Some of the earliest pictures of Hali had her holding a toy telephone; she soon exchanged it for a camera and by the time she was 8 she was the one taking pictures. Back in her college and dental school years she took many pictures of her friends and for the school’s yearbook using analog cameras, but took a long hiatus from photography as she began her dental practice. After marrying the wonderful Jim Sowle, they started traveling, hiking, and rock climbing. Along with Jim, she started taking pictures again. Instead of people, her new interests are nature and wildlife. Together Hali and Jim have been lucky enough to travel extensively within the US and to many places overseas; vacations always include their cameras. Hali is a Getty Images photographer, selling several of her photos to international publications and is a contributor for many charity events here in Rhode Island and around the US.
Mike (AKA Jim, AKA Jim-Mike) has travelled alongside his eminently more talented wife, here and there. He has gotten a few lucky shots and has included some of those shots in a portfolio web page. The portfolio may not be up to date so be sure to look at the latest vacation pages for other images!
We were looking for a Caribbean get-away in late November to celebrate some unnamed person's double-nickel b-day. We often do the Sandals thing, but (for one reason or another) we decided to try this new place we had heard about in Barbados. Hali had never been there, and I hadn't been there in decades. We didn't know what to expect, but we were excited to try a new place!
A long, long time ago (June) we took a trip down the East Coast to visit two beautifully scenic and popular destinations -- Savannah and Charleston. We had heard a lot about these destinations, but we had never visited the area. We split a one week vacation between the two locations, starting in Savannah and ending in Charleston. We had researched both areas and it seemed that many people preferred one location over the other. It's difficult to truly "know" a location after just a few short days, but our first impression favored Savannah. We would visit both cities again without hesitation, but we found Savannah a little more in-line with our tastes. It's a smaller town (which we prefer) and our impression was that the people seemed more friendly in general. Both locations were wonderful to visit, and both have unique aspects to draw appreciative tourists.
Over the years we had heard a little (here and there) about a place near Glacier National Park that hosted captive wildlife photography sessions. After hearing about it enough, Hali looked into it more closely and found the idea to be very appealing. So we booked a session in early January (2016) to find out what it was all about.
We didn't really know what to expect, but the trip and the experience were truly wonderful. First of all we'd like to acknowledge that there is some debate amongst wildlife enthusiasts regarding places like the Triple D. From everything that we saw, these animals could not possibly have a better life. It was extremely apparent that all of the animals are treated with such personal loving care and respect -- we could not help but to be impressed. The handlers and trainers were fantastic and clearly had caring relationships with the animals under their care. The whole operation is really well run, but we give extra kudos to the head trainer (Heather) for allowing us to all get some fantastic photographic opportunities.
We had never been to area around Glacier National Park in the winter, so we thought we would extend the trip to a full week and drive around a bit after our time with the Triple D. We drove up near Glacier National Park, down to the National Bison Range, and then over to Nine Pipes National Wildlife Refuge. The weather was wintry, but not as bad as it could have been. It snowed a little here and there, but it was not windy and we had no stormy weather until our last day. We were well prepared for extended outdoor time, but it was still brrrisk!
Almost exactly 5 years after our previous trip to Yellowstone, we decided to take a return trip to the area. This time around we left about 2 weeks earlier in the month in hopes of catching the peak Aspen foliage season in the Grand Teton National Park. Unlike the previous trip, this trip included a stay outside the East entrance in the Shoshone National Forest. From there we took 2 day trips over to the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Management Area (near Cody).
The weather was mixed, but it never was really a problem. It snowed one day (which sent us back from the Dunraven Pass) but it cleared in a day or two. We had a little snow, some rain, lots of sun, some cold, and some warmth. Like I said -- mixed!
We saw a bit less wildlife as compared to the previous trip. However this trip included a VERY close experience with a Grizzly bear. We also had the misfortune to have a hunter shoot a Pronghorn Antelope WHILE WE WERE PHOTOGRAPHING IT, and we were not that far away from it. That was at the McCullough Peaks area, and that really changed our opion of hunters in general. It also drives home the difference between National Parks and BLM areas (please support our National Parks). That experience aside, photographing the wild horses was a great new adventure.
Just like the previous trip, we saw tourists getting ridiculously close to large and dangerous wildlife. Luckily there was no consequence for those people (although think of the pictures we could have gotten -- kidding). Oh we also spent more time in the geyser area this time around, and we happened to catch Old Faithful erupting. We put almost 3000 miles on the rental car in 2 weeks, but it didn't really seem crazy at the time. All in all, we had a really nice time. We've included a select group of photos in this web page, and we hope you will enjoy viewing them as much as we enjoyed making them.
This was a big year for our niece, Hannah. She graduated from high school and also graduated from college with an Associate's degree. We wanted to be there for these graduations, and we also wanted to spend more time in San Francisco. What a great vacation idea to do both in the same week! We spent a few days wandering around the city, and then spent a few days visiting with my sister's family and attending a couple of graduations as proud relatives. This was a very fun trip, and we have some images to show you a little of what our trip was like.
Hali and I went to Florida to visit some relatives. We lucked into a nicer patch of weather, and it was much-much warmer than the weather back home! While we were down there, we drove around St Augustine and down to Merritt Island to do some photography. We even drove over to an area called Viera Wetlands that we had never been to before. This was a low-key trip for us, and we really didn't go crazy taking pictures. That being said, we did manage to take a few. We've included some of those pictures here, and we hope you enjoy them!
A couple of years ago we went on a photography tour in Costa Rica that was co-led by Greg Basco. We had such a great trip, that we began checking Greg's tour schedule to see when we might be able to take another trip with him. The stars aligned last November and we finally went on our second photography tour with Greg. As with the first trip, we stayed at wonderful places, ate amazingly good food, and had plenty of photographic opportunities of all kinds.
This was our fourth trip to Sandals Whitehouse and we were really looking forward to getting back to what had been our favorite Sandals resort.
