Travel Theme: Entertainment

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa asks, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Indeed I am. Here’s how.

Here’s a man doing a little violin busking on the Metro in Rome. Transportation AND a show? It’s a bargain!

He was good, too.

He was good, too.

For those of you who think I might have a mild obsession with New York Rangers hockey…you’d be right. Here’s a shot from a game George and I went to last year. Slide across the ice, Henrik! Slide! #LetsGoRangers

Fun fact: I bleed Rangers blue.

Fun fact: I bleed Rangers blue.

The things some of us do in the name of fun. Here’s roller coaster poised to take the plunge at Knoebel’s Amusement Park (sorry…Amusement Resort) in central PA.

IMG_0053-001

Mommy…MommyMommyMommyMommyMommy…MOTHER F*

Full disclosure: Once the lines die down, I will totally be one of the freaks on this ride. But, I am not a standing-in-line-type person. Moving on.

Tjörnin Lake is a prominent feature in downtown Reykjavik. Located right behind their City Hall, Tjörnin is surrounded by park benches and lots of picnicky-looking places for summer fun (I would imagine). In the winter, when it’s frozen over, residents take advantage of Tjörnin’s frozen surface for some cold-weather entertainment.

IMG_0219-001

Just another day on the lake in Reykjavik.

And finally.

If and when you go to Myrtle Beach, the Hollywood Wax Museum is a great way to entertain yourself and spend a day, particularly if you go in the winter and it’s unseasonably cold. But I dare you to get a picture as deranged as George’s photobomb of the Donny & Marie figures.

IMG_0070-001

I got your wholesome image riiiiiight heeeere.

I hope you had a fun time checking out the photo challenges! Thanks for stopping by.

Imma leave you with an opening segment from The Donny & Marie Show. Check out their inexplicable space palm tree bibs. 

Mmm hmmm. Saucy.

Advertisements

2013 Thus Far

I’m going to be blunt here.

2013 can go fuck itself.

I’m about to head back to the homeland to go to the funeral of an uncle.  Really?  George’s dad, then my dad, and now my uncle?  And there’s been other stuff that’s sucked, though none of it compares to the loss of such important members of my family.  If I develop mysterious sores, I’m going to wonder when I was nominated to be the next Job.  Though lots of friends have suffered tragic losses this year, so…on the behalf of everyone I know who’s had a shitty go of things, 2013…I think I’ve made it clear how I feel about you.  You’ve got some ‘splaining to do.  And really, it’s not me, it’s all you.  I own none of it.

Agggh.  The next few days are gonna suck.

I miss hearing from you all, I’ll be back soon.

Until then, here are a few pictures I’ve taken within the calendar year 2013, in an effort to remind myself and others that maybe 2013 doesn’t deserve to be completely wiped from our memories.  I don’t want to put up gloomy pics, because I’m trying to angle for instant karma points.  Oh, look (says an otherwise cruel and unfeeling universe), she put up a picture of a lacy butterfly!  Let’s not kill any more of her loved ones until, at the very least, the end of the year.

So. With no further ado and in no particular order…

Black swallowtail butterfly, my back yard. (Did you think I was kidding about posting a butterfly pic?)

Black swallowtail butterfly, my back yard. (Did you think I was kidding about posting a butterfly pic?)  My back yard, summer 2013.

A day spent at Knoebel's with my brother, sis-in-law and the kiddos. July 2013.

A day spent at Knoebel’s with my brother, sis-in-law and the kiddos.
July 2013.

Railroad tracks in autumn.  Sigh.

Railroad tracks in autumn. Sigh.
Lewisburg, September 2013.

This guy.

This guy.
Artscape, Baltimore, July 2013.

John & Molly's wedding. Lutsen, MN, July 2013.

John & Molly’s wedding.
Lutsen, MN, July 2013

And for good measure, here’s a video of an otter juggling a rock.  I didn’t take the video, but I love it all the same.

I (sincerely, truly) hope your year is better than mine.  Enjoy!

A Word A Week Challenge: Square

Skinnywench has issued this week’s Word A Week Challenge, and it is: square.

Photo from thedissolve.com

George McFly, squaring it up.
Photo from thedissolve.com

No! Not that kind of square!

Ummm...

Ummm…

OK, fine. I guess that’s marginally more like it.

You know.  Square, like the geometry people talk about.  Square, like a city block.  Square, like,..

This entire array of buildings and signs, somewhere outside Chicago.

That's a lot of squarity.

That’s a lot of squarity.

