Category Archives: Travel

I like this a lot

JC, NYC, Coney Island

I’ve been spending most of my free time messing around with the camera. Strolling around fairly locally, seeing what I could find.

Not much commentary, which has been a growing trend as the pictures have been taking precedence to the words.

These next few pictures are within walking distance to my place.

When I was younger I remember thinking about street poles and all the staples that were stuck in them. So many long forgotten messages about what to see or buy.

Childhood memories
Childhood memories

The Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery is nearby. It was abandoned in 2008, but a volunteer organization has been slowly repairing it back to a well kept condition.

Any cemetery with a weather beaten Lowrey is fine by me.

An instrument graveyard perhaps
An instrument graveyard perhaps

And of course every good cemetery needs a cemetery cat.

Cemetery cat
Cemetery cat

It’s somewhat hard to figure out what some of these graves might be. I’m not sure if this teddy bear signifies a child was buried here, but someone cared enough at some point to leave this here.

Just a weird thing
Just a weird thing

Apparently in the summer there are goats here that are used to control the weeds. I cannot confirm that is case as it’s only the spring.

There’s some pretty dope graffiti out on 13th street.

Pretty cool
Pretty cool

I love the pack of wild dogs running along the sidewalk.

Pack on the hunt
Pack on the hunt

Some nonsense.

Blah blah blah
Blah blah blah

Razor wire.

Different than I remember
Different than I remember

And here’s a picture of plastic in a tree that I think looks kind of nice. I don’t exactly love the picture but I think it’s cool how closely the material and the branches intertwine together, forming this almost angelic figure.

Trash tree
Trash tree

Walked out to Liberty State Park one day. There’s an abandoned rail station here. You can get to some parts of it, but other parts you can’t access.

You no go here
You no go here

Stuck behind the gates.

Bars
Bars

It’s a rather beautiful sight.

Would be nice to stroll about here
Would be nice to stroll about here

You can of course get some good shots of the skyline over here.

City
City

Back inside offers some symmetric shots that shoot themselves.

Station
Station

And anotha one.

Umm ok
Umm ok

I’ve also been strolling around New York a bunch taking pictures all over.

This next picture is the building next to Boston Consulting Group’s New York offices.

Forgotten words
Forgotten words

There is some pretty nice housing over looking the High Line.

Yup
Yup

Oculus? Why not. It’s one of my worst pics of it but I love this building.

So basic
So basic

Brookfield Place, also known as World Financial Center, is a pretty terrible shopping center.

Meh
Meh

St. Paul’s Chapel and One World Trade. Not the best picture but I’m including it anyway. At one point (back in 1766 when it was completed) St. Paul’s was the tallest building in New York City. Now it’s the building behind it.

Meh part 2
Meh part 2

The cemetery at St. Paul’s.

Proper
Proper

Down underneath the FDR Drive.

Colors are nice
Colors are nice

With views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Bk
Bk

I don’t think this picture translated well, but guess what, I’m including it anyways.

Had potential
Had potential

I’ve been working out in Times Square for some time now and finally got around to taking some pictures of it. Initially I wanted to shoot it in a way that I thought might be original. To look for things that others might not see. To take unconventional shots of it.

That mostly didn’t happen. What happened was the interesting subject was the people there. The mix of tourists and locals.

I experimented with kind of more traditional “street photography.” With being a creeper and taking pictures of people without them knowing. It’s actually quite difficult to get the focus down at these distances. People walk through the frame in a fraction of a second. So you need to get the composure, focus, and subjects all together very quickly or the shot won’t come out that good.

I’ve never really taken pictures of people much. I kind of always thought there was a lot more interesting subjects. But from this venturing out I think it’s something I might do a bit more of, or incorporate into my shots a bit more.

I think the annoying thing about a lot of people photography is the subjects that are chosen. Often photographers will look for a subject that looks “different” from them. This often leads to shots that photographers think are interesting that are really just offensive. Just because someone looks different than you, it doesn’t make it interesting, or even mean they’re that different. You’re just kind of conveying your ignorance.

It’s like a street picture of a “homeless” person. It’s more offensive than it is interesting. Homeless people look all kinds of different ways. And the fact that you went for the poorer looking person that you probably didn’t spend any time talking to or trying to understand the situation is annoying.

Idk. Photographing people is also intrusive.

It’s not very comfortable for either side of the camera.

And there’s questions of its ethics if you use it for your career or to increase your publicity.

Maybe I’m overthinking it all. Maybe not.

I didn’t expect myself to really get into it, and I’m curious how long this interest will last for.

So, that was a lot of words. Time for a picture. I like this picture. I remember capturing the classic local New Yorker in this picture. I had no recollection of the touristy mother and daughter in the background. The Times Square backdrop provides an interesting blend of colors. To me this is an iconic picture of the area. I’m old man dread deep in existential thought, while the absurdity whirls on around me.

I like this a lot
I like this a lot

This next picture is more of what I had intended to capture. I wanted to take lots of pictures like this of Times Square, but I only really every captured this one. You probably can’t tell where this picture was taken. It’s of temporary fencing that the police sometimes setup. The chain adds a gorgeous stroke of detail.

Times Square
Times Square

There’s a lot of pictures taken of Times Square. All the time. Even in terrible rain and snow storms. But I think very few people look for something like this.

More people. I think this lady was just blinking as she walked past the camera. She’s probably not as in thought as the picture might suggest. I kind of dig the backgrounds on these images. They’re like Vice City/Las Vegas trippy druggy mixtures of what my commute often reminds me of.

Blip
Blip

And one more, why not. I come back to this spot a couple days later and end up taking some better pictures.

Meh part 3
Meh part 3

I’ve been wanting to go to the Guggenheim for some time. For a long while I’ve thought it was a terrible design for a building. I’ve always thought the angled floors would make most art be perceived in ways that the artist hadn’t intended. And not in a good way. In a, rectangular painting hanging on a wall that has a sloped ceiling and floor and just looks terrible, sort of a way.

I end up walking up the museum’s spiraling staircase (idk what to call it). The walk up doesn’t work well. You often have to turn completely in the opposite direction to view a photo or piece of art that is on the opposite side of one of the short walls that breaks up the sections of spiral.

The decision to include the girl in this picture comes from the recent street/person photography I’ve been messing around with. I think she adds some depths to the picture.

Basic part 2
Basic part 2

One of my favorite things in the museum is this hanging metallic piece. There’s a lot of hanging pieces here, but the simplicity of this one and the view looking straight up is pretty awesome.

This is good
This is good

There’s a collection of younger artists’ work here, some as young as four years old. I like to spend time looking at this stuff in the same lens as the rest of the professional work. I’m not sure you could tell this elephant mask was done by an amateur, but I think it’s cool.

Elephant mask
Elephant mask

Also cool are these little guys. They were thrown on the ground by a professional artist.

La la laaa
La la laaa

As I head up the museum and get more into the natural light it feels like a crescendo of light. The sense of anticipation for what is to come becomes exciting. Finally, the design of this building (and the ludicrous $25 ticket) might all be worth it. Art has to be free and available to everyone. And while the Guggenheim does have it’s Pay What you Wish for two hours a week, the other 99% (this is the actual number) of the week’s hours are either paid or the museum is closed.

When I get to the top nothing magical happens. I snap a picture near the top. The building is beautiful, but I’m not certain it should outshine the pieces of art it houses this much. To be honest I think it speaks more to the lack of quality of the work within the museum.

When the museum is nicer than the art
When the museum is nicer than the art

I end up walking down and swinging out. The walk down is nice as it’s all downhill and easy enough on the feet.

Apparently I didn’t do this museum as it was intended to be done. You’re supposed to take the elevator to the top and then walk down from there. I kind of disagree that that makes sense as you’re eliminating that opportunity for the beautiful play on the natural lighting.

Idk, the beautiful architecture of the museum disappointed as much as I thought it might from a practical purpose. But certainly Frank Lloyd Wright knows more about how to build buildings than I do. It’s ambitious, and pretty beautiful inside, but it’s just a pinch frustrating. I would hate to be a curator here, although it’s challenges are what could make for some interesting displays.

Back outside the museum, where the King of Pentacles decides to show up again. I don’t think it’s the card for me, but there it is.

King of Pentacles
King of Pentacles

I love the colors in both the wall and on the lock and chain. These two colors (although I suppose there’s a lot more than two colors here) are ones that you will not often find out in the real world. These colors are beautiful and go very well together. And here they are at the end of a subway. A makeshift setup in which I don’t think the colors were even intentionally chosen.

Props to whoever did this
Props to whoever did this

And some more of Times Square.

Back and better
Back and better

Black and white looks good too.

I kind of like this
I kind of like this

And then back again on another day. I’m starting to shoot this place too much. This is on the walk up Broadway, maybe around 39th if I’m to guess.

Design week (I think)
Design week (I think)

I kind of like the mix of yellows in this picture.

Yellow
Yellow

And a storefront that I kind of like.

Let it consume you
Let it consume you

Also was able to make it out to Coney Island. It was a rainy day but it made for some pretty good pictures. I also want to swing back here when the weather is nice and it’s the summer. I thought it would be a lot similar to Asbury, but it’s kind of more similar to Seaside Park.

This was a throwaway
This was a throwaway

I didn’t stroll around too much off the boardwalk, but a block or two inward seems a bit sketch. I don’t know if it was just the dreary day but there was trash everywhere. Weeds that were taller than me. Buildings crumbling. Cop cars nonstop patrolling. Housing prices seem fairly pricy from what I can tell, but that might just be because land is so limited out this way. I guess it’s just a microcosm of everything else. Everything is shiny in season when the sun is out and life is good. But there’s a lot more going on.

The white color of the sky is a lot more interesting than if this was the boring clear sky blue.

Reasonable
Reasonable

They were cleaning up the boardwalk of some tables.

Nineteen tables
Nineteen tables

The old Parachute Jump. Aka the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.

Parachute jump
Parachute jump

A different view of it.

