Monday, October 31, 2011

Packing Tip Using Bags Cloth or Plastic

When I travel by car I make sure that I bring or pack several size kinds of bags both cloth and plastic.  If you've been keeping up with me you know that I am an advocate of traveling light.  I tend bring a bit extra camera gear when I travel by car but clothes packing tips remain the same.  My packing goal is to have everything fit into the trunk of my car.  My camera being the exception to that rule but my camera bag usually remains in the trunk when I'm driving.

I take along several shopping bags as they make handy impromptu suitcases if you happen to need them.  They also make pretty good laundry bags if you end up doing laundry.  I also use the cloth bags for those trips to the store to bring groceries back to the hotel.

I have several size plastic bags from zip lock sandwiches bags and quart size plus a couple of 30 gallon trash bags.  I prefer to separate my clean and dirty clothes so I put the dirty clothes into the trash bags.

All of my liquid products go into zip lock plastic bags.  If I'm going to be gone for several weeks I get smaller bottles of the products I use and pack those.  If I'm going to be gone a few days I just fill some six ounce bottles with my usual stuff and pack those in plastic bags.  I usually have hair and body products in separate bags and bundle those into one larger bag.  I don't put any liquid products in my suitcase.  I prefer to put them in a cloth shopping bag that I put in my trunk.

I also use the quart size bags for protection of my camera if it rains.  I cut a hole in the bag and stick the front portion of the lens through.  A little gaffers tape on the lens hood and plastic bag and I'm good to go.  Not the best solution but it works in a pinch and is much cheaper than those camera raincoats.  Living in Arizona I don't need rain gear very often, but just in case I do have zip lock bags, garbage bags and plastic raincoats in my camera bag.

The quart size bags are very good 'raincoats' for protecting my Speedlites and Pocket Wizards around all types of water either made by nature or man.

So when you travel don't forget to take along some extra bags they come in very handy.

Remember to take time to enjoy your trip.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nördlingen, Schwabia Germany

Several years ago I was fortunate to be introduced to the town of Nördlingen Germany located in the northern State of Bavaria.  This is the Swabian part of Bavaria so it is about an hour north of München. While it is Bavaria the dialect spoken is one of the three major dialects of Bavaira.  Swabisch is spoken there.
This town is along the Romantic road so it isn’t all that difficult to miss.  Depending on the time of year tourist traffic can be sparse.  The last time I was there was for the Christmas Market of 2009.  It was cold.  It was one of the coldest winters in decades.  But it was well worth getting cold to see the Christmas Market and be with friends again.
There are some very distinct things about the old town.  This part of Germany is farm land and Hopps is one of the crops grown in the area.  During War 2 this region was saved from being bombed because it didn’t produce any vital war materials.  This resulted in the town remaining intact.  Somewhere along the way the enterprising people converted the moat into a parking lot.  While this provided some additional parking there is still a shortage of parking places.
There is plenty of history here and oddly enough American Astronauts received part of their training here for the moon landing because of the crater called the Nördlinger Reis.  You can visit the museum and see moon rocks brought back by the Astronauts.
The town was over run in the 30 years war and the area was desolate until the 1900’s.  If you manage to visit the old city you will see some houses built into the wall.  These were actually barracks for troops that were there to defend the city.  This way they could leave their quarters and report to their fighting positions on the wall quickly.
Someday I intend to return and spend some time in the old city.  I managed to spend a couple afternoons in the town and saw some very nice sights.  I particularly enjoyed the museum located in the Löpsinger Gate Tower (Löpsingertorturm ).  It means you have to climb up into the wall but the climb is well worth the effort.  Walking around the wall is very interesting also.  Be sure to check out the dates on some of the houses.  You’ll be surprised at how old some of them are.

Here is a link to Nördlingen though this one is in German.  If you do a search you will find several links that have information about Nördlingen.

Here is Daniel seen from the wall.  You notice it dominates the skyline from the wall and even outside the city.

One of the displays depicting the town at around the time of the 30 Year War.

Here is a portion of the city wall seen from Löpsinger Tor Turm

the small house on the right was once a barracks for troops manning the wall.

Photo of the inside of Daniel

Reimlinger Tor on the south side of old town

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Steins New Mexico a Railroad Ghost town

My sister and I have noticed this town as we travel through New Mexico.  We finally managed to stop and take a look.
It is an interesting looking town but currently it appears that it is in renovation and scheduled to open again in May of 2012.  I tried to use the new web site address but it did not work.  According to a comment posted on the link below it may be closed permanently which would be a sad thing.

This town is located on the western side of New Mexico at the mile post 3 off ramp.  There isn't much in the area as far as population goes.  I think when I finally got to visit here I was sort of disappointed by the fact it was closed and just took a couple snaps.  That and I was on the way home and I didn't really have lots of time to look over a fence.  Maybe had the place been open I would have spent more time looking around.  The fence sort of keeps you at a distance so unless you have a really long lens it might be difficult to get photos.

Having said that I would take the opportunity to go back and check it out when I pass by again.  I tend to stay over night in the area when I travel so yes I would go back again.
This obviously is the mercantile and you can see the fence.

