ABOUT

Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last 12 years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.

General

Archive for July, 2012

Jul 31, 12     Comments Off on Substation Curacao, Mini Submarine, Mini-Sub, Subs

Good morning from Curacao! Wow is it weird to be back?? We got in late Sunday night after two days of travel and I still feel wiped out after that adventure! All in all our American Airlines flights went well with very little problems! I was amazed at how gently the pilots landed the plane from Texas to Miami! That was the hands down smoothest landing I or any of us had ever experienced and some folks didn’t even know we landed?? The Dallas Fort Worth airport is the biggest and most confusing mess I have seen and unbelievably Miami has improved 100%!! Once back in Curacao and upon getting through customs it was back to uncontrolled madness! Picking up your luggage here is complete chaos and with one line only to go out, it’s every man, woman and child for themselves, would love to have that on video!

I did two dives yesterday, I felt like a fish out of water but quickly remembered how to dive and take pictures at the same time. We are still doing tourist dives for $650 each as seen in the photo above, it’s a once in a lifetime adventure you will not soon forget! Next week we again will be visited by the Smithsonian Institution who will spend over a week with us searching for new and exciting creatures so stay tuned for some cool new stuff.

I need to get ready for a dive, will try and get back to doing this blog everyday again   so check back often.

Till tomorrow, Barry

Jul 29, 12     Comments Off on Mountain Biking in the Black Hills, Bone Collector

Good morning from Fort Worth Texas!! We left all our beloved friends in South Dakota yesterday and headed off to the airport saying over and over, “I can’t believe we are going home, we just got here”!! Really, it’s amazing how fast time flies and we have been there for close to a month??

Many, many thanks to all our wonderful friends for the hospitality and opening up your homes to us, we owe you big time! I think we ended up staying at six different homes while visiting and each was unique and wonderful.

Many have asked what we have been doing and I have been sending them to “The Adventures of Stijn” page that is located on the front/HOME page of my site near the top on the right side. Click on this and you can see all the photos and fun stuff Stijn and I have been doing, it was non-stop fun just about every day. I think we tried to ride almost every other day and we tried to not ride the same trail twice so we ended up seeing some beautiful areas. The Black Hills is for sure one of the best mountain bike areas around and with a newly built mountain bike park located right in the middle of the city it just can’t be beat! Besides mountain biking we went out to a real live cowboy ranch, collected fossils, shot guns, rode horses, went hiking, visited Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, went boating and rafting, and on and on, what a trip!

On Friday Stijn went with Tammi and Hannah on a fishing trip and I met our good friend Joey and a friend of hers at the Bone Collector parking lot and off we went for one last mountain biking ride. The photo above is of Joey riding through one of the most popular trails in the Black Hills called “Bone Collector”. It’s a must do if your here to do some riding but be warned it’s one of the most technical trails we have in the Hills! This trail is filled with wooden bridges, steep drops, big boulders to climb up and down, tricky turns and crazy boulder climbs for the absolute most talented riders out there, you won’t be disapointed. Stop by the best shop in the Hills called “ACME Bike shop” in the gap and ask for directions and please avoid doing any business with a company called “Two Wheeler Dealer”, what a bunch of clowns!

Well, sorry so short, it’s time for us to haul all our stuff back out to the airport and make our way back to Curacao, we should be there by 7:30 tonight!

Once again, thanks to ALL my Wyoming ranch friends, Joe and Nancy, Leon and Sheila, Tammi, Scott and Hannah, Don and Christie, Dan the Man, Joey, Dennis, Neal and Brenda, Art and Barb, Gary and kathy and Karine and Brad just to name a few, we love you all!!

Talk more soon from Curacao,

Barry and Stijn

Jul 17, 12     Comments Off on Western Cattle Drive, Round Up, Trailing Cattle

Good morning friends, how are we all doing today?? I’m up early again and already trying to get a million things done!!

Aimee is on the way back to Curacao this morning and should arrive around 8:00 tonight, boy does 10 days go by fast!

Stijn and I went on a fun mountain bike ride at Storm mountain last night with our friend Dennis and I did take my camera. There are a few new pictures this morning of Stijn on his link above riding through the beautiful Black Hills.

