18 November 2017

Photos from the Rockies – My Colorado Trip

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 2250

Rocky Mountain National ParkFor our late summer trip this year, we decided to go to Rocky Mountain National Park. We started in Estes Park, the eastern gateway to the park. Once we’d settled on this, we did what we always do. We mapped out everything there was to do for about 100 miles around and laid out a plan to hit every one of them. We changed hotels every night or two, but we managed to do everything on our carefully planned itinerary in Estes Park, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Canon City, Cripple Creek, Pueblo and Denver. We’d never spent much time at high altitude before so we weren’t sure how much it would slow us down. As it turned out, it didn’t slow us down at all. We walked over 50 miles and climbed more stairs than I can count (don’t worry, my FitBit did count all of it!). We saw innumerable wild animals and took in some of the most breathtaking scenery of any of our trips.

It’s taken a few months but I got all of the photos from the trip sorted and you can check them out right here.

03 September 2017

Hot Air Balloon Festival Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1020

Hot Air BalloonsWhile looking for someplace to go for a day trip, we stumbled upon a balloon festival in North Jersey. Since hot air balloons always make for great photos, I couldn’t pass it up. We bought tickets and headed to Readington Airport. Unfortunately, the day was pretty overcast and there were scattered showers throughout the day. Some of the traditional balloons were able to launch but all of the larger shaped balloons either inflated and stayed tethered or just didn’t inflate at all. As it turned out, the unexpected part that made the price of admission worth it was all of the companies that were there handing out samples of their products. It was a bizarrely eclectic mix of stuff. From Advil to Minute Rice to flavored milk and on and on, we had to make the long muddy walk to the car twice just to offload all of the stuff we’d been given! It was a fun day and we managed to stay mostly dry while watching the balloons that were brave enough to take off despite the questionable weather.

Check out the photos here.

23 July 2017

Savannah & Daufuskie Island Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 2044

I just posted 2 new albums of photos. One is from our trip to Savannah and the other is from a side trip that we took while in Savannah to Daufuskie Island.

The Savannah photos include a week of Forrest Gump, traditional southern food, bucolic streets and squares lined with live oak tree covered in Spanish moss, old mansions, civil war sites/memorials, old forts, lighthouses, a historic plantation and a cemetery.

The Daufuskie photos are of a place that you may not heard of, but was the highlight of our trip. It’s a small island near Hilton Head Island. You take a ferry to get there and then travel by golf cart. Check out the my photos for a slightly more in depth description of the island.

The Savannah photos are here and the Daufuskie Island ones are here. Enjoy!

16 June 2017

Finally put tons of photos on Flickr

Category: Photography — Posted by Michael at 1941

I’ve had a Flickr account for 12 years and a paid Pro account for about 5. Mostly, I’ve only used it for sharing photos with family members semi-privately. They’re photos that I don’t care if others see, but I also don’t want to bore you with photos of kids opening Christmas gifts, etc. I used to use Google’s Picassa Web Albums for this, but they went the way of the dodo a few years ago.

Up until now, the only photos in my public Flickr stream were photos cross-posted from my Instagram account so that I have an exit-strategy from that service since they’re now owned by Facebook and using any Facebook-owned property makes me a little (ok, a lot) queasy. Plus it gives the photos a some extra exposure.

That has changed change. I’ve spent the past few years tagging the photos from my website and preparing them to be uploaded to Flickr. As much as I’d prefer to drive traffic to my site, cross posting them to Flickr will get them a some more exposure and, if nothing else, make me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth from my Flickr Pro subscription.

So, I’ve posted almost 8000 photos in my Flickr feed over the past week or so. They’re broken down in albums and further separated into collections by year, so you’ll be able to navigate through them if you wish.

Enjoy the photos, and feel free to share them and comment on them which is something you can’t (currently) do on my website.

03 June 2017

Photos from the Final Tour of the Circus

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1127

Tiger and trainerThe last time I went to the circus when it rolled into Philadelphia, I was in elementary school. When we heard that Ringling Brothers was shutting down the circus for good this year, we decided that we should go see its last hurrah. We splurged a little and got seats in the second row. There were two separate touring shows this year. The one that came to Philadelphia was “Out of this World.” (The other being “Circus Xtreme.”) Wow, what a difference from the last time I saw the show. I remember seeing Gunther Gable, elephants and a unicorn. I probably don’t want to know what kind of animal rights violations were committed in the production of the unicorn, but I did miss the elephants. As for Gunther, there was a big cat trainer there who was also quite good. The other surprising part was that besides the acrobats, clowns, contortionists, dog trainers, etc., a portion of the show was also performed on ice. Add some horse stunts, motorcycles in a steel sphere and a menagerie of animals including a kangaroo and you have quite a fun spectacle. It’s really sad that this will be the last year that anyone will get to experience it.

Relive the circus experience by checking out my photos here.