Whitehouse opened 9 years ago and at that time was the flagship of the Sandals company. The resort is still beautiful, with expansive grounds and a beautiful beach. However, it is starting to show its age. That being said, it is still a nice resort with a great staff overall -- and we had a wonderful time.
We flew out to San Francisco for a trip up the Northern California coastline. It was a trip we had wanted to take for a while and timed it to hopefully coincide with the blooming of the Rhododendrons in the Redwoods. Hali had a few things she really wanted to shoot while we were there, but the big two were (1) Sea Anemones in tide pools and (2) Rhododendrons with Redwood trees and fog. We had some mixed luck with her wish list, so we'll just have to go back again! In particular, the fabled fog seemed to be elusive for us. Maybe we just didn't wake up early enough.
After 16 1/2 years, we have finally gone back to our honeymoon resort -- Sandals Negril. We hadn't really been avoiding it. It was just that some other trip or resort always came up. In the years since we were last there, the Sandals Negril resort has undergone some significant modifications. And more modifications were underway during our stay. In general, we found the resort to be wonderful! The water sports at this resort are very enjoyable, and the water ski equipment must have just been updated because the ski I was using seemed very new. The water was very calm for the first half of our trip, and that made for not only nice water skiing, but very nice snorkeling as well. About half-way through the trip the weather became a little more unruly, but we still enjoyed every day.
On a whim, we decided to take our first surf-specific trip. We had heard that Nosara is a nice, quiet surf town in Costa Rica. We looked into it a bit and made the decision to give it a try. This was a very different kind of vacation for us -- on several levels. This was not a photo trip, and this was not an all-inclusive resort trip. We were a bit unsure of what we were getting ourselves into, but we were very happy with the way things turned out.
The town of Nosara has a small population of locals and a large population of surf and yoga tourists. Almost every tourist we met was in town for one of those two things, and the local businesses all cater to those tourists. This makes for a very interesting ambiance! This town is pretty much out in the 'sticks'. The roads in the area are all unpaved. This means that it is muddy when it rains and dusty when it doesn't. We timed our trip to fall just at the beginning of dry season, and wound up getting a bit of left-over rain. Still, we only had one day that was a wash-out. One thing that really struck us was the lack of litter anywhere. The roadsides, the town, and the beach were all amazingly free of liter (considering the number of tourists that constantly visit the area).
We looked over a couple of resorts and hotels in the area and decided on the Harmony Hotel. This hotel is a bit more upscale then some other surf-hotels in the area, and we were very pleased by the luxury of the accommodations. Breakfast is the only meal included with the room price, but it is a very grand breakfast (not just toast and coffee). The menu included a wide variety of eggs, pancakes, and fruit dishes -- all made really well. The in-house restaurant also served lunch and dinner, with great choices there also. We often went to the on-property juice bar for lunch. Situated near the spa, the juice bar offered some wonderful and eclectic choices for sandwiches, smoothies, and snacks. For dinner, we left the property twice to try other local restaurants and were very happy with those excursions. The amazing Dolce Vita is a must for anyone that likes Italian food. Outstanding! There were several other places within walking distance for lunch choices, and we often enjoyed sandwiches at the local bagel shop. We would occasionally see howler monkeys traveling by as we walked around. Happily, these monkeys did not throw anything at us (at least that we noticed).
Nova Scotia has been on our list of places to visit for some time. Hali had been there many years ago with her friend Eva, and has been anxious to return. We picked the very end of the summer season in hopes that we might miss the worst of the summer tourist crowd. We began driving up through Maine in the last week of August. We spent a couple of nights in Camden, Maine and then drove to St John, New Brunswick. After a night there, we caught the ferry over to Digby, Nova Scotia. Two nights in Digby, then on to Shelburne for one night. Then 3 nights up near Peggy's Cove before heading on to Truro. After 3 nights there, we drove back to St John for one night there. Then a final one night stay back in Camden before heading home! We put about 2700 miles on the car!
Nova Scotia is so beautiful! One beautiful seaside town after another, all along the south coast. And we were lucky with the weather. We only had one day that was a total wash-out, and we used that as our 'down-time' day. More than once we heard people saying it was the best weather they had seen all summer. The fog can roll in fast and thick, but the end of summer is much better than the beginning of summer.
Of course, the seafood was incredibly good. Many places favor the fried foods, but other places can be found. We have listed some of our recommendations below, for anyone that may be traveling to that area. If you enjoy scenic coastal towns, south-western Nova Scotia is a must-see destination for you! As you might imagine, we took a few photos along the way.
We were looking for a Spring trip, and flights to the Caribbean were running a bit high. The Florida Keys have been on our trip list for a while, and the flight prices were good. That made up our minds!
We had plans on doing a ton of snorkeling, but the weather wasn't that great for it (the water was pretty turned up due to some high winds). Fortunately, we also brought along a camera or two. We managed to keep ourselves busy, as you might imagine. We took it pretty easy, and just enjoyed being down there. Most of all we enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. Most of the keys (with the exception of Key West) are pretty quiet, so it was a great place to rest and relax a bit.
We ate at some really super restaurants, and even found a nice coffee shop or two. The weather was great, with only a bit of rain at night. In fact most nights were cloudy, but the days were sunny and bright.
Notable places included: The Square Grouper restaurant on Cudjoe Key, The Fish House (Encore) restaurant on Key Largo, Moka Cafe on Plantation Key, The Hampton Inn on Key Largo, Parmer's Resort on Little Torch Key, and several others we cannot recall. It was very nice place to visit, and we'd go back in a heartbeat!
We spent a week at the Excellence Riviera Cancun in November. This resort is located just South of the main Cancun resort area, but before the Playa del Carmen area. The weather was very good, with some occasional passing clouds. I think we had an hour of rain on one day, but that was the worst of it. This resort features very nice restaurants and bars, as well as a soft sandy beach that was perfect for long walks (or beach volleyball).
This resort did not have much for water sports, so we did a fair amount of swimming in the pool (in addition to our morning workouts every day). We rarely pulled out the cameras, but we did manage to snap a few to remember the trip.
