Cataract Falls, Indiana – October 11, 2019

Few things are probably more beautiful in the world than roads that bend through yellow and red-leafed trees, the subtle hint that autumn is in the air, rain that lashes on the windowpane and casts a sheen across the roads, and mists rising over the forests that steam up and make the minutes seem to last forever.

At least, when one travels in rain, throughout the countryside of Indiana.

Indiana is a truly magical place. There’s a lot of history here — often while driving through the forests that still stand alongside the roads, I could envision what it must have been like when the Native Americans were living here with their canoes and their own lifestyle.

Now, I drive along the road, and it’s carpeted with Shells and Mobils and other stores of the modern-day era, but the beauty of the natural world still shines through.

I went to Cataract Falls, in Cloverdale, Indiana, to say goodbye to the past. There’s a future ahead of every day, and who knows where it is going. I’ve been traveling for a while, going here and there, but for a while, I’d like to enjoy being where I am. That kind of past, a light, gentle, goodbye.

I’m sure I’ll be back here, and thanks to everyone who has stopped by and read my posts. The waterfall, and the river, in Cataract, will always be there for those who search it out!

As always, all opinions are my own. Now, time for the photos.

NorCal – Stinson Beach, Bodega Bay, and Marin Headlands

Hi all.

Pictures do a better job of describing the otherworldly beauty of the Pacific Coast than words. The black-washed mist on the haystacks of Bodega Bay. Colors dotting the rugged coastlines, stepping closer, one sees they are wildflowers. Elk, ravens, and wild dogs that have survived in this harsh landscape. The sweeping fog rolling in over the orange Golden Gate bridge, a strange sight against the Marin Headlands, yet a spectacular sight against the glittering bay of white-sailed boats and the futurist city of San Francisco behind the bridge’s net. The white lace in the ocean tides at Stinson Beach, and the black flower heads that grow beside Highway 1. Even the peaceful trees that loom in the remains of their forest in Samuel P. Taylor State Park are remnants of beauty from an era before modern ways.

It is cliche to call it beautiful, but didn’t someone say that in a famous poem, once?

As usual, all opinions are my own. Time for the photos.

7 Fun Things To Do In Indiana

Hi all.

Another list post. That’s good, because I’ve been a little short on time the past month for writing, and yet, here we go! I’ll make it sweet:

  1. Skydiving in Franklin, Indiana

If you love heights, like me, and like safety, with some old-fashioned kindness, try Jerry’s Flying Circus in Franklin, Indiana. You can skydive alone, tandem, or static line. I did the tandem skydive with some very, very, nice people who made sure I had an amazing experience. Link to their website: http://www.explorefreefall.com/

2. Spring Mill Inn in Mitchell, Indiana

Besides being a village-walking-tour of the way farmers and homesteaders lived in the early 1900s in Indiana, Spring Mill Inn is a very beautiful forested state park with a nice inn and gardens. It is like walking around on the western equivalent of a Jane Austen estate. Bring a camera.

3. Indiana Dunes State Park – Porter, Indiana

It is like being in Florida. Except for the water is colder, there is less salt, and more sand dunes.

4. Yellowwood State Park – Nashville, Indiana

There is a lot to do and see in Indiana, but if you visit, make one stop at Yellowwood State Park. There is something special about the forests, especially in the morning, in evening, in spring, and in fall. Even in winter, Yellowwood has an aura and appeal that is difficult to place a single word or encapsulate it with a few sharp edges in an attempt to define it. It has magic in it, like Tolkein’s.

5. Exotic Feline Rescue Center – Ashboro, Indiana

You can walk around and see the tigers, lions, and smaller cats that have been rescued. While it is certainly sad to see what humans have done to these majestic, wild, beautiful creatures that do not belong in cages, it is also a wonderful experience to see them being cared for by people who have rescued them.

6. Bluesprings Cavern – Bedford, Indiana

Go underwater on a boat and see stalactites, stalagmites, and a 5/8s of a mile-long cave that has existed for millions of years, according to the boat tour guide. What a special sight. The only thing needed is a light jacket while you are touring on the boat, as the temperature inside is 53 degrees F all year.

