Total Eclipse of Summer Pt.1

It happened and I was 97% there at The Great American Eclipse! Despite this being a known event for like ever, I some how arranged my flights to Dublin the same day even though I was 30 min away from total. I mean 97% is still better then any grade I ever got so it felt like a win. 

It came, got quite, dark and then.... my Uber arrived. I asked her if she would like to view it as I has the special glasses, she gave the most unsettling response.

Uber Driver: OOH no I'm fine, I don't want to see what's up there, thank you.

Me:..........Whats up there? It's just the moon going over the sun, it's cool. 

Uber Driver: Oh no I'm too scared, my boyfriend said I may see the devil or something and not to look.

Me: .......................................................The devil?

Uber: yeah, it's just not worth the risk.

Me:...............................................................................So how do you like working for Uber?

I had to move on as I could tell she did not want to go down this road.

Before all this, before the disturbed Uber lady and the eclipse, the reason I was in the path in the first place was I came home to Alabama to be in a besties wedding. The reason it was THAT weekend well... was because 3 out of the 6 groomsmen would be at a party KatyOhdear and I were having in Ireland, not a wedding 'cause that happened on a boat over a year ago, but a party nonetheless. So the Adam's wedding was moved forward one whole weekend.. sorry.

It was the first time in years I had been in a wedding. The 6 of us had to arrive at noon for a 4pm wedding. NOON! August in Alabama in a old as fuck church, this would all have been bad enough but add a 3 piece wool suit and no A/C! Let the drinking commince! 

Here's how the next 4ish hrs went. 

Noon: Damn it's hot I'm not putting shoes on yet. Fuck the wedding photographer is giving me that look like she thinks I'm going to be trouble, I'll put my damn shoes on!

1pm: Boys we are down 2 of the 4 flasks, anyone know if we can leave. FUCK more photos!

2pm: We are out of gin and only have a half flask of whiskey left, where's the food or water? A baby breaks thru the tiny church door followed by bridesmaids holding ice-cold drinks. WTF where did you get those! At this point we trade booze for water and cookies.

Just a cat nap

3pm: I look over at the best man he's, well, passed out, speech notes on the bench, rings just out of his hand, flask drained of of gin. I step outside which leads to me to Mason, the stepfather of the groom who has to get glasses. He commandeers me and a fancy BMW and for the first time all day as we round the 1 lane downhill curve of the mountain road with a speed that sent all 4 wheels squealing and dash alarms on, I wished I still in the hot boring tiny church.

3:30pm: After breaking a hand full of glasses due to the hell cat of a driver, we arrived back in time for....PHOTOS. At this point we were told our duties to escort guest to the seats and get ready for the ride.

The wedding went off with no major issues and most important the and dancing & cake were on point.

Thanks for the good time & the cake!

The Loop Hole

Back in mid June bubba Trump said he wanted to make "new restrictions" on travel to Cuba, what he was saying is they want to close the "people to people" loophole that allows individuals to make educational and curatorial trips to Cuba with out the overwhelming cost of a organized travel agency style trips. So we rearranged work and life and jumped on a JetBlue flight about 3 weeks later meeting up with some friends in Cuba. 

Day 1: Landed HAV

Parque Central

After settling in to our bnb we took to the streets of Havana. It was nothing like I thought it would be, I have lived in central America and the Caribbean for years but this was soo different it was more like New Orleans meets Spain. Tiny streets with an amazing mix of architecture, Colonial style buildings just crumbling away next to Neo- classical and art deco building that are splashed around the whole city. 

The culture felt more like a lost in time European city and people could not have been nicer with the exception of a man who called me racist after I bought our tour guide a bottle of water but declined to buy him ( a random stranger who was holding a beer) one. Baffled I tried to figure out how that made me a "racist"  as both the guide and the angry man where Cuban and after a few rounds in spanglish I learned that he was a really literate drunk.

Havana was under construction everywhere, the new hope of the American dollar is changing the Cuban landscape like wildfire. 

Day 3: Havana - Vinales Valley

After 2 days in Havana we set off for a overnight in Vinales Valley, a 51 sq mi "karstic depression" and UNESCO world heritage site about 2 hrs west of Havana.

The one thing we could not figure out on the cheep was travel on island, we wanted to get from A to B with out wasting allot of time having to hitch or bus but there is no real good public transport so we went with private hire cars, the prices vary depending on your negotiation skills but it came out to be similar to hiring a Uber to go everywhere.

Vinales is known for a few things: limestone cliffs, large cave system, tobacco fields and a shitty massive mural of a tourist trap, I mean "prehistory". We did it all but for the mural, we slow rolled that.

