Tag Archives: Travel Theme

Travel Theme: Belonging


One of these things is not like the others . . . yet it belongs!

A bunch of Royal Terns, and one Black Skimmer

A bunch of Royal Terns, and one Black Skimmer, weather the cold January wind.

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is “Belonging“.    I think I belong on a beach, preferably a warm and sunny one.   Wish that the white stuff I see covering the earth was sand and not snow.

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Travel Theme: Flow


Ailsa’s theme this week was in keeping with how I’ve spent my time in recent days.   I’ve been trying to return a dirty, tired, leaking pond to its beautiful water feature self.  Under the muck and misaligned rocks, I know it is there.   After a lot of moving of rocks, water, and plants that had taken over, the stream has been rebuilt, the pond refilled, and a new pump installed.   FLOW has been achieved!

Working waterfall

Working waterfall

I was so happy to hear the sound of water falling.  I love the soothing, melodic sound.

Unfortunately, the pond still appears to be loosing water.  I’ve located one source but have more work to do before I can put the plants back in place and buy some fish.   One bad sign:  a blue heron has been sighted flying overhead a few times.   He’s been quiet, but I’m sure he’s thinking:   Dinner!  There will be no expensive koi for him though:  my fish will be guarded!

Here are a few other entries.  Be sure to check out Where’s My Backpack for others.

A Wee Bit of Spring


It’s been a hectic week and despite good intentions to post time didn’t seem to allow it.  Fridays usually mean that I participate in one or another photo challenge.   Never have all of them converged so easily into one post.  In addition to that, the challenge from my Beyond Beyond class easily fit too.  That’s a convergence that don’t expect to see again soon!

Photo Friday — a wonderful challenge that I haven’t participated in for many months but occasionally wander by to check out the excellent photography — had “Springtime” as this week’s challenge.

The Daily Post hosts a Weekly Photo Challenge.  This month has had a focus on iPhonography.   Today’s challenge:  Lunchtime.   Springtime = lunchtime?   Absolutely if I my lunch had included ramps, but it is a bit too early in the season to find fresh ramps where I live.   I’m already thinking about them though.   Instead, my mid-day break was spent wandering through the woods adjoining my house, looking for signs of Spring with my iPhone.  It was a little chilly today, but with the ground wet from the recent snow but starting to warm, it smelled had that loamy Spring scent.

Ailsa, the awesome Irish lass who hosts the weekly Travel Theme, has a theme of Green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  It has been several years since I’ve visited Ireland.   I only had to step off the plane and look across the runway to the horizon to understand why Eire is called the “Emerald Isle”.   During the gloomy grey days of winter here in the Midwest, I long for all of the varied shades of green that begin to appear in late March.  There are a few here now, but I can’t wait until green is everywhere!

Lastly, Kim Klassen’s Beyond Beyond class this week discussed a technique for creating a chalk board effect.   I’m not entirely happy with what I did, but it was more fun than just using a “chalk” font.

Green/Spring/Lunch Convergence

Green/Spring/Lunch Convergence

There may have been snow on the ground yesterday, but it is gone today.   While there are plenty of fallen limbs and dead wood to be removed from the woods at some point, for now it waits on the still-cold ground, providing a nice place from green fungal growth.  The ground cover, which turned a crimson color in the late fall is beginning to turn green again.  On warm spring nights in late April or May you can hear it grow,pushing aside the crunchy, crumbling leaves.  The daffodils are starting to poke through and will soon burst open.   My hellebores, which I checked just yesterday and wondered if I would see any flowers this year, have developed buds overnight.  Soon their pale yell0w-green flowers will open.  The timing is later than last year when we had an unseasonably warm February, but they are true to their other name:  Lenten Roses.  They’ll be in bloom before Easter.

Be sure to check out the work of other participants in any of these challenges.   You’ll find great photography that is sure to be an inspiration.  What about you?  Have you found a bit o’ green nearby, a hint of Spring for those in the northern hemisphere?  If not make it a point to step outside on your next lunch break and take a look.   You don’t even have to wait until lunch!

