Category Archives: Articles on travel

Travel articles including trips where art is a large focus. Food, travel and general interests including food reviews.

Rejuvenating a Garden: life lessons among the weeds

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So many things in gardening mimic life, it’s realizing them that offers us wisdom.

After ridiculous heat and a garden that got away from me, after all the beautiful blooms  I anticipated have failed, I forget why I started gardening in the first place.

 

In Texas heat and humidity you stand and look at a mess you started in the spring that is now out of your control and succumbing to summer heat. Welcome to one’s life, finding that joy is what this  post is all about. Here are my wisdoms from the weeds.

 

  1. Mulch often:Mulch is the gardens’ skin, it keeps moisture in and combats heat and weeds, it is armor for the growing garden.

We all need a thick skin, it will keep the bad out and keep the
good in, a parent needs to start mulching their children at a very
young age-a thick skin is important.

  1. Water when needed but not too often:You would think watering a garden is a no-brainer but the best way to kill a garden, especially in Texas thick clay soils is overwatering.

Don’t overwater your children or yourself for that matter, don’t
take yourself too seriously and don’t rush in to make sure your
kids have everything they need. A little bit of patience and
perseverance grows character and it’s a beautiful flower.

  1. There is more to a garden than just flowers: So many reasons to garden, don’t just aspire for one particular thing. Notice the wildlife, the interesting weeds, enjoy the fruits and vegetables and most of all, learn everything you can. This is kind of self explanatory for your life, learn, enjoy, explore, don’t just focus on one objective-be adventurous.
  1. Don’t use Chemicals: No, I’m not preaching, but you do kill much of what would actually help your garden and the garden can do a lot on its own if you don’t cripple it with chemicals. Ok, that sounded preachy.

This is twofold-don’t surround yourself with toxic people and
don’t try so hard to solve a problem you end up causing more
problems, think first, realize consequences before
you create more for yourself.

  1. Transplanting can often revive a dying plant: I have seen plants magically come back to life after simply being transplanted. Suddenly a dormant plant sends up new life and even flowers.

Transplant yourself, change is great for the soul. Often a change is
the best thing you can do to start living again, challenge yourself,
awaken your inner seed.

  1. Deadheading often brings about new growth and flowers: You rejuvenate a plant when you remove its spent blooms, it works to create flowers instead of reseeding.

Don’t hold on to old ways or  things, sometimes we need to throw
off our pasts, our old language and doubts before we can grow
again.

  1. The beauty of a garden happens over time: There is the initial bloom you buy from a store, the reason you were attracted in the first place to the specific plant. After the initial blooms fade there is so much more that happens, the roots go deeper, the flowers get more complex and it gets healthier and more vibrant with time.

    Be more interested in the long term than the transient. Don’t panic as things in your life change and be patient as you discover the big picture.

  1. Don’t chose the wrong plant: If you plant a cactus in a rainforest, the results are not going to be good. Can you do it? Yes, but it will take more time, more materials and more attention.

    Know who you are, be who you are. Don’t force yourself into someones’ perceived garden, realize how much more work and attention you will need for the same result.

  1. Have fun:If you look at the garden as a task, that is exactly what it will be. Have fun, enjoy yourself, get dirty and did I mention; Learn a lot.

    Sometimes we are so intense about living, about goals, about expectations we forget we are here to enjoy, to have fun. Today I dug in the garden and it felt amazing. Stop, and enjoy your life, winter will be here sooner than you think.

  1. Find old friends among the weeds: This is one of the primary reasons I started writing this post. While digging out the seeds and mulching the garden I found old friends. I rediscovered how much I enjoy digging in the soil. I stopped and enjoyed a moment gardening; it was like spring again.

I also found plants that had reseeded, last years flowers that reappeared, I love perennials. I would have never even realized them if I didn’t stop and dig in the soil and rejuvenate the garden. I remembered why I started gardening in the first place. Despite the heat, despite the sweat and toil and scars on barehands, I never use gloves.  I realize nature is the force that rejuvenates me and gardening makes me remember that.

So get out there, enjoy nature, start a garden or just stop and enjoy someone else’s, Learn, read, find out what you loved as a child and rejuvenate your own garden, the results will amaze you!

The Extraordinary Life

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What does the extraordinary life look like and how much does it cost? An easy question with too many answers and each answer is very subjective.

This is the beginning of a series on living larger and experiencing more. I plan on highlighting individuals that typify a lifestyle that defies convention. The first thing I need to do is define what that life looks like, for myself if no one else.

The first word that comes to mind, for me, is freedom. Again, what is freedom and how do we go about truly feeling its reward. I think it’s appropriate that I would start something like this on the eve of Independence Day.

I want the freedom of going places, of seeing new things and experiencing foods and cultures. I want to write, paint and photograph about the experiences and bring them to my readers with a personal perspective that they can relate to.

My first objective to this quest is seeking clarity and focus, to not only define it but to take steps that would make it possible. We are in a world that is loud, always something pressing, always useless distractions hiding our purpose.

