“A zigzag strategy is the best way to get ahead.”
In response to this week’s challenge “zigzag”, I’m opening with the ultimate example, China’s Great Wall. The wall zigs and zags as far as the eye can see through some of the world’s most mountainous and remote terrain. It makes one wonder at the amount of effort that must have gone into its design and construction. The wall was one of many zigzagging examples on our journey throughout the country this past fall. Here then, a few of my other favorites.
“How many twists can a tongue twister twist around the twisting tongue.”
The rice fields of Longsheng offered many samples of roads and plateaus zigzagging their way about. I chose this shot particularly because it gives one an idea of the scale of the fields compared to the the road twisting through their base.
“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
Henry David Thoreau
Above, a look at the zigzagging path that runs through old town Shangri-La. Actually I should say “ran”. Sadly the town was virtually destroyed soon after our visit by a massive fire that burned for 10 hours and destroyed more than 250 homes and businesses.
Below, an amazing vista seen from the incredibly crooked, narrow, and (I thought) dangerous road we traveled from Tiger Leaping Gorge to the lovely farmlands of Shangri-La.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”
Finally, an “up close and personal” look at the long day of a dedicated farmer working the zigzag paths of China’s verdant fields. I must admit I enjoyed the rudimentary scarecrow almost as much as the farmer himself 🙂
“Crooked paths look straighter as we approach the end.“
Wishing everyone the pleasure of discovering new paths, be they straight, crooked or even zigzagged.
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
Those of us on Kiawah recognize that for most of the country summer means relaxing and enjoying your own backyard. Here, where the temperature and humidity can be sweltering, summer means it’s time to travel. While it is actually Kiawah’s most popular season, for those of us born and raised in the northeast, summer on Kiawah can be a bit too warm for our blood :-). So in response to Krista’s Summer Lovin’ challenge, I’ve chosen to feature our recent trip to beautiful Glacier National Park.
“Why is summer mist romantic and autumn mist just sad?”
In July we had a lovely time visiting friends in cooler climes, including Michigan, Oregon and Montana – where we were a mere half-hour’s drive from the park. We spent a long and wonderful day there with our friends, driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road with stops along the way for photography and hiking. We entered the park at its west end , making our first stop at Lake McDonald where I captured the photo above. It was early morning and a beautiful layer of mist was still rising from the extraordinarily calm waters. The serenity of the moment was wonderful as we had the lake all to ourselves – who knows where the rest of the usual tourist crowd was that morning!
“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”
Our timing was perfect. The famous G-T-T-S Road had opened just a week earlier, as the snow plows had finally cleared away the year’s final snowfall. Because the snow was so heavy and so late, we were treated to many rushing streams and waterfalls along the way. I was lusting for my tripod which was doing me absolutely no good sitting in my closet at home 😦
“I love how summer just wraps it’s arms around you like a warm blanket.”
It seemed to me that the more harsh the winter, the more vibrant the spring – especially the flowers. We found many scenes where colorful blooms were everywhere, oftentimes pushing up within inches of the snow, which remained on the ground everywhere we looked.
“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
Susan Polis Schutz
Lest I give you the wrong impression, it was NOT cool in Montana, in fact most days the temperatures were in the high 80s and low 90s. There was virtually no humidity however so the air was crisp and clear and we never really broke a sweat. In the park it was even cooler and we had tons of fun hiking through the snow in short sleeves and a sun hat :-). The obligatory snowballs were thrown several times but fortunately there were no serious hits.
“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
The thing about Glacier National Park is that the views and vistas never stop coming. They are literally around every curve and corner. It was all I could do to stay in the car rather than get out and walk the 50-mile road so as not to miss any of it! My friends, especially the one driving, were incredibly tolerant – even pre-planning the route with stops that would take best advantage of the photography opportunities. The shot above captures a scene we found at the end of one of our hikes (which I think was St. Mary Lake, but there are some 700 miles of park trails so I could definitely be wrong!). The couple in the shot are enjoying a well-earned rest after a long, sunny hike. The cool breeze coming off of the crystal clear water was a wonderful respite for us all.
