2016 in Review

For the past few years, I’ve looked back through my photographs and selected a few (this year many) that tell my story for the year.  It’s a great way to document some of the joys and beauty that fill your life.   My 2016 began with a trip in January to visit friends in Grand Cayman Islands.  For such a small island, there are lots of unique wildlife.  This Iguana was out by the pool…

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We went for a hike and this blue-throated Anole’s vibrant colors caught my eye!

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Not sure if this is an egret, a stork, or something else?

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One of the highlights was swimming with the Stingrays.

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I learned how to stand up (and paddle a little) on an inflatable paddle board…

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After returning to Ohio, we had a beautiful snow.  That’s our small shed.

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I didn’t have to endure the cold for too long because I took a small group (three people) to Central America for two weeks in February, through my Travel Spirit Meetup.  We visited Antigua, Guatemala.

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and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala…

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We then flew to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and that’s me horseback riding on the beach.  I wanted to gallop and that I did!

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and we watched the surfers…

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We then moved on to Granada, Nicaragua for three nights…

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Next, we flew to Panama City, Panama…

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As a freelance photographer for Cincinnati Refined, I had 30 photo shoots this year.  The cool thing about working for them is that I can pitch ideas and if they like it, I’m given the assignment.  Here are a few of the shoots…

View of Northern Kentucky from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati…

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The Asian Food Fest at Washington Park in Cincinnati…

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Jazz in the Garden at the Taft Museum of Art

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Top of the Park restaurant/bar overlooking the Ohio River from Cincinnati…

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84.51 building in downtown Cincinnati…

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One of the dishes served at The Golden Lamb Restaurant in Lebanon, Ohio

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Kellie Pickler from American Idol at the Pink Ribbon Luncheon held at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

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Calysta Bevier (from America’s Got Talent)

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A welder (a somewhat unusual assignment for me, but fun)…

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Indoor water park at the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio

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The Cincinnati Dinner Train experience.  One of the perks…my husband was able to join me for a free dinner/ride.

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Cincinnati Prime Restaurant Grand Re-Opening…

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Shawnee Lookout Park, North Bend, Ohio

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Horseback riding at Salt Creek Ranch in Metamora, Indiana (there’s the hubby on the right)

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Metamora, Indiana

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Shawnee State Park, West Portsmouth, Ohio

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Thanksgiving Day Race, Cincinnati, Ohio

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Lights on the Hill at Pyramid Sculpture Park, Hamilton, Ohio

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Through my own business, Sherry Lachelle Photography, I had quite a few real estate photos (here are three of them)…

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My third wedding reception for friends…

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A family photo shoot…

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Another family photo shoot, but the little boy stole the show…

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Senior Photos for my beautiful second cousin

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One of the most time-consuming and important accomplishments this year was starting a business in partnership with Urban Adventures, called “Cincinnati Urban Adventures“.  I give tours of Cincinnati.  This group of guys (most from the UK) were loads of fun!

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This is a wine tasting/foodie tour and I have a beer/tasting foodie tour also.

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My longest trip this year and a truly amazing experience was taking two people through eight countries back in June for a month.  We began in Bulgaria (three Cities)…

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Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

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We then headed to a variety of Cities in Romania.  Peles Castle was amazing!

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Bran Castle aka Count Dracula’s Castle in Romania

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These next photos are also in various Romanian cities…

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I took photos of at least three brides in different cities throughout Europe on this trip…

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Sibiu, Romania has its eyes on you!

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We then flew to Helsinki, Finland

Temppeliaukio Church aka Rock Church

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We took an over-night cruise to St. Petersburg, Russia and had 72 hours to see what we could.  The Hermitage Museum was amazing!

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Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

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Peterhof Park and Palace

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We took a bus to Tallinn, Estonia…

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A bus to Riga, Latvia…

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Another bus to Vilnius, Lithuania and one of the highlights was Trakai Castle…

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Next up, a bus to Warsaw, Poland…

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And then a train to Krakow, Poland…

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Where of course we went to Auschwitz.  Unbelievably sad and horrific…

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I took a long weekend /solo trip to Cleveland and Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio and got paid for my photographs.

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The Rock n Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland

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Cuyahoga National Park

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Later in the summer, just for fun, at Serpentine Wall along the Ohio River in Cincinnati…

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Fountain Square at night, Cincinnati

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A car show

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Canoeing at Green Acres Canoe in Harrison, Ohio (and got paid for this one)

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A Bengals football game.  We had nose bleed seats, but I had my zoom lens…

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Of course there were family get-togethers.  My son and his girlfriend at our home for a Bengals watching party/bon-fire etc.

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and at a holiday party…

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Jake trying to catch frogs in the Koi Pond…

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Kate walking the tight-rope…

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My husband and I spent a week in the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers, Florida area in mid-December…

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I read or listened to almost 50 books.  A few of my favorites, in no particular order, were: Flowers for Algernon, A tree grows in Brooklyn, The invisible bridge, The red umbrella, My name is Lucy Barton, The Shoemaker’s Wife, These is my words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, Lilac Girls, Me talk pretty one day, Salt to the Sea, Someone knows my name, and Plainsong.

