I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine recently.
When I was in middle school we had to write a list of things that we wanted to do when we grew up. One of the things on my list was to sleep in a yurt. This was way before yurts were cool in the U.S. I only knew about them because in fifth grade I read a book about a man who went to Mongolia. I think this was my first historical fiction experience. Ever since that time I wanted to go to Mongolia and sleep in a yurt. (He also ate sheep eyeballs and I totally didn’t want to have to do that to have my yurt time.)
I managed the yurt and no sheep eyeballs were necessary.
We stayed overnight in the yurt camping area at The Wilds. I don’t think that the guy in the book I read had a yurt this fancy. I don’t remember any descriptions of air conditioning, full bathroom, or wi-fi.
The Wilds is a 10,000 acre reclaimed strip mine in Ohio. It is now managed by the Columbus Zoo. It is a little like Jurassic Park with large mammals instead of dinosaurs.
On the first day I went for a horseback ride. I was actually nervous about that. It has been a long time since I’ve ridden. We were told to mount at the mounting block and let the horse walk forward without putting our feet in the stirrups. I flat out panicked at the suggestion. They wanted to adjust our stirrups for us because I was the only person who had ever ridden before. However, stepping away from a mounting block without feet in stirrups is exactly what happened right before the accident where I broke my pelvis. I calmed myself though and got on and put my feet in immediately. Not doing that again.
The ride was fun once I let myself relax and stop overanalyzing. It was a trail ride on a horse who was used to this, not a ride on a high strung knucklehead like I owned.
After the ride we had a private dinner in a dining room reserved for overnight guests. We also had a large fire pit overlooking the camel pasture to relax at.
The next day we had breakfast provided and then we went on our tour through the park.
The Wilds is a fun way to see animals in a slightly more relaxed environment than in a zoo. The herbivores are all wandering huge pastures and living their lives in a much freer manner than in most zoos.
The Wilds is in Cumberland Ohio. It is absolutely worth a visit if you are ever in the central Ohio area.
My favorite Smithsonian museum by far and the one that I have to visit every time I’m in D.C. is the Renwick Gallery.
This museum is dedicated to crafts. It is directly across from the White House by Lafayette Park and next to Blair House.
They always have some quilts on display. This quilt is a map of an area of D.C. Each of the exposed seams are roads. Each of the red pieces are houses that were foreclosed on.
I always love art that fools the eye. Ghost Clock is one of my all time favorite pieces at the Renwick.
This isn’t a clock covered in fabric. It is a solid piece of wood carved and then bleached to look like this. I so desperately want to touch it because even up close it still looks like fabric over a clock.
This is Impressions. It is made of marble.
It looks more like marble in the picture than in real life. I thought it was a pillow when I walked up to it.
This looks like a typical quilt.
It is made of 16mm film.
I love the stained glass in this piece called The Birth of Eve.
When I was there one large gallery was being used for a single piece.
A net-like fabric was hung from the ceiling. It mimicked the graph of the seismic activity during an earthquake that caused a tsumani. Beanbags were on the floor for people to lay down and look up at it. The light was a muted pastel. It was very peaceful.
If you can’t get to D.C. you can browse the collection online at Renwick Gallery.
We followed the panda’s advice and spent a lot of time inside. We really liked the huge aviary.
Everyone was having a nap.
Or staying inside in the air conditioning
Outside was nice though if you found a cool shady spot to sit.
My best advice for visiting the National Zoo
Take the Metro from Washington D.C. to the Cleveland Park stop on the red line which is one stop past the stop labelled Zoo. If you get off at the zoo spot it is a long walk uphill to the zoo. If you get off at Cleveland Park it is slightly downhill.
The food available isn’t very vegan friendly on the menu but the paninis seem to be made on site so you could ask for them to be made without cheese. They weren’t very appetizing looking though. I just had a pretzel.
The zoo is large and is on a hill so be prepared to hike. To go from the back of the zoo to the exit is an uphill climb. Maybe head to the back of the zoo first and gradually make your way to the front while seeing the animals so you gradually work your way back up the hill.
I never even realized that there was a United States Botanical Garden until the torture/interrogation scene in Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol that takes place in the middle of the jungle room. I’m not sure what that says about me that I:
Read a scene like that and think “I bet that’s a nice place to visit. “
Never noticed a huge glass building sitting next to the Capitol
There are outside gardens but we were there in July and it was roughly 10,000 degrees outside with no shade so we didn’t look at them. We headed straight inside.
