Saturday, April 29, 2017

Lacre Punt, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

The southern lobe of the island of Bonaire was so low in elevation that mariners couldn't see it. Thinking they were still far from the island, as defined by its mountainous core, they would unknowingly run aground. Keeping that from happening is this lighthouse's raison d'être. Everything lighthouse has one. [2017]

Friday, April 28, 2017

New London, Connecticut, USA

London, England, is on the River Thames. So is New London, Connecticut. But, only the latter has the New London Harbor Light, which is now owned by the New London Maritime Society. If you collect octagons, it's well worth a visit. Yes, it has eight sides. And, yes, the water is really that blue! [2006]

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Paulsboro, New Jersey, USA

There is untold value in making historical treasures a part of the everyday world, and that is what they have done so well with the Tinicum Rear Range Light. Can kids in other places play ball (see the diamond?) in the shadow of a towering giant like this? How many memories of childhood ballgames will be so much more vivid because the backdrop is so unique? [2006]

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Knock, knock. Who's there? Your FreshDirect groceries, delivered to your front door: four boxes worth, plus paper towels and toilet paper. They've just rolled off the truck and will soon be stocked away in the commodes and pantry of an elegant town house in Old City Philadelphia. [2017]

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Webster, Massachusetts, USA

"You fish on your side; I'll fish on my side; nobody fishes in the middle." It's a treaty embodied by a place-name, which may be the longest toponym in the United States: 14 syllables and easy to pronounce if you break it down. [1983]

Monday, April 24, 2017

Amherst, Texas, USA

Like so many small towns, Amherst is anxious for you to know big it is:  Pop. 721.  That's the number from the 2010 Census. It's on a plaque that covers the number from the 2000 Census. What's your best guess: Did Amherst gain or loose population during the first decade of the 21st century? Why? [2016]

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Alabama Hills, California, USA

All the world's a stage, but here there are no players, at least, not at the moment. Surf back in time, though, and you might catch a glimpse of Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger, or Hoss Cartwright. On this stage, you might even learn how the west was won, all of which is a way to say Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare! [2002]

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

All the world's a stage, and both these men merely players. Right now, they're performing in Act II of "The Seven Ages of Man." And, through those ages they'll dash, often unaware that every action is seen by others as performance art. The hints have been given, so let's get to the question: Whose birthday comes up tomorrow? [2013]

Friday, April 21, 2017

Julian, California, USA

Cities and towns both have skylines, but there are differences. Whereas, city skylines are almost always dominated by bank towers, small towns continue to be dominated by church spires. Here in Julian, the only competition that St. Elizabeth's has is not from high-rise office buildings but from high-rise pines. [2013]

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Milford, Connecticut, USA

The memorial on Milford's village green reminds us that the United States entered the Great War, later known as World War I, exactly one hundred years ago this month. Question: What was the colloquial term for the men who were part of the American Expeditionary Forces in the war? (Hint: here.) Now, you know what you're looking at. [2008]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cuba, New Mexico, USA

It's wider than it is tall, so it must be a mesa. Buttes and mesas start out as plateaus, then running water takes over, and streams start etching their way into the surface, planing it away. No evidence of streams here? Maybe not now, but we are talking about geologic time. Landforms like these also depend on horizontal bedding. [2013]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fort Lupton, Colorado, USA

It's taller than it is wide, so it must be a butte, the remnant of a worn-down tableland. As the vertical sides succumb to weathering and erosion, scree collects at the base forming a talus cone. Although these are arid lands, the work of running water is easy to see. [2013]

Monday, April 17, 2017

Church Rock, Utah, USA

Remind you of a church? Does every venture into nature's domain remind you of God's glory? Just something to contemplate on this Easter Monday. Just something to inspire you to enjoy the great outdoors this spring. [2013]

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Suffield, Connecticut, USA

Church parking lots should be full today, whether they're on a village green or in the sprawling suburbs. It's Resurrection Day, the day that makes Christians Christians. Protestant churches (including the Congregational Church here) represent the third great sub-division of Christianity. [2009]

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Phoenix, Arizona, USA

St. Mary's Basilica reminds us of the Roman Catholic tradition this Easter weekend. The architecture is Roman, befitting the Church of Rome. At one time, all of Christianity was united. Then, the Bishop of Rome asserted spiritual primacy, and the eastern bishops in Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem decided they just couldn't take it any more. [2009]

Friday, April 14, 2017

Jackson, New Jersey, USA

Black Friday seems a more appropriate moniker for the day than Good Friday. After all, it was the day when Jesus was crucified, on a cross like this according to the Orthodox Christian tradition. Why three bars? The top one represents the plate inscribed with ΙΧΘΥΕ, the bottom one a foot rest. St. Vladimir's church honors the initial Baptism of the Rus. [2015]

