Travel

Water in the Desert

Posted on February 25, 2017. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , |

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Lost in the Sonoran desert in Arizona, but delighted to find a stream to follow home.

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Museo del Prado

Posted on April 20, 2016. Filed under: Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Prado is one of the world’s greatest art museums.  It is a main reason to visit Madrid.  It houses masterpieces by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens and Hieronymus Bosch.  A great thing about the Prado is that it is free to enter after 6:00p.m.  Because it was just a few blocks from where we were staying, this meant we could visit several times.

There will be a long line forming around 5:30, but if you get there about 6:15 you almost waltz right in!  Then you can see everything without paying the approximately $20 entrance fee they charge during the day.  We didn’t find it excessively crowded when we went at night,  but it was October, which is considered to be the shoulder season, transitioning from high to low.

The bad thing about the Prado is that they don’t allow photography.  I know it is to protect the artwork because many people can’t figure out how to turn off their flash and millions of flashes at artwork does have a detrimental effect.  But it still annoys me.  So I did steal one shot…

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This spectacular Sorolla masterpiece.   And the guard in the next room heard my shutter release and came running after me.  Ah…the excitement of being a criminal on the run!  Ah to be yelled at in Spanish!  A shrug and, “Lo siento…” and I am forgiven if in a disgusted voice.

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On the Way to the Grand Canyon

Posted on March 15, 2016. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , |

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Spectacular scenery of the American Southwest en route to our grand adventure hiking the Grand Canyon!

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Bellagio Bicycle

Posted on March 13, 2016. Filed under: Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |

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Beautiful sights big and small in the Italian lakes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saguaro National Park

Posted on March 3, 2016. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Getting out of Wisconsin for a week in February always seems like cheating old man winter, but I didn’t feel bad about bright sunny days, blue skies, and temps in the 80s a couple weeks ago!  DSC02256

Saguaro National Park has two parts with the city of Tucson, Arizona in the middle.  The Saguaro cactuses there are striking as they punctuate the arid landscape.  Growing up to 70 feet tall and living over 100 years at times, these cacti are worth protecting.  Their range is quite small as they only grow in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico, southern Arizona and a small area of southeast California.  Thanks to the conservation efforts of laws that prevent harming a saguaro, their numbers are not threatened.

Saguaro National Park has fine trails which take you up close to the saguaros and other desert plants like the barrel cactus.  It was nice to have utter wilderness just a short distance from the amenities of Tucson.

No, I didn’t miss winter at all for a few days!

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Rainbow Bridge National Monument – Utah

Posted on February 1, 2016. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , |

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Rainbow Bridge is the crowning glory of the Lake Powell boat tour.  A short mile-long walk from the National Park wharf in Bridge Canyon gets you to this natural wonder.  It is so much bigger in person than in any picture I’ve seen.  That was one surprise.

The other unhappy surprises were that you are not allowed to go anywhere near it because it is a sacred Native American site.  Also, I would have really loved to get around the other side of it and see what it looks like from the other view.  Also not allowed.  Oh well, sometimes with such an impressive sight you have to just take what you can get.

Do you know what the difference is between a bridge and an arch?  A bridge is formed by water flowing under it and an arch is formed by shifting earth below causing rock to fall out.  So don’t call this an arch!

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Lake Powell Boat Tour

Posted on January 29, 2016. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

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In Page, Arizona, at the visitor’s center, we discovered that there is a boat that will take you 100 miles up Lake Powell to Rainbow Bridge.  We signed up for it for the next day.  Early the next morning we sloshed down our breakfast to get to the Wahweap Marina by 7:30 a.m.  This was going to take all day, something like 6 or 7 hours so it started early.

It was cold and windy up top of the boat, it was October, afterall.  But none of us wanted to go downstairs even though the boat had large windows and a more comfortable temperature down there.  These views out in the fresh air, thDSC04496ough, were spectacular!

It is amazing to see how Glen Canyon was filled by damming the Colorado River in 1963.  It took 11 years for the water to rise and fill up this canyon.  Now this body of water serves as a valuable reservoir.

This day it was beautiful to watch the landscape whiz by as we motored through.

 

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We had a side trip too, through a narrow side canyon.  That was tricky maneuvering for our captain and, at one point, we did scrape the wall.  But it was fun to get into a narrow slot like this.

