Here are links to various photo collections. Kim and I (plus friends & relatives) have been traipsing about the world; taking pictures wherever we go. If it so interests you - here's a glimpse into Robert & Kim's adventures. (Most of the photos are from places in Colorado, but you'll find a few pages of photos from other places as well.) Enjoy! See bottom of page for a 'History' of my photo galleries.
Photos of Colorado
Our House. Here are photos of our house and various projects we've undertaken since we moved into this single family, detached, ranch style house in the suburbs of south eastern Aurora, Colorado. The first home we've owned. We've lived in plenty of houses, but this is the first we can truly call our house, and paying a mortgage+ is more than enough of a sign that we've settled down.
* Our House: After 20 years of moving around at the whim of Uncle Sam (See my bio for more details regarding my military service), Kim and I finally bought our first home in April of 2005. A home on the front range, a home where the Antelope roam (or the Pronghorn if you're really interested). It was a grueling process and we undertook it with much trepidation. In addition to the photos, I've also posted a web page dedicated to our new home.
* Electrical Grounding: In 2013, and then again in 2019, I had electricians inspect my home's electrical systems/network. As a result, I had a whole home surge protector installed, then removed and re-installed. Read about this close call with a lightning strike and my concerns for proper grounding by visiting the small photo gallery that I put together.
* Our D&D Gaming Area: The place where we play D&D. Over the years (I've been playing since 1976), I've DM'd (Acted as the 'Dungeon Master') D&D sessions in many different settings. Some of the most cramped have been dorm rooms during the 80s. These extremely small settings meant many of us sat on the floor. I've DM'd sessions in Fire Stations, caffeteries, libraries, basements and the patio (enclosed/indoor) of my parents house back in the 70s & 80s. A traditional place to play D&D is the basement - and even more so "My Parent's Basement" (which used to be the name of a gaming store in Manitowoc, WI) - The quintisential place to play D&D / In the basement. As this is the quintessential place to play, my game is now situated in the basement. In the basement of the house that Kim and I bought in 2005. The basement play are has changed a bit over the years. I've assembled a couple photo galleries:
Here's what it currently looks like (photos taken/gallery last updated Dec of 2018):
Here's what it looked like a few years after we moved in (photos taken/gallery posted in
Jan of 2011):
Friends and Family visit us in Colorado. Kim and I have hosted plenty of friends and family since we moved to Colorado. When they come to visit, we usually turn it into a vacation. Everyone has a good time (or so I've been told), and I usually take quite a few photos. Here are some of those visits/visitors.
* Kuchta's Conquer Colorado - Our first visitors after moving to Colorado. Kim's parents paid us a visit during August of 2002. After a week long vacation with the Kuchta's we needed a break.
* Cats Conquers Colorado. Robert's mother paid us a visit during August of 2002. Her first visit to Colorado. Surely there will be more. Not as crazy as the Kuchta's visit in 2002, Mom's visit was just as memorable.
* My mother came back to Colorado for a surprise visit in October of 2005. Kim (that sneaky Roman senator!) smuggled mom into Colorado without tipping her hand. One day I woke up from a nap, wandered out into the living room, and - Mom! what the? Here are pictures from that brief (22 - 28 October 2005) but memorable surprise visit.
* Kuchta's Visit Colorado - 2007. During June/July of 2007, Kim and I took a vacation. We planned the vacation well in advance, and we had a fantastic time. The vacation began on the 22nd of July, when our guests arrived. Over the course of the next ten days (22 Jun - 01 Jul), Kim and I hosted her parents (Ted & Sharon), and two of our nieces (Chantelle and Amber).
* Keith's Klan - 2009. During March of 2009, Kim and I hosted another group of world travelers. We planned the vacation well in advance, and everyone had a fantastic time. The vacation began on the 11th of March, when our guests arrived. Over the course of the next four days (11 - 14 Mar), Kim and I hosted her Brother Keith, Yvette, and two of their girls; Leah and Kaitlyn.
* Osaka Rob visits the Vaessens: Rob G. is one of our best friends. The best man at our wedding, Kim and I have known Rob as long as we've known each other. We go way back - Back to the early 80s and beyond. He's been living in Japan since 1989, and 2008 marks the first year he's been able to visit us in Colorado. Now that I'm retired (from the military), and we're not moving around every few years, this home base may make for an easier pit stop between Osaka and Green Bay. Thankfully those frequent flyer miles are good for something. Rob was here for a short visit - just four days, but we had a really good time. Hopefully, he can bring Ryoko and the kids next time. I'm sure they'd enjoy the visit as well.
* Grand Canyon Vacation - 2010: Kim's parents joined during may of 2010, for a vacation at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We drove from Colorado down to Arizona in our XC90, and we took a train to the Grand Canyon. Oh what a wonderful adventure. Check out the photos and slide show to see the world's biggest hole in the ground.
* Cloughs Conquer Colorado - 2010: Kim's sister Kary, Mark, Sam and Emma came to Colorado to visit Kim and I and take a tour of central Colorado. Despite some gloomy weather, we managed to visit many of our favorite attractions. Downtown Denver, The Royal Gorge train and park, Pikes Peak, rafting on the Arkansas river - to name a few. Everyone had a great time on their first visit to Colorado. After sorting through 800 plus photos, I've posted my favorites at "Rob's World!".
