Saturday, August 13, 2016

Make Your Own Kind of Music, be the best you possible

I stumbled across this song by accident and it struck a cord.  I was a wee lad when it was released summer of 1969,  I had my transistor radio glued to my ear via head phone and rode my bike all over just to get out and ride.  Funny how a song can transport you back to a point in time and suddenly you remember a turning point.

Summer of 1969 was a tumultuous for this country.  I have vague memories of that summer from the news...Walter Cronkite was a staple every night.  Protests.  Riots.  Anti-war Marches.  Summer of Love culminating in Woodstock.  I was way to young to partake, but it made an impression on me.

This song in particular made me decide enough of being forced into a mold.  I hated math and didn't want to be an engineer.  I loved art and and the arts.  I loved my cameras.  I decided that summer I'd pursue my dreams and be a photographer.  Much to my fathers consternation and my mothers support I did just that.  Thanks Mom and Mama Cass for the encouragement to be the best possible me.
"Footsteps and Shadows" Versailles, France April, 2007

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Press junkets and stuff...adventures galore

Fog rolling in at Carmel Valley Ranch Lodge

This summer has had some fun press junket adventures.  I blog with integrity and include a disclaimer on the posts advising who sponsored me.  The words are always my own, in my own conversational tone, as if anyone can make me say something I didn't believe in the first place.  Its a fine line being diplomatic when there's something you don't care for yet not offend your hosts...after all you want to be invited back again for another event!

One of the best events ever that I have been on was host by Nissan as part of their #NissanAdventureDrive and #NissanYearoftheTruck campaign.  It was held in Big Sur country up on the northern end of the Central Coast.  Nissan hosted us at the Carmel Valley Ranch which has got to be one of the nicest, poshest resorts I've ever stayed at.

Fireplace in the guest suites at Carmel Valley Ranch Lodge

The event itself was a ton of fun.  Even with a wild fire in Big Sur that forced us to change the route and off-roading course for the Nissan Armada Platinum didn't really put a damper on things.  Smokey yes, but not a damper on the 3 days worth of activity.  

We had 3 vehicles, half day in each to test drive on and off road.  Each vehicle had a unique route so  you got to see tremendous cross sections of what the Monterey peninsula has to offer.  The off roading routes were fun as well. 
Nissan Armada Platinums at Laguna Seca off road course

With the aforementioned wild fire our course for the Armada was changed.  WE got to use a specifically designed course at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, yes that Laguna Seca that I've always wanted to visit got scratched off the old bucket list and added to my bucket of adventures!  Yes, it was fun putting their trucks through their paces in the mountains, but this was the icing on the cake for this adventure.
Formal dinner in the Organic Garden at Carmel Valley Ranch

Of course a good host, and Nissan excelled at this, made sure your meals were fun and memorable.  First night at the country club was a 13, yes thirteen course, tasting menu.  Very nice and really a tremendous meal.  The final night of the Adventure Drive was a sit down dinner in the Ranch's organic garden featuring farm to table fresh produce, herbs and meats from their.  Amazing meal, great company and so much fun to watch the sunset from atop a hill overlooking Carmel Valley then watching the stars fill the darkening sky.  This has got to be a memory I won't soon forget.

Carmel Valley Ranch is on my return destination list.  Their concierge services are top notch as are all the facilities and the staff is uber friendly making your stay oh so very pampered. I'm telling you I didn't want to go down the hill for the return trip to Los Angeles.

The return trip started out normal enough.  We got a notice our flight was delayed 45 minutes from Monterey airport.  No biggy right, still ample time to get to SFO and make our connections home.  We're sitting at the gate and we get another message...flight delayed as United couldn't find a plane.  This time I'd miss my connection, as would others sitting there with me from the event.

Nissan went out of its way to reroute and re-book tickets.  For those of us that wanted to, and I did, make the SFO connection they provided a driver to take us there (hour and a half drive) and we were rushed off to SFO.  What an interesting ride that was, great conversation with my fellow adventurers and we were at SFO in time for our connections.

I got to SFO and United struck again.  They were prepared to bounce me from my flight as the flight from Monterey was delayed past my flight to Burbank departure time.  They ignored the confirmation of the flight done by the good folks at Nissan and put me on stand by...why because they were oversold by 9 passengers for the SFO-BUR flight.  Grrr...long story short I was able to get on and got home in time for the Grand's first concert in the park with his pre-school!
some folks can sleep the carpet at SF

I'm working on my next adventure or two before summer is out.  A road trip to Las Vegas is part of the scenario.  If I can squeeze in a trip to Palm Springs yet I'll do that too...I have Hilton points to burn so that's a cheap trip if I can make it happen.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Paso Robles Wine it up on the wine trail

This past weekend was Paso Robles Wine country 2.0.  AS in our second time and with a group of former coworkers hell bent on a good time tasting wine on the Central Coast.  Added bonus is we got to enjoy cooler weather than home as So Cal was broiling in record breaking heat.

I've reviewed the wineries in more detail on Yelp.  Click that link for the details.  

