I visited Napa Valley a few years ago while spending a week in San Francisco. Napa is actually not that far from the city by the bay. As this was the first time I had visited there, we went with a small group of people and a guide that has been there many times. We hit five great vineyards that day and tasted at each one. If anyone has not been to a wine tasting, you really should give it a try. It is a very relaxing time and a great way to meet people from all over the world. I quickly made a good friend with a young man who was from Vietnam, who was working in the IT field in San Francisco. My three favorites that day were Domain Chandon, Whitehall Lane and V. Sattui, which is where these shots were taken. V. Sattui is the oldest vineyard in the valley and is the only vineyard that is grandfathered to have a deli on grounds. Many years ago when Napa was gaining popularity, there was a battle between the local bed and breakfasts/ hotels, restaurants and the vineyards. Many of the vineyards were serving food and lodging, which was a source of contention to the other local businesses. In the end, the wineries were relegated to do what they do and the other businesses do what they do. V. Sattui was somehow grandfathered and allowed to keep their deli. We had a great lunch including antipasta, olives and a bottle of wine in their garden. The Sattui family also has olive vineyards in Italy and import fine olive oils and olives. They are very traditional in their methods and use only the finest barrels that are a specific wood from a specific forest. Whitehall Lane is the opposite, they are very modern and use stainless steel to ferment and age.. It was a great day, I can’t wait to get back there later this year.
goodbye sun, hello moon
heading to brighten another place bright.
It slowly went behind the sea
and shimmered on waters, in front of me
The sky changed colour from blue to red,
and slowly the sun dipped its head.
And as the sun dipped behind the bay
stars of afar began to display.
It took a while to make a mark
the moon appearing in an arc.
A carpet of stars appeared from up high
twinkling as I passed them by
and water in the bay, reflected the light
of the new moon that lit up the night.
A hoodoo is a spire of rock that protrudes from the ground up. The word “hoodoo” is derived from a traditional African American spirituality and relates to working with roots. Hoodoos are found throughout the world, but nowhere more visited than those in Bryce Canyon in U\southern Utah. This small, only 56 sq miles, national park was named after the Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce when it became a national park in 1928. It is a very unique place, from the plateau you view 3 states with up to 200 miles of visibility. Pictures cannot do it justice, the formations are so chiseled and un-uniform that it is hard to photograph. So far this has been my only visit and we only had half a day to visit this park. It is actually just up the road from Zion National Park and about 5 hours from Moab and Arches National park. You can view the hoodoos from the top or hike down to the bottom for a whole different perspective. We were on a time crunch and there was some construction /repairs due to some heavy rains so I did not get to hike down. Planning a trip later this year for a week to hit all the parks within 5 or 6 hours. As a side note, 2 amazing things happened that day while I was there. The first one happened while sitting with about 30 other during a park rangers presentation about the mountain lions and big cats in the area. About middle way through, a little girl shouts “look at that big kitty”. We all look over and some type of big cat was literally within 30 feet of us in the brush, The commotion must have startled it, because we didn’t get a good look to see exactly what it was. Very exciting! The second one was when I was first walking into the park through the parking lot. I saw a car that was exactly like a car that I had sold to a teacher that lives in Indiana about 5 years prior. As we got closer, I saw that it had Indian license plates on it. My girlfriend said I was nuts, that it was not the same car.. An hour later someone calls out my name, I turn around and there is the guy that I sold the car to, what are the odds of that? We talked a bit and he told me that he had suffered a minor brain aneurism a year before which he had fully recovered from. This is a young guy, not even 30 yet. He said that he promised himself if he pulled through it that he would change the way he lived his life and would visit every national park in the U.S, something he had always dreamed of doing. So he packed up the car with his tent, sleeping bag,etc.. and hit the road. Sorry to be so long winded , but for only a half day trip it was a great day to be alive.
I came across these groups of people riding horses in the water while visiting Freeport, Grand Bahamas. I am not a rider of horses, but it looked like these people were having the time of their lives. I would have loved to try it, but had too many things to do already. Diving with sharks takes precedence over riding horses 🙂
One of my favorite destinations is Sedona Arizona, it is absolutely gorgeous. It is famous for the glowing red rocks, but Sedona has so much more than that to offer. Along with the gorgeous views, there are many other things to do and see. Multi colored stone monoliths jut upwards from the high desert floor creating a vivid, mesmerizing setting that changes hourly with the light. Just before sunset is as if someone flipped on the light switch, they are so golden red.. There is a great combination of wilderness, spas and resorts. They have taken great care to not ruin the scenery with gaudy highrise building, instead opting for a nice blend. The photo above is a great example of architecture blending with the environment. This church is formally the Sedna Chapel of the Holy Cross, most people call it the church of the rocks. It was designed and built by Marguerite Bruswig Staude, the large cross was inspired by the Empire State Building in New York. It sits about 250 feet up on a 1000 foot rock outcropping. Over the years Sedona has developed a global reputation as a place of enlightenment and healing. Beyond the vortexes, a wide range of healing practitioners are ready to assist visitors on their spiritual quest. Psychics, massage therapists, spiritual counselors, reiki masters, life coaches and shamans abound, something for everything. If you haven’t been to Sedona, put it on the bucket list.
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Japanese Botanical Gardens are one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon, especially in the fall. These were taken at a gardens in Rockford, Illinois in early October a few years ago. It had been pretty dry for a few weeks before this trip. I was actually shooting a wedding the day before in Dixon IL, so I stayed the night in the area and headed to this garden in the morning. It rained most of the night before and some in the early morning, but it was a great thing. I have been to this place many times and I had never seen the colors so bright, they were electric. This particular garden is pretty sweet, it originally built by a family that spent a few decades in Japan. They brought over most of the flora, stones and structures from Japan. They even brought their home from Japan to here. I post processed these shots with some HDR tone mapping. I usually keep the HDR effects to a minimum, but I went a little further with these just to make the colors explode. Let me know what you think.
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