Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Spirit......

Tis' the Season....
Deck the Halls....
FaLaLaLa.....

I can't quite stay in the Christmas spirit this year.  I don't know if it's the weather, the massive cold I had that was followed by a flu that kept me in bed for 4 days, or the utter and complete lack of snow.

It started of well enough, my Christmas spirit, with the adoption of my Angel from the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  I went shopping for a 7 year boy who needed warm shoes for winter.  It puts things into perspective when you have multiple warm shoes for winter and this boy doesn't have any.

Then my cold came.  I sounded like a bullfrog and was not a happy clam.  I didn't want to go out and see the lights when the air was chewy and I couldn't breathe.  

Christmas spirit gone.  aargh.

I think I may have found it again, and strangely enough, it was a smell that did it.  I am 'real' tree fan.  Give me the dropping needles near the new year; I'll gladly slide under the tree to water it; I'll take it all.  Saturday, I finally got my tree and got it in the house and that's when it happened, the smell.  The evergreen, Christmas is just around the corner, smell.  :)  I started to sing, badly I'll admit, 'O Christmas Tree' to the point even my dogs looked like their ears hurt.  I felt excited.  I wanted to go out and see lights and feel the excitment.  Deck the Halls, indeed.....

So, this prompts a question....
What is your no fail, get you in the mood, Christmas Spirit moment?
Is it volunteering?  Decorating your house?  Your tree?  Or is it the calendar counting down?

Melissa
The Christmas elf

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude brings Peace and Joy...

Ok, it's time for a step on my soapbox and talk about Thanksgiving...
You know the holiday that is being trampled on by the retailers promoting Christmas.

Gratitude and Thanks are the topics for today.  Being grateful and thankful are not cheesy, but are necessary for Peace and Joy.

Thanksgiving is not about the meal.  Shocking, I know.  It's about being grateful for the people and things in your life, not planning your shopping in the evening for the things you want.

Things are not completely lost, though, when on Facebook this month a lot of people are posting once a day for the things they are grateful for.  I have a radical idea... keep the gratitude going.   I keep a gratitude journal all year round.  Every day, I write down 5 things that I am grateful for.  Sometimes, it's a struggle and others I could come up with 20 with no problem.  The key is to stay with 5 every day so it's consistent.  What I have noticed from doing this is a great deal of peace and joy, because when you focus on what you have, you'll be happier.

Melissa.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Once Upon a Halloween.....

Every year around this time, I can feel my artistic side come to life, specifically my ability to draw.
Unlike most people, my drawing skills do not occur on paper or other normal mediums, I draw on pumpkins.  Like a Halloween zombie, ghost, or goblin, it does not stay around very long, but it does not matter to me, because for a brief moment, I am an artist.  For the other 364 days of the year, I can't draw a straight line with a ruler or draw with any sort of perspective, but for Halloween....I'm good.  :)

I bet now you are wondering, how did this all start?  I'll tell ya.  When I was in college, I worked at St Mark's Hospital and for Halloween they decided to have a pumpkin decorating contest between all of the different departments.  I was chosen for my department, mainly I think because I was not in the meeting, since I worked in the evenings.  For some insane reason, I chose to carve 'Beast' from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  The big furry guy with a ton of detail, yeah that one.  What I was thinking I have no idea, but I do know that it turned out.  :)  I even carved part of it when I was out to dinner with my mom and aunt and cousin in Bountiful.

That started the tradition and my 2 to 3 hour block of carving the day before Halloween.  It can be frustrating, tiring, cramping fun and I don't think I will ever stop doing it.  My only regret, I do not have pictures of the early years.....  :(

But for 2011, I got them..
First up Yoda.  Yes, the Star Wars Yoda.  I'm a big fan of his....
Tip of the day, when viewing photos on my blog, click on them and they get bigger and you can see more details.  Yoda was one of the more frustrating ones to do, because of all of the squiggy lines that make up his face.

Number 2, Lightning McQueen from Pixar 'Cars'
He's not as detailed as Yoda, which is why I chose him for my second pumpkins,  Quite frankly, my hands are still recovering.

