Louvre Day

Today, we spent the morning touring the Louvre. Although it’s my fourth trip to Paris, I had not yet been inside. I thought it was going to be too expensive and too crowded, but neither proved to be true. Yes, it’s 12 euros to get in, but that’s not outrageous for such an amazing museum. I loved the bright, peaceful covered sculpture courtyards.

Louvre, Paris
Louvre, Paris

And I have always loved mille-fleurs style tapestry from the middle ages, and there were rooms filled with tapestry, nearly empty of people:

Mille-Fleurs Tapestry, Louvre
Mille-Fleurs Tapestry, Louvre (more blue and beautiful than this photo is capturing)

 

In fact the only really crowded place in the whole museum was in front of the Mona Lisa, which — with all due respect — is mostly famous for being famous, in my opinion. Maybe it’s amazing if you can actually see it, but it’s certainly not my favorite painting. It’s small and dark and behind glass, and the area in front of the painting is mobbed. People shove you from all sides just so they can hold their smartphone up to snap a photo. Yeesh. No thanks. We went. We looked. We tried to admire (while defending our space from elbows and our belongings from pickpockets). We did not bother to snap a photo, and got out of that room as quickly as possible.

Later we crossed the Seine and found an open door to a beautiful courtyard:

Private courtyard, Quai Voltaire, Paris
Private courtyard, Quai Voltaire, Paris

Paris is full of beauty, no doubt, but not this guy:

Sunbathing by the Seine in MARCH!
Sunbathing by the Seine in MARCH!

Seriously? It’s maybe 55 degrees!

En France, À Paris

We made it to Paris around noon today (Thursday), rather travel worn, but happy to be here. We do keep dozing off even with an after dinner espresso. It will take a few days to reset the internal clock, but at least it looks like spring here.

Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

Our hotel is housed in one of the buildings you see in the background below.

Jardin des Tuileries, looking toward rue de Rivoli
Jardin des Tuileries, close to the Louvre, looking toward rue de Rivoli
Hotel Brighton, Paris
Hotel Brighton, Paris
L'ascenseur
L’ascenseur

Looks sort of posh, but check out the elevator. A little sign warns that it can hold 5 people, max. I’d be stunned if three fit inside. We tend to take the stairs, even though we’re on the 4th floor, which is equivalent to the American 5th floor, the ground floor not having a number, being called instead rez-de-chausée. Not so bad going down, but a bit of a workout going up!

Niagara Falls Fifty Years Later

Turns out our route would take us within about half an hour of Niagara Falls, so we decided to take the quick detour. We had both been there as children, and we’re pretty sure it was the exact same year, 1964,  either before or after visiting the New York World’s Fair. David was nearly 12, and I was 6. We may have even been on the same Niagara Falls tour boat, for all we know, but needless to say, we did not meet. I mostly remember feeling swallowed by a big smelly slicker and getting rather wet.

No tour boat running yesterday!

Niagara Falls, March 2014
Niagara Falls, March 2014
Niagara Falls, March 2014
Niagara Falls, March 2014

I know it looks like I published these in black and white for artistic effect, but these are regular color photos. This is how cheery and sunny it actually was. Brrrr. The mist flying up instantly turned to ice crystals which pelted us in the face. We lasted about 45 seconds.

Spring in New Hampshire
Spring in New Hampshire

Roads were dry though, and we made it all the way to New Hampshire last night. Not so balmy here either!

Flight to France tomorrow night, if all goes well . . . .

Tropical Iowa and Other Highlights of Mid-America

After Omaha, we were off to the Ramada Tropics Resort in . . .wait for it . . . Des Moines, Iowa. Isn’t the word “tropics” the first word that springs to mind when you hear “Des Moines”?

Ramada Tropics Resort, Des Moines, Iowa
Ramada Tropics Resort, Des Moines, Iowa

Not really our kind of place, had we been on our own, but we were meeting Courtney and our granddaughters (who are 7 and almost 6), and, although a mob scene most of the time, it was perfect for them. Look at these smiles!

