Monday, October 29, 2012

Tourist Sights and Sites Stuff...

Have you heard the one about "Three cousins came to Charleston?"

They are about as shy as a politician 6 days before election day.

On the Market they saw the stick-your-head-in poster and did.

I took a picture. We each did our thing.

There is one block where 3-4 shops invite you to "have a free sample."
Pralines and fudge.Took a while to get to the next block

The peanut store has open containers and little spoons. Who could resist?

To distract them, I had to point out the 13-story cruise ship anchored at the foot of Market Street.

And to not sit down on the patio at Bubba Gump to play the trivia game with the waitress.

On lower King Street - antique row - I steered them down an interesting alley.

It ambled its way to a picturesque moss-laden cemetery.

The Oldest Unitarian church in the South was closed so one of the sisters leaned in close and peeked through the key hole.

She suggested I take a picture. Through the key hole.

I did. That's what I do.

We passed several art galleries and one had real artists working. Live art..

There were two daubing paint on stretched canvas.

One was working from a photograph.

The other had an image in his mind.

I call this picture "ARTIST INTERUPTUS"  but he didn't seem to mind.

He explained how he mixed paints to produce certain colors.

He creates paintings. I take pictures.

That's what we do.

.The cousins were in town for just a few days.

One I had not seen since we both were teenagers. About 50 years ago.

She lives in Kansas City, Missouri

Her younger sibling I did not remember. She must have been the pesky kid sister. She still lives in Chicago.

The other cousin also lives in Chicago. 

They all had cameras and cell phone cameras. I already have sent them pictures and I expect quite a few in return.

We spent most of a day at Folly Beach - before the surfers gathered at the Wash Out - and back downtown for dinner.

Of course we all had seafood. 

Well, the shrimp are NOT as fresh in their hometowns.

We had good weather Wed, Thurs, Friday and Sunday. 

Cloudy and rainy Saturday made going into the Old Slave Mart a smart - and dry - choice as did a narrated bus tour.
Inside is better. Out of the sprinkles and brief showers.

I remembered that the Hop On - Hop Off  D A S H trolley was free so we zipped around town on that transportation.

They now all have reported in from home, safe and sound. Airlines were on the edge of reacting to Hurricane Sandy but no cancelled flights for them.

A nice cousin reunion.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

They knew about grits but the boiled peanuts caused some curious hesitation.

A little late, I explained you remove the shell first.

(For my Photo blog, please click

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

That time already?

Seems like I just did a power wash not that long ago?

Got a handful of cousins flying in tomorrow and want the house to look nice.

The deck will be the first thing they see as we lug suitcases up the steps..

Hmm, the boards have a green tint.

What's it all about, Algae?

The pressure washer had tackled this several times before so I know the drill.

Plug the cord in the wall and the hose into the machine. Turn the water on full.

Set the pressure kind of low and start at one end and hose over all the flat areas.

Because this is the third time I've done this, I checked the dates of photos I've taken before and it was 2 years ago and, before that, it was four years before cleaning was needed..

Maybe I tried to stretch the water repellent too far when I applied it the last time?

I bought several cans for this go around. My time - and my aching back - is worth the few extra dollars.

You'd think science would have developed a way by now to alert you when it's time to re-do the deck surface.

I mean, I see this message on dirty cars quite often.

Surely that same technology could be applied to wooden decks.

Or is the car message "Wash me?"

(Click on the photos for more details.)

I am sure my cousins will be impressed with the nice clean entrance to my home.

If we spill anything,  it will bead up on the surface.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

The swaying Canadian suspension bridge....

We had taken the morning ferry and were looking at a map in North Vancouver. We're looking for a famous "hanging"  bridge nearby.

 The big surprise was hopping on a city bus down by the ferry boat landing and riding up the hills in the suburbs.

Past all the chain fast food places and a few shops that clearly were Canadian.

The yellow pull cord pings and the bus slows to a stop. Huh?

The crowd starts to get off and we ask "is this the bridge?" 

The driver points across the street to the entrance of a woody nature park.

Yep, this is it. I can see some tall totems just inside the gate.

Nice neighbourhood.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is impressive.

Overheard a guide tell a nervous lady that the bridge was strong enough to support it completely filled with people - stacked 7 high.

I was ready to venture out.

Nobody was being placed on top of another.

As the link explains, it's a woody park with the Capilano River running white water 200 feet below the bridge.

If that's not daring or daunting enough,  you also can "space walk" out on an arc that juts out from the side of a mountain.

Or climb up to a series of walkway-connected tree houses high above the forest floor.

Remember, this is just a few blocks away from a drive-through McDonald's.

And, back in Vancouver,  we still planned to visit the Jimi Hendrix Shrine at the Backpackers Hostel.

That's another kind of high near Chinatown.

With our feet firmly back on the ground, we found tranquil little parks in the midst of downtown high rise.

The excellent ground and water transportation system opens the whole area to visitors.

