The Surprising Beauty of Crane Beach

The Surprising Beauty of Crane Beach

Castle Hill above Crane Beach derives its history from December 29, 1634, when a group of Ipswich town men voted “that the Neck of Land wheareuppon the great Hill standeth, which is known by the name of the Castle Hill, lyeinge on the other side of this River towards the Sea, shall remayne unto the common use of the Towne forever.” – Wikipedia, Castle Hill above Ipswich, Massachusetts     I missed posting here last week, but it was a busy week — two of my sons and I traveled to Boston to be with the closest of friends, ones who-are-like-family who live there now. It was a wonderful time. We had the chance to travel to Crane Beach near Ipswich, Massachusetts for a day. There were so many other things we enjoyed during our week in Boston, including paddleboarding on the Charles River, and a U2 concert (which was out of this world), but my photographs from Crane Beach are ones I have to share. Crane Beach, Massachusetts We drove out on a Tuesday after July 4th weekend, a day which was forecast for rain. The weather turned out to be incredibly clear and sunny, until about the time we left in late afternoon. I’ve spent a day on Crane Beach 15 years ago, and the experience was nice, but the beach was very crowded — probably the most crowded beach I’ve ever seen. This time, however, Crane Beach was empty. And the skies were so blue. The sand, white. The water, warm-ish and clear. It all was unexpected, a surprise. My boys and I enjoyed every minute,...
Little Gasparilla Island, Florida: a Photojournal

Little Gasparilla Island, Florida: a Photojournal

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. – unknown This was me all last week (below). Toes in sand, sun overhead, aquamarine waters stretched out as far as I could see. I spent a week on a small island south of Sarasota, Florida, for my boys’ spring break from school. When I planned it only weeks ago, I thought the island would be perfect, a way to get away from it all, a retreat. The island has no bridge, no stores, no restaurants — nothing but spread-out houses, sand, pristine water, a state park full of wildlife, and gazillions of shells. We arrived by water taxi toting a week worth of food along with our other essentials. If my boys were worried about running out of food, I was even more nervous about getting it there — coolers, endless bags, enough to feed 3 teenage boys for the week — but we did it. It worked out. And truthfully, the week on Little Gasparilla was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever had. The weather was dreamy: 75 – 85 every day, sunny, calm water. The sunsets were mesmerizing. And we even saw a manatee, who swam ever so slowly past my middle son as he stood on the sand bar. I am deeply grateful for the time there. More than all of the aesthetics, though, the week was the retreat I needed. I’ve been going through probably the roughest...
6 Places to See in Prague

6 Places to See in Prague

In the US and around the world, travelers think of Paris, London, or Rome when they think of a European city to visit, but my personal favorite is Prague. It’s not only more beautiful than all the other cities I’ve visited, but it also is the most authentic. Its cultural significance stems from its long history as an Imperial capital city, when kings and emperors, musicians, writers and artists have called Prague home. And, since its beginnings in the 9th century, Prague is the only major European city not to be destroyed by bombs in war. Prague straddles the Vltava River in modern day Czech Republic. The historic central area is easily walkable, and has been marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992. My Favorite 6 Places to See in Prague 1. Old Town Square: The open cobblestone square began as a marketplace for merchants from all over Europe. King’s processionals to the elaborate palaces, public executions, and widespread rallies have taken place in Old Town Square since the 11th century. The great Astronomical Clock built in 1410 is fascinating. Its Apostle and skeleton figurines dance at the top of each the hour, and large crowds gather to watch the show.   At Christmas and Easter and other special times of the year, market stalls dot the Square with merchants selling traditional crafts and foods like Trdlnik (warm cinnamon pastries) and roast pork pulled from an open-air spit, Czech beer and mulled wine.   For a bird’s eye view of the square and Prague’s Old Town, venture up the Old Town Hall tower.   2. Josefov, the...
5 Reasons to Travel More