“The summer demands and takes away too much.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the horrific wildfires that have plagued the west over the past few years, and Glacier is no exception. Here I’ve included a shot of a forest decimated by fire. In 2003, 136,000 acres were destroyed by fire, fully 13% of the entire 1,000,000 acre park. Current thinking is that fires which occur naturally should be allowed to burn, as they clear the dead trees and branches that would be kindling for much larger fires if left in place. Apparently, fires serve as nature’s reset button as new growth springs up in the paths of their destruction.
“Rejoice as summer should…chase away sorrows by living.”
Then of course there is the disappearance of the very glaciers for which the park is named. Of the 150 glaciers known to have existed 150 years ago, only 37 remained as of a 2010 park study. Scientists have predicted that all of the remaining glaciers will have disappeared by the year 2030.
“Summer softens lines that winter cruelly shows.”
Finally, a word about danger. Most of the serious photographers I know are continually on the lookout for that one “magic” shot. We make a point of searching for things that a casual observer might miss. Oftentimes we put ourselves in precarious positions, especially around water, to capture what we see. The week after our visit, a 33-year-old woman slipped and fell into the water while photographing the 30′ high upper falls at Lake McDonald. She was swept 1/2 mile down to the lake. She was rescued there but died later that day. So although I laughed when I saw this sign at the time, clearly the message is not to be taken lightly. Let us all remember not to take unreasonable risks in our quest for excellence – and above all, to stop shooting long enough to absorb the beauty that surrounds us. Life is short, live every moment!
“All masterpieces of art contain both light and shadow.”
Those who follow Travels and Trifles know I’ve been away for a bit, most recently spending time with friends out west. In response to this week’s challenge, I’ve taken a bit of a figurative approach, featuring a building mural in downtown Whitefish, Montana. Is it actually a “container”? Well it certainly contains many things, including a few individual containers which I’ll feature. But more importantly, it contains the vision of the artist – looking back at what Whitefish might have been in the not-too-far-distant past. Sadly, the mural is due to be destroyed soon, as the space is cleared to make way for some new construction. All the better then, to feature it before it is lost forever!
“The deep layers of art contain the soul of the artist.”
First then, the portrait of a young boy next to, what else, a bin/container 🙂 What do you suppose he is so engrossed in reading? The day’s headlines, the latest sports, or perhaps an ad for the latest example of automotive excellence? Let your imagination take you wherever the artist hopes you’ll go!
“All literature and popular art contain themes that resonate with the audience.”
Above, the artist shows us his vision of an ever-faithful bloodhound. Is it coincidence that he’s positioned in front of the window with, yes, a pair of bottles/containers? Maybe yes, maybe no – but his position certainly reinforces my “containers” case, don’t you think?
“The ideal space contains elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.”
I loved the details that the artist brought to his or her mural. Here we see a young woman standing between what we can assume is her car and the antique gas pump. Notice the fellow lurking behind the door, which is painted with the name and number of a sign company. Can we assume someone from the company painted the mural? I choose to leave that to our imagination as well 🙂
“The artist is a container for emotions that come from all over the place.“
Finally, the artist offers us a small peek into the room behind the curtains. What do you suppose is contained in the dark of the room beyond? I’m thinking it’s a warm, welcoming cafe with hot coffee, friendly locals and smiling, efficient waitresses – after all, that’s what WE found in Whitefish!
Want to see some other containers? Click here.
“The sky is the limit only for those who aren’t afraid to fly!”
Over the 4th of July holiday, my husband and I were guests of good friends in Traverse City Michigan. On Saturday we were treated to something that was a first for me – an airshow. Now I must admit, if you’d asked me to list the top 10 things on my “must see” list, an airshow would not have made the cut 🙂 Having seen one though, I am happy to report that the event was terrific. Shown above, a relic from the past, a biplane, which thrilled the crowd with loops, curls, dives and upside down flying that made us wonder how the pilot stayed conscious.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward”
Leonardo da Vinci
Somewhat more contemporary but still in the relic category, three early vintage planes added color and interest to the day with their precision flying and seeming ability to float on the clouds. While they and the biplane were fun and entertaining, the biggest surprise for me was the incredible flying of the famous Blue Angels.
