Tag Archives: features

Grand Canyon National Park Photo Gallery

Where Millions Come to Stare into a Hole in the Ground

Fall on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Fall on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

I’m not going to say a lot here because, well… Grand Canyon, DUH. You had to have been hiding in the biggest hole in the United States if you hadn’t heard of it. Therefore, you had to be in the Grand Canyon to begin with, so what do you mean you haven’t heard of it? Continue reading Grand Canyon National Park Photo Gallery

Wildflowers of O’Neil Regional Park

Stopping to enjoy the sweet smell of freedom among the wildflowers

Honey Bee in a California Sunflower in O'Neill Regional Park
Honey Bee in a California Sunflower in O’Neill Regional Park

For Memorial Day, in addition to taking the time to remember those who gave their all for our country, we also took some time to stop and smell the wildflowers. Even this late in the season, wildflowers can still be found in the hills surrounding Orange County. Continue reading Wildflowers of O’Neil Regional Park

La Tour at Victoria Beach, Orange County, CA

The Pirate Tower Lies at the Center of Some Terrific Orange County Legends

La Tour: The Pirate Tower during a stormy sunset
La Tour: The Pirate Tower during a stormy sunset.

On a hidden beach in South Orange County, CA, visitors are treated to a sight that has even the most skeptical hoping to stumble upon buried treasure, scanning the horizon to try and spot a distant galleon bearing the skull and crossbones, or perhaps craning their neck in hopes of spying a fair maiden in need of rescue. The cause of these fantastical fancies of the imagination is almost as magical as the musings themselves, a tower, known simply as La Tour, or The Tower. Resembling something straight out of a fairy tale, it stands on the shoreline reaching for the sky as it stretches up the cliff face, enduring crashing waves and the harsh salt air of the Pacific Ocean.

La Tour has long been on my bucket list of places to see, and I have little excuse for not seeing it as it is practically right here in my own backyard. I chose sunset during a stormy weekend to add as much drama to the story as Mother Nature could muster, and my camera could capture. I think I lucked out in both respects. Hopefully the images compel you to read on, or at the very least, see La Tour for yourself.

Getting to La Tour

Victoria Beach at Sunset
Victoria Beach at Sunset

To see this come-to-life story book portrait for yourself, pack up your beach gear and head to Laguna Beach at low tide. La Tour is inaccessible during high tide. As you head toward South Laguna along Pacific Coast Highway, watch for Victoria Drive. Don’t worry if you miss it, you can also access the beach from Sunset Terrace, or McAuley Place. The real trick is finding parking. You will find none on any of the mentioned streets, you’re best bet is on PCH or in the neighborhoods on the inland side of the highway. Once you find parking head down any of the aforementioned streets, the beach lies below the houses on the cliff along Victoria Drive. There is a staircase to access the beach just a few feet south of Sunset Terrace on Victoria Drive. It’s a little steep, and a hike back up, but worth every step to come face to face with the stuff of dreams.

If you enjoy the romance and magic of pirates and magic castles, read no further, or risk having the magic hijacked by the pirates of knowledge and reason as the real story of La Tour is revealed below.

The Magic of The Pirate Tower Shattered

Taking the light from the magic of The Pirate Tower
Taking the light from the magic of The Pirate Tower

I’m sad to inform those who have read this far, that the tower never housed any damsels in distress, was not used to watch for pirates, and never even served as noble a purpose as a lighthouse. La Tour is nothing more than a fancy staircase built in 1926. It was built as access to the beach for the private residence of state senator William E. Brown on the cliff above.

In 1940, Brown sold the home to a retired naval officer named Harold Kendrick. It may have been Kendrick who lit the imaginations of area youth with stories of lost pirate treasure, and the need to keep a sharp lookout for the scourge of the high seas. It seemed Kendrick rather fancied dressing up as a pirate himself and hiding coins in the cracks of the tower for visiting children to find. But Kendrick’s kindness and imagination were the closest thing to real pirates to ever scale the hidden staircase.