Or like these very square princess kites floating in the skies over Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

You go, Snow!

You go, Snow!

Here’s a very square assortment of very square windows and doors located along a square in Rome. (I think it was the Piazza Navona but I can’t be 100% sure.  Guess I have to go back…!)

Those are some square-ass windows, for sure.

Those are some square-ass windows, for sure.

Squares support the curves in this awesome wooden roller coaster (the Twister, FYI) at Knoebel’s.

Or did I just blow your mind?

Or did I just blow your mind?

And then there’s: random assortment of chairs set out after being freshly re-caned.  I don’t know what I like best about this picture?  The random assortment of mismatched furniture?  The readily apparent craftsmanship?  The contrast of the straight lines against the natural background?  This was taken a scant few miles from my house, during the Rural Heritage Festival at the Dale/Engel/Walker House in beautiful Lewisburg, PA.

We set out chairs in central PA to welcome all newbies. Thanks for dropping by!

We set out chairs in central PA to welcome all newbies. Thanks for dropping by!

So there you have it.  Behold the squareness!  Enjoy the rest of the challenge participants.

Travel Theme: Tilted

This week, Ailsa’s travel theme looks at things that are tilted.  Or, things that we’ve tilted for our own benefit and/or amusement.  Whatever, as long as it’s askew and neither perfectly flat nor fully upright.

Like these hang gliders at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, rolled up and tilted onto their kickstands (or whatever they’re called), waiting patiently for students to make use of them.

Want to take a twirl around the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern US.

Want to take a twirl around the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern US?

These gravestones are close to home; we have a pretty fair amount of very old cemeteries whose stones are in various stages of disrepair.  This one is currently being overwhelmed by an errant clump of grass and weeds, though if you look in the background you’ll see that it’s hardly the only stone so affected.

A hundred years of being untended surely takes its toll.

A hundred years of being untended surely takes its toll.

This crazy tree is also close to home.

It's just as creepy in person.  Though perhaps with slightly more flattering lighting.

It’s just as creepy in person. Though perhaps with slightly more flattering lighting.

When at Knoebel’s…take a picture of the tame-but-incredibly-cool-looking kiddie coaster track.

It's all...twisty. And purple!

It’s all…twisty. And purple!

And sometimes, you have to tilt the camera. For effect.  When it’s Halloween, and you want to illustrate that the terror of night is alive and well (so to speak) and about to have its way with the rubber duckie in your bathroom.

Poor thing. He never saw it coming.

Nooooooooooo! Poor thing. He never saw it coming.

Apparently, to me, “tilted” is somewhat synonymous with “ominous” or “macabre”, though there are exceptions.  Eh, it’s how I roll.  😉

Head on over to Ailsa’s page and check out all the fun!

Travel Theme: Motion

This week’s travel theme at Where’s My Backpack? is: motion!  As luck or fate or my enviable location in central PA would have it, family is in from out of town.  And it’s family with small kiddos.  Which, of course, means that Knoebel’s is on the agenda for any summer, G-rated daytime adventure.  Knoebel’s, for the uninitiated, is only (really!) Travel Channel’s #2 amusement park in the country…the country, people, and as far as countries go this is a big’un.  Admission is free.  Parking is free.  You buy books of tickets or do an all-day wristband.  And it looks a little like a throwback to some gauzy, nostalgic era that never really existed except in magical places people invent to bestow a sense of gauzy nostalgia.

It’s fantastic.

But enough of me spinning my wheels here, yapping away.  You want motion?  You got it.

The Power Surge is one of my favorite rides.  It flings you about like crazy, but it’s a great shortcut to getting zen and contemplating the impermanence of our mortal existence.  Plus, you spin around a lot and it’s reallyreally cool.

The Power Surge. Surging.

The Power Surge. Surging.

Meanwhile, my niece rocks it out in a bouncy moon walk.

You would never get me out of this.

You would never get me out of this.

The Twister is a giant wooden roller coaster with lots of dips and twists and turns.  Here’s a car going down one of the first–but by no means the highest–drops.

Hands up or it's not a real ride.

Hands up or it’s not a real ride.

Saaaay…is that a pirate ship emerging through the tops of the trees?

No, I'm just happy to see you.

No, I’m just happy to see you.

When I stop and think about all ways our bodies are being enacted on by various forces at work in an amusement park–some of us are being swung sideways at great heights, while others spend their time in the air being tumbled around inside what looks like a giant time-release capsule–I can’t help but be grateful.  I’m so glad science works.  Engineers rule!

