Florida in February

We took a short trip down to the Tampa-St.Pete area on the Gulf Coast to celebrate my sister’s wedding. The weather in February was perfect. St. Petersburg is a vibrant town with impressive parks, restaurants and spaces for art. 

St Petersburg, FL, USA –February 15, 2019. Boats are moored in a Florida marina on a February morning.

We stayed at the Don Cesar, a first rate hotel, and met some friends who live nearby for dinner.

The Don CeSar Hotel

We also headed out to visit Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde. It’s the largest park within Pinellas County. It is made up of 5 interconnected islands and encompasses 1,136 acres. It has 7 miles of waterfront that includes 3 miles of sandy beaches; there are campsites, a museum, a ferry service, food concessions, birdwatching, swimming, nature trails—you name it. And if you don’t have a car, you can just Uber over and back. 

 

Beach chairs and lounges decorate the beach at dusk

 

Fort De Soto Park, Florida — February 17, 2019. Photo of three men fishing off a pier into the Gulf of Mexico.
Beach at Ft De Soto Park in Florida
Fort De Soto Park, Florida — February 17, 2019. Photo of a long pier in the Gulf of Mexico with fishermen and tourists.

JFB

 

George Washington’s Farm in Mount Vernon

One of the very nice things about living in Virginia is the abundance of historical sights. For instance, the Smithsonian is 15 miles away in DC; there is the Manassas National Battlefield Park, and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association maintains Washington’s farm and mansion and runs a first rate museum and film center.   

We recently paid a visit to Washington’s mansion and the grounds in Mount Vernon. The tour begins with an excellent short film that focuses on Washington’s leadership in the Revolutionary War. The grounds are beautiful and the story is inspiring. It is hard—impossible actually—not to reflect on the courage and leadership of Washington compared to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That alone makes the trip worthwhile, even though there is so much more. 

Perhaps the difference between Washington and the current crop is best summed by  Washington when he said “I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” Something to think about.

Some photos below. 

JFB

 

George Washington’s Mansion
Gardens on the Grounds
Sideview of the Mansion
Looking out from the 16-sided Barn

 

Wasting Away in Margaritaville

Well, here we are in Key West, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, also known as the Conch Republic. It is quite a scene. In some respects, it bears a faint resemblance to Nashville’s honky-tonk scene. There are lots of bars and restaurants with working musicians playing guitars looking for a break. Like Jimmy Buffet. But Key West is far more upscale.

Welcome Booth

Located in the Straits of Florida, Key West (Cayo Hueso in Spanish) is an island city at the Southernmost point of the North American Continent. It is closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. He island is very small—only 1 mile long and 4 miles wide. If you walk the length of Duval Street (the main street) you will have walked from the Gulf of Mexico at one end to the Florida Straits and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

 

The permanent population is about 25,000, and tourism is a very big deal here. And the tourists arrive by plane, auto, ferry and cruise ship. In the first three months of 2018 alone, cruise ships brought about 275,000 tourists to the island and airplanes brought about 120,000.

Key West is (or was) home to quite a few notables, including Earnest Hemmingway, John Dos Passos, Tennessee Williams, John Dewey, Winslow Homer and Calvin Klein to name a few.

Anyway, Key West is a more than a bit bohemian with an independent streak and a live-and-let live attitude that is kind of refreshing. More than refreshing, actually. There may be a lesson here.

Here (below) are some photos taken during our too short stay.

JFB

Famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar
Fat Tuesday
Rick’s Bar on Duval Street
The Customs House Museum

The Finger Lakes Region of New York

We are back from a short visit to the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The region is gorgeous, especially as the leaves begin to turn as fall arrives. Small towns dot the landscape, and except for the larger cities like Ithaca, home of Cornell, it is mostly rural territory. And it has those scenic lakes, particularly Lake Seneca and Lake Cayuga. Seneca is the largest and deepest of the Finger Lakes measured by area; it extends to a depth of 618 feet at its deepest point. Cayuga is the longest lake at 38 miles, but it is not as deep as Seneca. Cayuga’s maximum depth is 435 feet.

 

In addition to the beautiful scenery, the area has lots of vineyards, so of course we went wine tasting. And we had some very nice Cabs and Chards.

 

The Finger Lakes region is home to the Women’s Rights Movement, and it has a number of museums celebrating that fact. Like all political movements, in the fervor of the moment the participants tend to get carried away. The early suffragettes claimed that by allowing women to vote the nation would rid itself of corruption. Moreover, they insisted that women would never support legislation in favor of women only. Well, we know how that worked out. (See below).

 

All in all the Finger Lakes region is well worth a visit. But unless you are a professor at Cornell or a wine producer, there doesn’t seem to be all that much opportunity here.

 

Anyway, some photos of our travels below. Please click on the photos below to see large, high resolution versions.

JFB

Four silos, several barns and tractors on green grass with a blue sky background
Horses Grazing in the Field
Looking out over Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State
Seneca Falls, NY, USA — Sept 30, 2017 — The Seneca Knitting Mills building, due to re-open in 2018 as the Center for Great Women. Editorial Use Only.
Photo out a window at cows grazing in a pasture
Waterloo, New York, USA — September 30, 2017 — Customers at a cheese tasting in a barn at a dairy farm in the Finger Lakes region of NY State. Editorial Use Only

 

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A visit to Tanglewood and Saratoga Springs

It’s tough to beat the natural beauty of New England. We recently took a trip up to Saratoga Springs to visit the track, then on to The Clark museum in Williamstown, and then onto Lenox Massachusetts where we were able to see Yo Yo Ma play with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. And we got to see a boat go through lock #4 in New York State.

 

The Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA.
Looking at the stage from inside “The Shed” at Tanglewood.
Horses come around the bend in Saratoga Spring race track
Horses race for the finish on turf
Two silos, trucks and a barn on a green crop field under threatening skies in New England.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer is Here–at Least in Spirit

Summer has arrived, if not officially, at least in spirit. The brand new Marina Grill opened for business in Belmar—and it was packed. The tent houses in Ocean Grove are being readied for the summer season, and the rides at Jenkinson’s Pavilion on the boardwalk at Point Pleasant are open for business on the weekends.

JFB

Point Pleasant, NJ USA — May 14, 2017 Adults and children riding the “Wave Swing” at Jenkinsons Pavilion on the boardwalk.
Riders wave thier arms as they go around the bend
Ocean Grove, NJ USA — May 12, 2017 — Tent houses are set up for the summer season in Ocean Grove, NJ.
The Fishing Pier at Ocean Grove

Spring Time in New York

Thursday was a fine day in New York. The weather was great and the city was full of people taking in the sights. There is an excellent retrospective of the photographs (like the one  shown below) of Irving Penn at the Met to mark the centennial of his birth. The exhibit includes a guided tour by people who put it together. The exhibit will be open through July 30, 2017.

Penn Exhibition

More information about the exhibit is available here.

Below are some photos from New York taken Thursday.

 

Traffic Cop

Traffic Cop and Frustrated Pedestrian

 

Musicians in Central Park

Musicians in Central Park

Ukranian Embassy

Ukrainian Embassy on 5th Avenue

JFB

New Hope, PA

It was a beautiful day yesterday in New Hope, PA. We went for a long walk through town and down the Tow Path, which is next to the canal where the mules used to tow small boats through the water–hence the name. Anyway here (below) are some photos from walking around. Photos from New Hope can also be seen in a Gallery labeled–New Hope–which is in an Album titled “Around the U.S.

JFB