Hammocks & Donald Trump

PB nike ride 01-17-2015Road Warriorette Anne and I took a nice bike ride on a coolish Florida Saturday. I paused to take a photo, then looked on the other side of the causeway that leads from the West Palm Beach mainland to the rarefied island of Palm Beach. There was a young woman reading a book suspended in a hammock between two palm trees. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

I abandoned Anne to get a closer look. A lot of bike tourists like hammocks because they are light and pack up very small, but I always thought of the big, heavy ones I remember from kidhood.

Two heads pop up

PB nike ride 01-17-2015When I got within range, TWO heads popped up. I wasn’t expecting that.

I didn’t get their names, but I DID get the name of the hammock, which packs into the little square pouch hanging from the front of the hammock. It ends up about the size of a softball. They said this was an ENO, I didn’t know enough at the time to ask if it was a double or a single, but I’m guessing it’s a single.

Lots of favorable reviews

The reviews for the Eagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest Hammock on Amazon are almost universally favorable. The women said it’s a snap to put it up and it doesn’t harm the trees. What I didn’t know to ask them was if the straps that go around the tree came with it. From the comments I read online and the photo of the hammock, they look like they are accessories. The doggone straps cost almost half as much as the hammock, and probably could be rigged on your own, but these sure looked easy to use.

Just south of the huge Kapok tree that is now off-limits to the public, darned if we didn’t see another young woman hanging between two palm trees along the Lake Trail. Her hammock was a no-name from the Dominican Republic, but it looked and performed like the ENO. She said she likes to stretch out in it to study.

Big pile of sand

PB nike ride 01-17-2015The public beach in Palm Beach was covered with huge piles of sand that had to have been close to three stories tall. Kids and adults were clambering all over them. This little girl was playing Queen of the World.

I was afraid she was going to take a tumble, but she enjoyed taking a step, feeling the sand slide out from under her, then rinse and repeat all the way to the bottom.

Donald Trump missile strike?

PB nike ride 01-17-2015On our southbound leg down Flagler Boulevard in West Palm Beach, we spotted some strange contrails.

Donald Trump has been in the news lately because he filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit alleging that Palm Beach International Airport is deliberately flying planes over his property in Palm Beach. Considering that the airport has been there longer than Trump has been alive, and that the property, Mar-A-Lago is almost directly east of PBIA’s main east/west runway, it should come as no surprise to him that jets, including his own personal jet, take off or land that way, depending on wind direction.

Figuring that his suit will probably be thrown out as having no merit, I thought maybe he had decided to take out a few jets to send a message. The vertical trail looks like it’s coming from about the right spot to have been launched from Mar-A-Lago.

A Windy Day in South Florida

720 DragonflyIt sure looked dark this afternoon. A friend 60 miles west of us at the north end of Lake Okeechobee said it was raining so hard out there she could hardly see across the creek. It didn’t take long before our trees started whipping around.

But, that’s not really the reason you’re seeing this. My computer is tied up outputting 1,111 photos for a project in Athens, Ohio. Not only is it resizing them and working magic once, I have to do it four times for different size prints and for a slide show.

(No, I’m not showing all thousand slides in one show. Relax.)

Video of wind and rain

While all those digital gyrations are going on, I can’t edit any still photos. That’s why you get this short video of the wind picking up, then moving on.

This rain video I did back in Cape is a little more dramatic.

Slushy Main Street

Cape Main Street c 1965

This shot down Main Street looks like one of those ugly winter days when the pretty snow has turned into that annoying slush that passing cars splash on you and that you drown your shoe in when you step off the curb. It’s cold enough that there are icicles on the store awnings. Christmas decorations are up, but I don’t know for sure when it was taken. I’m going to guess 1964 to 1966. It had to have been taken before April 1967, because that’s when the St. Charles Hotel was torn down.

Business signs

I see signs for Ross Young & Sons clothing, Oklahoma Tire & Supply, Osco Drug, Wards, Al’s Shop, Personal Loans, Zickfield’s Jeweler, Irvin’s, Penney’s and the St. Charles. Zickfield’s is the only one of the businesses that has survived. Here’s a story with lots of Main Street links. You can make the photo larger by clicking on it.

Cape Hit With Ice Storm

Cape ice storm 02-21-2013_2448What we got wasn’t quite as bad as what had been predicted, but it was enough to be interesting. Mother and I stocked up the fridge Tuesday (it’s not like Florida where you have to worry about things melting if the power goes off) and hauled in a bunch of firewood. The latest delivery must be dry wood because we’ve gone through almost a whole season’s worth and it’s not yet March.

