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Keystone, Colorado: a Photojournal

Keystone, Colorado

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
― Ansel Adams

I love the mountains. I grew up traveling to see my grandmother who lived in Durango, Colorado. Not only did she have horses and live on a ranch, but we skied when we visited. I learned to ski as one of the kids on little skis, no poles, following her dad’s ski tracks down the mountain. The nearby ski resort to my grandmother’s house? Purgatory. I learned to love to ski.

In November, I traveled to Colorado for a work conference. It had been twenty years since I’d skied Colorado. My most recent skis had been in Austria, when we lived in Prague. But Colorado — I couldn’t resist. Usually, November is not the time to ski Colorado, but I decided to give it a whirl.

It was at the beginning of the season and the Rockies had had very little snow. I met the shuttle at the airport and rode up into the mountains marveling at the lack of snow. Keystone, where I’d planned to ski, was bare. But Arapahoe Basin? Perfect.

Happy, getting to ski Arapahoe Basin, CO
Happy, getting to ski Arapahoe Basin, CO
Skiing on the first open weekend of the season, happy!
Skiing on the first open weekend of the season before a work conference, happy!

 

I skied for a whole day and bought a shirt at the end that says, “If it’s too steep, you’re too old.” 🙂

The next day, I wandered through Keystone with my camera. The silence — no snow, no skiers, no tourists — was pristine. The terrain is so beautiful, the photographs don’t do it justice. But I will try to share …

Keystone, Colorado: a Photojournal

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Keystone, Colorado

Have you gotten to ski this year? If so, where, and how was it? Lots of snow? Or barely a dusting?

On another note, I am really happy it is almost spring!

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Lake Como, Northern Italy, and the Beauty Found There

Winter Sunrise over Lake Como

“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”  ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Lake Como Sunrise on Mountaintops
Lake Como Sunrise on Mountaintops

During the holidays, in the changing of the calendars from 2012 to 2013, and in the pristine time of Christmas which is celebrated so lavishly in Italy, my family and I ventured from our home in Prague down into Northern Italy, to enjoy our final wintertime in Europe.

Northern Italy, reflections along Lake Como
Northern Italy, reflections along Lake Como

We stayed in a cozy stone chalet nestled in the snow-covered peaks and a 13th century village high above Chiavenna, Italy.

 

Beside the stone chalet in 13th century Prato Comportaccio, Italy
Beside the stone chalet in 13th century Prato Comportaccio, Italy

On the way from Prague to Chiavenna, we stayed the night in Milan and had the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of getting to see Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting.

The Last Supper (photo of the replica painting), Milan, Italy
The Last Supper (photo of the replica painting outside the exhibit), Milan, Italy

We also traveled past our favorite castles in the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy.

Medieval Castle in Alto Adige Italy
Medieval Castle in Alto Adige Italy

On our way north from Milan toward Italy’s notch of land carved into the south of Switzerland, we traveled along the famous Lake Como and lake district of Northern Italy.

 

Chiavenna, Italy
Chiavenna, Italy

So much of historyhas happened in this region, as with all of Europe. We imagined as we drove through tunnels and wove along the gorgeous coastline of Como. The best part was seeing the sky-high mountaintops at sunrise.

Lake Como at Sunrise, Italy
Lake Como at Sunrise, Italy

The reflections, the morning pink rippling over inky nighttime black, the sawtooth Alps guarding over the beauty found there– all of it struck me and continues to strike me deeply.

Lake Como at Sunrise, Northern Italy
Lake Como at Sunrise, Northern Italy

In our lives, we need quiet moments; time for reflection, conversation, and reverie; moments for steep hikes and snowballs; mornings of skiing and immersion in the surroundings.

The time in the Italian Alps was such a gift. It was a beautiful, gorgeous, incredible place to spend time as a family around Christmas and the new year. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it.

Next Wednesday, I’ll be posting photographs of the even-more-stunning beauty we found in the Saint Moritz lake region of Switzerland.

For You: Do you live near water? Do you enjoy seeing the reflections at sunrise and sunset?

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Paradise Found: My Fourth of July in the Austrian Alps

Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, 1803-1882

Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn
Paradise Found: St. Gilgen, Austria and the Zwolferhorn

When I was a girl, I read all the time, and the first book I remember wanting to reread was Johanna Spyri’s HEIDI. If you aren’t familiar with the children’s classic book, HEIDI is about an orphaned girl who comes to live in the Alps with her reclusive grandfather. Like most fans of Heidi, I relished the notion of finding hope in the face of hopelessness, but I also loved the setting of HEIDI: the rugged and beautiful mountains of Europe where man and mountain thrive together. There is something about being in the mountains that connects with who I am. Whether it is in the Tetons or Rockies of the Western United States, the coastal mountains of Maine, or the Alps of Austria, Switzerland, or Italy, my heart sings when I am in the mountains. Luckily for me, my family feels the same way … Continue reading Paradise Found: My Fourth of July in the Austrian Alps

