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Tiny Dicks and Journalism Combat Training

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Dave!President Elect Trump's first press conference since being elected was everything I dreamed it would be.

And everything I feared.

This, my fellow US citizens, is how the end begins.

You may not like the media. You may not agree with how they cover events of the day. You may even consider any journalistic endeavor that doesn't fully support our elected leaders as treasonous. But it doesn't really matter what you think, because the guarantee of a free press is a fundamental building block of this country. Our founders designed it that way.

And while those who have lead this country may not like all aspects of the media, they have tolerated it... even supported it against all rational thought... because they know that's part of the job. They know it's important.

Well, at least they did.

Until now.

Don't think for a second that President Obama wouldn't have liked to tell the asshole brigade at FOX "News" to go fuck themselves ten times a day... any sane person would. But he was a bigger man (and better president) than that, and so he rose above. I may not have always agreed with his politics, but I respect how he put up with the non-stop parade of shit reigned down upon him by the media... yet continued to play the game in the name of Freedom of the Press.

But our President Elect? Not so much.

What a tiny, tiny penis Donald Trump must have to resort to this. At least I'm assuming that's the case. He's got a minuscule little dick, and this is how he wields power to compensate for it. The free press of the United States of America can piss off because our new president has a cocktail wiener for a cock.

CNN reported on the story of an unverified piece claiming the Russians have footage of Trump involved with some fancy piss-play with two hookers. They did not publish the actual unverified document, nor did they publish any details from it which talked about Donald Trump liking golden showers. They merely did their job as journalists and presented current events as they were happening. I may loathe CNN (in general) and Wolf Blitzer (specifically), but they did not publish "fake news" (though I will agree that their organization is terrible).

But President Pussy-Grabber doesn't care about any of that. He apparently feels that the only thing that CNN should ever do in such circumstances is condemn any criticism of Donald Trump. Anything less means that you don't get to ask questions. This is essentially "If you don't kiss my ass, condemn my critics, and support everything I do... I'm dismissing you, restricting your ability to question me, and discrediting your voice."

Which is ironic considering that Trump just compared intelligence agencies releasing "fake news" to Nazi Germany.

Apparently he is unaware of the fact that a big part of how the Nazi's got into power was to control and censor the media. By squeezing out those voices who did not support the Nazi Party and allowing only positive reporting of their actions, it was easier to convince citizens that they were righteous in their acts. Or at least those acts they allowed to be reported on.

And with the Trump presidency, we're half-way there!

Which is kind of embarrassing for a country that won't shut up about their superiority THANKS TO AMERICAN FREEDOM, BABY!

But only half as embarrassing as the fact that we have a president who feels the need to constantly lash out at the press... even when they did nothing wrong... as compensation for his tiny, tiny dick.

Which is nothing to be ashamed of, sir! Plenty of big men have wielded power wisely and respectfully despite their tiny member! No need to go starting World War III over it!

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's nearing midnight and me and my massive penis* need to get some sleep.

   
*I'll provide proof when Donald Trump releases his taxes.

   

It’s a Holiday…

Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2017

Dave!...or something. The reason I know this is that there was nobody at work when I showed up.

Oh well. Seems as good as time as any to say don't forget to wipe.


Toilet Paper Roll

   

   

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Sony a9

Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Dave!Photography is a hobby I absolutely love... but rarely have time to pursue.

Indeed, it seems the only time I get to delve into serious photography is when I'm on vacation. The rest of the time I'm shooting stuff with my iPhone because it's always on me and oh so handy. The iPhone also produces fairly good images, which makes it infinitely more appealing for snapshots than having to drag the Sony a7S Mark II out of my camera bag.

I mean, seriously... this was shot years ago with my iPhone 4...

Wenatchee River Fall Colors

Yes, you read that right... an iPhone 4. Which can't even touch what images you can get out of the iPhone 7s that's out right now.

And, yet... I'm not going to get shots like this from an iPhone...

Hwange Giraffe

Which is why I continue to invest in camera gear. Sure it sits in my closet most of the year, but those times I actually get to shoot with it? Magic.

Because I mostly only shoot on vacation, it's my travels that drive my photography purchases. I know I'm going to be shooting scenery in Vietnam, so I buy a new lens for that. I know I'm going to be going on safari night-drives in Zimbabwe, so I buy a new camera body for that. And so on. And so on.

Photography is an expensive hobby to have.

And today Sony announced the next evolution in their professional mirrorless camera line... the a9...

Needless to say, I'm in love.

Not only does the a9 have some astounding new features that I'll actually use... it also addresses some of the shortcomings of the a7 models that were so frustrating. Like dual media slots. And touch-screen operation. And a LAN port with FTP. And a battery that's worth a shit.

And while I rarely shoot video, the 4K footage (down sampled from 6K!) is pretty amazing...

It's pretty much a dream camera... though I'm sure they'll be coming out with an a9S sometime down the line that will add even more honey to the pot.

There are two problems, however.

First of all, Sony's lack of longer lenses makes the sport and wildlife features kind of moot. Yes, they're going to release a G-series 100-400mm for $2,500 in July... and that will definitely help... but that's all there is. That's the most reach you'll get out of Sony. Sure you can add a $550 extender to double that, but it's a less than ideal scenario for serious sport and wildlife shooters. Not a deal-breaker from my shooting perspective, but until the big glass arrives, the market for the true potential of the a9's capabilities is waiting.

A far bigger problem for me, however is the price.

All $4,500 of it.

Now, don't get me wrong, the specs on this beast of a camera are better than what you can get out of cameras from Canon and Nikon that are far more expensive. I absolutely acknowledge that. But $4,500 for something I'm not going to use very often is a tough thing to justify.

And yet...

I think back to many of the trips I've taken, and I would have killed for this camera. I think forward to the Antarctica trip I'm going to be taking in December, and I know the a9 coupled with the 100-400mm lens would be put to very good use. Heck, in many ways, it's the best possible camera I could take. And given all the money I've had to scrimp and save to even get to Antarctica, isn't that worth the investment?

I dunno.

Maybe I rent one. Or buy the camera and rent the lens. And then sell the camera when I get back if I find I'm not using it as much as I'd like. There are options. All of them expensive.

But maybe.

I guess we'll see how broke I am by the time I've finished paying for my upcoming vacation.

   

RANDOM COW WEDNESDAY!

Posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Dave!This will all make sense tomorrow.

Maybe.


Random Cow on Wednesday

   
Okay... probably not. But still... it's a random cow. That's pretty cool, right?

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Money, and What I Did With It

Posted on Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Dave!Thanks to some unexpected cash that came into my life last couple months, I was able to pay off a bill, buy new socks, up my monthly donation to Doctors Without Borders, make some donations for animal rescue efforts in hurricane-ravaged Houston... and pay for another batch of old photos to be scanned. The last time I could afford to do this was five years ago, so it was a nice to be able to treat myself to something senselessly expensive and cool like this.

All of the photos I have left for scanning are photo negatives, so I don't really review anything. I just send them in and hope for the best.

This batch ended up being pretty special.

There were photos of my parent's wedding I hadn't seen before. Amazing photos of my mom when she was very young. Fascinating photos of my grandparent's life from a bygone era. And, of course, lots of photos of me and my brother growing up.

Also interesting? A trip to San Francisco by my mom's parents to visit my parents, assumably just before I was born in 1965(?)...

San Francisco circa 1965: Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco circa 1965: Lombard Street

San Francisco circa 1965: Cable Car

San Francisco circa 1965: Chinatown

   
One trend I noticed was oodles and oodles of plaid. My brother and I were drenched in it for half a decade...

Death by Plaid

   
Another photo trend was me on vehicles.

How many people can say that their first car WAS A FIRE TRUCK?!? ME! I CAN TOTALLY SAY THAT! Just look at me! All chill as fuck while cruising down the sidewalk in my sweet ride! Acting like I don't care and all the world is my bitch. SO BAD-ASS!

Lil' Dave in his fire truck

Holy shit! My second car was a Corvette... WITH WORKING HORN!

Lil' Dave in his Corvette

Here's where things started going downhill. Apparently my third car was a wagon...

Lil' Dave in his wagon

   

There are hundreds more photos waiting for me to look through them, so I'm sure "Throwback Thursday" will be a trend for a while here. Or not. Guess it depends how boring my life is next week.

   

Awash in Everything Yellow

Posted on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Dave!On Saturday I went in to work and was amazed at how beautiful the leaves were as I made my way down the street. I was so enchanted that I pulled over to take a photo... only to find out that my phone was dead. The next day I forgot my phone. Then yesterday I didn't go into the office.

Today I finally remembered... even though it's not nearly as pretty now that half the leaves have fallen off...

XXX

Now I am bummed that I didn't charge my phone a bit then immediately go back for a photo on Saturday. A beautiful moment that now only exists in my memories.

Speaking of memories... soon enough, THIS is what the same street will look like...

XXX

   
=shudder=

   

   

Old Photos Week Day One: The Burial Ground

Posted on Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

My current home is four doors down from the home I grew up in as a kid. That home was built in 1972 and we moved in immediately after it had been completed. As I mentioned last week, it was the first time I had my own bedroom, so it was my Shangri-La for the dozen years I lived there.

