Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander



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Travel Blog 277: Back on the Loop

Florida Sunshine
Back in Florida we have been enjoying the nice weather, friends, and relatives. It is nice to be in one place for a few weeks.

Apopka Wildlife Loop
At least a couple times a week we drive the 7 minutes to the gate of the Loop and spend a couple hours or so slowly driving, stopping, and shooting wildlife. Primarily birds of all feathers, but also a gator now and then and the occasional otter. Jack and Mitzy are dutifully at their stations with heads out and sounding alerts when appropriate. Here are a few pics including a close-up of Mitzy.

Anhinga Reflection

Baby Duck

Eastern Phoebe

Gallinule

Gator

Glossy Ibis

Hunting Great Egret

Kingfisher

Least Bittern

Lesser Yellow Legs

Little Blue

Night Heron II

Tri Close-Up

Tri II

Mitzy Close-Up

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks from Jim’s Salvage.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Travel Blog 276: Quick Trip to Rome

Orlando to JFK

JFK to Rome

Roman Holiday

The day after Thanksgiving we flew from Orlando to New York’s JFK, and then on to Rome, arriving mid-morning Saturday. Everything went smoothly, and we arrived relatively well rested after our 8-hour-and-16-minute flight.

We zipped through passport control and customs, and after a 20-minute cab ride, we arrived at the Hotel Artimedes, strategically located within walking distance of most of the major sites of the city. We checked in and took a stroll in the sunlight to reset our biological clocks, start to take in the sites, and absorb a little of the culture of the 2,300 years of this historic city.

Borghese Gallery
The crazy rich art lovers of the Borghese family decorated their villa (really a palace) with the finest art produced in Italy and beyond to entertain their guests. Among the thousands of pieces of art were sculptures and paintings by Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio, Correggio, Rafael, and Titian. Just an amazing two-hour visual treat. Sadly, photos were not allowed.

The Vatican
Bright and early one morning we took a small-group guided tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican Museum
This lavish papal palace displays some of the finest art from a 5,000-year period. During this eight-mile walk, we viewed rare (mostly priceless) statues, urns, marble floors, friezes, stuccoed ceilings, tapestries, paintings, and maps.

Vatican Museum

St. Peters Basillica from Vatican Museum

Entering the Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum II

Vatican Museum Ceiling Shot

Raphaels School of Athens

Sistine Chapel
Next, we viewed the Sistine Chapel. Small by Vatican standards, this chapel shows off Michelangelo’s ceiling and his famous painting, The Last Judgment. Wow! Sadly, no photos allowed—check out this website if interested: www.italian-renaissance-art.com/Last-Judgement.html

St. Peters Basilica
Wow, again.

Bernini Bronze Canopy

Michelangelo Dome

Dome Close Up

Michelangelo, The Pieta

Ancient Rome
Another day, we took another small-group, private tour that started with Palatine Hill, followed by the Forum, and ending with the Colosseum.

Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill overlooks the Forum. It is the area where emperors and other wealthy important people preferred to live. Mainly ruins, but one is able to get a feel for the place. Here are a couple of shots from Palatine Hill overlooking the Forum.

Forum Ruins

Forum Pigeon

The Forum
For almost 1,000 years, the Forum was the heart of Rome--the seat of government and the center of trade.

Forum Arch of Titus

Just Another Temple

Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina

Colosseum
Up to 80,000 spectators at a time, lured by free wine and the promise of grand spectacles, were entertained by to-the-death gladiator fights, the roars of exotic animals from far parts of the empire, and executions (by beheading, crucifixion, or being devoured by wild beasts). Below the surface, over 1,000 slaves and their master worked in the underground in dark, dank, smelly, and crowded tunnels guiding participants into “elevators” of trap doors that allowed them to surface above ground. Unbelievable place.

Colosseum

Colosseum Main Level

Colosseum View of Underground

Colosseum Watchers

Pantheon
The Pantheon is Rome’s best preserved monument and a wonder of engineering.

Pantheon

Pantheon Entrance

Pantheon Oculus

Pantheon Alter

Ostia Antica
We took a day trip via train to Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman port.

Ostia Antica Arch

Ostia Antica Cat

Cooking Class
My friends love to cook with wine…sometimes they even put some in the food. I had a very fun evening watching Jan and friends participate in an Italian cooking class. My job was to watch the activities, drink wine, make idle comments, take a few photos, and eat the results. Very nice event.