This was a special Birthday year for Hali, and she decided that a 2 week trip to Costa Rica was the best way to observe the occasion. She found a great photo tour for Costa Rica -- even if it was several months prior to her actual B-day. The tour was with Moab Photo Tours and Tom Till, in conjunction with Greg Basco (Foto Verde Tours).
The trip began just outside of San Jose proper at the lovely Hotel Bougainvillea. This wonderful hotel is really more like a small resort. Sure it has great rooms (with wi-fi), fantastic food at reasonable prices, a great pool area, and a fitness room. But it also has very large, well kept grounds that are fantastic to roam about. All kinds of birds frequent the grounds, and the ponds are home to some of the highly endangered Yellow-eyed Leaf Frogs.
After a couple of days on own own, we then met with the remaining 6 tour attendees and moved on to the lowlands rainforest portion of the tour. The resort there was a great place named 'Selva Verde'. This place was loaded with poison dart frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, basilisk lizards, and all kinds of interesting wildlife. There was no A/C in any of the resorts on this trip, so you have to be prepared for high humidity conditions. The things you will see are well worth the sweat!
The next destination was the Arenal Observatory Lodge, right next to the Arenal Volcano. This is another great resort with superb food and expansive grounds. Even as we unpacked from the van we saw a Coati just a few feet away. There are a great variety of birds and wildlife to be seen here, as well as super views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. The amazing, bubbling sound of the Oropendola could often be heard, and that is something you might want to look up online. The pool and hot-tub were also very nice!
Next we traveled to the cloud forest and a resort called 'Bosque de Paz'. This was a nice place with some great trails. Our only issue here was that we had a few too many multi-legged guests in our room for our comfort. Very good food though, and some beautiful hummingbirds and streams to photograph.
The beach at the La Toc resort is a natural sand beach with swell ranging from nearly calm to chest-high shore break. This proved to be a challenge for some of the water sports. Fortunately, there is a free shuttle over to another Sandals resort that had more calm water (and more importantly, water skiing).
As usual, the food and service were very good. A good time was had by all, and a few pictures were taken along the way. These trips are not really photo trips, but we try to break out the cameras every now and then to get a few shots. We hope you enjoy viewing them as much as we enjoyed taking them!
This was a typical tropical vacation for us -- which means a lot of fun activities! People ask if we get bored just sitting on the beach all day, but we really don't sit that much. Let's talk about an actual one-day example. We rise just before the sun and do our daily crunches (250). The water looks glassy, so we go for a fantastic water ski. It was so nice that we go back for another pull. Then we head back and swim our laps for the day. Then breakfast, and then tennis lessons. Then we take the Hobie out for a sail. Then we play some beach volleyball. After a late lunch we do some paddle boarding. Then more beach volleyball. Then some sunset photography by the water, and then a delightful dinner. There's not much resting, it's anything but boring! As always, we took some pictures along the way. We've put them on this website for our own future reference, and to share them with friends.
It had been years since we'd taken a long trip to Bar Harbor, and we decided it would be a fun thing to do for Hali's B-day. We did a fair bit of hiking this trip, as well as some occasional photography (of course). We finally made it back up Precipice trail -- which was a blast! We also had many fine walks around the down-town area, and had many fine meals. The weather was sometimes a little cloudy, but generally it was very nice.
There is a place called 'The Alligator Farm' down in St Augustine, Florida. The farm is a bit of a zoo, but it's also home to a large bird rookery. The birds fly in to nest and breed there every year because the alligators below deter most of the common threats that nesting birds would endure (a weasel or a rat is probably not going to make it past the 'gator gauntlet). They have their chicks and then fly off for another year. If you can be there during the nesting period, it can be quite a show! This web page includes two trips -- one in April when the nests were being built, and one in June after the chicks have hatched. It took us a long time to thin out all of the images we shot, but we hope you enjoy them!
Hali and I had a hankering to go someplace tropical right after the new year. We found the resorts to be doing a surprisingly brisk business, and it took us a while to settle on a destination. We finally decided to return to a resort we visited back in 2006. Back then, this resort (located on the Negril coast of Jamaica) was known as 'The Grand Lido'. It's name has since been demoted to the 'Breezes Grand'.
We returned to this resort because we could snorkel right off the beach, and we remembered the food and drinks as being very good. The weather during our stay we very nice. We experienced one or two evening rain showers, but it was otherwise dry and mostly sunny. The cloudy days were not cold, but instead provided an enjoyable respite to the strong sun. The water was as wonderful as we remembered! This was not a 'photo trip', but we did bring a camera or two. On the pages that follow we have shared those images, along with a resort review on the final page.
Yellowstone National Park had been on our tick list for a long time. This year we finally decided to get to it! We spent about 9 days based out of the North entrance (Gardener, Montana), and then went down to Grand Teton National Park (Jackson, Wyoming) for another 3. Wow -- what a trip! There is just so much to see. And the weather was unusually mild. Lows in the colder areas were down in the 20's, but most daytime highs were in the 80's! We saw so many amazing sights that we may have gotten carried away with the picture taking. This site is a little larger than what we normally post! We hope you enjoy the images.
There are many great wildlife and birding areas between Fort Meyers and the Everglades, but we didn't see many of them the last time we were there.
For this trip we definitely wanted to re-visit the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We also made first-time visits to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Sanctuary, and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. As a bonus, we hired a boat out of the Everglades (Chokoloskee) to take us out for a different view of the wildlife.
While we were there we got to visit with Mom & Dad. Mom had wanted to collect shells on Captiva Island, so we spent some time on the beautiful beach there. The weather during our stay was really terrific. We had cool mornings and warm days, with only half a day of rain for the whole week. We got to see some interesting sites, including a venue of vultures feeding upon an alligator carcass! Cool!
St Lucia is a small Caribbean island about halfway down the leeward island chain. It's 239 square miles would fit into Rhode Island about 6.5 times. Thanks to the terrain (and roadways) of St Lucia, it takes longer to drive the length of St Lucia than it does to drive the length of Rhode Island. St Lucia's nearest island neighbor is Martinique -- just 21 miles away. This island has a very interesting history (see this link for more information).
