Tag Archives: Urban Landscape

What’s Our Role?

Statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague

As hard as it is to believe, Kathy & I will soon be celebrating 6 years of retirement. Time has flown by, for sure! When we contemplated retirement, we talked about what we would do, and occasionally talked about some kind of volunteer activity, like reading to grade school kids, financial counseling or something to use our former work skills. Interestingly, that has never transpired. Why? Most likely inertia or lack thereof, although we’ve rationalized a bit with the idea that our frequent travel would prohibit us from committing to a regular schedule and that anyone looking for volunteers would probably want a more reliable attendance. I have no idea if that is true because we’re never checked. But we keep thinking that we could be doing more without compromising free time or travel.

Downtown Prague, Czech Republic

For the last 10 years, Kathy & I have lived in a 55+ neighborhood. When we first moved here, we were barely 55 and still working, and even after 10 years we are still among the youngest residents. We have struck up a nice friendship with a few other couples of similar ages, although even they are a little bit older than we are. We have had rotating dinners at our respective homes and recently did a holiday progressive dinner. We find it much more fun to drink and eat at our and our neighbors’ homes as opposed to overstaying our welcome at a restaurant and then having to drive home. Much safer to walk!

Night time in Prague., Czechia
Night time in Prague., Czechia

Kathy & I have had peripheral involvement in our neighborhood, with Kathy participating on the Social Committee and me on the Finance Committee. We have mixed feelings about participating more, such as board membership or committee chair. We’re pretty protective of our time at home, generally preferring to mind our own business and stay out of the way.  But we’re also aware that we have skills and knowledge that would allow us to contribute more.

Downtown Prague, Czech Republic
Scene from around Prague Castle
View from our hotel room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Prague, Czechia

Kathy & I were talking recently about how so many of our neighbors are old enough to be our parents’ ages. Many of our neighbors are widows or widowers, and although they have children and other family around, they spend a lot of time on their own. For the most part they’re nice folks and we enjoy spending time with them. Like all of us, they have their foibles, but they have been a source of encouragement and inspiration. Encouragement because many of them have been travelers themselves, and are quick to tell us to “go while you can” and “don’t wait.” Inspirational in both positive and negative ways, unfortunately. Positive as in having done things we aspire to do, negative as in seeing the unfortunate result of years of not taking care of their health or finances.

Downtown Prague, Czech Republic
St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czechia
Views from atop the castle hill in Prague, Czechia

Since we no longer have living parents, I mentioned that maybe we should try and get to know some of these older folks individually. I still cherish the memory of time spent with my grandparents, and feel that some of our neighbors would probably appreciate the attention, and we would undoubtedly enjoy the conversation. Group activities are okay, but once the group gets to be more than 5 or 6 people, “conversations” are more challenging, especially for those with difficulty hearing or being heard. I’m a little leery of a friendship evolving into some kind of surrogate caregiver role, but I think it’s possible to be aware and set limits if necessary.

The Palladium shopping mall in downtown Prague
Public market in Old Town, Prague

Anyway, this whole thought process revolves around my idea that we all have various roles to play. Child, parent, spouse, worker, traveler, customer, friend, mentor, etc. Just because we aren’t “working” doesn’t mean we don’t have something to contribute. Helping others is a lot more rewarding than watching the news or playing video games, and it behooves all of us to spend some time considering our place in this world. It’s an evolving concept and I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.

Postcard From Linz, Austria

Night time view of the Nibelungen Bridge over the Danube River in Linz, Austria

The journey continues with a photograph from Linz, Austria. We stayed in Linz until late in the evening, and I was able to capture this scene just after dinner. The building on the left is the Lentos  Fine Art Museum, and on the right (blue in this photo – it changes) is the Ars Electronica Center, a museum of technology.

I’ve got a few more postcards to share while I catch up on my processing, so stay tuned!

In To, And Out Of, New Jersey

Whew, that was fun!

We just returned from our most recent adventure, a cruise to Bermuda. We sailed aboard Celebrity Summit, one of our favorite ships and favorite cruise line. The ship departed from, and returned to, Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ. We flew from Charlotte to Newark, stayed overnight at a hotel in Jersey City, then went to Cape Liberty the day of our cruise. So we had a little time for strolling and sightseeing.