I wanted to throw myself headlong into this fountain.
I loved this fountain’s tiles. It wasn’t running but it was located in the blessed air conditioning (or maybe it was just cooler inside from all the plants) so that was ok.
It is a typical botanic garden where you move through rooms with different ecosystems or organized by use of plants like the medicinal plants room.
In the Jungle Room. I did consider taking a picture on the bench from The Lost Symbol but decided after much deliberation that I’m not quite that weird yet. Actually, that’s not weird at all but I didn’t want to have to explain it all to the husband.
Orchids are always good for close ups.
Water everywhere kept it much cooler than outside.
It was time for a spring photo walk around the neighborhood with Freckles where I take pictures of flowers and try not to look like I’m casing the joint.
I have baby blueberries!
I planted two blueberries in containers last year. Nothing happened last year but there are babies on the largest plant now. I moved them into a large crop cage to try to save them from predators. I guess they aren’t free-range blueberries any more now that they are in blueberry jail…
Halloween is my favorite holiday. I have to put a lot of thought into my costume. I have to be able to work in it. It can’t scare any dogs or cats or small children. This year I finally came up with the perfect costume.
I love that hat. It is the most comfy thing ever. I’ve been wearing it around my house for days. No animals were afraid of it. One kitten batted at the bow on it but everyone else just ignored it.
After work we took Z trick or treating in our neighborhood. Trick or treating with an autistic 12 year old has its own special annoyances. She refused to cross lawns to get to door. This is a neighborhood with driveways that tend to swoop along the sides of the lots and head to the back of the house. She insisted in going up the driveways to find a walk to the front door even when the house owners were telling her to cut across the lawn. Oh well, she got lots of extra exercise. She was totally defeated by one house’s landscaping. There was a row of bushes about 1 foot high. Being told to cross the lawn and then step over the bushes shut down her brain entirely. I wish I knew how to remove “Don’t step on the grass” as an absolutely rule and substitute, “Don’t punch your classmates” instead.
There was one house all lit up with spooky music playing. There was no one standing outside so we told her to go knock on the door because it looked like they were in full Halloween mode. No one answered her knock. So instead of saying, “Must not be here,” she started pounding on the door and yelling, “HEY! I SAID TRICK OR TREAT!!!!!!” Then we had to yell at her to stop assaulting the house and get back to the sidewalk. They were probably there but hiding from the person beating down their door.
She went to one house on a side street off the beaten path. She got candy there and the husband and I crossed the road to another decorated house while she was heading back towards us. She started yelling, “Wait! Wait! I can’t cross a road by myself!” at the top of her lungs. We were the only people on the street and there were no headlights visible in any direction. I said, “You’re 12 years old. Better figure it out.” Most kids are pushing their boundaries to try to grow up. We’re going to end up kicking and shoving her into adulthood entirely against her will.
She is terrified of everything so she was overcompensating by yelling at anyone and anything she found scary. She’d walk up to people with mildly scary costumes and decorations and yell, “You aren’t scaring me!” in their faces. Social interaction is such a joy.
Today let’s get creative with our international books! The challenge is to make a photograph that captures the setting of the book.
The main characters in Finding Nouf are trying to find a girl in the Saudi Arabian desert so I photographed the book lost in a vast field of sand.
If you follow my line of sight quite a few miles straight out from this Florida shoreline, you get to the setting of War of the Whales – a book about whales beaching in the Bahamas.
Central and South America
Atomik Aztek is an alternate history in which the Aztec defeat the Spanish. I paired it with clay pottery animals that I hand carried back from Costa Rica.
The Blue Fox, set in Iceland, is paired with my wool horse ornament that I picked up at the airport in Iceland this spring.
It’s Harry Potter time. This is me at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross in London and my Hogwarts mug from Universal Florida.
Now it is your turn! Use setting or props to take a book picture. Link up below to your blog post or your Instagram or Twitter link to the photo. (Use the hashtag #TTWIBRAT) In one week there will be a random drawing from all the entries for a $10 Amazon gift certificate.
There has been a church in Bath since the 7th century. This building was built in the 12th century. In the early 1500s it was left to decay and most of the expensive decorations were stripped out of it. By the end of that century a decision was made to preserve it. A major restoration started in the 1860s.
