United States

yellow leaves in reno high desertAppreciating The Flora of Fall – Reno, Nevada

Even in the buff-colored, high desert of Nevada, neighborhood trees and shrubberies are sporting their autumn finery.

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Boat on Lake TahoeAzure Skies, Emerald Firs & a Sparkling Lake Tahoe: A Second-Anniversary Celebration

In 2010, I was twice married – to the same groom. As if describing two seasonal palaces, my husband and I like to playfully refer to our two marriages as the ‘summer wedding’ and the ‘winter wedding’.  Whereas some spouses have a difficult time remembering one wedding anniversary, we aspire to remember the date we met, the day of our engagement, and our wedding date x 2.

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Candy, Apples, Saloons, & A Sagebrush Cemetery

For a scribe who’s been in Germany for the past ten years, there isn’t much of a better way to reconnect with her American roots than to visit the wild, wild west… That’s just what Shawn and I did exactly one year ago when we spent the day playing in Virginia City, Nevada… 

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virginia-city-camel-and-ostrich-racesA Day at the Virginia City Camel & Ostrich Races

Each September, camels, ostriches, and jockeys from around the world converge on Virginia City, Nevada for the former mining town’s International Camel & Ostrich Races. We attended the quirky event last year, and it’s taking place again this weekend for the 54th time.

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Gateway Arch in St. Louis

The Gateway to the West: The St. Louis Arch

“To the question, what is the purpose of architecture, I would answer: To shelter and enhance man’s life on earth, and to fulfill his belief in the nobility of his existence.” - Eero Saarinen, architect, the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

We have hopped the Atlantic for the summer, and are now exploring our home continent via a grand North American road trip – thus my sporadic postings. Our American and Canadian adventures began…

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Route 66 Vintage Gas Station - ArizonaGettings Our Kicks…On Route 66

As one who adores vintage trinkets and history, I’ve long wanted to drive the so-called “Main Street of America” – Route 66. So, during our recent journey criss-crossing North America from Saint Louis as far east as Québec City, then on to Nevada, via Santa Fe, and the Grand Canyon, we decided it was essential to hop on what remained of this legendary roadway. 

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The Grand Canyon, ArizonaThe Glorious Grand Canyon

What special hours we spent walking around the south rim of the Grand Canyon earlier this week! I shall always remember the sight of the birds regally soaring a mile above the canyon’s floor and the thrill on visitors’ faces as they glimpsed the canyon for the first time. It’s hard to believe that there is so much life to be found among this rugged yet peaceful landscape.

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Ring of American Flags - Washington DCHappy Independence Day (& Birthday Greetings for a Special Someone!)

“What a glorious morning for our country.” -Samuel Adams

“Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.” -Harry Emerson Fosdick

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Horse colt and adultThe Laughing, Wild Horse

Since I have grown up in a part of the United States that is very different from the high desert of Nevada, it’s been a joy to observe the flora and the fauna unique to the rugged American West. From geckos, coyotes and snakes, to sagebrush, tumbleweed and saffron-colored rabbit brush, I’ve emitted many squeals of delight these past months while touring the region. It has been the herds of stunning, wild horses that have most effectively captured my attention though!

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napa-weekend0117cA Long Weekend in California Wine Country: Getting a Taste for Napa & Sonoma Wines, Part 1.

There seems to exist a syndrome with many avid international travelers and expats. They’ve visited the world’s most far-flung destinations, but haven’t seen much of what their native countries have to offer. Perhaps it’s the lure of the exotic, the desire to pin a new country on one’s world map, or just simply forgetting all the worthwhile destinations that exist back home.

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napa wine barrelsA Long Weekend in California Wine Country: Getting a Taste for Napa & Sonoma Wines, Part 2.

To commence our final two days in Napa and Sonoma, we drove to the Warm Springs Dam, where there is a scenic lookout over Lake Sonoma. 

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Halloween Pumpkin Farm California 3Perusing the Pumpkin Patch

After ten years of life abroad sans an authentic jack o’lantern, I was delighted to awaken my Halloween spirit by visiting a veritable American pumpkin patch last autumn, following a splendid long weekend in the Napa Valley. The California farm’s scruffy scarecrows, colorful gourds, and pumpkins transformed into storybook characters brought to mind some of my favorite Halloween childhood memories

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Sea lion in San FranciscoSan Francisco’s Most Blubbery & Boisterous Residents: The Sea Lions of Pier 39

They occupy prime San Francisco real estate overlooking Alcatraz and the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. But the lackadaisical California sea lions of Pier 39 don’t seem to be entranced by the sweeping vistas in their neighborhood. Instead, the boisterous mammals pass their days by barking, pushing their neighbors off the dock (to maximize lounging space), and doing upward-dog like yogic poses for the mob of tourists that come to watch them each day at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Reno Dawn Patrol hot air balloonsA Sky Aglow: Up with the Great Reno Balloon Races Dawn Patrol 

Like paper lanterns rising to the heavens in the Far East, the radiant balloons twinkled in unison during the Dawn Patrol that was to precede the Great Reno Balloon Races.  Only seven balloons – those which were qualified to fly in the dark – participated. The flying conditions at night can be dangerous since atmospheric conditions can change quickly once the sun rises over the hot Nevada desert. 

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