Tuesday, February 20, 2018

STL DPB On The Road - We Never Tire Of It

We are not a couple who like to lie out on a beach, avoiding consideration of the co-pays for melanoma treatment. This is a sunny place, though, that is so beautiful we return again and again. This our tenth trip to Costa Rica and our eighth in the Tamarindo - Playa Langosta area.

Thanks to some wonderful people who own a beachfront condo, we have the benefit of the ocean and beautiful accommodations. If anyone is interested in coming here, we can put you in touch with the right people. You do have to book well in advance for this particular property. We have our week for February, 2019 reserved.    

Monday, February 19, 2018

STL DPB On The Road - Day To Night In Monteverde

Some people go on vacation to relax. We tend to beat ourselves up to get new experiences. Saturday was a good example. After we watched the hummingbirds at Selvatura Park, we hiked their mountainside trail with eight bridges across the canopy: up and down and through the treetops. In the rain. Not so good for the cameras.

Back to Hidden Canopy Treehouses for drinks, snacks and sunset. Then out for a night walk in the forest with the hotel's superb guide, who goes by Koky. He has Superman's x-ray vision, allowing him to find the tiniest bug in pitch blackness.

The day was exhausting. Now we are in Tamarindo.  I plan to do as close to nothing as possible today.    

Sunday, February 18, 2018

STL DPB On The Road - Hummingbirds of Monteverde

We are exhausted after walking up and down mountainside trails much of the day. Our first stop was a place called Selvatura Park, which has zip lines (not for us), an amazing system of trails and suspension bridges through the forest canopy (3 km with a serious uphill climb), and a hummingbird garden. 

Damn, these things are hard to photograph but I kept working the scene. There are probably twenty more of these I could edit. By the way, the spots in the first picture are raindrops. It was soggy.

Down to Tamarindo today to recuperate by the Pacific.               

Saturday, February 17, 2018

STL DPB On The Road - Cloud Forest

I took a lot of pictures yesterday but someone asked for a monkey, so a monkey he shall get (a capuchin, by the way). And a motmot bird for good measure.

Here in the mountains of central Costa Rica, it's always rather cool and misty.  I had to turn the wipers on while driving, even though the sky overhead was blue. This creates dense, rich forests full of wildlife and exotic flowers. Lots more of these to post but I need more time to edit.

Friday, February 16, 2018


Monteverde, Costa Rica, in the central mountains between the Caribbean and the Pacific. The wet winds from the east bring a constant mist that creates a cool weather cloud forest. The rough road up the mountains is a challenging drive but, although it was sunny, I had the wipers on most of the time. The mister runs almost constantly, creating an extraordinarily lush and diverse enviornment.

We are staying at what might be our favorite hotel in the world, the Hidden Canopy Treehouses. We were here on our last visit five years ago. Each room is, literally, a treehouse, up in the forest canopy with no one to look in at you but the birds. The pictures below were taken in the public lounge, where there are complimentary drinks and snacks every late afternoon. The direction of view is the same, with photos taken about an hour apart.

Into the jungle this morning.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

STL DPB ON THE ROAD - Versailles Nightly Photo

Hello from Miami, where we spent the night on our way to Costa Rica. We found out that the Little Havana district is close to the airport so we went to the city's best-known Cuban restaurant. It was big, busy, full of families and very Latin. I was proud of myself for mostly ordering dinner in Spanish. 

The food was more entertaining than memorable but it was fun for all. Where the name came from I don't know, other than there were a lot o fancy mirrors around the room. And why the hostesses were wearing these angel get-ups is beyond me.

And a nod of thanks to our friend Ciel de Quimper and her town.    

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tough Guy

The look: black jacket, black knit cap, black sunglasses on a cloudy day. The cigar and the posture that says "just try it." Beer can tucked under his arm. And yet festooned with beads, big colored balls and standing next to signs for orange cream pop freezes and ersatz Mexican food. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?   

Sunday, February 11, 2018

What's On That Screen?

The height of the silly season is upon The Lou. Yesterday was the official Mardi Gras parade from downtown to the Soulard district. I didn't get my usual image haul, unfortunately. We decided to take Ellie. Didn't get to the walk staging area before the start as usual and the kid couldn't tolerate the noise. The floats were loaded with big amps and speakers and at one point under a trestle, when a train was crossing over the street, Ellie clamped her hands over her ears in pain. My wife and daughter took her to a restaurant while I walked some more.

The people watching was more interesting than the floats.  I really, really want to know what the young woman is watching on her phone. (The imagination runs wild.) The guys below are just getting into the swing of things. There is enough material to cover daily posts until we head south later this week.      