* Dennis Does Denver - 2010:
In June of 2010, we were privileged to host a good friend from way back. Dennis hails from San Vito Italy (that's where we first met him). We met him way back when Kim and I were stationed in San Vito, Italy. We were stationed in Italy from 1985 - 1992, and Dennis was one of the people who made San Vito our favorite assignment. Dennis was in the Army when we met him, but that didn't last long. He soon left the Army and Joined Evie - a local Italian girl, for an exciting life in Italy. While we managed to visit Dennis and Evie on a few occasions, and he couldn't resist the call of our weekend D&D gaming sessions, we really lost track of the couple after we left Italy. Eventually we reestablished contact on the internet. After some trying times and a delay of far too many years, Dennis decided to pay us a visit in Denver. Dennis flew into Denver on the 25th and the adventure began on the morning after. After a five day vacation (six with arrival and departure), I gathered up all the photos and put together this gallery. I hope you enjoy it.
So when will you be visiting? Kim and I are still waiting for a visit from our sisters. It sure would be nice if they could visit. We've got a big house, so there's plenty of room, and we're always willing to host our friends and family.
Birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations away from home. Sure, Kim and I get away during these special events. You may occasionally note the use of a term called an 'Annibirthday' - Well, Kim and I got married on my Birthday (Oct 26, 1985). Yes, that's right, on my Birthday - and it's a long story. So if you see that term, you'll know where it came from. Here then are photos we took during a birthday or anniversary.
* Kim's Birthday weekend. A two day trip to Georgetown & Empire, Colorado in July of 2002.
* Annibirthday 2002: Kim and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on the 26th of October. As you may already know, the 26th is also my Birthday. We spent the weekend in Estes Park, CO. A quiet little resort town, nestled up against the majesty of the Rockies. We stayed at a fantastic Bed & Breakfast called the Taharaa Mountain Lodge. (They even gave us a 15% military discount!) We spent the 26th sight seeing at Rocky Mountain National park. On the evening of the 26th we ate a little place called 'Grandmaison's Bistro'. The food was outstanding, and the service was stellar. We had a terrific time.
* Kim's Birthday weekend - 2003. A three day vacation
in Buena Vista and Salida, Colorado. We went horse back riding, on a Jeep tour, and toured a micro-winery.
* Annibirthday 2007:
We celebrated our 22nd anniversary on the 26th of October, 2007. That weekend, Kim and I took a little vacation. It was our anniversary, and my birthday. So, we decided to take a trip into the mountains. We hadn’t treated ourselves in a while, so this came as a welcome relief from the stresses of work and the hectic pace of our lives. We stayed two nights at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs.
* Annibirthday 2008: Kim and I celebrated another Anniversary in October. As of 2008, it's been 23 years since we said our "I do"s. This year (2008), we celebrated our Anniversary (and my birthday) by taking a trip down to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. We stayed at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, attended an old fashioned wake at Miramount Castle, and watched the Coffin Races in Manitou Springs before heading back into town. We even had time to squeeze in a stop at the Seven Falls attraction and a Money Museum (sorry forgot to take pictures at the money museum) during our stay. Another great vacation in Colorado.
* Annibirthday 2009:
Kim and I celebrated another Annibirthday in October of 2009. As Kim and I were married on my birthday, we celebrate an Annibirthday instead of an Anniversary, or my Birthday. This year we decided to take a trip out west; well, further west than Denver. We packed up the Volvo and headed west on I-70. Utah bound, we took up residence at the Arrowhead Country Inn of Mt. Carmel, Utah. From our base-camp we set forth on our adventure. Over a one week period, we visited four different parks. Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes (a state park), and the world's largest hole in the ground - The Grand Canyon (in Northern Arizona). During the vacation - despite the loss of my camera's battery charger - we took a lot of photos. Another great Annibirthday - and plenty of photos posted.
Wisconsin vacation - 2010: This trip to Wisconsin was planned as a surprise for Kim's parents. The sneaky Vaessens (Kim & I) flew into Milwaukee, rented a car, and drove to De Pere. We delivered some flowers and treated Ted and Sharon to a meal at the Republic Chophouse, for their 45th wedding anniversary. Surprise!
* Kim's birthday 2012. In July of 2012, Kim and I took a four day, three night vacation in Colorado's lake country. Here are some photos of our vacation in the mountains near Grand Lake, Colorado.
* Annibirthday - 2012: Our anniversary/my birthday in 2012 was celebrated in Glenwood Springs. Kim's parents joined us for a fun weekend (25 - 29 Oct, 2012) in Aurora and Glenwood Springs. I've posted photos on my own website, and shared them via iCloud. If you want, you can create an account (on my website) in order to add comments on the individual photos.
* Kim's birthday 2013:
Thankfully, Kim's birthday comes around once a year. It's an opportunity for us to take some time off in the summer. A reason to relax and have a good time. Kim turned 30 again this year. She closely guards the secret that keeps her young, but I think it has something to do with her bubbly personality.
* Kim's birthday 2014: In July of 2014, Kim and I took a little vacation to celebrate. It was a short three day vacation in Southwestern Colorado. We drove down to Durango, took a bus to Silverton, a jeep tour of the Animas river valley and a train back to Durango. I posted all the photos on my own website, but I also spread them around on Facebook, iCloud and Flickr.
* Annibirthday 2014:
Our anniversary/my birthday is celebrated jointly (we were married on my birthday - it's a long story). This year we celebrated with an outing to Colorado's Royal Gorge near Cañon City. This park is a beautiful place to spend the day, and we've been there many times.
