Atlantic City – Part One

Date nights for Hubs and I are far and few between. We rarely get away – are rarely alone.  With five children, including our 2.75 year old gem, it’s not easy to break away.  But I determined that we had to celebrate my birthday as a couple.

I combed the Internet for deals and happened upon a 3 day, 2 night stay at a resort property on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. All that was required, it said, was $99 and a 2 hour tour. And really, what’s 2 hours?

Turns out, it’s everything.  We arrived early (anticipation of quality time alone sped us along the highway, as did the ride through several dilapidated streets with overpopulated liquor stores leading to the hotel’s front door).  Children scurried around cars, swim things clutched in their arms, suitcases piled high on luggage carts. Security guards helped guests label their belongings with destination locations.

I went in with excitement. Room 2804, ready for us already. But no one helped us unload. Instead, we carried our luggage down four flights of the ill-lit parking garage. Then, we waited with several impatient guests for an elevator. It stopped many times before we got to the 28th floor – including once for a tour group, once for a vacuum lugging hotel maid. There was no shortage of disgruntled guests ready to share their “whoa’s.”

Our room’s entrance was blocked by maid carts, but once they parted and we went inside, it looked like we could like it. A modest queen sized bed sat before us. A window overlooking the Boardwalk and beach stretched across the room. A kitchenette was equipped with a 2 burner stove, microwave and fridge. A leather convertible couch sat nearby a small table and chair set. And the bathroom featured a jet spa tub.  It appeared to be one nice studio.

Unfortunately, the TV flickered. It refused to stay on. It seemed cable and video options were unavailable. Considering that we live our lives now with glowing screens as constant companions, maybe this was freeing us from temptation? Frustrated, and not ready to venture into the windy outdoors, hubs powered down the fickle machine.

Below us, the casinos illuminated the wooden walkway. The waves – a white froth on otherwise green brown sea – crashed up on the shore, where lifeguard stands and rescue boats lay askew to dissuade unauthorized use.

The tub beckoned. It was an oasis of massage bubbles. And together, we sat immersed, our legs entwined and we faced one another. In the silence, save the humming jets, the stresses slipped away. The water – a bit too hot for me, but just like he likes it – relaxed. This was bliss.

As the water grew uncomfortably tepid, we reluctantly withdrew. Habit found my husband again fiddling with the television. It flickered. It turned static. And then, suddenly, there was clarity.

Something about that white bedding – pristine and perfectly dressed – called me. I slid under cover and relished in the soft sheets. I stretched out. And I realized that without little miss, we might actually sleep without the interruptions of legs extending into our backs, head pushed into the crook of neck, and fingers finding eyes and nose to invade. We could be lovers again.

Mini Vaykay

Williamsburg, we couldn’t stay away.
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Not here, there

Mama goofed big time. I watched as the silver Caddie sped away from the curb. It was barely 4:30 in the morning and the sun had yet to break out above the horizon. I juggled my purse, our combined suitcase, and my loaded turquoise camera bag – careful not to tip the latter, thus spilling the contents dangerously to the concrete floor. (How foolish to buy this “fashionable” case with the open flap that had no consideration for secure closure!) Ri sat wriggling in her stroller, fighting against the seat belt that confined her to it.

The check-in was nearly empty, with the only two attendants assisting in bag checks. A row of waiting kiosks beckoned, their screens showing “push start to begin.” I navigated the winding path leading to the vacant machines and tapped the blinking button. With so few people in the building, there was plenty of time, still, to get through security and board my 5:45 am flight. It asked for my name, which I gave it. It returned with something like “ticket not found. Choose another entry option?” Huffing, I fumbled for my ticket confirmation paperwork and entered in the number recorded there. This time the machine replied, “Error. See attendant.”

The two attendants were still busy, processing seemingly endless papers as they scanned bar codes and printed off receipts and other documents. I happened to notice another woman lingering near the ropes dividing priority check-in from the general lines. “Excuse me,” I began, not clear whether she was a waiting passenger or an airline agent. She turned toward me, aggravation obvious in her twisted, tight lipped grimace. I saw, then, her name tag and airline affiliation. “Umm… the machine says I should see attendant. I’m supposed to have a 5:45 flight to Houston.”

She reached out and snatched my paperwork, scanned the flight information and shoved it back at me. “You’re supposed to be at DCA. That’s Reagan National. There’s your problem,” she said, as she turned on her heels and walked quickly away.

Scavenger Hunt Sunday: Get Low

Hunting is getting a bit more difficult now that school is in session…

old phone
It’s a working phone… though it’s not mine.

