The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Back to Death Valley, California on my November road trip.
What that again???
Well, yes, I have a gazillion photographs that I feel the need to share with all my victims friends.
*Sigh*, OK then, show us yer photies!

Due to grumpiness and almost being at his last straw (husband), with comments like “How many photographs do you need to take?”, plus the fact he “didn’t want to be driving for 14 hours instead of 7” (I shared the driving, I don’t know what he was moaning about!), I didn’t get to climb to the top of the sand dunes. I didn’t actually get to more than quarter of a mile away from the car park. But no matter, the photographs I did get were enough to keep me happy(ish). I would have loved to stay until sunset though and get some shots from actually down IN the dunes with the golden light…. maybe next time. By myself.

Mesquite sand dunes lowres
Sand Dunes and Mountains
Sand dunes 4
Deadwood (Not the Dakota one)
Sand dunes 2
Artsy sand dunes
Sand dunes 6
Check out all these footprints in the sand!
Sand dunes 3
More dead wood
Sand dunes 5
Never shoot into the sun. Say’s who?
Sand dunes 1
Random guy soaking up the atmosphere


The Route 66 part of my road trip

Route 66 – it’s where I got my pancakes kicks.

Firstly I’d like to say I’m doing this road trip backwards and all over the place. I started in Las Vegas and ended up in San Diego, but these posts are jumping around something silly. But that’s the way my brain works, so that’s the way my fingers type.

Route 66, or the Californian part of it, was empty, huge and fantastic. Nothing at all like I’d imagined. It was better… even though we did have a slight wobbly about running out of petrol (gas) when the one and only gas station for miles (Roy’s) had a queue of cars and a pump not working. No worries though, the guy from the gas station crossed the street to the post office (2 buildings out in the middle of nowhere btw) to get someone from there to come kick the pump. Well maybe he did something more technical to it, but it worked. Yayy!

Anyway, back to the pics. Roy’s Motel and Gas Station in Amboy, CA. Where I apologised to the guy at the checkout for being slow to pay and he answered “Ain’t got a heck of a lot to do here so take all the time in the world!”,Β  which was a fabulous answer. Let’s all take life a bit slower, eh?

roys 1
Roy’s Motel and Cafe sign
roys 2
Roy’s Motel and Cafe, Route 66, Amboy
roys 4
Petrol (gas) pump that wouldn’t work till it got hit a kick from the Post Master. πŸ™‚
roys 5
Obligatory Harley on Route 66
roys 3
Junk roadside art, Route 66, Amboy, CA.
route 66 1
Water tower
route 66
Where you get your kicks
route 66 breakfast
Where you get your pancakes
route 66 breakfast 2
As recommended by the great food blogger Alba. Pancakes and bacon a speciality.

Then just when I thought Route 66 couldn’t get any cooler, a lone coyote passed by. No doubt looking for Roadrunner. Watch out for falling anvils and ACME dynamite.

Wylie E.

Huge crop and huge zoom, but still extremely cool to see in the wild!

Route 66 coyote
Coyote on the prowl

Summing up – Route 66 was brilliant, and I’d recommend it to anyone. Hah, and y’all thought I couldn’t do a travel blog! πŸ˜‰

Colony of Sea Lions

I started writing this blog post about a herd of seals. No really. That’s what a group of seals is called. I asked The Google. I think it’s a pretty cool collective noun for them though, better than a pod (dolphins) Not as apt as a cauldron of bats or a shrewdness of apes. But I digress.

Edit: Halfway through the post I checked another fact on The Google and lo-and-behold, my herd of seals is actually a colony of sea lions! How do I know this awesome fact? Sea lions have visible ear flaps and my pics of the sea critters very definitely have ears. Who knew! Well, apart from David Attenborough that is. Not me!

Anyway back to the seals sea lions. I was tempted to steal a pup and bring it home with me to live in my hot-tub. I would feed it fish fingers and ice-cream and teach it to play fetch with Dawg. But I thought better of it as I was in the middle of selling my house, and even though my new apartment complex has a pool, it is only temporary and my new house might not have a big enough bathtub to keep a full-sized seal sea lion.

I’m sure Dawg would have loved a new playmate but it wasn’t to be. I was astonished at how close all the gaping tourists (me included) could get to them. We were only about 6 feet away and they weren’t even batting an eyelid. And I’m happy to add that everyone obeyed the signs and no-one tried to pet them.

Definitely one of the coolest moments I’ve had in the USA so far – La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California incase you are wondering.

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I’m back…

Interview with a vampire Alba.

Hello Alba, what’s happening in Alba-land?
Hello Alba, oh my! Where do you want me to start?

