Greetings from Washington, DC!

I had two trips to Washington in January and February.  The first one was the day after ‘snowpocalype,’ so I was stuck at the hotel most of the time.  The weather was much improved for my second trip in February.

White House

The White House – February 2016

Lincoln Memorial - February 2016

Lincoln Memorial – February 2016

Mall Silver Sculpture

Sculpture on the National Mall

Bronze Coat

A Bronze Coat – the National Mall – February 2016

National Gallery

Jan de Bray – Portrait of the Artist’s Parents Salomon de Bray and Anna Westerbaen, 1664 – The National Gallery

 

Greetings from Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Two weeks ago, I attended a Department of Labor conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I’ve driven through northeastern New Mexico many times on my trips home to Texas from when I was stationed at Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana.  And Brian and I spent a long weekend in Santa Fe at the opera several years ago.  But this was my first trip to Albuquerque.

I went out a day early so I could get some sightseeing and hiking in.  I started the day at Petroglyph National Monument, which offers several desert hikes.  I began with the Rinconada Canyon Trail hike.  It’s a fascinating mixture of desert landscapes, ancient lava fields, and Native American petroglyph carvings.  There were lots of small finch-like birds in little colonies among the rocks.  And I actually saw a tarantula, but it hid before I could get a photo.

Lava Field - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Lava Field – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Asters - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Asters – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Petroglyphs - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Petroglyphs – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Desert Wild Flower - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Desert Wild Flower – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Shamanic Petroglyph - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Shamanic Petroglyph – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

This one is very interesting.  It was carved on an angle of the rock to give the face a 3-D effect.

3-D Petroglyph - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

3-D Petroglyph – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Lava Rocks - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Lava Rocks – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Fantastical Figures - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Fantastical Figures – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

After I finished at Rinconada Canyon Trail, I did the 5-mile hike at Three Sisters Volcanoes, also in Petroglyph National Monument.

JA Volcano - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

JA Volcano – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

'Starfish' Cactus - JA Volcano - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

‘Starfish’ Cactus – JA Volcano – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Vulcan Volcano - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Vulcan Volcano – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains, from Black Volcano – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

Black Volcano Caldera - Petroglyph National Monument - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Black Volcano Caldera – Petroglyph National Monument – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

New Mexico Vista - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

New Mexico Vista from Vulcan Volcano – Albuquerque NM – October 2015

After the Sisters, I changed terrains completely and hiked the “Five Hills of Death” trail in Tijeras, about 20 miles east of Albuquerque.  Isn’t that awesome?!?  How could one not want to hike something called the Five Hills of Death?  Luckily, I lived to tell the tale…

Fall Foliage - Five Hills of Death - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Fall Foliage – Five Hills of Death – Tijeras NM – October 2015

Five Hills of Death - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Five Hills of Death – Tijeras NM – October 2015

Trail - Five Hills of Death - Albuquerque NM - October 2015

Trail – Five Hills of Death – Tijeras NM – October 2015

Greetings from Washington, D.C. and Virginia!

So I had two back-to-back trips to D.C. and decided to extend the second one, so I’m in Virginia for the weekend.  I’ve been to D.C. many times, but this is my first time to Virginia.  I spent some time in Great Falls Park – the ‘Great Falls’ being the Potomac – then on to Monticello, and then to the ‘historical triangle’ of Yorktown, Jamestown, and Colonial Williamsburg.

Near Monticello, I stayed at Keswick Hall and in Williamsburg, at the Williamsburg Inn.  Last night, I ate at Shields Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg – probably the best pot roast I have ever had in my entire life.

Tomorrow I’m at Mount Vernon and then back to Austin.  It’s been a great couple of days.  I love colonial American history and architecture, so this was like nirvana for me.

National Archives Prologue - August 2015

The National Archives – ‘What is Past is Prologue’ – August 2015

National Archives Study - August 2015

The National Archives – ‘Study the Past’ – August 2015

Great Falls of the Potomac - August 2015

Great Falls of the Potomac – August 2015

Great Falls Park - August 2015

Great Falls National Park, Virginia – August 2015

Monticello Observatory - August 2015

Monticello Garden Observatory – Monticello, Virginia – August 2015

Monticello Observatory Inside - August 2015

Inside the Monticello Garden Observatory – Monticello, Virginia – August 2015

Jamestown Fort - August 2015

First Jamestown Settlement Fort (1607) – Jamestown, Virginia – August 2015

Jamestown Original Settlement - August 2015

Jamestown Old Settlement – Jamestown, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg - August 2015

Colonial Williamsburg Garden – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg House1 - August 2015

House in Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg Governor's Palace - August 2015

Governor’s Palace – Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg Governor's Palace Gardens - August 2015

Formal Gardens – Governor’s Palace – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg Governor's Palace Gardens1 - August 2015

Formal Gardens – Governor’s Palace – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg Governor's Palace Finial - August 2015

Finial – Formal Gardens of the Governor’s Palace – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg Field - August 2015

Meadow – Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg House3 - August 2015

House in Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg House2 - August 2015

House in Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015

Williamsburg - Shields Tavern - August 2015

Shields Tavern – Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia – August 2015 (Get the Ale-Potted Beef; you won’t regret it!)

