Travel Theme: Colourful

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa has declared her travel theme to be “colourful”, in order to beat the doldrums that accompany the shortened days that come with winter. Is the lack of sunlight getting you down? Don’t worry! I’ve got some colorful plays with light, right here.

Starting off close to home, this is taken from inside the tasting room at a local winery, Fero Vineyards. It was a grey and rainy day, and I loved how this Italian horn pendant lamp was a bright spot against the weather.

A bright spot on a rainy day.

A bright spot on a rainy day.

While in Cleveland, City of Light, City of Magic, George and I were drawn in like moths to flame, to the bright lights in the alley that led us to the restaurant Zocalo. The food was…eh, OK. But the tequileria was superb.

What, like you wouldn't go check this out? #oohshiny

What, like you wouldn’t go check this out? #oohshiny

The subtle lavender-pinks and golds of a sunrise on Surfside Beach, SC, have to make a body feel better against the long nights. Check out my brother, looking all stoic and philosophical, one man standing alone to face the relentless forces of nature, yada yada yada.


Waking up early pays off when you get to see something like this.

Staying in South Carolina…

We went to the Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens, all of which was INSANELY gorgeous. The gardens had lights dripping from anything that could hold a strand, floating on anything watery, wrapped around even the vaguest semblance of a trunk. And then they had this leaping goat-legged fellow.

I like the cut of his jib.

I like the cut of his jib.

Meanwhile, up in Vermont

Even in winter, you can find bright bursts of color. Here are some winter berries, dusted in frost and morning light.

Don't eat them. But they sure look purty.

Don’t eat them. But they sure look purty.

Go check out the rest of the participants in Ailsa’s travel theme! Or–hey, why not?–play along yourself. See you around the interwebs!

Here’s Randy Newman, singing about Cleveland, to play you out… 

Travel Theme: Architecture

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is architecture, and…frankly…I’m not sure how I can rein myself in.  There are so many fantastic structures I’ve had the good fortune to see…let’s get started.

Staying close at home…as in, in my small-yet-groovy corner of central PA…dig this crazy squiggly fence!  Rumor has it a math teacher lives here and wanted a fence that would represent…some mathematical concept, don’t ask me, it’s not my thing.  But the fence design and execution?  Very cool.

I understand teh maths are at work here.

0.o I understand teh maths are at work here.

Next, we travel on to Cleveland.  This is taken from the walking pier that goes behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (sort of cool but didn’t live up to my expectations), looking back at the cityscape created by the HoF and the Great Lakes Science Center, to the right.  Further to the right, just out of the line of sight on the camera is Browns Stadium, which I would have loved to get into the shot because it’s a fantastic confluence of cultural relevance: music, the sciences, and a little sport for good measure.  But.  My lens wouldn’t do me that way.  I love the clean, modern lines of the buildings; it’s got that “City of the Future!” sort of look going for it, no?  All it needs are, like, hovercars flitting around in the air.  Or people in jetpacks.  Dare to dream.

Behold the Land of Cleve!

Behold the Land of Cleve!

Next, we go to Boston and feast our eyes on the John Hancock Tower.  I never really stopped to think about whether or not I was a fan of modern architecture, but you know…this building was designed by I,M. Pei’s firm  and it’s hard to argue with the gorgeous buildings he and his firm are responsible for.  The Hancock Tower, it’s so sleek!  It’s so reflective!  It almost disappears into the sky.

It's the tallest--and I am sure, the shiniest--building in Boston.

It’s the tallest–and I am sure, the shiniest–building in Boston.

Next, we globetrot across the pond to France and the stone beauty of the Chartres Cathedral.  Completed (-ish; it’s hard to determine when cathedrals are deemed finished because they’re ALWAYS work to be done) in the mid 12th century (so, somewhere around 1150, for those playing at home), the towers of the west façade were, at that time, similarly topped with gorgeous but not terribly ornate pyramid-shaped spires.  All things being relative.  Then a lightning strike started a fire on the north spire in 1506, causing the spire to have to be rebuilt.  In the intervening three hundred years architectural tastes had changed somewhat.  The north spire was fashioned in the much frillier flamboyant style of Gothic architecture that was de rigueur until about the 1530s.  And so?  One church, two similarly aged towers, two spires that reflect the changing artistic sensibilities that 300 years could bring.  Good times!

Flamboyant is the new black.

Flamboyant is the new black.

And finally…Venice.

