Monday, June 03, 2013

Sunset on the bay

Even though it was a rainy day, there was a dramatic sunset to be had on the Chesapeake bay.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Two Quick Touristy Things to Do in Oklahoma City

Breezing through OK? Here are two places within a few minutes drive from each other that you can quickly visit for free.

Mosaic mural and
fountains at one end of the canal.
There's a lovely canal meandering through the heart of town. You could spend hours hiking from one end to the other, or you could park in a $5 lot (free on Sundays) and wander along a short section.

The canal is lined with benches, murals, sculpture, restaurants, coffee shops, and snacky places (like an ice cream shop that makes custom flavors while you watch). Beautiful landscaping decorates the walkways, tunnels, and bridges.
Mural along the canal showing the
 canal tour boat departing. 
There are canal boat tours which require some planning and may make you wait in line. Tickets are purchased at special ticketing areas NOT at the docks. Maps and info readily available all along the canal.

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum (Outdoors)
The not-to-be-missed memorial commemorating those who died during the 1995 bombing. Park across the street or along the curb (if you can find an available meter).
Tributes to loved ones on the fencing.
Check the fencing for tributes to loved ones. There's a lovely reflecting pool situated between 9:01 and 9:03 walls giving a somber and sacred atmosphere. Beside the pool are chairs, one for each person killed in the blast. There are small chairs representing the children in the daycare center. The seat bottoms are glass cubes that light up at night. The outdoor park is open 24 hours and there's a cell phone tour (dial 405.445.4792).

The reflecting pool at 9:02.

The reflecting pool is a few inches
deep with imperceptible drain and
recycling niches along the sides.
The chairs along the right side
of the reflecting pool.
 On the other side of the pool is the Survivor Tree (which survived the blast). From the tree you can get an overview of the grounds. Behind the tree is a graffiti wall with the original (regularly cleaned, painted, and renewed) words sprayed by rescue workers.

The Survivors Tree.
Looking left from the
Survivors Tree.
Looking right from the
Survivors Tree.
Further along is the children's area featuring a wall of children's art from a Texas Elementary school. The plaza features large slate tiles and colored chalk for children to enjoy.
You can stay longer if you visit the indoor museum (not open 24 hours and there's an entry fee) which has three floors and in depth displays of all bombing-related events.

Tiles made by Elementary school
children in Texas. Nicole was
6 years old at the time.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wamego Tulip Festival Without Blooms

Local tulips before the festival.
The festival was a success but the tulips weren't blooming. They are only now beginning to bloom, primarily in sheltered locations.

The festival area is also Wamego city park. It is bordered by playgrounds, a windmill on a mound, and the History Museum. The museum is a collection of artifacts not necessarily from Kansas, although most were donated by local residents.
Lathe at the Wamego History Museum.
Surrey with a fringe on top.

Down the street from the park (and the festival) is the Oz Museum. They nearly owned the original Judy Garland ruby slippers. Unfortunately, the shoes were stolen two weeks before they were due at the museum. Although (as you will learn in the museum) in the book they were silver shoes, not ruby slippers. The ruby slippers came into being to take advantage of newly discovered technicolor film.

There are as many aspects of Oz as can be crammed into one residential home-sized space. There are niches for sections of the story: the witch dies, munchkins, the tin man, the scarecrow, etc. All nicely done and off limits for touching. There is also a dark, scary Haunted Forest section complete with warning sign. One young visitor could only be coaxed through while holding her father's hand.
Most sincerely dead.

Shelves of books (behind glass) show early editions of all the books Frank Baum wrote. There are a lot. Besides the Oz books, there is an extensive series for young girls written under a pseudonym. Other items behind glass include a death certificate for the Wicked Witch of the West, playbills and photos from stage productions, a pair of ruby slippers (not from the movie), and a case of genuine "Wicked" stage props.
Original art work from the Wizard of Oz books.
Pay no attention to the man
behind the curtain.
Sit in the chair and be the Wizard!

Admission is $7. A good place for a rainy day. If the admission seems unreasonable, you can see the Munchkin prints in the cement outside and purchase souvenirs in the gift shop.

Sometimes the tulips do bloom for the festival. This year winter stayed longer than usual. No one seemed put out by the lack of blooms. There were numerous booths and lots of handcrafts to choose from. There was carnival (festival) food. You could eat as many funnel cakes as you like, provided you were willing to wait in line. I opted for the barbecue which had the virtue of being the shortest line. Being made ahead, I didn't have to wait for the order to be cooked.