7.  Lake Monroe – Bloomington, Indiana

Paddling on this paradise takes one back to the early 1800s when people didn’t exist around it in such obvious sights. There are few words that can describe this kind of beauty, and beauty, not one of them.

As always, all opinions are my own. Time for the photos!

 

“Free-soloing” in the Flatirons – in Boulder, Colorado

From a trip on May 24, 2019

If you’ve never climbed without a rope up above a pine forest, overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery a rock could have next to a city, Boulder, Colorado, has some great views. In 2018, one of my life goals was “freesoloing” at least one of the Flatirons, and I was so happy to have accomplished it in the summer of 2019, when the weather was warm and the sun shone so beautifully over the alpine meadows nearby along the mountain range.

To be honest, this post isn’t even really about climbing. It’s mostly about realizing a dream. If I learned one thing while I was up there, it is that the most wonderful emotion in life, for me at least, is realizing a goal and enjoying every single moment. As this feeling sinks in and slowly evaporates into the distant reaches of memory, I won’t ever forget how beautiful it was, how peaceful, to be up there, on that rock, overlooking the horizon and overlooking the ground down below.

As always, all opinions are my own, and now, time for a few photos. Happy journeying!

Red River Gorge: Rock Climbing in Slade, Kentucky

Hi.

For those of you who know, Red River Gorge hosts some of the best rock climbing sites in the United States. There are many different crags to choose from within Muir Valley and the North, and over the past week, I managed to access several of these on an eight-day long climbing trip.

It is hard to describe the feeling of rock-climbing to those who haven’t ever climbed, and even more difficult to describe the elation when surmounting a route. If you climb, you’ll know what it’s like to overcome fear, head up into the treetops, and look out at the anchors to the valley below and the pitch that you just went up. Who does these kind of things?!

Climbers, and let me tell you, climbing can be enjoyed by all levels, not only the most skilled and experienced. *At the very start of this journey, I could only do a 5.8, being without training for five months, but after eight days, I quickly sent a 10.b.

In the spring, the valley is blooming with wildflowers and the trees turning over new leaves. It is a time to go on nature hikes and experience the changing of the seasons in a land which in many places, looks as it did in the 1800s. Try hiking to Gray’s Arch, or going around the circle to see Whistling Arch, Skybridge, Chimney Rock, and the Angel Windows. You will see how beautiful it is to be in the middle of a national forest (Daniel Boone). Surprisingly, there are many arches in the sandstone of the Red River Gorge, some as magnificent as in Arches National Park.

On this trip, I went to the North and also Muir Valley, and though listing the pitches isn’t really necessary, here’s a quick run-down to let you know it is possible to crag-hop quite easily.

Muir Valley – Bruise Brothers Wall, Johnny Wall, Tectonic Wall, Land Before Time Wall, The Hideout Wall, The Great Wall, Animal Crackers Wall, and on the way back, Roadside Crag.

In the South, at PMRP – Velo Wall.

The North – Tower Rock (Caver’s Route surprisingly a fun multi-pitch climb with an astounding view at the top!), The Left Flank Wall, Long Wall, Phantasia, and Military Wall.

As usual, all opinions are my own. Time for the photos!

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Nashville, Indiana and Brown County State Park

Hi all.

For those who read this blog, and who live in Indiana, you already know how beautiful the yellow forests are with the changing autumn leaves. This fall of 2018 is especially worth a visit, even if you already go out to spend time in nature, because the leaves in Yellowwood State Forest are truly incredible, yellow and golden in hue because of the chill and the incoming cold of winter – still months away!

For those who do not live in southern Indiana near Nashville, Indiana and Brown Country, it is one of the most beautiful, stunning, and scenic destinations in the world and in the northern US. Things to do:

Visit Lake Monroe, a place for kayaking, canoeing, boating, swimming, and exploring the wetlands and wildlife nearby in the nature preserves

Have a drink in a Nashville pub or go for dinner and art shop hunting (there are plenty of galleries and fun touristy artisan shops in Nashville, Indiana)

Walk through Yellowwood State Park – the Jackson Creek trail is a short (roughly a mile loop) trail that has fairy-tale like views of the forest, with log bridges, moss covered stones, delicate light rays, and the ferns and the forest itself (there is a lake nearby that has stunning views either before or after hiking through the forest trees

Take photos of the birds/go birdwatching/admire the farmlands by taking the lesser known gravel roads off the main highway SR 46

Visit Brown County State Park – there’s so much beauty there and people have been known to call it the “Little Smokies” and also one of the most beautiful places in Indiana

As always, time for the photos!