These two photos I took from the west on ramp.  The time of day made the lighting terrible.

This is the Mercantile from the side and from the on ramp.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Packing a night light

 This past trip I was on I found that hotels try and provide some kind of night light by adding a light onto the hair dryer.  Strange thing though is that during the wee hours of the morning these things are like mad telegraph operators blinking in some weird sequence but not providing light to see.
Traveling in Germany I had the power converter that had a light on it that provided all the light I needed to see in the hotel room when it was dark.  So I knew I had a light source but it never really dawned on me that I did.  It was just there.  I do carry a flashlight or two with me as I have an issue with night blindness.  I use those small LED Flashlights that have one red LED cell which comes in handy if you are traveling with someone and don't want to wake them up.  But flashlights will not really function as night lights as they tend to be pretty bright and the batteries won't last.
Then unpacking my computer from my computer bag one night I found that had packed an Enercell battery charger with a built in night light that I picked up from Radio Shack. Model SA 004 Catalog # 23-787.  It not only provided enough light to walk around the dark room but when necessary I was able to charge my AA and AAA batteries when I needed.  This charger also will charge non Radio Shack Batteries.
I unplugged that pesky hair dryer and replaced it with my battery charger / night light.  This allowed me to unplug it when it was no longer needed in the morning.  And as it was part of my photo gear I knew exactly where it was all the time.
So to help in those dark hotel/motel rooms bring a night light along.

this is the Enercell battery charger with night light from Radio Shack.

Monday, October 10, 2011

St. Clair Winery, Deming New Mexico

You can tell I've been spending some time in Deming, New Mexico.  I stumbled upon it by accident about a year ago when I noticed a road sign proclaiming the largest Winery in New Mexico.  One of those: "Oh Yeah?  We'll see." moments.  As I've said in previous posts Deming is an interesting town with lots of history and plenty of things to see.
So I checked out the Winery and discovered that I really enjoyed their Gewurztraminer and Riesling wines.  I'm sort of a white wine kind of person.  I've found that for my taste their wines are very good.  I also liked their Cabernet Sauvignon which is about the extent of my red wine taste.
They have also some of their own local flavor blends of wine which are also rather nice.
I found the staff helpful, knowledgeable and friendly.  We purchased a very nice Riesling and a Peach wine that we found interesting and we were given tickets to the local Wine Fest.  It appears that every year in October Deming has this Wine Fest.  We met people from all over that came specifically to St.Clair Winery for this festival.  They brought their own bottles and purchased wine by bulk if you will.  This is their house wine, either red or white or a mix of the two.  They will pour the wine into bottles and cork them if they are wine bottles.  They have assorted size jugs there for sale if you didn't bring your own bottle.
The entrance price was $6 and with that you got a souvenir glass and six wine tastings.  There were vendors and music along with food.
I had a pleasant experience at the Wine Fest in Deming.  I had an enjoyable afternoon.   

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Know when to say when

I'm on this sort of remembrance trip.  We've been traveling about eleven days and it has been a good trip.  I've just got to remember that I'm not as young as I once was.  I'm also recovering from cancer.  I've just started to get my stamina back and it feels good.  My problem is that I am trying to do to much.  It isn't all that hard to do more than your are use to when you are visiting places that are new and full of many interesting things and people.  Small towns can sometimes surprise you by what they have to offer.

So here is the thing I'm re-learning.  Take the time to enjoy your trip.  Know when you've had enough and go back to the hotel or find a hotel if you don't have one.  My sister and I have developed this method of traveling where we visit places and when we start getting tired we head back to the hotel.  We've got some pretty good local wine and we have a glass on occasion.  We also manage to have some light meals.  We don't need to eat out every night.  Most hotels have breakfast and then we snack and have something light in the evening.  Most hotels now have also micro wave ovens and small refrigerators in the room so you can bring your own stuff.  We've found that the local dollar store has much of what we like so it helps us have some extra spending money at the end of the day.

We've traveled over 2000 miles in eleven days and we have still about four hundred miles or so before we get home.  If you can take the extra time every now and then just to rest up before you drive or visit that next interesting local spot.  You may be there hours longer than you planned.  So when you start feeling fatigued stop and sit down.  Get some energy back.  Be safe.

We had planned to visit the Alamo while we were in San Antonio but by the time we started to head there it was two in the afternoon and we were miles away and the traffic on the freeway was already pretty packed.  We decided that it wasn't worth the time to fight traffic just to spend a couple minutes in front of the Alamo.  We've seen it before.  It would be more interesting to have plenty of time to leisurely stroll about the grounds and actually take the time to 'see' it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, Deming NM

 I went to this smallish museum in Deming, New Mexico.  It seems to be a really nice Gem of a place in Deming.  It is a donation and volunteer run museum with a small gift shop.  The building is full of small display areas that are just crammed full of all sorts of history.  It won't matter what history you are into you'll find almost all of it here in this museum.  This covers past history, geodes, a lot of the wars the US has been in.  There is a room devoted to WW II where a large portion of the prisoners of Bataan were from New Mexico something I didn't know.
I was very impressed with this museum.  You'll need a lot of time to check out this little wonder.  It is worth your time.