Since the home was brand new, we were starting from scratch on everything. Including the yard. This photo is of my brother "helping" to plant grass in the front of the house...

Old Homestead Hauntings

Interesting to note that the garage walls are unfinished. It's interesting because I don't think we ever bothered to finish them! They looked exactly like this the whole time we were living there.

This, however, is far from the most interesting thing about my old homestead.

That would be the fact that it was built on a Native American burial ground.

This photo of the back yard was taken after at least a year living at our new home. The grass is filling in and (though you can't see it very well) my brother and I are standing next to a tree that has just been planted...

Old Homestead Hauntings

Eventually, my parents decided to add an addition to the back of the house so we'd have a larger living room. In order to build it, they had to dig up the back yard to pour a new foundation. As they were digging they ran across some bones. Then some more bones. Then still more bones.

They were human skeletons and our home turned out to be built on a Native American burial ground.

This was confirmed when archeologists excavated our back yard. We made the local papers and people were flying in to study the graves because they were intact and so well preserved.

Local tribes were consulted to find out what to do, and they requested that we relocate the remains to another part of the property. Which we did. My dad terraced the hillside behind us and we re-buried them there.

Somewhere, I know there are photos of the excavation. Hopefully I will run across them one of these days.

   

Old Photos Week Day Two: Cats of the Wild

Posted on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

My mom's mother (my grandmother) did not like cats. Not even a little bit. I heard her mention it several times over the years. I don't know why, really... I always thought that maybe she didn't like all pets, but apparently she was okay with dogs. So no clue. Unless she was tired of running into their covered poop when weeding the vegetable garden perhaps? One of the many, many things I wished I had asked her about while she was alive.

And yet...

There are quite a few photos of cats hanging around in old photos of my mom when she was little. My first guess was that they were wild cats that lived in the area, but then I see photos of my mom holding them. That doesn't seem likely if they were truly wild, so I'm not quite sure what the story is there. Maybe they were pets, but they had to live outside. I'm guessing my grandparents had a barn, so maybe they were barn cats who kept the mice in check?

One of my favorite pictures is this one of toddler mom with a furry friend. I am assuming that this was taken at her home, because the series has no other people except mom, grandma, grandpa, and mom's brother...

Toddler mom has a cat!

This photo brings up another mystery... what's with the playing card in the dirt there?

Cat invades photo!

Because my grandmother didn't like cats and would undoubtedly have shooed them away if she was trying to take a photo, I'm guessing this one was taken by my grandfather. Looks like a cat walked in-frame and plopped down to lick its butt while grandpa was taking a picture of mom and her brother...

Cat invades photo!

My mom seems to like cats (she was a huge fan of Spanky), so I guess hating cats is not genetic.

When my final scans arrive, I'll probably print my favorite photos of toddler mom with cats to add to the collage in my stairway. It's nice to have two of my favorite things in a single photo.

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Old Photos Week Day Three: Boating Memories

Posted on Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

It's weird what our brains choose to latch onto.

I don't have a lot of vivid memories of my childhood, but there are some memories that have left an impression. For example... I remember being in our garage when I was very young and we had just moved somewhere in California. The neighbor kids were over and we were looking for the boxes that had my toys in them. I couldn't yet read, but one of the girls that lived nearby could, and kept reading off the boxes... "Summer"... "Summer"... "Summer"... "These all say Summer!" It wasn't until years later (high school maybe?) that I was able to revisit that memory and figure out that the boxes didn't all say "Summer"... they said "Simmer." No idea why such a mundane memory is stuck in my head, but I can "see" all of it. There were four kids total in the garage. The boxes were stacked up against a wall. I can picture it in pretty good detail.

Another memory that's stuck in my brain is a trip to Lake Chelan when I was a kid. There were many, many trips to "The Lake" when I was young, all of which have faded from memory... except this one particular trip hasn't. What I remember vividly is a tiny dead fish that washed up on shore. I can see it as clearly as if I saw it yesterday. My brother and I had been building "boats" out of inner-tubes and water mattresses when BLAM! dead fish.

So you can imagine my surprise when I ran across these two photos in the last batch of negatives I had scanned. Everything is exactly as I remember it...

InnertubeRafting!

InnertubeRafting!

That "boat" obviously wasn't a very good one if my brother had to bail water out of it, but oh well.

I can't be positive that these images are from the dead fish trip... perhaps we built mattress boats on other trips... but something in my gut tells me this is the one. In that second photo, just out of frame, there is a dead fish lapping on the shore.

How it died we can only speculate...

   

Old Photos Week Day Four: Skeleton Crew

Posted on Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

When I was a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday by a long shot. My family went all out, and the mountain of presents under the Christmas tree was always one of the highlights of my year.

As an adult, my favorite holiday is Halloween.

Not so much for the dressing up, but because I love the whole atmosphere that goes with it. It's good, wholesome, spooky fun! And sometimes it's fun to dress up too.

In looking through the last batch of photos, I ran across some images of me wearing one of those cheap-ass Collegeville costumes that came in a window box you could pick up for $1.50 back in the day. You'd get a jumper with some kind of print on it that was sewn so poorly it would barely last the night, plus a matching mask made out of plastic so thin that it would crack and split just by breathing in it...

Davy at Halloween
Photo found on Etsy

   
Saf-T-C eye holes and flame retarded! Doesn't get much better than that!

Still, a lot of those old cheap costumes are a heck of a lot scarier than the ones you can buy today! Take, for example, the skeleton costume I am wearing in these creepy-ass photos...

Davy at Halloween

Davy at Halloween

Though what's truly scary is the bruise I've got on my face underneath the mask!

Davy at Halloween

I'm guessing I got it fighting a bear or something.

Hope you Halloween is extra-ghoulish this year!

   

Old Photos Week Day Five: Mom

Posted on Friday, October 27th, 2017

Dave!Welcome to Old Photos Week! Every day I will post a photo or two from the batch of film I had scanned recently. Since I sent it in blind, some of the images that came back were surprising. Some I had forgotten. Some I never even knew existed.

Of all the old film I've had scanned over the years, the photos that fascinate me most are those of my mom when she was little. It was a very different time back then, and seeing how her and my grandparents lived is one of those things that I can't get enough of...

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

My Mom!

Each generation grows up in very different times than the generation before it. My mind boggles when thinking of the world that future generations will be raised in.

Although if global tension keeps escalating, it could be that future generations will live through times more similar to my mother's than mine.

   

Bass Harbor Head Light

Posted on Friday, November 17th, 2017

Dave!My work, which was supposed to start on Saturday was moved to Tuesday. So much for trying to catch an early flight home. Which is actually not such a terrible thing, because it gave me a chance to check another U.S. National Park off my list... Acadia*.

I wasn't able to leave Portland until 11:00am so I didn't make it to Bar Harbor until 2:00pm... three hours later. It's a boring but easy drive that goes by in a 70mph blur. Once I got to the park and checked into my super-cheap lodging (it is off-off season here now, so everything is either closed or cheap) I only had two hours of daylight left so I made a run for the Bass Harbor Head Light (or "lighthouse" to non-natives).

So far as lighthouses go, it's not a very impressive one. But it's at a killer location.

I decided to bypass the lighthouse keeper's quarters and head down to the shore before the sun set. A very rocky beach is not something you want to be navigating in the dark...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

I passed this poor tree which has seen better days. He fell over and cracked in two over another equally unlucky tree...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

The area is kind of like a real-life game of Myst, with cool wooden stairs leading down the cliffside...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Good thing I wore my hiking boots. The rocks would be a lot tougher to climb over in tennis shoes. That being said, they sure are some beautiful rocks with the fading sun kissing them...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

On the right-hand side there you can spot a buoy bobbing in the water. It has a bell on it that dings softly as the wind blows. This adds a kind of nice atmosphere to the whole scene.

And then there she is... the Bass Harbor Head Light...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

After goofing around the rocks for a while, I made my way back up and around the keeper's quarters to get up close and personal with the actual lighthouse. As I said, it's not particularly impressive, so far as Maine lighthouses go...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

And yet... such a pretty location...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Unless you need to use the bathroom...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Pretty high on my bucket list is to come back to Acadia when the leaves are changing. If the trees are this pretty without them, they must be amazing in the Fall...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

The drive back to my hotel was replete with quaint photo opportunities of coastal Maine living. I could only nab one of them before the sun was gone...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

Not bad for my first two hours in the park!

Hopefully the weather tomorrow is as accommodating (and rain-free) as it was for me today.

   

*Acadia which, to my horror, I keep hearing pronounced outside of Maine as "Arrrcadia" for some reason. "Arcadia" was the Duran Duran splinter group. If you want to talk about one of the most beautiful parts of Maine, you have to drop the "R" when you say it.

   

Squirrels, Beaches, Baubles, and Bubbles

Posted on Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Dave!"Hey, you're half-way there!" I said.
"Ugh. Is it worth it?" he replied.
"You get to see a giant rock hanging over the edge of a cliff and a glorious view of Jordan Pond, so I'd say it's worth it." I said, trying to sound enthusiastic.
"Hmph. Okay..." he huffed, as he walked past.