“The secret of flight is this — you have to do it immediately, before your body realizes it is defying the laws.”
We waited anxiously for their appearance, searching the sky for a sign that they were near. As it turned out, we need not have worried, as their arrival was announced by the incredible roar of their engines. The speed at which they can fly (up to 1400 mph, climbing 30,000 feet per minute) is stunning, and the tricks they do are incredible. In the maneuver shown below (admittedly not the best photograph, but you get the idea!) two pilots approach each other from opposite directions and as they meet in mid-air both do a flip-over so that they are flying back-to-back before their high-speed separation.
“Flying might not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”
There were quite a few times when the pilots, flying amazingly close to each other (as close as 18 inches apart in their most famous diamond formation) were flying upside down or sideways. The photo below shows one plane upside down next to another right-side-up. I got dizzy just watching!
“Flying is like throwing your soul into the heavens and racing to catch it as it falls.”
The jets fly as high as 15,000 feet and as low as 50. Our show took place over Lake Michigan and it felt like the planes might have singed the hair on some of the boaters over whom them passed at their lowest points! I found it most interesting that the pilots do not wear special gear, rather they control G-forces by using muscle contractions.
“Keep thy airspeed up, less the earth come from below and smite thee.”
So take my advice and if you ever have an opportunity to attend an airshow, do it 🙂 It may be the most amazing combination of artistry, daring, power and thrill as you’re ever likely to see.
To see some of the relics others chose to highlight, click here.
“The cow by itself is just a cow, and the meadow by itself is just grass and flowers, and the sun peeking through the trees is just a beam of light, but put them all together and you’ve got magic.”
Wendelin Van Draanen
This week my husband and I spent several days in Asheville with good friends at their home in the mountains of North Carolina. On Saturday we took a fun hike which eventually led to a beautiful open meadow – whereupon we came across a herd of cows. I’m not sure who was more surprised, the cows or the hikers :-), but they proved to be perfect subjects for this week’s photo challenge “Contrast”. Do you suppose the little fellow above will someday deliver milk in chocolate or vanilla?! And what about the sweet-faced, big-eared baby below?
“When I encounter a sunrise, a painting, a woman, or an idea that makes my heart bound like a young calf, then I know I am standing in front of happiness.”
Contrast can be seen in many ways – some much more serious than others. But for this week’s challenge I’ve taken a literal and somewhat light-hearted approach. Below, a contrast in both size and age.
“As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.“
We saw several calves nursing, and were surprised at how large some of them were. I suggested that they were obviously La Leche cows :-). Here, a stark contrast in color as well as size.
The cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other, milk.
The smallest calves we saw were these young siblings happily playing in a field of flowers. How sweet of them to stop and pose for me, their caramel-colored coats contrasting nicely with the yellow buds.
“Now I’ve a sheep and a cow, everyone bids me good morrow.”
There were other examples of contrast in our hike, not the least of which was the contrast between the bright green of the leaves against the dark of the forest we’d just exited – or the golden grasses contrasting that same bright green.
“Contrasting color is the best means of capturing and incorporating the dramatic effects of light”
But as unexpected as it was to come upon the cows, the shot below captures the biggest surprise of the day. Of course we all wondered what had happened to the owner. Had he walked away bare-footed? Surely not if the cows were anywhere nearby, as the evidence of their very efficient digestive systems was everywhere; just waiting for one misstep to ruin the day!!
“Unmitigated seriousness is always out of place in human affairs.”
Care to check out some other bloggers’ contrasts? Click here.
“Love is the bridge between you and everything.”
This week our challenge is “between”, which I’ve chosen to illustrate using a few of the beautiful bridges I’ve seen in my travels. According to the MacMillan Dictionary, a bridge forms a “connection between one group and another, or between one situation and another.”
I captured the bridge above from a train while traveling to Denali National Park in Alaska. If you look closely you can gauge the size of the vista based on the tiny people in boats rafting the waters.
This bridge, and the one below are both from our travels through Patagonia. The first gives new meaning to the term “one lane road” while the second shows just how beautifully a bridge can span the incredibly azure waters.
“Action is the bridge between your dreams and reality.”
