Thoughts & Images from Andy Sharp

Camp Peniel
Lizard on Car
2014 Taylor Rodeo
Marine Memorial Service
Birds at Murphy Park
2014 Summer Concert Series
Hot Weather in Georgetown
Port Lavaca
2014 Sertoma 4th
2014 WILCO Rodeo

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Having a Good Time at Summer Camp

Summer camps, it seems, are becoming more popular as the years go by.   With so many electronic distractions to keep kids indoors, it’s good to see parents allowing providing the chance to engage in activities that take them outside to breathe in a bit of fresh air.   For older kids, there are overnight camps, but the younger set aren’t left out.    Day camps are quite popular.   One such day camp I visited this week at San Gabriel Park in Georgetown was Camp Peniel, geared for boys and girls ages 6-10.   Camp Peniel, a Marble Falls-based group that’s been around since the 1940s, is based on Christian principles.  Their motto: “Adventure With a Purpose!”  The group also conducts a number of overnight camps.  On my visit, the kids engaged in canoeing, bubble blowing contests, archery, story times and Twister, to name a few.   Thankfully, the camp began early and concluded in the early-afternoon, avoiding the Texas summer heat.   These photos are among the selection I shot for the Williamson County Sun.

A Lovely Lizard

I walked into the garage this morning and found this sweet little lady (fellow?) atop my car.   She was a bit shy, but also somewhat curious as I grabbed a camera to record her visit.  In an ideal world, I’d have an iguana, but in the meantime, it’s nice to have these visitors for a while.  They’re prevalent in my area of Texas.  After a few minutes, this one hopped off and scurried away in search of bugs.

The Beauty of Rodeo

Even though it’s only been a couple weeks since my last visit to rodeos, I add one more for your edification, Taylor’s 65th Annual Rodeo, held July 18 and 19 at the Williamson County Events Center in my little town, Taylor, Texas.  The Taylor Rodeo Association puts on a really good show.   As mentioned before, covering rodeo is a little bit about the action in the arena, but it’s so much more.   Even though I’ve never been a participant, it’s a sport I’ve grown up watching, at least while we were still in Texas.   In Texarkana, we had (and still have) the Four States Fair and Rodeo, held each September for many years.  This year will be the 70th for my hometown’s event.

For those who might not think of rodeo as a real sport, you’ve never witnessed the physical toll these events have on the participants.   At Taylor’s rodeo last night, for instance, I was talking with a gentleman and his son, 25, about it.   “I retired four years ago,” said the 25-year-old, speaking of his time as a bull rider.    It’s not just the events, either.  Consider the travel participants undertake to get from one venue to another, not always realizing much payoff for their efforts.   The young man in the opening photo, Kobyn Williams, is a 25-year-old saddle bronc rider from DeBerry, Texas, a good 5 hour’s drive from Taylor.  But there he was, taking advantage of the rodeo clown’s trailer for a gear change before making his way back into the fray.    And there’s the element of family when I see Spence Callihan, a team roper from Willis, Texas, as he helps his 2-year-old niece, Charli Callihan, learn a bit about roping.   It’s a slice of life I’ll continue to take in as long as I can.

Honoring a Marine

Joseph Jackson Gwatney died June 8 in Williamson County.  The remains of this  71-year-old United States Marine Corps veteran were left unclaimed by family members.  With nobody to claim the body, Tara Strain, a Senior Patient Representative at Seton Medical Center Williamson, where Gwatney died, got on the case, tracking down three of his friends and getting Cook-Walden Davis Funeral Home in Georgetown involved.   Today, a memorial service was held to honor Gwatney at the funeral home.   For a man with no family, he got a good sendoff.   A Marine Corps Honor Guard was on hand, presenting his friends (opening photo) with an American flag.   The final photo shows Larry Eason, one of Gwatney’s friends, holding the urn with Gwatney’s ashes as he gets ready to leave after the service.   Eason, a long-haul truck driver, plans to take the urn with him to spread his friend’s remains all over the country.  These photos go with a Joyce May story in the Williamson County Sun.

Duck-Worthy Light

I’ve been observing the birds at Taylor’s Murphy Park lake recently.   So far, I haven’t nailed down what I want there, but it’s never good to miss an opportunity to record photos of Taylor’s beloved ducks.   That’s even more fun when the golden light of late day or early morning helps us out.   The three photos here were from late-day.   The water was reflecting a pretty Texas-blue sky that made things come together.