Yesterday I shot everything on "Full Auto" because I was tired. Today I thought I'd get creative and use my own camera settings. It's a decision that would come back to bite me in the ass* but dems da breaks. Still. I did play around with HDR** a bit, so that was fun.

But before we get to all that... first a word about squirrels.

I love the little guys. They're industrious, clever, cute, and move like magic. And they're everywhere in Acadia. I took tons of photos of them all day long, which is easier said than done given how skittish they are and how quickly they move...

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

SQUIRREL!!!

Needless to say, photographing squirrels through the underbrush is a manual-focus affair.

My first stop this morning was Sand Beach. You know that sand beaches are rare in Maine when they are inevitably called "Sand Beach." Sure enough, as advertised, there's sand...

Sand Beach!

From shortly after Sand Beach there's a trail that wanders along the coast for two miles. I did a walk-drive kind of thing. Sure the rocky coast is pretty, but it looks much the same as the rest of Maine's coast, which I've seen a lot of. Occasionally there's a a small difference. Like a seagull wandering into the shot...

Acadia Coast Trail!

Another thing that was different? Something... I don't know what to call it. I was wandering along the rocks when I spotted what I thought was a tiara or some kind of jewelry bauble glinting in the sun...

Pearl Ice!

Turns out it was ice. Weird ice that had somehow formed to look like pearls! Crazy stuff I've never seen before...

Pearl Ice!

Another animal (other than squirrels) there's a lot of in Acadia right now? Deer. I know this because they kept bolting in front of my rental car. Not just once, but three times. I was driving 35mph (the speed limit) which is probably too fast given that these creatures would have had to have been scraped off my grill if my reflexes were any slower...

Deer!

My next stop was Jordan Pond. It's home of the Jordan Pond Restaurant, which is famous for popovers that are apparently more addictive than cocaine. I wouldn't know, because the restaurant was closed for the season (like most things in Acadia just now). The pond, however, was open...

Jordan Pond!

Jordan Pond is so pure and clear that it's used as a drinking water source. Which means you can't swim in it or have pets near it. The sun was not at an optimal angle for me to photograph the clarity, but I gave it my best shot...

Jordan Pond Clear Water!

Jordan Pond Clear Water!

An interesting feature of Jordan Pond is the sea-foam (pond-foam?) that had frozen at the water's edge...

Jordan Pond Frozen Foam!

Jordan Pond Frozen Foam!

After goofing around at the pond photographing a lot of squirrels, I headed to the Big Event of the day... a hike up the Bubble Mountains.

If you scroll back up to the first photo of Jordan Pond I posted, you'll see two twin "mountains" in the background. Those are the "Bubble Mountains" and are easily hike-able. The trail is tricky in parts and has a bit of a rise, but pretty simple overall. The trees along the way had lost all their leaves but were still pretty to look at. I can't fathom how beautiful they must be in the Fall...

Bubble Trail!

The trail itself was interesting for two reasons. First, water forms around the rocks embedded in the trail, which then freezes, expands, pushes the dirt away, then melts. Leaving all the rocks in little holes...

Bubble Rocks!

Second of all, water also freezes in crystalline shapes all along the trail. You see it everywhere, and it's really cool to look at...

Bubble Trail Ice Crystals!

I decided to hike the "South Bubble Mountain" because it has a feature that's entirely too cool. "Bubble Rock" (also known as "Balanced Rock"). When you cross the crest of the trail, the rock isn't that impressive. Looks kind of like a massive baked potato...

Bubble Rock!

But then you climb around to look at it from a different angle, and it's a different story...

Bubble Rock!

Uh. Wow. Definitely worth setting up an HDR photo so I could shoot into the sun and still see it...

Bubble Rock!

If you keep going past Bubble Rock, there's a great view back down to Jordan Pond. That's where I met the ladies from the blog Love Maine Adventures who were soaking up the view and taking photos. They asked me to take a photo of them with their camera, which I did. Then I decided since I was shooting HDR that I would ask to experiment with them and shoot some "people HDR" photos, which are tricky because everybody has to stand perfectly still. They were nice enough to grant my crazy request and did a great job...

Love Maine Adventures Ladies!

Love Maine Adventures Ladies!

I was going to call it a day because the trail down to the Jordan Pond overlook had CAUTION signs on it. But Love Maine Adventures encouraged me to risk my life and give it a try because they said it really wasn't that dangerous. Turns out they were right, it wasn't. And the view was great...

Jordan Pond Overlook Trail!

Jordan Pond Overlook Trail!

Jordan Pond Overlook!

As I headed back down the mountain, I took once last look at Bubble Rock as I passed... and saw something strange. Right beneath the rock was my rental car all the way down in the parking lot! If you scroll back up to the second Bubble Rock photo I posted, you can actually see it there... I just hadn't noticed! Here's that same photo, but zoomed in...

My car from Bubble Rock!

When I got back down to my car, I looked back up and took a reverse-angle shot. You can just make out Bubble Rock through the trees. It's smack-dab in the middle of this shot...

Bubble Rock from my car!

Curious to see if I could see Bubble Rock around the trees, I hopped in my car to backtrack so I could take a look. Sure enough, when I zoom in on maximum...

Bubble Rock from the bottom!

And, hey... if you zoom in even further, there's people there!

Bubble Rock People!

And thus ended my second day in Acadia. Time for a nap!

   

*The last time I used my camera, it was so I could photograph the eclipse back in August. In order to do that, I had to cover the lens with a piece of plastic that blocks out much of the light, then shoot at an ISO of 64,000. In a rookie mistake, I never reset my camera, and I didn't notice until I was half-way through my adventures today. Luckily, I shot some of the photos on "Full Auto," because a nice chunk of the photos from today where I tried to get creative were ruined because they were shot at grainy 64,000 ISO. Keep that in mind as you pour through all the photos in this entry. There could have been a lot more of them!

**High Dynamic Range... a photo technique where you blend photos together so that bits that are too dark and bits that are too light are evened out. I talked about it here.

   

Up the Down to East the West

Posted on Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Dave!Since this was a work trip and my work is indoors, I didn't really equip myself for outdoor adventures. So when I woke up to pouring rain and realized neither my jacket nor my hoodie were waterproof, hiking in Acadia had to be scrapped and I needed new plans for my Sunday.

I didn't want to stay in my room all day so I decided to drive somewhere interesting. But where? Someplace far away so most of my time would be in a dry car instead of the wet outdoors. At first I thought I'd head inland in hopes of better weather. But the weather service said it was raining there as well. Bar Harbor is the furthest north I've been in Maine... so maybe up the coast? I decided to Google the area, which is known collectively as "Down-East" (or "Downeast") to see what's there.

And that's when I saw it.

Two hours and twenty-one minutes north of here is the USA's easternmost point... West Quoddy Head Light (lighthouse). I've already been to the southernmost point of the Continental USA in Key West, Florida, so why not?

I decided to head UP* the DOWNeast to go to the EASTern most point in WEST Quoddy.

That's more than a little confusing, but okay. Off I went. The drive isn't that bad, but the gusting wind and driving rain meant it was slow-going. And when I finally got to West Quoddy Head Light? I don't know what "gale force winds" means**, but this is probably what they are talking about. There were times I was almost blown over while trying to walk it was so bad. The rain was relentless, which meant I had to seek cover to wipe off my camera lens ever 60 seconds. Plus? The sun was blotted out, so it was dark.

All in all? Probably not the greatest idea I've ever had, but I made it. Achievement unlocked. Apologies for the blurry photos but... rain and all that...

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse

In case there was any doubt as to your standing in the easternmost point in the USA, they have a gravestone(?!) to make it official...

West Quoddy Head Light Easternmost Point

Interesting to note that the door to the lighthouse was open. I thought that maybe somebody was working there so I was going to shout "Hello?" but decided it'd be best not to scare anybody if they were up there. Which seemed doubtful because mine was the only car around. One thing was for sure... I was not going to go climbing up for a look when the lighthouse tower is not open to the public. Something tells me that's an invitation to getting shot...

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse

I tried to photograph the ocean, which was not looking friendly at all, but the wind kept knocking me off balance. Only one photo really turned out (rain splotches and all). Alas it's not that interesting to look at...

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse Ocean

With nothing else to do, I got back in my car and headed back down (up?) to Acadia. Guess my day was over.

My room back in Bar Harbor overlooks a brook. A brook where ducks like to hang out at all hours. For the most part they're quiet, but every once in a while a fight will erupt and much quacking will ensue. When I got back, there were far more ducks than usual with far more quacking going on...

Ducks!

Ducks!

Ducks!

Annnnnd... the end.

I suppose now I should plan a trip to Northwest Angle, Minnesota so I can check off the Contintental US northernmost point. Then I need to take a hike to Cape Alava in my home state of Washington so I can check off the Continental US westernmost point. It seems the completist thing to do, doesn't it?

   

*People in Maine would never say they were going "up the coast" like this. To them, up is down because Downeast is up. I found this out when people at my work kept saying things like "You came down from Boston today or yesterday?" and "When are you headed back up to Boston?"