02 June 2017

Philadelphia Flower Show Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1908

Tulips & BicycleDespite living in the Philadelphia area my entire life, I’ve never gone to the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. I’m not necessarily a flower enthusiast, but I’m a photographer and have spent plenty of time photographing flowers elsewhere like Longwood Gardens, the Macy’s Flower Show in Chicago and many other places. This year’s theme was Holland and tulips are my favorite flowers to photograph so how could I resist? Despite it being a damp rainy day, we hopped on the train to Center City and spent the day indoors enjoying the sights and sounds (Dutch techno light show, anyone? See the video below.). It’s truly amazing to see what the Philadelphia Horticultural Society builds inside the convention center. Besides flowers, the amount of stuff they load in there, trees, landscaping, tons of dirt and mulch, art exhibits, etc. is beyond impressive. It made for a fun (and colorful) day.

Check out the photos here.

24 March 2017

Review: Eleni’s Greek Taverna – Springfield VA

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1336

Eleni’s is an authentic Greek restaurant with some Greek Diner mixed in. I could probably end this review right here because who could pass up that winning combination? As soon as you walk in, the atmosphere and décor are unmistakably Greek. Then you notice the counter and realize that they serve breakfast all day long along with a big selection of classic diner sandwiches, etc. I’m sure the breakfast and sandwiches are good, but we were there for the Greek food so that’s what we ordered.

We started out with a trio of appetizers. The saganaki was flambéed tableside, just as it should be and it was delicious. The spanakopita and tiropita we equally as good. The portion sizes of all three dishes were much larger than we expected! After eating my salad (which was also surprisingly large), I had one of my favorite Greek dishes, pastitsio,. It too was delicious. It was baked just right. The bechemel on top was properly browned without being dried out and the meat/pasta was properly spiced. All of our dishes came with a side of fasolakia (string beans in tomato sauce with oil and herbs).

Add a very friendly staff to the incredible food and my only complaint is that Eleni’s is so far away from home. Although it’s probably good for my waistline that they’re 150 miles away!

Speaking of location, one note on getting to this place… It’s tucked in the far back corner of the shopping center facing the back of another building, so it’s not easily visible from the street. Just turn into the Concord Shopping Center and you’ll eventually find it.

12 March 2017

Twenty Years Already?

Category: Life,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1522

Everyone likes milestones that end in zero. Whether it’s a birthday or anniversary counted in years, months or days, if it ends in a zero, people like to celebrate it. So, I feel only right to mention that this website has been hanging around on the web for 20 years now. What started out as a free set of webpages on AOL when I was in high school has slowly grown over the years. I don’t pay as much attention to it as I did years ago; haven’t revamped in quite a while and I still maintain it using mostly static HTML pages (except this blog section which runs on WordPress), which no one really does anymore. I keep saying that I’m going to redo the entire site using a content management system, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to that for real. It certainly will make managing the huge photos section easier.

Speaking of the photos on the site, they’re the main reason it still exists. They’re what most people come here to see. At last count, there were about 7500 photos spanning 18 years of travel, family events and any of photos that I felt were worth sharing at the time. Why aren’t there 20 years of photos? Well, prior to that no one was using a digital camera! Hell, when I started posting photos I was actually using a camera that took floppy disks! Read more about that here.

Anyway, if you want to feel nostalgic about how old this site is and how far it’s come along, take a look a page that’s having its own 10th anniversary. I created it commemoration of another round number anniversary, 10 years. It shows what the site originally looked like and how it progressed during its first decade. If you think the site seems dated now, take a look at what it used to look like! I would make another retrospective for 20 years, but honestly, it hasn’t changed much since then. It’s just grown some.

As always, thanks for checking out the site. As long as I continue to hear from enough people who enjoy it, I’ll keep maintaining it and will try to continue to keep it going for another 20 years.

15 January 2017

Canadian Maritimes Videos Posted

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1953

Just in case you couldn’t figure it out from all of the tweets, Google+ posts and YouTube notifications that were generated earlier today, I finally uploaded the videos I took during my trip to the Canadian Maritimes back in August. There are 2 videos from the Digby Scallop Days festival in Nova Scotia and 4 from the bagpipe and Celtic/Highland dancing show (Highland Thunder) that we went to at the College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in PEI.

Take a moment to check them out here and if you haven’t seen my photos from that trip, those are available too. Also, if you’ve never considered a trip to the Canadian Maritimes, I highly recommend it.

