LAPC: The Lazy Days of Summer

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #104 is about summer. Ah, summer! My favorite season of the year! Even with the distancing measures of Covid-19, I can enjoy the summer. (Imagine if the shelter-in-place had been in the winter – we’d REALLY get cabin fever!)

Two recent photos of our senior community that represent summer:

Daisies wet from the automatic sprinklers
A vigilant mama duck keeps watch over her young offspring.

Memories of summers gone by: on this day in …

Tourism in Europe: a group of tourists in Budapest (July 8, 2019)
A summer birthday party on a friend’s patio (July 8, 2018)
A week with family in northern Wisconsin – we rented two cabins on Lower Kaubashine Lake (July 8, 2017)

Flowers in bloom everywhere:

Gardens at Schoenbrunn Palace, Vienna
Schoenbrunn Palace gardens, Vienna

In summer, people like to be in and around water.

A pool party at dusk on a hot day in August (Des Plaines, Illinois)
Drinks on a boat with friends during a late June heat wave (Amsterdam)
Traffic jam on an Amsterdam canal

Tuesday Photo Challenge: Travel 2019

Last year we were able to do quite a bit of traveling abroad. For Dutch Goes the Photo Tuesday Photo Challenge this week the theme is travel. He says: As most of use are not traveling at the moment, it might be nice to travel virtually through our various blogs and share some of those enjoyed moments with each other. So, let’s share some of those wonderful places that we have visited in this week’s challenge!

How could I resist my favorite topic? And of course, I couldn’t pick just one photo, but these are a few highlights of our Travel 2019.

January: Egypt
Light show at Abu Simbel

January: Israel
The most meaningful place for me was the Garden of Gethsemane. This garden is full of centuries old olive trees, including one that was around when Jesus came here to pray on the night of his betrayal.

June: Paris
This is just a colorful shop that sells flowers (among other things) en route to the Sacre Coeur Church in Montmartre.
Bayeux, France: The cathedral in Bayeux is a lovely Gothic structure with beautiful stained glass windows. This is one of them.

June: Amsterdam – Our second trip to Amsterdam in just over a year. The weather in June is definitely better than January but there are a lot more tourists in June! The owner of our Airbnb took us on a private boat tour of the canals and harbor on a hot Sunday afternoon.
Later that day, we took our son to our favorite poffertjes place in Amsterdam – Die Vier Pilaren.
After a week and a half in France and four days in Amsterdam, we went on a river cruise – our first!
June: On the Rhine River in Germany

July: Our last port on the river cruise was Budapest. I love this classic view!



Lens-Artists #84: Narrow Passageways

Amy at Lens-Artists this week invites us to explore the topic of narrow.

In my travels to “old” places – places built when there were no cars or crowds of tourists -I explored (or declined to explore) many narrow streets and other passageways.

Places like Old Town Tallinn, Estonia (where I got lost due to sidewalks and streets so narrow that I lost sight of our guide!)…
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A van that is nearly as wide as this street in Old Town forces all pedestrians to the narrow sidewalk on the left.100_0371
There were also narrow witches!
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In Stockholm, Sweden, I tried to imagine returning home to one of these narrow alleys on a dark afternoon in winter!
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Dale ends our bike ride through Stockholm coasting down a narrow cobblestone street.
Stockholm, like many European countries, also has tall, narrow buildings.
Even older is Old Jerusalem, Israel…Like elsewhere, vehicles have the right of way, squeezing pedestrians to the wall.
Some of these climbing narrow streets are divided between steps and ramps.
Watch out for motorcycles coming through!
In ancient Egypt, clearly people were smaller to fit into narrow passageways into pyramids and tombs.

Dale and a few other adventurous souls (such as this woman from our group emerging from a pyramid) did go down these narrow steps into a now empty room in the Queen’s tomb in Giza. I took one look and decided to wait outside!
Tourists descend a long narrow hallway covered with inscriptions and paintings to reach the tomb of Ramses IX in Valley of the Kings. These hieroglyphics declaim the deeds of the king during his reign, and there are also symbols of gods to accompany him to the afterlife.
At the Chateau of Caen, France, a narrow stairway leads down to…where??
On Omaha Beach, in Normandy, are the remains of WWII German bunkers, which I declined to enter, also reached through narrow passages and stairways. (I’m glad I didn’t go in – my son’s photos show empty rooms with an inch of rainwater covering the floors!)
On the way back to our Airbnb farmhouse through the Normandy countryside, we drove down the narrow roads of villages, flanked by houses on both sides.
A car in front of us navigates a sharp corner into another narrow street.DSC00482
A lot of traffic in Amsterdam travels its canals, which narrow on approach to bridges.
DSC00587Floating traffic jam!
Bridges have these traffic signals indicating when it is safe and permissible to proceed (or not!).
The day after our tour of the canals, we went to the “red light district” where we were told not to take photos of the sex workers who lived on either side of these narrow alleyways. Probably also not a good idea to photograph potential clients – good thing this one came out blurry!
In Amsterdam, we stayed in an Airbnb 2nd floor flat, with a narrow stairway winding up to it. That was one of our son’s obligations to us for paying for his trip – carry our suitcases up and down! The stairway was so narrow and windy that he had to carry the suitcases one by one in his arms!