The freshness of an Indiana Farm

Hi all!

Who knew that life in a small college town could have such a diverse and subversive counterculture? I didn’t, and I have spent years here (ouch!).

I recently became aware of a small artisan community that exists in town, artists who make a living by dying wool, composing music, growing produce, raising sheep, and so on. While I have searched all my life for a way to live a peaceful life that is consistent with my moral values and love for the world in which we live, finding real life examples has been hard on my life path. To be honest, I had not done a lot of “seeking these people out.”

Lately, however, the more I delve into the world of “art” the more the “art world” reaches out to me. Mutual attraction of beliefs and so on.

To the point!

I met a really cool guy who lives on a farm, recently. He was kind enough to show me his way of life, his lifestyle, and the benefits of farm life. The peace that I felt walking amongst the tall yellow winter grass, land that could be tilled one day for a harvest, which he intended to use as a grazing pasture for sheep, was a stronger force than I had reckoned. The rabbits, guinea fowls, and chickens he is raising felt like a giant flock of babies that would one day range free and sow more life. It was blessed. It was beautiful. I felt for the first time, how farmers could love to live on the land, working the earth with their hands day in and day out, tilling the soil, planting the crops, tending the crops, and the thankfulness of the harvest and the pleasure of surviving the incoming winter.

It was the most beautiful thing I have had the chance to experience in a while, notwithstanding my natural love of the forests and lakes that surround the town.

Afterwards, when I read “The Wild Birds” by Wendell Berry, I had greater understanding of the characters Berry so expertly weaves, depicting farm life in a changing environment that increasingly is drawn to the city lifestyle, away from the land. And, when I finished reading “The Man Who Quit Money” a day earlier, I also felt a similar exhilaration for living as one with nature, enjoying the journey and the harvest.

Thank you for letting me experience this! Is all I wish to say. Life on earth is truly awesome.

Chicago

Hello,

I’m going to share with you today my review about a wonderful 4-star hotel I had the pleasure of staying in on a recent short trip to Chicago last week. Called the Whitehall Hotel, it is nestled in Dearborn Street across from Bloomingdale’s, in a very convenient spot right off of Michigan Avenue. It’s a small hotel, fitting to the size of Chicago’s high-rises or European standards, but quite comfortable and soundproof, and the place was decorated in pleasant blue tones and brown shades. You get the feeling that this hotel has existed for decades from the 1960’s style furnishings in the room, which adds to the authentic Chicago flair.

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Since it is located so close to the major shops, it’s only a short walk from anything and everything you could possibly want to see in Chicago. If you walk south down Michigan Avenue, you will find the high-end clothing and shoe stores in Water Tower Place and on their own lining the streets. You’ll reach Wacker Drive and Trump Tower in about twenty minutes, and in another 10 will reach the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Chicago has a lot to do, and of course you can pick and choose whatever you like. I highly recommend staying at the Whitehall Hotel if you want a comfortable stay in a classy neighborhood without a hefty expense (my overnight stay cost only $152, including $10 for 24-hour parking, which in Chicago, I consider a real deal).

As usual, all opinions are my own!

Top 10 Arts and Culture Destinations in Munich, Germany

“The city with a heart” as Munich is called, it is truly a small global city packed with roughly one million people. There is an old-world charm surrounding the capital of Bavaria; here, you can almost imagine you are a princess or prince stepping out of a fairy tale castle, as you walk about the cobble-stoned streets of this busy old-world place.

Inside the ballroom at Nymphenburg Castle
Munich is one of my favorite places in the world because it is so fairy-tale like and close to the Alps. While visiting Munich for the second time, also for three weeks (a good duration to see all the sights, and to take a few day trips to nearby towns as well), I’ve complied my top ten favorite tourist destinations.