Which I love.

You need to admire their architectural ingenuity, though I often imagine what the conversations about building this city must have sounded like.

Venetian 1:  Hey, we’ve got to get the hell away from these invading Huns! What do you think about those marshy pads of mud out in the middle of the lagoon?

Venetian 2:  I think they’re little more than really sucky mud.  They’ll barely support our weight.

Venetian 1:  I know, but that means it won’t support the weight of invading armies, either.  See?  And besides I’ve been thinking about that…I wonder if we could let the lagoon be a natural defense for us and while we’re out there, build some kind of a platform…

Venetian 2:  Like what, a raft?

Venetian 1:  Well, yeah, but you know.  Permanent.

Venetian 2:  Oh, right.  So you’re just going to “create” some land, or something?  And what do you propose to do?

Venetian 1:  Now, now.  Hear me out.  Here’s what I’m thinking, and I’m just going to throw this out there and see what sticks: how about we go to Slovenia and deforest all of the Kras region, plus some of Croatia and the southern bit of Montenegro, and then take all those trees and strip them into massive logs, right?  And then we sink them straight down, right into the muck and goo?  The water is so full of minerals that the wood won’t rot. In fact, it will anti-not-rot.  It will petrify.  And once all these channel islands have been reinforced with the pilfered forests of nearby countries, then we can build homes and palaces and cathedrals and a trade-and-spice empire the likes of which the world has never seen!  *mwah ha*  *mwah ha ha ha*

Venetian 2:  Papa Doge, you so crazy.  It’ll never work.

Venetian 1:  Oh, no..?  Is that a dare?

Venetian 2:  Worse.  It’s a triple-dog dare.

Venetian 1:  You’re on!

Sounds crazy, but it just might work.

Sounds crazy, but it just might work.

OK, just because I love it too much, here’s another picture.

No cars allowed.

