Woodcleft Canal – Marilyn Armstrong

Freeport, Long Island. It’s in Nassau Country, the closest county on Long Island to New York city. I grew up in the city … in Queens, which is a borough of New York. Each of New York’s boroughs has its own character and in many ways, is a city in its own right. Certainly people who grow up in Brooklyn identify themselves as Brooklyn-ites and if you come from the Queens, Staten Island, or the Bronx, you will always identify that as your “home ground” rather than just “New York.”

Colorized postcard of Woodcleft canal with houses visible on the right side of the photo. Postmark: “” Merrick, N.Y, September 3, 1907″ Addressee and Address: “M.A. Hansen, 791 59th Street, Brooklyn” Message [on front]: “” Sept. 1, 07. Have a good time. May” – From the Freeport Historical Society Postcard Collection

Between the picture postcard and our visit lay almost exactly a century.

People from Manhattan have a strong sense of superiority because they come from The City. For reasons that are hard to explain, but perfectly obvious to anyone who has lived there or even visited for any length of time, Manhattan is the heart of New York in ways that cannot be simply explained. It’s not just because it’s the center of business. In fact, that really has little to do with it. It just is what it is. Even when I was a kid growing up in Queens, when we said we were going “into the city,” we  meant Manhattan. If we were going anywhere else in the five boroughs, we said we were going to Brooklyn or the Bronx or some specific neighborhood … but the city was Manhattan and no doubt still is.

I moved to Long Island in 1963 when I was 16 and had just started college. I never moved back to the city, though for many years, we went there for shows, museums, all the things available in a city and not in suburbs or other outlying areas. And of course, work.

A few years of my childhood, before I was 5 and moved to Holliswood, we lived in an apartment house — really, a tenement — on Rose Street in Freeport, near Woodcleft Canal.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the area near the canal was decrepit. Living “near the docks” was not a good thing, certainly nothing to brag about. My family was going through hard times and it was the best we could afford.

My mother hated it. It was the middle of nowhere and she didn’t drive. For her, born in Manhattan, a lifelong resident of New York, what was Freeport? Long Island? That was farm country where you went to buy vegetables at farm stands. My mother, an urbanite to her core, understood poverty but being poor in the country was her version of Hell.

My memories are limited but I see in my mind a big white stucco building with no architectural features. A large white box that didn’t fit into the neighborhood. It stuck out so that even by the less stringent standards of 60 years ago, it was an eyesore. It hasn’t lost that quality. It is still an ugly building, but I expect the rent is higher.

We drove down Rose Street to look at it. I was curious if I would recognize it, but I did. Instantly. I think early memories are deeply embedded in our psyches. Then, having satisfied curiosity, we found out way to the canal.

Reflections in the canal.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to find the canal lined with marinas and yachts. The road along the canal has the usual expensive restaurants featuring faux nautical decor. It was a trifle weird.

There were many huge Victorian houses in Freeport back in the 1970s that you could buy for almost nothing. A great deal if you had a lot of money with which to fix one of them up. Those grand old houses … there are still a few around there and here too, but restoring one is big bucks and maintaining them, even if you can afford the initial restoration, out of the range of most people. I’m glad that some have survived. They are magnificent, though even thinking about the cost of heating one is frightening.

Everything changes.

You can’t go back in time except in your memory. Sometimes, if you treasure the way it was, how you remember it, it’s better not to revisit places. Keep your memories intact because then, the places you remember will always be the way they were.

Portal – Marilyn Armstrong

Entry hall to the college … the portals of academia.

Bright sunlight through the arched glass doorways of the school turn the entry hall luminescent. It’s the way schools ought to look … the way such places always look in your memories.

Ouch … and goodbye. Heading north again – Marilyn Armstrong

Starting the trek back home this morning. I logged  a fair bit of jacuzzi time yesterday and now I can stand up without help.