Not to be outdone, the U.S. has its share of beautiful bridges. The first capture below is from our west coast travels two years ago; the second from last year’s visit to the beautiful red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”
“Bridge the gap between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.”
To see what some other bloggers saw “between” click here.
“Worthwhile destinations always take extra effort.”
This week our Photo Challenge is Extra. Coincidentally, I’ve been invited by Booked.net – Top Destinations to Go There – to participate in their “Top Destinations” Travel Blog by posting 5 of my favorite places (click on Top Destinations to Go There for a look). What could be more important to our travels than looking for places that offer that special something extra? So I’ve combined the two opportunities for your reading and viewing pleasure – hopefully you’ll enjoy your virtual visit almost as much as I enjoyed my actual travels :-). And if you’re in the mood for a bit more, visit my guest post about the US National Parks at Dwellable.com here
The photo above is from our safari in Botswana. (Nice of the colorful stork to share his extra – a snake dinner-UGH!) Personally I think it’s a destination that everyone should have the opportunity to visit. We’d been told that an African safari was a life-changing experience; having been there, I totally agree. It’s a place of superlatives – from the vastness of the landscape to the brilliance of the sunrise/sunset over the savannah, to the magnificent creatures in their natural habitat -Africa is a magical place not to be missed.
“When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.”
“The drums of Africa still beat in my heart.”
Mary McLeod Bethune
“In Africa, we have a saying, to get lost is to learn the way.”
My next choice for an extra special place is Patagonia. It is a land of enormous vistas, snow-capped mountains, calving glaciers, and rugged terrain. Here we met the challenge of long, difficult hikes that rewarded us with scenery we could not have imagined. We visited Los Glacieres National Park in Argentina as well as Torres del Paine in Chile – both breathtaking. We augmented the natural beauty of the Andes with side trips to Mendoza’s vineyards and the bustling, historic city of Buenos Aires. The trip offers something for everyone, no matter where your interests lie. Of course, you have to get up extra early to catch the sunrise over the mountains, and work extra hard to hike to the top of the mountains for the best views 🙂
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
“Be still as the mountain.”
“May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
Next on our list, our most recent trip – the wonders of China. Candidly, it was not high on my list but everyone we knew who’d been there told us we HAD to go. How right they were! My husband and I were astounded by how incredible the trip was. We visited the great cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as well as many of the most remote areas. We hiked the Great Wall (a life-long dream) and slept above the rice fields of Longsheng. We ate marvelous food and met warm, friendly people who were as interested in us as we were in them. It’s a fantastic journey not to be missed, and well worth taking some extra time to see the many different faces of this fascinating country.
“Let China sleep, for when she awakes she will shake the world.”
“To speak Chinese is not to know China.”
Dr. Geoff Raby
“You can never let go of China in your mind.”
“In Chinese, the word for heart and mind is the same.”
Fourth, a wonderful trip to Cambodia. We traveled across most of Southeast Asia and loved all of it, but for me Cambodia was a clear favorite. Because of their difficult history, the people are happy simply to be at peace. Progress has been slow to arrive which means roads are mainly dirt, homes are thatch-roofed and farming typically means cows in the kitchen and oxen in the fields. As if that weren’t enough, the magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat are every bit as beautiful as those who have experienced them say they are.
“Cambodia, the most dangerous country you’ll ever visit, because you’ll fall in love with it…and then it will break your heart”.
“Let the peace of this day be here tomorrow when I wake up.”
“The world is quiet here.”
“Peace is always beautiful.”
My final choice – the wild, untamed landscapes of Alaska. Glaciers, mountains, whales, puffins, sea lions, bears…you name it, we saw it. Fishing, hiking, boating, photography…you name it, we did it. There are few places left in the world today that offer so much for those who love adventure. The scenery is astounding, the wildlife omnipresent. It’s not easy to get there, but nothing worthwhile ever is, is it?!
“I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.”
“The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask.”
Nancy Wynne Newhall
“We have yet to become fluent in the language -and music- of the wild.”
I hope you’ll forgive my extra-long post about some of the amazing places I’ve been fortunate to visit. As an aside, I’d have included Australia and New Zealand among my favorites (the Great Barrier Reef is a contender for the top of my favorites list) but most all of my photos of that trip were lost to a corrupt external drive – AARGH!!! Here’s to our bucket lists; may we never lose our sense of wonder at the beauty that surrounds us.