Looking Up


I laughed when I read Ailsa’s travel theme for this week:  UP.   I love taking pictures of structures while looking upward.    And, of course, I had a photo — one that I’ve taken within the last week — that was perfect for this week’s challenge:

From the bottom up:  Sanibel Lighthouse

From the bottom up: Sanibel Lighthouse

Sure, I could have taken it from a more typical perspective, one that clearly shows you the structure.  What I like about the photograph below is the deep blue sky and the puffy white clouds.

As one might think one should photograph it

As one might think one should photograph it

But,  after having seen the light from this lighthouse for years across the water, I finally paid the high toll ($6 to cross a bridge???) to drive out there, only to find the lighthouse a bit ho-hum. A little like the water tanks that dot the Midwest. I was expecting something a bit more picturesque, maybe like the lighthouses one sees in a lot of advertisements for Sanibel Island, which are surely images more reminiscent of the Outer Banks.  So, why not have some fun taking some different shots?

The trip wasn’t worthless, though. It was a beautiful day for a drive. It would have been even better if I had checked the schedule for Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge before driving out there on the only day of the week it was closed.  At least I no longer will wonder what the lighthouse looks like.

Historical Marker:  Sanibel Island Lighthouse

Historical Marker: Sanibel Island Lighthouse

Be sure to check out what others have posted for Travel Theme: UP. Here a just a few:

Travel Theme Up | PatriciaDDrury
Travel Theme: Up | Ese’s Voice
Travel Theme: Up | Adventures We Seek
Travel Theme: Up | Travel with Intent
Up | Artifacts and fictions
Travel Theme: Up | Across the Bored
Ailsa’s photo challenge: Up « Sounds like wish
Up | Sue Ann’s Balcony
Travel Theme: Up | StandingStill
Travel Theme Up | Cinova
Travel Theme Up | Le Drake Noir
Travel Theme: UP | SC Surf Butler
Travel Theme Up | Wind Against Current

Travel Theme: Transportation


Planes, Trains, Automobiles.  Bicycles, Boats, Jets, Rockets.   I haven’t taken all of them — and am not likely ever to take a rocket anywhere — but they are all part of our world.

Where I live — the middle of the United States — automobile is the most common form of transportation.   Earlier this year I checked what my neighborhood was on WalkScore.com.   Answer:  20, which could be translated loosely to  “It sucks to live here if you don’t have a car”.  Indianapolis is developing more walking paths and bike lanes, which makes me very happy, but I live in a car-dependent neighborhood.

I’m not the kind of person who cares much about my car.  I drive them long and hard.  I’ve  had more than one person tell me before that they didn’t know that [fill in the name of the automaker] made garbage scows.  As long as my car gets me to my destination safely and efficiently, I’m happy with it.  The best car to me is one that I can drive until it literally falls apart.  My only wish is that it doesn’t happen prematurely or in traffic.

I wish that there was reliable train transportation throughout the US, because I think that I would use it.   I don’t particularly like to fly, but if I’m driving I can’t enjoy looking out at the landscape, so trains seem ideal.  For now, though, and the foreseeable future, if I’m traveling slow it will be by car; if I need to get somewhere quickly, it will be by plane.

Last summer, I accompanied my son on a quick one-day trip to the Dayton area.  I had spotted this particular artwork at the I-70/I-75 interchange before, but I had always been driving.   It isn’t the best shot, but it was taken at somewhere over 60 mph.  I won’t guess how much over that speed!   I like this interchange because of the arching lines.  This is in the area of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and not far from the childhood home of the Wright Brothers, so the motif on the columns is fitting for the area.   I like how the arched pathways of the jets echos the arches of the two interstates as the reach in different directions.

Planes and automobiles

Planes and automobiles

This is part of Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme. This week’s theme:  Transportation.   Why don’t you join us by seeing what others have submitted (some links are below; more are on Ailsa’s blog) or by submitting your own interpretation of “Transportation”.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken? (Travel Theme: Circles)


Ailsa’s theme this week is Circles.  One doesn’t have to look for very long before one finds any geometric shape in nature.   Circles are not excluded from that.  Here are a few that I’ve photographed this fall:

Flowers, of course, are circular in nature. But, have you ever noticed how many circles comprise a blossom?

