So, it's been a while, huh? I know. Completely dropped the ball over the past month with the whole being a blogger thing but I have some very good reasons and here they are in no particular order:
1. I was making all of my travel arrangements to go here (Mongolia) ...
2. And here (Beijing and the Great Wall) ...
3. I also went here (Grand Canyon) ...
4. And on the way, did this (Oklahoma?) ...
5. I'm trying not to flunk out of this (grad school) ...
6. While trying to buy this (house) and not going utterly and completely insane in the process ...
7. Oh and, you know, my JOB ...
8. And him (husband) ...
Now, I'm not sharing all of this to blogbrag (and really, can't someone share there good news without being accused of it? Isn't there enough bad news, mopey dopey BS out in the world and thus warrants a person to have a place to share everything that makes them warm and fuzzy on the inside? I knew you'd agree.)
Clearly, I've been a bit busy and always in the back of my mind while experiencing these life events, I find myself thinking, "Crap, there goes another day without a speck of contribution to the blogosphere." Literally, I started having intense feelings of guilt and neglect and instead of waking up in the night certain I left the rear right stove burner on, it was cold sweats about not tweeting for 3 days or even doing a simple Friday Flyday.
So, my friends, I came to a realization that I have just about thismuch past too much on this old plate of life (did I mention I missed a credit card payment FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER? No bueno) and I needed to choose something to put on that rear right stove burner and let simmer patiently for a while until I was ready to give it the full attention it deserves.
And, you guessed it, it's this blog. It pains me to choose this as the thing I need to let go for a while but a job, an education, a home, and a real life all trump my virtual life.
So with this, I bid you a (temporary) dieu. I will be back in a few weeks/months to share so, so many adventures, tips and thoughts but until then, see ya later alligator.
Today's Friday Flyday feature comes from a lovely friend of mine, Sara, who apparently is a writing ringer since her story below makes me want to hop the closest plane bound for the Italian coast!
"For a few days in the summer of 2004, I lived on a Spider-Man raft in Sicily. Every hour of daylight my boyfriend (at the time) and I spent floating on that raft in the middle of the beautiful blue Mediterranean you see here with Mt. Etna as the backdrop, until either the sun called it quits on us or our cancer-fearing skin called it quits on the sun. Glorious day after glorious day, we retreated back to our budget-friendly campsite in the unassuming town of Giardini Naxos, where we rinsed off the sun and salt in refreshingly cold showers, and once again snuggled up with Super-Man. Raft by day; air mattress by night. Best 8 euros ever spent. These few days of complete and utter relaxation were the perfect end to a 2-week whirlwind exploration, from Venice to Palermo, of the beautiful country of Italy.
Okay, confession time. My time in Giardini Naxos was a bit like childbirth. Although I very fondly look back on these few days in the hot Sicilian sun, floating my days away with Spider-Man, my (now) husband reminds me that it wasn't exactly all sunshine and rainbows. Those refreshingly cold showers? They were shockingly, unbearably cold. That ingenious makeshift air mattress? Not actually the same as a real air mattress. So truth be told, after one too many evenings of my griping for an hour about the icy hell that was the shower and then all night about how uncomfortable I was, my husband insisted we check into a hotel for our last night in Sicily. This picture was one of my last glimpses down at our beach, snapped from the bus window on our way to the hoity-toity neighboring town of Taormina for a warm shower and plush bed. Best 120 euros ever spent? You bet!" Awesome! Do you have a favorite travel picture sitting in a folder on your computer begging to be shown to the world? Send it to me, tell me a story about the picture and I'll feature it on a future Friday Flyday!
There are two truths that I will share with you that I'm actually quite embarassed to say but I need to get them off my chest:
1. Although I write Blackberry Food Blog, I now take my food photography pics with an iPhone.
2. I have experienced a full, near-religious conversion to the iPhoneography ranks and have become a full on ADDICT.
Like breaking out in cold sweats in the middle of the night because I haven't clicked a pic and remastered it via Instagram in 8 hours addict.
Phew! That was a close one. Crisis = averted.
