Travel theme: Golden

This time of year puts me in mind of all things golden – from fizzy bubbles in glasses of champagne to baubles and tinsel and flickering candlelight. It also reminds me of the amount of money that gets frittered away on gifts that are either unwanted or will get used a handful of times and then forgotten about. Wherever possible I try to gift experiences rather than objects –  theatre tickets, a spa day, a skiing lesson or cookery class. Experiences live in your memory for ever and there’s even a chance you’ll come away with a new skill. Of course, the gift of adventure is my favourite; I would quite happily go without the latest, greatest iteration of phone/computer/tablet in exchange for a hot air balloon ride, wouldn’t you? And while I would be thrilled that you thought enough of me to buy me a diamond necklace, would you mind awfully if I swapped it for a ticket on the Trans Siberian Express? With that in mind, here are some golden moments from past travels.

A stunning exhibit at the Tacoma Museum of Glass.

maestro lino Tagliapietra glass furnace molten tacoma museum washington

A golden pig in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

pike place market, seattle, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney,

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge en route to the Lost Coast.

golden gate bridge international orange san francisco us usa america road trip travel

These gorgeous, ruffled, puckered, golden hills of California.

mojave desert hills california road trip us usa america driving travel

Last but not least, this cheeky European Goldfinch outside my window in Ireland.

european goldfinch, goldfinch, ireland, birds, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, photography

If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Golden
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze. – Carolyn Gold Heilbrun

You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.  – James M. Barrie

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 59 Comments

Travel theme: Freedom

My last post about the Cadillac Ranch has me yearning for the freedom of the open road once more. To quench the wanderlust that is starting to flood my senses, I have been looking through photos of past travels for shots that embody the spirit of freedom. Of course I began with the open road, this one under the big skies of Montana.

us, usa, america, road trip, montana, big sky country, ailsa prideaux-mooney, travel, travelogue, photography

A different type of freedom now, the freedom of expression, represented by this glorious stack of books at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, CT.

beinecke, rare books, rare manuscripts, yale, new haven, connecticut, travel, photography, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

To escape the hustle and bustle of New York’s concrete jungle, I would head out to the Far Rockaways where the crashing waves released feel-good ions to soothe my soul and free my spirit.

far rockaways, new york, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Last but not least, beautiful wild horses roaming freely on the slopes below Mount Leinster.

mount leinster, carlow, ireland, nine stones viewing point, travel, travelogue, ireland, wild horses

What does freedom mean to you and what makes you feel truly free? If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Freedom
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe that they are free. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Just living is not enough; one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower. – Hans Christian Andersen

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

Carmageddon

Just outside of Amarillo’s city limits, west along the grand old Mother Road, lies one of those roadside attractions you just don’t want to miss. Cadillac Ranch is an art installation that was created in 1974 by a San Fransiscan artists’ collective called The Ant Farm. Despite its relative ‘newness’ compared to other Route 66 attractions that date back much closer to the road’s inception in 1926, this quirky slice of Americana perfectly encapsulates the spirit of freedom that this legendary road has come to represent.

Keep your eyes peeled as you leave town, because you can’t access the ranch from the current highway; you have to turn off onto the southern Frontage Road that runs parallel to the highway, headed eastbound. A delicious graffiti-covered turnstile cobbled together out of bits of pipe guards the entrance.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

When I visited, even the local dumpster glowed pink, purple, green and yellow with a brand new coat of spray paint.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Clambering over the turnstile and traipsing along a dusty path through the pancake-flat Texas Panhandle, I encountered a steady stream of road trippers on their way back out; a vaguely anarchic gleam of satisfaction twinkling in their eyes as we passed and swapped glances.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

At the end of the dusty trail, ten grand old Cadillacs, once symbols of the American dream, were planted nose first in the ground; all in a row, all at the same depth and angle (purported to be the same angle as the sides of the Pyramids at Giza).

