I acquired an inexpensive kilt back at the end of 2015 and finally wore it in public in April at a local celtic festival.  It doesn’t fit me perfectly, but it will do in a pinch and I can arrange my suit of clothes so that it looks like its fits me (this photo from the wife’s iPhone).  This kilt is in the Gunn Modern colors, the Clan Gunn being a potential source of the Manson name.


But I’ve also ordered a custom kilt in the Manson Tartan (Manson Weathered to be precise) and am expecting it some time in September or October.  I had learned of the copyright of the Manson tartan design back in the mod-80s (it was copywritten in a book published in 1983 and received in the Scottish Register of Tartans Jan 1, 1984), and has since grown to include the standard color varieties (Modern, Ancient, Weathered, etc.).  The new tartan will be 16 oz wool and 8 yards in length (standard length).

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Considering a Kayak!

I hear many of my friends talk about wildlife/waterfowl photography from their kayaks and so I have been thinking about that for a few months, and then just this past week my wife suggests that she gets me a kayak for Father’s Day.  Now I am not a strong proponent of getting things for people on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day unless they are your father or mother, but I never “look a gift horse in the mouth.”

So she indicated that she was thinking of a tandem (two person) kayak, and I have no problem at all with that, but I was hoping that whatever I/we got it would be convertible from two persons to one person.  But I am having a tough time finding one of those for what I consider a reasonable price.  The only boat like that I have found is the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135T that REI sells for $979.  That is a very decent price for a good kayak (I think – I have certainly seen other tandem kayaks for a lot more), but I understand that a tandem kayak is harder to resell than a single.

The reason the kayak has to be convertible to a single paddler is because I understand that it is immensely difficult to shoot (photograph) from a kayak with another paddler in the boat.  A secondary reason is to have room for the photography gear (which sometimes amounts to a lot).

Excursion-10Well the die was cast and an inexpensive angling kayak was acquired.  It is a Sun Dolphin Excursion 10.  A ten-foot model in forest green (for stealth along the forested banks).  Also acquired was a 230cm Werner kayak paddle and a couple life vests for my wife and myself.  I still want to get a cockpit cover (on order), a bilge pump and some roof rack cross-bar cushions (I don’t like the Yakima “EvenKeel” saddles).

Next on the agenda is to determine the best places to kayak/photograph.  I suspect that its first anointing should be sans cameras (or at least the big boys) just so that I have control over what may be an uncontrollable introduction.

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Mid-May Birdwatching

Our backyard feeders and birdhouse our busy this month.  The goldfinches love the thistle (“Nyjer”) seed so much so that between them and the house finches they can consume a couple pounds in a matter of a week and a half (although some of that seed gets scattered on the ground.  I’m surprised that the goldfinches and house finches get along so well.


These (above) are two males of course and they don’t seem to mind each other, at least the get along better than the competing goldfinches.  The male goldfinches seem to fight over the food a little more, or at least one of them seems to be a bully.  I can’t tell them apart enough to single out one bird from the others.


The house finches seem to be the most calm of the birds, perhaps because they are slightly larger than the goldfinches.


At the birdhouse the Carolina wrens are nesting.  Earlier in the season (just a week or two ago) there was some competition for the house, but I don’t recall what the breeds were that were fighting over it.  The wrens won obviously, and are now building their nest.

If you look closely you will see the wren first trying to get a long twig into the house sideways (a la “Three Stooges”), and in the next from she has learned to take it in lengthwise.  I’ll be watching the birdhouse as the bird family matures.  I may consider trying to install an internal camera in the house to watch the eggs and chicks next year.

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Patriots at Mt Vernon

April 30, 2016 culminating over a week of festival, living history and reeneacting, I visited Mt Vernon.  Both American and English forces were represented (as well as the Hessians).



There were some great characters there among the lines of soldiers.


One fellow was kilted and was the only kilted fellow that I saw that day!


And the Dragoons!  Ahhh the dragoons!  The cavalry was a special treat!




There were small field artillery pieces there too.  They were shined up and ready to fire.

_D3A8561a1        _D3A8556a1

They were all three pounders and lined up with the American forces (I never found the British camp and there were probably where the British artillery were.

The living history was mostly in the camps, although you couldn’t overlook the Mt Vernon itself.



And other interesting images…

_D3A8545a1                       _D3A8429a1

_D3A8630a1                     _D3A8695a1

_D3A8719a1                         _D3A8706a1


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The Eagles at the National Arboretum

An addendum to the prior post…

The juveniles have been named now.  They are Freedom and Liberty.  No one seems to know which is which, but the still have pretty cool names.