(This was edited in Instagram)
There are a few iPhoneography apps that I have found and just absolutely adore and I think these are worth passing along.
1. BeFunkyFX (free)
This is nearly always my go-to app after Instagram. Like Instagram, it's very simple to use with a straight forward interface and 25 different editing effects you can experiment with. There are also over a dozen frames to round out your new masterpiece and personally, I like the option to save to flicker.com so you can have a back-up of your photos should you drop your phone into the koi pond at the Hershey Hotel ... not speaking from personal experience, of course.
So what does this picture look like after I've played around with it for 19 hours?
Not too shabby, although, in retrospect, I wish I didn't crop the picture so tight as to have the windmill grazing the top of the frame but, whatevs. I like it!
2. PhotoStudio ($1.99)
Yes, I did fork over $1.99 for this app and no, I don't regret it. It's actually the first app I ever purchased and I personally think it's worth the grande Starbucks coffee I had to go without to even out my expenses. There really isn't anything this app can't do. Want to color splash (gray scale a picture and add color only where you want it)? Knock yourself out! Make your image look miniature? Have a blast! Play with depth of field? Tickle your pickle! (What?) This app can do it. Heck, you can even add bubbles and ghosts to your shot (weird).
So how have I used this app? Well, to put a layer on the picture of my 6 ft 4in Dad's pint-size chihuahua, Mia.
I think the dark overlay makes her puny little frame and pleading eyes look all the more, well, puny, and that's exactly what a chihuahua is if we're being honest. Puny and sweet (never thought I'd say that in a million years but that's what Mia is, sweet!)
3. Camera+ ($0.99 on sale!)
Yes, another purchased app but I told you I would share the apps I'm finding most enjoyable at the moment and, I guess, you get what you pay for. The smooth transitions between screens and features in this app make editing a breeze and I especially like the ability to adjust for the lighting conditions post-shot to compensate for cloudy skies or maximize portrait shots. There is even a special edit for food photography! I do have have a gripe with this app and that is that they offer a set of awesome edits for an additional price. If I've already paid for the app, I want all the edits you make included, end of story.
I enjoyed creating the following shot in Camera+. Doesn't it make you want to make a wish?
What can I say, I'm still in the flower phase of my iPhoneography ... forgive me.
There are plenty of free apps out there that are ripe for the picking. I have also used Cameramatic, PS Express and PhotoSplash on occasion and have yet to try out Photosynth which is a panoramic creator. In other words, I have lots of playing around to do!
What are your favorite photo editing apps? If you send in some of your favorite edited pics, I'll highlight them in a future follow-up post!
Today's Friday Flyday comes from fellow travel fiend, Kristin, of Lists on Life. She wrote a series of lovely blog posts about her trip this past summer to Switzerland but this picture is one of her absolute faves. "Have you ever had your breath taken away from you? I mean literally, and not because you were playing a really intense game of backyard football with your 30 year old cousin who thinks he's in the NFL. Last summer I spent almost a week living in the middle of the Swiss Alps in Hatzigen, Switzerland and this was my everyday view. This particular picture was taken while we were hiking through the Alps on our way to Braunwald. Blame it on the hiking or the view, I don't think I was able to breathe correctly the entire week." - Kristin
Do you have a favorite travel pic you'd like to share? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with a small blurb and I'll feature it!
Before I fly, I love, love, love to pull together a playlist that helps me get inspired about the location I'm going to. Something about listening to good tunes while soaring through the clouds and trying to forget how utterly unnatural it is do be at the altitude I'm currently at is just, well, awe-inspiring. A playlist should reflect this. This week, I'm headed to Indianapolis for the first time and although I wish I had free time to explore the city, I'm going to be working pretty much 24/7.#travelfailSo what tunes have I pulled together to keep my energy up and prep me for non-stop action once the plane lands? Here's it is:
Couldn't help myself, had to get me some MJ in there! Do you have any suggestions for other uplifting songs to listen to at 38K feet? Would love to hear them!