Yesterday we did NOTHING except a trip to the pharmacy, a simple dinner of pasta and sauce, finishing off leftovers since we can’t take them with us.

More from the historic Williamsburg.

Although I’m still hurting a bit from jouncing, bouncing, spinning, dipping, flipping and general mayhem, if I could, I’d probably do it again. I’m that crazy. Sometimes I worry me.

But I’m safe. Garry would NOT go. Unlike me, he prefers to not be crippled for love of roller coasters. He has a firmer sense of self-preservation than I do, obviously.

English: The Loch Ness Monster loops.

It was a good vacation. Friends, fun. Okay, old Williamsburg was a bit of a disappointment, but we ate great food, had some good laughs, I got a few nice pictures and we rode a couple of killer coasters … so we leave satisfied, if a trifle bruised.

We indulged in a pair of electric scooters for Garry and I. Pricey, but I am SO glad we did. It was hot, there’s a huge amount of walking and aside from feeling a little like the road-runner yelling “Beep beep” as we navigated the park, we actually came out of the experience feeling reasonably good.

What did we do?

Not as much as I intended, but for two senior citizens, probably more than enough. First of all, even if you aren’t walking, it’s still a lot of distance to cover from one ride to another, from one exhibit to another. That eats up a lot of time, so if you intend to try to do it all, plan on being there a long day. Or two.

From Colonial Williamsburg.

We got there by noon and left around 5:30 and we only went on 5 rides, grabbed some lunch, and spent a little time looking at eagles and wolves. The eagles and wolves looked about as hot and sweaty as we felt. There was no wasted time. Except for the 45 minute lunch break, we were on the move the entire time.

Old tree in an old town. Taken by an old person, namely me.

We rode two roller coasters: Apollo’s Chariot and Loch Ness. We never made it to the “baddest” of the coasters, the Verbolten and Griffon. But I think we did enough.

Busch Gardens Europe, Williamsburg Roller coas...

Busch Gardens Europe, Williamsburg Roller coasters Amusement rides (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apollo’s Chariot has a first drop that’s pretty heart stopping, some twists, turns, and barrel rolls that do a pretty good job tossing you around. It is also a very short ride … maybe 3 or 4 minutes. Which is quite enough, thank you.

Loch Ness is another story. It is a long coaster, possibly the longest I’ve ever ridden. Lots of upside down barrel rolling loop-the-loops and nobody mentioned the long dark tunnel part. As we went around, tightly locked in, yet I somehow was able to emerge with what I think is a separated shoulder, a bruised patella, and possibly a permanently damaged left hip. Garry probably should be in a neck brace.

Interlocking loops of the Loch Ness Monster.

The train reaches the 130-foot (40 m) lift hill with a small and tight turn … bringing it to a 114-foot (35 m) drop towards the park’s Rhine River. A large upward hill crosses over the park’s ‘Land of the Dragons’ and trim brakes bring riders to the first of the two interlocking loops. After the loop, the train makes a turn and to a block brake, which then leads into a covered tunnel/helix.

Inside the tunnel, the train makes 2.75 circular turns before coming to the end of the tunnel.  As the train exits the tunnel at the end of the helix a small brake run slows the train to ascend a smaller second lift hill.

The train makes a wide turn after the lift and drops downward into the second loop. It then goes uphill again before being brought to a stop by the final brake.”  From Wikipedia.

I want to mention that the video on the Loch Ness coaster does not do it justice. It’s a lot more intense than the video would indicate. And longer.

We passed on the other four big bad roller coasters and though I feel I have somehow failed to meet my obligation to ride the most evil coasters available, I think that it may finally be time to accept that I am not a kid anymore. These coasters make the Cyclone seem rather tame. Except for the actual danger factor and that’s where the Cyclone takes the big prize because there’s always a real possibility that it’s going to kill you dead for real and all.

Summer in Williamsburg. Butterflies were everywhere and bluebirds. I’ve never seen them up north, but they abound down here.

