Monday, August 31, 2015

Camping At Santa Cruz

For the last long weekend in August, we took Penelope on a camping trip to Santa Cruz, 40 or so miles south of Menlo Park. The Santa Cruz marina has a dozen or so campsites--rather more on the European model...a place to park a self-contained rig, water and electricity...but $52 a night, decidedly not on the European model--which we nonetheless found quite pleasant, and certainly within walking distance of beaches, the boardwalk, and so on. Our four year old granddaughter is quite the trooper. We walked five miles one day, six another, and four the last, with never a complaint. Of course it helped that there were fun stops throughout...snacks, lunch, seal sightings, the great sand beach and surf, a boat ride, sunset, and so on. Plus the weather was unbeatable...warm and dry and a just a little wind on the beach. And we ate well.
P at Aldo's, just where the marina ends and the jetties begin


Captain's Plate at Aldo's; P helped with the calamari and the 
fish; and the frites; I was not willing to share the coconut 

Everywhere you look, something to look at

Heading home after a couple hours on the beach

On the marina's nice water taxi

Looking across Monterey Bay at Saturday sunset

Sunday morning apple crepes and smoked ham for breakfast;
thanks for the apples, Maggie

Whale-riding at Santa Cruz' historical museum

In peril on the sea...the harbor is loaded with paddle-boarders,
kayakers, and first-time sailing students; plus hundreds of
bigger craft; we saw more than a few near misses, but nothing 
really serious

Great place; we'll be back

Turner At De Young

Thursday I braved the Peninsula traffic and drove up to The City to see the de Young Museum's special exhibition, J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free. (Vicki is not quite the Turner fan that I am: "too many boats"). The exhibition focuses on the last fifteen years of Turner's long and prolific career (1835-1850), at a point, established and acclaimed, where he could pursue his own interests and inclinations and ignore the press and his legion of critics. I thought it was quite a well done exhibition, especially relating his works in water color and their relation to his oil work. With the later Turner, especially, it is largely about light and color, and I am always looking for the seeds of Impressionism--Monet spent 1870-71 in London and doubtless saw some of the later Turner--and I was not disappointed.
Great museum in the Golden Gate Park

Burning of the Houses of Lords and of Commons, 1834

The Bright Stone of Honor...(from Childe Harold), 1835

Ancient Rome: Agrippina Returning with the Ashes of
, 1839

Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory)--The Morning After the
Deluge--Moses Writing the Book of Genesis
, 1843; not so

sure of Turner's biblical scholarship here, but he knew color 
and wrote authoritatively of it

Peace--Burial at Sea, 1842

Approach to Venice, 1844

One of several "Sample Studies," smaller water colors by
which Turner endeavored to snare commissions; this, The 
Blue Rigi (a mountain near Lucerne)

Whalers (Boiling Blubber) Entangled in Flaw Ice, 
Endeavoring to Extricate Themselves, 1846; it was not an age 
for short titles

Whalers, 1845; OK, except this one

Perhaps the most famous item in the exhibition, Snow Storm--
Steam-boat off a Harbour's Mouth
...well, the title goes on and
on, including Turner's claim to have been aboard (lashed to
the mast, of course) incredible painting, despite the title

Not without his critics

Norham Castle, Sunrise, 1845?

Europa and the Bull, 1845?

The Visit to the Tomb, 1850; Aeneas and Dido visit the tomb
of  Dido's husband; part of a series on Aeneas 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Return To America, 2015

American/US Air got us from Brussels to Philadelphia in an aging 757 not even remotely equipped for transatlantic service; and then from Philadelphia to Knoxville on the usual puddle-jumping short-hopper. We mostly read, but I did watch a few minutes of TBL (Dude) on my computer. It's a spiritual thing. In Knoxville, Vicki's sister Marie and husband Norm picked us up and treated us to a long weekend of hospitality, great food and drink, and family entertainment, the latter provided by their daughter Stacey's two sons, James and Jason. Both pretty incredible boys. On Monday, United flew us, at length, from Knoxville to Chicago to San Francisco and our Middle California base, the driveway in front of daughter Rebecca's house in Menlo Park. The attraction of Middle California, of course, is grand-daughter Penelope, who is about to begin pre-kindergarten. Our days since mostly have been occupied with her, at Fairyland in Oakland, camping at Casa de Fruta near Hollister, and then a marvelous day with Mama at Gilroy Gardens. School starts tomorrow, and grandma and grandpa can finally finish unpacking and reorganizing back into their American camper, the Bigfoot.
Norm, Stacey, Jason, James, and Marie...thanks, again

P at Fairyland

Teaching the little ones proper affection for Snow White

And, with Grandma and Mama, at Gilroy Gardens

An amusement park I very much liked

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Brussels' Grand Place

Our itinerary back to the US involved a train trip from Amsterdam to Brussels. We got into our hotel in Brussels sufficiently early to hop another train from the airport to downtown. There certainly are larger squares in Europe, but, especially at night, none of them comes close to the beauty and vitality of Brussells' late Medieval/Renaissance Grand Place. A beautiful warm evening there, drinks at one of the many cafes on the square, was an irresistible end to our 2015 European tour.
City hall; 15th century Gothic

Panning around; mostly guild houses originally

The usual renovation at the far end; which turned out to be the
perfect place for drinks and for viewing the bits not being renovated

More panning around

Ditto, as the sun goes down and the lights go up


More panning

At the cafe

Photograph by a stranger

Vicki mixes her own citrone presse

While I sample the Belgian beers

Admiring the surroundings

Thus, an attempted panorama

And thus

A last look

And a final ussie

Resurrection of Amsterdam's Bicycles

So we've finished the Rijksmuseum and are heading down the street and across a bridge, toward our favorite vlaamse frites and herring joints, when Vicki looks down the canal and sees one of Amsterdam's great but rarely witnessed sights: the dredge that picks the bicycles out of the canals. Nothing evokes Amsterdam more than canals and bicycles. OK, drugs and sex certainly evoke Amsterdam more, but it's awkward to photograph them. Anyhow, a small crowd had already formed, and I was thrilled to join it and record the following...