Saturday, July 26, 2014

New York, New York: The Complete Photo Journal

During May 2014, Kay and I spent 11 nights in New York City staying in an old, small, funky studio apartment in the East Village neighborhood rented through Air BnB. Per Wikipedia: "East Village, which is bordered by Greenwich Village to the west, to the north by Gramercy Park and Stuyvesant Town, to the south by the Lower East Side, and to the east by the East River, is known for its ethnic diversity, vibrant nightlife, unique artistic sense, and considered the center of counterculture in New York City". Definitions aside, Kay and I loved staying in the neighborhood which is nicely located for walking and easy access to all the major sights via the subway. This is our first trip the New York City together and the energy of the city with its life out on the streets is electrifying. We took in all the major sights but also enjoyed just hanging in our adopted neighborhood surrounded by markets, shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs which generally attracted a younger crowd. Click on the link below the subsequent picture to see all my pictures in Picasa. It's pictorial journal, so there are a lot of pictures.

From New York, New York: The Complete Photo Journal

North to Alaska

First, I want to give Stew kudos and a big "Thank You" for a great tour. It was his idea, planning, organization, work, energy, enthusiasm and leadership that made this trip possible. Thank you for inviting me. Most memorable for me will be the awesome landscape, the group camaraderie, the friendliness of locals and travelers, and the wildlife. Most of the population in this region is centered around the major towns and cities, so we experienced minimal traffic for most of our tour which was a real treat for us Californians.

Our trip started with three nights in Juneau, followed by a ferry to Skagway where our group of nine met up with Stew and Jim who spent 5 days driving the truck containing all our bikes and equipment. The truck, with shared driving which also serves as a rest day, would be our sag vehicle during the 12-day tour carrying our luggage and essential road supplies, mainly food and water. From Skagway, most of us caught the scenic narrow track train up White Pass to the outpost station of Fraser where the riding began. Our bike route traveled through British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and Alaska ending in Anchorage with an 100-mile bus shuttle ride on the 13th day. In total, we rode about 693 miles over 12 days with 27,771 feet of elevation gain. Although the weather was ever changing from sunny to rainy and everything between, which had me constantly adjusting my clothing for comfort, it was descendent and not extreme until our last day of riding when a 2 day cold storm front arrived. We survived and it was memorable. Thanks Stew, it was a great tour.

Kay joined me in Anchorage and my travels in Alaska continued for another week with trips by vehicle to Seward on Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, and north to Denali National Park and Fairbanks. Click on the link below the subsequent picture to see all the pictures in Picasa; the pre-tour activities, the bike tour, and my post tour activities. It's pictorial journal, so there are a lot of pictures.

From North to Alaska

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reporting from New York City

I'm happy to say that we survived our Saturday 2-boroughs bike tour of NYC through the weekend crowds, tourist by the bus loads and eternal city traffic, on our rickety rented tandem from Blazing Saddles. I do have to admit, however, that my survival instincts did kick in when the bike lanes disappeared around 5th Avenue and I decided that I wanted to live, so we walked.

From just below the Brooklyn Bridge, we rode north crossing the East River to Brooklyn on the Williamsburg Bridge and lunched along Myrtle Street, a gritty, sometimes unnerving neighborhood, mixed with some trendy and the distinctively dressed Hasidic Jewish. Lunch at Putnam was great. Then it's was back to Manhattan over the Manhattan Bridge via downtown Brooklyn, through Chinatown and south toward Battery Park, walking whenever the crowds created an impasse. The entire west side shoreline of Manhattan has been developed between it's promenades, marinas, piers and parks, with multi-use pathways north to Central Park and beyond. It was slow going at times but also some of the fastest sections. We eventually found our way to Central Park through quiet stately neighborhoods and joined the large weekend crowds enjoying the park. For safety purposes, cycling in the park is a one-way counter clockwise affair on designated routes only. My misdirection, heavy traffic, and hordes shoppers forced us to walk from 5th Avenue and 59th Street until we found our next bike lane on 2nd Avenue. Our fast ride with the 2nd Avenue traffic took us through our own adopted neighborhood, the East Village, back downtown and along the East River to the end of our tour.

Bike touring is great way to see and experience NYC, and we lived to talk about it. Bicycling is a part of NYC life and growing, but you have to get accustomed to the character of it's traffic. I see bicyclist riding the busiest of streets through the heaviest traffic. I guess you have to be in a New York State of Mind. Below is a link to a few picture in Picasa.

