Monday, July 16, 2012

A Sunset with Damien

I was itching to get out of the house and photograph a sunset, as I have not taken pictures of the sunset in a while. DJ was otherwise occupied, so Damien chose to go with me to photograph the setting sun. Before I shot the sun, I decided to shoot one of the many fields of the huge, round bails of hay.

These big bails of hay remind me of a time when I was young and naive. The summer and fall that I lived with my friend, Vicki, I would often climb upon the hay and lay back to watch the sky. I spent days getting some sun on top of the hay, and I spent nights watching the stars twinkle high above the earth.

It was upon one of these bails of hay that I spotted my first UFO, a triangular shaped set of lights that darted across the sky. I now know that the UFO was a test plane for the US Air Force,  Stealth Bomber, otherwise known as the B-2 Bomber. However, the government at the time denied knowing what the lights were, so at the time it was unidentified. Living close to Dyess Air Force Base, we did suspect that the base had something to do with the strange lights. We were just unsure what.

It was upon these bails of hay that I would dream of a future of happiness and peacefulness. Here I would lay dreaming of the day that I would find love that was true. Here I would lay dreaming of exploring the vast world around me.

Years have passed, and not all of my dreams have come true. But, I can truly say that I have found love both conditional and unconditional. I have found happiness and peace with myself, though I have lived a hard life. And, I continue to explore the world around me, though I am unable to explore as far as I wish.

Off we took again to find the perfect place to shoot off some shots, and I stopped the car to quickly capture a lone tree before the falling sun. The sun revealed itself from the clouds that a moment earlier was hidden. The miles of empty field provided a nice backdrop for the lone tree.

As the night dipped further toward the earth, Damien waited patiently while I shot the magnificent sight. The camera scarcely captured the immense beauty of the setting sun. The golden orange sky filled with pinks, blues, violets, and reds before the sun fully disappeared from sight.

It was a beautiful evening to capture the sun with Damien. He got the opportunity to view a beautiful sight, and I was given the opportunity to share it with my boy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Deep Shit Cattle Company

78-year-old Mack Stark renamed his cattle ranch to Deep Shit Cattle Company after stepping in cow manure during one of his long days of cattle hearding. Unexpectedly, the new name and new sign turned his cattle ranch into a tourist attraction. The Deep Shit Cattle Company is located approximately two miles northwest of Gustine, Texas on Highway 36. Stark's sons made him the sign for the ranch gate as a gift.

If you travel from Abilene to Galveston the way that we do, you will find this ranch ten miles southeast of Comanche. I always forget to photograph the sign as it makes me laugh each and every trip that we make. This time, with DJ remembering where to stop, I was given the opportunity to photograph the gate. I feel that this picture stands out from the rest I have found on the internet thus far due to the giant bails of hay and perfect sky.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Houston, Texas

Houston is the city that I love to visit but hate to drive through. It never fails, but every time that I head toward Galveston or Santa Fe, I have to go through a thunderstorm or icy roads in Houston. You would think that the people that frequent the highways in Houston would slow down when there is no visibility on the interstate, but they don't. And, for this small town girl, that makes Houston a very scary place to be at 70 miles an hour. If I go any slower, then I'll be rear-ended. Our trip through Houston last week was not any different.

DJ and I were relieved to reach the Houston area because it meant that our long trip was almost over. It had been raining off and on just south of Sommerville, but it was not until we reached the Hempstead area that the rain gushed from the sky. The higher on the interstate we traveled, the less visibility we had. I was thankful that this trip I was not driving, for back in November last, I was travelling through on icy roads. And, like then, people flew down the road as if the weather was bright and sunny and the roads were clear. My anxiety rose, and I tried my best to not act frightened, but nevertheless, I was terrified. By the time we made our way past Houston, we had outrun the storm.

