We wanted to take a short trip to the beach but in February the options for beaches in the United States aren't as vast as in Spring and Summer months. Neither of us had been to South Padre Island, so that became the place we decided to get away to for a week.
We decided to fly in since we wanted to spend more of our week on the beach rather than on the road. We flew into Brownsville, Texas, and then took an UBER 45 minutes to the Island. It was such a beautiful sight going over the causeway to the island. An amazing transition into our vacation. When we arrived at the La Copa Inn, we were greeted by great staff and our room was large and beautiful. Our view looked over the pool area and out into the ocean. Even though it was a little cloudy and blustery that day, the sound of the waves was music to the ears.
Once we got stuff settled into the room we do as we always do; headed out to the beach for an initial walk. One thing my girl noticed was how the roar of the ocean seemed much stronger here. Where we stay in California most often, the beach is in more of a cove, so there is more of a cadence to the waves. In SPI, there is more of a constant roar. It really is magnificent.
The scenery at South Padre Island is incredible! If you have seen any of my shots in the past you will know I love birds and wildlife. There is no shortage on the island.
We really enjoyed the Birding and Nature Center as well as the Gator Sanctuary There are so many species of birds. There are great trails throughout the area to walk and see all of the beauty that unveils before your eyes.
Enjoy the South Padre Island Collection
They also have a Sea Turtle Rescue that is amazing as well. Turtles that have been injured are rescued and rehabilitated there. While everyone cheers when rehabbed turtles can be released, some turtles are permanent residents because for one reason or another they are unable to return to their natural habitat. One of these turtles lost three flippers and they created a special prosthetic limb that gave this turtle the ability to swim in a straight line. It was pretty awesome to see the care that goes into helping these beautiful creatures.
You will see examples of all of these animals in my SPI collection.
Port Isabel is an amazing place to visit! It is on the other side of the causeway and is accessible by using the Free Trolley that runs throughout the island and surrounding areas. On a side note, we used the trolley daily and it was an easy way to get around. Did I also mention that it was free?
In Port Isabel, we visited the lighthouse. It's so beautiful to see and once you trek up the winding staircase, the view is amazing from the top. All of the surrounding areas are visible on a clear day. You can also see a view of the Island itself. Also, we walked through the area cemetery but we check out cemeteries most everywhere we go. You will see in the collection that the colors of the decorated graves were radiant. It's quite obvious that folks remember their family members and friends that have passed on. Check out the fishing pier as well. It's a relaxing walk full of spectacular views and so many things to see.
If I remember correctly we were able to purchase a pass that got us into the lighthouse and a couple of museums. It was well worth the visit.
We ate at Joe's in Port Isabel, it's a seafood market and restaurant. I enjoyed my meal. My Fiance doesn't eat seafood but there was plenty for her to choose from as well.
Since I brought up food, we ate at many terrific places in SPI that will appease every appetite. If you are a beer fan, the Padre Island Brewing Company is a great place to land. The beer choices were great and I enjoyed the Oysters as well. Another evening we went to Blackbeard's where the portions are huge, and you could easily split plates. I have to say that our favorite spot was definitely Louie's Backyard. The food and atmosphere were so fantastic we ate there twice. We thought about trying something new on our last night, but the sunset off the patio was so amazing at Louie's we just had to go back. You can see those sunset shots in my Sunset on South Padre Island Collection. That was so lovely I created a collection exclusively featuring that sunset.
Catch the Sunset on South Padre Island Collection.
If you are looking for nightlife then you can go right next door from Louie's to Coconut Jack's. That place was a lot of fun! They had live music and it was packed with folks just singing along and tipping back cold drinks. We had an amazing week!
There are so many great things to do on South Padre Island I would recommend it to anyone. If you are a photographer, it's an awesome destination to shoot. We would certainly go back.
I love vacations with my girl! We both love history and nature. Several vacations back she started using an App called Roadtripper and it has added so much to our trips. Kat puts in the major destinations we will be driving to and this app will tell us about all sorts of spots along the way during our drive. You can see things like historic spots, points of beauty, or breweries and wineries. Using this locator we have found the home of Walter White from the show "Breaking Bad" and so many other great spots we didn't think about looking for. It has enhanced our excursions.
