Tuesday, July 26, 2011

bowling w Little Chef

bowling w Little Chef by Mark Bonica
bowling w Little Chef, a photo by Mark Bonica on Flickr.

phone cam shot

came home early today and Little Chef and I had some quality time. I've been so busy this summer, I realized we needed a little break. She loves to bowl, so we went, just the two of us, and bowled a few strings. I stink at bowling. My grandfather was apparently phenomenal at it - having scored multiple 300s. We have a clipping somewhere of him and his bowling team, announcing that they had all bowled 300s. I was very lucky today and bowled a 150, but normally I'm feeling solid if I break 100.

I was thinking today about how bowling was such a rage in the 50s and 60s, and how it's not really a mainstream activity now, yet it limps along. It's a huge capital investment to set up a bowling alley, but the variable cost must be relatively low - how much can it possibly cost the alley if one more lane is running or not on a given day? Probably pennies, if that. So then it becomes all about volume and spreading costs, but where is the volume? Most of these places must constantly be on the verge of collapse.

this particular shot is from Randolph AFB, which has a very nice bowling alley and reasonable prices, courtesy of your tax dollars. thank you so much.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Randolph Cleaners

Randolph Cleaners by Mark Bonica
Randolph Cleaners, a photo by Mark Bonica on Flickr.

At the corner of Pat Booker Rd and Rt 78, across from the main gate to Randoph AFB. I drive by this place almost everyday - sometimes more than once and I have always wanted to go get a shot of it. Not sure what attracts me - it's just a facade in front of an old quonset hut - but maybe that's exactly why. It has this sense of just barely being maintained enough to keep on cranking out starched uniforms one more day...

So tonight I said, it's blue hour - I'm going to shoot this thing - jumped in the car and ran down there - and took some shots from across the street in an empty lot between a fast food joint and a dive bar. Had some interesting characters drive by - no doubt they were thinking the same thing about me.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Beer Wine Pool Darts"

still working on the HDR technique.  these pictures are from Schertz, TX, right off of Rt. 78.

Beer Wine Pool Darts

and in color

Beer Wine Pool Darts

it's interesting to see the process of creative destruction as the old, low cost, low quality establishments disappear and a replaced by soulless corporate entities.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quarter Horse Trials at Retama Park

Retama Park Horse Racing

Retama Park opened for live racing in July.  I was finally able to get there for an evening of races this past Friday.  I didn't grow up with horses, but watching them run is really remarkable - they are such powerful animals.

Retama Park Horse Racing

Retama is right on I-35, about 7 miles from my house.  It's a really nice, if a bit spartan, facility.  Well maintained and clean.  Most of the food vendors are run by community organizations trying to raise money, so the environment is family friendly.

Retama Park Horse Racing

The price is a bargain, too.  Last night admission was $5 per car.  Unfortunately I was the only one in my car...

Retama Park Horse Racing

Races run about every 20 minutes, so there's time to walk down to see the horses on display, then walk back and place your bets and get a seat.  Or jostle for a place along the fence so you can get a good picture. 

Retama Park Horse Racing

Actually, what's cool about being at the track is there are just two low fences that put about 5 feet between you and the track.  If you were tall enough, you could just about lean over the first fence and touch a horse when they walk back (during the race they are on the inside of the track - about 20 feet from you).  But you can really be quite close to the action if you so choose.

Retama Park Horse Racing

Retama Park Horse Racing

Thursday, July 14, 2011

North Padre Island/Corpus Christi

daughters and the sea

We realized we hadn't taken a family vacation - even a short one - away from San Antonio since we arrived last summer. So last weekend we piled into the fam van and trucked down to the Gulf Coast and spent two nights on North Padre Island.

snack shack

It took about three hours to get there, but it was such an easy drive - almost all of it through the Texas countryside - that it really was a relaxing trip. Anything is better than 3 hours on I-95 - which is how long it's taken us to get through NYC at times. But I digress...


beach chair

We stayed at the Holiday Inn on North Padre Island. The location was awesome - right on the beach. We could walk out of the hotel, through the pool, and down onto the beach. Unfortunately, the ridiculous room rate was clearly for the premium of staying on the beach, and not for the amenities. This was a $75/night hotel charging a $150 beach premium. It just wasn't worth it. I thought I was getting something special for the family when I saw the price, and since we hadn't been anywhere in a long time, I was willing to pay it. But my daughters promptly labeled the hotel "a dump". Needless to say, we won't be staying there again. Beach access is easy, so if you're willing to put up with some minor transportation inconvenience, you can get a lot more hotel value staying somewhere else.


Nonetheless, we were there for the beach, not the hotel. And the beach was wonderful. Not too crowded, clean, and the water was about 90 degrees!

beach combing

I really liked North Padre. We've already planned another trip back to Corpus Christi later in the summer (staying at a different hotel), and we'll certainly do some more exploring there.

mother & daughter

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

blue flowers

went out to get a few shots last night, but went out just a few minutes to late to get what I wanted. So I got this instead - a blue hour shot of a field of wild flowers:

Blue flowers

Another cluster of flowers just a few feet away, but shot from a different direction.

last light of day

I had planned to get an HDR shot of Sonic, but it didn't work out. Instead I used a single, over exposed shot to do this shot:

fine dining, Cibolo, TX

Schertz Independence Day Parade

Who doesn't love a parade?

We went down to witness the Schertz Independence Day parade on Monday. It was cute, if a little spartan.

Corvette Club

Cars, cars, cars. I have always loved Corvettes, especially the old Stingray body.

Red Roadsters

But I think I got the biggest kick out of these two groups of grown men driving these teeny cars.

Red Roadsters

and these teeny cars:

Alazafar Mini Wheels

now what Texas parade would be complete without a truck with a gun. This might be excessive, even by distorted Texas standards:

Texas Trucks & Guns

Good fun. Small town parades are so quaint - it's hard to imagine a time when they were competitive enough with other available forms of entertainment that everyone would have been there.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

hot Texas nights

dinner tonight was prepared mostly outside to avoid heating up the house on these hot Texas nights.

outdoor kitchen

I took the sauce pot outside in the afternoon and simmered it for two hours on the patio instead of inside the house. and the pizza dough was pretty happy out there in the 100 degree heat, too.

I gave a shot to grilling some calzones. not such a great idea. I think if I still had a stone, we would have been ok. Or if I had been watching it closer. But as it was, I burned the first batch pretty thoroughly, then had to heat up the oven inside anyway.

then we made cinnamon chips with strawberries, chocolate, and whipped cream:

cinnamon chips & strawberries

cinnamon chips & strawberries

now for a swim and some Shiner Bock!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Six Flags/Fiesta Texas

Took the kids to Six Flags/Fiesta Texas yesterday afternoon. We all had a good time. S & N, my oldest, walked around with their respective friends, while Little K and I spent some quality Father/Daughter time.

Unfortunately all I had with me was my phone cam yesterday, so the pictures aren't very good.

A view of the "board walk" from the ferris wheel:

Boardwalk - Six Flags

(yes, it looks a bit like a painting - that is the result of the "dry brush" filter I applied in Photo Shop.)

I love ferris wheels as I've said before. They're not thrilling or even scary. But every time I ride one I can't help but think about the technology behind the ride, and how far we have come as a species that we can afford to waste it on simple pleasure.

Little K and I also rode the giant swings, which is another of my perennial favorites:

giant swing - Six Flags

She had a lot of fun. I was sitting on the swing next to her, hoping I wouldn't drop my phone while trying to take the shot, spinning around at whatever blurring speed that was.

I love photographing amusement parks - so many colors, so many interesting shapes, so many happy emotions.