About Me

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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

NEW YEARS' EVE - PRESSING RESET




So. After what from nearly all accounts was a singularly bad year all around, we arrive at the start of a new one. It's an arbitrary reset, but a reset nonetheless. 

Wishing you all a firm and final end to 2016, and a resurgent 2017.




Friday, December 30, 2016

THE FRIDAY MARTINI - SIMPLE AND YET PERFECT



It's kinda plain, but that's the testament to the Martini. 

Oklahoma City. Frills not required, despite the publicity the martini usually requires.

A simple martini. And it's Friday to boot. Last in the year.

Goodbye 2016. Don't let the door strike you too hard in the ass on your way out. 

Too hard. A solid *fwump* will suffice.


2017. We need a change. Please be the sunrise in an otherwise pre-dawn world.



Thursday, December 29, 2016

NEEDLES, CALIFORNIA - THE WAGON WHEEL




I've mentioned favorite little stopovers while on the road. It's one of the fun pleasures of a road trip: finding a little roadside restaurant and tourist-attraction to explore and enjoy.

This is The Wagon Wheel, along Route 66, just off Interstate 40 on the California, Arizona border. The town is called Needle, which matches nicely with the desert landscape.

Stop in for a burger. Or even better, breakfast.

Just another stopover on Route 66.



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

RED ROCKS CANYON, NEVADA - MIB?



("MIB" = Men in Black...alien hunters.)


I saw this movie. It didn't end well for humanity.


(Actually, just a few burned-out Joshua Trees in the Nevada desert. You thought they looked odd when they were healthy...)


Red Rock Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas.




Tuesday, December 27, 2016




My Dad and I were talking today, and he mentioned how much my recently-passed mother loved road trips. It must be, I suggested, where I got it.

Road tripping. The ultimate in freedom and escape.

Going to have to get one planned and get back on the road. 2016 is nearly over. 


It's time to start 2017 doing what I love.

Stay tuned.



My car, amidst volcanic cinder cones in the Mohave Desert.

Monday, December 26, 2016

NAPLES BAY, ITALY - THINGS THAT (MIGHT) GO BOOM


Welcome to Monday, the final week of 2016. 

A year which I wish gets hit solidly by the door as it leaves.

On this final Monday of 2016 comes word that a major Italian volcano -- not, Vesuvius (shown below), but the Campi Flegrei supervolcano just west of this photograph -- is coming to life.

If you live in or around Naples, Pompeii or Sorrento, you might take an umbrella...



Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays




May there be peace on Earth and goodwill towards all men and women, of all faiths, all genders, all orientations, all economic strata, and all philosophies.It's a solitary world we inhabit. It;s time we began thinking like adults.

May we find a way to stop ourselves from blaming others for our own frustrations, to stop demonizing those who disagree, and find a way for all people to rise together.


Happy Holidays to each and every person who comes here, and may the world find itself a little way back down the path back to sanity in the coming year.

The future belongs to all of us.





Friday, December 23, 2016

THE FRIDAY MARTINI - CARY GRANT AND THE LEGEND OF THE HALF-ASSED MARTINI



"The barkeep has murdered this martini!
 He's bruised the gin and muddled the olive!"

                      Cary Grant





It's Friday yet again, and that means it's time for the Friday martini!

This week a bit different, however. This little gem will be included in the book, but here's a preview.

Most drinkers, those who drink for enjoyment and not for sport, are specific when it comes to how they like their preferred beverage. I have a friend who demands his Rob Roy be served very specifically. When I'm drinking a martini on my own I will make my preferences known. (When shooting entries for CHASING MARTINIS I will basically see what the bartender recommends and drink it their way...)

This last week I was at lunch with two close friends who told me a brilliant anecdote regarding one of my favorite actors, Cary Grant, and the ever-fascinating Howard Hughes.  My friend is essentially unimpeachable when it comes to Mr. Grant, so I regard this as a true story.

As you might know, at one point Howard Hughes was involved in filmmaking and, like many filmmakers, would often pre-screen his films. It is a chance for a director to gauge the audience response to specific scenes, after which he would return to the studio and edit appropriately.

On one occasion Cary Grant was with him. This is the story:


Many years ago, in the heyday of Hollywood, Howard Hughes and Cary Grant developed a "bromance" that extended to a mutual appreciation for a well-made martini. Grant, of course, was well known for his love of the drink, being quite specific in his criticism of anything less than a perfect martini.

One evening they found themselves at the State Theater in Long Beach after a prescreening of one of Hughes' upcoming films. After the show they searched around for a place to get a drink, settling upon the Saratoga Bar on Pine Avenue, named for the Navy's aircraft carrier which used to homeport at Long Beach Naval Station in the post-war years.

Downtown Long Beach, at the time, was a rough around the edges Navy town, and the Saratoga Bar was very much in keeping with that setting. Hughes and Grant entered and sat down at the bar. Only a couple of other patrons were in the room. Grant, iwth his mellifluous British accent, ordered a martini.

The bartender, given more towards serving beer, rum, scotch and bourbon, scoffed and asked in a disbelieving voice "What is a martini?".

According to the legend, Hughes offered to demonstrate and slid a hundred dollar bill across the bar. The bartender pocketed the bill and stepped aside as Hughes mixed up the first attempt at the drink.  Hughes, naturally, was no bartender and despite having consumed many martinis over the years wasn't quite sure what proportion the ingredients should be, nor was he terribly sure of the mixing process (this was a bar that probably didn't have a shaker...). In essence, he was making it up as he went along. Trial and error.

