Ice Skating in Dallas

It's been a couple of years since we went to Dallas before Christmas.  So we took a day this week and headed down to Dallas to the Galleria for some Christmas shopping and some ice skating.   I thought we would go to the museum first but they were closed that day.   

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1

So my kids have grown up.  It's nice knowing that I can take all three of them 18,16, and 13 by myself into a major city and only the traffic gives me panic attacks.  Now, I am still the over protective Mom and they really don't get a lot of freedom when we're out at a big place like that.  I don't care if  my oldest son is six foot tall and two hundred pounds, he's still my baby.  They realize this and humor me I think.  

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-10

I really love going to the Galleria in Dallas and going skating during the holiday season.  I think because my childhood was spent in rural Nebraska and was such a small town experience that I could only see scenes like this in the movies.   So I've always been fascinated by the idea of the city and urban areas.  I love living near a large metropolitan area, but I also love the serenity of the country.   I want to be in both worlds.  

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-3

Ice Skating around a giant Christmas Tree - reminds me of the movies I watched as a kid. My reality was Daddy breaking ice off of the pond in the winter and we made ice cream.  To this day I like to make homemade ice cream in the winter, especially around Christmas when we always made peppermint ice cream.   But back to ice skating.   I only have one child who truly enjoys it.   

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-9

By the time I took these I was done with skating and so were my older two kids.  My daughter said she felt like the dogs do before you bathe them and they're doggy paddling the air as they dangle over the tub, which is funny.   My oldest son is not a graceful soul on the ice.  

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-2

I used the 24/70 lens this day. 

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-11

This article says the tree at the Galleria is the largest indoor tree in the world. 

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-12

Yeah, it's commercialism, it's cheesy but it's the Holidays and I love the beautiful Christmas decorations.   

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-5

It didn't take long for my oldest Son to get ready to take the skates off.  

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-6

My Baby is so much taller than I am. It was funny after we got back into Oklahoma we stopped at a restaurant to eat and my oldest was sitting next to me - he made it a point to tell the waitress that he was sitting by his "Mother" and that one other time we had been shopping and the poor clerk called us a "couple" - hilarious.   Poor child, it traumatized him.  It's funny because I am very overprotective of him and have the habit of treating him like he's five when we're out shopping.  Poor guy.   

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-7

To the parents who are frustrated when they are trying and paying to get a good photo of their children. I TOTALLY GET IT.  This is what happens when I tell my kids I want a picture.  I get shifty eyes and attitude.  Because they've had to deal with this Momtographer their ENTIRE life.  But, the last four years have been the worst I'm sure.   I actually like this shot.  

Dallas Galleria at Christmas -1-8

After we went skating, and shopping for a little while (shopping with my teenage boys does not work).  We headed home in time to get in some of that lovely Dallas rush hour traffic.   I was sick on the way home and for a couple of days afterwards.  So I'm feeling better now.  But I'm glad we had our big city holiday experience at the Galleria.   

Adventures With Carolyn

Saturday on a whim my photographer friend and I took off for a quick adventure in SW Oklahoma near Waurika.   Can you find her in the photo below? Taken at the Chisholm Trail Monument near Addington, Oklahoma. 

20140830-IMG_5840Monument Hill Near Addington


20140830-IMG_5925Country Road near Waurika

So we took a country road that neither of us had been down looking for interesting things to photograph.  We haven't went out together since we photographed an abandoned house in Sterling that my brother took us to; which was pretty awesome! 


Don't put up with people's bull. Just don't.  Value yourself and your opinions and desires.  Don't let people coerce you and blame their emotions for their actions.  

20140830-IMG_5935Oklahoma Fields

Our red fields capture the essense of Oklahoma.  Defined by our earth. 

20140830-IMG_5941Oklahoma Fields

So we headed down this road found a couple of old abandoned houses.  Now, I know there are a group of adventurous people who call themselves urban explorers.  I think abandoned places are cool, but I still believe they are other people's property and I don't have the right to go explore them. I certainly don't advocate photographing them, my camera has GPS on it and I can stamp in the metadata the GPS coordinates.   

20140830-IMG_6070Red River Blues WM

Carolyn eventually made our way down to the Texas side of the Red River. I actually have a batch of photos that I haven't edited from North Texas and the Red River.  It's weird to have days where you go shooting and don't process any of the photos.  Those always weigh on my mind because I know I haven't processed those images.  