Low Key
Air and Space Ya (low key)It was raining last weekend when I took the kids into the city. The plan was to go to the American Indian Museum, but apparently, if you don’t take the L’Enfant Plaza stop on Metro, it’s not nearby (read: I couldn’t find it despite the straight line of Smithsonian museums). We ended up climbing the 100 or so stairs to the National Art Gallery (the accessible entrance is all the way around the building, not on the Mall side). Chi decided the museum was inappropriately naked, so we left after seeing only one floor.

We made a quick stop for lunch at a street vendor just as the first drops of rain began pelting us. Our umbrellas have apparently fallen ill – – one flipped inside out and broke, the other is separating the fabric from the armature. We fleed toward the Metro entrance, but since it was so early in the day, it felt like a waste to head all the way home. Then I saw the Air and Space Museum. It’s changed a lot since the field trip I took there in my school years. Now, it has entire interactive exhibits for children and the learning is much more hands on and much less reading to discover.

Initially, I thought of scarfing down food… but pictures of people eating is a little uncouth. Chi enjoys any excuse to play in my scarves, so we set up this quick portrait.

Monochromatic or Analogous Color (Exploring with Camera prompt)
I really thought I had this one nailed… but apparently, I remembered “color wheel” and found a plethora of complementary color rich photos. Bummer.
So, I was going through the shots from last week’s Metro ride and found this shot. Ya is still in love with trains and there was something about these tracks that spoke to me. I think it was the repetitious nature of the carefully placed boards. Maybe it was rocks nestled inside each rail. Or, maybe, it was the subtle color variations I saw.

tied up in...circles
Saw this “Little Guy Tie” online while looking at RTS nights on Facebook. I’d been stalking Studio412 Boutique for some time trying to get ahold of one of these cute ties. Ya loves it. He calls it his dress up thing.
This self portrait concept seems to be falling to the wayside lately. If I do get my camera out, it’s for a determined purpose and only very briefly. Suddenly there’s just no time to pursue my passion – – work got in the way.

Photographer Lessons

I learned something about my photography style this summer.

I learned that waiting for the connection with the eyes of my target is not the only factor in capturing a great image. In fact, looking the the assortment of photos that I absolutely love from our week in the south, there are fewer than 10 percent that I like where my “model” is looking at me.
Legit Laugh
Model? That’s probably a terrible misnomer.
Attitude Adjuster
Hence, the second thing I learned about myself: I am a student of fly on the wall photography. There was certainly a reason I was drawn to being called a photobug (a play on the paparazzo – Italian for mosquito – title I’d earned from years of carrying my camera everywhere). I enjoy capturing life as it unfolds unscripted before me. In the same way that I obsess about my insect safaris, I obsess about being the unobtrusive non-participant documentarian of a moment. I suppose I am still a photojournalist even if I’m not working in the field.

Just a few days ago, I was crushed to be rejected by a company that makes custom frames. Frames! All I really wanted to do was purchase a few for my photo wall that I’m working on and I loved the idea of complimenting my images with color. But I was told my portfolio is not developed, that my photographic eye is not that of a portrait photographer (from the e-mail: “express a sound understanding of photographic composition including such elements as: content, lighting, balance, symmetry, depth, framing, and perspective.”). And to grind in this snub further, I was given links to tutorials about composition and good photography.

Believe me, rejection hurts. It makes the tear ducts explode. I pout. I whine. I complain to anyone who will listen (sorry, if you’re reading this, yes, I’m still at it).

That leads me to the third thing I’ve learned. My style – my passion – isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Excite
I know, shocker.

So I’ll be a little selfish and shoot for me. I figure that if I’m never in any family function photos, I might as well document the events the way I like. Fair enough?
Jumping waves
I thought so.

I’m ever the student – as any good teacher is – so on with the lessons. The forth thing I’ve learned is that I adore – I absolutely love photographing in the light of sunset just as the sun is parallel to the tops of nearby buildings, but not quite on the horizon.
Sunset Cool
It makes for a warmth of light cast on my people that I think is simply stunning.
Davis Sands

Show Off: Determined focus

Cool Running
I was feeling a little tired of vibrantly colored beach photos… so I thought I’d toy with Black and White (and chocolate, too) for a bit.

Tomorrow, though, in my attempts to inundate the blog with a record of our annual vacation journey, there’ll be ample sunset-colored pictures to make me wish I was still hanging out on the beach. Or to make people wonder if the ubiquitous sand is going to be a daily feature. Oh why did I have to be so very click happy? {Cough, cough – don’t answer that.}

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