Here is a fun photo I took of a real live Western Cattle drive while in wyoming last week. The goal was to move cattle (mostly moms and babies) to another pasture that had better food to offer. They start by first rounding up the cattle which are scattered all over the prairie miles aways and to do this they use horses and quads. Once the cattle are more or less in one area they then move them to by surrounding them and more or less pointing them in the right direction, it’s quite an event to watch! Usually one cow leads and they all follow, I thought that was pretty cool. This is a slow moving event, the cows all just walk and follow the leader followed by the cowboys on horses who know just how to get them where they need to be. It was so cool to watch them all cross this little stream and then up the side of the next hill which put them out onto a new, greener pasture.

Have a wonderful day all!!

Barry

Jul 16, 12     Comments Off on Miniature Horses, Baby Horses, Cute Horses

Good morning all, I just back from the airport (again), Aimee is on her way back to Curacao but Stijn and I are still here for two more weeks. She was supposed to fly out yesterday but because of bad weather in Texas she had to stay another day.

I apologize for the lack of news lately, I just haven’t had time or I have been in areas with no or poor internet.

Yesterday Aimee and I stopped out at a friends house and got to see one of the hands down cutest little miniature baby horses I have ever seen! They call him “Monster” and he is a adorable to say the least! This is not a regular baby horse, this is a Baby Miniature Horse and he is small!! He was born May 3rd and his mothers name is Stella. As you can see he already loves this lush green grass but still needs his mothers milk as well. We watched yesterday as they let him and his mother out of the corrals and let them do their thing out in the pasture, it was highly entertaining! He has so much attitude and is so much like a baby dolphin or a baby dog, he just wants to play and eat! I will try to get back out there for a few more photos and maybe a little video as wel so stay tuned.

To say we have been keeping busy is an understatement! Our days are filled with visiting people, mountain biking, photography and eating, we seem to do a lot of eating here! Stijn has been with friends the last few days and I have been at one place just doing photos. I set up a little studio and am shooting beautiful rock slabs that will be used down the road as gallery prints, the designs and patterns are endless.

Today I will again be doing photography at home all day and at 6:00 we will head up to Storm Mountain for a fun mountain bike ride. Tomorrow I will pack the truck up again and head back to Wyoming to finish some more cowboy photos and collect a few more fossils, not sure if Stijn will be going with me or not??

So all is well, just trying to get everything done on my to-do-list that needs to be done.

Have a wonderful day, Barry

Jul 13, 12     Comments Off on Rusted Truck, Antique Pick-Up, Old Trucks

Good Morning all, what a fun week we are having!! We left Wyoming yesterday and drove back to South Dakota which is only a two hour drive.

Like other places around the States it’s HOT and DRY here and in some areas close to drought conditions. Everyone is very worried about more fires, it’s really all we hear and read about lately! Near where we stayed in Wyoming they just put out a 60 thousand acre fire that was started by a power line and another near by that was started by an RV, it’s totally insane! Lightning is the other leading cause of fire here and during every storm that passes the landowners go out with a truck and trailer filled with water and just watch for lightning strikes. They figure if you can spot the strike you have a chance to put it out before it gets out of control.

Stijn and I went on a fun and fast two hour ride last night at Pactola lake and rode up to Pilots Knob. For you mountain bikers this is one of the most fun sections of single-track you will find here in the hills, it’s part of the Centennial Trail or as many call it, trail #89.

We came across this old truck along side the road in Wyoming, these sites are fairly common around here and they all make for cool photos.

Lots to do, have a great day, Barry

Jul 11, 12     Comments Off on Western Saddle, Cowboy Boots, Tack Room

Howdy folks from hot, dusty, dry Wyoming! Barry, Stijn and I arrived here Monday about noon and have been, as usual busy ever since. This beautiful oasis in the middle of the grasslands has hidden treasures at every turn, and  Barry has been busy trying to get them all on the camera. As you can see from this photo, he checked out the ranch tack room for authentic work gear. The amazing and generous family we stay with lives about 15 miles out of town, and as soon as you hit the dirt the pronghorn antelope appear left and right. It is especially fun because many of them have babies at their side. We each have our personal favorite activities and have been lucky enough to indulge more than once. I believe  Stijn thinks he has died and gone to heaven, or maybe just woken up in an American mid-western movie. He had a lesson in firearms by a friend of ours and was hitting a metal target 600 yards out!  Wow, did he love that. He tried rifles and pistols of several different calibers and enjoyed them all. He also was pretty hard to get off the four-wheeler, and could be seen ripping it up on the dirt roads around the ranch.  Barry of course has been taking all Stijn’s “fun photos” and you can see those on the blog as well. We even had a fun evening with Stijn dressing up as a cowboy on a big red horse in the prairie grass. He looked pretty great. All new experiences for this island boy for sure!