After about 40min of walking quickly thru farm land in the middle of the day in the middle of summer, I was starting to miss the 3 a day showers I was taking in Havana to stay cool. About then we rolled up on some Tobacco farmers who showed us their world and a way of smoking I had never seen. After rolling the cigar the farmer dipped cap (end you suck on ) in honey.  I had never had a fresh dipped in honey cigar, it definitely cooled it down and took the edge off. 

Day 4: Vinales Valley- Havana

The next morning we elected to skip the "tourist" cave with a boat and go for the one that is in the National park but what our guide did not tell us and we should have figured from him not going was it's a cave in the side of a cliff with a vertical hike up and once inside a cave is generally cooler but this fucker was like a sauna with a dog in it. After we made it out we stopped to cool off and do some ziplining. This time our guide was first in line.

Day 5: Havana - Varadero

Lazy Sunday: we slow rolled over to catch the ferry to Casablanca where we became part of a neighborhood tug of war while waiting on our "train" to leave for Varadero. It's called a train but its more a trolly, the Hershey train is a sometimes functioning public rail that can run from Havana to Matanzas about 57 miles east. I say "sometimes" cause its down allot and "can" cause its a gamble, we where told it was not going to Matanzas but about 75% of the way and the conductor was nice enough to call us a taxi to take us the last stretch.

We made a ton of stops along the way some at stations some just so staff could take a piss, it was packed for about 90% of the trip but fun despite the tin can feeling. 

Once in Varadero we cruised over to the beach for a quick dip then to check out the wild themed bars along the strip all showcasing music of different genres.

Day 6: Varadero - Havana

Back to Havana but this time we are riding in style.. or stupidity your choice. We arranged a sweet cherry red BelAir to takes us the 2hrs west to Havana. We left early in the morning so the first 30min where great but then the sun on the leather was starting to bake us but we held tru and covered up like bedouins to survive. 

Our last night in Havana we spent trying to get hold of what is know as "The Package" or "Weekly Package" by others. We learned about this day one but had not had time to find some one till now. With limited internet access Cubans can not access outside media other then the state, thus no outside movies, tv shows or music, no news, apps or software but like everything someone figured out how and then they made copies on hard drives and started the underground rental of "The Package". It's updated weekly and has a huge network, people all over Cuba who know of it and use it. Here's how it works:

Call a person, they come to your place or a meeting spot, it was about $2 and you get the HD for the night. Most people transfer the files to a flash stick, then return and enjoy. It's no secret everyone we talked to used it or knew about it and there are some really great articals out there if you want to know more. 

With Cuba growing so fast I worry the American dollar will bring a huge change in good and bad ways. I fear it will turn in to a Cancun but I saw everyday how tourism was helping. Airbnb is a perfect example of the good ways, empowering people to make more income and build a better life for their families. 

That Time We All Got Zika

Katys friend Amanda or "Randy" is from Australia and she was in for 9 days of sun and fun but we got 9 days of thunderstorms and killer mosquitoes.

We crashed the night at the house but then rolled over to Coco beach for the night to catch the Spacex’s Dragon cargo rocket launch, cause whats more American then Motel 6, Waffle House, Ron Jons and Rockets.

Home for 1 night was becoming a recurring theme, I have been living out of my tiny fjallraven duffle bag for the better part of a month now but 1 night at home and off again to Everglades City it was.

I had made a plan a good one too, 2 nights in the Everglades City with island and air boat tours but the weather was not on our side. 

Day 1:

Epic rain all morning and when it came time to roll out for a tour of the 10,000 islands the radar showed a break in the rain so we went for it, down to Chokloskee to catch the boat but on leaving the hotel room to get the car we ran it to millions of mosquitoes like biblical proportions. We pulled up at the Smallwood Store ( Pioneer trading post est in 1906) and a man pulled up, “Y’all still wanna go!” it was still raining but not bad so, “Yeah we like adventures!” . He left not saying anything and then 5 min later a little boat and man showed up and we raced to boat and pulled away leaving the zika behind.

Rain held off for the most part and we explored the 10,000 islands at a pace just faster then the bugs wanted to fly but not to fast for the dolphins.

After rushing to the car from the boat we spent the better part of 20 min killing the mosquitoes that had infiltrated into the car, got lunch then tore down alligator ally in search of airboats and alligators. 

We found both and then lost the pilots shoes.

Day 2:

As we tried to sleep thru the night storm after storm rolled thru and by dawn the whole city was underwater. We packed up, wadded out to the car and slowly drove off Everglade City which was now mostly under water.

The rain never let up but we are mosquitoes killing warriors now. 

 

ATX x Babys x Brisket

Home just long enough to do laundry and off to Austin to meet Finn a 13 month old baby who was made by my best friend and his wife. We spent the first few days catching up with friends playing with the kid and drinking fancy mini cocktails . 