Under a Bridge

Jenn at Traveling at Wits End has a weekly photo challenge. This week’s challenge is to “photograph under a bridge.”

From a cruise ship on the St. Lawrence River, Quebec Province, Canada


SONY DSCFrom a cruise ship, Panama Canal
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KODAK Digital Still CameraWhile cruising on an electric boat on the Chicago River20160626_160307

I end with an appropriate song, one of my favorites, from my favorite music duo, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

CFFC: Walks around the USA

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge theme this week is Walks – Indoor or Outdoor.  I  love to take walks when the weather is good. I don’t mind walking on a track during inclement weather, but it’s more fun to walk outside, smell the air, see the flowers, the trees, people, dogs, etc. Last fall, WP Automattic, invited photography buffs to take pictures on a 5K walk. We had a beautiful, colorful fall in 2015, and my photo essay of that walk can be accessed here.

The following is a travelogue of some of the paths and sidewalks I have walked, organized by state.

WISCONSIN, the state in which I was born and grew up, and where I spent many summer vacations at our former cottage, has many state-supported trails as well as city walks.

Scott Trestle - cell phone camera.
Scott Trestle on the Bearskin Trail (18 mile trail between Hwy K and Minocqua). The Bearskin Trail is a scenic trail for hiking or biking, built on a former railroad route. There are several of these trestles over creeks and meadows, and the remains of towns that depended on the railroad to thrive. Depending on when you go, there are opportunities to observe wildlife such as various bird species, deer, beaver, fox, and even black bears.

Cattails line the shore in the water fowl section of the park.
This and the following three images were taken at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay. This park has many short forested trails and of course a lot of wildlife to observe. In this picture, cattails line the shore in the water fowl section of the park.

Urban walks have become increasingly popular as people in cities have demanded more green spaces. The next several pictures were taken in Beloit, in southern Wisconsin. An example of an urban walk is this nice river walk there which runs alongside the Rock River, and with different things to see and do along the way.

Drawbridge – possibly an old railroad bridge (there’s a rail car on top of the farthest section).

This bridge leads over to Turtle Island, where there is a big playground for kids, and a connecting path back to the main path.

ILLINOIS, the state in which I’ve lived for the last quarter century, also has followed the trend of creating hiking and biking trails, and there are also unique opportunities to hike into the past.

I live in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, which has its own river walk along the Des Plaines River. I’ve seen hikers, bicyclists, and roller bladers on this trail! You can pick it up either by parking south of a viaduct off of Schwab Road, or via stairway on the northeast corner of Miner St. and River Rd. This trail connects with longer hiking/biking trails through forest preserves on the north and south ends. To the north is Big Bend Lake, about 2-3 miles from the beginning of the River Walk, where small boats (no motors) are allowed for fishing and leisure.

Me on the DP River trail
I’ve stopped to watch a flock of ducks on the river. There are also a lot of terns that fly overhead.

Des Plaines River, from the River Walk.
Section of the Des Plaines River along River Road (where there is a line of cars waiting for the traffic light). We do have problems with flooding during rainy seasons, but the problem has been greatly ameliorated with deep tunnels installed in recent years to handle the run off.

Another walking and biking (and rollerblading) trail nearby is an 8-mile loop through Busse Woods, which traverses part of Elk Grove Village, Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights. I’ve walked, biked and cross country skiied on this trail.

Geese or ducks at the lakeshore
One of small lakes within Busse Woods. People can fish in this lake, either from shore or in small boats.

Dale on the trail ahead of me
Dale (my huband) pauses on his bike to wait for me.

Elk at Busse Woods
There really are elk in Elk Grove Village! They have a large fenced in range on one side of Busse Woods.