Anyway,
Have a Safe, Happy, Release your Inner Child Halloween!!!
Melissa

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Favorite Photographs of the Road Trip

A herd of Buffalo grazing in the afternoon sun.  Yellowstone National Park
Tetons reflecting in the Snake River
Old Faithful going off.....  I know it's not the most original photograph ever, but I shot it in full manual mode.  :)

an Epic Road Trip....part two

Well, it's time to continue....
I left off after the experience of driving the Beartooth Pass that got us to Cooke City, Montana near the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  It's a small town that is completely geared in getting you to the outdoors and nature, and it lived up to it's billing when in the morning, we got up and got going and there was a wild buffalo in the parking lot of the hotel.  :)
Tip of the day, plan it so you don't have to buy gas there though, it was $4.52 a gallon..  the highest I saw all trip.

So off to Yellowstone, and they aren't kidding when they say there is wildlife on the road.  I turned the corner after the entrance gate and drove for maybe 100 yards and saw this...




Yep, that's wildlife on the road.  I backed up and let him have right of way.....  He was HUGE!!! and fortunately, not the last buffalo we saw in the park.

The plan for the last 2 days of the trip was to explore Yellowstone and Teton National Parks.  It was enough time to drive the roads and do a bit of hiking, but not enough to say I explored everthing I wanted to do.  Another trip is needed...  :)

The beauty of Yellowstone needs no introduction and the last week of September had the park in full splendor and free of crowds, so it was a beginning photographers dream!!!  So, without further ado, here's Yellowstone.

A coyote playing in a field.  He was stalking and toying with his lunch of field mice.  His tail was wagging and he would pounce and just run around like crazy. 
What I am calling Hot Springs Coral from Crystal Geyser near Mammoth Hot Springs.
A lone buffalo grazing near the Petrified Tree, Yellowstone National Park.
Lower Yellowstone Falls, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park

Visting the Mud Volcano, Dragon's Breath and other icky smelling sulphur stuff....
My first elk sighting.  They were very patient and let me get a ton a pictures of them, but the 1st needed to be posted.

That's my very brief photo summary of Yellowstone.  I could post hundreds more, it was just that great of a trip, but to save you from utter boredom, I won't.....

Now onto Grand Teton National Park....
I had never explored it or even really driven thru it, which is kind of hard to do if you go to Yellowstone from Jackson Hole (which is my normal route in).  Oh well, no time like the present.

Here are the highlights,
A massive elk who was playing in a field early one morning........

My first glimpse of the Tetons.....
Another great view, taken from the side of the road.... Grand Teton National Park

A bit of background on this photo of a Black Bear....
When I left on this trip, I wanted to see a Bear, an Elk, and a Moose....  By the photos, I've posted, obviously I saw an elk and a bear.  The moose remained elusive.  :(  The road where I took the picture of this bear (I'm a mere 4 feet away) is known for Moose!  It's even nicknamed the Moose Highway.  I drove it 3 different times at 3 different times of day and NEVER SAW A MOOSE, but I did see a bear.  Life is goofy.

The nitty gritty details of the 2 days exploring Yellowstone and Teton are a bit fuzzy, due to the wildlife and nature that dominates my mind, but here are a few that you may want to know...
In Jackson, we stayed at the Pony Express Hotel.  It's a great place to rest your head and easy to find after a long day on the road.  The other travel tip, if you are heading to Jackson from SLC, try taking WYO-89 instead of Utah 89 thru Bear Lake.  It takes almost an hour off of driving and it's an easier drive.

Well, I'm off to plan my next trip.
Melissa

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

an Epic Road Trip...part one

I've been trying to figure out how to write about the road trip I went on without having it be too long or get too boring, and as a result, I've been home for almost two weeks and not a word has been written.
oops.

First of all, who went?  My mom and I.....
The plan 7 days, 5 states, 2 National Parks, 2 National Monuments and 1 State Park.....

and here we go,
Day one:  Drive from Salt Lake City to Keystone, South Dakota.  536 miles, most of it in Wyoming on state roads.  FYI, Wyoming has well maintained and easy to drive routes with amazing scenery.  We arrived in South Dakota early enough to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial before checking into our hotel.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is just outside Custer, South Dakota.  It is a privately funded project that has been under construction for over 50 years.  It's going to be massive when complete and is still impressive even though it's not done.  There is Native American museum and information center there as well.  It was very interesting and well worth the stop.