When you ride the Cyclone, it’s hard to not notice that it IS very old. It shakes. It’s rickety. In addition to whatever fear is generated by speed and dips and getting flung around, there’s the possibility that the thing’s going to just collapse with you on it.

An accidental shot of shadows on the brick path in historic Williamsburg.

Busch Gardens inspects each ride, each coaster, every 4 hours. If there is anything that doesn’t seem perfect, they walk the track, foot by foot, checking to make sure that everything is as it should be. This means that there are a lot of time outs for maintenance and you just wait while they double and triple check everything.

And that’s just fine. It makes the rides less scary in a real life way, but not less fun … or less painful. I’m pretty sure that the Cyclone wouldn’t make the cut. I think they inspect it at the beginning of the season and if a piece falls off (it happens, really, I’ve seen it) they check to see if it’s a critical piece or not. Otherwise? Roll on, roll on.

So here’s how it goes. Having survived the “easiest” coaster, Apollo’s Chariot with a nearly vertical drop, we proceeded to the Loch Ness Monster. Second coaster. Up, up, up, up. Boy, we sure are going up a long way. Golly. Then, pause. Look down.

Holy……AHHHHHHHHHH…..oooh …. ouch, there goes my right knee. Ow, ooh, damn, I think I just dislocated my left shoulder. Upside dooooown … holy sh*t … yikes. Hey, why is it so dark … what’s this tunnel? Nobody told me about a tunnel. Where the hell are we? Yeow, oh my GOD … upside down and twist and ahhhhhhhh…. ouch, ooh, other knee … did I just break that patella?

Let’s get some lunch, okay? Let’s visit some animals. Buy a tee-shirt.

After that, we went on a nice virtual airplane trip through Europe, and spooky Dark Kastle in Germany, something that spun around and was, for us, a kiddy ride, but people were actually screaming (wimps). And then, on our little electric scooters, we headed for the gate and back to the hotel. The old people have their feet up, reruns of NCIS on television.

Alive to tell our tale.

So if you are over 65, but nonetheless will be damned rather than not do that cool stuff, just be aware that there’ll be a few bruised parts and maybe a few missing pieces at the end of your day. Glad I did it. Not sure I’ll do it again.

Getting There Is Not Always Enough … Marilyn Armstrong

We didn’t get to ride this one.

Yesterday, we went to Busch Gardens. We did nothing, got wet, walked too much, came back exhausted, soggy and poorer. We seem to have absolutely impeccable timing for getting places at exactly the wrong time!

We didn’t get to ride this either.

We planned carefully and sensibly. We figured that if we went late in the day, it would be cooler and probably less crowded too. Logical right? I mean, the park‘s open until 10 at night, so getting there at 3:30 should leave us more than ample time to whatever we wanted and ride whatever we wanted.

After we finally got through the long walk to the park from the very closest parking lot, we decided to take the train ride that loops around the park. It would give us something of an orientation, an overview.

After that we were nearly slavering with anticipation, we headed down the long road to Apollo’s Chariot, the first of the 6 big, bigger and biggest, baddest roller coasters we intended to ride.

We were at the front of the line on the platform, ready to board the ride. Which is when the announcement came that the ride was closing due to weather issues.

Not this one either.

Weather. Mainly, lightning. Not to mention wind and rain. So we stood around a bit, milled around in confusion, then eventually headed back the long road to the rest of the park.

With great anticipation, we waited for a weather update. We were in a code orange, which is bad, but the next announcement was “Code Red,” which was much worse and actually closed everything, except shops.

Shortly thereafter, the sky opened up and a sheet of water fell out. We stood under an awning speculating — along with everyone else — whether or not there was any chance the park would reopen.

Also, didn’t ride this one.

It did not reopen.