I didn’t know if I’d like a whole day on a boat and it was pretty tiring.  But it was so beautiful, I was glad to see it.  It was our last day so we squeezed in more of Antelope Canyon AND Horseshoe Bend as well before hitting the sack.

 

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Bad Weather Hiking – Switzerland

Posted on January 24, 2016. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |

Our first hiking day.  The trip had been planned for months.  The mountain vDSC08750iews had been dreamed about.  That feeling of being so small next to those behemoths.  And that air.  Oh, the big breaths of mountain air in the sunshine.  I couldn’t wait.

Ha!  It had been a wonderful summer AND fall, they told us.  Weeks and weeks of perfect weather, they said.  And now.  This.  Pea soup fog and rain.  No views.  So sorry.

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In the guidebook, that scene above has a backdrop of jaw-dropping mountains.  Not for us today, though.  We have to settle for the charming old stone barn on the grassy slope.

Getting to the col or pass was disappointing too…

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We could barely see right in front of us.  It does bring focus to the sharp terrain at the top of this col, though, forget about looking out on any vast expanse.

 

 

So, we decided to makeDSC08773 the best of it.  It could be snowing and a lot colder we told ourselves.  This is the mountains.  It’s unpredictable and it can change really quickly.  Or not.   Maybe we need to change.  Plans.

We did 2 days of this before cutting our losses and zooming off to Zermatt by train and bus.  After arriving there the sun came out and we did day hikes in fabulous weather for the rest of the trip.  Sometimes you just have to be flexible!

 

 

 

 

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Is the Cablecar Cheating?

Posted on January 11, 2016. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

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Uh, the answer to that would be, “NO!”  Let’s not forget we are on vacation!  Perhaps a 6-8 hour hike in the mountains (read:  either all up or all down) is enough exercise?

We found the cablecars (téléphérique in French and seilbahn in German) in Switzerland to be fast, efficient, and a lot of fun.  We used them from our base of Zermatt to get up into the mountains to begin our day hikes.  We also planned to use them on the Haute Route whenever we could, but nearly missed the one into Zinal. 

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This is because the trail passes a cable car that closes at 4:15 and we had just missed it.  (Maybe there was some crying and stomping of feet.)  But then we found out 45 minutes later that first cable car station was for an entirely different town!  We just made the 5:00 last car down the mountain after a very difficult, wet, cold hiking day.  Our eyes bulged out watching the trail below the cable car.  It took about 20 minutes to descend on the cable!  We estimated an additional 2-3 hours if we had had to walk that path.

We couldn’t believe it when we were suddenly done with the day and off to find our hotel.  Ah…that sweet feeling of completing the hiking day.  Body buzzing…thanks to God for the help!

 

 

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Barcelona’s Sagrada Família

Posted on December 20, 2015. Filed under: Spain, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Our first approach through a little park was not a surprise as we were eagerly looking for the façade to come into view…

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But the magnificence was already apparent.  Begun in 1882, and designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), the building is still under construction.  Cranes are busy all over the place.  And when we got closer we could see the line that stretched all around the entire city block on which the building sits.

In my view, it is foolish to stand in that line, wasting a whole day of your vacation!  We learned our lesson at Park Güell from 2 days prior.  After that bad experience of waiting too long to get in, I came back to our apartment to research buying tickets online.  I was glad I did because the wait was 2 days for online tickets!  It did make me a little nervous because I had never done this before and I had no way to print out the tickets I bought.  I found out this is unnecessary as they will scan your phone at the entrance and you are on your way.  We did have to find the proper entrance for this, but it wasn’t too hard to do that and we had arrived plenty early for our entry time slot so we weren’t too bothered.  We bought tickets for entry and for the elevator up the towers.  So, visiting this cathedral went off without a hitch for us.

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I am putting a lot of photos in this post, but I have to just accept that they are so inadequate.  I have been in a lot of European cathedrals, all magnificent in their own way, but this place actually took my breath away when I entered.  It seemed otherworldly to me, and so special, yes, I would say holy.  Holy means set apart and completely unique.  These are perfect descriptions of this space.

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The rainbow windows and soaring, plant-like pillars created these otherworldly effects.

Don’t miss the museum in the basement showing how the building was designed.  You can look into the workshop where they are still carving stone too.

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After this, the bus back home for fresh fish from the market for dinner.  What a great day!

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