Thursday, January 31, 2008
The last stop on the Smooth Jazz Cruise I went on was Ensenada, Mexico. My sister and I started not to go because we'd been there before but she wanted to shop and I wanted to take pictures. Listening to the tour guide we both decided that La Bufadora, The Blowhole, would give us both what we were looking for. Man, I'm glad I went because I'd forgotten how beautiful is was driving up to the Blowhole and how beautiful the area around the Blowhole was. There are pictures of that area in the post before this one.
If you'll notice the flag in the picture above, the Mexican flag can be seen from anywhere in Ensenada. The tour guide pointed out that if we happened to get lost to just look for the flag which is at the port where our ship was docked.
This is a composite video clip I took from the bus as we travelled to La Bufadora. I actually find it rather interesting that here in America most of our coast is taken up by rich homes. Notice in the clip how little there is blocking this view of the coast and that part of it is upscale. Don't quote me on this though because this is the only part of Ensenada I saw.
Part of the attraction at La Bufadora, The Blowhole, is the shopping that lines the street as you walk from where the bus leaves you to The Blowhole. It's supposed to be at least 30% less than the downtown shopping because of the rent. I've got to say it's a little overwhelming especially if, like for us, you're the first tour bus and the vendors are all standing along the street waiting for customers. You're the fresh meat for the day and all the way down the street they are ALL trying to get your attention and giving you discount coupons. I think my favorite term that day was when one of them called me and my sisters "Chocolate Chicas". LOL!
I personally appreciated that the tour guides warn you about those who are out to rip off tourists and proceed to tell you how to tell real silver from fake and what not to pay for certain designer knock-offs. Let's see, my sister and I picked up a couple of purses, some sunglass, a very nice tile domino set for my nephew, a beautiful cross on a sterling silver chain, a nice cotton jogging set with a beautiful design with Ensenada on it. I'm not much of a shopper but I did have some fun. I wish I'd had more money to spend because there were several ceramic vases and plates that I would have loved to haul back home.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
I just got back from a five day smooth jazz cruise that stopped in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada. Man, I had such a wonderful time! Not only did I get to hear some of my favorite jazz musicians for five days but I got to use my new camera taking beautiful pictures. How many beautiful pictures? Well, I have 7 CD's full of pictures of musicians playing and of the ports where we stopped. LOL! That's a lot of photos. These are only some. I'll be posting more as I look at and edit them.
Just imagine it's 7:00 a.m. and you're standing on the top deck at the front on the ship watching as you cruise along the peninsula. It's quiet and peaceful, there's a good chill in the air because it's so early and just a few other people are also watching because it's early. How anyone can stay in bed and miss this part of the cruise amazes me. Most of the pictures in the slideshow are from that position on the ship with some really good close-ups of the rock formations and cove thanks to my zoon lens.
I was expecting the ship to dock. It didn't. It anchored off shore and there were taxi boats that pulled up to the ship to take us to shore. That was actually pretty cool.
If you want to snorkel, horseback ride, parasail, kayak or any of the other wonderful things you can do, this is the place to do it. It's absolutely beautiful as you can see from the pictures. I would suggest booking your tour or adventure on the ship. We were completely overwhelmed with the number of merchants/tour guides who lined the streets, all coming at you at once trying to get you on their boats. It might be a little more expensive booked on the ship but at least you're fairly sure their reputable.
I didn't much care for the fact that you don't see any cabs or rides into downtown which is supposed to have the best shopping. It wasn't until we'd seemed to walk forever that we found a cab to take us back and then found out where the cabs were that we could have taken in the first place.
Just me, but I had the best time after we got back on the ship, had lunch and I took more pictures of everything going on in the water around the ship. There were quite a few parasails out, jet skis, boats, tour boats and I could even see the horseback tour travelling along the shoreline. Peaceful and beautiful!