This was our second time in St Lucia, but our first time at the Sandals Grande St Lucian. This resort is in the northern-most part of the island. However, we had to fly into the southern airport. The bus ride over the length of the island is not for those with a weak stomach! We survived the trip, but we were both feeling a little green by the time we arrived! The warm welcome at the resort had us feeling better in no time...
This was really just a trip for R&R, and not so much a photography trip. Of course, we still brought cameras and took pictures. We spent the most time sailing the resort Hobies, although there are no pictures of us doing so. We also did a fair amount of swimming and water skiing. The weather was WONDERFUL! It was upper eighties during the day and lower eighties at night. We had one day with a few passing showers, but not enough to keep us inside. Every day was generally very sunny and breezy.
We planned on taking an excursion or two during this trip, but the destinations always required lengthy bus rides. Instead we spent our time enjoying the wonderful Caribbean waters around the resort. I don't think we've sailed this much since our Honeymoon trip. The wind was always good, and Hali even skippered a few times. The breezier days provided some good excitement, and we even discovered that Hali can really talk like a sailor!
Wow -- what a great place to visit! The weather was so perfect that we want to move there, and there is breath-taking beauty everywhere you look. Hali has been our trip planner from day one, but she really had her work cut out for her this time. There are so many places to see, and so many things to do in Hawai'i! As usual, Hali came through with flying colors and planned out a perfect trip for us!
We spent 4 nights on Kaua'i and 8 nights on Hawai'i (the big island). While on Kaua'i we drove to both ends of the Na Pali trail: Ke'e Beach, Tunnels, and then Polihale. We visited Waimea Canyon and the Kilauea lighthouse. We went snorkeling at Tunnels and Po'i Pu. We even managed to spent some leisure time around the pool (they had a really fun water slide, and great hot tubs at the Hilton in Lihue). On Hawai'i we spent 2 nights in Volcano, 2 nights in Hilo, and 4 nights in Kailua-Kona. Volcano was a really neat town to visit, and so very different from most anywhere else on the island. We drove all around the crater and did some hiking on the lava fields. We also had our very best dinner in Volcano at the wonderfully charming Kilauea Lodge Restaurant. Hilo was an interesting place to visit, but mostly as a base camp to see places around Hilo. We had to-die-for good fruit smoothies near Hilo on a little back road. The place was called "What's Shakin" (on Old Mamalahoa Way in Pepeeko, just North of Onomea Bay). We saw some water falls, and we were hissed at by a Mongoose.
Our last town to visit was certainly not the least! Kailua-Kona is wonderful, and not just because of all of the great beaches. The town was jammed with Ironman triathletes getting ready for the big race that weekend, but it was far less crazy than (say) Newport in the summer. :-) We took a super excursion with Sea Quest Rafting Adventures. Captain Liam expertly catered to the 10 people that took the excursion, and brought us to some fantastic snorkeling spots! We've taken a few excursions over the years, and that was easily our very best. Kailua-Kona is also great for sunsets, so you will see a few of those in our images. Two weeks was nice, but we were not ready to come home. A stellar trip!!
We drove up the entire Maine coast over a period of a few days. We stayed as far North as Jonesport, but we drove all the way to the border (Lubec, Quoddy Head). We then took an inland route back across the state to find and photograph Moose. We stayed one night in Rockport on both ends of the trip. The remainder of our trip was divided between Jonesport and Millinocket. Although we *did* see some rain, we managed to get enough clear weather to get some pictures taken. We also got lucky with the weather during our two main events: the puffin tour and the moose tour.
We visited Schoodic Point a couple of times (part of Acadia NP), as well as Moosehorn NWR (way up there near Canada). We also visited Baxter SP, and many of the dirt roads Southwest of the park from Kokadjo to Millinocket. While in Jonesport, we stayed at the cottages owned by the puffin tour company (Norton Tours). While in Millinocket, we stayed at a house owned by the moose tour company (Maine Photo Tours). Our personal guide for the moose tour was Vicki Nolan -- a wonderfully animated and extremely knowledgeable guide.
We got a little taste of what it might be like to live an hour from a supermarket. We saw beautiful ocean front homes all along the Maine coast. We made friends with a Porcupine. We drove a rented SUV for 1900 miles. We even drove it down a dirt road that we later found out was an ATV trail.
My least favorite moment came when we practiced our field first-aid skills after Hali took a nasty fall that banged her up pretty good *and* knocked out her favorite camera for a few days (thanks large to the ladies at Bangor Photo for coming to the rescue).
My favorite moment came when we were stalking a bull moose. Hali and I were separated along two divergent tracks through ankle-deep mud. After only a few moments, I was alone with my personal escort of 500 mosquitoes and perhaps 10 million black flies. I skirted the river water carefully, not knowing if the bull moose was already behind me. Then in the absolute silence of the Maine wilderness a Loon let loose with a series of tremolo calls that echoed around the river (here is link for that sound).
Antigua is a beautiful little island just North of Guadeloupe and just South of Anguilla. Antigua is so tiny that it could fit in Rhode Island 14 times (and it could fit in Jamaica more than 40 times).
As with our last trip to this island, we stayed at the Sandals resort on Dickenson Bay -- which is in the Northwest corner of the island. We had been to this resort about seven years ago, but it has been extensively remodeled since our last visit. The resort is now twice as big, and we stayed on the newer/high-rise side. The newer part of the resort has a little bit of the same architecture of Sandals Whitehouse, and we found it to be very nice.
The new rooms are very luxurious and spacious, and the grounds are beautiful. The resort was fairly quiet, but we suspect that was due to the upcoming holiday. The beaches were a lot more crowded than we remember. Most of that crowd is due to the cruise-ship people, roaming Antigua's public beaches. The weather was fantastic. We had about an hour of rain on one day, and that provided us with a wonderful rainbow. The rest of our stay was hot and sunny. Please take a peek at our pictures to share our experience!
