.All Trips / Europe / Italy

A visit to the fascinating Frari Church, Venice

05 Frari Church, Venice (8)

One of the great places to explore when visiting Venice is the Franciscan church of Santa Maria dei Frari (St. Mary of the Friars, commonly known as the Frari Church).  
As with many things in Venice, the Frari Church is an old building.  The church was originally constructed between 1236 and 1338, then rebuilt in Gothic style two centuries later.   It’s considered a minor basilica and is dedicated to the Assumption of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Exterior, Frari Church, Venice

Exterior, Frari Church, Venice


While the church is well known for its spacious architecture, it is best known for the many fine monuments and terrific works of Venetian Renaissance art it displays.  This beautiful art is still situated exactly where the artists knew it would be placed and where it …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Magnificent Mt. Shasta, California

00 Mt. Shasta 13

One of the most memorable drives I’ve done in recent years is the road that stretches between Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Mount Shasta in Northern California.  Route 97 heads southwest towards the ever looming presence of majestic Mount Shasta, one of the prettiest mountains anywhere.  
We did this drive last month and the views of that beautiful peak were one of the highlights of our trip.  It was a clear day and Mt Shasta was visible for more than an hour. We stopped frequently for photos because we were worried the peak might disappear the closer we got because of hills obstructing our view, but that was not the case; some of these images are interspersed with this narrative, each subsequent …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

A Day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari (1)

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is found near Escondido, California, about a half hour’s drive northeast of San Diego and its world famous San Diego Zoo.  
I’ve visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park about a half dozen times in the past 35 years and really enjoyed every visit.  When we first came to the park decades ago the place was known as San Diego Wild Animal Park, but in 2010 the name was changed because some people were apparently getting it and the zoo confused.  This is not the zoo — it’s where you can go on a (sort-of) safari.  But at either place you’ll have the chance to see a large quantity and variety of …

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.All Trips / Arkansas / Central USA / North America

A Visit to Thorncrown Chapel, Arkansas

00 Thorncrown Chapel (43)

One of the loveliest modern chapels I’ve ever visited is Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Thorncrown Chapel was designed by E. Fay Jones, who had apprenticed with the great Frank Lloyd Wright, and was built in 1980.  The chapel was commissioned by Jim Reed, a retired schoolteacher, who wanted to create a non-denominational pilgrimage chapel for meditation.  The chapel is elegant yet blends in with the local landscape, seeming an airy part of it.
Thorncrown Chapel is constructed mostly of local wood (e.g. Southern pine) and was built with the general rule of thumb that no materials bigger than what two people could carry should be used (e.g. 2x6s instead of massive beams).  The floor is constructed with slabs of …

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.All Trips / Car Culture / Europe / Poland

Great Cars Along the Highway: Nysa Passenger Vans, Krakow

06 Krakow Van

When we visited Poland I noticed a style of passenger van being used in the tourist trade with which I was not familiar.
A little research revealed that it’s a Polish made van, the ‘Nysa 522’, a symbol of the Communist era.  It was manufactured in Nysa, Poland from 1958 – 1994.  Nysa built it to be a multifunctional van and it was used for carrying cargo and passengers, less commonly as ambulances.  Nysa vans were also commonly used by the Communist Militia.
The company did little to improve the van over the years, powering them with relatively gutless 2.2 or 2.5 l engines.  When the Soviet Union collapsed and Democracy re-emerged in Poland, sales of better quality and more popular imported vehicles …

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Central USA / Kansas / North America

“Pic of the Week”, June 26, 2020: Van Gogh Easel, Goodland, Kansas

00 Van Gogh Easel, Goodland (6)

It’s not every day you get to see an enormous Van Gogh painting sitting on an easel in a small prairie town.  But that’s what we encountered recently when traveling through Kansas.
Goodland, in western Kansas, is said to have the World’s Largest Easel.  It’s 80 feet tall and holds a 32 x 24-foot representation of one of Van Gogh’s “Sunflower” paintings.  The painting was constructed using 24 sheets of plywood surrounded by fiberglass mattes and layered with an industrial gel coat.  The paint used was industrial acrylic urethane enamel, known for it’s hardiness in extreme weather conditions.  The easel is built of steel, weighing more than 40,000 pounds. The supports are sunk 35 feet into the ground. 
Goodland’s painting is a …

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.All Trips / Europe / Slovenia

Church of St. John the Baptist, Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

00 Church of St. John the Baptist (18)

One of the most photographed sites in Lake Bohinj is this church.  It’s about 700 years old (although it was constructed over several hundred years) and sits at the lake’s outflow, adjoining an attractive stone bridge.  The church is an important cultural landmark, but I think the main appeal is its beautiful “picture perfect” natural setting. 
The Church of St John the Baptist in this region has a history dating back to the early years of Christianity, but this building was constructed in the Middle Ages.  The nave is of Romanesque architecture.  The walls and ceilings are covered with 15th- and 16th-century frescoes, some of the oldest in Slovenia.

Entry to Church of St. John the Baptist

Entry to Church of St. John the Baptist


As you enter the church you’ll see some interesting murals, as well as the …

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.All Trips / Argentina / Chile / Food / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 8) Feasting at Sea

10 King Crabe served on mote wheat with cilantro dressing, grissini with herbs

My final post for this adventure into the Patagonian fjords of Chile focuses on the very wonderful food we were served aboard the Australis.  We received three meals a day in the ship’s dining room mostly (as I recall) buffet style, including hearty breakfasts with a large choice of items, a tasty lunch, but no question the highlight of our culinary day was dinner.  We had four dinners aboard the Australis and I found each of them photogenic enough to be “documented”.  I never planned on making a blog of what I ate, so I didn’t photograph everything — just those items that looked wonderful (and were!)
Besides the very tasty meals, the service of our crew throughout the ship was …

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.All Trips / Chile / South America

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia: 7) Wulaia Bay

00 Bahia Wulaia

Our final stop before the Australis headed to port in Ushuaia was at historic Wulaia Bay, a pretty spot visited by many navigators over the centuries.
The area around Wulaia Bay has long been settled by man, with archaeological studies showing evidence of human habitation for more than 10,000 years, these being the nomadic Yahgan aboriginal people.  The Yaghan population was strong 150 years ago but today has been largely decimated; less than 2000 individuals remain.

Journey to Wulaia Bay

Journey to Wulaia Bay


The famous British exploration vessel, HMS Beagle, visited the area twice.  The first time was during her 1826 – 1830 voyage wherein Captain Fitzroy charted many of the channels in the Patagonian fjords, making for safer sailing of the region.  The return journey lasted from 1831 …

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