One of the most interesting places to visit in Illinois is just outside of St. Louis, near Collinsville, Illinois. Cahokia Mounds has a museum and hiking path to explore the mounds and learn about the ancient people, one of the tribes of the Mississippians, who lived there. In 1250 AD it was a city larger than London! There is even an archaeological dig, where volunteers can sign up to spend a week in the summer painstakingly searching for artifacts. I’m tempted to do this!

This is near the archaeological dig site. Dale is looking at a section of ancient wall.

Monks Mound is the biggest of the mounds at Cahokia. A long stairway leads to the top.

To build the mounds, the inhabitants of Cahokia transported the soil in baskets over long distances. Monks Mound is a platform mound, thought to have been used for political or religious ceremonies and may have had large buildings at the top. Two other types of mounds, which were smaller, were conical and ridge top mounds. These were used as burial sites or for marking important locations. (Reference)


This to me was the most fascinating thing at Cahokia – it’s a wood henge! These wooden poles placed in a large circle marked different positions of the sun. (In this picture, the telephone poles connected by wires are NOT part of the henge!

INDIANA – We have recently returned from a three-day trip to Indianapolis, a city I had never visited before. Indianapolis actually has two walks developed by the city. One is called The Cultural Trail, which covers 12 miles and 6 districts of the city.

The Cultural Trail is marked by this special brick sidewalk, brown with designs. This picture was taken downtown, near where we parked our car. To the left (not in picture) is the Capitol.

Blue Indy electric car. You rent them and then return them to a charging station like this – no fossil fuels are used!

I kept seeing these old-fashioned parking meters and didn’t know why they were still there. When I looked closely, I realized that the meters now accept coins which are used to help the homeless.

Chakaia Booker, renowned American artist, created this sculpture on display on the Cultural Trail. The base is stainless steel, the rest is made from rubber tires. (That’s Dale framed behind it!)

The other is the Canal Walk, which starts at White River State Park, but can be accessed at other spots along the way. River or canal walks are very popular today, since San Antonio (see below) created a beautiful one which is a major tourist attraction. The Indianapolis Canal Walk is not as elaborate, and in fact, is flanked in many sections by large condo buildings. But there are monuments, a couple of restaurants, opportunities for water sports, and concerts performed on certain nights of the week. And it is a nice walk to cool off at the end of a hot day!

Central Canal Walk with view of downtown
Central Canal Walk with view of downtown

This multicolored sculpture marks the entrance to the Canal Walk in White River State Park.

Two monuments: Left – 9/11 monument with two pillars from the Twin Towers; Right – USS Indianapolis, last cruiser to be destroyed in World War II. The story of this ship is engraved at the bottom – only 318 people survived out of 1,196 on board.

We ate at this little restaurant, called Fresco. You can rent a gondola there too, accompanied by a ‘real’ gondolier!

On the terrace behind the Indiana History Center, there are concerts every Thursday night. This was a New Orleans rhythm and blues band. The tables are reserved in advance, but many more people sit on the steps, the balcony, and the grassy banks on both sides of the canal.

Leaving the Midwest and going to the Southwest, first to:

TEXAS, specifically San Antonio with its famous River Walk:

San Antonio River view
San Antonio River view

The River Walk in San Antonio is quite extensive with many entry points.

Informational signs such as this one orient the visitor about to River Walk highlights and historical information.

There is lots of lush vegetation and shady trees.

There were boats for rent and group tours on the river.

The River Walk is highly developed, with many (rather high priced) restaurants and shops. There are also historical landmarks that are accessible from the walkway.

Colorful umbrellas shade sidewalk cafe tables, their reflection shimmering on the surface of the water.

ARIZONA  – Last December, we were in Tucson, hoping to get away from the cold weather of the Midwest (it turned out to be just as cold there!) and to visit my cousin that lives there. There is a walk you can take to orient yourself which takes you through downtown Tucson and some historical places to visit. All you have to do is follow the turquoise line painted on the sidewalk.

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Pima County Courthouse

The line took us through downtown and into courtyards. It led to the San Agustin Presidio, an old fort in Tucson. We toured the Presidio with a guide recounting the history of the presidio, telling us about many of the plants on display, and drawing our attention to small details.

Outside the presidio, following the turquoise line was a Time Line of southern Arizona’s history.

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We saw murals and mosaics on the facades of buildings and on walls.
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We saw quirky houses in different neighborhoods and a large flower arc in a churchyard, to honor Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

We didn’t walk the entire path of the turquoise line – we were too tired!

I could add many more walks, but I have decided to end here this travelogue of walks in places I’ve been.