Kayaking the White Oak River

On Saturday, May 18, 2019, Michele and I decided to go kayaking in the Croatan National Forest on the White Oak River at Cedar Point.  The weather was perfect for kayaking.  The water temperature was 75 and the air temperature 88.

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Southern Caribbean Cruise Antigua and St. Lucia

Day 6 – St. John’s Antigua

February 8, Puerto Rico was the only island we did not take a sailboat ride or snorkeling trip.  We moored in St. John’s early and had just one excursion today, snorkeling and drinking rum punch.  We wish we had time to visit the Nelson’s Dockyard or to visit the St. John Church.  We did walk a few block to get a closeup of the old St. John’s Church, but didn’t go inside.  We did snorkel excursion.  They didn’t provide a snorkeling vest, but a belt and it was hard to swim with a belt around you waist.  I prefer a vest, which they provided in the other snorkeling excursion. Second, the boat was too pack, you could not move around on deck.  I prefer the trampolines net anyway.  We got some good pictures.‎ Did you know that there are 365 beaches on Antigua, one for every day of the year.  The catamaran stop on one for a swim call and lunch. The water temperature was around 75 degrees.

Day 7 – St. Lucia

February 9, I fell in love with St. Lucia once I step off the boat.  It was one of the pretty islands I been to.  We honeymoon in Hawaii 29 years ago and I think it’s better than the Maui. St. Lucia is the only nation named after a female. The beaches on Antigua and St. Lucia were marvelous.  We took a Spanish Gallon to view the Pitons.  The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic plugs, volcanic spires Gros Piton is 771 m (2,530 ft) high, and Petit Piton is 743 m (2,438 ft) high. They are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge.  The Pitons are a World Heritage Site and located near the town of Soufrière.  Where were boarded a bus to the ride thru volcano. Sulphur Springs is the “world’s only drive in volcano.  They were offering mud bath, but Michele didn’t want go in, so I stay with her.  On the gallon we drank more rum punch.  Each island had there own version of rum, and coconut rum on St. Lucia was excellent.  We brought two bottles to take home.

 

 

 

Continue in “Southern Caribbean Cruise Barbados and St. Kitts

Southern Caribbean

Michele and I just completed a 12 nights Southern Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean on the “Anthem of the Seas”.  The ship departed Cape Liberty (Bayonne, NJ) on 3rd of February and stopped in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Philipsburg St. Maarten, St. John’s Antigua, Castries St. Lucia, Bridgetown Barbados, and Basseterre St. Kitts.  I fell in love with St. Lucia and need to go back there again.  My two favorite  ports were St. Lucia and Barbados.  I would not mind going back and staying in St. Lucia and Barbados for a week.

I had my concerns about cruising out of New York in February.  Usually, February is Northerner season.  Back on February 7th, 2016, the “Anthem of the Seas” faced hurricane like conditions. Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas fought through 30-foot waves and wind gusts as high as 125 mph for several hours Sunday, according to passengers aboard the ship who posted to the Cruise Critic message boards. The ship was tossed from side to side, scattering chairs and tables in dining rooms and lounges all across the liner.  We had a good cruise, the roughs it got was 9 foot seas.  We experience 6 foot sea on day going to southern Caribbean, and one day coming back  9 foot seas.  The only problem with the cruise was that it was out of New York, and therefore 5 days of cruising (2 days cruising going south and 3 days of cruising going north.  Once we got into the Gulf stream, the weather got  warm (in the mid-seventies).  The majority of the people onboard were from the Northeast, Canada, and the Mid-West, so mid-seventies was warm to them.  There wasn’t a lot of kids on cruise, mainly retire people.  Michele and I took over 3,000 pictures between 4 devices (2 iPhone and 2 cameras).  The Olympus Tough 5 worked out great for underwater pictures.  Michele got to swim with the sea turtles. We went on the cruise with Michele’s best friend from childhood.  Miss AnnMaria and Michele grew up 3 doors down and been friend for life.  Unfortunately Miss AnnMaria and I did not get along.  I have ADHD (inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive) and love chocolate (maybe that is cause too much sugar).  So I drove Miss AnnMaria up the wall.  My wife (Michele) must be used to it.  I made the best of it and stood out of her way.

I can’t post all 3,000 pictures in this blog or the “best of”, what I can do is to provide a link to what I think are my “best of”  on Flickr. Because I was in the U.S. Coast Guard, I had to take pictures of Coast Guard boat in the U.S and other countries.  The U.S. Coast Guard give boats to St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Kitts so they look familiar.  And I took a lot of pictures of sunrises and sunsets.  We went snorkeling in 3 locations (Antigua, Barbados, and St. Kitts) and in St. Lucia took a Spanish Gallon to mud pits and volcano, and on all the excursions they played Bee​Kaay​Beats “Lucky Tonight”.  In St. Maarten, we went on sunset cruise, therefore 5 islands and 5 sailing experience and 5 days of rum punch. Did you know that beer is cheaper in St. Maarten than a bottle of water. So, in St. Maarten we drunk Presidente Beer, a Pilsner beer breweries in the Dominican Republic.

