Showing posts with label Albritton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Albritton. Show all posts


Well, yeaaUH !

Says it needs work.
I may have mentioned....I'm in Kansas for the past month or so by the way of Arlington Texas for a couple of days.  I'm staying in a casino for crying out loud.  Since I'm too cheap to gamble, it just doesn't have an appeal for me.
I'll have to be blunt...while these folks up here are the salt of the earth, there just isn't a lot of things to do other than just go out and count the number of yard art tractors, rusting automobiles and miles and miles of checkerboard acreage.
 The highlights of my days are the 14 mile trip from my office in Wellington to my room at night where I keep my eyes peeled for some new curiosity.  Sometimes the sunrise is fabulous
 and sometimes there's a notable sunset.
 This past weekend, I managed to find a little fishing lake just east of me and found a half moon trying to peak through the trees.
 To my surprise, an Eagle flew up in one of the Cottonwoods near me.
 I would have loved getting closer for a tighter shot but eagle stalking isn't one of my strong suits so when I got a little closer it took flight leaving me with 40 more miles across the prairie to the hotel.
 At least I'm not somewhere in Minnesota chest deep in snow.  I admit that I wanted off Oahu and remember thinking that I would miss that place after I'd gotten home and it's true but never understood how true.  It was a place where you could just pick up your camera and find a great picture to take.


I'm now back home from Honolulu

While Honolulu and all of Hawai'i seems to be the ideal place for a 3 month assignment, it had gotten to the point I dreamed of home quite often.  That and the fact that I was about to be a grandfather again kept me preoccupied much of the time.

Meet Hazel, she was born December 28.  She's the one being held by the old guy in the leather jacket.

Since Ms Darlene needed the car to get around and work, I was at the mercy of my motorcycle to get around for 4 weeks after Oahu.  One day, I had stopped off at the Harley dealership when one of the employees walked up to me gave me his card and introduced himself as "Snake".

I had a personal card of my own so I gave him one of mine.  I'll have to say mine seemed a bit bland up against a card with "Snake" on it but nevertheless, the exchange was made.  Snake mentioned that he and several other riders took a long ride each Sunday and asked if I was interested.  Explaining to him that I was not in town that much, I pretty much dismissed the idea of riding with a group.  I had taken part in a few group rides before but it just wasn't really my thing for a number of reasons.  That's a story for another day.

A few days later, I got a text from him inviting me on one of the rides so I sent a text back declining the invitation, citing a trip I wanted to make visiting my mother, brother and our son up in Monroe.  I figured that would be the last of it.

A week later, I get another text inviting me to meet up for a trip up to Middendorf's restaurant in Manchac where the waterway connects Lake Pontchartrain to the smaller Lake Maurepas.  That restaurant is known locally as having very thin cut catfish and a favorite for people in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and southern Mississippi.

So after church that Sunday, I rode up to the Twin Peaks restaurant in Baton Rouge to meet up with these guys.

My arrival was maybe 10 minutes before the appointed ride time and there was already several bikes out front so I parked Boudreaux along side them.  I walked in and recognized Snake and was introduced to several others.  Wanting not to seem unsociable, I ordered an ice tea when the waitress approached me. Hey, it was Sunday.  They all were having a beer. 

Chatting it up with some guy on the merits of a Windows cell phone, I turned to see one guy wearing a Glock on his belt.  Now, I don't know the percentage of income ratio between alcohol and food at this place or the legality of it all but the pistol on his belt gave me an immediate recall of a shoot out at the Twin Peaks in Waco last year between the cops and some motorcycle enthusiasts which ended badly for nine and jail time for a several others.  What possibly could go wrong here?

Anyway, I took my ice tea and went outside and sat on my bike until the others joined me.  Of the two dozen riders that were at the bar/restaurant, there were only nine of us who actually took the trip, not including Roy Rogers the pistol packer.

Once out on the highway, the trip took us eastward along scenic highway 22 to Ponchatoula and down I-55 toward Manchac (Akers post office) and stopping once for a guy who forgot to fill up with gas before we left. .

Arriving at Middendorf's we had a wait for around 30 minutes where most of us ordered thin fried catfish fillets.

As we were finishing up, the temperature began to drop and clouds were appearing dark so another rider and I elected to head south to LaPlace and take I-10 west back to Ascension Parish.  The others re-traced the original route.  I do not know if they ran into rain or not.

I've ridden in rain and I've ridden in cold and can deal with both but I try to avoid the combo of rain and cold when I can.


Oahu Lighthouses

(clicking on the photos will increase size and resolution)

 Over the past couple of weekends, I have taken some hikes to Oahu's lighthouses.  Although there are a some beacons, the basic scenic choices are three (well actually 4) that I had an interest in seeing.