This is another brief post today, but it’s a pretty cool one.

While I did not include an active link in this post, I did upload an image of the view in our family room.  Today it’s a “family room” for another reason.  We now have a portal to the eagle nest that is being ‘televised’ with two cameras watching the nest.  This resource is identified as “”.  There have been outages as the two eggs are due to hatch any day and the site is overloaded at times by viewers.


I set of an ipad with the link selected and while the link can support the traffic we can watch the eagle nest continually.  The image above was taken at about 6:30 AM 3/16/16 and the eagle in the nest (I can’t tell whether it is Mr. President or First Lady) is sleeping with his/her head under his/her wing.  The bird awoke one while I was posting this, but has now gone back to sleep.

And since the original post (above) the eggs have hatched and there are two new eaglets in the world.  The parents are doting over them and I will post some eaglet pictures soon now.




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Dawn 3-12-16

Just a brief post today.

This morning the sky was on fire very briefly – but long enough for me to get a decent photo from the deck.  The peaks in bright colors frequently last only a few seconds so the fotog must be ready and fast (reminds me of the boy scout motto “be prepared”).


This was taken with my D810 and Nikkor 14-24 UWA zoom.  I really enjoy this combo, it’s a workhorse but it is big and and it is heavy, and it can do what appear to be miracles of photography (shown here without its L-bracket with which it is frequently used).


I’m exploring the use of smaller equipment, but that equipment may also be used for other imaging (video, etc.).  In the meantime, watch for more products with this camera/lens combination in the future.

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The Caribbean Cruise

Embarkation Day, Week 1, February 13th

I didn’t take many photos of our embarkation on the 13th, although I will mention that it was about the best registration and boarding process that we have every witnessed.  I did capture a couple IR images of the Port Canaveral harbor as we prepared to depart.  Here is one of a distant oil tanker and the nearer Sheriff’s department boat in the middle of the harbor. [P2130524a1.jpg]


Port Canaveral Seaway

Sunday February 14th

On the 14th we landed in Nassau, Bahamas, and Connie stayed on the ship while I decided to walk through a small portion of town to photograph a bit.  The area where I walked was not the most affluent part of town, although I don’t know that much of the town was much better.  After I got back on the ship I noticed the Senor Frog’s was very colorful and lively, but outside the area that I walked through.  The area that I walked through is best represented by the following images.


The Amber Jack registered in Nassau, Bahamas


City Park of Nassau, Bahamas


Sunday Carriages in Nassau, Bahamas


Another type of carriage in Nassau, Bahamas


A colorful Main Street in Nassau


Carriage Clos-up


A local traffic policewoman – in the process of writing a citation

[DSC00539d1.jpg, DSC00545d1.jpg, DSC00547d1.jpg, DSC00550d1.jpg, DSC00552d1.jpg, DSC00560d1.jpg, DSC00567d1.jpg]  This was a Sunday and it is possible that businesses aside from the tourist activity was limited as it used to be in USA during the days of the blue laws.

Monday, February 15th

It was a day at sea as we traveled from Nassau to St Thomas (east of Puerto Rico).  Shipboard on the 15th I didn’t take any photos during the day but the various restaurants and activity venues were crowded as one would expect with all the passengers trapped on board.  During the day, the winds came up and the seas rose a bit.  The pool was closed (as we discovered it would be the rest of the week due to the seas).

The night of the 15th continued to be stormy and windy and some of the passengers were seasick.  The ship’s decks were fairly abandoned but were still wonderfully lighted [DSC00573d1.jpg].


Demonstration of the winds are seen in this video of the golf target spaces [C0001.MP4] (but is bigger than I want to upload, so comment to request to see it).

Tuesday, February 16th

At St Thomas we tendered into town and also took an excursion to Megan’s Bay where we spent a couple hours on the beach.  The tenders were made up of our own boats as well as those of the Norwegian Escape that came to assist.  These boats were much newer than ours and looked spotless and fresh (while you could see the old age of the Spirit’s boats).  A view of Charlotte Amalie where our ship was anchored: DSC_4121a1.jpg.


A view of one of the tender pilots communicating the hands on-board our ship to properly position himself for taking on passengers: DSC00777d1.jpg (This is one of the Spirit’s old boats).


By contrast here is an image of one of the Escape’s newer tenders: DSC00774a1.jpg.


Entering the port at Charlotte Amalie I took a considerable number of bird photos (that I still need to identify accurately).  A couple of those are here: [DSC_3946a1.jpg, DSC_4029a1.jpg].