A Hop On - Hop Off bus offered a variety of drivers as you explored the city.

The slogan is "Very friendly and informative with a great sense of humour."

(Click on the photos for more detail).

It is so much fun to relive a vacation by editing photos!

Double your pleasure.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Red Meat and pink local shrimp.

Thanks Groupon.

And all the other companies that offer you discount dining coupons.

Naturally, I appreciate the quality restaurants who participate and I hope they gain some new customers.

That's the beauty of a BOGO (Buy One Get One free). It's a win-win for everybody.

The bacon-wrapped filet mignon, topped with crab meat and served with fries, was my choice the other night.

Queen Anne's Revenge on Daniel Island is very customer savvy and even offers an "early bird" discount of 20% I saw on their web site.

You would not combine the offers but it's good to know they are keeping an eye on MY bottom line.

Someone had suggested that, unless you want it rare, a thick filet is cooked more evenly if you ask to have the chef  "butterfly" it.

I'll remember that because I'm a medium kind of steak eater.

The appetizer was a nice cold shrimp cocktail.

I saw signs that QAR uses local shrimp and they were firm and tasty.

I'm sure there is a delightful - and sinful - dessert list but I had reached my pleasure level and skipped that treat.

(Click on the pictures for more detail.)

I warn you're going to have a hunger attack.

Have not forgotten I promised some pictures of the Canadian Suspension bridge.

Hang on, they're coming soon.

I stopped to eat.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Wanda Sykes & My Camera....


It's usually fun to be sitting down in Row AA.

That's the first row.

But this time, Wanda Sykes spotted me and my camera even though the bright spotlight was shining in her eyes.

Sometimes you DON'T want attention.

This was such a case.

The PAC (Performing Arts Center) in North Charleston has been good and bad for me and my photography.

I attend a lot of live performances and usually have my small camera with me. If the ticket states "No Photography Allowed" I leave it at home.

The digital  Canon S90 is great in low light situations - and even better with good stage lighting - and I never use flash.

I felt that would be rude and intrusive.

Flashes go off all around me sometimes and it seems everyone is holding up a Smartphone with a built-in camera.

Sometimes Security is the problem but never before have I had a performer stop, stare at me and do a mini-tirade about me taking pictures.

"Hey, Mr. Cameraman, you got your shot yet?"

I was indeed taking quite a few and apparently it distracted her.

Musicians can keep on playing but stand-up comedians have a LOT memorized and need to keep concentrating on what comes next.

My buddy was sitting next to me as I squirmed in my seat.

He remembered her telling the audience "And he has a real shi*ty camera - has to keep adjusting it and fiddling with it." 

Thanks for prolonging my misery Ms. Wanda!

I put away my camera at that point.

Didn't want another round of her wrath.

She continued her funny routine and singled out others in the audience for special darts and taunts.

Guess I was just part of her act.

Responding to hecklers comes naturally.

But, a guy quietly trying to take some quality pictures? 

I suppose I could have had a Larry David moment (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and jumped up to defend my camera and my "rights" as a paying customer.

She appeared in 8 episodes battling with Larry.

Instead, I settled back and enjoyed the laughs.

At the end, when the audience rose to applaud, I caught her eye and used my hands to mimic a camera and mouthed "Click." She smiled and returned the friendly gesture.

No, I did NOT have my camera in my hands.

Would have made a great shot of her though.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Unless prohibited, I'll continue to travel with my camera.

Did I mention Wanda had a torn seam in the right leg of her pants?

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Prince of Whales....

Actually I did NOT chose this particular whale watching company with the cutesy name.

But, as promised, here are some pictures from my expedition.

The first few sightings were pretty far away.

But soon, our skipper found us a large pod of killer whales and we darted around and among them.

Man! They displace a LOT of water! Much larger than the Sea World version I had seen before.

These were in a much bigger "tank."

On this high speed tour boat we were issued warm "safety suits."

It was a nice sunny morning but once we cleared the harbour and the throttle was pushed forward, they felt good.

We also were shown where all the life vests and rafts were stored.

Apparently whale watcher captains share among themselves where and what they have found.

The radio stayed busy as we sped south of the island looking for targets.

When you get closer, the Orcas give away their positions as they spray air and water when they come to the surface.

We were told when we can see the tail in the air, the whales are heading into a deep dive and may stay under 8-10 minutes or longer.

When the head pops up, they are doing a "Spy Hop" to check out what's happening on the surface.

I know a lot more about whales now. And seals.

On the return, our boat slowed and drifted close to a small island with a lighthouse.

What had looked like brown rocks from afar, turned out to be huge seals. Hundreds. Moving around and barking.

There was an explanation about migration - some go up to Alaska, others down to Mexico - but apparently the females stay near the newborns and all these guys come back to places like this and near San Francisco.

 I guess our boat coming closer triggered a herd reaction and it seemed that they all dove in at once.

The skipper kept a distance as the barking seals swam our way.