Then we had big plans to drop Finn off with fam, load up the truck with beer and float the river but as we stepped out the truck to get the tubes the sky got dark and we could hear thunder in the distance so we bailed. A decision was made to check out the Natural Bridges Wildlife drive thru tour as it stay open in the rain.

The park was way bigger then we expected with a nice variety of animals. We rolled passed the giraffes noticing one still was sporting a umbilical cord and come to find out the little guy was born a few hrs before we got there!

The Austin part of the trip ended with La Barbecue brisket and a plane filled to the brim with kids excited to hit Orlando and all the disappointment it has to offer but we still had to snag Katys long lost Astrailian travel friend from TPA later that day.

Sell em all and off to NYC

After last week of playing around with the RX1rii, I decided to consolidate my point and shoots and trade up for a RX100V. I cleaned up and ebayed off my X100s, G16 and DXO ONE and hunted down a good option. I wanted to compress the 3 into one, underwater camera, pocket camera and good quality point and shoot so I landed on the Rx100V but this took me the better part of the week to do so and at that point I was off and away to NYC for 3 days of sibling bonding time.

NYC1.jpg

The weekend went like this, 

Night 1:  Jongro Koren BBQ, Sleep.

Day 2: BEC, Whitney Art Museum, Nap, Jun-Men Ramen, Milk Bar, Drinks at Gallow Green, Say No More, Drinks, Sleep.

Day 3: Brunch, Shopping, Nap, weather got cold, Drinks / Boardgames, Dinner, Sleep.

Day 4: Taxi, Flight, Flight canceled, No flights for 3 days, Flight to other side of state, 4hr drive home.

As one can tell it was a slow weekend in the city. 

Big thanks to Jet Blue I love blasting across alligator alley at midnight. 

RX1RII x Disney X Desert from Hell

Out of some random chance I got to play with a Sony Rx1RII over the weekend, if you have never heard of this camera its ok its not made for you. The Rx1RII is a 42mb full frame sensor shoved into a body of a point and shoot not much bigger then the Rx 100 cameras and smaller then the Fuji x100 body, its a beast. 

After getting over the initial sticker shock of a $3300 point and shoot, i tossed in in my duffel for a weekend meeting at Disney. 

We were running late for our dinner meeting at The Boathouse in Disney Springs but after dinner was over someone had the insane idea to order the S'Mores Baked Alaska, said to serve 4 it could feed the 4 of us and 10 other people. It was shocking, people at other tables where taking pictures of this thing. 

After a night of a sugar induced comma we made are way to Epcot where I finally could let this camera show off. Just under 2hrs later the fancy $3300 camera battery was dead from full to dead in 2hrs, it was down hill after that. Once back in the truck I let it charge up while we spent a hr floating the lazy river at Typhoon Lagoon.  Charged up and hoping it was a fluke we headed in to The Magic Kingdom, only to find out so was everyother fan boy in the world as it was the first night of the new firework light show "ever after". 

About a hr in to making our way clockwise thru the park I was already frustrated by the shit design of the grip or lack there of and dials that are crazy hard to use the auto to manual focus switch is damn near impossible to use I had to use my tee shirt for friction ( yes i know the people who buy this will never move it off "P" but $3300 come on), the battery was half dead. No joke I got about 2hrs and the damn battery died again. 
 

After 3 days of 2hrs at a time, I feel like some engineer over at Sony said "Hey you know how they put supercar motors in economy cars for fun, I bet I can shove a full frame sensor in the RX100". What they forgot to remember was this makes the car 100% pointless its a track car at best but its still fucking cool and the RX1RII is just that it takes crazy sharp sexy massive file photos with but does not last long enough to be a good point and shoot, that mixed with the dials and the clunky menu layout makes it a really fancy paper weight. 

Long Over Due RIP My Tumblr

Long over due I have finally let go of the dream of catching my tumblr blog up from my last post on 1.17.15 to now 4.14.17 thats just not going to happen. So I came to the conclusion that I needed to start fresh, my tumblr is filled with amazing times but very few words ( I can’t spell thus don’t write much thus I kept it short) I like to think of my poor spelling as evolving the language, it can’t stay the same forever. 

My intent with this evolved blog is to give more then just images to add the much needed context and stories lines I had left out before. It won’t be chronological all the time so don’t freak out like my mom when she see pics from her home town on my instagam and quickly texts my sister to find out “why did he not call”, well he’s not there, “ but he posted a pic from here”. ( this happens more then I want to admit). I want to fill in the gaps from the last few years and revisit old post and update them with there long over due context.

So I’m setting a goal not publicly yet but I’m thinking once a week to post a new set and in-between ill try and fill in the past few years. 

So heres to evolving the blog and the english language. 

PS I’m new to this squarespace blog platform and idk if I like it yet a bit to clean and organized for me so ill be breaking the blog over the next few weeks finding the right fit.