5 Reasons to Travel More

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad Last week, I finished reading a book I can’t stop thinking about. It wasn’t a novel or fiction, like many of the books I read, but a memoir. The subtitle describes it well: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down. But I personally think the book was about something more universal, something many of us struggle to shake. I would subtitle it: One Man’s Quest to Break Free from His Past. The writing is elegant and thoughtful, and the story moved me. Even more, the memoir is about travel, one of my favorite parts of life. In its pages, the author takes the reader through his experiences traveling to various parts of the world–to Patagonia, the Amazon, a remote part of Costa Rica, and opulent Vienna–as he searches for a way to break free from who he was before. He wants to be able to fully love the woman who he wants to marry, and fully live in the day-to-day world of his family and friends. Because of reasons he doesn’t understand, he fights a near-constant need to escape. But through his travels, he begins to understand himself. Through travel, he finds the man he hopes to be. The book is called The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy. Often, especially in American culture, we put travel off as...
Art and Sculpture in the Veneto, Italy: a Photojournal

Art and Sculpture in the Veneto, Italy: a Photojournal

The best artist has that thought alone Which is contained within the marble shell; The sculptor’s hand can only break the spell To free the figures slumbering in the stone. – Michelangelo In Europe, art is everywhere — in the architecture, in paintings and frescoes, in statues and sculptures, even in the arrangement of cobblestones in the sidewalks. It is one of the elements that makes Europe its own. Every corner and door handle are inspired, it seems. Art is the air which that continent breathes. One of my favorite places in Europe is Venice, which I’ve written about several times. When my family and I traveled to Venice from Prague, we stayed on estates outside the city in the Veneto region. Not only was staying outside Venice far less expensive, but since the Veneto is known for its wines, vineyard estates, and its longtime grandeur, the Veneto is an experience in itself. Our first visit, we stayed at Montecchia, an estate near Padua, west of Venice in the Veneto. (I wrote about it here: The Charm of Italy’s Veneto Region.) The second visit, we stayed at Brandolini-Rota, in Cordignano, north of Venice at the foot of the Alps. The estate was beautiful, stunningly so. The estate produces Fruili wine, harvested from its fields and stored in the on-site 18th century barchessa cellars. The vintner let us tour their facility and taste the wines. Bella! But even more, the Brandolini-Rota estate is filled with surprising 1600s statuary throughout its extensive grounds. Like the estate Villa, which I imagine was once impressive and well cared for, the statues are now...
10 Favorite Photos of Venice, Italy

10 Favorite Photos of Venice, Italy

 “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad   When my family and I moved to Prague, Czech Republic, five and a half years ago, we brought with us a few new essential electronics. One of those items was a new laptop. I knew I’d need it for writing (my previous one was a dinosaur), and for keeping the photographs I hoped I’d capture during our time in Europe. What I didn’t plan for was that new laptop crashing with a dead hard drive six months after we arrived and another nine months after that. Although I backed my writing up almost hourly, my photo backups weren’t as regular. As a result, I lost a lot of photographs. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working hard on a new writing project — a memoir of the stories and travels from my time in Prague. I hope to combine some of my favorite photographs into the project, as well, so that it might be a full-color book, filled with the outer journey of living in a former Soviet bloc country and traveling to twenty-three countries, paralleled by the inner journey from who I was before and during the four years in Prague to who I am now. I’m very excited about it. In the process of digging through my collection of data giga-banks, I discovered a whole six months worth...
Autumn Beauty: a Photojournal

Autumn Beauty: a Photojournal

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.” ― Stanley Horowitz   This mosaic called autumn is a feast for the eyes. The leaves on the Ash trees along our street have turned slowly this year, from deep green to plum, then burgundy and golden. The statuesque Maple out our back windows still burns a vibrant orange and yellow, the perfect compliments to a pure blue sky. The leaves, spinning, twirling in the breeze have enough whimsy to be from a fairy tale, and yet they pile in our grass, waiting to be raked and leapt in. This autumn season is beautiful. Autumn Beauty: a Photojournal It’s as if autumn were the indicator to slow down and see what surrounds us as we careen into the end of another year. It’s nature’s way of showing us splendor and sunshine before it all fades away for a while. In 10 weeks, we will turn the calendar page to 2015 and it will be a new year. It is a chance to sit for a few moments. This Beauty Called Autumn … My Instagram photos from the past week or so. Can you tell I’m enamored with autumn? I’d love to hear what trees and colors and autumnal things you’re loving this year … thanks for sharing! Related posts: Autumn Views from the Austrian Alps: a Photojournal 7 Days in Tuscany: A Photojournal Destination Coastline: Sunsets, a Photojournal Beauty and Color in a Mediterranean Sunset Sky Snow, Charles Bridge, and the Beauty of Prague’s Spires in...
Coronado, California: a Photojournal