Unfortunately, our plans to go into Houston on Sunday to photograph the beautiful city were quashed as there was, once again, a storm looming over the massive city. My photography opportunities would have to wait for another day. We were very busy throughout the week, excluding Tuesday. However, by Tuesday, we were too tired to make the trip.

On Thursday, we prepared to leave toward home. I did not want to miss the opportunity to photograph the city, but I did not want to delay our return home, so I opted to photograph the city from the car. I dialed up my shutter speed, as the day, though cloudy, was bright. I snapped more pictures than I thought I would ever use or need hoping that I could catch at least a few good ones before we were out of the city. The faster shutter speed seemed to work, as the below pictures are the best shots I was able to get of the colorful skyscrapers that make up the city scape that is Houston. I hope our next trip will result in much better photos.

Houston is named for Sam Houston, the president of the Republic of Texas in 1836 when the city was founded. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States of America and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. There are more than 2.1 million residents of the City of Houston and more than 5.36 million residents in the Houston Metroplex. Just south of Houston is the Johnson Space Center, which is Mission Control for NASA.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

32 Buzzards Later

It was vacation time, and once again, we were contemplating on what we should do. For years, DJ and I have had stay-cations instead of vacations, and this year, we did not relish the thought of having another stay-cation. After much deliberating and contemplating, we chose to take a vacation to Galveston for several reasons. We wanted to see my sister, niece, nephew, and my mother. I also thought it would be the perfect opportunity for us to get to know Gary better, especially since Mom and he will be marrying soon. We packed up the car, cramming everything that we could think of for Cass in the trunk and back seat along with our belongings. We headed on the long trip down Highway 36 to 290 to 610 to I-10 and finally I-45. Thirty two buzzards later, we found ourselves in Santa Fe, Texas just north of Galveston. The humidity was stifling, but the beautiful flora and fauna were worth dealing with our sultry surroundings. We were greeted by Mom, Gary, and Sashi. Sashi was grateful to have children, Damien and Dylan, to play with, and I was grateful that we made it through the blinding rainstorm in Houston without a hitch. I was, however, saddened that my niece would not joining us on this trip. We ate dinner and spent our time talking to my future step-father and my mother before we headed off to bed for much needed rest.

Sunday, Mom and Gary took us to The Strand in Galveston to meet up with Cass where she works, Dolphin World. I enjoyed looking around the shops, but grew weary of seeing the same old thing in shop after shop quickly. We rode over to Cass's home which is in the scenic Victorian part of town to set up her shelf we brought and drop off her new movies, Playstation 3, and various other belongings. Afterward, I had DJ drive down to the Ferry Landing. We parked in the lot and took the Ferry to Bolivar Peninsula and back. Here, I experimented with my shutter speed as I photographed the pelicans flying overhead.

On this trip, we were on the Ray Stoker Jr. instead of the Lanier. Because it was the Sunday before July 4th, three ferries were running rather than the normal two for Sunday traffic. The Dedman was the other ferry, and I can honestly say in all of my years of riding the ferry from the island to the mainland, I have never had the opportunity to ride the Dedman.

Riding the ferry always brings back memories of the boys and I spending two weeks a year every summer in Galveston with Mom and Dad. It reminded me of the 3-5 trips a year the boys and I made in order to spend time with my parents and later my niece, nephew, and sister before Dad passed away. Dad always took us on the ferry, and just like this time, we would look out into the bay and watch the dolphins chasing the wake of the passing ships. We would watch the sail boats jettison off toward the sea, and we would watch the Bolivar lighthouse grow as we neared.

DJ, the boys, and I did not step off of the Ferry when it landed at the mainland. The return trip to the island provided me with the opportunity to photograph the many, many seagulls chasing the ferry.

This trip was different than many of the others because this time I got share the memory with my best friend, DJ. I pointed out the different kinds of ships and barges as we passed, and I realized it is time to put the past behind me and live in the now. This trip did not sadden me and make me yearn to see my father one last time. This trip was jovial and joyful as I was able to make the memories new and fresh.

