Walking Along The Seashells

A visual journey on the Texas/Mexico Coastline.

It was time to recalibrate and reset my mind, body and soul and take a vacation. Having been denied a trip to the Chihuahuan desert plains near Terlingqua and Big Bend National park twice, once to COVID and the second time due to wildfire, I had to think of another destination. The idea being somewhere I haven’t been, remote and less people. So let’s head down to the Boca Chica Beach on the Mexican border.

Along with MissAdventure, we drove down all the way through Texas with visits to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, South Padre Island and finally, Boca Chica.

Texas/Mexico border and the Gulf of Mexico

Beaches are considered as highways in Texas so of course I decided to do just that and ended up stuck in the sand for ten minutes until we wedged it out. Next time, go for the compacted sand closer to the water. Later on we did just that. Rolling down the windows, beers in hand while driving the maximum speed allowed of 15 mph. I enjoyed every minute of it but was mindful of the rising tides and driving up closer to the deeper bits of sand on the beach so we turned back.

The Ford Edge, affectionately named the Mule

Having parked our little mule on the tarmac we then set foot south for three miles towards the Mexican border and the confluence of the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way we were treated to the most concentrated collection of sea shells I have ever seen dumped onto the shores. We even discovered five washed up Portuguese Man O’ War jellyfish, er, hydrozoan, excuse me, and catfish. Did you know that there were PMOWs and catfish in the Gulf of Mexico? I didn’t, and this added to the adventure. Finally we reached the river that divides two countries and waved to the vacationing Mexicans on the other side. Life is different when you see it from this perspective. What are boundaries? Why are they needed? Why do we still use the term “foreigners” and who the hell wants to put up a wall that prevents us from being proper neighbors? 

After time spent on the border we decided to trek the three mile stroll back. At one point we had the whole beach to ourselves and it was glorious. 

Due to the high winds and rising tide we decided not to set up the tent on the beach or start a fire, opting instead to spend the night in the SUV. We were treated to views of the Space-X launch facility and workers assembling the Starship overnight.

The next morning I woke up early to see the crews still maintaining the spacecraft in preparation for a test launch. After finding suitable restroom facilities in the dark and behind a sand dune, we treated ourselves to the sunrise coming in over the ocean and then fed the seagulls and grackles their bread breakfast and decided it was time to head back before Space-X had the road closed for two days. Too bad we weren’t allowed to stay on the beach any longer.

Goodbye Adobe

Since 2006, I’ve enjoyed utilizing Adobe Lightroom to organize and post-process my images. Adobe’s software has since gone from a one-time purchase to a subscription plan for photographers. Earlier today I received an email stating it was to time to resubscribe and it got me thinking, “Do I need this anymore?”

Utilizing their photography software has been a joy but after much consideration, I decided to remove my images from their cloud servers, delete their programs and not renew.

These past few months I have been looking for ways to simplify my photography and not get hung up on the technical side of it. Other software alternatives have developed so well that I took another look at them and decided they will do just fine in comparison.

With the capability to capture raw images on my Canon DSLR and the iPhone, the ability to process them on my Apple devices, and then publish them on the go it made sense to me to give this simpler workflow a try.

San Jose mission, San Antonio Texas captured on Canon, processed in Darkroom

13th Annual Groundhog Resolutions Day!

It’s that time of year again! This is my 13th attempt at creating life-long habits for myself for the whole year. I realize that after the end-of-year holidays I am not mentally or physically capable of sticking with resolutions for the upcoming new year. No new year day resolutions for me. I need a break so I will take off November through January and enjoy.

My resolutions, goals, best intentions, and life-changing habits are listed below. I will check in every month and then review my progress next on March 3 (3/3). After that will be 4/4, 5/5 and so on. Here we go!

Physical

The immediate goal is to drop 25 pounds quick. Last year I had a brief flirtation with the keto diet and was pleased with the results. But this was costly during a pandemic due to meat processing factories shutting down. I’m leaning toward this again and again, only for the quick results and then maybe switch it up to a low carb, more protein diet.

In addition to being more deliberate with my nutrition (I’m no longer calling it a diet) I will combine this with training (no longer calling it “working out”.) The phrase “Eat clean, train mean, get lean” comes to mind. I’ve registered in two obstacle course races this year. The Rugged Maniac course is in June followed by my third Tough Mudder course which is in November.

I’ve been on a 2 month perfect streak with my daily fitness goals using my Apple Watch. Combined with the Apple Fitness service, I think I’ll have my indoor cardio training set. Rounding out the training-from-home goals will be free weights and resistance bands with yoga. I’m eager to get back into the gym for some strength training and considering the risks/benefits thanks to the pandemic.

Throw in some fun activities like hiking, trail running, photo walks, geocaching and disc golf, I’d say this is going to be a great year.

Creative

Music

My fat fingers plucking tiny plastic strings on the ukulele at awkward angles? Stay tuned.

