Minneapolis has a definite feeling of modernity as you pass by buildings with curves, angles, and textures that feel young and fresh like the city itself. The city isn’t afraid to invite new ideas and embrace them. Frank Gehry’s design of the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota is probably one of my favorite that I’ve seen of his work. Sitting on the river, its sleek metal design seems to be right at home. The curves flow with the water and match the billowing clouds above. Inside there is a great modern art museum as well as classes for the University.
Minneapolis had so many surprises for me– not the least of which was the Mighty Mississippi creating this breathtaking scene at sunset. The sun set slowly and gently as a light, cool breeze blew over the Stone Arch Bridge where I stood. The distant roar of St. Anthony Falls was little more than a whisper, but it was enough to drown out all of my thoughts while I sat in awe at the beauty of this midwest metropolis that I have somehow missed out on for so long. With the day’s last light the city tightened its grip on my heart and made it certain that I will be returning here whenever I get the chance.
While I was walking through the Philadelphia airport I saw a caption on the screen that caught me by surprise. “Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States.” I was blown away and amazingly excited for everyone that has been denied this fundamental right for so long. As luck would have it I was traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is a city that supports and celebrates the LGBT community in ways that I didn’t know existed. The Pride festival was also in full swing when I arrived so I got to spend some time wandering about as people celebrated life and love and freedom. Even on the streets far from the festival there would be cars driving by honking horns, waving streamers, and flying the rainbow flag. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and this unprecedented decision seemed to have everyone in a great mood! There is still a lot of work to be done, but this deserves celebration. Love wins!
When hiking at Catcoctin Mountain Park in Maryland, I felt like everything was easy. There were some rocky paths and steeper climbs, but I was just enjoying it so much that I didn’t notice the difficulty of the terrain or the 8 miles we walked. The things I noticed were the beautiful scenery, the great weather, and having good conversations with a friend. It’s easier to notice all the good things when you’re in a better mood, and I noticed these really cool flowers once we returned to the trailhead after a great hike.
On a side trip from our main hiking destination we headed to Allamuchy State Park for a quick day hike around a lake. The landscape changed quite frequently on the overly flat trail through the woods. The changes in landscape were a nice surprise that kept the otherwise normal trail interesting. I especially enjoyed the fern-filled section near the end of our trail. It feels like you are totally engulfed in the plants while standing off the side of the trail and the green overwhelms your vision.
Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, even for a short time, is something special. Knowing that it extends so far in either direction just makes it feel more… adventurous. Although I haven’t hiked it in very long distances, the sections I’ve gotten to do have been incredible and inspiring. Camping at an AT shelter and getting to mingle with those few, lucky thru hikers of the year is another experience that I treasure. Just rubbing shoulders and sharing stories with them makes me feel a little more a part of something I hope to accomplish myself.
A welcome cool breeze blows over the raised platform overlooking the mountains of northwest New Jersey just before sunrise on a Tuesday morning. The clouds dance in the sun’s pastel painting, illuminating the rolling hills in a soft glow. It doesn’t feel like the state known for farmland and suburban sprawl. It feels lonesome in a good way. The morning has given me energy that seems to only come with the joy of nature’s beauty and its unique scenery. At this point it feels like I could do anything.
Being in the woods and hiking is one of my favorite things for several reason, but I feel like I think better while I’m hiking. I can process my thoughts while feeling like I’m part of the natural world around me. I feel more in tune with my surroundings, and I notice things like this guy poking his head out of the water as I walked by. He posed for quite a while as I quietly crept around him for a better shot. When I decided to stand up to go to the other side he took his opportunity to dive to the safety of camouflage under the water.
While in DC I went to my favorite museum there, the Hirshhorn. They feature modern and contemporary art and continually change their exhibitions so every time I visit there is something new and exciting. Dan Flavon’s untitled (to Helga and Carlo with respect and affection) was on display in a large lower-level floor by itself. The piece itself was amazing, but the idea behind it is even more interesting. It remains mostly the same when shown in different spaces but it changes to fit the room in which it is displayed. It adapts to its surroundings. And the light is soft so you can look at it but once you exit that room and look at anything else it takes a while for your vision to catch up and compensate for the extreme color difference. It was a properly inspiring visit, as always.
I spent the weekend in Washington, DC, and I had a lot of plans to go around and see some of my favorite places. That didn’t really work out because work had me extremely busy and it was pouring rain one night. Before I left I did get to take a stroll around the Mall up past some of the memorials I rarely visit. I haven’t been to the Lincoln Memorial in a long time, but it was just as crowded and popular as always. This shot makes me think of the calm, respectful idea that was intended for the monument.
It’s fun to look at things from a new perspective sometimes. This view of Parvin Lake that I’ve looked at so many times while the sun goes down seems like a whole new place in this shot from low to the ground at the dam. It’s always one of the best places for sunset and great for a late day run around the water. I’m always glad to find a viewpoint that I haven’t noticed before and feel like this place still has some surprises for me.
