Archive for December, 2008

2008 Christmas in Florida

// December 30th, 2008 // No Comments » // Florida

For Christmas, Chad and I traveled to Florida to spend time with my parents.

We arrived in Tampa at the airport on Monday a few days before Christmas and my parents were there waiting. It was great to see them. Mom had planned a bunch of activities for us for the week and our first stop was at a shopping center called Wiregrass which was about 30 minutes away from their home.

The Wiregrass shopping center was neat with many popular stores to see. The shopping center contained many narrow streets decorated for Christmas with music playing at every other light post. In the center were many large Christmas trees all lit up and a mini train for children to ride. Mom mentioned she wished I was small again as an excuse so she could ride with me!

After looking around for a while, we went to an American grill for dinner. Dad and I got some great steaks which we both bragged on and told Mom and Chad we had the better meal. It was also happy hour at the restaurant, so we all were able to get drinks half price!

After eating, we watched a light show at the big Christmas trees where the lights were in tuned with the music. Chad took some pictures while we watched from the side. It was great to see.

When we got back to my parents place, we checked out their new home. Back in May, Mom and Dad bought a small house in a golf community. I think they like the warm winters in Florida!

Not sure what their plans will be next, but they like to move a lot and travel. I guess that is why I like to travel too.

On Tuesday, we went to a nature park where you could see all the animals native to Florida. We saw many animals some of which were manatees, alligators, turtles, pelicans, owls, a river otter, and the most popular…a hippopotamus called Lu. Lu is an honorary member of the park because he is originally from California. Lu was the main attraction especially when he was fed his routine meal of melons!

Later on, we had a late lunch at Crackers in Crystal River which is Mom’s favorite place. It was nice with a patio on the back right on the water. We took a few pictures, enjoyed the view, and had another good meal.

Wednesday, we drove down to Tarpon Springs which is the Sponge Capital of the World. It’s a Greek community with lots of small shops and Greek restaurants right on the gulf. Mom and I found us both a t-shirt that’s black and white, but in the sun it becomes very colorful. I also bought some spicy mayo at a spice store which is a favorite of mine these days. Chad bought some cigars at a small booth. Hopefully he will get to enjoy one of them once we get back home. We had lunch at a Greek restaurant call Mama’s. They served tons of food and it was very good.

To watch the sunset that evening, we went to a beech nearby. Chad got some great photos!

On Christmas Day, we woke up and the first thing we did was open presents. It’s a tradition in my family that we open gifts based on age…youngest to oldest, so I got to go first! I received everything I wanted and more. Mom and Dad got me a gravy bowl and plate that matches my china set. The items in my stocking were: warm cozy socks, Mickey Mouse snow globe which will remind me of my time in Florida and a snowman that Dad picked out that you wind up and it wobbles across the table. They also got me a snowman pillow, an IFR flight book which I will enjoy reading and $50 that is a special tradition for Dad to give! Chad bought me some black angle boots which fit perfect. Pat and Chris gave me a beautiful sweater poncho handmade by Pat and Grandma gave me a nice red scarf that she also made herself! These last two items will come in handy in Feb. for sure while I am working in Sweden.

Chad got a cigar ashtray which he has been wanting for a while, a blue shirt, a small camera backpack, socks, lens cloth cleaner, and $50!

Mom and Dad received two framed funny golf pictures, two books, and a golf ornament.

Overall, it was an excellent Christmas!  We had some great food and enjoyed the whole day. That evening we went back to see the sunset! While Chad took some more excellent pictures, Mom and I built a castle in the sand! Later on, we played some 42! Mom and I were partners for the night and we won! I remember last year Chad and Dad were the champions, so Mom and I got some revenge.

On Thursday, we went to see a movie. We decided on watching “Seven Pounds” with Will Smith. It was an interesting movie and kept you guessing the whole time. That night, we played another game 42, however this time we switched partners and Mom and Chad won! Oh well, maybe next time we will beat ‘em.

Chad and I had a wonderful time in Florida. Mom and Dad, we would like to thank you for everything.


2008 Skydive Carolina Christmas Party

// December 20th, 2008 // No Comments » // North Carolina

Rhonda and I got to go to the Skydive Carolina Christmas party hosted at Dilworth Billiards in downtown Charlotte. Here are a few photos I took of the awards presentation. I would have taken more except my flash ran out just as Jan was receiving his Skydiver of the Year award.

See all of my photos in the gallery below.


The 2008 Stokesdale North Carolina Christmas Parade

// December 15th, 2008 // No Comments » // North Carolina

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph the 2008 Stokesdale Christmas Parade. My goal for this project was to make you feel like you went to the parade. At least that is what I would attempt to do.

Before I decided to photograph the parade, I wanted to check with the parade organizers to make sure it was ok with them. I found Vicki White-Lawrence, the parade chairman, on the Stokesdale web site. I sent her an email telling her about me and what I wanted to do. She quickly responded. After checking with the city, she informed me I could take pictures, but not stop the progress of the parade. That worked for me so I was now set to go.

I decided I wanted to photograph Stokesdale at sunrise before the parade. That way the streets would be empty. I wanted to see what it would be like with no one on the street compared with the whole parade later that afternoon. It was a cool morning starting around 6:30 or so. I found a few sites which conveyed to me what the empty streets felt like on this cool morning. Once I was done, I headed home to warm up and recharge the camera batteries.

Around 11:00 AM, I made my way back to town and started photographing people constructing their floats and getting ready for the parade. I ran into a large number of people. Everyone was very friendly letting me take their photograph setting up their equipment. Thinking back on this I should have had some paper and pen ready to take down names of people and the groups they were with. When I get the opportunity to do something like this again, I will make sure I don’t forget.

I met with Vicki soon after I arrived to introduce myself and say hi. She was extremely busy, but took a few moments to talk with me. After that, I spent the next 3 hours or so looking for exciting photographs.

About an hour before the parade started, Rhonda found me while I was taking a break and sitting down on some steps. I originally thought she was going to spend the day practicing flying, but she decided she could not miss a once a year parade.  So after our brief break, I headed out to the crowds to talk with them and to photograph what they were up to.

At 2 PM the parade started. The streets were filled with a large number of people. More than I imagined. It was great. Everyone from everywhere. I photographed most of the floats and groups in the parade as well as the spectators.

The first thing I noticed was all of the parade groups were throwing candy. Not just a little bit, but large amounts for all of the children in the crowds. I think it was probably better than Halloween since you just had to stand there and wait for the candy to come to you. I photographed many kids trying to catch candy flying by.

By the time the parade finished I felt I had enough for the day and headed home.

I think my goal for the next year is to photograph as many Stokesdale events as I can. I’ll also try to think of some sort of photo project I can do with Belews Lake.

I want to thank Vicki White-Lawrence the parade coordinator for her help in getting me permission to photograph the parade and identify subjects of my photographs.

See all of my photos in the gallery below.


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