Grant tasted it and made a frown. Not yet. Hughes tried it himself and was similarly unimpressed. So he tried again. The second round, of course, was to neither of their satisfaction. Nor was the third...

And so it went for some time until both Hughes and Grant were completely plastered, at which point the car was summoned and they headed back to Hollywood to sleep off their martini-making evening. My friend isn't sure if they ever got it right -- Grant was too far gone to know whether the last few hit the mark. As far as he knew, none of them was any better than just half-assed.

Years later Cary Grant related the story to my friend, labeling it the Making of the Half-Assed Martini.

And while it's a true story, I prefer calling it a Legend.


BTW - In researching a photo of Mr Grant I ran across this page. You might enjoy.

CARY GRANT'S FAVORITE COCKTAILS









Thursday, December 22, 2016

GRIFFITH PARK, LOS ANGELES - DAZED AND CONFUSED



This week ends up being all about signs, which is fun I guess. I didn't start it with a theme, 
the theme just sort of happened.

This sign hangs on a door at the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles. As you can see at some point they apparently sealed the door and moved the entrance.

What I can't understand is why they wouldn't simply cover the word entrance instead of installing a boxed sign below it that contradicts it. Build the box over the word entrance and nobody's the wiser. 

Right?



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

CHURCHILL, MANITOBA - THE OTHER DOOR





Some people need things explained very plainly before they understand instructions.

The door to North Star Tours in Churchill. I didn't ask, but you have to assume the second blue sign, on the left, was necessary at some point.






Tuesday, December 20, 2016

TWIN PEAKS, CALIFORNIA - SOMETIMES I SEE SIGNS



Sometimes I see things that just demand a picture be taken.

Not a travel shot. Not an artistic one.

Simply one that must be documented.

Road trip to Lake Arrowhead some years back we passed this...



Monday, December 19, 2016

OFF THE COAST OF KAUAI - THE DAZE BEFORE SELFIES




Once upon a time, not too long ago, we used to ask other people to take our pictures.

No selfie-stick required, and you got to meet someone along the way.

It's true. I was there.

After a day out on the Na Pali Coast, snorkeling and seeing the sights, our boat headed back to shore, but not without resting a few moments as the sun set into the Pacific in a truly spectacular sunset. This couple, like others on this trip, were our short-term traveling companions on an adventure.

And their honeymoon, if memory serves.








Friday, December 16, 2016

CHASING MARTINIS - THE FRIDAY MARTINI



Friday again, You've (almost) survived another week.

Have a martini.

Lobby Bar. Doubletree Hotel, Albuquerque.

Smirnoff.

And, as always, the first chapter from CHASING MARTINIS

Have a great weekend!



Thursday, December 15, 2016

SOUTH BEACH, MIAMI BEACH, FL - HOME FROM THE GYM?


Or maybe to it. I don't know.

Clearly, however, he -- like so many other of South Beach's beautiful people - spends a lot of time working on their physical form.

In any event, at least we can assume he's not the valet...




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

MYSTIC, CONNECTICUT - THE LORE OF SHIPS



Growing up in a Navy family the ocean was never far from our house. As such you learn about maritime traditions even above and beyond those of the military.

One of our day trips was to the town of Mystic, Connecticut to visit Mystic Seaport, a historically recreated coastal community featuring tall ships, exhibits and museum-grade displays.

There are a dozen or more similar ports along the eastern seaboard, but this is a must-see. 

Plus it has the coolest name this side of Edgar Allen Poe.




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

TOURAINE, FRANCE - CHAT IN THE CHENIN BLANC



Stylized version of a photo I took while wandering around the Loire region of France, a few miles outside of Tours. I was photographing a vineyard alongside a country road when I realized I was being watched.

I cropped down the original shot of the vines and bumped up the cat's silhouette, overlaying it all with a light Dry Brush filter to give the image a more artistic, filtered Impressionist touch.

I call it Chat in the Chenin Blanc.



Monday, December 12, 2016

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - THE RISING TIDES?


Miami Beach, where the measure of a man can be determined by his tan lines.


A place to see and be scene, utterly unique amongst American beach locales. Models, actors, business people, and locals who just want to have a good time. The jet set and the working class, all milling and trying  to out Miami each other.

At the Tides you can see them all. Grab a mojito and pull up a chair.





Saturday, December 10, 2016

QUECHEE, VERMONT - AFTERNOON AT THE CREEK



A hot, humid Saturday afternoon in the interestingly named Quechee, Vermont.


Some of the locals made the best of the weather and took turns swinging out over the river and dropping the fifteen or so feet into the cool water. We sat on the restaurant deck watching.

A perfect afternoon chilling out.



Friday, December 9, 2016

CHASING MARTINIS - THE FRIDAY MARTINI



It's Friday. Three weeks left in 2016. *Gasp*!

Time for a martini or two...with a kick

El Compadre Restaurant, downtown Los Angeles. A
 Compadre original, the Cucumber JalapeƱo martini.

Tito's.

(And if you haven't already, check out the free first chapter of my forthcoming book CHASING MARTINIS!)





Thursday, December 8, 2016

A STRONG CUPPA JOE




"Learning about culture is a part of every Traveler. Know their words and use them. Thanks to I can say coffee in 7 languages"

Yesterday I tweeted this message while still working on my first cup of coffee. It was a halfhearted joke, making a reasonably sincere point.

Then it occurred to me the real value of the statement. In every culture we find both difference and similarities to our own. All too often we focus on the similarities and fear the differences.

But finding those things we have in common can sometimes bridge the gap and make us a bit more bold in exploring those differences.

I can order coffee in seven languages. It's a start.