Well how about where have you been for the past (quickly looks for last blog post) 5 months?
5 months!!! That’s rubbish 😦 I should probably win an award for least productive blogger. If I have any followers left, thanks for sticking around!
So, not to bore y’all, my last 5 months in a condensed version have been – working hard on my new website design business, catching up with family, going on a road trip for a big anniversary (which hopefully I’ll blog about with photographs… if I ever get round to editing them!), and the biggie… husband getting a new job, selling our house in Illinois and moving to Ohio.

Oh wow, how is Ohio then?
Cold! But so far so good. I think I’m going to like it here. Luckily I can work from anywhere so the move isn’t affecting my job. The people seem really friendly, plus I keep getting asked my age when I buy wine. It’s the little things that make you happy. πŸ˜‰ Hmmm, that makes you sound like I’m buying it every day… I’ve bought it twice. πŸ˜€

Do you have a new house then?
Yes, but it’s only a temporary home until we decide whereabouts in Ohio we want to live. It’s a bit of a squeeze though, fitting a 4 bedroomed house into a 2 bedroomed apartment. πŸ˜‰ We’re at the age now where we want to downsize though, so it’s all good.

Can we expect more blogs from you now?
Ermmmm, mumble, mumble… YES, of course! πŸ˜‰

Anyway the important last question. How is Dawg?
Dawg is fine. He misses his huge back garden and chasing squirrels, but he is loving all the extra walks. He was great at travelling and had his first ever overnight stay in a hotel, where he only barked 3 times. Well, who knows what kind of giant squirrels were outside the hotel room door! The only thing Dawg isn’t liking is the fact there’s no carpet in the living room. He thinks he’s allowed to sit on the couch or sleep on the bed now… don’t tell anyone, but when hubby isn’t here, I let him. ❀

Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie

Magical sunsets

A favourite sunset quote for me is “It’s almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream”. So true, especially for someone who lives in a dream world half the time.
Last month when I spent some time in Florida with family, my sister and I got to spend an evening at the beach together to watch the sunset, with the added bonus of a dolphin, a manatee and giant stingrays in the water. I don’t have any photos for those sadly as I only had my compact camera with me and amazing as it is, it can’t compete with what our eyes can see.
I was fortunate to be in the right spot at the right time to see a sailing boat go past just as the sun was dipping down under the horizon. All rumours about a wee Scottish wuman pushing fishermen off the side of the pier to get the best position for the shots were strictly imaginary.

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Crocodile Dundee…

Or maybe that should be Alligator Alba? Anyways here’s some alligators from my recent adventures in the Florida Swamplands.

*Note no alligators were harmed in the taking of these pictures.

**Also note, no humans were harmed in the taking of these pictures.


Just swimming along, minding my own business when I’m disturbed by cameras and people going “ALLIGATOR!” Blooming humans!!


Say “Cheese” for the camera.


You know what they say – Never trust a smile on a crocodile. But Alligators are OK. Aren’t they? You can trust their smiles?!?


So calm, so inviting…. MUST….NOT…PADDLE….


That is one trusting (or dumb) bird!


He has his beady eye on me…!!!!


Florida swamp – Myakka River State Park actually


Pretending to be a log…. we can see you!!


Not an alligator. Not even when you grow up will you be an alligator. Arry, yer a lizard!


Mr. Alba is SO trusting… “Go a little bit nearer dear, it’s for the photograph!”… hehee




Doesn’t it look great? We also canoed up a river with alligators (Wekiwa Cold Springs State Park) but we didn’t see any alligators when we were on the river. Which is a good job as I had my 10 year old nephew in my canoe and I don’t think there is much meat on him. I’d make a much better lunch for an alligator! :-/


Swamps can be beautiful too


You know, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to molest an alligator….

Just checking in…

As Ronan Keating once said “Life is a rollercoaster”, but as I can’t even remember the tune to the song, never mind the rest of the words, it somehow becomes jumbled into 10cc’s song ‘Life is a Minestrone’ and MY words end up being “Life is a rollercoaster, mixed up with parmesan cheese. Life is a bowl of pasta, suspended in deep freeze”. Feel free to sing along with me. Correct lyrics are optional.

I think that just about sums life up for me at the moment.Β  A rollercoaster is right. My body is falling to bits; I’ve had bronchitis, then influenza and now I’ve twisted my knee and am finding it hard to walk. The other dips in the rollercoaster ride called life are that I’m selling my house and IT’S EXTREMELY STRESSFUL! Come buy my house people!!!! Don’t get me wrong, I have loads of plus points in my life too, actually too many to mention, but sometimes I wish the rollercoaster would just trundle along at 15mph on a straight bit for a wee while.

I read something today that feels right to share with all you lovely bloggers – “Take 30 seconds to think of three things you’re grateful for at this moment in time”.Β  Well I thought about it and I have plenty of things to be grateful for, but at this precise moment in time these are the three things I’m grateful for :-

  1. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day
  2. My puppy
  3. This is my birthday week

Tell me three things you’re grateful for in the comments if you want. I’d love to read them.