Obey gravity. It's the law.

Obey gravity. It’s the law.

And finally: third car back, bald dude mugging for the camera, throwing his hands up in the air to party hearty like he jus’ don’t care?  Yeah, that’s my brother.  The little flame of red hair next to him is my niece.

See I am Wonder Garz and I'd like to say hello.

See I am Wonder Garz and I’d like to say hello.

Go to Knoebel’s.  I’ll meet you there.

K

Travel Theme: Pathways

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is pathways, which of course is one of my favorite things because they’re inherently liminal.  Maybe I’ve got an overly-developed sense of romanticism about pathways and roadtrips…though I don’t think so…but I always think of that Fellowship of the Rings quote:

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

And so.

From an overpass looking down onto a train yard in Cleveland.

107-001

Westward bound.

In the park outside l’Orangerie in Paris.  Please note: the lady is carrying a parasol.  A parasol.  And I don’t care if it’s actually an umbrella multitasking as a parasol.  It’s still a parasol.

This picture delights me every time I look at it.

This picture delights me every time I look at it.

My niece and nephew, in training for future adventures down pathways of their own.  At Knoebel’s, one of the greatest amusement parks in all the land (not that I’m biased).

World's most controlled road trip.

World’s most controlled road trip.

The Grand Canal, Dublin, which connects Dublin with the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland and a major thoroughfare for…oh…pretty much all of time. Located right next to it? The Grand Canal Hotel (wonder where they came up with that name?), which was a pretty swanky spot to stay.  That was where I had literally the best and spendiest veggie burger I’ve ever eaten.

sc00bb833e-001

I was happy to have this sight greet us whenever we left our hotel.

And…home sweet home.  We have loads of enticing back roads around here just open to imagination and exploration.

Ever forward!

Ever forward!

What pathways have you taken?

Travel Theme: Benches

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is a surprisingly thought-provoking one–benches.  Some people (like, apparently, Ailsa) find them intriguing and somewhat romantic.  I tend to overlook them.  Important life lesson to be had here: pay at-bloody-tention.

Belhurst Castle, Geneva NY.  The vast lawn behind the castle is full of greenery and planters and carefully appointed koi ponds.  And exactly one lone bench, facing eastward to meet the sunrise.

Good morning!

Good morning!

Meanwhile, at the Old City Hall in my beloved Boston, George fails to recognize the looming menace of a statue of a brass donkey as he sits on the cleared stone bench outside the landmark building.

Hey, pal. One of us was here first, and it wasn't you.

Hey, pal. One of us was here first, and it wasn’t you.

In Rome (or, you know, cities in general), anything can serve as a series of benches, depending on the mood of the crowd.  A view from the top of the Spanish Steps.

Because all those people need to sit *somewhere*.

Because all those people need to sit *somewhere*.

And in Florence, simple wooden benches serve as pews in the Chiesa de San Salvatore al Monte, a beautiful 15-th century church overlooking the Arno.  San Salvatore is largely overshadowed by its flashier neighbor, the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, but it is no less lovely.  And since more people go to San Miniato, San Salvatore is much, much quieter, which can be an incredible luxury.

If you're looking for a place to sit and be self-reflective...

If you’re looking for a place to sit and be self-reflective…

Annnnnd…there is a gem of an amusement park close to my home.  Knoebel’s has been operating as an amusement park (albeit on a smaller scale) since 1926, and it is still family owned and offers free admission.  And?  It is awesome.  They have a Sky Ride that glides its riders up the side of a mountain and back down again; these are the bench seats from the top of the Sky Ride, deserted after an afternoon rain.

Welcome to Knoebel's in all its sylvan splendor.

Welcome to Knoebel’s in all its sylvan splendor.

Happy bench hunting!  Enjoy the travel theme.

Travel Theme: Signs

The travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is a look at signs you encounter when you’re out and about in the world.  While I’ve already blogged about and put most of the images I’ve taken of signs in a piece called WTF Caution Signs, I do have a few other sign photos I’ve been looking for a reason to post.

First up: a cautionary sign. We were traveling during Halloween weekend last year and stopped at some convenience store along the way. When I neared the door I saw this…

Safety first!

…and then I doubled over laughing for about five minutes before I was able to pull myself together enough to immortalize it digitally. I understand the reason behind this. You want to be able to give a more detailed description of the person who robs your store besides, “It was Frankenstein”, and I would imagine there’s a decided uptick in robberies at Halloween-time when it’s common to walk around masked. I’m sure it’s really only successfully used against the opportunistic criminal–something tells me the guys from The Town wouldn’t be all that deterred by the clever use of signage–but regardless of its rate of success or failure, I still loved the idea.

