Sunday, August 28, 2011

Getting High over Door County, Wisconsin

No, not that type of getting “high.”

High as in adrenaline rush and altitude which simply translates into skydiving and what better way to do my first skydive than over the 4th of July weekend!

Some people look to the sky for fireworks on the 4th of July...I fall out of it!

Along with my friend, Mary, and her sister Susan, we chose to go with an outfit called Skydive Door County located in scenic Sturgeon Bay. The location would provide a picturesque drop-zone of the Door County peninsula.

After a thirty minute instructional period I was outfitted with a harness, goggles and tons of encouragement that everything would be fine.

Aboard the very small Cessna plane, I was treated to scenic views of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. After fifteen minutes of sitting in a very cramped position, I was ready to jump out of the plane with or without a parachute (unbeknownst to me that would foreshadow things to come).

Once they opened the door the real adventure began.

After an exhilarating forty-five second free fall period, my tandem instructor pulled the parachute ripcord (which I was supposed to do but free falling over one hundred twenty miles per hour I kind of forgot to do so).

“Oh sh*t!” my tandem instructor yelled out.

I went from all smiles to what the hell is going on back there?

Apparently the main parachute didn’t deploy properly and my tandem instructor tried in vain to correct the problem to no avail.

“Get back into free fall position (arched back and my heels touching his buttocks...I know that last part sounds weird but it saved my life)!” screamed my tandem instructor.

He then jettisoned the main chute and we had to free fall again for a brief period before he deployed the reserve (and last parachute). So I had two free falls for the price one!

After a somewhat relaxing canopy ride down back to earth we let out a collective sigh of relief upon touching ground.

In the hanger he thanked me for remaining calm. I asked how often that happens and he said maybe one out of three thousand jumps. He added that in his over ten years in skydiving this was only the second time it has ever happened. Lucky me!

Would I do it again?

In a time I would pack the parachute myself and bring an extra one just to be sure!

Adios from over 10,000 feet from scenic Door County!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Altitude and Attitude in Mexico City

I love traveling to foreign countries and better yet I love coming back to my home country of the United States after a great trip. The only problem is that sometimes I find American government officials annoying.

Returning from Mexico City, I was stuck in a long line at the Charlotte Airport awaiting to be interrogated by the next suspicious U.S. Customs agent. When it was my time to be questioned I was asked where I was returning from.

“Mexico City!” I calmly told the agent.

I knew that set off red flags in her head and she immediately went into Sherlock Homes mode.

“What were you doing in Mexico City?”

“Where you traveling by yourself?”

“Did you meet somebody there?”

“Why Mexico City?”

“Do you have friends or family that live there?”

“What do you find appealing in Mexico City?”

Of course I knew what she was insinuating. I was born and raised in the international border city of San Diego and I am accustomed to being subjected to questions regarding travel in Mexico whenever I would return from there. Since I was coming back from Mexico City, in her mind she must have been thinking I served on the board of directors of some Mexican drug cartel.

But it was her last question that really set me off.

“Why Mexico City when you could be enjoying the beaches of Mazatlan, Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel?”

I looked her squarely in the eye and replied, “Why would I want to spend my hard earned money traveling to a Mexican beach resort that’s overpriced and congested with those Americans (as I pointed back to the line of tanned Americans wearing nothing but slippers, shorts and T-shirts proclaiming “I ‘heart’ Cancun”)? I travel overseas to meet locals not other Americans.”

Somehow she let me back into the country.

God bless the U.S.A.!

Happy 4th of July my fellow Americans!

And the photograph...

I’m standing at the midpoint on my way up the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest pyramid in the world) in the ancient city of Teotihuacan (an hour outside of Mexico City).

Somehow of all the photographs I took at Teotihuacan this one had the most appeal to me. The incongruity of a local woman holding her child and the tourists holding their camera and gasping for air (the altitude of the Mexico City metropolis, which is perched atop a highland valley, sits at 2,240 meters (7,392 feet) above sea level).

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just for my Photography Friends: A Secret Southwest Photo Location

This photograph has been in my hard drive since 2007. For the longest time I hesitated to post this since I didn’t want to give away the secret location.

I had to leave my motel two hours before sunrise to reach the trailhead and then hike for about fifteen minutes to reach this point. Once there I had this magnificent arch all to myself. So how did I find this undiscovered natural landmark? Patience, hours of hiking and cash incentives for the locals (otherwise known as bribes).

So to all my Flickr friends I offer you this secret arch which will probably soon be a classic of the American Southwest. National Geographic I await your phone call!

Okay before you call me delusional, yes, this is Mesa Arch located in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. There’s only a million and one photos here on Flickr and all with similar composition. Either way, this is a “must photograph” American Southwest icon.

And no you will not be alone, there will be plenty of company with you! Get there early and choose your spot wisely because once your fellow photographers arrive you’ll be boxed in.

Nothing will prepare for the amazing spectacle that will soon be unveiled. When the sun appears the underside of the arch will glow a vivid red. Hearts will pound and your camera shutter button will get a great workout.

So Mesa Arch isn’t a secret to landscape photographers. That should only embolden you to find the next American Southwest classic natural landmark. Just have patience, stamina for hiking and lots of cash!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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