Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Travel

Coming down from a high | Day 1 Photos revisited

P1090805 The High Dessert in Oregon, on the way to Mitchell, Oregon – October 2015

It’s time for a teeny tiny (safe!) vacation from Covid-19 precautions. Click on photos to enlarge them. And ENJOY! ūüôā

Have you ever seen the high desert in central Oregon? The one many early settlers had to travel across to reach the West Coast? Without maps and only occasional guides?

No? Neither had I until last week. I’d seen wheat ranches in Oregon, sea stacks and beaches on the coast, snow on Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, lush forests and state parks drenched with green mosses, waterfalls, creeks running alongside mountain roads, puffins on the sea stacks, and spectacular sunsets. But until a year ago I hadn’t even heard of what I saw last week.

Ten days ago D and I flew out to Portland, Oregon for a visit with our daughter and her husband. It included a two-day road trip to the high desert to see the Painted Hills. Did you know there are painted hills in the USA? I didn‚Äôt. Here’s our first photo–a tiny peek as we approached the Painted Hills entrance on Day 1 of our adventure.

Painted Hills is one of three units in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. We visited two of the three units‚ÄĒPainted Hills, and Sheep Rock.

The photos below are from our first day at the Painted Hills Unit. We arrived in the late afternoon on a picture-perfect day. Warm weather with a cool steady wind, dry air, and very few visitors.


P1090828 Can you find the spot where DAFraser zoomed in for this close-up? Also, look for animal trails and tracks. No humans allowed!

Here we’re on our way to a lookout at the top of the trail.
Notice the moon hanging in the brilliant blue sky!


When we were walking on this path we stopped to listen.
All I heard was silence and the beat of my heart.
“…All nature sings, and ’round me rings
the music of the spheres….”

P1090897 Velvet tones and texture, stripes like a soft woolen blanket; colors of the West





Polite signs like this kept reminding us to stay on the path!
In this case, turn around and go back the way you came.
Which we did!

End of Day 1, back at our motel:

P1090905 Wild turkeys on the road up to our motel, after chasing unwelcome cat away….

Hoping you find a way to vacation safely today, even if it’s only in your lovely mind and heart!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 October 2015 and 27 June 2020
Photo credit: Elouise (top photo), DAFraser (all the rest), October 2015
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Painted Hills Unit

Kinderdijk Favorites | Viking Cruise

It’s Friday and it’s snowing outside. Time for¬†photos that catch my eye¬†before we leave Kinderdijk. In no particular order, here they are, beginning¬†with barge traffic.¬†A reminder that these¬†inland rivers¬†are¬†major highways. Not¬†primarily for the tourist industry, but for transport of goods.

The distant tower¬†isn’t¬†an ancient lookout for detecting the enemy, but a water tower nicely disguised to blend in with the scenery. Up close on this side of the river¬†¬†are wildflowers¬†and an empty dock waiting for another cruise ship to arrive.

Below is a more colorful barge than most. That’s the city of Kinderdijk across the river from the UNESCO World Heritage Site.¬†Note the two automobiles on the¬† back deck¬†of the¬†barge–transportation for¬†barge personnel when¬†docked.

Back to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.¬†Here’s another set of photos with beautiful colors.¬†The first two are, I think, rental cabins for vacationers. The third is a bench¬†outside a snack bar near the windmills we visited.

Speaking of color, how about these? Don’t miss the little sparrow on the grass. A little sense of proportion there.

Here’s a rare big bird not usually captured in photos!¬†That’s¬†my pocket watch peeking out from my¬†magenta shirt. Note the wires going from¬†my sunshirt pocket to my left ear.¬†It’s my audio tour guide,¬†so¬†I can hear about stuff no matter where the real live guide is standing. I’m probably giving the photographer¬†last-minute instructions too late.¬†The sun was blazing hot,¬†even though the air was comfortably cool.

Time for ducks and other water lovers hanging around the canal.

This roof caught my eye, as did the blooming plants that follow. Ordinary beauty waiting to be noticed.

Hoping all you beauties have a spectacular weekend! It’s still snowing here. Definitely a spectacle after¬†an unusually warm winter.

Elouise ‚ô•

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 March 2017
Photo credit: DAF, July 2016 in Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk | Viking Cruise


What’s missing from this picture? Wind! Not a breath of it while we were there. Still, the windmills were spectacular.

We sailed all night from Amsterdam, and¬†arrived midmorning at¬†Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage¬†site.¬†It¬†was constructed as an outdoor museum, with examples of old¬†windmills.¬†Though they aren’t now used to drain water from low-lying land, they are functional. Citizens apply to¬†live in them, with or without children.¬†It’s considered an honor,¬†and¬†requires¬†daily attention to maintenance and to¬†changing winds¬†to keep super-heavy windmill blades in motion.