We hauled ass back to Guest Relations, where they were very gracious about the whole thing and seemed genuinely sorry that we come from so far away, didn’t get to do anything except eat a pretzel and get soaked. They refunded half the money because our friends had to leave today and we took rain checks and will make another stab at it tomorrow. We would have gone today, but the weather report doesn’t look promising and I couldn’t deal with the same scenario two days running.

The best experience of the day? The electric scooter that you can rent and drive around the park. I loved it! It was way zippier than I thought it would be and fun, too. Unfortunately, by the time I got it, I was already over-tired and when we finally got back to the hotel, having stopped at the grocery store in between and then cooking dinner … we had barely enough strength to climb into bed and pass out.

Today, the humidity is 99% and thunder storms are likely in the afternoon, so we  are going to go tomorrow morning when hopefully, it won’t be raining because that really IS our last chance.

Talk about disappointing! Nice that Garry and I get another shot at it, but I so wanted to go with my friend too … but … well … it didn’t happen and if there’s one thing you cannot count on, it’s usually the weather.

They’ve left now and it’s very quiet and feels kind of empty. I’m trying not to be a bit down-hearted, but it’s difficult.

Tomorrow is another day, I hope.

Let the Fun Begin: Williamsburg, Virginia – Marilyn Armstrong

Friends are here and today we shall emerge and go forth to enjoy! It turns out that Colonial Williamsburg doesn’t exactly have an entrance fee. There are things in there that if you want to see them, have entry fees, but it’s free to go to the town and just enjoy it. Which hopefully is what we’ll do today.

Adding Yorktown and Jamestown costs very little. For the historical stuff, time is more the issue than is money. We have to pace ourselves, see as much as we can without getting exhausted. Young at heart? Yes, absolutely. But our bones know the truth and we can’t ignore them.

Tomorrow will be some combination of fun activities … and I’m betting it will be Busch Gardens.

Pricey, but  they have all those roller coasters and I am simply NOT going to pass up the opportunity. I’m not going to miss it.

I didn’t drive all these miles to say “Oops, can’t afford it.” That’s stupid. So I’m doing it, and that it. Even if I have to pay more than I imagined in my nightmares I would need to pay!

The hotel which isn’t a hotel, but a condo time share, is MUCH nicer than I expected.

Living room and dining area lead to a balcony facing the woods.

Aside from our quarters being huge and very nicely appointed, there are many more activities and I expected and just overall, a really lovely place.

The kitchen. There’s a huge amount of storage space … much more than I have at home and there’s also a compact washer and dryer in a closet across from the fridge.

The balcony off the living room has a peaceful view of the woods and trails. Which is what we see out our windows at home, but it’s a big improvement from the many views of parking lots I’ve had over the years from where I was staying!

View from the balcony.

If only it weren’t so godawful far away from home!

We’re pretty much recovered from the drive and now, I WANT TO HAVE SOME FUN!!!

Tune in for updates!

Editor’s Note:  The above was originally posted August 5, 2012.  In the next two days you will get more from this trip.

The Lair – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve worked here, if you use the word “here” in a non-literal way. It is one of a million offices from which teachers work. It might be a space in any old building anywhere in the world. It could be on any campus.

The small room is full of light from its single tall window, the papers and books protected from the sun by a tired Venetian blind. You know, even though you’ve never been there, that the room is too hot in the winter, but not cool enough in the summer. It’s never big enough for all the stuff that lives there, both the things that are physically in place and those that occupy psychic space in the mind shadows.

Just a tiny space cluttered with books and packed tight with memories.

Old Gettysburg – Marilyn Armstrong

Horse and buggy. Easy to shoot. Horse doesn’t move much. Okay. Not at all.

When you think of Gettysburg, you probably think “battlefield.” Military history. Civil War.

I’ve never seen an actual “cigar store Indian.” Heard about them, but never seen one.

What does not likely come immediately to mind are “Ghosts” and “Ghouls.” However unlikely, that seems to be the most prominent theme of this historic town and its battlegrounds.

Old soldiers never die?

