Archive for the My Travels Category

Wanderlust –

Posted in My Travels on May 8, 2012 by Scott Nickell

Wanderlust – The seemingly insurmountable need to travel, to see and experience new places and new faces. Where do I get these urges to travel? As far back as I can remember it seems like we were always going somewhere. Family trips from Baltimore to Colorado, or California, or Wyoming, or South Dakota. Or long weekend trips to see family in Cincinnati. Mom and Dad also enjoyed taking the road les traveled, often taking the U.S. Routes instead of the Interstate.

I was 10 years old the summer of 1972, when we moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Bainbridge Island, Washington. My father had accepted a position in Seattle, and had preceded us a few months earlier, locating a house for us on Bainbridge and allowing me and my siblings the chance to finish the school year. Dad flew back in June and rented the largest U-Haul truck available. We spent several days boxing up all our belongings and loading the truck. The plan was that we would caravan across country, Dad and I in the truck and Mom and my brother, Eric, and sister, Kim would travel in the 1968 Ford Cortina that we had. If memory serves me correctly, we made it to Cincinnati before the Cortina died, and it was decided that dad and I would continue with the truck and our belongings and Mom, Eric and Kim would fly from Cincy to Seattle after visiting relatives for a week or so. I remember feeling pretty special that I would get to ride all the way across country with Dad in the truck. Life was still a big adventure to me.

As previously stated, this was by no means my first long road-trip, as a family we had been to California and to Colorado a few times previously. But that was always us three kids crammed into the back of Dad’s 1967 Mustang, pulling the little Coleman tent trailer. This was different, I was riding shotgun, in a big truck and it was just me and Dad!

My memory of that trip, 40 years ago is pretty vague; with very few specifics. I can remember the smell of the diesel fuel, as Dad filled the large tank under the passenger-side running board. I remember one night thinking it was pretty cool that we got to sleep outdoors, think Dad called it modern “cowboy” camping, sleeping under the truck somewhere between Cincinnati and Seattle. I remember cresting Snoqualmie Pass that first time and coming down the hill, so much green.

We pulled into Seattle around lunchtime, and Dad decided that we’d eat before getting on the ferry to the island. He pulled truck over and we got out. He then told me to wait for him as he was going to go and park the truck. He’d be right back… I don’t remember being scared; I just remember jumping onto the bumper of that big truck, and hanging on to the side for dear life as Dad drove around the block looking for a place to park. I vaguely remember the policemen pulling Dad over, and then the quick exchange, and Dad’s surprise that I had jumped on the truck, and then his realizing that it may have all been too much for this 10 year old kid to take in, and just stand there in this strange new city, as the truck drove away down the street… To this day I still get the urge for a road-trip when I see the familiar white and orange U-Haul logo.


Best Laid Plans

Posted in My Travels, Photography on February 27, 2011 by Scott Nickell

For almost ten years I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel with, and assist photographer Nick Del Calzo as he captured the stunning black and white portraits of living Medal of Honor recipients . Thursday, February 24, we had the honor and privilege of photographing 26 year -old SSGT Sal Giunta. In the tenure of my association with Nick, I’ve learned that no matter how much pre-thought, planning and preparation you put into a shoot, something will always throw a wrench in the works. Being able to react to those moments makes the difference between capturing the image you envisioned, or something less.

Yesterday was no different. Scheduled for a 1:30PM shoot at the USAF Academy, we left Denver at 7:00AM, grabbed some breakfast, and were about 15 minutes early to meet out hosts from the USAF Academy Public Affairs office. When I called to let them know we would be at the gate at 8:45, I was informed that due a schedule change the shoot had a been moved to 10:30, giving us a little over an hour and a half to unload our gear, set-up the studio, props, lighting etc. And then do a series of test shots so that when SSGT Giunta arrived we could get the shot, and allow him to keep his schedule.

Nick is a thorough planner, leaves no details out. He had contracted a second assistant, photographer Lewis Carlyle from Colorado Springs, who had worked with our Air Force hosts and was familiar with their studio and equipment. We had brought his camera and lighting gear, and I bought a small assortment of gear as well, just in case.

