My Travel Journal

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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 24, 2018

A Christmas visit to the Washington National Cathedral

Regular readers of my blog (if there are any left when I so seldom post!) will know that Chris, my son, has been a docent at the Cathedral for over 20 years.  When I visit over Christmas, I always hope for an opportunity to visit the Cathedral and see their ever-growing collection of creches.  Got to go this year and took a bunch of pictures but nowhere near pictures of all of them.  When I very first saw them (quite a few years ago), they were in one room.  Now the collection is displayed in four rooms!

I'm now at my daughter Heather's house after having first traveled to Fort Wayne, Indiana to visit January and Maggie in their new home of which they are the proud owners.  After a week or so there, I drove east to spend Christmas and New Years with Chris and Heather so I've been having a happy time and thought I'd take a breather to share my photos here. I hope you enjoy them and I also hope you and your loved ones have a very happy, healthy and wonderful holiday!

I posted this photo walking up the center aisle to the choir and altar area of the cathedral in "original" size to give an idea of the size and beauty of the cathedral.  The very last photo is also original size and is walking back down the central aisle to the exit.

I very carefully made a list of where each creche was created but when I started posting the photos I realized that the list was not matching the photos!  The only 2 I'm sure of are the first one from Maryland and the South Africa one.

This first creche was created in Maryland and all the figures are crocheted!

And these two photos show a creche made from tiny beads.
Below is a creche where the figures have been made using the felting technique.

This is from South Africa and was one of my favorites.  Again, all bead work except for the actual faces and I like the gorgeous lion amongst all the dark colors.

This little "booth" of miniature nativities of course caught my eye.  I collected nativities here and there through the years and once I got into my miniatures hobby, I delighted in finding tinier and tinier ones.
 There were several of these tall cabinets where the scene went all the way across each shelf.

This truly incredible display came from France and pretty much was a showstopper.  Just so much going on and so very, very rustic.  I loved it.

Another room had more of these tall cabinets

 I particularly like the second shelf down which I remember was from Kenya.  It is all wood and and the pieces were so smooth they gleamed.
Leaving the cathedral - my photos have never been able to capture the beauty of stained glass wherever I happen to be.  But this one gives a bit of an idea of its beauty.  

July 25, 2018

Sophia returns...

and I've taken way too many pictures of our major activities.  I'm hoping she had a good time - it was probably hard for her having an old, tired, coughing and sniffing grammy to deal with but we muddled through.  I just wasn't able to be as busy as she would have liked and even had I been going full strength, Huntington itself is somewhat limited as far as fun things to do.  But we did go to the museum which we both enjoyed - the conservatory gets better and better and their exhibits are always pretty interesting.  And we went for the third time to Blenko Glass to watch them work their magic - one of her first questions was "Can we go to that place where they make glass again?"  We had some nice walks along the river and played crazy eights at Starbucks.  Made our Texas sheet cake to take to the barristas at Starbucks, watched the entire series of "Father Ted" which she found hilarious and it IS pretty darned funny.  Tried watching some Jeeves and Wooster but their British accent is very hard to understand.

She was in Huntington 9 days and 7 might have been better.  Then we were off to visit January and Maggie in Ft. Wayne and had a real nice time there and were very lucky with the weather.  I wanted to see their zoo this visit and I wanted us to go to a night game of their minor league team and Thursday we did both because the weather was perfect for both activities and I didn't want to risk waiting til Friday to do one of them.

So, I'm going to post an insane amount of pictures from our various activities, heading them with which activity is which (although it will be relatively easy to figure out).  I of course can't remember what each bird, fish, animal is from the zoo but we saw them all and truly enjoyed it.

Before I get started I'll post a picture I took on March 14 of an absolutely perfect rose that was in a bouquet Heather sent me for my birthday.  It was truly gorgeous and I'm really pleased with the quality of the photo.

And now off to the museum... (first the conservatory, then the exhibits)

 Sophia was good at find various little creatures hidden away in tanks, etc.  This is an Axolotis.

 Maybe Sophia will chime in and remind me if the fellow above was a frog or a snake or....?

On to the exhibits (and I'm not sure but if you want even larger pictures, you can try clicking them.  That used to make them go all the way to "original size".  These are all "large" right now.

