.All Trips / Europe / France

Paris’ amazing Orsay Museum

16 Paris 05-2013.  A day at the Orsa

The Orsay Museum is one of my favorite places in Paris!  It has a great location, situated on the Seine River in the center of the city, across from the Tuileries Garden.  The museum was built as the Orsay railway station (Gare), opening in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition.   By 1939 the station’s short platforms had become unsuitable for the longer trains that were then being used and it was largely abandoned.  In 1970, permission was granted to demolish the station but it was saved with the hope that it could be converted to a hotel.   The need for an art museum to house Paris’ extensive collections of Impressionist art sparked the idea to convert the Orsay into a National …

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.All Trips / British Columbia / North America / Western Canada

A visit to Skeedans, Haidi Gwaii

QCI Skeedans 2003 044  Skeedans Island Totems and Guardians

One of the most memorable day-trips I’ve ever been on was to the remnants of the Haida village of Skedans.  It’s a remote and rarely visited place.  Sadly, not much remains of the village, captured near its prime in the image below this paragraph (from 1878), rich with great totem art and beautiful longhouses.

1878 photo of Skedans village.  Courtesy the Library and Archives of Canada

1878 photo of Skedans village. Courtesy the Library and Archives of Canada

Skedans is located on the northeastern shore of Louise Island, at the head of Cumshewa Inlet in Haida Gwaii (formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands), off the coast of North Central British Columbia just south of the Alaska panhandle.  That sounds really confusing, so to help you better orient yourself to this remote place, here are a few maps I think will help:

Overview of Haida Gwai's location

Overview of Haida Gwai’s location


Location of totems and old Haida villages, Haida Gwaii

Location of totems and old Haida villages, Haida Gwaii

Skedans is also known variously …

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Alberta / Central Canada / North America

“Pic of the Week”, May 15, 2015: The Saddle-Maker


We came across this rustic-looking fellow at the Bar-U Ranch, about an hour’s drive south of Calgary.  He’s a leather-worker by trade and makes saddles.   He’s very much of the 21st century, although from the photos it seems he would fit in well in the days of the Wild West 150 years earlier.

He’s a cowboy poet and recited several of his poems for us, which were good.  But what interested me most is what he was making the day we visited because it wasn’t a saddle.  He was making a miniature pair of chaps for his one year old grandson!


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.All Trips / Nevada / North America / Southwestern USA

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Valley of The Fire StateP Park  (122)

Tired of the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas?  Had enough of the concrete canyons and smoked filled casinos of Sin City?  Not sure if it’s day or night (there are no clocks allowed in Vegas casinos)?  Then you should do what I do as often as I can when I visit Vegas — make a trip to Valley of Fire State Park and escape into the beautiful desert world that comprises much of Nevada.  No neon lights, no massive buffets, no dancing fountains (in fact, little water anywhere)!  Beyond usual Mojave desert landscapes, Valley of Fire has wonderful and interesting rock formations that alone are worth the journey. The park is is located 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Las Vegas and …

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.All Trips / Nevada / North America / Southwestern USA

Dessert anyone?

07 Bellagio 2015 dessert

I’m quick to confess — I’ve a weakness for dessert, especially of the oven-baked or gelato kind.  It’s nothing new, an affliction I’ve had for as long as I can remember, making me very sympathetic to the, “Let’s eat dessert first” crowd.  Fortunately, I don’t have a gluten allergy or diabetes (or I’d need to make some major and unwelcome adjustments).

Of the buffets I’ve visited in Las Vegas, my favorite is the Bellagio’s Sunday Brunch spread, which I always head back to when I’m in town on a weekend.  There are dozens and dozens of delicious hot and cold food items ranging from salads to sushi to carved ham and turkey, far too many choices for even a shutterbug like …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument 011c

While many of the units of the US National Park system are frequently visited and very busy, there are also a few less crowded places.  Colorado National Monument (known to locals as “The Monument”) falls into the latter category.  Situated just south of the city of Grand Junction in western Colorado,  it’s part of the high desert lands of the Colorado plateau.  The Monument is know for its colorful sheer canyons and unusual rock formations, carved by wind and water from the red rock sandstone so characteristic of Utah and western Colorado.  The Monument is not large by American Park standards, just 32 square miles (20,500 acre), but there’s a lot of great scenery packed in.  Besides the red rock, …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / North America / Ontario

Old City Hall, Toronto, Canada

02 Old Toronto City Hall

In a city with hundreds of gleaming new skyscrapers, I found it refreshing to see and visit a view a few of Toronto’s older buildings, including this one in particular.  It was designed by noted Toronto architect, Edward James Lennox (who also designed Casa Loma).  The project took almost 10 years to complete, opening in 1899,  and came in at the then hefty sum of $2.5 million.  It’s a huge square quad building with a central courtyard.  Two types of colored stone were used in the construction: 1) grey from the Credit River Valley in Ontario, and 2) brown from New Brunswick.  To give you an idea of the scale of the project, it took the equivalent of …

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.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

Palm Springs’ Amazing Air Museum!

California, Spring 2009  107a.  Palm Springs Air Museum

The Palm Springs Air Museum is located on the north side of the Palm Springs Airport.  The Air Museum is housed in an expansive structure that includes the two main display halls and hangars, a theater, gift shop, research library, flight simulator and education center.  It’s website indicates it’s been rated by CNN as one of the top 14 Air Museums in the World. The museum provides an up-close look at the legendary fighters and bombers of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.  The warm, dry desert climate is ideal for preserving planes, so in this regard the museum is well situated.    What’s most amazing is that most of these planes are flight-worthy (27 flyable aircraft), making

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