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Holiday Greetings from Gretchen and Chris

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                    [Gretchen, Kimber with fiancé Nate, Ryann, and Chris and Smooche (Kitty)]

2015 was a fantastic year for us- especially the first half of the year when we travelled extensively. This activity started right on January 1st when we travelled to Pasadena to watch our Oregon Ducks (both Gretchen and graduated from the University of Oregon- different years, and we did not know each other at the time) play Florida State for the right to play in the first College National Championship  game. Oregon won that game- so we decided to travel to Arlington, TX to view the Ohio State vs. Oregon Duck National Championship game. It was not in the cards for the Ducks that day. While in Texas, we drove to Houston to visit friends Arthur and Linda Meyerson. Then to close off a busy month, we again headed east for our for visit to New Orleans to surprise my sister Jayne for the 60th birthday celebration.

In April we travelled first to Amsterdam- then onto Barcelona. June found us in Prague- then on to Istanbul (and fabulous Cappadocia). Our final 2015 travel was to Denver/Breckenridge to attend Brandi Carlile’s Red Rock concert- then to Breckenridge for a brief visit with my older sister, Kathy Covell,

Unfortunately, our blogging activity was weak in 2015. I was really lazy: one one Blog post for the entire year: Amsterdam.

Gretchen was a little more active:

Pasadena: Rose Bowl and greater LA with Sam Johnson
Arlington: National Championship Game, Dallas and Houston and more
New OrleansThe Big Easy
Portugal: Blog 1 (a delightful surprise),  Blog 2 (More delights), Blog 3 (the streets are alive), Blog 4 (portraits), Blog 5 (friends)
Amsterdam  
Barcelona (City life) and Girona (Country life)

Both of us plan to post our photos from Prague, Istanbul, and Cappadocia very soon- stay tuned.

NOTE: Many of you will get to read this twice since this Year End Summary notification is being sent to both Chris and Gretchen’s distributions lists.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!


Amsterdam

Gretchen and I recently returned from a trip to Amsterdam (shout-out to Photo Workshop Adventures and our fabulous guide Charles Boorsboom). Many readers get Gretchen’s super Blog, so I will not repeat her marvelous very detailed journal (click here to read it if you have not already seen it).

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Bicycles are a huge part of life- terrain is flat, and car parking is scarce. Many thousands parked near the train station.

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Amsterdam is famous for its flowers- especially tulips.

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Three people shots.

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Store window display being cleaned.

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Trying to catch my shadow…

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Hope for Cuba

Silhouette  at lunch location

The first-step in establishing relations with Cuba has begun. Gretchen and I have visited Cuba twice- once in 2012- and early this year. Both of us are so happy to see this process begin. The Embargo is over 50 years old! And it, at least currently, only makes everyday life for the Cuban people more difficult.

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In celebration, I have linked below my photos from the first trip. Cuba has been in a time-warp. All infrastructure has simply been decaying. On our 2014 trip we noted a significant Chinese presence. It is time to reestablish an American influence before it is too late.

2012
Day 1- Arrive Havana
Day 2- Cuba: Day 2 (Thursday, Feb 2)- Dawn Patrol, Bus tour, old Havana walk
Day 3- Cuba: (Friday, Feb 3)- Dawn Patrol, Shopping, old Havana walk
Day 4- Cuba: (Saturday, Feb 4)- Dawn Patrol, Rumba, Big Girl Camera
Day 5- Cuba: (Sunday, Feb 5)- Dawn Patrol, Señor Miguel Alonso Home, Callejon de Hamel
Day 6- Cuba: (Monday, Feb 6)- Dawn Patrol, Raul Valladares Home, Abandoned Hershey Sugar Mill
Day 7- Cuba: (Tuesday, Feb 7)- Dawn Patrol, More Cohiba Cigar Factory and Hemingway’s House (Finca Vigia)
Cuba- Wrap Up


London – 2014

Portobello Road

Carnaby Street

Gretchen and I had the opportunity to travel to London, Paris, and Provence for one week each in June. The trip was organized by Photo Workshop Adventures and we had an exception time in all three places .

Today, the first stop: London. Our good friend Sam Johnson joined us for this leg that was led by Laurie Cohen. We were incredibility fortunate that this tour was guided by Laurie- and that the size of the group was just the three of us! A partial list of locations that we visited: Parliament Buildings, Buckingham Palace, Brick Lane, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Square (at might), Camden Docks, British Museum, Embankment, Greenwich, and Portobello Road. Most of these names will be familiar to you. But being able to see them all, on one trip, was exceptional.