This September we decided on a last-minute trip to Moab, Utah. Hali found some good fares to Salt Lake City, and Moab has been on our list of places to visit for a while. I don't have a clue about where to go, or what to see out there. Fortunately, Hali has excellent research and planning skills! Once again, she came up with a list of all the cool places to see and the best time of the day to see them -- very important for taking the best pictures possible. We spent one night in Salt Lake and then drove out to Moab in some mixed weather. We hit some heavy rain during the drive, but only for a few minutes. The weather was overcast for the first day, but we went shooting anyway. The next two days had some mixed sun and clouds, and we tried to take advantage of that. The rest of the trip was solid blue skies (great weather, but not as great for photos). We spent time in Arches National Park, along Scenic Byway 128, and also in Canyonlands national park. We would often rise before dawn to photograph sunrise, and then go out later and shoot past sunset -- sometimes well after sunset. Needless to say, we were running short of sleep for most of the trip. The many local coffee shops all received some of our business (although our favorite was the Red Rocks Cafe). We ate a few regular meals, but it was mostly grabbing food as time allowed. We took over 4500 images, and included a small selection of those images here. There was so much to see, and we could have easily spent another week there.
We wanted to try a totally new Caribbean vacation, so we went to a little known resort in St Lucia called "Rendezvous". This adults-only resort is located right next to the Northern airport in Castries (Vigie airport). The beach was wonderful, as was the weather and the hospitality. The all-inclusive resort featured some of our favorite things -- including yummy frozen drinks brought right to our beach chairs!
We were a little unsure about this trip, since we did not have any first-hand recommendations. However, the resort turned out to be excellent! The resort is a little aged (maybe 40 years old), but it's very well maintained. The staff was wonderful, and the grounds were very pleasant. The weather was a little cloudy for the first couple of days and very sunny after that. We had some plans to venture out into the island and take some tours (rain forest tour, etc), but there was so much fun to be had at the resort that we never left! :-)
We didn't take any shots of ourselves in the beach chairs, but we really didn't spent too much time sitting down -- a couple of hours here and there. We walked the beach. We went water skiing. We sailed the Hobie's (getting up on one pontoon several times). We went windsurfing. We played beach volleyball, and various other beach games. We felt like kids on summer vacation!
This trip was a wildlife photography trip along the central coast of California. It was intended to be the "Beauty and the Beast" tour -- capturing images of the migrating Monarch butterflys and the Elephant seals in their rookeries. However, we saw very few Monarchs. I guess we can just call this the "Beast" tour! We had heard that this was the best time of year to photograph the Elephant Seals along the Big Sur coast, and we were very happy with the amount of seals we were able to photograph and observe. We did some general photo touring at various locations along the coast, and we've included some of our shots here to help us share our trip with you! We flew into LA, and then drove out of Sant Barbara the next day. We stopped a couple of times on the way up to Monterey, spent a few days there, and then drove back down to LA. Most of the shots are from the Monterey area, and the weather was really nice for the majority of the trip. We have a couple of recommendations for those of you traveling out to this area. Mission Inn of Pismo Beach is a *great* place to stay. It's not on the beach, but was a very nice place. In Monterey, Vito's Italian restaurant is fantastic! Los Lobos is a terrific Nature Preserve near Carmel -- a must-see for nature watchers.
Yes, it's another trip to Jamaica for us. What can we say -- we love the place! This was a return trip to Sandals, Whitehouse. We had been there just after they had opened (back in March of 2005), and we were ready to try it again. We had a couple of afternoon showers early in the trip, but that was it for rain. We did a little snorkeling, a wee bit o' windsurfing, some sailing, and fair bit of water skiing. Oh, and we also made time to do some relaxing on their wonderful beach! We both had our cameras along this time, so we tried to get some good shots. We hope you enjoy our little photo "album" for this trip.
This trip was a "Mentor Series" photo trek in Juneau, Alaska. These seminars offer instruction in general photography, as well as digital image processing. They are a great blend of in-class instruction and guided field sessions. There were two world-class professional photographers (Tom Bol and John Reddy) giving us great tips on all aspects of photography and image processing.
Juneau is located in the Fifth region of the state, commonly referred to as "The Panhandle", or "South-East Alaska", an island archipelago which is the nearest part of Alaska to the mainland United States.
Juneau also happens to be located in the Tongass National Forest -- part of the largest area of temperate zone rain forests on the planet. And that means... RAIN. Lots of rain! 220 days of rain per year, and 55 to 90+ inches of rain per year. Bring a rain coat for yourself, and one for your camera!
That being said, we still had a wonderful time. We saw the sun once or twice. We got to do some very interesting sight-seeing. And we got to spend a week getting tips from very talented professional photographers. It was a not a restful week, but it was a very enjoyable week!
Don't forget to check out the animation sequence of the South Sawyer glacier calving -- that was sooo cool to watch!
This trip is a visit to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, in Titusville, Florida (near Cape Canaveral). We heard there was a lot of wildlife to be seen, and we thought we try the East coast this time! We *did* see some neat wildlife, but we couldn't get pictures of it all. The big miss was the panther that crossed the road in front of our car. Neat to see, but we would have loved to have gotten a picture. We saw a couple of bobcats, wild hogs, snakes, dolphins, and manatees. And lots of birds, of course.Our trip was made much more enjoyable by a little place called the Sunrise Bread Company. It's a little cappuccino shop and bakery that was open early enough for us to stop by *before* going to shoot our sunrise pics. An oasis, really. Great java, and real nice folks. Oh, and WI-FI. Civilization!!Anyway, we were up before dawn most days, and travelled all over looking for wildlife shots. This site shows you some of the shots we took while we were there.
This trip is a special trip because it marks of the return of Paul and Christine to the vacation circuit -- along with Owen, of course! We traveled to the sunny destination of Playa del Carmen, and stayed at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar. This is one resort amongst a veritable township of Iberostar resorts. It was a fun trip, and the weather was great! The water sports were lacking, but everyone had a good time -- and that's what it's all about!
