Thursday, December 7, 2017

Going To The Zoo, Zoo, Zoo...The Smithsonian National Zoo

Megabus sped us to DC to stay with daughter Rachel and her husband Will, with whom we had a great if unconventional Thanksgiving dinner. A few days later Will and Rachel made it a long weekend in Scotland, and Vicki jetted to Chicago to visit Tawana and Wes and their new grand-daughter Elinor. I was left in solitude to care for the dog, Daphne, and the cats, Peter and Bianca. Not for the first time. After Vicki's return, we visited the National Zoo, another Washington site we had somehow missed on previous visits. Getting there and back is a snap via the Red line. And despite the cooler weather, the Zoo was fun, especially after our recent African experience.
Asian elephants; the one in the foreground kept pacing the same 30 foot circle,
over and over and over...reminding us that zoos are maybe not fun places for
animals (I note, however, that there are species surviving in zoos and nowhere
else, as the Smithsonian points out)

Mei Xiang dining on bamboo, the only thing pandas eat

In the panda research center

Now go do that kudu that you do so well...

Look alive!

After Kruger and Etosha, we've come to appreciate electrified fences


Day's worth of elephant turds

Above, the orangutang high-wire crossing


In the big cat area

Checking to see what the tiger is having for lunch

Checking us out for lunch

Sadly, there were no leopards, so we are still deficient in the (African) Big Five

Let's Go Bowlin', Dudes

We were the better part of a week in Knoxville with Marie and Norm and Stacey and the boys, James and Jason. Rather few pix, but some time for decompression for us and for family fun. Among the fun items were an afternoon bowling and a dinner at Blaze, whose pizzas, I swear, properly ordered, rival the better Italian pies. Thanks, once more, Norm and Marie, for the hospitality.
"So this was a valued, uh..." "Yeah, man, it really tied the room
together..." No one seemed to understand my rant...

Bowling one game was for me a wake-up call regarding loss of
arm strength, although I somehow managed to outscore the
rest; I passed on the second game...

At Blaze, photo by Norm; no, I am not seated: James is now 15
and 6'3""; Jason will be catching up soon; both very engaging
and able young men

Sunday, November 26, 2017


With Le Duc safely stored at Prato Smeraldo, Giovanni drove us to Villa Rosita in Fiumicino, thus positioned for an early flight from Rome to Munich. November 14th was not one of our best flying days, however. Thick, all-day fog at Munich caused us to miss our connection both there and at O'Hare, and we wound up spending the night at a 2 star motel in Chicago before proceeding on to Knoxille the next morning. But the flight over northern Italy and the Alps was pretty neat...

Leaving Rome an hour late


Venice lagoon?


The Sasso Lungo group, on which I climbed in 2011?

Now over the bigger Alps, proper

Straining to see Hohenschwangau or Neuschwanstein...

About to dive into the fog bank; note plane's shadow

On the ground, but late for our connection

Another late departure, chasing the sunset across Europe and
then the Atlantic

At length we made it to Chicago and then the next day, tired
puppies, to Knoxville and some rest

St. Paul Without The Walls, 2017

We visited St. Paul Without The Walls for the first time in 2013, and I was very much impressed, as my posts from then suggest:, and It is the fourth of the four papal churches in Rome, and, despite its relative age and grandeur, probably the least visited. Our departure packing was going well, so we took off a little time to visit it once more.

Portraits of the popes adorn the walls above the arches

Huge beautiful alabaster windows

Room only for six more popes...

After Francis

The giant Pantokrator msaic

Starboard altar

Ceiling in the transepts

Beautiful marquetry

Looking astern from abaft the beam

Starboard aisle

Most helpful model ever, so far

You can walk through it

We tarried and then stayed for an organ recital by a young
Vietnamese sister; a nice finish to Rome for 2017