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The cars were picked up second hand and installed with their original paintwork intact. It didn’t take long for visitors to start leaving their own marks on the installation – and this was encouraged by the artists and the local eccentric millionaire Stanley Marsh 3, who paid to commission Cadillac Ranch. Before long, the cars were stripped down to the shells they are today and ever-changing layers of graffiti adorned every surface.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

I loved everything about the Cadillacs. I’ve seen photos of the original installation and while the cars looked wonderful back then, there’s something about the way they look today that evokes the incomparable joy and freedom of the open road. The cars never look the same from one day to the next which parallels the ever-changing nature of a road trip. Allowing visitors to leave their own mark, giving them the freedom to express themselves, that is the decadent essence of the all-American road trip. Blazing your own trail, escaping the confines of the homogeneous. The rules are, there are no rules.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The fact that the Caddies are half-buried face down in the dirt might put a damper on it for some, but for me, it’s all about the tail fins and they are still reaching for the sky.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, roadside attractions, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The American Dream may seem half-buried in these complicated times but in the middle of a dusty field out in the Texas Panhandle, hope springs eternal.

cadillac ranch, texas, usa, america, road trip, travel, travelogue, photography, ailsa prideaux-mooney

So throw off your shackles, get your motors running and plan your next road trip.

xxx Ailsa

 

Posted in Photography, Texas, Travel, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Travel theme: Slow

Can you believe it’s December already? The year seems to have flown by, so in an attempt to make time slow down a little, here’s a celebration of all things unhurried and plodding. Like these cows at Coral Pink Sand Dunes who were in no rush to get out of our way…

cows black coral pink sand dunes state park utah road trip

…or this girl in Boston who moved so slowly you wouldn’t even notice it.

street performer boston ma us road trip usa america

Passenger trains in the US make my slow list because I’ve experienced the greatness of their lateness first hand. They don’t own the tracks they travel on, so usually end up having to give way to money-making freight trains.

Lake Shore Limited, Amtrak, USA, train journey

Slower moving still, this sunken boat near Athy in Ireland.

sunken boat, athy, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

This one is a total cheat, it’s sloe berries, but they sound slow, don’t they? Anyway, it takes a long time for them to reach their pickable prime, lore has it you have to wait until after the first frost to pick them, so I suppose you could say they are slow to ripen.

foraging, wild food, wild fruit, berries, ireland, hedgerow, autumn, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, sloe, blackthorn

I’m hoping you can find some slow time to create your own interpretation of this theme. If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Slow
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened. – Albert Camus

Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit. – Moliere

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , | 65 Comments

Travel theme: Above

I’ve been busy admiring the scenery of Glendalough from above recently, but have been lucky enough to have taken in several wonderful views around the world from above. First up, the lovely city of Seattle at nighttime, taken from the top of the Space Needle.

seattle, washington, space needle. travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

A rainy day on the via Condotti in Rome, taken from the top of the Spanish Steps.

via condotti, rome, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

It is only from above that you can truly appreciate how much of Manhattan is taken up by Central Park – this is the jaw-dropping view looking north from the Top of the Rock.

Looking north from the Top of the Rock, Manhattan, Central Park, New York City, Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

One of my favourite views of all time, flying over the Alps with my nose pressed up against the window, watching those amazing mountains spread out for miles like the stippled icing on top of a Christmas cake.

Italy, Italian Alps, the Alps, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Do you have a favourite view from above? If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Above
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

This above all; to thine own self be true. – William Shakespeare

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. – Edward Abbey

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 112 Comments

The Spinc of No Return

Glendalough is a gem in the heart of the Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains. The name is Irish for “Valley of the Two Lakes” and the area is teaming with monastic ruins and abandoned mining villages. Most of these sites are accessible via short, easygoing trails, but to appreciate the true splendour of the location, you have to work a little harder.

The Spinc is one of the best trails to get you up to a height where you can admire the glacial landscape in all its glory. “An Spinc” is the Irish for ‘pointed hill’ and the trail is appropriately steep. It is one of the more popular trails, so in 2002, in an attempt to protect delicate bog lands from being trampled to oblivion by avid hikers, the Irish Army constructed an impressive boardwalk out of studded railroad ties. Now, instead of scrambling up a muddy slope, you ascend a zigzagging wooden staircase with about 600 steps.

