Travel To Hawaii

November 29, 2009 by ·  

Barbers Point, Hawaii

Barbers Point, Hawaii

        Hawaii is a place where you can do a lot of things and it doesn’t matter how old you are because in Hawaii, you can do it all. Even though Hawaii is a an American state, you have to travel overseas to get there, so American tourists in Hawaii are different than American tourists when they are traveling within the the 48 North American States. The beaches, clubs, beachside restaurants, boat and water activities and adventure hiking are all first rate. For solitude you have to leave to island of Oahu. Maui is about 30 minutes by air shuttle and is well worth seeing even if you are not seeking solitude.

Waikiki Sunset

Waikiki Sunset, Hawaii

        There is beauty everywhere in Hawaii, so spend at least a month there if you can. A stay that long will allow you to delve into the islands and find things to do that are not in any tourist brochures.

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Travel To Las Vegas And Hoover Dam

November 29, 2009 by ·  

Hoover Dam From Just Above River Level

Hoover Dam From Just Above River Level

        If you go to Hoover Dam, it is probably to take a break from your activities in Las Vegas, so you will understand what it means to pay a little more to to get something a lot better. The special tour is $30 and you get a much better experience than you do with the $11 tickets.

        My special access ticket allowed me to get a less than common shot of the dam from a very low level. The sky was blown out so I cropped it and made the dam itself look as dramatic as possible, without going to full on black & white.

        I had a hard time taking pictures in Las Vegas because everything looked so familiar from movies and photos in magazines. I just didn’t see how I could take a unique shot in that town. At the time, The Venetian was one of the newest casinos so a friend asked me to shoot it for her. The shot below is a small section of the architecture of the hotel’s exterior. Every room in the hotel is a suite with queen or king beds and 32″ flat screen TV’s.

Venetian Hotel In Las Vegas

Venetian Hotel In Las Vegas

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What I Love About Denver

November 28, 2009 by ·  

Denver Capitol Building, 1999

Denver Capitol Building, 1999

        Denver is a great city, no matter what time of year it is. Downtown, LoDo and Capitol Hill in particular are such great places to live and spend time. Anything you need and everything you want is right there, sports, drinks, food, walking, skating, shopping and sightseeing are all touching each other.

Inside Denver Capitol Building Christmas 1999

Inside Denver Capitol Building Christmas 1999

        There are two very different forms of solitude available to the residents of Denver, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Depending on your mood, the time of year and your own reasons for wanting to get away from all human beings for a while, you can drive to west or south to the mountains or drive east towards Kansas and America’s Bread Basket. Personally, I like the mountain form of solitude better than the endless plains form. Being out in the woods is more engaging and more inspiring for me, I feel like there is more nature per square inch in the mountains.

        Sometimes, the history of Denver is what held my interest for extended periods of time. So many things have happened in Denver in the last 150 years and all of it is interesting and fun to talk about. Click here to visit the city of Denver’s website. There is just so much to do, and there are so many restaurants, all of which you can walk to. Downtown Denver is a great place.

        Four sunny seasons is what you will find in Denver, Colorado. Fall colors, winter wonderland, spring is colorful and warm and summer is hot with thunderstorms that will make you take notice. The mountains are so different with each season and each mountain town is different as well. Estes Park, Boulder & Golden would be good starting points for visitors that want to start visiting mountain towns. After them, head out to Cripple Creek, Georgetown or Central City. Now you’ll be ready to head deep into the Rockies to visit ski towns and do some real exploring!

Mile High Stadium And Unborn Investco Field

Mile High Stadium As Investco Field Is Built, 1999

John Elway & Denver Broncos - Superbowl XXXII Champions 1998

John Elway & Denver Broncos - Superbowl XXXII Champions 1998

        There was a stretch, back in the late 1990’s when I was going to a lot of Bronco games, and almost every game was watched from the south stands, in both stadiums. Those that were attending home games of the Denver Broncos in the late nineties will remember what a time that was. The Broncos had already won the Superbowl and were on track to win for a second time. The new stadium was about to be built and John Elway was just awesome. The pic on the right was taken following the Denver Broncos Superbowl victory parade through downtown. John Elway & The Denver Broncos are on the steps of the city & county building for this photo. I did not take this John Elway shot, but I was standing next to my friend when he shot it. It was such a fun day and we both waited since we were kids to see the Broncos win the superbowl.