 There is a Veteran Park outside the museum and these are some of the displays.
 The art room or hall.
 This is a really fancy steamer trunk.  There is a detail of the painting in the next photo. 

 This is pretty scary looking but if you wanted your hair to have curls then this was the go to thing at one time.  YIKES!!!
 My Grandma used one of these things and it was always fascinating to me  how she kept everything in her head with all the wires and connections going on.
Milk and Cookies.  I like the refrigerator in the background.

Forgot my own advice about souvenirs

I made a stop in Roswell New Mexico a while back.  It was a bit different than I thought it would be.  There weren't green men on every corner nor was it overly done.  Just a regular town with a different history.

I did stop at the Alien Museum and took the tour which was pretty interesting.  I also stopped by the gift shop on my way out.  I found a t-shirt that had potential and for some reason I put it back.  I'm not sure why I did that but later that night and far away from Roswell I discovered that I did not purchase that t-shirt.  Silly me.  So I didn't follow my own advice and take the t-shirt with me to the counter.  I could have decided at the last minute that I didn't want the shirt but I got side tracked and didn't have it with me to even try.  So now I'm out a souvenir that I was going to use as a gift.

So I guess I need to try and follow my own advice a bit more.  So I guess the modification to my souvenir buying tip is if you see something interesting carry it around with you.  I still think you should buy any souvenir that you find interesting.  It may come back to haunt you just like it did me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fredericksburg Texas

Visited Fredericksburg, Texas and was pleasantly surprised.  Texas town with German heritage.  I enjoyed the National Museum of the Pacific.  Themed with Chester Nimitz who is a home town guy.  Fredericksburg is a tourist town with lots of things to see and do.
The National Museum of the Pacific sells tickets that are good for forty eight hours.  There are three separate venues of the museum.  At least they realize that any museum takes time to visit.  I found it very interesting.
Fredericksburg has a little town feel to it but there are some upscale type shops and wineries in the area.
If you are in the area I'd recommend spending a few hours or better still a day just to stroll up and down the streets visiting all the shops on Main Street.
Yes some of the things are a bit over priced but cheaper then going to Germany to get them.  I found that most of the people here don't speak German if you are looking to do that.  The people are friendly with that Texas drawl.

Monday, October 3, 2011

La Quinta, Big Spring Texas a review

If I were to be giving out stars to evaluate my stay at La Quinta in Big Spring, Texas I'm afraid I'd not be giving them any, or maybe a half star out of five.  For what it is worth I'd not recommend staying at the La Quinta in Big Spring Texas.  The front desk staff is friendly but the other services are really terrible.  Two days in a row we put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our door and both days the room was cleaned.  I know it doesn't seem something to complain about but the sign was up to keep people out.  The sign was also removed from the door and we got a different on from the front desk. The kind that fits in the card slot.  The second day we went out after breakfast for a short time and when we got back the maid was at our room with the door open and cleaning it again.  I asked her if she saw the "Do Not Disturb" sign in the key slot and she said she didn't.  When we got into the room the sign was hanging on the handle on the inside.  We had to ask for towels.  The soap and coffee was missing also.  The maid also turned on the a/c so that it wouldn't shut off.  The room got really cold before we realized that the controls had been tampered with.  Also after the maid left the receiver connection to the body of the phone was unplugged.

If you are not familiar with this hotel it is a pet friendly hotel.  There are lots of dogs in the hotel.  I only mention this because I am allergic to dogs and didn't know until after I checked in the first time.

The hotel offers a breakfast as part of your stay.  It isn't much of a breakfast, as the choices are rather slim and not particularly healthy.  The person responsible for keeping the breakfast area supplied with coffee, orange juice or any other thing apparently had other duties as the trash cans were filled to overflowing, the tables were not wiped down.  Our final morning there for breakfast the coffee was cold and bitter.  There was no salt or pepper.  No bagels.  The place wasn't really clean.  The dining area had roaches on the floor dying.  The dining area faces east so in the morning when you are eating breakfast the sun shines into the room which is kind of nice except there is no way to block the sun light.  I know it is a trivial detail, except when you try to eat and are facing the sun.

Just to make it interesting the bar to the west plays loud music until closing on the week-ends.

The over all experience was not good.  I won't be staying there again if I'm in town.  I've had some not good experiences with the La Quinta chain before and overall I'm pretty sure that they will be on the bottom of my list for places to stay.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Revisiting the Past

Sometimes when you take a trip down memory lane you find a few sad moments.  On a recent return to one of the places I lived growing up there were moments where the past and the present collided in not so good memories.  I took some photos of this place last year and now it is burned down.
There have been some good times and new memories of this place.  It is the clashing of my past and present that sometimes causes sadness.  I spent many an afternoon in this theater.  It has been closed for a very long time now.
It is a bit of a challenge to go out and take photos when there is a bit of melancholy mixing with what is before the lens.
There will be those days.  I've had some interesting moments since I've returned here.  Sometimes this is what you get.  This is my photography philosophy when I'm out taking photos.  I still get mixed up with time and how quickly it passes while I'm trying to compose my photo.
Take care be well.  Have fun taking photos.