Flying over Europe at night towards Warsaw, Poland
If you love art and history, Munich is a wonderful destination. In particular, my top 10 favorite places to visit:
1. The Residenz Museum
Situated in the square in downtown Munich, right next to Odeonsplatz, is the Muenchen Residenz. Inside, there are restored rooms and galleries upon galleries of paintings and furnishings from the Whittelsbach family’s old royal residence. Though the building was burned down, the interiors have been restored — behold, jeweled crowns and tiaras, old swords with gilt stones in their hilts, and winding rooms like a maze filled with rich colors and chandeliers from centuries past. My favorite place inside the Residenz? The Antiquarium, where the curved ceiling stretches from entrance to exit with rich frescos, and portraits in gilt frames and white busts line the room’s stone floors.

Inside the Munich Residenz
2. BMW Welt
Shaped like a new-age modern piece of art, the architecture of the BMW Welt is worth visiting, especially at night, when the twisted glass structure glows with a soft purple light outside, and inside, the cars gleam in the artificial lights. Any car lover will enjoy a visit to the BMW Welt, where small cars mix with new cars, and a range of models are displayed in a large, airy, two-leveled structure. Walking inside this place gives me the feeling of walking on the moon. Take a picture standing next to a car, or riding one of the large, super-fast-looking motorcycles. It’s free to browse inside the BMW Welt, but the car museum adjacent to it costs money if you want a guided tour.
Inside the BMW Welt
3. Neue Pinakothek
Who doesn’t love the famous painting of bright, cheerful sunflowers clustered in a simple urn by Vincent Van Gogh?
Print of Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh
You can see it in real life, with your own eyes, in the Neue Pinakothek, which contains galleries filled with collections of more “modern” painters. Situated in what I call, “Munich’s Art Neighborhood,” you can walk from the Neue Pinakothek to the Alt Pinakothek (where the “old” painters’ collections are displayed), to the Egyptian Museum, the Brandhorst Museum, and the Lenbachaus. Tip: go on Sundays to view art — most galleries (besides the Lenbachaus) can be viewed for 1 Euro.
4. Englischer Garten
Mother Nature’s art is often beyond compare, although art is in the eye of the beholder.
Walking through the Englischer Garten takes one back to an era long-ago, and transports the strollers, joggers, dog-walkers, and bicycler’s into the era of Jane Austen’s time. Imagine you are walking in the late 1800s in these natural gardens, which stretch along the Isar river on the east side of Munich. You can view large swans gliding like white apparitions in the evening darkness if you find the pond. Don’t expect to cover all of it in one go, however — like Central Park in New York, this city garden is really a large expanse of nature inside a concrete jungle.

Capturing the sunset on a bridge over the Isar
The Isar at sunset

5. Nymphenburger Schloss – “Castle of the Nymphs”

It’s hard to visit Germany and not visit an old palace.
This one looks like it comes straight out of a fairy tale, with a glittering ballroom inside the main palace that you can view when you tour the rooms, leading to galleries of the famous 30 beauties of Bavarian ruler Max Emanuel (his consorts). The main pavilion was completed in 1675 and the palace, itself, has been a favorite amongst Bavarian rulers for centuries. It is now a museum, and the immaculate gardens and acres of forest are open to visitors as well.
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Nymphenburger Palace
Nymphenburger Palace
Nymphenburger Palace
Inside the Nymphenburger Palace
A panorama view
Another view


6. Museum Brandhorst
It’s worth it to visit the Brandhorst museum if you want a glimpse into the hearts and minds of modern art and their creators. Although some of the collections will make you go, “huh?” the point is to expand you mind and appetite for creativity, so give it a go. I would recommend going on Sunday, however, when entrance is only 1 Euro, to avoid the feeling of buyer’s disappointment if you don’t like what you see. Modern art, is, quite often, intended to shock, after all.
A sign of the times.
Image of Cy Tombly’s paintings in Museum Brandhorst, from munchen.de
7. Staatsoper – Munich National Theatre
It is difficult to buy a ticket to the prized ballet performances at the Munich Staatsoper, so check a month in advance, to be safe. Performances take place in a round theatre with gilt rococo decorations all over the interior, and plush red seats. You can still grab a spot in the balconies for 7 Euros, if you can’t find a place to sit, but beware, the view is not as good because you are in the galleries. It is worth it, however, any way you can get in, because the dancers are excellent and the music is impeccable. Often, the ballets will be famous classics like “Swan Lake,” “Giselle,” or “Romeo and Juliet,” so if you go, you will be treated to a life-changing artistic experience. Dress up, because everyone else does, too.