In between, I prepared new and old recipes, hiked, biked, ran a 5-K fundraiser, went motorcycling, lots of girls’ nights out, and dinners/parties with my husband.  The older you get, the more you want to squeeze in!

I hope next year is as good as this one was!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Merry Christmas from Florida

Spending Christmas in Florida is fun!  This is the first time my husband and I have been somewhere warm over the holidays.  After savoring a home cooked turkey dinner, we headed out to the hot tub and pool and got a little silly.  We talked about past snow skiing trips while enjoying the warm weather.

Not looking so happy here…

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Really happy here…

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Day Trip to Fort Lauderdale

Located on the Atlantic side of Florida, Fort Lauderdale makes a great day trip from the Fort Myers area on the Gulf side.  Yesterday, a new friend “Deanna” and I drove a little over 2 hours to check out what’s changed in Fort Lauderdale since the Spring Break days of the 70’s.  Researching on Trip Advisor, our first stop was the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, formerly owned by Frederic Clay Bartlett, an artist and his wife, for use as a winter retreat to escape Chicago’s cold winters, dating back to the 20’s.  The tour of the home lasted over an hour.  The architecture was interesting in that there is a courtyard with doors leading to each room (i.e. most of the rooms are not attached to each other, you’re required to go back out to the courtyard to access another room).  The grounds were beautiful with tall palm trees, small ponds, and flowers.

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A little sitting area in the courtyard…

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An ornate lamp Mr. Bartlett made from an oil drum…

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Fun Weekend with Dee

My friend Dee came to visit me in Florida and I’d like to share some of the fun we had.  Friday started off with a trip to Cape Coral Yacht Club for a “fun in the sun” drink and a bite to eat while watching the sunset!  Unfortunately, the weather dropped about 10 degrees shortly before she arrived (68 degrees/48 degrees), so she had her Alpaca sweater and fingerless gloves on for the first evening.

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We headed to Fletchers, a local club, for some live music and dancing.

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Long Day

Saturday was a long day, a great day, a fun-filled day!  It started with dropping one of my girlfriends off at the airport, followed by a trip to Fort Myers Beach with my remaining friend.  We took a walk on the pier and saw men fishing, pelicans resting…

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Had to get a close-up…

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I think he was thinking, “Look at all of the pretty colors”!

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Kayaking in Florida

Mullock Creek Marina in Fort Myers, Florida is one of those places only the locals know about.  My friend who lives in Fort Myers hooked us up and we had a wonderful afternoon kayaking through an estuary (for those of you who don’t know exactly what that means…”An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea”).  It was a steal at $25 for an all day rental.   Partly cloudy skies and light winds made for a perfect afternoon.

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I took my camera in a large Ziploc bag to protect it.  Here are my friends…

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Here’s Wayne catching a large Tarpon fishy…

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Another Day at the Beach

Yesterday, my friends and I headed to Ft. Myers Beach for some fun in the sun.  We went farther South this time and picked a spot that was less populated.  This pelican was diving for fish…

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The ladies taking a nice long walk on the beach…

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More birds…

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First Few Days in Florida

My two girlfriends (who are sisters) and I drove the 16 hours from Ohio to Cape Coral, Florida in two days and arrived on Monday afternoon.  Back in the day, we would’ve driven straight through.  To take advantage of the remaining sunshine, we changed into our bathing suits and headed to the pool.  A friend who is like a relative very generously allows me to stay at her condo which is near Ft. Myers.  There is a small stretch of beach with a fun restaurant bar called Cape Coral Yacht Club about five minutes from the condo.  After relaxing for a bit at the pool, we headed there for a casual dinner and to watch the sunset.

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Tuesday, we couldn’t wait to see the beach…

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Road Trip to Florida

I’ll be heading to the Fort Myers area of Florida this weekend to spend the month of December and I’m so excited!  You may remember when I visited two years ago during my six-week Couchsurfing road trip through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.  I’ll have my Nikon D5100 with me this time, so I hope to capture some amazing sights!  Here are some photos from 2012.  Most of these are from the Rosemary and Seacrest Beach areas on the Gulf…

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This resembles a spine…

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Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Museum

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Museum are well worth the $25 per person fee to have a guided tour!  This Banyan tree, one of the largest in the U.S., was planted by Edison on the 20 acres where the Estates, Museum and gardens are located.

Thomas Edison purchased the property in 1885 because bamboo trees are plentiful and he used them in his light bulbs to extend their life.  He built two homes on the property.  Henry Ford was one of his good friends and bought the property next door.  They’re located on the Caloosahatchee River.  They both loved nature and planted a wide variety of flowers, trees and plants.

The views are gorgeous!

The entire place is camera friendly and although you’re prohibited from entering the homes, there are areas to view some of the rooms.