The shops are full of ghosts, ghouls, and zombies representing the dead soldiers. And, of course, there are tee shirts. Many varieties of ghosts, ghouls, and zombies, dressed in both Confederate and Union uniforms. Some, with no uniforms.

A zombie of Gettysburg.

This is tourist central, but it’s charming and quaint and everything is nicely clumped together in a small area. Even for me, it’s not too much walking. That the temperature has dropped quite a bit helps too.

Tunnel on the path.

You can get a tee-shirt with the entire Gettysburg Address on it, with or without Abraham Lincoln. You can get a wide variety of  Confederate, Union, or combination tee-shirts. Guns and knives vie with children’s toys as souvenirs.

Tee shirts … whatever you want, bet they have it.

The honored dead did not die in vain. They died so we could have cool tee shirts.

The Blue and Grey Tee Shirt Emporium.

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COLORS AT THE CROSSROAD

Daily Prompt: If You Leave

Photographers, artists, poets: show us CROSSROADS.

96-YellowLight-43

At the crossroad, the intersection, you have to wait for the lights.

Red. Yellow. Green.

Yellow, the in-between look-both-ways color. Yellow is the color to make you wait then proceed cautiously.

96-RedLight-38

Red is stop. Don’t go. Dangers lie ahead. Wait until the light changes. If you go when the light is red, who knows what might happen? Will you wait? Or will you dash into traffic, heedless of the outcome?

96-GreenLight-41

Green tells you it’s okay, that you are safe. But, are you safe? Just because the light is green and says you can continue on your way, it doesn’t tell you how your journey will turn out or warn you of other hazards.

Green is for going … but life is for living.

There are no colored lights along the road of life. Nothing to warn you of upcoming challenges. You’ll have to make your way on courage and faith.

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GOLDEN WHAT?

Weekly Writing Challenge: Golden Years

When you think about retirement and “the golden years,” you probably think it means free time. After decades of deadlines, you can do what you want, when you want. Time to travel, time to sleep, time to be with friends. 

It doesn’t usually work out that way. As a start, though I’m not sure why, the minute you retire, you’re incredibly busy. Nature abhors a vacuum and your days fill up. Life becomes unexpected.

You will wonder how you ever had time to work a full-time job.

Old Number 2 -1

IF YOU DON’T DIE YOUNG YOU WILL GET OLD

Your friends get old and some move away. With luck, you’ve got friends and family near enough to visit easily. It’s a gift. But you can’t count on having the old gang in the neighborhood.

Enter email, Skype and social networking. I don’t care who invented the Internet. I’m just glad it exists.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN? OY.

If you are one of the lucky ones who have money and time, you may not have the energy or emotional fortitude to deal with the vicissitudes of modern travel. To put it succinctly, modern travel sucks. It’s not elegant or romantic. It’s hard work for which you pay.

On local roads ...

Travel used to be fun when I was young, but it’s been less fun with each passing year. Now, air travel’s a disgrace. Airports and security turn vacations into stress tests, nightmares in which strangers paw you and security personnel dismantle your luggage. There’s no choice if you’re want to go long distances or cross oceans; you have to fly. Good luck with that.

I love flying. If I had a private jet and could skip the airport, I’d travel. Silly me. If I had that kind of money, a lot of things would be different. Like pretty much everything. Never mind. Forget I said anything.

WHERE’S THE MONEY?

Retirement means a fixed income. Your “salary” stays the same forever, while prices don’t. It takes a while to come to grips with this. After you retire, you will never get a raise. Or a Christmas bonus.

You will never have more buying power than you do today. Time erodes the value of pensions. Younger people don’t get it, but they will someday. Their time will come and they won’t like it. No one does.

On the up side, you will find stuff to do that doesn’t cost much money. Museums and other public venues have senior rates the same as kid prices. Movie theaters have cheap afternoon rates as well as special showings of classic movies. Senior discounts are a big perk.