We met our escort, MSGT Chris DeWitt at the gate at 8:50, and by 9:10 we were at the studio, unpacking our gear and beginning set-up. After setting up the lighting in accordance with Nick’s diagrams we made a couple of digital test shots using the studio’s D200, Pocket Wizards, and an array of our combined strobes. We were on target for the new 10:30 time, and Nick decided to shoot a couple of Polaroid shots with his Hasselblad in preparation for the actual shoot, which would be captured on Kodak T-Max 100. We all quickly realized that “hot-shoe” on Nick’s Hasselblad was all “shoe” and NO “hot”, and would not trigger the Pocket Wizards without a small, PC to 1/8″ cable. Everyone did a bag check, but to no avail. Those of us photographers in the room that shoot primarily digital, (basically everyone but Nick), quickly lamented that we each had numerous cables at home, but… We then tried my Elinchrom Skyports and thought we had the problem solved until we made the final adjustments on the lighting and the combination of lower power, 3 and 10 degree grids didn’t fire the strobes we had slaved. All for the want of a 10″ cable.

SSGT Giunta’s reps said that if we were really pushed to get set-up by 10:30 they would shift back to the original time.  We had just about made that call when Mike Kaplan, of USAF Academy’s Photo Lab, returned to the lab, and low and behold, he had the desired cable.  So after a quick 5 minute scramble to reconnect the Pocket Wizards, we were ready for SSGT Giunta’s arrival.

So, even with hours of prep and planning, things can quickly get away from you.  One of the great things I’ve learned from Nick is that you just have to forge ahead, if you give up you’ll never get the shot.

Below are a few shots from the shoot:

SSGT Sal Giunta MoH

SSGT Sal Giunta, MoH and me.


Posted in My Travels, Photography on November 1, 2010 by Scott Nickell
Has it really been almost a month since my last post?  October 3rd is the last one I see, and it was a short note from when we took G’Ma Mary and her sister, Kathleen to dinner at Hale’s in Silverdale.  Shortly thereafter we hooked up Mary’s 5th wheel and dragged her across the state to Clarkston where she can be closer to her mother’s and other family.  We’ve also been slowly recovering from the plumbing issues of September, and gathering estimates to repair the water damage to floors and walls and the insulation under our house in the crawl-space. 
I’ve also been reminded a couple of times of the fragility of life; how we need to remind ourselves daily of the blessing the Creator bestows on us daily, and how no matter what our age, it can all be over in the relative blink of an eye.  I’m blessed daily by my family and friends.  My lovely wife, Sandy is an amazing blessing and I am thankful every day for all she does for us.

 Yesterday Lexi and I took a quick drive down to my folk’s house in Hoquiam.  My sister, Kim and her husband Terry were visiting with their daughters Alicia and Chelsea.  We also got to meet Alicia’s daughter, (my grand-niece), Adrianna who is rapidly coming up on her second birthday.  Had a nice visit, before making the trek back home.  Nice to be able to spend even an afternoon with family.  I’ve missed getting together with my folks because I let my life get so cluttered.  Really gonna work on that this coming year.  (Along with losing more weight, and spending more quality time with my lovely and the scrubs, and watching less TV and reading more books….).  That’s right folks you heard it here…

 Before I close this post, here are a couple of images I took this weekend near my home, after reading “Close to Home” an e-book by Stuart Sipahigil that I purchased from Craft and Vision.

 The first image is of a 1950 something Cadillac Sedan deVille that I drove past in Belfair, WA about 25 miles from the house.  The second image is of a country driveway about a mile and a half from my house, right next door to Lovegreen Farm, where I worked when I was a kid.  Hope you enjoy the photos, and I’ll see you in November.  


Visiting the Big City…

Posted in My Travels, Photography on June 6, 2010 by Scott Nickell

Washington State Ferry en route to Seattle.

Got up and out early Saturday morning, heading to Seattle to meet with friend and photographer, Nick Del Calzo.  Had a nice breakfast at Pike Place Market and caught this shot on the ferry home.

365 Challenge – May 14, 2010

Posted in My Travels, Photography on May 16, 2010 by Scott Nickell

Soon to be Gone...