Day 2, Keystone, South Dakota.
Up early and off we went to Mount Rushmore.  It is simply inspiring and beautiful.  The beauty of those 4 faces in the granite is just amazing.  The photos don't really do it justice, but I tried....
We walked the President's Trail, which I think makes the visit and got a ton of information that we would of missed otherwise.  For instance, that is not Jefferson's original nose..it broke off and they had to do it.  Another fun fact, the monument is not completed in the way it was intended--the sculptor, Borglum, died in 1941 and his children didn't want anyone else to get credit, so they stopped construction.  Here is a photo of the 'small scale replica' (it's over 20 feet tall) that they used as a guide and you'll see what the original plan was.
If you look at the monument, you can see the beginnings of George's collar and coat.  If you travel to Mount Rushmore, don't miss the movies and the exhibits of the tools and gadgets they used to make it.  It's amazing.

In the afternoon, we continued onto Custer State Park about 20 minutes away.  It's a great state park!  I would of loved to of spent more time there hiking and just enjoying the scenery....
A deer I saw in a meadow.......
The burros, which make a trip to Custer mandatory..., they are hysterical.  It's one of the rare exception where you are allowed to feed the wildlife, so when you stop and if your windows are down, they just stick their heads in the car and hunt for food.  We knew ahead of time that you could feed them, so we were prepared, but were completely unprepared for how pushy they are.  It was hysterical.

Day Three:  Keystone, Hill City, and Deadwood South Dakota

It was a day to see what we had missed and to ride a train.  The 1800 Train is a bit of a movie and television star....if a train is in a Western, chances are, it's the 1800 Train.  It runs on old mining lines and goes from Keystone to Hill City.  It's a steam engine and one of the only ones of it's kind still running in the world.
After the train ride, we drove over to Deadwood and never even got out of the car.  Not being a big western fan, I didn't want to take a tour of the cemetery and the town is a series of casinos and bars.  Apparently during the summer, they have re-enactors of famous Deadwood characters on the streets, but after Labor Day, nope. 
One note about the Keystone, Mount Rushmore area, the crowds are gone after Labor Day, but a lot of the businesses and restaurants are also closed for the season, so be prepared.


Day Four, driving from Keystone, South Dakota to Cooke City, Montana....
What a long drive!!!!  Most of it on I-90, but it was long and straight until we got of the freeway in Billings, Montana, then the adventure began.  I'm getting ahead of myself, though, because before we reached Montana, we stopped in Wyoming and went to Devil's Tower National Monument.

My obnoxious photo of the trip..... The sign that say's Devils Tower is acutally the Devils Tower Trading Post Sign, I just framed it so that's all you can see.  :)
There is a trail that goes all around it and we took a break from driving to take it.  It's interesting to see it from another angle.  Funny tidbit, as we were walking around, every so often you could hear someone humming the Close Encounter music.  Sadly, I never saw an alien, however,  there were rock climbers all over the rock and very friendly prairie dogs, especially when people feed them contraband.

We also learned the Native American legend of Devil's Tower.  7 little girls were playing near their tribe when a bear came upon them.  Running and praying for help, the girls saw a rock in the area and ran to it and climbed onto it.  Praying still, the rock began to grow out of the ground keeping them safe from the bear.  The girls went all the way to the stars where they became the 7 sisters, or Pleiades.  When the Native American's told the story to an interpreter, there was a miss communication and Devils was substituted in.

Now, back to the drive, after turning off I-90 in Billings, we were back on state roads, completely unaware of what we were headed for...
BEARTOOTH PASS!!!!!!!  It's one of the highest roads in North America and a series of switchbacks.  If you are afraid of heights, like my mom, I wouldn't recommend this road.  She started leaning towards the middle of the car, because she was so afraid.  There are VERY steep drops and it's not a really wide road, but it really wasn't that hard of a drive.  My only problem was that I got laughing so hard, I know not nice, at the antics of my mom and her fear of heights.....
 A very small portion of the Beartooth Pass....

Ok, even split in half, this has become a massive entry,
so I will end it here...
I hope you're enjoying the ride...
Melissa

Monday, September 12, 2011

Life as a Pin Cushion...

It's no secret to anyone who has been in my life lately that I have been having stomach issues lately.  My regular physician has been ruling things out, but has not been able to tell my why I am continuing to have symptoms.  To say it has been a frustrating year is a massive understatement.

