A Very Foggy Adventure Part 1

It has been quite a challenge learning to dive in a dry suit. When underwater, the suit acts as my buoyancy device instead of using the BCD (buoyancy control device) vest. So knowing how much air to add or subtract has been a steep learning curve for me. The worst part is that I would be swimming along just fine but when excessive air gets to my feet; suddenly I find myself starting to float upside-down quickly towards the surface — which is not a good thing when you are down at a depth that requires decompression time before surfacing. I would desperately yet remain calm as I try to regain control by letting the air out of my suit to get back to the bottom and get on me knees so the air can be release from my feet. On these upside-down occasions, I definitely thought about switching to the wet suit instead. With wet suit, I don’t have to deal with the uneven air disbursement. By using the BCD vest, it’s easier to know when I have to change the air quantity and the air stays in once place. However, with the water temperature in the Puget Sound around 40-50ish degrees Fahrenheit all year round; I know it would be in my best interest to learn to dive in dry suit so I can stay warm longer if I want to capture the amazing underwater life with my camera — which Pirate John has prohibited me to take with on our underwater dives. While I understand his reason for taking the camera from me, it drives me crazy when I see a photo opportunity swims by me.   But… first things first, I need to overcome my buoyancy challenges. Though I have to admit, it’s without doubt I would make the worst dive buddy when I have my camera.

After 15 open water dives and many weeks of  expert guidance from Pirate John to help perfect my buoyancy, I am able to hover and navigate underwater without crashing to the bottom or floating upside down as much. A couple of weeks ago, I went on my first boat dive trip to the San Juan Islands. While my buoyancy is much better and I was eager to jump off the boat to navigate through the heavy kelp forests — and search for the giant octopus and wolf eels along cliff walls; I decided not to do the boat dive because of the dry suit challenges I still have on occasion. Instead I tagged along with my camera. What an awesome adventure it was…

It was a very foggy morning when we left Anacortes for the dive destination in the San Juan Islands. While everyone else was inside, staying warm — I walked around the boat looking for photo opportunity. The fog was so thick, visibility were limited but the water was so calm — and with the sun trying to break through the clouds, it casts a warm glow all over. A great sense of peace and serenity came over me… as I stood at the stern watching the trail of wake the boat left behind.

Finally after about 40 minutes, we arrived to our first dive destination. There was a break in the fog and I was able to see land. The view was absolutely breathtaking…
_DSC2265

However, since the fog was still really thick, we weren’t able to stop at our first dive destination. The captain must have full visibility of all the divers at all times. Captain Phil decided to go on to a different place, hoping the fog would burn off when we get there. As we headed into more fog, the land disappeared. Once again I couldn’t see anything but debris and jelly fish floating by the boat. So I just stood on the deck and enjoy the beautiful foggy surrounding while keeping my eyes open for what I call “Being at the right place, at the right time” kind of shots.

After what seems like another half-hour, the sun broke through the thick clouds and casts light on the thick fog. And suddenly there it was… my being at the right place, at the right time shot came into view. I saw an arch that looks a lot like a rainbow but without the colors. The bow was mostly white with some very faint color. The captain told me what I’m looking at is a fog bow. Well… talk about learning something new. I didn’t know there was such thing as a fog bow. As I composed the shots, I had difficulty getting sharp focus and correct exposure because the bow blends in with the fog background. I shot the fog bow at different exposures and settings to try to capture its faint detail. I noticed under exposure was the better setting, since I can always brighten it during processing in Lightroom.
fog bow
_DSC2281

Finally after what seems like a never-ending fog, the blue sky and land appeared out of no where. While everyone was getting ready with their scuba gear, the fog bow  and beautiful scenery kept me occupied as we continued to the dive destination.
_DSC2290
_DSC2299
_DSC2291
_DSC2312
_DSC2310

We finally arrived at the dive destination with full sun and clear visibility. The area was beautiful though the homes on the land kind of took away some of the natural beauty. Regardless, happy like fish in water; the divers put on their scuba gear and one by one jumped into the emerald-green water, ready to explore the underwater world below. At that moment, I wish I was diving too… but… life was kind to me and the adventures ahead would make me a very happy photographer.

_DSC2318
_DSC2351
_DSC2360
_DSC2373
_DSC2322
_DSC2337
_DSC2562
_DSC2364
_DSC2349
_DSC2367Happy Diving! 😀

The Sun’ll Come Out… Tomorrow…

The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!
Just thinkin’ about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none!
When I’m stuck a day
That’s gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh
The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow!
Tomorrow!
I love ya
Tomorrow!
You’re always
A day
A way!