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USS Fletcher DD-992, The People

November 27, 2009 by ·  

Mess Cranking USS Fletcher DD-992

Mess Cranking Is 4 Months Of Sleep Depravity

        This post will be similar to my previous post because it will also contain photos taken while serving aboard the USS Fletcher DD-992 from 1993 through 1996. Specifically, all the photos will contain images of my former shipmates and I… Nothing but people for this post. So, the above picture shows, from left to right, McClenndon, Smalls & York.

Captains Birthday Cake USS Fletcher DD-992 1993

1993 Captain’s Birthday Cake USS Fletcher DD-992

        I was mess cranking in the wardroom for this event. For you non-navy people, mess cranking is a joyous time of washing dishes, serving food and washing dishes… For four months. The worst time I had in the navy was while I was mess cranking. The wardroom is where officers eat, so it was the cushiest mess cranking job but it still sucked balls. The cook on the left is MS3 Galan, and the other cook I only knew as “Lucky.”

USS Fletcher DD-992 The Mighty Warship Mata

Mata At Rest

        Once I was done mess cranking, I was sent back to 1st division for a life of chipping and painting. From time to time, shipmates & I found hidden areas to relax in.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Robo The Cook

Everyone Has To Paint In The Navy – Even Cooks

        I knew this cook as Robo. It was impossible for him to have a bad day or take it out on some one else if he was. It was always fun to have him around.

On Watch USS Fletcher DD-992

After I Mess Cranked I Stood Watch

        If you do not have a rate when you enlist in the Navy, you will be a part of 1st division, and we are the ones that chip and paint all day. If the ship is out to sea, then you ALSO get to stand watch for four hours at a time. That’s me on the left and McClenndon on the right.

Sweepers, USS Fletcher DD-992

Sweepers, Sweepers, Man Your Brooms

        Everyday, twice a day, in port or at sea, the ship got swept. If it was raining, you had to sweep “standing water.” Yep, we swept up water as it fell from the sky. Uh, yeah. Asher is seen here sweeping up some deadly dirt from the ship.

Aft Lookout Watch USS Fletcher DD-992

Aft Lookout On The Mighty Warship Fletcher DD-992

        I found that a lot of my pictures were taken while I was on watch or taken of other people on watch. I carried a small point and shoot camera around with me a lot in the early days of my navy career, but nothing above the level of “snapshot” was ever produced.

On Watch Under The CIWS USS Fletcher DD-992

Workman Pointing Out A Contact

        Being out in the middle of the ocean is fun, but when you are standing watch and looking for contacts out there, it’s not like finding birds in the park. The ocean is so big and anything on it is barely a speck. It is tedious and boring to stand watch, but it was to be done, day & night everyday.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Majuro, Marshall Islands 1994

Marjuro, Marshall Islands 1994

        Majuro was my first exotic port during my time on board USS Fletcher DD-992. The drink in front of me has whiskey in it. It wouldn’t be for another week or so that I would discover rum, which would be drink of choice for years after that. I’m on the left, McClenndon in the middle & Pannkoke on the right.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Majuro, Marshall Islands 1994

Marjuro, Marshall Islands 1994

        Going to exotic places and sipping cocktails in beachside bars was something I really looked forward to doing while in the navy. There were a few shipmates that were deep into hobbies like scuba diving, golfing and sailing, but most everyone else would hit bars and clubs in every port. It was so much fun to do that, and there are so many things to do in all these ports around the world that there never was a dull moment when you are on a Western Pacific deployment. Above, from left to right are: Hanrahan, James, Coleman (Big C) & Pannkoke

Majuro, Marshall Islands 1994 USS Fletcher DD-992

Sailors From USS Fletcher DD-992 Marjuro, Marshall Islands 1994

        My trip to Majuro in 1994 has always been especially etched into my memory because it was my first port of call in the Navy. It was a very friendly place, and there were children that would follow us from time to time. The image above has three shipmates in it and one mysterious hand that I just cant explain (in the the right/center part of the pic). They all loved having their picture taken. McClenndon is at the top/center, Hales in the middle, and unknown on the right.