Sky was a beautiful color
Sky was a beautiful color

This is probably one of my favorite pictures of the group. It’s almost nauseatingly minimal and perhaps a bit Wes Andersonesque. The wind helped straighten the flag out just right. The red color is a gorgeous contrast for the muted greys, blues, and sands. I’m going to pretend the focus being on the beach is intentional. Having the flag be in the background of the image while at the same time being the obvious focal point is a kind of brilliant concept, but honestly I missed the focus. I don’t really know how I did outside of being lazy and putting too much faith in the camera, which normally is smart with its focus. I kind of prefer the picture better this way. The slight imperfections that we must learn to live with. I also love the desolation. The yearning. The desire for more. The simple beauty. How well a centered subject works here, when you’re taught to always put things on the thirds. No. I’m not doing that. I’m putting it right in the middle. The red catches your eye perfectly at where the edge of the world is. Look here. Look at me. Look at the vast emptiness. Except you don’t have to do that. Just look at me instead. Everything will be alright. We don’t have to contemplate the vastness right now.

Amazing
Amazing

I also like this next picture as well. It would be much worse with a blue sky and probably any more people. I love the whiteness of this. I love the dark contrast of the colors of everyone’s clothes. The almost annoying alteration of the lamp posts. I also maybe like the slight annoyance of me not lining this shot up. I feel like I’ve been so lazy with some of the little things with the camera. The lines the boardwalk makes should be a little more centered. But for now it’s an imperfection that I will learn to love. This picture reminds me of a similar looking one that I shot in Bali where the top and bottom thirds are whitespace, and the contrasting darker colors fill the middle third. It’s interesting how different the conditions where under which that was shot, but I’m curious if I can find more of these and put together a series of them.

Yea pretty good too
Yea pretty good too

More Coney Island.

La la laaa part 2
La la laaa part 2

This is why I thought Coney Island and Asbury were a bit similar. But really maybe it’s only in some of the older marketing.

Kind of thought it was Asburyesque
Kind of thought it was Asburyesque

I kind of like the background colors here.

Closed for the season
Closed for the season

Someone was braving the rain and wind to spend time reading.

There there
There there

And that’s about it. I’ve been jamming a lot of pictures lately and I don’t really think that will slow down too much.

Cheers.

Just wish this was a pinch clearer

Old and New

I guess this is an appropriate post for the day.

New Year’s is a time to both reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about photography.

Initially it started with a desire to pick up some new gear.

After looking around I decided I wanted a mirrorless camera. The size and weight savings is important to me compared to the older DSLR technologies. The picture quality is just as good in most situations.

Surprisingly the leader in the mirrorless space is not Cannon or Nikon. It’s Sony. Cannon and Nikon fell asleep (they were arrogant and clueless) and Sony took over the market. I have no doubt that Cannon and Nikon will eventually make good mirrorless cameras, and people will stick around to support them because of the brand names and the amount of lenses available, but at the moment I am not buying any mirrorless bodies from them.

I initially thought I would want a full frame sensor. Bigger sensors generally lead to better pictures. But I decided to go with an APS-C sensor as in my opinion the difference between full frame and APS-C is negligible and the cost is significant.

If I want a bigger sensor I think the right move would be to go up to the medium format, but that’s not something I’m interested in at the moment from a creative perspective.

In the end you can talk about gear and specs forever, but it’s a lot more important to make a decision and get out to shooting.

I went back and forth and eventually picked up a Sony a6300 simply because I think it is going to allow me to take better pictures than any other camera (for myself personally). The lower cost of APS-C lenses and the money saved on the body allow me to pick up a couple lenses like the Sigma 30mm 1.4. I also have the Sony 16-50 kit lens and picked up the 55-210.

Almost everyone hates cheap kit lenses, but they are pretty versatile and useful. I shot many of the pictures on this site with my Pentax kit lens. That lens and the K-30 camera (which people also make fun of) taught me the basics of photography and allowed me to learn and grab some good shots.

Blah blah blah.

I debated selling my old gear but I might keep it around. The body won’t sell for much. And I don’t mind having my old zoom lens and macro lens. Both can be used on my current camera with a cheap adapter that I picked up.

I’ll post some pictures from the new gear later on.

But first, I decided to go through all of the older pictures that I took with my old gear.

I wanted to see what I was doing wrong. What I was doing right. What I overlooked. What I could have done better or worse.

I decided to grab some of these older pictures and edit them and present them here.

In my last post I said I took 10,000 pictures. But I was wrong. That number was somewhere over 20,000. Still not a lot, but closer to the amount that it felt like I took.

These pictures have not been included on this site yet. The intention is not to go through and make small changes or edits. But rather to look through all of the old pictures I had with a new mind and see if there was any interesting stuff that I did not previously post.

There were some pretty cool shots that I saw. Most of the more recent stuff is not included because I naturally feel those shots are shot and edited in a satisfactory way.

The first shot is one of the first that I ever took. It needs more room to breathe but I like the mood that the image portrays.

Mood lighting
Mood lighting

The next is shot from a plane as I was flying into Alaska. It was shot through a window that was overly blue saturated. I dialed that back a bit. I’m not happy with the colors here (it reminds me of the terrible coloring you see on a lot of instagram pictures), but it’s about as good as I can do.

You shouldn't like this coloring
You shouldn’t like this coloring

This next picture is one that I messed around with a while ago but was unable to make it work. It’s not as focused as I wanted it to be, but framing it this way allows it to be successful. I’m often torn with whether to make real life scenes that appear in black and white, to make them actually black and white. Usually it leads to a better image, but I think there is a beauty in keeping the natural colors. This image is a color image, although it portrays itself as a black and white.

Just wish this was a pinch clearer
Just wish this was a pinch clearer

Here is an interesting shot of some mountains and a glacier.

Glacier and mountains
Glacier and mountains

This next shot has amazing lighting. It was shot out in Colorado.

Lighting is great
Lighting is great

This next shot isn’t all that great. It’s of some steps shot out in Rome. It’s just ok.

Steps
Steps

These next two images are actually really cool looking. I was messing around with ISOs shooting a couple longer exposures one night out amongst the vineyards in Italy. The sun set late so you have this effect of a sunset and a starry night sky. The dandelions in the first picture give the grass a yellow color.

Really cool shot
Really cool shot

Surprised I missed these, but maybe I thought they were too similar to other pictures I posted.

Also cool
Also cool

This next picture is one from Casa Batllo out in Barcelona. I could see myself shooting something like this again current day.

Way too contrasted but I like it
Way too contrasted but I like it

This next shot is a mistake. But I really like it a lot. It looks pretty cool visually. But the cool part is that it’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It is common to see the typical pictures of the Eiffel Tower. But if someone showed me this picture I would like it. It’s not a common view of the Eiffel Tower. And I think maybe it’s more interesting than most pictures of it.

Better than most Eiffel Tower shots
Better than most Eiffel Tower shots

Here’s a picture of the Alps out in Switzerland. These things really just shoot themselves.

Nice rocks
Nice rocks

Redwoods out in Redwood National and State Parks.

Big trees
Big trees

A couple pictures from out in Chicago.

Alright
Alright

Should have posted at least one of these but never did for some reason.

Yea
Yea

And one from Milwaukee.

Yup
Yup

I took this out in Cambodia at Angkor Wat waiting for a lady to take a picture. She was taking forever to take her picture. I snapped an image of her out of frustration. To be honest it looked a lot better with her in the picture than with her out of it.

Better than the shot I was waiting for
Better than the shot I was waiting for

A shot out in Halong Bay in Vietnam of a cruise ship at night. I like to sometimes mess around with moving the camera during longer exposures although sometimes it’s looks cheesy or terrible.

Boat
Boat

Pancake Rocks out in New Zealand. It’s maybe my best picture of them although at first look through these pictures I didn’t think I really captured it.

Pancake Rocks
Pancake Rocks

And that’s about it. Those are a bunch of pictures from the past that I had initially overlooked. I think some of them came out rather well.

I noticed some patterns with some of the pictures that I had taken. I overexpose in bright light. I take a lot of pictures of oysters.

Overall it’s been a fun ride with my first DSLR. I’m excited for my time with the mirrorless to start. I’ve been messing around taking some pictures. The small size and weight means it’s been on me pretty much every day since I bought it.

Here’s some duck breast I cooked up. Was my first time cooking it and it was amazing. Also duck fat fried potatoes are a delicious side.

Kid knows how to cook
Kid knows how to cook

Here’s a box of white sage.

Kit lens yay
Kit lens yay

This next pic is a shot I shot messing around with connecting the camera to my phone. You can control the camera via your phone with an app. So for this picture I placed the camera down and activated the shutter with my phone. From there the photo is sent via Wi-Fi to my phone. I then edited my image on my phone with Adobe Lightroom. It’s not the best picture (it was probably 4 in the morning when I took this), but that is a very powerful workflow for someone if they have a need to quickly take, edit, and post their pictures to the internet.

Up super late
Up super late

And this final picture is a reason why I’m keeping my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Creamy bokeh
Creamy bokeh

So that’s it. Hopefully everyone is spending a bit of time reflecting on their pasts and looking forward to the future.

I hope every has had a great year and has an even better one coming up.

Washington monument

Washington DC

I’m back to looking for my next venture.

For the previous nine months I had been building software for the Action Button product for a company called Speakable.

I have always felt that that was one of the best opportunities for me in the entire world, based on my mix of talents and dreams.

I got paid to go in every day and try to come up with a business model to save the world.

I built a bunch of cool software and worked with some great people.

I poured my soul into the opportunity.

We had access at our company to pretty much anyone in the world.

And when I say that, I mean that.

Literally any single person on the planet that you need to directly contact, or any person at any company.

If we needed to pitch to anyone, we could do it.

If we needed a partnership, we could have it.

It was the type of opportunity that you have nothing to do but take extremely seriously.

And pour your life into.

In the end I didn’t end up saving the world.

I guess I didn’t come close.

But for a while it was a privilege to try to put 7 billion people onto my back and try to give them everything that needed.

I was exposed to a tremendous amount of issues. And while it was overwhelming to be in a position to try to help them all, it was a dream to be able to work on them.

Startups come and go.

I have no doubt that Speakable will be successful. There’s too much opportunity not to. And at the core of it is a beautiful soul.

So yea.

Moving on from a dream opportunity and back into reality.

There is probably a lot of questions to be answered.

A lot to be figured out.

What do I want to do with my life?

The typical things that I think we should always be contemplating and answering.

Who am I?

Etc.

Questions are good.

Answers are good.

And when you are at a point where you need some of either, hopefully you have a place to turn to.

For me I had the opportunity to hang in Washington DC.

And look at art for a week.

I was feeling getting away from the beautiful city that is New York, and although DC is a city, it is much smaller. And shorter. And different. And full of some great art.

And so I went.

Nov 10, 2017

How to get the DC?

