November 2015 Desktop Calendar - Prairie Sunset

November marks the end of Daylight Savings time in the US, which means earlier sunsets. Many people dislike the earlier onset of darkness, but hopefully we get to witness the spectacular skies before starting the evening's activities. Personally, I am looking forward to the brighter mornings.

This month's calendar features such a sunset.

Photography captures a specific point in time that can not be replicated. Soon after I shot this, a cluster of high voltage towers and power lines were erected in the background field. This scene, with its empty expanse of sky, can never be captured again. I remind myself of this whenever I'm out with my camera and find myself uninspired.

The same analogy applies to each day, each passing minute - it can't be replicated - so cherish it, embrace the good with the bad and be grateful of it. I continue to remind myself of this, fitting for the month of Thanksgiving and Gratitude.

To download the November 2015 calendar for free at Box.com, click on the link:
Free November 2015 Calendar - Prairie Sunset

Have a wonderful, gratitude filled month.

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Back to Kauai – Scenes from the Air

Disclosure – we visited Kauai back in June and I’ve been recapturing our trip, bit by bit.
Previous posts:
Arrival to Kauai - Poipu Area
Boogie Boards and The Grand Hyatt Luau
Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail
Running in Poipu Kauai

It’s Friday and today’s adventure is a Helicopter ride to see the remote parts of the island. As most of Kauai is not accessible by auto, a bird’s eye view allows a unique look into the island’s beauty. We chose Sunshine Helicopters and there are many other great helicopter tour companies to work with.

As we have two teens who don’t really like to get up early (even while surrounded by so much beauty – their loss), we chose an afternoon timeslot for our tour. The tour office sits in a little strip mall by airport in Lihue - we are getting really good at navigating the roads in that direction. Each person is weighed (yup, on a digital scale, with all your “stuff”, so for me, that included my big camera and lens) and based on the weights, assigned to a flight. After reviewing the procedures and safety briefing, we loaded into a van which took us out to the helio pads, adjacent to the airport (of course).

The ground crew makes sure each passenger is loaded into their assigned seat, one at a time. Our family sat in the second row seats, but really, there are no “bad seats” here.
The Black Bird
Side note: The information packet we received after booking our reservation listed “dark shirts” as an item to wear for the tour. I understood this suggestion once we got in our seats. If you wear a light shirt (like the dude who paid extra to sit up front), the windows reflect that light color, making it harder to see through the windows. It didn’t affect my view, but it probably impacted white shirt guy up front.

The boy is ready to fly!
Ready to Ride

But first, Let’s take a family selfie:
Family Selfie

Taking off into the air!
Untitled

The flight took us clockwise around the island, and immediately we got a glimpse of the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge and the Huleia Stream, flanked by the Hap'pu Mountains.
The Garden Island

The Famous Jurassic Park Falls
Manawaiopuna Falls (Jurassic Park Falls)

A Double Waterfall and shadow of us:
Untitled

We caught sight of the southern part of the island – Poipu beach before heading north to Waimea Canyon – quite a change from all the lush greenery:
The Canyon

Approaching the NaPali Coast:
Untitled
Glimpses of Na Pali

For picture taking, I relied upon my iPhone for the wide angle shots and my big camera with its 70-200mm lens for mid-angle views. I ran into some trouble with the physical lens length in the chopper, since space is tight. I guess if I had to do it over, I might have gotten better results with a small 50mm prime lens. The scenes go by so fast, though, and I started to get motion sick viewing a zoomed in, shaking version of reality through a camera viewfinder.

The finale of tour – into the Mt Waialeale Crater, with its mist and cascading waterfalls
In the Mist

Scott and I had taken a helicopter ride once before – in Alaska, in our “BC” (before children) days and like our last experience, you can’t beat the views. Our daughter was a little wigged out about the whole experience as she conjured up images of helicopter crashes. The boy got a little motion sick by the end, but overall it was an excellent way to see the island, especially since we would be seeing many of the same sights again, but at ground level.

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Along My Run | 18 - Working My Way Back

Although it has been a while since my last running update, I have been actively running and ramping the miles up.
After completing a spring spring marathon, the sins of training while slightly injured caught up with me and I took 6 weeks off from running.
Then we went to Kauai for a family vacation, which marked my slow return back to running. I got spoiled by the scenery, the sounds and smells of paradise - my runs were carefree and fun, just like the vacation itself.