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chihauhua With a Margarita

It seemed like everyone except aging photographers was imbibing at mid-day during the dog parade. (I had an excuse: my hands were full of equipment.) And while you're at it, why not put a tiny sombrero on your tiny dog and give it a sip of the essence of agave? Dogs just wanna have fun.

Our big Mardi Gras parade is today, the Saturday before the date itself. I'll go shoot it if we are not getting freezing rain. Of course this Wednesday is both Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day.  Might create a conflict for the more devout. We're planning a Valentine's dinner at a Cuban restaurant in Miami's Little Havana during a one-night stop before points beyond.        

Friday, February 9, 2018

Everything You Need

It is common to see street vendors at public events selling all sorts of junk roughly related to the occasion. It's all overpriced, tacky, and most of it will be gone in days or weeks. I wonder about the people, men and women, who sell the trinkets. Where do they come from? Why do they want this job? This ruggedly handsome man has perfect clothing for the weather. He is not impoverished.

There will be dozens of these people on the street for our official Mardi Gras parade tomorrow. I'll shoot it if the weather is not too bad. The forecast is for cold, although not extremely so. The prospect of freezing rain could keep me away.    

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Where Do These People Come From?

St. Louis, I guess. What does that say about our character? Probably something good. Eccentrics and silly people are a welcome change from the daily grind.           

Late post today. Too much work.   

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Weirdos And Law Abiding Citizens

Okay, so it's sort of pre Mardi Gras and people dress strangely and start drinking by late morning. (Breakfast of champions, as Kurt Vonnegut said.) But zombie Santas in February? À chacun ses goûts. 

Others tread a more narrow path. $100 fine for no dog leash? No contribution to the municipal coffers here.         

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dogs In Costumes

It must be silly season. Lots of people in the Soulard Dog Parade had their pets in costumes, one crazier than the next. (Some of the people were pretty out there, too.) These are just a couple of examples. Lots more to edit as time permits.       

Monday, February 5, 2018

Cold Dog

We have a bit of Mardi Gras here, not that big but fun. It is, of course, commercialized, with several different sponsored events. Yesterday brought the annual dog parade, sponsored by Purina, the pet food maker, which is headquartered here. 

It was cold and windy, leading to the lowest turnout I've seen in some time. The smaller animals needed coats, hats and a place to cuddle up. More to come.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A Heck Of An Introduction

After thirteen years, the St. Louis Symphony's beloved music director, David Robertson, will leave us at the end of this season. I don't know how he has kept it up this long. His home is in New York. His wife is the concert pianist Orli Shaham. They have twin sons. I saw that he is conducting Cosi Fan Tutti at the Metropolitan Opera this spring. Oh, and he is also chief conductor or the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. It has been a great pleasure to have him here.

Time passes. Our new music director, starting with the 2019-2020 season, is Frenchman Stéphane Denève. This weekend was his only guest appearance this year and we've never heard him before. O M G. He conducted a program of French music, featuring sisters Christina and Michelle Naughton, below, playing the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos. There arms are so fluid they looked like four octopus tentacles. Denève is a spectacular talent. We look forward to hearing much more from him.

The handsome couple below saw me taking the picture of the Naughtons on my phone at intermission. They asked me to take their picture on his phone. We are glad to have more young people in the audience.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Leave Something In The Tip Jar

Imagine Chuck Berry as a street musician, trying to hustle a few bucks on a busy sidewalk and being ignored by all the passers-by. We've seen something like this in most cities. Have you ever passed by a talented street performer, someone who really got your attention, and not left a thank you? I remember the achingly beautiful music of a young violinist in the passages above the Grand Central subway station in New York and just striding down to the platform.

Once again, in The Loop section of Delmar Boulevard in University City. I never before noticed that the whole weight of the statue rests only on the right forefoot.    

Friday, February 2, 2018

We've All Had Those Kind Of Days

You know, it's evening. it was a hard day at work, you had to deal with a lot of jerks. The fact that the country is run by villains and fools has been rubbed in your face.  And our species still appears intent on making itself extinct (have you read that Cape Town, a metro area of almost 4 million people, will totally - totally - run out of water some time in April?). Your mind and spirit feel soiled.

Wouldn't it be nice to have someplace like this? Not just for substance abuse, but for existence abuse? This was found along the Delmar Loop in University City. Don't know what they sell inside but I might be interested.      

Thursday, February 1, 2018

My Award Goes To...

There were prizes awarded late in the day for the best ice sculptures. We didn't hang around that long but I had my own pick for best in show. It is hard for me to imagine the precision and skill it took to make the top part of this one. The meaning isn't completely clear but my best guess is that it is someone doing a handstand on a surfboard while something fishy watches from the bottom of the wave.

I took this picture soon after we arrived. It was a mild afternoon and by the time we we were ready to leave the arms of the top part had melted, the body falling onto the pavement. Another lesson in impermanence.