**Turns out these were probably not "gale force winds" after all because Wikipedia says that a "gale" is 39 to 54 mile-per-hour winds. Well, whatever. They were very strong winds, that's for sure.

   

Cadillac Thunder Boulder Bridge

Posted on Monday, November 20th, 2017

Dave!Today I was going to sleep in and get some work done before heading South to my job-site. But when the heavy rains blew my schedule apart yesterday, I had to move all the things I had planned for then to today. Everything worked out pretty great though, because the weather was beautiful.

My day started with a 5:30 wakeup and a drive up Cadillac Mountain. Six months out of the year (including this month) this is the place which sees the first rays of run in the whole USA. And so, if you're in the USA... there's a pretty good chance I saw the sunrise before you did!

The park has been surprisingly vacant since I got here. I rarely see other people. But there was quite a crowd for the sunrise show... 25... maybe 30 people. And here's the bizarre part. Many of them... at least half... left the minute the clouds started to glow like this...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

Now, granted, it was bitter, freezing, awful cold up there. I was numb from my head to my toes despite wearing two shirts, a hoodie, and a winter jacket. It was so bad that I couldn't even feel my fingers after ten minutes.

And yet... what's the point in getting up early and driving up a mountain to see the sunrise if you don't wait for the sun to actually... uhhh... rise? That's when the good stuff starts to happen. We had cool clouds that obscured the sun nicely, so the sky was changing from minute to minute as the sun made its journey. Here we are as the clouds start to catch on fire...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

And here we are when the sun had finally hit the sky. Amazing. But most people missed it, because there were only about four people around me by this point...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

SOLAR-FUN-TIME-SUPER-SUN-ZOOM-CAM IMAGE...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

As if that wasn't enough awesomeness, the islands off-shore looked fantastic as they all lit up with the rising sun...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

And yet... by this point, there was only me and one other person to see it. What a shame.

After driving back down Cadillac Mountain, I headed to Schooner Head Overlook. There is a cool feature called "Anemone Cave" down below, but it's a sea cave and can only be accessed at low tide. Since that was at 5:30am this morning, and it was already 8:00 by the time I arrived, that experience was not meant to be. But I did get to see some cool (and, assumably, very expensive) houses. The one of the right is almost invisible because it looks like rocks...

Schooner Head Overlook Acadia

A quick drive later and I was at "Thunder Hole." This is a really cool coastal feature that is more impressive the less close you get to it.

Let me explain...

There's a narrow inlet in the rocks where waves crash in, causing a huge plume of water and a crashing noise that sounds like thunder. Apparently, the plume can go up to 40-feet high. But, at that volume of water, the park closes off access so you have to watch (and listen) from afar. They close off access in four stages depending on how much water is heading in. When I visited, stage one was closed off, so I had to watch from up at stage two...

Thunder Hole Acadia

Alas, stage two doesn't sound a lot like thunder... but it's still fun to look at...

Thunder Hole Acadia

Thunder Hole Acadia

My last stop within Acadia National Park was "Boulder Beach."

I actually tried to find it when I was here on Saturday, but couldn't. Last night I read up on it and found that I just hadn't gone far enough down the path (the lovely, lovely pine-tree path that smells incredible!). You have to keep walking until you spot it from the trail like this...

Boulder Beach Acadia

Now, admittedly, I was a bit disappointed when I saw this. "It's just a bunch of rocks!" I said.

Turns out that to truly appreciate this for the marvel of nature it is, you have to climb down and make your way across the large rocky stones at see it up close and personal.

All the stones have been worn smooth over the eons by the pounding surf, then deposited on the shore...

Boulder Beach Acadia

It's looks like something out of the movie Alien. Smooth egg-shaped stones on both directions...

Boulder Beach Acadia

Boulder Beach Acadia

Many of them are bizarrely smooth and egg-shaped... or even round. Amazing, amazing stuff. And impossible to wrap your head around how many thousands of years it took for them to turn out like this...

Boulder Beach Acadia

Almost as cool as how it looks? How it sounds. Every time the waves recede, the rocks are sucked out with it... then rolled back onto shore. If you turn the volume way up when you watch the movie I recorded below, you can kind of get an idea how awesome it sounds in person. It's very deep... kind of like the thunder I was expecting to hear at Thunder Hole...

And... the end.

The bad news? My time at Acadia National Park had come to a close. The good news is that I get to check off another park from my Big List of National Parks I've Visited! Sixteen down... 43 to go!

After packing up my stuff and checking out of my hotel, I stopped by Somesville on my way off Mount Desert Island. It's home to a pretty wooden bridge that's a popular tourist spot...

The Somesville Bridge in Acadia

The Somesville Bridge in Acadia

The Somesville Bridge in Acadia

   
Now that's really the end because I've got work waiting for me.

   

Bullet Sunday 533

Posted on Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Dave!This may be the last Bullet Sunday you're going to see for a while (depending what my internet is like in Argentina), so indulge yourself in an all new Bullet Sunday, which starts... now...

   
• Save It! I have spoken out a lot on this blog about net neutrality and how crucial it is to the free and open internet we all enjoy. Most Americans agree. Every time killing it is brought up, there's a huge backlash and the FCC backs down. But our current government doesn't give a flying fuck about honoring the wishes of its citizens, nor does it care about selling out the internet and fucking us over. All Trump & Co give a shit about is stripping power and liberty from the people and giving that power to big business so the rich get richer and have more control over our lives. And so... prepare yourself for the end of the internet as we know it. I don't wish harm upon any living thing... but I sincerely hope that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is repaid in spades for the evil he does.

   
• Dogs! Back before I was headed to Africa, I Googled for photography tips and was introduced to Will Burrard-Lucas. He is a nature photographer unlike any other, and the shots he gets are mind-blowing. Getting to actually meet him on my upcoming photographic expedition will be a real honor. One of his most recent posts was of African wild dogs photographed in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. It's incredible...

African Wild Dogs by Will Burrard-Lucas

I was beyond lucky that I got to see these dogs in the wild when I was in Zimbabwe. My driver told me that his previous charges were a documentary film crew that searched for these beautiful pups for two weeks and didn't get to see a single one of them.

   
• Save It! Hey FOX "News"... stuff gets distorted on a curved reflective surface... YOU UNBELIEVABLE FUCKING PIECES OF IGNORANT SHIT!!! Fuck you sideways forever for propagating this bullshit...

FOX News says you be the judge as to whether or not the moon landing was faked... fucking asshole dipshits.

There are people saying that this is "conclusive proof" that we never went to the moon because it's not just an astronaut's reflection in the curved surface of a helmet... it's a stagehand on the "set" from when it was being faked here on earth. Just when I think that FOX "News" couldn't possibly be a bigger pile of shit, here it is. No wonder people who trust FOX "News" and use it as their only source are as stupid as a box of fucking rocks.

   
• 73! Vogue's 73 Questions videos are some of my favorite things on YouTube. Yes, it's staged and rehearsed, but you do get to know some nifty facts about interesting famous people. My hands-down favorite is Lupita Nyong'o...

And today I found out that Aziz Ansari has one!

And, of course, you can't watch the Vogue 73 Question videos unless you bask in the glory that is Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour...

   
• Vera! I wouldn't watch Touched by an Angel... but Della Reese will always be "Vera" from Harlem Nights to me. I love that character as much as I could possibly love any movie character, and it was ALL thanks to Della...



Rest in Peace, Miss Reese... you will be missed.

   
• Crisis! Holy crap...

I'm more excited for this than I am to see Justice League. For the hundredth time... put the people in charge of the TV DC Universe in charge of the Cinematic DC Universe! The mind boggles at the possibility of what they could do with a big-screen budget given the amazing stuff they come up with for television every week.

   
• Family Values! It's like fucking clockwork. Some asshole is always getting caught with his dick in a place he tells OTHER PEOPLE they can't put their dick into. Any time I see some rabid homophobe ranting against homosexuality, I just assume it's because they're overcompensating. 90% of the time, it's true. Case in point... "State legislator Wes Goodman (Republican, obviously) has resigned after admitting he was busted having sex with a man in his office. The married conservative Ohio state lawmaker was known for his anti-LGBTQ stances." Because of course he was. Aren't they always? Hypocritical bullshit like this is getting so very tired.

   
• Quo! And, lastly, I leave you with the hellish buttfuckery that's become our status quo...

   
Time to start packing...

   

Day Two: Buenos Aires

Posted on Friday, December 1st, 2017

Dave!So here I am for a single day in Buenos Aires... what to do, what to do, what to do?

After surviving an insane taxi ride into the city, my soon-to-be-cabinmate and I decided to walk around the neighborhood while we waited for our hotel room to be ready.

Coincidentally enough... La Recoleta Cemetery, which happens to be one of the biggest attractions in the city, is directly across from the hotel.

The reason it's famous is not only because it's eclectic and beautiful... but a lot of famous Argentinian people are buried there. Like Evita herself, Eva Perón (the real version, not the Madonna version). And, sure enough, there she was...

Eva Peron Gravesite

Eva Peron Gravesite

The cemetery itself is quite large (spanning several city blocks) and, as I said, is eclectic. A variety of architectural styles fill the place and something gothic and ornate can sit right next door to something stark and modern. You could spend a day wandering around the place. We breezed through in about an hour...