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!

So I was at a Department of Labor conference in Chicago.  I wish I’d had more time to explore the old neighborhoods, since my grandfather and his family are from Chicago.  I was able to get in a six mile walk the first afternoon I was there, starting at my hotel, the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile, then down Michigan Avenue, across to Lakeshore Boulevard, then back up along the lake.  The weather was in the low 60s – actually wished I’d brought a sweater!

Here’s what I saw:

Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Chicago River - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Chicago River – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Stone Planter - Michigan Avenue - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Stone Planter – Michigan Avenue – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Old Water Tower - Michigan Avenue - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Old Water Tower – Michigan Avenue – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Millennium Park - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Harris Theatre - Millennium Park - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Harris Theatre – Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Graces - Millennium Park - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Graces – Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Silver Horse and Rider - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Silver Horse and Rider – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Lion - Michigan Avenue - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Lion – Michigan Avenue – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Theodore Thomas Memorial - Grant Park - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Theodore Thomas Memorial – Grant Park – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

City Skyline - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

City Skyline – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Profile Sculpture - Millennium Park - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Profile Sculpture – Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

'The Bean' - Millennium Park - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

‘The Bean’ – Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Pediment - Michigan Avenue Bridge - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Pediment – Michigan Avenue Bridge – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Shoreline - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Shoreline – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Sculpture - Millennium Park - Chicago, Illinois - July 2015

Sculpture – Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois – July 2015

Greetings from El Paso, Texas!

So last week, I was at a conference in El Paso.  It was the first time I’d been back since I was a six-month-old baby.  My grandparents moved from Gießen, Germany to El Paso, Texas in 1959 when my grandfather was transferred to Fort Bliss.  Compare and contrast…

Gießen

Gießen, Germany

El Paso - June 2015

El Paso, Texas

Ever the optimist, my grandmother took it as an adventure to create a green oasis in what was obviously a desert.   Apparently she was very proud when the ‘grass’ started coming up.  Then the next-door neighbor asked why she was watering the tumble weeds.

Anyroad, this is the house my grandparents built, that was later home to my parents after they got married and where I was ‘born.’   Although you can’t really tell, there are six cars parked in the front yard, one being a white and lime-green Cadillac El Dorado – awesome.  ‘Pepe,’ the chihuahua that came out to bark at me seemed à propos.  To paraphrase Thomas Wolfe… sometimes, you shouldn’t go home again.

Old Home El Paso - June 2015

The old homestead – El Paso, Texas – June 2015

Greetings from Houston, Texas!

Last weekend was our annual ‘double performance’ weekend at Houston Grand Opera.  Friday night was ‘Sweeney Todd‘ (they’ve started including one musical in the season) and Saturday was ‘Die Walküre‘  I have a thing about knives and straight razors, so I was nauseous after Sweeney.   This was the second time I’d seen, Walküre.  I’d forgotten what an ordeal sitting through more than five hours of opera can be.  It might not have been so bad if it had been a ‘traditional’ production with Viking helmets and breast plates, but this was decided a ‘modern production’ where you sit through the thing and thing “Well, that’s certainly odd…” 

Die Walkure

Die Walküre – Houston Grand Opera – April 2015

Anyroad, I had an hour or so free on Saturday afternoon before the marathon, so I wandered around Hermann Park, which was near our hotel, the ZaZa.   It was a pretty day, but at 1,000 percent humidity, it was yet another reminder about why I would never live in Houston, ever.

Hotel ZaZa - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Hotel ZaZa – Houston, Texas – April 2015

Hotel ZaZa Limo - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Hotel ZaZa Limo – Houston, Texas – April 2015

Mecom Fountain Near Rice University - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Mecom Fountain Near Rice University – Houston, Texas – April 2015

Cattle Topiary - Houston, Texas - April 2015

Cattle Topiary – Houston, Texas – April 2015

HMFA - April 2015

‘Sculpture’ – Houston Museum of Fine Arts – April 2015

Bridge - Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Bridge – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

Bird - Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Bird – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

 

 

Iris - Japanese Garden - Houston - April 2015

Iris – Japanese Garden – Houston – April 2015

Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Stone Lantern – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

Japanese Maple - Japanese Gardens - Houston - April 2015

Japanese Maple – Japanese Gardens – Houston – April 2015

 

 

 

Greetings from Portland, Oregon!

So last week, I was at another Department of Labor conference, this time, in Portland, Oregon.  This was my first trip to Portland – a rainy ‘Austin of the Northwest.’   However, it was only rainy on the first day; the remaining two were what you might call ‘Chamber of Commerce Weather.’

On my free afternoon, I walked though Washington Park.  I say ‘walked.’  I’d originally planned to stroll around, but it ended up being about 8 miles through the park and NW Portland neighborhoods.

