Happy 1st Birthday!!!!

Greetings and salutations,

This blog post commemorates the first birthday of this blog site. Yes, I’ve written 55 blog posts in the past year averaging almost 1000 words each (you do the math!) and hundreds of photos. When I started this venture a year ago on November 14, I wasn’t sure how this whole thing would go. Would anyone be interested what I was saying about our travel adventures or my photos? Looking back, my first few posts were pretty crummy. I didn’t know anything about the mechanics of using the WordPress blog site such as saving, scheduling and posting articles or importing and placing photos with an article. Fortunate for me, WordPress offers an online help session to new bloggers, I learned a lot from that process. I also received a few tips and constructive criticism from friends along the way. My editor and wife, Donna, also helped me improve but any errors, inaccuracies, and faux pas are mine and mine alone.

But the most important thing I learned in the past year is that I am writing these blog posts for myself, to express what I’m thinking and feeling when traveling and photographing. Yes, it’s great to get comments from readers either through the WordPress site or on Facebook, those comments certainly keep me motivated. And writing this blog helps me relive some of those fun and sometimes scary, sometimes funny experiences. But I would not have kept this up if I was doing it for another purpose than my own. I’m actually surprised that I’ve kept this going, I’m someone with a history of starting something then getting bored or distracted and moving on to something else. Creating the articles and photographs for this site have become a part of me, of who I am as a person on this earth. I plan to continue to write until I can’t or I run out of things to say about travel and photography. So if you follow me, you are stuck for the foreseeable future, God willing!

For this birthday post, I’m sharing twenty five of my favorite photos posted with my articles in the past year (not necessarily my best) and a little about each one. They are in no particular order, so here it goes.

This photo is from our stay last year on Madeline Island and was taken during a workshop I  attended at the Madeline Island School for the Arts. It was at this location that I fell this year and did a bit of damage to my ribs and elbow. Last year’s photo was better.

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Big Bay State Park, Madeline Island, Wisconsin

Some photos are just humorous, that’s what I was thinking when I took this photo last fall on our trip to the West Coast.

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“No Dogs Allowed” Bandon, Oregon

Another photo from the Oregon Coast. It was a cool and foggy day, had to walk aways to get this photo at the angle that worked best. What struck me was the reflection of the stack in the pool in the foreground.

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“Stacks Reflection” Somewhere Along the Oregon Coast

The story behind this photo is so special to me. This young fella and some of his friends were playing marbles in a Havana park several blocks from our hotel. As we tried our best communicate, he gave me one of his marbles. At first I didn’t want to take it but he insisted, that simple, plain marble is my favorite souvenir from our trip to Cuba in February. And like almost all the Cuban people, he had a great smile!

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“Marble Boy” Havana, Cuba

This man loves his horse and his horse loves him, looks like they are a team.

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“Love” Trinidad, Cuba

This is a photo that I’ve printed and hung in my office. It’s a daily reminder of my experience teaching farmers in Ghana this past March. Such beautiful people to allow me into their world. I learned so much from them.

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“Learners” Ghana

This photo comes from my Ghana post titled “Obroni, Obroni” the Twi (a common tribal language in Ghana) word roughly translated as foreigner or white person. I would often hear this word called out to me mostly by kids and some adults. At first I was taken back but came to accept it and even expect it. When I heard it I always waved to the person or group that called it out and many times resulted in a meaningful connection to one of the locals. This young boy lived next to the hotel I stayed in Agogo. He and his brother would often greet me when I would go for a walk. It appeared his family lived in poverty as they lived in a shack of a house with chickens and goats running all over.

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“Hey, Obroni!” Agogo, Ghana

This woman worked on a large commercial farm that I visited. She was working inside a building without much ventilation and was covered in sweat. She was removing the plastic liners from these bags and from what I could gather, the bags were being repurposed and she could make some extra money on the side by selling these bags. I was so impressed with her hard, tedious work and most of all, her dignity.

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“Recycling” Agogo, Ghana

On my last day in Ghana, I hired a driver to take me on a tour of the capital city of Accra. One of the places, he took me was to the Jamestown district along the water front. Overlooking the area from the lighthouse this photo depicts the scene, ramshackle huts made of discarded materials, boats, a school, a church and a mosque. These are some of the poorest people in the city making a living by fishing. My guide took me through the village and let me be clear it was worse than how it looks in this photo. It almost made me physically sick from the extreme conditions they people lived in, heartbreaking.

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“Jamestown” Accra, Ghana

The next series of photos is from our trip to England and Scotland in May. The distinguished veteran in the first photo is one of the five remaining D-Day survivors in York, England. He landed on the next beach over from the Americans. He invited us to stay for the ceremony they were holding in the memorial park. One of the highlights of our trip. By the way, he’s 95 years old!

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“I Served” York, England

Meet Elsie, a friend of our English hosts, Pam and Bill Jones. She was such a hoot, one of the interesting group of people we met on our trip. She and Donna are enjoying a laugh. Elsie is 89 years old and in great shape.

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“Elsie” near Whitby, England
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“The English Countryside”

These guys were traveling around England and Scotland to raise money for air ambulance services. When we met them on a mountain pass in western Scotland, they were at their half way point, 1250 miles. Their goal was 2500 miles in 10 days all in cars they bought for less than 500 pounds (about $700). They seemed to be having a great time driving and sleeping in their cars!

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“Moneyball” Applecross Road, Scotland
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“A Beautiful Day in Scotland”

Every year in late April and early May, we make the trek to New Orleans for the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. And everyday at the Fest, I start the day with some Crawfish Monica and a beer, breakfast of …. well Fest goers!

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“Breakfast” New Orleans, Louisiana

 

 

This is the happiest guy in Pipestone, Minnesota, at least in their Water Tower Festival parade.

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“A Happy Person” Pipestone, Minnesota

This image was taken at the Memorial Union Terrace on the UW campus. It’s one of Madison’s fair weather gathering spots where people can enjoy the sunset.

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“Sunset at the Union Terrace” Madison, Wisconsin

This panorama taken with my iPhone is in central Montana along the Missouri River. Imagine Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery making their way to the West Coast.

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“Missouri River Oxbow” near Great Falls, Montana

The next two photos are from the Palouse area in Southwestern Washington, one of our favorite stopping off spot on the trip. The wheat fields had just been harvested.  Note the smokey sky in both photos.

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“The Rolling Hills of the Palouse” Near Colfax, Washington
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“Sunrise on the Palouse” Near Colfax, Washington

This image was taken during a visit to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

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“I See You” Baraboo, Wisconsin

The following photo is of our two Friendship Force ambassadors that stay with us in September. These California girls were having a great time on a farm visit.

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“Linda, Karolyn, and a Chicken with a Name” Cambridge, Wisconsin

This image was taken in late September just after sunrise. It was soon after this photo was taken that I took a tumble. The cameras were ok!

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“Sunrise at Big Bay State Park” Madeline Island, Wisconsin

The next two photos are from our stay at the Potawatomi State Park in October.

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“Potawatomi View” Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

 

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“Tower in Black and White” Potawatomi State Park, Wisconsin

Back to our West Coast swing. This photo was taken in the pear packing plant in Cashmere, Washington. The pears from the orchard owned by my Dad’s cousin are processed at this plant.

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“Pear Packing” Cashmere, Washington

Another panorama, this one stitched together using Photoshop. It’s now the background photo on my Facebook page. Crater Lake should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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“Crater Lake National Park” Oregon

Well that’s the birthday party. Hope you enjoyed the photos from the past year.

Next week watch for a post number six from our 2015 West Coast Swing.

Until then take care,

Tom