I have to talk about this because of aggravation that arose when trying to book a train ticket on Amtrak.

I think if you book this trip well ahead of time you can get it for $98 round trip. As it gets closer to departure and for better times you probably will pay $186. I was looking to grab a ticket the night before not knowing they adjusted prices (like the airlines do) and was quoted almost $400.

This is for a form of transportation that takes 2:45 to 3:30, not including the trek out to Penn Station, and the arriving early as to not miss the train. So probably 3:45 to 4:30 of travel. And then an uber or a taxi when you get to DC, probably putting your door to door travel at 4:15 to 5:00. And you have to lug your luggage all over the place.

Other options were to book a plane ticket for $250 the night before. Yes, to fly in an airplane was cheaper than a train. And at 1:20 much faster. It would involve swinging out to one of the airports in the area, but a trek out to Newark is pretty close. You still have to wait in security, catch some form of transportation to the airport and then again from the DC airport to the hotel. This would again put your door to door at closer to 4:00.

Then there’s always good old driving. Can be as quick as 3:20, but probably closer to 4:20 with the traffic. At 440 miles roundtrip and an estimate of $0.50/mile for the cost of a vehicle would put you at $220. I love driving and I think I was in the mood for a drive and so that’s what I went with.

I think bus may be a decent option but I’m not hipster enough to look into the bus schedule.

It’s tilting that in an area of maximum public transportation that the best option in the States is almost always to drive.

Rant over.

When you finally get to DC, go to Old Ebbitt Grill. I’d say it’s the restaurant you think about when you think about DC.

Oysters are half off for happy hour. Alright, that’s the only food picture on this entire post.

Oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill
Oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill

When that’s over head back to the rooftop of your hotel that will have a fire pit that you can enjoy without any of the crowds because it’s cold out.

Hanging
Hanging

Enjoy a unicorn bar from Buttercream Bakeshop.

Mise
Mise

Nov 11, 2017

Wake up and get to why you are here. Mostly contemporary art with splashes of modern.

Phillips Collection is definitely going to be a stop.

There’s a basement here featuring art from much younger children. No one is looking at it. But there’s some cool stuff like this piece called Peaceful Serenity by Winfield Vanison. Not sure if this is the first time you been written about Winfield, but keep up the good work.

Get it
Get it

Swinging up features a nice piece by Whitfield Lovell called Kin XLV (Das Lied von der Erde) that was done in 2011. The incorporation of a string of pearls as tears to add subtle dimensionality of an otherwise two-dimensional piece is awesome.

Dope
Dope

There is a Renoir exhibit here. There’s a quote on one of the walls saying:

“Even if the enormous expenses I’m incurring prevent me from finishing my picture, it’s still a step forward; one must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir in a letter to Paul Berard 1880.

I don’t really like quotes because of the way they are represented in forms like Instagram, but I think that one is relatable.

Here’s the colors Renoir uses in his palette, or at least they were before I changed them in Lightroom.

One of the best things there
One of the best things there

I’m not exactly in a mood to look at Renoir, and I think this collection of color in these little bottles might be the nicest thing in the exhibit.

I’m not having a go at Renoir.

His stuff can even be pleasant to look at, but a lot of times for me lately I want to see things that are made more recently. There is always a place for the classics, but what are the innovations of today?

The other thing I like here is this tiny drawing called On the Shore of the Seine made in 1879. This quickly executed oil study was probably a gift from Renoir to Alphonsine Fournaise to thank her for modeling for him. There’s kind of something romantic about thanking someone for doing something as intimate as modeling for you with a piece of your creative self.

Renoir
Renoir

The next stop is the Hirshhorn Museum. It can be arrived at with a stroll through the National Mall. I’m not here to do all of the USA stuff, but if it’s on the way, may as well give it a look.

There’s a cool hippie gathering out here that at times features some great music.

And there’s a dragon. I think it leads to a pretty cool shot.

Dragons
Dragons

I was thinking that would be my favorite image of the Washington Monument.

But I think this image looking up from one of the corners is more pleasing. I’m a bit upset that I didn’t center this better when I was there shooting it, but the simple shapes, simple colors, and beautiful textures make it pretty awesome.

Washington monument
Washington monument

The Hirshhorn has some good stuff. It’s a cool circular building which might give curators issues with exhibits or limit the creativity of exhibits they are willing to display.

Here’s a picture of the horizon. I like minimal photographs like this.

Stuff like this is nice
Stuff like this is nice

Oh PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORK.

Pls no touch
Pls no touch

Here’s some stuff.

Stuff
Stuff

And this dude is excellently done.

Bruh
Bruh

Afterwards you may want to check out City Tap House Penn Quarter. They have some decent beers including the Abraxas by Perennial Artisan Ales. It’s one of those beer styles with chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks that has been over done. I mean, this stuff isn’t exactly beer any more, but it is delicious.

Abraxas
Abraxas

Nov 12, 2017

Another day, another bunch of art.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a great third floor (and probably other great floors as well but I wouldn’t know).

The Megatron/Matrix by Nam June Paik from 1995 features 215 monitors of various imagery. At times images are created outside of the monitors.

Melts your eyes
Melts your eyes

It’s a cool display.

Uh huh honey
Uh huh honey

This trip features a lot of cool screen format pieces.

Selfie time
Selfie time

Shout out to Coney Island.

Coney Island
Coney Island

There is a lot of over the top beautiful architecture in this city.

Some beautiful spaces
Some beautiful spaces

Trophies.

Trophies
Trophies

This piece if actually titled Cupcake Katy.

Katy and I
Katy and I

I’m digging lighting these days.

Merica
Merica

I love this piece because it reminds me of color palettes that you would see in a makeup store.

Black & White
Black & White

This piece is called Black & White by Byron Kim and Glenn Ligon from 1993. Black & White is a collaboration between Kim and Ligon, both of whom were struck by the limited pink-white range of “flesh-colored” paint available in the art store. In response, Kim, who is Korean American, painted sixteen panels of the pinkish flesh tones and Ligon, who is African American, painted sixteen panels using various black pigments.

A quick swing into the National Museum of Natural History to look at rocks. There are some good ones but it’s not as good as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Rocks
Rocks

Back out to the Mall to take a picture in front of what I heard tourists say was “the White House, you know, the one with the big dome on the top.”

Mmm hmm
Mmm hmm

Dinner at Founding Farmers is a good option.

Back to City Tap House for some 2017 Bell’s Black Note Stout.

Black note stout
Black note stout

Nov 13, 2017

Another day, another day of art.

First to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. There’s a couple floors of nice pieces here. And the building is beautiful.

Get it
Get it

But I think for me the most emotional piece is an installation of The Clothesline Project by Monica Mayer. It’s about sexual harassment and violence. The project initially began in 1978 when Monica was 24 years old. When she was 8 years old a 30-year-old man grabbed her vagina as she was walking through her town. Her mother was only a few steps ahead of her. “I was shocked but I am even more shocked this is a common experience.”

The statistics on sexual harassment and violence are, I can only define as, disgusting. For both men and women. If you want to have a downer of a day go spend a little while looking into it.

I’ve been surrounded my whole life by some amazing women. My grandmas. My mom. My sisters. My past loves. They’ve had an enormous influence on how I see the world and how I operate within it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything to harm them. And I don’t want a world where they feel unsafe and bad things can happen to them.

It’s nice to see the momentum behind a lot of this work. 40 years after Monica started her work the world is slowly changing.

People are coming forward, standing up with extreme courage, and helping to show other’s that they are supported.

There are many things that we will always have to be striving for as a society, and to eliminate all forms or harassment and violence should be a priority.

I read through some of these cards that were hanging (the hot pink color comes from the 70s, and is not a cliche nod to women). Most are devastating. Some show optimism. There are many.

This is devastating
This is devastating

After reading through them all I turn to Monica. She’s there. I want to hug her and say thank you. But I feel tears in my eyes. I extend my hand for a handshake. Mouth thank you, and tap my heart with my hand. And walk out.

I wanted to tell her that her work is really important. That she’s helped to push the world forward. But she already knows.

I throw my jacket on, wipe the tears away, and head out for the next museum.

We need to change this
We need to change this

We have a responsibility with how we live our lives.

The National Gallery of Art East Building is up next. It’s a gorgeous building. Probably the nicest I was in on the trip.

Segue. Sigh. Yea, a giant fifteen-foot cock courtesy of Katharina Fritsch.

Ok
Ok

Sometimes I feel everything is driven by sex. Especially art. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But often there is a lot more, much more important things.

Excellent
Excellent

This soot drawing by Lee Bontecou is rather beautiful. While maybe most known for her sculptures, it’s nice to see how some of that experience and those ideas translate to a different medium. You can see in the painting that it wants to be three dimensional. And the soot provides just the slightest capability for that.

Colors and textures.

Colors textures
Colors textures

There’s this one doorway which almost looks like it could be off limits that has these high quality beads hanging. Strongly recommend you just spread the beads and feel them with the outsides of your hands. And listen to them clink and clack together. They make a beautiful sound, that repeats over and over as the energy fades and they reassume their stillness.

Yea
Yea

Through the beads are a couple more pieces by our buddies Kim and Ligon, that we saw work from previously. Kim’s Synecdoche is an ever changing piece of work that includes skin tones and a list of the people that he matched them to. I think there is over 500 now in this piece. There are a lot. From time to time I’m pretty sure he comes in and changes the exhibit, adding, removing panels.

Skin tones
Skin tones

One of the coolest things in the museum is a video called Street by James Nares. It’s a collection of slow motion clips of every day life in New York City. The ability to slow down the city and afford the viewer enough time to start breaking down what would normally be incredibly fast paced scenes almost feels like a magic power. Walking in New York you don’t have time to look at the beautiful fast paced world that surrounds you. At this slow motion speed, you see the magic. You see expressions on people. For a moment you are able to see a person as more than a body, and just slightly glimpse their deep complexity and importance.

Streets of NYC
Streets of NYC

It’s a 61 minute that was created with only 2:40 of actual footage. It’s really a hybrid of video and photography.

I often wish some of the video that was available in museums were available online. Maybe it would diminish the presentation. But some of this stuff is just so gorgeous. It needs to be accessible to the world.

This is maybe the best I can do for you. It’s a lecture by Nares about the piece. You can fast forward through the lecture to see some great examples of the piece.

Ok, that’s enough art for the day. Time to swing out to ChurchKey, a good beer place out in the Logan Circle area. Here’s a beer called Fernet About It that unfortunately doesn’t taste like Fernet Branca.

