Anchorage, Alaska: Eklutna Cemetery and Spirit Houses

We stopped by Eklutna on a cool, rainy day at the end of April.  In most parts of the U.S., spring had long since arrived, but here, 30 minutes north of Anchorage, the trees were still bare, and patches of snow lay on the ground.

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Paris, France: Notre-Dame Cathedral

This is one post in a series of articles about our visit to Paris.

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What a contemplative little ghoul, and, oh, that view!

It goes without saying that Notre-Dame Cathedral was at the top of our Paris sightseeing list.  It’s one of Paris’ most recognizable and iconic buildings, a sprawling, Gothic feast for the eyes.  We returned several times, tiptoeing through the massive interior, listening to live music in the small park around back, and, as part of the Paris Museum Pass, climbing hundreds of steps to the iconic belfry.

We were lucky enough to visit the cathedral and take a tour, and here are the highlights:

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Seward, Alaska: Snowmageddon

The snow started Friday and didn’t stop until mid-afternoon Saturday.

We’ve never experienced so much snow.  Granted, that’s not saying much, but we heard old-timers in the grocery store commenting that it’s the most Seward’s had in years.

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Central Texas: Goliad State Park and its Spanish mission

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Before moving to Alaska, we spent two weeks bouncing around Texas, visiting family.  That meant going from central to south Texas and then back again.  We may be relocating to the biggest state in the Union, but Texas is no slouch, so this meant a lot of time on the road.

It was on one of those drives, on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 183 from Refugio to Gonzales, that we had a very pleasant discovery—Goliad State Park and the Mission Espíritu Santo.

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Homer, Alaska: Mountains and coast, oodles of otters, and some really big fish

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The city of Homer perfectly matched my vision of an Alaskan waterfront town—part grizzled sea captain, part aquamarine enchantress.

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Random things to do in and around Taos, New Mexico

 

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San Francisco de Asis Church

We spent a few days sightseeing in Taos, a tiny town with a fascinating mix of cultures–Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo, not to mention the influence of artists and free thinkers who have made their residence here for over 100 years.  For such a little town, there’s a lot going on.

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Paris, France: Church of Saint-Sulpice

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The base of the obelisk that is used as part of the Saint-Sulpice sundial, with the meridian line moving up the middle.  Various inscriptions are written on the base in Latin and French.  Look carefully and you’ll find where the text honoring the monarchy was removed during the French Revolution

This is one post in a series of articles about our visit to Paris.


With its beauty, romance, and history, Paris is one of those cities that was made for the Silver Screen.  Hundreds of movies have been set in the City of Lights, including some of our favorites—Midnight in Paris, Before Sunset, and Julie and Julia just to name a few, and all of these evoke the ephemeral magic that only Paris possesses.  And it’s because of a movie—The DaVinci Code—that we recognized the Church of Saint-Sulpice when we happened upon it during our trip to Paris.

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Ponte de Lima and Monastery of St. John d’Arga: Paulo’s Portugal (part two)

An exploration of the Norte Region of Portugal with a local

Monastery de St. John de Arga, an 8th century monastery in the mountains outside of Viana do Castelo
The ancient Monastery of St. John d’Arga, nestled in the mountains outside of Viana do Castelo

 

In our last post, I talked about touring Viana do Castelo with Paulo.  The remainder of our visit with our friend  was spent exploring the stunning countryside around his hometown.  We went to an ancient village and then to an even older monastery tucked away in a forest.  We also drove a winding road through the mountains.  The next day, Paulo drove us from Viana do Castelo to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where we would catch a bus to Madrid for our flight back to the U.S.  On the way to Santiago, he took us on a meandering path up the Spanish coastline, showing us some of his favorite Atlantic Coast beaches.

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Barcelona, Spain: Gaudí and his Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s bold Gaudi

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The Sagrada Familia. Source: “Sagrada Familia 01” by Bernard Gagnon  (Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a writer.  In elementary school, I wrote all the time, stories about my family and ghosts and about a talking cow name Betsy who had super powers and a knack for saving the world.  As I grew older, my desire to write didn’t lessen, but I developed something most people are familiar with–fear of failure, a death-knell to the creative spirit.  I abandoned the fantastical stories, instead joining the newspaper and writing articles about sporting events and the Homecoming Dance.  After high school, I gave up writing altogether, except for occasional attempts at a novel or a short story, all of which sputtered to a halt as soon as self-doubt entered the picture.  I had lost faith in my ability to create.

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Barcelona’s Roman roots and ruins

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Funerary tombstone (Fifth century A.D.), most likely belonging to someone of importance in the church.

 

We love history, and we also dig seeing really old stuff; in Europe, there is no end to either.  Like all of the great cities we visited, Barcelona has a rich history stretching back thousands of years, and opportunities for exploration and learning were endless.  We especially enjoyed seeing the city’s Roman ruins, which seemed to be all over the place.

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