.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Visiting an Ancient Spanish Monastery — in Florida??

00 Ancient Spanish Monastery (36)

How could an old Spanish Monastery be located in North Miami Beach?  Herein lies the interesting background of this story.  

This Monastery was built between 1133 – 1141 A.D. near Segovia, in Northern Spain.  It became known as the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. — St. Bernard was a Cistercian monk and influential church leader, and the founder and abbot of the Abbey of Clairvaux.  Cistercian monks lived in this Monastery for nearly 700 years.  After a social upheaval in the 1830’s, the Monastery‚Äôs Cloisters were seized and converted into a granary and stable.

 Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Enter legendary American publisher, William Randolph Hearst (of California’s Hearst Castle fame).  In 1925, Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings (the church was not part …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 18, 2019: A Swirl of Color


I walked past this scarlet macaw preening itself, and had to stop and enjoy a display of nature’s palette.  Scarlet macaws are amazingly beautiful birds!  In the act of cleaning itself, the bird’s multicolored feathers were moving and beautifully displayed.  I tried to capture some of this brilliance in these images — hopefully with at least an element of success.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos, right arrows to advance)


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“Pic of the Week”, October 11, 2019: Robert W Service, the Bard of the North

01 Whitehorse Street Art (32)

While I love reading whenever I find the time, I’ve never been much of a fan of poetry, with two exceptions — the writing of Rudyard Kipling and (the man featured in today’s Pic of the Day) Robert W. Service.

Robert Service was born in England and began writing poems as a child, dreaming of a life of exploration and adventure, and of one day being a cowboy in Western Canada.  He emigrated to Canada in 1895, although he never became a cowboy.

Service is well know to Canadians because of his writing about life in Canada’s Yukon territory during the Klondike Goldrush.  He moved to the Yukon during this colorful period in history and loved the characters he met and heard …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

A Day at Niagara-on-the-Lake

00 Niagara on the Lake (112)

I like to stop at the pretty and historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake when I’m in the Niagara Peninsula region because it’s such a charming community.  It’s located where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. 

Canada is a new country with only a relatively short period of recorded history.  Still, Niagara-on-the-Lake is considered to be of historic significance.  It was founded in 1781 and was originally known as Butlersburg, later renamed as West Niagara.  The town subsequently adapted it’s current name to avoid confusion with Niagara Falls.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

British Loyalists fled here from the south in the aftermath of the American Revolution.  It was the first capital of the Province of Upper Canada (the predecessor of Ontario) from 1792 to 1797.  During the …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 4, 2019: White Ibis, Florida

01 White Ibis

I’d never seen White Ibis before visiting Florida years ago.  It’s a rather common bird in the Gulf Coast region, extending from the Mid-Atlantic coast to Mexico.  The white ibis prefers living around marshy and swampy ground.  It’s obviously a white bird, with pale facial skin and pink beak and legs.  Apparently the legs turn scarlet during mating season.  Males are larger and have longer bills than females. 

Their diet consists primarily of small aquatic insects and fish, including crayfish, although these freeloaders were enjoying a meal provided by Flamingo Gardens.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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“Pic of the Week”, September 27, 2019: Grand Staircase, Manitoba Legislative Building

00 Bison stairs

One of my favorite places to visit in Manitoba is the main entrance to it’s Legislative Building — home of the province’s governing body.  Within the entrance is a magnificent staircase framed by two bison — know affectionately by me as the Bison Stairs (but to most others as the Grand Staircase).  The bison is the symbol of the province of Manitoba.

The staircase is composed of Carrara marble and has three flights each with 13 steps.   The bison flanking the lower stairs are solid bronze and were cast in New York, each weighing 2 1/2 tons.  Apparently to install the bison without damaging the marble floors, the main entrance was flooded and left to freeze.  The bison were slide in on …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 13, 2019: A Coffee Shop in Nederville, Colorado

01 Nederville, Colorado (4)

Situated in the Rocky Mountains near Golden, Colorado, is the small town of Nederville.  We were driving through the mountains, in need of a caffeine fix, and my son told me he knew of a nice coffee shop in Nederville.  Turns out this coffee shop was situated in several old train cars, an unusual and fun setting.

The java was good and the fresh mini-donuts were terrific!

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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“Pic of the Week”, September 6, 2019: Grenfell, Saskatchewan

04 Grenfell, Saskatchewan (1)

I spotted this interesting Tourist Information building while driving across the prairies on the TransCanada Highway.  Grenfell is a small town in Saskatchewan that cleverly made its TI look like a prairie grain elevator.  As we’ve previously pointed out, the real counterparts of this structure are disappearing prairie icons.  I enjoyed the row of smaller grain elevators behind the TI, which you can see better in the photos below.

As I’d pulled off the highway, I though I’d drive around the town to see what’s there.  Nothing much, really.  A nice historic mural on one of the buildings.  A small museum featuring pioneer artifacts (open only during summer months).  And it being the prairies, no town would be complete without a …

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