To be on the safe side, we decided to cut some trees that had fallen. When my back started hurting from bending over, I started looking up at the sky and thinking, “Any time now, any time. I could use an excuse to quit.”

NOW, you start

Cape ice storm 02-21-2013_2490Well, wouldn’t you know it, just as I made my last cut, I felt something hit my sleeve. “NOW, you start,” I thought.

It started peppering down and turned the ground white pretty quickly. I was supposed to meet two friends at Wib’s for lunch. One bailed, but the other said he’d show if I did. I figured the roads had been treated enough that I-55 and Hwy 61 should be clear. What I didn’t count on was that the freezing rain had put a solid 1/4″ coating of ice over every exposed inch of my van. Even with deicer and the defroster running, it took a good 15 minutes to make big enough holes in the ice to see out.

Northbound on I-55, I fell in about a quarter mile behind a salt truck. The road was wet, but didn’t have any slush buildup yet. About halfway to Jackson, I came upon two wrecks in the median.

Snow PLOWS, not just salt trucks

Cape ice storm 02-21-2013_2471While we were eating, it looked like the sleet had turned to some pretty heavy rain. As I pulled out of Wib’s, though, a snow plow passed with his plow down. That’s not a good sign, I thought.

The southbound ramp at the Fruitland intersection has a little grade to it. There was just enough standing slush to make me start to spin a couple of times. The road was now getting covered enough that you wanted to drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you. When I started up Kingsway Drive, I had to watch my foot on the accelerator to keep from spinning out. It was definitely getting slicker and I could see icy buildup on the power lines.

Whiskers of icicles

Cape ice storm 02-21-2013_2527When I got to the driveway, bushes and trees in our yard were sporting whiskers of icicles. I shot a few pictures, but didn’t really want to get cold and wet. Retired, you know.

I went downstairs to get some work done and stayed there until after dark. The police scanner was busy with reports of fender-benders, trees and powerlines down and generally nastiness. That’s when I looked across the street and saw an ice-covered tree sparkling like a diamond-covered dowager at a Palm Beach ball. I couldn’t resist. I had to get in the car and cruise around. I did that with some trepidation, because I remember what happened on one of those excursions in my 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon.

Giving thanks

Cape ice storm 02-21-2013_2555As I pulled out of the driveway, I thought to myself, I owe some thanks to some folks. First, to Dad, for teaching me to be careful, but not afraid. To Mother (who uncharacteristically declined my offer of a ride-along) for teaching me to respect weather, but not to cower from it until that last minute before you have to run to the basement. That curiosity has led me to chase hurricanes and tornadoes and to convince Lila that it’s perfectly safe to stand next to the tallest thing around during a lightning storm so you can get a good photo..

And, to Sons Matt and Adam for giving me an early birthday present: a new 55-200mm Nikon lens. All but one of the photos here today were taken with that lens. It’s a honey. The only bad thing is that now I’m going to have to look for a second camera body because I hate switching lenses, particularly when it’s precipitating outside.

I’m glad I went out when I did. The way water was running in the streets, I think the temperatures are going to go above freezing and the ice may be gone before I drag myself out of bed.

Photo tips for shooting ice storms at night

Cape ice storm 02-21-2013_2704

  • Safety first. Don’t get so busy looking for a photo that you drive into a tree or limb or power line across the road.
  • Don’t count on your meter to automatically set your exposure because you’re going to be dealing with areas that have lots of blacks or lots of highlights in them. If the scene was mostly dark, I would tell the camera to underexpose by as much as two to three stops (four in a couple of cases). If the picture has a lot of lights or highlights, your meter is going to tell the camera to stop down because it wants to render those highlights as a neutral gray. You have to tell it, “Hey, I WANT those highlights to go hot: open up two to three stops more than the meter says.”
  • A tripod or monopod is your friend. Some of these photos aren’t as sharp as I would like because they are all hand-held. It was just too chilly for me to muck around with a cold metal tripod for what you guys pay me. I lost several good shots because it’s hard to hold a camera steady at 1/4 or 1/2 second when you’re shivering.
  • The only concession I made was to boost my base ISO to 400 instead of the usual 200, and to tell it to make the camera go to a higher ISO anytime the exposure time went under 1/60 of a second (I usually have it set for 1/30).
  • I DID mention, be careful, right?

Don’t fight the light

Cape ice storm 02-21-2013_2678You won’t realize how many different shades of light there are until you look at your photos. It’s not worth trying to correct for them in the camera, and it’s probably not worth trying to clean up the colors in post-production, either. Just appreciate them for what they’re worth and throw away the ones you can’t stand.

Gallery of ice photos

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.