Another Cooking Class

Jan in Cooking Class

Cooking Class

Odds and Ends
Driving in Rome
Personal experience confirms that the blood of the ancient chariot drivers still flows through the veins of present day Rome taxi drivers. A personal example was a ride where a steely-eyed Antonio used his mind-reading skills to anticipate the movement of buses, autos, scooters, and pedestrians to spurt to the left, jag to the right, and bolt down the middle of the road while strategically using his horn and occasionally communicating his thoughts with his hands. In his care, his stoic Mercedes transformed itself into a high-performance Maserati, screaming around turns, cutting off the competition, thus making a half-hour journey in 15 minutes. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE IN ROME…RIDE CAUTIOUSLY…WALK WHEN YOU CAN.

Random Photos

Street Shot

Trevi Fountain Trio

Cathedral View

Pigeons in Ruins

Old Trucks
Sorry…I found no old trucks in Rome.

See you next time!

Travel Blog 275: Old Friends and New Places

Wakarusa, IN to Fort McAllister Historic Park

Finger Lakes
From Northern Indiana we enjoyed the fall colors as we worked our way east all the way to upstate New York. There we spent time visiting good RV-ing friends in Elmira and doing a little exploration of this area.

Quick Trip to Phoenix
During that time I presented at a conference in Phoenix where I met old friends and new ones.

Winchester
From Elmira we headed south down to Winchester, Virginia, where we had a marvelous time visiting relatives. At Candy Hill Campground we had fires most nights and enjoyed the quiet of a campground past season.

Shenandoah Valley National Park
We made the short trip down to Luray, Virginia, to act as our base as we explored this national park. Although the colors were past their prime, it was nice to travel the famous Skyline Drive. Our campground, Outlanders River Camp, was perfect for us—large property with lots of trails along the river…great place to run the pups.

Big Blue in Swamp

Window Peeper

Monticello
Being so close, we decided to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. This was a good move, as it was a pleasure to visit this icon of this famous American.

Monticello 2

Monticello 3

Janny and Alex at Monticello

Wilmington
We camped 10 miles south of Wilmington, North Carolina, at Carolina Beach State Park. Beautiful park adjoining the Atlantic River. During our short visit we had the chance to see old friends going back decades.

Murrell’s Inlet
Here we camped near Charleston at Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, just a short walk to the Atlantic Ocean. Each morning at dawn I’d take Jack out to run in the sand and the waves.

Jack on the Beach

Jack on the Beach 2

Richmond Hill
From Murrells Inlet we travelled south into Georgia camping at McAllister State Park near Savannah. The park had just opened after some major hurricane clean-up—they lost 70% of their trees. Still, a beautiful setting, again adjacent to the water.

Dog Park
Here are a couple shots of Jack and his new friend at an off-leash dog park, and Mitzy watching the action.

Run, Jack, Run

Run, Jack, Run 2

Mitzy Keeping Watch

Old Trucks
Here are three more old trucks from Jim’s Salvage.

Jim's Old Truck 10


Jim's Old Truck 11

Jim's Old Truck 12

See you next time.

Travel Blog 274: Fall Colors

From South Dakota we worked our way across Iowa, Illinois, and then on to Indiana where we dropped off our coach to have some work done. Then we spent time visiting friends in our old stomping grounds of SW Michigan.

Fall Colors
During strolls in the woods we enjoyed the colors becoming more vibrant each day.

AZO Color 1

AZO Color 2

Mitzy in the Woods

Dog Park
There was a great off-leash dog park a few miles away, and we visited it several mornings.

Ferocious

Ferocious 2

Poodle

Run, Jack, Run 2

Run,Jack, Run 3

Running Golden

Great trip with great friends.

Ziad House

Old Trucks
Here are three more old trucks from Jim’s Salvage.

Jim's Old Truck 7

Jim's Old Truck 8

Jim's Old Truck 9

See you next time.

Travel Blog 273: Badlands and Bark Park

Badlands National Park
From the Black Hills we headed east, stopping at Wall, South Dakota. We took the scenic drive through Badlands National Park.

Badlands 3

Corn Palace
We spent a night at Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the one and only Corn Palace.

Corn Palace

Mitzy on Indian Lap

From there we continued east and south, cutting across Iowa and Illinois into Indiana, where we dropped the coach off at Wakarusa for some service and repairs at the Thor plant. From there we took the hour drive north and a little east to stay with a good friend in Kalamazoo (we had lived in that area for many years, a couple decades ago).

Jamer's Flowers 5

Dog Park
We found a great dog park to run the pups. Here are some shots.

Posing Pup

Resting Jack

Run, Jack, Run

St. Bernard

Brown Dog with Footbal

Old Trucks
Here are three more old trucks from Jim’s Salvage.

Jim's Old Truck 4

Jim's Old Truck 5

Jim's Old Truck 6

Alex and Mitzy

See you next time.