I am in the process of learning from others who have embarked on the same journey. Experiences that others can share will allow many of the mistakes and pitfalls to possibly be avoided and it will give me the knowledge to take the next step.

Next, I believe discipline is necessary, which is strange coming from a creative mind but creativity without some sort of discipline or organization is madness. I plan on learning to be more organized, more deliberate and perhaps the creativity will follow.

I recently read 101 ways to monetize your blog and ways to increase income. I will create a long term list of goals much like a business plan.

So now you have the plan, now what? I think one of the first things is to remove the fear and doubt. Again, listening to others, learning more about the journey will instill the confidence to ignore the programmed expectations we are taught from birth. Stay tuned for the next post on Doubt!

So much to learn, So little time: 5 of 5

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Back to the original post, it takes time. There are shortcuts to find and retaining clients but there are no shortcuts to knowing them. You can’t fake relationship with a potential client, you must be there for them as they are for you.

I speak with the metaphor of a gardener and being one, it seems appropriate. Disperse seeds, don’t expect a quick pay out but realize why you are in the business in the first place, do you care about your customers?

If you don’t care about them, they will quickly not care about you and your product. I believe in laying the future, getting to know people, having more people realize you may something they need and living life with a passion that pays when others endeavors don’t

In the end, I have no doubt that I will reap the benefits of the broad garden of pictures, thoughts and ideas which will one day be book covers, stories in e-books and paintings on walls, it just takes time, did I mention it takes a lot of time.

You just need to use your time wisely. Do what you love and do it well and often and share it with as many people who care about what you are selling, the rewards will come much like the garden that grows from the seeds you planted in the spring, and it will be beautiful.

 

A metaphor of Marketing, SEO and building a following, part 4 of 5

You have some pictures, paintings, words and thoughts, you’ve invited a crowd of people to see your stuff, unfortunately you have no stage, there are thousands doing the same thing and let’s just be honest, you’re not the tallest in the room.

It is a chaos of information, trying to start a conversation with clients when there are louder voices, bigger personalities and reserved stages for those that have known the venue for much longer than yourself.

It seems a bit daunting but I believe that’s why it takes time. First of all give them information that is fresh, content that is easy to digest and use words that no one else in the room is using.

Whisper while all the other marketing people are shouting. Do something that sets you apart from the rest of the room. Start collecting smaller groups of the large crowd and slowly but surely they will become a large portion of the room where your voice is not lost in the chaos.

Now you have a following, that following will share you with others that aren’t even in the room. That following will build a stage so you can now speak over the others who are marketing the same product or idea.

Here is where you can stand out, don’t only talk to them, talk with them, be there for them and suddenly you have customers and relationships that last. You have just turned an audience into a client-base, now make sure you know who they are.

 

You can’t fake a relationship, it’s called spam, part 3 of 5

The whole premise of spam is to find the largest amount of contacts and indiscriminately send them what they may or may not need, it is throwing out a large cast net, no one appreciates getting caught in a net.

I don’t know many people who like to be tracked, to be cold called or inundated in mail of any form. Why do we think this is acceptable in an electronic format. It is obvious when a company is targeting customer #……., no one wants to be a number.

Especially with the work I do, I need to connect with clients that know I am there for their needs and can offer them something that interests them. Sometimes I lack the personal touch but there is always that question of who is real and who is a bot?

This is the place where we learn about each other, clients, mentors and colleagues connect with you and you respond, they connect you with other real people and so on. Again, it’s not a quick, get in and get out relationship, it is long term and it is a relationship that grows with time.

I consider now that I have an audience of people who are interested in my words, pix or photographs, I have to make sure I’m giving them useful or interesting content. Unfortunately, this is when even more time is necessary but at least it’s doing what you love, creating, collecting and sharing content.

You have an audience now what? Give them what they want and be there for them to find it.

So you have an audience: Now what? Part 2 of 5

PrintA changing Landscape but still the same landscape

Although the avenues, mechanics and options of marketing have changed, the basics are still the same, find potential clients, learn about and connect with clients, convince potential clients why your product will help them better than others and than fill their need with your product. Notice, it’s their need, not yours.

Realize the more broad your product or service is will offer greater future benefits but a longer road to get to those benefits. Customers want to know what you have to offer, they want to know why they want or need it and they want to get on with their lives.

My particular toolbox of content is extremely varied, from selling art and creative services to travel writing and blogging about life and creativity. It is important, as I am learning, to define what product or information you are marketing and connect to your customers on their level.

This means, unless you’re one of the big companies that sell stuff and sell stuff well, you’re going to have to know who you are selling to. Your customer needs to know you’ll be there tomorrow and they need to immediately see the benefit of their time and attention.

So you have an audience: Now what? Part 1 of a 5 part series

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Navigating a landscape, it’s okay to ask for directions.

This is an update to the article, So much to learn, so little time. I’ve learned much about the social media landscape and the hills and valleys of finding and marketing to potential clients. One thing for sure, it takes a time, lots of time.

If you expect to sell your product or service through strictly free social media, realize it will be a long road, with many highs and lows. One thing great about it, you learn so much by trying, experimenting, by failing and experimenting again.

