The Quasi-Annual Photo Post

Well, not blogging for two and a half years means I haven’t taken a look at my photography habit lately. Back in 2005, 2008, and 2010, I summarized my photography in the previous year(s). Well, let’s do it again:

Wow. I guess 2010 was a big photography year for me. The Daily Shoot was still going strong for the first half of the year or so, then we spent two weeks in Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden (which trip accounts for almost 4,700 photos). I’m surprised 2011 is so low, though. We took our big cross-country road trip in August of that year, but I guess I didn’t do much photography the rest of the year. Huh.

As for the big picture, Lightroom tells me that my catalog contains 84,790 items, but some of those are virtual copies, montages, or merged panoramas. The total number of original images is just a smidgen under 84,000. That’s a lot of photographs. There might even be one or two good ones.


The painting subcontractor arrived today for the first of several days on the job. He has already prepped and painted the trim, as well as the railing and the underside of the loft. This will all get another coat (or two?) before he’s done.

Almost Done!

The loft project is almost done! The painters are scheduled to be here next week (probably Thursday). I expect they’ll take about a week to finish up, then Houseworks will be back to install the ladder. Finally, the electricians will be back to install the light fixture, switches, and outlets (and put the trim on the can lights). Then, the boys get to move back in.

Big Trip 2011 - the Rest of the Trip?

So I know what you’re all thinking: “Where’s the rest of the trip?” You guys just got to Massachusetts and then… nothing. Well, the second half of the trip didn’t have as much downtime as the first, so we didn’t have much time to write. Then we got home and school started and we were back to the daily grind.

We did keep pretty good notes, though, and I already have drafts written for much of the rest of the trip. I plan to get everything finished in the next couple weeks and get all the photos posted on flickr, too. At that point, I’ll probably roll all these entries over onto our regular site ( and shut this one down. Better late than never.

(update: …and it’s done. The old BigTrip2011 site is gone and all its content is here on

Big Trip 2011 - Days 16-19: Onward to Massachusetts

I’m going to combine a few days here, partly for expediency and partly because I’m writing this after the end of our trip and it’s all a bit of a blur.

Over our GPS’s objections, we decided to take the slower but more direct route to Chelmsford: straight east from Troy across route 2. We used to drive the eastern part of the route on our way back and forth between Portland and Amherst to visit each other when Kathy was in grad school. The western part was our usual route back to Troy, too, so it’s all pretty familiar. We’ve driven it in some pretty awful winter weather, which I wouldn’t want to repeat, but we had yet another gorgeous day for our drive this time. Not much has changed along the route, though we did notice a fancy new art museum in North Adams. Our goal, of course, was a stay with Grammy and Grampy in Chelmsford, the second of three longer stops on the trip.

So how did we spend our time in Massachusetts? Well, relaxing and playing a bit more than the rest of the trip allowed. We got to visit with family, play mini-golf (and eat ice cream) at Kimball Farm, and enjoy the unseasonably wonderful weather. On Saturday, we drove into Boston to see some baseball at Fenway Park. Not a Red Sox game, alas, but rather the “Futures at Fenway,” a minor league double header. We had seats up the first base line right by Peskey’s Pole and had a great view of the game. Fenway was an interesting contrast to Wrigley Field, where we’d been just a few days earlier. Built within a few years of one another, they’re the only classic major league parks still in use. Where Wrigley seemed like a minimalist time capsule, Fenway struck me as a thoroughly modern park despite its age. Concession choices were varied and plentiful and bathroom capacity was more than adequate (the park was nearly full even for the minor league games we saw). I loved both parks and enjoyed the baseball experience more at Wrigley, but I think I’d have to give the nod to Fenway if I planned to see a lot of games over the course of a season. After the game, Henry and his cousins headed straight to another game: a New England Revolution soccer game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. He was thoroughly wiped out by the end of the day, but had a blast.

One afternoon when we were in Chelmsford, I took a little drive over to the tiny town of Boxford. My research says that Kathy’s great grandmother may have been from Boxford, so I thought I’d wander the cemetery for a while and see what I could find. The weather didn’t cooperate and my leisurely ramble turned into a hurried dash as the thunderclouds rolled in. I did manage to find some of the gravestones I was looking for, though, so that was nice. I mentioned that her ancestor may have been from Boxford, which might give the wrong impression. Mary Gurley, who married John Anthony Whalen back in 1909 was definitely born in Boxford. The question is whether she was really the mother of Kathy’s grandfather. John Anthony married his second wife just seven months after Tom Whalen was born and we haven’t found a death record for Mary. It’s entirely possible that Tom’s mom was actually John’s second wife. It’s a mystery.