Our several hours at sea were just about to end and I realized that as some point we had wandered in and out of U.S. waters.

My Smartphone lighted up and I could receive emails without being in a Canadian place with WiFi.

The engines were kicked into high gear and we hunkered down in our warm clothing.

We were heading home. (Click on the photos for more details.)

The Canadian adventure was concluding but I still want to share the swaying motion one feels on a long, long, rope suspension bridge.

We stepped out onto the Capilano Bridge after a ferry trip over to North Vancouver and a ride on a city transit bus to a tree-filled dell in the middle of a suburb.

Please stop by again.

We won't leave you hanging. Thanks.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hey...a captive audience!

So, I'm relaxing in my seat on the airplane.

It's been an interesting - but tiring - trip across most of Canada on a fantastic railroad adventure and I'm reflecting on the sights I've seen.

I noticed the young girl in the aisle talking to passengers.

Then I saw the flash of a colorful catalog sheet when she held it up. It was for Girl Scout Cookies!

Her clipboard was clutched in her right hand and she was taking orders. At 36,000 feet.

The day before, I had flown down to Seattle from Victoria, B.C. on a float plane. A seaplane.

The pilot told me later he was cruising only at 500-1,500 feet during the 30- minute flight back into the US.

As we passed by the Space Needle I saw a small lake near downtown and realized that was our landing site.

I had seen many sightseeing float planes taking off and landing while I was in Vancouver for two days.

I looked forward to when our "floating aircraft" would lift off the water.

It was smooth as was the landing.

The landing and takeoff zone in Vancouver had been in front of Canada Place.

This is the iconic city convention centre sitting on the harbor.

In Victoria, I had enjoyed views of the famed Butchart Garden but bumped into a bus situation that could have been ugly.

We timed our leisure walk to end just before the 4:10 bus would leave for the 40-minute drive down from north Victoria Island to the capital.

So did about 60 others who were already standing in line.

The city bus filled and pulled out.

15 of us had the option of walking nearly half of a mile to a bus stop outside the garden for the next transport at 5:04. Or, take a cab.

The park closes at 5pm so no more buses could enter. Yikes.

And, yes, it WAS uphill.

Probably both ways.

We were back in the capital in plenty of time for a drink at the Empress Hotel and dinner nearby. The British Columbia Parliament building is outlined in small white lights and was a spectacular sight as the evening darkened.

Yes, there are pictures taken during the Whale Watching boat cruise but let's hold off on that for now.

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

Please come back and continue my Canadian adventure.

If you're thinking about a train trip, look into this one!

(Please click

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

O Canada........

It's been 7 years since I took the train across Canada.

That was a long time ago.

Time to do it again.

Last one was in the Spring. I wanted a sneak preview of Fall Foliage.

I sure got it!

The creature comforts aboard Via Rail's Le Canadian were as good as I remembered.

Maybe even better.

I found a discounted price online that made it possible.

Actually about what I paid all those years ago.

And, again, the price included a private roomette (they call them cabins) and all the gourmet meals during the 4-day trans-continental passage.

Added new features were two live musicians performing in activity cars, presentations by staff on such diverse topics as  local Provincial history, ghost stories, railroad lore and even beer tastings.

Yes, each day there was local craft beer flowing as well as a selection of Canadian wines.

A couple in the observation car announced it was their third wedding anniversary and champagne was served to all 24 passengers sitting around them.

This was about a 20-car train so it had four raised dome observation cars, various lounge and activity centers with tables and chairs and two dining cars.

You quickly settled into your "neighborhood" instead of trekking back and forth the length of the train.

One exception was the last car on the train, the observation car with a bullet-shaped rear.

This was worth the journey because it afforded a view of the receding tracks as we sped along.

I waited until we had one of our stops and stepped down off the train and easily walked back to the last car.

As a blogger, I often take pictures of my food.

This trip was no exception.

The prime rib on my final night before we arrived in Vancouver was perfectly prepared and served as were all the meals.

Breakfast each morning was offered from 6:30am to 9:00am on a first-come basis.

The lunch and dinner had three seating times.

We stopped to add a unique car just before we got to the Canadian Rockies.

It was called the Panorama and lived up to its name!

It was about as open as an observation car could be and seated 72 passengers at a time.

This was in addition to all the other domed cars already in use.

As I spoke to fellow passengers in the dining car and in the lounges, I realized I was hardly the only repeat traveler.

I did see one man in an observation car reading a newspaper.

Guess he was not a first timer.

We traveled far enough north that we were snowed on in Jasper when we had a stop to walk around.

My jacket and hat felt good and warm.

When we dropped back down south and were in Vancouver on the west coast, we saw that leaves were still starting to turn.

More on that later.

Did I mention whale watching? Seaplanes?

(Click on the photos for more details.)

The reality is I came home with 2,000+ digital images and am reliving the trip as I select and edit them.

There will be more pictures if you care to stop by again.


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