Coronado, California: a Photojournal

“And every day her loveliness, shines pure, without a flaw; new charms entrance our every glance, and fill our souls with awe!” -L. Frank Baum (author of the Wizard of Oz), on Coronado   I visited San Diego, California, in August this year, when I drove there with my oldest son as part of our mom-son roadtrip. Now, having visited, briefly, I can say San Diego is beautiful — but my favorite part was getting to see my friend Carrie and tour her beloved Coronado. Coronado is resort city (island) located in San Diego County, California, across San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego, and is an island connected to the mainland by a tombolo, which they call the Silver Strand. The Hotel del Coronado is a historic landmark on the island, built in 1888, and is famous for inspiring L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz at the hotel on Coronado between 1904 – 1910. I took many photographs, which say far more than words… Coronado, California: a Photojournal     Have you visited California? Where is your favorite spot? (Mine might be Coronado, aka Paradise!) Related posts: Half Moon Bay, California: a Photojournal Little Gasparilla Island, Florida: a Photojournal 7 Days in Tuscany: A Photojournal Venice, Italy: the Color and Charm, a Photojournal Amsterdam for a Weekend: A...
Half Moon Bay, California: a Photojournal

Half Moon Bay, California: a Photojournal

“It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time.” ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road   Two weeks ago, my oldest son and I ventured across country for a Mom-Son Road Trip. It was one of the greatest adventures I’ve gone on, and one I hope to make a tradition with my younger two sons when they’re 15-years-old (I wrote about why here last week). One of the most beautiful places we saw while in California was Half Moon Bay, a legendary crescent moon-shaped beach just south of San Francisco. The road leading west into Half Moon Bay winds with tight curves across a high ridge of mountains. We followed a lumbering truck up and around to the peak in the road, and from the east, the colors were brilliant–the blue of an inland lake reflecting a brilliant sky, the evergreen trees and brighter green farmland and the amber-colored hills. But when we reached the top, we expected Pacific blue, as far as we could see, and instead found it shrouded in dense fog, the whole landscape a pale monochrome. After we arrived, we realized even with a wall of fog hugging the coastline, Half Moon Bay is still a stunning beauty. The cliffs at Half Moon Bay are high, and run along the entire crescent...
Why the Mom-Son Road Trip is Our New Tradition

Why the Mom-Son Road Trip is Our New Tradition

Your children need your presence more than your presents. ~Jesse Jackson     It started early in January of 1999 when my first son was a couple of weeks old. I had learned to change diapers from the hospital nurses, and I’d mastered the art of the midnight change. And somewhere in the midst of the sleep, alone-time, and shower deprivation, I realized it all was going way too fast. My son was growing, eating, thriving — all things he was supposed to be doing — and yet I yearned for a way to pause it, to soak in his first attempts at smiles, the smells and the feel of his tiny grasp on mine. Time still marched onward. I count myself lucky. I’ve gotten to be around for the first teeth, the first loose tooth, the first bicycle ride, the first day of preschool, kindergarten, middle, and even high school. And now my first son, about to start his 10th grade year of high school, is taking SAT and driver’s training classes. He’s several inches taller than me (and I’m 5’11”). And he’s working hard and spreading his wings. He’s doing just what he’s supposed to be doing: he’s growing up. The Mom-Son Road Trip I think there is a magical opportunity at 15 years of age when a teenager can’t quite drive on their own yet, but has begun to focus on specific interests. After listening to others who have experience and opinions about doing the same type of trip with their children, fifteen-years-of-age seems to be the perfect time. Our family enjoys having family dinners around...