At Megan’s Bay we rented a couple of beach chairs and found a shady spot to make our ‘home base’ as we walked around and surveyed the area but spent very little time in the water as it indicated a fairly significant drop-off several feet out from the beach proper.

I took both full spectrum images (from a distant vantage point) and IR images at Megan’s Bay.  Some of those are here for reference: [Megan’s Bay-5.jpg, P2160559a5.jpg, P2160562a1.jpg].

Wednesday, February 17th

The next port of call after St Thomas was Tortola and there we docked across the pier from the Norwegian Escape again [DSC00579.JPG, DSC00581a1.jpg]

and took another excursion to What Connie thought was Elm Beach, although its only identification was through a bar that used that name.  I will confirm this name at some other time. [DSC00601d1.jpg]


The beach scene itself was just as one would expect (and from my perspective) pretty boring).  The water was pretty and the bottom was smooth and regular however so this beach event was somewhat better than Megan’s Bay [DSC00602a1.jpg].


The Beach we did not Know

We rented chairs again and plopped ourselves right behind a family that we later discovered were Russians.  There were also Spanish speaking tourists on either side of us, but I didn’t ask of their native land.

I took a video of our ride to Elm Beach and edited it later ship-board [Tortola-3.mp4] (too big to upload – comment to see the video).

Thursday and Friday February 18th and 19th

These next two days were at sea traveling back to Port Canaveral during which we played cards, read, edited video, played Scrabble and slept, and I took no photos of anything we or anyone else did during those days or on the day of our turn-around (the turn-around I refer to is the return to Port Canaveral, visiting Customs and leaving Port Canaveral with a whole new ship of passengers).


Sunrise, Feb 19th

Embarkation Day, Week 2, February 20th

So embarkation on the 20th of February was relatively uneventful although we visited Customs, ate chicken wings at the Blue Lagoon, listened to piano music (“Barry”) and talked with a sales girl at the Colombian Emeralds on-board store.  We participated in the mustering drill at 3:00 PM, departed at 4:00 PM and then went to the casino to learn to gamble.  The casino instructions were fairly straightforward (except for craps which is terribly difficult and offers very poor odds as far as I can tell).   The simplest game with the best odds from my understanding is roulette, although it has as much as or higher minimum bet.  We are told that we arrive in Key West the next day about noon.  We have a Pub Crawl engagement at 12:15 in the theater.

Sunday, February 21st

On Feb 21st we landed at Key West and prepared for our land excursion.  We first gathered in the theater to be organized into groups and then disembarked to join our group on land, get a free Pub Crawl T-Shirt, boarded the Conch Train and entered through the old Navy base to get to Mallory square where we started out Pub Crawl.

The Pub Crawl was great.  We went to four bars (of the 300 or so on the island), including the Lazy Gecko, Rick’s, Flying Monkeys, and the Key West Hard Rock Café.  At each of these were received a drink coupon of either a beer, a rail drink or one of their specialties (in most cases we took one of their specialty drinks – more on that later).

At two of the bars (the Lazy Gecko, and Rick’s) we heard entertainers playing their guitars and telling jokes (both were extremely good by the way).

After the third bar we stepped off of the main street to have a conch shell (the absolute first ‘shellphone’) blowing contest.  There were at least five competitors (of which I was one), and the winner (for blowing the loudest, clearest and longest) won some great beads.

After the last bar we headed for the Conch Train stop to board the train back to the Spirit.  On the way I decided to use the restroom at the Starbuck.  While standing in line there for the restroom there was a Swede in front of me and a Scot behind me.  I felt surrounded by my ancestors!

Finally, back on the Conch Train and back on the Spirit in no time flat!


The Conch Train

Monday, February 22nd

Another day at sea, sailing around the end of Cub from Key West to George Town, Grand Cayman, was uneventful.  We took a couple images of the wind blowing the bow waves’ breaking into a colorful spectra.


Spectral Spray

Tuesday, February 23rd

Arriving at George Town, we had to tender in, but we didn’t use our own ship’s tenders but a private firm with several boats to get to and from the Spirit.  We found a good spot among the beach chairs (and later the French and Italians showed up all around us).  And in a little while they served us lunch on the beach.

Wednesday, February 24th

Our next port of call was Ocho Rios (Eight Rivers in Spanish), Jamaica where we docked and took an excursion to the Dunn’s River Falls via catamaran and enjoyed a reggae party along the way (on the cat).

Thursday, February 25th

It was another day at sea, and among other activities we had a luncheon with the Cruise Critic gang.

Friday, February 26th,

This day we were at the Norwegian private island Great Stirrup Cay.  It was said that this had been a garbage dump island and was bought and converted to the ‘resort’ it is now.





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