If you’re a fan of travel blogging, have a look at some of these:
If you’d like to see some other entries to this week’s challenge, click here.
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”
As I was thinking about this week’s ROOM challenge, I had several ideas about how to approach it. So why not let you, the reader, decide which is the most appropriate? First, the capture above, shot several years ago in Cambodia. Seated in a small room amongst the beautiful ruins of Angkor Wat, I came across this pensive bride. I thought she looked a bit sad for a person about to have one of the happiest days of her life. Here’s hoping she was pondering some small detail of the day, rather than wondering about her upcoming commitment. No room for doubt on one’s wedding day, is there?!
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
My second thought was this capture, taken in the vast, incredibly beautiful wilderness of Patagonia. Here, we found ourselves in a place where there wasn’t a whisper of civilization as far as the eye could see. Miles upon miles of room to roam. I remember thinking that if I were a horse, this is exactly where I’d want to be 🙂
“Closed in a room, my imagination becomes the universe, and the rest of the world is missing out.”
Finally this shot, from our visit to Vietnam. On our way to spend the night on a sailing ship on glorious Ha Long Bay, we passed these bizarre one-room shacks sitting on stilts on the water. We learned they were fishing huts, each manned by a single fisherman working the local waters. And here I thought the aliens had finally landed 🙂
So what do you think – which of the three “rooms” is your preferred response and why?
Oh, and one more thing……..Happy Anniversary to me! WordPress happily reminded me that I started Travels and Trifles exactly two years ago this week. Time flies doesn’t it?!
Got room to look at a few more examples? Click here.
“It’s amazing how photography can capture just a split second of something exquisite.”
The thing about photography, and about art in general, is that’s its very personal. This week, we’ve been challenged by Shane to post a single photo that tells a story. In the shot I’ve chosen, I feel the joy of the musician, the happiness of the moment, and the rhythm of the music comes shining through. The shot is another example of my love of impressionism, which may not be your cup of tea, but somehow it speaks to me.
Those who follow me know I was at our friends’ daughter’s wedding in Austin, TX last week. The capture above, and those that follow, were taken at a Mexican-themed party the night before the main event.
“Every mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.”
Pearl S. Buck
I had decided not to travel with my trusty Nikon D/300s and instead took my little Nikon point-and-shoot. Although it performed well, in the very dim light of the party’s venue it wasn’t quite up to the task of capturing the band. When I saw the result of my first photo in the camera, it occurred to me that this was a time to turn lemons into lemonade. I loved the look of the out-of-focus singer in motion, so I set out to capture a few similar shots to make a series. I think my first capture achieves the goal of telling the story through a single shot. But since I visualized this as a series, I’m including several that I felt worked best as a group.
“It only takes a split second to smile and forget, yet to someone that needed it, it can last a lifetime.”
Are you a fan of artistic creativity or are you a traditionalist? For those who find traditionalism more interesting, I offer my final capture. Here, the guitarist has stopped moving to pose for my camera. He was quite the ham and seemed to enjoy his moment in the limelight. For me, the movement in the earlier photos makes them more interesting, that somehow they do a better job of telling the story. Sure, I could have increased my ISO or used Shutter speed mode to capture the motion without blur, but personally I prefer this approach. But then, that’s why there’s vanilla and chocolate, right?
“One tiny decision can change a life. A decision that takes only a split second to make.”
To see some of the moments captured by other bloggers click here.
“Everything is nothing, with a twist. ”
This week, Krista has asked us to illustrate Twist. Since my husband and I are enjoying a fun weekend with friends in Austin, Texas, I’m posting a short response from our African safari several years ago. I thought the twisted horns of this buffalo family met the need nicely 😉
“The tunnels may be long, and twisted and dark; but you are supposed to go through them.”
The giraffe baby above has twisted his long, graceful neck to study the strange woman behind him with the long lens. We thought their speed and agility was amazing considering their asymmetric body structure.
I’ll be back on a normal schedule next week. In the meanwhile click here to see some other twisted responses.