From New York City

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Taste of South Florida

For Winter 2014, Kay and I decided to forego San Diego and visit South Florida, a region that has been in our sights for a number of years. For me, it was also a great opportunity to finally visit Key West and the Everglades National Park, places I had long heard of. Starting in Ft. Lauderdale, we traveled south through Miami, then along the Florida Keys to Key West. We spent 3 nights each in Ft. Lauderdale, Coconut Grove, and Key West. Next, we explored the Everglades National Park spending 3 nights in Florida City. We drove most of the roadways within the national park, the third-largest in the lower states at 1,508,538 acres, visiting all the major visitor centers. We wanted to see alligators and gators we saw, lots of them. Spotting the shy elusive Manatee, a one-time sighting, was an extra treat and I added a number of new birds to my non-existent life list. From there we headed for the west coast of Florida, viewed by some locals as the second west coast of the U.S., spending one night in Ft. Meyers before stopping in Siesta Key, just south of Sarasota, for a week. It was nice to stay put for the week, meeting up with Kay's resident friend, Dean, and to hang with Dennis and Debbie, Californian Friends who joined us during our stay in Siesta Key. We concluded our trip with a night's stay in St. Petersburg visiting their recently built Dali Museum, designed by architect Yann Weymouth, before flying home out of Tampa Bay. We had a great time exploring South Florida despite the less than perfect weather. There is definitely a different feel between Florida's east coast with its higher population density and the wide open development of the west coast, but don't be surprised if you hear a lot of foreign languages on either coast. A playground for the top one percent and a haven for winter snow-birders, both human and avian, South Florida is worth a visit for its coastal beauty and unique watery ecosystem. I didn't do a good job with my pictures showing you the wealth that resides around South Florida with its many grand homes, over-the-top yachts, and exotic cars; but trust me, it's there. My total bird count on this trip is 76 species. To see my photographs from the trip along with some narrative, click on the link below the picture.
From South Florida 2014

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hawaii 2013

While in Hawaii, the phrase "Aloha Spirit" came to mind and stayed in my consciousness for the duration. It can be described as an embodied Hawaiian trait, an enduring native expression from its past personified by people, both old timers and newcomers alike, who call the "islands" home and is emanated in the form of informal charm, warmth, friendliness and sincerity toward others. Now I can't say that I ever found my "Aloha Spirit", but I do feel that people living in Waikiki and Honolulu, as busy and crowded as these places can be, especially on the roadways, do embody a level warmth and friendliness above most larger cities. Kay and I spent three week in Oahu during the latter half of October, renting an apartment on the 31st floor of the Waikiki Banyan, which is located on the east end of Waikiki near Kapiolani Park and within easy walking distance of shops and eateries, the beach, and the Ala Wai canal. This trip turned out to be all about trying new eateries as well as some old favorites and staying active enough, be it walking, hiking, cycling or snorkeling, to keep up with all the dining out which was all good but with some real winners, to name a few, like Helena's for Hawaiian food, "The Alley", a local diner within the Aiea Bowling alley, and Tenkaippan for ramen. To see my photographs from our trip along with some narrative, click on the link below the picture.
From Hawaii 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pictures from Waikiki

Kay and I are here in Hawaii finding our aloha spirit and spending quality time together far from the demands of the home front. Aloha everyone!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

European Bike Tour of 2013: The Complete Photo Journal

During the summer of 2013, nine friends and friends of friends, five from the UK and four from the US which includes me, did a self supported bicycle tour along the Eurovelo 6 route through France and Germany with short jaunts into Switzerland, traveling about 1,400 miles with major segments alongside three of Europe's largest rivers; the Loire, the Rhine and the Danube. The Eurovelo 6 route, which travels from Nantes, France near the Atlantic Ocean to Constanta on the Black Sea, is one of the 14 routes within the European Velo Network created by the European Cyclists’ Federation in 1994. After an overnight ferry across the English Channel from Portsmouth, we started our bicycle tour in St. Malo in northern France on July 16th traveling southward for 3 days until we crossed the Loire River to join the Eurovelo 6 route which travels in a nonlinear but easterly direction alongside countless canals and rivers with short stretches into the adjacent hillsides, where upon we ended in Passau in southern Germany on Aug 19th at the border of Austria. As always, it was a wonderful way to see and experience these countries' food (and drinks), culture, history and natural surroundings. Many thanks to my friends for getting this trip together and for handling all the logistics which included bus shuttles, ferries, trains, cycling schedules, accommodations, and being trail bosses, as such a trip would have been impossible for me without all of them. I divided my photo journal into three groups as represented by each of the three pictures below. To see all of the photographs within each group, click on the link below the pictures.

Portsmouth, UK to Sully Sur Loire, France
From Eurovelo Tour: Portsmouth, UK to Sully Sur Loire, France


Sully Sur Loire, France to Reidlingen, Germany
From Eurovelo Tour: Sully Sur Loire, France to Reidlingen, Germany


Reidlingen, Germany to Market Harborough, UK
From Eurovelo Tour: Reidlingen, Germany to Market Harborough, UK