Cloud Chamber, NC Art Museum

This interesting little structure is called Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky and was designed by British artist Chris Drury.  It’s an interactive artwork.  You enter the chamber, close the door and sit quietly in the dark until your eyes adjust.  There’s a tiny hole in the roof that serves as a pinhole camera.  Once your eyes adjust you can see the trees that surround the Cloud Chamber projected on the walls of the chamber.  It uses nature to create art.

The Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum is full of interesting artwork.  There’s also an amphitheater where moves are shown and concerts are held.  We’ve had some wonderful evenings at the park, watching a movie while, many miles away, lightning puts on a free light show against the clouds.

Cloud Chamber

Fort of São Miguel Arcanjo, Nazaré

The Fortress of Saint Michael the Archangel serves as the dividing line between the two personalities of Nazaré, Portugal.  To the south, where this photo was taken from, sits Nazaré.  It’s a bustling town with a beautiful beach, and a popular destination for vacationers.  During the summer the beach is crowded with sun worshipers.

To the north of the fort is Praia do Norte, a beach with a remote, wild feel and home to some of the world’s biggest waves.  The reason for the difference between Nazaré beach and North beach is a huge underwater canyon just north of the promontory where the fort stands guard.  The canyon acts as a funnel for the currents and focuses their energy to create waves that approach 100 feet in height.

The fort was built in the sixteenth century as defense against the pirates who preyed on the coastal villages.  It has been rebuilt and renovated several times over the centuries and a lighthouse was added in 1903.  Today the fort houses a surfing museum and is a great place to watch the world class surfing happening on Praia do Norte.

Fortaleza and Waves

Toklat River, Denali National Park

The interior of Alaska is stunningly beautiful.  This is a photo of the Toklat River in Denali National Park.  The Toklat is a braided river, which is created by an excess of sediment.  Over time the river fills with sediment, in this case from glaciers, and the sediment creates little islands or bars that the river must work its way around.

I really like the monochromatic feel of the photograph, with grays of the mountains, the sky and the river and just a touch of green from the trees.

Tundra Tour Landscape Detail Extractor

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto

Avenida dos Aliados is a beautiful avenue in the heart of Porto and is a great place to use as a starting point for exploring the city.  Lined with fine old Beaux Artes buildings, it’s been compared to Paris’s Champs-Élysées.  This is the view from Praça General Humberto Delgado, just in front of the Municipal Building, looking towards the Praça da Liberdade and the Hotel Intercontinental.

Located just a five minute bus ride from our hotel,  Avenida dos Aliados served as the hub for our explorations.   The avenue is just a few minutes walk from the Majestic Cafe, Livraria Lello, São Bento Railway Station, Mercado do Bolhão, the Church of São Francisco and many other tourist destinations.  It was also a great place to sit in one of the many restaurants to relax and plan our move.  We had breakfast at the famous Cafe Guarany and experienced Porto’s famous francesinha at an outdoor restaurant in the shadow of beautiful statue of Dom Pedro IV in the Praça da Liberdade.

Interestingly, until 2006 there was a tree-lined park in the center of the avenue.  When the metro station was built under the avenue, the park gave way to a paved square.  It would have been nice to experience it as a park, but Porto makes great use of the open space, using it as the chosen spot for concerts, festivals and other big events.

Avenida dos Aliados

Bairro Alto at night

On our last night in Portugal we had the pleasure of dining at Flor da Laranja, a Moroccan restaurant in the Bairro Alto district of Lisbon.

Ann Marie and I have lived in and around several large cities, including New York and Atlanta.  Usually, it’s not a good thing to wander the streets of these cities after dark.  Bairro Alto was different.  The neighborhood seems to come alive after dark and the streets are full of people.  We actually felt safer after dark in Bairro Alto than during the day.

I think this street scene captures the vibrant feel of Bairro Alto after dark.

Night Scene

Fire Pink, Kennesaw, Georgia

This beautiful little flower is a Fire Pink and was growing at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.  Fire Pinks are one of my favorite wildflowers.  Despite being a relatively small flower, it’s hard to miss.  The bright red color stands out against the dappled shade of the woods behind the flowers. A member of the carnation family, the Fire Pink is a favorite of the ruby-throated hummingbird, which feeds off the flower’s sugary nectar.

Fire Pink

Grizzly Bear, Denali

During our stay at Denali, we took a Tundra Wilderness Tour.  The tour lasted about seven hours and went deep into one of the wildest of our National Parks.  The views were stunning and we were fortunate enough to see a great number of animals, including this grizzly, who was just a few yards away from our bus.  He’s quite an impressive creature and doesn’t seem to be too worried about the bus that’s sitting in front of him.

Denali Grizzly

 

Southern Tech Bathtub Racing

Most bathtub racing is either on water, which makes sense because they’re usually associated with water, or turned into modified wheel barrows and pushed for the race.  Southern Tech, in Marietta, Georgia, had a different take on bathtub racing, turning the tubs into little rockets.

Bathtub racing at Southern Tech began in the late 1960s and continued into the early 1980s before taking a 20 year hiatus.  Racing did return to Southern Tech during the early 2000s but seems to have once more stopped when Southern Tech was consolidated into nearby Kennesaw State University.

I attended the races, I think, in 1981.  I was surprised at the speed these things could achieve.  The bodies were bathtubs but the rest was pure racing machines.  You can see from the photo that speeds were considerable and the racers took this sport seriously.

Bathtub Race Sensia 100

Trams, Lisbon

A popular mode of transportation in Lisbon, particularly with visitors, are the trams.  Four of the five tram routes are serviced by the historic “remodelado” trams.  These trams date from the 1930s and were upgraded in the 1990s, with new brakes, engines and electronics.  Because of Lisbon’s steep hills and narrow streets, modern trams are too large and cannot make the tight turns needed to navigate the city.  Only Route E15 uses the newer “articulado” trams.

The most famous of the remodelado trams is Tram 28.  Because it’s the longest route and circles through much of the tourist areas, it’s almost always standing room only.  Be prepared to wait to board the tram as well.  It took us over an hour before we were able to work our way through the queue and board the tram.

We rode Tram 28 because tourist guidebooks all tout it as an inexpensive way to see the sights.  I would advise against it and recommend, instead, any of the other trams, which are less crowded and more relaxed than Tram 28. We rode Trams 18 and 25 and had much more enjoyable rides.

Lisbon Trams

 

Red Boathouse

This photo was taken many years ago, with a film camera, at a small lake in North Georgia.  I was lucky enough to be the only person visiting that particular spot that day and was able to enjoy the quiet peace and beauty of the lake and woods.  I was taken by the way the man made object looked so at home in the natural setting.  I also like the faded red of the boathouse is complemented by the reddish tint in some of the foliage.

Red Boathouse