I now realize how important it is to learn from others who have taken the path and discover some proven shortcuts. You have a finite amount of time and content and if you don’t learn how others have made it, you will spend much time learning and less time reaping the benefits.

So learn from others who have lots of followers that are attracting the same audience you seek. Ask lots of questions, take classes that have been valuable to others in your field and learn from the vast amount of experience at your finger tips.

Tomorrow’s post: A changing Landscape but still the same landscape

The bluebonnet trails Spring 2016

A trip to bluebonnet trails

http://roadtrippingnow.blogspot.com/2016/04/bluebonnet-trails-ennis.html

I went to photograph the blue bonnet trails near Ennis and Palmer today. It was a perfect spring day with a gentle breeze and a deep blue sky.

I think I was probably a week early as the fields are not filled yet but there are some amazing patches of them.

My first stop was the Event center in downtown Ennis. The people are all happy to help, giving maps and bragging about the treasure they have to share with everyone. It was exciting to hear about the places to go and see and I was on my way.

I followed the map down to the veterans memorial park. I enjoyed watching families and couples taking pictures of each other in the vast fields of blues and reds.

I got to walk on a trail of bluebonnets and watch as all sorts of people took selfies, full blown professional photography and multiple cell phone pictures. The atmosphere was cheerful as the blooms surrounding us.

I drove along long roads where there were few people. Open fields of flowers and beautiful estates surrounded by great fields of pristine green.

I got lost, found my way and lost again winding up at Bardwell Lake, a lake where I was almost run over by a speed boat my first time water skiing.

I went back up to Ennis and up 45 to 313 and continued following the blue bonnet trails. The first thing that caught my eye was a field of long horns, several other people were also snapping photographs as well.

I followed the road, passing several horse farms and one giant horse begged to be photographed. It was a Belgian horse and its foul and they were close to the fence. The mom was quite friendly and approached me close enough to be able to pet her giant head.

Next stop was the winery. The road leading to it was beautiful, huge fields of blue bonnets, a small pond that was lit up by the high sun. There were people picnicking with wine and families running down from the fields of flowers.

Every turn and hill on this long winding road was just filled with stunning views. It reminded me a bit of the wine country in Sonoma-although the hills were a bit more modest. It was just an amazing green that you don’t see around Dallas much.

I arrived at the winery to the distinct smell of boiling crawfish and to a group of happy patrons sitting out on chairs on the lawn. I was tempted to order a sampler flight but decided to take some home instead.

The owner was quite proud of his wines and shared with me his two favorites-a white and a red and I was set. Also got a magnet too.

The drive back was a lot quicker and easier than the ride down-got stuck in traffic and detoured down buckner boulevard-live and learn.

The ride home I realized how close this uniquely beautiful area was and the landscape reminded me of place in New Jersey, again with a bit more modest hills.

Since I went a bit earlier than the peak bloom, I will definitely go back to the blue bonnet trails and if I love the wine as much as I think I will, I will probably need to stock up-more on that to come.

A Visit to Hagerman

admiralI’ve been talking about visiting this park for years and I finally made it today. It is so close to home it was really a short easy ride but the landscape was just beautiful.

I felt like God was showing me all the greatest designs of nature with a light that changed through the day always bringing me another amazing view of the spring landscape. I have not had this feeling of peace and simultaneous excitement standing behind a camera in quite a long while.

First of all, the greens were so rich and the storm that wrestled with the sky all day made the most amazing light and shadows that changed as quickly as I could shoot. I haven’t had this feeling of excitement watching birds in a long time too.

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I found a field of rich green grass that held large pockets of mallards, pintails, buffelheads and even a few dowitchers. I was able to sit on the side of the road and just enjoy the wildlife without feeling I was in anyones’ way and yet I didn’t feel like I was so remote as to feel vulnerable.

There were flocks of song sparrows, meadowlarks and the largest group of cedar waxwings I’ve seen in a while. There were cardinals, crows, herons and egrets and I noticed a flock of white pelicans that surveyed the sky in the midst of a darkening storm.
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I stopped by the visitor center and the people there were not only proud of their park but they were able to tell me where a large flock of waterfowl were. I got a magnet, a beautiful magnet at that-hand painted I believe.

I got to walk on the Meadow Pond Trail but I wasn’t up for the full 5 mile walk, I did get to see the first pond. I was completely alone except for two couples that I saw along the way. It was one of those amazing moments where you are emersed in wildlife, the sounds of frogs on the roadsides and cardinals calling along the fence rows.
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The trail is actually a very old train track so it’s wide and quite easy to walk, on either side there is water both from the pond and from standing water from recent rains. Along the way I was able to photograph red admiral and sulphur butterflies. All of the yellow wildflowers were alive with the sound of honey bees and I forgot how much I missed that sound.

I will definitely get back to Hagerman for another adventure and believe it will probably be a regular place for me to go to get away and enjoy nature. I would highly recommend this place both for its close proximity and for the beautiful, natural place it offers, I will be back for spring migration.

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