Kinderdijk means¬†‚Äúchildren‚Äôs dike.‚ÄĚ According to legend, it‚Äôs all about a cat, a cradle, and a baby who survived a storm thanks to a dike and a cat‚Äôs faithful instincts! The¬†site includes a system of 19 windmills and was built around 1740. This is the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands today.

It’s 1421. A humongous storm and flood have subsided. Only one polder in the area isn’t flooded. A polder is a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the river or sea via pumping the water up, out beyond dikes.

A rescuer goes out, walking along the dike to see what might be salvaged.¬†There floating on the water is a wooden cradle! As it gets closer, he sees a cat in the cradle jumping back and forth, keeping it afloat and dry.¬†Then, when it‚Äôs closer to the dike, he sees a baby sleeping in the cradle. A survivor, thanks to kitty’s great balancing act!

This story is¬†celebrated in a folktale, ‚ÄúThe Cat and the Cradle.‚Ä̬†The cradle below¬†commemorates kitty and baby‚Äôs successful cruise.


So how about a look at one windmill that allows us to get up close and personal?
Like most windmills on this site, it’s a grondzeiler, or ¬†‘ground sail windmill,’
so called because the sails almost touch the ground as they turn.

 First, a view from the outside, looking up.
Can’t help noticing how huge these things are
and how much human-power it takes to move the sails
when the wind changes direction.

Now for the interior of this ‘house.’
Don’t touch anything!¬†Keep moving single file,
keep your head down, and be sure your walky-talky is turned on!

First, the main room. This is it, for all practical purposes.
Tiny, cramped and functional,
with touches of charm here and there.


¬†I was told the short ‘double’ bed is also the lavatory.
Chamber pot conveniently located at the foot of the bed.
Out of sight.



On our way out, we pass by some of the internal workings,
and get a welcome glimpse out the back window.



One more look up from the¬†back¬†of the windmill —

And a quick look at what it takes to drain the polder today.


Stay tuned for more!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 February 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016, Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

River Scenes | Viking Cruise


There’s nothing so serene as gliding through calm water in the late afternoon¬†and overnight into the early morning.¬†Especially¬†when you know you’re on time. D took the photo above when we got to the Amsterdam harbor on time in¬†early afternoon. He took the two photos below as we left on time in late afternoon.¬†Getting¬†out of the harbor¬†for a two-week cruise is one thing. Then there are more than 60 locks to navigate before completing¬†the cruise.¬†The Rhine, Main and Danube rivers aren’t¬†very wide, and¬†reservations for lock passage are set¬†in concrete two years out. Be in line on time or be sorry!¬†And no butting in.





Rounding a corner; campground and village in the distance.


Sunset, taken from the top deck.
Do you see the small campground in the third photo below?



Early the next morning —
Notice the  water level and houses with the river dike between.
Also note the walking/biking path along the dike.
Imagine living below the river line
and looking up over the dike from an attic window or rooftop.


Breakfast time!
Note the rising sun reflected in the river.





Until we left Amsterdam, I can’t say I felt very serene.¬†Just exhausted, hungry and in need of downtime for body, soul, mind and emotions. The cruise¬†was¬†a priceless gift.¬†I’ve always been drawn to rivers,¬†oceans, ponds, lakes, creeks and waterfalls. It felt like coming home, even though it wasn’t. Hoping you find some serenity this weekend.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 February 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016

Amsterdam Street Scenes 2 | Viking Cruise


Though I‚Äôm not usually an escapist, I feel like escaping to Amsterdam today.¬†D and I were there last July¬†at the front end of a river cruise. We’d just arrived after an¬†overnight flight¬†from Philadelphia. The goal was simple: Stay awake! This means our guide mercilessly kept¬†us moving and on our feet during the afternoon.

So here we are. Note the brilliant blue sky. A perfect backdrop for¬†roof decorations¬†and¬†public art.¬†Unfortunately, I can’t comment on their architectural significance. I’m grateful D took pictures, since I was half asleep on my feet.

The first two show spires on St. Nicholas Basilica;
the third, a gargoyle.






Next we have two business structures
designed for life along the canal before elevators or motorized lifts.

Just below, note the structure protruding beneath
the top roof line. The holes in the base are to accommodate pulleys.p1140330

Here’s a row of merchant shops on the canal,¬†each with a pulley¬†at the top.
Suppose you want to move a large container
or piece of machinery into the building.
No problem. Just pull it up and swing it through a window.p1140334

Does anyone know what the hooks below are for?
I’m guessing they might have something to do with snow.
This seems to be an old house.


Flags on the Amsterdam Port Building near the harbor.
Note the walkway around the castle-like tower.
A lookout up and down the river?


A Viking crusader below?
He’s scarcely visible within all those¬†symbols of power.
Definitely designed to impress and commemorate.
Note the intricate brickwork and crowns.