Since I started shooting images professionally, Kat has used the Roadtrippers site to help find places to shoot. When we were driving up the west coast through Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, we ran into so many breathtaking spots one of our days we only drove 138 miles. Honestly, along the coast of Oregon, it's so amazing I could have spent many more hours there taking in the natural beauty God Created. The day we went to Seattle we stopped in the morning at a spot called Tumwater Falls Park and it was a treasure trove of fascinating wonders. I got so many beautiful shots there.
See the Tumwater Falls Collection
The most ambitious project undertaken by the Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) was construction in 1962 of a 15-acre park along the falls of the Deschutes River. Still owned and maintained by OTF, Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Read more about the OTF and Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls
I can honestly say that the Roadtrippers app has led us to some great places, but as far as a spot for photographers, this is a gold mine! The trails were so beautiful. One of our favorite spots was a fall where salmon would throw themselves up over during the spawning season. To get a shot of them in mid-air was a challenge. If you stay in one place long enough chances are you'll be successful.
This is a great spot for the whole family. If you are on a date, this provides a ton of options for you to enjoy. Located next to and above the park is The Falls Terrace Restaurant and it is really a great spot to gather. I believe I had the opportunity to sip on an Olympia beer with appetizers. There were other choices, but it just seemed right considering we were at the site of the old Olympia brewery.
I loved my trip up through the Northwestern states, but this stop was certainly one of my favorites. Make sure you have an extra camera battery charged and an empty memory card because there is a good chance you will need them.
If you have been to the park or anywhere in the Downtown area there please feel free to comment about your favorite locations. Whether you are a photographer or not it would be nice to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share links of pictures you might see in the Tumwater Falls Collection. Feedback is always appreciated.
*Note* If you are reading this before Phase 3 of the COVID recovery the park will not be open. I believe you can check their Facebook page to get full details.
I have lived in a lot of places. I have never been anywhere longer than I have lived in the Branson area. There are a lot of people that think I missed out on things because I lived in the Tri-Lakes area for about 25 years. Personally, I don't see it that way.
Growing up in the Southwest United States, I got used to a more fast-paced atmosphere. Arizona was a great place to grow up. I loved living in Mesa. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. I went to college in Southern California. My education and living in Fullerton opened my eyes to things, however, I wouldn't have wanted to learn anywhere else. Living in Louisiana was awesome. The people, the food, and the lifestyle is something I look back on fondly.
In addition to my degree in Psychology and Music, I also minored in Religious Studies. I remember talking about early missionaries and why they ran into problems trying to work with other nationalities. The idea of immersing yourself in someone's culture is essential if you want to get someone to respect and pay attention to what they are saying. Part of the push back from those that the missionary encountered usually involved the stranger trying to change them instead of learnin g to accept them. I think one of the things that I like about myself is that I have become pretty good at diving into the surrounding atmosphere and culture of an area that I am in and learning to appreciate the aspects of life in that particular place. In management, if someone doesn't see you pick up a mop they aren't as likely to do it when you ask them to. This tangent gets us to the thought that Branson is unlike anywhere I have lived before.
I can honestly say that Branson, Missouri is unlike any place I have lived before. There is something about Branson that makes one think of a time gone by. People are often more likely to say hello to you. When a flag flies and the National Anthem plays, those passing by are a little more likely to stop and give reverence to the moment. The community might seem like a bit of a throwback, but in today's world, I find that really refreshing.
We are living in a time where so many people are fighting with each other over the color of skin, or lifestyle decisions. There are people that will say that Branson should be more progressive and emulate the cities where many of these folks come from. I'd like to suggest that Branson has become the third-largest drive-to destination for vacationers because Branson is something they wish they had where they live. Branson is popular because it seems a little more like a land that time forgot. I think that we should embrace that wholesome naivety instead of trying to wake it up.
I love the way the shows in Branson smack of "Dad Jokes" and "Slapstick Comedy". Again, this is a reflection of when things were funny because they made you laugh. The comedy of today seems to be more of an assault on what you find to be the most obscene. Branson doesn't need to have stage shows that are more "woke"; talent doesn't need to be judged on how much it makes you cringe. I think people need to be careful what they wish for. If Branson is just like everyone else then no one will need Branson anymore. There's nothing wrong with freshening up a script. People are still coming to Branson to see the shows. Better doesn't mean it has to be more edgy.