* Kim's birthday 2018: It's our second trip (first was in July of 2012) to Grand Lake, Colorado. In July, Kim and I took a four day, three night vacation in Colorado's lake country. Here are some photos of our vacation in the mountains near Grand Lake, Colorado.
Celebrations at home: Sometimes Kim & I stick around the house for a little celebration. We might have friends over or celebrate with our two best friends (Kim and I). Here's a few celebrations where we stayed home.
* Annibirthday 2010: Kim and I celebrated another Annibirthday in October of 2010. As Kim and I were married on my birthday, we celebrate an Annibirthday instead of an Anniversary, or my Birthday. This year we decided on a 'Staycation'. While we stayed at home, we went to more places during our staycation than we did during many standard vacations. The staycation officially kicked off on the 24th of Oct. The official end of our 'Staycation' was 29 October, 2010.
* Christmas - 2012: Over the last two days (25-26 Dec, 2012), the Denver/Aurora area received a welcome gift in the form of a White Christmas. Our area received approximately 2 inches of white fluffy snow and the mountains got more than 12 inches. On this festive occasion, Kim and I would like to take the opportunity to wish all our visitors a Happy Holiday Season, a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, a Joyous Festivus - Whatever flavor of holiday spirit trips your trigger. We sincerely hope that you and your family had a fantastic time during the last few days. We wish you prosperity and health throughout the year to come. Thanks for being our friends and family. We wish we could have made a trip out to see all our friends and family for the holidays, but we couldn't arrange it this year. Maybe we'll see you in 2013?
Since moving to Colorado in 2001 and retiring from the military in 2005, Kim and I find that most of our Birthdays and Anniversaries (usually on the same date (see above)) are held in the Centennial state (or nearby states).
Colorado weather: 90% of the time it's clear blue skies and moderate temperatures. When the wind carries a change over those mountains it's anybody's guess what the weather will bring. In the span of five hours, the temperature can change by 30 degrees Fahrenheit. With it comes snow, rain, ice pellets, a rapid thaw and blinding sunshine. The mountains to our west sure do cause some unusual weather conditions. Here are some photos of Colorado's weather:
* Colorado Blizzard 2003: March of 2003 brought record snowfall to Eastern Colorado. Here's a few photos I took of the aftermath.
* Snowy surprise of 2006: A snowstorm struck in October of 2006. It came and went unexpectedly. I took a couple of pictures in order to capture the moment.
* Colorado Hooker of 2006: December of 2006 brought a record snow storm to Colorado. Here are some photos of the storm's result.
* Yet another snow storm: On Saturday (20 Jan 07) it started snowing, and it finally stopped on Sunday night (21 Jan 07). Another heavy storm hit our area. Here's a small collection of photo's I took after I finished shoveling.
* Snow storm in April of 2007: On the 23 of April, 2007, a storm moved into our area. By the evening of the 24th we had several inches of cold, wet, heavy snow covering everything.
* First snowfall of 2007: On the 20th of October, 2007, we experienced the first snowfall of the season. I took a few pictures.
* Just another snow storm. Here's a few photos from one of those contests. Man vs Snow. With the trusty Snow-Blower on my side, the battle was a one sided contest. Cleaning up after a minor snow storm in February of 2008.
* Snow Storm in the Spring of 2009: A three day Nor' Easter dumped a big pile of wet and slushy snow on us. The even lasted from 16 - 19 April in the Spring of 2009. The weather was so bad, we had to cancel our D&D meeting!
* The early autumn snowstorm of 2009: We accumulated 6+ inches well ahead of Winter's official arrival. I sure need a new Snow blower; this stuff was heavy. Later in the month 28 - 30 October, we got socked by an even bigger storm. This three day storm dumped 18 inches in Aurora. Unfortunately, didn't get many pictures of that storm.
* Snow Storm in the Spring of 2010: Nothing compared to some previous Springtime storms (since I moved here in 2001). As a matter of fact, this winter's weather was rather mild in comparison to previous years.
* The Big Bad snowstorm of Feb, 2012: It sure was a doozy. We haven't had this much snow in quite some time. The snow fell for two days, and we ended up missing a day of work (we still got paid). Digging out from under 18 inches wasn't all that easy. Check out the pics if you've got the time. I've got links to two different galleries. One was generated using software hosted on my webhost; the other I generated myself then uploaded to my website. I still can't believe that Apple is doing away with it's MobileMe 'Gallery' service. That sure was an awesome service.
On the trail: Occasionally, Kim and I take a four wheeling trip. A journey into the rugged back country with our four wheel vehicle. Here are a few of the more scenic trips:
*Switzerland Trail: Located west of Boulder, Colorado. The Switzerland Trail offers a relaxing 4-Wheel drive. Suitable for any type of sport utility vehicle, the trail follows the old railroad bed of the the Switzerland Trail Railway. There are spectacular views all along the way. There's even a couple of historic towns along the route. A scenic drive through the Colorado Rockies.
* Sugarloaf Mountain: Located west of Boulder, Colorado. This is another easy drive for any stock sport utility vehicle; provided the roads are dry. The road follows the course of an old railroad bed.
* Cottonwood Pass: Kim and I have visited this mountain pass twice since we've arrived in Colorado. It's a beautiful pass. A place where the Pacific meets the Atlantic, a continental divide. We've taken other photos of this pass, but here you'll find just a couple. Maybe I'll add more later.