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Some books are larger than life, and that would include the tomes outside the Cincinnati Public Library. They don't seem to have titles, but you could add them in your mind's eye. What books would you like to honor because they made a difference in your life? Use the answer as a conversation starter during National Library Week, April 9-15. [2013]

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Palm Beach, Aruba

A soothing sunset marks the completion of every day in the ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. As they say: You never get a second chance to make a last impression ━ or something like that. [2017]

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1000 Steps, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

Surfer kids, they are (or, at least thinking about it). They're dancing along the water's edge where gentle waves meet the coral beach. These two feral goats are as sure-footed here as they are in the mountains and just as much a spectacle as they are in island towns. [2017]

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kralendijk, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

Sandy beaches are scarce on the island of Bonaire, but the blue Caribbean on the sheltered western side invites all sorts of other activities, from sailing and windsurfing to diving and noodle swimming. As for the eastern side, it's bashed by waves, driven by the Tropical Easterlies, and far more dangerous. [2017]

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Punda, Willemstad, Curaçao

There seems to be nothing more universal than pigeons. Always hungry, they are. Always willing to share lunch, he is. How much do you share with pigeons? Remember, one of their cousins returned to the ark of Noah with an olive leaf and the promise of a world reborn. [2017]

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Otrobanda, Willemstad, Curaçao

Ferries are such throw-backs in time. Most have been replaced by bridges or causeways, but not here on the channel that separates Punda from Otrobanda. Two bridges actually cross the strait (called a bay by locals), but a ferry is still necessary. Formulate a hypotheses on why that would be, then visit Willemstad and test it. [2017]

Friday, April 7, 2017

Oranjestad, Aruba

The Dutch built Fort Zoutman (see the cannon?) in the 1790s. Around it developed the town of Oranjestad, the island's capital, which was named after the House of Orange. The tower was added to the fort in the mid-1800s and once served as a lighthouse. [2017]

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Palm Beach, Aruba

Don't worry. Green iguanas are entirely vegetarian and good-tempered. This one is a male: See the spiny back ridge and the dewlap under his chin? Fortunately, green iguanas and their lizard cousins, the whiptails, seem entirely happy to share the island with 100,000 homo sapiens. [2017]

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Palm Beach, Aruba

The colors suggest Caribbean. The mill suggests Holland. The conch suggests seaside. Where are you? The Dutch Caribbean 1499. Here in Aruba, they like to add 1499, their year of founding. Aruba is a self-governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. [2017]

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Bloomfield, New Mexico, USA

B stands for Bloomfield. There are over 30 'mountain monograms' in New Mexico. Who do you think built this one? The Scouts or the Seniors? Because maintenance is required and because governments have more regulations than ever, many hillside letters are disappearing from the landscape of the western U.S. [2013]

Monday, April 3, 2017

Virginia City, Nevada, USA

V stands for Virginia City. There are almost 60 hillside monograms in Nevada and perhaps 500 in the western United States. Why are these geoglyphs uncommon in the East? Think: physical geography. [2001]

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Chloride, Arizona, USA

C stands for Chloride. It may be a ghost town, but there are enough people left to show some local pride by rocking out a monogram on the hillside overlooking town. In the state of Arizona, there are almost 60 towns (or schools) which have used initials to give their genius loci someplace to dance. [2009]

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Moab, Utah, USA

The first of April marks the beginning of full-fledged spring, so get out those bicycles and start enjoying the great outdoors. But, if your bike looks like this: time to trade it in! And, if your body looks like this: time to build some muscles! No foolin'! [2013]

Friday, March 31, 2017

Goodland, Texas, USA

Cattle Kingdom and Cotton Kingdom are regional monikers sometimes applied to the Texas Panhandle, but here is a landscape that fits neither. It looks like a family tried to establish a ranch, but failed: too little rainfall to sustain even a solitary shade tree. Abandoned for how long would you say? [2017]

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Washington, DC, USA

After they rally in front of the Capitol to mark "six years of international neglect and betrayal," Syrian-Americans in the DMV assemble to march to the White House. They want the U.S. to stand against Asad, Russia, and ISIS. Hope is waning, however, and the number of demonstrators has been declining. [2017]

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Washington, DC, USA

Voices from the podium and colors of the Syrian flag will attract the attention of decision-makers on Capitol Hill: That's the hope, at least. The Syrian community wants desperately to see an end to the Asad regime and the elimination of ISIS from their homeland. The latter objective may be achieved, but the former, not likely. [2017]

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Washington, DC, USA

The pro-democracy uprising in Syria began in March 2011. It was part of a so-called Arab Spring that touched almost every country in the Middle East and North Africa. Now into its seventh year, Syrians around the world "still want FREEDOM" for their homeland. The Syrian community of the DMV demonstrates every March in sight of the White House or Capitol. [2017]