Seeking Truth and Forgiveness On Route 66 – Part 3

There is nothing more thought-provoking than driving for hundreds of miles alone on a desert road to reflect about life. While the solitary beauty and grandness of the landscape made me feel grateful for being alive and having the freedom to enjoy the moment, the inner civil war inside my head continues its pursuit of right and wrong.  It’s beyond belief how a moment in life can be so beautiful and full of promising future of happiness… then you make that one wrong choice and puff… that opportunity is gone forever. I know… it certainly wasn’t the first nor would it be the last time I’d make choices like that but nonetheless, I felt like such a fool that I could be so careless. As the battle continues on I came upon another small desert town: Oatman. Although the town didn’t seem like much from first impression, I was glad to have the opportunity to take a break from my tumultuous conscience.

When I got out of my car, I almost stepped on to a pile of smelly excrement from the town’s mascot. Many years ago, Oatman was a gold mining town. And after the gold mines were shut down, the burros used during mining were released into the wild.  Some of the descendents became tourist attractions. The burros come and go as they please around town, leaving smelly piles everywhere.

My first impression of the town was correct. There wasn’t much to do. After reading the sign about the burros, I took some photos around town. As I started to walk back to my car, this burro for some reason decided to follow me. When I got into the car, he still would not leave me alone. He just stood there looking at me with pleading eyes. I told him to go away… I don’t have any food. There were signs all around town warning people about feeding the burros and yet I saw a woman feeding one of the burros her ice cream. The beast still would not give up and thought perhaps he could convince me by sticking his head into the window. Of course being the photographer, I grabbed the camera and shoot — at the same time trying to stay as far back from the beast as I could when he stuck his head further into the car. At this point I wasn’t sure what to do… other than continue to take pictures and ordering him to go away. Then he looked at me for a moment and backed off.

With a sigh of relief I thought he finally took the hint and decided to leave — instead he proceed to eat my car. Hey! I shouted at him. Don’t eat my car! I wanted to reach out and push him away but… just then a man who has watched my comical interaction with this beast came to my rescue. He shoo the burro away from the car long enough for me to escape…

Seeking Truth and Forgiveness on Route 66 – Part 1

When life becomes too much for me to handle and I need to rediscover my true self, my solution is to go on a road trip. Usually, I would take a nice long drive along the Oregon Coast.  However, since I am now living in the middle of a desert state, I’ve been trying without much success to find places among the cactus and sandy landscape to help me escape the trials and tribulations of life. Being an ocean girl at heart, it has been quite a challenge for me to find a substitute escape route. I’ve driven to Phoenix, Flagstaff, Sedona, and none of the roads provided me the comfort I find along the ocean coast.

When I came to work last Friday, feeling unmotivated and extremely sad… I knew I was on the verge of burn out from all the challenges of running the restaurant by myself, and the recent life changing mistake I’ve made. As I sat in the booth feeling sorry for myself, tears running down my cheeks. I couldn’t help but feel that life is just so unfair: I work my butt off and yet; I am still unable to get ahead. My body aches; over worked, filled with guilty conscience and a broken heart. I couldn’t fathom why there seems to be people who I didn’t do anything wrong to — tried their best to see that I don’t succeed.

As I went through the motions of preparing for the day’s business, I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I felt so trapped and knew I had to escape. And there was only one place on my mind. The ocean. The closest place I could think of was Los Angeles. That’s it… I’ll escape to L.A. I put a sign on the restaurant door informing the potential customers that I would be back in a few days. Quickly, I head home — threw a few things in an overnight bag and off I went… I drove west towards the Pacific Ocean. However, after about an hour on the freeway — I start to wonder if going to L.A. is a good idea. After all, I am trying to escape. And who in their right mind would want to escape to L.A. — the land of greed and deceit — to find truth and forgiveness.

Just then, I saw the sign for route 66. I had heard of the road but never really took the time to learn about it. I knew it was popular for something… and suddenly my inner voice told me I should go on route 66 instead of L.A. Well… I believe things happen for a reason and your instincts are usually the right one. There was a good reason for me to go on route 66. It turned out to be the trip I was looking for…

I got off the freeway and followed the sign to the town Seligman, on Route 66. Talk about tourist trap. As I drove through town, I thought perhaps I should have gone to L.A. instead. Souvenir shops, motels, food stands, signs, and rundown buildings crowed on both sides of the road.

I was hoping for more natural beauty and not so much commercialization. However, once I got out and saw the town from behind the viewfinder of my camera. I was captivated by the abundant photo opportunities.

