Sunday, January 26, 2014

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This is a view that I can guarantee nobody else in our group (or any other, for that matter) found:

Old dead tree stumps completely reclaimed by the jungle. Strange sights like this are why I go off the trail.
Took some color pics the next day, but the infrared makes it look more alien so I prefer this one.

The landscaping inside our resort's walls was well-maintained and LUSH.
Every day I saw scruffy dudes with machetes climbing trees and hacking at the growth.
It's a wet place with plenty of sun.

The pool was monstrous, with smaller projections jutting out in every direction so you could have privacy for your group. The swim-up bar and grill was popular. Oddly, the pool closed at 7pm but the ocean was right close by.
Zero lifeguards seen anywhere.
Or security guards for that matter-it was wild and crazy, but all the guests seemed to know the limits of behavior.

After my previous post made on the night we got there, I woke up the next day to find my laptop completely jacked.
The whole resort is apparently run on generators, and your suite gets powered-down after a certain period of inactivity. Gave up on the clock/radio right away. The WIFI was sketchy, too, so I think I got malware and maybe a virus, voltage fluctuations and unexpected on/off cycles, with 100% humidity for dessert. Wish I could have kept processing and posting photos while I was there but my laptop was dead meat within 12 hours of landing.
Third World Fun. Having to take Immodium AND Pepto every day plus brushing your teeth with bottled water should have clued me in that nothing would work the way I'm used to.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Not In Kansas Anymore...

Or the USA, for that matter!

After a long-ass day of flying AA, we landed in the dark at an airport 2 timezones to the east with a thatched roof where stamping of passports was a mere formality. Unlike SA, DFW and MIA there were zero cops, dogs or food.
Holy crap, we're in that pesky old third world you hear about on TV!

After a little buffet action and a couple beers, I set out to explore my surroundings and try to get my bearings in the dark to save time tomorrow.

This is just one section of the main pool, which twists and turns all over the place.

Can't wait to see the beach tomorrow. Never have I felt sand so fine and clean. Truly one of the top 5 beaches in the world, and I'm shooting it at night, alone, after midnight, with a mere 3 hours in-country experience to gauge the safety.
Whatever, this place rocks.

A little hi-tech lighting to go with the all-included package.

Spent some time at one of the bars talking to a couple of mooks from New Jersey and a rabble of hipsters.
Nobody bought me a beer because it's already paid for--I got a 6-pack from the bartender to take back to our room...Presidente Light, not bad at all.

I have zero idea what happens next, and don't much care.
We are in paradise and taking it as it happens.
The wedding we're here for takes place on Saturday, then more fun.

Stay tuned

Friday, January 03, 2014

What I Got For Christmas

(Besides tragedy, the resulting outpouring of love and hugs, and tons of distasteful tasks to accomplish, of course.)

I got gift cards, which are awesome for people like me.
What I thought I wanted was a scope for my Mauser project and a harddrive to fix my PC, but I realized that those items can wait compared to more pressing concerns.

While I don't make New Year's Resolutions, I've been planning on giving up smoking for awhile. Not only has it gotten extremely inconvenient, expensive, and just plain gross, I also decided after my brother's recent health problems that getting very old is a worthy goal. Especially when you're the last of your family.

So on January first I bought a pair of vaporizers, with one shown on the left:

I'm sure to go into depth on this later, but the main point is to stop inhaling proven evil ASAP and worry about quitting nicotine at a later date. So far, so good.

On the right is the little camera that arrived today in a BIG box.
While surfing WalMart's website I stumbled upon this tiny Vivitar 787HD.

While on our trip to Lake Tahoe last March, I found myself wishing I owned or had borrowed a GoPro Hero, especially when we went snowmobiling. GoPro pretty much owns the HD Action Camcorder category, and deservedly so. But they are expensive, especially for someone like me who isn't sporty very often.
The Vivitar usually comes with the waterproof housing and a wireless remote plus a couple of basic mounting options, but WalMart had it in a bundle with every mounting option possible for a ridiculously low price. It shoots full 1080p HD video at 30fps and 12mp stills.
It's never going to compete with GoPro for hard serious usage, but if it lasts through our next trip I'll consider it a success.

There's no way I was going to risk my phone or the F828 to shoot video while riding a jetski or zipline, but this little thing can do the job and the whole bundle was about 1/8th what a GoPro costs before you start adding mounting hardware.

And it's always fun to play with a new camera, and update media player codecs while you're at it.