Fernet about it
Fernet about it

There’s a Whole Foods Market nearby that has a good selection of bottled beer. They have some pretty good stuff here and I pick up a Deschutes Abyss.

Dinner for the night comes from Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant. They have some awesome injera.

Nov 14, 2017

Alrighty, one final day of art.

First up the Renwick Gallery. It’s a small museum. But there are some really cool quality pieces in here.

Probably doesn't look like this irl
Probably doesn’t look like this irl

Some of these have been pretty heavily edited by me, but that’s the fun of it.

This either
This either

Some awesome woodwork here.

Wood work
Wood work

This is one of my favorite pieces. It’s just gorgeously done.

Man this is good
Man this is good

And this ended up being my 9,999th picture I took with my camera. Picture 10,000 is a similar one but of a different less pleasing angle. Seems like 10,000 pictures is a fair amount for how much I want to and do end up shooting. There’s probably been a decent shot or two in here somewhere along the way.

Taking care of business
Taking care of business

This ceiling installation is in a large empty room that has a couple comfortable seats that you can relax on.

Starship
Starship

Next up is the Art Museum of the Americas. It’s the smallest of museums I went to. There are a couple nice photographs but it’s really small.

Afterwards it’s time for some Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.

Nov 15, 2017

The drive home is mostly uneventful.

That will be enough art for the moment. It was fun to swing down to DC and check out the museums. It’s great because most of the museums are free and you can choose to donate whatever you want.

This is a contrast to the stuff up in New York where stuff typically can cost between $40-$60 per museum.

So that’s about it.

Go out and explore.

Love.

Dope picture

Montreal, Quebec City, Burlington, Boston

Been jamming some travel recently, which is nice since I haven’t been in the mood much since my trip around the world. It’s nice that the excitement of the road is slowly stirring my soul once again.

I’ve also been venturing about New York City as often as I can since it only takes a couple minutes to get there and it’s only $5.50 round trip on the PATH (or $4.20 with the 10+ Trip SmartLink cards)

June 30: Montreal

Swung up to Montreal on a fairly uneventful car ride. Was pulled over for a going 75 in a 55 on the Taconic in Chatham, NY. I saw the cop but I didn’t really feel like slamming on the brakes because I was just doing the same speed as everyone else.

He pulls out behind me and throws the lights on. I look for a place to pull over and I can’t seem to find one. I have to slow down to a very slow speed on a two-way highway where people are driving at 75 miles an hour. There’s no shoulder. I slowly drive over the curb and onto the grass, still partially sticking out into the road. It’s unsafe and I end up scratching my bumper pretty badly in the process. The officer was nice. He tells me my PBA card is useless and writes me a 4-point ticket. He asked me if I had any questions. I say no and wish him a good day. He’s just doing what he’s told.

I hate speed limits. I hate speeding tickets. I hate everything that has to do with holding the world back from being efficient. It’s sad that we waste so much capital on enforcing systems that are designed to slow our progress. And it’s pathetic that the State of New York had to go through such measures to rob me. It’s the only speeding ticket I have ever got in my entire life. I think back to my time on the Autobahn and I quote it here because it makes me happy:

“Driving on the Autobahn is incredible… I’ve been cruising on the Autobahn between 90-100 mph, not pushing my little Opel past that. Even at that speed cars are passing me. It’s a beautiful thing.” – me

I’m sorry for quoting myself. I wasn’t originally planning on writing much here. I’ve lately been pretty disinterested in words. I was tempted to just throw some pictures up, but so far the words are flowing.

Pause.

That was the original direction for this post three months ago. The standard rambling that I do accompanied with some pictures.

But things have changed quite a bit since then.

I’m not quite so sure how to finish this.

There are pictures that I want to post, but time has passed since they have been taken.

Back when I was deeply in love with someone who now won’t talk to me.

But so it goes in life and love.

There’s no closure.

You give your heart to someone and when things don’t work out there’s this weird thing you enter into.

Where you no longer talk.

And you no longer exist.

Because to do otherwise would be too logical and too painful.

And humans are emotional and love comfort above almost everything else.

You can take everything away from a person as long as you leave them comfortable.

Am I sad? I hope so. Sad just means you had something great.

There are a lot of opinions and a lot of feelings and a lot of things that I’m not sure I can entertain.

I followed my heart to this point in life and will continue to do so.

It’s the only way that I think is right.

At the expense of everything.

My heart guides me.

And so it will be.

So what about Montreal?

I could barely tell you.

Let’s have a look at the pictures.

Notre Dame at night
Notre Dame at night

The Notre Dame.

It’s a beautiful building. But at night it’s quite a site. Montreal does an amazing job with its lighting at night, and the Notre Dame is just one example.

Another is the BMO Bank of Montreal right across the street. If you were to spin the tripod around and shoot a picture, this is what you would see. Sure it’s just a bank, but on a night in Montreal it’s electric.

Montreal lights
Montreal lights

You may notice a lit up area above the bank. At several locations in old Montreal they play movies on the walls of buildings. The world is your theater.

There are some great bars and restaurants in old Montreal. And although it’s probably too touristy you should check it out.

Midnight passes and it’s Canada’s 150th birthday. Love to you. And love to all of Montreal which is celebrating it’s 375th year at the same time.

July 1: Montreal

I went to St-Viateur Bagel because I saw Anthony Bourdain do it. And if there’s one person set up to be as iconic to this time period as Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac were to the Beat Generation, it’s him. I’m sorry if that’s dismal but I just don’t see anyone else fitting the role better than him.

Bagels out this way
Bagels out this way

They don’t make bagel sandwiches there. You buy bagels, cream cheese, capers, and lox and make the bagel yourself. Thinking back I guess they even showed this in the show.

Back to the Notre Dame. It’s raining. It’s been raining.

Actually before we get to the Notre Dame I have to share a song I heard while I was waiting in the line to cross the border into Canada. It’s Trucs Styles by Bengale. There’s a lot of great music out this way, even on the old radio. I strongly recommend giving a listen to the radio out here if you’re road tripping through. Shout out to all the musicians out that way making great music that will never be heard by anyone.

Carrying on. Back into the gloomy clouds and rain. I was in Notre Dame about a decade earlier.

Actually. Let’s go back to before the border. Somewhere halfway through the middle of New York. Listening to some obscure radio station. Where I heard Wasted Days by Cloud Nothings. Props to you if you make it through the nine-minute track.

Ok. Take me to church. The Notre Dame is as amazing today as it was a decade ago. The colors and the lighting in this place is amazing. It’s almost completely cut out of wood.

Stuff is just beautiful
Stuff is just beautiful

It looks like a Disney princess castle or something.

Places of worship are too nice not to stop into.

Looking straight up
Looking straight up

Fleur-de-lis is a recurring symbol in my life.

Flower of the lily
Flower of the lily

Candles.

Candles
Candles

Carvings and paint and light. Ultra on point. This stuff is easy to shoot.

Just awesome lighting
Just awesome lighting

After you see enough of this stuff head across the street to a place that sells tea.

Rocks and tea
Rocks and tea

And stroll the streets of old Montreal. I must admit not much of it looks this beautiful. It’s all covered with restaurants and tourist traps. But still, it’s nice and you should go.

Pretty happy with this shot
Pretty happy with this shot

On the way to Quebec City try going to Joe Beef because you saw Bourdain eat there too.

Drive through the fireworks.

But since you won’t be able to get a table, try sister restaurant Liverpool House.

And since you won’t be able to get into that either go to cousin restaurant Le Vin Papillon.

Ask the bar tender to bring you a tasting a their food because you trust his judgment and prepare to enjoy mostly vegetables that leave you shaking you head in anger that the glutinous Joe Beef had no open tables. Even ending the meal with a lobster won’t bring solace.

Drive to Quebec City.

July 2: Quebec City

At some point stroll over to good old Rue du Petit Champlain. Try to score a table at Le Lapin Saute. It’s a place I tried to eat at when I was last here but there were no available seats that night. Sure it’s the most touristy street ever but you can find good food here. Order the duck and rabbit platter. It has duck and rabbit prepared a whole bunch of ways, but the foie gras and rabbit rillettes are probably the best.

Feast
Feast

Seriously this street is packed with tourists in the summer. It’s a very different vibe from the freezing cold winter were it is only filled with locals.

Different seasons
Different seasons

Head up to the castle, or the Chateau Frontenac. You can get here via the funicular, which is a nice way to get up and down the hills. Go grab a drink at the bar. If you see the most beautiful drink being made I don’t recommend ordering one of those. It’s a gin and tonic.

Shout out to the Dali elephant
Shout out to the Dali elephant

Sigh. I’m talking too much. I didn’t think this would be the case but while the words flow…

Google best restaurants in Quebec City and go there. You might not have the chance to do this again. So you better do it right. The choice is Le Saint-Amour. It’s old school. Like really old school. But it’s French and it’s Quebec City and old French is perfect for the occasion.

I wanted to do a tasting menu but it doesn’t feel right.

So instead it’s foie gras five ways. Including foie gras creme brulee. You know. Creme brulee is a desert for old people. But I like it. And when it’s made of foie it couldn’t be better.

Life sometimes
Life sometimes

Also elk carpaccio.

Entrees are sea scallops and pork belly. And sweetbreads and shrimp. If you’ve never had sweetbreads you have to try them. They are one of life’s great luxuries.

Not sure where the sherry is but oh well.

On the way out you should probably take the car that valet offers to you. Just drive the thing down to hill and ditch when you get to the hotel. It’s about to pour in a couple minutes.

But of course you can’t steal someone’s car, even if it’s just for a drive down a hill. So decline and tell them it’s not your car. And walk. Out into the downpour.

Take cover in a touristy Italian restaurant where Budweiser is an import but you order it because America.

On the way back stroll down the winding roads messing about with the camera. Shoot some fire pictures.

Dope picture
Dope picture

And if you happen to be experiencing the world with the most beautiful woman you have ever seen in your life then make sure you work the camera as best as you can.

I need a one dance
I need a one dance

July 3: Burlington, VT

Wake up.

Have some more French food.

Shoot some more pictures.

Pics
Pics

Check out of old Quebec City and make your way out to Burlington, VT.

Stroll about the streets a bit of this heavenly place.

Go to The Farmhouse Tap & Grill because it’s the best. Grab some raw bar and some meat and cheese and some delicious beers. Listen to some hippie bros play some strings and sing some words.

