Category Archives: Travel

Fifty Years Ago Today

I was in Florida. And it turns out I wrote a pretty decent account of that trip ten years ago today.

So read this!

The tl;dr version – I was 17, somehow got permission to take time off school, made it from a small town in Vermont to Florida, and saw the last Saturn V launch when Skylab launched on May 14, 1973.

It was quite the adventure. You know how they say you learn to make good decisions by living through the bad decisions you make? That trip was FULL of bad decisions, and decisions made out of ignorance. But it was spectacular, definitely changed my life.

Apollo Command-Service Module (CSM) training simulator, seen on the Kennedy Space Center tour a day or two before the launch.

The Saturn IB up on stilts to use the Saturn V launch pad, with the Apollo capsule that would take the Skylab I crew up. It was supposed to launch the next day, but due to the damage the Skylab took on launch it took eleven days of desperate work to figure out how to save the mission and prepare for the rescue. The Skylab I crew launched on May 25th, but I was back in high school in Vermont by that time.

The final Saturn V, with the Skylab spacecraft on top.

In some ways for me, the most simple but amazing fact is that in 50 years I’ve never been back to KSC to see the new museums, the space shuttle Atlantis, or a launch. I’ve been to five NASA Socials (see that “search” box?), I’ve finally seen a launch out of Vandenberg, I’ve been to the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, to the associated Udvar-Hazy museum at Dulles, to a ton of air shows, flown in P-51 Mustangs and a B-25 and a B-29 and done aerobatics in an SNJ and a bunch of other planes with the CAF, and even got my own pilot’s license (gotta get current and get flying again, but that’s a different rant)… But I’ve never been back to KSC.

It can’t be that hard to see a launch these days, SpaceX is launching about once a week or more, ULA has the Vulcan coming online soon and they’re still launching the last of the Atlas missions, Blue Origin is getting ready to go orbital soon.

Gotta fix that. Soon.

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Filed under Paul, Photography, Space, Travel

You Can’t Take A Bad Picture Here – May 11th

There are places on the planet where it is damn near impossible to take a bad picture, no matter your equipment, skill level, or whatever. I’m sure there are folks who somehow do manage to screw it up, but they’re in a different class from us mere mortals.

For example:

The Grand Canyon at sunset.

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Filed under Photography, Sunsets, Travel

Random Old Photos – May 02nd

Hazy, hot, humid. The Mississippi River at flood stage with St. Louis in the distance.

The structure is one of two water intakes for some local municipality’s water supply. Possibly St. Louis, possibly not.

The viewpoint is from somewhere out on the Chain of Rocks Bridge, an old car bridge from the late 1920’s which was where Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River.¬† It’s now part of a trail system along the Mississippi for hiking and biking, strictly pedestrian traffic only.

If I lived in the St. Louis area, I suspect I would be hiking and biking a lot of those trails.

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Filed under Photography, Travel

A Place Lost

Where is home? I know where I live, but that’s different.

Too late now.

I was there for an hour or two. That will have to do.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Travel


Today’s adventure was a day trip up the coast to Solvang. It was my first visit.

A cute little tourist trap town based on the Danish architecture of its early founders and settlers.

Lots of interesting shops (we found and bought some neat things) and, on the Sunday of a three-day holiday weekend with gorgeous weather, way too little parking. (This is my surprised face.)

Driving up through the mountains the views were stunning and the California wildflowers were blooming. I didn’t stop to take pictures of those, but they’re worth another trip.

It was an adventure, so I was wearing my adventure hat. Hans Christian Andersen was wearing something more formal. I claimed the win based on not being bronze and not being dead.

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Horizon To Horizon

One contrail, passing from horizon to horizon.

I didn’t see the plane, but looking at what was overhead on the FlightRadar24 app, it probably came from the south…

…and headed north. Probably a Southwest flight out of San Diego to Sacramento that passed by at 40,000 feet.

The twisty remains of an older contrail? Much more character, much more photogenic. It aged well.

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Filed under Flying, Photography, Sunsets, Travel

Random Old Photos – January 03rd

I’m a sucker for taking pictures of statues, and god knows there were enough of them on this day. Lots of Native Americans, wilderness dudes, cowboys, and so on. But this one of the spouting seal and child was the one that tickled my fancy the most.

Denver, there for Worldcon, fifteen years ago in August, somewhere near the capitol building and US Mint.

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Filed under Photography, Travel

No Context For You – December 16th

Established facts and fundamental truths:

  1. I take a LOT of pictures
  2. I love to travel
  3. I REALLY take a LOT of pictures when traveling!

The trip to San Antonio last week was no different. However, one thing surprised me. All of the photos and videos I took, 100% of them, were using my iPhone.

I had the two DSLRs with me, one with a normal 18-35mm zoom lens, one with the telephoto 75-300mm zoom lens. (I left the light bucket 11-16mm wide angle lens at home because as much as I love it, it weighs about two pounds.) I had my great little Sony palm-sized video camera.

Not one of them got used for a single picture. It was all the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

There’s no doubt in my mind that in the future I’ll continue to take along my “good” cameras when travelling, especially if I’m expecting to take a lot of “serious” pictures or videos. In 2024, for example, I’ll be going to view the next “Great American” solar eclipse. There’s no question I’ll take every camera I have for that. And even just on a trip to someplace new, like a possible trip to Memphis early in 2023, I’m sure on the ground and seeing the city for the first time I’ll be using the better quality equipment.

But a simple tip for a family gathering, where I’m more focused on the event and the family than on the photography? That newer iPhone is pretty sweet for keeping it simple, yet still being able to easily get some great results.

It’s been said that the best camera is the one in your hand when you see something you want to photograph. It’s work to carry around a backpack of cameras and be switching between them, where it takes two seconds to whip out that phone and be recording.

It was an interesting revelation.

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Filed under Photography, Travel

Christmas Lights 2022 – Professional Work

Six Flags Fiesta Texas did a great job of lighting up the park for the holidays.

I made sure to pay attention to how they did it, and noted some of the clever hooks and fasterners they used.

They’ve got a LOT of lights up, which I obviously approve of!

It seemed like every tree was wrapped in very bright, colorful LEDs, every building roof line outlined in bigger lights.

A wonderful job!

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Filed under Christmas Lights, Photography, Travel

I See The Cookie Monster

Flying back on Monday, over New Mexico, near sunset, snow covered landscape and I see this odd formation near the bottom of the picture.

A crater of some sort, with two large hills or mounds near the top, sorta looks like big eyes with a gaping mouth…

See the source imageMaybe it’s just me.

Tracking the location down, I think this is part of the Chain of Craters Wilderness Study Area¬† at 34.727060, -108.356174. I do wonder what made all of those craters. Probably volcanic, I’m guessing?

That one still looks like our blue, googly-eyed friend.

Or a wedding ring, maybe.

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Filed under Photography, Travel