Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seafood and Seashells

The second half of our two week trip took us to Naples, Florida.  Again, the week started off cool (in the 50s), but warmed up nicely to the 70s for our last few days.

I grew up on the other side of Florida, but I have family on the Gulf Coast too.  And luckily they had some really good restaurant recommendations for us.  My favorite was Randy's Fishmarket.  In fact the next night we went to a different restaurant, walked in, looked around, and quickly said "Let's go back to Randy's!"  It was one of the best decisions we made on this trip :)
I had hogfish the first night, then some wonderful Grouper the next.  I'm picky about my seafood, and this place really did it right.  Plus, their key lime pie was amazing and inexpensive.  I just saw on their website that they ship them frozen anywhere in the country... I think I might just have to do that!
On one of the days we found ourselves down at the water for a photoshoot on the beach.  It's interesting to have the water of the Pacific Ocean lapping at my feet one day, and then a week later be standing at the Gulf of Mexico.

This area of Florida is usually great for finding seashells.  But I've never seen anything like this!  There were thousands of beautiful shells in piles that had been washed up the night before.  As soon as the shoot was over we all  grabbed some good ones to bring home as souvenirs and gifts. 

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

California

I just returned from working on a two week photography project with a couple of other people.  These photos are from the first leg of the trip, in La Jolla, California.  I found myself gravitating often towards the horizon line, with amazing blue sky and wispy clouds.  The night before I started on this trip I got my hands on an ultrawide 17-40 L lens, and it was great to have it for these locations.
And yes, it was a perfect time to spend a week in southern California!  It was a bit cool there- in the mid 50s at the beginning of the week.  It warmed up to the 70s by the time we left, but whatever the case it was better than the -3 degrees nights I missed in Chicago.

We scouted La Jolla beach to use as a background in some of the photos.  The seals were barking and sunning themselves on the rocks.  And while I'm not usually known for my landscape photography, there were just so many stunning locations here that it was impossible to ignore them.
My other favorite discovery on this part of the trip was beautiful Balboa Park in nearby San Diego.  There were endless museums, and wonderfully detailed buildings.  I didn't have nearly enough time to fully explore this area, and I hope to make it back one day to cover it all.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winter Parade

Despite the fact that it was yet another freezing Illinois winter evening, I found myself standing outside in the blustery weather wearing my enormous coat that appears to have been made from rolls of attic insulation and leftover mattress stuffing.  The right pocket is torn.  There is a rip on the left sleeve from a run-in with the corner of a car door.  Anyone who sees my coat immediately says to themselves, "That guy obviously grew up in Florida!"
I know it is a fashion disaster, but I don't care.  I have to wear that coat because I did grow up in Florida and I can't stand winter.  And I'm not sure why we have ceremonies that celebrate this season.  I think it just encourages the crazy people who like cold weather, and it forces others of us to leave the house when we should be at home curled up under the covers, waiting for Spring to arrive.
But Naperville has that 'can-do' spirit, and they bravely forge ahead with our Holiday Parade every year.  The hardier sort of people that actually grew up here all come out and enjoy the parade, the singing, and the shopping (of course).  I mean, look at these two above- they actually seem to be enjoying themselves.
Mayor Pradel and his wife dress up every year as our Santa & Mrs Klaus.   And it's their job to turn on the Christmas lights in the downtown area for the first time. 
Former American Idol contestant and Naperville resident Gina Glocksen performed for the crowd in two different locations.  She has a good voice and she's always great with the people that show up to hear her.  Her husband Joe performed with her, and I really felt for him trying to play guitar in that cold air.  Here they are together looking all Christmas-y
And because I got in trouble the last time I joked around about Naperville, I thought I'd remind everyone that I'm a sarcastic goofball... and I'm just kidding (mostly)!  Naperville is an awesome town... but I still really, really hate winter.

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