years ago), I used to really enjoy just wandering around. I moved here to go to college, so I had a bunch of friends I met in class to hang out with. We were all in the Ocean Marine Technology program (except a couple of outlier art students). So we all had an interest in boats.

We used to go up to Galveston all the time. For SCUBA class, for RADAR class, to the US Coast Guard office there. We always used to enjoy trying out new bars and restaurants on the way home.

I don’t get around anywhere near as much as I used to. Last time I went up to Galveston was with those 2 old artist friends from school. 🙂 We wanted to check out the art galleries and take a look around the Strand.

We found a couple of really neat artists, had a nice lunch, checked out all the interesting shops on the Strand, and avoided spending a fortune on some of the really cool nautical ‘junk’ I saw (or even more beautiful art- of which I already have a house full of).

Funny, but with all the changes around here, Galveston and especially the Strand still seems pretty much the same as it was when I first saw it.

E is for ENSCO- #AtoZChallenge

E” is for ENSCO. I used to work there off and on. I worked for the marine crewing agency C-Mar (among others). Back when there was still work to be had in the offshore sector.

ENSCO is a drilling company. They bought out Pride and built up a pretty good fleet of offshore drilling assets. I worked on many of their vessels over the last few years: the Deep Ocean Mendocino (renamed DS-5), the DS-3, and most of their semi-submersibles.

I spent time on the ENSCO 8500, 8501, 8503 and 8506. The 8506 was one of my favorites. Maybe just because I spent the most time on her. Maybe because I was officially the “Hurricane Master” on board.

That was one of the best jobs I ever had. If it had been located anywhere other than the Gulf of Mexico, I would have said one of the top 2. 🙂

My job basically was to watch the weather, stay on alert for any hurricanes approaching the Gulf and to get the rig ready to move if we had to run from one. I joined the 8506 in the shipyard in Corpus Christi and brought her out to a test location and then on to her first well. I had a great crew to work with and the rig was pretty much brand new.

Eventually, Ensco hired their own crews and stopped using temps like me. 😦

Sadly, even the vessel itself has been out of work for a while.

Color Your World: Cerise

Today’s color for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge is: cerise. Here’s my take on it.

Check out her cape. 🙂

This little girl is a great model. She’s a member of the Brazoria County Models and Photographers Meetup group (along with her mom and more of their friends). 🙂

This group is a great way to practice for all of us- models, photographers, make-up artists. We all have a good time. I only wish they scheduled their events more often. I very rarely get to attend since I don’t want to sign up til I know for sure I’ll be around. By then I usually get put on a waitlist and hope for the best.

Next one is coming up soon: “Hipsters”. I went to one like that a few months ago. I’m not sure if I’ll go again since it’s on the same day as the Adopt-a-beach event at Surfside and I plan to make that an event for my own Mariners Meetup group. 🙂

CYW: Pink Flamingo

Here’s my entry for Jennifer Nichole Wells’ Color Your World series: Pink Flamingo.

Hope you like it, I think it fits. 😉

WPC: Dense African Herds

For this weeks photo challenge from the Daily Post, the theme is: dense. I have some great shots of the wildlife I got to see recently in Africa. I went on a photo safari in Tanzania with Great Escape Publishing (GEP) and had a fantastic trip!

We went all around Tanzania, from Arusha to Tarangire National Park, to Lake Eyasi to the Central Serengeti. We met the most interesting people and saw amazing scenery and so many (totally wild) animals every day!

We saw lion prides enjoying their kill with their cute little cubs after a hunt and herds of elephants walking slowly across the plains. It was the time of the ‘great migration’, so we saw huge herds of grazing animals- gazelles, wildebeest, giraffes, and zebras.

Here’s a good example of the density of the herds.

I loved watching those zebras! They sound almost like donkeys. That’s another one of our jeeps on the right edge of the photo. I really wish I hadn’t been so cheap! I should have brought a better camera (lens)! This is what comes from worrying about money! Skimp and save and manage to pay for the trip, but then can’t make the most out of it due to trying to cut corners. If I ever get another chance for a trip like this, I will be damn sure to get something with more than 210 mm lens!

SoCS: March

For Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, the theme today is: March. Click the link for the rules and join in. 🙂

“March”. It brings to mind music, like the kind you hear in a marching band. John Phillip Sousa, etc. Also, the marchers, marching.

It reminded me of the parade I always try to see in New Orleans. The Krewe of Kringle puts on a great parade every year for Christmas. I’m usually in New Orleans around that time to attend the Workboat Show if I’m not offshore.

New Orleans is always fun. I love going up there to visit. I always see old friends and meet new ones. I always find something new and interesting to do. Last time, I finally got to ride the Steamboat Natchez and go to the WWII Museum.

I’d love to go up there again. This weekend is the New Orleans Bourbon Festival. I would really love to go to that! It sounds like a blast. Not as crazy as Mardi Gras, but I bet it’s still a lot of fun.

I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere for a while tho. I’m still not working. 😦

Norm’s Thursday Doors

I haven’t done this one lately, but Norm and his followers always have some great looking doors to share. Here’s one of mine. 🙂

I took the photo on a recent trip to Tanzania. I went for a photo safari with Great Escape Publishing. I’ve always wanted to go on a safari and GEP can’t be beat for the photography. I came early and spent a couple of weeks in Turkey. I stayed after and spent about a week in Zanzibar. I took this photo of a door in Stone Town. They had a lot of really beautiful doors there. 🙂

Check out the link for more of Norm’s Doors. 🙂

It IS Easy Being Green

For the Daily Post’s Photo Challenge, I thought I would pick some photos showing how easy it really is to be green. At least for these guys. 😉

  

Hope you like the photos! Check out the link to the challenge to see what everybody else is posting (and join in if you want). 🙂

The Daily Post: Pattern

For today’s prompt: pattern, this is what I came up with…

I see patterns everywhere. Natural and artificial, large and small, intricate and simple. The photo is from my last trip to Turkey. I was not able to buy any of the beautiful ceramics (or carpets) this time, but looking at the photos I took reminds me of the time the merchants took to explain the meanings of the patterns to me. I wish I had more time (and money) to spend with them. 🙂

Flower of the Day: Lily

I don’t have a whole lot of photos of flowers, but I like to play along with Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge when I can. Check out her post for more beautiful flowers. Today’s flower is ‘lily‘.