Preserving the Real Treasure of La Tour

I don’t like this explanation for the towers existence. It steals everything we love about La Tour from our hearts and souls. To lose the magic of La Tour is to lose something much more valuable than losing all the buried treasure ever plundered or pillaged in the name of rogue privateering. I prefer to think the stories of state senators and retired naval officers are the real fairy tales; told to pesky visitors to throw them off the track, while treasure hunters continue their search for the very real buried treasure. And I know that if I listen carefully and watch the high window in the tower, one day I’ll see the imprisoned damsel seeking her hero, and she’ll tell me where the treasure is buried as soon as I rescue her… or warn me if the pirates are returning to claim their buried fortune.

I know the truth of the treasure of La Tour. Believe what you will.


A Case Of Mistaken Branding

Are Your Branding Efforts Being Misinterpreted?

A case of unfortunate branding
Does your branding effort convey more than one meaning? While “Release On Demand” is a clever way to state your company sends out press release on demand, it also implies something else entirely for those receiving a steady stream of male enhancement spam.

A few months ago I signed up to receive emails from a company called Virtual Press Office (VPO) to determine if they would have any value for my clients.  VPO distributes press releases on their site and sends out emails with links to the press releases. After a little research on my own, I had determined there were more beneficial resources at my disposal, and never gave them another thought, especially after Continue reading A Case Of Mistaken Branding

SEO is Dead, Long Live SEO!

SEO: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated, SEO is alive and well.
The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated, SEO is alive and well.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had conversations with three different friends, each indicating that they had heard or thought SEO was dead. Wow! Nothing could be farther from the truth. With Google constantly updating its algorithm on a nearly daily basis, your SEO plan is more important than ever.

When I started in SEO, many viewed it as some sort of snake oil business, and in many instances they were right. Unscrupulous SEO hawkers were touting wins on long tail terms that were easily won because no one was looking for them, and provided little benefit to their clients. My association with them always left me feeling like I needed to take a shower with bleach and a power washer when I got home, so I always walked the straight and narrow. But the times they are a changin’, and for the better. SEO that works is now 100% legitimate and alive and well.

I believe the misconception regarding the demise of SEO is that Google has cracked down on those gaming the system, something that Google has frowned on from the very beginning. So my friends are right, link farms, crappy SEO gobbledygook content, bogus authorship and a host of other “Black Hat” SEO “tricks” have all found a one way ticket to the search results mortuary. But REAL honest to goodness SEO efforts are still vital to any business with a presence on the World Wide Web. They key to those honest efforts? The same thing I have always told my clients since day one: “Content is King.”

SEO is Alive and Well

The truth is, that although Black Hat SEO is dead (good riddance), real SEO is alive and well, and will be more competitive than ever now. No longer able to cheat the system, everyone will be on the same level playing field. Before it was enough to have good content, because the bad guys were focused on cheating, so your good content stood out from their crap. Now however, everyone is focused on good content, so a good piece of content alone is no longer enough. Now you need a content strategy.

What’s a content strategy? Well, while the bad guys scramble to play catch up in the legitimate SEO world and are focused on trying to win keywords with single pieces of content, you should be focused on a long term strategy focused on terms that are important to your business. These should be terms that make sense for your business, and naturally occur in your content plan over the course of several months. And it’s not just about the quality and readability of the content either. It needs to be unique, sharable content that will gain traction on social media and emphasize to Google and the other search engines its importance, giving each piece of content the real authority it needs to obtain proper weight when being considered for ranking position in the SERPs (search Engine Results Pages).

The bottom line is, if you have real, valuable content that provides a benefit to those who consume it, you don’t need a link farm, or to game the system. The linking will occur naturally. Where one piece of content once did the job, and may still momentarily gain you a jump in rankings, a plan of continuous content that reinforces the terms that are valuable to your company will give you the staying power needed to remain relevant and retain or make gains in your rankings with each crawl of your site, and Google algorithm change. Singular pieces of content may have been king, but to be a king is no longer enough; a content strategy is a demi-god.

Real content for real people is where the game is played now. Crafting good content, that is relevant, current, and engaging and naturally focusing it toward the conquests you want to win long term takes planning, coordination with your social media outlets, and timing it with your other marketing strategies and promotional efforts.

I’ve always taken pride in the fact that through valuable content I could provide my clients with wins for terms that mattered and that I brought some legitimacy to a trade often thought of as shady and unscrupulous. With the death of black hat SEO, the entire industry must be legitimate now or you risk being left behind, or worse, delisted. So this isn’t the death of SEO, it’s the dawn of a new age. A time where all the legitimate SEO strategists can stand tall, and finally come out from under the shadows of their black hat predecessors. So technically, my friends are right. SEO as they knew it, is dead. But real SEO is alive and well, and now more important than ever.