* Golden Gate Canyon: Kim and I went for a drive in our new Volvo. A short little jaunt up into the mountains. A park we haven't been to before. While there we took some photos and discovered a fantastic lookout spot. The park is located north west of Golden, Colorado.
Our first documented trip in Colorado. An outing to Colorado's Royal Gorge near Cañon City. This park is a beautiful place to spend the day, and we've been back on many occasions.
Denver Zoo: Located in the heart of Denver, Colorado. Kim and I took a day trip. We spent most of the day (0900-1530) at the Zoo. This was our first trip to the Denver Zoo, and we had a really good time. I read the names of all the animals in these photos, but I couldn't possibly remember them all. Have fun making up your own names for the ones you don't recognize.
Six Flags: Located in the heart of Denver, Colorado. Kim and I took a day trip. We spent most of the day (1000-1630) at an amusement park. We went to Six Flags: Elitch Gardens in downtown Denver. We both had a fantastic time. Rode a bunch of roller coasters, had some goofy photos taken, felt like kids again!
Six flags revisited: On the 22nd of July, 2005. Kim and I took another trip to Elitch Gardens. The event was an annual picnic sponsored by my employer. They provided cut rate tickets as well as free food, drinks (including Fat Tire beer), and prizes (little trinkets). Kim and I had a good time. We were there from 1700-2030.
Hiking in Boulder: I went hiking in the mountains just west of Boulder, CO. It was a military function, but there were only four people who showed up to hike. Oh, well. Despite the poor turn-out, I had a really good time.
World Forum: From 2002 - 2005, I volunteered as a driver and security augmentee at an event called the World Forum. The event was held in Beaver Creek, Colorado. I started taking photos in 2004, and took more in 2005. You can check out the photos or the web page where I provide more details about my participation in the World Forum.
Colorado votes - 2008: My first experience in the electoral process. After 20 years in the Air Force, I finally get a chance to participate in the democratic process. I participated in my party's caucus on the 5th of February. Super-Tuesday was a new experience for me. I vote, do you?
The Denver Auto Show - 2009: In 2008, Kim and I started making plans to buy a new car. The Passat (2001.5) has been paid off for quite some time, and we're kind of tired of it. Not to mention the fact that it's electrical problems have always been a thorn in our side. In 2009, we decided to pay a visit to an auto show in order to get that 'in the Driver's seat' experience. After attending the auto show, we put three cars on our list. Now it's just a matter of narrowing things down. Here are photos from the show.
Wilkerson Pass: Photos from a day trip (on the 11th of Aug, 2013) out to Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. Wilkerson Pass is (elevation 9,504 ft) located appx 50 miles west of Colorado Springs, CO (along U.S. Highway 24). Pikes Peak of the Front Range is located to the east, and the Collegiate peaks of the Sawatch Range are located to the west, just beyond South Park (a region of Park County in Colorado).
Sports in Colorado: Kim and I occasionally get out to enjoy the sports events available in Colorado. It's a big sports town, and we're trying to sample our share. I doubt we'll ever see as many games as we'd like, but we can still have fun trying.
* On the 29th of September, 2009, Kim and I went to our first Colorado Rockies baseball game. We've been here since '01, but we've never been to a Rockies game or a Broncos game... Or any of the many other sports activities available in Colorado. Colorado is a big sports town, but Kim and I have been busy. I'm sure we'll never get to see and do everything that Colorado has to offer, but we're working on it. Here are photos from that game.
* Our first ball game of 2012. Kim and went to a Colorado Rockies baseball game in May of 2012. This particular outing was arranged by a coworker (thanks Tim) as a 'Team Building' 'Off-Site' event. The price was right - $14.00 for two tickets, $16.00 for train tickets, $38.00 for lunch, and $30.00 for drinks and such at the ball park - and the game was enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Rockies lost - 9 to 7 vs the Arizona Diamondbacks, but that's o.k. We didn't go for the team, we went for the game. A great stress free, enjoyable day at the ball park. We had a great time! I've posted some photos from the game on my website, with a short narrative of our day at the ball park. I hope you enjoy the photos. We sure enjoyed the game.
* Another outing to see the Rockies play the Brewers (August of 2012). Our favorite game of the year. Kim and I are from De Pere (a suburb of Green Bay), so no matter who wins, we win. We went to a night game, enjoyed some ball-park food and a few drinks. Here's a few photos from that fun filled event.
* Wow! Another baseball game. Rockies vs the Brewers (in June of 2014). It's the match up that we love. Once again we got our favorite seats. In the Club Level (2nd tier), 1st base side, right near the press box. It's protected from the weather and affords a great view of the game.
* Guess what? We're making a habit of it - Another Rockies vs Brewers baseball game (in June of 2015). It's our favorite match up. Our favorite seats? Club Level (2nd tier) - What a great vantage point.
Photos of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Winter 2004: In January of 2004, Kim and I went home on vacation. We spent two weeks in De Pere and Pound WI, visiting the folks, family, and relatives. I took some pictures while we were there.
Wisconsin Winter 2004 (Part II): As I was approaching military retirement, I had 60 days of leave to use. During that time frame, Kim (25 Nov - 1 Dec) and I (9 Nov - 2 Dec) took a well deserved vacation. I drove to and from Wisconsin, while Kim flew there and back. Here's a few pictures from the trip. For a more detailed synopsis, see my journal entry.