As for me, well this is also horse heaven. So, therefore I am happy as can be. Our host family raises Arabians, and they have many ranch quarter horses as well. Most mornings and evening they can be found at the water area, so that is where you can find me as well. Today was especially fun because I was able to go along with the cowboys and move some cattle from one pasture to a holding area for sorting and shipping. It was a beautiful morning riding along the prairie. We even came upon a group of about 9 antelope along the way. It is terrible dry here, as it is in many states right now, and today it reached 100 degrees. I tell you, these ranch folks and their animals are sure tough; it’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

In the mornings we have gone to help with the feeding of some of the sheep and baby calves. That is a riot. The sheep practically walk all over you to get at the feed bucket and the racket they make raises the roof! The couple of calves that need to be bottle fed are hilarious. They push and slurp and bubble up around the mouth, never quite thinking they have reached the bottom of the bottle! Barry got some great photos of that for sure.

We were lucky enough to get some touring time and shown the amazing bird life around here, with wild turkey running in the yard to a young golden eagle nesting in a massive cottonwood tree. Their house is a true oasis with vegetable gardens, from which they place fresh veggies on the table each night, to bright and brilliant flowers in every pot and place in the yard. That is Barry’s heaven. We have also spent some time out fossil collecting, but the heat and lack of moisture has made it tough going. Well, have a great week. We have little to no internet so far out here, so that is why we have the lag in the blog.

Cheers to all. Aimee

Jul 8, 12     Comments Off on The BAM Race, Mountain Biking in the Black Hills

Good Morning again from South Dakota!! Good news all, Stijn placed 2nd in his division in the annual “BAM Mountain Bike Race” yesterday with a time of three hours, 50 minutes, I came in six minutes later and placed 12th. This is one of the Hardest races in the Black Hills as it takes riders through 36 miles of wilderness on a trail that is around 12-18 inches wide! We ended up having to climb over 6000 feet in the four hours and some climbs were so steep we had to push the bikes to the top! It had rained the day before so the rocks and tree roots were very dangerous which meant going downhill was now much more dangerous and we really had to control our speed. For me the first ten miles was the worst, my legs would not warm up!! I think this was mostly due to the cold temps that we started in, we are used to riding in extreme heat! The trail we rode was called the Centennial Trail which goes around 100 miles through the scenic Black Hills and it’s about as good as you will find for mountain biking in the hills!! Aimee, Leon, Sheila, Hannah, Tammi and Scott all met us at the half way point and cheered us on which really did help to keep our motivation level where it should be! Honestly I think I would have quit if they would not have encouraged me to keep going! For me it was the endless climbing in your baby ring that just about made me cry at times and I questioned why I was out here over and over! I did almost the whole race by myself as well, I was fast enough for those behind not to catch me and not fast enough to catch those riders in front of me like Stijn! The good side of this very difficult race is the scenery you will encounter along the way, it’s truly unbelievable!! We rode through some of the most spectacular fern covered forests I have ever seen and then once you climb up to the top of some of the canyons the views were enough to make you stop, I wished I had my camera so many different times!! Stijn would have easily placed 1st but unfortunately took a wrong turn near the end which cost him a lot of time, it wasn’t very well marked on the last section. We both collapsed at the finish line and just wanted to stay laying on the ground for the rest of the afternoon, that really was a hard ride! This is Stijn’s trophy or award he and the other top riders received, it’s made by a local artist in Sturgis and it’s sure to become a collectors item down the road! So once again, congradulations stijn and thanks to all our friends for the help along the way!

We are off to Wyoming this morning for a week long fossils collecting trip on a big cowboy ranch, we are all very excited!! I will try and post from there, talk soon,

Barry

Jul 6, 12     Comments Off on Devils Tower, Wyoming, First National Monument

Good morning from Hill City, South Dakota!!  I apologize for no blogs in the past few days but we have been way to busy and away from computers!! The night after our four hour ride on M-Hill we went over to Tammi and Scott’s house for dinner which was followed by Tammi making a giant chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron pan on a grill outside, it was fantastic!! There is a photo above on “The Adventures of Stijn” link. The next morning (Tuesday) Nancy took me to get my South Dakota drivers license which had expired while in Curacao. She told me before we went in that the test was easy and that only a complete idiot could miss five of their questions which is all you are allowed to miss or you have re-take it the next day. To make a long story short I passed but missed four, always check the first box that you know is right, never re-think your decision that’s where I got into trouble! So I am now legal to drive again in the States and our friends Leon and Sheila lent us a car to use. Stijn and I then spent the day Tuesday doing all kinds of running around and getting our bikes ready for Wednesday. Wednesday morning we met a large group of friends and did an 18 mile ride from Pactola Lake to Pilots knob. Stijn was again on fire and we all chased him up and back, Leon was the only one who was able to keep up. Aimee and Sheila rode together the whole way and had a great time. Yesterday, Thursday, we drove to devils tower in Wyoming and spent a good part of the day there hiking and climbing rocks, it was a blast! Again, check out the photos on “The adventures of Stijn” above for more photos.