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Serving In The Navy Onboard USS Fletcher DD-992

November 23, 2009 by ·  

President Bill Clinton @ Pearl Harbor Hawaii 1993

President Bill Clinton In 1993, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

        This post contains photos I took in 1993 & 1994 with a variety of different point & shoot cameras. I was serving in the Navy at the time, so these pics are of the “look where I am” variety as opposed to trying to create art. The military is not conducive to independent or free thinking. Looking back, it really didn’t permit thinking of any sort. The photos I present to you in this post are presented in the order I took them, to the best of my recollection. The photo above was taken in July of 1993. President Clinton is in between the two white uniformed people in the center of the photo. I think one of those people is Admiral Charles R. Larson, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command at the time. All of the sailors you see on the forecastle of the ship on the right of the photo were in the Persian Gulf less than a year later. As a 19 year old teenager serving aboard the destroyer USS Fletcher DD-992 at the time, it didn’t seem weird to me that men (no women) that would be dead in less than a year were kept at such a great distance from the president, while the men ( again, no women) that sent them to die ate breakfast and shook the hand of President Bill Clinton.

19 Year Old Sailor, USS Fletcher DD-992

Self Portrait Taken Moments After President Clinton Was Out Of Sight

        In the photo above, I was bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to go to war for President Clinton and my country. At the time, I had no concept of war other than WWII Navy movies. I hadn’t seen Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, or Apocalypse Now, just the romanticized navy & war flicks that came out during the two decades after WWII. Mr. Roberts, Operation Petticoat, Victory At Sea and The Sands Of Iwo Jima were all made when America was still swelling with pride and patriotism, and so was I when I saw them. There was no such thing as an anti-war movie back then, so I bought it hook, line and sinker.

Making Ready For War

Before We Made War, We Painted The Ship

        With or without war, the Navy has a weird compilation of priorities. Appearance to outsiders is the biggest one. The Dog & Pony Show is what happens when a non-military person in a position of authority is expected on board a naval vessel. Those of you that had to clean their rooms when grandma was going to visit may understand what I mean. The bed you sleep in was always fine, until that one day when your parents beat the shit out of you for not making it because Grandma is due for a visit. Since your superiors ASSUME you know what they know, they ALSO assume you know WHY you are having the shit kicked out of you for not having a clean room.

Navigation Detail

The More Enlisted Men You Have, The More People You Can Blame

        There is one very important thing you must understand about the military… SHIT ROLLS DOWNHILL. For those of you that don’t understand what that means, I will simplify it for you: If you are the new guy in the room, you will feel something being shoved up your ass when something goes wrong.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Fantail Watch, 1994

Standing Watch Provides A Scapegoat

        If we imagined ourselves as amnesiacs instead of patrons of American evening news, our involvement with Iraq began in 1989 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Without elaborating on that point, we have been at war with Iraq for 20 years. Iraq has the third largest OIL RESERVES on the planet, while America is the first largest CONSUMER of oil on the planet. With consumption like that, you need to have young men, standing a visual, naked eye watch on the horizons of war zones. That way, you never have to blame failures of any sort on equipment, or those friends of government officials we call contractors that manufacture that equipment.

Kwajalein, Marshall Islands 1994 - USS Fletcher DD-992

USS Fletcher DD-992, February 1994 Ported At Kwajalein, Marshall Islands

        Kwajalein was a great place to visit. USS Fletcher-DD992 was there as part of a WWII anniversary celebration, but I was there as a teenage sailor, looking to make trouble. I had to limp back to my ship by 10 or 12 pm (I forget what time curfew actually was) and even though I was late, my division officer was the Officer Of The Deck at the time, so he let me slide.

Phuket, Thailand 1994, USS Fletcher DD-992

Anchor Detail Onboard USS Fletcher DD-992 Phuket, Thailand

        When you are 19 years old, like I was when I snapped the pic above, logic and reason are not your strongest points. Even if you have the temperance of age, and the logic & reason that age and experience bring, The Navy has a way of reducing it to alcohol and whores. For example, my ship’s last port, before heading to do battle in The Arabian Gulf was Phuket, Thailand. Phuket has no piers, facilities or reason to accommodate a Spruance class destroyer, yet in early 1994, USS Fletcher-DD-992 was parked 1000 yards or so off the coast, and for three days our “Liberty Launch” shuttled American sailors to the beach and turned them loose on the bars and women of the city. At the time, I didn’t care why we were allowed free reign in a tropical pseudo-paradise infested with drugs, whores and alcohol, I just knew that in a week I would be in a warzone, so I better live it up.

