Monday, April 24, 2017

Monterey revisited

Two years ago, Mark and I went down to Monterey for a couple of days.  I had never been to Big Sur and also wanted to go on a whale watching excursion.  I posted photos from that trip on this blog.

We had had so much fun on that trip that we wanted to return, but finding a couple of days where the weather and our schedules would cooperate was challenging.  Last Friday morning (7:30 am) Mark asked me if I had anything planned for the day. I was sitting at the computer in my pajamas... uh, no, nothing specific.  He said that the weather looked good, he had called Chris' Whale Watching Excursions and they had room for us, and if we left in 20 minutes we could probably make it down there in morning traffic by 9:45 am for the 10:00 am tour.  So we jumped into action.

I grabbed my camera gear and was excited that I would get to try out my new 2X teleconverter on my 70-200mm lens.  I was a little concerned that it would be difficult to get clear photos on a rocking boat with the teleconverter.  I had read that it could be a little soft, but wanted to give it a try.  It gave me the extra reach that I wanted but I have indicated the photos that were cropped, mostly because it was difficult to frame the shot in the swelling waves.  Otherwise, the photos were not cropped.  I shot at a speed of 1250.

As we left the harbor, the seals were sunning themselves on the rocks.

We got out into the Monterey Bay and saw a group of seals in the distance.  Pretty soon we started seeing spouts, and up came the whales.  Our guide said that the whales and seals work together.  When the whales dive down, the seals go down as well because the whales stir up the fish at the bottom, giving the seals a chance to grab some food.  The seals can't stay down as long, so when the seals would pop up, we were told that in just a couple of minutes the whales would surface.  There were about five or six whales in the group.
 (above photo is cropped)
You can see the seals slightly in the foreground.

I love how you can see the barnacles hanging onto the fins.  How does that happen?  Are the whales staying in one place long enough for barnacles to attach?

 (above photo is cropped)
(above photo is cropped)

After our excursion, we had fish and chips on the wharf and stopped at a chocolate shop for some goodies, including chocolate covered bacon.  Sounds weird, and it is, but also surprisingly good.  We then drove along the 17-Mile Drive.  It was a gorgeous day.  I loved these flowers that are planted along the side of the road.

Mark and his chocolate covered bacon.

 We also drove along Highway 1 and returned to Monterey for dinner and the long drive home.  It was such a fun-filled, spontaneous day!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Grandchildren Tour 2016

After Mark's bike accident, he was laid up for quite a while and we missed a trip in September to Utah to visit with our grandson Finn (and his parents) and go to a BYU football game.  As he began feeling better, we hatched the plan that maybe we could take a little over 2 weeks and visit ALL of our grandchildren.

Mark loves Christmas and we had talked about visiting the Biltmore Estate the next time we went to North Carolina to see our daughter, Allison, and her family.  The Biltmore House is the largest home in the US and resembles a French Chateau.  Allison told us that beginning in November, the Biltmore House was decorated for Christmas, so the first leg of our trip was to fly to Charlotte and drive with the her family to Asheville.

We arrived with just enough time to wander around the gardens.
Dave, Allison, Mark
Emaline, Annabelle, Patrick

Emaline has just started playing the flute and identified with this statue.


There was a beautiful sunset that we enjoyed as the lights came on.

That evening we had tickets for the Candlelight Tour.  There were a total of 64 Christmas trees throughout the house as well as other decorations and various performers.

There was no flash photography inside and it was a bit dim, but I did my best to capture some of the beautiful settings.

 Dining Hall
 Nativity set
 One of the performers playing a dulcimer.
 One of the bedrooms.
The basement hallway (above) that took you to the bowling alley (below), indoor swimming pool, the kitchens and servants' quarters.  It is believed that this is the first bowling alley in a house.  Servants would set up the pins after each set.
We stayed overnight at the nearby Inn on the property.  The next day, Mark and I wanted to go back to the house and do the audio tour.  We weren't sure that the little kids would want to go through the house again, but Allison said that they would come with us and then perhaps bail and go to the farm if the kids got antsy.  There was also a children's audio tour and Mark and I were amazed that Patrick, age 4 and Annie, age 6, listened intently for the whole 1 1/2 hours of the tour.  Every once in a while Patrick would exclaim things like, "They said 1922!" or "There are 64 bathrooms!"  Emaline, age 11 preferred to look at the furnishings and take photos.

 The nursery.
 The indoor swimming pool.
 The kitchen.
 We visited the little village area.  In the background is the Inn where we stayed.
 The farm area had some artisans who were working in their shops... glassblower, woodworker, etc.
 Emaline, Patrick and Dave
 This rooster was pretty crazy looking.
 We stopped and had some ice cream.

It was a great outing and we returned to Charlotte and spent the next several days enjoying our grandchildren, Allison, and her husband, Dave.

I decided that I needed some photos of each of the kids with their grandfather... unfortunately it was a rainy day, so we had to shoot some pictures inside with a flash.  Not my favorite, but better than nothing.
Emaline, Wanda, Annabelle, Mark, Patrick

We flew from Charlotte to Salt Lake City, stayed with Rebecca and her family, saw a BYU game, had dinner with David and his girlfriend, Kelsey, and after a few days flew to Denver for Thanksgiving week.  Rebecca, Austin, and little Finn drove from SLC to Denver to join us for Thanksgiving at Sarah's house.

Sarah's kids doted on their little cousin, Finn.  Gemma shepherded him around, helping him go down the slide, reading books to him, making sure he was safe.  Donovan loved helping him play cars or climbing up and down the stairs.

 Gemma & Finn
 Donovan & Finn
Sarah is an excellent cook and did not disappoint us on Thanksgiving.  We had loads of great food, including 5 or 6 kinds of pie for the 10 of us.
 I had to capture the basting of the turkey and the filming of the basting of the turkey.
The day after Thanksgiving, Joel set up the basement with his photo backdrop and lights so that we could play with our cameras.  I really appreciated him taking the time to instruct me.  Here are some of my favorites of the photos I took.  Rebecca will probably be mad about the one of her because she wasn't "dressed up for photos."  Oh well.
 Rebecca & Finn
 I just love Finn's curly hair and expressive face.

 Finn & Austin
 "How big is Finn?  SO big!"
Joel had this awesome deer head that Donovan was only too happy to pose with.  That kid has great acting skills.  He is very comfortable in front of a camera.  He's been trained well by Joel and Sarah.

Donovan asked me if I'd like to take a picture of him doing his Steve Jobs pose.  Well, of course I would!

Ainsleigh recently got her braces off and showed off her beautiful smile.  But I also liked this one of her looking more serious.

We had a great time visiting all 7 of our grandchildren and 4 of our 6 children.