Wedding - 2006: Mark and Kary's wedding. Wedding and reception at the Palm's restaurant in downtown Milwaukee. Kary is Kim's sister. The Cloughs live in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. We flew in for the weekend, attended the wedding and flew back to Denver. We had loads of fun, but the travel was hell. Here's a few photos from the wedding.
Wisconsin Winter 2006: While visiting my parents for Christmas, I took the opportunity to capture these photos of the back woods near Pound, Wisconsin. It's a tranquil retreat from the hectic life of Denver. A place where I can relax, unwind, and stop worrying for a few minutes.
Christmas in Wisconsin - 2006: Kim and I were able to spend Christmas with family and friends in 2006. We drove to Wisconsin, and enjoyed our nine day vacation. Here are some of the photos I took while we were there.
Wisconsin vacation - 2008: Finally, Kim and I were able to visit Wisconsin in a season other than winter. We drove to Wisconsin, and enjoyed a vacation around memorial day. May 23rd - June 3rd, 2008. Here are some of the photos I took while we were there.
Wisconsin vacation - 2009: This time around, Kim and I managed to visit Wisconsin in the summertime! The first time we've been back to Wisconsin in the summertime since... what was it, 1992? We drove to Wisconsin, and enjoyed a vacation at the end of July. We celebrated Kim's birthday, and managed to visit all our family members. Here are some of the photos I took while we were there.
Wisconsin vacation - 2010: This trip to Wisconsin was planned as a surprise for Kim's parents. The sneaky Vaessens (Kim & I) flew into Milwaukee, rented a car, and drove to De Pere. We delivered some flowers and treated Ted and Sharon to a meal at the Republic Chophouse, for their 45th wedding anniversary. Surprise!
Wisconsin vacation - 2011: Kim and I drove to Wisconsin in order to spend Thanksgiving with our family. We stayed in Valders from the 19-21st, visiting with my Mom, my older Sister and her husband. We spent the rest of the time in De Pere visiting the Kuchta's and a few of my old friends.
Wisconsin vacation - 2012: Kim and I flew to Wisconsin during September of 2012. We took a long weekend (Thursday - Monday) to visit with family and attend my 30th class reunion (class of 1982). Our reunion vacation went great. The weather was perfect; we got to visit our family and the class reunion was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the 35th reunion. You can check out our vacation photos on my Gallery page or the new (as of 2012) Photo Stream.
Wisconsin vacation - 2013: In May of 2013 (May 26 - Jun 3), Kim and I took a short vacation. We drove to Wisconsin in order to attend a high school graduation and visit with our family. We drove Kim's car (it gets way better mileage than the XC90) and stopped at my Mom's place first. I posted the photos from this vacation on my Gallery Page and Apple's iCloud Photo Stream.
Kuchta Family Reunion - 2015: In July of 2015, Kim and I attended a 'Big Fat Polish Family Reunion'. It's the first full up family reunion Kim and I have attended (on either side) in a very long time. I took approximately 350 photos, pared them down to 150 or so and created a photo gallery so that the family could view, comment and add to the collection. If you were there, or you're just interested, you can find all the photos on my Gallery page.
Photos of other places
Sunny San Vito: Kim and I lived in southern Italy from 1985 - 1992. My first assignment in the military, our first overseas base. It was the best tour we've ever had. The mission was worthwhile, the climate unbelievable, the people were genuine, the food was sinful, and the friends were the best of all. Here is a photo journal of our time in that fabled far away place from so long ago.
West Berlin - 1990: Back in 1990, I spent nearly a month in 'West Berlin'. I was still in the Air Force, and I was lucky enough to snag a primo TDY. I was doing really well at my job; winning numerous awards and accolades, impressing my commander and supervisors. As a reward for my performance, my unit - the 6917th ESG (of San Vito, Italy) sent me on a TDY (Temporary Duty) to West Berlin. From the end of July, through most of August (returning on the 25th), I spent nearly 30 days in the divided city. Here are some photos from that amazing time.
Architectural Porn: Unintentional porn? Architecture that looks like something else. Does a strong buttress do it for you? Perhaps your a Gazebo fan. A play on words, or playing to the eye? Is it sinful or artful?
Photo-painting project: In 2005, I began work on a project to create a painting of the mountains for display above the fireplace in our new home. The project was quite an undertaking, but the results are well worth it. The project isn't finished yet, but you can read all about Our Mountain View if you're interested.
Hawaii vaction - 2006: Kim and I vacationed in Hawaii from Feb 15 - 25, 2006 - Kim and I and Kim's parents (Sharon and Ted) had a great time. We were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary and my retirement from the USAF (in Jan of 2005). Ted & Sharon came along to help us celebrate. It took a long time to plan and save up enough money for this big vacation, but we finally did it. After 20 years of poverty we finally managed to spend some money on ourselves.
Yellowstone and Grand Tetons: In September of 2012, Kim and I drove North to Wyoming in order to visit Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons National Parks. After a 10.5 hour drive we arrived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There we spent four days exploring the National Parks and 'some' of what they have to offer. Unfortunately our stay was far too short. Next time we'll stay longer and possibly camp in the parks in order to get closer to the park attractions. With wild fires burning near the parks, the sunsets were spectacular. We had a really good time, and we're looking forward to a return trip.