Finally, a down-on-the-street scene
on a welcome pedestrian walkway with shops and restaurants.
No bike lanes or speeding bikers.
Actually, it leads into the red light district.


Here’s the¬†building at the end of the pedestrian walkway above.



McDonald’s burgers on gluten-free bread!


And last but not least, a beautiful outdoor café across the canal.


We got back to the cruise ship late, just in time for dinner and about an hour before we sailed from Amsterdam.

More photos later….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 January 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016 in Amsterdam

Amsterdam – Street Scenes | Viking Cruise


Busy! Sensory overload! Unplanned chaos. Tourist magnet. Not for all the right reasons, I’m sorry to say. This post is just a taste of what kept us awake the afternoon we arrived in Amsterdam. Our guide kept us moving, and we did our best to keep up with him.

The top photo captures the reality of modernity (big bold red public buses), and of time-honored tradition (bikes — the subject of my last Amsterdam post). Pedestrians beware!

Here’s what we saw when we left the cruise ship with our trusty guide.
What do you notice?


I love the guys fishing on the pier
right in the middle of it all.

Our first landmark was a huge, modern transportation center.
I’m glad I didn’t have to figure out which way to go.
Note traffic lanes for various types of transportation
including pedestrians.


Here we’re in the belly of the building.
Note directional signs.
Sorry you can’t hear the sound effects. Think noise. Lots of it.


When we came out the other side,
we began our tour near the red light district.
Not a comforting sight.
Note the cathedral tower on the right side of the photo.
We’re looking at the back side of the district.


The next three photos¬†give a better perspective —
without so many people in the way.
Notice the water level that’s¬†steadily rising,
sagging architecture and uneven walls on many old buildings,
boats ready for nighttime cruises by windows
that showcase women for commercial sex,
and the cathedral tower in the background.




Here’s one last look at one of the buildings on the canal.
It’s visible in the first photo of the red light district.
You can see why it caught my eye.

Wednesday of this week, January 11, was
*International Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a day to raise awareness
and honor those who offer alternatives to
women, children and men exploited for commercial sex.
I couldn’t help thinking about these photos.

Here we are, moving on behind our trusty guide.
Do you like my backpack?
Don’t miss the clutter of bikes just to our right
and the bikers ahead of us on the sidewalk.
Being a pedestrian isn’t for sissies!


We’re headed¬†to an area¬†that draws¬†hoards of¬†tourists and shoppers.
Here’s¬†a¬†taste what’s coming¬†in the next exciting installment.


To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 January 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, Amsterdam, July 2016

*To find out more about human trafficking, click here.

Amsterdam – Bikes | Viking Cruise


Last summer D and I, together with our daughter and son-in-law, enjoyed a two-week cruise down the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. From Amsterdam to Budapest. We came back loaded with photos. I‚Äôll be sharing some¬†from time to time, partly as a cheery way to get through the winter! But also because it was a great adventure. Today’s photos focus on bikes.

We arrived in Amsterdam on an overnight flight from Philadelphia and were taken by bus to the cruise ship.


After a light breakfast/lunch buffet, a friendly, energetic guide kept us awake by trotting us around the city. Watch out for the bikes (and for cars and buses, of course)! No crossing the street unless the light is green.

Bikes flew by (too fast to photo) and were parked everywhere. Note locks and chains.



Our guide explained that¬†old bikes are preferable to new bikes. They’re not as likely to be ripped off piece by piece, and are easier to replace. In addition, owners don’t always remember where they left their bikes. Hence¬†a variety of sometimes eccentric add-ons or colors to give your wheels higher visibility.

As you can see, bikers can park virtually anywhere. However, the most impressive place to park is at the huge bike garage near the transportation hub of the city. If you can just remember where you left your bike. 


To be continued from time to time. Stay tuned!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 January 2017
Photo credit: DAFraser, July 2016 in Amsterdam

In the spice bazaar


In the spice bazaar
temptations aromatic
waft through air
heavy with longing
I reach out my hand


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 November 2016
Photo credit: DAFraser, January 2012 at a spice bazaar in Aswan, Egypt
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Aromatic

Dear Friends,

Home away from for two magical weeks!

Our home away from home for two magical weeks! Docked in Amsterdam.

You’ve been on my mind for the last several weeks. Well, sort of!¬†Here’s a quick update to let you know what’s been happening. Read the rest of this entry »

Pyramids and Camels | Photo Memories

Camel rides and Pyramids

It‚Äôs a good thing, being married to D. My life might have been dismally dull without his get-up-and-go. He‚Äôs no extrovert, mind you. He just¬†has the Travel Bug in him, bigtime. Our trip to Egypt, piggybacked onto a week of D teaching in Cairo, was a Spectacular Adventure. Read the rest of this entry »

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