Texas

San Antonio Cattle Drive by Josh Trudell

Cowboys and longhorns on Houston Street in San Antonio. 

Photographing the longhorn drive in downtown San Antonio was a treat – it’s a nifty juxtaposition of cattle and civilization.

I got there about 20 minutes before the parade started, and the sidewalks were already filling up quickly. I knew I wouldn’t be able to move far without losing my streetside spot once it started, so I staked out a spot on the curb and waited.

Without any official numbers, I’d guess there were between 75-100 longhorns, with several groups on horseback, bands, youth groups and one sheep herder helping to round out the parade.

With a relatively limited amount of mobility, I tried several tactics to help vary the shot selection, including shooting up to get some of the buildings behind the cattle, reinforcing that juxtaposition. I also zoomed in, looking for details and patterns.

Part of the celebration was a group of Native American dancers in front of the Alamo – colorful tornados spinning and whirling to the music. In my mind, events like this are great, no-stress practice. I wasn’t assigned to it by any publication – I was just out shooting for fun, and it made for a rewarding afternoon. 

If you'd like to see more photos, you can find them on my Flickr page

Post it, note it, post it.... by Josh Trudell

A few notes, as I’m trying to pick up all the confetti from the Patriots winning another Super Bowl:

Take a peek: If you happen to be visiting San Antonio City Hall and Municipal Plaza, take a minute and look around. The photography exhibit – curated by Public Art of San Antonio and including some work by yours truly – is up, and after getting a chance to walk through, I’m humbled to have some of my work included.

At San Antonio City Hall with one of my prints - part of a small series called Canyon Waves.  Photo by Julia Selwyn

At San Antonio City Hall with one of my prints - part of a small series called Canyon Waves. Photo by Julia Selwyn

There are some wildly different styles and a lot of really creative work.  We got a “friends and family” tour of the installation last week, and it was fascinating to meet and talk with other photographers and see how they created.

My pieces – a series of black-and-white prints from Arizona and Utah - are near the City Manager’s office, but there’s art all over the building. Bureaucracy never looked so good.

Throwing their megapixels on the table: Canon announced recently that they have a 50-megapixel full-frame body coming soon, and the Sony rumor mill is churning about a 50-MP model of their own.

I’ve been quite happy with my 24.3 MP Sony, but I had to wonder – potentially how big a photo file are we talking about here?

According to Photography Life, it’s roughly 8700x5800 pixels. 8700 pixels = 120 inches = 1 10-foot across file. Ten. Feet.

Wallpaper, anyone? And whatever a photographer has left over from buying that camera had better go into hard drive space, because those are going to be some huge files.

Isn’t it about that time?: Less than a week until the first sign of spring – Truck Day! I'm thrilled the Patriots won, but bring on the Red Sox (and spring).

Movieola: Mid-February always seems to be the dumping ground for stuff that might have been good, but ran into some fatal flaw and couldn’t overcome it. Examples include Daredevil and Ghost Rider – we’ll have to see if Jupiter Ascending can overcome it.

Shooting: I’ve got some fun plans on tap in the next couple of weeks, including some cosplay photography, the cattle drive through downtown San Antonio and a trip out to Enchanted Rock. I’m especially looking forward to the cosplay photography – I’ve been hoping to do more work with models this year.

And the Australia countdown continues…

Shaking the dust off... by Josh Trudell


This big fellow was one of the highlights of our behind-the-scenes tour at Animal Kingdom.
Creaaaaak...

Shadows dance on the wall as my compatriot raises a lantern, and looks around at the cobwebs and dust covering the stone carvings and ancient murals.

“What happened here?”, Dr. Jones whispers.

I look at my fedora-ed companion and shrug. “I got busy.”

Which is largely the truth for why this space has been dead pixels for the last three months. I’ve been writing (and shooting) too much to be writing.

The biggest project has been a package of stories that has involved talking to a lot of people passionate about what they do. There is a unifying subject behind the stories, but the magazine publishing them isn’t coming out until this fall, so I can’t say much about it.

It took me to some places I hadn’t visited in Texas before, which is always a bonus. It’s a little startling that we’ve been here for 10 years now, and there’s still so much to see.

The biggest event of the last three months was my 40th birthday. Initially, I had had daydreams of going on safari for my 40th, but that ended up getting pushed down the schedule a bit.

Instead, we went to Disney World.

Initially, I was unsure about this trip – spending a 40th birthday at the House of Mouse wasn’t quite the equivalent of spending it on the Serengeti – but it turned out really well.

