Balloon Festival – put it on your bucket list!

balloon festival

In 2003 my friend KJ and I took a trip with the Sierra Club to the Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you have never been, you must put it on your bucket list.balloon festival

These photos were taken with my little Olympus film point & shoot then digitally transfered to CDs. So while the quality isn’t that great, the memories certainly are!

balloon festival

We had to get up at 3:00am to be at the festival field before 5:00am. It was COLD and DARK!

balloon festival

So I have to tell you my story. I had to go to the bathroom in one of the Andy Gump type latrines. It was pitch black. Absolutely not one speck of light at all. I couldn’t see anything.

balloon festival

I have a problem with blood circulation to my hands on a Southern California summer day at noon.

So you can imagine, my hands had gone completely numb with the cold. If somebody had cut off my hands with a hatchet I would not have known the difference.

balloon festival

So I’m fumbling around in the complete dark. I can’t see anything and I can’t feel anything. I had to get my zipper undone to take a pee!

balloon festival

Let me tell you, this was one of the weirder experiences of my life!!! Somehow or other I managed to take care of business. But let me assure you I never want to go through that again… EVER!!!

balloon festival

Nevertheless, witnessing the balloons lying on the ground all around, then watching them ascend into the heavens is something I will never forget.

balloon festival

The word “awesome” is so over-used. But that is what it was.

balloon festival

I’ve been fortunate to have some glorious experiences in my life but this one still stands out. Do I wish I had a better camera in 2003? Of course, but these photos bring back the moment nevertheless.

balloon festival

We took the Amtrak train overnight from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. In the morning, this Indian guide entertained us with stories, music and song.

Click on an image below for slide show:

balloon festival

Near our hotel was this famous hot dog stand. We didn’t indulge.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

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A private tour of Heifer International, Little Rock, Arkansas

Heifer International

Every year I get a gift catalog from Heifer International and every year I say I am going to donate to buy an animal to help a family in need somewhere in the world. Than I don’t.

There are several organizations I donate to on a regular basis as I want to do some good while I am alive. And they are all in my will.

Heifer International

After visiting the world headquarters for Heifer I am now determined to donate at least a chicken this coming Christmas. I am so fortunate to live where I live and have the life I have.

Heifer International

heifer-international-2017-2-c-500px

Heifer International
My mother and I had a lot of problems but one thing I am grateful for is giving me a sense of obligation to people less fortunate than I am.

Heifer International

From the website: Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.
Dan West was a farmer from the American Midwest and member of the Church of the Brethren who went to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War as an aid worker. His mission was to provide relief, but he soon discovered the meager single cup of milk rationed to the weary refugees once a day was not enough.
And then he had a thought: What if they had not a cup, but a cow?
That “teach a man to fish” philosophy is what drove West to found Heifer International. And now, nearly 70 years later, that philosophy still inspires our work to end world hunger and poverty throughout the world once and for all.

Heifer International

The hotel I stayed at was central to everything I wanted to do in Little Rock. It was easy to walk everywhere.

Heifer International

I was privileged to have one-on-one private tours with three representatives of Heifer International. Laura, Patrick and Jinkie.

Laura gave me an overview of the educational exhibits in the main visitor area.

Heifer International

Heifer International

This would be a great learning experience for school kids. But I learned a lot too.

Heifer International

Heifer International

I loved this poster about vegetables. I buy most of my veggies and fruit at the local Culver City farmers’ market every Tuesday afternoon. I plan my schedule around it. Makes me feel good to support the farmers and I know what I am eating is “green” in every way. With a few exceptions I can’t eat produce from the supermarket anymore…. it is tasteless compared to what I buy on Tuesdays.

Heifer International

I was told the docent, Patrick, was ready to give me a tour of the office building.

From the website: Based in Little Rock, AR, Heifer’s headquarters use 52 percent less energy than a conventional office building of similar size and use.

Heifer uses gray water, rainwater captured in a collection tower, to supply non-consumable water. The glass exterior is more than a beautiful design. The windows allow staff to work in natural light. Sensors adjust the lighting based on the amount of darkness outside.

People come to Heifer Village to shop, play and learn.