20140830-IMG_6023Red River Bridge_

It is a pretty place.  It's active with four wheelers tearing around under the bridge.  

20140830-IMG_6115Red River Bridge_

Back in 2011 I went four wheeling at the Little Sahara with my brother. I didn't really know Carolyn then, but we met up and it was fairly early on in my love for photography.  She was there along with her little baby girl who wasn't a year old.   

20140830-IMG_6078Red River Bridge_

My friend out shooting or as we call it enabling.  

20140830-IMG_6089Red River Bridge_

It still felt nice to put my toes in the sand.  

20140830-IMG_6100Red River Blues_

And watch the four wheelers ride off into the sunset.   


The Ft. Worth Stockyards

Monday I went to Fort Worth., I was joined by my friend Summer at Surviving Summer.  I had an important client booked for Tuesday and since my favorite 28-138 zoom lens broke at the Hot Air Ballon Festival in Gainesville, Texas last Fall I had not replaced it.  After a day of searching online for potential lenses I had sort of made up my mind on what I needed.  

Fort Worth Camera Store-9408

I've decided buying camera gear is my equivalent of "getting a new tattoo" or some other addictive behavior.  I left with a Canon 18-135 f/ 3.5-5.6 and a Canon 85 mm f/1.8. Both are amazing and I can finally do indoor portraits and get superb results.   

Ft Worth Stockyards-9456

Since we got to the edge of Ft. Worth around 4pm and the camera store closed at 6 we had to fight horrible traffic.  Everytime I go to Dallas-Fort Worth I have all these plans and intentions of doing things other than my planned errand or trip.   Everytime I get there and fight traffic and give up hope and want to return home.   It's frustrating but it's also  so nice to know that such a great metroplex is only a couple of hours away.  

Surviving Summer in Ft. Worth -9480

Here is summer posing so I can use my new 18-135 lens. I never feel like carrying my camera bag around.  I'm beginning to realize I need two camera bags for my lenses.   

Fort Worth Stockyards-9431

I love the colors!  I've been using my small telephoto more often and I really have to edit to get the colors that I want out of a photo.  This lens is great.  It also gives me a slightly wider angle than the 28-135 did.  It's great.  If I really want a wide shot I do have the wide angle lens too!  

Ft Worth Stockyards-9474

The lasts time I visited Cowtown I was in a hurry.  I was running through it in the Ft. Worth Cowtown Half-Marathon.  So it was good to slow things down a bit on Monday.  

Fort Worth Stockyards-9436

A Bill Pickett statue outside of the coliseum.  

Fort Worth Stockyards-9443

There is a lot of interesting history in this area.  There are also a lot of touristy type shops and steak houses.  

Fort Worth Stockyards-9444

I'll post separately about where we ate dinner.  

Fort Worth Stockyards-9493

If you've never been here, you should take time to visit the next time you're in Fort Worth.  

Fort Worth Stockyards-9502

The signs add unique character to the area. 

Fort Worth Stockyards-9482

Boots? Did someone say boots? 

Boots! Yes! Please! -9460

Besides camera lenses this is my other expensive vice.   Look at the pair with the crosses all over them, aren't they lovely.  

Jewelry incorporating warbonnet imagery-9505

Of course in a town for cowboys you will find the indians.  The one dimensional warrior image with the war bonnet.   This is a town which pulls in a lot of international tourism.  I hope this jewelry "trend" will soon be a thing of the past.  The fashion designers, are working from the perspective of "Art for Arts sake" while holding little regard for any cultural boundaries.  How can we move our education to help people understand that there is more than just this image representing 500 nations?  It is very much like 19th century romanticism.  We desire something that is not real, society places it before us and idealizes certain moments in history.  

St Patrick's day -9512

Did I mention it was St. Patrick's Day?  

Bullriding Contestants-9543

Now that is my kind of entertainment!  Bull riding.   

Billy Bob's Texas-9546

You've got to go here sometime! Billy Bob's Texas.  I went to see Rick Springfield perform here a few years back.   I know not very country, but very entertaining. I can't believe that was five years ago now!   Well there you have it, Ft. Worth Texas.   

Sting and Paul Simon at the American Airlines Center in Dallas

On Sunday afternoon we headed out on a dreary day that put me in mind of an awful day a few years back in which I made my escape to Dallas.  We headed out and it was one of those cold, almost foggy almost misty, monotone days which are incredibly forgettable and rarely photogenic.  Yet, I had my camera, because it had been so long since I went to Dallas, not quite as long since I went to a Sting Concert which I did last June at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado. 