The Aloha Tower Lighthouse, or Minor Light of Oahu, which has had it's beacons moved to a tower is still a landmark that greets cruise lines.  During WWII, it received hardly any damage during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  However, it's glowing white surface was painted in camouflage so that it could not be seen at night.

The most difficult thing in getting to this lighthouse is finding a parking spot down near the end of Bishop street.  The shopping area around it controls the paid parking lot.  Yeah I know, I'm cheap.

 Another is the Diamond Head Lighthouse.  A lot of people choose to see it from atop Diamond Head itself which requires a little hike.  Instead, I opted for parking on Diamond Head Road and popped over a little stone wall and make my way through the weeds (there are no snakes here) to find a nice location not blocked by trees so I would have access to it and the setting sun.  One tip I'd pass on is don't go too deep into the brush because there are some homeless encampments hidden in there.  While they may be on public land, there is no need in antagonizing them and risk a confrontation.

 Makapu`U (Makapuu) Point Lighthouse built in 1909.  If you're paying attention, you can get a slight glimpse of this lighthouse if you're traveling southwest on the Kalanianaole highway between Sandy Beach and Hanauma Bay but you have to be really looking.

There is a parking lot below the Makapuu overlook where you begin the 1 mile hike up a 10% grade.  Fortunately, the trail is actually paved which makes it nice.   The trick for me is to stop and take pictures often to catch my breath and not let the other visitors hear you wheezing.  Plus, you do get some magnificent shots after your heart stops shaking your hand with the camera in it.

Anyway, this hike does take on quite a few visitors, some kinds you expect to see such as the casual hiker with the aluminum walking sticks or couples taking their time strolling hand in hand.  I admired the tenacity of a young woman who was pushing a stroller full of baby and maybe a 3 year old in a backpack style child carrier.  

One guy in particular had his own fitness quest I found amazing if not somewhat crazy.  He had made his way all the way to the top of this hike and on his way down while carrying a 200 pound bag of sand.  Even on his way down, he had to drop that bag of sand every couple hundred yards and catch a breath.  I admire a man's resolve and determination but It's not my (pun intended) bag.

 So another quarter mile to the top where the state has blocked access for repairs, I was at least able to get somewhat of a shot at this lighthouse.  On a good day, you can also see a faint sight of Molokai, the smaller island just east of Oahu.

The Makapuu Lighthouse trail was closed up until a month ago so that accounted for a lot of people on the trail.

Named after Captain Henry Barber who shipwrecked near this point, the Barbers Point Lighthouse on the southwest side of Oahu, is just a short walk from a beach park.  The sand is deep and the little trail is bordered by private property and a rocky sea edge that is even more narrow when the tide is up.  As I understand it, like the others, it is totally automated and does not have a person living on the property.

This was in the middle of the day but from this direction, I would bet it makes a dandy sundown shot.  Maybe I'll get a chance to try that out one day.


The Northshore Pipeline

We took a little drive up to the north shore of Oahu to see how the waves were.  For the most part, the Bonsai Pipeline was pretty tame but still, it was nice to see surfers out there.  In the late winter and early spring, the waves can be awesome and the dream of serious surfers everywhere.

A few years ago, while working here on the island, it was a favorite place of mine and visited it and the nearby town of Hale`iwa  (pronounced "Ha-lay-ee-vah") often.  You pretty much need to be looking for it to find because there are no glaring signs pointing to it saying "TURN HERE".  In other words, just Google it and click on the map.

Here's a few pictures.


Early on the Ala Wai

I'm living at the Aqua Aloha Surf hotel on the corner of Kanekapale and Ala Wai Avenue in Waikiki.  That's a mouthful, huh?

Anyway, I woke early and looked out to see a crescent moon reflection on the Ala Wai Canal and it seemed right and just to grab my faithful Nikon and take a short stroll.  At 4:30 in the morning, I pretty much had it to myself, save a few other insomniacs, joggers and walkers.

Hard as I tried, I couldn't make the camera produce the beauty I saw with my own eyes.  As the morning brightened, more and more walkers and runners began to take advantage of the early morning beauty.   Being careful to keep my lens pack on my back rather than putting it on the ground so I wouldn't be an easy target for purse and pack snatchers (we have to have our stuff), I squeezed off a hundred or so images hoping to produce "the one" that I was looking for.

I was so enthused about the crescent moon and later the sunrise that came from the same direction and I began to reflect on how God produces miracles served up daily and our only job is to recognize them.  It's like an Easter egg hunt where many eggs are hidden and the children have to search for them, occasionally asking the father or mother for hints to where they can be found.

After feeling all holy and blessed, I observed a man still sleeping on a bench and wondered if his observance of beauty and miracles would be like mine.  I just don't know.


It's awful, why would anyone want to see this?

Being facetious of course. 

