Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Venice, its just appealing to me

A few years ago, my wife and I took a 10-day trip to Italy.

It was in November just before Thanksgiving. The weather was good, the food was great and the historic sites, of course, outstanding.

We spent three nights in Rome, three in Florence and three in Venice.

My wife's favorite place to return would be Rome. Rome was great. It was also a bigger place than the others. Therefore more cathedrals, museums, etc. to see, which my wife likes.

Florence had its charms. And if memory serves me correct, I happened into a cathedral that was out of the way, but it gave me a better feeling than even St. Peter's in Rome.

But for just a more relaxing time, I would pick Venice.

Why? Well, for one thing, no cars! No stop lights, no speeding vehicles, no motorcycles. No honking horns. Just pedestrians which are easy to  maneuver around.

Another would be the fact that because it is a smaller area, the main tourist area tends to bring a lot of people together. I like people watching.

Whereas, some like to see all the sites, I get enjoyment from just being in the moment, wherever it is. Just to be there is great. 

I've never sat at a sidewalk cafe for hours on end just watching people. But If I were to return toVenice, I would probably find such a place (while my wife looks for another hundred or so cathedrals and museums to visit)..

Don't get me wrong. There is a lot of walking to be done in Venice. And a lot of wrong turns that turn into interesting routes. And if you're there at the wrong time, St. Mark's Square could be a couple feet deep in water. We lucked out.

But there is just an aura about the city and the area, and that translates into an enjoyable time for me.

We always entertain the idea of visiting again . . . 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tis the season, well almost

Feliz Navidad!

I know. It is just October, but the weather is cooler, the leaves are turning (down here there's just a little color), and turkeys are taking to the air somewhere out in the countryside, but…

Just think. Less than a week and two months away is that most happy (for most) time of the year.

In spite of "the best of times, the worst of times," the spirit of the Christmas season tends to rule whatever is happening.

Lets digress momentarily, and stay away from what some may feel is "the worst of times (especially with the countinuing recession)."

Not far away from where we live in Ocean Springs, MS, just across the state line in Alabama, southwest of Mobile,  is the world-renown Bellingrath Gardens.

And during the holiday season, they really go all out with their Christmas decorations. 

We have visited on a number of occasions and it appears we will start making it an annual tradition with friends and family.

Last year our visit turned out to be perfect although there was a forecast for rain. 

The precipitation did fall momentarily. The temperatures  were cool but not cold, the colors were splendid and the decorations were exhilarating.

It was really a wonderland . . . for children of all ages.

Just a little artistic time exposure and movement of camera by photographer

Next post: Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rare treat to revisit Fort Pickens

We tried to go back. Way, way back.

More than 30 years ago, we would be packed up for a Friday afternoon departure to the campground in Florida near Fort Pickens. It is now part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

The trip would take a little more than a couple hours. We traveled on Interstate 10 east through Mobile, past Spanish Fort over to Pensacola and then south and over the bridges to Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach.

It use to be that most of the time one could get into the campground a little before sundown and find a spot.

But times changed. And that also was a while back.

I can remember one time when we left Ocean Springs heading to Fort Pickens and upon arriving there we couldn't find a campsite. All the sites were taken. On that particular occasion, I was so exasperated we just turned around and took the three hour trip back home.

Snowbirds had found the area. And they showed up in droves.

Fort Pickens, with remains still around, sits on the west end of the island.

The two major camping areas were a mile or so to the east.

We haven't been there for about 20 years. For one thing, it was hard getting a spot, and the area had been closed down following Hurricane Ivan which did a lot of damage.

Earlier this summer we heard the area was open and decided to give it a try. As it is, reservations can now be made at many of the National Park and Seashore sites.

We reserved about four months ahead of time and ended up spending the Columbus Day weekend there.

Daytime temperatures were warm but there was a steady wind which helped to moderate things. At nighttime it was in the mid 60s. We slept in our van and had brought along a box fan to pull in the cooler nighttime air.

I like camping. Other people like to camp. But today it appears camping to some has a different connotation. 

People are loud, obnoxious, often get drunk and then there are those who leave their dogs at their campsite. The dogs bark and bother other campers while the owners are out enjoying themselves not caring about how their pets are misbehaving.

At least all the sites had electricity and there weren't any loud obnoxious generators running.

We enjoyed our morning and evening campfires, along with our early morning and evening jaunts to the beach to watch the sun do its thing.

 Photos below of Fort Pickens

Next post: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When sugar was king in Louisiana

Oak Alley plantation offers a picturesque look at life way back when … when the harvesting of sugarcane was king in Louisiana.

The structure is one of many along the River Road from New Orleans to Baton Rouge reflecting the Greek Revival style of construction.

Oak Alley is located in Vacherie, LA, on Highway 18, about 60 miles west of New Orleans along the Mississippi River.

Reports indicate that its restoration beginning around 1920 began the revitalization of the area.

The lane of oaks leading from the house to the highway is most impressive. Also on the premises is a restaurant and inn along with a few antique vehicles.

Next post: Tuesday, October 12, 2010