Monday, June 30, 2014

Cow Creek Country Classic

 Waxahachie, Texas
28th Annual Ride
When we decided to ride the Cow Creek Country tour, we knew we had ridden it twice before. However, we didn't remember some of the ride. I searched our blog to refresh our memory, but couldn't find a write up. We discovered we did the ride before we started blogging. So this time I tried to take as many pictures as possible to help our memory in the future.   
 According to the tour director, 1,200 of us lined up for a 7:30 a.m. start.
 It was an overcast day as we headed out toward the city limits.
 The start of many shady lanes that we would travel throughout the day. Don't let the looks of the highway fool you. The Waxahachie ride had some of the best roads of any tour yet.
 Wind out of the south at about 20 mph was slightly to our backs on the first part of the ride. The access road was heading "north" toward Fort Worth/Dallas.
 The overcast day negated the need for the series of tree lined streets, but we can keep it in mind for some bright sunny day respite in the future.
 The ride took us through a lot of pretty rural areas.
 The scenery kept Christine "rubber necking" throughout the tour.
 The ride consisted of a lot of gentle rollers. (Jerry, only one registered 10% grade, the rest were good rollers).

 Brian leading me across a long bridge close to Midlothian, Texas. There had been a light shower early that morning, and there were just small puddles.
Brian Backlund from San Angelo and Christine at rest stop two. Rest stops were well spaced and well stocked. As a bonus, every stop had bottles of honey to pour on your cookies or bananas--a new and delicious ride boost for us. 

 Recent rains encouraged a wildflowers to come back out--Indian blanket, yellow cone flowers, Mexican hat, gay feather, fairy duster.
 Start of a good decline. All of us rolled at about 30 mph down this one.

 Getting back into town about three miles from the finish.
 And surprise. Cow Creek Country had another rest stop. It was so close to the finish that a lot of riders just passed it by. However, they missed out on a treat of several photo ops.
 Union Pacific Depot.
 The Missouri Kansas Texas (MKT) bridge near the depot.
Trinity-Brazos Depot.
Ellis County Courthouse  
As pretty as the scenery was, the finish line was calling. Reason? After-ride hot dogs were waiting at the finish line. Trust me, they were good.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fort de France, Martinique

 Fort de France
Martinique is one of four French islands in the Caribbean. Fort de France is the capital and is one of the major cities in the Caribbean. Exports include sugar, rum, tinned fruit, and cacao.
Note the panorama is similar to a lot of the other islands. They are either the result of coral or volcanic activity. Martinique fits in the volcanic category. 
Fort de France is located on a strip of land sandwiched between the mountains and sea.
 We had a snorkeling trip lined up for the day, and as previously mentioned in another port, I am afraid that my point and shoot camera is no longer waterproof. Thus, I ended up with a few shots of the town taken from our balcony.  
 The buildings and houses are colorful similar to many other cities in the Caribbean.
 Contrast of the old and new near the mouth of the Madame River.
Martinique visit is over and once again we sail off into the sunset. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Barbados is a rather small island measuring 21 miles in length and 14 miles wide. It is a popular tourist destination and a very pretty island.

When approaching Barbados, it looked as if we might be in for a rainy day. However, the skies cleared by the time we docked, and it turned out to be a beautiful day. 
The Star Clipper was docked along side of us. All but six of the cabins are on the outside. But a close inspection reveals port holes only. Even with the small number of passengers, the romance of a real square-rigged ship, and elegant amenities, I will stick with my balcony and a few more "neighbors".
I didn't jot down the name of this cruise ship. Like the ship above, it has it's charm but not enough to make me switch liners.
Now if someone wants adventure, sign on to this boat and push big liners around all day.
We chose a photographer's tour on this island. We were to see scenic views and be given picture taking pointers by our guide. Some of his suggestions were out of my league, so I had fun all day with my point and shoot techniques.
Our guide talked about different lighting, and he liked shadows. My attempt at different shades. 

Overlook of the city of Bathsheba and Bathsheba Beach. No technique here other than my point and shoot.
Bathsheba Beach 
Besides liking the view, this is another attempt to incorporate some of the guide's techniques. He wanted most of the pictures to be shot with "thirds" in mind. Have your main subject in one of the frame's thirds. So the little shack was supposed to be my main subject.
Local village girl on her way to town.
We passed by some pretty rock structures. Again no technique. I just liked the views.

This tree is probably the most photographed on the island. I must have taken a jillion shots of the tree but never achieved the professional look such as a picture the guide took and showed us. 
My main subject took more than 1/3rd of the frame, but I like the shot anyway.
Bathsheba Beach is also called the Soup Bowl and the waves are good enough that international surfing contest are held here. 


 Beauty as far as the eye can see.

 I was trying to take a picture of Bathsheba Rock when a couple of tourists walked right in front of my shot. See how the rock was in the left third of my frame.
 Bathsheba Rock
What I was trying to take a picture of when the girls walked in front of the shot. And if you are reading this, Christine, my editor, bought the story and left the picture in the story.

 Close by was this little bar. Christine had worked up a mighty thirst just looking at all of the scenery.
 On some website I saw a professional photographer's shot of this scene. He must have been in a slightly different position as his picture did not have the houses on the bottom of his photo. I will accept my pictures as having "local flavor".

 Sugar refinery is a big industry on the island. Barbados is the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per capita. The guide told us that the country has enough money that everyone is covered by healthcare and with free education, there is almost a 100% literacy rate.
 Sugar cane field.
 The tour is over and so is the day. The Star Clipper must be going to spend the night. The tug boat is about to push us out to sea.