To keep the blog short, I am going to break it up into pieces.

Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey

You could not ask for a better day to depart New York. It was clear sky and mid 50s on the 3rd for February.  I got some nice pictures of New York waterfront and the Statue of Liberty.

Day 2 – Cruising 

February 4: What can I said, we are cruising to San Juan.  We did see a nice rainbow on the way down. We were off Hatteras when the rainbow picture was take at 14:30.

Day 3 – Cruising

February 5: Cruising again.  There was nice sunrise on the 5th.  The sunset could had been spectacular, but every time we could have a spectacular sunset or sunrise the ship sails into a cloud.

To keep the blog short, I am going to break it up into pieces. Continue in “Southern Caribbean Cruise San Juan and St. Maarten”

Jersey Trip 2018

My great niece and nephews visited me in North Carolina for a week.  I had a full house.  I was concerned about having them stay with me for week, they are all teenagers, 14, 16, and 17.  The youngest one was the niece and she knew how to push you buttons.  I was also concern about driving them all back to New Jersey on Wednesday, but all went well.  While in Jersey Michele hooked up with her 4th cousin.  They met online thru Ancestry.  Her cousin Joan was from her father side of the family.  It seem that Michele dad had a large family, which wasn’t usually during the time period.  

While in Jersey, we stop at our old homestead in Atlantic Highlands and visit Michele best friend from high school in South Amboy.  I took over 256 pictures that weekend, unfortunately my Nikon camera acted up during a sunset shooting and lost a few excellent sunset shoots.  I will have go back to Sandy Hook and get some.  There was a lunar eclipse on Friday (27 July), it’s too bad it was cloudy and severe thunderstorms that evening.  The lunar eclipse was suppose to be  longest total lunar eclipse in the 21st century lasting   approximately 103 minutes.  Due to the rain, I wasn’t able to capture any of it. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes within Earth’s shadow. As the eclipse begins, Earth’s shadow first darkens the Moon slightly. Then, the Earth’s shadow begins to “cover” part of the Moon, turning it a dark red-brown color.

The equipment I used for taking my picture is Nikon D7100 with a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5/6 G ED VR lens, with my tripod for the sunset and moon-rise.

My first picture is of monarch butterfly from my back deck.  I used ISO 100 with an aperture setting of f/5.6, with. a shutter speed 1/60.  I zoomed in to 300mm.

The next of photos where taking from Perth Amboy.  When brother came to New Bern in May, Michele and I showed him the water front of New Bern.  Zack stated it looks like Perth Amboy.  Michele’s father was from Perth Amboy, so we had to check it out.  Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused major damage to the Jersey Shore and New York area. It was reported that the damage total was ‎$68.7 billion US dollars.  The boats in Raritan Bay were tossed like toy boats and at the top of Raritan Bay Waterfront Park. 

When I was in Coast Guard and did my reserve duty at Governs Island, we used to patrol down the Arthur Kill.  It is also known as the Staten Island Sound, it’s a tidal strait and a kill between Staten Island, a borough of New York City, and Union and Middlesex counties in northern New Jersey.  I do not remember it looking so nice on both side of the Arthur Kill around Perth Amboy.

 

The next stop was the Navesink Twin Lights.  The Navesink Twin Lights is a non-operational lighthouse and museum located in Highlands, overlooking Sandy Hook Bay, the entrance to the New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. The Twin Lights, as the name implies, are a pair of beacons located 246 feet (75 m) above sea level on the headlands of the Navesink Highlands.

The next stop Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook.  When we were living in Atlantic Highlands, there was talk about creating a trail between Atlantic Highlands and Highlands.  They completed the trail and named it the “The Henry Hudson Trail”.  We didn’t get a chance to walk it or ride, maybe next time.  But on the way to Atlantic from the Twin Lights we stop at Mt. Mitchell Scenic Overlook.  Mount Mitchill in Atlantic Highlands is 266 feet (81 meters) above sea level and the highest headland of the United States east coast south of Maine.  There is also a 9-11 Memorial at the over-look. During 9-11, there were many commuters who work at the twin towers.   The over look is named after Samuel Latham Mitchell, who determine the height of the hill.

Monmouth County’s 9/11 Memorial at Mt. Mitchell has three symbolic components: a timeline walkway to recollect the day’s events; a stone base carved with the names, ages and hometowns of the county residents who lost their lives; and an eagle sculpture with a beam from one of the fallen towers.