The Island of Rota: In June of 2014, Kim and flew half way across the planet to a tropical island just above the equator. We flew to the Island of Rota, an island in the Northern Mariana Islands. We spent six days on the island and a couple on Guam. It was a awesome vacation in a tropical location. A scouting trip for a retirement destination and a complete escape from the big city that is Aurora, Colorado. We had a fantastic time. I hope we're able to return. This photo gallery was created using Exhibeo (A standalone application that allows you to create fantastic looking web galleries and slideshows. Designed for the Mac, it intergrates with Freeway web authoring software or allows you to create drop-in HTML galleries for any website. <https://www.softpress.com/exhibeo/>
La Jolla, California: In June of 2014 (15 - 18 June, 2014) I went on a business trip (with some co-workers) to San Diego. We stayed at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines while we were there. Arriving on a Sunday, we spent most our time working. When we weren't working we managed to visit a few of the local restaurants (Fidel's Little Mexico - Solana Beach, CA (North of Del Mar); Piatti - La Jolla shores; Sushi on the Rock - La Jolla), the hotel grounds, the golf course (Torrey Pines - no we didn't play while we were there), and the Torrey Pines state natural reserve. Here's a few of the photos I took while I was there.
Baltimore, Maryland - 2014: In July of 2014, I spent a week in Maryland (in the Baltimore area) on a business trip. I didn't have much time to enjoy the sites, but I did manage to eat some Blue Crab (appx $8.00 / crab!) and visit Baltimore's Inner Harbor (too bad it rained that evening).
Honolulu, Hawaii - 2014: In August of 2014, I spent a week in Hawaii (On the island of Oahu) on a business trip. I spent the whole time on the Island of Oahu visiting various customers. We stayed in Waikiki, not too far from the beach. I drove around the island several times, and we saw some pretty cool spots. The beaches on the military bases are amazing; mostly abandoned, but perfect white sand beaches, with no crowds at all. If Kim and I go back for a vacation I know just where we can stay. Here's a few of the photos I posted on my website and the iCloud.
England - Sep 2013: In September of 2013, I went on a business trip (with a few co-workers) to England. We weren't there very long; from the 15th through the 19th, returning on the 20th of Sep, 2013. We flew into Manchester, took a taxi to Harrogate and spent the next four days working in the area. We spent most of our time working, but we were able to get out and about a little bit. Visiting a few of the town's pubs and restaurants. One of these days I'll visit England for pleasure instead of business. Kim and I have been planning a European vacation for several years, and England is one of the stops we're looking forward to. Here's a few of the photos I posted on my website.
European Vacation - 2015: In May of 2015, Kim and I (and Kim's parents: Ted & Sharon) embarked on a 16 day European vacation. The biggest vacation of our lives. A whirlwind tour of Western Europe. It was a guided tour (via bus) of eight countries (U.K., France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland) and I can't remember how many cities. I took nearly 3,000 photos, so it took quite some time (142 days?) to go through all of those photos, but now there are pictures.
I hope you enjoy the photos I've posted to my web page. Photo's were taken using one of my digital cameras (listed chronologically (sort of)):
A Fuji FinePix FX-2400Zoom digital camera (2.1 Megapixel/3x Zoom) - Our first (well actually our second) digital camera. Purchased back in 1999 when we lived in Misawa Japan. Our first digital camera didn't take very impressive photos, but the convenience of the digital format was killer.
A Canon ZR200 (which took horrible photos - 450k pixel with 400x digital / 20x optical zoom). This video camera had a crappy photo option.
Nikon Coolpix 7900 (7.9 Megapixel with 3x digital / 3x optical zoom). A pretty good camera which we still own. Unfortunately, the battery closure is close to completely breaking. We haven't used this phone in many years.
iPhone 3GS (3 Megapixel w/5x digital zoom and 640-by-480 (VGA) video at 30 frames per second). Used this camera/phone from 2009-2011.
From Dec 25, 2009 until Dec 25, 2015, I used a Panasonic Lumix model DMC-FZ35 (12 Megapixel with 18x optical zoom and 4x digital (combined for max 72-148x)) to take many of my photos. The FZ35 records HD movies with 1280 x 720-pixel resolution using AVCHD Lite format (MPEG-4/H.264)).
For a few years (2011-2013), I used an iPhone 4S (8 Megapixel with auto focus). Face detection in stills. LED flash. Records HD video (1080p) up to 30 frames per second with audio and video stabilization. The front facing camera (for video conferencing) has VGA quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second. With iOS, the photos and videos can be geo-tagged. So far I'm very impressed with the photos it's generating.
I used an iPhone 5s (8MP (1.5µ pixels) with a 3x zoom, auto focus and an ƒ/2.2 aperture) from 1 Nov, 2013 - 28 Nov, 2015. Records HD video (720p (for facetime) or 1080p) up to 30fps w/audio and video stabilization. Photos can be automatically geotagged (I don't usually use this). The camera has some really awesome features such as: True Tone flash, a hybrid IR filter, tap-to-focus and autofocus, Panorama, burst mode, slo-mo video, etc.
As of 28 Nov, 2015, Kim and I bought new iPhones. When I'm not expecting to take photos (or just for the convenience of the form factor), I'm now carrying an iPhone 6S+. The new iPhone 6S+ is a 12mp (1.22µ pixels) with a 3x zoom (it's made for taking pictures of people, just beyond arms length), Autofocus with something called 'Focus Pixels' an ƒ/2.2 aperture, True Tone flash (a dual-LED flash (one white, one amber) with automatic white balancing and color matching driving the flash), auto HDR for photos, Panorama photos (up to 63mp), and many more features. The 6S+ also has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and of course it records HD video - 4K Video (3840x2160 at 30fps)), 1080p HD at 30fps or 60fps, 720p HD at 30fps, OIS for video, Slo-mo video for 1080p at 120fps and 720p at 240fps, Time-lapse video with stabilization, Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p), Video geotagging, Continuous autofocus video. The camera also feature something new called 'Live Photos' (a standard photo with 1.5 seconds of motion on either side of the still). I can't imagine using anything other than my iPhone for video.