As we neared the Coast Guard base, our ferry ride came to a close. We exited the ferry and drove to the seawall where we allowed the boys to dive into the ocean and go for a swim. DJ and I walked on the beach hand-in-hand and talked about the life that we plan to share with one another. The salt water felt good on my tired, achy feet and calves. The water lapped at my toes as it washed the sand below me away sinking my body into the sand. In order to allow the boys to dry, we walked across the street to Sonic for a milkshake before we returned to Santa Fe.

Monday, Cass was off of work, so Mom decided that she would take us to the State Park on the west end of the Island for a picnic with Cass and Zach. However, the State Park ended up being a no go, as the rates had gone up, and it would have cost more than any of us could afford to pay $5 per person for seven people. We travelled further west past the toll road and found free public beach access. Again, the boys took off into the ocean while the rest of us ate our sandwiches. DJ and I walked down the beach, and we had to wade through the thick red seaweed that washed along the shore. The boys ate, and after a while, we returned to Galveston. Mom dropped Zachary off to get a haircut, and DJ, Damien, and I opted to stay at Cass' house with Cass to await Mom, Dylan, and Zach's return. This gave us the opportunity to catch up with Cass and take turns playing Grand Theft Auto IV.

Cass said that she has been doing well, and is grateful that we brought her something to do, as she was growing bored when she was at home alone. This is the first time in Cass' 41 years that she has ever lived completely on her own. Her efficiency apartment is small, but it is suitable for a single woman. Zach spends a lot of his time with his mother, and he does sleep at her home most nights. I enjoyed spending time with my sister, for we have only just begun to be close with one another. I hope with all my heart that we have the relationship that we should have had all of the past years.

When Mom returned with the boys, we said goodbye to our hosts. Mom drove us out to East Beach. There, the seaweed was not the bothersome nuisance as it was on the other two beaches we had visited. The beach was clean, the breeze from the ocean was cool, and the weather was favorable. The sand was soft and cool on my bare feet. We neared the water, and the soft sand grew firm and warm.

DJ and I walked along the sand and we watched the moon rise up into the sky. DJ picked up shells that I pointed out along the way and gently placed him in his pockets. Among the many clam shells, I found an oyster shell and two shards of sand dollars.

I snapped pictures of everything that I gazed upon, and DJ and I watch as people took turns soaring into the sky via parachute and fan. We talked about my lack of courage that would need to do such a thing. I laughed and told DJ that I would scream the entire time that I was on such a contraption, and I would miss out on the entire point of the thing, seeing beauty of the world in a way I had not seen before.

As evening neared, the lifeguard stand was abandoned, but it presented an opportunity for great, colorful photos.

DJ and I walked past tide pools where we spotted tiny creatures and seagulls feasting on what the could catch. Though you may not be able to spot it in the photos, the ground was covered with the tiny shells of the clams that rode the tide into the beach. There were millions of these small shells covering East Beach.

The sun began to set, and we watched it fall closer to the horizon. DJ and I walked hand-in-hand, Dyl walked with Mom, and Damien walked alone. The evening was a relaxing one. Words cannot explain the peace we felt or the natural beauties that kept us in awe.

DJ often walked off into the ocean and allowed the warm gulf waters flow over his feet. The boys joined him, and I could not resist the opportunity to photograph my family, my three favorite men. I could spend a lifetime attempting to express the love I feel for them, and you would never understand the depth of the love that I feel or the love that dwells in my heart. For, they are my heart, and they are the epitome of love.

Each of us posed along East Beach in order to be photographed. First, Dyl with Mom, then, Damien with mom, and finally DJ and I posed with one another.

Soon, we neared the jetty where we watched the ships enter and exit the bay. The sun dropped further toward the earth, but we continued to explore. The more near to the jetty we had come, the more we noticed the shells were moving about. The rocks of the jetty were covered with hundreds if not thousands of hermit crabs. I shot the small water spiders, and I discovered a red crab who had affixed himself beneath the rocks.