13 January 2017

Lake Wallenpaupack Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1218

Lackawaxen RiverI just posted the last of my photos from 2016. Back in October, we spent a long weekend at Lake Wallenpaupack, a man-made lake in the Northern Poconos created as a reservoir for a hydroelectric plant. Because we left in the evening after work, we stopped and spent a night at Sands in Bethlehem before heading the rest of the way up to the Poconos. Our first stop was in Honesdale to board a train for a scenic ride along the path of the former Delaware and Hudson Canal to check out the beautiful Fall foliage. We then headed to Hawley to check in to our motel right across the street from the lake. We sent much of the weekend walking and driving around the lake and exploring downtown Hawley. Along the way we found time to stop at a few very cool diners. After heading out of town, on our way home, we went to a cider mill because nothing says Fall like a cider mill. Then we visited the home of the first chief of the US Forest Service, Grey Towers. It’s now a national historic landmark and museum. All in all, it was a slower paced, more relaxing vacation than we usually like to take, but it was still a lot of fun.

Check out the photos right here. Enjoy!

29 November 2016

Looking back at Gatlinburg

Category: Photography,Randomness — Posted by Michael at 2211

Seeing the news today about the horrific wildfire affecting Gatlinburg, Tennessee and surrounding area is heartbreaking. I vacationed there 2 years ago. It’s a truly fun tourist destination. I’m at least happy to hear that Emergency Management officials initial report that Ober Gatlinburg ski resort had been destroyed turned out to be false.

This seems like a good time to take a look at my photos from Gatlinburg when it wasn’t the frightening disaster area it is right now.

22 November 2016

Turkey Brining Time

Category: Cooking/Food — Posted by Michael at 1645

How are you preparing your turkey for Thanksgiving this year? If you’re not brining it, I suggest you rethink that. Yes, this post is my annual reposting of my turkey brining tutorial. It’s nothing fancy because brining your bird is not a complicated process even though

Check out my instructions and recipe here. I even made a few minor updates this year. After all, refining your technique is what cooking is about.

Enjoy and feel free to let me know how it turns out.

07 October 2016

Review: The Black Olive – Voorhees Twp NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1612

The atmosphere and service at Black Olive was great. Our waiter was very attentive and the space feels much bigger than it is thanks to some cool modern design choices. The acoustics aren’t the greatest, but really, have you ever been in a quiet Greek restaurant?

Moving onto the most important part, the food, I would sum up my first meal here as not bad. It was not the best Greek food I’ve ever eaten, but it was not terrible by any means. I love Greek food. So as far as the staples go, I know how they should taste. I know every restaurant puts their own spin on things but I felt like most of the food here was bland. It seemed as though the chef was trying to conserve his limited supply of spices.

We started out with the saganaki which was delicious. It was not flambéed tableside with ouzo as I’ve enjoyed in some other restaurants, but I certainly can’t hold that against them. The spanakopita was good, but instead of being layered as it usually is prepared, it was more of a roll where all of the filling was wrapped with layers of phyllo. The phyllo was nice and crispy, but the filling lacked the depth of flavor that you’d expect.

The house salad was unique and very tasty. The whole salad was finely shredded which I’ve not seen before. I ordered the pastitsio, my favorite Greek entrée. The dish was bland and a bit dry. The béchamel formed a solid cap on top of the pasta. For dessert, we had baklava and ekmek kataifi. While not bad, they too were generally lacking in flavor.

I’d like to think it was just someone in the kitchen being stingy with herbs and spices the night I was there and maybe it would be better next time. This is certainly not a restaurant that I’d refuse to try again, but reading similar comments in other reviews makes me think our meal might be the norm.

03 July 2016

Chicago Photos

Category: Life,None,Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1339

Chicago TheatreI finally posted my MANY photos from my trip to Chicago.

Chicago is one of those places that I’ve been familiar with through the years mainly because of so many various TV shows set there. As a kid I watched Perfect Strangers (anyone remember TGIF?). In high school and college it was ER and Chicago Hope. Then more recently it’s been NBC’s Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med. On top of this, I feel like I know Chicago and the rest of Chicagoland because I’ve been a loyal listener of the Eric & Kathy morning show on WTMX in Chicago for well over a decade. However, I’d never actually been to the Windy City. This trip finally corrected that.

We spent 7 days in Chicago. We stayed right downtown in the Loop, a block south of the river. Over the course of the week, we walked approximately 50 miles, climbed 201 flights of stairs and road the L 22 times. Needless to say, we covered much of the city (at least the downtown area) while even finding time to spend a relaxing evening with a cousin who lives out there.

To say that Chicago is an incredible food city is an understatement. My normal diet was suspended for the week as we check out the best places to get real Chicago deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs and Italian beef along with stops at Harry Caray’s and Mike Ditka’s. Oh, and don’t forget the Portillo’s chocolate cake.

Check out all of the photos plus some videos and a list of our many great dining experiences right here.

20 June 2016

Washington State Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 2005

Puget Sounds, Silverdale WAWhile in Washington State for business, I stayed at the Silverdale Beach Hotel. My room had a nice view of the Puget Sound. During my week there, I snapped a few photos from my balcony and from the shoreline of the Sound. There’s also one photo from Poulsbo where we went for dinner one night.

Take a look at these photos here.

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