This October we took a trip to sunny Florida to check out Mike's Parent's new digs, and to catch some of the migratory bird action at Sanibel Island's wildlife refuge (Ding Darling).
In our latest adventure, Hali and I traveled to Montana's Glacier National Park. We put about 1000 miles on the rental car for the trip, but we also did some nice hikes (and of course, some photography).
We started out on the West side of GNP, in the small town of Whitefish. This is a great little toursit town that seems a bit like a scaled-down version of Banff. We stayed at "The Good Medicine Lodge" (a really wonderful B&B), and explored the West side of the park from there.
After nine years, we finally made it back to Negril! We loved our first trip there, and this trip was another great success. This time around we stayed at the Grande Lido resort -- just around the corner from Sandals, which is where we stayed the last time.
The beach has more resorts now, but it's still a wonderful area. The big activity for this trip was snorkeling -- we went almost every morning at sunrise. We could swim out right from the resort and find some very interesting sites!
The food and drinks were excellent, and so was the service (see the review page for full details). The weather was great, and we met a few groups of really nice people. A very nice trip, indeed!
Ah yes, another Jamaica trip! Yah man -- no problem. We had been to this resort four years ago, but that was before the Beaches and Sandals resorts had merged. A lot has changed in four years! The old Beaches resort is now called The Manor, and the old Sandals resort is now called The Riveria. These are two very different parts of the same resort. For our previous visit we had stayed in a villa up on the hill (The Manor). This time we stayed in an ocean front room in The Riveria.
The biggest change since our last visit is that huge manor lawn and tennis courts have been replaced by a beautiful new pool. This is really something that the resort had needed! Unfortunately, this pool is very far from the beach area. Travelling between the two is a litte bit of a hike (or you can take the shuttle). Most people pick one location or the other and stay there all day. We generally stayed at the beach, but made occasional trips up the hill to use the rock wall.
The weather was not really what we had hoped for -- it rained four and a half days out of the ten days we were there. This was a major obstacle for all of the outdoor things that we like to do while on vacation. We could still hit the swim-up bar and the hot tub in the rain, but our drinks got watery pretty quickly! We made the best of it, and chronicled some of the trip highlights in the photos below.
This trip was just a long weekend in Orlando. We visited the Wilderness Kingdom on one day, and then went to Epcot the next day. We also managed to see the nighttime fireworks at Epcot and catch the Cirque du Soleil Nouba show!
For this year's anniversary trip we decided to head to the Canadian Rockies, and Canada's most popular national park -- Banff. This beautiful park is about 6 or 7 times the size of Rhode Island, and is host to about 4 million visitors every year. We had planned on taking several long hikes during this trip, but we changed our game plan when we realized how much there was to see. Instead, we took a bunch of smaller hikes (1-3 hours), and tried to see more of Banff and the surrounding areas. The weather was generally beautiful -- sunny, dry, and not too hot. I think there was only one day during our visit that we actually wore shorts. There was one day of rain, but we could have faired much worse than that. The big surprise for us was the amount of wildlife viewing available while driving through the park. We saw bears, elk, deer, osprey, a mink, and a lynx (although we did not get photographs of the last two). Also, the mountains and lakes are breathtakingly beautiful. The photos here cannot do this park justice, but we hope you can get the idea.
Early last Fall our travel agent told us about a new Sandal's resort. She told us that the resort would be opening along a new (hitherto resort-less) stretch of the Southern Jamaican coast line. The price was good, so we jumped on it! When it began to get close to trip time, our agent informed us that the resort would not be 100% finished. Sandal's compensated all guests, so it worked out very well!
The resort is very large, and hosts the largest swimming pool in Jamaica. Add to that a handful of gourmet restaurants, several bars, a huge beach, and loads of water sports -- we were in heaven! The only down side to the resort is that they have some biting insects that are not quite under control yet. Everyone was getting bitten, but the bites only seemed to affect (annoy) about half of the guests. Bugs aside, it was a wonderful resort. We had expected the resort to be less finished than it was, but crews could be seen every day completing various items.
The weather was fabulous. We had one day that was little cloudy, but that was a welcome change at that point! It's so nice to be able to walk around at night in shorts! We did a bit of water skiing, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, wind surfing, and (of course) beach volleyball. Our beach chairs didn't see a lot of us during the day! Another great trip!!
It's always fun to climb at Red Rocks, so we didn't hesitate to make plans for another trip there. Unlike out past trips there, this trip was a full week. Since we couldn't possibly climb for an entire week, we decided to add a side trip to Zion National Park for some beatiful hiking. We climbed for 2 days, then hiked for two days, and then climbed for two more days!
The weather was a little on the warm-side at Red Rocks (low 90's), so we stayed in the shade while climbing. The night time temperatures were wonderful -- warm enough go out to dinner in a short sleeve shirt. In contrast, the weather at Zion was a little cooler during the day, and much cooler at night. In fact, we had to scrape the ice from our windshield in the mornings at Zion. The day time temps there were perfect for hiking!
We had some interesting adventures during this trip, but the only "epics" occurred while driving! Various bits of trip comments are included in the captions for some of the pictures. Enjoy!
We had planned on a rock climbing trip this Spring, but we heard of the sale price for Secrets Capri and we couldn't pass it up! This is a brand new resort located between Playa del Carmen and Cancun -- about 30 minutes from the Cancun airport. It's an adults-only resort, and it seems to cater to the more mature, less rowdy crowd. An ideal choice for us! The room was great. The food was great. The beverages were great. The service was great. The only down side was the beach, which could have been a little nicer.
The main activity for this trip was beach volleyball. We played twice a day, every day. Sadly, we have no pictures to document this. We also tried the modified version of water polo, and that was also pretty fun. We passed on any excursions and just enjoyed the resort! The weather was really nice. We had some rain showers move through once or twice, but there was never a day that we didn't get more than enough sun.
We met a ton of people on this trip -- more than any other trip we've taken. Maybe we were in a chatty frame of mind, or maybe there were just a lot of friendly people there. We've included pictures of just a few of the really nice people that we met. All in all, it was a great trip!!