The heritage of Branson is rich with stories passed on and then written down. People have been coming to this area because of the tales of the people and the hospitality. After people visited, many decided to settle in the area to bask in the area. There is something special about the people who live here. I dare say there is an energy here that is addictive.
As a photographer, Branson is an incredible place to create images. There are so many amazing colors and variations. Whether I am taking pictures at the lake or shooting a live music show there is never a dull moment and beauty is everywhere.
I have a couple of collections I shot on and near Lake Taneycomo. Please check out Birds of Lake Taneycomo and A Walk Along Lake Taneycomo.
I am thankful that I live in Branson, Missouri. I like the fact that things are a little more simple. I am happy to be a part of a community where people still care about their neighbors. I love working with companies that are locally owned and operated and are invested in the community. The world needs a little more Branson in their lives.
Seattle was another location I haven't been to since I was in Jr. High or High School. I remembered a few things about it, but I can honestly say that it was so much better to visit Seattle, Washington as an adult. It's also a great city to shoot pictures. This was going to be a city we decided to do in a day and a half. That turned into a two-night stay, simply because of how spectacular the area was, It was worth every minute and I hope that it is someplace we will visit again at some point.
I guess I would describe the city as timeless. What I mean is there is a real modern feel, but at the same time there is a bit of a nod to the past in many places we visited. I can't say that there was any part of Seattle that disappointed us. Even some of the most mundane things, in the eyes of some folks, appeared so fresh in our eyes. Living in a smaller semi-rural city like Branson, big cities are something we find to be incredibly breathtaking.
it was my Fiance's birthday and I wanted to take her out someplace special for dinner, but after checking into our hotel we wanted to see the Space Needle. We could see it in the distance, so we decided we would walk. Well, it's really big and so we didn't actually realize how far away it was. I remember both of us being pretty tired and hungry by the time we got there. It was dark by now and when we got to the Space Needle box office we found it was closed in the viewing area for a private party, Yes, I am a great planner - not.
So, we took this opportunity to look in the gift shop then head back to the Hotel. The image you see of the Space Needle here was probably one of my favorite shots on the trip. I just loved the way all the lights played together through the trees. It was surprising how majestic the Space Needle appeared. As we walked back we couldn't find a lot open because it had gotten pretty late. We wandered into a Mexican Tapas restaurant and found out they were closing. Just before our heart sank too far, they told us they had a Bourbon Tavern out back called Branchwater. If it had been my Birthday that would have been perfect, but it was hers. They assured me they would have tapas and many other drinks to choose from. Branchwater was great. The atmosphere was dark and cozy and had a modern yet rustic feel. We had a green bean and bacon skillet light plate as well as some meatballs. It was delicious and the drinks were very good as well.
It was perfect as we had wanted to get back and get some sleep because tomorrow would be a full day. We took in the 17th-floor view for a bit and settled in. The Warwick Hotel was amazing. There was a small balcony terrace that provided amazing views of the city around us.
When we woke up, we headed to our first destination, Pike's Market. The other nice feature about the Warwick was that the hotel was centrally located and we could walk to most of our destinations. Pike's Market was the one location I remembered going to when I was young. The wonder of Pike's Market didn't go away as an adult either. It was really amazing experiencing the activity happening all around us.
Watching them throw the fish to one another was crazy, but they were amazing to watch. As you look through my collection you will see I took pictures of the flower vendors, and fruit and vegetable stands as well. The whole scene was like being a part of a movie. We loved it.
After the market, we went to the Seattle Aquarium. It was really cool to see all the sea life that they displayed. There were even areas where we could touch some of the coral and such. The many variations of color were what I found most striking.
We went from there to the Space Needle. The view from the top was incredible. We were afraid we would build it up too much, but there was no way that was possible. As you can see from the images I posted it was simply fantastic.
The Space Needle pass came with tickets to other museums and attractions in the area. We were surrounded by beautiful glass structures and inside each museum, there were so many things to look at. We definitely got the most out of that day. By the time the attractions had closed, a light mist was falling so we took an Uber back to the Hotel. It was, indeed, a fun-filled day.
Seattle is someplace everyone should see, and I hope you enjoy this collection of my favorite images from the trip. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop them below and I will certainly get back to you.
