Thursday, December 22, 2011

Early Winter Musings

We are creatures of habit, aren't we? For the last few days, two sets of thoughts have been running through my mind. At the end of December we'll start our road trip to explore parts of Florida for a month, a new place for me-exciting! It's almost Christmas and the ground is brown and bare-it doesn't seem like Christmas at all.

When I woke up this morning , I was met with a surprise-I looked out the window and saw whiteness! There wasn't a vast amount of snow, but suddenly the holidays and the land fell into sync. I felt good, even though I knew I'd have an hour or so of snow shoveling in front of me.

It's strange how the familiar is important. I want to break up the winter by traveling for a while to a place that is warm, has palm trees, and ocean. On the other hand, I would be truly disappointed if on December 25 the ground was not snow-covered for Christmas. That was one of the few things that I missed during the years that I lived and taught in Kenya and Morocco. I am sure that you have similar ties to the land where you were born and the cultural events that you grew up with. Yes, you can enjoy change, but there is something about time and place that remains in both your mind and heart.

Thank you for visiting, feel welcome to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable and your new year be the best ever.


Monday, December 12, 2011

It's Nearly Christmas

Lucca, Italy

Godshill (Isle of Wight), England

Malaga, Spain

Santa Fe, New Mexico USA

Brittany, France

As I travel, I don't usually seek out religious buildings unless I'm with a tour group or traveling with a friend who is interested in doing so. Mostly, at this stage in my life, I appreciate this type of place for its historical and cultural connections to a setting rather than its spirituality. It wasn't always so-I began as a Christian, drifted into Zen Buddhism, and presently profess no ties to any religion though I respect the religious beliefs of others as long as they do not try to force their beliefs upon me. The photos in this post came from a variety of places, their common theme is their ties to Christianity.

This theme was prompted by my reaction to the nearness of the celebration of Christmas. For the last few days it has been difficult to go anywhere without hearing Christmas carols. I enjoy the melodies, but am also a bit taken back by the fact that, even though I have not been a active Christian for many years, the melodies trigger the lyrics and then the memories of my childhood and turning into a young adult. I experience these memories and reflect that, while I have grown in different ways, both the carols and the thoughts behind them have been a part of my culture. A person's culture helps one define oneself.

It has taken me years to arrive at this acceptance. What used to be an important part of my spirituality is now a part of my cultural past. Notice that I didn't say that it was "just" part of my cultural past, that would not have given it the weight that is due. When I hear those songs in their various settings or visit a building related to religion, I can appreciate them for what they are from a cultural and historic point of view.

Travel should be a learning experience, in addition to an experience full of fun and adventure. I understand that if I avoid a part of a culture because it either makes me uncomfortable or is not part of my present culture, I am missing part of the total picture of a place. These thoughts are all tied into the songs I have recently heard in light of the celebration of Christmas. Music is, indeed, a powerful cultural element.

Thank you for visiting, please feel free to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travel be interesting and enjoyable.



I am just a few days away from exploring a place new to me. At the end of the month, I will travel southward to Florida and will spend the month of January there. I'm looking forward to new experiences that I'll be able to share with you..

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waves and Winds Close to Home

Every so often, I share aspects of my own home base-Sheboygan, Wisconsin located on the western shore of lake Michigan. Those of you who have visited the Tavern for a while know that large bodies of water have been an important part of my life. Large bodies of water give me peace of mind and places for contemplation.

The photos in this post were taken yesterday. I have never, in the 31 years I have lived on Lake Michigan,seen it so fierce as it was then. As I stood on the breakwater leading to the lighthouse, gusts of wind buffeted my body and waves of mist surrounded me at times. It was "awesome" in the original sense of the word.

Those of you who live near the ocean can now understand how a mid-western lake can produce a culture that includes surfers. No, the Lake isn't always like this. Often it is placid and allows large vessels to bring goods to its harbors, sailboats lazily exploring the coastline, commercial fishing boats stalking the wild salmon, or children and their parents frolicking along the beach. Then there are days like this one. I truly appreciate the lake in all of its many guises.

Thank you for visiting, I hope that you enjoyed it. Please feel free to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


p.s. At this time next month it'll be road trip time and I'll be on my way to sunny Florida.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving:Remembering the Wampanoag

Today is the day that those of us from the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. This is done in memory of the survival of the first English settlers in what they called the New World in the early 1600's. They would not have survived that first year without the help of those who already lived in that part of North America, the people who call themselves the Wampanoag.

Most of the English who arrived in what would later become Massachusetts were ill-prepared to survive in this new environment. The crops were different and the winters were harsher than anything they had experienced before. Without the willingness of the Wampanoag to help these people who had strange appearances and even stranger customs learn new ways, the new settlers would certainly have been doomed.