Over the past couple of weekends, I've continued to walk, drive and climb around on some of the prettiest area of the country.  I've ranged from the Olympic Peninsula, out on Oak Harbor and Whidbey Islands, the Cascade Mountain parks and of course, Mount Rainier.  I probably won't get sick of it anytime soon.

One place I really wanted to get back to was the Wallace Falls State Park area.  It had been 5 years ago when I last visited so I had hoped for some really neat little waterfalls.  However, this is summer and those little streams I remember were nothing more than a drip now so that meant I would have to negotiate the rocky trails with my trusty hiking stick praying I wouldn't sprain an ankle on the imbedded rocks.

After a nice hike, I had the opportunity to rest at the edge of the water at small falls about 2 miles up.  Very nice even though I had a lot of visitors doing so.

Another spot was Deception Pass, north of Seattle and separates Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands.  Deception Pass has a dark history, including smuggling Chinese illegals.  Seriously, read about it here.

The tide going in and out through the pass is so strong, it has it's own waves and I could see some smaller boats struggling against the current.

Completed in July of 1935, the Deception Pass Bridge connecting the islands is another steel marvel.

I've long been a sucker for sunsets and small waterfalls.  Yes, the big 100'+ falls are grand but I just love sitting near small falls and hear the rush of the water.  On my way to another spot on Mount Rainier, I found myself stopping often, sometimes crawling up under a low bridge and scooting around on the rocks.

My favorite thing is slow shutter speeds that result in a "foamy" look to the rushing water as it spills over the rocks.

Bridges are everywhere and I can't resist the stop.


Often, you would make a turn just to see another shot at Mount Rainier, sometimes with meadows; sometimes with trees but the presence was always around another switchback.

Over and over again, beautiful falls.  This one is Christine Falls.  There's a bridge above the apparent one that you may not be able to make out here.

If truth be told, the chief reason for going up today was an image I'd seen on the internet called Reflection Lakes.  The article had said to go in July so the flowers would be blooming.  Perhaps I'd not paid any attention to the accessibility that was mentioned.  Somehow, I had in my mind that I was going to have a 3 mile round trip hike for this.

Nope...drove right up to it.  As a matter of fact, If I had so minded, I could have taken this picture from the drivers' seat of the car if all the other tourists would not have gotten in my way.

After picking up a pair of geezers who had hiked up a distance and were worn out, I deposited them a couple of miles downhill at a parking lot.  I pretty much had put the camera away until I drove through the little town of Elbe, Washington.  Here  there was an entire business community of espresso shops, one gas station and a whole train that had been converted into a hotel and inn.  I'm not so sure how many people actually stayed in the thing but for a Sunday after Independence Day, it was wrapped up with motorcyclists, bicyclists and a host of Washington style rednecks with pickup trucks. Yep, I felt right at home. Maybe the Hobo Inn wasn't so bad.

I'm looking forward to Ms Darlene coming out soon to see this.  Thanks, Mr. Jones.


Memorial Day 2015

Early this morning, I shoved a very full garbage can out to the street and wondered if there would be a trash pickup today, since it was Memorial Day.

Reflecting on that, I made my mind up that I would observe it in the manner in which it was intended.  Looking up various locations for the observance on the internet, I chose Baton Rouge for partly selfish reasons.  Selfish reasons were mostly the chance to ride Boudreaux II up old River Road, a nice peaceful drive.

It was a sunny day yet cool in my short sleeves.  As I rode north up by the levee, disturbing the occasional egret and crane in the water filled ditches, I passed strings of bicyclists who motioned for me to pass. With hardly any motorized traffic and the cool wind in my face, I felt as if the world was mine alone.

With that in mind, I began to think of the blessing I had received over the years and how nothing is truly free.  I thanked Almighty God for what seemed to be the obvious things but also thought about how even though His Son had died for my salvation, there were others who had sacrificed their own lives so that I could ride down a road and enjoy life without recourse.

Other than one distant cousin that I barely knew, I had not known anyone who had given the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

The Bible tells us there will be wars and rumors of wars and the past couple of decades have proved this to be true.  Some wars seem justified and some don't but at the time, I suspect even those wars seemed to be justified.  Politics have a way of changing the relevancy of events to suit current passions.

Anyway, I arrived at the USS Kidd near the I-10 bridge in Baton Rouge where a small group of people were gathered to pay homage to those who had fallen.  A half dozen speakers including Gold Star family members and politicians gave short speeches amounting to 45 minutes of ceremony.

There was even a guy playing bagpipes ( I still don't understand the kilt thing) and what was a probably a Korean War veteran who played taps.  Thinking the taps rendition was the end of it, I began walking down the levee back toward my bike only to hear another speaker tap the microphone.

At least I did stop and bow my head when I heard someone offering a benediction.

Really, I thought taps always signaled the end to it all.

Of course, it's a big deal !

