Riding Through Port-au-Prince

haiti-2011-125-2-1He was waiting there, like he always does.  Just standing…and…waiting…

I have been cycling (this sounds more manly and adult than saying “riding my bike”) for about three years now. This is because my almost sixty-year-old knees remind me every day they are almost sixty years old. Riding a bike doesn’t make them feel almost sixty years old.

I love riding through the eastern Kentucky countryside,  riding through woods and past streams, riding past newly cut hay fields, and fields of cattle and horses. We ride past tobacco in the fields and in the barns, a wonderful smell that brings back memories of fall in Kentucky. We ride past fields of wildflowers.

What an idyllic experience to cycle through eastern Kentucky.

Until…

Many times we are snapped out of this pastoral bliss by the canine consternation, when your body goes from producing hot sweat to cold sweat.

Many people have dogs that protect their property from dangerous, middle-aged bicyclers that roam the rural routes, usually in packs, looking for free air to feed their flat tires.  Most of these mutts are not a threat. However,there are those who are threatening and we get to know those very quickly.  We ride many of the same routes and we know where the dogs come a-runnin’.

One particular mongrel stakes out his spot in the middle of the road when he sees us coming.  We lovingly refer to him as “Cujo”.   He has mastered the game of “chicken”, because he will not move.  He makes us decide the path we will ride, then the chase begins.  He is big, about mid-tire high, and muscular, a bad combination for possible contact with your high velocity velocipede.

Last week the aforementioned happened.  Cujo decided he wasn’t going to chase me, so he decided to stop me. He blocked my path like Dick Butkus plugging a hole.

My helmet now has a dent in the side after hitting the pavement with my head inside.  There was various scrapes and blood. There was groaning, but I didn’t cry.  Even now my insides feel like that side of beef looked after Rocky pounded on it in the meat locker

I took this photo of a man calmly riding his bike through the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  There can’t be a calm ride through these streets.  It is ultimate chaos.  He has to dodge cars and trucks and motorcycles and buses and other bicycles navigating without lanes, carts pulled by animals, and  tap-taps (Haitian taxi’s) loaded with people and their belongings.  He also has to avoid goats, pigs, chickens, oxen, and “lions, and tigers, and bears”.  Oh MY.

Every day he is playing a real-life Frogger navigating the streets of Port-au-Prince.

I just had to miss one dog in the middle of the road in peaceful Stacy Fork.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

 

 

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Ghost of Tybee Island

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Winter is coming……sigh.

I feel like that mighty oak that stubbornly refuses to drop its leaves, desperately hanging on to autumn, somehow thinking that if he never drops his leaves, winter won’t exist.

Every year I refuse to admit winter is coming.  I don’t put my outdoor grill up.  I don’t put the garden hose up until it is solidly frozen.  I don’t clean the filter in the furnace.  I keep my short pants and short sleeve shirts where they are readily available. My wife mistakes this as procrastination or worse yet, laziness.  She is probably right, however since I am writing this, I will use my own self-awareness evaluation.

I look out the window and I see the leaves in my yard covering the grass…sigh.  The only tree in my yard that is hanging on to its leaves is a small sapling that has grown to adolescence in my gutter.  You can see the above analysis from my wife as to why it is still there.

Sometimes I battle winter by thinking about the beach, which is why I am using this picture.  I took this timed-exposure of myself dancing on the beach at Tybee Island this summer.  It was our last night on the beach and I wanted to get a shot of the lighthouse at night.  Big Surf Daddy (as some may recall, my beach alter ego) took over.

Big Surf buries himself deep within during the winter months.  Madam Zelda would not be able to channel him to the surface even with the most cooperative séancers at her disposal.  He has never experienced darkness at 5:00 PM or snow on Halloween.  He has no idea what flannel sheets feel like, or what a comforter is.  He thinks snow cream is some sort of cocaine smoothie.

This is a  picture of  Big Surf’s last night of consciousness on Tybee Island.

I am sure he is already sending threatening texts to Punxsutawney Phil about his forecast.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

Tee Shot on the Sound

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I instructed him carefully, “Do not leave the car.  I am going to go in and call my friend and I will be right back.”

He was my eight year-old son and we were on our first road trip together, an odyssey to watch the Detroit Tigers play a game in old Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers were in the midst of playing their final season in the glorious old park on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.   This wonderful concrete, steel, wooden, and lush green old lady began her life in 1912 as a twin to Fenway Park in Boston.  They both began life on April 20.

I love old baseball stadiums.