I’ve never been to New York City, and still haven’t. But now I’ve seen it, albeit from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. We discussed the possibility of more time to explore the city and to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but due to time and cost considerations decided to keep this visit about the cruise itself.

Newark Airport leaves a lot to be desired, and I think it must be against the rules to smile there. But despite it all we had an overall good experience. EWR has been one of the hardest hit when it comes to recent flight delays and cancellations, and we had been a little concerned. When we returned to the airport about 9:30 on Sunday for our flight home, there was a Charlotte flight scheduled to depart around 10:00am, but they were having all kinds of problems. The plane was not at the gate, and once it got to the gate they didn’t have flight attendants. It finally left after our 11:45am flight and got to Charlotte 30 minutes behind us. But that seems to be the way air travel is working these days. Ya never know!

We spent the Saturday evening and Sunday morning before our cruise exploring the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and had dinner at Hudson and Company, a restaurant overlooking the river and the NY skyline. It was a nice visit, and just enough to whet the appetite for a return visit.

More photos are in the queue, and some are pretty nice, especially those from Bermuda. They’ll be ready soon! 😉

A Visit to NoDa

Mural on a building in the North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte

This is the first of what I plan to be a series of posts under the category “Tourist In My Own Town!

Kathy & I paid a visit to the area of Charlotte near the intersection of North Davidson Street and East 36th Street, known to locals as “NoDa” as in North Davidson. Clever, huh? We went primarily to visit a wine bar and retail wine shop recently opened by a friend of ours, but decided to make an afternoon of it. It was a nice day, a little warm for spring with highs in the mid-80s, but the humidity was low and there was a nice breeze.

Mural on a building in the North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte
Mural on a building in the North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte

NoDa is packed with bars and restaurants, with a few retail stores and tattoo parlors mixed in for good measure. Kathy & I avoided the tattoo parlors! During the day it is pretty quiet, but I understand that things get cranking in the evening. We did our thing early and got out before the masses arrived!

The North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte
Public art in the form of bicycle storage at the 36th Street transit station. The North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte.

We walked around a bit and I took some pictures. Then with time to kill we hopped on the light rail, took it out to UNC Charlotte, wandered around there then got back in time for our destination to open at 4:00. We filled up on wine and snacks, bought a few bottles for souvenirs, and headed home in time to enjoy the sunset from our porch.

Shadows cast by the Mikyoung Kim’s Nexus Project – public art installation at the UNC Charlotte Main Station for the Lynx Blue Line

A nice day!

Exploring St. Petersburg, Florida

Monument commemorating The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, the world’s first airline. On the pier in St. Petersburg, Florida

As I mentioned in a previous post, once we found out that our cruise had been cancelled, we began looking for something interesting to do for a few days.  We originally looked into a beach resort, but the temperature forecast – while warmer than North Carolina and a lot warmer than places farther north – did not seem to us to be warm enough for beach time.  Maybe it was just a letdown from not being able to go to Cozumel? 😉

Hampton Inn. St. Petersburg, Florida
Hampton Inn. St. Petersburg, Florida
Railing shadows. St. Petersburg, Florida
Railing shadows. St. Petersburg, Florida

We settled on St. Petersburg for a number of reasons.  We had never been there, it is on the water (Tampa Bay), has a number of interesting museums and looked to have some interesting restaurants.  We found a Hampton Inn right downtown near the waterfront for a reasonable price, and headed that way after our time in Lake Wales.

Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida

We found St. Petersburg to be a youngish town, and in a lot of ways it reminds me of Fort Collins, but with water instead of mountains, sandals instead of hiking boots.  There is a vibrant arts scene there, plenty of public space, a good selection of restaurants of all kinds, and a pretty open and accepting mindset toward people of all kinds, ages and preferences.  We really felt welcome there.