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Recoleta Cemetery

Found a pretty cemetery cat...

Recoleta Cemetery Cat

Then it was time for a walk around the corner to Hard Rock Cafe No. 167 for me...

Hard Rock Cafe Buenos Aires

Hard Rock Cafe Buenos Aires

Before we knew it, 2:00 had rolled around and the hotel was ready to receive us. And I wasn't kidding about the cemetery being right across the street... as this view from our balcony will attest...

La Recoleta Cemetery View
To see a more detailed view, click on the image to embiggen.

Recoleta Cemetery View

When the dinner hour arrived, we opted to take the hotel desk advice and eat Argentinian empanadas at a local restaurant. I opted for cheese and onion and corn and onion, both of which were delicious...

Empanadas Buenos Aires

Wish I could say the same for our dinner companion, which was right above my head...

Empanadas Companion Buenos Aires

And that's pretty much the extent of my day in Buenos Aires. Which isn't a lot, but probably to be expected after traveling for the better part of 20 hours on no sleep.

   

Day Three: Ushuaia

Posted on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Dave!It's pronounced "OOSH-WHY-YA"... but not really. There's a subtle accent thing going on somewhere in there which the locals make sound prettier than that.

As to what it is? At 54°56′ South longitude, it's the Southmost city I'll probably ever visit, that's for sure. Further south than Johannesburg in South Africa... even quite a bit further south than Sydney, Australia...

World Map Ushuaia

Flying in amongst the jagged mountain peaks as you land, you can't help but think "Oh, man... I hope that the pilot brakes in time so we don't accidentally go scooting off the end of the world...

World Map Ushuaia

The city itself is small, as you'd expect... but, at the same time, it's also much larger than the tiny village I was picturing in my head. I mean, it's big enough to have a Hard Rock Cafe (bringing my total Hard Rocks visited to 169)...

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

It's a fairly recent property, so it's one of the newer "hipster lounge style" cafes (which I hate) but at least they tried to work in more memorabilia than some of the latest Hard Rocks...

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

Hard Rock Cafe Ushuaia

The surrounding mountains make the city a pretty one, and there's two jagged peaks in particular that keep popping up when you look eastward from anywhere in town...

Ushuaia Peaks

Ushuaia Peaks

The skies, as you see, are a deep blue. The local church in town decided to paint their building to play off the color beautifully...

Ushuaia Peaks

Since the expedition boat to Antarctica leaves on Monday whether you are here or not... whether your luggage is here or not... I decided to play it very safe and arrive two days early (hey, when you're spending this much money to get here and equip yourself, better early than the alternative). This means we have an entire day to fill up tomorrow. And since we've pretty much seen all there is to see in Ushuaia, I guess that means we're heading out into the Tierra del Fuego region of Patagonia. Maybe. It's going to be Sunday, and I have no idea what that means in this part of the world.

   

Day Four: The End of the World

Posted on Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

Dave!Because killing an entire day in our hotel room was not an option, last night was spent Googling for things to do in Ushuaia. Four-wheeling around Patagonia seemed like a fun thing to do, but there were no available spots. Then we discovered "Tren del Fin del Mundo" (Train of the End of The World). Originally used to transport prison labor to the countryside to collect timber, it eventually became a tourist attraction that runs into Tierra del Fuego National Park. Not everybody can say they've ridden "the southernmost functioning railway in the world," so plans were made.

We didn't know how many tickets would be available for the limited number of runs that the train makes, so we hired a taxi and got there plenty early. We were, as it turns out, the first ones to arrive at 8:30. You can ride the train one-way or round-trip for 800 pesos "tourist class" or 1400 pesos "First Class." We opted for the latter because the extra $30 US gets you a private compartment with drinks, a croissant sandwich, and souvenirs. Money well-spent...

Train of the End of the World

And when it comes to the Train of the End of the World... you're not just First Class... you're First Class As Fuck. It's engraved right there on your seat...

Train of the End of the World

The train itself is of the narrow-gauge variety, and looks like something you'd ride at Disneyland...

Train of the End of the World

While charming, in its own way, the train ride itself is not overly-spectacular. Other than bragging rights of having ridden the southmost train on the planet, it's kinda slow and boring... despite the narration that tells you about the history of the train as a prison labor transport. On the trip into the park, you do get to stop at La Macarena Station, where you can climb steps up to a small waterfall though...

Train of the End of the World

Train of the End of the World

The main attraction along the way, if you can call it that, is the wild horses that live on the plains of the park. Apparently some of them escaped from local gauchos and started breeding, so now they're everywhere...

Train of the End of the World

Train of the End of the World

Train of the End of the World

The nice thing about us having hired a taxi instead of going on a bus tour is that our driver warned us about the train being a bit boring. So instead of riding it back to the station, we hired him to wait for us at the end and take us further into Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Our first stop was "The Post Office at the End of the World" which sits on Lake Roca. Alas, it was Sunday so the office was closed... no passport stamps or postcards from the southernmost post office... but it was still nifty to look at...

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Post Office at the End of The World

Our next stop was Lake Acigami, which is so cold, windswept, and choppy that you can't swim in it. All you can really do is look at it...

Lago Acigami

Lago Acigami

The waves off the lake are so strong that they've carved out the area where they reach...

Lago Acigami

Lago Acigami

From there we continued on Route 3 to the literal End of the Road at the End of the World...

End of the Road at the End of the World

If you look at Google Maps, you'll see exactly where the road ends and The End of The World Begins. If you had the time, you could start at the end and drive all the way to the beginning in Alaska, which is 17,848 kilometers (11,090 miles) north...

End of the Road at the End of the World

End of the Road at the End of the World

End of the Road at the End of the World

End of the Road at the End of the World

As you can kinda see in this satellite image, there's a wood-plank pathway that leads out to The End of the World...

End of the Road at the End of the World

There is a large viewing platform where most people walked to, then turned around and walked back to the road. But if you look at the Google Maps satellite image above, you'll see that the large viewing platform is NOT the "End of the Earth"... for that you have to keep walking until you reach a smaller platform...

End of the Road at the End of the World

I won't lie. The view is pretty great, even though our beautiful blue skies were starting to cloud over...

End of the Road at the End of the World

I took a panorama shot of "The End of The World" with my crappy pocket camera... it's cool, but really doesn't do it justice...

End of the Road at the End of the World
Click to embiggen the photo in a new window.

Before heading back into town, our driver wanted us to see two things.

First was a beaver dam. No beavers... just a dam that the parks service keeps around for tourists to look at. The walk to the site is quite nice...

A Beaver Dam!

But the dam area is pretty much gutted...

A Beaver Dam!

A Beaver Dam!

The last thing he wanted us to see was the tiny wild orchids that grow in the area. I'd never seen orchids grow in the wild, so that was actually interesting to me. Turns out they are almost impossible to photograph because the wind is always blowing. I gave it my best shot though, and this is as good as I was able to get...

A Wild Orchid!

And... that was that. Back to Ushuaia we went, where we wait to be whisked away to our expedition orientation dinner.

For tomorrow we set sail...

   

Day Six: The Drake Passage

Posted on Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Dave!And so... not the smooth sailing I was hoping for.

The open sea has proven so treacherous that the ship seems to be floating on its side from time to time. You look out your portal and you can see your own wake. Naturally, this has caused a lot of discomfort for a lot of people onboard. As for me? I don't get seasick, but I put one of those patch things behind my ear just in case.

Unfortunately the patch can't prevent a door from slamming on my finger.

I went to leave the cabin just as a big wave struck the side of the ship. This swung the door back with my hand still attached. Ouch. My right ring finger now has a pretty big chunk of skin ripped off of it.

It's surprising how simple things like sleeping, opening a door, brushing your teeth, and going to the bathroom become a major ordeal when attempted on rough seas. During breakfast this morning, a wave struck the ship and rolled it pretty hard. All the breakfast plates, glasses, mugs, and utensils went flying. It was then I learned that each season over half of the dishes on this ship have to be replaced. The cost of doing business in the Antarctic, I suppose.

And it's not just the dishes that are breaking... regardless of how careful you are, the potential for injury on a trip like this is huge.

Yesterday a guy tripped on a busted sidewalk in Ushuaia and couldn't board the ship because his ankle was jacked up. Then this morning during some particularly turbulent seas I heard a man screaming in the hallway. I went out to see if I could help and ran into somebody who told me that a man had just fallen down the stairs and broke his leg. Turns out he has a very bad compound fracture and has to be air-lifted to a hospital. We were going to head back to Ushuaia to drop him, but there's a hurricane-force storm to the north which means we can't. So... we are making a detour to the only nearby place a plane can land... King George Island.

Considering the seas are as violent as they are, I would not be surprised if there end up being more such accidents.

In better news... we saw our first iceberg today. It was kinda tough to get good photos when the ship was rocking and rolling, but I did my best...

M/V Ushuaia in The Drake Passage

M/V Ushuaia in The Drake Passage

M/V Ushuaia in The Drake Passage

And Antarctica is still a day away...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

More rough seas ahead, I'm sure.

