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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Travel Theme: Routine

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa offers us a glimpse into routine for her photo challenge. As I need to re-routinize myself to blogging with the new year, this seems auspicious. 🙂

Ever forward.

Welcome to a goalie practice at the Herb Brooks Arena (home of the 1980 Miracle on Ice US Olympic hockey team upset-slash-victory, and I was so excited to walk in there I felt like a five-year-old on Christmas Eve). There were CAN/AM teams in the arena practicing, and we got to watch goalies get some top-notch coaching. Over. And over. And get shelled by their teammates. Over. And over. And then they’d stop and talk about what happened. It was fantastic.

OK, so, we're going to do this for the hundredth time. You ready?

OK, Bob, we’re going to do this for the hundredth time today. You ready?

Closer to home, check out these kids performing one of their dance routines at the Lewisburg Arts Festival. Come for the dancing, stay for the hand-crafted jewelry (not pictured, but trust me…you want some). 

We ain't never had an arts festival like this!

We ain’t never had an arts festival like this!

Boat maintenance is never done, and if you want to keep that boat up and running you have to tend to it as part of your daily grind. Just ask this fellow, sanding away at his boat in a Venetian canal.

All work and no play...is pretty much what happens when you have a boat.

All work and no play…is pretty much what happens when you have a boat.

Next, it’s Hilby the Skinny German Juggling Boy! Who is doing a juggling routine with his own hat that seems to surprise even him.

HEY! Where did that thing come from?

HEY! Where did that thing come from?

And finally. Ducks and swans in Reykjavik‘s Lake Tjörnin are so accustomed to people feeding them, it seems they’ve incorporated patiently waiting for bread into their daily routines.

Hey, kid. You gonna finish that?

Hey, kid. You gonna finish that?

Side note: No, you’re not imagining things. Icelandic whooper swans really are the size of a small child.

And I will leave you with an Icelandic folk song written in honor of the raven. Because I am a giver.

Enjoy the photo challenge!

Travel Theme: Intense

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa has issued a really challenging challenge. One might even call it…intensely challenging. *nyuk nyuk nyuk* The theme is “intense”. Hmmmmmmm….

Here goes!

Recently, George and I drove to Point Pleasant Beach during a visit with family, and hooooooo-weeeeee! The wind was crazy that day. My mother came with us; we were worried that the winds would pick her up and carry her away.

Down where the trade winds play...

Down where the trade winds play…

Next up: the intense physicality of an NHL game. Last year, George and I went to a New York Rangers game in Madison Square Garden. (Welcome to Rangerstown. Now get outta here.) A thousand years ago I was always going to hockey games as the ex- and I had season tickets, but when the marriage ended, so did the subscription. C’est la vie. Now, when I get a chance to go, it’s a real treat. Though you know, I’ve always thought that if I went to work and a colleague knocked me to the ground with a big stick while another colleague made off with my work implements? Screw you guys, I’m going home. I’m glad hockey players think differently.

Get the puck GET THAAAA PUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!!

Get the puck get the puck GET THAAAA PUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKK!!!!!!

I’ve spoken of Knoebels, our local gem of an amusement park, before. It’s always a thrill to go there and get flung about upside down and sideways.

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

Meanwhile in Venice, glassblowers use intense heat to make beautiful glassware. Bear in mind: this flaming red glass sculpture? Will cool and turn colorless, completely clear.

How'd you like a nice piece of molten glass?

How’s about a nice piece of molten glass?

For the last several years, the garden club in my little town has organized a summer garden tour, where select local homeowners with tour-worthy gardens graciously open their yards to the public for a day. I have world’s blackest thumb and can kill any plant you put in front of me; thankfully, I know lots of people who can make things grow at will. This was taken in my friend Steva’s amazing raised garden beds. Behold! The intense beauty of a perfect rose on a gorgeous summer day.

Welcome to Pleasantville.

Welcome to Pleasantville.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoy the other participants in Ailsa’s photo challenge, or even decide to play along, yourself!

Here’s a little Bugs Bunny, singing about the trade winds, to enjoy on your way out.

Travel Theme: Details

Ailsa has issued this week’s photo challenge at Where’s My Backpack?, and this week, the devil is in the details. 