Enter LivingSocial, yes the discount coupon place.  A couple of weeks ago, they had a deal for an initial consultation and treatment for Acupuncture.  I had been researching alternative treatments and Acupuncture was at the top my list of things to try, so with my MD's approval, I called and made an appointment.

From the beginning of the appointment, it just felt like it was the right solution for my problems.  They are after treating the cause not the symptoms, truly healing me.  :)

That's when I became a pin cushion for 20 acupuncture needles, trust me I counted, and no, they did not hurt when they went in.  The only one that gave me any grief was on my arm and it felt more like a power surge in the area.  It was a strange sensation.   I was then left in my treatment room to veg out for 30 minutes.  I didn't sleep, but went into that happy blissed out zone.  It was very relaxing.  After the Dr. took out the needles, we discussed diet and environmental factors and set up a plan to get my digestion system balanced out.  It's going to be interesting, but what I really appreciated is that I am taking an active role in my health plan. 

I'll let you know how the treatment plan goes and if it works,
but until then,
I'll be a pin cushion for my health
Melissa

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reasons I Live in Utah....

Utah gets a bad wrap sometimes... It's got its quirks, I'll admit, but there are quite a few things that make up for them.

Reason #1, within 4 hours, I can be in 3 different National Parks (Zion, Bryce, or Arches)
Reason #2, Cedar City hosts a Tony award winning Shakespeare Festival every summer.
Reason #3, St George has Tuachan, an outdoor theatre that got the first rights to perform Disney's The Little Mermaid in a regional theater.

Now, why am I listing these reasons, the past 4 days I have been taking advantage of them.  :)

I explored a part of Zion National Park that I had never been too.  Kolob Canyon.  It's stunning and if you don't have a ton of time, it's perfect.  As you drive along, I-15 between Cedar City and St. George, you'll see the exit.  It's the western border of the park.  A five mile road takes to you the overlook, with trailheads all along the road.  At the end of the road, there is another trailhead that takes you on a quick 1 1/2 mile roundtrip hike to a scenic overlook.  Want an idea of what it look like from the top?  Here are some pictures.  My only regret is that I wasn't there in the evening when the sun would of been bouncing off the red cliffs.


Now, reason 2, The Utah Shakespeare Festival.
It's time for all of the literary geeks, like myself, to get their Bard on.....  The festival this year produced "Richard III", "Midsummer's Night Dream" and "Romeo and Juliet" for the Shakespeare selections and then "The Music Man", "The Glass Menagerie" and "Noises Off" for variety.
I managed to get tickets for "Richard III", "Midsummer" and "The Music Man" none of which I had ever seen live before.
Three completely different theater experiences and I loved all of them.

"Richard III" made me cringe with the cruelty of their actions, but the performance by the actor who played Richard was absolutely stunning.  He showed arrogance with humility, malice with humor and ego with self doubt.  It was one of the most complex portrayals I have ever seen on a stage.

"Midsummer's Night Dream" was wonderful, light and sweet.  When Lysander, Hermia, Helena and Demitrius were lost at night in the forest, they played it for laughs (almost a slapstick humor approach).  What made it even better?  It was performed in the Adams Outdoor Theatre, which is patterned after the famous Globe Theatre.  It really was a perfect summer night.

"The Music Man":  I must confess I am a big fan of the movie with Robert Preston.  Having said that, I had never seen it performed live.  It was wonderful!  The theatre was freezing due to the air conditioner being tooooooo cold, but the play was great.

The other thing I love about the Utah Shakespeare Festival is the Greenshow!  Before each evening play, a musical performance is put on in the grove by the stages.  There is a different theme each night (I saw Italian and the 50th anniversary ones).  It's a great way to get into the mood of the festival.


Now for reason 3, Tuacahn.  I went for the first time last year, when I got free tickets to one of the performances, and got hooked.  This year, when I heard they were performing Disney's "The Little Mermaid", I knew I had to add it on to my Shakespeare trip.  What creative geniuses they have there  to pull off an undersea adventure in the middle of a desert.  It was just magical.

I've got more things I love about Utah, but this post is getting kind of long, so I'll call it a day.

If you live in Utah, what's your favorite reason or hidden spot that you love?
If you don't live here, come and visit... you just never know.
Melissa

Monday, July 25, 2011

Broken in..