Teak Restaurant. On the pier in St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Pete Pier. St. Petersburg, Florida
Mural at the St. Pete Sailing Center. St. Petersburg, Florida
Duke Energy Center For The Arts. St. Petersburg, Florida
The Dalí (Salvador Dalí Museum). St. Petersburg, Florida

After visiting a town, Kathy & I often wonder aloud about how it would be to live there.  The downtown area has plenty of condos and apartments, and there were at least two grocery stores within easy walking distance of our motel.  With the restaurants, shops, waterfront and museums, there would be plenty to keep anyone occupied. Of course we aren’t looking to relocate, but the hypothetical is still interesting. It looks like it would be pretty expensive, and one of the things we love about where we are is that it is not expensive, which allows us to do the travel we do.  So we visit!

This boat owner is not going to be happy! Pelicans. St. Petersburg, Florida
Wild Nanday Parakeets In St Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida

I’ll write separately about the museums, but wanted to share a few of the photos I made while wandering around the town on our various outings.  We had lovely weather which helped a lot.  There is nothing like a blue sky and sunshine to provide a feeling of warmth, especially when it is 25 degrees with snow on the ground as I write this!

Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Fountain in South Straub Park. St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Internationally renowned artist and Tampa Bay native Janet Echelman has created one of her famous billowing net sculptures to dazzle Pier visitors. “Bending Arc” measures a massive 76 feet at its highest point and 428 feet at its widest and is perpetually in motion with the wind. The artist titled the sculpture Bending Arc in reference to MLK’s words: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” St. Pete Pier, St. Petersburg, Florida
Teak Restaurant. On the pier in St. Petersburg, Florida
Skyline from the Teak Restaurant on the pier in St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida
Mural at the Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, Florida
Building. St. Petersburg, Florida

Weekend In Asheville: A Preview

College Street in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

Kathy & I spent last weekend in Asheville, NC celebrating our 40th anniversary.  While the weekend was mostly about celebration, we did manage to do more than just eat and drink – I took a few (hundred) photos.  About 770, actually! 🙂

Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Public art in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

I did something a little bit different (for me) this time, taking only my X-T4 and 3 prime lenses – the 14mm f2.8, 23mm f1.4 and the 35mm f1.4.  Before heading out the door I would decide which lens to take, then “see” at that focal length during our outing.  I love doing that, as it is a good exercise in visualizing a scene then adjusting with my feet as needed.  I mostly stuck with the 23 and 35 except for our visit to Biltmore House, where I used the 14 and which I will detail in a future post or two.

Asheville City Hall in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Pack Square Park in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Flatiron Building in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Historic buildings in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

I’m still trying to get through the rest of my photos from our Northwest road trip, so before I spend too much more time with these Asheville photos I’m going to try and get the Northwest photos done first.  So expect a little bouncing around the country as I get through the rest of my Northwest photos. 🙂

Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Wall Street in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

Means of Expression

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

It always interests me to see how people tend to refer to their equipment in more specific terms the newer or more expensive it is. I was reading a recent blog post that was commenting on the age-old (at least 10 years!) argument about whether phones were “real” cameras. Never mind the argument (which I think is silly), but the writer stated that “there are significant differences between my iPhone 8’s camera and my OM-D E-M5 Mark II, not to mention some newer full-frame cameras.” Well, no sheet, Sherlock!

The thought that went through my mind when I read that sentence was that, if he were shooting with a 3-generations old Android phone (like me) or a hopelessly obsolete mirrorless camera (like me) he might not have been so quick to mention his gear. Is that what is referred to as “humblebrag? As in, “I had a hard time finding a suitable parking place for my Porsche?” Anyway, my weird thought twists on this Saturday morning.

I hope everyone has enjoyable holiday week/weekend, whichever holiday (if any) they choose to be observing.

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

Oh, There Were People in San Juan, Too!

Trio On A Bench

Cedric commented on my last post about how the lack of people contributed to the “Tranquilidad” of the scenes.  Of course not all of my photos were devoid of people, as the people are a large part of what makes San Juan special.  Here are a few photos “with” people as a counterpoint against those without.

Painting a Fine Line
Afternoon Walk
Three Dimensional
Wrong Way
Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit
Scenery near El Morro Fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit
Lunch at Barrachina, allegedly the birthplace of the Pina Colada. In San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit