Pittsburgh Adventure

This weekend found me in Pittsburgh for a jaunt around the area with my friend Nichola.

She is a skilled tour guide and has a similar attitude to my own when it comes to adventuring. We are always ready to go and interested in nearly everything. Plus, we are pretty good at frugal fun and often find something fascinating or beautiful around every corner.

This time we hiked the best old growth forest in America, enjoyed Monet in flowers at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and saw the city lit up in all her glory. We even got gussied up for brunch in an old train station turned restaurant. Plus, I found a new independent used bookstore to tell you about.

Perhaps my favorite thing was stumbling upon a gorgeous Catholic Church with open doors in a small rural town.

I’m not done sharing stories from my western adventure but hope you’ll forgive me for jumping around some. I’ll start weaving in topics from this weekend along with all the other fall fun I have planned.

Stay tuned for stories near and far. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for planning your next adventure!

Last November

Last November took me to Pittsburgh where a good friend gave me the holiday tour of her city.

Pittsburgh is an amazing place to celebrate the Christmas season thanks to free and inexpensive events, a beautifully decorated downtown, and tons of shopping opportunities at every turn.

Things are so different this year that I keep thinking back to that weekend – leisurely tours of museums, a crowded train car, fireworks amidst strangers, and a cramped Prantl’s Bakery where people pack in for the finest treats around. We ate in diners with people seated a foot or two away and never gave a second thought to touching doors and keypads or to how many people we would encounter while walking down the street.

My memories are a stark contrast to how we are (or how we should be) living as we try to slow the growth of this pandemic.

I hope to go back someday and experience it all again. For now, I am staying close to home and seeking ways to still enjoy life without too much interaction or risk. I hope you are doing the same and that you might enjoy the armchair travels you’ll find in these pictures.

I delighted in a display of life sized depictions of Father Christmas from around the world. Isn’t he stunning?

Notice the tree reflected in the walls of this mirrored building? There was ice skating in this plaza as well.

It seems like this man had a German accent. He was delightful to listen to as he demonstrated his wares for a seemingly endless crowd.

This tree is composed of lights on the corner of the building. A real show stopper and we were there to see the first lighting!

The Phipps does amazing things with flowers, plants, lights and good old fashioned dirt. Do yourself a favor and read this post about the Phipps at Christmas. There are more pictures.

Here’s hoping that we all can return to normal next Christmas.

For now, I think the meaning of Christmas 2020 is to do everything we can to keep each other safe and well so that we all can be here to celebrate the brighter days ahead.

Be safe, my friends.

Christmas at the Phipps

The Phipps is a gorgeous place any day of the week but it turns magical during the holidays.

Nichola knew that my holiday spirit was lacking and kindly took me to the Phipps and some other places that would help with this effort during my Pittsburgh stay.

We will just let the pictures do the talking today.

The Year In Pictures (Proof That It Does Get Better)

When the year began, this is is what I was photographing.

As you can probably see, my mood was dark and brooding. I spent hours stomping around in the cold and looking for anything I could find to occupy my mind and camera. My world was quite small too. My adventures took me around my own property and local state parks but not much further. Life was quiet and introspective. It was intensely focused on self betterment and on finding beauty despite the starkness and darkness that seemed to envelope my world both inside and out.

If you’ve been following this blog you know I’ve come a long way since January. In fact, I’ve come a long way since starting this blog over the summer. And I am thankful for that.

This has turned out to be a very good year. A beautiful year, actually. I’ve had so many adventures as well as time with friends and family and have learned a lot.  I’ve traveled near and far, spent countless hours relaxing on the back porch and met some special people along the way.

I still do some black and whites but have come to enjoy more playing with color and light. In fact, most of my recent black and whites exist because the color or light is poor but the conversion salvages the picture. Here’s what I’ve been photographing lately.

My eye reaches for happier things… I call this photographic proof that it does get better.

48416903_10209755131673433_8729230697920724992_nMy life isn’t what I thought it would be a year ago but that’s ok because it has turned out to be great anyway.  In fact, looking back on last January, it’s leaps and bounds more than I could have asked for or imagined.

I am cautiously optimistic that 2019 is going to be even better and I look forward to seeing what life has in store. I’m certain something special is around the next corner.

Happy New Year, my friends. Make 2019 amazing!