Dallas at the American Airlines Center-8566

We arrived for the Paul Simon/Sting tour plenty early and parked in the parking garage and left to wander downtown and find something to eat which we did at Cook Hall. 

Sting Fan Club Shirt-

I went dressed as a Sting fan in my new fanclub shirt.  

Dallas at the American Airlines Center-8568

My Sister purchased our tickets to see Sting and Paul Simon back in early January.  I didn't plan on getting hurt a week before the show, so I got online and bought my other sister a ticket so she could be our driver.  I usually go to all the Country concerts with my younger sister and the rock concerts with my older sister.  Our seats, on our given budget were less than fabulous, but a week before the show I managed to get the younger sister a seat directly behind ours in the nosebleed section.  

Downtown Dallas Texas-8572

It was nice to be outside and walking around; however slowly.  It is extremely frustrating being a runner and not being able to even walk like normal.  

American Airlines Center Texas-8585

After we ate we walked back to the car to get ready to go inside for the show.  

American Airlines Center Dallas Texas-8665

Another shot from inside the pavillion.  In 2007 my Sister and I went to see The Police at the American Airlines Center. It was one of the best concerts that I've ever attended. 

American Airlines Center Dallas Texas-8680

Enough with these shots, it was time to go in...the rest of the post will be filled with fandom and camera phone shots. 


My siblings and I went into the arena and found our way to our seats way up high in the arena and were content to watch the show from there. 

Wine Me Up-

I was happy!  People were coming up and one woman in particular was having a panic attack because of the height.  

Selfie -

It was going to be a good night.  I wasn't worried about seeing the stage as long as I could hear the music. I am not familiar with Paul Simon so I had no expectations of being entertained by this artist. I was there for Sting.  But right at 8 pm, not ten minutes before the show finally began we had a big surprise in our section.  

Section 105 American Airlines Center-

An employee came to our section and was offering to exchange our tickets!  Of course! We knew it could not possibly be worse than the seats that we had.  Our seats were $60 seats as it was, and for the most part the floor seats were way outside of our budget.   So we took the seat exchange and headed downstairs to find Section 105.   Mind blown!  We were par with the front row!! We could see backstage, we were right next to the big screens!!  This has never happened to me at a concert before! It was amazing!  

Sting -

I realize venues say "no photography" and are fighting a losing battle.  I think the fans are the best advertisers for the venues.  I do not consider iPhone photos as worthy photography, posting these are just a way of retaining memories.  


Sting and Paul Simon put on a two and a half hour show which was incredible throughout.  It was the first time I heard Sting perform Love is the Seventh Wave and They Dance Alone; along with my favorite song to hear live The Hounds of Winter.   I truly enjoyed Paul Simon - although I joked about how I didn't know any of his music.  I loved 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.   We ended up having a truly memorable evening!  I've been happy all week because of this show, despite being subsequently slowed down by my foot injury this week had a great beginning.  If you ever get the chance Sting live is one of the best performers that I've ever seen.  I want to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day tomorrow!  

Heart of Glass

Today was a memorable day.  I made my first "real" paycheck since summer of 2010.  It wasn't anywhere near what I was at one time used to (despite doing the same work) the situation, however is the reason I also had my first job interview in nearly a decade for a line of work which is totally different from what I've been used to.  I had dedicated my first paycheck on a trip to the camera store to replace my broken lens, but I, the impulsive shopper that I am, didn't exactly replace the lens like I'd planned.  I did go to Ft. Worth, I did get a lens, but a wide angle lens which I have been wanting for a very long time.  My swallowing my pride and returning to a place I at one time said I never would work has been good for me. It is healing in a way that I can't explain.  Despite my feelings that it should be a temporary moment and not a lifetime.  

Tokina Wide Angle Lens
Beautiful glass.  Cell phone shot.  I'm not a cell phone photographer.  

Wide Angle Lens
My willpower got the best of me and I love my Tokina fisheye lens, I love the brilliant colors that it shoots.  I love that the pictures are much closer to my minds eye view when I load them in my editing software.  Worth a few weeks of work?  Yes, probably because when I returned I set the goal that I would buy a lens and I did.  Which considering I needed to return to the working world it helped me address my fears after being out of the workforce for three years and return to a job. 

