Italy-Sorrento


It takes approximately four hours to travel by road from Rome to Sorrento.  To get in and out of Sorrento, the highway goes through three tunnels, one of which is more than three miles long.  Like all cities along this area of coastline, Sorrento is a city where many of the buildings hang off the edge of cliffs above the water.

IMG_4109

This part of the primary street off the main square is full of shops and pedestrian only.  Christmas decorations were already being installed.  From the time we arrived until we left, the giant metal tree in the middle of the main square went from just metal to covered with greenery to the installation of lights.

IMG_4110

A typical side street off the main street seen in the first photo.  Sorrento is the perfect place for those who like shopping in all sorts of little shops or enjoy hanging out in restaurants, many of which are open air along the street, sipping cappuccino.

IMG_4113

From the main street, we walked out to a cliff park overlooking the sea.

IMG_4114

This photo, taken from the same spot as the previous photo, shows Mt. Vesuvius in the distance.  Cities below the mountain include Naples and Pompeii.  Several thousand people also live on the slopes of Vesuvius.

IMG_4115

Again taken from the same spot, looking in the opposite direction, this photo shows the steepness of the cliffs around Sorrento. Houses, vineyards, businesses, olive and lemon groves hang off the edges.  The volcanic soil here is very rich and conducive to intense, successful farming. This is lemon country where limoncello is very popular.

IMG_4112

A few feet from the overlook, we visited a very old church courtyard.  Very old is relative everywhere in Italy.  New can be several hundreds of years old.  I kept thinking about the US and question whether anything we have built now or even at the beginning of the country will last as long as much of what I saw in Italy.

California Dreaming–Part One


Not dreaming, real.  My college roommate and husband (we all went to Grinnell College in Iowa together) moved to California a number of years ago.  We take turns visiting each other at least once a year or take a trip somewhere together.  This year was my turn to visit them.  First, I stayed at their house near Carmel.

IMG_3975

Taken later in the day after the fog lifted. They live where fog creeps in during the night and burns off slowly.

 

IMG_3977

Late one morning we drove to Big Sur for lunch at Nepenthe.  The name really fits.  It is Greek for pain free or painless.  Definitely this place makes everyone feel wonderful, especially the views.

IMG_3978

IMG_3979

Succulent heaven resides in this area and around San Francisco.  Here are photos of a few near the shop below the restaurant.

IMG_3980

IMG_3982

 

On another day, we drove through the Salinas Valley to Salinas to visit the house where John Steinbeck lived and the John Steinbeck Museum.  The following views show fields along the way.  This is lettuce country.  The majority of the lettuce consumed in the US grows in this valley.

IMG_3991

IMG_3993

Taken from the car window.

The following is a photo of the John Steinbeck House.

IMG_3994

Volunteers dressed in costumes of the time serve a lovely lunch.

 

From an elevation nearly sea level, another day we drove on a gravel road up into the mountains above Carmel Valley to an elevation of 5000 ft.  About half way to the monastery at the end of the road, the road enters Los Padres National Forest.

IMG_3998

IMG_3999

IMG_4001

IMG_4004

IMG_4007

The pine trees in this area bear huge pine cones.  The tree here and a similar one in the previous photo possess unique trunks, limbs, and foliage.  I never learned the species of either. There is a parking area and some hiking trails.  While not particularly difficult, the trail we took goes up and down and can be a bit steep in places.  The views are spectacular.

Vacationing in New York City–Part Two


We tried to pick a non-rainy day to go to the Bronx Zoo.  Yet, when we arrived, storm clouds swirled; it did not look good.  Luckily, the threat never materialized.  I had forgotten just how large it is. This June, the vegetation reminded me of a tropical jungle except the species of plants differ.

IMG_3747

This zoo is huge and old with elegant, classical style buildings.

IMG_3749

These photos were taken in the Madagascar building.

IMG_3753

Water flows everywhere, making for a very natural feeling environment for many of the animals.

IMG_3755

IMG_3756

The okapi can really blend in with its forested environment.  This is one of my grandson’s favorites.

IMG_3759

The gorilla area is so large I was never able to discern its perimeters.  This seemed good to me; they have lots of room.

IMG_3761

IMG_3762

If you do not want to spend much of your time walking from exhibit to exhibit, some of which are not close to each other or are very large in terms of acres, a shuttle circles the zoo regularly and you can get off and on at various stops.

IMG_3767

Another option is to ride the Monorail which goes all around the huge Asia exhibit.  The only downside is, due to the area in which the animals have to roam, you may not see many up close.  Can you find the tiger?

IMG_3768

This is an Asian rhino and we were told she especially likes hanging out in the water.

IMG_3769

Red pandas are not related to pandas at all.  Although they are a unique species, they are most closely related to raccoons and weasels.

Many people criticize zoos and would rather have animals roaming free.  Sadly, some animals are already extinct in the wild.  A number of animals at the zoo fit this category.  In some cases the zoo has a breeding program and are working on reintroduction programs which will reintroduce extinct species back into their original wild habitats.

No matter how you plan to get to the zoo, you are going to have to walk some distance unless you hire a car or taxi.  You can take the subway and walk about 1/2 mile or so, or you can take the bus but will have to walk to the correct bus stop to catch the express bus which stops near the zoo entrance.  We took the bus which allowed us to get a sort of “tour” of Uptown, Harlem, and the Bronx.  It was comfortable and not very crowded.  I took the following photo at 124th street.

IMG_3746

A small community garden.

 

Day Trip to Caprock Canyons


Caprock Canyons State Park, at the southern end of Palo Duro Canyon, requires about 1 1/2 hours to drive from my house.  Yesterday, we met the Panhandle Native Plant Society there to investigate flowers and grasses.

IMG_3636

When we first arrived, it seemed blue might break through the cloud cover, but it did not.

IMG_3637

The park ranger took us to several different sites to identify different flower and grass species.  The above is an area which in the early 90s was a cotton field and has been restored with native vegetation.

IMG_3638

We drove to another area which remained “wild”–never cultivated.

IMG_3639

IMG_3640

IMG_3641

IMG_3644

IMG_3645

IMG_3646

Then we drove to a picnic area overlooking the lake.  Close to there we found the poppy below.

IMG_3647

After lunch, we parted with the rest of the group and drove to the end of the road.  Martina had hoped to see bison–the state bison herd roams there.  At this point we had seen none. As I drove along, a bison bull was strolling down the road.  Martina took this photo from the side window.  He was only a couple of meters from the car.

20190511_132914

We stopped and took a few more photos where the road ends. I have hiked from this point in the past, but not yesterday.

IMG_3649

IMG_3651

After leaving the park, we headed to Silverton, Texas, to visit a coffee shop there which was recently featured in a Texas magazine as the place to go.

IMG_3652

I loved the murals and sculptures.  The owner is a sculptor and also a raptor trainer. The shop features coffee, desserts, unique clothing, and art.

IMG_3654

IMG_3655

On the way back we stopped at the Palo Duro Canyon overlook/picnic area on highway 207.

IMG_3657

If you are in the Amarillo or Canyon, Texas, area, I highly recommend this day trip.