If you want to check out the smooth jazz portion of this cruise they'll be on my jazz blog A Little Mo' Jazz. I've only got a few pics up but will be adding more there also.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Over the past several years I've come to enjoy going to see the floats after the Tournament of Roses parade. There is nothing like seeing them up close, smelling the flowers and taking some really beautiful pictures of flowers.
This year I also got to go to the parade for the first time and still went to take my pictures of the floats up close and personal. I guess I got carried away. I took over 500 pictures! I love them all and it's been really difficult trying to figure out which ones to post. Hopefully I'll pick all the rights ones that will make you think, "oooh... ahhhhh...". LOL!
I went with my sister and her grandson, my great nephew who is all of 4 years old. We weren't sure if he would get bored but when they began with the motorcyle police clearing the way and getting people off the streets, red lights flashing as they made circles up and down the street, and then the jets flew overhead... he was a goner. At the end of the parade I asked him what he liked most. He said the motorcyles. It just amazes me that out of two hours worth of parade what he remembered and liked most was the very first thing we saw.
Click on any picture for larger view.
Imagine being a parent, having a troubled teen and not knowing what to do or where to go for help. You stumble upon an ad or some information somewhere introducing this facility in beautiful Jamaica. The ad and/or Tranquility Bay website reads like the answer to your prayers and the best thing for your child. It's everything you think your child needs AND they will have the wonderful cultural experience of being in Jamaica.
This is the experience of one of the students who attended Tranquility bay. To read the whole story click here.
"By habit, I was already awake before the screaming began. As soon as the wake up call started, I quickly reminded myself that I had become a machine, and I wasn't really there. The silent commotion began immediately. Two hundred young men spilled out into the hallway and outside into the courtyard to line up for headcount...
The guard stood in the center of the room until the case manager came in, carrying a plastic chair. She sat down, and for half an hour we were allowed to ask questions about our family and express medical concerns. We were not allowed to inquire about release dates. I told the case manager about my ringworm and the liver spots. A few more people complained about scabies and sprained muscles. She wrote everything down in her blue notebook and promised that it would all be taken care of. I knew she was lying..."
Read the story and you be the judge. But before you make you call, read also the story of a parent who in her moment of desperation feels she was taken in by the hype.
Quoted from her story at www.helpyourteens.com:
I brought my child home and when she felt confident I wouldn’t send her back, I heard some unspeakable stories. The stories were very consistent with many others I was hearing and reading about. My child went immediately into real counseling where, after almost two years, we are recovering from this traumatic experience in our lives. My child was suffering from depression and nightmares from the stay at Carolina Springs Academy. The fear of being sent back, had created suicidal thoughts, however the excellent psychologist helped my child through this horrible post experience of WWASP. I have heard from many other post-WWASP students and families suffering from the same symptoms, which is very sad.
Want to see something interesting? Click Here. This is supposed to be the page for Student Activities with a long list of activities and events but as you click on each on there is only one picture of a man and woman thanking them for helping their child. Where are the photos?
WWASP - World Wide Association of Specialty Programs. Tranquilty Bay and Carolina Springs Academy are only two of the Program under WWASP.
Here's the deal. Is sending a child to boot camp the answer to a problem child and if so, how much is to much? Are they helping or hurting them? If you want to send your child to get help with their problems is this what you would really want for them? The child I quoted and referenced links to stated she was in trouble for selling LSD. Was what that child went through the answer? Are these people who run these programs really trying to help or simply making money off of someone else's problems?
We are not all the same, we cannot all be treated the same. Anyone with children will tell you that you only need look at one child to make them retreat and with another you must take it the whole ten yards to make your point. Can a facility such as these treat all troubled children the same? They are children and if child abuse is not tolerated in homes by the government, why should such facilities be allowed to treat children this poorly and get paid for it?
Please read the articles I linked to. At least be aware. Many of the WWASP facilities have been raided and closed down.
There are much better and more intense must-see videos on a friend's blog at http://iriejamaica.blogspot.com/2008/01/eyes-mind-heart-tranquility-bay-jamaica.html.