Not sure how long ago this pump was last used. Wish we still have oil prices like that.

As I continue on my Route 66 road trip, I came upon a view that gave me hope of the great adventures ahead…

Moonlight Over Sunrise

There are moments in time where even night and day can coexist — to help bring out each other’s true beauty and strength.

Even though the affair maybe brief; it’s the wondrous beauty discovered during that brief encounter you will remember for a life time.

Where the Heck Is Spring?

One thing about owning a restaurant… I get to meet a lot of people, share cooking tips, gossips, and get up to date weather report. The other day when someone told me that we were going to get snow, I didn’t want to believe it. After all, it was 70 degrees and sunny outside. Besides, I’m eagerly awaiting for the cactus flowers to bloom. I’ve never seen cactus blooms in the wild and there are quite a few cactus bushes around my wilderness backyard with buds — ready to bloom in a couple of weeks. Well… one thing I am learning about the weather report here… they are very accurate. I woke up yesterday to snow — as they have predicted.

Great… I thought… just what I need when I am trying to get my restaurant going. Anyway, I took the opportunity to use my camera. As I was shooting, the sun came out. I’ve never been in a snow situation where it’s snowing and sunny at the same time. And the thought of perhaps seeing a rainbow came to my mind. I wasn’t sure if snow works the same way as rain and would create a rainbow. Maybe they taught this in my science class and I was daydreaming… which I did a lot when I was in school. Well… I looked and didn’t see any rainbow. But it was still a very pretty experience.

Desert Snow Storm

The temperature last Thursday was sunny and around 74 degrees. I awoke on Sunday morning to find over a foot of snow have fallen and it is still snowing outside as I sit here typing…   looks like the weatherman was spot on about the snow prediction. There’s at least two feet of snow accumulated. Normally, I would be very excited about the snow but… I am right in the middle of a very exciting and important project with tight deadlines. It is a project of my dream come true… and that also explains my lack of activity visiting and commenting on your blogs. I haven’t been able to do much photography and finally the snow forced me to take out my camera so that I can capture the snowy moment forever.

Ah… I’m sure I got you wondering what my dream project is. 😉 I will reveal it in the next post. Hopefully everything will go according to plan and will workout without delay. You will probably be as surprised as I am on how I found the opportunity to make my dream come true.

Okay… back to my snow storm rambling… it had snowed a couple of times since I’ve moved here but it was only a couple of inches. At first I was really surprised to see snow but then again, the town is located over 5,000 feet above sea level. I am learning the temperature here can go from one extreme to another in a very short time. From the looks of the amount out there, it’s likely the snow will probably stay around — at least until Thursday when the temperature suppose be around the 70’s again… in the mean time, the furry kids and I are trying to make the best of the snowy event. As usual, they enjoy running around like wild, crazy, pups and of course; I enjoy (sort of) hiking through knee-deep snow, at 7:00 a.m., on the back trails of my home with the camera on a tripod — looking for that spectacular shot. While I didn’t find that spectacular shot, here are snap shots of the desert snow storm. My first time seeing a cactus covered with snow.

This is a tree located in front of my house. Not sure what kind of evergreen this is but its bright color bark and interesting branches caught my attention.

As I continued the hike up the now — very familiar trail in the back of my house, I felt as if I’ve been transported to a winter wonderland.

And of course… the furry kids. Max is starting to show his age with little white hairs showing up around his face. Someday he will sport the familiar white face mask that all golden retrievers get…

Evie  loves to plow through the snow…

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments and I apologize for my lack of response. The last month has been a life changing experience for me. I am beyond amazed by the events that’s changing my life for the better… better than I have ever anticipated. While I will still fit blogging into my life, right now with my limited time — I will not be able to post regularly. Thanks, everyone! 😀

Cloudy Opportunity

It was late in the afternoon when I finished my errands. As I was heading home, I noticed the sunlight burst through the unique looking cloud formations across the sky. There were patches of blue sky covered by tall, ominous looking dark clouds — ready to release the rainstorm — and at the same time; intermingle with fluffy white clouds. I decided to take the furry kids to the beach where they can get rid of their pent-up energy and I was sure with clouds like that, the sunset would be absolutely amazing for a good photo shoot. Lucky me, I live only about five miles from the beach.

When we got to the beach, I let the furry kids play and do their usual stuff. Evie likes to run around and dig in the sand like a mad dog. She also enjoys chasing seagulls.