Heifer International

Heifer International
A Message from Pierre Ferrari, Heifer President and CEO:
To completely end the global scourges of hunger and poverty – and we are getting closer – there cannot be room for hatred, violence, racism, misogyny, anti-semitism, homophobia or religious intolerance.

Heifer International

Heifer International

Heifer’s campus is built on the site of a long-abandoned railroad yard. All of the materials used in the building were sourced within 500 miles of Little Rock. Except for the bamboo. Heifer chose bamboo because it is fast growing and sustainable.

Heifer International

 In 2007, Heifer’s headquarters achieved the highest “Green Building” rating possible. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification.
Heifer International
Heifer International
Next to the Heifer campus is the Clinton Presidential Library in the distance.
Heifer International
Heifer International
Heifer International
During eco-workshops that defined the project, Heifer stated that, of all the countries they worked in, the United States treated water with the least respect. As a result, the team responded to this challenge and created a project where no water leaves the site except blackwater, a true example of how to conserve water.
After Patrick’s wonderful and informative tour, Jinkie took over to show me the farm.
Heifer International
The animals given to people in need around the world to allow them to be self-sustaining are local to the area in which they live. They generally don’t ship animals from the US.
Heifer International
I believe the farm at Heifer International is a relatively new project.
Heifer International
Heifer International
No farm is complete without the farm cat.
Heifer International
Heifer International
This apple tree has several different kinds of apples grafted on to it. Now that’s an apple tree I can appreciate!
Heifer International
I was duly impressed with the architecture.
Heifer International
This brick pathway leading to the entrance of the visitor center is inscribed with the names of donors.
Heifer International
I came away with the sense of an organization that is 100% committed to its ideals with no compromises.
I was certainly happy that I was able to get such an in-depth look into its workings.
And now I’m looking forward to receiving that catalog at Christmas so I can pick out a gift for a family in need.
All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

Portland – part three – walking tour of downtown on a drizzly morning

portland, oregon
We met the tour guide inside this building in the middle of downtown.

I was fortunate enough to have a few lovely sunny days in Portland but just as I was starting to admire the April weather in that part of the world, the skies turned grey and the wet stuff came down. The Portland weather reminded me of England. When the sun is shining it is beautiful. But when it is gloomy it is G-L-O-O-M-Y. Totally depressing.

So that is what I was faced with on my one extra day. The conference ended on the Wednesday so Thursday I was free to wander around the city.

I decided to sign up for a docent-led walking tour so I wouldn’t miss anything important. The rain was coming down pretty heavily as I entered the building to meet the tour guide. When he arrived I was happy when he announced the rain had stopped just in time.

But when we emerged from the building it was still raining. What was up with that? He explained that in Portland if the rain wasn’t coming down in buckets it was considered to be not raining at all. Hmmm… not sure about that!

Not only was it still raining but it was also still freezing. And once again I had not brought my gloves. When will I learn?

I was trying to keep my camera dry by hiding it inside my rain jacket, just taking it out briefly to shoot a picture. I was shivering with the cold so much I could barely hold the camera still. Then, picture taken, I had to run to catch up with the group. But at least I have some snapshots for memories. Enjoy the tour!

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Just before the end of the tour, our guide showed us the world’s smallest park, said to be inhabited by wee leprechauns. Yes, this is it below. At two square feet I don’t think it has much competition for that honor!

portland, oregon

After grabbing some lunch I ventured forth on my own to see some other parts of town. Coming up in Part Four.

Links to my other posts on Portland:

https://onegoodlifetravels.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/portland-part-one-a-gothic-cathedral-in-the-park/

https://onegoodlifetravels.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/portland-part-two-a-glorious-afternoon-at-crystal-springs-rhododendron-garden/

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

Portland – part two – a glorious afternoon at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

After showing us the wonderful Cathedral Park and St Johns Bridge, Bob took us to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Wow is all I can say.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

We were truly lucky to have Bob as our tour guide. I would never have found this on my own.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron GardenQuoting from the website, the garden has more than 2000 species & hybrid rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and related plants growing in garden arrangements. The garden covers approximately five acres in the Eastmoreland neighborhood of southeast Portland.

http://www.rhodies.org/xtal/csg_index.htm

Not only humans were enjoying the gardens but there were also plenty of water fowl.

http://www.rhodies.org/xtal/csg_index.htm

No, the little boy was not an albino but there was so much glare on one side and so much shade on the other I couldn’t find a good balance. But I liked the waterfall.

http://www.rhodies.org/xtal/csg_index.htm

I’m not good at identifying plants or flowers but I do love purple… and flowers!