So, let the bells ring. SEO is dead! Long live SEO!


California Wolf Center

Saving the Rocky Mountain and Mexican Gray Wolf at the California Wolf Center

Watching the visitors to the California Wolf Center from the safety of cover.
Watching the visitors to the California Wolf Center from the safety of cover.

We visited the California Wolf Center on Sunday, November 16th. It’s an education center, and wolf breeding program aimed at recovering the endangered species from the brink of extinction and reintroducing them into the wild. Two of the three types of wolves found in the United States can be viewed at the California Wolf Center, both are species Continue reading California Wolf Center

Car Content Now at www.BrakingforCars.com

The Last Car Post | From now on go to www.BrakingforCars.com

1963 Ford Galaxy Convertible rear and side view - 2014 Route 66 Cruisin Reunion
1963 Ford Galaxy Convertible rear and side view – 2014 Route 66 Cruisin Reunion

I started BrakingforCars.com in 2009 with rather over ambitious intents: All things breaking for cars, and all things about cars worth braking for.  This endeavor became even more difficult to achieve as my freelance career boomed. Soon after, I unexpectedly found myself committed to a full time position with TKCarsites aka KPA aka Digigo (long story, don’t ask!). BrakingforCars.com also competed for time with another side project, ItCamefromtheMicrowave.com, which I quickly realized was going to kill me with the increased intake of cholesterol and sodium as I performed the “research” required to do an in depth review of those quick and easy meals. So, with time at a premium, this blog, Braking forCars.com and ItCamefromtheMicrowave.com, went dormant in 2010.

Recently, I have once again found myself in a position where I am able to dedicate  a little time to writing and photographing the things that interest me, so I started by relaunching VernonHeywood.com. Dedicated to showcasing my talents by posting about SEO strategy, demonstrating my writing ability, and highlighting the best images from my photo portfolio, it soon became apparent that posting pics from every car show I attend, or editorializing on the world of cars is less about my talents, and more about my obsessions! Since I want this blog to reflect my skills and expertise, I have relaunched BrakingforCars.com and will be posting future car related content there.

I will still occasionally post galleries of my more exceptional automotive photographic work here, but for a complete rundown on anything I am working on in the automotive realm, please visit www.brakingforcars.com.

P.S. Don’t hold your breath on ItCamefromtheMicrowave.com being relaunched anytime soon, because I have no intention of taking my last breath any time soon either!


New Sculptures at Civic Center Park in Newport Beach

Outdoor Art Exhibit in Newport Beach

Cub Triptych - Newport Beach Civic Center Park
Cub Triptych – Newport Beach Civic Center Park

Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed some new additions joining the white rabbits inhabiting Civic Center Park in Newport Beach, CA. It turns out that what looked like some origami bears raiding a trash can along MacArthur Blvd. and a colorful tiki doll watching the sun go down in the west are part of nine new sculptures scattered on display throughout Civic Center Park  that made their Grand Opening debut on  Saturday, September 13, 2014. A tenth sculpture is set to join the exhibit in 2015. Continue reading New Sculptures at Civic Center Park in Newport Beach

Knee Defender: Ban or Barn?

Knee Defender, or Barnyard Riot Inciter?
Knee Defender, or Barnyard Riot Inciter?

Knee Defender, a device designed to save knees from reclining seats, makes hogs and jackasses out of cattle.

Just because you are flying coach and have been herded aboard your plane and crowded in like cattle, doesn’t mean you need to act like a hog. It’s not pleasant for any of us: the battle over the arm rests, staking your turf in the overhead bins, and being continually stepped on or having to get up to let those with weaker bladders make multiple trips to the bathroom during your two hour flight are just a few of the things we all contend with. But common courtesy Continue reading Knee Defender: Ban or Barn?

Photo Gallery: 2014 Temecula Rod Run

I really like night time photography. Each photo takes on a quality all its own. But I especially like shooting old cars in historical districts where the buildings provide an era appropriate photo backdrop. The Temecula Rod Run has long been a favorite car show for me for this very reason, with Friday nights being my top choice for taking photos. Here are some of my favorite photos and cars from the 2014 Temecula Rod Run.