One of the big highlights was a behind-the-scenes tour at Animal Kingdom, which got us up close and personal with the crocodiles and hippos. It was expensive – like most things at Disney – but the quality was outstanding – again, like most things at Disney.

Also of note: Baseball season had started – the Red Sox are scuffling so far, as is my fantasy team. The first summer movie of the year – Captain America: The Winter Soldier – is out, and it was most impressive. Marvel is building a great reputation as a provider of quality entertainment.

My next big photo trip is Montana in July – I’ve been saving madly for that. I can’t wait to see (and shoot) Glacier National Park.

Catching up: Photo show, Doctor Sleep, and Italy by Josh Trudell

Josh Trudell's Point the Compass exhibit

Photo courtesy of FotoSeptiembre USA

So, we’ve gone from fireworks season to pumpkin season between posts. At least it is still baseball season (for the Red Sox, at least).

THE BIG NEWS: The opening reception for Point the Compass was August 28, and it was a rousing success. We drew between 175-200 people for the opening reception, and I sold several of the pieces in the show and some loose prints I brought with me.

The commentary was generally very positive, including random e-mails I received from people who visited the gallery and appreciated it.

I was having a bad day until I stumbled into your exhibit at Central Library. I have always dreamed of seeing the slot caves. Excellent work!

- one of the e-mails I received

There were some odds and ends and issues while putting it all together – I’ll detail those in another post – but in general it was a very positive experience. I’m not sure when I’ll try and do another show – it’s an expensive habit, and I’ve got lots of trips I want to take and camera gear I want to add to the toolbox – but it was definitely worth doing.

THE NEXT NEWS: Six weeks from today, we’ll be in Italy! Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast will be holding our attention for two weeks, and I can’t wait. Looking into photographing Venice, and I found this site, which is loaded with information. Great work.

IN OTHER NEWS: Currently catching up on Grimm, which I quite enjoy – it takes the fairy tale monsters and runs them through a dark strainer (Nazis – I hate these guys!) and keeps the cutesy to a minimum. Also watching the HELLYEAHAGENTSOFSHIELD…sorry, was I drooling? And Marvel’s holding my wallet? How’d that…oh, never mind, just take my money.

Stephen King’s new book, Doctor Sleep, is quite excellent. I read it far too quickly the first time – now I need to go back and savor it. The Shining was one of the books I grew up with, and to see Danny Torrance back is a treat.

So – another entry before the end of October? Why not?

There isn't much better than making your pro debut by Josh Trudell

joshtrudell.com Sometimes freelance assignments are a drag. People are bored, they don’t want to talk, you’re being a pain in their backside…it happens.

Sometimes, however, they are gold. This was one of those golden times.

In March, I was contacted by Beckett Sports Card Monthly and asked if I could follow the winner of the Topps Make Your Pro Debut contest around, documenting his day in words and pictures. (The resulting story ran in the July, 2013 issue of Beckett Sports Card Monthly.) An early shorter piece is here.

The winner’s prize was a day with the Corpus Christi Hooks – signing a contract, getting a uniform, working out with the team, and meeting team owner Nolan Ryan. I couldn’t say yes fast enough – I love baseball, and this sounded like a great assignment.

I met Tim, his son Peyton, and his wife Dani around 11 in the morning, and followed them through a tour of the park. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and the grin on his and his son’s face when he saw his jersey with his name on it was priceless.

After Tim got into his uniform, he started throwing with the team. This is when this assignment started really getting fun – I was asked by a Topps representative to photograph Tim for his baseball card.Tim Kane Card[2]

Not a promotional gift thing – a real baseball card. The 2013 Topps Pro Debut Set will feature a card of Tim and Peyton with my photo.

Head. Explodes.

After Peyton threw out the first pitch and presented the lineup card, he and Tim stayed in the dugout for the first three innings. Then, they moved up to sit in the owner’s box with Nolan Ryan.

The Nolan Ryan. The same guy my father and I had talked about for years – he was Dad’s favorite baseball player, and he always wanted a copy of Ryan’s rookie card (which he finally broke down and bought when I was in my late teens).

Now here I was in a room with the legend, listening to him tell stories about his favorite parks (Kansas City, Anaheim) and his least favorite (Cleveland, Candlestick), the hitters he liked to face (big power hitters like Reggie Jackson and Jim Rice) and least liked (slap hitters such as Tony Gwynn).

Head. Explodes. Again.

