France Vacation – I (Paris)

We’ve returned from what can only be described as an incredible almost-three-week vacation to France. We spent time in Paris, Provence, the Dordogne, the Midi-Pyrenees, and the Loire Valley, with a one-evening kicker in Istanbul thrown into the bargain.

We were accompanied on our adventure by my sister Wanda and her husband, Mark Ostler. Mark was the genius trip planner and we could not possibly have had a better one. There were three camera-carriers (Wanda, Dawn and me), and one driver/tour guide (Mark). It worked out just right. Dawn and I split up the wide-angle and telephoto duties; she had the Nikon D800 with a 28-70mm lens and I had the Nikon D750 with a heavier 70-200mm lens.

My original plan was to post some photos from each segment of our trip, with commentary, but after doing this one I am thinking I may not finish the project. It is just too time-consuming and I have so many other things to do.

Wanda has posted her excellent photos and I highly recommend visiting her blog Adventures in Wandaland. I’ll try not to duplicate the exact same shots here. (As always, you can see a better version of each photo by clicking on it.)

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One evening we went down to the Eiffel Tower to get some night photos. I wasn’t entirely happy with how mine turned out, but I did get the moon in the shot. (The little white orb hanging in the middle of the tower is not the moon—it is a ball with “Roland Garros” written on it, The French Open tennis tournament was underway while we were there.

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Noah’s Championship Basketball Game

Quade and Noah both play in Norco basketball leagues. Their teams had done very well in the regular season and were advancing in the post-season tournament. The championship games were to be held last Saturday (March 7, 2015) and Dawn and I planned attend them. Unfortunately, Quade’s previously undefeated team was upset in the semifinal game and never made it to the Saturday championship. Noah’s team did advance, however, and so we drove out to Norco to see his game.

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If he didn’t have his name on his jersey, you could tell which one was Noah by his cool shoes and sox!

What a game it was! At the beginning it looked like Noah’s team (the gold jersey team) would be slaughtered by the opponents (the black jersey team). By midway through the first half the Gold was behind 18 to 4! For an NBA team that would be a big deficit to overcome. However, the NBA teams play much longer games and they tend to score between 90 and 110 points, so such a lead would not be insurmountable. Noah’s team was made up of 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders who do well to score 25 – 35 points a game. The other team seemed bigger and more talented. I was pretty sure the game was over; I just hoped the Golds didn’t get blown out of the gym.

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Brooke’s Dance Recital

On December 15 we traveled to Corona, California, to see Brooke’s dance recital. Naturally, I took some photos. Although my camera was mainly trained on Brooke (and other family members), I did get a few interesting photos of other things to give a flavor of the event. The recital was held at the Corona Dance Academy. Brooke’s teachers are Rosemary McCarter (who heads the studio) and her daughter, Elizabeth Huebner.

Here is Brooke (in the foreground) performing with her modern dance group. Possibly I’m biased, but I thought she was great!

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Jessie’s Ninetieth

On September 13, 2014 we celebrated the ninetieth birthday of Jessie Parrett, Dawn’s mother. Dawn had been planning the party for months and, like everything Dawn does, it was spectacular. All but one of Jessie’s descendants was there, most traveling great distances. We had enough food to feed half of China for several days. It was a good chance to catch up on extended family—perhaps the last time all of these relatives would be together at the same place and time. (Click on any photo to bring up a larger version.)

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Jessie and her children, Dawn and Brad. (Her middle child, Richard, is deceased.)

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Mothers Day — 2014

We had a fun Mothers Day this year. Almost all of our family members were with us, as was Dawn’s mother. We missed Chicago-based son Tyson and his girlfriend Lyra, but we hope we’ll see them another time.

I had my camera at the ready all day and here are some of the results:

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Dawn and her nearly-ninety-year-old mother, Jessie, who has made a remarkable comeback from life-threatening health issues.

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An Evening at the Clarks’

On Saturday evening, March 8, we had a delightful evening at the home of Dean and Joyce Clark in Capistrano Beach. The company was outstanding — in addition to the Clarks, those in attendance were Scott and Patti Smith and Don and Mary Mealing (along with their son, Brian) and, of course, Dawn. I brought along my trusty Nikon D800.

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We arrived shortly before sunset. The Clarks’ home sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with both Santa Catalina and San Clemente islands clearly visible. As can be seen from the above photo, they are in the midst of a tremendous remodeling project. (This picture was taken from the edge of the bluff looking back at the rear of the home.)

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Santa Barbara Film Festival

Our sons David (and his wife, Alexis) and Matt (and his wife, Amy) gave us a wonderful Christmas present this year—a trip to the Santa Barbara Film Festival. I’m doing this blog post to memorialize the great time we had.

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Here are the six of us—Matt, Amy, David, Alexis, Dawn and me. I look stupid but, hey, sometimes that can’t be helped.

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New York, New York!

I really don’t have time for a blog post and composing this one has dragged on for over a month. But wanted to have something to remember our great New York trip with my sister and brother-in-law, Wanda and Mark Ostler, so here goes. Forgive the rushed prose.

For the record, the dates were November 19-24, 2013 (Tuesday through Sunday). Our director of activities, Mark, had things well planned so we got the maximum out of our time there. I didn’t carry my Nikon D800 on some days because I knew I would just have to check it at the gate for our inside events, but I’ll use a combination of camera photos, iPhone photos and other materials to tell the story.

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Even though we were there before Thanksgiving, many of the Christmas decorations were up, so Manhattan had a festive look.

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