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

There were a lot of paths to follow. All three of us went off in different directions. When it was time to return to the entrance I was in a slight panic as I was totally lost. But somehow I made it back.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Although I wandered quite far, there were still some areas I didn’t get to. I could have spent a few days exploring the park as it was so beautiful.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

There are three waterfalls in the gardens. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Originally a testing garden for rhododendrons the park is no longer used for that purpose. Completely surrounded by water, the garden is popular for weddings.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

The rhododendrons are in bloom from early March through the middle of June. The peak bloom period coincides with Mother’s Day in May. So we were there almost at the peak in late April.

To enjoy some more photos below please click on one to start the slide show.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

Portland – part one – a Gothic cathedral in the park

portland oregon cathedral park

One of the reasons I’ve been missing from blogging for a while was a trip to Portland, Oregon for a photography workshop. One of our assignments was to photograph some iconic spots in the city.

portland oregon cathedral park

Jennifer, one of the participants I became friends with, had her camera bag stolen when we went out night shooting. As serendipity will have it, a lovely gentleman named Bob, who was sitting next to me at the workshop, lived in the area and offered to drive her to the camera store to replace it. I went along for the ride.

portland oregon cathedral park

After purchasing the new bag and filters, Bob took us to some of his favorite spots to take some photographs. Our first stop was St. Johns Bridge in Cathedral Park. As soon as I saw the arches supporting the bridge I was in heaven as whenever I go back to England I visit as many Gothic cathedrals as I can.portland oregon cathedral park

Do you like Jelly Bears, I asked Bob? Somebody had lost a whole bag on the ground. Let me tell you, if those were my bears I would have picked them up and eaten them. It’s called having a strong immune system!

portland oregon cathedral park

Dandelions are a childhood memory from England that I don’t see too often in Los Angeles.

portland oregon cathedral park

This shot was crying out for black and white so I went for it. I like the foggy hillside in the background.

portland oregon cathedral park

According to Wikipedia, the park contains several walking trails, picnic benches, as well as a floating dock that extends onto the Willamette River. It also is home to a small outdoor stage, where the city has held an annual summer jazz festival since 1980.

portland oregon cathedral park

The St. Johns Bridge connects the neighborhood to the Linnton and Northwest Industrial neighborhoods in Northwest Portland across the Willamette. (Pronounced Will-A-mette, accent on the hard A.)

portland oregon cathedral park

St. Johns Bridge has two 408 ft (124 m) tall Gothic towers, a 1,207 ft (368 m) center span and a total length of 2,067 ft (630 m).

portland oregon cathedral park

Again borrowing from Wikipedia, designed by internationally renowned engineer David B. Steinman (1886–1960) and Holton D. Robinson, of New York, the St. Johns was the longest suspension-type bridge west of the Mississippi River at the time of construction. It is the only major highway suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley and one of only three major highway suspension bridges in Oregon.

portland oregon cathedral park

Cathedral Park is supposedly haunted as in the summer of 1949, 15-year-old high school student Thelma Taylor was abducted and held by her captor, Morris Leland, under the east side of the bridge (which was undeveloped at the time, now the location of Cathedral Park), and was eventually murdered there.

Maybe it has to do with the weather but I heard of more hauntings in Portland than I have ever encountered. I was looking forward to meeting a ghost but no luck there.

