Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quirky Fun in New Orleans

It has been four years since we have been back to New Orleans for the Fringe Festival.  There were over 75 groups performing in many, many venues around the city.   The performances we attended included a fast paced monologue describing life after death in Heaven, a two woman comedy team presenting how each overcame matriarchal deficiencies of alcoholism and narcolepsy to become well-adjusted humans, a theatrical group depicting life in the old west where any problem was solved by a dead eye aim of a six shooter, two contortionists playing inside and outside of gigantic objects of a spool of thread, a rabbit, and buttons, and a madcap circus complete with trapeze artists, juggler, acrobats, lion, ring master, hula hoopers, and accordionist.

Yard art in the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods was part of the festival.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for Louis Armstrong Park after several years of mismanagement and shoddy construction.  The Treme Brass Band accompanied the scissor holders that included the Mayor of New Orleans. There were both repaired and new sculptures to grace the grounds of the center of music culture in the United States.

A large group of people attended especially for the opening of Congo Square in the park celebrating with drumming and singing and dancing.

The Spotted Cat is our favorite music venue on Frenchmen Street.  The Smoking Time Jazz Club was playing great dancy jazzy music when we dropped in for a set.

Everyone must eat at the Commander's Palace at least once in their lifetime where at least four waiters make your visit a warm and tasty one for over two hours.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Tampa offers a Halloween/Mardi Gras activity every year in Ybor City called Guavaween.  This year we decided to spend our money to see all the excitement.  Many blocks were fenced off so costumed revelers could wander up and down the main street carrying their choice of libations.  Around 8 pm the parade of crewes on various "art vehicles" began.  Throwing a string of colored beads at observers is the object of the participants in the parade.  Catching and collecting as many strings of colored beads to wear is the object of the observers.  Afterwards there were three stages for a costume contest and lots of music.

                            Some of us did not get dressed up....

We just had a nice savory crepe and a bottle of wine as we watched the world creep by.    

Sunday, October 30, 2011

St. Augustine, Florida

Friends recently moved to St. Augustine, so we drove from Tampa to visit them.  Walking around near the downtown Government House, there was a park with this lovely covered area where a woman was beginning to set up her wares.

 I found a plaque that explained what the space once had been:

My friend asked me how I liked the Slave Market. ????  On another, older plaque was the declaration of this same place to once have been a Slave Market.

Nearby is the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (the old Spanish fort). We watched volunteers march and prepare to fire the cannon.

There are great views of the bay from the fort that is largely built from cut blocks of compressed coquina shells.  This wall shows what happens when gunfire and cannon fire hit it.  Not much.  It was never taken under seige.

Across the street are dozens of shops and restaurants in Historic St. Augustine.  I had the best gourmet fruit pop at Hyppo Popsicles on Hypolita Street.

We spent an afternoon at one of the many beaches around St. Augustine and had great food in two restaurants.  It is a great small city to which we intend to visit again and again.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is a little gem on the eastern border of Nevada very near Utah.  We spent an afternoon hiking up to two alpine lakes and to the ancient Bristlecone Pine Grove.  The fall colors of the leaves were in full display as we headed towards Wheeler Peak.

I really enjoyed the meadows and sunny open spaces with small streams trickling along beside us.  The first alpine lake was Stella Lake.

                                Teresa Lake with glaciers:        
We took a side trail to the Bristlecone Pine Grove.  What beautiful ancient, tenacious trees these are.

This is a great national park off the beaten path.  If you are ever on Highway 50, stop in to see the natural treasures that are found here.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Little Montana Meandering

A friend has a house just north of Yellowstone in Paradise Valley that he rents to fly fisher folk during the summer.  He invited us up during the shoulder season before fall sets in and winter descends.  What a lovely place to spend a leisurely few days.

A sunrise in Paradise Valley, Montana.

Boyo tries his hand at luring a trout out of the Yellowstone River, a short walk from the house.

Nearby Chico Hot Springs was the perfect spot to relax in warm mineral waters and have lunch. We seniors get a good rate of just $2 to use the pool all day until 11 pm.

One afternoon we hiked up to Pine Creek Falls.  The leaves on the trees were changing colors. We did not see any bears.  A fellow we talked to said he wasn't worried about bears because he always took his dogs, his bear spray, and his gun on any hikes he made.

To the north is Livingston, Montana, a friendly city with sculpture of the local life forms.

Bozeman  is a great, hip city in southern Montana.  It has the Community Food Coop, many coffee shops and restaurants, Bridger Bowl Ski Area, a Montana State University, and the Museum of the Rockies. If you enjoy the change of seasons along with winter chill, this could be the place for you.

This big T. Rex stands outside the Museum of the Rockies, an incredibly informative place for the people of Montana to learn about their state.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Three Times Through Yellowstone

When you find yourself in the NW corner of Wyoming, it is possible to traverse Yellowstone National Park several times while rarely taking the same road twice enabling you to see nearly everything the park has to offer.

The first time through we walked along a boardwalk to see hot pots. Some were extremely colorful. Near here Boyo had a close view encounter with a many pointed antlered elk and his three female companions.

We were stopped along the road by bison.  This mother and calf were right next to our car. Over the course of our time in Yellowstone, we saw several hundred American Buffalo in many herds.

Waterfalls are throughout the park.  These Lower Falls were the only place we saw any yellow stone.

Many fisher folk were wading, casting, and hoping for a trout to grab their fly in the Yellowstone River.

The second time through we entered via the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, Montana.

There were several good grizzly viewing areas with slow water, meadows, and nearby forests, but we did not see any our whole trip.  A fellow tourist kindly pointed out the very black retreating back of a black bear at one point along the road, but other than that, the bears were frustratingly invisible.

The route took us in the opposite direction of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce in their flight from General Howard in 1877.

The final time through Yellowstone on this trip we saw Old Faithful erupt.  I think this was my third time, the first at 9 years old and the second at 19 years old.  Boyo said it was his second time.

The dark blue color of fresh water in the park was striking.   I imagine the animals don't care as long as it is clear and life giving.

On our way out of the park for the last time, we pulled over to cast out with our binoculars to see what we might see.  We saw a black wolf wandering around in a meadow far away...too far away for a photo.  In the last curve before actually leaving the park, several vehicles were off to each side of the road.  A mama moose and her young calf were munching the grasses of late summer.  We really appreciate how lucky we are in being able to see these animals in the wild.