Next:

Annapolis, MD is a lovely city, and I enjoyed a day trip there with my boyfriend and his daughter. I have tons of pictures of colonial houses and quaint, cobblestoned streets and crisp sails on neatly-painted boats. We bought hard-to-find spices in the upscale spice shop. I bought a friend’s toddler a gift in the inclusion-oriented, organic-sustainable-materials toy store. The things in this city are beautiful. Picturesque. Charming. And deadly.

Wha wha whaaaaa?

This was tucked into the garden of a serene and tidily trimmed public park. A grim reminder that no plant in Annapolis is safe.

So.

This summer, my boyfriend’s band played at a benefit held at Knoebel’s, a local amusement park. I’ve talked about Knoebel’s before, and how it’s quaint and kitschy and totally family-friendly. While wandering around the park I came across a few carts that merited a second look.  The first is one of the tram cars they use to ferry visitors back and forth from the tram stands in the parking lot.

Apparently, there IS such a thing as a free ride.

The other sign involves a utility cart. See for yourself.

 

Dilemma!

Question: If one may not sit on it, then how does one drive it? Seriously, Knoebel’s people. Park this somewhere else.

And finally, from Cleveland. If I were to trace the events of my misspent youth back to their origins, they would lead me here.

Yes.

Thank you, Alan Freed. You’ve contributed more fun (50 Bands) to my world than you could ever have imagined.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

Close is such a…such an oddly open word, know what I mean?  It can mean nearby, it can mean emotionally connected.  It can mean both, which is normally comforting.  But it can also impart feelings of oppression, it can violate personal space, and if the “s” makes a “z” sound, then it’s not open at all.

How trying.

As I am a self-appointed ambassador for spreading peace and love and joy (at least, for today I am), I’m focusing on the positive aspects of closeness.  As I can’t make up my mind about which picture I have that I like best, I’m putting up several.  I hope you enjoy them all.

Man’s best friend, indeed.

I.  LOVE.  This dog.  This was taken at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey on the day after Thanksgiving, 2011; it was uncharacteristically warm and we thought this would be a great place to walk off the previous day’s turkey (and pie, and mashed potatoes, and and and…).  We saw this dog on the beach, ever vigilant (notice the posture of what you can see of the guy sitting behind him.  I think he was napping), and I said to my boyfriend, “If anyone tried to get a hold of that pole they’d be sorry.”  I thought the pooch’s dedication to his favorite human ought to be recorded for posterity.  Judging by pooch’s proud look, he agreed.

Closeup.

One of the many things I enjoy about photography is the moment when you find that thing that makes you think about things you don’t expect it to make you think about.  Dig?  So I like to take pictures of how things work–I have tons of shots of gears and pulleys, and I decided to take a closeup of one of the many, many hooks and joists and doohickeys that hold a wooden roller coaster together.  With the kids rolling past in the background I thought…what would this ride be like if that hook wasn’t sunk so securely into the wood?  For the want of a nail, and all.  The hook is a tiny, tiny thing in the overall picture of a roller coaster (when you think “roller coaster” do you think, “eye hooks” or do you think, “Wheeee!”?), but boy, does it ever matter.  Give that hook a round of applause and the credit it richly deserves.

Love.

This is a picture of my boyfriend and (one of) my beautiful niece(s), taken last year, at the same amusement park.  (Non-central-PA peeps, chances are good you’ve not heard of Knoebel’s Grove–I hadn’t until I moved here–but it is an absolute gem of Americana-style family entertainment and should be put on every family’s must-see list.)  This was the first ride we went on and she unequivocally declared she wanted to sit next to Uncle George.  Then she wrapped herself around his arm and pretended to be scared of the ride when in fact, she was (clearly) delighted.

Here are a few more wonderful contributions to the broad concept of “close”:

http://vandysnape.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/weekly-photo-challenge-close/

http://lostinagreatbook.com/2012/06/15/weekly-photo-challenge-close

http://windagainstcurrent.com/2012/06/15/weekly-photo-challenge-close/

http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/weekly-photo-challenge-close/

http://creativityaroused.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/weekly-photo-challenge-close/

http://thetravelingbookclub.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/weekly-photo-close/

How would you interpret “close”?

No more posts.