I got the opportunity to see San Francisco for the second time in my life last April around this time of year. My Fiance and I were going out to spend some time with her oldest son who lives in the area. I was so excited because the last time I had been there was when I was in Junior High. Anyone that knows Kat and I very well knows that if there is a city with a history that includes museums and a cemetery we will jump at the chance to get there. The fact that her son knew the area was even better. It was something we were really looking forward to.
I want to preface this by saying that we had heard some horror stories about how dirty and crime-ridden the city had become and that had been on our minds as well. I was hoping that it wasn't going to be something I built up as a wide-eyed teen and it was going to just let me down later. We stuffed that in our expectations as well to temper the excursions so that we wouldn't get too excited. We knew we might just really hate it.
We had plans to be there a few days, and we had shows scheduled as well. One evening, we were to be joined by Kat's youngest son, and soon to be wife, for dinner and a show. I was in Musical Theatre for years, and couldn't be more excited about the fact that we had shows scheduled for each night. I seem to have just mentioned that twice, so you get the picture.
I have to say that the train ride in on the BART was exciting; paired with the nervousness my mind fought with all of those feelings on the way in. I just knew that if we just remained aware we should be fine, and we were. From Santa Clara to San Francisco the ride was like a half-hour each way. There was a lot to see on route. It was just cool experiencing it all.
When we arrived, I found that my excitement far overwhelmed my nervousness. I LOVE BIG CITIES! The experiences over the next three days were better than I had imagined. The pictures you will see reflect a lot of what we did. It was cool to be a tourist somewhere so packed full of cultural diversity and rich history. Colors, and yes, the colorful, were everywhere! Sometimes you had to search for pockets of it, but the beauty of the city was breathtaking. The air wasn't always filled with the most pleasant of aromas, but by and large, the city is still thrilling.
While we were there, we got the opportunity to see Hamilton. I loved the experience. The old theatre was amazing, and the show was beyond any expectation I could have had. I would see that again without question. In addition, we had the opportunity to catch a piece of history about to end. Beach Blanket Babylon closed its doors after the 2019 season. This after an amazing 45-year run! One thing is for sure, they will poke fun at any issue in this musical review. I fully enjoyed it. On the last day in San Francisco, we saw Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. If you know the story it wouldn't be a surprise, but it was a very good show. I enjoyed it.
My San Francisco Collection reflects the city of San Francisco as well as some of the amazing spots we visited. We took in some amazing Museums like The Legion of Honor and de Young Museum. There was an awesome Exhibit featuring Monet that I truly enjoyed. I made reference to him in my last blog post. I find his work fascinating.
Reflected in my collection you will see images of Chinatown. What a beautiful place! The splashes of color everywhere was incredible and there was so much to see and do. Immerse yourself in the fabulous experience.
We went to Pier 39. Many of the photos you will see are from there. I had a delicious bowl of Clam Chowder for lunch and Kat's son and I slurped Fresh Oysters on a half shell. We visited so many cool spots in the area. The majestic naval vessel you will see images of is the SS Jerimiah O'Brian. That was a highlight worth seeing. It is one of two remaining operational Liberty ships and the only one that is unaltered. One of my all-time favorite images I have taken comes from that ship.
David, My Fiance's oldest son, and I got aboard a tour boat that took us beneath the Golden Gate Bridge as well as around Alcatraz. You will see that I made images of the bridge from several locations. The iconic bridge is a reminder of how creative and talented mankind can be. There wasn't a spot where the bridge gets any less magnificent. I also included a shot that features the Bay Bridge; it is also quite the marvel.
This experience was amazing. Did it have its rough spots? It did. Unfortunately, mankind hasn't done a great overall job keeping it clean. However, that isn't a reason to avoid the city. On the contrary, it should be a destination everyone gets to take in at some point. I want to thank David for the amazing guidance throughout San Francisco and it's surrounding area. I am quite fortunate to have a partner in crime like Kat. Every experience it better with her beside me. I am certainly blessed.
Enjoy the images! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask them. If you'd prefer to email me privately, please do so. I believe my prices are quite fair in case you see something you like and would like to display it someplace. I love to hear from those looking at my shots. Don't hesitate to get in touch.
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