Bellagio Bicycle

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


Beautiful sights big and small in the Italian lakes!








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Stay Home if You Are an Ugly American

Posted on December 9, 2013. Filed under: Philosophy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Bill at Cinque Terre

Hiking in the Cinque Terre

As we travel around we find many fellow travelers who are friendly and enjoying their trips as much as we do.  We also occasionally come upon what we term the Ugly American who makes us ashamed to come from the same place.

I think you are an Ugly American traveler if:

1.   You expect to be able to have everything just as you like it at home.  (“We insist on American-style coffee, not this espresso-stuff they drink here.”)  If you even try unusual local food/drink you expect it to be unpalatable, or something that will make you sick.

2.  You get angry that there are other people trying to travel too.  You are surprised and irritated when you have to wait in line, share a table, or tolerate a crowd at an important attraction.

3.  You look at people’s customs, dress, and language with disdain.   You see nothing but inferiority everywhere you look.

4.  You expect everything to go perfectly smoothly.  When the inevitable disruption to your plans happens, you wallow in self-pity instead of finding a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

5.  You are frightful of local people, expecting them to rob you when they have the first chance.

6.  You are actually happy when you see McDonald’s, Starbucks, and the like in foreign countries.

When we run across Ugly Americans we try to slink away.  They want co-conspirators, though, so there have been times we’ve tried to show them the bright side.  Aren’t the differences in culture they are experiencing interesting?  Haven’t locals been friendly and helpful considering how many tourists traipse through their area every season?  Isn’t it amazing to see such wonderful, world-famous art/mountains/historical sites?

Trust me, there is no arguing Ugly Americans out of their mindset.  Next time I might just say, “You should stay home.”  That is the truth.  If you can’t enjoy the differences between your destination and your home, then you should stay there, at home.  If the food, drink, accommodation, weather, sights, people and transportation are irritating to you, why have you come at all?!  You are not enjoying it and your fellow travelers are ashamed of you.

Travel - Atop the Duomo

Atop the Duomo in Florence

Travel - Chestnut seller

Chestnut seller in Florence

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Why I Abhor Multi-Level Marketing

Posted on December 3, 2013. Filed under: Just Fun, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , |

No, no, no!  Stop right there.  No, don’t say another word.  I can see it in your eyes.  You are already in the grip of a multi-level marketing scheme.  I know the look.  You have “information” for me that I’m going to “want.”  You have one or many “products” you are so excited about.  They have changed your life in amazing ways.  You know that I am going to want to be in on this.  I’m going to want this “opportunity.”  When can we get together to get me signed up?

Stop.  Right.  There.

Travel - Mushroom Buying 2

I like buying and selling the old fashioned way.

Here’s why I abhor multi-level marketing:

1.  It turns normal people into crazed, exited automatons who spout the “facts” they have been given by their MLM company.

2.  It means these people can never have a conversation again that doesn’t include something about their MLM company/products.

3.  People in MLM marketing will go to great lengths to get another distributor working in their “network.”

I once had a massage client who worked diligently during her massage sessions to sell me.  After it became apparent that I was hopeless, I never saw her again.  She spent quite a bit of money booking massage with me.  The dedication was impressive.  I had to promise her if I ever changed my mind, even if someone else from the same company changed my mind, that I would work under her, in her network.  I was very glad to make this promise and wish her a final good-bye once I figured out that she didn’t really want massage.  

4.  The products might even be pretty good, but they are priced so that the company can send distributors on trips, buy them cars, and pay all the levels in the network.  I’ve never been unable to find a product or components of their “special” formulations outside of the MLM malarkey.

5.  Distributors become like cult followers.  They lose all ability to question the authoritative statements of the MLM company propaganda.  They do not want to even look at any detractors.  They can’t even wonder if there is a placebo effect going on.  The company founders “know” and have “research” to back up their claims.

6.  They’re going to save you so much money, make you so much money, make you feel/look so great/young…

Run for the hills, I say!   There is an old saying that has served me well over the years, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

With gratitude to Bill McCluskey for the photography in this post.

Travel - Mushroom Buying 1

Porcini buying in Italy. My kind of transaction!

