February Love Me

Yikes! I have a few days to catch up for Paula’s February Love Me challenge! Here are 3 more, in no particular order…

Feb. 6: I love…ice cream! Even though it is winter, and quite cold here, I can’t resist the temptation of ice cream once in a while!

Ice cream in France

Feb. 7: I love…art. I love to visit art museums whenever I can as well as do my own artwork! I just finished the book Frida in America by Celia Stahr, a new biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo focusing on her years in the United States with her husband, Diego Rivera. While reading the book, I explored her artwork on line and, although I was quite familiar with her work, I discovered a lot of her paintings I hadn’t known about before. I also love mural art wherever I find it – and usually stop what I’m doing to take a picture!

Claude Monet, Bordighera, 1884, oil on canvas; exhibition at Chicago Art Institute, Oct. 2020
My artwork: Painted Bunting, sharpie and pastels on construction paper, January 2020

Feb. 8: I love…traveling. Anyone who reads my blog even occasionally knows how traveling is absolutely the thing I love most to do! And while traveling, I engage in one of my favorite hobbies, photography, and when I come back, I engage in another favorite activity, writing (or blogging). Below is a gallery random sample of travel photos from 2018-2019. There are no travel photos from 2020 due to not being able to travel during the pandemic! I have two international trips booked for 2022 and hopefully we can do a road trip in the fall of this year.

Syrup or Sirup?

In downstate* Illinois, along Route 66, is the little town of Funks Grove, known primarily for its maple syrup (sorry – it’s sirup!). This small place near the beginning (or end, depending on where you start) of Route 66 is a little over two hours’ drive southwest from Chicago, about 146 miles.

Since we started our Route 66 tour in L.A., this place was near the end of our route. It is the subject of my contribution to Becky’s January Square Up Photo Challenge today. This sign inside the little store tells the story of why it’s spelled sirup instead of syrup.


License plate of the owner’s car!

The sirup produced here is pure and there are a variety of selections. We bought a bottle of the original as well as a bottle mixed with brandy! Both were yummy!

*In Illinois, and especially in metro Chicago, “downstate” is everywhere in Illinois that is not in the Chicago metro area! (Even Rockford, which is due west, is considered “downstate.”)

CFFC: Bridges

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic of Bridges.

One of my early photos in high school, when I was learning how to take and develop photos. This is a bridge on my high school campus.
Amsterdam, taken from a boat tour
Pegasus Bridge in Normandy, France
This bridge in Cologne, Germany had a fence covered with padlocks, which represent love relationships.
That same bridge in Cologne, Germany, at sunset
Bridge and kayakers in Bamberg, Germany
International bridge at Panama Canal
On the Chicago river, this low red bridge is in the district of Chinatown.
Another bridge on the Chicago River
Devil’s Elbow Bridge, in Missouri
On the St. Lawrence River near Quebec

Friendly Friday: Street Art

The Sandy Chronicles’ weekly Friendly Friday challenge this week is Street Art.

Street art has become more popular in recent years, and one can find good street art almost anywhere.

Sandy says there are several kinds of street art:
Spray Painted Murals – large scale pictures drawn on walls and colored with spray paint.
Graffiti – one of the most popular and oldest form of street art, going back to ancient Egypt and Greece.
3D Wall Graffiti – with creative shadowing and paint effects, murals appear to be popping out of walls.
Poster Art – is art which is printed or drawn on papers and then attached or hung on walls.
Sticker Street Art – made with eye-catching stickers of different sizes and posted on trees, lampposts, walls and benches.
Sculptures – are structures displayed on streets, typically with cultural, political, religious or historical significance.

We took a 4-day trip to Iowa two years ago and saw some wonderful street art:
Downtown Des Moines (click on images to see larger)

In Dubuque, near the riverfront Maritime Museum, were these beautiful murals.

This 3D mural in Quebec City was stunning – this is actually a section of a much larger, full-wall 3D mural.

In Chicago, you never know when you’ll run across something like this.

On Route 66, between Gallup and Santa Fe, NM – this is just a small sample of street art that can be found in towns all over the Southwest.

CFFC: International Business

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge has the theme “all about buildings.” This week’s topic is commercial buildings or store fronts.

One of the fun things about traveling is all the different types of architecture you see. So I am posting photos of a variety of architectural styles and colors from some of my recent trips.