Passing through places I’ve never been I often find unexpected areas of beauty that lead to quiet reflection. This barn scene at Capitol Reef National Park was a place that caught me off guard on a day where I needed some time to think about myself and why I had been feeling the way I was. The serene meadow surrounded by the red rock cliffs was a perfect place for a time out among the horses and light traffic before heading up into the canyon for more adventures.
Sometimes landscaping can work well in city parks. In this case the water streaming over these rocks into the pond in the center of the park seemed like a whole different place than the park itself. The rest of the park is grassy hills and trees around the water while these imported rocks make it feel like you’re in the middle of hike in the mountains. It’s rare that I like man-made displays like this but it was nice to see one that seemed more natural than fake.
I’ve grown accustomed to leaving New Jersey at the start of summer, and, even though it hasn’t been too long since my last visit to the southwest, it get harder every time I return. The red rocks of southern Utah remain the place I desire most often, and my plans to return have already begun to materialize. The next couple of months have already planned themselves out, and then it’s time to go back to where the sun is hot and the humidity is not. It might be a long summer on the East Coast, but sooner than I think I’ll be back among the landscapes of the desert.
On the precipice of this lake the water dances in the sunset. The beauty hides the darkness beneath that can’t be seen until you cross the threshold. The two exist in such close proximity that the very edge of light is indistinguishable from that of the edge of darkness. You would never know if someone is on either side until they are fully submerged and gone from sight. It would be so easy to slip under, stop treading, and exhale. The last sight is that setting sun coming down with you.
It was late in the day when I decided to hike the Lost Mine Trail at Big Bend National Park. It had been a day without a lot of physical exertion and it was set to stay that way with possible storms coming. I felt like I really needed to do it, so I got myself up and hiked very quickly up the gently steep trail. The views along the way were incredible as well, but the nice payoff at the end had me viewing into the canyons that surrounded me and past our campground. It was a beautiful feeling and I jogged down the trail back to my car after taking in the view for a few minutes.
The dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park are constantly changing. The sinuous lines that weave to the summits of these moving mountains of tiny granules are in perpetual motion though they seem to be a hard geological feature from afar. When you step on the line it dissolves beneath your feet. The screen of blowing sand from the tops of the dunes is blinding and rough while walking along the ridge. After a couple hours walking here everything is sandy including teeth, leaving you spitting small rocks for the rest of the day.
Throughout all the traveling I’ve done, Philadelphia remains one of my favorite cities; probably number one overall. I assume that comes from all of the time I’ve spent with it. So many shows, meals, beers, walks, drives, bike rides, and jobs. It feels like home when nothing else does. As much as I do enjoy the city, there’s not a lot surrounding it that fulfills my appetite for adventure quite the way I want it to. It’s time to leave my favorite city in the rearview mirror and head into the sunset.
Every night in Austin, Texas thousands of bats come flying out from underneath a bridge near downtown. Spectators gather along the bridge and below to watch the amazing and unique sight that makes Austin just a little more weird. It wasn’t quite the Batman cave sequence I was hoping for, but they were really amazing and kept coming out for a long time.
Catching animals off guard can sometimes cause them to run away, but if you’re lucky enough to catch them sleeping you can see just how vulnerable and peaceful they can be. Even though foxes don’t bring to mind any thoughts of vicious attacks, it’s hard to do anything but smile at this one’s slumbering face. It’s not a fair comparison since foxes are generally some of the cutest animals out there, but it makes me think of any animal having a nap and how gentle they can all seem.
On a drive through Utah from Park City to Provo I just happened to pass by some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen on the side of a road. This open pasture was just too perfect with grazing horses and a flowing stream, but to top it all off the snow-capped mountain range in the background makes the scene. This is just one of many amazing roadside attractions I wanted to stop and spend the rest of my day at along the way. If anyone wonders why I want to spend more of my time in Utah, this is the answer.
The spring is a beautiful, if fleeting, time of year when everything seems new again. Trees are blossoming everywhere, depositing pink and white petals all over the ground and filling the air with their sweet scent. In Trenton, New Jersey the Capitol complex is lined with these trees along the grassy plazas in front of the shining dome atop the statehouse. Though it’s surrounded by the infamous highways of the state, it seems secluded and peaceful in this place at the heart of a bustling city.
It’s amazing how serenity can be found in places built out of perpetual chaos. The waves at Portland Head pounded continuously as I perched on the edge of slippery rocks at sunset. The deafening crashes surrounded me and allowed me to bask in a moment where nothing else existed except the waves, the sky, and myself. Some places surprise you with their beauty, and some places let you down; Maine is exactly as you expect it to be. The ocean meets the rocky shoreline like a 19th century maritime painting, and you are transported to another world in which your problems don’t exist.
My travels took me to Baltimore this weekend. It was threatening to rain, but it held out and became a beautiful, sunny weekend. Federal Hill has always been one of my favorite places to view the city. The park at the top of many steps is a great place to sit in the shade and take in the skyline and watch the people being active at the harbor. The skyline view is much nicer at night from this angle, but you can see a lot of the factories and old industry that is a huge part of Baltimore’s history, including the Domino Sugar sign which is a local icon.