This past Saturday my brother, Ricky Albritton was graduated from La Tech University in Ruston, LA.  Some may shrug and say, "What's the big deal?...lots of people graduate every year."

In this day and time (I sound kinda ancient with that phrase) it's taken for granted that we'll be off to some university right out of high school where we gather up scholastic credentials and embark on our path to success in a chosen career.

I do not wish to diminish the achievements of those who graduated from college in a timely fashion; kudos to them, but sometimes the idyllic direction finds itself sidetracked by life's events and it just doesn't work out that way.

Even though Rick did not graduate in the traditional time frame, he had already proved his success time after time, being an Eagle Scout, a leader in his community, raised a family, established himself as businessman in his home town, a Master SCUBA Diver and a successful partner with Edward Jones Investments.  I think that his graduation after the fact simply emphasizes his determination and resolve.

It goes without saying that his wife Debbie has been instrumental in the many successes in his life and his whole family is successful.

The May23, 2015 graduation is simply a validation of all his accomplishments for the world to see and perhaps a moment for his friends and family to say, "Well done."

Congratulations Rick, I love you.


Grand Canyon

After skipping a couple of weekend homes, it was great having Darlene come out to visit me (thanks, Mr. Jones) in Flagstaff.

Late Friday afternoon, she and I took a little run down US 89a toward Sedona.  As you descend down alongside Oak Creek, you are treated with vermillion cliffs that make you stop every chance you can, just to marvel at the beauty.

In Sedona, we weighed our options on eating and finally settling on The Cowboy Club where we both chowed down on a brisket sandwich.  I must mention that it had started raining that afternoon and found ourselves fighting for space under a hastily purchased undersized and over priced umbrella.  So that may have played a part in the decision for the Cowboy Club since it was in walking distance from the parking garage.

Making our way back up the beautiful Hwy 89a, we sat by the fire at the hotel and chatted with a couple of Canadians who knew more about the area than I did after 4 weeks here.

Saturday, we headed up to the Grand Canyon.  Arriving there, it was cold, wet and the visibility was less than opportune.  We were confronted with sudden storms of something called "graupel", a substance somewhere between hail, sleet and snow.  With that and the wet splattering snow, we rode east back to the eastern entrance and checked out the trading post in Cameron before giving up and coming back into Flagstaff.

Needless to say, Darlene was more than just a little disappointed in the canyon experience so for her last day here, we decided to try it again.  As we drove west on I-40, we began to see more snow and by the time we were to turn north at Williams, there was enough of it that we began seeing snow trucks dropping sand.  Within 20 miles north of the interstate, the heavens opened, the snow ceased and the sun came out and began to warm.  What  a difference a day makes.

We had not intended to walk as much as we did but found ourselves walking from the visitor's center all the way to El Tovar Lodge.  Along the way we were swarmed with Asian tour crowds and watched as they took selfies of themselves with hand held extensions for their iPhones.

Getting away from the bus stops, we still watched people taking extraordinary photo opportunities near the edges.  We heard stories of the more bullet proof visitors doing hand stand near the edge and we witnessed several near edge experiences.  Of course the older ones kept a safe distance.  Time being short, you just don't want to lose those extra days.

At one point we saw a very large bird taking advantages of the updrafts.  Having heard about the California Condors being released into the area I wanted to believe I saw one. Zooming in, I could see what appeared to be white numbers under the wings.  One man's Condor is another's buzzard.

I might have been wrong but still, this squirrel was keeping an eye out for it.

  As we walked, we couldn't help stopping, taking pictures and marveling at every turn along the trail.

Each and every view seemed to be more spectacular than the last.  As we walked, we speculated on how difficult the trail down the canyon would be and if we were able to not get down...but if we could get back up.  That place is deep. 

After walking better than 3 miles along the paved walkway, we came to a cliff that overlooked Bright Angel Trail, the more widely used trail

It's also the one that the mules take riders down.  I wouldn't ride one simply because I'd feel sorry for the mules.  It reminded me of the poor horse I rode up a trail on Maui last year.  In this picture, you can see a glimpse of the Colorado River.  The dark line in the top right is the bridge that hikers as well as the mules use to cross the river.

Anyway, we arrived at El Tovar, near the park shuttle connection, and had lunch there.  The prices were reasonable and the food was great.  I had the Reuben sandwich.

After taking the shuttle back, we got back into our car and rode around the camp grounds admiring some of the travel trailers and motor homes.  There were elk all over the place but looked pretty scruffy as they began losing their winter coats.

Along the way headed east, I was a sucker for every pull out along the canyon rim.

As we ended the trip, the sun was getting low which warmed up the canyon walls.

At Desert View, we could see the Colorado River quite well near the beginning of the larger canyon.

   It was a great trip and Ms Darlene hopes to return soon.

Noted visitors