Like this one, close to my home. This weekend we get to feast our eyes on a ton of ice sculpture for the annual Lewisburg Ice Festival. (Bonus! It’s neither unseasonably warm nor raining, so the sculptures will make it through the festival, so long as the weather lasts.) I love this little walrus guy, and his detailed whisker holes and scary walrus tusks. 

I am he as you are he as you are me. Or something like that.

I am he as you are he as you are me. Or something like that.

Next stop: Venice! We were at a glassblower’s shop on Murano Island. The artist was showing off his mad glassblowing skills (which were prodigious), but every so often, you have to look elsewhere. I liked this schematic for an upcoming art glass project. 

There's a lot of fire in that hole.

There’s a lot of fire in that hole.

Heading home…and I mean, really, heading home from Italy, we were starting to descend and I realized we were flying right over Long Island. Which, might I say, is really long. And is made up of a lot of barrier channels and quirky little islands, like this one. I had no idea, until I saw it from above.

Greetings from New York. Now go home.

Greetings from New York. Now go home.

While we’re in New York…

…New York State, that is…

…let’s make a stop at Dr. Frank’s winery, on Keuka Lake. The wine? Delicious. The view? Gorgeous? But the little grape cluster cut crystals that comprise the body of the chandeliers in their tasting room? Swoon-worthy.

Want.

Want.

And finally, we end with a visit to my beloved Boston. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has some extraordinary exhibits, but their musical instruments room is exceptional. Here’s a close-up of a hand-worked guitar inlaid with a salacious amount of mother-of-pearl. And check out the carving in the sound hole. Crazy!

What? Like making this was hard?

What? Like making this was hard?

That’s it for now. Enjoy the photo challenges, everyone! See you around Ailsa’s page. 

Travel Theme: Golden

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is “golden”. Groovy! I don’t have much time to be chatty today, so let’s get to it, shall we?

First stop: close to home. Beautiful Lewisburg, PA, where the trees put on quite the seasonal display and turn a stunning shade of gold in autumn.

It's kind of spectacular here in the fall.

It’s kind of spectacular here in the fall.

These Italian fig bundles look like little golden dessert ravioli. Stuffed with figs. They’re like a dream come true.

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Bask in their golden aura!

 

And speaking of Italy…here’s a cozy little street in Florence that turns golden once the sun starts to set and the lights come on.

I want to live here. That is all.

I want to live here. That is all.

Relax during the holidays! Be like Buddha, in perfect tranquility in a lotus flower. As seen at the MFA in Boston.

I feel all zen and groovy.

I feel all zen and groovy.

And finally…here is a sunrise that’s about as golden as it gets. Taken at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It’s one heck of a way to start the day.

Nature is so effortlessly beautiful.

Nature is so effortlessly beautiful.

This was a great challenge for me to do. It’s been an opaque gray here for about a week; I’ve been starved of brightness. (No, wait. There was one notable hour of sunlight; we were all so happy to see it we made sure our friends and neighbors checked out that strange fiery sky orb, but I digress.) I hope you enjoyed the photos! Or, of course, you’d be more than welcome to participate. See you ’round the internets.

XOXO

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: Distance

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? asks us to look at distance, into the distance, from a distance.  For the record, the word “distance” literally means “standing apart”, from the Latin “dis” (apart) and “stare” (stand, of course).

See, kids?  Latin is fun!

Anyway.

Pictures.

This first shot was taken this spring at Milton State Park, which is probably about three miles away from my home.  If you walk down toward the southern tip of the park, which juts out into the Susquehanna River, you’ll soon find yourself…well, still in the park and on the other side of the river, but directly facing the smokestacks of the plant one Ettore “Hector” Boiardi opened in 1938 in support of his canned pasta business.

The Chef's plant, looming in the distance.

The Chef’s plant, looming in the distance.

Yes, Chef Boyardee was a real man and no, he wasn’t just some fabrication of ConAgra, which now owns the plant.  I haven’t eaten canned ravioli in years but nevertheless, I’m delighted his iconic smokestack remains.

