Out of this World

This entry is in response to the WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge: Out of this World.

I’ve visited some truly beautiful places on this earth. But some of them have made me feel like I’ve left our planet.  Here are some photos of places I’ve been that have an alien type of beauty.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Located off the beaten path in Idaho (if Idaho has a beaten path!) Craters of the Moon is the site of an ancient volcano. Windy and quiet, the lava flows and cinder cones give it a truly lunar feeling.

Craters of the Moon, Idaho 2Craters of the Moon, Idaho 1

Craters of the Moon, Idaho 3
Craters of the Moon National Monument

Great Salt Lake, Utah

We spent a night in Salt Lake City, Utah on our vacation route. Checking into our hotel just before sunset, we decided to take a short drive to see the Great Salt Lake. The “beach” of salty sand went on and on toward the horizon, with only a slim, shallow band of water visible in the distance. Although we were on the edge of the city, it felt like we were on another planet.

Grand Canyou North 107Grand Canyou North 128Grand Canyou North 131

Grand Canyou North 141
The Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, Utah

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

I have never seen anything more desolate and other-worldly than this volcano on the island of Maui. Instead of joining the crowds that travel to the top for sunrise, we explored on our own during the day. Truly one of the most beautiful and incredible places I’ve ever seen.

Hawaii 2009 112

Hawaii 2009 118

Hawaii 2009 128


Hawaii 2009 130
The Silversword plant is a rare species that lives only on Haleakala.


Hawaii 2009 134

Hawaii 2009 139


Hawaii 2009 147
Mr. Maid checking out the vivid variations of color in the soil.



Hawaii 2009 155
The telescopes of “Science City” add to the “out of this world” feeling by looking like a base on the Moon or on Mars.



WordPress’ Daily Prompt today is Coincidence. Here is a re-post of a piece I wrote EXACTLY one year ago today! How weird is that?!

My stepdaughter is a wedding photographer and shot a wedding in New York City over the weekend. Her husband tagged along and they made a mini vacation out of it. We got to dog-sit our “granddog,” Jubilee. When they came over Sunday for dinner and to pick up the dog, we started talking about coincidences. While doing some site-seeing on the Brooklyn Bridge they heard someone call out my son-in-law’s name. Lo and behold, friends from their college here in Illinois were also there on vacation. At the same time. In New York. On the Brooklyn Bridge. Nearly 1000 miles away.

There have been volumes written about the topic of coincidences. Chance? Fate? Luck? Or merely mathematical probability? Theories abound from people much smarter than I. All I know is that I am fascinated by them. I also feel like I’ve had more than my share of them in my life. Continue reading

Ice Ice Baby

In response the The Daily Post prompt: Shiver.

It’s always hard to remember the feeling of summer heat and humidity while it’s cold outside. Likewise, when it’s 90 degrees outside, you can never accurately imagine what it’s like to shiver from the frigid winds of winter.

I took the following photos in February, 2011 after an ice storm that knocked out the power and covered everything with a 1/4 inch of slickness. Seeing them almost makes me shiver in my shorts and t-shirt.

Watch your step!




Each blade of grass was individually coated with ice.

branch 1

daisy 1
The earth was covered in a crunchy shell. Daisy didn’t like walking on it at all.
daisy 2
Snowflakes that stay on her nose and eyelashes.
daisy 3
“Ok Mom, that’s enough. I’m cold! Let’s go inside!”


Opposites – Both Attracted

This post is in response to The Daily Post topic “Opposites.”

Grand Canyou South 132

In 2010 we headed west on vacation to the Grand Canyon. Just like everyone else, we had always heard about what an incredible experience it is. And also just like everyone else, we really didn’t get it until we saw it for ourselves. I’m not sure how many times I said “WOW!” that first day, but I’m pretty sure I broke some kind of a record.

While walking along the path at the South Rim, where every few seconds affords you with a completely unique and always spectacular view, I noticed this very diverse grouping of people.

Under the tree, in the shade, a group of girls in their austere, modest clothing – dresses below the knee, small hats in place. (Amish? Mennonite? I am unfamiliar with the customs, so I cannot name them.)

Out on the ledge just beyond them, a group of leather-clad bikers, dusty from their travels on their motorcycles.

I snapped the picture, thinking how fascinating it was that two such divergent groups – whose lives and lifestyles may not intersect in any other way – are nevertheless struck equally speechless by the beauty and grandeur of the wonders of this earth.

It helps reinforce my belief that we are all more alike than we are different.

If you could tell your own story…

This post is in response to The Daily Post’s daily prompt: Generation.

My grandfather (left) with an unidentified friend. Date unknown, but most likely about 1915.

I look at your face in the photograph. You and a friend – young men with your lives ahead of you. I see my mother’s mouth. The eyes could be any of my nephews’ and the nose is definitely my brother’s (before it was altered by an unfortunate encounter with concrete when he was a teen.)

I have heard the stories. You were a drinker and a philanderer. Today you’d be called a deadbeat dad, leaving your wife with four children in an era when being a single mother was even harder than it is today.

Researching our family history, I reached a dead end with your father. He is there in the records, and then he is not. Did you learn how to be a father (or should I say how not to be a father) from him?

It doesn’t really matter. Your children managed to break the cycle by choosing partners who stayed. I, along with your other grandchildren, are beneficiaries of their stability and long marriages. You were long gone by the time we arrived, so there was no opportunity for you to revise your narrative in person.

I would be willing to bet that when the photographer’s flashbulb sealed this moment in time, you weren’t thinking of what future generations of your family would say about you. Maybe you wouldn’t have cared. Maybe you would think it better to have stories to tell, even if unpleasant, than to lead a life so boring that there was nothing of interest to say.

I know that the tales are distorted by time, fading memories, and the biases of the storytellers. Like the view of my feet through a foot of water at the beach – they are bent, wavering, and partially buried. Were they unfairly embellished by the holder of a grudge? Or perhaps they were glossed over and cleaned up for our innocent, impressionable ears?

Who were you, really? Yes, I’ve heard the stories, but all lives have more than one story to tell.