Monday, March 27, 2017

Havana, Cuba

Less than two days after it arrived, the MSC Opera pulls out of the Sierra Maestra Terminal in Havana and is off to its next port of call. From the top of the Parque Central Hotel the city looks colorful but a bit dilapidated. Nevertheless, visitors are likely to remember Havana the way they think of a book that offered them a 'good read' on dog-eared pages. [2017]

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Havana, Cuba

MSC Cruises is the fourth largest cruise company in the world, but relatively unknown in the U.S. Here, the MSC Opera has just docked at the Sierra Maestra Terminal and its passengers have been given a day to see Havana. That's 2700 potential visitors for a city that desperately needs cashola. [2017]

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Havana, Cuba

That's a 1955 Ford Fairlane. In the United States, its ilk may be for collectors only, but classic cars are common on the streets of Havana, where the 1950s are not yet history. Get ready though, a new law in 2013 eased restrictions on new car imports. Cuba's motorways may be on the verge of a make-over. [2017]

Friday, March 24, 2017

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

See what's growing in the front garden? Day lilies and a bicycle. Both will be making someone very happy today. Or maybe a few months from now. [2009]

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fes, Morocco

A café named California is in Morocco. Ever think how similar the two realms are in terms of physical geography?  Area, latitudinal location, terrain, Mediterranean climate with short grasslands and deserts on the periphery. How can two places with such similar physical profiles have such different levels of development? [1989]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cape Eleuthera, The Bahamas

It may look like iced tea, but it's really used cooking oil. Cruise liners donate it to the Island School on Eleuthera, which refines it into diesel fuel for its own fleet. In fact, the practice has become common in many cruise ship ports, and it sure beats throwing it overboard. [2014]

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Suomenlinna Island, Finland

After World War II, Finland was banned from having submarines. (Go figure!) But one was salvaged, the Vesikko, and it now provides just one more reason why everyone who visits Helsinki should take the ferry to Suomenlinna Island. [2005]

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bandung, Java, Indonesia

Make a list of the world's countries. Then, name the most famous street in each country. Champs-Elysėes in France, Downing Street in Britain, La Rambla in Spain, Wall Street in the U.S., Yonge Street in Canada, 9 de Julio Avenue in Argentina, Orchard Road in Singapore, Takeshita Street in Japan. Now, name the most famous street in Indonesia. [2016]

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Upper Rock, Gibraltar

Barbary macaques are all over the Rock of Gibraltar, but to see their conservation status go to the authoritative source, the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. Surprise: They're listed as "endangered." Maybe over their entire range, they are endangered, but numbers are increasing here in Gibraltar. Do you see why? [2015]

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Brown pelicans are all over the coastline of both Californias, but to see their conservation status, go to the authoritative source, the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. Sure enough: They're listed as "least concern" in terms of the chances for global extinction. Want to know about another species? Search the Red List. [2016]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Panama City, Panama

"Slavery is the offspring of darkness." So said Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America. As a result, he now has his own plaza in Panama City; it commemorates his role in emancipating those held in slavery. Yes, in Bolivar's time Panama was part of South America. [2017]

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Belize City, Belize

Amish? No! Mennonite. Although his head covering and beard, plus the colors of his garb, point to Amish heritage, he is one of the 'Russian Mennonites' who came to Belize via a circuitous route through Manitoba and Mexico. The Mennonites of Belize number over 10,000 and are known for their agricultural and mechanical skills. [2015]

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Dutch people head to the polls today. The country has always been solidly undergirded by shared bonds of nationhood and a commitment to liberal democracy, Now, issues of minority rights and the role of the European Union could potentially send it reeling. At least they have a king as head of state, and this is where he lives when he comes to Amsterdam. [2015]

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sembawang, Singapore

The bird photographer is in Singapore, but the skyline is in Malaysia. In between is the Johor Strait. However, it was originally the Singapore Strait. In a case of marinymic relocation, the Singapore Strait is now on the Indonesian side, and it doesn't look much like a strait! In fact, the Strait of Singapore may be the most un-strait-like strait in the world. [2015]

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lisbon, Portugal

In the foreground is the Alfama quarter, the place where the city of Lisbon got started as a Phoenician trading post three thousand years ago. In the background is the open ocean: an invitation to close the book on Mediterranean history and begin the preface to the book on globalization that continues to be written today. [2009]

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Cohimar, Cuba

Early March and chilly: even in Cuba! It may seem like a blush of boys (maybe 10 total), but they have been joined by one lone girl. Out they swam into the cold waters of the Bay of Cohimar and then quickly returned to the rocky shoreline, all supervised by a responsible father figure. Up the escalera they scamper, one step closer to being adults. [2017]

Saturday, March 11, 2017

San Francisco de Paula, Cuba

He has just emerged from the bakery with an armload of bread. All neighborhoods have bakeries and all the bread looks like this. [2017]