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.
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
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.
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 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:
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
 Phoenix – 1989; Montreal – 2000 & 2014; Indianapolis – 2005; Spa – 2018
I can count on one hand the times I’ve flown in a small 2- or 4-seater plane and I don’t even need my thumb to complete the tally. Last night’s flight, in a Beechcraft Bonanza, made four. On a spectrum of summer evenings, this one was a definite top 10 with good company, cloudless skies and a rare spontaneous experience. Our flight path took us northeast from Rochester to Red Wing, south over the Mississippi River nearly to Winona before heading back west.
Over the years, with countless trips from Hokah to Lonsdale, Vasa to Alden and all the libraries and bookmobile stops in between, I know the blue line highways curve through the rolling hills of our Driftless area. But there is a missing link between knowing there are hills and only seeing our corner of Minnesota as a distant 2-dimensional view from the lightly scratched window of a Delta commercial flight. From 3,000 feet the geological undulations are beyond beautiful.
The evening sky had that early August haze and, while the groves of trees still held their verdant green color, the fields were twinged with late summer yellow, ripe for harvest. It was evident that within weeks the landscape would shift from green to amber to rich fall browns.
I always think of the Zumbro as more of a small stream than a real river but flying over the watershed showed an extensive network of creeks and a main channel that eventually winds its way east. And then, almost to Red Wing, but not quite to Wisconsin, we banked right and so we could follow the mighty Mississippi past Wabasha, over Lake City (the home of waterskiing) and to Alma. The bluffs on each side climb out of the river valley. There was a small smattering of boat traffic, including one barge. With the sun setting over my right shoulder, we made another sweeping right turn before engaging the instrument approach and landing. After parking on the tarmac, we helped spray and wipe the leading edge of the wings and tail to remove the summer bug splats.
Our last single engine flight was in September 1991 when a Swiss cousin took Richard, Dad and me up for a view of the Alps around Luzerne. While the landscape may have been more dramatic that day, this most recent flight was maybe even more memorable as it gave us a different view of our chosen home.
We had planned a July trip to the popular destination of Nissawa. Yes, I know this Minnesota town may not be on your travel go-to list, but we enjoyed time together in August 2018 that included good conversation, shopping and attending Wine & Words. It was while we were at that first author brunch that we named ourselves, The Directors. Plus, a walk in the Grand View gardens is always a beauthiful setting. But Covid-19 foiled our 2020 plans. Initially, we simply thought to forego the large dinner/brunch gatherings but then the event planners managed a major shift from on-site to virtual and so, today, we connected online to hear the six 2020 Wine & Words authors. This year the brunch social hour had the authors video chatting from their kitchens and, appropriately, sharing drink, food, and summer canning recipes.