As you can see, they’ve decorated for the holidays.

The museum was impressive…not only with the knowledge it conveys, but also in its aesthetic nature.

An “electric pen” looks like fun!

There were lots of family photos and movies to watch.  Edison was a workaholic, so it’s nice to see him enjoying time with his family.

My “artsy” shot…

Hope you enjoyed your “virtual” tour!  Bye, bye!

What to do on Sanibel Island

Located 10-15 minutes from Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island has lots of fun things to do!  After paying a rather pricey toll charge of $6.00, we devoured a freshly caught grouper sandwich at Grandma Dots restaurant.

Located at a marina, it’s cute and casual!

Driving just a few minutes down the main drag, we arrived at the lighthouse beach and paid $4.00 for two hours of beach time!  Today it was warmer…almost 80 degrees…so we took a dip in the ice cold ocean and went for a long walk on the beach!

These paddleboarders were fun to photograph!

I have to give credit to my husband for this photo…

Here’s the bridge we crossed to go back to Ft. Myers/Cape Coral…

Not all beaches are created equal…but I love them all!!

Lee County Dog Park, Kayaking to Lovers Key State Park & Bicycling

If you live in Florida or travel with your dog…Lee County Dog Park next to Ft. Myers and Lovers Key State Park is a fun..fun place to take your dog!  We arrived about 7:30am to meet a friend who took us kayaking and checked out the Dog Park while we waited for him to arrive.

One of the dog owners told us that the place becomes quite busy with dogs and their owners on the weekends.  Depending on the tide…you may have to wade through a foot or two of water to get to the little island where the dogs are in the photo below.  It was a bit chilly this morning to do that…50 degrees.

I spotted this bird while we were watching the dogs…

I’m becoming obsessed with reflection shots…

I have my down jacket on for the beginning of the kayaking experience.  We paddled about three miles total and even ventured out into the Gulf from the coastal waterway.  We stopped at Lovers Key State Park and walked around.  I’ve only been kayaking once or twice before…so this was a lot of fun!  Thanks Wayne!!

Yesterday, the lumberjack and I went and bought a couple of used beach cruisers to leave for the family members that let us use their condos…and for anyone else that visits.  We purposely bought these type…you know…the old style where you push back on the pedals to stop and only one gear…forward!

We took a ride this afternoon.  Of course, the lumberjack would have to ride by me and screech his brakes really loudly to scare me…which worked…but also made me angry!  This was after the chain fell off…preventing me from being able to stop…which was scary!  But…I had fun!

We’re headed to have a drink at the small beach nearby and a bite to eat…while we watch the sunset.  Lovin’ Florida!!

Listen to the Whispers of Your Heart

This past week has been a wild ride.  After being dropped at the Cincinnati Airport to travel to California for a Symposium, where mass interviews took place, I realized I was at the wrong airport.  How does that happen to someone who is as detailed and organized as I am?  I believe I wasn’t supposed to go and I was ignoring the whispers of the universe/God/my heart!  I had tried to back out of going a while back and people talked me back into it.  And actually—that sign from the Universe was yelling—not whispering!

I’m frantically calling my husband repeatedly to come back and pick me up—to no avail—he had turned his cell phone off because people kept texting him while we were having a rather heated discussion on the way to the airport.  Everything was aligned against me going.  The next flight through that airline to Sacramento wasn’t until Tuesday and flights through other airlines were too expensive.

While I was waiting for my girlfriend to pick me up at the airport, having cried and feeling at one point that it was the end of the world, a handicapped man hobbled past me and a new perspective hit me.  So what, I missed a flight.  That happens some times…it had just never happened in all of my travels…to me.  If I really wanted to be a Tour Director, those are some of the kinds of things that happen while traveling.  I also remembered a conversation I had with my boss’s girlfriend the day before leaving.  She said the universe guides us if we listen, which I knew, but had forgotten.  I spent the day helping my girlfriend pick out décor for remodeling her bathroom, had a couple of rum and coke and spent the night at her house.

My husband picked me up the next day—on Sunday—and I asked him if he’d like to drive to Florida for the week.  I had a friend that had offered her condo for us to stay in at Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.  After checking with his boss, it took all of 2 hours to unpack winter clothes, pack summer clothes and hit the road for the 17-hour drive.  On the drive down we stayed at the same motel in Macon, Georgia, my mother and I stayed at in March, when I drove her down before she died from Cancer in June.

The weather was glorious…80 degrees and sunny every day.  I jogged every morning, took 3-4 mile hikes on the beach and read by the pool!  I’m glad I chose to not sulk—to seize the moments!

Here are some photos from the trip—

CAPTIVA BEACH…FLORIDA

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA

GREAT IDEA!!

As Marilyn Monroe has said…”Sometimes Good Things Fall apart so Better Things Can Fall Together”.  I can’t wait to see what the Universe has in store for me next—I have a feeling there are some adventurous times around the corner!