An Afternoon with the Eiffel Tower

We laid in the grass, ate lunch, took pictures and people watched for a few hours. I snuck away at one point to take some pictures of the surrounding neighborhood but mainly we tried to relax in the shadows of one of the world’s icons. It’s a wonderful city to visit and for those who may be deterred by the events of mid-November I hope you re-consider because there is nothing that should stop you from living your life and seeing all that you can while taking your one trip on this earth.

An Afternoon with the Eiffel Tower

An Afternoon on the Champ De Mars (Paris, France)

Waterfall in the Fall (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

On an overcast in the Great Smoky Mountains we hiked to Abrams Falls off of Cade’s Cove (which is a beautiful if not frustratingly slow trip because of the one way traffic). It was a nice hike and one that most people should be able to do but we had to hustle because it took us much longer to get there than we had anticipated due to the traffic.

Eventually we did make it out there and we spoke with a few locals who said we picked the wrong weekend if we were hoping for no crowds. Apparently as the fall season comes to the Smokies so too do the tourists.

Waterfall in the Fall (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Waterfall in the Fall (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

For this shot I got down low and angled up towards Abrams Falls. The ‘main falls’ were up above this but they were swarmed with other people so I tried to focus on the fallen, colorful leaves on the rocks in the foreground and catch the smaller falls in the background. I like the way the colors ultimately turned out.

Sunrise at Lake Helene (Rocky Mountain National Park)

A quickly rising trail from the Bear Lake Trail head in Rocky Mountain National Park takes you the 3.25 miles to the shore of Lake Helene at the base of Notchtop Mountain. I was hiking in the dark so that I could catch sunrise at the lake and though I had been there the day before I missed the turn initially and hiked right past it. Fortunately, I knew the general vicinity where I was looking and realized pretty quickly I’d hiked right by it.

Sunrise at Lake Helene (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Sunrise at Lake Helene (Rocky Mountain National Park)

After backtracking a bit the sky was starting to light up and there was only around 15 minutes before the sun was set to start lighting up the peaks of the mountain. I heard some rustling through the trees and thought for sure it was going to be a bear or an angry moose (while hiking the day prior I saw a moose on the trail and was told she frequented the lake) but was happy to see a flash of light as the being turned to face me. I started in the direction of the light (another hikers headlamp) as I knew that he too was photographing sunrise at the lakefront. Typically, I’m not happy seeing other hikers/photographers when I’m this far out but given the circumstances I was pleased to just be able to follow his light to my destination.

Gargoyle Atop Notre Dame (Paris, France)

We took a tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral and visited its famous gargoyles overlooking the city below. I don’t think they could have imagined hundreds of years ago when they built the church the events that would have unfolded at its feet in November 2015.

Gargoyle atop Notre Dame (Paris, France)

Gargoyle on Top of Notre Dame (Paris, France)

It’s been over a week since my last post and since the terrible attack on Paris – a city my wife and I love so dearly. Watching the events as they unfolded on the TV was tough because we had just visited the city back in April. I can’t imagine what those unable to escape the terror felt in those last minutes. It’s unbelievable that in a city like Paris this could happen and with that what does it mean for all of us? Must we stop traveling the world and sit in our homes waiting for evil to be eradicated? We can’t in good conscience do that – we need to travel and experience the joy and beauty of other cultures or else they’ll succeed in making us all as close minded as they are. We won’t let that happen to us and thus we’ve just booked our next big vacation for next April where we will be off to South Africa and Zambia for two and a half weeks. Should be a good time!

Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris, France)

One of the highlights of any trip we take to Europe for me is getting to visit the immaculate churches. I’m not an overly religious person but the architectural details, artwork and belief in a higher power that it must have taken to build these structures over hundreds of years is mind-blowing.

Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris, France)

Facade of Notre Dame Cathedral

Facade at the Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris, France)

Lit Prayer Candles (Notre Dame Cathedral)

Lit Prayer Candles at Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris, France)

Today is a day that I’ve struggled to deal with lately. It’s been a year since I lost my father and I still miss him every day. There’s been a lot of self destructive behavior in the past few weeks and hoping with the passing of this day I’ll be better able to cope with other ongoing stresses.

I still cry every time I hear ‘Just Breathe’ by Pearl Jam – and but with the belief in a higher power I know he’ll meet me on the other side…

Yes, I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they’ve got none

Stay with me…
Let’s just breathe…

Practiced are my sins, never gonna let me win, uh-huh
Under everything, just another human being, uh-huh
I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world to make me bleed

Stay with me
You’re all I see…

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me

As I come clean…
I wonder everyday, as I look upon your face, uh-huh
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take, oh no

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave…

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
And I come clean, ah…

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me ’til I die
Meet you on the other side…

The Heart of Paris (Arc de Triomphe)

Earlier this year we spent a little over a week in Paris and one of the highlights was watching the sunset from the Arc de Triomphe in the heart of the city. The city basically fans out from this spot with streets angling off in all directions and ultimately winding up in the hub that is the circular ’round-about’ that surrounds the historical monument.

I took a few different exposures of this shot and this was actually the ‘test’ shot to ensure that I got the exposure correct. However, I wound up liking it the best because of the number of cars that went by and the couple walking towards me. At first I was irritated with the couple because they wouldn’t move but once they started they created another interesting blur element that I thought added to the atmosphere of this space.

The Heart of Paris (Arc de Triomphe)

Last View of the Smokies (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

We went up to Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountain National Park for sunset pictures on our last night there before heading over to Nashville to close out our trip. A few days before we had actually hiked up to the observation tower for pictures and I wasn’t a huge fan of the view from there for sunset so we decided to just stand at the parking lot and take pictures. Apparently many others had the same idea because there were around 100 other people doing the same thing.

Last View of the Smokies (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Last View of the Smokies (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

This is really a classic view of the Great Smoky Mountains and we were really fortunate to get good light on the last day we were there. Once the sun set behind the mountains the sky lit up a bright orange color and fortunately there were a few small, wispy clouds to add some interest to the sky.