On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


My mom, with me hiding inside, 1970, Les Dents de Midi, Canton de Valais, Switzerland, though the view could be in Vaud, as that’s where my dad was from.

I recently discovered a stash of slides of my mom from that summer, when she was pregnant with me, her only child. They were taken by my dad where they lived in Kinshasa, when they visited his family in Switzerland, and then hers in the US. He collected and sequestered just these few slides into a cool cigar box, and it/they survived the house fire. It was almost like my dad’s ghost pushed me to select and look at this specific set, right as her health took a turn.

ps – all image enhancing suggestions welcome via email. I have PaintShopPro and am not really graphically skilled. I am scanning in old slides from the 40’s-70’s, many with fire/water/chemical/atmospheric/mold residue. Most were processed in top-class, professional-service labs in Switzerland, NYC, Houston, Bogota, Lima, Tulsa, etc. – oil towns, if you will (though I doubt my dad trusted the local outfit in Cochobamba, TBH). The oldest have very washed out colors, but many from the 50’s are surprisingly good. It’s so neat to see pics of Manhattan that my dad took to then take back to his family in Switzerland to show – he was very academic, in a totally Swiss way.


Pro tip: when 1 hour into a 4.5-6 hour surgery of a loved one, the phone rings, and it’s the surgeon, don’t lose focus – it’s not necessarily dire, and good question and listening skills are critical. But it wasn’t good news either – the cancer has spread onto my mom’s liver and surgery is thus off. Chemo will be scheduled tomorrow, likely beginning in two weeks. Not good, but I’m not preparing a funeral for next week, thankfully. I’ve been there, since my father didn’t tell us he was (non-cancer) terminal and his death was a shock (well, just the timing was for me, but that’s another painful confession for another day).


So I needed some joyful pics, and luckily we have a wonderful bird expert who also has a way with words. No – not Betty!

Today, pictures from valued commenter Albatrossity.

I have been privileged to help teach university classes abroad, specifically in Brazil and Ecuador. It is a privilege because I get to go to beautiful places, but mostly because I get to be with young smart people who often are out of the USA for the first time in their life. As one said to me when we landed at midnight in Manaus and were directed to a line for Foreigners, “I’ve never been a foreigner before.” Whatever they learn from the academic part of the class is vastly overshadowed by being out of their clan, their country, and their comfort zone for a while. Hopefully this sort of education will lead them into a lifetime of not voting for xenophobes.

But one of the beautiful places is the Galapagos Archipelago, so here are some pictures from a couple of class trips there.

Kicker Rock, aka Leon Dormido

Taken on 2016-05-27

San Cristobal, Galapagos

Viewed through a sea arch on the island of San Cristobal, this rock is a stunning snorkeling destination. Three Brown Noddies, a species of tern, are flying through the arch.

Blue-footed Booby courtship dance

Taken on 2016-05-24

San Cristobal, Galapagos

No trip to the Galapagos is complete without seeing these iconic birds, and seeing them court was a special treat

The beach at Cerro Brujo

Taken on 2016-05-24

Near the volcanic cone known as Cerro Brujo, San Cristobal, Galapagos

Locals told me that this is their favorite beach in all Galapagos. I’ve never seen one that is more gorgeous; I’d have to agree.

Lava Heron

Taken on 2017-05-25

In the harbor of Puerto Baquirezo Moreno, the provincial capital of the Galapagos, San Cristobal

An endemic species, found only in the Galapagos, this bird’s black plumage can make it difficult to spot as it forages in the black lava rocks near the shoreline

Marine Iguana

Taken on 2017-05-27

Espanola, an uninhabited island and the oldest in the archipelago

Another endemic species; these aquatic lizards eat algae underwater, and bask on black lava rocks most of the rest of the time.

Magnifcent Frigatebirds

Taken on 2017-05-26

Rock near Punta Pitt at the easternmost end of San Cristobal, and the easternmost edge of the archipelago as well.