Next we go to Little River in beautiful South Carolina.  My brother has a boat docked there, but I’m pretty sure he’s selling it (or possibly has sold it by now), so I don’t know if what once was his boat is still there.  Anyway.  I digress.  This photo was taken while looking out toward the bow of the boat (and beyond, natch!) from the hatch that opens out from the cabin.  That thin line of land is the spit that separates the Little River Inlet from the big ol’ Atlantic Ocean.

Ahoy!  Shiver me timbers! Avast, ye scurvy dogs!

Ahoy! Shiver me timbers! Avast, ye scurvy dogs!  And other piratey things to say, as well!

Next, we go to my beloved Boston and the gorgeous Park Plaza Hotel.  Often, when I stay in hotels, I will choose to take back stairways instead of the elevator.  I’ve always had a penchant for wandering the halls of any hotel I stay in (which can sound a little creepy but I swear, I don’t peek where I ought not) because I like to go where most people ignore.  And most people?  Don’t take the stairs and see this, spinning upwards into infinity.

Here's looking up yer old staircase.

Here’s looking up yer old staircase.

And now we head to Baltimore.  This picture was taken this summer at Artscape, a mega-art-music-comedy-groovy jewelry outdoor feast for the eyes, ears and wallet.  It stretches for blocks and blocks.  I could have spent a ton of money there (especially in some of the jewelry stands; I’ll take one of everything, please) but kept it under control.  I did, however, take a trillion pictures.  This was near a railroad crossing.  It was a beautiful, bright, sunny day and all of Baltimore (including the iconic Howard Street bridge) stretched out before us.

Presenting: Baltimore.

Presenting: Baltimore.

Please note that there’s a mirror in the photo–almost dead center–so you can see what’s in the distance behind.  Kind of a yin-yang of Baltimore industrial architectural photography.  Dig it.

And finally, we end today’s blog in Italy, because Italy, that’s why.  This picture was taken while visiting a church on one of the hills overlooking Florence, just across the Arno River.  The Ponte Vecchio–which literally means “old bridge”–is that crazy, awesome structure in the middle of the shot.  This bridge, and the shops that are built hanging off the sides, has survived floods, Nazis, and nearly 700 years worth of weather (it would be nearly 800 years worth of weather, but it did have to be rebuilt in 1345).

Damn.

Distance: physical, temporal, historical.  Achieved.

Distance: physical, temporal, historical. Achieved.

I mean…I’m happy if I get a DVD player that lasts more than a few years, you know?  I hate that we’ve come to accept planned obsolescence.

Anyway.

Again, I digress.

Enjoy Ailsa’s theme!  Maybe you could find a little somethin’ somethin’ to post and play along yourself.  😉  Please enjoy some Dixie Chicks for your listening pleasure.

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: Pale

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? celebrates the subtle side of life, asking that we look at things that are pale.  I will spare you all pictures of my pasty white skin that burns to a cinder without adequate sunscreen.  You’re welcome.

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, in Rome, is more well-known for its portico, which is home to the Bocca Della Verita (the “Mouth of Truth”), made famous because Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck were charming while standing right next to it in the film Roman Holiday.  Everyone who visits sticks a hand in the Mouth, feigns relief that a mythical river god didn’t bite his or her lying hand off, and leaves.  The Basilica, however, is  lovely, and because everyone thinks the good touristy stuff is on the outside they leave after seeing the Mouth.  Consequently, it’s one of the few quiet places in Rome.  Along the upper walls of the Basilica you can see frescoes that have been dated back to at least the 12th century, but some of the paintings could go as far back as the 8th.  No wonder they’ve faded, but when you really think about it…for a 1200 year old paint job, these frescoes look pretty good.

A faded fresco at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

The faded frescoes at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.

When George and I went to Keuka Lake a while back, we had a wonderful time, but it was rainy.  Quite gray, actually, and foggy.  Every.  Day.  Though you can rest assured that the weather did not for a second deter us from our wine tour.  Anyway.  While mucking around with my camera I took a bunch of pictures just to see how they’d turn out–out the open window, through the screen, through the clear glass with the screen pushed away.  Blah blah entertain myself entertain myself.  And so, that was how I ended up with the following picture of the soft-focus leaves and the misty trees on the opposite shore in the background.

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Keuka in the rain.