Portland OR Pioneer Courthous - March 2015

Pioneer Courthouse, Pioneer Square, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Washington Park - March 2015

Washington Part, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Washington Park1 - March 2015

Washington Park, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Wildflower - Washington Park - March 2015

Wildflower – Washington Park, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Washington Park2 - March 2015

Washington Park, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Washington Park3 - March 2015

Washington Park, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Washington Park4 - March 2015

Washington Park, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Washington Park5 - March 2015

Washington Park, Portland, OR – March 2015

Portland OR - Washington Park6 - March 2015

Washington Park, Portland, OR – March 2015

Greetings from Washington D.C.!

So another Department of Labor conference in Washington.  This year, there was snow.  And cold.  When I walked around the Mall taking these photos, it was 24 degrees.  When I left on Friday, it was 7.

Art Deco Griffin - February 2015

Art Deco Griffin – February 2015

Capitol1 - February 2015

Capitol Under Renovation – February 2015

Frozen Potomac - February 2015

Potomac River Frozen Over – February 2015

Pentagon - February 2015

Pentagon – February 2015

US Grant Memorial - February 2015

U. S. Grant Memorial – February 2015

US Grant Memorial2 - February 2015

U. S. Grant Memorial – February 2015

National Gallery - February 2015

National Gallery – February 2015

Smithsonian - February 2015

The Castle – Smithsonian Institution – February 2015

Greetings from Austin, Texas!

So I normally do posts about places that I’m visiting, but yesterday was such a spectacular Autumn day, I decided to play tourist in my own back yard.

I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that the fall colour in Austin this year is particularly vibrant – and a tad early.  The sumacs are really outstanding this year.  This is one of my crepe myrtles.

Crepe Myrtle - Nov 14

Crepe Myrtle – November 2014

This is the view from my office.  I see this every day, but try not to take it for granted.  About three years ago, the Texas Preservation Board decided that the Capitol Dome needed to be painted.  A travesty in my humble opinion.  When finished, it looked like a shiny pink M&M.  Hopefully some of that is fading.

Texas Capitol Rotunda and Senate - Nov 14

Texas Capitol Dome, Rotunda, and Senate Wing – November 2014

This is the north-facing side of the Capitol.  It’s hard to tell from this photo, but you’ll note there’s only one flag flying on the pole – the Texas flag.  Since it’s facing north, I think there’s probably not such a subtle message.

Texas Capitol Dome - Nov 14

Texas Capitol Dome – November 2014

The Texas Capitol grounds are wonderful.  Probably close to four city blocks, there’s great parkland for the kids on field trips to run around.  Also many monuments.  I pass these on my twice-daily walks.

This is what a live oak tree looks like without pruning intervention.

Texas Capitol Grounds - Live Oak

Live Oak – Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

The relatively new memorial to the Spanish Explorers and early Tejano settlers.

Spanish and Tejano Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Conquistador and Tejano Monument – Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is a view down Congress Avenue.  When my grandmother was a little girl, this was the primary road from San Antonio to Austin.

Congress Avenue - Nov 14

Congress Avenue – Austin, Texas – November 2014

This is one of the several Civil War memorials.  Every decade or so, there’s a bill introduced to remove them from the Capitol Grounds.  You can imagine the fate of those bills.

Confederate Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Confederate War Memorial, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is the south portico of the Texas Capitol.  Most rallies occur here because it’s the terminus of Congress Avenue.

Texas Capitol South Portico - Nov 2014

South Portico, Texas Capitol – November 2014

This is a wonderful ‘cowboy memorial.’

Cowboy Bronze Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Cowboy Bronze, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

Cowboy Bronze Texas Capitol Grounds1 - Nov 14

Cowboy Bronze, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is the dome of First Methodist in Austin, on the west side of the Capitol.  The façade is Greek Revival, but the interior is definitely late 19th century Texana.

First Methodist Austin Dome - Nov 14

First Methodist Church – Austin, Texas – November 2014

This is my favourite memorial on the grounds – the Spanish-American War monument.  Part of it’s charm is the giant sycamore tree behind it; one of the few on the grounds.  I love sycamores – they have a unique smell that’s really hard to describe.

Spanish American War Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Spanish-American War Memorial, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This monument is interesting only in as much as it’s the subject of a rather dubious recent Supreme Court ruling.  It’s fun to watch the more politically connected tourists take their photos with it.  It’s also amusing to me because it’s right next to the exhaust fan from the Capitol Grill, so it always smells like French fries and fried chicken.

Ten Commandments Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Ten Commandments Monument, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

After work, I go running at Town Lake.  (You can always tell an old-timer, because we call it ‘Town Lake’ rather than ‘Lady Bird Lake.’)  Here are some views from there.

Town Lake to Redbud Isle - Nov 14

Town Lake west to Red Bud Isle – November 2014

Town Lake to Downtown - Nov 14

Town Lake east to Downtown Austin – November 2014

Town Lake - Nov 14

Town Lake Autumn Foliage – November 2014

And finally, a city view from Barton Creek Mall in southwest Austin.

Austin Sykline - Nov 14

Austin Skyline – November 2014