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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While driving through Georgia visiting some sections of the Appalachian Trail we came across Vogel State Park. We could see this waterfall from the road so we found our way into the park, ate breakfast, and then picked up the short trail around the lake that led to the falls. There is a small observation deck at the edge of the falls, but you can walk down farther to the bottom if you choose. I stood by the torrent for a long while, letting the white noise of the rushing water drown out all of my thoughts for a few minutes. At that point I needed it, and it was nice.
Watching birds gracefully float through the air is calming to me. They take off in a fuss but end up spreading their wings and letting the wind carry them smoothly through the air. In Louisiana we visited a man-made nesting area for birds, and there were hundreds of them inhabiting the small islands of wood and leaves. Every few seconds one would take off and soar over the water, trying to grab a fish or bringing back more building materials for the nest. They flew with purpose and conviction, but they flew silently, skimming the top of the water with their wingtips.
Striking colors distract from the death that surrounds us, aiming our gaze upwards towards the heavens instead of the small plot of land in the ground which our bodies will inevitably inhabit. Whether it was forethought or just the necessary placement of windows, these ideas lurk in my mind while exploring the cemetery grounds throughout New Orleans. The time- and water-stained above-ground graves and mausoleums are monotone while the sanctuaries boast colorful flowers and windows in true NOLA spirit.
Providence is a beautiful, small city with water everywhere, making the sunrise quite picturesque from wherever you see it. I was lucky enough to be working about 100 feet from this view at dawn so I was able to sneak off and watch the light arrive and start reflecting off of everything. A lone kayaker paddled down the river in the morning calm. Sadly I had to pull myself away to go back to work, but the views from all around the nearby park were fantastic. This is certainly a city I haven’t spent enough time in for how close it is to where I’ve lived most of my life.
After waking in the dark and driving the sinuous roads that lead through the mountains of the Olympic Range I found myself walking quickly up a steep path in the early morning light. The sun had yet to cross the peaks, and it was chilly for August. After some switchbacks and open trail walking I made it to my destination. The top of Hurricane Ridge is expansive and majestic. Jagged mountains surrounded me while rolling meadows lay at my feet. Olympic marmots whistled to each other while everything else was silent above the clouds as the sun showed its face and washed over me as I sat in awe for an hour or more taking in the incredible power of nature.
Hiking part of the AT in Virginia was a short but transformative experience. I didn’t quite get to do what I had hoped, but just being out there among the community of hikers and immersed in the lush nature of central Virginia was enough to show me that it’s something I really want to do. There is enough solitude and conversation to be had at any given point that it seems almost impossible that they coexist so easily. While I wish I’d done it already, I’ve regained my enthusiasm to thru hike in the not-so-distant future.
Walking through Cambridge I simultaneously feel smarter and completely unintelligent. To be surrounded by such storied buildings of intellect can do that to a person. Hallowed halls aside, it’s a beautiful place with a great trail along the water in view of bridges and the modest Boston skyline. Strolling along here really helps me clear my head and brings back memories to wandering those streets aimlessly with friends years ago. I understand why it’s such a popular place to live.
Morning in the midwest had such epic beginnings when the sunrise began nearly an hour before our star crossed the horizon. The pillowy clouds stretched on for miles in the sky, carrying the soft morning glow from around the curve of the earth and lighting our pre-dawn drives. The great expanses that make up the middle of the country are quiet except for the occasional roar of tractor trailers on the interstate and the thoughts in our heads as we watch the day unfold.
Being up before sunrise has an energy that is invigorating. There is potential to the day while you wait for the sun to break the horizon. Staring at snow-covered mountains towering in every direction around you in the blue tones of early morning is magical. And when the first warm glow hits the peak of the tallest point, it radiates with life-affirming color while it slowly swallows up the darkness and ushers in the morning.
Going to a good museum is always an inspiring experience for me. When I leave I feel a renewed sense of drive to create interesting and creative work. It seems that just seeing a collection of amazing work by talented artists helps me see the world in a different way again. I like finding shapes like this that create interesting negative space and line illusions. This is the outside of the Cleveland Art Museum. Fittingly, the outside was just as inspiring as the inside for me.
Anyone reading this probably already knows that Utah is my favorite place to visit. The National Parks are astounding, but the view from any given drive on a backroad, state highway, or even an Interstate can leave you speechless from the unmatched beauty that rises up all around you. The red rocks paired with the often blue sky seem to exist in perfect harmony and play off one another, creating the most rich, brilliant versions of either color that you will encounter in nature. Everything else seems just a little more dull after crossing the figurative state line.
The landscape of southern Utah is so varied that it’s hard to identify at times. This shot is from somewhere near Buckskin Gulch near the Arizona border. Watching the road curve ahead into the distance is always exciting, especially with views like this. We took several dirt roads to get where we were going as you often have to in the backcountry of this area. They are often washboarded or covered with soft sand so travel becomes a gamble. We made it in and out of every one without incident somehow.
The midwest has an emptiness that becomes hypnotic while driving through it. Endless fields lead out to distant horizons, dotted with a few trees and tumbleweeds rolling across the highway. The manmade structures are often the most dominant thing in view, and wind turbines are quite beautiful to me. The way they spin separate from each other and the silhouette against the orange sky at sunset is something I’ve always liked seeing when we pass through the vast open spaces that allow for their use.
Summer is almost here, and my friend and I have been talking about how much we miss skiing. This happens every year, but I am happy that I got to ski quite a lot this season. It’s never as much as I’d like, but I did get to see a lot of new places and finally ski a few places out west. I miss the snow and especially the views from Park City. The atmosphere there definitely made me think I would like to live in a resort area for the winter sometime. I’m already looking forward to the next season.
While I was in Florida briefly I decided I was much too close to Everglades National Park to not go visit. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of time to get to the places I’d really like to, but I did go to Shark Valley Visitor Center where there are a few short trails on boardwalks and paved road through the protected area. The amount of people on bikes and trams didn’t seem to bother the gators at all. They were out in full force. Along with the many gators I also saw a lot of turtles, fish, and birds, including a giant crane that took off while I stood a few feet away. It was a brief visit, but it was a great escape from work and the city.
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.)