After Ryan left, Tim and Peyton headed back to the dugout, where they stayed for all of a 19-inning marathon. I had to head back home – I had to work at the day job early in the morning – but I left with a full notebook, a full memory card, and a smile on my face.

 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Photo Contest Finalist! by Josh Trudell

2013 Texas State Parks and Wildlife Finalist  

Wow.

It has been a madhouse of a month, in just about the best way possible. I’ve got tons of photo-related stuff that I’m going to be blogging about in the next few weeks, but I wanted to get this one out there.

I’ve been shooting steadily for the last several years, but before I bought my first digital camera, my shooting was very sporadic. Once I got a tool that could handle shooting a lot without spending thousands on developing film, I started shooting a lot more.

The next question was – what do I want to shoot? With a full-time job, it can be hard to find time and willing subjects. Setting up a formal shoot can be exhausting.

A couple of  week after getting my new camera, I took it with me on a hike in the Hill Country State Natural Area. Monarch butterflies were migrating through the area, and I started shooting. Not fussing over shutter speeds, white balance or apertures – just shooting.

Many could have benefited from some technical know-how, but I also got this photo, which is still one of my personal favorites.

Monarch

After posting them on Flickr, I shyly showed a few to some of my coworkers. Their kind words helped me get out and shoot again.

So – fast-forward a few years, and a lot of experimenting and shooting in the Texas state parks, and I’ve gotten a little better and a lot more experienced.

There’s still a long way to go, but I was confident enough that when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department asked for entries for a 2013 photo contest, I didn’t hesitate to submit a few.

Last week, I found out that the top image of the two bison – shot at San Angelo State Park - was selected as one of 20 finalists out of more than 1,650 entries.

You can get up close and personal with the bison in San Angelo - they'll come up to a thin wire fence (under the watchful guide of a park ranger) and you can get close looks at them. Highly recommend it if you are interested in wildlife photos.

I’m thrilled by this honor, especially after seeing the other images in the competition. I can’t wait to enter again next year!

New Camera, New Zoo by Josh Trudell

joshtrudell.com, parrot, photography Some people have work-related hazards such as ergonomically incorrect keyboards or desks that leave them bent in uncomfortable positions.

Others are Iike Maricela, the nice lady at the San Antonio Zoo in charge of the parrot cage. While most of the streaking rainbows buzzed around the cage, Snowflake sat on her shoulder, nibbled on her shirt collar, then finally nestled into her hair.

Finally, Maricela was forced to swing her head side-to-side to shake the nesting bird loose.

The parrot, dislodged but unruffled, promptly hopped back onto her outstretched hand and headed back toward her shirt collar, nibbling on the button hole.

The parrot cage, and the zoo as a whole, is my go-to place for testing new camera gear. In this case, it was my new Sony A99.

My initial verdict is very positive. The images are very, very sharp. It's a little disconcerting to have the LED viewfinder show the image I just shot before going back to live action, but I was getting used to it by the end if the day.

The manual focus option is also different - it can be locked in through a menu, or if you just want it for one shot, hold a button on the back of the body and focus. Take your thumb off the button, though, and it snaps back to auto.

I found the light sensors to be a vast improvement over my A-350, which is forgiving in its own right. Having a sunny day helped, but on shots in dark shade, I was getting good results at ISO 100.

It had been at least two years since I had been to the zoo, and I was more than a little impressed with the number of improvements and additions it has made. The interactivity has increased a lot, especially in the birds area - I nearly stepped on a couple of tiny birds on a walkway through one of the cages.

Zoos are always a little sad after a while - I like to see animals in nature rather than behind steel mesh. But in comparison to other zoos, San Antonio has one to be proud of. The rest of my zoo pictures can be seen here.

Big Bend VI - Shaking the Dust From Our Boots... by Josh Trudell

Just in case you didn’t know what you wanted for Christmas – this fine item is available, posted on the wall of a store in Terlingua. Congratulations to the couple who got engaged at the top of the Lost Mine trail while we were hiking. We saw them coming down, and they looked gloriously happy.

Thank you, again, to FedEx and SuperFriend Dana, who saved my bacon.

Hey, gas station guy – you might want to try civilization for a while. You’ve spent a little too much time in the company of your own thoughts.

How big are tarantulas? Big enough that when you’re driving 60 mph on the highway, you can see them crossing the road. Think about that.

The kids on our rafting trip were a lot of fun – but I’m glad I didn’t have to drive them home. Mud EVERYWHERE.