You can alos check out these links F.Y.I. - both pro and con.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
When it rained last weekend we got about 8 inches of snow in the mountains (Mount Baldy), that are about 20 minutes away from me. I took this picture on the way in to work. This is my view of the mountains a couple of blocks before I get to my office building. I haven't been to see the snow in the mountains in a very long time. This weekend I decided to get up early and go get a close view of the snow before it melted away so, off I went - me, my cup of coffee and my new camera.
I'm glad I went this weekend because I had to practically go up to the top of the mountain to see the snow.
I took my pictures and being the person I am, when I decided to leave I kept looking for other photo ops along the way down the hill. I found a spot. It was thick with these tall trees and I could see a small stream from the melting snow. I slowed down and found a spot to pull over. Before I could come to a complete stop I saw movement and looked out of the window. There was a ram half practically at the top of the embankment looking at me!
Hurriedly, I put the car and park and grabbed my camera but it had already moved down the embankment toward the stream out of view. I rushed out of the car and quietly moved over to the top of the embankment and looked down. This is what I saw.
There were four rams but before I could get more pictures of them they began to move away completely oblivous to me or maybe they were simply used to people and not bothered by them. The whole time I'm taking pictures I was hoping one of them wouldn't charge me or that I wouldn't turn around and find a mountain lion on my butt. But what a rush!
These are just a few other pictures of the small stream and the surrounding area that I took after the rams wandered off. Did I pick a good day to head to the mountains or what!?
Visiting Pearl Harbor was a soulful, solemn experiences I will never forget. The USS Arizon Memorial is set upon one of the sunken ships where over 1,000 men were entombed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. There are parts of the ship that you can still see above water and you can see parts of the ship below the water. Looking at the wall of names... well, that was a lot of lost lives. It is difficult not to be touched as you stand giving honor to those who lost their lives fighting for our country.
This picture shows part of the ship that is above water while the one I will post below, if you look closely, shows part of the ship that can be seen beneath the water. I don't know that anyone can stand above this ship, think about the thousand men that were unable to escape below your feet, and not be moved.
Around the harbor and not pictured here are markers of the other ships that sank that day.
This is a bit of information received from the USS Arizona Memorial website:
There were 1.4 million gallons of fuel on the USS Arizona when she sank. Over 60 years later, approximately two quarts a day still surfaces from the ship. Pearl Harbor survivors refer to the oil droplets as "Black Tears."
I also found this bit of information from Wikipedia:
The battleship "USS Arizona" was hit with an armor piercing bomb which penetrated the forward ammunition compartment, blowing the ship apart and sinking it within seconds. Overall, nine ships of the U.S. Pacific fleet were sunk and twenty-one ships were severely damaged. Three of the twenty-one would be unrepairable. The overall death toll reached 2,350, including 68 civilians, and 1,178 injured. Of the military personnel lost at Pearl Harbor, 1,177 were from the Arizona. The following day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared Dec. 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy."
A few years ago I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii. It was only for the weekend but I had a great time and would love to go again. We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort which was like a little city unto itself. I swear, you didn't have to leave the hotel. It consisted of three towers and inbetween them was an entire shopping center, resaurants, the beach and anything you could hope for.
We did manage to leave the hotel and got to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and Pearl Harbor. I will never forget either place. Nor will I forget the drive along the coast to the cultural center.
POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER
The Polynesian Cultural Center was phenomenal and I wish we had been able to see more of it. It is separated into eight small villages that represents different cultures of the South Pacific. You visit each village and learn about the culture in a show setting.
It's all so lush and beautiful and after you've learned about all of the different cultures there is a parade on water presented my members of each of the different cultures.
I wish I could display all of the pictures I took but hope these are giving you an idea of how colorful and entertaining the parade was.
If you haven't been to Hawaii please go. If you think you can't afford it, just start saving a little money and plan to go. It will be so worth it. Did I mention the airport was as charming as the island.