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America: Land of the Free

Portland Head Light, Portland, Maine, USA

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! –Star Spangled Banner, 4th stanza

Wall Street, New York City
Wall Street, New York City

Having lived abroad for nearly two years, I must say out loud that I love the USA. I treasure its land, its mix of people with an unsinkable spirit, and its stature. I love the loud chorus that resounds in my mind every time I see an American flag — that Star Spangled Banner. Yes, it’s true: America is a land of freedom, of hope for a better tomorrow, and belief in our neighbors. And most true of all is living in foreign lands only makes it all more clear … the United States of America is a great nation. Quirks and all.

 

the Grand Tetons, Wyoming, USA
the Grand Tetons, Wyoming, USA

A few photos I cherish of landmarks in the USA …

 

Beehive Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Beehive Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
the Badlands, North and South Dakota, USA
the Badlands, North and South Dakota, USA

 

Portland Head Light, Portland, Maine, USA
Portland Head Light, Portland, Maine, USA
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, USA
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, USA

Happy Memorial Day, Americans! And thank you to all who give of themselves to uphold our great nation.

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Reflections: Stormy Beauty over the Teton’s Jackson Lake

Grand Teton's Jackson Lake after the storm
Grand Teton's Jackson Lake after the storm
Grand Teton's Jackson Lake after the storm

Storms happen frequently in Spring, especially in the United States … they’re not as violent here in Prague. I’ve always been someone who loves to watch the storms. In our prior backyard, I’d lie back on the kids’ slide and watch as clouds billowed and puffed and sailed by, wrenching colors out of the changing atmosphere that I never thought possible. Those storms happen when the weather changes–hot to cold, cold to hot, etc. Big changes. Like in Spring.

I think it’s the same in our lives–those times of change, the big sweeps of one phase of life to another, cause the most storms. The storms of life can be just as violent as the storms of Spring.

When I took this photograph, I was sitting at the edge of Jackson Lake in the Grand Tetons National Park, USA, and watching the weather swing wild with color and wind. It was breathtaking watching it, especially for the reflections on the water. For from the side, the reflections on the storm have a story to tell– colors and shapes and energy and blows that can’t be seen from inside the storm.

Perhaps it’s that way in our lives … the reflections of our lives are like ripples upon the water. We gain meaning from the storms of life when we look and observe, and reflect.

Do you like to storm-watch? Why?

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Inspiration: The Grand Tetons

The beautiful Grand Tetons

“It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.” -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

The beautiful Grand Tetons
The beautiful Grand Tetons

A few years ago, before we moved to Czech Republic from the U.S., we drove from Cincinnati to the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. It was a place my husband and I had always dreamed of going, and, given that tent-camping is almost free, we camped there during our stay.

We camped at two campgrounds within the Grand Tetons National Park, though it was the second one we tried that we loved: Lizard Creek. It sits at the north end of Jackson Lake, just along the border of the Lake. Though we didn’t see any lizards or a creek during the days we stayed, we did encounter a Grizzly. Yes. A Grizzly Bear. Luckily, he was more interested in digging insects from a tree trunk than from coming any closer than 50 meters from our tent. Never a dull moment for us on our camping trips, truly …

But, as President Theodore Roosevelt is quoted above after he camped in Yosemite, the Grand Teton Mountains made their impressive mark on me. I love it there.

Have you been to the Grand Teton National Park? What is your favorite National Park?

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A New Start to the Very Short Trip

Dreams are like Mountains

 

It’s a very short trip. While alive, live. ~Malcolm Forbes

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau

To me, dreams are like mountains, disappearing for a while, obscured by daily life and the blinding fog of busyness. But if we pause to look and listen, they are always there, always guiding us until the dream becomes reality, if we dare to take the adventure.

Dreams are like Mountains
Dreams are like Mountains: Austrian, Alps

I love the New Year. I love celebrating the gifts in the year coming to a close, and thinking on the year ahead. There is no time like the present to reflect on how far we have come, and the direction which tells where we want our lives to go.

 

Many sites and blogs and gurus give advice for how to form resolutions which you’ll stick beside, and for the best methods for achieving your goals. But for me, I prefer simplicity: where is it that my heart lies, and each day, how can I consistently move in the direction of those dreams?

So today, I send you heartfelt wishes for a meaningful day today, at this threshold of a whole new year. May you hear the whisper of the direction of your dreams. And I hope in each day to come, you’ll have the perseverance to walk that way, and to live the life you have imagined.

Keep on in the direction of your dreams …

Happy New Year!

How are you going forward in your New Start, this New Year?