Inner circles, larger circles,  surrounding circle of petals

Inner circles, a larger circles, surrounding circle of petals

The rings of a tree seem both defined yet infinite.

How old am I?

How old am I?

Few tree trunks — not even segments of the trunk — are perfect circles, but we see circles in the trunk, the branches, seeds, stumps.

Another tree rounding the circle of life

Another tree rounding the circle of life

One might think of a mushroom as being like an umbrella, a parabolic shape. But sometimes they flatten out. The entire shape doesn’t need to be visible for us to see a circle.

The edge of a mushroom top

The edge of a mushroom cap

Sometimes just an arc can make us see the complete circle. Then, again, some people can see anything in clouds. We are called dreamers.

Clouds, circling the sky

Clouds, circling the sky

Join others at Ailsa’s Where’s My Backpack? Travel Theme.

Travel Theme: Liquid


Here is another shot taken on Wednesday in the fog at Woollen Gardens.   I had been shooting the creek and opposite bank from different angles.   I was facing west, aiming at a small pile of logs and rocks in the middle of the creek.  When the creek is low, you could wade to it, but when the water is high, it runs quickly.   Suddenly I couldn’t see much of anything.   I had missed the thickening cloud bank, quickly approaching  from the east.  I stepped back about 10 feet from where I had been standing on the canoe launch to shoot this.

Concrete & Fog

Within a few minutes the fog cleared and the water and ravine on the other side were visible once more.  But, for a short time, the creek disappeared into the grey mist, the canoe launch looking like an abandoned form stretching into nothingness.

This is my entry for Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Liquid.   I like this photo more for the liquid that you don’t see, than what is visible in the photograph.  Below are some of the other participants’ interpretations.  Check out the comments on Where’s My Backpack for links to all of them.

Travel Theme: Mystical


Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Mystical.  Her inspiration comes from a photograph that Vlad at Winds Against the Current posted last week.   Go check out the inspiration.  (I’ll wait . . . . )

Isn’t that a magnificent photograph?  My first thought was that I couldn’t hold a candle to that photograph, couldn’t even begin to think of a shot that was near the same level as that.   I thought this despite knowing that isn’t what participating in Ailsa’s weekly theme is about. (And anybody is welcome to participate, btw.)

But, this morning, as I was dragging myself out of bed, still tired after a night of interrupted sleep (a story not worth the re-telling, full of first world problems, which is to say that what happened was fixable and is now resolved) I caught a glimpse of a magical sunrise.

The sky had been set afire with reds, pinks and lavender streaks arching across the sky.  The bare trees were still silhouetted against the horizon.  As I opened the drapes on the other window, I saw deep ribbons of pink and blue in the western sky.

My younger sister occasionally reminisces about a fight we had one Thanksgiving as we were riding in my parents’ car.  There was a colorful sunset that evening.  I remember being awed by how pretty it was.  I don’t remember what the conversation was in the car, but I wanted to talk about the sunset.  Do you know, I asked with all the authority of a know-it-all 12-year old, that sunrises and sunsets are prettier now than they were 100 years ago?  I began detailing obscure facts about pollution and dust particles refracting light.

Will you just shut up!   NOBODY cares you nerd! my sister screamed.  It’s just a sunset.  Don’t ruin it with facts Ms. Scientific!  

I wouldn’t shut up, of course, and my father threatened to pull off to the side of the road and make us walk if we didn’t stop bickering.   My sister and I were quiet but took every opportunity throughout dinner to snarl at each other whenever we thought adults weren’t looking.

We laugh about that sunset argument sometimes — my sister the scientist and physician and me the photographer and art  (as well as sunset) enthusiast.  Funny how the roles flipped as we grew into our adult selves.  But, the two aren’t as incongruous as one might think at first glance and I must have known that even then.   Yes, the sunset was beautiful, but it was an astounding mystery to me that maybe mankind had caused it inadvertently.  I wasn’t thinking about how those poor souls before the Industrial Age might have suffered without modern inventions, but how they suffered for lack of a beautiful sunset coloring the cold November sky.