Never forget to take your senior discount! It’s the least they can for you do after all your years of hard work.

OH MY ACHING …

Most people don’t have as many problems as I do, but everyone has some physical issues. Old bodies wear out. Things hurt. Reflexes slow down. You aren’t as strong as you were. You tire more quickly. If you fall, you don’t bounce. You go splat.

It’s normal, but aggravating. If you’re smart, you adapt. Enjoy what your body can do and don’t waste your life fighting to be what you were — while missing the fun of being what you are.

75-AutumnalFigs-HP

Buck up buckaroos. Getting older isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. Consider the alternative.

You will have fun. You will adapt, accept limitations and enjoy life differently. Keeping an open mind helps. A sense of humor helps more.

NOT WORKING IS THE POT OF GOLD AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW

The golden-est part of the golden years is not working.

Not working is absolutely, unequivocally a most excellent thing. If only they would just keep sending checks. I don’t miss working, not for a minute, but I miss getting paid.

Our skills are better than ever. Creative artists and people in any field for which mental rather than physical prowess is required, get another chance. We blog, do charity work. Write books, take pictures, sculpt, paint. Design things. Create magnificent gardens. We are treasure troves of experience and knowledge should anyone choose to ask.

Friends

I’ve had a lot of fun recently. I’ve written stuff I like, taken pictures with which I’m pleased. Spent time with friends I love. Laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed.

Now I have to go get my heart rebuilt. Drat. It’s always something.

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  20. Age is Just a Number –  Ha! Age is a Bunch of Numbers! | Once Upon Your Prime. . .
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A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Main Street. Hyannis on Cape Cod. Mid-October. One sidewalk café, 2 perspectives.

Hyannis cafe 113

Empty of people and clean, the café says something different when the waiter clears away the remnants of visitors.

Hyannis cafe and waiter

Always, it’s beautiful, a fine place to sit, relax, talk. Enjoy perfect autumn weather.

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TERMINAL MADNESS – BEASLEY GREEN

Marilyn Armstrong:

Reminding me — again — why I hate airports.

Originally posted on Beasley Green:

cathay-pacific-new-business-class-sydney-to-hong-kong-airbus-a330-20

Going nowhere extremely slowly.

The airport procedures involved in travelling by airplane are lengthy and laborious at best. Lots of checking, searching, walking, waiting and standing; yet it never ceases to amaze me how travellers can’t help but fall into the fruitless enchantment of the boarding gate wait. Despite the amount of dragging around of bags and beating of feet on hard marble and concrete floors they do, even seasoned travellers find themselves lured into this futile ritual. Airlines have tried to offer support by prioritising and calling out seat numbers in groups to save people the discomfort of pointlessly standing around for lengthy periods of time, but it’s like a mental illness that effects almost all travellers regardless of age, gender, race or creed.

So you know you’re allocated a specific seat on the plane, right? You also know that no matter what happens you’re not going to be asked…

View original 770 more words

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HOW BIG IS IT? SOOO BIG!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Large Subjects

Every time “bigness” comes up in a photography challenge, I default to the biggest thing I ever photographed and which has ever since pretty much defined “big” for me.

The Grand Canyon. I know. Not exactly an obscure subject, but it is … well … so very vast. I felt my camera was utterly inadequate to the task of showing how huge and magnificent this canyon is. Known lovingly and locally as “The Big Hole,” you’d need a fleet of cameras — preferably video — to capture it. I am not sure anything but standing and seeing with your own eyes could do it justice.

Here are my best efforts.

Grand Canyon 11

Grand Canyon 5

Grand Canyon 1

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YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE

Daily Prompt: Obstacle Course

by michelle w. on January 27, 2014

Think about what you wanted to accomplish last week. Did you? What are the things that hold you back from doing everything you’d like to do?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us BARRIERS.

- – -

stop-signs

And NO, I didn’t take this picture, but I think it really says it, don’t you?

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