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Something different but something that needs to be recognized

Want to make a veteran tear up? Give this to them.

That is exactly what happened to me yesterday. I discovered these in a tiny little Ziploc bag under the windshield wiper on my truck. It took me a minute to digest what it was but once I did, I couldn’t help but get tears.

Such a thoughtful gesture and one that I truly appreciate. So, my heartfelt thanks go out to Girl Scouts Troop 63979. God bless you and God bless America!

A thoughtful gift left under the windshield of my truck - Stars for Heroes. (© Tony’s Takes)

A thoughtful gift left under the windshield of my truck – Stars for Heroes. (© Tony’s Takes)

December 7th, 1941. A date which will live in infamy…

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that forever changed our nation. Having served in the U.S. Navy, this day and that place have extraordinary, profound meaning to me. The thought of the horrors seen the day of that despicable and cowardly attack give rise to a variety of emotions.

I had the distinct honor of visiting there twice when I was in the service: Once in August 1995 as we took part in ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day and again in November 1996 when we returned from a deployment to the Persian Gulf.

It was on that last visit that I manned the rails of my ship and saluted the USS Arizona as we passed the watery grave of so many heroes. I distinctly remember hearing the whistle and then the command, “Hand salute,” and proudly raised my right hand to my brow as goosebumps came over me and tears welled in my eyes. A sobering moment, one that I will never forget.

I wish camera technology then (and my skill) was what it is now as the few pictures I have simply do not do it justice. The two images of the USS Arizona Memorial were taken by me on my visit in 1995. The other is a U.S. Navy photo of my ship, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), as she passed the memorial in 1996. I am one of those figures in white manning the rails. 😉

The USS Carl Vinson passes by the USS Arizona Memorial in November 1996. (US Navy)

The USS Carl Vinson passes by the USS Arizona Memorial in November 1996. (US Navy)

The USS Arizona Memorial. Taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

The USS Arizona Memorial. Taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

The names of the fallen on the wall of the USS Arizona Memorial. Image taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

The names of the fallen on the wall of the USS Arizona Memorial. Image taken in August 1995. (© Tony’s Takes)

There’s wildlife in there somewhere

One of the great parts about photography is getting to connect with other photographers. We chit chat, share tips, talk about whatever we are viewing and more. It can be a fun, social experience and almost all are courteous – almost all.

Every now and then you have someone that just doesn’t get it. Such was the case yesterday morning. I had found a nice viewing angle for some Moose when this guy walks up and sets up 10 feet directly in front of me totally blocking my angle. I said, “excuse me” and he looked back and then just kept on shooting.

There is certainly some etiquette out there and clearly this includes not blocking someone else’s shot, especially when they were there first. Thankfully these types of folks are few and far between out there in the field and in the end I did get some pretty cool images and didn’t let his rudeness ruin the day.

Blocked view. A photographer steps in the way rather than being courteous.   (© Tony’s Takes)

Blocked view. A photographer steps in the way rather than being courteous. (© Tony’s Takes)

Use of deadly force authorized

These unusual facilities dot the landscape across southeastern Wyoming and northeastern Colorado. It always seems a bit odd to find these silos out in the relative open. On one hand it is pretty cool to see but also a bit disconcerting when you think about what is inside and what could happen in a worst case scenario.

For every 10 silos there is one underground Launch Control Center (LCC) where two officers have primary control of the missiles. The LCC is what you oftentimes see depicted in Cold War era movies with the monstrous blast doors and the two guys that have to ‘turn the keys’ to launch.

If you ever find yourself in central South Dakota, check out Minuteman Missile National Historic Site where you can actually go down inside an inactive LCC and view a silo whose top has been removed. It is absolutely fascinating.

A Minuteman Missile silo stands guard on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Minuteman Missile silo stands guard on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Top Shots of 2015

To say I took a lot of pictures last year would be an understatement. Whittling all of those images down to a manageable number to showcase was tough but here are 39 that are my personal favorites from 2015. Subject matter ranges from wildlife to urban scenes to extreme weather. As I was going through these, I was smiling and thinking about the stories behind the photos and how privileged I am to have witnessed such amazing scenes and creatures. Which ones do you like best? Feel free to share and comment.

Burrowing Owls called the PoPo on me

Burrowing Owls called the PoPo on me. Nah, not really but the two made for a very interesting morning.

I stopped to check out one of the reported burrowing owl spots just northeast of Denver International Airport. Found the pair and was having a good time taking pictures of them from my truck. I noticed an SUV with the City of Denver logo on the doors drive by a few times checking me out and figured he didn’t like me being where I was at. Note however that I was NOT in any of the restricted stopping areas that are out there – I was well outside them.

After 15 minutes or so clouds move in so I decide to move on and head back west. Sure enough, here comes a Denver Police Department SUV that promptly flips a u-turn behind me and pulls me over. Very nice guy. He explains that airport security was getting nervous because I was taking pics near airport facilities. I tell him I was checking out owls and even show him my captures from the morning. He then asks for my ID and goes back to his car to check it out.

Next thing I know two more cop cars show up (they were likely called in advance before they knew I wasn’t a terrorist and instead just a dumb photographer). They all walk up and we begin chit-chatting, showed them my pictures and one even pointed out where he had seen some eagles recently. They reiterate that the fact I was close to the airport got their attention but they also admit that I was in a perfectly legal spot parked alongside a public road so did nothing wrong.

It was a pleasant encounter for sure although I have to say this is the first time my photographic activity has caused such a stir from law enforcement. LOL! Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the story and picture.

Three Denver Police vehicles respond after I roused suspicions taking pictures of Burrowing Owls near Denver International Airport.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Three Denver Police vehicles respond after I roused suspicions taking pictures of Burrowing Owls near Denver International Airport. (© Tony’s Takes)

Tony’s Takes Flickr Photostream

To say I take a lot of pictures would be an understatement. I generally try not to overwhelm readers of this website or my various social media pages by posting too many pictures of the same subject. While I may love two dozen pictures of the same thing, I suspect some people don’t. 😉

This page has my entire Flickr Photostream embedded and shows almost every picture I take for those that want to see more of my images. At the bottom are links to go forward / back through pages of pictures.

September 11, 2001: We Will Never Forget

Our patriotism pulled us through those trying times in 2001 and it shouldn’t take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity.  Today let us stand together to remember the victims of that horrible day.  Let us stand together and pay tribute to the lives of the thousands of men and women that have carried the battle forth since then and paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Let us stand together and honor the hundreds of thousands who wear our nation’s uniforms protecting us.  Let us never forget so that we and our children will never experience another day like 9/11.  NEVER FORGET!  God Bless America! 

Never Forget: September 11, 2001.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Never Forget: September 11, 2001. (© Tony’s Takes)

Wayward Fairlane

I went for a walk as usual today and didn’t really get anything particularly great scenery or wildlife wise.  I did however find this old 1958 Ford Fairlane half buried in the bottom of what used to be a riverbed.  With some softening and saturation of the colors I think it looks kind of cool. 

Wayward Fairlane. (© Tony’s Takes)

Wayward Fairlane. (© Tony’s Takes)