Okay, lady – we get it, you wanted to go to Santa Elena Canyon. We all did. But after the sights and extra time we got on Colorado Canyon, you can’t think we got a bad deal. Oh wait…you still do.

“Planting a flag” in Mexico is definitely a euphemism. Thankfully, not one I had to endure.

I can’t wait to go back and have breakfast at India’s Café again.

Hearing the stories from the river guides about bureaucratic border nonsense makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Or a margarita.

One of the prettiest sunrises I’ve seen was an early morning at the Chisos Mountain Lodge. Glorious.

The tug-of-war rages – with this jewel of a park, I want the Big Bend area to succeed. But if they become too successful, the area could lose the remoteness that makes it special.

The walls of Santa Elena Canyon could double for the Wall in Game of Thrones – without the ice.

Big Bend V - It's getting dark out here... by Josh Trudell

One important lesson was reinforced during our hiking trips in Big Bend – always ask the park rangers before you believe any printed material. According to our guidebook, Balanced Rock was an easy hike. And the flyers in our room claimed it is a wonderful place to watch the sunset.

Um, no...and oh wait. No.

With the sun heading toward the horizon, we bounced over six miles of rutted road, headed for the trailhead. The rented SUV proved its worth here - my gas-efficient Matchbox car would have been beached more than once.

We pulled into the parking lot to find a trail leading through a narrow valley, with steep hillsides already growing dark.

It was our last night in the park, so we started double-timing it along the trail, hoping to catch the sunset. Hustling along the trail, which switched from gravel to sand and back again, we reached what looked like the end.

Or not.

A small arrow pointed us up a rock wall to a goat path of rock outcroppings. Stretching and reaching from one spot to the next, we monkeyed up the path, winding our way across the rock on little more than a hiking boot's width in spots.

After about 15 minutes of this, with the light dimming all the while, we reached Balanced Rock. The rock is balanced on two other boulders, and the mountain rises behind it.

On the west side.

Where the sunset was.

We had a nice view to the east, and in 12 hours, it would be a lovely sunrise. And if we stayed out there all night, we'd be rattlesnake snacks.

So down the hill we went, feeling our way along in the quickening dark from rock step to rock step. Finally, we got to the bottom and trudged back to the car in the dark. One turn nearly led us out into the desert, but we made it back without any mishaps.

A much more relaxed and pleasant hike was up the Lost Mine trail. The trail, starting from the road leading to the Chisos Mountain Lodge, winds up into the mountains encircling the lodge.

It's a walk with a little challenge to it - the mountains are steep and there is altitude - but it was a gorgeous day. Recent rainfall had the mountainsides covered in yellow blooms.

There are benches along the path, and you can stop anywhere along the second half of the trail for gorgeous views of Casa Grande - a huge rock formation looming over the surrounding hills.

The cool breeze at the top felt like it came straight from the Rocky Mountains. The trail immediately leapt into my top five hikes I've been on in Texas.

Next up - a few odds and ends...

Big Bend IV - Or, A Little Banjo Music by Josh Trudell

When we walked into the Starlight Theater in Terlingua after our rafting trip, I thought they’d play both kinds of music there – country AND western.

Then the cowboy-hat wearing guitarslinger behind the mic started playing Cole Porter songs. The stuffed goat with a Lone Star in its jaws seemed unimpressed.

Terlingua is one of the more interesting small towns I’ve ever visited. As it was described by one person, it’s where the hippies from Austin came after life started getting too intense there.

Bikers, tourists, river guides and others hung out on the porch connecting the Starlight with the Terlingua General Store, a small town scene if I’ve ever seen one. Strangers five minutes ago, we chewed the fat with another transplanted New Englander who was attracted by my New Hampshire t-shirt.

After a steak, we sat on the porch for a bit as the sun started to set behind us, lighting the Chisos Mountains in golden tones. A pickup band of banjo pickers brought back the country sound, with classic Willie and Waylon tunes.

Terlingua was originally a mining town, and the ghost-filled remains of ruined stone huts sit in front of the general store, covering the slope down to the graveyard.

The scattered piles of stones glowed in the evening light, the yellow and orange rocks keeping their warm hue. Fresh wood and plastic toys showed that a few huts are still being used, even with roofs held down by tires and rope to keep them from blowing away.

Rubble sprawled across the ground, spraying in worn and weathered lumps. Walls yawned from fatigue, getting a little closer to joining those on the earth. The rocks leaned downhill, as if all they wanted was to roll off the hillside and down into the cinnebar mines.