Swing down to the water to check out the fireworks.

All I see is fireworks
All I see is fireworks

Then hop back in the car and drive all the way home in the middle of the night.

Sleep.

July 4: Tarrytown, NY

Sleep some more.

Then catch the fireworks one final time.

Every night it's fireworks
Every night it’s fireworks

To complicate this even more I decided to write up that trip before I started the writeup for an earlier trip. So here’s that. It will be quick.

June 8: Cambridge, MA

Drive to Cambridge, MA. Why Cambridge? Because there’s an opportunity to work out this way.

Go to sleep because tomorrow starts early.

June 9: Boston, MA

Spend the day working and interviewing. Asking for piles of money so big that everyone involved in the situation is uncomfortable. That’s how it has to be done sometimes. Companies with a market cap in the hundreds of billions can afford it.

Then swing out to the heart of Boston.

Shoot some pictures.

Smile because all is well. Or maybe it’s not but you’re happy.

Smile
Smile

Check out the old sites. The Old North Church. The Paul Revere House. All of that stuff.

Prescott was the real og though
Prescott was the real og though

Stroll around the streets and shoot some more pictures.

Streets of Boston
Streets of Boston

You’re in Boston.

La la la la la
La la la la la

Grab some food at Neptune Oyster. They have a great scallop crudo. It was the best thing I had on the trip.

Scallop
Scallop

And there was some pretty good food. Like obligatory hot and cold lobster rolls. Oh and that hookup on that glass of sherry.

Eating well out here
Eating well out here

Afterwards stroll all around the city. Stroll around the wharf. Check out where they threw the tea into the water.

There’s great beer in this city. Stroll through Back Bay making your way back to the Fenway area. Stop into places and grab a pint at each one.

It might be packed because it’s commencement time.

It’s a different vibe from the day activities back in Cambridge. Where the mood was almost solemn. Because sometimes smart people don’t know how to party.

June 10: Boston, MA

Spend the morning grabbing another lobster roll. Take a bunch of pictures.

Then cut the trip short, swing back home, and make it home in time for a surprise birthday party.

So takeaways? I don’t really think there are any. There’s no closure in life (I think there might be). Let your heart guide you. Life. I have nothing but good things to say about the times where my heart directed me. Try to learn. Try to better yourself. The entire world is open to you. Love. Love always. Above everything thing go for love.

Miss you grams

Southeast Asia: Sound Clips

Before I left for my last trip, one of my buddies asked me to do one thing for him. He asked me to listen to the sounds around me and use my phone to record anything that sounded different. It was one small thing that opened up an entire channel to my travel experience that I might not have been able to enjoy otherwise. I strongly recommend using your ears more during travel as well as your life. What are all those noises and sounds that are going on around you? What sounds good? What sounds bad? What can you learn about a place from your ears? It’s been a long time since I was dialed into my listening like I was on that trip. The following 11 recordings are what stood out to me on the trip.

Warning: These sound clips are pretty bad quality as they have been recorded on a phone. The purpose of these clips isn’t to show you amazing audio or provide sound clips for your music mixes (sorry J!). Rather, they are here as short examples of things that I heard. Everyone shows people pictures of their trips, but what did those areas sound like?

1. Rap song in taxi leaving hotel for Yangon airport – Aug 07, 2016

This was recorded after my first night on the trip in Yangon, Myanmar. The electricity of the trip was in the air. I was halfway around the world. Immersed in a totally new place and culture. Visions of the golden temples I saw the night before were dancing across my mind. The tastes of my breakfast of mohinga and chicken puff pastries were still making my taste buds fire. I was in the back of a taxi heading to the airport to catch a flight out to the Inle Lake area of Myanmar. It’s not the best song and you can barely hear it on the recording, but it’s a song that probably will stick around in my memory. Bonus points to anyone if you can figure out what the song is. At some point I plan to listen to the entirety of Myanmar hip-hop in hopes of finding out what song this is.

2. Beer and a bite – Aug 07, 2016

This was the second night at a restaurant in the Inle Lake area called One Owl Grill. It was mostly full of backpackers. I rode to this place on a bike that my hotel let me borrow. It was one of the only times I’ve been on a bike in the last 15 years.

This clip is mostly the background noise I was listening to as I had a couple bites to eat and drank a beer. When Forever Young came on it was an extremely cliche moment, but I had to record it. It was as though life was a movie and this was the soundtrack that the director had stupidly chosen for the scene. A couple beers made the bike ride back to the hotel in the dark a bit more difficult, but also a bit faster. And a bunch more fun. I was halfway around the world speeding through the darkness in a country I barely knew existed. I was free and I was alive.

3. Inle Lake Buddhist temple – Aug 08, 2016

This was recorded at a Buddhist temple on Inle Lake. Religion is definitely a big part of culture out in Southeast Asia. It’s not uncommon to hear people chanting over loudspeakers if you’re at a temple. You have to take a boat ride to get out to this temple. The loudspeakers reach all parts of this little temple island.

4. Group of Buddhists, Wat Pho, Bangkok – Aug 11, 2016

This was a whole group of people singing a Buddhist song at Wat Pho in Bangkok. It was a similar sound that you might hear at a church service back in the States. The worshipers would sing a song along with a religious leader who was leading the chant.

5. Buddhist chanting Angkor Wat entrance – Aug 14, 2016

This was a group of three (I think) Buddhists chanting outside of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I liked the way their voices sometimes sung in unison and sometimes dropped out so only one person was singing at a time. This sounded really cool live. It is captured a bit in this sound clip but lacks from the real experience.

6. Band outside Ta Prohm – Aug 14, 2016

This recording comes from a band that was sitting down and playing instruments on the walk to Ta Prohm in Cambodia. I absolutely love the sound of the ching in this song. The ching is that little metal instrument in front of the guy all the way to the right. It’s about the size of half of a baseball. I love when the ching drops out of the song because during that moment the band member is gesturing to the CDs he has for sale so he doesn’t hit the ching every beat he is supposed to.

Ching!
Ching!

7. Chant, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia – Aug 20, 2016

This chant never recorded. Not sure what happened here. It sounded plenty loud enough at the museum and I tried a couple times but I could not capture this sound. I assume it’s just a typical Islamic prayer chant.

8. Sydney contemporary museum singer – Aug 25, 2016

This is from Lee Mingwei’s piece called Sonic Blossom, which is featured at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

I was walking around the museum and I heard this beautiful powerful singing voice. I questioned whether it was a live voice or a recording. It had to be live. The acoustics were too perfect. The voice was gorgeous. It distracted me from what I was looking at and I thought to myself that I had to find that voice. But later. I would search for it after I finished looking at a couple more pieces. After a few minutes the voice was gone. I walked into the room that I thought it came from. But there was no voice to be found. No singer. It was gone. I ventured off to other parts of the museum.

Eventually I returned to the room. Still no singing. I posted up in a room next to it. I needed a break, as my back was hurting from the grind of carrying my pack from the last couple weeks. I hopped on the wifi to get some information about my next location and send some messages out to people back home. After maybe twenty minutes the voice had returned. It was so beautiful. I knew for certain it was coming from the room next to me. I stood up and walked into the room to see an artist singing a song to someone who was seated in a chair.

Sonic Blossom
Sonic Blossom

The entire piece was pretty magical to experience. The artist explains it in the following link.

Lee Mingwei’s Sonic Blossom

For those who didn’t feel like clicking the link the piece basically works by offering a guest of the museum the gift of music. If the visitor accepts then the singer walks the visitor to this room and sits them in a chair. The singer then walks several feet away and performs one of five lieders by Franz Schubert directly to the visitor who is sitting in the chair. It’s probably very powerful to be one of the museum guests chosen for this experience, as just being a bystander left a deep impression on me.

9. Australia vs New Zealand rugby outside of Queenstown – Aug 27, 2016

I was driving in my car outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with the radio on. I often like listening to the radio on road trips to see if I can pick up any new sounds. Many times when you are traveling you pick up the same music that we have back in the states. Occasionally you pick up some local sounds that capture your attention.

This is a sound clip of just before halftime in a rugby game between Australia and New Zealand. It was the second of six rounds of the 2016 Rugby Championship. A week earlier New Zealand crushed Australia 42-8 in round 1, but this rematch was a bit closer at 29-9. Although it didn’t fit into my schedule, it sounds like this would have been a great game to go to. New Zealand is the best rugby team in the world and Australia often ranks as the second best team. So if there’s any rugby game you want to see it’s probably something like this.

The passion of the announcers is great. These guys were a blast to listen to. They were so into the game. It reminded me of listening to an important soccer game back home with a Mexican announcer.

10. Auckland museum hill recording #1 – Sep 01, 2016
11. Auckland museum hill recording #2 – Sep 01, 2016

These two recordings come from Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand. They are from a piece by Shannon Te Ao called “Two shoots that stretch far out”.

He actually won the Walters Prize (New Zealand’s highest contemporary award) for this piece. At the time I saw this piece he was only a finalist for the award.

Shannon Te Ao wins Walters Prize

The audio clip is part of a video. You really need to see the two together. The video contains various farm animals along with Shannon Te Ao. During the video he is shown reciting the poems. You can see a little bit of the video here, but I can’t find the full video anywhere. It’s definitely worth a watch if you can find it.

Just a glimpse of the brilliant video

The following label explains the piece in detail.

Shannon Te Ao
Shannon Te Ao

Here’s the first recording.

And here is a second recording. It is similar but different.

So that’s it for sounds that stuck out to me on my trip. There were some other sounds that sounded interesting that I just wasn’t able to capture due to the limitations of my phone (forest sounds, etc.).