Last stop for the day, Sandy Hook and Fort Hancock.

And then there is always the sunset and moon rise.

 

Sunflowers

On July 6th, I decided to take a trip to look at some sunflowers on the way to Emerald Isle. It wasn’t as exciting as early this week with sunset and fireworks, but it was very cool.  Before going  NC Route 58 bridge of the ICW and Bogue Inlet, there a  stretch of land with rows and rows of sunflowers.  It’s a cool place to take pictures of family, friends, and pet.  Unfortunately I was by myself,  beside just taking pictures of sunflowers, there were bees.

My Nikon D7100 with Nikon AF-S 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

 

 

 

June Strawberry Moon

There was a strawberry moon at the end of June. June’s Full Moon is named after the wild strawberries that start to ripen during this month.  Unfortunately, I did get a chance to head to coast to capture the moon rise on the  27th at 20:03 or 28th at 20:50.  I asked Michele if she wanted to come along and she stated no.  I am retire and she is busy working, so I have more time play.

I did capture the full rise from my back yard.

I did a chance to capture a rabbit in my back yard.

And on Saturday, 30th of June, I took the dogs to Emerald Point on Emerald Isle to capture the following pictures.

 

New Bern Raft Race and Bandits Flyover

It was a busy weekend in New Bern (23 June 2018).  New Bern held a “Raft Race” at Union Point Park at the waterfront.  It was called the Great Trent River Raft Race.  The weather was nice, hot but nice.  There was nice breeze coming off the Neuse River. The was wind was gusting  at 20 knots.  There was live music, food, and games for the kids and drinks for the adults.  It was the first the race been held since 1985.  

Also, the “Bandits” gave a free flyover.   The Bandits, a Raleigh base flight team that specializes in doing national anthem flyovers, spent the day jetting over Raft Race.  They fly in a tight formations while sending out trails of smoke behind them.  It was awesome?

And my boys came by, so it made it a perfect day.  After dinner, we tried going to Atlantic Beach with the dogs to capture a sunset, but we got sand blasted instead.  The winds where out of the southwest at 20 and gusting to 25.  Needless to say, we didn’t stay long.  The water was warm, around 83 degrees, but the waves were choppy.  

 

Moon Rise 87% Waxing Gibbous
Nikon D7100
VR55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G
Taken at 21:14:32
ISO 100 1/125s f/11 300mm

Ocracoke Island

Father’s Day weekend and the forecast for Saturday is excellent  for  doing something.  The question is what to?  What are my options:

  1. Motorcycle ride to the coast
  2. Sailing on the Neuse River
  3. Kayaking at the coast
  4. A day trip to Cape Lookout

Too many options and choices.  First I need to verify what the rest of the family is planning.  The boys are staying in the Raleigh area.  Daniel is working Saturday (what a bummer).  Ray is visiting a friend who is coming home from Ohio (what a bummer).  Michele is open as long as it does includes the dogs (which is nice way of saying that she doesn’t want to sailing).  Well, that narrow down the list of activity to do.

We decided to go to Ocracoke Island for a day.  The cost is $30 roundtrip (2 people a car) from the Cedar Island terminal, which is 64 miles from my house.  Google maps states 1 1/2 drive, but actually it was more like 1 hour and 10 minutes.  We made reservation for the first ferry boat, which departed at 07:00 AM.  There wasn’t any  traffic on US 70 and NC Route 12 during that time in the morning. I think I saw one car on the road, so I was surprise when I saw a line of cars at the terminal.  I was hoping to catch a sunrise, but there wasn’t any places to pull over on NC Route 12.  The ferry boat ride was 2 hours and 15 minutes.  We made reservations for the 7 AM ferry  to Ocracoke and 4 PM ferry ferry back to Cedar Island.  Cedar Island is an island and a small coastal unincorporated community in eastern North Carolina. It is located in Carteret County. It was populated with local Native Americans prior to the arrival of European settlers.  It is so far off the grid Google Maps or Waze doesn’t work when you are out there.

The winds were out of East at 7 knots, so the sound was nice (maybe a 1 foot swell).  The  sky were clear and high in the mid 80’s.  It doesn’t get any better than  that.  I was hoping to catch some ZZs on the ride over, but that didn’t happen.  My dogs kept me busy.

The first stop on Ocracoke was the beach.  The beaches on Ocracoke is rate on the top beaches  in the country. It’s known as the Pearl of Outer Banks, Ocracoke Island has miles of wild, secluded beaches. 

The Life Guard Beach on Ocracoke
Nikon D7100
VR55-300mm F/4.5-5.6G Lens
ISO 125 1/100s f/18 155mm

 

The next, food and spirit.  There were many places on the island that are dog friendly, we just have to find the right one.  Most of them had a deck without any shade.  We narrow down to Gaffer’s Sports Pub.  Their special were great and plenty of shade for my dogs.

