Travel

Pink Dashes for Dogwoods

lavendar mums

You will have to imagine (as I didn’t snap a pix) large pink dashes in the center of the lane not the center line but in the center of each driving lane.

During a Labor Day weekend visit to Tennessee for a family wedding, I learned these “road blushes” mark Knoxville’s famous Dogwood Trails.  The trails date back to 1955 (nearly as old as me) and cover more than 85 miles, winding through 12 different neighborhoods.  A portion of the trails is just steps from my Aunt and Uncle’s front door.  For those visiting in early spring, the dogwoods are plentiful on the rolling Smokey Mountains and intermixed with azaleas, flowering crabapples, Japanese cherry trees and a myriad of Planting Zone 7a blossoms.  Riotous color after dreary winter days to be envied by gardeners in our hardy Zone 4b

But not to be outdone by southern cousins, Dad’s Mums are just starting to bloom as I returned to the North Country.

Knitting · Travel

Denmark – Not to Be

green grass, small stone houses, mountains, blue sky with white clouds
A picture perfect day on the Faroe Islands
Rowan Tree Travels and fibercraft

It feels like every suspense novel ever read, every film noir ever screened, this waiting to learn of what will be and will not be in our ongoing Covid saga.  This morning’s email made it official — the Rowan Tree Travel Fiber Adventure to Copenhagen and the Faroe Islands has been postponed – AGAIN.

The tour planners, Heather and Suzie, have carefully monitored EU travel requirements, health notices for specific stops along the way and they have even gone so far as to take a trip to Scotland to assess just how difficult international travel might be in these strange times.  (Suzie’s blog offers her travel musings along the way with an array of photos such that the reader can almost feel the crisp highland air.)  But in the end, with cases of the Delta variant on the rise in the US, the frequent testing points mandated while traveling, the uncertainty surrounding quarantine procedures in situ for anyone testing positive, and time delays required for laying low upon arrival, even when healthy, all became just too many variables to manage.  The fun of adventure and exploration lost to the stress of pandemic travel.  So I am no longer counting the days and will stay Minnesota bound.

Knitting · Travel

Two months & counting the days

sheep and snow crusted rural mountain landscape
© Rowan Tree Travels

Two months from today*, I officially begin my Danish adventure in Copenhagen.  As a small tour company, Rowan Tree Travel continues to satisfy.  They have a great sense for just when I might be edging toward anxiety and need information.  This morning, my in-box held a detailed, 20-page itinerary with a link to their customized travel app (after all “…there is an app for that…”) so I can keep the details on my new phone.  The app also hosts a private messaging service to chat with my yet to meet fellow travelers and fiber-enthusiasts.

This international trip, originally scheduled for September 2020, will be a big first as I come out of our Covid quarantine.  To date, my travels have included only small jaunts — two hours to Eau Claire to visit Mom and my recent two-day excursion up-north with my retired friends, The Directors.  Certainly nothing far away and nothing by plane since February 2020.  And, while I am sure I will cope, it will be strange traveling solo which should make great blog fodder. 

Bon voyage or, as they say in Danish:  “hav en god tur.”

*Although technically my two month countdown for a Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Paris (CDG) to Copenhagen (CPH) flight began July 22.

Reading · Travel

The Directors’ Getaway to the Shades of Green Garden

assorted pots filled with summer plants
Entering Shades of Green Garden – 2021 © M. Brechon

A restless night spent worrying about my first public overnight outing proved needless as the two-day excursion with The Directors was as fun filled as expected.  As the last member of the group to travel so far as to necessitate a motel room, I was also the last to indulge in restaurant dining.  While I did make that first brave step on tax day, this trip required my second restaurant experience.  My friends were exceedingly gentle as I ventured (still somewhat timidly) into our formerly masked, now vaccinated world.  As we wove through the green farmland of east central Minnesota and western Wisconsin, there were stops along the way for wine tasting and shopping, and while this later activity is usually not a high priority for me the company made the day enjoyable.

I attribute my lack of shopping enthusiasm to a career move to Georgia just after grad school.  My next door neighbor was also a northern transplant, a cataloging librarian from Michigan, and she loved to shop.  Faced with unexpected resistance to implementing what I considered standard library operations like offering storytimes for the public rather than only by appointment, I took solace from workplace challenges by joining her at the mall.  (Remember when window-shopping under one roof in a temperature control environment was a new, novel experience?)  When we moved after 18 months on the job, she to Augusta and me to Peoria, I had two maxed out credit cards.  And, while that debt was paid off years ago, there is still a residual caution when considering what I want versus what I need.  Although, on this trip, I was less hesitant at the bookstore and the two wineries as evidenced by the assorted vintages and the stack of new books that filled the boot.

Also on this trip, The Directors (my library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends) initiated a new but to-be-repeated practice of secret book gifting.  We each brought 1-2 recently read titles, wrapped to hide any clue as to content other than to know we were exchanging books.  After tours of the Shades of Green Garden and delicious home-prepared meals our hostess initiated a quick game of “I am thinking of a number between 1 and 100…” and we picked our surprises.  Each book will guarantee good reading for the weeks ahead, as well as a promise to exchange these gently used reads next time we meet.

