When the frustrations of the big city start to get to you, sometimes you have to drive for hours to get away. Luckily, while we were visiting San Francisco in June, we learned about the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. We needed a break from the traffic and noise and this completely fit the bill. Entering the Tea Garden is almost magical because the traffic noise seems to disappear immediately. You can walk on the paths around the garden and, for the most part, feel like you are in a totally different place. We sat next to quiet ponds and watched koi swim. We walked the paths and admired the amazing landscaping and plants. We even sat down to tea and cookies at the tea house located inside the garden. For people who enjoy being out in nature and have ready access to it most of the time, it was the perfect place to take a breather and a quick break. After our stroll through the gardens and our cup of tea, we were ready to head back out to the big city again. Refreshed and rejuvenated.

Filed under the categories: California, HDR, San Francisco, Travel

One evening in San Diego, my wife and I were walking back from dinner. As we strolled along the water, I noticed this group of fishing boats anchored for the evening. The lights reflecting on the water, combined with the rolling clouds above really caught my eye. It was quiet and and the water lapped up to the boats, but the striking part was really the lights from the boats.

One of the best parts about places like this is the idea that something so normal can be so beautiful. Pictures like this remind me to stop and take notice of the little things, because there is beauty there too.

Filed under the categories: California, HDR, San Diego, Travel

The walk out to the Marin Headlands at night is pretty dark and pretty cold. The winds whip up, taking your breath away and blasting you as you walk up the trail to the overlook. Once up on the headlands itself, the view is stunning. The Golden Gate Bridge stretches out in front of you and the wind and cold are almost forgotten. San Francisco lies on the other side and gives off the warm glow of city lights.

We only spent a few minutes on the Marin Headlands this evening, but the view was worth it. We didn’t even notice the stars until the picture came out, which was a little bonus for putting up with the bitter windy weather.

Filed under the categories: California, HDR, San Francisco, Travel

Fact: You carry more computing power in your pocket than it took to send man to the moon.

Yet, you use it to throw upset aviary at shoddy pig huts. 😉

This particular computer was used from 1967 through 1990 at the U.S. Air Force’s Satellite Control Facility, in Sunnyvale, California. From this facility, over a dozen Sperry 1230-series computers operated in “real time” around the clock, as part of a system that controlled and operated Air Force, NASA, other government, and commercial satellites. It also supported Space Shuttle missions.

The 1232 computer was manufactured by the St. Paul, Minnesota, division of Sperry Univac, and was a military version of the UNIVAC 490 general purpose commercial computer. The computer used discrete transistors, was optimized for real-time use, had a 30-bit word length, and initially was supplied with 32,000 words of memory (approximately 123 K Bytes).

Info from airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?id=A19930083000

Filed under the categories: HDR, Travel, Washington D.C.

Las Vegas…such an epic display of extravagance.

I usually have the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas once a year for work. I am not much into the whole gambling and drunken party scene, so instead I pack my camera and go looking for interesting things to take pictures of for this blog. Lucky for me, Las Vegas is full of all sorts of interesting things. The only dilemma is how to deal with all of the people walking in front of the camera! All I can say is you have to be patient and wait for the exact right moment. 😉

This is the lobby of the Venetian Hotel and Casino. I took this photo around 1 am but I still had to wait around for 20-30min to get the shot I wanted – capturing the beauty of the scene with the fewest amount of people.

Filed under the categories: HDR, Las Vegas, Nevada, Travel
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The Pueblos in Taos, New Mexico, are interesting in many ways. Inside the Pueblos are shops and homes that are used daily. But on the outside, the Pueblos offer interesting views with geometric leanings and blue skies overhead. Each Pueblo is slightly different, reminding visitors that this is a community built by hand long ago.

Filed under the categories: HDR, New Mexico, Taos, Travel
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The Pacific Coast Highway between Carmel and San Simeon is one of the most scenic coastal drives I have ever been on. The shear rocky cliffs, the blue ocean crashing below, and a road with the kind of twists and turns that drivers of small German sports cars only dream about.

It is epic.

Just outside of Big Sur stands the Bixby Bridge, a rather impressive piece of civil engineering (considering it was built in 1932) with an even more impressive view. The fog was setting in and dusk was rapidly changing to night when I stopped to take this shot. It took a little while to get it just right with the light trails from the oncoming traffic streaking across the bridge.

But in the end…SUCCESS!

Filed under the categories: California, HDR, San Francisco, Travel

As I sit here in the 100 + degree heat I fantasize about how refreshing a dip in this pool would be.

But alas.. It will never happen.

High up on the hill side in the small town of San Simeon, California sits the Hearst Castle. For twenty-eight years William Randolph Hearst along with famed San Francisco architect Julia Morgan built this “small” 165 room estate surrounded by 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways on the family’s 250,000 acre ranch.

The Roman Pool is one of the two pools on the property. I feel, of the two, this is the most visually intriguing.

Filed under the categories: California, HDR, San Francisco, Travel

Just beyond the camp boundary lays some of the most beautiful, untouched, remote country in the lower 48. The Maze District in Canyonlands National Park sees only about 2 – 3 thousand visitors a year mostly due how remote it is and the fact that you need a 4 wheel drive vehicle to make it any further than the canyon rim. If you are up for an epic adventure it is worth checking out.

I took this photo from The Wall campground. Despite it’s rather serine appearance, this was the most windy campsite we stayed in on our trip.

Filed under the categories: Canyonlands N.P., HDR, Maze District, National Parks, Travel, Utah
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This cafe caught our eye while walking through Seaport Village in San Diego. Jutting out over the water, it was lit up beautifully from the inside, looking inviting and warm. The lights of San Diego streaming from behind made for an interesting picture taken from one pier over.

Filed under the categories: California, HDR, San Diego, Travel