As of 25 Dec, 2015, I've got a new Panasonic digital camera. A Lumix model DMC-FZ70 (16.1 Megapixel with 60x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom. It's even got a 3D photo capability (I wonder if I'll ever have a need for that?) and some pretty sophisticated video features in AVCHD and MP4 format (not quite as good as those built into my iPhone 6S+), but I'm not planning to use it for video. It's the 60x optical zoom that really attracted me to this camera. I'm sure that it will help me capture some nature scenes that I wouldn't otherwise have the range to capture adequately. The FZ70 has more features than I know how to use but I'll take the time to read through the manual and get acquainted with all the features. It's a considerable step up from my DMC-FZ35 but it's a bit bulky compared to the iPhone. Carrying it will require some planning but it certainly produces great photos and the ability to use 32GB storage cards and swap out fresh batteries when needed makes the difference when I'm planning to take a lot of shots or go all day without recharging.
As of Feb, 2018, I've got a new iPhone. Who would have thought that I would rely almost exclusively on a phone to take pictures? My new iPhone 8plus is packed with digital goodness for taking photos. While I previously overindulged with all the specs right here, this time I've created a spec sheet that you can access if you want to know more about this outstanding dual-lens 12MP 'Camera'. The Lumix DMC-FZ70 (see above) is still a better camera in many ways, but portability and versatility are often factors that win out over the excellent features on most digital cameras. The phone is always with me, and the Panasonic camera takes up way more space and some amount of planning to bring along.
History of my Photo Galleries:
I created (many of) my photo pages/photo galleries using Apple's photo cataloging software; originally iPhoto, now Photos. Photos was once part of the iLife suite - Apple's 'Creativity' suite, now it's distributed as a part of the Operating System (iOS and macOS). I extemsively used an iPhoto plugin (originally produced by 'DroolingCat Software') called BetterHTMLExport: A highly customizable plugin for iPhoto that allowed users (of iPhoto) to create web pages/web galleries from iPhoto galleries. It allowed you to control the web page output much more efficiently than the built in iPhoto web page output controls. It provided serveral additional output options, including the ability to use (or create) templates in order to create professional (if a bit unpolished/definitely early 2000s) looking web galleries. BetterHTMLExport was originally created/sold by 'DroolingCat' software. In March of 2006, the software was sold to 'DroolingCat Software', and they continued selling the software for some time. I purchased my last version (2.1) of BetterHTMLExport from 'Geeks R Us' in March of 2006. The last functional version available was 2.3.4. (build 31). DroolingCat discontinued sales (with no further development) sometime after 2009. BetterHTMLExport stopped working with the release of iPhoto 9.2.1 (released in Oct of 2011). iPhoto 9.2.1 included a new 'feature' which automatically disabled incompatible (unsigned) third-party plug-ins, including BetterHTMLExport and others. The BetterHTMLExport plugin was definitely worth the cash. It saved me countless hours of manually tweaking my photo web pages. Unfortunately, the creator sold the software and stopped development. The changes to Apple's software made BetterHTMLExport unusable going forward.
Unfortunately, that plugin (and iPhoto) are now gone. The 'new' version of iPhoto; Photos, is so difficult to use (to generate an externally accessible/exportable photo gallery) that you really can't use it for much. I've pretty much given up on using it for anything useful. The current version (Photos 4.0) doesn't have a gallery or 'web page' output option. It does offer a 'Slide Show' option. But I don't want a slide show. I want a static gallery. There is an option to make a 'shared' album into a public website... but that doesn't give me what I want either (there are lots of limitations and restrictions, including how many people are allowed to view the photos). I think the Photos application really has two purposes: Forcing you to buy the 'professional' version of Photos - Aperture, which was discontinued in 2012 (It had a decent photo gallery output/but it's gone now) and pushing users to subscribe to a 'Photo Stream' plan, which stores your photos in the 'iCloud' and costs upwards of $9.99 per month (as of 21 Nov, 2018). This $9.99 per month storage plan gets you 1TB of storage (for all your iCloud storage needs) is an outrageously high price when you consider the fact that you can buy a 4TB hard drive for under $100.00. I haven't even considered using iPhoto or Photos for photo gallery output since 2011. My experience with it's output has been nothing but negative. The galleries I created with iPhoto were limited and crude (very difficult to control layout style or specific details). Later attempts using Photos resulted in galleries that were difficult to share with anyone outside the Apple ecosystem. That's the part that really turned me off. Apple kept insisting that they host or store my photo galleries, and they kept making it more difficult to share them with non Apple users. Remember Apple's MobileMe* service? It had some awesome photo gallery software, but that's another service that Apple discontinued.
In my opinion - Apple can't be relied upon to produce or maintain Photo Gallery software - You'll just end up being disappointed or locked into a solution that you don't control, can't use to effectively share your photos, for a recurring and never ending fee.