My house in the last couple of weeks has been broken into twice that I know of.  Before you panic and start to wonder about the neighborhood I live in, I should tell you I know who the intruder is.  Here is his mug shot.
His name is Jackson and he is a cat burglar.  The biggest problem is that he closely resembles my cat Meeko.  It's not good.  The first time he broke into the house, I was working in the kitchen and felt a cat head butt my leg and bent down to pet the cat.  Meeko does this to me all of the time, so I didn't think much of it, but when the cat meowed, I knew it wasn't Meeko.  AAGGHH!  I picked him up to take him out and what does the little brat start to do, he purrs.  Not a sign of a guilty conscience, I would think.

Jackson's house borders mine via our back fences.  He's lived there for years and I never knew he existed until a couple of weeks ago.  His family went on vacation and they had a housesitter/catsitter stay at the house while they were gone.  Great idea in theory, until you factor in whether Jackson liked this person and he DID NOT and subsequently moved out for the duration.  He found my neighbor's yard first.  Being a very friendly cat, he saw the 3 kids who live next door and do not have any pets and decided they could love on him and they did.  They played with him and petted him and let him hang out.  All fine and well.  Friendly cats are rare, and at that point he was not venturing into my yard or house.

Jackson soon figured out that I have two dogs, Basset Hounds Humphrey and Bacall, and Meeko, my mixed breed cat.  Jackson liked to sit on the fence and bug the ever lovin' crap out of my dogs.  It got annoying, but since he wasn't in the yard.  I would call of the dogs, who are secretly afraid of most cats, especially when they are up close and in swatting range, and told them to be quiet.  Then one day, while enjoying the sun and warm weather, I was in my favorite outdoor chair, with the dogs lounged out in the yard next to me when I had a cat land in my lap.  It wasn't Meeko, but Jackson.  This signaled a new troubling sign with him.  I took him to the fence with the dogs blissfully asleep and sent him on his way.

I thought this solved the problem, until the first break in occurred.  How do you tell a friendly cat when you're sending him on his way that he's not welcome, when his only response is a big ole loud purr.

Break in two solved my problem!  At 5 am, the other morning, I was awakened to the sounds of a good old fashioned cat fight.  Snarls, hissing, growling and the whole shebang.  Meeko, who is a very very very timid cat, was defending her turf.  By the time, I got out of bed, Jackson was LONG gone and Meeko was on guard and has been every day since.  She goes out into the yard where she can see everything and keeps watch. 

I haven't had a break in since.
Safe from cat burglars.
Melissa

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Thumbs....

I have two distinct thumbs.... one is black and the other is very very green.  The black thumb of plant death occurs inside the house.  House plants run screaming for help when I head their way in the nursery.  I don't know why I can't keep a plant alive inside, but I can't.  I either over water and drown the poor plant or I forget to water it and it dies of dehydration.  Sunlight?  It's either fried by too much sun or asking what is sunlight.  I can't seem to win.

The green thumb shows up every spring, normally speaking up in early March in its excitement to get outside and plant.  You see, my green thumb is the outdoorsy type.  It loves digging in the dirt and planting and growing mainly vegetables, but also has had success with native plants.  It's fun to see plants not run in the opposite direction when I'm choosing them.

My garden has had a fun year with all of the crazy weather we have had.  I still have a lettuce patch that I am struggling to keep up with and have given some to my neighbors.  My tomato plants are happy clams.  I go out into the garden and get my hands dirty, feel the sun on me, and think life doesn't get any better than this. 

Why can't my outdoor thumb speak to my indoor one?  Or should I just enjoy my outside time, which is where I prefer to be anyway.

Some of my lovely lettuce.  It is soooooo green and tasty.  My only complaint, slugs love to live at the base of the plants in the moisture filled area.  I practice organic gardening, so my slug repellent is me.  euwwwww!  I pick them up and throw them away. 

Ya!! My tomatoes survived the cold wet spring!  The bonus, every flower on my plants have set into tomatoes.  Now for my confession, I don't eat raw tomatoes.  They make my tongue itch like crazy!  It's not pleasant.  I do, however, LOVE LOVE LOVE homemade tomato sauce, especially my Aunt Shirley's recipe.  I bottle it by the gallon to get me through the long cold winter.  Also, I found another use for tomatoes, I make tomato powder.  I dry tomatoes in my food dehydrator until crumbly, then grind them up in my Magic Bullet until it becomes a fine powder.  It's an intense tomato flavor.  :)  Plus, you can add equal parts water and tomato powder to make homemade easy tomato paste as needed.