Upon getting back to Illinois, the reality of high humidity and the heavy, oppressive summer haze punctuated the rest of July. I decided to defer my 2015 Chicago Marathon entry to next year. While I could have buckled down to complete the training cycle, my head just wasn't "in the game". That decision took the pressure off and I ran because I wanted to, when I wanted to, whatever distance I wanted to and got back to the simple enjoyment of the run. That's not to say that every run was easy - I really dislike heat and humidity!

Along My Run - July 2015

1. Running in Kauai , 2. Yesterday's Post Run Yoga , 3. Hazy Shade of Summer , 4. So Humid Outside, 5. The Fog Reveals All, 6. The Mystery, 7. A Little Solitude to Start , 8. In the Calm , 9. Turned Upside Down
July Stats: 58 miles, 9:38 min/mile pace

August started with a weekend trip to Michigan and ended with more humidity. I slowly increased my weekly mileage (without getting injured!) and had my first 100+ mile month since April.
Along My Run - August 2015
1. Moon Setting, 2. Rise and Shine , 3. Red August, 4. Let the Water Calm and draw you In, 5. Falling slowly, sing your melody I'll sing it out loud. , 6. Oh I Can See You Now, I can see the love in your eyes, 7. Won't Focus, 8. Today's Finish , 9. Bright Spots
August Stats: 113 miles, 9:35 min/mile pace

September heralded in slightly cooler and drier conditions.
Along My Run - September 2015
1. Trail run today, 2. Running in the Shadows, 3. Transition , 4. See Through to the Mist, 5. Promises for the Day Ahead, 6. Standout Still , 7. Morning Glory, 8. Wait For It, 9. Renegade
September Stats: 119 miles, 9:40 min/mile pace

Some running quotes to share:
The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself–the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us–that's where it's at.
– Jesse Owens

Running is a thing worth doing not because of the future rewards it bestows, but because of how it feeds our bodies and minds and souls in the present.
– Kevin Nelson

I run because there's no better way to see the sun rise and set.
– Amby Burfoot

I totally agree....

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Fifteen Going on Sixteen

Where has the time gone?
From this:
Brian Sword Jun03

All Smiles

Brian

Dodgeball Fun

To sophomore year - the cusp of sixteen - a young man - about to get my driver's license which will drive my mother to an early grave:
Attitude

Taken at the paintball field, a day before his 16th birthday - no better way to celebrate such an occasion that with your good friends, in the woods and the mud:
Paintball

A week later, he had his license and unlike his sister who simply drove back and forth to school, the horse barn and home, this boy has been going everywhere - friend's houses way across town, to the Wal-Mart, to the Target, the movies and to the mall. I realize this is normal teenage behavior, but why does it stress me out so?

First solo drive to school #theygrowupsofast #watchout

Because I still remember him on his first day of kindergarten...
First Day of Kindergarten, 2005

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Last Horse Show of the Season

The last events for the day's horse show didn't start until after 5pm as the sunlight faded. I don't recall any of the previous show that finished up so late, but I liked the light coupled with the autumn scenery. The Girl and her horse did a great job.

Test Run

The barn adorned the jumping gates with scarecrows and ghouls! Something new to "freak out" the horses. But it didn't bother these two - and I love that she's smiling.
1/4 The Approach

For the end of the season, the barn tallies up the scores for each division. Last year, she took 3rd place in the Low Working Hunter Division, where the poles are set to 2'3" - 2'6" high. This year, she took 2nd (Reserve) in the Hunter Division, where the poles are 2'6" - 2'9" high. This is the highest division for this course.

Reserve Champs for the Summer Season! #equestrian #Horse #appaloosa

She's also riding with the college club team, and will participate in shows where she won't ride her own horse, but will draw a random horse before riding. This should give her new experiences and challenges. I know she is looking forward to it.

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October 2015 Desktop Calendar - Scarecrow

A little bit of Halloween fun for this month's desk calendar - a scary scarecrow to set the mood for the end of the month.



To download the October 2015 calendar for free at Box.com, click on the link:
Free October 2015 Calendar - Scarecrow

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