Art museums are everywhere, but they are not all the same. While I’ve seen versions of Donald Judd’s Untitled sculpture in more cities than I can count, the body of work at a city’s art museum can vary as much as the weather while you travel. Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum is a fantastic collection of all types of art with great rotating special exhibitions as well. Along with all of the fantastic work on display, the museum itself is a perfect blend of classic architecture and modern design that make navigation only slightly confusing (which is saying a lot for a museum.)
The landscape of the American Southwest is amazingly varied and unique. Driving through the desert regions you could be among high mountains with snow then surrounded by endless flatness with dry bushes, tumbleweeds, and Joshua trees dotting the landscape. It is endlessly beautiful no matter where you go during the day, and the stars come out at night almost lighting up the pure blackness as the strange silhouette forms rise up on all sides.
I’ve been back in New Jersey for a day and I’ve already been hiking in a new place. While I was in North Jersey I met up with a friend and set out for a short hike at Ramapo Mountain Reservation. There are ruins of an old mansion called Van Slyke Castle up a scenic trail that runs along a stream and is incredibly rocky. It was a perfect day for hiking and exploring the ruins. We could see the Manhattan skyline from the top, but I just liked looking at the blue sky and puffy clouds through the old windows.
For the better part of two months I’ve called the road my home. It’s not unusual for me anymore to get used to living in a car, sleeping on floors, in tents, hotels, and random strangers’ houses. I love the feeling of adventure and uncertainty at times, but when I get back to New Jersey I get this feeling like I belong back out there. The road, those places, that adventure are all that exist in color while everything else fades into the background. I’m working on brightening myself in the hopes of coloring my surroundings.
A great part of traveling is seeing new places and trying new things. Beer is no exception. I’m a big fan of craft beer, and there are small breweries all over the country doing amazing things. Asheville, North Carolina is a boom in brewery town with new operations opening all the time and plenty of fresh ideas coming out of the mainstays. Wicked Weed is easily my favorite brewery in town and one of my favorites of all time. They recently opened a new location called the Funkatorium to showcase their many sour barrel-aged beers where I took this shot of my pretty little samples. Delicious.
There are so often random amazing spots in places you aren’t looking for it. One of the best parts about being in a new place every day is discovering these little spots and feeling somehow comforted by the ubiquitous beauty that exists everywhere if you can appreciate it. This one happened to be on a disc golf course in South Carolina. As the sun was going down, the well-designed and fun course was challenging us, but I was holding my own. Can’t get mad at a missed putt with these surroundings.
While in Georgia we hiked several short trails on the Appalachian Trail. Since Joanna had hiked the entire trail last year she knew all the best places to check out. Blood Mountain was a slightly challenging hike uphill to a beautiful view overlooking the endless mountains. It was nothing like her amazing accomplishment last year hiking 2,185.3 miles, but it was a great day for a hike, and we got to pass out some Kind bars to thru hikers, and she did a great job encouraging them to keep going all the way to Maine.
It’s hard to believe through the whole country that it took until Georgia to stop at a winery. I’m not the biggest wino, but I do like to sip some grape juice once in a while. As we drove the Georgia Wine Trail, which was just the road we happened to be on, I decided to stop off and enjoy a glass of peach wine while doing some work on my laptop. We also got the welcome company of a porch cat that was so colorful and friendly, purring and rubbing against our legs as we sat overlooking the vineyard. It was a wonderful and relaxing afternoon after handing out some snacks to AT hikers in a few places on our way.
Back on the East Coast, and it really feels like it. The trails are what I remember along the Appalachian Trail. We stopped at Amicalola Falls, which is the Approach Trail to the AT. We didn’t hike the whole thing, but we went up to the top of the falls and back around. It’s a beautiful rushing flow that sprays out over the bridge while you look up at it. The dreaded stairs on the trail weren’t even that bad; maybe because we prepared ourselves and we didn’t have 30-pound backpacks on.
We’ve gotten to camp at some amazing places, and waking up to these views is a great treat. We slept last night next to a rushing river that sang us to sleep. It was completely dark at night with stars poking pinholes in the sky through the trees. In the morning the sun shone through the leaves and brightened everything through the mesh of the tent. Definitely one of my favorite waking moments on the trip.
Sometimes the best views are blocked by something bright and colorful, keeping your focus struggling to see what’s there. It’s hard to see the beauty that’s really there sometimes because of the shiny things pulling your attention away. And by the time you regain your bearings and realize what you should have been looking at all along… It’s gone.
I have to fly somewhat often for work unfortunately, so I’m sometimes stuck with layovers at airports around the country. On my way back to Mobile, Alabama from Roanoke, Virginia I had a layover in Atlanta. The huge airport is one of the better places to be stranded and the view from the gate at sunset was quite nice while I waited to board.