This is a massive success for me!  It's Kale.  I've been trying for years to grow kale with no success.  This year I tried a new area, and I've got Kale growing.  I am so happy.  I've become addicted to kale.  Crispy kale, kale salad with fruit, and sauteed kale are appearing regularly on my dinner table.

I tell you this tale of two thumbs, not to show off my garden, but to show you that if you can't grow a plant inside, try going outside and vice versa.

Melissa

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sparkler Fun!

While at Sugarhouse Park on the 4th of July, I took a photo a child playing with a sparkler.  It left a line of light in the photograph and made a very cool effect and gave me a great idea.

So tonight, in my backyard with a little help, I had some fun.  Even though this is a couple of days late, the sentiment stays the same.

Ok, now for the details,
on my Nikon
ISO set at low 2.0 
Aperture set at 10.0
Shutter speed at 2.0'

a few tips, have the sparkler holders wear dark clothing and stand at least 10 to 15 feet away...

Have Fun!
Melissa

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Photographic Adventure....

I've given up on my 365 photo adventure.  It's not a bad thing--it's a realigning thing.  I found out that when I was taking a photo a day, I was taking a lot of snapshots, not photographs.  I started the adventure to improve my camera skills with my new Nikon camera, not to take a snapshot a day.  I get my camera out about once a week now and actively look for things to shoot and in a way to expand my skills.

The 4th of July gave me a perfect excuse to work on my skills.  FIREWORKS!!!  Nighttime photography and movement are 2 things I really need to work on.  A learning experience!  I scoured the web for tips and advice before I left for Sugarhouse Park and realized once again, that a tripod, would be essential.  Uh-oh, I still don't have one.  How do I get around this?  Can I get around this? or Will my pictures not turn out?

Why don't I have a tripod?  When I purchased my camera, I was given a great piece of advice.  Don't buy a lot of gadgets or lenses your first year.  It's something I've taken to heart for a couple of reasons.  #1 Photography is not a cheap hobby.  Most gadgets are not cheap!!!  #2  You may think that when you get your camera, you will shoot a lot of scenery, but you find out you like taking pictures of people.  If you bought all of the stuff for scenery, you will then have to invest in more stuff.. #3  Learn how to work with out all of the gadgets... You'll become a better photographer and if you ever forget something, you can still take photos.

Back to Sugarhouse Park and the fireworks,  we found a great spot and waited.  I took photos of the crowd to test out my lighting (a lot of people had purchased glow sticks and others were lighting sparklers).


Kids playing with glow sticks.....  Uh-oh, I have a lot of blur.  It's kind of cool though...
A little girl playing with a sparkler.  Love the effect!!!!  It gave me an idea for something to try when I get home.  I will post the results after I do it.

Finally, around 10 pm, it was time for fireworks!!!!  The big show, just me and 60,000 other people crammed into the park.  Here are my results...

My first shot... partially out of frame, but kind of cool.  I can see the need for the tripod!!!  The shutter speed needed for these shots is sooooooo slow any movement of the camera equals blurring.
It doesn't even look like a  firework. does it?  Once again, I moved the camera while the shutter was still open.  In addition to a tripod, a remote for the shutter would be useful.
Better,  I about passed out from not breathing during this one.  :}


Closer, but still not detailed.  I'll take it!!!
My favorite of the night!!! I actually accomplished something I had read about.  With a long exposure setting, you can actually capture multiple fireworks in one shot by putting a piece of black foam in front of the lens between the fireworks.  It is still blurry, but YEAH!  It worked.

Lesson of the night, a tripod and a remote for your camera are essential for non blurry firework shots.  If you don't mind the cool effects, have fun without one.

The other thing that I noticed...I didn't really watch the fireworks.  I shot them.  I was concerned about shutter speed and framing.  For me, it kind of took away from the fireworks experience.  Fortunately, everyone knew I was experimenting and learning, so they understood when I ignored them.  A beginner's trial, I guess.  Maybe, a tripod and a remote would help with that.

I do know this, at the end of the year, a tripod and a remote for my camera are at the top of my list.  I have had a number of instances this year where they would of made my life a lot easier and ended up with better photographs.

My year of photography learning continues...
until next time.
Melissa