At “Giselle”
View of the Munich National Theatre
Standing by Odeonsplatz
8. Pinakothek Moderne
If you love art, and want to consider yourself a snob, wander around the rooms of the Pinakothek Moderne (Museum of Modern Art). There, you will find large, blown up photographs from the 1970s of street-scenes in Canada, crumpled metal from scrapped cars stacked in strange sculptures, a display of old computers, chairs, a 1960s mod living room, and much more. The more traditional “paintings” are in there, as well, so if you feel flummoxed by the display of rectangular cabinets or the rug, or even perhaps the large “omelet” painting-display, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with lush colors of rich tones depicting dark-skinned women bathing or dancing, and plenty of long-haired maidens bathing naked.
What’s not to love about being a painter?

Painting in the Museum of Modern Art
9. Marienplatz
Just walking through Marienplatz will transport you to the “old world.” However, it is also one of the best places to go in Munich to see old architecture — look at the Old Town Hall and the New Town Hall — and the Fraunkirche is right around the corner, look for the two tall towers (this gave English bombers directions during World War II, which is why, unlike most of rebuilt Munich, this church was not destroyed by fire bombs).
Of the many places that do not accept credit cards, you can still buy food at Hans im Glueck, which is a popular burger chain in Munich that also serves vegetarian burgers.

Munich dress code in winter — long down coat, jeans, and boots. The more designer, the better.
Expensive fur coats and leather gloves were common Munich dress a few decades ago

10. Viktualien Markt

Food is an art form in and of itself, and if you are not shy, you can wander the many stalls of spices, fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats, and breads to find samples of these tasty offerings. Of course, you might be tempted to buy some of the food, so bring some cash with you. Although Munich is a global world city, “nubar” or “cash only” is still quite a popular way for vendors transactions.
Fruits at Viktualien Markt

Bonus places:

Angel of Peace — It’s a little park with stairs leading up to a painted stone building with a tall golden statue of an angel near Munchener Freiheit.

Next to the Angel of Peace, photo by Raphael Weiss
Enjoy Munich! Remember the Lenbachaus is not 1 Euro on Sundays, and dress up for the ballet!

Louisville, Kentucky (the Indiana side)

Louisville at night, stock photograph
On the Ohio River at sunset

There is that rocking feeling.

It persists for several hours after stepping off the boat, but perhaps that’s why sailors drink so much — if you’re already a bit tipsy, you don’t really notice the side-to-side motion as much.

A friend of mine from college bought an as-is pontoon boat he’s fixing, and invited me to spend some time on his boat. I drove down to Louisville and was overjoyed to spend the day on the gently-rocking waves, with a grand view of the bridges and the city-line of Louisville nestled behind it across the river. We kayaked down the river and back, ate some really over-priced calamari and steak with potatoes at a restaurant (Flat 12 Bierworks) up the street with a beautiful view of the river from its outside patio, and watched some fun movies — King Pin and Frida (Frida was my pick). The next day, I explored around the neighborhood and walked into a novelty party store, a novelty card-trading shop, a small sweetshop (truly the definition of a corner bakery), and recharged my phone at took a rest at Too Tired, small, hipster-esque coffee shop. Life on a boat really isn’t that bad.

It’s fun, that is, until you start to miss running water and the solid ground of being on land.

To be honest, I really didn’t mind the rocking feeling, or get sea-sick, being one who loves being by the coast and seeing the gentle break of the waves to the shore. I love mountains and coastlines equally, but the four seasons are truly my favorite.

That’s getting off-topic. The point is, being on a boat is really fun — I can imagine what owning a yacht must be like from this short experience — and I would do it again.

Maybe, next time, in the Mediterranean, scuba diving and skinny dipping by day, and dancing and enjoying festivity at night.

Walking along the bridge
View of the Ohio River at night