Boston, my beloved city.  My penchant for wintertime northerly vacations pretty much determines that when I’m up there, I’m looking for things that involve being inside a structure with a working heating system (though to be fair, you could also say in the summer that my disdain for the heat, especially if it’s a humid heat, also drives me indoors.  Never happy, I guess).  Their Museum of Fine Arts is fantastic and fits almost any seasonal bill.  Huge!  There’s always something new to see.  And it covers everything from textiles to modern art.  In their ancients section, they have a repaired alabaster statue (part of it is missing and I assume is lost forever) of Egyptian King Menkaure, who built the last (and the smallest) of the Giza pyramids.  I love the cool almost-translucence of the stone.

Hiya, King!

Hiya, King!

When in Tours, do what any self-respecting tourist would do and get to their cathedral.  The Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours is a gorgeous place to spend a day.  It’s absolutely true (though I didn’t think so at first) that you most certainly can overdose on frilly architecture when you’re in France, but the Tours cathedral is worth toughing it out.  It’s got some crazy-awesome vaulting and gorgeous stained glass (bring binoculars to feast your eyes on the best of it).  It also had this solemn little nook lit by a single candle, which had a line of luminous marble plaques attached to the wall, all asking for some kind of saintly help or protection for their families.

Ummm, a little help over here?

Ummm, a little help over here?

And finally.  The Outer Banks in North Carolina are gorgeous.  They’re a series of barrier islands so there’s something wonderfully unmanageable and massive about being right at the edge of the deep blue sea.  Being on the beach at sunrise is about as easterly-facing as you can get, so you can feast your eyes on some pretty amazing early morning sights.  Especially if it’s a little bit cloudy and you’re there just before the sun actually comes up.  It helps if the universe provides you with a guy who’s surf fishing, for added photographic interest.  I adore this picture, how there’s only a little bit of the strong pinks of sunrise poking out, and everything is pale and calm and surprisingly serene looking.  Until you remember that waves store tremendous energy; an average 4-foot, 10-second wave striking a coast puts out more than 35,000 horsepower per mile of coast.  That’s a lot of wallop.  Glad the colors here can help us relax.

Good morning.

Good morning.

Stop on over and check out the rest of the travel themes on Ailsa’s blog.  But this is it for me, we’ve reached the end of my “pale” travel theme.

Oh yeah, one more thing, because I am a giant nerd.  A trailer, for Pale Riderone of the greatest Clint Eastwood movie ever (just sayin’).

Thanks for stopping by!

Travel Theme: Green

At Where’s My Backpack? this week, Ailsa celebrates springtime and St. Patrick’s Day and challenges us to show all things green.  OK.  I’m in.  And I’m talkin’ trees.

At my mother’s house, there is a great stretch of greenery that has all manner of plants.  But I really dig the big pine trees.  Normally I associate pine trees with Christmas (as do, probably, way too many of us) when their needles have turned darker and more hardy to survive the cold.  They’re green, yes, in the winter, but still kind of stoic, and staid.  Hence it gladdens my heart to see a pine tree in spring when the clusters of new growth burst out.

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Hello, springtime!

When in Tours, France…do what you can to get yourself to La Guinguette and go dancing by the river, under the giant willow tree.

There's no better way to spend a warm evening in the early autumn.

There’s no better way to spend a warm evening in early September.

We climbed up the hill across the Arno in Florence and immediately decided that we were insanely jealous of the people who got to live in the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

When we were in Nags Head we went to the Elizabethan Gardens, a lovely, huge, multi-acred expanse of greenery and statues and rustic outbuildings.  It was a drizzly, grey day when we went there, and it was still astonishingly beautiful.  At one point we wandered onto the Great Lawn, where they’ve held all sorts of events.  Performances.  Weddings.  So the trees are decorated to make it even more like something out of a fairy tale.

I would love to see these lit up at night.

I would love to see these lit up at night.

And finally.  A section of the Elizabethan Gardens borders the Atlantic Ocean.  All of the ocean-facing sides of the gorgeous sprawling live oak trees had turned green from constant exposure to the ocean’s spray.

Awesome.

Awesome.

What kind of green you got going on?

Oh, and happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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