I had psyched myself up for the 600 steps but was undecided as to whether or not it would be wise to count the steps as I went. I couldn’t figure out whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing to know how many more steps I still had to go as I struggled up the hill. The trail didn’t waste any time at all getting serious. 2 minutes into the trail I was clambering up steep steps alongside Poulanass Waterfall – Poulanass is Irish for “Hole of the Waterfall” and true to its name, there were several plunge pools carved into the rocks below by the force of the water.

glendalough, spinc, spinc trail. blue trail, hiking, wicklow mountains, wicklow national park, wicklow, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, poulanass waterfall

Distracted by the spectacle of the falls, I forgot to count the steps, and mentioned it to my friend as we traipsed along. “Oh, these steps aren’t part of the trail”, he explained, “that comes later.” I gulped inwardly, trying to calm my inner wussy hiker. I can hike for miles on end if the trail is moderately flat, but substantial elevation gain takes away my will to live. This wasn’t the steep part?

Leaving the waterfall behind the trail veered off to the right through thickening forest and up ahead I spotted the start of the infamous steps.

glendalough, spinc, spinc trail. blue trail, hiking, wicklow mountains, wicklow national park, wicklow, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, 600 steps

They didn’t look too bad, I told myself, starting up the steps with a bound. I actively deciding against counting which turned out to be the right decision. After two flights I was a hot mess, bright red in the face and bathed in perspiration. The only thing that kept me going was not knowing for sure how far along the trail I was. With each turn in the staircase, I imagined the peak of the mountain would be right around the next corner. If I had been counting, I would have known there were still 579 steps to go and I would probably have cried.

With a lot of patience on my friend’s behalf, and sheer doggedness from my side, we scaled the steps and somewhere along the way, with blood pounding in my ears, the forest thinned and then disappeared altogether. Tufts of heather and spikes of grass dotted the heath and just as we crested the hill, the sun came out and lit up the golds and browns of the dried ferns and sedges.

glendalough, spinc, spinc trail. blue trail, hiking, wicklow mountains, wicklow national park, wicklow, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The two lakes sparkled deep blue as we made our way along the boardwalk. I had to layer up again; the air was much cooler up here, and the trail had leveled out so my pulse returned to normal and my face stopped glowing. We stopped for lunch, homemade sandwiches gobbled hungrily as we sat gazing out across the lakes and the lush surroundings. Fortified, we continued onwards. Up ahead, the most dramatic of sights greeted us, the staggering beauty of Glendalough’s glacial valley.

glendalough, spinc, spinc trail. blue trail, hiking, wicklow mountains, wicklow national park, wicklow, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, glaciation, glacial valley

This is the spectacular landscape you don’t get to appreciate from down below. The sight of that wondrous vista made every single one of those 600 steps worthwhile.

glendalough, spinc, spinc trail. blue trail, hiking, wicklow mountains, wicklow national park, wicklow, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

glendalough, spinc, spinc trail. blue trail, hiking, wicklow mountains, wicklow national park, wicklow, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

xxx  Ailsa

Posted in Europe, Ireland, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Travel theme: Colourful

Around this time of year, as the light grows dim and the nights close in up in the northern hemisphere, I start feeling the need for an injection of colour to counteract the low light. So I have been leafing through my brightest, most colour-drenched photographs to liven things up. My first stop was a garden in Guatemala where these fabulous parrots stood guard (or should that be ‘perched guard’) over the entryway.

parrots antigua guatemala casa santo domingo

Out in the Hamptons one sunny summer afternoon, these pretty pastel bikes made for a delicious sight.

summer bike bicycle

The first time I laid eyes on a red cardinal, it was just after a snow storm in Manhattan. Wandering through Central Park, I rounded a corner and happened upon a whole flock of the reddest birds I had ever seen, and they weren’t in the least bit phased by my presence. Here’s one of the perkiest of them, posing for the camera.

red cardinal central park new york snow manhattan

This lovely lady was a living statue at the Folk Life Festival in Seattle. The burst of colour makes me smile and I adore that parasol. I do believe the world would be a better place if we brought back widespread use of parasols. All that delicate lace is just too wonderful for words.

seattle, northwest folklife festival, folklife, travel, photography, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling cheerier already. I’ll leave you with one of the most unforgettable of flowers, a stunning jade flower I happened across in Central America.

antigua, guatemala, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, jade flower

