This well-known sculpture did not disappointment me when I saw it in person. “Spoonbridge and Cherry” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is in the beautiful sculpture garden of the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis. The park is a nice distraction from the nearby city and highways with a great selection of work by mostly modern and contemporary artists. This sculpture is interesting from all sides and it wasn’t as crowded as I expected. One person did try to walk on it (it is called Spoonbridge after all) and a voice appeared from a hidden speaker telling him to get off. We were clearly being watched. After his warning he quickly ran away and I had my opening to take some photos, so thanks, random security voice!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s a reason I always go out around sunset just to see what I can see. Especially when I’m in new places I like to be out around sunset to watch the sky change. Sometimes I get really lucky and come across beautiful little places like this river in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where the sun dropped behind the many arched bridges along the water. It was a silent and peaceful evening along the banks, where steps dropped down so I could sit and enjoy the beauty of central PA. I’m going back this weekend, and I can only hope for something nearly as nice.
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.
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.)