Standing Watch, USS Fletcher DD-992

Asher, Mata, Workman & I

        Here is the ironic thing about my time in the Navy… I was at the pinnacle of my vanity. While I was serving, I felt the urge to do my own thing more than I ever had, before or since. My hair was way longer than regulations allowed, and I was already beginning to understand just how easy it was to manipulate the military to get my way.

Steel Beach Picnic, USS Fletcher DD-992

Steel Beach Picnic, USS Fletcher DD-992

        The fantail is the ass end of a ship. On my ship, USS Fletcher DD-992 it was a good 3600 square feet, so it was a natural place to have a picnic. The ship is made of steel, so if we imagined the ocean around us as the ocean and our ship as a beach, you wound up having a STEEL BEACH PICNIC.

50 Caliber (I think) USS Fletcher DD-992

After We Ate, We Spread Democracy

        Being in the Persian Gulf was a little bit different than other places than Navy had taken me. For starters, there is nothing there but oil, so we were there for no other reason than oil. Reason? The 90 days my ship spent there as part of the Carl Vinson Battle Group was for the sole purpose of defending America’s oil interests. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself except that we were told at the time that ensuring the liberation of Kuwait was our reason for being there. Do you hear that world? If you have oil, America will send it’s citizens to die defending your sovereignty. If you don’t have oil, we will report your troubles for 16 seconds on the evening news.

USS Fletcher DD-992 In Arabian Gulf Port

Now Muster A 30 Man Working Party On The Pier

        The Persian Gulf, The USS Fletcher DD-992 and sand comprised the 3 months I spent in the Persian Gulf. Just to give you an idea of how stupid the military is, I offer the following. When visiting dignitaries of ANY creed, culture or race came to my ship, while in port, American sailors were made to sweep the sand off of the gang plank AND the pier! As the winds of the Arabian desert blows sand ALL THE WAY to North America, American teenagers had to ensure that Arab Sheiks and American Congressmen had a sand-free path from their chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz cars across the pier to my ship.

Personnelman 1994 USS Fletcher DD-992

A Haircut And A New Naval Job

        Strange things happened to me just as we reached the Arabian Gulf in March 1994. The first was my new naval rate, personnelman. No more chipping and painting for me, at least on the OUTSIDE of the ship. I got a haircut and dove in to learning my new rate. The strange artifact of working the new job in the ship’s office was some regularity in my schedule, and day to day routine. Sailors with no rate (job) in the navy spend their days working in 1st division. This division is controlled by boatswain mates and you never know what you will be doing from one day to the next BESIDES chipping and painting. 1st division does all the lookout watches, anchor details, line handlers and anything else that requires late hours and heavy lifting. All that changed when I started working in the ship’s office because it was a regular 9-5 type gig. The actual hours were longer than that of course, but I didn’t have to stand watch anymore and quitting time was at the same time everyday.

USS Fletcher DD-992 Screws In Drydock 1995

USS Fletcher DD-992 In Dry-Dock 1995

        My new rate, along with the mighty warship being mired in dry-dock following our return from the Persian Gulf is what ultimately turned me into a person that didn’t like the navy. It was really sad because I thought the USN was going to be different in the way it handled employees compared to the civilian sector. A ship in dry-dock is absolute murder on the crew. We stood fire watch for 12 hours a day, lived on a barge on duty days, lived on an island on non-duty days, and that didn’t change for 18 months. The navy just doesn’t care about wasted potential. I begged my command to allow me to go on a deployment with another battle group that was leaving about the same time my ship entered dry-dock, but was told no because my replacement would not know the ship’s routine as well as me. Firewatch was the ship’s routine. My replacement would not be able to watch a civilian contractor weld for 12 hours as well as I could. It was at that moment that I realized how stupid the navy is, and just how naive I had been.

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Silver Strand Car Accident

November 23, 2009 by ·  

Ford Mustang In The South Bay Nature Preserve

This Guy Drove His Mustang Into Southbay

        It was an action packed half hour in Southbay San Diego on Sunday! About a half mile south of the South Bay County Biological Study Area, just north of the point where Palm Ave. meets up with Silver Strand Boulevard, some poor soul drove his mustang into the Southwestern tip of San Diego Bay. A San Diego Police helicopter circled overhead, a tow truck arrived, and most users of the Bayshore Silver Strand Bikeway stopped to see this intruder into the bay. This guy was driving way too fast, lost control, and spun out into the bay. Technically, I think he ended up on the nature preserve at the extreme south end of San Diego Bay.