Frigatebirds are always on the lookout for a snack, even if that might be the chick of another frigatebird. Some White-rumped (Galapagos) Petrels are also flying around this rock.

Swallow-tailed Gulls

Taken on 2017-05-27

Espanola Island, Galapagos

A pair of gulls celebrating dinner, perhaps. This is an oddball gull, as it is primarily nocturnal. But very handsome.


Thank you so much Albatrossity, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


And make sure to hug your loved ones and tell them that you love them as much as you can. The timer ticks for all of them, and for all of us. One day, you thrill as your mom is transformed by Wonder Woman, the next. trying to comfort her after the doctor calls her in the evening, out of the blue, telling her that she might have cancer. Life does indeed come at you fast.

One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

43 replies
  1. 1
    Sab says:

    I love that picture of your mother.

    I had a distant ancestor from Vaud. His surname was Vaudin, which was eventually (two generations later) anglicized to Wadden.

    Autocorrect keeps trying to turn Vaud into Vaudeville.

  2. 2

    I use VueScan to scan my slides and negatives, it’s the best(though not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the other scanning software) and much cheaper($50 IIRC) than some of the alternatives. I used to use PaintShopPro as well, I moved to Lightroom and Photoshop because there are much more resources out there (free and paid) to really get the most out of digital images. I have a subscription to the Photographer’s package that includes Lightroom and Photoshop for $10 a month. Most images that you’ve seen here are pretty much processed in Lightroom, the exceptions being scanned images to fix blown out skies.

  3. 3
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Cool birds I’m unlikely to see outside of a zoo. Luv that first pic.

  4. 4
    eclare says:

    Galapagos pictures are amazing! So sorry to hear about your mother, that’s a lovely photo, glad you found it. Obligatory fuck cancer.

  5. 5
    Mary G says:

    Your mom (with you onboard) is adorable. Fuck fucking cancer. My dad got sick when I was six years old and died when I was 11 and in some ways I’ve never gotten over it. Care is so much better now, so I will hold good thoughts for your mom. I have a friend that was diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer six years ago who is currently in remission.

    The Galapagos islands have been on my bucket list forever, and virtual visits are probably my only option, so thanks to Albatrossity. Love that beach.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    I was actually thinking of submitting some pictures but the quality here intimidates me.

    Maybe I’ll download pictures from the internet and claim them as my own.

  7. 7
    Amir Khalid says:


    Maybe I’ll download pictures from the internet and claim them as my own.

    Thus leading to Baud!2020!’s first campaign scandal.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    @Amir Khalid: There are no more scandals.

  9. 9

    @Amir Khalid: I believe that Baud is Baud!2020!’s first campaign scandal.

  10. 10

    @Baud: “No scandal, no scandal, you’re the scandal…”

  11. 11
    MomSense says:

    Your mom looks lovely in that photo, Alain. I’ll keep you both in my thoughts.

    Galapagos is at the top of my bucket list. Albatrossity’s photos are wonderful.

  12. 12
    Betty Cracker says:

    That’s such a wonderful picture of your mom! Strength and courage to you both.

    Love Albatrossity’s bird photos, particularly the blue-footed boobies!

  13. 13
    gbbalto says:

    Alain – I hope for the best for your mother.
    Thanks for running this feature – the pix and stories are great!

  14. 14
    satby says:

    Alain, best wishes for success with chemotherapy for your mom. I’m keeping you both in my thoughts.

  15. 15
    satby says:

    Albatrossity, you get such great close-ups of these birds! Thank you for sharing your pictures.

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    Albatrossity, The pictures are amazing and what an opportunity for the students.
    Alain, I’m so sorry for your mom, and as others have stated f.k cancer.

  17. 17
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    And make sure to hug your loved ones and tell them that you love them as much as you can. The timer ticks for all of them, and for all of us. One day, you thrill as your mom is transformed by Wonder Woman, the next. trying to comfort her after the doctor calls her in the evening, out of the blue, telling her that she might have cancer.