Wide Angle of the Red River-4701
This morning I had a job interview, while battling the worst cold that I've had in a year I had to go meet new people with my snot and misery.  But, after that the trip to Ft. Worth was worth my misery.

I shot these photos on the Taovayas Bridge over the Red River near Spanish Fort, Texas. 

Texas windmills-4674
I only stopped and got a few shots on the ride home.  I really don't feel well and I feel like I'm trying to cough up a lung and my throat is raw and sore and since the thermostat is set to 67 I'm pretty sure the fever is still there. 

Texas windmills-4685
These were north of Bowie Texas.  I'm slowly getting to know north Texas, I need to work on my knowledge of this geographic area.  

Near Ringling OK-4736
I dont think this is what Blondie meant...with her "Heart of Glass."   I'm drawn to the telephoto lenses because of the ability to zoom into details that I can't get close to, yet I am in love with the wide open spaces and landscapes that you can capture with wide angle lenses, it's like I want to show you everything I see.  My entire vision, not just a fraction of it.   

Camp Howze at Gainesville Texas

Next to the Gainesville Factory Shops is a historical marker that commemorates Fort Howze a military installation which was in operation during World War II.  

Camp Howze Gainesville Texas-2239
Infantry training and a prisoner of war camp it was a large installation.  There were numerous prisoner of war camps across the United States.  

Camp Howze Gainesville Texas-2345

It was interesting to see how many remnants of this base were left behind in the fields surrounding Gainesville, Texas. 

Camp Howze Gainesville Texas-2348
Here is what the state historical society has to say about Camp Howze


Taovaya's Memorial Bridge and Spanish Fort, Texas

Taovayas Memorial Bridge near Spanish Fort-2156
On our way to Gainesville a couple of weeks ago for the hot air balloon festival we drove to Spanish Fort, Texas.  We stopped as we got to the Oklahoma/Texas border to Spanish Fort. So, being on an empty highway I got out and walked across the bridge. 

Red River near Taovayas Memorial Bridge near Spanish Fort-2160
The Red River which divides Texas and Oklahoma.  The Red River in this area was once home to thousands of Taovaya Indians.  

Taovaya's Memorial Bridge-2158

It's interesting that you can go visit the site of an historic place located near but not on a river and your mind doesn't let you imagine how important the river was to the people, but rivers are a life force for people.  

Spanish Fort Nocona -2174
Spanish Fort or Nocona

Spanish Fort Texas-2181
Imagine a village of thousands of people living and farming in this area. 

Spanish Fort Texas-2186
Spanish Fort, Texas is a community located in Montague County, Texas.  Please take a moment and read the history of Spanish Fort, Texas.  I planned on visiting this place sooner than this.  Spanish Fort is a misnomer, it is the site of a Spanish defeat by the Taovayas and the Comanche Indians who were flying a French flag.  

Spanish Fort-2191
This marker was difficult to read but the art was nice. 

Spanish Fort Texas-2199
Now a little something for you to read about Spanish Fort. 

1759 Taovaya victory over Spain at Spanish Fort-2188
So Spanish Fort is not really Spanish Fort, the settlers assumed they found the remains of a Spanish Fort. 

Spanish Fort High School-2178
The city of Spanish Fort is called a ghost town on another website.  While it is sparsely inhabited it is not abandoned.  

Texas -2175
After we left Spanish Fort we headed through Muenster to go to Gainesville.   

The Hot Air Balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas

The Sky's The Limit Balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas happened last weekend.  We went down Friday only to have a thunderstorm prevent us from viewing any balloons.  So, I returned Saturday evening to the balloon festival only to have my favorite camera lens break after we arrived.  I can't say these are the best shots but I wanted to share.  

Hot Air Balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas -2801
We spent the day Friday with no balloons but I will post those photos later, I want to get the good shots up right now.  Oh, not only did my camera lens break but my wifi and home internet has been out for a few days! We've had a technology crises!  

Hot Air balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas-2670
I've viewed photos of hot air balloons but  it was the first time to actually see them in person, it was quite impressive and something I would like to photograph more of.  As much as I have a horrible fear of flying I really want to go up in one.  