Felicity (5) and Bailey (7)
Felicity (5) and Bailey (7)

We only stayed one night there, since we had to keep heading east, but today, just past Gary, Indiana, we got in the wrong lane at a toll stop and found ourselves heading back west on I-90 for a while. Ghaa-a-a-a-a! David managed to keep his cool and got us turned back in the right direction at a crazy, complicated cluster of exits, loops, and ramps–none adequately marked–nowhere near any major metropolitan area that seemed to warrant such creative engineering. Yeesh.

Once we were finally heading east again we passed a new-ish looking roadside attraction: the RV/MH Hall of Fame. I’m not making this up. (We did not stop.) What exactly does a motor home do to earn a spot in a Hall of Fame?

Tonight we’re in Erie, PA, and I’m gradually getting healthier with each day. Can’t believe we’ll be on a flight to Paris on Wednesday. I hope Spring has sprung there more convincingly than it has here on I-90. We heard a radio announcer today saying, “Here in Cleveland, we know it’s Spring when feeling returns to our hands and feet.” I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for a bit more than that!

Mini-Break in Omaha, Nebraska

Today we’re enjoying a short break (two nights in the same hotel!) in the Old Market area of downtown Omaha, Nebraska:

Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska

The Old Market area is reputedly the most picturesque part of downtown Omaha,  and this is the cutest part of Old Market:

Old Market, Omaha
Old Market, Omaha

I’m afraid the shot is a bit cockeyed, because I was terrified someone was going to pop out and yell at me. This little nook is so popular with photographers, there’s an involved, semi-hostile sign limiting photography to one hour a day even for “amateurs, grandmothers, moms, dads, etc.” and I was half an hour beyond the photo window. I think it means for wedding and graduation photos and the like, since it also lists various forbidden activities like moving the plants and reminds the reader that this is not a studio, but it had me shaking in my shoes.

The angular geometry of the urban landscape catches my attention most before the trees leaf out. Although it’s the first day of Spring, the only sign of that here is the blue sky:

Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska

Definitely grateful for the blue sky, though, and the warmth, and my slightly improved health that allowed me to stroll a few blocks in public without people crossing to the other side of the street–at least until they heard me cough!

On The Road

According to Vivian Swift (see my Quotes page*), every road trip has a low point, and our first day was a serious contender. I sincerely hope it doesn’t get much lower than yesterday. I’ve got a raging cold/flu/bronchitis thing that made the day super miserable for me and not much better for David, since he had to look at me. Between the sneezing, sniffles, coughing, etc., I look like I’ve been on a four-day crying jag, and freckled blonds such as myself never cry prettily. Mind you, I haven’t done any actual crying, I just look enough like it that random strangers encountered at gas stations and hotels tend to look extremely uncomfortable.  But now, after a visit to the doc and the pharmacy, I have a giant sack of meds, so hopefully I’ll be on the mend soon.

I’ve been way too unwell to snap photos, but I can’t leave you with no photos, so here are a few more of the Alexandria trip of a few days ago.

Alexandria, Virginia
Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia

Cheering on Chelsea and the other runners was actually great. Chelsea’s boyfriend Will would yell things like, “Way to go 34126!” or “Looking good 29372!” to random runners none of us knew, and you’d see people glance down at their number and smile and perk up, and his mom was Cheerleader Extraordinaire. Here is the glaring evidence that I am not a professional sports photographer:

David giving Chelsea a high-five at mile 8.
David giving Chelsea a high-five at mile 8.

Chelsea’s friend Rachel is on the left in green. Great to see both of them running strong at the top of a hill at mile 8. Here are Chelsea and her friends at brunch after the race:

Rachel, Chelsea, Kristin after the half-marathon
Rachel, Chelsea, Kristin after the half-marathon

So after the quick weekend trip, Monday was spent finalizing things at the house (and seeing the doctor, as mentioned above), packing up the car, then driving to just east of Cheyenne, where my miserable self got straight in bed. We woke to blowing snow and road closures west and south of us, so were glad we were heading east where the snow was intermittent and didn’t hamper us much.

Today we made it to Kearney, Nebraska, which may be fabulously photogenic on other days, but not today, and honestly I haven’t ever managed any great shots while speeding along I-80, so I’ll leave you instead with something very photogenic from a bit further north, near I-90, taken on a previous road trip:

Badlands, South Dakota
Badlands, South Dakota

*Be sure to check out my Quotes page periodically, as new quotes are added from time to time.