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St. Peter’s Dome in Rome

Posted on November 14, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Rome, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Travel - St. Peter's 1

Being claustrophobic I didn’t know how I would do climbing the many steps to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  The walls curve in and they actually become narrower as you go!  I had to try, though, how often does one get to Rome?

Travel - St. Peter's 2

What most amazed us was the coffee shop on the roof where we enjoyed an espresso!  Everything at St. Peter’s is enormous, so we shouldn’t have been surprised by an entire coffee shop on the roof or the fact that the roof we walked on seemed like a street complete with buildings of its own.

The view is magnificent owing to the ordinance that no building in Rome can be higher than the Vatican dome.  It was a very blue sky and perfect day for the climb.

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Cairns in the Dolomites

Posted on November 9, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Dolomites Cairns 1

Cairns in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy are different than other places I’ve been.  The stones are blockier, it seems to me.  Here is a big field of them built over time, I’m sure, by many, many hikers.

Travel - Dolomites Cairns 2

It was hard not to stop and spend some time looking at these many small sculptures.  I really, really wanted to make one too.  But, alas, we could not take the time to play here on this day.  Sigh.

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Hey! That’s My Foot!

Posted on October 25, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - White DevilHey!  That’s my foot!

I know, it makes a nice place

to sit right down

and look at me with your wistful eyes.

You ARE pretty sweet,

coming and going

into and out of the shop.

And stopping to greet me in this funny way.

What’s your name?

White Devil!

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Isetta – The World’s Cutest Car

Posted on October 23, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Italy - Isetta 2What a sweet little car, complete with tailer!  This Italian-designed mini-car from the 1950s was quite a sight to behold while we waited for a bus.

The couple that got out of it were like rock stars.  People swarmed around snapping photos and asking them questions.  They were very gracious.  I’m sure they are used to the attention.

Italy - Isetta 1 It’s the funniest thing how the whole front of the car opens and that’s the only door!  The steering wheel actually has to pivot with the door.  That’s the little motor there above and to the right of the back wheel.  It sounded like a lawn mower when they pulled up!

You do see the most interesting things while traveling!

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The Mountain is on its Side

Posted on October 22, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Stratification 2This mountain in the Italian Dolomites had huge vertical lines of rock.  The mountain was very forcibly pushed onto its side at some point in its past.  The glaciers look to be still, but they are powerful movers, and any rock in their path better watch out!

I think the colors and patterns of the pushed rock is interesting to look at.

Travel - Stratification 1

Isaiah 64:1      Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence…

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Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike

Posted on October 19, 2013. Filed under: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Tre Cime 1Spectacular in every way, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo lives up to its reputation as the most famous mountain peaks in the Dolomite region.  How do I know this?  The trail was very crowded with every imaginable person out on this beautiful Saturday!  It’s best to go very early in the morning and to avoid weekends if you want it quiet, so get your tail out of bed early or give up the sulk about getting a late start.  We weren’t bothered at all.  Everyone was very polite on the trail, some lovely Italians even helping me up when I tripped and fell.  Also, who cared about the people, for goodness sake?  All you have to do is look around you and you forget all about the tiny insects we are compared to these limestone giants!

Travel - Tre Cime 2

Travel - Tre Cime 3

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The WWI Tunnels at Lagazuoi

Posted on October 17, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Travel - Lagazuoi 1

“In 1915, Italy entered the war joining the Allies of Britain, France, and Russia. At this time, the Dolomites were still a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a member of the opposing Central Powers. Until the end of 1917, the Austrians and Italians fought a brutal mountain war here.  Not only were they fighting each other, trying to gain control of peaks for artillery and line-of-sight advantages, but also against the fierce climate and verticality of these mountains.”  From

There is some fascinating history here.  One can descend the whole mountain in these tunnels, but that didn’t appeal to me.  Just looking into these cold, dank spaces gave me the shivers!  I could imagine the poor men who had to create and live in these tunnels all the while battling an enemy that wanted to kill them and the brutal mountain weather.  It’s sad that such awe-inspiring landscape was the scene for such awful human enterprise.  I’m glad that it’s all about tourism now.

Travel - Lagazuoi 2           Travel - Lagazuoi 3

Travel - Lagazuoi 4

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