I took my wife on a trek to Cleveland Memorial Stadium to watch the final opening day.  We were dressed like we were scaling the Matterhorn.  Alas, it wasn’t enough.  The breezy, 45 degree day chased us in the seventh inning.  I felt like I had  just given up a three-run double and watching the aged manager emerge from the dugout as my wife looked over at me through misty blue eyes and asked me for the keys. (Now before I go any further, I want to be perfectly clear.  I am not, in any way, comparing my wife to Tommy Lasorda). I had kept her there too long.  Her eyes were misty, but not because of sadness at the thought of leaving the game early.  She had just endured another “I can’t believe you’re still here” blast of arctic wind slapping her in the face.

On another occasion, my brother and I ventured to the south side of Chicago to watch a game in old Comiskey Park in her last summer.  We could see what was to be the new US Cellular Field being constructed just above the first base-line grandstand.  It reminded me of the rich old man parading his young paramour in front of his aging wife.

My wife was reluctant  to let me take our only son to Detroit.  She was afraid he wasn’t mature enough to look out for me.

After I pried him loose from her unusually strong clutches, we were off.  He still had hug indentations on his body and they didn’t disappear until we crossed the Ohio River.

I decided to stop in Moraine, Ohio to call my former college roommate.  This was where I made that fatal mistake.  You see, this was before I recognized how incomplete my life was without a cell phone.  I stopped at a convenient store where I spied a pay phone.   My decision-making was flawless… until I saw there was no phone book.

At this point, my wife’s intuitive feelings began to materialize.  Like Nostradamus on the cover of  The Star, her predictions began to unfold.

I left the car running and told my son, “I am going to lock the doors. So stay in the car and DO NOT GET OUT. ”  My son interpreted these instructions as any male in my family would.  “Get out and lock the doors.”

As I was coming out after looking up the phone number, I met him coming in.  Of course he did not turn off the engine and put the keys in his pocket, but he did manage to lock the door.  My wife was right.  He was not old enough to clean up my poor decisions.  He couldn’t even think to call the police.

I took this picture of my son two years ago while playing golf in Nags Head, NC.  This is a beautiful golf hole bordering the sound.  I have had many memorable days with my son, a lot of them involve a golf course or a baseball stadium.  I have been thinking a lot about days  we have spent together lately, for next month, he is getting married.  His fiancee is a wonderful young woman.  He has chosen wisely.  He will have an entertaining life with her.

I just hope she likes going to baseball games and playing golf with me and my son.  My wife says she is mature enough to take care of us.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Faculty Recessional at Graduation

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I have been emancipated from the financial vise of undergraduate education…free at last!

I have written my last tuition check, my last apartment rent check, my last food dispensing check, my last parking ticket reimbursement, and my last college calamity check.

My two children are now college graduates.  At this moment, I am glad we never had a third child.

My daughter and son graduated from Morehead State University in Morehead, KY.  This is a beautiful small school in the hills of eastern Kentucky.  It is a state school and public university, one of the top public universities in the south.  I am honored to have both of my kids to now be alumni of the same school as their dear old dad.

Morehead State was close enough to where I live in West Liberty that I could go over and take them out to lunch or dinner on numerous occasions.  College students are always up for a free meal.  More importantly, it gave me a chance to spend some valuable time with my two favorite young adults and also spend a little time back on the college campus that I remember so fondly.

This is a picture of my son’s graduation from Morehead State.   He can be seen in the picture…he’s the good-looking one.  My mom and dad are also in the photo and that means a lot to me.

I was always drawn to the color and pageantry of the college commencement…this doesn’t mean that I want to attend them every year.   I love the multi-colored robes the faculty wear.

At my daughter’s graduation last year, I tried to get a shot of the movement of the faculty during their recession.  I did not have a tripod, so I could not get a good shot of what I wanted.  This time I grabbed my tripod and we sat in the same spot behind the stage.  I was pretty happy with the result.

The faculty always seem to be in a hurry when they leave the ceremony.  I always wondered what would happen if one of them tripped, would it look like a massive pile-up on the Autobahn?  I assume they want  to start their vacations by getting out of there as soon as possible.  Much like my wife and I are now in a hurry to jettison the extra money we will have to spend on ourselves if we can recover from paying for seven years of undergraduate expenses.

So to all of us who graduated our offspring this year…congratulations to us.  Let’s hope they can get a job so they can buy us a meal.  I will order lobster at market price.  Before the check comes, I will be moving out of the restaurant faster than this faculty.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Taking Liberty Road Curve

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I saw the speedometer needle shimmy past the 100 mile per hour indicator. The landscape was blurring past like some angry impressionistic painting. I was so excited.