Southbay-Intruder

Waiter, There’s A Car In My Bay!

        All things being equal, how often do you see a mustang, police, sheriffs AND a white heron all in the same photo? What a bummer though, right? I would also make the assumption that the driver is in the military because some MP’s showed up a little later as well. A tow truck pulled the car out without incident, and a San Diego Police helicopter supervised from overhead for a few minutes. After that, things returned to normal, and a cloudless sunset followed.

San Diego Police Helicopter

Excitement At Southbay County Biological Study Area

        Watching this helicopter swoop, dive and circle overhead reminded me that I have always wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter. Of course, I could be wrong, but to me they seem like the motorcycles of the sky. Motorcycles of course, being way cooler than cars.

Silver Strand Sunset, San Diego, CA

About 3 Miles North & 3 Hours After The Accident

        As the final sunset of the weekend approached, I hustled north on the Bayshore Silver Strand Bikeway, towards downtown San Diego. I was on the East side of Silver Strand Boulevard, so the fence that denotes the Eastern edge of Silver Strand State Park was in my way, but the sunset was still very easy on the eyes.

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Technomania Circus & The Wild Wild West Show

November 18, 2009 by ·  

Technomania Circus Fire Bunny

Beautiful Indian Being Played With Behind Fire

        Once again, I found myself at Technomania Circus, for some live theater entertainment. On this particular Saturday night, Technomania Circus put on a Wild, Wild West Show, complete with gunfire, indians, cowboys, trapeze, fire and blacklight. I arrived just as the show was starting, and was actually led into the theater by the cowboys, as they made their theatrical entrance. While this made for some initial excitement for me, it also meant I did not get my usual spot at the top of the stadium seating. Not a big deal for watching the show, but terrible for taking pictures. The two keepers I shot are presented to you in this post.

Tehcnomania Circus Indians

Technomania Circus Presents The Wild Wild West Show!

        This was a great show. For those of you that are not Technomania Circus Virgins, your will recognize the Indians of this show are also the fire performers from the Fire & Blacklight show back in July. It was so much fun, and the crowd cheered and encouraged the performers the entire time. Technomania Circus is simply the best, cheapest, funniest, most retro night you can spend in San Diego!

        You can see my post and photos from their Fire & Blacklight Show, which was presented back in July 2009 by clicking right here. I love Technomania Circus!

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The Moment Of Creation

November 9, 2009 by ·  

The Big Bang

Our Universe Milliseconds After The Big Bang

        In a laboratory, amongst particle accelerators and radiation, scientists have managed to reproduce a microscopic version of THE BIG BANG in a controlled environment. Incredibly enough, was there with my camera, and it’s amazing macro capabilities so I was able to capture the shot above.

The Pillars Of Creation

Objects Very Similar To The Hubble Telescope’s PILLARS OF THE EARTH Photo

        Fractals have been something that I struggled to wrap my mind around. After taking this shot, however, I can see that patterns do repeat themselves from small on up to immeasurably large. You have to use a bit of imagination I suppose, but to me, this sub-atomic photo of a laboratory created BIG BANG looks like the famous Pillars Of Creation photo taken by the Hubble Telescope in 1995. From microscopic to telescopic, I am now a believer in the “Universe In Our Fingernail” concept.

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Balboa Park And Random Photography

November 2, 2009 by ·  

Bee On A Cactus Flower, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Flower, Shadow, Sunlight, Bee, Blue Sky

        Balboa Park is not exactly a spooky Halloween place, at least during the day. What seemed to me to be a unique combination of sunlight, flower and insect prompted the pic above.

cactuspuffs in Balboa Park, CA, San Diego

Cactus Needles Backlit By The Sun

        Wow! Cactus needles backlit by the sun. No one has ever done that before! I’m not kidding, you are seeing a marvel of modern photography!

Orb Spider, Balboa Park, San Deigo, CA

This Is A Great Shot Of A Waiting Orb Spider

        This spider was milling about about The House Of Poland in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA.

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Nightmare On Normal Street Halloween 2009

November 2, 2009 by ·  

        This post will be a little bit different because it the only text in it is what you are reading now. Please enjoy a bunch of ordinary snapshots of some extraordinary costumes. They were are taken at Nightmare On Normal Street, 2009.

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

pinhead costume

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

Nightmare on Normal Street, Halloween, 2009

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