   

Day Eight Part One: Hydrurga Rocks

Posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Dave!Yesterday's excursion had to be canceled in lieu of the medical evacuation, so this morning's landing at Hydrurga Rocks is my official first time stepping foot on Antarctica soil. So far as landfalls go, we couldn't have asked for nicer weather. The skies are a stunning blue-on-blue color that, I'm guessing, comes from having pristine, pollution-free air. As if that weren't enough, temperatures were above freezing, so I stripped off my jacket the minute I stepped off the Zodiac Raft.

Weather at Hydrurga Rocks

This place is famous as a breeding ground for chinstrap penguins, and they are everywhere...

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

   
It's breeding season, so rocky "nests" are being built pebble by pebble in order to create a safe space until the eggs hatch...

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

   
The penguins are accustomed to humans, and will walk right up to you if you're not moving around too much. This guy wandered up next to where I was sitting and just stared at me for a good ten minutes...

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

   
In the water, penguins are graceful swimmers who can move with precision and skill. On land they are clumsy creatures that seem to fall over a lot. Watching them walk is adorable and high entertainment...

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Bonus... there were also seals!

Seals at Hydrurga Rocks

Seals at Hydrurga Rocks

Seals at Hydrurga Rocks

Not a bad first landing, that's for sure!

After we got back the the ship, the beautiful blue skies we had enjoyed all morning started to turn...

Weather at Hydrurga Rocks

Weather at Hydrurga Rocks

Weather at Hydrurga Rocks

Guess the weather was good while it lasted.

And... today's progress...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

   

Day Eight Part Two: Andvord Bay

Posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Dave!Since it's summer here at the bottom of the globe, the sun never truly "sets"... it just kinda dips below the horizon for a while. If we were closer to the Antarctic Circle, we wouldn't even see that, because the sun pretty much hangs around all day long in December.

Tonight we took the zodiacs out for a spin so we could see some icebergs in the evening sun. Which usually doesn't feel much like "evening"... except this time it did. The clouds that rolled in this afternoon just kept piling up, blotting out much of the sunlight. Add a misty fog across the water and this is about as "nighttime" as you're going to get right now.

And it's sublimely beautiful.

The atmosphere coupled with the buttery light of the sun peaking through the clouds was a photographer's paradise, and I shot hundreds of photos of glacier ice... all of them amazing. Picking favorites to post here was no easy chore. But I whittled it down to a dozen shots just to keep this entry a reasonable length...

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

   
Amazingly enough, we found some wayward gentoo penguins hanging out on the ice...

Glacier Icebergs

Glacier Icebergs

And... here's where we ended up today...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

Here's hoping the weather improves a bit for tomorrow's landings.

   

Day Nine Part One: Cuverville Island

Posted on Friday, December 8th, 2017

Dave!Despite the fact that we're in the Antarctica summer months, it's still feels very much like winter here. Snow is everywhere and the skies are overcast and gray. It's also fairly chilly, but ultimately warm enough that I find myself stripping out of my winter coat. A fleece with my thermal underwear is more than enough.

Today's first excursion was at Cuverville Island, which is prime breeding ground for the gentoo penguin. We're told that 5,000 pairs of them breed here annually, which is a lot of penguins...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguins

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguins

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguins

The penguin eggs are a delicacy for many predators. Skua birds just love to swoop down and make a quick meal out of an unattended egg...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguins

Global warming is endangering breeding beaches, forcing the penguins to seek higher and higher ground. This is unfortunate, because they move quite poorly on land. In the water they are graceful and fast, on land they are awkward and clumsy. They're constantly falling over as they try to make their way from one spot to another...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Fall

To make things easier, penguins navigate the landscape via "penguin highways" that are created from endless birds walking the same paths over and over again...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Highway

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Highway

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Highway

Penguins are curious creatures with odd behaviors that are fun to speculate over. This penguin, for example, just stood in one spot for the longest time with his flipper out like he was directing traffic or something...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Traffic Cop

Which might have come in handy for these penguins that ended up "stranded" on an iceberg...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Iceberg

My favorite thing to to do is watch dirty penguins head to the water...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Bath

Where they swim around, get cleaned up, and have a bite to eat...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Bath

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Bath

Then return as clean penguins, drying themselves in the breeze...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Bath

And... that's all she wrote for Cuverville Island. Time to navigate the icy waters back to the ship...

Leaving Cuverville Island

And... here's where we are now, very close to our last landing...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

Later today we're making our first landing on the actual continent of Antarctica instead of the surrounding islands as we have been. More than a little excited for that!

   

Day Nine Part Two: Neko Harbor at Andvord Bay

Posted on Friday, December 8th, 2017

Dave!And lo did the weather gods smile upon us, for today's second excursion to the actual continent of Antarctica exceeded my dreams.

When the ship pulled into the harbor, you immediately knew something special was going to happen because the water was so calm. It was like a massive mirror reflecting everything you see...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

It kind of messes with your head because you're seeing double across the entire horizon...

Neko Harbor Pano
Click to embiggen the photo in a new window.

As we headed out in a Zodiac to our landing site, the ice in the water started out pretty small...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

But kept getting bigger and thicker the closer we got...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

By the time we made it to shore, it was all ice...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Everywhere you looked, there was gorgeous scenery begging to be photographed. And if this were the only day I had in Antarctica, I would have been perfectly fine with that...

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

Yes, those are penguins laying there if you zoom in...

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

There's a couple rookeries nearby where penguins hangs out...

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

They're building nests by hauling pebbles around...

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

Except pebbles are lacking, so they're pretty much just stealing them from each other's nests. Which results in arguments, as you'd imagine...

Neko Harbor Penguins, Antarctica

And so... yeah... Neko Harbor. A pretty great end to a pretty great day...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

Everything I see after this is gravy.

Neko Harbor is a backtrack through Andvord Bay from yesterday, so our progress is a little backwards...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

The weather seems to be clouding up again, so I'm guessing tomorrow won't be as nice as today. Which is totally okay... if every day were this perfect, my head might explode.

   

Day Ten: Bancroft Bay

Posted on Saturday, December 9th, 2017

Dave!The gods of Antarctica giveth... and the gods of Antarctica taketh away.

Yesterday's excursion to Neko Harbor was everything I could have hoped for when it comes to photographing Antarctica... a non-stop parade of beautiful blue-blue skies, water so calm it was like a mirror, and a gorgeous location to shoot at.

Today? Not so much.

Our first excursion to Orne Harbour this morning was canceled because of nonstop sleet and zero visibility. Our second excursion to Bancroft Bay went ahead as scheduled, but even my best photos couldn't hold a candle to my worst photos yesterday. Especially with the snow coming down. I tried to photograph some birds as we left the ship, but it was tough to focus through all the white stuff in the air...

Bancroft Bay Birds

Bancroft Bay Birds

Bancroft Bay Birds

Bancroft Bay Birds

There was a bit of excitement because some whales were spotted while we were out. The krill they were eating must have been near the surface, because they didn't do much except show their tails...

Bancroft Bay Whale

After taking a lot of photos of water where wales used to be, we continued further into the harbor to look at glaciers and icebergs...

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

Bancroft Bay Ice

If there's one thing that Antarctica has, it's an abundance of icebergs.

And then... time to head back to the ship...

Bancroft Bay Whale

Bancroft Bay

Bancroft Bay

And... today's progress...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

Tomorrow is our last day of exploring Antarctica before heading back across The Drake. Hoping for a great finale to the trip!

   

Day Eleven Part One: Whale Watching

Posted on Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Dave!Up until today, we've seen whales a couple times... but, for me, it's always been at a distance. They've always been off in the distance, and the best shot's I'd get would be of a tail... or maybe some spray... but nothing terribly impressive.

Then today as we were (ironically) headed towards "Whaler's Bay," a pair of whales came right up to the ship to say hello...

Whales of Antarctica

Whales of Antarctica

Whales of Antarctica

Whales of Antarctica

Whales of Antarctica

Whales of Antarctica

Whales of Antarctica

Whales of Antarctica

Pretty amazing.

And they were there playing around the ship for a long, long time. Over an hour. After I took the above photos, I went back to my cabin, took a shower, and uploaded my photos. After all that I saw they were still there, so I grabbed my iPhone to shoot some video. It goes on for eight minutes, so I trimmed it so as not to bore you to death...

An unexpected bonus for this trip, to be sure. We didn't even have to leave the ship!

   

Day Eleven Part Two: Deception Island

Posted on Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Dave!Last night we were provided a lecture about whaling in preparation for today's first excursion to Deception Island and "Whaler's Bay." It's home to an abandoned "whale processing center" where tens of thousands of whales were butchered for their parts (and oil, of course). Not a subject or a location that appeals to me, but I tried to make the best of it. There was a spooky fog out, which made things slightly more interesting than it would have otherwise been to me.

"Deception Island" is actually the caldera of an extinct volcano. You enter the caldera by passing through a narrow channel of high winds which sailors have named "Neptune's Bellows."

Neptune's Bellows Antarctica

Neptune's Bellows Antarctica

You can kinda see how insane it is to navigate inside the caldera by looking at this satellite image I grabbed from Bing Maps...

