Apr 26 10

Aruba – ‘One Happy Island’

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Aruba – Deja Vu …

If you are looking for a getaway place with perfect weather, pillowy soft white-sand beaches, delicious food, and happy people, Aruba (Lesser Antilles) is a destination you should consider. This is the second time we have visited this 21 miles long island located in the southern Caribbean Sea and 17 miles north of the coast of Venezuela, hence ‘Deja Vu’ comment. Our original destination for this trip was Mexico, Playa Del Carmen but due to last minute plane cancellation, countless hours with Liberty Travel & Expedia, and some luck, we ended up on ‘One Happy Island.’ Exhausting excursion trips and late hours at the bar were substituted with quality relaxing time on Renaissance’s private 40-acre island and late night conversations by the hotel pool.

In support of my new hobby – cigar smoking – I took advantage of the situation & availability and finally got to enjoy my first, legitimate Cuban cigar – Cohiba Siglo IV. Great draw, straight burn, ‘cuban’ flavor, perfect combination.

On the way back we were faced, once again, with unacceptable service ‘provided‘ by American Airlines. After 4 hours at the airport, our flight was cancelled and we were asked to get on the bus … yey, we were going back to Renaissance hotel. One extra day in Aruba. Joy !!!

Flying back to Jersey and shoveling the snow was painful but it was nice to back home ! When relaxation is your goal, Aruba’s beaches and cool ocean breezes accommodate.

Aruba – both thumbs up !

Nov 10 09

Curacao

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2009 summer vacation destination was in question so decision was to pick something that has already worked in the past – Netherlands Antilles. We looked through colorful catalogs of Aruba, St. Martin, Bonaire but selected a place that was recommended to us 4 years ago. Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. Its capital – Willemstad, or small “Amsterdam”, is a lively port of high-end retailers, restaurants, and nightlife spots.

I usually don’t subscribe to overly priced and overly populated, time and location limited trips organized by local entrepreneurs. My preference, as a photographer, is to be in charge of transportation, available time and agenda. Frequent stops is something that my other half can tolerate. I don’t think a bus full of already impatient foreigners would appreciate my desire to photograph abandoned boat “parked” on the side of the road (picture below).

If you are searching for a quiet place, slow-paced quality time, extremely colorful architecture, Curaçao would be that magic place. As a side bonus, Curaçao is known for exceptionally clear water so snorkeling and scuba diving are activities that have to be added to one’s itinerary.

Curaçao – both thumbs up !

Jun 10 09

Alamuchy Mountain State Park / Budd Lake

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Moving out west and living in the “country” was definitely a wise decision. Although I have been strugling with a daily traffic commute, coming home to a chaos-free location makes it all go away. From photographer’s point of view, I’m definitely in a “landscape friendly” location. Morris / Sussex counties are packed with state parks, lakes, waterfalls, rivers etc.

Last week I did some last minute hiking in Alamuchy Mountain State Park and finished off the “expedition” near Budd Lake.

Alamuchy Mountain State Park is located in Byram Township, NJ. The 2,440 acres of mixed oak and hardwood forests and maintained fields of this natural area display various stages of succession. It is situated on the Musconetcong River. There are more than 20 miles of unmarked trails in the northern section of Allamuchy, and 14 miles of marked multi-use trails.

Budd Lake is located in Mount Olive Township, NJ. It was named after John Budd but before that it was called Hattacawanna Lake. Personally, I prefer the latest version ! Budd Lake is New Jersey’s largest natural lake.

Enjoy photographs !

May 29 09

Delaware Water Gap

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Camping at Delaware Water Gap during Memorial Weekend with friends has been a tradition since late 1990s. We have been traveling to the same location with the same group of people, eating almost identical “delicious” food, enjoying the same activities, and each time having unique experience. Some things simply don’t change. The fresh air, breezy climate, cold water, and beautiful surrounding is something that you can’t say no to.

Hawk’s Nest has to be one of the most scenic locations on the East Coast. It has been used in commercials for BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Saab and Cadillac models, as well as by American Express. Car and motorcycle enthusiasts have been drawn to the Hawk’s Nest’s combination of scenic beauty and challenge for many years.

The Delaware Water Gap is the site of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is used primarily for recreational purposes, such as rafting, canoeing, swimming, fishing, hiking and rock climbing.

Few photographs taken during the trip. Enjoy !

May 20 09

The Presby Memorial Iris Garden

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The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is a living museum dedicated to cultivating and displaying a rich variety of irises, recording the history of the genus, providing horticultural expertise and activities for the public, and, in partnership with the County of Essex, maintaining the gardens.

I visited the place couple days ago with few other photographers. Although I’m not a big fan of flower photography, I had a good time. Took few macro, wide-angle, HDR photographs. Overall, successful session.
Enjoy !

May 2 09

Miami Beach / Key West ’09

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In February of 2009 I went to Miami Beach and Key West. Going from shoveling snow to laying on the beach and enjoying 80F weather was quite a shock but who can complain about it ? Not me ! Our 5-day itinerary was packed with places to see, photograph, and dine. Night lifestyle is just as rich as what you get in NYC area. Lots of bars, restaurants, lounges etc !

4-hour drive to Key West was interesting but not something I would do again. Direct flight would be a must ! Sunset in Fort Zachary Taylor State Park was breathtaking. Mallory Square and Duval Street are probably the center of action and definitely key spots to visit.

It wouldn’t be a complete vacation if I didn’t capture sunrise. I was hanging out on the beach at 5am in total darkness with a cup of freshly brewed Starbucks coffee, sporadically checking iPhone’s VelaClock app, and listening to music – priceless !