The wear of desert wind and weather is visible on every surface. Some of the older graves are as featureless as if they had endured decades of New England winters, but here they’ve been wiped clean by the sand. Splintered and shattered crosses lean defiantly – others lie broken, their post lost. In the fading light, it’s a mournful vision.

And yet…the banjo notes float across these tombs, calling the workers to come up from the mines and out from their huts, calling the children to laugh and run and play, calling us to dance, to love, to live.

Next up: Climbing the peaks

Big Bend, Part III - Rafting, Rafting on the River.... by Josh Trudell

As we sat in the Chisos Mountain Lodge and watched it storm, one thought kept running through my head.

“There’s going to be enough water for rafting tomorrow! Awesome!”

The rafting trip on the Rio Grande had been one of the planned highlights of this trip – I had been dying to photograph the steep walls of Santa Elena Canyon, in particular.

Most rafting trips on the Rio Grande leave from Terlingua, about 45 minutes from the lodge.

With the lodge restaurant not open yet, we had an 0-dark-thirty start, and stopped at India’s Coffee Shop and Bakery for breakfast.

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, the scene changes, but the morning formalities remain the same. Here, we sat out on a patio framed by Christmas lights, and listened to the locals bullshit each other as they sipped coffee. An Australian drawl added a little flavor to the fluent Texan being spoken.

As the sun drew a line across the mountains in front of us and slid down, we loaded up on fantastic homemade tacos and a breakfast burrito like no other.

The peaceful easy feeling from the great breakfast and the sunrise was dinged a bit, however, when we found that Santa Elena Canyon was not available for our rafting trip. Not because the river was too high – but because the road to the take-out point had been washed away.

We would, however, float Colorado Canyon, which was not as dramatic.

I’ve got to admit – I was a little disappointed at this point. This trip had been up and down a little too much for my taste so far. But, buckling up, and renewing determination to enjoy what I could get at, we jumped in the van and headed out.

Bouncing down the bumpy roads on our way to the river, the burrito might have momentarily felt like a bad idea. But it, and we, survived, and before long we were loading onto rafts and into the river.

With all the hot air and self-importance about borders, it seems natural to think of rivers that serve as borders as huge bodies of water. The reality is much humbler – for virtually all of this trip, I could have walked across the Rio Grande and not gotten my belt wet.

The guides told us of often meeting the vaqueros who herd cattle on the Mexican side, occasionally in the sights of border guards who hadn’t counted on the people who lived on the river when the political walls grew higher.

As we rafted, we looked up at the hundreds of feet of canyon wall and couldn’t help but wonder why exactly politicians thought we needed a manmade wall. Kids occasionally hopped over to the Mexico side and then giggled back to their rafts.

While the canyon wasn’t the one I hoped for, being there for the rain showed how quickly the river can be reborn. Thick green sheaves of river cane flourished on banks that had been brown or yellow just a week ago. Our guide said it was the greenest he had seen it in three years.

As we pulled the rafts out, I looked at the river – both life force and barrier. Living here means living on the edge – if the water goes dry, you’re done. But on this day, the river offered stillness, peace and a snapshot of the rebirth simple water can bring – more valuable than any photograph I could hope to take.

Faith in the trip – renewed.

Next: The ruins of Terlingua.

Big Bend, Part II - Or, That's as Close to Lightning as I Need to Be by Josh Trudell

As I carried the box holding my camera bag back to my room, lightning flashed to the south. Backing up for a second – the Chisos Mountain Lodge sits in a big bowl in the mountains. The Window is a crack in the west side of the bowl, making a beautiful spot for sunsets – or lightning watching, if you’re into that kind of thing.

From where I was standing, lightning buzzed and flashed through the clouds to the west – still far enough away that it wasn’t raining, but making for some great views through the Window.

Racing back to my room, I pulled out my bag and tripod and headed for a small scenic overlook trail in front of the lodge. The storm seemed to be drifting to the left of the Window, behind the mountains, but some long exposures helped me capture a couple of lightning strikes.

After about 20 minutes of shooting, I went back to the room to see what Superwife’s plans were for the evening. We had talked about going for an evening hike, and I was hoping to find a place where we could continue to watch the storm.

Not a problem, as it turned out.

We packed our gear, stepped out of our room, and found a cloud monster had eaten the surrounding mountains.

The storm had shifted course, bringing the lightning and rain right into the bowl around us. The wind picked up fast, blowing hats off and sending papers swirling. Rain began to pelt us, hard drops that sprayed off the ground. Thunder boomed around the timpani drum of the mountains.