- Intro - The xx
- Feel So Close - Calvin Harris
- Kavinsky - Night Call
- Hey Mama - Matt Kearny
- Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars
- Drum Song - Temper Trap
- Hang Me Up To Dry - Cold War Kids
- P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) - Michael Jackson
Spring is here! Well, it was here about 2 weeks ago, at least in the mid-Atlantic, so I think some springtime flowers should spruce up the old Have Camera. Will Travel page nicely.
This was taken while walking up the path to the tip of Clingman's Dome in North Carolina, US, the highest point along the Appalachian trail at 6,643 feet. It was about mid-morning when we walked up into the trees and misty fog that, from a distance, you can see chasing itself back up over the mountain as the sun warmed up the Earth. The little dude that made this web was long gone for the day and I never would have seen it if it wasn't for the fog condensing into droplets that clung to it. Very, very cool.Have some favorite travel pics that you'd like to share? Send them to email@example.com along with a short story and I'd love to feature them!
I sink down and it’s impossible to see ten inches in front of me. I can hear, not just feel, my heart thumping in my chest now. Sea water has somehow seeped into my mask and my eyes are stinging but not yet. I can’t go up just yet. It’s coming.
The sunrise isn’t what first wakes me up but the swoop and splash of a dozen pelicans, relics of an ancient past, who are using the first rays of morning light to spot a hawkfish breakfast. I finally crack my eyes and fill my senses with my first visual scene of the day; a veritable fruit basket of colors invade the sky sending splashes of tangerine orange and pomegranate red out from a hot lemon yellow sun. The morning has triumphantly arrived and it’s time to get up, make up my cot and join the others at the boats. Today is an important day.
Today, we are searching for whale sharks.
Lumbering leviathans under the water’s surface, whale sharks are fickle and notoriously elusive. Subsisting entirely on a diet of 1/2cm large plankton, they are, surprisingly, the seas largest fish at nearly 40 feet long.
Pancho, our captain, hollers to us to get onboard the Marlin and the boat’s tiny bow points due east, then slightly southeast into the Sea of Cortez.
I like Pancho. He’s a man of few words, maybe because he doesn’t know much English, or maybe because his quiet stoicism, dark eyes perpetually scanning the sea surface, atavistic knowledge navigating us through the brackish water speaks volumes to us more than shared pleasantries.
The Marlin skips across the water’s surface for twenty minutes before we enter a large, crescent-shaped lagoon. The sea color has shifted from a dark clear blue to a hazy aquamarine and my hand becomes nearly invisible beneath the water’s surface as I reach overboard. Sitting idly with my fingers dragging in the surf, I’m unprepared for Pancho’s sudden whoop and my eyes follow his outstretched arm pointing port of the bow.
I see it, a smooth spotted triangle slicing through the emerald stretches of the lagoon. It’s big, real big.
It’s time to get in the water, slowly. We cling to the side of the boat so Pancho can maneuver the Marlin nearer to the sea giants. We are reassured again that the sharks will not eat us, will likely not pay us a bit of notice. As I hang onto the Marlin, the sea water licking at my neck, my mask and snorkel tight against my face, I feel that surge, that overwhelming release of chemicals into my body and I know then that adrenaline is coursing through me.
I look up and Pancho gives me a slight nod. It’s my turn. I let go and the Marlin gently glides away from me. I look left and see nothing. I look right and the triangle is angled towards me not 10 yards away. I sink down and it’s impossible to see 10 inches in front of me. I can hear, not just feel, my heart thumping in my chest now. Sea water has somehow seeped into my mask and my eyes are stinging but not yet. I can’t go up just yet. It’s coming.
Just as my lungs began to tickle and sting, I see something materializing in the water in front of me. It’s faint but there. I hold on a little longer, it can’t be far now. Then, suddenly, a wall of gray with white spots erupts out of the foggy green and I’m startled. It’s here, it’s immense and it’s approached me head on. I swiftly turn to my left avoiding the right corner of its cavernous mouth. I can’t help myself and I utter an excited cry which also fills my mouth with salt water. I ignore this and start kicking furiously.