Eventually, I turned to a php/mysql powered application called 'Gallery'. This application was distributed with the 'Softaculous' suite of server-side applications/scripts. These 'Softacluous' applications/scripts are included for free with many web page hosting plans. The application/scripting and associated files are hosted on your web host's server. You can use the Gallery application/script to create photo galleries on the 'server-side'. All the database entries and formatting are done on the server. You still have the original photos on your computer (the 'client-side') but all the details and database info is hosted on the server. This Gallery application is powerful and flexible, offering more options and display control than the BetterHTMLExport plugin. It's not as tightly integrated into my workflow as the abandoned MobileMe* Galleries, but it works quite well. Allowing fine control of the galleries on the server-side. It even allows for comments by visitors (admitidely this is/was seldom used by any Rob's World! visitors). Unfortunately, it has a couple of problems.
The first, most dangerous, and in my case - immediate problem is the server-side nature of the Gallery application. In November of 2018, I inadvertantly 'destroyed' more than seven years worth of image galleries (photos posted from 2011-2018). These image galleries were created with the Softaculous 'Gallery' application. I created numerous image galleries using this application, and I was very happy with the results. Then in November of 2018, I executed a client-side sync of my webpages. Since all of these galleries existed on the server-side (on the server only), I ended up overwritting all the server-side files. I had the sync configured to delete all orphaned files on the server-side... and I ignored the warning message - It was entirely my fault. Imagine my surprise when I learned that all my galleries weren't backed up on my client or the server. That's right, the galleries existed in a sole instance on the server-side, so when I deleted them, they were gone for good. I still have the original photos, but all the gallery files were deleted. While I still had all the mysql database info (that was backed up on the server-side), it didn't do me much good without the photos - I certainly couldn't remember the exact details of the galleries I created, recreate them, and then replace the newly created database info with the data from the mysql backup. So that data is gone for good. Those galleries are gone. It will take many years to rebuild them.
The second problem; which will be a problem for anyone else using the Gallery application is it's support and future development. While long-term support and development can always be cited as a problem, in this case it's a bit more problematic than other instances. The Gallery application is 'going out of business'. The developer (Bharat Mediratta) put the Gallery project into hibernation back in July of 2014, and the development seems stalled there. He's willing to transfer development over to someone else, but they have to be serious about the actual continued development of the application. Given it's uncertain future, and my reluctance to rely on another server-side solution, I'll be using something else to reconstitute the deleted photo galleries and new galleries going forward.
After some research and serious consideration (in November of 2018). I decided to go with Exhibeo (by Softpress - Makers of freeway website development software). The updated version (v2.0.3) of Exhibeo provides numerous improvements, tweaks to the interface (it's far more intuitive than before), new and improved themes and more controls for image editing. I'm excited to get all those 'lost' photos back online using a new 'Photo Gallery' application. So excited that I've already started. One of the galleries that was destroyed by my client to server sync was a collection of photos from a business trip to Hawaii (back in 2014). I've since (in November of 2018) recreated that photo gallery. This new one was created using Exhibeo (on the client-side - on my Mac). It's more 'polished' than the Gallery version, but it's missing some of the features that the Gallery version offered (such as commenting). The best part about client-side creation/authoring is the fact that I can tweak the output using manual controls (on the client-side), and I have a backup (actually I have several backups (four versions - the original on my Mac, two backups (a full clone of my system disk and file level backup through timecapsule) and the version that's on the web host's server (server-side)). If anything ever goes wrong on the server-side, I can upload a backup from my computer. If I decide to move to a different hosting provider, the code is portable. I don't have to worry or wonder whether I will be able to migrate the photo gallery from one hosting provider to another.
In addition to Exhibeo, I might also use GraphicConverter to create some photo galleries. It's output is a lot like that of the discontinued BetterHTMLExport. It's not as sophisticated/polished as the Exhibeo output, but it does allow me a fairly sophisticated level of control over the html output. GraphicConverter is an image conversion and editing application. I've been using this application since the 90s! The support and developement has always been outstanding. I've created multiple catalogs using the GraphicConverter software, but I often want something with a bit more polish, something that's more professional looking. I've posted a sample of one of my GraphicConverter catalogs online so you can see what the typical output looks like. In the future, I'll be using a combination of Exhibeo, GraphicConverter and other applications (including Dreamweaver (as long as my current version continues working under macOS) and BBEdit) to create and edit the photo galleries that I make available via "Rob's World!". I'll upload and/or sync all the photos/galleries to my hosting server via sftp; that way I've got good backups and more control over the creation, editing and file management of my photos. Some other applications I've used/might use in the future (to create photo galleries): Shutterbug (now free/discontinued), the GIMP, PicFrame, Capto, iWeb. If you're interested, I also have a page devoted to my favorite software (for Macs).
*Once upon a time, Apple ran a service called MobileMe. That pay service ($100.00 / year) included numerous valuable features. One of those features was the 'Gallery'; an online photo storage, hosting, sharing and collaboration gallery where you could share your photos (and videos) and collaborate with friends and family within a well designed, aesthetically pleasing photo gallery application. I used the 'MobileMe Gallery' quite extensively. I loved the CoverFlow interface; the ability to upload photos, to allow others to upload photos, to download photos, to post comments, to view slideshows, etc. Unfortunately, in June of 2011, Apple announced that it would be closing MobileMe in favor of a new service called 'iCloud'. In June of 2012, Apple shut down MobileMe, but they never identified or released a replacement for their Gallery service. Apparently I can't rely on Apple's photo hosting applications or services at all. They haven't worked for me since 2011.