Are you ready to celebrate colour? If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Colourful
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

Your life is a canvas. Make sure you paint yourself a whole lot of colourful days. – Anon

Perusing colourful storylines on the backs of book jackets, I realized that none of them could possibly be as dramatic as my life to date. – Sarah Kay

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 142 Comments

Travel theme: Belonging

Looking at the photos of the Fremont dinosaurs I am struck by how much they seem to belong where they are, and I thought that might make an interesting topic for this week’s travel theme. What does belonging mean? It could be a treasured possession that belongs to one person – like Winnie-the-Pooh belonged to Christopher Robin…

winnie-the-pook, new york, original, christopher robin, a. a. milne, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The original Winnie-the-Pooh looking a little homesick; it’s a long way from New York to 100 Acre Wood.

…or a park that belongs to a nation.

grand tetons, national park, wyoming, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Grand Tetons National Park

It could be a community that creates a sense of belonging…

holi, holi festival, festival of color, festival of colour, travel, ailsa prideaux-mooney, maple valley

Circle of hands at Holi Festival

… or just one special person.

holding-hands-together-in-grand-central

It could be something so old it can’t help but belong…

stone temples, tikal, mayan ruins, maya, ancient temples, guatemala, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux- mooney, photography

Temples at dawn in Tikal

…or a place you know so well it feels like home.

new york, manhattan, travel, travelogue, photography, ailsa prideaux-mooney

What does belonging mean to you? If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Belonging
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. – Walt Whitman

 

 

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 74 Comments

The dinosaurs that escaped extinction

If you’re ever in Seattle’s Fremont neighbourhood, keep your eyes peeled for two dinosaurs who cheated death and went on to live long, happy lives along the banks of the ship canal.

fremont dinosaurs, topiary dinosaurs, seattle, travel, travelogue, tourism, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The mother and baby dinosaurs were part of an exhibit at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center in the 1980’s but when the exhibit came to an end, the dinos were scheduled for destruction. Luckily for dino lovers everywhere, a group of Fremont locals got together and purchased the exhibit for the grand total of $1 and orchestrated the difficult task of transporting the 66 foot long steel frames, weighing 5 tonnes, to their new habitat. Once the frames were in place, thousands of ivy plants were brought in and lovingly tended to over the years until the frames were completely covered and the dinos roamed free once again.

fremont dinosaurs, topiary dinosaurs, seattle, travel, travelogue, tourism, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The mother apatosaurus and her baby can be found lolling along the Burke-Gilman Trail at the corner of N. 34th and Phinney. Some of you might recognize the shape as being that of a brontosaurus and you would be correct. In 1877, a Professor of Paleontology at Yale by the name of Othniel Charles Marsh recorded a juvenile, incomplete skeleton, naming it Apatosaurus, which translates as deceptive lizard. Two years later, he recorded another skeleton, but because it was so much larger, he thought it was another species which he dubbed Brontosaurus, or thunder lizard. It wasn’t until 1903 that the mistake was uncovered, so technically, the brontosaurus never really existed. But on the banks of the ship canal in Fremont, the topiary dinos don’t care what they’re called. They’re just happy to have escaped extinction.

Posted in Photography, Travel, United States, Washington | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Travel theme: Arches

I saw a black cat this afternoon scaring off the unwanted attentions of a passing dog by hissing and curling its body into a perfect arch. When I got home I started looking through photos to see what arches I had captured on my travels. I found bright blue Christmas arches in London

blue christmas london

A blue Christmas in London

…delicate, aged window arches in Yale University

yale university windows

…ornate and rose-decked arches in Washington DC

tradition franciscan monastery washington dc

…and arches of antiquity in Rome.

Circus Maximus, Ancient Rome, Roman Forum, travel, travelogue, photography, Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney, Italy

Now that I’ve started looking, I’m seeing arches everywhere and I’m willing to bet almost everyone has got at least one amazing arch photo to share. If you would like to join in this week’s travel theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Arches
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

xxx Ailsa

All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move. – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Human society is like an arch, kept from falling by the mutual pressure of its parts. -Seneca

 

Posted in Photography, Travel, Weekly Travel Themes | Tagged , , , , , , | 118 Comments