For this adventure we had the priviledge of travelling with four very good friends. Christine, Paul, Karen, and Dennis joined us for a week of fun and relaxation in the Jamaican sun. Well, it was mostly cloudy, but there was enough sun to get a tan! We had two days that were mostly rainy, and two days that were mostly blazing sun. The other days were a comfortable mix of sun and clouds (with an occasional shower).
The destination was Sandals at Dunn's River in Ocho Rios, and a good time was had by all! Activities for this trip included beach volleyball, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, water skiing, horse back riding, and hot tubbing! Paul also spent a bit of time fishing, and Karen and Dennis were often found playing Tennis or Golf. The pictures below show some (but definitely not all) of the fun.
Hali's best friend Eva decided to get married in Mexico, so we were provided with a great excuse to visit one of our favorite Caribbean locations -- Playa del Carmen. Eva (and Keith) picked the Xpu Ha Palace resort, and that turned out to be an excellent choice! This unique resort is a huge, sprawling compound with well appointed bungalows within a wildlife preserve. The resort was so big that they had bicycles available for sightseeing and just getting around (they had an electric cart shuttle service as well, for those who didn't want to ride the bikes). This was a very quiet resort so it was just right for us! We only went for 5 days, but were wishing for a longer stay. The weather was hot, sunny, and breezy -- perfect Caribbean weather!
In the pictures below we have tried to capture some of Eva and Keith's wedding ceremony, some of the fun times, and some of the beauty of the resort.
We enjoyed our trip to the Riu Palace in Mexico so much, that we thought we'd try out the Palace Macao in Punta Cana. The weather was generally very nice, but we did have rain during a few nights and one whole day. There were no Hobie's to sail at this resort (which was a bummer because the Iberostar down the beach *did* have them). However, the wave kayaks were very fun in the surf. The reef could get very shallow at low tide, so we had to be careful as to when to go beyond the reef. The resort was nice and quiet, and there were very few children around. The rooms were nice -- even though they all have two double beds pushed together. We did have some extra channels on the TV in our room (including an adult channel), and we think they might have given us the bonus channels because we asked about a single bed. The food was okay, but we were expecting a little more variety and quality. We met a bunch of very friendly people from all over North America and Europe, and it was generally a pleasant get away. On a very sad note, a guest died while scuba diving during our first day there. That was a sober reminder for us to be careful while we were playing.
We spent 5 days hiking in New Hampshire during the Christmas Holiday this year, and here are a few pics from our trip.
We decided to try another trip to this area because we had heard good things about the RIU Palace -- and it was on sale! Once again we had the pleasure of travelling with our good friends Christine and Paul. We were all very, very impressed with the resort. The grounds and buildings were very nice, and the service was consistently excellent (which is no feint praise). The resort was wonderfully quiet, which made this resort an excellent choice for people like us that have one drink after dinner, and then go to sleep. The clientele was generally middle aged couples, although there were families and singles of various ages. If any of the younger couples wanted to party, they probably went to one of the 3 other RIU resorts nearby.
The daytime actives included beach volleyball, Hobie sailing, boogie boarding, kayaking, and windsurfing (with a quick outlaw session of surfing thrown in to boot). The surf was fairly large at the start of the trip, but became more calm each day. The water was very calm during the last couple of days. During one such day we all sailed the Hobie far down the coast and took turns snorkeling near a small inlet -- fun!
Scenic Bar Harbor, Maine was the destination for our very first road trip together. That was only a few weeks after we had started dating, and the success of that road trip was a clear indication of wonderful things to come. This beatiful island is just far enough away that we had not yet returned for a second visit. Until this year, when we returned to celebrate Hali's 20th Anniversary of her 20th Birthday!
Our long weekend was comprised of hiking and climbing at various locations in the Acadia National Park. The weather forecast had been only partly promising, but the conditions turned out to be much better than we had expected -- four beautiful days in a row, with just a few minor intrusions of fog and wind.
We started the trip with a day of single pitch trad climbing on The Precipice (aka, "South Wall"). After getting lost on what we thought would be an extremely easy (5.3) route, we then found a nice little 5.5 climb with bolted anchors that allowed us to top-rope an enjoyable 5.9- route as well. When the day was done, we had decided that the routes were a bit more "stout" than we had expected, but probably in-line with Cathedral Ledge ratings. I guess we always hope it will be easier (smile).
The second day dawned a bit breezy for climbing, so we decided to do a little hiking instead. Based on some great recommendations from the friendly people at out B&B, we decided to try a trail up Pemetic Mountain (just a hill, for you serious hikers). There was nice weather on the way up and some very different terrain as compared to most NH hikes that we have done. There were very large trees spaced well apart as we ascended beautiful and diverse landscapes. The summit came fast and the we soon discovered that the mountain had been blocking the wind and some fog. We decided on a trail that would take us back down to the bridle path and then up Cadillac Mountain. Through some spotty fog and increasing winds we made it almost to the top of Cadillac. We turned around after resting in a wonderfully wind-less depression, and made it down with a total hike time of about 5.5 hours.
On the third day we tried out the vaunted "Story of O" route on the South Wall. This 3-star, 3-pitch, G-rated, 5.6 has a pretty nice line. However, the moves on the first pitch (through the chimney) made me think twice about the other 2 pitches. I must admit that the serious lead fall recently taken by a novice RI climber was weighing on my mind at his point... Caution won over our sense of adventure, and we bailed out by traversing to a bolted anchor. From there we top-ropped a very challenging 5.10. We then hit Otter Cliff for some more top-roping to finish up the day.
We ending the trip with a short hike up the Beehive -- a mini version of Precipice Trail. This trail has great exposure, wonderful views, and sometimes requires hikers to hang on to metal rungs and ladders with a 100 foot drop-off alarmingly close by. What fun!
Nightly activities consisted of wonderful dining, followed by a stroll through the down-town shops. Bar Harbor is a great place to visit -- especially after the crush of the summer crowds have left.