Mystical:  adj.  Mystic or occult or pertaining to mysticism.  Spiritually symbolic.  Obscure meaning:  mysterious.

I get a little edgy when someone claims that nature is mystical, if they are using the word in a spiritual sense.  Spiritually symbolic I can agree with, but nature containing spirituality or the essence of spirituality or of a supernatural deity is a bit trickier for me to agree with.  If I understand mystical used in some contexts to mean nature as reminiscent of things mysterious or spiritual, as being numinous, surpassing one’s understanding, I can concur.   But if you talk about trees and mountains and rocks containing some sort of spiritual life force, I will not likely be lining up to buy it.

And yet, nature has a power that is both magnificent and seemingly greater than ourselves.   (Though the havoc civilization wreaks upon the environment makes it seem quite powerless at times.)  What I find mystical about nature is that being in nature has the benefit of taking us outside of our daily urban/suburban routines.  We experience sights, sounds and smells that we don’t notice within our cars, buses and trains.   We see beauty that is there all the time — whether it be the mathematical complexity of myriad spores arranged within a seed pod , the delicate color adaptations of a flower for a specific pollinating bee, the aroma of the fallen leaves moldering on the forest floor, or the sound of a warbler singing a call:  nature is full of things mysterious.   It is vast and unknown.  It is not unknowable and future humans may find answers to some of nature’s riddles; but, to the individual,  much of it in its singular existence is unknown:   Why are those seeds spread in that manner?  Why the specific mix of magenta and yellow in a wildflower?  What is the name of the emerald-colored insect I had never observed before it crawled into the frame of my camera?  What species of bird is making that sound and is it a male calling a female or a female chirping to her offspring?  What caused a superstorm to hit in a particular place and time and can I make myself safe from it happening again?  Nevertheless, we enjoy nature even if we don’t understand it, even if we don’t contemplate it.

Maybe that is why nature can seem not just mysterious, but spiritual as well; a force outside ourselves, bigger than the individual.  It exists whether we take notice of it or not.  When I realize that — whenever some piece of beauty in the natural world shows up unexpectedly — it takes me outside of myself and it can be symbolically spiritual; it can be mysterious.

When I opened the draperies this morning and saw the prismatic reds, blues and yellows in the early morning sky, it diverted me, just briefly, from my intentional actions of the morning.   It took me outside of my schedule and away from whatever I was thinking about at that moment.  I grabbed my camera.

Mysterious, I thought.  Mystical.   And very pretty.

Ah, yes!  I had my photo for this week’s challenge!

Looking out the east window at 7:30 this morning

Looking out the west window, 7:30 this morning

Here are a links to just a few blogs others have posted for Mystical:

Travel Theme: Soft


Fort Myers Beach, Florida:   Just before sunset

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is SOFT — soft and cuddly clothing, soft colors, soft textures, soft and furry animals, whatever soft means to you.   I chose this photograph because I like the soft light.  This was taken during that magical time of day at any westward facing beach:  just before the sun starts its rapid descent towards the water, when it hangs low in the sky, casting a pale golden, pink and peach colorcasts over everything, yet the sky is still blue.  I particularly like the barely noticable golden light on the empty beach chairs.

You can check out what others have done by going to Where’s My Backpack.  A few participants are listed below:

 

Travel Theme: Bright


This week, Ailsa’s Travel Theme is BRIGHT.   As soon as I read the theme, I thought of a near-perfect day I spent on Perdido Key in early September.  The sky was clear except for a few high cirrus clouds.  The water glistened in the sunlight.   Visibility was good; you could see for what seemed like miles as you stood on the beach and looked at the endless expanse of green-blue water stretch below the deep blue sky until the two met and then curved below the end of the earth.   The sun was bright.  The sky was bright.   The sand was bright.   My heart was light.

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Perdido Key: A bright day

Check out other’s contributions to this week’s Travel Theme:  Bright.  Here are a few.  You can find more linked in the comments on Ailsa’s site.