Tag Archives: Tourism

Seattle | Holiday Visit | 2016

by Jim and Melanie

Before Christmas we traveled to Washington, with Seattle our first destination. We arrived late to the Mayflower Park Hotel for our three night stay. The next day dawned sunny and bright. It was a positive omen for things to come. The window of our tenth floor room faced south, and we had a good view of the heart of town.


The first goal for the day was to find breakfast. We headed toward the Pike Place Market and found three places serving breakfast, one for each of our three mornings. They each had views out over the bay like this. We watched ferries cross the bay, and tankers and tugs chug through.


After breakfast the first day, we wandered through the Market, intent on filling Christmas stockings with small treats. Vendors were setting up, giving samples of fruits and pepper jellies. Crafters arranged their wares with care, ready to sell to holiday shoppers. The fishmongers sang a call and response while tossing fish to fill orders. They put on a fun show as people watched with cameras poised.


We returned that evening after dinner, well after closing. The vendors were gone. The stalls were cleaned and empty. It was an eerie sight, one that not many people see.

The next day we headed for the Market for another breakfast with a view. Afterward, we visited the Seattle Art Museum. We enjoyed the exhibits, especially of the Native Americans of the northwest.

The day continued with fair skies. Our next goal was to visit the Space Needle and surrounding venues of the Seattle Center grounds. Going up in the Needle is pricey. We used to bypass tourist opportunities like that, but we’ve learned that some things are worth the price. This was one of them. The viewing deck gives a 360° panorama of the Seattle area. We could even see Mt. Rainier, almost 60 miles to the southeast. After rounding the outside deck at least once, we sat inside and shared a bowl of chili. It was fun to watch other tourists, including several who spent a lot of time posing for selfies, trying to get just the right slant of chin for the photos.

As we waited for the monorail to take us back to our hotel, we noticed a young man with a strange looking camera. Jim knew it was an older model Polaroid. He went up to ask him some questions. The young man was happy to tell about his prized camera. He asked if he could take our picture. We said it was okay. He pointed and pressed the button. Out came the film which developed slowly over the next 30 minutes. We chatted more on the monorail ride.


That evening we enjoyed dinner with old friends, long missed. The next morning we headed south to spend several more days with our son.

Seattle was fun and interesting, with much more to see and do than we had time for. We’ll look forward to visiting again.


Scotland | A Few End Bits

by Melanie and Jim

We enjoyed our time in Scotland. The people are friendly. The history is rich. The countryside is beautiful. Our previous posts about our trip will remind us of the highlights each time we revisit them. We hope you have enjoyed them. This post is about a few aspects we found interesting that didn’t fit into the narrative of the earlier ones.

The City of Inverness

Situated on the northeast coast, Inverness opens to Moray Firth and then the North Sea. The River Ness flows from Loch Ness 12 miles (19 km) away and through the center of Inverness. The first claimed sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was in the River Ness in AD 565. We stayed in the city of 47,000 for two days prior to our barge holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We never saw the monster.

Show me more

Scotland | Historic Edinburgh

by Jim & Melanie

Our visit to Scotland this fall included our week-long barge trip, which we’ve already discussed. We also had three separate visits to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It is a city that is centuries old. The history of the city’s development intrigued us.

Edinburgh of the Past

Edinburgh was built upon ground surrounding an ancient volcano core. The crag sticking up above the surrounding land where the castle was built stands over 100 meters (330 ft) above sea level. Tailing off toward the east was a ridge of land sloping downward to about 30 meters (100 ft). The top of the ridge served as a roadway. Buildings with shops and residences were densely arranged roughly perpendicular to the roadway. Two old maps show the layout from different perspectives looking north and then looking west.


View north about 1770

Show me more…

Cuba Visit | Part 6 Final Impressions

by Jim and Melanie

We’re going to wrap up our trip with a few thoughts and favorite photos from each of us.

From Melanie:

Often I suggest going somewhere — “We should go to Portugal!” “We should go to Turkey!” Even imagine much less exotic locales — “we should go to Missouri!” Agreeing we should is easy, but scheduling it into our lives is harder. Imagine my surprise when I came out of the copy shop in February to hear Jim say, “We should go to Cuba!”

He’d been listening to our local jazz station, KCCK, on the car radio. They had a group tour to Cuba scheduled for October. Given all the political changes between the two countries, we knew this would be a prime time to go, so we said “Yes!”

Show me more…

Trapped! | No Means of Escape

by Jim and Melanie

At times, Melanie and I get ourselves into unusual situations. It has probably happened to you. You plan to do something assuming it might be fun, interesting, a novelty, etc. When you actually get to do it, you find it was a big mistake. You feel trapped and want to escape. It was a bad idea. Here are a couple of examples from our modest, but growing, list. If you have one to share, please add it in the comments.

Me: Hey, Melanie. What do you think of this idea? One of our favorite midwest bands is playing on a three-hour riverboat cruise as a fundraiser.  It’s on the Mississippi River out of Dubuque. The river there is gorgeous. The town has some interesting history. Here is a picture of the boat. It has to be a good time. What do you say? Shall we get tickets?

Dubuque Chamber of Commerce

Melanie: Sure. Sounds like fun. What could possibly go wrong? We love their music.

I want to know what happened.

Tiffany | Cultural Center | Chicago

by Jim and Melanie

After viewing the Tiffany ceiling at Macy’s in Chicago, we walked toward Michigan Avenue with plans to visit the Art Institute. At the corner of Washington and Michigan Ave, we noticed the Cultural Center building. We had never been there before. It was something new to explore.

We were greeted by a friendly older gentleman who asked if he could help us. We told him he could and that we had never been in the building before. What interesting things were there to see? He opened a brochure and started describing the highlights. First on his list were the extensive decorations by Tiffany and Company. They have the largest stained glass dome in the world done by Tiffany at 38 ft in diameter. It was completed in 1897 when the building opened as the public library.



I want to see more of this place.

Tiffany Ceiling | Macy’s | Chicago

by Jim and Melanie

We went to Chicago recently to visits friends, see Porgy and Bess with Daniel at the Lyric Opera, and explore some familiar and new places. Here is one of our favorites. More than 1.6 million pieces are in the Tiffany Studios Favrile glass mosaic on the ceiling of Macy’s fifth floor. It was installed in 1907 in the former Marshall Field & Company store at State and Washington.


Two more sights in the store.

Taos | Town and Our Casita Home

by Melanie and Jim

Adobe and blue sky are two features of the Taos, New Mexico area. We walked around the central part of town, stopping in small shops, speaking with the owners about their work. Each tiny side street has surprises.


It seems the sky is just the right color every day.


Shadows cast by the morning sun were just right.

Our ‘home’ for the week is this one bedroom casita about a mile from downtown. The owners lived in it while their larger home was being built. Now it serves as a rental. It is clean, quiet, and rests at the base of the mountains just to the east.


Living room and kitchen at left. Bedroom at right.

Near sunset recently, we drove a short distance to the bridge over the Gorge of the Rio Grande. We hiked two miles along the west rim as the sun set. No one else was on the trail.


The bridge is 565 ft above the river…7th highest in the U.S.