The building is famous for its vaulted ceiling.
I didn’t enjoy visiting churches in England as much as I like churches in Catholic countries. There is a very different aesthetic. The Catholic cathedrals are over the top with decorations paid for by taking money from people but at least they are pretty. The churches in England just aren’t.
There are pretty details but the overall look is cluttered. There are 617 wall memorials and 847 floor stones.
I also feel like I shouldn’t be walking on ancient engraved stones but that is the whole floor.
Bath Abbey isn’t as overdone as Westminster. I was really disappointed with that church. When we came to a less memorial-laden part, I whispered to my mother. “I’m going to say something offensive.”
She said, “Go on.”
“This feels like what happens when a hoarder gets a fancy pretty new house and then fills it up with crap they bought off the Home Shopping Channel.”
“It also wouldn’t hurt if they dusted it occasionally,” she added.
I’m a minimalist through and through. I do love the eagle though.
They did have a very nice display of quilts on the side. They were paired with paintings done by the same artist.
I am a Disney hater. I don’t like crowds or commercialism. I paticularly hate the idea of Disney because I have a stepchild whose autistic brain is obsessed with Disney. She has the parks, the hotels, and the cruise ship layouts memorized and talks about them nonstop. She has no other topic of conversation.
But I was Orlando with a free day and decided to see if anything had changed.
I did 2 hours at Animal Kingdom where thankfully most people don’t care about the animal exhibits so those areas weren’t crowded. I went to the Magic Kingdom but left after 20 minutes. Those are not my people. I fled to Epcot which was the least crowded and happiest.
Now I have long days of conferences until Thursday when I go to Universal where the Harry Potter megafans are MY people!
Next week I’ll post photos from Animal Kingdom. Linking up with West Metro Mommy Reads.
On Thanksgiving my mother showed me two albums of postcards that belonged to her grandmother. I knew this great-grandmother as a 90+ year old woman in a wheelchair when I was a little kid. These are the postcards of a brazen hussy.
Some of them are from relatives and some are souvenirs that she bought on trips but the ones I took pictures of were ones she sent to her intended in 1907.
Most of them don’t say anything on the back. She lets the pictures speak for themselves.
This one has the notation on the front, “Zella and I, Bye and Bye.” Zella was her name so her beau must have written it after he got it.
Sometimes there are brief notes.
“Hel-lo Mr Herron” I can’t read that in anything other than a sassy tone.
The back of this one said that that would be them in 5 years’ time.
This picture is labelled with their names and then the back says:
“This beats the wheat shack all to smash” What, exactly, were you getting up to in the wheat shack, young lady?
I was hesitant to look but there was no message on this one. Guess there didn’t need to be.
My mom said there was one that gave a time when her parents were going to be gone and a suggestion that they meet up in the orchard. Kids these days!
The Promenade du Paillon is a new greenspace in the heart of Nice’s downtown. The Paillon is a stream that runs through town and was historically the cause of a lot of flooding. It was covered over in stages from 1868 to 1972. In 2011 the central bus terminal was demolished. It was supposedly very ugly and this park was put in.
It is a very narrow space, fenced in between two busy streets, but it is peaceful inside. One section is a marine animal themed playground.
I love tortoises. I would have totally sat on this tortoise for the picture but I was getting glared at by French people for being a horrible tourist for touching it.
There is also a large whale that you can go inside. Towards the back of the whale there are some hanging cylinders that I can only imagine have to represent whale poop. I was perplexed and even more amazed to find that I don’t have a picture of them.
We’re back from our trip to the south of France. I’ll be posting France stories on Mondays for the Dreaming of France linkup but we spent some time in two other countries also.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée is in Monaco.
It was consecrated in 1875. There was a church on the site beginning in 1252.
This is the church where Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier.
They are both buried here.
The husband, who is sensitive to ghost stuff, reacted badly to this church. As soon as he entered he said it was overwhelming. I am a supportive wife so when he said that the ghosts were yelling at him I asked, “In French?” I mean, how would he know what they were yelling if he doesn’t speak French? I just got glared at. He ended up going outside and I wandered around and took more pictures of the ceiling.
I really liked the side aisles.
They have a state of the art organ.
I eventually went out and found the husband. He’s never been bothered by visiting churches before. Maybe it is all the graves in this one.