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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Early Sunday morning walk

When Luke and I started our Sunday morning walk, the sun was just waking up and barely visible through the clouds. While 6:30 is way too early for me, the critters around the lake made our day.

Yesterday we saw a fox and I didn’t have my camera. This morning I was prepared. He was too far away to get a great shot but I was thrilled to capture him in a photo.

Luke is learning to stop and stand still when I take pictures. Besides there’s always a good smell somewhere close by.

After our fox, we saw a rabbit scurrying to get away from us. Next we saw a turtle in the road. I am constantly amazed at the beauty of a turtle’s shell – and we think our homes are nice!

Finally we saw a deer having breakfast along the side of the road. On our way home, I found a single white flower just waiting for the sun's rays.

We didn't see any other people or dogs, but we both had a good time - plenty of smells for Luke and photo ops for me.

It was definitely worth it to struggle out of bed this morning. Just wish I was one of those morning folks who jump out of bed with a smiling face and energy to burn.

However, taking pictures always puts a smile on my face and bumps up my energy level. I hope your Sunday morning was as enjoyable as ours.

Friday, July 19, 2013

MVPA Convention in Portland, OR

Next week we travel to Portland to attend the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's (MVPA) annual convention.

We have attended this convention for the past several years and developed friendships with a number of  members. I first heard of the organization through Paul and Evelyn Harless from the Arkansas Chapter. Through them we met a wonderful group of people.

Joyce Faulkner and I featured Evelyn Harless in our book, Role Call: Women's Voices.

Joe and Rita Allison bring a group of vehicles to the Branson Veteran's Day Parade each year. Many of the veterans I've worked with have enjoyed riding with them in the parade.

Several of these veterans are no longer with us. Valdor John and Walter Whitcomb were both in the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre in North Korea in 1950. I will never forget Valdor John riding his wheelchair between two jeeps. A small boy stepped away from the crowd and handed him an American flag. Valdor remembered that until his death.

Walter Whitcomb loved riding in the jeeps, tossing candy to the kids and waving at the crowds. We lost him earlier this year and will forever miss his love of life. Billy Templeton, a Bataan Death March and Japanese "Hell Ship" survivor, wrapped up and rode in the parade on a very cold November day. He too has moved on to his eternal reward. Joyce Faulkner and I told their story in  Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors. We also helped Billy Templeton tell his story in Manila Bay Sunset. Joe, Rita and the rest of the AR MVPA group gave these former prisoners-of-war a   fun experience and a joyful memory. One of the AR guys, Sedric Wirt, was also a former prisoner-of-war. We lost him a couple of years ago. The world is a little dimmer for losing these men who lived through so much but still gave of themselves. I was proud to call each of them 'friend.'

Jim Alexander, from the Portland, OR MVPA, made the trip to Branson for several years during Veterans Week to help photograph the events for the Branson Veterans Task Force publication, the Bugle. We are looking forward to seeing him at the convention and spending some time with him afterwards. He's one of those folks who, with a smile on his face, is always there to lend a helping hand. I've learned a lot about photography and kindness from him.

If you like old vehicles and have an interest in military history, the MVPA Convention is the place for you. The members buy and restore every imaginable type of vehicle. The love the vehicles and the history behind them. Each year the national convention is in a different location. Check out the MVPA website.

I will have a booth to sell my books at the convention and I look forward to seeing familiar and new faces. It's always a fun event.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Children's Book a Fun Adventure

Fun Days on South Padre Island is my latest book and my first illustrated children's title. I loved writing the book and taking the pictures of the island's attractions. Joyce Faulkner offered her eye for design and I'm pleased with our final product.

Most travel guides are written for adults but much of the fun on South Padre Island also belongs to the kids. Whether it's a ride on a pirate ship, a visit to the Sea Turtle Center or picking up shells on the beach, the kids have plenty of opportunity for fun.

Luke the Detective and Reporter Dog loves his new role as a travel guide. What a multi-talented guy he is!

If you're thinking of going to South Padre Island, or if your kids just love to read about life on the beach, check out the book at Paragraphs, the bookstore on South Padre Island. It's also available on Amazon.

I hope that all kids, and the adults that accompany them, enjoy the island as much I enjoyed taking the photos and writing the book!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Travel: do you "take time" or "make time?"

Marshall Court House

Traveling can be a chore or a delight. I’ve found that it depends on the traveler’s frame of mind. Too often we’ve traveled with a focus on making the best time from Point A to Point B. With our long and frequent trips from the southern tip of Texas to Kansas City, we’ve traveled I-35, measuring the miles and seeing cities from a freeway view.

This trip we decided to take time rather than make time. We traveled up US77 to US 59. We spent the night in Nacogdoches and enjoyed a leisurely and delicious dinner at the Jalapeno Tree. Today we stopped to photograph some beautiful buildings in Marshall and Jefferson, two old north Texas cities. We liked the homes, the brick streets, and the friendliness of the people we talked with.

Marshall has a downtown square with a dignified courthouse. A Confederate soldier statue stands in front looking out over the brick parking lot and street. The surrounding square is home to a number of restored buildings.

Jefferson is located on Big Cypress Bayou and is a cornucopia of antique
Big Cypress Bayou riverfront
Jefferson General Store

stores. If you enjoy riverfronts and yesteryear, you’ll love Jefferson.

Although I had to fight large splatty raindrops on my camera lens, I loved taking the pictures. I’ve always wanted to write a book about old courthouses and town squares. Maybe I’ll start…

Service "Filling" station

Monday, July 8, 2013

Morning Walks

Luke and I encounter many interesting subjects on our morning walks. While I refuse to take photos of the smells that interest him (dead and stinky stuff), he waits patiently when I find something of interest.

We've had some desperately needed rain the last couple of nights here in the Rio Grande Valley and the flowers are loving it. Also with most of the hawks gone for the summer, we find little rabbits enjoying the opportunity to be out in the open.

Surprisingly, Luke doesn't bother the rabbits and didn't even notice the turtle. He's usually too busy following where his nose leads him.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunset Cruise at Dolphin Docks

What a way to experience a sunset! Picture a gray overcast evening with little hope of good photo opportunities. That's what we thought when we took a sunset cruise with Captain Noe at Dolphin Docks in Port Isabel TX. When we left the dock, he filled us with fun facts and tall tales until we reached the dolphin hangout where they delighted everyone with their antics.

We were with our friends, Bonnie and Herm. Bonnie, Herm and I took hundreds of photos, along with most of the other passengers. Calm winds and beautiful weather enhanced our trip. As the evening progressed, the clouds broke away just in time for a fantastic sunset behind the causeway. Captain Noe maneuvered the boat to provide some great shots.

While I know I can never capture the full beauty of the sunset over the bay, I made the effort. I fall in love with my own photos - maybe because they are enough to remind me of nature's spectacular show.

On a busy holiday weekend, life can't get much better than that.