New Orleans has a lot of cemeteries that are well known as haunted destinations. Whether or not you subscribe to those ideas, they are unique and ornate. The graves were moved above ground in beautifully crafted mausoleums and concrete coffins to avoid them washing away during seasonal flooding and hurricanes. The result is something intrinsically New Orleans feeling, and the necessity made for some great ingenuity.
New Orleans has a ton of great culture and charm, but it’s way too busy for all of that stuff near Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. It’s hard to enjoy a place that’s packed with traffic on streets and sidewalks. City Park was a great place to enjoy some time away from all the noise and there was an amazing free sculpture garden! This was my favorite piece there: Karma by Do Ho Suh. The figures sit atop one another to seeming infinity. I love the possible meanings and the aesthetics.
The Jungle Gardens on Avery Island are an amazing area covered in old trees covered in Spanish moss lining the swamp waters filled with gators and birds. We saw so many alligators and water birds during our drive through the grounds that it became unsurprising after a while. There were a lot of great places to stop and walk to see more of the natural wonders. It was a perfect thing to do on a somewhat rainy day since we could retreat to the car whenever necessary. We definitely got lucky since the weather was more of less friendly during our visit.
Lousiana is well known for its swamps and bayous, so we wanted to check some out. The Jungle Gardens on Avery Island were amazing. It was like a different world full of bright green life and animals all over. The highlight was probably seeing this baby alligator along the banks of the swamp. It let us get way too close.. That is, I got way too close. The presumed mother was just a few feet away peeking out of the water. All in all a really great experience and we left with no bite marks!
Eastern Texas is flat. It’s so flat that any little bit of rain seems to fill up the slightest dips in the ground and turn city parks into marshes. It has made it a challenge to find things to do outdoors even though we haven’t been hampered by the falling rain itself. Camping has been tricky as well, but the reflections in the flooded streets had us in the way of a few cars while we shot. All they gave us was a few honks and dirty looks though. Sorry, Texas motorists, we’re just trying to capture the beauty of your state.
There wasn’t much time spent in Houston, but we got to see a show at a great little venue and check out the park before we had to head east. Though it was a fleeting view, the view was very nice. We’ve been dodging the rain somehow among all the sever thunderstorm warnings, but the rain the has fallen has left behind a lot of puddles that kept us from playing disc golf. It did make some nice reflections of the city that I really had fun shooting.
We’ve seen a lot of amazing nature visiting national parks, but Austin has a lot of extremely beautiful places in the city limits. This amazing tree is a centerpiece at the fields in Zilker Park. It shaded us for a while as we lounged and played cards before heading over to the bridge to see thousands of bats fly out for dinner. Austin is a great and intriguing place to visit. I could imagine living here.
Traveling for work and for fun often puts me in places I didn’t expect to be. Oklahoma City was a nice little city where I got to mostly work but also enjoy some local art and food. Often the best view of a city is from a highway and as much as we want to stop we can’t. We have seen some amazing sunsets from the car and in the rear view mirror. Oklahoma City we got to enjoy two evenings in a row.
The last couple of days have been a tangled mess like these roots of a great tree we sat under in Austin. My job usually keeps me busy but with more manageable timeframes. This week had so many last minute things to do and little issues to deal with that it felt like it overshadowed much of our days. That said, we still managed to have a great time from Austin to Oklahoma City, albeit with a big delay on this post.
We got to see a lot of beautiful places in Austin, and Ladybird Lake was one of my favorites. Just off the busy streets there is a little park along the water where cyclists, runners, moms with strollers, and people like us, who want to dip our feet in the water and play Phase 10 in the shade, can get away from the noise. We enjoyed a couple of hours on the banks and in the grass, escaping the hottest part of the day in the shade with a great view over the water. Not a bad way to spend a day on what some might call a vacation.
Austin, Texas has been a mixture of busy and lazy. We have seen a lot, done a little, and eaten way too much. On a lazy day, we strolled through the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, where Charles Umlauf’s many sculptures adorn a gorgeous open space of green. The little ponds and bridges made the shaded walk feel like a real day off as we learned about his incredible work ethic and attention to detail and meaning in his pieces. The Diver is a rendering of Umlauf’s son, and across the pond is “The Kiss” in a very intimate and romantic location. A lot of thought was put into the placement and spacing of the work, and the garden was a great place I would love to visit again.
Big Bend National Park lies on the border of the U.S. and Mexico with the Rio Grande as the imaginary real line. One of the hikes we did took us along the river where we could walk in the shallow waters and cross the border illegally. It’s frowned upon and there are signs warning against it at the trailhead, but it seems like it isn’t enforced so widely; at least not from this side of the border. The tall canyon walls carve a colorful, winding path that we waded through for about a mile before turning back. The cool water was refreshing on a hot spring day in Texas.