Deception Island Bing Maps
©2017 Bing Maps / Earthstar Geographics

   
But pass through we did, at which time we found ourselves approaching Whaler's Bay...

Neptune's Bellows Antarctica

The ruins of this tragic site are still around...

Neptune's Bellows Antarctica

Whaler's Bay on Deception Island Antarctica

Whaler's Bay on Deception Island Antarctica

Whaler's Bay on Deception Island Antarctica

Whaler's Bay on Deception Island Antarctica

Deception Island Antarctica

Deception Island Antarctica

Deception Island Antarctica

   
It wasn't just the past, death was everywhere in the present too...

Death in Antarctica

   
Far more interesting to me than the remnants of death was some penguins on the shore...

Deception Island Antarctica

Deception Island Antarctica

Deception Island Antarctica

   
There was also a bird that was looking most perturbed...

Deception Island Antarctica

   
And... our progress so far today...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

One more stop today then a couple wake-ups across The Drake Passage until vacation is over.

   

Day Eleven Part Three: Half Moon Island

Posted on Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Dave!The weather outside continued to be dreary, so I was questioning whether or not I would even bother with the excursion to "Half Moon Island." Ultimately I decided I might as well go. It would be something to pass the time before two days on The Drake Passage.

What a pleasant surprise.

Unlike Whaler's Bay, which wasn't my thing... Half Moon Island has beautiful topography and an abundance of penguins to photograph. It was the perfect way to end my last day in Antarctica...

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

Half Moon Island Antarctica

BONUS SEALS ON THE BEACH!

Half Moon Island Antarctica

   
Our progress today...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

And... the end. A treacherous trek across The Drake followed by three flights over three days, and my vacation is over.

Something tells me I'm going to need a vacation from my vacation.

   

Day Twelve: The Drake Passage

Posted on Monday, December 11th, 2017

Dave!Yesterday's afternoon excursion was the end of my Antarctic adventure. I've turned in my life vest, and there will be no more landings on the seventh continent. And yet... there's still two days on the Drake Passage until I can begin my journey home.

The ship's doctor passed out "seasick pills" with dinner last night, so we knew that it would be a rough ride for the crossing (projected 9 to 12 meter waves rather than the 6 meter waves we had heading out). Rather than test the limits of my immunity to seasickness, I went ahead and took a pill. There's not much to do onboard anyway, so I might as well be doped up so I can sleep...

Now my life is all about risk assessment until we reach Ushuaia. As in... "Do I risk dying on the toilet just now... or should I wait a half hour in the hope that the waves will ease up and I can pee safely?"

I couldn't hold my phone during the worst of it, but this is pretty much the entire day...

Thinking back on this trip as a whole... I wish it would have been two or three days longer. It takes such a huge amount of time and money to get to Antarctica, that the actual time spent there seems to fly by in a flash by comparison. We did lose a day for the emergency medical evacuation... and lost a half day due to bad weather... but, even so, I wish we went further south to see more than we did. To the Antarctic Circle at least. Something to keep in mind if you ever decide to book a trip to Antarctica of your own.

That being said... what an amazing adventure!

Even with the huge effort and expense it takes to visit, this is easily one of my most memorable, most unique, most special trips I've ever taken.

Will I ever visit Antarctica again? Probably not. Unless it's radically different itinerary, my afternoon at Neko Harbor was perfect in every way, and all the Antarctica I need for a lifetime. But I've learned to never say never, so perhaps there's another trip in me one day.

Heaven only knows there's plenty of Antarctica left to visit. But, alas, one step closer to home...

Antarctica Map
©2017 Google Maps

Assuming I survive the rest of these crazy rough seas... holy cow.

   

Day Thirteen: The Drake Passage

Posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Dave!The captain took pity on us and tried to circumnavigate the storm rather than head straight into it. Still... a very rough night. The trick is to prop up the sides of your mattress so that you can wedge yourself in the middle. Not the most comfortable way to sleep... but better than being tossed around like a rag-doll all night.

We've been told that we'll reach calmer waters around 5:00pm, which would be a nice treat before I have to make the long journey home.

This morning I tried to organize my junk for packing. Which is easier said than done when the waves are crashing into the side of the ship. One minute you're reaching for a pair of socks... the next you're being tossed against a wall.

The hardest part of packing is seeing all the crap I brought but never used.

I was told that waterproof over-pants would be trashed and I should have at least two. I brought three. I used one. Same for heavy waterproof gloves. Told I needed two, brought three, used zero. It was never cold enough to wear them. When I used any gloves at all, it was just the thin liners. And then there's a pile of scarves, balaclavas, and fleeces that I never touched.

If I had this to do all over again, I would have a different packing strategy. Prepare for the worst weather possible... but not over-pack as I did this time. I could have easily left a third of this stuff at home and been fine. Live and learn. I'm just glad I didn't rent parka, pants, and gloves as originally planned. That would have been a ridiculous level of overkill.

And now... a good night to you, for tomorrow we make port...

   

Bullet Sunday 534

Posted on Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Dave!It's time for a Very Special Antarctic edition of Bullet Sunday, which starts... now...

   
• Go! Antarctica is a pricey trip, but it's not the horrific monetary spectacle you might think. Not including airfare, you can take the same ship I did... have the same type of experiences I did... for as little as $5,000 in Antarpply's 2018 season. I went via Muench Photography Workshops, which was quite a bit more expensive... but it had world-class photography instruction with people like Will Burrard-Lucas, which made it worth the ridiculous cost. If you've always had a hankering to see the bottom of the world, it's worth saving your pennies to do, and doesn't necessarily have to cost $15,000 for a great experience... penguins and all.

Penguins!

   
• Darkness! The strangest part of being back to the Real World? That it gets dark. Something that barely happened when I was in Antarctica. The fact that it starts getting dark around 4:00 and is pitch-black by 5:00 just makes it all the stranger. I've gotten used to light at 10:00 at night!

   
• Photography! My most used lens was a 24mm-70mm. It worked for glaciers, icebergs, and wildlife that was near me. My second most-used lens was a 70mm-200mm... which I really, really wish was a 70mm-400mm. Fortunately, my 200mm lens optical quality is excellent and I had massive 42.4 MP images I could easily crop into... but things would have been much easier if my telephoto had more reach. I also took a 10mm-18mm ultra-wide angle which I used occasionally. I didn't use any other lenses I took.

I highly recommend having two camera bodies on you. That way you can have both zooms handy and be sure to capture most anything at a moment's notice. You also have a backup body in case one fails, which is pretty much essential isn't it? You aren't going to go all that way and not have a camera!

I took a monopod because it was easier to pack than a tripod. I never once used it. I imagine that you could set up for taking shots, but there was plenty of light to go handheld 100% of the time, and the flexibility was critical towards getting my best shots.

I fretted over condensation accumulating when I came from the cold outdoors to the warm indoors ruining my cameras. Was never a problem (heck, my glasses never even fogged over). It was suggested that I take a plastic zipper-bag to put my camera in so that the condensation forms on the bag and not my camera. After spending weeks finding one big enough, I never had to use it.

I bought a massive dry-bag that I could put my whole camera bag into so my gear would be safe during a Zodiac landing. Thing was... I never took my entire camera bag. Just my two cameras and their lenses. Which meant my dry-bag was massive overkill. I should have bought a smaller one and just wrapped my cameras in towels or something.

I took circular polarizing filters. Never used them. They might have been handy to cut glare on the water when the whales turned up... but they were just a hassle every other minute of the day, so I ignored them.

   
• Un-Borrowed! I needed a backup camera body, but couldn't afford to buy a full-frame one to take with me. So I decided to rent one from BorrowLenses.com. I received an email telling me that I could pick it up at Kenmore Camera the day before I left. I went to pick it up and it wasn't there. I called and found out there was a mess-up of some kind with UPS, and it wouldn't be arriving until after I left for the airport. Their attitude was absolutely shitty. First of all, they would never give me a tracking number so I could find out if it was THEIR fault or UPS's fault (of course they blamed it on UPS). Second of all, they did nothing... NOTHING... to try and make the situation right. It was all "Oh well... stuff happens!" No offer to buy a body from Kenmore Camera and rent that to me. No offer to express ship to my hotel in Buenos Aires. No attempt to find an alternative. No offer to try and find a rental company in Argentina. Absolutely NOTHING. They didn't care about helping me out in any way, despite their promise to have the camera available on the date I requested.

And so... I had to spend $1400 I did not have to buy a camera I did not want. Especially since I could have put that money (if I had it) towards a new Sony a7R mark III. Such a crappy situation. I mean, what choice did I have? What was I going to do? Go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica without a backup camera? Impossible. Thanks for absolutely nothing, BorrowLenses.com for being a total piece of shit.

UPDATE: I complained on Facebook. Borrow Lenses refunded my money and gave me a credit for future rentals. They were apologetic about the situation (this time) which has me wondering if I just got the wrong customer service agent... or if they only act this way when called out publicly?

   
• SmartWool! There was a lot learned on my expedition to Antarctica. The most surprising? How fantastic SmartWool socks are. I have been wearing them ever since I got back and have had warm, comfy feet despite cold temperatures in my home town (and a history of cold feet).

SmartWool Sock!