Hot Air balloon Festival -2534
So how do these balloons work? Check out eballoon.org

Hot Air balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas-2545
Saturday evening we weren't sure if we'd get to see any balloons either because it was windy.  Gainesville is really not too far from where I live, it's about 80 miles from home and not too far south of Ardmore where we go regularly.  

I can't really describe how it feels to sit in front of these giant balloons and watching them be held in place for the glow and lifting off for a brief period of time, I didn't get to experience a mass lift off of the balloons this time.  

Hot Air balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas-2710
I didn't walk around right away I was spellbound by the giant lady bug glowing in the distance! 

Hot Air balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas-2779
I sat on the ground and cried after my lens broke. I was pretty sure that I'd driven 80 miles for no hot air balloons again and wasted an entire weekend waiting to see them and not to have the lens that I shoot the most with. Fortunately it may be repairable if not it should be replaced fairly easily.  But, it's hard to explain what your camera gear means to you when you spend so much time with it and it is essentially a companion.  

Hot Air balloon Festival in Gainesville Texas-2840
So I want to go on a ride in a hot air balloon someday.  It looks like it would be quite an experience.  


The Strand in Galveston

So, I have a complaint about The Strand in Galveston.  No or few public restrooms! Leaving the beach thinking we could go get an ice cream and use the restroom before leaving the island.  We didn't find the restroom.  We did walk by a corner that smelled suspiciously of urine.  But, Galveston if you can install electronic parking meters you could offer better public restrooms.  Business owners who are serving alcohol yet don't have restrooms-shame on you.  

Old Galveston Square Building-3207
So now that I'm done complaining.  We did find some ice cream before we left.  Melting quickly we headed back to the car. 

The Strand Galveston-3208
We didn't get ice cream here but I believe it was Blue Bell. I like Blue Bell ice cream but it's not Braum's or Dairy Queen.  

The Strand Galveston-3213
Lots of little shops to visit.  They are just like any other tourist town, all selling the same kind of crap. Get your tshirt that says Galveston, pick up souvenirs for family members who didn't go there and probably don't care.  I guess this is typical, it's really cool the first time you go to a place like this, then you realize that it's the same everywhere, everyone selling the unique things about their community and they all end up looking the same.  Like any big city or place deemed important by our society.  Yet, I love the ocean and the beaches, yet I still like walking down The Strand and seeing all the stuff being sold to the tourists, because I, too am a tourist.  So, I'm drawn to the trinkets and baubles and the brightly colored beach attire.  I want to buy into that fantasy because I'm there, on vacation with a million other tired people who are busy being happy.   

The Strand Galveston-3209
It's time to leave and head home to Oklahoma. I'm already ready to pack up and head back to Galveston.  

The Strand Galveston-3202

Jeep Topless!

So, we were driving around Galveston for the last time before leaving last Saturday morning.  We drove by a whole bunch of jeeps parked on the side of the road and lining up like it was some big party.  Apparently it was "Go Topless Day"  or Jeep Topless.  This was at Crystal Beach in Galveston. The photos in the previous post were taken near Crystal Beach.  

Jeep Topless Galveston Texas-3019
When I was a kid we had a Jeep some of my favorite memories were of chasing cows through the pastures and hills in Nebraska in that old Jeep (and hanging on for your life).   The next vehicle I intend on buying for myself is a Jeep.   

Jeep Topless Day-3061
We didnt' really know what was going on until we spotted people wearing this tshirt.  

Jeep Topless Day Galveston-3079
When I move to the beach, I'm really going to need a Jeep. Yeah,  I think I could live on the coast.  Even if it was in Texas.   

Jeep Topless Day Galveston-3085
I have never wanted a convertible, but I have always wanted a Jeep. 

Jeep Topless Day Galveston-3051
I had vehicle envy.  The husband says he gets a new truck before I get another new vehicle (since I got a new car last May).  He's probably right and he probably should buy a Jeep.  :-)  

Jeep Topless Day Galveston-3055
I'm not sure how many jeeps were on Galveston beach this day.  

Jeep Topless Day Galveston-3038
So here's a brilliant idea, I think that Jeep  should totally give me a new Jeep to drive around the country and photograph in amazing places and blog about America.   Isn't this a great idea? I think it's the best idea I've ever had.  Right now I'm driving a fairly new Mazda around, so I can't complain at all, but it would be better in a Jeep. 

Jeep Topless Day Galveston-3070
So this was just something interesting that we happened to drive by while on our weekend in Galveston.