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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May 28, 2018

A visit to the Renwick Gallery

I'm staying with Chris right now because Wednesday we'll go up to Heather's for my grandson Johnny's graduation ceremony.  So since Chris was off work today, he suggested we go to the Renwick and I was fine with that.  We've been several times over the years and I've enjoyed all of the "installations" we've seen there.

The one that's there now is "No Spectators: Art from Burning Man".  And I don't know if anyone is familiar with Burning Man - I certainly wasn't but it's an apparently huge event that started out on a San Francisco beach in 1986 and has been growing ever since.  It's now held in Nevada at Black Rock City, Nevada - a huge area that was established just for this event.  All year long artists and craftsmen of all sorts gather and build and create unbelievable structures, mechanical objects, costumes, etc.  That's about all I understand about it.  Oh - and also at the end of it they burn a huge wooden statue of "man" (it's the same every year but gets bigger, is sometimes on a base, etc.)  I found this TIMELINE that was kind of neat - shows the "man" from each year, the number of attendees, etc.

So...about all I can do now is post the pictures I took!

This is the basic "man" and it apparently remains essentially the same.  I really don't understand the actual even OR the installation at the Renwick very well but I very much enjoyed seeing the incredible work people are capable of.
 The next three are some of the costumes that were exhibited.  That's become another part of the event - people spend the year making elaborate costumes for the coming event.

 This was all handmade - it's embroidered, beaded, appliqu├ęd, and the sleeves are links of very thin metal - just fantastic

The first room had a triumphal type arch covered with fantastic shapes and figures, plants, and whatever else they could imagine.  Each side wall of the arch (on both sides of the arch) had a small eyehole you could look in and see what was inside.  This was what I saw when I looked in one of them - a little boat with 3 guys in it - made me think of the Beatles.  That little reddish circle in the background is the hole that looks in from the other side to its little scene.

Next is a fantastical mode of transport.  It has three wheels with pedals and Chris figured out that it had a place for a fuel tank so that it could blow out flame.  The people in some of these pictures can give you an idea of the size of the exhibits.
 Below is a "temple" made entirely out of wood.  Apparently one is built at the even every year and then burned down at the end.  This was really beautiful and there was no way my phone camera could do it justice.

 A close-up of a small section of one of the pillars and below is a sort of altar at the front.

 This and the one below were two of three that were in a smaller room.  I think this was probably my favorite exhibit.  The patterns on the wall, of course, are reflections from the lights in the spheres.

This floor to ceiling woman was created with a wire framework covered with a fine silvery metal mesh.  Really stunning and apparently at the even there is normally one of these (in different but similar poses) and they stand 50 feet tall.

 This was a small hexagon shaped room that had an installation of brass gongs hung on four of the walls - they were computerized so that metal levers would tap them at intervals to make a very soothing music.  They weren't really a good subject for a picture so I took a picture of the Chihuly glass creation hanging in the center of the room instead.
 And finally, a room with three of these mushroom shaped creations.  They were lit from within and when you stood on the circular pad, the tops of the mushrooms expanded and then the next step would make them deflate again.  Fun for kids (and me too!)

We finished up there and were ready for lunch.  Stopped at a new-to-me restaurant and had a delicious chicken, mozzarella cheese, pesto, and olive oil on a wonderful bread.  And I indulged in a glass of cold Prosecco.
 Just a bit more to see - throughout the area around the Renwick there are several temporary art pieces that somehow tie into the Burning Man exhibit.  This was one and another is below.  We also saw two  large ironwork crows nearby and somewhere there is a standing bear but I didn't see that.

And this is my tired legs and feet once we got home. :)  If you'd like to learn more about the actual Burning Man event there's lots of information on the internet.

April 10, 2018

Road trip! Road trip!

My friend Shelley got an invite to an art auction I guess because she did an Alaskan cruise a couple of years ago and they had a nightly auction and she bought a couple things.  It was for 2 people so she asked if I wanted to go along and, of course, I said sure!  The whole thing was free and was at a very posh golf resort place in Farmington, PA.  The real lure for me was that it was about 20 minutes away from Fallingwater - the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece of architecture.

We stayed in one of their "townhomes" (they have various lodging options) and it turned out to be a little townhouse with 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a washer and dryer, a full kitchen (bigger than mine) and a family room with a little deck out back looking out on a very bucolic scene.  This was free, mind you.  As were 3 breakfasts, 2 dinners and 1 lunch on the last day.  Actually, we arrived late Thursday or there would have been 3 free dinners.  And, of course, that included free mimosas with breakfast and free wine, beer or cocktails with dinner!!!  I told Shelley that I wouldn't be buying anything so if she wanted to change her mind she could.  But she said most people would be couples and so essentially, they'd just have one person buying so she had no problem with it.

The main "chateau" is humungous and there are lots of places like this where you can sit if you're tired of auctioning or whatever else you've been doing.  I came here after breakfast on our second morning and not long after I sat down, a man came by and got the fire going beautifully. 

So here are some pics of our "home" - they also have shuttle service that is constantly traveling the grounds (2200 acres all told) so you can park your car and let them do the driving.

The townhome
The kitchen


And, the family room...

and the stairs up to the bedrooms
This is the view out the deck window.  There were at least two zebras and an emu behind the fencing on this side of the lake but I couldn't get them to show up.  They have a lot of animals scattered around - we saw a couple of lions, a white tiger, the zebras and I don't know what all else there might be.  There were a lot of guests with children and the children all seemed to be happy to be there.

And here are my pictures from Fallingwater - you're not allowed to take any inside the home so I'll just tell you it was beautiful - very peaceful, very simple in appearance but so infinitesimally planned.  Wright designed almost all the furniture.  We found it interesting that there was no great show of wealth - I mean aside from the fact that the whole structure, the various art works, the custom designed furniture had to cost an enormous amount but it didn't look that way.  It just looked very comfortable and like a place that would be a wonderful place to live.

This was taken on the way to the house.  When I saw it come into view, I was actually a little disappointed because it didn't look as fantastic as the photos I had seen of it. But a couple of people said that after the tour we could walk to "the spot" where all the photos are taken, so on we went.
 In the first picture you can see people standing outside on one of the terraces.  This is the water running below that terrace.  I finally managed to find out that this is the Bear Run River and just like our Ohio River, it was much fuller than in the photos I've always seen.
 Just a bit of statuary - art works are scattered very casually all through the inside and outsi
de.
 Now the tour is over and we've walked down to "the spot" and it was glorious.  That huge waterfall under the first terrace wasn't visible from where I took my first picture with the little statue so I was truly stunned when I walked out on to the terrace and over to the edge.  It really took my breath away.  I've never been a swimmer and when young was scared of the water but I do love rivers, lakes, oceans - the bigger the better and this was a stunner.

And it just continues on down.  The woods all around the whole area were full of what we call rhodendron here but it's also called mountain laurel and that's what they called it on this mountain.  Can't imagine what it must be like when it all blooms.

So really, that's all there is to report really.  If you're interested in Fallingwater I'll tell you up front both Shelley and I thought the entrance fee was a bit steep for a 1-hour tour but I'll also tell you I bet you'll never see another house like it. :)


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