COLUMBIA ROAD_ Flower Market

Columbia Road

Brick Lane

Brick Lane

British Museum- Looking Up

British Museum

Camden Docks

Camden Docks

Gretchen posts a detailed, day-by-day, blog on her website, http://www.gretchenimages.com. She will publish London soon- most of you already subscribe to her Blog- if not, let her know that you want to be notified.

In addition to the few photos I am showing in this Blog, please click here to go to my webpage where you will see about 30 of my best. BTW, I have recently updated my web page. At the top of the page, the photos from the current Blog (London) are displayed as a slide show with large photos. Below this thumbnails from other galleries  are displayed. Just a simple click on the thumbnail brings up a page of thumbnails- simply click on the first thumbnail, and a slide slow of that Gallery starts. I will be adding several new galleries, as well as updating the captions on all photos to help identify where photo was taken, in the next few weeks.

Click here for 27 London photos

If you want more, you can visit this link on YouTube and watch a 8:48 minute slide presentation from London that includes music (The Beatles, of course).


Arizona- Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly

Antelope Canyon

Gretchen and I recently returned via Arizona from a quick trip to New York City (more on NYC in my next post). We visited my cousin and his wife (Dave and Carol Thomas) who live in Sedona. We departed Sedona early Thursday morning and drove to Page for the sunset. We joined a tour the next morning to see the famous Antelope Canyon. Since the Canyon is located on Navajo land, we were required to join a Navajo-led photographic tour. Antelope Canyon is a very popular tourist site- we were amazed by the number of people talking tours in April- long before the tourist season. There are several competing tours- but most are lead by extended family members. Because of the number of people, the tours are by definition very orchestrated- and they run on a very tight schedule. We selected the photo tour because we were told that the stops in this tour are spaced so that you can actually shoot some shots that include the floor of the Canyon. Otherwise you have to shoot high in order to get over the heads over literally scores of tourists all placed in this very narrow canyon at the same time. [NOTE: we used Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours- be sure to pay the extra for the photography tour. And be sure to be aware of the time zone. It does not hurt to be at least an hour early. Local time, even a few miles away can be different that reservation time].

Monument Valley

After the Antelope Valley tour we drove to Monument Valley – and arrived just in time for sunset. We got up early the next morning to go on another Navajo led tour on Navajo land to photograph the sunrise. Lighting was so-so- the biggest challenge when photographing well-known landscape is trying to take pictures from a different angle to separate it from all the “tourist” shots. We tried…

Canyon de Chelly

Finally we departed Monument Valley mid-day and drove to Canyon de Chelly. And again a guide drove us to various sites- some included ancient Indian petroglyphs. And we had nice puffy clouds that made these landscapes photos more fun to shoot.

Many thanks to Dave and Carol for arranging all the details of this trip. Plan ahead on this trip- and be prepared to spend a little extra money to hire local guides. One can not access the best photographic sites without one since you will be in tribal land. And if you are short on time, omit Canyon de Chelly. Five hours Phoenix to Page (Antelope Valley), less than 2 hours Page to Kayenta (Monument Valley- stayed at The View Hotel)- then 3 more hours to Canyon de Chelly (each way).

Please click here for27 more photos.

 

 


Opening Day- Boats and Crew at Montlake Cut- Seattle

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I am coming out of hibernation! A series of computer issues followed by a series of camera equipment issues combined with a simple bathroom remodel that turned into a complete home water system replacement have sidelined me. But all is well now- Gretchen and I celebrated by attending Seattle’s annual Opening Day of boating season festivities at the Montlake Cut in Seattle. This Cut is a narrow waterway that connects Seattle’s two lakes, Lake Washington and Lake Union. It runs along the southern edge of the University of Washington campus. For over 80 years  the general format is crew racing in morning followed by a parade of boats of all types. This year over 900 rowers participated in 24 races. Our daughter, Kimber, rowed for four years while attending Willamette University. While she was in school, we went to several regattas- but they were held on rivers- and the spectators were a long distance away from the action. The narrow cut made a perfect viewing. We located ourselves about 500 meters from the finish line (2000 meter course). Kimber informed us that this is the point when the rowers are so exhausted that they just want to die!

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The weather held for the crew races- but shortly after the parade of 300 boats started, the skies opened up- and we made an early departure (so only a couple photos of the boats).

