While visiting the Anchorage, Alaska area, friends took us to the Independence Mine State Historical Park. Many of the original buildings are in disrepair. A few still exist, while others are reconstructed.
In Anchorage, the weather was warm and sunny. At the old gold mine site high in Hatcher Pass, rain and fog prevailed. As we toured the buildings, I spied this view of the grounds. Taking a photograph through the old bunkhouse window was both symbolic and representative of the past and present. It perfectly framed the scene. The pink fireweed in full bloom added a subtle color that accented the foggy setting.
Upon our return from our most recent stay at Lakeside, Ohio, a friend who had never been there asked me what we liked. “Everything!” I replied immediately. I wasn’t facetious either.
We go for the wholesomeness of the Chautauqua town on Lake Erie. We love the renewal of friendships, the happy buzz of children playing, generations of adults relaxing on front porches of quaint cottages, inspiring sunrises and sunsets, informative presentations, and a variety of nightly entertainment that touches multiple genres in a week.
We stay in the same hospitality house every year, often with some of the same guests, who have become friends over the years. We quickly settle into the same routines.
A two-mile walk around the gated community’s parameter precedes breakfast on the spacious wrap-around front porch. As we enjoy coffee, cereal, and friendly conversation, we people watch. Many folks make donut runs to a restaurant a block away.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, the farmers’ market vendors assemble and set up their offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables, scrumptious homemade pies, and even doggie treats. The streets fill with customers from 9 a.m. to noon.
When I saw people browsing the various vendors while eating popsicles, I had to wonder where they got them. Friend Jeanne informed me that a new stand offered the cool treats for the hot weather.
Visions of creamsicles from my youth danced in my head. I went to find the source.
Beneath a rainbow-colored umbrella, a thin young man operated a stand that was nothing more than an icebox on wheels designed to be towed behind a bicycle. The young entrepreneur greeted everyone with a welcoming smile.
A sandwich chalkboard listed the luscious and unique flavors available for the day. I bought two different varieties, banana split, and apricot lavender. Of course, I shared with my wife.
One bite of the banana split pop, and I was hooked. The taste and texture of the mini-chocolate chips convinced my taste buds. I had to get the story on these OH Pops, the appropriate and official name of the young man’s business.
I dashed back down the street and waited until other customers were served. I introduced myself and learned his name was Derek.
I identified myself as a journalist and wanted to know his story. When he told me, I was in near disbelief.
Derek was 30-years-old. His two nieces, ages seven and 12, live with him. A judge gave him custody of the girls when their mother sadly fell victim to the pandemic opioid crisis. The court decided Derek, their uncle, was the best suitable relative to care for the young girls.
The pair helps Derek make the icy treats, and even suggest the unusual flavors and ingredients. In addition to farmers markets, Derek is hired for special events and wedding receptions.
Derek got the mobile icy pop idea from seeing similar operations in large cities that he visited. He thought, “Why not here?”
Besides his business, Derek works two other jobs to make ends meet.
His vision for both the business and for the welfare of his nieces much impressed me. The combination of this young man’s work ethic and dedication shines as a model for all of us.
If this wasn’t a lesson in humility and compassion, I don’t know what is. Meeting Derek and hearing his heartwarming story was just the latest reason we love to visit Lakeside, Ohio every summer.
Over the years, my wife and I have found one travel tip to be uniquely useful. As much as you plan, leave room for spontaneity.
We didn’t read that any place. We learned it when traveling with our parents. Both families tended to go in the same mode. Too often, they had precious little time or money for vacations. When they did take one, they each drove from point A to point B regardless of what was in between.
When Neva and I began to travel as a couple, we tried to always leave room for the unexpected. It’s a habit we have happily maintained.
We do a lot of planning for our trips. We research places we want to see in the areas where we are traveling. That includes leaving time for discovery along the way. Of course, now that we are retired, we can really take our time. We often avoid interstates and expressways if at all possible.
On a recent trip to New England, we were traveling on U.S. 1 along the Maine coast when Neva had an idea. Friends had a summer home somewhere in Maine, so she decided to text her college friend to find out how near we were to their vacation place. It turned out we were really close.
Since I was driving, Neva read aloud the text replies. Our friend said they turn right at the Dairy Queen. I looked up and low and behold there was the DQ. We had to seize this moment that seemed meant to be.
I turned the van around and headed down the road. Meanwhile, Neva was getting the address and specific instructions to their house. They were perfect.
Even in the rain and fog, the sights along the way were breathtaking. We wound our way down the peninsula toward the sea, passing trees, houses, local businesses, streams, marshes, and estuaries.
Along the way, we found calendar-worthy real-life scenes. I noted places I wanted to photograph on the way back to the highway. Our first priority was to find their home. It wasn’t hard. Decorative homemade signs tacked to a tree got my attention, and pointed the way to Little River Road.
We had seen photos of the lovely seaside home and its vista before. Even though fog limited our view, we were immediately entranced. Surrounded by birds singing, gulls calling, waves crashing, the mingled fragrance of pines and ocean, we were smitten.
Neva stayed on the deck while the sea drew me down the slight hill. From the rocky beach, I spotted a small flock of common eiders floating offshore. Greater and lesser black-backed gulls claimed a sandy point across the way. It was the place our friends walked to at low tide.
I couldn’t have wiped the smile off my face if I had wanted to. A sense of peace and longing overcame me, and I gladly embraced it. Standing there in person I felt like Walt Whitman.
I didn’t want to leave, but we had no other choice. I stopped several times as we headed back north. I photographed boats moored waiting for their owners, canoes cast aside long ago but resting as if their occupants had stopped for lunch. Forsythia bloomed bright against the fog and reflected mirror-like in the positively calm waters.
I was ecstatic, electrified at the surreal wonderland all around me. I was so glad we had played our hunch and made that U-turn.
Driving a scenic highway was one thing. Spending a little time surrounded by this unexpected beauty was quite another. Once again, spontaneity rewarded us with a sweet, memorable encounter.
This lobsterman in Boothbay Harbor, Maine had a good eye for design, shape, and form, even if that wasn’t the practical purpose of these colorful patterns. More than likely, the equipment’s owner was merely getting ready for the new lobster season. The traps were arranged in near perfect stacks right next to the dock in the bay. The bright yellow buoys, this lobsterman’s chosen color, seemed to be stuck into the traps simply for easy access. Nevertheless, I thought the scene made a rather artsy composition.
Today is Ascension Day. It is the day marked by Christians that Jesus ascended into Heaven 40 days after His resurrection, which is celebrated annually as Easter. For 40 days thereafter, Jesus walked and talked with his disciples until he was taken into the clouds.
There are plenty of clouds in this iconic setting, the Portland Head Lighthouse on Cape Elizabeth near Portland, Maine. It’s hard not to take a beautiful shot at this historic site, a scene often portrayed on many calendars over the years.
Ships at sea in part depend on lighthouses to keep their bearings. I envisioned the lighthouse’s beacon flashing in the overcast evening as a symbol to all of this sacred event.
“Portland Head Lighthouse and Ascension Day” is my Photo of the Week.
Located on a small peninsula at the southern end of Lake Champlain, Fort Ticonderoga played a significant role in the formation of both countries of North America. With that in mind, I chose the American Flag flying over the old fort in honor of Memorial Day and as my Photo of the Week.