Galveston, Texas: B&W in Ultra Wide & Slim

Old City Cemetery

Bolivar Peninsula

Sacred Heart

Bolivar Point Lighthouse

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Galveston, TX: Kodak Ektar in the Smena 8M

Bolivar Point Lighthouse

Sacred Heart

Underneath Murdoch's Bathhouse

ruins of Jean Lafitte's house

Old City Cemetery

Old City Cemetery

Bolivar Peninsula

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Galveston, Texas

These are just the cell phone shots from my vacation last month, I should be getting the film back this week.

Old City Cemetery:

Old City Cemetery

Old City Cemetery

No swimming

Fishing jetty

Bolivar Point Lighthouse:

Bolivar Point Lighthouse

Pleasure Pier:

Pleasure Pier

Sacred Heart:

Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart

Bishop’s Palace:

Bishop's Palace

Sacred Heart from one of the bedroom windows of Bishop’s Palace:

Sacred Heart from Bishop's Palace

Art on the seawall:

seawall art

underneath Murdoch's

The ruins of Jean Lafitte’s house:

Ruins of Jean Lafitte's house

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Vacation #1

(I’m also taking the first week of November off, hence the “#1”.)

I took the last full week of September off and spent several days at my parents’ condo on Dauphin Island, Alabama. While it was hotter than I’d hoped it would be, it still provided some much-needed peace and quiet so I could recharge my batteries. I would go down to the beach in the evening and watch the sunset, and I went into Mobile one day, but a great deal of the time was spent reading on the balcony or in quiet shaded spots on the island, and drinking lots of cheap pink box wine.

It wasn’t a photography-heavy vacation (the next one will be), but of course I took a few shots with my cell phone.

v formation and sunset

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre.

Shrimp boats on Bayou le Batre

I tried to tour Bellingrath Gardens, but it was just too hot. There was usually a breeze on the island, but the gardens were too far inland, and there wasn’t ANY air moving among all those plants and trees. I got about 1/3 of the way in, then had a gardener take me back to the gift shop in her golf cart.

Mermaid fountain, Bellingrath Gardens, AL

Magnolia Cemetery was one of the things I saw in Mobile. It was raining, so I just drove around (it’s one of those cemeteries) and shot some photos out of my car window. That was the only rainy day we had, and it stopped around 1:00, not bad.

Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL

I also had fried catfish and hushpuppies (THE iconic food of Alabama, like gumbo in Louisiana) at Wintzell’s Oyster house, strolled around Dauphin Street (Mobile’s answer to Bourbon Street, but much nicer, honestly–not as tacky and sleazy). I found a fun used bookstore called Bienville Books.

I came home on Thursday morning, spent one night at home, then got up early to drive to Texas for the Dallas Pen Show. It was MUCH bigger than the Little Rock show, the only other one I’ve been to, and I found my two wish list items and then some:

dallas pen show

The pen that looks orange but is actually red is a Pilot Vanishing Point, a “clickable” fountain pen. It’s got a stub nib. I love Pilots and have more of them in my collection than any other brand; I’ve wanted a VP but I wanted to see if I could find a used one to keep the price under $100. I just made it with this one at $95, it’s a few years old but was never used and came in the box. (A brand new base-model VP usually retails for $140.)

The pen beneath that is a Parker Duofold and it’s kind of a weird one so I decided it had to come home with me. It’s a Victory but apparently this particular color/shape was only made for the UK market. It’s a button-fill but it’s old enough to predate the distinctive arrow-shaped clip that Parker started using in the early 1930s (at least on American pens), and it’s got a 14k oblique nib.

Those were my two wish list items, but I had some money left in the budget, so I also got a 1960s NOS Japanese desk pen (some no-name brand, kind of a Pilot knock-off) and some ink. I went about $25 over budget when all was said and done, but I can live with that.

Oh, and I also got to eat a cheeseburger at In N’ Out Burger.

In N' Out cheeseburger

Sea Rim State Park, Sabine Pass, Texas

Sea Rim State Park

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Sabine Pass Light

Sabine Pass Light

Remember how I said I couldn’t get close enough from the Texas side to get good photos? Yeah, this is pretty much the best photo I got—taken with my digital of course, because I don’t have long lenses for any of my film cameras. I hardly ever need them, because I don’t take photos of things like wildlife. I prefer to get close to my subjects. I could try to crop out a bit of the foreground, but I don’t know how much that would improve things; you can only do that so much until things start to get grainy, in a bad way. Too, I find something kind of interesting in this photo, the old wrecked lighthouse in the distance, at the end of a cracked and littered pier.

I could have gotten a little closer if I’d walked to the end of the pier, but there were about 20 no trespassing signs scattered about, hand-scrawled on pieces of plywood in a script I think of as “redneck murder font”. I may have attempted it anyway, but there were people fishing right nearby, and for all I knew it was their property. I don’t want to get shot over someone thinking I’m trying to steal their moldy lumber and desiccated tire scraps.

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Sabine Pass Battleground, Texas

Sabine Pass Battleground

I drove to Sabine Pass a few weeks ago, just for the day, it was the first time I’d been in Texas since driving out to Louisiana from California in 2010. Interestingly, this is right in the area where my mother grew up; although my maternal grandmother’s family has lived in the same area of south Louisiana for several generations, my grandparents lived in Port Arthur, Texas for many years and their three eldest children were all raised there. I think Sabine Pass was its own town when my mother was growing up, but now it’s within the city limits of Port Arthur.

I primarily wanted to see the Sabine Pass Light, which is actually on the Louisiana side of the Pass. But all the online directions I found direct you to the Texas side, I think because there’s no longer actually any road on the Louisiana side. The Light was de-activated in the 1950s, and the last private owners donated it to Cameron Parish in the 1990s, and of course they haven’t done shit with it. If a hurricane came along and wiped out the road any time since then, I doubt they bothered to fix it. But I may try to get there from the Louisiana side, or at least see how close I can get, because I couldn’t get close enough to get any good photos from the Texas side.

However, I don’t count the day wasted, I drove around and found some other interesting things to photograph. I like that drive too, it’s straight down LA-82 (and then TX-82) for most of the way. It’s a highway, but it’s a 2-lane rural highway with pretty scenery, and to get across the Calcasieu River I took the Cameron Ferry. Louisiana used to have dozens of ferries; nowadays I think there are 8 of them left. You can take I-10 to get there, but it goes so far out of the way that it doesn’t actually save you any time.

One of the places I found was the Sabine Pass Battleground. There was a Civil War battle fought here. I liked the contrast between the little shell-scarred bunker, and the weird modern machinery hulking in the background. Sabine Pass is like that, it’s very rural but surrounded by refineries and everywhere you look there’s refinery towers or oil-drilling equipment looming over you.

I recently read a book called Visit Sunny Chernobyl, in which a journalist, inspired by the titular trip to Chernobyl, decides to visit the world’s most polluted places. One of those places is Port Arthur. (If the Keystone XL Pipeline ever gets built, the American end is going to come out in Port Arthur.) But even with all the refinery crap cluttering up the scenery, it doesn’t really LOOK polluted, at least not in Sabine Pass. The sky was blue, the vegetation was all healthy, and there were birds everywhere. Not all pollution is immediately visible, I guess. It’s not anything obvious like oil spills or smog, but you know it’s there when you look at the cancer rates for the area. Chernobyl is beautiful too, according to the book I read. The flora and fauna are all flourishing in the area. But people who go there have to wear radiation detection badges, and can only stay so long.

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