Immediately giving up on the hike, we started for the lodge. I stopped in amazement as the clouds rolled down the mountain behind our building, disappearing the trees and rock formations.

I stopped to try and capture the swarming clouds, but the wind and rain made it almost impossible. I shot one frame:

And then we ran for the lodge, where we sat and felt very small as the storm raged around us.

The turning point was a sudden change in tone from the roof and windows. Quarter-sized hail started bouncing off the deck and dinging the cars in the parking lot.

After about 15 minutes of that, the storm lessened quickly, leaving a watercolor-smeared sky.

Next – Why all that rain in a desert isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Big Bend, Part 1 by Josh Trudell

I’ve wanted to go to Big Bend National Park for the last eight years – since the day we decided we were moving to Texas, in other words.

The mountains, the rivers, the rugged edge of the back of beyond – I was all over it. The idea of photographing that level of wilderness was making my camera salivate.

Thus, it was a trifle distressing that three hours into the eight-hour drive out to the park, I realized I FORGOT MY FRIGGING CAMERA BAG.

Commence head-to-steering wheel connections, made early, often and with many expletives.

Lemme ‘splain.

When I was packing the truck we rented for the trip, I took my camera bag off my shoulder in the bedroom before carrying another bag out to the truck. When I went back to help Superwife with her bag, she was already out of the bedroom, meaning I didn’t go back in, and THE BAG was left on the bed.

On a lunch stop in Del Rio, three hours drive from home base in San Antonio and four hours to Big Bend, I opened the back door to find…no bag. Meaning no camera. Meaning all the photographic dreams that I had had of Big Bend…just disappeared.

Commence headbanging, to the tune of “You’re a Dumbass.”

As we ate lunch, we kicked around our options. Drive back and get the bag. Get The Friend with The Key to ship us the bag overnight. Bite the bullet and do without.

I hoped to sell stories and photos from this trip to help offset the cost, so biting the bullet didn’t work. We had finished lunch and started heading east when we finally were able to raise a FedEx office. Yes, they were open late. Yes, they could get the bag there tomorrow.

Thankfully, we had a Friend. Said Friend went far, far above and beyond the call, driving out to our house, finding the bag and schlepping to the Fed Ex store, where for $200, they flew it from San Antonio to Memphis to El Paso before finally putting it on a truck for the Chiso Mountain Lodge in Big Bend.

Conflicting reports had it arriving anywhere from 10 in the morning to five in the afternoon. When it didn’t show up by 10, we decided to take the least scenic hike possible and still get a taste of Big Bend – a walk through the Chihuahuan Desert to the rock formations called the Chimneys.

Hiking out, I expected the family from The Hills Have Eyes to come stumbling down the hillside at any moment – it’s scenic, but once you’re out of sight of the road, you can forget civilization even exists. The hike is a relatively flat walk through a giant bowl, and before long we started to feel very small.

Returning to the lodge, I found that my camera bag had arrived…and then the thunderstorm rolled in.

Continued In Part II…

Sleepy, rainy Sunday afternoons... by Josh Trudell

A few thoughts while edging toward a Sunday afternoon nap:  It's pouring rain here in South Texas today, and the Cowboys are playing in bright sunshine in Seattle. Ironic.

It is officially football season, and that reminds me of my favorite football-related story. 

Since moving to Texas, my wife and I have had regular occasions where we've been reminded that we live in something of a foreign land compared to our native New England. 

Seeing a mariachi band visit my workplace. Finding out that salsa goes with everything. Have people tell me, "We're fixin' to shoot" and "They've got good EYE-talian food." Hair that could fend off bullets and leopard prints in all their forms and splendor.

This is the Texas moment that I think I'll always remember, though.

Driving home from work one day, I was listening to a sports-talk radio host rhapsodize about the stadium just opened by the Dallas Cowboys. After ripping through several pages of the nearest thesaurus, comparing it to all the hotels in Vegas and various wonders of the ancient and modern worlds, he came out with this:

"If Jesus Christ was a Transformer, he'd be the new Cowboys stadium."

I nearly drove off the road. 

Branching out: After focusing on travel writing for some time, I've had the chance to stretch into some outdoors writing for the sports section of the San Antonio Express-News. I wrote this piece on windsurfing, and I've got some additional pieces coming on rafting, zip-lining and hang-gliding.

Adventure is coming. We're going out to Big Bend National Park soon - a trip I've been looking forward to practically since we moved here. Gorgeous, seriously photo worthy country. Can. Not. Wait.