No cars allowed.

~~~end scene~~~

Have fun checking out the rest of the architecture challenges on Ailsa’s page!

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.


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.


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: Light

The travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is…light!  Right on.  Let’s get to it.

At the local bar the other night, the bartender had an (uncustomary) array of candles set out on the bar. As I am the annoying person who likes to play with a camera when I’ve got a cocktail or two in me, I couldn’t help but play with the votive candles.

Maybe they don't set these out because I play with them.

Maybe they don’t set these out very often because I play with them.

When in France…check out the ladies in Chartres Cathedral, lighting votive candles in hopes of assistance from a higher power.

This lady looks so much like my boyfriend's mother, we gave her this picture for Christmas.

This lady looks so much like my boyfriend’s mother, we gave her this picture for Christmas.

In the next picture, I happened to encounter a student project in process, in which my friend Andy graciously agreed to participate.

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

This alleyway leads to the entrance of Zocalo, a fun Mexican restaurant and tequileria (get the Don Julio flight, cue chorus of angels) in Cleveland.  I spent a lot of time here.

Much fun was had here.

Much fun was had here.

And finally.  Check out the bored sound tech as he watches a triggered light-and-smoke effect at a Fear Factory show.

Yeah, rock & roll. Whatever.

Yeah, rock & roll. Whatever.

Thanks for checking this out!  Feel free to play along.

Happy travels!


Travel Theme: Contrast

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa’s theme is “contrast”.  My photos are all about the visual contrast of the silhouette, which I love.

The view from my room at Belhurst Castle.  Yes, that’s a boat dock looking out over Seneca Lake.  And yes, I was literally (and I don’t mean that figuratively) hanging out my hotel room window so I could get this photo.

Not too shabby!

Not too shabby!

This photo was taken in Cleveland. It’s the War Memorial Fountain, formally known as the “Fountain of Eternal Life”, which symbolizes mankind rising victorious from the ashes of war.

I love that the brightest light makes for the darkest shadow.

I love that the brightest light makes for the darkest shadow.

Next: Paris.  Which is in my heart forever.  This is at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, and the contrast helps illuminate the complicated and gorgeous metalwork.

Must. Go. Back.

Must. Go. Back.

I saw this tree at the Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks.  I adore the multi-level contrast of this.  Light/dark, and the tree itself stands in total opposition to what tree trunks are supposed to do.

No idea how or why this happened.  But cool!

No idea how or why this happened. But cool!

And finally, this picture was taken at sunset from the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, looking out across the Arno.  Because Florence, that’s why.

Does this need further explanation?

Does this need further explanation?

Join Ailsa and play along!  Hope you enjoyed the show.

Travel Theme: Bright

Ailsa’s travel theme this week over at Where’s My Backpack is “bright”.  Wow.  So, so many interpretations.  Candles?  Christmas?  Sunshine?  Groovy colors?  All valid and awesome examples.  But for me…there is little that gives my heart more of a thrill, that gives me a rush of excitement, than the bright lights of a marquee.  In my head, there is a constant loop of Ziegfeld Follies/Broadway Melody playing.  Right next to the Music for TV Dinners…I want to hire a band that will follow me around and play this as my theme music.

So here are some marquees from my various travels, lighting up the night.

First stop: World’s Most Famous Arena!

A few years ago, my birthday weekend began with a punk show at the roller derby and ended with a hockey game.  It was my very own birthday bloodsport extravaganza, and I loved it like a house on fire.  It was a Rangers game and–what feels like 10,000 years ago–when I was married, my ex- and I had Rangers season tickets.  So going to the Garden was strangely like going back to a house you used to live in.  Not that I wasn’t welcome, mind you.

Oh, how it beckons, it beckons, it calls to me.

It just wasn’t my house anymore.

And for the record, the Rangers won that game.  For me, I think.  🙂  So thanks, guys.

Next stop: Cleveland!

We’d never been to Cleveland.  At least, I’d never been to Cleveland except to drive sort of past it on my travels out west, and I’m pretty sure George had never been there before.  So what do you do with a place you’ve never been?  Why…visit it, of course!

We left right after I got off work and since it’s about a five hour drive from home for us–and of course, we had to stop for some chow along the way–we didn’t roll into town until well into the night.  It was probably something like 10:00 by the time we could feast our eyes on the Cleveland skyline.  So we’re following the directions we have, driving down unfamiliar, and pretty empty, streets.  It was late, the traffic in the city was pretty much non-existent and then…


Surprise!  We turned into the traffic as the theater was letting out.  It was great, actually.  People were in their fancy clothes, laughing and smiling and they rehashed whatever it was they just saw.  Rolling into this vibrant scene gave me a really good feeling about the city, and we ended up having a wonderful time.  Yes, while we were in town we splurged and had a spendy dinner at celebrity chef Michael Symon’s Lola; get the beef cheek pierogies with horseradish creme fraiche, as they are lick-the-plate-in-public good.  Though it was admittedly difficult to tear ourselves away from the tequileria right across the street to make our reservations.

And last but not least: Home Sweet Home

Here in the ‘burg, also occasionally called “Nirvana on the Susquehanna”, we have a gorgeous little art deco movie theater.  The Campus Theatre, listed as part of the Lewisburg Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1941 and has recently been lovingly and painstakingly restored.  One of the first things to get replaced, long before the entirety of the restoration, was the marquee.  It’s bright,all right.  It’s plenty eye-catching.  And best of all, it’s advertising a show that night given by my friend Andy’s band, so it’s extra rockingly awesome for me.

Good times, close to home.

You can tell by the lights in the trees that this took place somewhere around Christmastime.  I really do live in Norman Rockwell central.  When I wonder how that happened, I can’t help but think…really, who cares?  I’ve got to stop over-thinking stuff.

See you around the ‘burg!  For more interpretations of “bright”, visit Ailsa.

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.


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.


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.



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.


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

A! Challenge: Architecture

When my boyfriend and I visited Cleveland, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency at the Arcade.  My eyes nearly fell out of my head when I saw where we were staying.  First opened in 1890, the Arcade was one of America’s first enclosed shopping malls and an exquisite display of wrought iron and opulence.  A four-story atrium.  Vaulted glass ceilings.  Damn, Cleveland.  Nice place!

This is the picture everyone who’s ever walked in there has taken. But hey, if it works…

And then I realized it was even more awesome in black and white.

Paging Mr. Ziegfeld, your follies are ready.

Just a little fancy railing among friends.

Once you start looking up at the beautiful glass ceiling, you won’t want to stop.

A is also for Added bonus: this place is close to everything cool.  It’s right down the block from some great restaurants (including Michael Symon’s Lola, get the beef cheek pierogies or you’ll regret it forever) and is an easy, maybe ten minute walk to North Coast Harbor, around which is clustered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Browns Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center.  Go for the architecture, stay for whatever else you want to do.

This post is for the A! Challenge by Frizztext

Because I love a good alphabet challenge.

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