I look to my right and see a wide pectoral fin preceded by 5 massive and flared gills. I kick more but soon realize that I’m on a ride, the drag of the massive creature is pulling me with it. With a little more effort, I catch up to its eye. It’s watching me. It doesn’t turn away, it doesn’t speed up, it just watches me and me it. We continue like this for another ten seconds. I want to reach out and touch the spots, every one of them, but I don’t. They’re not there for me to touch.
My lungs are on fire and I need air. I feel a real pain in my heart when I realize I must let go and start for the surface. When I emerge from the water, I inhale deeply and look immediately for my shark. All that remains is a half moon-shaped tail swaying left and right as it glides away from me leaving soft swirls in the water behind. As I catch my breath, I scan for the Marlin and see Pancho. He’s looking at me and he’s laughing. The moment is clearly written all over my face. I’ve just done what only a handful of people around the globe have been fortunate enough to do. Pancho comes around to pick me up. I look at him, he looks at me. There’s a sea of words between us but not a single one can describe what I’ve just experienced. Pancho understands, and says nothing.To read more about my adventures in Baja, check out my food logs of the trip!
There is a city that's hotter than Hades in the summer, has a slight obsession with live music and erupts with 1.5 million bats at the start of dusk. Can you guess where this is?
Yeehaw, it's Austin, TX! In the picture above, I'm standing underneath Congress bridge in downtown Austin because a little birdie told me there was definitely something worth experiencing at this bridge at dusk.Almost as if on cue, over 1.5 million bats emerged from their roost tucked up inside the belly of the bridge and poured into the warm, nearly night sky. The site was absolutely incredible (the smell was another thing) but if you go to Austin to experience this yourself, I recommend standing on TOP of the bridge (which I did the next night) on the southern side to get the full effect of these pint-sized creatures.Also, because, well, you can get pooped on under the bridge. Just saying.Anyone at SXSW right now?!
Everyone has done it. We're all guilty. In that indeterminable amount of time between finding your seat on the airplane and taxing for take-off, you have found yourself reaching for the ubiquitous Sky Mall magazine, that interped publication luring you with all things ridiculous, preposterous but sometimes, downright useful.
It's been a handy tool of mine as a distraction for my husband (the World's 37th Worst Flier) at take-off where we either both point to the items we would actually consider buying or he closes his eyes, finds his happy place and I'm left talking to myself ... which isn't all that uncommon.
On one such plane ride, I decided to make a list of the most ludicrous items in Sky Mall magazine that, if you purchased said items, I would have to judge you ... extremely.
Let's see if you agree with what's on my list!"No, man! Don't do it! Life is worth living!!!!!"
"Oh, wait, you're actually just doing your cervical traction exercises of which I have no idea what that means? So, you aren't trying to hang yourself? Welp, this is awkward ..."Gahhh! Teeth! You can buy TEETH through Sky Mall magazine! Although, I have to say the ad is a bit sexist saying you will "Smile at pretty girls again!"You know the one thing that ketchup is missing? 15 grams of protein that " delivers the taste and mouthfeel you expect, with the nutrition you want." Mouthfeel ... ew.The only catch to this hanging closet safe ... is that it is extremely portable! Fingers-crossed burglars don't figure THAT one out.I want to know who that person is ... who looks at this product and says, "THAT must become mine." I'm sorry to report that the fancy bath tissue is not included.Have you spotted any ridiculous items in Sky Mall magazine? I'd love to hear about them!
I think we can all use a friend today on this Friday, don't you?
Oh, hi! Hello, there! Aren't you the sweetest little sheep on the whole, freaking planet!
While driving around the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, head hanging out the window like a dog with my camera dangling around my neck, I caught a glimpse of this fella as we blew on by him. Being the maniacal, faux-photographer I am, I forced my husband to slam on the breaks and I hopped out of the car, nearly through the open window.
As I jogged back up the road, I was hoping against hope that the little fuzzy creature I spotted was still as he was, peeking out around the edge of a stone wall where it connects to the gate. As luck would have it, he hadn't moved an inch and I shot no less than 150 frames of him looking at me, confused, possibly concerned at my frightening level of psychosis and frenzied excitement of finding him.
I love this little sheep.
Have a favorite travel photo? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org with a short story and I'll post it on a future Friday Flyday!