First up having toured more than a few wineries over the years its imperative you have a designated driver as you get tipsy without trying after a few stops.  In our case since we had a group of 7 we opted to rent a limo for the day and be escorted to the wineries rather than drive ourselves.  We use Grand Cru in Paso Robles and was not disappointed.   If you can ask for a driver, ask for Kyle was really terrific.

First stop on our tour was up a barely one lane wide yak trail to Le Cuvier wineries.  Don't let the drive scare you, this place is worth the drive to get up there.  The wines from this boutique winery are among the best I've ever had. The tasting experience is at the top as well.  Then you get the incredible views from the cliff side patio overlooking the Paso Robles valley.  Amazing experience.  A must do.

Another hilltop stop with views to die for is Calcareous.  This winery is named for the limestone formation in the area that adds to the terroir or minerality to their wines.  All very good wines, terrific gift shop and very friendly staff.  Meg was terrific in lightening up the day and setting us off on the right foot.

Next on our loop of the West Valley of Paso Robles was Minnassian-Young Winery.  This winery is unique in that it is a dry farming operation relying only on local rainfall to keep the grapes growing.  They do several varietals but specialize in Zinfandel.  Truly one of the highlight stops for us of the day.

Oso Libre is a winery more need to model after.  Its a sustainable winery and cattle farm.  The two working to keep each other going.  We were there the day before Fathers Day and hit it just right.  The place was crowded yet Kyle was able to maneuver the limo to the main tasting room and there we joined the celebration of a fresh Angus beef burger cooked over a wood fire with a glass of their award winning "Carnal" red blend wine.

Next in our round of stops was Thacher Winery. It was a decent winery, tastings were #10 flight and their Zin was pretty exceptional.  Ditto the Grenache.

Our last and final stop of the day was Rabbit Ridge.  The place was a ton of fun and needs to be on anyone's must stop list.  Its set up in a warehouse with barrels and cases of wines. Joanne and her daughter Sara made us feel totally welcome, led us through a tasting flight of 12 wines that were all good to excellent...more of the latter than the former and they are priced so well we came home with a mixed case!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Aquarium of the Pacific

"Undulating Jelly"

Aquarium of the Pacific is a must see place, not as big or dramatic as the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, but it does a marvelous job none the less of presenting local sea life to the visitors.  They do an exceptional job of displaying local aquatic habitats found here along the Pacific coast.

They even have shark and stingray tanks where you can use the two finger stroke to "pet" those creatures.  Having been stung by a 'ray once, I've learned to give them a healty respect and give them ample leeway...but that's another story for another day.

There's even a Lorikeet aviary where you can buy "nectar" concocted to match what the birds feed on in the wild.  Its a hit among all the visitors as the Lorikeet will land on your arm for that tasty treat.
"Lorikeet feeding"

On top of the exhibits where you get to touch and feel they have a variety of movies available during the day that are either free or need special tickets to see that address the sea, its life and vitality and what we can do to protect it.  

"Undulating Jelly" was simply post processed to remove the blue cast caused by the water and artificial lights and wall color.  Clarity was amped up a bit so details were retained when resized for the web.  "Lorikeet feeding" got a similar simple post process from RAW to remove the blue cast from an overcast day.

Friday, March 25, 2016

What lies ahead

Like this image the foreground in the now is focused, but the future and what lies beyond today is a bit fuzzy and out of focus.

I've been busy on several fronts including the home front that has kept me from writing as much as I'd like.  Or shooting for that matter.  Grrrr....

I did snake up the domain as it came back as available after a year being taken by some damn interloper.  I'm waiting patiently for the domain without "The" in the title so I can have it back too.  I know, you snooze you lose when it comes to domain name purchasing.    At least I have one and it links to my blogspot car lifestyle blog.  The snakes grabbing it up may try to imitate, but I have the pixel trail to show I've been using the domain and name since 2010.

And onto that blog a bit.  I'm a digital influencer with Ford, in other words my use of social media and followers and views is such that I'm considered to be a minor authority on topics I post and certainly influence to some degree what they see and might think.  I don't know how much influence I really bear, but I do come up with some corkers on twitter and Social Media in general that can be at least midly entertaining.  

Ford is upping its game with social media this year. They've whittled down their focus and selected a team of "Elite influencers" of which I made the cut.  What it means I don't know for sure at this point.  I do know it going to be an adventure so that makes it worth the effort to go down that path with them.

This image was shot the other morning during a stroll through my garden.  It kind of sums up the future for me now.  Foreground is sharp and saturated, the future in the back well its colorful just not fleshed out and in focus with a hint of things to see.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fun with Siri

No graphic here as it would be a spoiler.  Ask Siri if he/she can beatbox.

The result is hysterical.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cars meet art, well Legos

Lego and Ford joined forces and the result was Legos used to sculpt a Mustang in the iconic Ford blue. 

Also available this spring as part of the Lego Speed Champions will be a Raptor with a Ford hotrod on a trailer behind it. Look for the models that replicate key design features of these Ford cars in Lego Stores and select retailers this spring.