Don't know how I'd get through winter without them now that I know about them.

   
• Warmth! As it turned out, I worried way too much about being too cold. As it's summer in Antarctica and global warming is actually a thing, it was never all that cold. Certainly not even close to how freezing cold it was on Cadillac Mountain when I was waiting for the sun to rise in Acadia last month! I usually ended up taking off my winter coat on land excursions and just wore my fleece, waterproof pants over jeans and long underwear. Only a couple of times when the sun was clouded over and it was snowing did I double up on long underwear and wear my coat. And, despite buying hand-warmers and spending two days in Ushuaia finding Zippo lighter fluid to put in them, they went unused. So glad I didn't rent an arctic parka and snow pants. I would have never put them on. I guess what I'm trying to say is... prepare for the worst. Make sure you have enough clothes to stay warm if the weather is terrible. Have layers and layers available so you can build the outfit you need to be comfortable in cold weather. But... don't obsess over the idea that you need to buy Antarctic-winter-level expedition gear to stay warm. Unless something goes really sideways, you just won't need it (and if things go that sideways, your landing will probably be canceled anyway). I'd recommend following the advice you'll get from your ship if it conflicts with my experience... but it really shouldn't.

The only thing that ended up being a little cold was my feet because the rubber boots you get from the ship for the landing are not well-insulated. My SmartWool socks with liners made sure it never got that bad. On cold days where I'd be in snow for long periods, I doubled my SmartWool socks, and... problem solved (seriously, those socks are amazing).

One final tip... it was highly recommended that I get two or three pair of Merino Wool long underwear. The stuff is soft (not scratchy) and does a really good job of keeping you warm. Best of all? It doesn't trap odors, so you can wear a pair for several days and not smell like a locker room. Which is what I did... except... I bought some inexpensive disposable men's underwear (which seem very much like cotton panties... or "manties") as a fresh daily barrier to help keep my long undies clean. Worked great. Took up practically no space in my suitcase. In the end, Merino Wool is a bit pricey but so worth it. I bought two pair of the mid-weight tops/bottoms directly from Minus 33 and was very happy with it. I loved that it was so thin that I could double it up on colder days and be toasty warm.

   
• Sun! The sun reflecting off the snow and ice is pretty harsh. Take good sunglasses (and, if you wear glasses, get good prescription sunglasses). And, oh yeah... TAKE SUN SCREEN! I had a friend tell me that he got sunburned pretty bad on his Antarctica trip. So I took Banana Boat SPF 30 and applied it liberally to my face. Wore it every landing we had. Still got burned. So... take a higher SPF than 30 if you want to avoid sunburn!

   
• Expectations! I was warned many times to keep my expectations in check. Antarctica is wildly unpredictable on all fronts, and having lofty expectations is almost certainly setting yourself up for disappointment. All you can really do is get excited for the possibilities... then roll with whatever comes your way. I mean, just look at my trip! We had to cancel one of our landings so we could detour to have somebody airlifted to Chile for a medical emergency. We had to cancel another landing because of bad weather. And yet... everything worked out. I was just thrilled to see what I got to see and do what I got to do...

Antarctica Neko Harbor

And, seriously, it could have been worse. It can always be worse!

   
• Inflight Movies! With nearly thirty hours in planes that had a rather large film library, I was able to watch a few movies to occupy my time getting to Buenos Aires and back...

  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets — I went into this movie with such huge expectations... it was to be the spiritual sequel to The Fifth Element for heaven's sake. But it let me down in so many ways. Watching it again with zero expectations let me enjoy it for what it was, and I may actually kinda like it now.
  • Atomic Blonde — I loved this movie so hard. Between the Cold War spy plot, perfect 80's soundtrack, and Charlize Theron kicking abundant amounts of ass... it was too good to be true. It only improves on second viewing.
  • The Mummy — THIS is what was supposed to kick off the new, improved, and unified "Dark Universe?" So bad. So groan-inducing awful. Tried too hard to capture the fun of the Brendan Fraser version and failed miserably. Really hated it.
  • Logan Lucky — Smart. Funny. Surprisingly good entertainment.
  • Ghost in the Shell — As a huge fan of the original manga and animated series/film, I was let down by this ScarJo movie spectacle. On second viewing, the problems are still there... but the amazing visuals are too. I don't hate it. I just wish it could have lived up to its potential.
  • Power Rangers — It starts with a bull masturbation joke and just gets progressively worse from there. The TV show reveled in its cheesiness... the movie tries to take it seriously and failed utterly. Nothing makes sense. Everything is stupid to the point of being offensive. I'm embarrassed for everybody involved.
  • John Wick: Chapter Two — Really wish I saw this in the theater. The original completely surprised me with how good it was. This one was just as good despite my high expectations. The ending sets us up for a third installment that promises to up the stakes yet again... I'm ready.
  • Alien: Covenant — While not the disappointment that Prometheus was, it still falls way, way short of being Alien-worthy.

   
And... no more Antarctica for you. Or for me. See you next week.

   

Dave17

Posted on Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Dave!For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.

2017 was far from ideal. And yet... compared to the bucket of never-ending suck that was 2016, it was a vast improvement. So I can't really complain.


JANUARY

Said goodbye to President Obama, a president that I never learned to truly appreciate until the total disaster that's now occupying The White House moved in...

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza


   
FEBRUARY

Took my cats to the vet for the first time, something I am definitely not looking forward to doing again in the New Year...

Jenny Hides

Jenny Hides

Jenny Exam


   
MARCH

Went to Disneyland for work, then ranked my all-time favorite Disney attractions.

Cali Weather

   
• Yesterday I listed my favorite albums of 2017. Last March I listed my all-time most hated songs that everybody else seems to love.

   
• Flew to San Francisco to see one of my favorite new musical artists, Wrabel, with my (literal) rockstar friend Aaron.

   
• Headed to Las Vegas, where I finally ziplined down Fremont Street, among other things.


   
APRIL

• Said goodbye to Lil' Spicey...

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

   
Built a built-in desk... for my cats, apparently.


   
MAY

• Flew to Denver to celebrate my good friend Howard's 50th birthday with the Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2!

Baby Groot


   
JUNE

• Built new built-ins for my bedroom closet, which turned out amazing...

Dave's Home-Built Closet Organizer!

   
• Had one of the biggest scares of my life during The Great Jake Escape...

   
Back to Vegas again (for work this time).


   
JULY

Said goodbye to my long-time blogging friend, Anissa.

   
Welcomed Carl the RoboVac to my family...

Eufy RoboVac 11 vs. Jake!

   
Flew to Maine for blueberries (and for work).


   
AUGUST

Said a painful goodbye to my good friend and long-time blogging buddy, Howard.

It's Howard!

   
• Lived through Raccoonageddon.

   
Live-blogged my photographing the eclipse (with my cats).

Total Eclipse Uneclipsed Sun Shot!

   
Read The Nashville Statement so you don’t have to.


   
SEPTEMBER

Lived through another round of wildfires in my neck of the woods.

Smokey Drive Home

   
Built a tunnel for a bird to escape my home before my cats could murder it...

   

   
OCTOBER

• Wrote "Second Amendments and Horse Shit" which surprised some people, I'm sure.

   
• Had some extra money that came my way and wrote about what I did with it... which included getting some old negatives scanned...

Lil' Dave in his fire truck

   
Added Joy the Mopping Robot to Carl the RoboVac and my growing family.

Jenny Eyes Joy Suspiciously!

   
Got my cats into the Halloween spirit...

Skeleton Cats


   
NOVEMBER

Had a colonoscopy... and posted photos of my beautiful colon (you're welcome!).

   
• Flew to Maine and finally visited Acadia National Park...

Bass Harbor Head Light Visit

   
Visited the Eastern-Most Point in the USA at West Quoddy Head Light on a bad weather day...

West Quoddy Head Light Lighthouse

   
• Was first in the USA to see the sun rise at Cadillac Mountain...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia


   
DECEMBER

• Flew to Buenos Aires and visited Evita at Recoleta Cemetery...

Recoleta Cemetery View

   
• Took in the view at The End of the World...

End of the Road at the End of the World

   
Headed out across The Drake Passage in some of the roughest seas on earth...

M/V Ushuaia in The Drake Passage

   
• Fulfilled a life-long dream when I finally set foot on Antarctica for the first time...

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

Penguins at Hydrurga Rocks

   
Photographed Antarctica icebergs at "night"...

Glacier Icebergs

   
Explored the lives of penguins...

Cuverville Island Gentoo Penguin Bath

   
• Had one of the most amazing days of my life when I stepped foot on the seventh continent...

Neko Harbor, Antarctica

   
Got up-close-and-personal with some whales...

   
More penguin photography at Half Moon Island in Antarctica...

Half Moon Island Antarctica

   
• Used Apple's new "iPhone Update Plan" so I could buy an iPhone X and post my thoughts on the astoundingly expensive thing.


   
And there you have it, the year that was the major events in my 2017.

Well, the ones I shared on my blog, anyway.

Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through the not-so-great times. Though, I have to say, closing out the year with my bucket-list trip to Antarctica certainly had it ending on a high note.

Here's to a good 2018, everybody.

   

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