An upscale shop in Cologne, Germany
Souvenir shop in Cologne with lovely wood carving.
Detail on the wall of a bakery in Miltenberg, Germany
A variety of things are for sale in this typically German shop, in Miltenberg

A drugstore in Wurzburg, Germany
Schlenkera Brewery, Bamberg, Germany
Colorful souvenir shop in Nuremberg, Germany
Riverside commercial area, Nuremberg
Tattoo parlor and smoke shop in Regensburg, Germany
Colorful commercial street in Budapest, Hungary
Café in the Jewish Quarter, Budapest
Bakery in Highwood, Illinois, USA
Downtown street with empty storefronts in Woodstock, Illinois (this was during the early lockdown days at the beginning of April, 2020).
Woodstock, Illinois – you can see how empty this downtown commercial street is.
Entrance to a shopping center in Tel Aviv, Israel
Arabic signs over stores in Bethlehem, Israel
Also in Bethlehem
Israeli version of Starbucks (Bethlehem)
Children’s books (and it seems like a lot of other things) are for sale in this hip neighborhood of Denver, Colorado.
Southwestern adobe style is common in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
More Pueblo style architecture in Santa Fe
Colorful hues in Tucumcari, New Mexico
You can get married and then go next door and have old time photos made! (Tucumcari)
Northwestern USA style in Poulsbo, Washington
Poulsbo, Washington – love that onion-dome style “tower” on top of this bookstore!
Poulsbo, WA
Wind socks flutter in front of this kitschy gift shop, Poulsbo, WA

CFFC: The Golden Spike

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week continues with a series on vehicles that provide transportation, with the theme anything having to do with trains and railroads.

Bailey’s Railyard in North Platte, Nebraska is the place to take an elevator to the top of what’s known as the Golden Spike.

It isn’t golden and not much of a spike, but from up there you get a fantastic view of Bailey’s Railyard, with freight trains coming and going, east-west, north-south, and there is also a small railroad museum. When you reach the top, you will meet a very enthusiastic worker to answer all your questions!

LAPC: Long & Winding

Lens-Artists’ 100th(!) photo challenge is long and winding roads.

French countryside, province of Normandy
Not exactly a road, actually it’s a path. But it’s a long way down! Above the town of Arromanches, France and Port Winason. The British created an artificial harbor here using old barges and truck bodies, which was named Port Winston, in preparation for D-Day.
The island of Mont St-Michel is reached by a long causeway at low tide (at high tide, the island is cut off from the shore). Taken from the abbey at the top of Mont St-Michel, France.
Are we looking down at the road just traveled, the road yet to be traveled, or the road not traveled? Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA
The road winds up and down mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
A long and winding hiking trail (which we did not explore) at Arches National Park, Utah, USA. We were content to photograph the scenery!
A dusty and winding road at the base of Masada plateau, Israel – the workers’ entrance?
A very long and very dusty path for the hardy hikers who take it up to the Masada plateau. Taken from the cable car our group wisely chose!
Another photo of hikers on a very windy path taken from the top, at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
Not much of the road is visible here, but the sign tells us about it! Near Oatman, Arizona, USA
Around that 15 mph bend in the road and who do we see? A couple of Oatman residents on the road! Oatman, Arizona, an old mining town today survives because of the tourists on Route 66, (of which this is a part), who come for the burros that hang around town – and hike along the road! Oatman has a couple of Route 66 touristy stores and buildings that are the remnants of its mining heyday.
Leaving Sedona, Arizona, after a weekend celebration of the 70th anniversary of Verde Valley School, where I attended high school (but much less than 70 years ago!).

And to end, I can’t resist – because this is what I was singing in my head while composing this post.

Thursday Doors: Door Art

Norm’s Thursday Doors is a weekly opportunity to share photos of doors with other door lovers! This week, I’m dipping back into my archives to present doors that are part of, or surrounded by, street art. (Check out my earlier post for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Murals.)

Black Cat Alley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: This alley near downtown Milwaukee has become a place for street artists to share their art. This mural includes a door to a formerly industrial building.

A converted warehouse complex in Lincoln, Nebraska has become an artists’ co-op, its outside walls decorated by local artists.

Cuba, Missouri is located on the famous Route 66 and a popular stop along the historic road. There are many murals throughout the town, depicting historical events (including the Civil War) and scenes of daily life.

Pontiac, Illinois is one of the first, or last, stops on Route 66 (depending on whether you are taking the historic road west or east), and as such caters to Route 66 tourists. Besides murals, there is a museum/shop containing all kinds of Route 66 memorabilia and you can visit the bus-converted-to-home of possibly Pontiac’s most well-known native son, Bob Waldmire, who traveled the Mother Road and lived in his bus-home for several years in the Arizona desert.

Whether real or painted, a door is still a door!

For mural/graffiti/street art connoisseurs, Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley) in São Paulo, Brazil is a must-see. “Graffiti artists” have covered this residential neighborhood – walls, streets, doors, windows, anything paintable – with art!

A restaurant entrance near Batman’s Alley
Courtyard gate
Garage door
Garage door/store entrance gates
This is more graffiti than mural art – the entrance in particular is covered in pure graffiti.
More graffiti

Street artists in São Paulo find “canvases” for their artwork in many other places as well. These are found in the vicinity of Ibirapuera Park, a large park with museums, bike paths and other amusements.