October 6, 2013

Answers to Personal Questions by Irene

Irene (of Irene's Desk), a dear blogging friend, tagged me a couple of months ago for a blogging award: Most Influential Blogger. Oh my gosh, how complimentary is that? I don’t participate in blogging awards anymore, but she had a list of intriguing personal questions for me to answer. So I promised her that I would provide the answers to repay her kindness.

Unfortunately, the timing of Irene’s request wasn't good. It was when my beloved iMac crashed, and it took a while for the computer to be successfully repaired. Of course, you know that we have been knee-deep in medical issues this summer too. The weeks have piled up, and I have been terribly delinquent. However, I’m finally seeing a few rays of light. It’s now or never to answer Irene’s questions!

Settle in with some refreshments because this is a long post. If you want to skip and run, that’s okay. Here’s a pretty photo for you to enjoy if you have to skedaddle!

hummingbird’s last visit of 2013

1. Of all the places you've traveled, I know you've enjoyed most, where would you NOT want to get stuck, for any reason?

New York’s JFK International Airport. It’s not even a close contest. We connected through this airport on our first trip to Ireland, way back in 1999. Our experience was so awful that we vowed never to go through JFK again. Perhaps it has changed since then, but we aren’t going to take that chance. The airport and security personnel were some of the rudest people we have ever encountered in our entire lives. The bus transport system between the terminals was atrocious. And we could only find one rest room in the entire international terminal. It was very well hidden in back of a greasy spoon restaurant, next to a janitor’s closet, and it was filthy. I still shudder when I recall the whole experience.

2. Again, with the travel, if you could take a friend with you, where would you go and why?

If you can brave the trip, then come join me! I would love to show my friends some incredible places that are off the beaten path but wondrous places to visit.

For stunning mountain vistas and fresh air, you can’t beat a helicopter and hiking exploration of the Purcell Mountain Range with Canadian Mountain Holidays. The Bugaboo Lodge is an all-time personal favorite because it has the most incredible scenic setting. They have a  photography workshop in August 2014. Who wants to go?!

And you would also fall in love with wild bears if you joined me at the luxurious Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in British Columbia, Canada, and the rustic Brooks Lodge in Katmai National Park, Alaska.

For a good old-fashioned road trip, we would pack up my Subaru Outback with clothes, provisions, and camera gear and head out to visit the grand USA. We would travel the back roads, stopping at small country towns to soak up rural ambiance and also visit stunning National and State parks that are scattered across the lower 48 States. We’d get up early to watch sunrises and witness morning fogs that swirl across the landscape. And we’d miss the traditional dinner hour so that we could watch colorful sunsets unfold and listen to the quiet of magical twilight hours.

3. Would you rather take more than one friend?

Of course! The more, the merrier!

4. How did you get started taking these wonderful pictures?

I have dabbled with film photography off and on since my youthful days in the early 1970s. It’s hard to believe now, but I went a few decades without ever taking a photo! Because film and processing cost so much in those days, it was prudent for only Mr. Jim to take photos of our travels. The advent of affordable digital photography equipment renewed my interest. I started doing photography on a regular basis again about six years ago, right after I retired from an engineering career and started this blog. I have to credit blogging for igniting the passion that I now have for photography!

If you want to bore yourself silly about my background and photographic hobby, you can check out the Ilford company’s profile of me, published on their blog in May 2013.

5. If you had an opportunity, and I know you will, where would you like to see your photos?

Gosh, my photos are already seen around the world through my little blog here and also on Flickr! I think that is pretty remarkable. A prominent advertising agency tracked me down in early 2012 when they found one of my photographic composite images (weathered stone flag) through a Google image search. The photo was used for television video ads for Senator Orrin Hatch. That was quite an unexpected treat! I also have several photos licensed through Getty Images, thanks to their discovery of my work. So I have become an “accidental” professional. If someone wants to buy my creative work, I am very flattered. Who knows what the future will bring? At this point in my life, I’m just having fun.

6. Have you gone, travel wise, to the place you've always wanted to go? Would you go back?

I have traveled a lot more than I thought possible already, but I always have a mental “bucket list” of places that I wish to see again and for the first time. I’ve been quite fortunate to have already seen 46 out of 50 States. The western States and Alaska hold the most charm to me right now. In the short term, Yellowstone/Tetons and Yosemite top my list. I’ve visited western Wyoming over 30 years ago and would dearly like to see it again – this time with good camera gear and some photo knowledge! And I have never been to Yosemite, and I’d like to see the grandeur of those massive mountain peaks. In the near future, I also want to experience the rugged coastal beauty of Newfoundland.