    Ugh…sorry to hear that. Reminds me, it’s that week again. The anniversary of my dreaded trip back East for my Mom’s funeral. Still, to this day the roughest week of my life. Though ironically I legit put 11/8/16 right up there alongside it. Lovely pic of your mom.

    One of these days I’m actually gonna start getting in on one of these pic threads. Maybe this week, since we are about to head to Olympic National Park in a couple hours.

  18. 18
    lurker dean says:

    Love that pic of your mom! Will be hoping for the best for her, and wishing her strength during her treatment.

  19. 19

    I was reading along thinking how happy your pregnant mom looks and then found the cancer news. Screw that.

  20. 20
    Another Scott says:

    ‘morning everyone.

    Great picture of your mom, Alain. I’m very sorry about the bad news about her. Fingers crossed.

    For photos, I still use a stand-alone copy of Google’s Picasa. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button usually works very well for me, is quick and easy, and is a good starting point for other tweaks. It’s not easily available any more, but similar functionality is available elsewhere.

    Another free and very powerful tool (that I haven’t used very much) is ImageJ. It might be worth looking at.

    Good luck!

    Best wishes,

  21. 21

    @Uncle Ebeneezer: Olympic National Park is lovely.

  22. 22
    Waratah says:

    Alain, lovely photo of you and your Mom. By the time my mother in law was diagnosed with colon cancer hers had spread too. The surgeon said he tried to get as much as he could. We asked if chemo would help and he said we could try. She did not want to do the chemo but did for us. We were lucky to have five more years before it returned. I hope you get that many.

  23. 23
    bystander says:

    Great way to start the morning. Fantastic photos.

  24. 24
    Cermet says:

    So deeply sorry and my most hopeful encouragement that all goes well with the chemo!

  25. 25
    ThresherK says:

    Best thoughts for you and yours.

  26. 26
    Alain the site fixer says:

    Thanks all! Stay tuned for tons of great pics next week! Have a good weekend everybody.

  27. 27
    mali muso says:

    I love that photo of your mom, and wish her and you all the best. I lived in Switzerland in a tiny village called Huemoz (down the hill from skiing village Villars) for a year after college and Dents du Midi was in the foreground of the scenery across the front yard. Just a breathtakingly beautiful area.

  28. 28
    Kristine says:

    Best wishes for your mom and for you.

    That’s a lovely photo.

  29. 29
    Betty says:

    Best wishes for your Mom. Not an easy time for either of you. Wonderful pictures.

  30. 30
    ninja3000 says:

    Spent the summer of ’72 there, and I think I may have stood in almost the exact same spot as your mom!

  31. 31
    Tokyokie says:

    Alain, I finished high school in Vaud in 1972 and had a splendid view of les Dents du Midi from my dorm room balcony. I always enjoy seeing pictures of them, especially ones from roughly the time I was there. Bonne chance à tu mère.

  32. 32
    Immanentize says:

    Alain. I just can’t even. So sorry about the news.

  33. 33
    Fair Economist says:

    So sorry about your mom. Best wishes for an effective chemotherapy and an extended good life for her.

  34. 34
    Elizabelle says:

    Alain: your mom is so elegant. I wish her the best with chemo, and hope that she has a lot more quality time with you and the family.

    Love Albatrossity’s photos.

    I think this is my favorite BJuice feature. Grateful to Alain for starting it.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    Good luck with the chemo. It’s a bit of a crapshoot, but they can really fine-tune treatment these days.

  36. 36
    Albatrossity says:

    Thanks, Alain, and do give your mom our best wishes. There are more good therapies for cancer these days than ever before, and hopefully she can get treatment started soon and have many more years traveling around the sun.