The photos in this collection were taken at Plimouth Plantation. In an earlier post, I took you through the replica 17th Century English settlement where reenactors simulated life in the Plantation. The Wampanoag who work in this part of Plimouth Plantation are not reenactors. Rather, their goal is to tell modern visitors about their past and present and show them aspects of traditional life among their people during the 17th Century. Essentially it is a place where the Wampanoag can say "That is where we came from and this is who we are today". I felt that it was a meaningful collaboration between the First American peoples and the European peoples. It was representative of who took place in the early 1600's.

Thank you for visiting, please feel free to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Searching for the Sun

Ronda cafe

Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

Dali's NE Spain bay

Paris on the Seine

Seville sidewalk

It's that time again in my part of the world. The days are shorter and the skies are grayer.As these times progress, I realize more and more that I am a creature of light. It's not that I don't enjoy the beauty of a foggy beach or the drama of a thunder storm, I certainly do. Sunlight and accompanying blue skies have a marked positive effect upon my energy level and my outlook towards life. They have also decidedly had an effect on where I have chosen to travel and how much I have enjoyed my stay.

Please don't misjudge me, I am not a fair-weather traveler. I can enjoy exploring a new place (or revisiting a place) in spite of dark clouds and rainfall. A couple of years ago I spent three weeks in early Spring exploring parts of Wales, England, and Scotland. Much of that time was spent with an umbrella in one hand and my camera in the other. In retrospect, I really could have used at least a third hand for a warm cup of strong coffee.

Still, if I am given a choice, sun and blue skies are two ideal parts of travel or just day to day living. Here in bleaker middle America I am waiting in anticipation for the month of January, a chance to explore parts of Florida for the first time. A few months later, it will be May and my first visit to the emerald hills of Ireland (yes, I know it takes rain to make those hills green).

In the meantime, I'll spend a little time looking at photos from past trips and reminiscing. The Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico-the state that has blue skies 70% of the time. Spain-where sunlit cafes, benches , beaches, and plaza are places to meet friends and share times with family. Viewing parts of Paris as you travel on public transport along the Seine. Each of these brings back pleasant memories that help diminish a November gloom in Northa America. A picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words.

Thank you for visiting, feel free to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable (and full of sunlight, if that's what you prefer).


Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Magic Gardens of Philadelphia

Perhaps you thought you'd be seeing riotous flower gardens or experimental urban vegetable gardens, not so. In an earlier post I mentioned that one of the things that I found in Philadelphia was that there was a surprise around every corner. This was very true during our walk along South Street. As we walked along there were parts of buildings decorated with "found" or recycled art. Camera came out and photos were taken. Then we arrived at Philly's Magic Gardens. We didn't go in that day, it was the end of a day with much walking and exploring behind us and it was obvious that the Gardens were so extensive that they would be better visited another day.

We did go back and had an enjoyable time exploring the work of Isaiah Zager and his amazing mosaics. To be honest, it was difficult to chose five photos that would truly represent the experience. While I was trying to be a reflective photographer and not take random photos, the imagery and varied combinations made it difficult for me to put the camera away and just appreciate it. If you ever do git a chance to visit Philly's Magic Gardens, be sure to to give yourself enough time to truly appreciate them. If you are interested in learning more about the Gardens, their website is:

It's interesting to me to learn how people in different places define "art" . Philly certainly presents the concept in a variety of ways-formal museums, building murals, and the mosaics of the Magic Gardens. There is so much visible artwork that it is like walking through a European city. In fact, the more I think about it, Philadelphia's artwork, street cafes, coffee houses, and diversity in approaches to food remind me very much of a European city (even though home of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall).

Thank you for visiting, please feel free to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Dona Nobis Pacem

Dona Nobis Pacem/Give Us Peace

Today, on November 4, I’m taking a detour from my usual blogging to Blog for Peace. Those of you reading this on my photography blogs might react with a, “He promised that he wouldn’t get political in his blog posts on this site”. If you read just a little further, you’ll discover that I have kept my promise.

“Peace”, in my mind, is not and should not be a political word. Peace is a time when people are not in conflict with one another, and treat each other as they’d like to be treated- with respect, dignity, and understanding. True peace does not concern itself with ideology, religion, gender, social class, nation of origin, sexual orientation, or any other way that is commonly used to divide people into “us” and “them” categories. Peace is how you and I relate to each other on a one-to-one basis. I understand that these words are extremely idealistic. I also understand that here are circumstances when peace can only be attained or held onto through non-peaceful struggle. Still, as I travel in my own country and in other parts of the world, it is clear to me that we have more similarities than differences. As individuals, we all have a strong desire for peace for ourselves and those we care about. It is imperative for our own survival that, to the greatest degree possible, we “give peace a chance”. There is no substitute for peace.

