California 2007

California: August 10th – August 24th, 2007.

Part 1 of California 2007 – San Francisco
Friday August 10th: This long awaited trip kicks-off with a 6 hour direct flight from Montreal to SF. We don’t have our car yet but we’ve reserved the Super Shuttle to take us to our Hotel. This will be my third trip to SF, the fourth to California having been to Los Angeles as a child.

It’s about a 20 minute hop from the SFO Airport to the Comfort Inn By the Bay (Van Ness corner of Lombard). Our room won’t be ready until 4 PM, so we leave our bags at the reception and walk to the Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a beautiful day, cool and crisp but sunny (about 60 F or 15 C).

We stop for a late lunch at the Buena Vista Café (2765 Hyde Street) which is famous for its Irish Coffee. The place is packed with tourists and we end up eating hamburgers sitting somewhat uncomfortably at the bar – not exactly a gourmet meal but it hits the spot – particularly since we haven’t eaten anything since this morning.

The rest of the afternoon is spent at a leisurely pace, stretching our legs and just getting fresh air. First a quick walk around Ghirardelli Square enjoying free samples of milk chocolate with caramel. Next, the Maritime National Historical Park where are docked the USS Pampanito, the Balclutha, World War II Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien, and other ships.

After that we continue to the famous Pier 39 and watch the noisy sea lions basking in the sun. Along the way, a quick stop at the Musee Mecanique, “one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade.”

In the evening, it’s dinner at the Café Lombard (Lombard Street), right across from our Hotel (we can see it from our 8th floor window, along with the Golden Gate). The Café looks like a dive, but we’re way too tired to go anywhere else. Surprisingly, this restaurant serves excellent Italian fare, so it turned out that appearances can be deceiving. We would definitely go back.
Continue reading.

Postcard from SF

One of many pictures I took of the glorious Golden Gate Bridge. This one shot from a northern vista point. We stopped at this lookout twice, once on the way to the Muir Woods, the second time when we went to Napa. I artificially aged this photo in Photoshop CS2 and superimposed the manipulation on my original. Click to enlarge.

Back from the Coast

Just got back from California – excellent vacation. A few shots for now, journals and galleries real soon.

Leopard Shark at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (click to enlarge):

Famous Lone Cypress (rocky outcrop on the right), one of the marvels on the stunning 17 mile drive from Pacific Grove to Carmel. (click to enlarge):

Nikon D300 & D3

Two New Nikons – the D3 (high end professional) and what should be the replacement for the D200, the D300. Time to upgrade! D300 should be out in November 2007. Watch for the price on the D200 to plummet. Some key features of the D300:

  • 12.3 megapixel resolution.
  • 51-point auto focus system
  • LiveView shooting modes
  • six frames per second
  • eight frames per second with MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack.
  • high-resolution 3-inch LCD monitor
  • self-cleaning sensor unit
  • viewfinder provides virtually 100 percent coverage
  • ultra-high definition 920,000 dot VGA LCD screen
  • magnesium alloy construction

    Continue reading.

  • Omega Park

    Wonderful trip to Omega Park in Montebello, Quebec.

    The park is an immense 1500 acre enclosed area. A 10 km path winds its way through an extraordinarily varied landscape of lakes, meadows, small valleys, forests and rocky hills.

    Animals which can be seen and photographed include: Timber Wolves, Arctic Wolves, Black Bear, Raptors, Moose, Elk (Wapiti), Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Bison, White Tailed Deer, Wild Boar, Alpine Ibex, Raccoon, Coyotes, and Corsican Moufflons.

    A few photos (click to enlarge):

    and wily coyote:


    After years of amassing film and digital photos, Nature, Wildlife, Travel, and General Photography, it was time to add some additional disk storage to the home network.

    What’s the best solution, internal or external drives? I did both – starting with an external One Touch Maxtor USB drive. You can’t beat the convenience of an external drive (portable) and ease of setup (no installation required). In passing, the Replicate software that ships with the Maxtor is not worth using.

    For speed however, internal is the way to go, so next I purchased a 250 Gigabyte Maxtor Ultra ATA/133 PCI drive. For boot drives I prefer SATA drives like the Western Digital Raptors, but for additional storage this is just fine.

    How hard is it to install an internal drive? Not too hard, but it does have its challenges. For one thing, the engineers who design PCs don’t leave much room to navigate inside the case – everything is cramped and connectors are very tight – you have to pull very hard to undo them at the risk of breaking something.

    All in all, I needed to swap 4 hard drives just to install one – everything was completed in under one hour. Want the basic drill? Continue reading.

    Lil Red Riding Hood

    The big bad wolf – what a killer!

    What big eyes you have,
    The kind of eyes that drive wolves mad.
    So just to see that you don’t get chased
    I think I ought to walk with you for a ways.

    What full lips you have.
    They’re sure to lure someone bad.
    So until you get to grandma’s place
    I think you ought to walk with me and be safe.

    I’m gonna keep my sheep suit on
    Until I’m sure that you’ve been shown
    That I can be trusted walking with you alone.

    ~ Ronald Blackwell (performed by Sam The Sham)