I was about eight or nine years old and was riding in a tan Pontiac GTO going up “new” Index Hill. That was not very difficult for the muscle cars of the sixties. Many of these cars were gone by the time I was old enough to drive and I remembered them fondly as they circled and peeled out of the Freezer Fresh drive-in. I circled in a 1965 two-toned (aqua/bondo) Corvair. I could not peel out.

This was the first time I had ever gone over 100 miles per hour in a car.

When the driver let my brother and me out of the car at our house, I told the driver in pre-adolescent lingo how impressed I was with his fine automobile and his daring driving skills. I also told him what every teenager would love to hear after cradling someone’s precious children in a land rocket speeding merrily along the road, “I’m going to tell my mother about this ride.”

Now the driver was not to keen about this certain revelation and informed me that my mom would probably not be too interested in the details of this little afternoon drive. He must have made an impression on me because, to this day, I have never told her.

I took this picture one late summer evening on Liberty Road, outside of West Liberty, KY. I wanted to get a sunset photo as it set over a field of wild flowers. The sky was not cooperating so I sat there for a few minutes and watched a few cars taking this curve.

I got my tripod out and climbed on top of my Ford Escape. I always like slow timed exposure photos and started photographing cars as they took this curve. I like the above shot. It shows the stream of the headlights along with the subtle reflection on the guard rails and road. I also got a little of the color of the sky.

As I look at this photo, I think of all those teen-age drivers that had the thrill of driving those muscle cars and how fast they took this curve. I wonder if they ever told their moms.

If you like this photograph, you can see more here.

Do Not Write on the Walls

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Some photos do not need any explanation. However, I can’t let this one go without a few words.

I found this sign on a wall on the trek upward to the dome of the Duomo. The Duomo is the most significant and toured cathedral in Florence, Italy. At the end of this sojourn, the view is magnificent as you look out over the city of Florence and it’s red tile roofs. The hills of Tuscany are in view and so is Michelangelo’s home church, Santa Croce.

There was only one thing I found to be mildly disappointing in Rome and Florence–GRAFFITI. The fact that someone has to put a sign on the wall to remind us not to write on the walls of a beautiful historic cathedral is disturbing enough, but what is more disturbing is the ignoring of the sign altogether.

Now graffiti has been around since the cave-dwellers and has a Biblical record in the book of Daniel. Since papyrus and parchment and the printing press have come into being, it seems mankind would be beyond writing on walls. Now I can understand if you have a sudden poetic urge while you are having a bowel-induced event in a public toilet or want to proclaim to the world your joy about the lovely evening in the company of a young lady. But, that is it.

I have to confess that I am an Andy Griffith Show junkie and I was thinking of one scene when I saw the above sign. In that scene Barney recites the rules to some newly arrested inmates in the Mayberry jail.

So, even if you are enduring a long incarceration at the hands of a despotic sheriff’s deputy, graffiti is forbidden. I raised my son like Opie and our walls are clean. Maybe there needs to be more reruns of The Andy Griffith Show in Italy.

If you like this picture, you can see more here.

Sometimes Haiti is a Blurrrrrrrrrrrrr

What happens when you combine chaos and potholes and put them in a centrifuge along with yourself, oh, and add chickens, roosters, goats, and an occasional pig… then hit spin?  Oh, not just spin…hyperspin.  You have a typical street scene in Port au Prince.

I loved being a part of it.  Of course I wasn’t driving the bus.  That bus was a renovated Morgan County school bus that was shipped to Haiti to serve a pastor and his churches.  You can see it as the background blur in the above picture.  It was sitting on the side of the street because a rather large rock was wedged  between the back two tires on the driver’s side.  It took a while for my friends to hammer it out.  I, of course, went across the street to take some shots of the moving traffic.  This particular shot I really liked because it shows the movement of the street and it was so typical of Haiti, yet so atypical of America.

This was my first trip to Haiti.  I tried to learn some Haitian creole before my trip.

During one particular conversation on the above bus, I was trying to communicate with some locals we were transporting to a church service.  We were in the back of the bus being tossed about like the crew of the S.S. Minnow due to the less than immaculate road conditions.  I was trying to convey to them in my fluent creole that the ride was not smooth, as if they were not aware of the situation.  I kept saying the same phrase over and over hoping to get some sort of acknowledgement.  All I received was blank stares.

Later, as I was sitting in the church service, wondering why my exquisite creole did not register with my bus companions, it suddenly hit me.  I was telling them, “My name is bumpy”…over and over and over again.

If you like this picture, you can see more here.