Long-term, I would love to see Ireland one more time (we’ve been there twice) and also see Scotland. If I think I can physically endure the trip, it would be great to explore the Galapagos Islands. Australia and New Zealand have long been on my travel list, but I don’t think I can endure the long flights involved now. I’m so grateful that I was able to heli-hike in the Canadian Rockies when I could. The three trips we’ve taken to Alaska have also been incredible. I’ve already told Mr. Jim that I would be willing to go photograph Alaskan bears again, LOL.

7. You've downsized your home recently, what is the best part, and the worst part of doing this?

We sold a bigger house and 6 acres almost four years ago. Though we loved our original Grey Havens cottage dearly, it was going to be too much for us to manage as time went on. And the maintenance of the place did not allow us the freedom to travel frequently. So we had our new “downsized” Grey Havens cottage built a couple of miles away and moved in three years ago.

We now live in the villa section of a beautiful subdivision. The yard is maintained for us, and we have lovely neighbors. We can still putter around in our flowerbeds, but the work only takes us 5-10 minutes a week, compared to 10-20 hours per week at our former place. With a smaller home, we also have less to clean. I miss the big rooms and privacy of our former cottage. I also miss the abundance of beautiful flowerbeds and fresh vegetables out of our gardens.  But I don’t miss the work and the maintenance costs! The process of parting with many cherished possessions was difficult. We also had to pack and move twice – once into a rental duplex while we built and then into our new home. 

We’re very glad to now be settled in comfortably for our retirement years, with the ability to travel and pursue our interests. We are truly blessed.


  1. I knew these answers would be worth the wait. Thank You for participating, it's nice to get to know you a little more. Here's hoping you can make all those trips you wish to.

  2. Oh I enjoyed reading the answers to Irene's questions. One always learns so much more about a person. I was also reminded of the Orrin Hatch video, which I am leaving to go see once again.

  3. always nice to know a bit more about you. glad you have your villa residence now - helps this year, i'm certain.

  4. I want in on that road trip across the USA! Always in aww of your journeys and photos!

  5. I've enjoyed reading and learning more about you. I've always felt like we really could load up either your Subaru Outback...or ours....and have a fun adventure together! Sweet hugs!

  6. How fun to learn more about you. So glad you like our Canadian scenery. North America is crammed full of beauty.

  7. Donna
    You've had such wonderful travels! I love how you have been accidently discovered too.
    If you win that lottery and are looking for friends to take along on your trips, count me in!

  8. First off the photo of the hummingbird is beautiful. Second I enjoyed reading your answers. I like posts like these because you always learn at least a little something new about your favorite bloggers

  9. I fully enjoyed learning more about you as I sipped my coffee !

  10. I did not skip and run and glad I didn't. Nice to read the answers and get to know you.

  11. I'm glad you love the new cottage, and in awe of the many travels you and Jim have been on. Great answers! :)

  12. Interesting post Donna. Glad to see that Australia was on the bucket list. Yes it is an awful long trip.

    My experiences of JFK were not so bad as yours. Perhaps it has changed from when you went through and when I started using it from 2002 to 2011.

    Would love to see Ireland again. Also Scotland, and various places I missed in the US. Oh well, maybe one day there might be a miracle.

    I too am pleased I have downsized. In the rental home at the moment, but about to move into a retirement villa soon. I wouldn't mind looking after a place again, but my feet don't want to co-operate. Best to give them a rest. Maybe I'll get to swim at the villa, and get some exercise that way.

  13. I for one would love to go traveling with you. But seeing your pictures and hearing of your adventures is fun too.
    And we can vouch for the maintenance of more property. We only have an acre but it still gets overwhelming in the Summer when EVERYTHING is growing like a week, including the weeds. LOL!
    Love ya my friend.

  14. Delighted to know just a bit more about you. I too want to go back to Ireland. It's infectious.
    Downsizing definitely opens a window.

  15. So lovely to get to know you a little better, Donna. You've become a dear blogging sister. L.O.V.E. the hummingbird. :)

  16. You and Jim have had some marvelous adventures and I'm sure you both look forward your next journey.
    Your hummingbird shot is a humdinger :)

  17. I loved this! It's so much fun to get better acquainted. Little by little. I have an airport or two that I don't want to fly in or out of - or through! Ever again.


Marty, here! Donna loves comments, and I faithfully pass them on to her. Thank you so much for visiting!