Devils Tower, rising 1,267 feet (386 meters) over low hills and the Belle Fourche River, is one of the United State’s most famous and distinctive natural landmarks. It is also a magnet for climbers who come to ascend over 150 routes. Devils Tower was named in 1875 when the interpreter for Colonel Richard Irving Dodge’s expedition translated the native name as “Bad God’s Tower. The formation of Devils Tower is a mystery and is debated by geologists. Most consider the tower to be a laccolith or an intrusion of molten rock that pushed into surrounding sedimentary rocks before solidifying, while others call it a volcanic plug or the remnant of a volcano’s neck. No evidence in the area indicates that any volcanic activity took place here. The explanation generally accepted is on the monument website: “…Devil’s Tower is a stock-a small intrusive body formed by magma which cooled underground and was later exposed by erosion. Devils Tower is composed of phonolite porphyry, a grayish rock studded with feldspar crystals. As the magma cooled underground, it formed hexagonal or six-sided columns although columns have from four to seven sides. The last large column fell about 10,000 years ago. The next one to go is probably the Leaning Column on the Durrance Route. A park analysis in 2006 decided that the column continues to be safe for climbing.

From its base, Devils Tower is more than four football fields tall.

The tower is made up of mostly hexagonal columns, but some have as few as four or as many as seven sides.

Devils Tower was the first National Monument in the United States – declared as such in 1906 by President Teddy Roosevelt.

In that proclamation signed by Roosevelt, the apostrophe in “Devil’s” was mistakenly left out, so the form signed by the president named the monument “Devils Tower,” with no apostrophe. The typo was never corrected and the spelling stuck.

The small, colored bundles of cloth that are often seen around the base of Devils Tower are sacred offerings left by American Indian tribes. The tower is a cultural and religious focal point for several different tribes.

Because of it’s cultural significance to American Indians, a voluntary rock climbing closure is in effect every June.

No guide is required to climb the tower, but all rock climbers must register at the ranger station both before and immediately after attempting to climb the tower. More than 150 rock climbing routes have been established on Devils Tower.

The top of the tower was first reached by two local cowboys who constructed a wooden ladder system and attached it to the side of the tower. Remnants of the wooden ladder can still be seen on the side of the formation.

Things the National Park Service warns climbers they might encounter on the tower: snakes, spiny plants, poison ivy, falcon attacks, wasps, and falling rocks.

Another busy day as we prepare for tomorrows big race and get our gear ready to go back to Wyoming for five days. we will be at a cattle ranch for a week so more fun photos are on the way!

Hope all is well out there, we are having a great time here! Barry

Jul 3, 12     Comments Off on M-Hill Rapid City, South Dakota, Mountain Bike Park

Hello friends, it’s me again! Yesterday Stijn and I left the house at around 6:30 am on the bikes and headed to one of the coolest parks in the Black Hills called M-Hill. This is mountain biking heaven and there are trails as far as the eye can see! We ended up having so much fun that we didn’t get home for four hours!!! The most appealing part of this trail system is there are trails for all levels of riders, you don’t have to be a pro to ride here! We found ourselves climbing one hill and going down another and did this three times in a row, it was great! Stijn did really well and even made a few of the hard technical corners and climbs, some of those areas are a true test of ones riding abbilities. The down side was the smoke in the air from all the forest fires which was making breating difficult at times but by the time we left it had gotten better.Hanson-Larsen Memorial Park (HLMP) aka “M Hill” or Cowboy Hill” is an amazing park right in the middle of Rapid City, South Dakota. This 300 acre park was a gift from area rancher Eddie Larsen, when she died she wanted the park built in the honor of her parents Ed Larsen and Etta Hanson-Larsen. That means no public money is used to support the park – that is truly a gift for the people of the Black Hills. Here are two great maps I found of the park, if your going riding here print them out and carry them with you, it really will help.

http://www.acmebicycles.com/pdf/MHillTrails.pdf

http://www.hlmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Mhill3D.pdf

Also, I posted more photos of Stijn riding at M-Hill above so check them out if you have time!!