We finally decided to visit the resort that we had heard so much about -- the Beaches resort on the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. What are the Turks and Caicos Islands? TCI is an archipelago country of eight major islands and numerous uninhabited cays located 575 miles south of Miami and 39 miles southeast of the Bahamas, known for beautiful beaches, pristine coral reefs and offshore banking. The islands are protected by a government dedicated to preserving the islands' uncomplicated lifestyle and natural beauty (all of that spiel is from the tourism web page).
Let's start by saying that the resort is simply beautiful. We were fortunate to stay in the newest part of the resort -- the French Village. The grounds were nice throughout the resort, but the French Village is truly gorgeous. Anyway, the weather was great (low to mid 90's every day with a nice breeze), the food was great, and the beach and ocean water were wonderful. The only slight downfall of the resort is the fact that it caters to families. Oh well...
The main activity for this trip was snorkeling -- we went twice a day, every day. The best snorkeling was found by walking about 15 minutes down the beach to a reef resoration area. There was a large area of reef that was roped off, but you were allowed to snorkel along the edge of it. This was the best snorkeling we have ever seen. Around this area we saw a small Hawk's bill sea turtle, a small yellow Moray eel, Trigger fish, Parrot fish, Trunk fish, Baracuda of various sizes, Squirrel fish, Butterfly fish, Puffer fish, Royal gamma, a huge Angel fish, etc, etc. We also did a lot of sailing on the Hobies (they had 6 at the resort), and even a bit of windsurfing. Of course, we also found a few spare minutes to relax on the beach sipping yummy tropical beverages. It was just another wonderful trip in the Carribean...
We went to Jamaica for a vacation (of course), and also to celebrate my 40th birthday. I had tried to convince some friends to go away with us, but they all declined politely. Imagine my surprise to find four friends at the airport waiting to join us on our vacation! Christine, Paul, Karen, and Dennis (and Hali) all managed to keep this surprise a secret for over 6 months!! The vacation was a unanimous success, with a great time had by all. The weather was generally very sunny and warm. There were a few brief rain showers during the trip, but never enough to dampen spirits! The seas were usually pretty big, and we challenged them in the Hobie Cats almost every day. We also played a ton of beach volleyball, climbed on their really cool rock wall, went kayaking, horseback riding, and windsurfing.
We return to the Las Vegas area for more great rock climbing at Red Rocks with our friends Tony and Lisa.
Here are a few photos from our weekend rock climbing trips to Rumney this season. We actually did a ton of climbing, but not much picture taking! The pictures shown here have been highly optimized to reduce download times. This means that the picture quality is not the best it could be. If you would like a higher quality copy of any of these images, just let us know.
This is the pictoral presentation of one excellent vacation taken by four friends, for four days, in the wonderful month of May. Three straight days of great, single-pitch, sport climbing in the beautiful Red Rocks of Southern Nevada.
Please note that both digital and film cameras were used during this trip. The shots from the film camera have a higher aspect ratio than the digital shots, and generally display a date stamp. Also note that Hali has spent a great deal of time enhancing "problem" images. If the image looks a little blurry, then it was probably a useless image before Hali worked her digital magic.
Our first time at Sandals Antigua. We met up with a very lively crew of fun people. We played beach volleyball, went water skiing, and did our share of partying!
We were never intrigued by Aruba, but so many people had spoken about it that we had to check it out. We stayed at an all-inclusive -- which was a mistake in retrospect. Aruba is not the place for all-inclusive resorts. We were a bit disappointed in the resort, but we still had a very nice time on the beach.
This was our second trip to Jamaica, and we chose wisely. The Ciboney resort was state-owned by the time we went, but it was still very nice. This resort was later purchased by Sandals and has been renamed many times.
This was our first visit to the Dominican Republic, and it was beautiful! The resort was located on a very quiet beach. To one side of the beach there were a couple of other small resorts and a beach market. To the other side was nothing but beach for as far as we could walk/see. It was, however, very easy to loose your sunglasses along that stretch of beach (smile). Our resort had very nice grounds and various types of birds could be found everywhere. A perfect, romantic get away!
Hali and I decided go for an August trip to Carribean, and the newly opened Moon Palace sounded like a great place to try! The resort was very nicely appointed, and the weather was wonderfully hot and dry. It was so hot that we would often take a mid-day siesta from the heat (we even used the gym several times). There were many people from Europe and the UK on holiday, but the resort did not seem overly crowded at all. Our most memorable events occurred while snorkeling -- we were agressively persued by a large, solitary, Barracuda on more than one occasion. Great fun!
These are a few pics from our trip to the Tulum coast during March 1998. Most of these images were taken with our first digital camera, so they are not exactly high quality (smile). The resort was still very new at the time. The grounds were beautiful, and there was exotic wildlife everywhere you looked.
Over six years after the fact, we've finally gotten around to publishing our honeymoon pictures. We took this trip in late August of 1997. At the time we were both using film cameras, so these images are all scanned -- mostly from 4x6 photos. We've done our best to clean up blurry images, but some are still a bit sketchy. Some images from the disposable underwater camera are exceptionally bad, but we've decided to include them anyway.
The theme for this trip was relaxation. We were active, but at a slow pace (smile). We spent countless hours snorkeling and sailing the hobies. The waters were wonderfully clear and calm. Sometimes we would use the pontoon-style pedal boats to find a totally secluded cove to go snorkeling. The beach was only a few steps from our room, so we did a lot of swimming and just lounging around in the water. The weather was nice, even though there was a rainshower almost every afternoon. By that time of day, we usually needed a break from the sun!
There are a few things that stand out in our memories. The food was truly wonderful -- some of the best we've ever had on vacation. The staff was excellent. The water sports were great because there were no time limits. We would spend hours and hours away from the resort with no problems. The water skiing was also excellent. The water was very calm and the boat and drivers were very good. Oh, I can't forgot the sunsets -- beautiful, warm evenings with the sun setting on the water...
Even though this was a relaxing trip, we still managed to take a few pictures. We captured only brief glances of the fun during our stay, but we think you'll get the gist of it.