Next, scene seeing. Ocracoke lighthouse is a most.  The parking lot only hold 4 cars and you can only park there for 15 minutes, but that is enough to walk ups the lighthouse and take some pictures.  Silver Lake isn’t actually a lake, it’s lagoon-like section of saltwater, and lined by a semi-circle of docks, restaurants, shops, marinas and motels.  Ocracoke Harbor, was always a popular destination for travelers of all genres.  the biggest attraction of Ocracoke Harbor and Silver Lake occurs every night.  The daily sunsets over the harbor are simply stunning and on my to-do list.

Next, more spirits at “1718 Brewing” on the island.  The brewery had been open for only 8 months, and the beer was good.  What more can you ask, good food, good spirits, and all around good time.  The dogs were tired.  They slept on the way back.  I think the whole family took a nap on the way back. I know I did.

 

 

MCAS Cherry Point Air Show

I been reading about how to take pictures at an air show.  First thing they say is to practice, practice, and more practice especially practice taking pictures of fast moving objective.  Needless to say, I did not do enough practicing.  We only attended the MCAS Cherry Point Air Show on Friday night.  Because of my puppy, I did not  think it would be fair to let her home alone all day locked up.

The second think they say is to enable VR, which I did not do.  Needless to say, there  is another air show at MCAS Cherry Point in 2020 and I will be ready for that one.  The puppy will not  be a puppy any more.

The show started at 19:30 before sunset.  I think I got some good shoots.  I will be ready for the next one.  The “Blue Angels” where performing at the air show, unfortunately their skills and precision flying was at 15:30 in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Blue Angles ISO 400 f/4.8 1/1000

 

Beside that, I think for my first time at an air show (and at an evening show), I did alright.  I need to practice, practice, and more practice before the next air show in 2020.

 

April 21

The weather was nice these weekend in North Carolina.  It was cold in the Northeast.  My sister Genevieve told me that they had ice on the road in the AM.  Not here!

 

We went to Cedar Point Camp-site in the Croatan National Forest to check out our friend  R-Pod camper.

We are thinking about getting a camper when we retire, maybe in 3 years. The camp site was nice.  We tried to have lunch in Swamsboro, but they had a Pirate Festival going on.  Swamsboro was pact.  

We did not eat lunch until 3:00 PM.  We had to wait over a hour for our food at the Swamsborough Yacht Club.

On Friday night, we took the dogs to Atlantic Beach to capture the sunset and to let the dogs go wild on the beach.

I also took some random  pictures from my back yard.

 

 

April 8th to the 14th.

 

It was a busy weekend.  Michele stated that she wanted to getup of the house.  She works from home 5 days a week and wanted a break.

We were on the go for 12 hours, starting with the Tryon Palace Gardens (free admission over the weekend), then the Pottery Festival at the Historical Society in New Bern, then the New Bern Farmer’s Market, and last  but not least the Oriental Boat Show.  We did not get home under 9 PM.  Therefore, I think I kept her busy for one day.  My son Daniel stop on the way home from Atlantic Beach Sunday.  It was off and on rain, so we cook him a bunch.

I been subscribing to  Photography Life dot com.  The key to being a good photographer is to practice, practice, and more practice. So I take a lot of random shoots in the backyard, at the beach, and especially at special events like the Tryon Palace Garden.  On the 8th, we went to Swansboro for lunch and eat at an Irish Pub and Deli.  On Friday and Saturday, I went to Tryon Palace to take pictures at the garden.  It more crowded on Friday with photographers than Saturday, but  I think I got good shoots on both days.  

 

April 8 – Swansboro

 

April 11 – Backyard wildlife

April 12 – Sunset on Neuse River 

April 13 – Tryon Palace  Garden

 

April 14 – Tryon Palace  Garden with a Tripod

 

 

April 13 – Oriental Boat Show

 

Nikon 7100
Nikkor 50mm AF-S 1:1.8G
ISO 200 f/7 1/200

First day of retirement

It is Easter Monday and it happen to be my first day of retirement.  My boys came over on Saturday for Easter, which happen to be the nicest days of the weekend to capture the full moon.  Unfortunately, I was busy grilling burger and ribs for dinner.  I tried taking a picture from my backyard, but it didn’t come out as nice as I wanted.  Needless to say, I am not posting those pictures.  After mowing my lawn in the morning and taking my IBM laptop to the UPS store to ship it back, I decided to take the dogs on 3 mile nature hike at Fort Macon State Park.It is hard taking pictures with one hand holding the  camera and other holding two dogs. But I did the best I could, next time leave them at home. NOT! I enjoy their company.

 

I take better pictures when the of Moon is not full.

 

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