Other items of interest · Travel

Underfoot

BeckyB’s “Brightly Coloured” post featuring an earlier photography of a mosaic octopus in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park offered an inspiration for sunny textures under my feet.

Travelogue:

  • Chişinău, Moldova – October 14, 2018
  • Parco Ciani, Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland – September 4, 2018
  • Chinese Garden, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – July 7, 2017
Other items of interest · Travel

Water – Travel – Squares

Mirroring an earlier installment for this quarter’s Squares Challenge by BeckyB — This time from my travels as near as Wisconsin and as far as Italy with water made bright as sunlit waves break on a rocky shore, from a high vista over the river and even higher clouds filter sunlight on the Trans Canada Highway , or white rapids on two rivers half-a-globe apart at sunset.

Travelogue:

  • Lake Superior along the Minnesota shore – 2013
  • Columbia River above Revelstoke Dam, British Columbia, Canada – July 9, 2017
  • Pozza di Fassa, Italy (in the Dolomite mountains) – September 6, 2018
  • Chippewa River from the High Bridge in Eau Claire, Wisconsin – May 6, 2016
Other items of interest · Travel

Squares Challenge: Bright with BeckyB

While following BeckyB of Winchester in the WordPress blogosphere, I became intrigued by her Squares Challenge.  The directions are simple:  Post a photographic square every day, or once a week, or even just occasionally.  Her April theme is Bright with a definition covering a wide spectrum of adjectives “sparkling, polished, shining, clever, cheerful, colourful, astute, brilliant, sunny, glorious, translucent, distinct and clear.”  Inspired by her Bright and Early in Portuguese Moments on April 1, I’ve selected a small collection of far and wide travel pictures some on sunny days and others just capturing the bright wonder of the moment.

Travelogue:

  • Cathedral of God’s Mother’s Birth at the Curchi Monastry, Orhei, Moldova – October 15, 2018
  • Phoenix Botanical Garden – March 23, 2019
  • Lake Como, Bittersweet National Forest, Montana – May 17, 2017
  • Westminster Abbey, London – October 12, 2018
  • Chicago – June 18, 2019
Other items of interest · Travel

Audi Q5 worth the 7 month wait

After months of car spec research, Richard determined the perfect combo of options for our new 2020 Audi Q5.  He placed a February order specifically timed for a spring delivery so we could enjoy driving at least one season with clear vision through a windshield without sand and salt micro-pits. 

After decades of silver vehicles we thought we’d whirl the color wheel and picked Azores Green only to learn that color had been discontinued just one week earlier.  Then came Covid.  Audi factories worldwide closed and our order for a Navarra Blue Q5 with Nougat Brown interior went into limbo.

Our excitement began building when Richard read factories were starting up.  Anticipation took a big leap when we learned our car was built on August 11, then grew a bit more when it arrived in Houston from Mexico on September 4  Needless to say I did a happy dance yesterday when we learned our new Audi was being prepped in Rochester for Saturday pick up.  With just 15 miles on the odometer, we have a future of driving fun starting with fall colors and nearby blue line twisty bits.

Knitting · Travel

Denmark

I know the answer to the Danish prince’s question; “To be or not to be…” Sadly it is not to be.  I should be packing not writing about not traveling.  The big trip of my 2020 travel itinerary (as planned pre-pandemic) was to be a “fiber adventure in Copenhagen & the Faroe Islands” with Rowan Tree Travels.  My Danish nine days was to include the traditional highlights of Copenhagen (the Tivoli Gardens and the Amalienborg Palace) as well as visiting local yarn stores and enjoying a smørrebrød before flying to the Faroe Islands.  And, in case you need a geographic reference (like I did) here is a quick Wikipedia fact … “a North Atlantic archipelago, about 200 miles north-northwest of Scotland, and half way between Norway and Iceland”.  I would have spent five days touring the Faroe Islands visiting sheep farms and studying with fiber artists to learn traditional pattern work.  All with a small group of 12-14 knitting enthusiasts.  Now my international knitting escapade must wait for safe times in 2021.

Other items of interest · Travel

Spa

There are those iconic images that immediately alert the viewer to a special place, maybe a special time and memory as well:  Mount Rushmore when I was seven; the Matterhorn on an early September morning in 1991 or the Circuit de Spa Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium, 2018.

After decades of watching Formula 1 with Richard (free practice on Fridays, Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s race) and attending five race weekends[1] onsite, I recognize a number of international race tracks.  One of the most iconic with homage to a bygone era is Spa where we watched a somewhat less exciting race from the bleachers at La Source in 2018.  My travel journal reports:

Pit lane and the run down to Eau Rouge

As races go, this one was not the most exciting. All of the drama happened on lap one right in front of us. Hulkenberg hit the back of Alonso’s car as they accordioned into La Source, sending Fernando airborne over the top of Charles Leclerc. Very scary.  Race results:  Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen

Today’s race was viewed in home comfort with large screen details and ongoing color commentary without any of the radical weather changes for which the Ardennes Forest is known.  And, without Flemish Frietes (thick cut, twice fried French fries served with gobs and gobs of mayo.) 2020 race results:  Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen


[1]  Phoenix – 1989; Montreal – 2000 & 2014; Indianapolis – 2005; Spa – 2018