Would We Call That A Cowgoyle?

Good luck all around: I got to spend a week in New York and the weather was mostly beautiful. I must have walked 100 miles!

Headed south along the Hudson River in midtown, New Jersey looked picturesque:

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In Manhattan I’ve always got tourist neck from walking with my head thrown back to take in the architecture. New York’s buildings of a certain age are loaded with decorative frills such as carvings, cornices, balustrades. (I’m confident I know what one of those words means.) There is even the occasional gargoyle.

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On my walk along the Hudson, I discovered a yard for old building decor. Mammoth stone pieces lay scattered behind chicken wire fence.

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There was even a cow’s head. Or, apparently, two.

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Such pieces were built to last, so I couldn’t tell how long they’d been sitting there.

Certainly, there was a whole lotta building going on nearby.

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I’m hoping the decor yard is a storeyard, not a junkyard. But it’s been a long time since construction trends in the U.S. favored such ornamentation.

Perhaps the pieces can be repurposed in a cemetery with really large mausoleums.

(The WP Photo Challenge was Ornate.)

Chickens, Eggs, and Other Dimensions

There are chickens, and there are eggs, and I don’t actually care which came first, yet sometimes it’s fun to do a few laps with circular questions. For example, I’m attracted to photographs that suggest windows or views into other worlds. It can’t be a coincidence that I’m writing a series of speculative fiction novels placed in an infinite set of dimensions called FRAMES. The attraction probably preceded the writing but I no longer remember. Of course, that’s because I’ve been just-about-finishing the latest/second book in the series for longer than my memory stretches, but I digress.

On a recent trip to Dallas, I came upon a building that may be a Grand Central to many other realities:

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In writing FRAMES I have also indulged or created my belief that buildings have personalities. This summer in Chicago I caught some buildings in another dimension, smoking…

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And who could not want to chat with this guy? Gal? Whose voice do you hear when you imagine a conversation with this building?

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(The WP photo challenge was Boundaries.)

Phototravelog: Williamsburg Bridge Walk

The Williamsburg bridge connects Brooklyn with Manhattan and is a marvelous application of Erector Set construction principles:

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My latest trip to New York, I walked the Williamsburg bridge on a dark but lovely afternoon. To my left, I saw its more famous cousin, the Brooklyn bridge, along with the Manhattan skyline:

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On the Williamsburg bridge, the pedestrian walkway is a cage. The human eye quickly adjusts to this and ignores the bars, enjoying the view beyond. My phone camera, however, ignored the bars only in the few places where I could position the camera smack next to the grid, lens between bars:

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Even when the cage is not prominent, the view is cluttered, which adds a distinctive industrial beauty:

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Pedestrians walk above cars here:

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And alongside trains!:

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It turns out the subway is not just subterranean. Here are two trains passing, bread-‘n’-butter, in opposite directions:

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This video almost catches a train exchange. Behind the trains, note some reasons not to drive:

I think I remember reading that a public art project made some pink decisions:

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The public art continues to evolve:

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Underfoot I found my favorite:

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On the Williamsburg bridge, even the eroding asphalt paint looks good:

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(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge was Angular.)

Travelog: Cities With Snow

Long time ago, I had a boyfriend stuck in Michigan one winter and when he went outside one morning, it had been so cold that his car tires had frozen square. That is so. Awesome.

For this southern Californian, cold weather is a remarkable novelty. Those of you in places where winter is more than sweater weather may struggle to share my fascination.

In January, I went to Reston, Virginia and Manhattan. My trip occurred in between their brutal snowstorms of this winter, but I did get to see some snow, and experience single digit temperatures.

At my Reston hotel I thought, If only I’d brought my swimsuit! I didn’t know the hotel had a pool. Complete with lifeguard chair.

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The Washington D.C. Amtrak station was warm and inviting:
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I saw some regulars inside:
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Through a bus window I saw the Potomac, an ice sheet with bridges:
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My first night in Manhattan I saw no snow, just the usual thrilling sights of so many people in so small a space:
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Here is what snow looks like outside Grand Central Station:

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The Upper East Side had a more refined patch:
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The wind came from between the buildings and made this visitor understand why no one else was in this park:
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It was warm inside my hotel. Hotel corridors make me wish I’d never seen The Shining.
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The January sky cast an austere glow:
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New York is beautiful no matter what the conditions.

PhotoTravelog: Escape from Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii

Until a couple weeks ago, I had never been to Hawaii, which has always seemed terribly wrong, given that volcanoes and oceans are two of my favorite things. Also, I love that Hawaiian slack key guitar sound. So I was thrilled to get a chance to go to a conference in Honolulu, on Oahu, even though I knew that these were the Hawaiian island and area least likely to interest me.