Friday night was Bainbridge High’s Prom night.  We chauffeured Zac and his Date, Ashley to dinner and then to Columbia Tower, where the Prom was. We also had to pick the young people up after the dance and take them home.  That left a couple of hours for my lovely wife and I to entertain ourselves in the “big city”.  The Waterfront Viaduct is a Seattle landmark, visible from the historic Smith Tower to the Space Needle it has been a fixture since I can remember.  It has been featured in a few movies that I remember from my childhood, “McQue”, “Harry in Your Pocket”, “War Games” and “Sleepless in Seattle” all show some or all of the Viaduct.  After the Nisqualy Earthquake of 2001, it was decided to replace the Viaduct with a newer, higher capacity tunnel.  So the Seattle Landmark will be demolished in the not so distant future.  It is one of my goals to spend a few days and photography as much of the Viaduct as I can.  While we were is Seattle and had some time, took my camera and grabbed a few hand-held, high ISO shots of it near the McCormick and Schmick’s.

Manual: Page 264 Custom Settings

Inspiration: Quick look at May issue of PDN.

And here is a shot of Zac and his mother, my lovely wife before we headed out-

Sandy and Zac as Zac heads off to his Senior Prom

Blog Update – Where to Begin??…

Posted in My Travels, Photography on May 11, 2010 by Scott Nickell

My Dad, Billy Nickell, looking at his High School transcripts in KENTUCKY

Once the Estill County High School, now county school offices. Dad graduated in 1952

My dad and my Uncle Winston Nickell talking to records official

The Church my dad attended and preached at when he was in High School

Church Interior

My Dad and Uncle at the site of the farm where they grew up.

The only building still standing near the farmhouse site was the family smokehouse

Another view of the farm...

Dad and Uncle Winston kept calling this the "new barn".

Dad, (with tabaco stick) and Winston at the "new barn".

Tabbaco sticks used to dry the leaves.

The New Barn


Uncle Winston Nickell and Aunt Helen (Nickell) Mastin

Winston, Helen and Dad

Cousin Connie Mastin, Helen, Dad, Winston and Uncle Charles Mastin

Dad, (75, eldest sibling), and Aunt Helen (69, youngest sibling)

The Storyteller, my Uncle Paul Nickell

Dad perfecting his "Corn-Hole" toss

My Cousins, Ron and Chris Nickell

Three Nickell Brothers, Uncle Paul, Uncle Winston, Dad

Winston and Dad "yuk it up"

For 2 Days I hear a lot of "You remember when you..."

Uncle Paul has some of the nicest 70 acres in Ohio.

Bovine Family Portrait

One of Paul's Beautiful Tennessee Walkers

Paul in his "Gator" with a couple more of his horses

Dad had to try his fishin' skills in Paul's new ponds

Paul's sign.

Last Thursday the 6th, I flew to Ohio/Kentucky with my Dad to visit his boyhood home.  He reluctantly agreed when I requested he make the trip with me.  But we had a great time.  I got to see all the places I heard so much about when I was growing up.  (You know, walk to school, barefoot in the snow, uphill, 5 miles each way…).  As I told a very nice lady who worked in the Estill County Schools Office, the building that in 1952, was my dad’s high school, there is not a man I’ve met that I am more proud of than my father.  He went to college, was a missionary at Wounded Knee, retired as a senior manager for a government agency, and raised 4 kids including a Cal-Tech educated computer scientist, a retired Naval Officer. Not too bad for the son of a sharecropper from the hills of eastern Kentucky.  I am writing more on this trip as well as editing several hours of video I captured during our weekend travels.

365 Challenge – May 3, 2010

Posted in My Travels, Photography on May 4, 2010 by Scott Nickell

Double-Double, protein style

I would have to say that In and Out Burger is my favorite hamburger/fast food restaurant.  Fresh ingredients, clean kitchen, service and eating areas, friendly customer service.  And french fries that started the day as real potatoes.  But I’m in the 3rd  week of a low-carb diet, avoiding starches, (breads, potatoes, rice, etc).  And I have lost about 7 pounds so far.  Normally, In and Out is one of the first places I hit when I land in San Diego, and I’ve seen people order their burgers “protein style” in those visits.  Never crossed my mind to try it until yesterday.  I figured I’d just cave and have the carbs as my exercise coach said it didn’t really hurt to cheat every now and then.  But when I got to the counter I thought I’d just give it a try, and when asked if I wanted fries, I said not thanks, and ordered a large iced tea for the drink.  For me it has been a change of perspective.  From “I don’t think I’ll like that” to “let’s give it a try”.

After diner ended up going back to the room and reading materials in preparation for today’s meetings until almost 9PM.  So my iPhone shot of my burger is today’s image.