Charleston SC – April 2012

I spent a relaxing week in the South Carolina sunshine with Clint and his family, exploring their new hometown, touring civil war museums and eating amazingly-indulgent southern food. And the sweet tea! I love the welcoming people, the hearty cuisine and the less-frantic pace of life that are the hallmarks of the south, and spending some quality time with my best friend was long overdue. I loved Charleston and found many classic plantation-style homes that would make excellent vacation property, so I think it’s a place I will be back to enjoy again.

Clint and I wandered around a lot with our cameras so there are a lot of street and architecture shots in the gallery, along with historic landmarks and a family day at a street fair.

Gallery is here – slideshow button is at the top-right corner.

Sydney with a little less sunshine

Because it’s free and a good way to pass the time, I spent another day wandering around the city with my camera. Sarah met me for breakfast at the Museum of Contemporary Art cafe and toured me around the financial district a bit, helping me pick out some sweet museum postcards and a print of this iconic Max Dupain photo that’s going to look great on my wall:

It was a bit overcast again today, which is why we chose not to visit the zoo – apparently the animals are shy and difficult to spot when the weather is less than sunny. It seems Aussie animals are as spoiled by their sunny climate as the people are. 😉 After breakfast she caught her ferry home, and I headed to St James’ Park and on to St Mary’s Cathedral, camera in hand. St James Park had this great fountain:

and St Mary’s was massive, ornate and very inspiring:

All weekend in Darling Harbour there’s been a “fiesta” going on, with latin dance exhibitions, salsa lessons, and a floating “dance shell” stage tied up in the harbour, which explains the fireworks last night:

I walked through it on the way home this afternoon, catching the Brazilian moves of Latin Dance Australia and took some shots of the dancers on stage and some of the enthusiastic crowd members.

These have all been added to the Sydney Gallery, along with a few stray ones from my pocket camera and/or phone. Enjoy!

Crazy Day at the Beach

Had a very enlightening nite with Danielle and Michelle – and not necessarily in the ways we had intended! We headed downtown to the art museum, as the first thursday of each month is traditionally “free thursday” and no admission is charged. The current exhibit is a group of modernists, including Van Gogh, from the Kroller Muller museum in the Netherlands. Sounded pretty cool, so Michelle came up from Kent right after work, and i picked up Danielle downtown, and we headed down there! Got rock star parking right across the street from the SAM and everything!

After standing in a bit of a line (and sampling a crepe from the crepe booth while we waited) we made it inside to find that free thursday is no longer free! The staffers made it sound as if we were crazy for even asking, like how could the museum ever have been free, you weirdos? Well, i’ve been there at least 6 times when it was perfectly and completely free, new exhibits, old, all of it. Apparently (today anyway) the third floor was free but the second floor (the modernists exhibit) was discounted… but still 8 dollars (down from 15). Well, discount or no, that’s still rich for our budgets (that’s like a whole day worth of meals!) so we opted to poke around the third floor for a bit, and then wander out in search of dinner. Some interesting stuff on the third floor, but still – what a bummer!

Not finding anything in central downtown that was a) edible, b) affordable and c) open, we piled back in the truck and headed back to west seattle. Fish and chips on the beach in the summer sun sounded like a great idea – doesn’t it always? 😉

Round the corner off the bridge onto Harbor Ave and find ourselves surrounded by several cop cars and a half dozen cops on motorcyles. What on earth is going on?? West seattle is usually pretty quiet and calm, even down on the beach, even near the couple of motorcyles bars on this beach-less stretch of Harbor Ave.

Far as we could tell… nothing was going on. Other than a lot of people getting pulled over by cops. As we drove down towards Alki Beach we counted over 20 cop cars, nearly 25 cycle cops, and a half dozen cops on bicycles. Plus the obligatory SPD swat van. And the whole time, no signs of anything going on other than a whole heck of a lot of traffic stops. We watched people getting pulled over for turning left (didn’t know that was inherently illegal) and felt ourselves growing very self-conscious. One officer even yelled at me out his car window to fix my front license plate (the truck’s plate bracket is broken so it kinda hangs crooked). Good grief!

After seeing 50 cops in about 1.5 miles, we decided the beachside restaurants had just lost our business, and we made a hopefully-legal left turn and snuck up the backroads outta there! Mac and cheese at the West Five sounded less stressful! We had a nice evening anyway, and managed to enjoy each others’ company despite all being a little rattled.

We all agreed the whole thing was really creepy. Cops were pulling over everyone for doing seemingly nothing, and they were all very rude and abrupt (what else is new?). It was like a police state, like martial law had been declared and FEMA was running the city or something. I’ve always felt much more afraid of the cops than the criminals, and things like this only reinforce that feeling. I mean, criminals are just people who are desperate, crazy or greedy, but at least you have someone to call for help (the cops). When the cops abuse, mistreat or intimidate you, you have no one to help you. If you call another cop, who do you think they’re going to help? Not you! Who do you think the judge will believe? One guess! They have all the advantages – the badge, the gun, the kevlar, the shock tasers, an army of cohorts – and you end up just like Sandra Bullock in The Net, with no one who believes that the law is wrong and you are right. Creepy.

Plus, what guarantees that these people are responsible and fair enough to administer justice? (Nothing, that’s what. Probably a psychological profile graded by a computer.) What guarantees that they understand and appreciate the power they wield, and that they’re doing so for the right reasons? (Nothing! They’ve overseen by a committee that has probably never met them.)

This is the reason i don’t like venturing onto military bases, either. I’m on edge the entire time, waiting for an 18-year-old to be standing on my neck, machine gun at my temple, because i sneezed in the no-sneezing-zone. As a civilian i’m viewed as inferior and potentially dangerous – the same way the cops view the public. And frankly, the less i put myself in that sort of position (especially when the other person has a gun) the happier i am. I guess i’m just a control freak but i really don’t like giving that much control over my life to someone i don’t know if i can trust (and in fact, as history has shown, i probably can’t trust).

So i think it will be a while before i go back down to the beach. Bummer, too… i really liked it down there. 🙁