I have uploaded about 30 photos to main web page. Please click here to view them.

NOTE: Posts will follow in a few days detailing our recent trips to New York City- and to Cuba. Stay tuned.


Seattle Seahawks 2014 NFL Champions

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Gretchen and I were two of the 700,000 fans who welcomed our National Football League champions with an unbelievable parade this morning. Weather was clear- but very cold (for Seattle). The first photo represents Seattle’s famous 12th man- the fan. Everyone, including us, has a 12th man flag displayed. We flew ours below the American flag- note Mt Rainier in the background.

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The second photo is a closeup of the Vince Lombardi Trophy that denotes the NFL champion.

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The third is Coach Pete Carroll and his wife riding in a military-type vehicle

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Polar Bear Plunge–Mathews Beach Seattle

Every January 1st brings the annual Polar Bear Plunge to Seattle’s Mathews Beach. Water temperature is 46 degrees- air temp a cooler 42 degrees. Both are simply COLD. While the adults wait for noon to enter the water, the kids get a head start at 11:45AM.

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 Hard to tell who had more fun: Mom or daughter!20140101 124903-_CHG9842

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At noon sharp, thousands rush for Lake Washington.20140101 125941-_CHG9944

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But not all participants are enjoying the experience.20140101 130344-_CHG0051

Most seemed to be in quite a hurry to GET OUT once fully immersed. 20140101 131102-_CHG0120

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The first task after leaving the frigid water is to get warm.20140101 131419-_CHG0134

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And after changing clothes and warming up, registered participants can claim their Participation Metal. Neighbors Bianca and Magnus Giaever are justifiably proud.

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2013- In Review

Chris-Gretchen-SMHS Reunion

Gretchen and I would like to wish you all a very joyous holiday season (the photo was taken at my 50th high school reunion in June). We were blessed with travel to several places in 2013: Sedona AZ, Puerto Vallarta, Vancouver BC,  Italy- Florence, Tuscany and Venice, southern California (High school reunion), eastern Washington (Palouse) and finally an east coast junket to Jacksonville SC, Blue Ridge GA and New York City.

Rather than rehash our 2013 year, I have simply indexed both of our 2013 Blogs below. My Blog has serious gaps- i.e, only early part of Italy trip. Gretchen has done a more complete job! Blog [s] of our December east coast trip are forthcoming (as well as Gretchen’s documentation of the last leg of Italy:Venice). The year 2014 will see a change in my Blog- my web page will be redesigned to feature my photographs primarily. Gretchen does an incredible job in documenting our trips. She has perfect combination of great photographic ability as well as verbal skills to create a travelogue: many wonderful photos and a great running commentary. Her Blog will continue in that spirit while mine will contain less dialogue and more “artsy” photos. Please review the 2013 links below for blogs that you may have missed.

Happy New Year to you all. A return trip to Cuba, London, Paris, French Rivera, and Portugal await us in 2014- stay tuned!

CHRIS’ BLOG                        GRADYIMAGES WEB PAGE

March- Vancouver, BC
April- Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
May- Italy Teaser, Tuscany Landscapes, Overview- Florence Day 1, Florence Days 2-3 June- Palouse (eastern Washington) Teaser and Gallery
September- Puyallup Fair

 

GRETCHEN’S BLOG

JANUARY
Arizona- Sedona
Arizona- Fiesta Bowl
Arizona- Tombstone

FEBRUARY
Mexico…Day 1-2 Puerto Vallarta!
Mexico…Day 3 Puerto Vallarta!
Mexico…Day 4 Valentine’s Day!

MARCH
Mexico Day 5 Whales
Mexico Day 6 Zip Line
Mexico Day 7 The Palm

APRIL
Mexico Day 8 Adios hermoso Puerto Vallarta
Tulips and Daffodils, Oh My

JUNE
Italy 2013 Florence
Italy 2013 Florence San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale
Italy 2013 Volterra and San Gimignano

JULY
2013 Greenwood Car Show
Gay Pride- Seattle 2013
Italy Hilltop towns Pienza Monticchiello Montepulciano
California Sunshine

AUGUST
Showing Our Work
Summertime on the Monts

SEPTEMBER
Let’s Do the Puyallup

OCTOBER
Visit to Pike Place Market

NOVEMBER
Italy Cinque Terre
Italy Cinque Terre Riomaggiore and Vernazza and Corniglia