There he sat waiting for what I know not, but I know he was not expecting me. He grabbed at my stick as it neared him, and he actually took the stick away. I could not resist the opportunity to shoot away at the small creature to whom I must look like a giant. I stood close watching him move, and it was not until I returned home and began to process my photos that I realized there was a smaller crab that must have been right next to my feet. I am fortunate that he did not try to clasp his claws on my foot. Other crabs began to dig themselves from under the massive rocks of the jetty and scurry about. I wish I had been able to photograph them as well, but my battery ran dead, and my spare was close to a mile away in Mom's car.

We travelled back to Santa Fe and turned in for the night. The rose in the bush next to Mom's house that had only just begun to open had already begun to wilt.

DJ and I were tired and ragged and decided to take Tuesday to relax as we knew we had a big day ahead of us and a long trip just the day after. As the evening approached, I began to feel bad for the boys as they were terribly bored with no cousins to hang out with and nothing to keep them occupied. Mom did take the boys and I to Jack Brooks Park in Hitchock, and I am grateful that she chose to get them from the house if only for an hour or so. Where Mom lives is at the corner of Santa Fe next to Hitchcock, Texas City, and League City.

On July 4th, we traversed back to Galveston to see Cassie and to pick up Zachary. We made our way toward downtown in order to take the boys to the beach and to secure a spot on the jetty in order to watch the fireworks. To our surprise roads were corded off, and we happened upon the beginning of a 4th of July parade. The parade was more or less a political parade as it is an election year. However, there were interesting sights that rode before us, and often those upon the floats tossed beads to the crowd. Between the boys, DJ, Mom, Zach, and Me, I ended up with 37 strands of beads, and I did not have to show my boobs for a single one.

The parade ended, and candy was strewn about the road. We secured a nice little spot on the jetty, were we awaited the show. The beach was far too crowded to sit on, and the photos would be better if shot from the jetty anyway. I was not the only person that recognized the window of opportunity to shoot from there. I was angry at myself, however, that I had failed to pack and carry my tripod with me.

While we awaited the evening light show, I took the opportunity to photograph the newly constructed Pleasure Pier. The pier is not complete, and all of the rides are not opened yet. Mom said that they currently are not charging full price to enter the pier. As we arrived on limited funds, we did not venture to the pier on this occasion. As the evening progressed and night overtook the sky, I dialed down my shutter speed to allow me to catch the lights from the rides. The ferris wheel is, thus far, my favorite.

I also took this opportunity to photograph my loved ones as they sat on the jetty watching and waiting for the evening's show. Damien's anxiety level was high as the crowds stress him, so he spent the evening off by himself. I have learned to give him space and time to adjust.

The evening light glowed on Mom's skin, and she watched the festivities around her. Dylan listened to his iTouch as he waited. Zach sat patiently and quietly awaiting for the the night to begin.

And DJ sat watching and waiting in a happy gaze. I can only guess what he was thinking, and I like to think that he was enjoying feeling the ocean breeze brush against his skin and through his hair. That he was consumed with the sounds of the waves lapping against the rocks, and that he found great joy in making new memories with his wife and children.

The sun fell behind the buildings across from the seawall, and the sky shone a brilliant gold then suddenly darkened. It was almost the time that we had all awaited.

We all watched in awe as each rocket soared into the air. The fireworks exploded and lit both the sky and the water. I watched the colors dance across the waves and the waters. I failed to prevent the camera shake I was expecting due to the missing tripod, but I feel the photos were still a success, as was the show that carried on for near an hour. DJ and I stood watching the last of the pyros shoot into the sky and the warmth of his hand in mine comforted me. I could not think of a better way to spend the Fourth and celebrating the birth of our nation.

After the show was over, we returned to Mom's home in order to prepare for the journey ahead of us. For on Thursday, we returned home.