Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I'm having the time of my life in Thailand and can't wait to share stories and photos with you.  Until then, check out the photo albums at www.facebook.com/bethstravels.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday Wonder

It finally feels like autumn in Phoenix.  I've waited months for this weather while I complained about fingers burned on car doors and flowers wilted by 9 in the morning...and yet last night I caught myself grumbling when my feet were cold because I wore flip-flops outside.  Time to mentally transition into our version of cold weather, so I hope this photo helps.

The foliage from Boston is perfect, of course, but if you look closely you can also see a single rower enjoying the Charles River on the morning of the annual Charles Regatta.
 
 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Finding the Fog

The first thing I loved about San Francisco was the sidewalks.  They were charcoal black with shiny particles that glittered in the fog-filtered light, giving the sensation that I was actually walking across the Milky Way.

My love for these sidewalks was helpful, since at several points throughout my week spent in the city I was convinced I would collapse on one of them.  To say the hills are steep just doesn't quite describe the heart-pounding workout I'd get on a nice morning stroll.

Not that I'm complaining, because I was thrilled to finally be there.  I lost track of how many trips I've planned to San Francisco.  I've planned them via airplane, car and bus, and yet life always got in the way and I have never actually stepped foot into one of the cities on my Top 5 in America list...until now!


I delved in with the enthusiastic ignorance of one erroneously confident in her own physical fitness, and marched up the hill to Coit Tower.  I quickly learned that those beautiful gardens along the way are strategically located to allow passers-by to stop to appear to adore nature while actually contemplating whether their heart has exploded or their lungs caved in upon themselves.  I am certain the multi-colored flowers laugh at human weakness as they calmly wave their petaled perfection in the cool breeze.
 
The hike was worth it, as was the claustrophobia-inducing elevator ride to the top of the 210-foot tower.  The views are amazing, of course, but I also loved the collection of global coins that made their way to the edges of the tower's windows and the note that mysteriously displayed so few words that it's impossible to decipher whether it's a tone of love, hate, hurt or sarcasm.  The only thing that could pull me away from the beautiful windows was the four Czech friends who sang.  Spontaneously, continually, and well (fortunately).  They accompanied our group for most of the time at the top of the tower and though they were not on my elevator going down, their harmony echoed down the elevator shaft - we could hear them until we reached the ground floor.
 

 
The challenge of walking in San Francisco can inspire one to simply sit in one place for large amounts of time, but fortunately the many forms of unique transportation in the city are delightful.  My favorite, of course, was BART, based entirely on the fact that "Bart" sounds like a lovely chap who was perhaps a chimney sweep in the old days and adjusted his skills to get people around town efficiently.  Nothing impersonal like "metro" or "the tube" - BART is an old pal, and an efficient one at that.  I was at first bewildered and then delighted by the rider's ability to hop on and off the BART trains anywhere on the above-ground track that I would sometimes walk far more than I had to just to enjoy the independence of leaving a train nowhere near a train stop.

Other times I would stay on the train long after my desired destination just to gaze at the colorful houses everywhere.  Since I'm a homeowner now, I can't help but admire the diversity in facades - even a single house boasted multiple colors of different shades.  Is the city as accepting of home art, I wondered, or is it just societal pressure in reverse?  I felt a moment of sympathy for any homeowner who just wants a simple brick house like mine but can't accept the raised eyebrows of his neighbors.

 
It's not just the house colors that made me happily think "quirky," though.  This city is confident enough in its own greatness to embrace oddities with grace.  The "closed for business" sign on a boutique door that features a winking man on the moon, the tourist part of town named entirely after a chocolate, the Bastille Day street festival in the French Quarter directly across the street from the lantern-crested streets of Chinatown: San Francisco embraces expression without regard to boring logic.
 
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

I stumbled across this amazing place to rest on my stroll along the Charles River in Boston last week. 

 
You could take this (correctly) as a statement of my undying devotion to one of the teams in the World Series tonight or, if you're a Detroit fan like my beloved Aunt Sally who still hasn't forgiven the Red Sox, you can just assume (also correctly) that I love Adirondack chairs.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Tale of American Cities

Last summer I had amazing chances to travel internationally; this summer, I jumped every time I got the chance to see a new part of my own country.  Yesterday I wrapped up my domestic journeys and I can't wait to tell you all about them.  I've enjoyed a family-filled weekend of relaxation in San Diego, a return to my "home of the heart" in Washington, DC, an exploration of the hills of San Francisco and the architecture of Chicago, and a memory-filled trip to Boston.  What an amazingly diverse country we have.
 
 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday Wonder

Here's one of my favorite photos from the long walk I got to do in Rock Creek Park last weekend...happy Wednesday!


And since I got to go to the National Zoo before the federal government shut it down so they can continue fighting, here's an adorable panda to entertain you until the Panda Cam returns.