Summer Concerts on the Georgetown Square

Georgetown’s town square is a fine place to visit any day of the week, but during the summer months, Friday evenings are really special.   Each Friday evening  this summer, from 6:30-8:30, the courthouse lawn is filled with free musical entertainment, courtesy of the Georgetown Convention and Visitors Bureau.   It’s a great place to bring your blankets, chairs and take in the ambiance of one of the nicest, friendliest Main Streets  in North America.   Last night, my cameras and I were there to record the happenings.   Music was provided by Annie and Kate, two very talented sisters only in their mid-teens, but well worth a listen.   Among those having a good time were 88-year-old Fred Aiello (in the opening photo) as well as 14-month-old Leyton Bustos, having a flying blast with his daddy, Frank Bustos.   If you go, get there early to be sure you get a good spot.  Or, if you own a pickup, follow the lead of Georgetown residents Evan and Erin Vanderbilt and put the rear bed of that puppy to good use!   These photos were taken for the Williamson County Sun.

Summer is Taking Hold

In Central Texas today, we have a bit of a cloud cover, making things a bit more tolerable.   Just two days ago temperatures were approaching triple digits.   That’s not unusual for Texas.  Heck, I expected it to come much sooner.   I went in search of weather-related photos, landing  first at Lake Georgetown, where three friends from Cedar Park were enjoying a dip in the cool waters there.   Teens all, their youth brought them up the side of the cliff again and again for more jumps.   Then I met Georgetown resident Jarred Lewis near the end of his one-and-a-half hour daily workout at San Gabriel Park.   Mr. Lewis a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served 8 years, doesn’t miss a day.  “I actually like this weather!” he explained as he poured a bottle of water atop his head to cool off.   If you’re out in the elements, be smart, stay hydrated, be cool.   These photos were taken for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

A Quick Coastal Jaunt

My car required a new catalytic converter, but before taking the test again, the mechanic suggested we take a long drive to break that baby in.   So we wandered below Victoria the other day to check out Port Lavaca.   As coastal areas go, it was okay, but they had one of the worst Dairy Queens ever.   What’s one to do?   Well, I grabbed a camera and pointed it skyward to a couple of seagulls.   You can’t go wrong with these birds, even if they’re angling for a handout.

Celebrating the 4th in Georgetown, Texas

Whew!  It’s been a long couple of days in Georgetown, Texas as I set about the task of recording photos of 4th of July events in the area.  The coverage actually began a day early, when Sun City held their people and pooch parade.   On hand for that were the Sun City Georgettes, a very cool and colorful bunch of ladies with far more energy than yours truly.   Moving ahead to Friday,  I virtually lived in San Gabriel Park for the Georgetown Sertoma Club’s 4th of July extravaganza.   That began in the morning with their Hometown Parade through the park.   Chase Anderson, 3, and his cousin, 4-year-old Tye Glasscock, were astride their vibrant rides in the opening photo, but were smart to share a cold drink on a hot morning before moving forward.   After about 6 hours, I wandered back to my home in Taylor  to work on the day’s shoot for a few hours, then headed back to the park for the fireworks show.   Alas, San Gabriel Park is so very dark, it’s a tough thing to juxtapose the fireworks with the spectators, but as always, I gave it maximum effort.  Tennessee, a miniature horse that’s part of Fry’s Fun Farm petting zoo, was a big hit.  He’s a month old and only weighs about 30 pounds!    These are a few of the photos I shot for my friends at the Williamson County Sun.

Kicking Up Some Dust at the Rodeo

There are various thoughts on the origins of rodeo.   One idea is that it began not as a sporting event, but an essential part of cattle ranching in the Spanish-influenced areas of California in the mid-1800s.   Buffalo Bill Cody held a rodeo as part of his Wild West Show in North Platte, Nebraska in 1882.   And Pecos, Texas claims it held the world’s first rodeo on July 4, 1883.    Regardless of where it began, however, Texas does rodeo pretty well.   Taylor native Bill Pickett, for instance, an African-American, indeed invented the sport of bulldogging, also referred to as steer wrestling.   One thing I do know is that photographing rodeos in small and mid size Texas towns is a wonderful (if dusty) experience.   I had the honor to again photograph Georgetown’s Williamson County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo this past weekend in their picturesque arena near San Gabriel Park.   It was the 71st year for their event.    On hand was famed rodeo clown Leon Coffee, a member of the Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.   The competitors gave maximum efforts, including the little folks taking part in Mutton Bustin, where skills are honed riding a sheep.    3-year-old Chase Anderson of Andice, Texas climbed up a fence to check out the livestock before taking his first-ever sheep ride.   His father, Travis, had done the same many years back.   9-month-old Wyatt Lucero was taking in his inaugural rodeo with his mom, Amanda.   “Last year, I was here, but he was in my belly!” exclaimed his excited mama.   These are  a few images I took for the Williamson County Sun.