Photography

Sorting and organizing thirty years worth of photography has been a major pain in the ass, but worth it and about 95% complete.

I’ve been enjoying film photography lately and probably need to set up it’s own budget because film and development is a costly but rewarding endeavor to me. In addition, I want to finally frame some prints and be surrounded by my images. A few photo books will be on order too.

Writing

More short stories, micro fiction, One hundred word stories.

Work on that novel. Its been ten plus years and I still can’t get all of this out of my head.

Journaling my thoughts and experiences in addition with collages and white-out poetry.

Finally

Maybe I’ll throw in more fun stuff I’ve been thinking about like short podcasts, and exploring ham radio. Just because.

Knowing myself all too well, I could end up adding or subtracting this or that. Either way, I’ll check back in here on 3/3 for the first review of how I do!

Mischief Managed

Recently, the Misadventures decided to hit the road for some exploring and of course, shenanigans. Thanks to Atlas Obscura, “the definitive guide to the world’s hidden wonders,” there are more than a few odd places to discover along the way. During this excursion, we came across the remnants of an abandoned circus camp in Edmond, Oklahoma that dates back to the early 1940s

The secluded acreage was a home for the winter to the traveling circus. The property contained housing for the animals and trainers both. The area was overgrown with vegetation and some areas were cut off. We missed out on viewing the animal cages and more as a result of that growth but did manage to spot quite a few abandoned relics!

Get Out

I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately so we decided to get out of the house for another day trip- this time to the ghost town of Ingalls, Oklahoma.

Even better was the fact that our destination was unknown to me until we arrived. It was so freeing to wake up, hit the road not knowing where I was going. This was a first. I’ll insist on more.


Not much is left except the general store, hotel and livery but it felt great to hit the road.

Post-Processing The Past

A year ago, it feels like eternity now, I visited California again; this time through Route 66. I took this photograph in Joshua Tree. I never really got around to processing those images except for a few. Like most of my images they’re stuck in digital storage. I’ve been taking advantage of the pandemic to organize these images and eventually post-process and print them. It’s a small way to distract myself and a big step in organizing the archives. I need more opportunities for landscape photography capture and apply what I’ve been reading up on.

Rewilding

Excerpt taken from a book coming out next month called Rewilding:

Before embarking on a hike through a forest, meadow, or other wild space, take a few moments to center yourself. Close your eyes. Take some slow, deep breaths. Allow your exhalation to be twice as long as your inhalation. Let go of anything rattling around in your head—whatever stress or worry you are transmitting. Tune into the sounds, sensations, and rhythms of the land around you. Stretch out with your feelings and sense the aliveness of the earth. Know that the beings that call this land home are paying close attention to what is happening here: They have to; their lives depend on it. Your presence will be felt and communicated far and wide. Notice the birds and the chipmunks—the little creatures we sometimes consider background noise. In a relaxed way, be curious, and with your eyes closed, observe what is happening around you. Take a few minutes to be with it all.
Then, open your eyes and look around. Simply observe everything while expressing your gratitude and respect for the land. Set a strong intention to stay present and connected to your breath, and create as little disturbance as possible. Let each footstep be an experience of soulful connection with the planet, each breath a rite of interbeing with the holy winds that blow.

Grounded

Yesterday on our hike, we came across a thin trail offset from the original trail that wasn’t too obvious. What was obvious was the fact that I was going to take it and we weren’t disappointed.

The trail led us to a rocky overhang looking out towards a creek. There in the warm sun and cool breeze I decided to take my trail shoes and socks off to experience what some wellness practitioners call “grounding or earthing.”

I dug my toes into the cold soil and planted my heels down on the rocky trail and just stood there soaking up the sun and the quiet. MissAdventure decided instead to sit crosslegged and soak in the sun and the quiet.

It was only for a few short minutes but it was plenty to meditate and also appreciate this moment. Looking up into the sun I noticed seagulls flying in circles over the valley. Why seagulls here in a landlocked state? Oh well, why not. Then, why can’t I join them, wouldn’t that be amazing?

I couldn’t of course. I was grounded and grounding.

I silently put myself back together mentally and physically while applying my socks then shoes on. This was a beautiful experience to be rediscovered soon.

Art 1

Here are a few masterpieces of art I enjoyed while visiting the Art Institute of Chicago recently. As evidenced in my photo portraiture, I have a love for faces. We find portraits fascinating because we are fascinated by people like ourselves. We’re also fascinated by people unlike ourselves. It is who we are and that is what makes us delightfully human. Similar but different. Fascinating.

Explore More

Someone close to me yesterday said “I really need to get out of the house more often. You have shown me a lot of different spots I didn’t know about.”

This was from someone who has lived in the same city and state their whole lives and I think it was one of the saddest things I heard.

Look, I know I am wired differently than most and have an insatiable desire for something new and different. Random beats repetition for me every time.

Sometimes I have to lose myself to find a new direction and the only way I can do that is by exploring more.

6th St, Pearl District looking towards downtown Tulsa in the snow