It was a true Kansas experience.
A blooming tulip discovered at the festival.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A Visit to Lawrence: the Hippie Capital of Kansas

Signage at the Antique shop.
Lawrence exists because once upon a time the residents of Kansas considered coming down on the side of slavery. Alien intellectuals moved here to swing the vote. And then, having succeeded in keeping Kansas free, they stayed.

The place is now a university town, attracting liberals from all over. The main street, Massachusetts, has become a hippie happening (particularly on Saturday) with artsy shops, museums, fabulous food, assorted crafty places, and the requisite hipsters. The street is wide and pedestrian-friendly.
8-track tapes! Still to be
captured in the wild.

We (my two house mates and I) started off at the Antique Mall because it was early and most of the other shops were closed. You have to arrive by 10 am or you won't find a place to park. It's all meters with a 2-hour limit. The only free day is Sunday.

After wandering around viewing 8-track tapes, funky signage, and school desks I hadn't seen in at least 30 years, we headed out into what was becoming a throng.

Next stop, the Yarn Barn with luscious yarns all in the nosebleed price range and catering primarily to weavers. Need a loom? You can find it here and the warp and weft to go with it.

The shock of student desks.
The British food shop, Brits, was up next. And through the next door, separated only by a glass wall into au Marche, a European food shop. Ooooooh! Flake! Assam Tea!

Back to the car to move to another meter. Everyone else was playing the game and we lucked into another spot two blocks up.

Take a card! 
Lunch at Aladdin's was amazing! Flavorful authentic Mediterranean cuisine, a blend between Lebanese and Greek. I had perfectly grilled lamb kebobs with vegetables and a tangy fresh cucumber sauce. The lentil soup was delicately spiced. The server noticed I preferred water with no ice, and brought me a glass after my Rose Lemonade ran out—without having to be asked.

Lamb kabobs with cucumber sauce. Yum!
If you get the chance to visit Lawrence, be sure to stop into the Phoenix Gallery. And drop into the fine art gallery downstairs, too. The Phoenix shows a variety of pottery from unique shapes and colors to original glazes and thoughtful specialized dishes. There's a stand of Holly Yashi (my favorite) and lots of other handmade jewelry.

We browsed the shops for four hours, but you could easily stay longer.
For the Whovians at Brits.
Next up: the Wamego Tulip Festival. Hoping to get some good photos and a sunny day.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

I'm not skiing within sight of guns

I was attracted by the lush photo of skiing on perfect powder. Then I read the article about the difficulties of altitude, local guys with guns, and grade Z ski runs. Nope. Not for me.

Also, the description of the "resort" as
a place that combined hints of luxury (official-looking uniforms, stylish public areas) with leaky showers and paper-thin walls
is a bit discouraging. I'm afraid I'm the type that prefers luxury to be all luxury. Then there's the caveat that you need to have avalanche managing skills. When I'm on vacation I prefer that it be relaxing and easy. It's the bunny slopes for me! Life is challenging enough, thank you.

Just as good to know what you don't want as well as what you do want. Think I'll wait until someone I know is going and is willing to take me along so I can hang out in the warm interior watching them ski.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Costa Rica!

Cheap deals drive me to the beach. Or fly me, anyway. One of the first, real vacations I bought came from a radio announcement of a special package deal to the Bahamas. I thought about it for five minutes and then picked up the phone. It was a great vacation, once they got our hotel and room sorted out. Returning was not so cool. It was a charter cruise and they herded us like cattle.

Anyway, all those little details fade away when I remember all the fun I had on the Robinson Crusoe cruise, the markets, helpful natives, eating conch, and laying on the beach sucking back Bahama Mamas.

Here's another goodie! Costa Rica* at about the same price I paid for the Bahamas so many years ago. Of course, by the time you pay for everything (food, souvenirs, side trips, etc.) you've spent double the price. Who cares!

*You'll need to create a Travel Zoo account to see the full deal. Your mileage may vary as the price alters depending on your departure city.

Monday, February 04, 2013

It's Fasching!

Fasching in Mainz is the best. Wish I could be here Thursday. The day after my birthday. One of the biggest parties in the world. Must be in my honor.
Guardistin in the Parade in Mainz, DE.
You could take me. I don't drink, so I could make sure you get back to your hotel safely. If that's what you wanted ...