Structure From Motion

For months now, I have been bouncing around collecting experiences and trying not to think about a snowball that I left at the summit of a steep, snowy hill last Spring. That half snowball is part II of my travel blog that was supposed to describe the continuing adventures of Jocelyn and I in Valencia. Unfortunately, like lots of bloggers and rappers before me, I got caught up in the hustle & flow and didn’t make time to reflect. My memory of the trip isn’t nearly as sharp anymore, and so much has happened over the last few months that it would take five more posts to get caught up. If I let it, that little snowball could roll its way into a full on blog-monster with tentacles reaching from Valencia to Winnipeg. Still, as long as I don’t feed it after midnight, I think I can keep this thing to a manageable size. Valencia Jocelyn loves Aquariums. Before we left, I put a few travel books in front of her and it took her thirty seconds to discover that Valencia has one of the best aquariums in the world. When we finally left Calatrava in La Mancha, we both really needed a break from castles and provincial towns, and Valencia was very close to my second site, the 14th century fortress-monastery of Montesa. I knew from my previous visit to this site the year before that the festival of Fallas was going to be just beginning when we got there, so I thought it would be cool to rent an apartment in the center of the city… not my best idea. As I drove Dink deeper into the tiny little streets, we saw that after a certain point, no one was crazy enough to try driving because the streets … Continue reading

Say Hello to my Little Friend… OR… Hydroplaning Through La Mancha

Like most of us not named Jay-Z and Beyonce, my wife and I had an itemized budget for our trip. Given that I banged up the rental car a bit on my last trip, this time I decided to go with “less car, more insurance.” That said, when we arrived I did not expect to see a vehicle that had the qualities of a car, but more closely resembled a dust-buster crossed with an albino mouse. It took very little time to discover that this Seat “Mii” was a distant, pigmy cousin of Dinkus – the odd little hatchback I had last year. It even had the super-fun dinging noise when the speedometer passed 40 and 100 km/hr that earned Dinkus his name. Therefore, it is my pleasure to introduce you all to “Dink.” He has his very own three-cylinder engine, wheels the size of cookies and maxes out at 70mph! Whee!… I’m driving a Mii!!! … Continue reading

Photogrammetry, Back to Spain, Pole-People, Kappers & the Chronicle of Higher Education

At this time last year, I was buying brand new super-socks online for my long trip to Spain. I had a database full of hotel options, an international data plan on my phone, the perfect drop-down suitcase, and a new Canon T1i camera. Put simply, I had my sh-t together before United rolled it into a tight little ball and flung it at the fan. Given my travel history, one might think that while preparing for a second trip, I would try to simplify things… I didn’t.

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!”

June 4th – Charlottesville, VA. At this point I have been back from Spain & Portugal longer than I was away. Judging by how long it took me to cap off the travel blog, you might say that I took more than enough time to adjust to being back. This is partially true, but I don’t want to give the impression I have been sitting around in old glory pajamas, eating hamburgers and listening to a constant loop of Born in the USA. … Continue reading

Boogie-Shoes, or How to Trespass Like Sammy Sosa

One of my undergraduate photography professors at the University of Delaware once told me: “Bad weather makes great pictures… now go shoot four rolls in the rain.” If I were shooting for a postcard company I would have to call BS on that, but as I have told myself many times over the last ten days, blue skies are boring. … Continue reading

The couple left before the hobo had finished his dessert.

Looking back at the months before I left for Spain, I realize now that my itinerary planning was borderline OCD. I have been very well served by the late hours figuring out which sites are most important for my dissertation research, how long I should stay at a given site, where the affordable hotels are etc. I have to give pre-Spain Ed some credit for anticipating some inevitable “Spain being Spain” derailments by penciling in some “cushion time” at the end of this trip. The itinerary has been a strict but benevolent hand guiding me through what would otherwise seem like a Walmart on Black Friday. That said, like a kid who has behaved himself in church for what he thinks has been a very long time, I am about to test if the itinerary is still watching. Portugal was the first test, but that was just the beginning. I am crawling under the pews with action figures in my hands and I can see daylight at the end of the aisle. … Continue reading

Red Bull, Donkeys, and Smooth Jazzzz

Nothing can pick up your spirits more than the realization that you don’t actually live in Villanueva del Arzobispo and you can leave at any time. The only way leaving that town would have been more awesome is if I had helped save the last resident just before it exploded. In this scenario the citizens are begging me to stay and help them rebuild the destruction wrought by the infamous “El Guapo,” …but I can’t hear them over the roar of Dinkus’ throaty engine as I kiss my passport and step on the gas. … Continue reading

That kangaroo stole my ball!

I’ve had more than one Rodney Dangerfield moment on this trip. One that sticks in my mind happened last Thursday when I was hiking around to the back side of the fortress of Montesa. You might think these castles would be built at the highest point within view, but it most cases they are built at the end of a spur that juts out from a larger chain of mountains into a valley below. So as I was climbing around looking for better vantage points to take pictures, I went off the trail quite a bit. As I rounded one corner, I scared up something really big in the brush that bounded almost straight up the side of this cliff. As I blindly shot pictures of whatever was moving I heard an ear-splitting screech at the top of the ridge. I’m not sure why, but as I turned to see the source of the screech I said aloud: “Did that donkey just whistle at me?” … Continue reading

So this cat walks into a bar…

… and as he hops onto his regular stool he begins to say “Hola Amigios! Que tal?” One of the regulars quickly cuts him off and says: “Hold that thought Felix, there is a weird American with a camera behind you.” From the look on that guy’s face I think I was right not to offer them a round of milk. *** … Continue reading

Who’s scruffy lookin?

It turns out the best way to get a laugh in Spain is to look a stray dog in the face and ask if he speaks English. I am not sure if I stumbled on an old joke that Catalan tourists tell all the time or if it was because I used the formal “usted.” Either way, I envied that dog today. He was scruffy and camera shy, but he had all the San Miguel he could lap up off the cobblestones, and the fact that he didn’t own so much as a collar didn’t bother him in the slightest. That dog – let’s call him “Scruffy” – had never been on the phone with Iberia airlines barking furiously and foaming at the mouth. Scruffy probably has parasites, but he has never had to ask them if they are sure they have the right dog. So as I sat in a plastic chair by the Ebro River today and washed down the midday meal that never happened with my own San Miguel, I at least took solace that mine was served in a glass…. Don’t look at me like that Scruffy. … Continue reading