Travel Theme: Dazzling

This week, the theme at Where’s My Backpack? is: dazzling. So why wait? Let’s get dazzled.

The other day, my neighbor’s tree was an explosive cascade of color as the sun went long and gold against it.

reeses tree

There’s a reason the “golden hour” is photographically special.

When in Rome…go and tour the Vatican. I almost said I didn’t want to see it, but George insisted we go, and I’m so glad we did. It’s difficult to pick any one thing that was more dazzling or glorious than the next, though many of the fabulous features have already been photographed by a bajillion people. (Think Sistine Chapel, which really is tremendous.)

And then there is the map room. Corridor. Gallery. Every square inch of that room was covered in some kind of fantastic, elaborate painting or sculpture or carving. It was astonishing. Even after walking through most of the Vatican museum and galleries, I still gasped. And was overwhelmed. And had to leave; it was quickly too much.

It goes on and on and on...

It goes on and on and on…

And then we go to the Outer Banks. Sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean can dazzle a person on its own, without anything added to it.



The bars in Reykjavik put on a glitzy show during the Christmas season. This is but one of them. And it is highly recommended.

Glamorous, yet cozy.

Glamorous, yet cozy.

And finally, here is a bit of razzle-dazzle right here at home, on my window sill. I’m not entirely sure why the designer thought these lucite deer deserved to be given the Jabba the Hutt/Slave Leia treatment, but there they are nonetheless. Plus, they sure do catch the light beautifully, don’t they?


You never can tell what you’ll find in a thrift store.

Are you dazzled yet? If not, let Richard Gere give you a little Razzle-Dazzle out the door (and if you haven’t seen Chicago, then change that immediately).

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.


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.


A Word A Week Challenge: Square

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

Photo from

George McFly, squaring it up.
Photo from

No! Not that kind of square!



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: 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.


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.


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.



What kind of green you got going on?

Oh, and happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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