Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Bridges of Palm City

Today was one of those rare days that I could have easily gotten lost in worries. Not really my style. To fight off the blues in my head I decided to enjoy the blues of the sky and water.


I gathered my old camera, oldest lens, 36 year old beach cruiser bike, 56 year old body, and exercised the whole group. Keep things in good shape, they last a long time.

I had a vague idea it was a good day to shoot bridges and anything else of interest. The ride was more important than setting goals.


After a year and a half of living in my new home town, I will be the first to admit I have done a miserable job of making friends. Maybe because I do things on the weekdays like get on my bike and ride at 7:30 in the morning. Maybe because even on a good day the people I know are spread all over the country. Many weekends I'm out of town so that does not help. On those rare days I want to sit and have a conversation over a cup of coffee, I have a bit of a vacuum at the moment.


Hours into my ride I found a tiny church in the most perfect location you could imagine a church to be in.  I am hardly the most friendly person but as I was shooting the church I met the youth pastor Crisman Koechig. I am not what you might call religious but it did seem rather convenient to have someone to speak to on the only day I really needed it. In fact he was the only person I spoke face to face to all day.


Probably not the most world changing conversation for him. For me it was significant. I explained why I was on this particular ride and he was nice enough to listen. He even offered to say a few prayers. No for me. I'm doing pretty well. But for someone currently in a pretty big need.

It never hurts to have someone build a little bridge for you, even if just to carry a message. Not all bridges are concrete and steel. If I was in the market to reacquaint myself with a church, I would certainly choose one where the pastor walks out in the street and talks to a stranger for a half hour. If he wonders if he makes a difference - today he did.


It will be a few days, maybe a couple of weeks before I know how this will all turn out but today was a good day. That's all that matters right now.

To see the rest of the photos from my ride [click here]

To find out a little more about this church [ click here]

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Orlando Renaissance Faire - Year One

I was asked many times during my visit to the Orlando Renaissance Festival what I thought of the faire. This is the third new (to me) renaissance faire I've been to in about three weekends and the 10th venue overall in the last 20+ years. I arrived just before opening and left after close so I got to see it all. If you want to skip the reading and go right to the photos
[click here]


I'll start right off with the three major complaints I heard during the day. The ticket price of $20 was too much for the size of the show, the stages needed to be raised, and no pub. Good points, all of which will be addressed next year I'm told. In my opinion, if you can do better for cheaper in the first year of a brand new faire, invite me. I would like to see it. Comparing this show to a 20 and 30 year old show is like comparing a new born to a college student. Unlike some - I will speak only to this show and not compare it to others.


I knew most of the acts from my many travels and I always enjoy watching my friends perform. The point of my recent journeys to new lands and new faires is to see new acts. The Living Chess Board performed by Lance Orlando was by far the standout show of the day. I have seen many a living chess board but none with as much spark flying fury, high energy battles, nor earth shaking falls. When not performing, the cast of this show spent the day interacting with the visitors. So much more thrilling to cheer for a combatant you just made friends with a few hours before. They certainly held the attention of the crowd. They were also a big part of why I felt so welcomed at this show.


So what did this festival get right? The location number one. This faire could grow 2-3 times its size in the given space easily. It will not take long to do so. Those attending this inaugural show were Pirates from St Augustine and Daytona, Cosplayers from Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, and Renaissance patrons from all over the state. There were even some folks from Orlando. That's just the ones I know. In most towns, the faire comes to you. In this place the world comes to Orlando. There are also a few thousand people living just outside the park and millions just a few minutes drive. This faire was primarily advertised on social media and in my humble opinion exceeded attendance expectations. It takes time to build a community like at other faires but to see so many friends travel from so far away was amazing to me.


What was the biggest buzz I caught during the day? Next Year! Next year I'm bringing the cannon's, Next year I'm setting up a booth. I'm telling this person and that person they need to be here next year. There was a huge amount of ground by the lake unused and plenty of room for a joust on the other side. Some of my friends were ready to start staking claims on the unused space.


This faire is the perfect alternative to a day at the theme parks or in my case - the perfect addition to. It is rare you can attend the first year of anything these days so it was quite a thrill to document the first year with my camera. I consider it the perfect soft opening for those of us who truly love outdoor live entertainment. I can guarantee I will be back over the next few years just to watch it grow.


The best part of this year was the time spent with far flung friends I seldom see. It's the people that make these festivals a success, not the corporations. The more you go - the more people you know. That is part of the fun of attending .


Beside - where else will a fairy make you a fish out of a soap bubble. I'll leave you with that thought. Till next year my friends.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sarasota Medieval Fair - 2016

Continuing my quest to visit Renaissance faires in Florida I've not before visited - The Sarasota Medieval Fair.  I've heard very mixed reviews from friends on this event. I would prefer to get my information first hand - like actually going myself. I always try and get as much information as I can before I travel to new places. The Sarasota Medieval Fair web page was the perfect place to start.


They have one of the most informative websites I've seen so far. Good sign. I discovered I knew a few acts and vendors already but there was going to be over half the acts I've never seen before. That is really the point of making these journeys.


One of the common comments I've heard about this show is it's small. It may have been at one time but it was pretty extensive on my visit. From the map it did not seem like it was going to be an all day event but they managed to squeeze a tremendous amount of fun in a small space.


I was there from before opening gun till closing and try as I might, I did not see all the shows. If time was available I could have easily spent a second day and filled it with the things I didn't get a chance to enjoy.


As a 20+ year veteran of fair going, there have been a few acts I have seen dozens and dozens of times over the years. The Washing Well Wenches in particular.  I have enjoyed them in now four different cities and know several cast members. This show was in fact the only show I ever participated in - and that was on my first ever visit to a fair. One heck of an introduction to live theater.


In 20+ years I have never laughed as hard as I did at this particular show. I have never seen an audience member so stubborn as to receive a whole bucket of water to the head. This is live performance at its unpredictable and hilarious best and why I personally travel hundreds of miles to experience it.


The one thing that stood out was the number of friends I ran into. Both costumed or working but more importantly performers who were just in street clothes there to see the shows. I can't think of another venue I've been to that performers I know well just come to have some fun.


Oh - and I got a shattered lance shot. Only my second ever and it's a good one. For the rest of my photos from this event [click here] 

They are not all as good as this one but they certainly will give you a birdseye view of the this fair. Even though this one is the farthest from my house, I can see myself coming back next year.