Barred Owl

An owl. Nothing to do with the post at all, apart from the fact it was so cool to see him in the trees. Actually he was sitting on the grass till my dog decided he was trespassing and chased him off. This is a huge crop with my 300mm zoom at it’s longest length so not the best photo, but still very exciting to see it in real life.

Happy May Day Bloggers.


Greetings Bloggers

Life. Not so long ago I had all the time in the world, to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was sometimes even *whisper* bored. What a young fool I was….

Only kidding. I love being busy. Life is good my blogging buddies. I have more work than I can do. My kids are both happy, settled and living life to the max – daughter just road-tripped during spring break to Texas and now wants to move to Austin – son is busy learning to blow up the world studying nuclear, atomic and plasma physics (well, he might not be blowing up the world, but I have no idea what he actually does at university). Husband got head-hunted and just started a new job and we’re about to sell our house and move to the next State over (Help!!) Oh and I’ve been ill and it dragged on for a whole 3 weeks. I don’t have TIME to be ill! All of which leaves me very little time for photography or blogging. But as a friend said to me, surely I can spare a few minutes (42 to be exact) to talk about life, the universe and everything.

So a couple of weekends ago, after 8 years of vague “oh yeah, we’ll come visit you soon!” we actually did go visit some friends in Cincinnati. A 3.5 hour drive from where we currently live was just far enough to be enjoyable but not too far to be “are we there yet?” I loved Cinci and enjoyed being touristy, but 2 of the highlights of the quick trip were Jungle Jims International food store and Nicholson’s Scottish Pub. Jungle Jim’s has a whole aisle of British food so $210 later we were sorted for crisps (potato chips), chocolate, biscuits, more chocolates, Magners Pear Cider, a tin of Quality Street (chocolates) and a tin of haggis. You can take the lassie out of Scotland… etc. etc.

Photography wise I was snapping away with my Fuji compact camera as I didn’t want to lug my DSLR all over the city. It does a fabulous job and it’s so easy to stick it in auto for night shots or when you don’t have time to mess about with the manual settings. Another thing on my ‘to-do’ list when I get some free time (hah!) is to look into Topaz Editing Software. I downloaded a free trial but haven’t had time to play about with it very much but for the five minutes I have used it for it was SO much fun! These pics were all edited with Topaz and I can see me having endless hours of fun with it.

Anyway just saying hi “Hi!” and letting you know life is good from where I’m sitting. Hope it’s good for all of you too.


Cinci topaz 2
Cincinnati buildings
Cinci topaz 1
Cincinnati bridge
Cinci topaz 3
Cincinnati Ball Park


Burns Night (25th January)

In honour of my Scottish roots I thought about making a Burns Supper tonight for dinner (haggis, neeps and tatties) but due to the lack of haggises in Illinois (there are no mountains for them to run around), and my unwillingness to pay $10 plus delivery for a tin of haggis from Amazon, we’re having lasagna instead.

True fact: Haggis only run round the mountainside in an anti-clockwise direction, therefore they have 2 legs on one side shorter than the other two. That’s how you catch them. Chase them clockwise round the mountain and they fall off. It’s a well known fact in Scotland. Ask The Google. Ignore the Wiki answer though and read the others. YW.

So the traditional Rabbie Burns poem that we read tonight is called ‘To a Haggis‘ but I’ve made my own version called ‘To a Lasagna‘….

Fair fa’ yer honest sonsie face,Β 
Great Chieftain o’ the pasta race.’

That’s as far as I got. It’s a work in progress.


Tomatoes. Absolutely nothing to do with Burns Night, haggis or even lasagna (except it’s an ingredient) but I didn’t have a photograph to match the blog post.

Anyway enjoy some traditional Scottish music brought into the 21st Century by Paolo Nutini.

SlΓ inte!

WPC: Weathered

How fortuitous that this week’s photography challenge came in my email the same day I got an message from STV (a Scottish Television Channel) asking my permission to use one of my photographs in a programme about doors. Yes, sounds rivetting, doesn’t it? But it’s still nice to be appreciated, even if it is only watched by 50 or 60 people in the country.

Newmilns Keep Front Door
A nicely weathered door

Newmilns Keep is a fortified tower and the oldest building in the town – built in the 16th century c1530. It was in the possession of John Campbell of Newmilns, who was summoned to appear before King James IV as one of the Lollards of Kyle. In 1685 it was being used as a barracks for dragoons and a prison for Covenanters when it was attacked by local men who succeeded in freeing 8 prisoners. It has been used as a grain store, a doocot, a band hall and a beer cellar and is now a private residence.