I’m not sure if only having eleven clips shows that I wasn’t listening enough or if I didn’t come across many interesting sounds. Regardless, I’m happy that I had this extra channel open to me that I might not have had open to me otherwise. I can’t tell you what Norway or San Francisco sound like because I wasn’t listening to them as intently as I was to the locations on this trip. Using my ears more helped to give me a better understanding into the pulse of some of the places that I visited. I always try to see if I can identify places I’ve been to when I see pictures of them. Maybe now I’ll try doing the same with sound.

~~~~~~~~~~

This new year starts off on a sad note with the passing of my grams. I’m going to miss her. I used to love listening to her tell stories about her travels around the world. The mystery and allure of a place like Morocco seemed like a million miles away to me as a little boy. Hearing how Israel was a beautiful country with the nicest people. Or about about breakfasts and delicious cups of coffee at outdoor cafes in Rome. Thanks for inspiring me with your travel stories and for the infinite amount of love you’ve given to me and to the world.

Aww little hobbit cheeses

A bit more New Zealand

Aug 31, 2016

The plan for today was to check out the Hobbiton movie set that was used in the hobbit and the lord of the rings movies. It’s a bit cheesy and I’m not normally into doing something this cheesy, but I love the books and the movies. It was a lot better than I thought it would be for sure.

The area around it is beautiful. Within an hour or two hours radius you see glimpses of similar sites. The rolling hills are what inspired Peter Jackson to eventually choose the site.

Rather beautiful farms
Rather beautiful farms

Most of the hobbit holes are empty inside, like this one. The interior shots were filmed at a different location. It’s still cool to be in one of them though.

My own little hobbit hole
My own little hobbit hole

The set is pretty large. There are over 50 hobbit holes. The green dragon bar is here. As well as the lawn used for Bilbo’s party.

Pretty cool set
Pretty cool set

One of the major problems on the set was the construction of Bag End. In the books there is an oak tree on it. No big deal. Go into the forest and chop a tree into 21 pieces. Then reassemble on site. That’s great for the lord of the rings movies, which were shot first.

But then they decided to make the hobbit movies. Since the hobbit takes place sixty years early the tree had to be sixty years younger. So the film crew needed a tree that looked exactly the same but was much smaller. They couldn’t find one. So they made one. Yup. This tree is not a real tree. Not even a cut up and reassembled one. It’s entirely fake. Foam covered in real bark. The 200,000 fake leaves are all individually wired to the tree limbs. I’m not joking. This tree is not real. You can zoom in on it a bit by clicking on it. It’s unbelievable.

This tree is not real
This tree is not real

But seriously how cool is bag end in real life. I mean, it’s a movie set. And hobbiton is a fictional place. And new zealanders hate people that think the places from the lord of the rings actually exist in real life in their country, but with stuff like this it’s hard not to believe.

Absolutely incredible
Absolutely incredible

Bag end is dope. Also, that’s a fake tree. I still can’t believe it.

Bag end
Bag end

The tour guide said you could push this door open, but I was scoping out the scene thinking she would still yell at me.

She said I could open it!
She said I could open it!

Some of the hobbit holes have things inside like these aging cheeses, but most of them are empty.

Aww little hobbit cheeses
Aww little hobbit cheeses

Sam’s house. So cool. He wasn’t home though.

Sam's house
Sam’s house

And you can grab a pint or two at the Green Dragon. The pub is super cosy and comfortable. I would like to spend more than twenty minutes here.

Pint at the Green Dragon
Pint at the Green Dragon

After hobbiton I swung out to see Cathedral Cove off of recommendation from the last hotel I stayed in. The hotel worker said Auckland was just another city and I could skip it. Thankfully I disagreed, as I thought Auckland was pretty cool. But before I get to Auckland, here’s some more nature. The view is great from up here. It’s interesting that some of these rocks you can see from here are almost identical to the ones from Halong Bay in Vietnam. The Halong Bay rocks are just more frequent and covered in more bush.

Nice views up here
Nice views up here

Then it’s a 45-minute hike down to the cathedral cove area. Although it’s getting dark I beasted the hike to make it down and up before it got too dark. The beach is pretty nice.

This is a nice beach
This is a nice beach

The water is surprisingly beautiful over here. The opening in the rock is pretty cool too.

Nice water too
Nice water too

It’s a good place to take your selfie game to the next level. I’m a fan of this next shot. Just love most things going on in it. The textures are pretty sweet. I love the balance. It’s not a typical beautiful colored shot you will see from this spot, but I think that’s what makes it even better. My pose and posture makes me look rather creepy and like an alien. I actually think I scared a couple away while shooting this picture. Because it was late in the day the beach cleared out and I had the cove to myself. So I was taking my time with my hoodie up getting some shots. A couple turned the corner, saw me as some scary dude, and I think they booked it out of there ha. Sorry guys, I was just messing about with my selfie game.

Alien af though
Alien af though

Afterwards I had plans on staying in Coromandel. The gps threw me on some absurd practically single lane gravel road that climbed up and down a mountain to get there. When I did finally arrive at nighttime the town was dead. And not because it was late. It was 7:30 PM. Or 7:34 PM when I pulled up to the gas station to get gas. As I do the attendant who I can see from my car shuts the lights off and locks the door to the station. His place closes promptly at 7:30 PM apparently, and he won’t let me get gas. I’m a bit annoyed as gas stations are far apart here so this could be a big deal for someone who really needed the gas. But it’s no worries as I have plenty left in the tank.

I leave there in search of a warm meal, which I can’t find. I search for a hotel with an open lobby, which I also can’t find. Since there seems to be nothing for me here I decide to just head out to Auckland. I get to my hotel there and grab some sleep.

Sep 01, 2016

Finally back in a city. It will be nice to grab some food that doesn’t come from a gas station, convenient store, or fast food joint. First up are some steamed dumplings and a tea. I might be a bit far away from Asia, but I’m not all that far. There are a lot of places selling food like this and it all looks great. These dumplings were fantastic and make me sad that I won’t be getting this stuff back home.

Even in New Zealand it's delicious
Even in New Zealand it’s delicious

Back in the city also means it’s time for art again. I head to the museum to check it out. Some of the best stuff is the stuff that isn’t even exhibits. This spiral staircase was rather nice. It wasn’t even in use. Just in a corner and sealed off. I’ve always noticed a lot of little gems in dark museum corners and noticed that art buildings themselves are understandably beautiful.

Some of the best stuff isn't on the walls
Some of the best stuff isn’t on the walls

I thought this was a cool piece. It’s 120 individual displays of various things like buttons, spoons, and thread all assembled into one large piece.

Thought this was cool
Thought this was cool

This hallway is just fantastic. I didn’t particularly love any works in it, but the statue at the end is just framed so perfectly by this hallway and this view.

I loved this hallway
I loved this hallway

I was trying to get a good selfie in the reflection and this was about as good as I could grab. You could ignore the selfie part if you like. It’s mostly a failed picture.

Self portrait
Self portrait

These rainbow bejeweled pop rocks were pretty fun.

Pretty fun
Pretty fun

Just working on that selfie game.

More selfies
More selfies

Afterwards it was time for some craft beer. I went to Hopscotch Beer Company but you can’t drink there because of crazy New Zealand laws. So I picked up a beer and drank it on my walk. I heard this should be legal, but in case it wasn’t it was a fast drink.

Beer
Beer

On the way I walked past the tower. I think these things are a little too played out in cityscapes, but so it goes.

This design is so boring
This design is so boring

I swung over to Brothers Beer for a flight. It was a busy spot.

More beer
More beer

I unintentionally walked right up to it as well, ha.

Tower
Tower

Finally was able to grab a steak and some oysters. I was looked at cattle for many many hours of driving, so I was definitely craving a steak at some point.

Steak
Steak

And that concludes the trip. It’s super late so I’d like to try to grab an hour or two of sleep before I have to wake up and head out to the airport for my return flight home. Pretty cool that in doing so I will have flown completely around the world.

I’ll definitely be getting a concluding writeup out at some point when I sleep and have time. The trip has been just incredible. A lot to say about it.

I’ll be seeing everyone back home hopefully soon. Hope everyone’s travels and lives are going swimmingly. I guess it’s appropriately to throw a little Tolkien quote in here.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek our pale enchanted gold.

Cheers.

Never seen water like this

Australia and some New Zealand

Aug 22, 2016

It’s late by the time I leave the hotel in Bali. Like really late. I lost track of time writing up the last post and might be late getting on my flight. I talk with the taxi driver and he speeds me through streets as fast as is possible for him. He eventually gets me to the airport just as check-in has ended. I hop through to the check-in counter and everyone speeds me through the process to get me on the airplane about ten minutes before the door closes.

To Australia I go. I thought this would be my first time into the Southern Hemisphere. I was wrong. That happened the day before when I arrived in Bali. I did not realize Indonesia was in the southern hemisphere but it is. It’s weird to me to think that Asia extends this far south, but I guess it is true.

I try to spend the night on the plane sleeping.

Aug 23, 2016

I sleep for what I think is an hour on the plane. The plane also arrives earlier than anticipated. It’s just after 6 AM here in Melbourne.

I grab my gear, get through customs, and hop a bus to the hotel. It’s weird hearing these Australian accents everywhere. Some of them are so accented that you have to pay a little closer attention to what people are saying. Back in the States an Australian accent is almost never real. You hear people imitate it, but it’s rarely real. Here everyone’s like “right this way mate. Oar right, mate.” It’s great to hear.

When I step outside I am wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. It’s winter here. Or at least what Australians call winter. Everyone is bundled up with hats, scarves, and full winter jackets. Everyone is complaining about the cold and how terrible the weather is. To me this feels amazing. Coming out of the heat and humidity of Southeast Asia, the air in Melbourne feels refreshing. It feels like someone flipped the switch and the outdoor air conditioning is on.

I’m able to check into my hotel early and grab sleep until about 7 PM. I throw on some jeans and my down jacket and head out to explore the city. I make a stop at a craft beer bar called Penny Blue. Craft beer is available in some of the bigger cities in Southeast Asia, but it’s not available in too many locations there. I grab a seat at the bar and have a Kalash by Hop Nation. It’s a stout aged in French oak Pinot Noir barrels that’s brewed about an hour away.

Back to some craft beer
Back to some craft beer

After the beer I swing out in search of a burger. I stop at restaurant called 8bit. It’s pretty much exactly what I’m in search of. Just a little taste of the good old American burger. It’s a beautiful change from all of the excellent rices, noodles, soups, and street foods that I was eating nonstop out in Southeast Asia.

I need food like this
I need food like this

