Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yellowstone return seems to be getting closer

Yellowstone geyser melts off nearby snow
(All photos taken from park lodge website)
I find myself constantly checking the weather websites to see how cold it is where we plan to go, and how cold it is at some of our favorite places.

I’m all for “climate change.” The temperatures go up, the temperatures go down — that is “climate change.”

Yellowstone National Park is on my list of places to revisit.  Our first and only excursion to that part of the country was back in 1973. 

We were on a 21-day, 7,000-mile, almost non-stop trip. It was September and the temperatures were relatively mild. We were traveling in our spartan long-wheel-base Chevy van.

I checked out Yellowstone just recently and the lows were hovering somewhere around or below zero.

Recent 'warm spell' brings out bear

That’s not my kind of temperature. I like the 50s and 60s. Although I do want to go there when snow is on the ground.

Our travels in 1973 took us to Dodge City, KS, over to Canon City, CO, up through Denver and then Rocky Mountain National Park.

Then it was up to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone for a couple nights, then Glacier National Park, the World’s Fair in Spokane before heading south into California.

We took the Coast road south of San Francisco all the way down to the Mexican border. Then it was a beeline for home along Interstate 10.

Those were the good ole days —  10- to12-hour days traveling (although not all days), and resting a day or two now and then at some interesting spot.

Buffalo manage to take over roadway

I don’t envision covering that much territory in such a short period of time now. Its more like moseying around, enjoying the scenery, and then when the sun starts heading down, scurrying to find a place to stay, whether a motel or campground.

Even though Yellowstone is right at 2,000 miles from our home, it still beckons — the geysers, buffalo, bears, wolves — and yes, the snow. I would like to say I’m ready to go, but it looks at though its going to be a 2016 excursion, sometime after the winter storms have died down.

Next post: March 3, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nothing like sleeping in a convent

View across rooftops from the Machievelli Palace 

We have Europe on the mind again.

Not only a trip in the future, but memories of a trip past.

And that trip in the past was to Italy in the fall of 2005.

It was an 11-day affair with three nights each in Rome, Florence and Venice.

And probably our most talked about stay was our stop in Florence at the Hotel Machiavelli Palace.

One doesn’t know what to expect when someone else does the planning.

Morning meal at the Palace

We booked our trip through Go-Today travel services and was more than pleased with the hotel selections in each of the cities.

But the Palace, that was interesting.

After checking in, we were led down a number of corridors and up some stairs before arriving at our Medieval looking room. It was spacious with a number of stained timbers running across the length of the high ceiling.

All of the usual amenities were available as was their breakfast which was more than just continental.

Following that trip, I learned that I should reconnoiter the facilities on the first day in order to see what was available and if there were any windows that had scenic views.

I just so happened to walk up a flight of stairs and on one of the mid-floor landings, there was a big picture window that offered a rooftop view across the city and of the Duomo.

We discovered our hotel was previously a Florentine convent which later transformed into a palace and then eventually a hotel.

The building, although we had trouble finding it after getting off the train, was well-situated to visit the sites of the city.

Anyone that has visited a foreign country readily knows its hard to interpret where some place is even if the map shows right where it is located.

I guess I am just map challenged.

But we were up to the challenge, which led up to quite an interesting palace.

Next post: Feb. 23, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The good times are rolling along the Coast

Float moves down St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans

“Laissez les bons temps rouler.”

And down here on the Gulf Coast, mainly from Mobile to New Orleans, most everyone understands the French words that mean “Let the good times roll!”

And that’s what’s been happening during this two-three week period of the annual celebration of Mardi Gras which means Fat Tuesday.

Fat Tuesday falls 46 days before Easter with participants going to the extreme with food and celebrating.

Parade-goers climb to the top of their ladders awaiting throws from the floats

It all comes to and end at midnight Fat Tuesday when Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season which culminates at Easter.

Over the course of the three-week period, parades are held in the major cities and many of the smaller ones, with even, in some places, neighborhoods and schools celebrating with their own festivities.

Parade visitors show the rewards of their efforts

Thousands turn out for the annual parades with members of the various carnival krewes riding floats throwing all kinds of interesting items including candy, spears, cups, doubloons and even moon pies.

Mardi Gras is just a week away (Feb. 17).

Time is running out to “Let the Good Times Roll!”

Next post: Feb. 17, 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Atrocity brings back remembrance of Petra

Petra Treasury Photo from http://visitpetra.jo

I often wonder about this world.

And I wonder about the places I want to go and the places I’ve already been.

The world has always had its share of evil people. It was true 4,000 years ago, 1,000 years ago and even now. There’s no way of getting away from it.

People are people and human nature is human nature. But its hard to understand the extreme to which we are now being subjected.

Over the course of the past few years, months and weeks, there is continuous news of man’s inhumanity to man.

And I think about those places where I have traveled which are now seeing unfathomable atrocities.

The killing just this week reminded me of the trip my wife and I took back in the late 1980s.

It was to the Holy Land. The journey was to Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

Some would have said it was a good time to go. Others a bad time.

But we went nonetheless. We were aware of the tensions between the different countries and hoped our trip would be a memorable occasion for all the good things that we experienced. And it was.

The visit to Petra was the highlight of our stay in Jordan.

We were on a tour of about 17 people. From Amman to Petra my wife and I and another couple rode in a taxi.

Our driver’s name was Sam. I know that was short for something that had a longer Arabic name, but we enjoyed our all-day excursion with him.

After 30-some years, I can’t remember all the details, but the ride by horseback through the canyon that led to the ancient city was an adventure in itself.

We visited the Treasury and all the other sites, walking past the numerous residents of the area who were selling their wares.

I wasn’t in to spending a lot on souvenirs, although I wish now that I had picked up some handmade items.

The day drew on and we returned to Amman.

The day-trip was uneventful. It was enjoyable and a good remembrance.

It was a good time to go.

Would I go again now. That’s a hard question to answer.

There were tensions back in the 80’s. As a matter of fact, there have always been tensions in the Middle East.

Travel need not stop. We go to New Orleans, which some say is a dangerous place. Probably likewise for parts of Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit and New York.

But life goes on and we mustn’t let it deter us from the joy of life in spite of the oft “man’s inhumanity to man.”

Next post: 10 Feb. 2015