This is a new rug in the Touma Near Eastern permanent exhibit all of which has been donated by the Drs. Touma, a gentleman and his wife who, in addition to this large exhibit, have renovated a block-long street front in downtown Huntington which is lovely. They are large donors to all sorts of Huntington concerns and we're fortunate they chose the city as their home.  A little food for thought - they came to the States as immigrants from Syria.

There was a great exhibit of black and white photos of all the jazz greats of the 30's era.  One man managed to get most of them on film and I found them more interesting than I had thought I would.

That's all of Huntington - now on to Fort Wayne... (where we all had Coney dogs our first night there and then Sophia and I snuck back for another one for lunch after we'd been to the zoo.)

This is the first picture I took - it's such a hoot and such a neat idea for a zoo who has a lot of construction going on.  Other fences said "please don't feed..." or "please don't tease..." Neat idea!

Am I wrong or are penguins pretty much adorable?

 The stingray habitat which was Sophia's must see (and pet!)

When this buy finally moved, we decided he was old - he was wrinkled and the others weren't...

 Poor picture, but that's Sophia's hand

 A tiny green frog...

So many exotic creatures...I've always wondered why there is such a bounty of different species...
This guy was pretty magnificent -

 A very large aquarium filled with all kinds of little fishies
 I have no idea...
Another favorite!

 The one above and the next few are of a family - a mother and dad, a very small baby who was already a champion swinger, one or two other kids.  They were fun to watch and I finally found the dad and thought I took several pictures of him.  He's in the last of this set but not as visible as I had hoped.  There was a "nook" in the wall and he was in there the whole time we were watching the activity.  Didn't move or anything.  I told Sophia he was probably thinking "I'm pretending I'm not here."

No animals in the next several - just beautiful, lush scenery.  If you're near Ft. Wayne, I really recommend a visit to this zoo.

 We were pondering this bird when a zoo employee happened by and told us a bit about him.  She said he has a very unusual call and finally got him to do it.  When he does, the feathers on the back of his head (which his head looks like a Dixie cup) and those under his beak all fluff out.  Such a sort of bizarre bird you just have to kind of love him. :)

 This lion was pretty magnificent and smashed up right against the plexiglas.  The children would come put their hand on our side like they were touching him and squeal.  Every now and then he would turn his head disdainfully and look at us, then just look away.
 And there's the female.

 We really enjoyed the giraffes although these three (mom, dad and their one-year old) never moved the whole time we were there.  The zoo has built up a "stand" where the giraffes can put their head over the railing and get lettuce leaves from the visitors.  I purchased a leaf for Sophia to feed one and we both got so excited that the deed was done before I was ready.  All I can say, is the guy below is finishing up that leaf.

 And it took quite a bit of searching but we finally saw these two zebras.
 That evening it was the ball game which was great fun.  I think we all must have really been in the mood for it.  Our team lost which apparently is how it mostly goes.  Look at that sky, though.  Beautiful evening.
So that was our activity.  Friday January took a day off and we watched some British Bake-Off shows which we all really like.  Sophia is quite interested in cooking.

We left Saturday to go as far as Columbus, OH and stay overnight to see two things I had found that were close to each other and one was free! That was a nice stop and we enjoyed what we did Saturday, but by Sunday, after doing a bit of our other visit, Sophia was itching to get home so we left.  The second place turned out to be not that great anyway.

So, Columbus pics and that's it!
Saturday we visited Topiary Park which was delightful - it's free, there were hardly any people there and it was fun to keep discovering all the topiaries.  The park is designed to replicate a painting by Seurrat as seen here.
 And here are pictures of some of the topiaries

 I certainly didn't have much luck getting an actual picture of Sophia - just a hand and this.

Sunday, we moved on to the Franklin Park Conservatory and while it was really filled with interesting and beautiful "rooms", I found it extremely difficult to find your way to stuff - there were very few signs on doors and what signs there were were different than what showed on the maps they handed out.  So we stayed maybe only an hour and then headed home to Maryland.

I stayed overnight at Heather's and am now down in VA at Chris's but will go back to Heather's this weekend and then home.  And I am ready for that!  I may just sleep the first week I'm back. :)

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