After the burger I swing out to Forester’s Hall, which is also supposed to have craft beer. They do, but the setting is much larger. I think this is probably a good place on weekends when it’s full but it’s empty tonight. I see bottles of Rogue’s Sriracha selling for $38 Australian dollars, which is about $29 US dollars. That’s a pretty expensive price. Everything here seems expensive, especially in contrast with Southeast Asia. Back there just about everything you ate or drank was priced from $0.30 to $2 US dollar for everything from a water, soda, energy drink, beer, alcoholic drink, snack, meal, coffee, tea, etc. You’ll go into 7-11 and pick up two or three things and the price will be $1 US dollar. You order two things for dinner and a beer and the price is $5 US dollar. Here it’s different. Mountain dews are $3 US dollar. A sandwich is about $10. A taxi from the airport would have been $40 US for a half hour drive. Back in Southeast Asia a taxi for a half hour was about $8. You could go an hour for that price if you found someone to split the ride with. I’m distracted from prices when I hear some Springsteen being played. It’s cool to hear that Asbury sound out in Melbourne.

While I’m sipping on a pretty bad Bloody Mary flavored beer, I hear news that my buddy’s aunt passed away. She was a really nice lady and it’s sad news to hear. I decide to swing out to grab a cup of something in her honor.

I end up grabbing a pour of Fernet Branca at Bar Ampere, an absinthe bar. I talk with the bartenders there. One mentions he’s going out to New York. We talk about the states a bit. He’s into liquor and is planning a trip out to Kentucky to sample bourbons.

After a night of walking about I head back to the hotel to grab some sleep so that I’ll be ready to explore in the morning.

Aug 24, 2016

The plan for the day is to check out the National Gallery of Victoria. It’s a nice museum but unfortunately both wings of the modern and contemporary exhibits are closed, which is what I was most looking forward to.

Thinking man
Thinking man

After checking out the gallery I head out for some food. I grab another burger because I’m missing home. There are a lot of food options for delicious looking Asian cuisine which I’m not in the mood for. Most of the food billed as Australian seems to be a bit fancier that I’m looking to get into.

After my burger I stroll about doing some shopping looking for a shirt or two but I don’t find anything that interests me.

I slowly make my way out to the airport. I’m departing Melbourne 9 PM to arrive at Sydney for 10:25 PM. While I’m checking in for my flight the girl asks if I’m from Jersey. I figure she’s talking about the area out in the UK. I tell her I’m from by New York, in America. She asks again if I’m from Jersey. “New Jersey?” I ask. “Yea, New Jersey,” she says. I say that I am. Her boyfriend is living there. He’s a Cuban from Elizabeth. She’s been to Jersey 18 times and is moving in a couple months. We talk about Melbourne and she says a lot of the good things about the city are outside of it. Great Ocean Road and whatnot. I tell her I wanted to go, but the compass of my heart points towards home. I guess you can’t trust a city that has some of its best attractions hours outside of it. Melbourne was fine. Safe. Comfortable to live in. A few things to see and do. It’s got everything you need. But it doesn’t have the magic that other great cities I’ve been to have.

The weather is rainy and cold when I get to Sydney. My bag was soaked by the transport from the plane to the baggage claim. It isn’t really a big worry because the inside of my bag has been waterproofed by a contractor bag. Otherwise I would have been in for wet clothes. By the time I figure out the train and catch a transfer out to the Circular Quay area of Sydney it’s pretty late. My walk to the hotel room takes me past the opera house. It’s cold and raining but I have to take the camera out for a quick picture. This is my welcome to Sydney.

My welcome to Sydney
My welcome to Sydney

I go to check into the hotel but there’s a note on the door saying to call a number so that they can let me in. The only problem isn’t I can’t make phone calls. I eventually find a restaurant that is open nearby and I walk in ask a hostess if I can use her phone. She lets me and I call the number for the hotel staff to open the door. Checkout is 10:30 AM here, so I mostly get right to sleep. I’m tired but excited to see the city the next day.

Aug 25, 2016

I wake up, late for checkout again. For whatever reason in Australia and New Zealand checkout is 10 AM, not the noon time that seems more customary everywhere else I’ve been in the world. I don’t mind it though. It’s wintertime so the days are a bit shorter and I’d prefer to get an earlier start to my days if possible.

First up for the day is strolling about the harbor area. The sidewalks that were completely empty in the cold rain and wind of the previous night have become full with people. I see the opera house again to see what it looks like in the daytime. One of my earliest memories of far away lands and travel from my childhood was this exact area. I remember seeing the opera house on Wheel of Fortune as part of an Australian vacation you could win. I guess it was at that point that my desire to see Australia started. Seeing that different modern looking building made me think Australia was cool. Throughout the years I always thought that the building was so beautiful. I never really knew anyone who made it out to Australia until I was much older. I guess because the distance is so far. And because I never heard personal stories about Australia from people I grew up with I never thought I would make it out to visit.

But here I am. At the place that I remember from two decades ago from some random episode of Wheel of Fortune. Looking at that building that I thought was so beautiful and different and faraway and cool. Twenty years later it is as beautiful as those early memories I had of it. It’s a great building. And it paves the way for Sydney being a great city.

Obligatory
Obligatory

Selfie time. Travel beard is becoming pretty long. I think I’ll keep it for a couple days when I get back home, before turning it into a mustache for a twenty-four hour period, and then finally shaving it to get back to the clean shaven look that I think is a good look these days.

Also obligatory
Also obligatory

After a quick stroll, I get breakfast. Or maybe it’s lunch at this point. It’s kind of out of order, but I was too excited to see the opera house. The meal comprises of some scones and jam and a long black. It’s at the cutest little place that you might find your grandma hanging out at. In the top left of the photo you may notice balls of yarn on your table in case you have the urge to do any knitting. I don’t hate it at all. Older women generally have seen and done a lot. There’s a reason they enjoy things like this. They know it’s some of the best stuff that life has to offer. I’ve always found it a good practice to do something that someone from a much different age or sex would do. You learn about the world and learn about yourself. Do something girly once in a while. Do something old.

Eating like a rich woman
Eating like a rich woman

After a delicious and relaxing bite it’s time to see some more art. Yes, this art kick is still going strong. There’s a contemporary museum right on the harbor, which I’m thrilled about. A lot of the stuff in there is, well, contemporary. It’s refreshing to me to see identification tags on the wall where the creation date is 2016. Many of the pieces here were made at some point this year. There are a lot of cool ideas, concepts, and experimentation going on. Regardless of whether you consider these masterpieces or “that’s so stupid, that’s not even art,” there’s a lot to see and think about. You can learn a lot and apply a lot of these concepts to a lot of other fields. I thought these neon books were pretty fun. The room that they’re in is not this dark in real life, but sometimes with art I like to take great liberties and present the pieces in a remixed way here. Of course any way I represent something like this won’t be true to its real form for a variety of reasons.

All of the books, all of the books
All of the books, all of the books

I was viewing another piece completely to myself. It’s a dark room with a doorway. From the top of the doorway mist is falling. A scrolling letter is projected onto the mist and it illuminates that doorway. The letter is also visible on the floor. The letter is from Gandhi to Hitler written before the war. As I’m watching this for a couple minutes a group of schoolgirls walk in. They are on a tour of the museum and the instructor is having the girls do an exercise. Half of the girls are blindfolded, and the other half are not. The girls are paired off in twos. The girls who can see are supposed to explain what they are seeing to their partner. After a minute or two the girls take the blindfolds off and see the art with their eyes. It’s a pretty cool example of description vs reality. I thought it would make for a pretty cool picture. And now that you have heard my description of it you can see the photograph to see how my description compared to the visual.

Silhouetted human form
Silhouetted human form

After the art it was time for some food and to swing out to another craft beer place. The food is another burger. I’m almost getting tired of these, but not just yet. The craft beer bar I stop at is Bitter Phew. They have a nice bottle list and some good sounding drafts. I’m pretty pumped to see Westvleteren XII on the list. It’s one of the highest rated beers out of a Belgian abbey. During my trip to Europe I drove about an hour and a half away from the brewery but wasn’t able to stop in due to time constraints. The beer shows up occasionally for a taste, but it’s pretty rare. Unfortunately they are sold out but they probably could get a bottle in a couple days for me. Unfortunately I have to grab something else as I am leaving Sydney the following morning.

Almost got that XII
Almost got that XII

The plan for afterwards is to head out to Bondi beach and walk about and check out the area. The bar tender tells me a better option would be to take a ferry out to Manly beach. He agrees Bondi is a bigger and more famous name but he argues the cheap ferry ride is better transportation than a bus. He says both beaches will be like a beach would be in the winter. It makes sense to me so I head out to grab a ferry out to Manly.

On the way to the ferry I stroll through the art gallery of new south wales and the royal botanical gardens. Eventually I get on the boat and head out to the beach. Here’s another selfie of me and one of my favorite buildings.

And another one
And another one

I mess about with some photography on the beach. I’m definitely pretty happy with this shot of the beach that I got. It was dark and there wasn’t too much to shoot in the darkness. The way I shot and edited this picture makes it seem more like a painting. This is a concept that I want to explore more of with photography. Try to capture pictures that you can make look like paintings without too much editing. Also, don’t dive or swim near the pipes.

I actually like this pic
I actually like this pic

After some fish and chips it’s time to take the ferry back to Sydney. I grab my gear from the hotel and grab a train to the airport. The plan is to grab a couple hours of sleep in the airport because I have an early international flight in the morning to New Zealand. Sydney airport closes overnight, so unfortunately anyone trying to do this is shoveled into a pretty terribly uncomfortable waiting area. Guards come up to you and check your ticket and identification to make sure you’re not trying to score a free night of sleep there. Although with the alarms, loud noises, and uncomfortable waiting area, I’m not sure why you would want to.

Aug 26, 2016

Morning comes. Or maybe the night just went. I sleep for maybe an hour or so. Eventually I board the plane. The flight takes about three hours and thankfully there is no one in my row so I’m able to lay down and sleep during most of the flight.

I grab my bag and head out to the rental car place to grab my car. I’m pretty excited to be able to be driving a car where the wheel is on the right side and you drive on the left side of the road. To make things even more complicated it was supposed to be a manual transmission, but they gave me an automatic. Driving actually is fairly difficult for a little while. You obviously can’t make the mistake of driving on the wrong side of the road, which means you have to go against years and years of what your brain wants you to do. The advice of keeping left sounds easy, but it’s weird doing it in reality. And when you are driving properly on the left side of the road your brain is slightly in panic mode because it thinks you are on the wrong side of the road. It takes some time for your brain to come to peace with what you are doing, and a bit longer to get comfortable and drive without thinking about it.