Another day, Henry and I drove over to Ipswich to visit The Clam Box for lunch. I’d heard about The Clam Box several times as the place to go for fried clams (and other seafood). Henry and I both ordered the “native clams,” which are whole hunks of clam meat from local New England clams rather than strips cut from bigger clams. We arrived just before 2pm to a long line out the door and a note next to the door saying they stop serving for 15-20 minutes every day at 2:30 to change their oil. Unfortunately, we just missed the cutoff, and our order was the first to come out after the oil change. When the wait was over, we found out why the place gets such accolades: the clams were indeed steller; well worth the extra wait  (not to mention the drive over from Chelmsford). We couldn’t convince anyone else to go with us, though. More for us!

Big Trip 2011 - Day 15: Cooperstown and Troy

Back into the car today, but not for too long. After yet another stop at Starbucks, said goodbye to Rochester and headed east on the New York Turnpike. The weather was gorgeous and the driving was more pleasant than most in the East. Pulling into Herkimer for lunch, the Jetta was reporting an average of 44 miles per gallon for the day. Not bad. We had some lunch at Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner in beautiful “downtown” Herkimer. Pretty good diner food, though I wish I’d heeded Kathy’s Rule of Diners: When eating at a diner that offers all-day breakfast, always get the breakfast. I’m not saying my Reuben was bad, exactly, just that everyone else’s breakfast food was so much better.

We left the Turnpike at Herkimer and headed south to Cooperstown. It was nice to be on some small roads again for the first time in days. We’d heard that parking in Cooperstown can be a nightmare in the summer, so we parked on the edge of town and took the little shuttle into town to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think Charlie had seen enough after about ten minutes, but the rest of us enjoyed the museum. The exhibits were a little odd, though. They were roughly chronological, but seemed torn between trying to tell the whole story of baseball and celebrating just the stellar moments. There was no discussion at all of the expansion that added the Mariners, for example. The worst part of the hall were the other visitors: I can’t recall being among quite so many rude people in one place anywhere else on our trip. Some of it was just obliviousness, I’m sure, but still.

After our stay in Cooperstown, we drove the pleasantly-empty US-20 toward Albany. We grabbed some dinner on Wolf Road and ended our day in Troy, home of my alma mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Being there again was… strange. I haven’t been back since about 1992 and enough has changed that everything just seems off kilter. It would probably be better if more had changed. It’s like I was in the uncanny valley of places. The campus and downtown Troy look much nicer now than they did 20 years ago, but the neighborhoods near campus are just as sad as they were. The hotel we stayed in downtown was recently renovated and not half bad.

Big Trip 2011 - Day 14: Rochester

Busy day. We completely caved to Charlie’s wishes and played mini-golf at Adventure Landing at 10am. Afterwards, we split up. Kathy, Henry, and Charlie met the boys’ cousins, Tyler, and Peighton (and Peighton’s mom Kris) at the Strong Museum of Play, which is, hands down, the best children’s museum we have ever visited. Creative exhibits, kept in working order, and room after giant room of them. The kids had a blast, as did Kathy. Hard to pull out highlights, since they loved all of it, but the weird slanted house, the Wegmans, the old fashioned house, and the slinkies were great! Oh, and of course the room full of cool old video games. PacMan Battle Royale!

While they were all having fun at the Museum of Play, Brad went over to the George Eastman House. There are two parts to the place: the house itself, where George lived from 1905 until his death in 1932, and the museum, the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography. It was wonderful (and probably a wise decision not to bring the boys). At the moment, the largest exhibit is Norman Rockwell: Behind The Camera. Rockwell frequently used photographs of his friends and neighbors (posed with appropriate props) to help compose his paintings. It was fascinating. There was also a small exhibit on changing technology in photography. Good stuff.

After we met back up at The Strong, we headed back to the hotel for a little afternoon swimming, relaxation, and laundry before meeting up with all our Rochester family at DiBella’s. Though brief, it was really wonderful to see everyone again. (As for DiBella’s: yum!).