Some more photos for your enjoyment. Click on a photo for the slideshow.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

Santa Fe, New Mexico – my last afternoon visit to Cross of the Martyrs

santa fe new mexico

During my trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico in April I had been seeing this Cross of the Martyrs from various points around town. It seemed unreachably high on the hill. As I was already suffering from the 7,260 ft (2,213 m) altitude with a constant nose bleed, it was not on my list of to-dos… but on the last afternoon I realized I couldn’t leave without making the attempt.

santa fe new mexico

So I decided to make my way up to the base of Fort Marcy Park and then decide if I wanted to climb up to the top.

santa fe new mexico

Of course, once there I wasn’t about to turn back.

santa fe new mexico

It looked like an easy walk up on switchbacks.

santa fe new mexico

It was such a gorgeous day and I was looking forward to the view from the top.

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There are plaques at several locations on the way up telling the stories of the area. Too bad about the inexscusable graffiti.

santa fe new mexico

The cross itself is not that impressive.

santa fe new mexico

A lovely view from the top looking out over the city and mountains. I believe the cross commemorates the event in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt where 21 Franciscan Friars died in the fight between the natives and the Spanish.

Below are some views of the surrounding area.

santa fe new mexico

santa fe new mexico

santa fe new mexico

I decided to walk further along the trail to see where it led. A condo complex.

santa fe new mexico

Hey, wish I had brought a picnic with me!

santa fe new mexico

Still snow on the mountains.

santa fe new mexico

The trail ended in a parking lot and I saw people getting out of their cars having driven up to the top… oh well, I would rather walk any day. So I walked back down to the city from this point and happy I had made the effort to climb to the cross and walk the trail to the end.

See Santa Fe New Mexico part one some favorite random shots

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

Santa Fe, New Mexico – part one – some favorite random shots

santa fe, new mexico
New Mexico flag flying above apple blossoms at the state capitol.

I was recently in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a photography workshop. As a “born again” photographer I am taking every opportunity to take part in workshops, attend classes, enroll in seminars and search out information online in order to play catch up for my lost years of using a point and shoot camera.

santa fe, new mexico

 

I am paying for my sins both monetarily and with a high frustration level as I am nowhere near as good a photographer as I was back in the day.

santa fe, new mexico

I gave up “serious” photography decades ago in order to work at boring jobs to support myself when I could have spent my days under the radar as a  dilettante photography student! But there is no point in second guessing.

santa fe, new mexico

Back then I carried around a suitcase full of camera equipment and had my own darkroom. But due to circumstances at the time it all became too complicated.

santa fe, new mexico

Oh well. Today is today and I start from here… All those years slogging away at mostly unrewarding jobs has paid off in some measure with a passable Social Security check and a pension that covers the cost of cat food. So, now is my time!

santa fe, new mexico

I may not ever be the greatest photographer whoever lived but as any of my friends will tell you, I love to learn and I live to discover new things… so I am enjoying the journey. And photography satisfies the cravings of both my left and right brain. Technology meets art… what more could I possibly ask for? And it dovetails with my new life as a tour guide.

santa fe, new mexico

Santa Fe was a big commitment but I am glad I did it as it gave me the motivation to move ahead. If I made such a big effort to spend the money and take the time then I must make it worthwhile. So I feel good about it.

santa fe, new mexico

I attended the same workshop in Miami last year. At that time I had recently bought my first DSLR camera and just about knew where the on switch was. I was not about to tempt fate by turning the dial out of auto mode.

santa fe, new mexico

Fortunately, as an artist and graphic designer I have a reasonably good sense of composition. So my photos were pretty good, considering.

santa fe, new mexico

A year later I was shooting in aperture and shutter speed preferred and able to change the ISO when necessary. Some progress. I was also shooting in RAW and processing the images in Lightroom.

santa fe, new mexico

 

As a Photoshop junkie I had the hardest time wrapping my brain around its little cousin. But the lightbulb eventually went on and now I see Lightroom is really an indispensable program for a photographer. I still use Photoshop for some tweaking, but not as much.

santa fe, new mexico

Well, this post certainly did not take the route I was planning for it. I was going to write about some of the tourist sites I visited. So instead of a travelog, I have uploaded some random shots of the Santa Fe area.

santa fe, new mexico

As the title promises, I’ll be back with more stuff at some point.

See Santa Fe New Mexico my last afternoon visit to cross of the martyrs.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Travels, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!