I get to the hotel and check in and head to bed for some sleep since I didn’t get much the night before.

Eventually I wake up and head out to check out the town and search for some food, as it is around 10 at night. The town is busy. There are drunk people all over. The bars and restaurants are full. A lot of people seem like they’re having a good time. For whatever reason I’m only interested in a bite of food and get a feel for the town. Apparently the burgers at Fergburger are a must have. I get a tropical swine burger off of recommendation. It has pineapple, bacon, aioli, and tomato relish in addition to what you might expect on a standard cheeseburger. It’s a pretty solid burger, and I think with it, I’ll finally be done with my burger kick.

And more burgers
And more burgers

After the burger I stroll about the town before returning to Fergbaker, which is a bakery that is next door to the burger place. I grab a double espresso and a boston cream donut for dessert. After the bite and drink I head back to the hotel for a night of sleep.

Aug 27, 2016

Check out in New Zealand is often 10 AM like it is in Australia. I wake up and get on the road for my drive down to the Milford Sound area. A lot of my journey and time in New Zealand will be seeing beautiful landscapes from the car. I’ll be stopping as I go to get out for pictures and eating the standard road tripping gas station foods.

First I grab a shot from the Queenstown area.

Queenstown
Queenstown

The total drive down to the sound will be about four hours. It doesn’t seem like much time because you are looking at some of the most beautiful views in the world.

Driving to Milford Sound
Driving to Milford Sound

There are a lot of beautiful rocks down in the south island.

Just pull the car over and shoot
Just pull the car over and shoot

And some pretty cool birds too.

Good old kea
Good old kea

I get to the sound but all of the cruise ships are done sailing for the day. I don’t mind missing out because I was stopping so much on the way down. There is also the potential for snow later and I’d prefer to travel the return leg back up to the Queenstown area during the day if possible. The lighting and warmer temperatures and lack of snow will make for a much safer trip. You can still see some good views of the sound without getting on a boat.

Milford Sound
Milford Sound

These are probably the best views of the sound, but if you are looking for a boat ride then that is a common thing to do down this way.

It's a beautiful area
It’s a beautiful area

After strolling about I swing back up. There is one area where the lakes are supposed to look like mirrors on calm days.

Mirror lake
Mirror lake

I get back to the Queenstown area and book a hotel out in the Aoraki/Mount Cook village. The plan for the next day is to see Mount Cook so I figure I’d like to get as close to it as possible. There is a great opportunity to see some stars out this way. I’m fortunate that a new moon is a couple days away and the clouds have parted. I get out of my car at the top of one pass to view the stars. They are gorgeous out here. The milky way is visible for sure. I know because I pointed my camera at it and snapped a picture. It’s not intended to be a great shot, but more proof to myself that I now definitely have seen it. I know I saw it out in the deserts of Nevada on a drive out to Las Vegas last summer, but now I have proof for myself that I definitely have seen it.

I definitely saw the milky way
I definitely saw the milky way

I eventually get to the hotel and check in after midnight. It’s been a long day of driving but there have been a lot of beautiful views.

Aug 28, 2016

Another day and another set of beautiful views. This is why I came to New Zealand. I love seeing this stuff in real life. I love driving hours from place to place and watching how the scenery changes.

It’s cloudy up at the top of Mount Cook today but there are still some good views to be had. Thankfully last night’s potential snowfall has held off leaving the roads clear for driving.

Up by Mt Cook
Up by Mt Cook

Driving down from Mount Cook takes you along Lake Pukaki. It’s a gorgeous lake.

Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki

I’m completely out of gas at the bottom of it. I’m not worried though. I know I will be able to find gas. I’m a road trip expert. Gas, and everything really, is scarce in the countryside of New Zealand. Outside of the few cities, New Zealand does not have much in between other than beautiful views and some sheep and cattle. And anything that it does have is often closed early or only open on certain days. I’m not worried about being low on gas because I know there is a town close by that should definitely have it. But just to be safe I head into an information building and ask about the closest station.

Inside I talk to a lady and she confirms gas is only a couple minutes away in the town that I thought would have it. Also inside is coffee and randomly a lot of salmon sashimi. Like a lot of it. With soy sauce and wasabi. I’m not exactly sure why it’s here, but I’m definitely trying to get some. It’s fresh water farmed right down the road and it is delicious. Coffee and salmon sashimi. I will cosign this combination at just about any moment of my life. Especially when it can be enjoyed with views like Lake Pukaki.

Salmon sashimi
Salmon sashimi

The plan for today is to drive out to the Punakaiki coast. I’m in for about six and a half hours of total driving, but I’m excited. The views out in New Zealand really are amazing. You have your mix of sheep and cows and country, but some of the mountains and valleys are just top notch. It’s awesome to just pull over and take a break and just look out on such beautiful land.

Pulling over in New Zealand
Pulling over in New Zealand

And another shot of further down the road.

And another stop
And another stop

It’s a great drive and I get to the Greymouth area for a night of sleep. I don’t want to drive up the coast during the night, so I stay a bit south of it. I’m pretty beat from the driving and lack of sleeping and just general grind of the trip, so I slide off to bed for the night.

Aug 29, 2016

The beauty doesn’t really ever stop in New Zealand. The Punakaiki coast is beautiful. Even in the rain and cloudy weather.

Punakaiki coastal drive
Punakaiki coastal drive

And in the sun and clear weather.

Just a great drive
Just a great drive

These pancake rocks are a big deal out here. I also haven’t eaten yet and there is a cafe selling pancakes outside of this park.

Pancake rocks
Pancake rocks

Yea so I haven’t eaten yet. I’m looking at the pancake rocks. And they sell homemade pancakes right outside of this park.

And some more
And some more

These aren’t pancake rocks. But there are pancakes just around the corner.

It's a beautiful coast
It’s a beautiful coast

Ok, a quick selfie and then I’m getting some pancakes, bacon, and a long black.

Selfie game getting stronger
Selfie game getting stronger

The banana pancakes I order taste about as good as pancakes can taste for me. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet breakfast, but they hit the spot. The coffee is nice as well. I’ve been drinking hotel coffee for a month now, and while I loved the stuff in southeast Asia (for whatever reason), it’s starting to taste pretty terrible down in New Zealand. I don’t have a picture of the pancakes, and although I probably post food pictures too often, I will not be posting one here. I mean they’re pancakes. Nothing really too special.

I hop back in the car to get back to the drive. Today is going to be a long drive. The drive (and ferry) is supposed to take about thirteen and a half hours. Yup. I’ll see how much of it I can get done. This will be by far the longest drive of the trip. It’s the last long travel scheduled for the trip, minus the return flight home. If I can get through this day of travel then I will be able to complete the trip. But again, I wanted to do this drive. New Zealand is a gorgeous country. It’s one of the most beautiful in the world. Plus 1,600+ miles in a week isn’t even all that taxing for me. I can drive forever. So yea, driving selfie time.

Next level selfie game
Next level selfie game

And these views never end.

Horseshoe bend
Horseshoe bend

The plan for the three hour ferry ride is to get some sleep. But instead I end up getting all of the pictures up to date so I can finally get around to getting a post up.

The ferry ride is a nice break from the driving, so when we dock, I’m ready to get back to the driving. Unfortunately the nighttime covers the beautiful scenery that I’m used to seeing. I drive and drive until I can’t drive any more. I actually end up getting to Taupo, which has a beautiful lake. I drive around and finally find a hotel that has an open lobby. It’s about 3 in the morning by the time I check in and about 4 or 5 by the time I get to sleep. Checkout is at noon, which is nice. The extra couple hours of sleep are needed. And I’m close to what I want to see the following day so all is well.

Aug 30, 2016

I’m pretty excited to be able to check out Lake Taupo. I didn’t think I would have time to see this but it worked out that I was able to see it. It’s a nice relaxing area with some good views. Even in the north island of New Zealand you can find some nice mountains.

Mount Tauhara
Mount Tauhara

And selfie time. At this point, being a month into travel I’m starting to give in to the beautiful vanity of photographing yourself. I might just start embracing the narcissism. Black and white pictures of me drinking coffee in a beautiful location.

Just here for internet cool points
Just here for internet cool points

Nah, I’m just kidding. Back to the drive. The drive to Rotorua is only about an hour. When I get to Rotorua I have a drive around. I realize I want to backtrack about twenty minutes to check out the Wai-O-Tapu park. You have to pay entry but there is some cool stuff here to check out. The trees are alright.

Some nice trees
Some nice trees

There is a pool of water called Devil’s Bath unlike anything I even knew existed. I see this and I kind of can’t believe I haven’t seen this or heard about this before. Look at this water. I tragically caught most of it in the shade but you can see the absurd bright green in the sunlight off to the left of the picture.

Never seen water like this
Never seen water like this

I mean, this is a picture taken from the earth.

TGRI ooze color
TGRI ooze color

There are also some pretty cool pools of water with some steam coming off of them. It’s probably a good idea to take a selfie in front of them showcasing your gorgeous hair. It’s important to avoid all eye contact because people will think you’re much cooler that way.

This is getting kind of fun
This is getting kind of fun

The rock, water, and steam are also pretty cool. The colors would be a bit nicer with better lighting and less steam but watching the steam dance over the water and land is pretty nice.

Otherworldly
Otherworldly

At this point since this is the last picture of the post it’s important to really dial the swag up. So back to black and white. Throw the hood up. Add a mild slouch to the posture. Perfect.

Look at how cool I am
Look at how cool I am

In all honesty, I’m actually pretty happy with this picture. I love the minimalness of it. I love the trifecta of nature, a manmade element, and man himself. The light and darkness is balanced pretty well. The fence pretty gloriously cuts the picture up rather well and I’m pretty happy with the location of my body in the photo.

That’s about it. I probably would have had a post out a long while ago but I decided to upgrade my server for no reason in the process of doing my previous write up. This writeup is a bit rushed as it’s been tough to find time to write, but I think it’s reasonable. I’m happy with some of the shots I’ve been able to get. For roadtripping New Zealand there is a lot more emphasis on photos in comparison to writing, as I am mostly driving and taking pictures. There isn’t too much to say, but there is a lot to see.

I’ll be out here only a couple more days before swinging back home. The entire trip has been amazing. I’m happy with everything I’ve seen and done. It’s been a killer experience. I’ll be enjoying these last couple days but am definitely looking forward to getting back home and kicking butt at everything.

I was thinking on one of my drives that I’m going to be ultra sad when life is over. I’m putting my all into it and it’s paying off dividends. But I kind of just want an infinite amount of time to be able to work on my passions and dreams. Unfortunately that time is the furthest thing from infinite. It moves quickly. It’s merciless. It will pass regardless of how you choose to spend it.

I hope you have all been well.