Max… he only has one thing mind — he runs straight into the frigid water ready to play fetch. Speaking of frigid, the bay water is very cold. It doesn’t get past 50 degrees even in the summer. Last month, I had to wade into the freezing sea, up to my chest to rescue Max because I thought he was snare by the giant sea kelp forest. But that’s another story…

As the sun began to set, the sky and clouds morphed into spectacular colors and shapes.

Everything took on a reddish, golden hue.

Even though the temperature was cold, it warmed my heart and soul to enjoy such an amazing cloudy opportunity. 🙂

Photographers Make Lousy Companions

On the way home from our recent road trip to the Big Four Ice Caves, Jean Yves told me he felt alone and neglected. Even though we go on the road trips together but when we arrive at our destination, he always end up having to babysit the furry kids and I’m usually off somewhere else with my camera. I know… I have to admit he’s right. And I have to say he has been quite supportive about my photography addiction and never really complain much… I do spend most of the time exploring on my own with the camera when we are out and about. While I do try to make time to be with him and the furry kids — oftentimes, the addiction to my camera is just too overpowering. It’s so hard for me to not to see something I want to photograph. And yet, it’s difficult for me to concentrate when he waits for me. I do my best work when I’m alone.

As always, we started out walking together and then… as soon as we got to the pond, I took out the tripod. Knowing the routine, Jean Yves and the furry kids went on ahead to see the ice caves. I told him I would take a few pictures and then catch up with them. Of course… as usual… easier said then done. It took me over an hour to walk the short 1 mile trail to the ice caves.  There were so many beautiful and interesting things beckon me to photograph them:

Thick rainforest filled with tall, moss covered trees.

Tiny mushrooms with interesting textures, details and colors.

Cloud covered mountain peaks with water falls.

Finally when I made it to the ice caves, we did explore the area and enjoyed the beautiful scenery together.

I had the intention of walking back with them but… the views going back looks different. With out a word, Jean Yves and the furry kids — once again, headed off with me trailing behind.

YES!  I admit, I make a lousy companion when I have my camera with me. But… I have a feeling I am not alone in this predicament with our domestic partner. 😉

No Vacancy Road Trip

I’ve lived in many parts of the United States and have seen a lot of beautiful places. However, I have to admit none of the other States I’ve been to have the kind of diverse landscapes like the Pacific Northwest: From the desert like climate on the east of Cascade Mountains and the majestic snow-covered peaks of the volcanoes, to the old growth trees and rainforests in the Olympic National Park — ending with the thundering waves on rocky beaches of the Pacific Ocean; the discovery of wondrous sights are endless. Okay… I’m starting to sound like a vacation brochure. 😉

Anyway… since we were blessed with another beautiful sunny weekend, we decided to go on an overnight road trip along the western part of Olympic Peninsula loop.

As we wind along highway 101, we stopped at one of the old growth rainforests. Many of the old growths were over two hundred years old and are homes for the endangered species, Spotted Owls. I was hoping to capture the rare owl but knew my chances were slim to none during my short visit. However, the trees were an amazing sight. They made my head dizzy just from looking up.

While I did my best to capture the magnificent place — this is one of those places that you need to experience it in person to get the feel of the lush vegetation and the immense height of the trees, wild life — not to mention the humidity and blood-sucking mosquitoes. Actually, I could do without the mosquitoes. I’m one of those people who these bloodsuckers seem to like a lot. And if there is a mosquito within a fifty-mile radius, it somehow will find me.

After thirty minutes of lost sweat and blood, I just couldn’t stand taking another mosquito bite. I know… the torturous conditions, we photographers have to put up with — in pursuit of that perfect shot. 🙂

We continued on to the final destination of the town, La Push: A remote, small coastal town and home to the Quileute Indian tribe. Unfortunately, I discovered once outside of the protected national forest, the landscape changed drastically. It went from lush vegetation and giant trees to human destruction, I mean… meadows. The view was full of ugly meadows for hundreds of miles.

Finally after an hour of looking at ugly meadows, we arrived at La Push just in time for sunset shots and some fun in the surf.

Unfortunately, the fun ended when we started to look for a place to stay for the night. Since it was the end of August, thought of not being able to get a motel room didn’t occur to us. To make the long story short, we drove all night along the Olympic National Park loop looking for a place to stay. And we came upon one bright red NO VACANCY sign after another. 😦

We just couldn’t believe it. There wasn’t any room available whatsoever within the two hundred miles… we had no choice but to drive the 400 miles back home. By the time we got home, it was 4:00 a.m. Lesson learned… it’s not a good idea to assume when you go on vacation.