I am a churlish tourist who hates being with her own kind. For me, the best way to travel is to plant myself somewhere for a stretch of time and get a sense of what it would be like to live there. During this one week trip I did get a couple chances to escape the tourist centers where my hotel and meetings were sited, and venture into areas where people actually live.

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One dawn I walked east, away from the beach into a neighborhood of boxy tired apartment complexes. At 7 am everything was dark and closed except for the bus stops with folks headed away to work. I happened by a park with some amazing graffiti. Note that the white form is some kind of creature with a tail.

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I’d  heard about the fragrance of plumeria in Hawaii, and I adore the scent of the small, captive plant a friend somehow keeps alive in a container in his non-tropical garden. I was disappointed to discover that on Oahu, the plumeria are trees with blooms  too high to smell! (Turns out I should have bought a plumeria lei, to envelop myself with the scent as I went through my day.)

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My last afternoon on Oahu, a Hawaiian coworker drove me around the eastern corner of the island. We stopped at a viewpoint with trails that could have taken us even higher up the mountain.

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A hang-glider happened by.

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From the viewpoint, I caught my first look at the north side of the island. After ogling the view, we headed down the hill, west and north, to lunch in a working class community nestled behind that beach.

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We stopped at a local hangout of a takeout restaurant.

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After ordering the barbeque chicken platter, we had lunch in the adjoining, semi-open-air dining room. There, between the walls and ceiling, dwell scruffy and bold pigeons who come out to forage for scraps. According to my local pal, pigeons are a new addition to the island, and they are quickly becoming a nuisance. (No. Really?) Over the last few years, the finches have disappeared from his bird feeders, crowded out by the pigeons. Turns out finches are plentiful in Hawaii. People trap the finches and sell them to pet stores. There is no market for pigeons.

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The dining area walls are painted with scriptures and lightning bolts.

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And the walls are covered with scriptural graffiti – Bible quotes in the handwriting of countless patrons.

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After lunch, we took the highway back to Honolulu. The mountains are actually the back rim of an ancient volcanic crater. The rest of the crater rim collapsed into the ocean, many thousands of years ago, in a massive landslide that created an enormous tsunami.

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The highway cuts through the mountains in a looooong tunnel. Here is the tunnel entrance

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and this is the view upon exit.

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The area looks remote but is scant few miles and minutes from Honolulu’s congestion.

These glimpses of Oahu away from Waikiki Beach gave me a better understanding of why people so love these islands.

See? Churlish. I told you.

This is the third of three posts about my trip to Hawaii. I also blogged about the sights near Waikiki and a walk from Waikiki to Diamond Head.

PhotoTravelog: From Waikiki to Diamond Head, Oahu, Hawaii

There are a lot of great scenes waiting for cameras in Hawaii as I learned when I visited the Hawaiian island of Oahu for the first time.  I made the trip for work, so I spent most of my time at the convention center, or near my hotel on Waikiki Beach. My last day there, I walked a few miles from my hotel to another set of meetings near Diamond Head, and took lots of photos.

That distant hill and point is Diamond Head. I took this photo from the harbor near my hotel on the afternoon of my arrival. I didn’t see any bugs in Hawaii but saw much evidence of their existence, such as in the trunk of this tree.

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The walk to Diamond Head was the most ambitious excursion of my trip and most of it took me through spectacular scenery. in the distance is my goal, lit by dawn sunlight.

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The banyan tree is a common sight on Oahu. Older trees have roots that grow up and add themselves to the trunk, creating a broad, ropey base, like this tree en route to Diamond Head.

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Whatever you do, don’t feed those …. um …. those…. Altered signs seem to be a trend here.

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 And then there are signs that promise other alterations. Why wait until dinner? I call this one cutting to the chase.

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I loved the rough surface of this jetty, which exists to protect tourists from slipping into the sea. It may be too close to the lunchtime happy hour  to succeed at all times, however.

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Now I’m on the Diamond Head side of my earlier photos, looking west and back toward the Waikiki Beach hotels.

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The road took me uphill through neighborhoods that reminded me of Santa Barbara, California. Only 9a but it was getting warm.

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I went past cliffside parks with trails down to the ocean, some of which were not safe to hike. Or anyway I think that’s what the sign was trying to tell me.

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There was an old lighthouse, now occupied by an island bigwig.

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Surfers in Hawaii have so many choices of places with great waves!

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During my week on Oahu, the weather fluctuated continuously although the temperature held to the high 70s, low 80s. Sunny then cloudy then drizzle then wind. Blasts of rain punctuated with balmy breeze. Humid then less humid then more humid again. Clouds from the north were always piled up against the mountains that stretch along the center of the island. I took this photo of the clouds and mountains from the glass elevator at my hotel.

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Here is a cloudy moment near Diamond Head.

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It came amidst the sunny moments like this one.

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This is the second of three posts about my trip to Hawaii.

I also blogged about the sights near Waikiki and glimpses of non-tourist Oahu.