After our ride i spent the afternoon photographing fossils and jasper slabs, you will be seeing some of those real soon! Have a great day, Barry

Jul 2, 12     Comments Off on John Lopez Metal Horse Sculpture, Iron Star

Good morning all, how was your weekend?? It’s safe to say ours was about as good as it gets and we are both really dragging our feet this morning! Yesterday we took Stijn on a fun tourist run and you can again see some of those photos above in “the Adventures of Stijn” link, I think there are 11 new pictures. One of our first stops was in Hill City to find a friend but they were no where to found so instead we walked around and just enjoyed the sites. One of the cool things we found was this life-size metal horse sculpture by the World famous sculptor John Lopez, here is a link to his website check it out if you have time, www.lopez-ranch.net  The horses name is Iron Star – Purchased by the Hill City Arts Council you can see “Iron Star” on main street in Hill City, SD. This life-size horse is a hybrid Metal sculpture… a fusion of figurative and funk, a blend of iron and bronze. John has welded some of his limited edition bronze horses into this one of kind sculpture. There is also a face hidden in the left shoulder. This piece stands about 6 feet tall and 114 inches long.

After Hill City we drove to Keystone and found “the Rock Shop” which is right on main street and it’s owned by a friend of mine named Bill Buskhol. Actually I think it just says “ROCKS” outside but if you get a chance stop in and say hi and mention me, he is a wonderful person and you will love talking to him. We then ate lunch at the Keystone park and procceded to drive up the three mile hill to Mount Rushmore. We ended up staying here for over an hour and did a big walking loop under the heads, it was really fun and I got some more fun pictures of Stijn for his photo album. After Rushmore we then slowly headed back into Rapid stopping at all kinds of places like Dinosaur Park and getting so much done, again check out the Stijn link above, that better shows what we did. 

There are lots of terrible forest fires here like everywhere else and last night a big plane that was fighting these fires crashed over by Edgemont. This fire was started by an RV that pulled to the side of the road. It’s so dry here and any little spark can start a fire!! As I as going to bed last night I heard on the t.v. that they officially cancelled ALL the firework displays this year due to the fire danger, so there goes our fire-work show tomorrow night.

Hope all is well out there, we are doing great and having a wonderful time!

Bye now, Barry

Jul 1, 12     Comments Off on Mountain Biking in the Black Hills, Dalton Lake, SD

Good morning from the Black Hills of South Dakota! What a fun day we had yesterday on the bikes thanks to our good friends Leon and Sheila. At around 8:00 Leon arrived at our house and picked us and the bikes up and off we went to the very small town of Piedmont which is lays at the base of the Black Hills, it’s about 3500 feet in elevation. There we drove up Little Elk Creek Canyon about a mile and a half and parked where the trail ends and took off on the bikes. This section of trail which leads straight up to Dalton Lake is a very technical-rocky section which tested us all and had me gasping for air. By the time we got to Dalton Lake we had climbed about 1000 feet and we were now at 4400 feet  meaning this poor boy from Curacao could hardly catch his breath! The above photo is of Leon and Sheila crossing one of the cool little bridges at Dalton Lake, this area is so beautiful! From here Stijn led the pack up a spectacular single-track trail called the Centennial trail to the top of the canyon which topped out at around 5200 feet! Leon was hot on Stijn’s trail the whole way up while I struggled the whole way to the top, I just couldn’t get enough air or at least that’s the excuse I am sticking with! The ride back down the mountain was much more fun than going up and we stopped often to take photos many that you can see above on the “Adventure’s of Stijn” page. We ended up seeing a big three foot rattle-snake warming himself on the gravel road at Dalton Lake, we tried to get a photo but he took off into the grass. Also we saw cool birds and butterflies everywhere, nasty poison ivy, flowing mountain streams with dragonflies and of course big tree squirrels and little ground squirrels, what a great place! After the ride we stopped at a fun little burger place near Piedmont and then Leon dropped us back at the house at around 2:00, it was a long day and we were all tired, I think we rode around 18 miles, that sure doesn’t sound like much but what we rode up was enough for me for one day, I sure hope I acclimate better and faster on the next ride.

We are off to Mount Rushmore today so stay tuned for more fun vacation adventures!

Have a wonderful day, Barry

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