Would you like to be part of this peace initiative next year? If so, follow this link:



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Views From Mount Battie

I keep returning to the beauty and tranquility of the rugged Maine coast. Actually I was born and grew up about 50 miles that coast and I rediscover it during my visit when go to spend time with family in Maine. My adopted area along the western shore of Lake Michigan has many similarities, but it doesn't have the high panoramic views, nor does it have the salty sea breezes. If only I could import them to Wisconsin!

The views that you see here are from Mount Battie near Camden on the central coastal area of Maine. The day was sunny, the sky a brilliant blue, and while there were a number of people enjoying the view it was still possible to take landscape photos without intruding people bodies. The Maine coast is always worth visiting, but especially after the height of the June-August tourist season when the population of the State seems to triple in size and coastal Route 1 has bumper to bumper traffic.

Thanks for visiting, I hope that you enjoyed the views. May your own travels be interesting and enjoyable.

BTW-Travel excitement is in the air here, plane tickets for a May 2012 Ireland trip arrived this week, another new place to explore!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Philadelphia-First Impressions Set the Stage

After a day of travel, you finally reach your destination. Now, you have two options-take a rest or hit the streets. Our daughter met our train from Boston, got us checked into our B & B (La Reserve), then started to show us the city she had fallen in love with over the last few months. This is the way to start a visit-immerse yourself in the new place from the moment your arrive. Rest and relaxation can come later.

I didn't take many photos the first day, but the ones in this post are expressions of my first impressions of Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love was captured in views of Love Park and the sign of a Pledge of Nonviolence. Philadelphia lived up to its name during our stay, leaving a lasting impression of being a warm, safe, friendly city on our day and late evening walks. Other flashbacks-a flower cappuccino made by a coffee artist at Elixr, the skyline around City Hall, and the playful game pieces sculptures on the way to Love Park.

That walk during our first afternoon in Philadelphia set the stage for our other explorations over the week. It became very obvious why our daughter loves the city. While we saw and did many things during our stay, there is still so much yet to experience. Philadelphia, we will return.

Thank you for stopping by, please come again. Until then, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Friday, October 14, 2011

'Settlers" of 17th Century Plimouth Plantation

One of the many interesting places that I visited during my recent trip the the U.S. east coast was Plimouth Plantation. The settlement is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts near Plymouth Rock where the English colonists landed the Mayflower and started a colony. A visit to Plimouth Plantation can include wandering through separate settlements of the Wampanoag(the original settlers of the area) and the English colonists. A short distance away you can tour a replica of the Mayflower and then take a short walk to the actual Plymouth Rock (dated 1620). If you are interested in learning more about Plimouth Plantation, you can visit its website

The photos in this post focus upon the English settlement. The "settlers" whom you meet as you wander around Plimouth Plantation stay in character -they dress, act , and speak as English settlers of the early 1600's. The re-enactors are a well-versed, talented group, and I learned much of the daily life and conditions of those who left England to spend the rest of their lives in North America. As visitors are encouraged to take photos during their stay, I was able to capture close-ups of people in their daily lives without my usual inhibitions of being intrusive in the lives of others.

May visit to the Plantation was enjoyable, even though it was a gray and foggy day. Actually, the weather helped set the atmosphere and enhanced a feeling that we were taking a journey back in time. I hope that you enjoyed this aspect of the Plantation. Another time, I will take you through the Wampanoag settlement where the intent of the presentation is very different.

Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to stop by again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Murals Along the Streets of Philadelphia 1

I have added another city to my short list of favorites-Philadelphia. There are many reasons that I enjoyed exploring the city for the first time. The images you find in this blog are one of the reasons for this new interest. In the short week in Philadelphia, I found it to be a live, vibrant, diverse city in all of its aspects. As you walk along its streets you often turn a corner and are struck by a vivid work of art decorating the wall of an otherwise mundane building. I am very fond of this type of art-it's openly accessible to everyone and it is part of the total nature of a neighborhood. Outdoor art and its appeal is something I've talked about in some of my other posts. As this form of art is temporary ( exposed to the elements and subject to being lost forever as a building is renovated or torn down) , I always feel compelled to photograph one whenever I see it. That way, the work of the artist may live on just a little bit longer than it might have otherwise.

In this post I tried to include a sampling of murals that reflects some of the city's diversity. At were times the location of the mural was almost as surprising to me as its content. All of what was discovered during the many walks that were taken added to the total impression of the city. Philadelphia is alive and well, and deserves be be visited again.

Thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to come back, if you wish. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.