    And thanks to all for the kind words about my photos. I enjoy taking them, but I really enjoy sharing them with others. And I would encourage anyone who has a trip to the Galapagos on their bucket list to investigate the possibility of doing that with a university or college Study Abroad class. We have encountered many such groups in the Galapagos, from large universities, medium-sized ones, and from small liberal arts colleges. Many of them would be happy to have another paying customer, even if you are not working toward a degree. In lots of these you would not have to pay the tuition if you did not want the college credit; you would just pay for the travel, accommodations, tour guides, etc. All of them would be cheaper than the traditional cruise-based Galapagos tours, probably costing only about half as much. Accommodations might be less comfy than a cruise ship, but the company (smart young people and college professors) would be better, IMHO. And in many cases you would stay on the islands rather than on the boat just visiting islands by day. There is something pretty special about sharing your breakfast on a sea-breezy veranda with several Darwin’s finches who are intent on pilfering your toast and jelly!

    So contact the study abroad offices at your local colleges and universities; if you want to see these amazing places, it might be cheaper than you think!

  37. 37
    Another Scott says:

    @Albatrossity: Let me join the others in thanking you for your wonderful pictures. Your thoughts in this comment deserve wide dissemination, also too! The world is getting smaller all the time, and we (as people) really need to see more of it if we want to survive.


  38. 38
    J R in WV says:

    Albatrossity, what a great idea!

    Alain, such a great photo of your Mom! And so sorry to learn of her illness. But modern chemo treatments are so effective, one special friend, my best friend’s wife, who got an especially terrible aggressive breast cancer, stage 4!

    The local oncologists told her to just go into Hospice, but her husband took her to be treated at U VA with surgery years ago, alternated chemo and radiation for a couple of years, and now is watching her grand-daughter growing up. She is one of my heroes, still goes to work every morning at the magistrate’s office in my home town.

    Their daughters were so wonderful to watch growing up, one is a forensic CPA and the other a RN studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. And as beautiful as their mom in every way, smart, sweet, friendly and compassionate.

    We will be thinking of you and your family and wishing your Mom the very best of care and luck !!!

  39. 39
    frosty says:

    @Baud: Me too. I’ve been taking cave pictures this week but they all suck. Too dark 😀.

    That being said, we have one last cave tour today then it’s on to Nashville to camp out waiting for the eclipse.

  40. 40
    Murmeltier says:

    What a great pic of your mom, Alain! My grandfather was born in Switzerland, & I have many cousins still there. Geeno & I went in ’93 (my 3rd trip), but life & lack of funds have prevented going back. We miss it so much!
    I’m so sorry that your mom has to go through such a scary health issue. Best wishes for a successful treatment,

    Albatrossity, your photos are wonderful! I once dated a guy whose sister was studying the wild life on Galapagos.That was the 1st time I heard of Blue-footed Boobies, and being a teenager, thought it was such a funny name. But it’s certainly a name that fits!

  41. 41
    stinger says:

    What wonderful and inspiring pictures!

    Albatrossity, thanks for the travel tip; I’d never thought of that before but it does sound like a great way to experience the Galapagos and maybe other places as well.

    Alain, very best wishes for your mother and you.

  42. 42
    Albatrossity says:

    A proposal just went in to our Study Abroad office for a May 2018 class in Ecuador and Galapagos; this would happen during the last two weeks of May. Students could get credit for a Biology course (Tropical Ecology) or an English course (Creative Writing – Travel and Memoir). If folks are interested in doing that, I’ll post the details when it goes through the rest of the administrative channels here. Typically we fly to Quito from Atlanta, so if you can get to Atlanta you should be able to join in. More later!

  43. 43
    reality-based (the original, not the troll) says:

    Re old color slides; 3 years ago, we unearthed a box of old Kodachrome slides from 1960-1965 – taken with my mom’s vintage german Camera (circa 1952.) The slides had been in a tightly-closed metal box in a North akota attic for 50+ years – in temps above 110 and below -40 below. And the slides were really, REALLY in good shape – No foxing, crisp and clear, wonderful saturated Kodachrome colors – we were amazed!

Comments are closed.