The Zen of Balanced Rocks

My sister lives on the West Coast, in a small town. The house she and her husband live in is not far from the beach, and every day she goes down to the water. To walk the dog. To get some exercise and fresh air. To meet up with friends. (To meet new ones, too, but you can’t exactly plan that.) And so on.

She often takes photos of the things she sees. Usually the dog. Friends. Her kids. Or beach art.

Beach art takes many forms. Sometimes people make something with the sand. Sometimes seaweed arranges itself artfully. Sometimes there’s a stack of rocks.

Sunset …

Sunset …

My sister has a whole collection of these photos. I didn’t realize that rock-balancing is a thing. (But then, I work too much.)

Simple, pyramidal.

Simple, pyramidal.

Stacking rocks, of course, has been around for centuries. A human-made pile of rocks is called a cairn; they have been used as landmarks or signs, trail markers, even as gravesites. Probably a lot as burial sites.

And as art.

This one looks like a bird perched on a square rock, don’t you think?

This one looks like a bird perched on a square rock, don’t you think?

It’s a creative outlet. People go down to the beach just to do this.

Seriously, I can’t even imagine how this one is balanced. But there it is.

Seriously, I can’t even imagine how this one is balanced. But there it is.

A nice mixture of large and small.

A nice mixture of large and small.

If I lived near a beach, I suspect I might try it too.

This one looks pretty tall!

This one looks pretty tall!

Sometimes my sister participates; sometimes she just photographs.

It’s a family affair. SIL and daughter on the left, husband and dog on the right.

It’s a family affair. SIL and daughter on the left, husband and dog on the right.

The tide, of course, washes most of them away.

Getting tricky. See the one on top?

Getting tricky. See the one on top?

Again, I can’t imagine how this is done.

Again, I can’t even imagine how this is done.

The tide won’t take this one down.

The tide won’t take this one down.

And yet, every day … another stack of rocks appears. Think about that.

Same rocks, different angle.

Same rocks, different angle.

New every day.

Silhouette.

Silhouette.

And then sometimes … there’s something different. My sister didn’t know what this was, but thought it was special. Perhaps it was someone’s swearing-in ceremony.

A swearing-in ceremony on the beach? Don’t know.

A swearing-in ceremony on the beach? Don’t know.

What do you do when you go to the beach?

NOTE: All photos taken by my sister, Jill.

Daydreaming: A Reason to Go to St. Petersburg

I came across this article about a new exhibit at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg and thought I should bring it to your attention.

This photo was obtained from Flickr user “CityofStPete” and is used under the Creative Commons license.

This photo was obtained from Flickr user “CityofStPete” and is used under the Creative Commons license.

The museum itself has an interesting story. According to Wikipedia,

Shortly before marrying in 1942, A. Reynolds Morse and Eleanor R. Morse attended a Dalí retrospective at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Intrigued by the artist’s subject matter, and impressed by his draftsmanship, they bought their first painting a year later. The purchase began a 40-year relationship as patrons and friends of Dalí that resulted in a comprehensive collection of original Dalí work.

Until 1971, the Morses displayed their collection in their Cleveland, Ohio, home. When they loaned over 200 pieces to a Dalí retrospective in 1965, they realized that 25 years of collecting produced a mini-retrospective that needed a permanent home.

Ultimately, the Morses opened a museum in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. With the exception of the Dalí Theater-Museum created by Dalí himself in his hometown of Figueres, Catalonia, Spain, St. Petersburg’s Dalí Museum has the world’s largest collections of Dalí’s works.

This boggles the mind.

But the article …

Salvador Dalí took surrealism to a whole new level, exploring the dark spots and infinite possibilities of the human psyche with paintings that feel like they capture dreams. Now, thanks to virtual reality, visitors at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, can walk into a living Dalí painting, blurring the line of consciousness in his work even more.

The interactive painting is part of an exhibit that explores the surrealist’s unlikely friendship and creative partnership with Walt Disney. Running until June 12, “Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination,” presents sketches, paintings, correspondence, and other material that tracks the collaboration of the two creative titans. The pair even collaborated on an animated short in the 1940s called Destino.

Well, that’s enough right there, don’t you think? Hop on a Southwest flight in Nashville and you can be on the ground in Tampa—just across the bay from St. Pete—in two hours. But I’ve seen very little of Florida, and all those highways on bridges across large bodies of water just fascinate me. So why not rent a car, drive across to St. Pete, see the museum, then do a leisurely drive across and around the bay, just to round things out?

You know … just for fun.

I’m the sort of person who—when I have time—just likes to “drive around and look at houses” here at home, so you can imagine that just driving slow through someone else’s town and looking at what there is to see is something I’d find fun. Stopping at a park to stretch the legs. Pulling in to a café that looks yummy. Look, honey, at that gorgeous garden!

So I’d be happy with that. But a quick google of St. Petersburg/Tampa tourism yields plenty more. Here are a few ideas to get things started:

And that’s without looking any farther afield than St. Pete. A friend of mine lives in Dunedin—he calls it Delightful Dunedin—just twenty-five miles up the road, and I’d have to swing by to say hi. Pet some doggies, or go watch the Toronto Blue Jays in spring training …

But wait—we’re just talkin’ about a weekend, and it’s that interactive display at the Dalí that I’m interested in. You may be too. It’s ON until June 12, 2016. Go!

Did You Miss That Flight? Here’s What to Do About It.

These days it is not uncommon to miss a flight or a connection. Airports are bigger, flights routinely run late, and the minimum recommended connection time between flights seems to get shorter and shorter. Add travel in winter, and, well, it’s possible you could miss a flight. And gone are the days when the airlines will put you up in a hotel if you’re grounded for bad weather or because their own flight ran late.

If you miss your flight, do you know what to do?

Other than cry, that is. Or curse. 🙂

I recently happened upon this longish article from a travel blogger, read it (the whole thing), and decided to pass it on. Yes, this woman, Snigdha, flies out of Asia, and yes, this is based on her experience only. It still seems to be very thorough and wise.

Here’s just a little snippet:

>As far as possible try to book direct flights. If that is not possible, then keep at least a 2-hour difference between connecting flights. No matter what the airlines or travel agents say, never book a flight with less than a 2-hour lay-over. Also keep in mind that in some countries you may have to commute between different domestic and international terminals and airports (such as in India) so please be sure to consult someone before booking in that case.

>Add another 30–45 minutes if you are transiting through ultra-busy airports such as London Heathrow, JFK New York.

>In case you are traveling with a possibility of bad weather conditions, such as fog, snow, then do plan for a longer transit time (anywhere between 4–6 hours).

My husband likes to have the shortest possible connection time, but I can’t take the stress. I’m with Snigdha on this one. Give yourself some time.

And take some time to read and bookmark this article. You may need it.

Where Are YOU Going in 2016?

A friend of mine is getting ready to send her recently-graduated-from-high-school daughter off to travel in Europe for some months. “She’s worked for months and months, and researched just as long,” my friend wrote, asking if we might have a contact or two in Europe. (And we do.)

Who knows where she’s going! There are so many possibilities. 🙂 The New York Times, in a followup to its recap of the most-read travel articles of 2015 has 52 suggestions (out of the zillion or so options available). “It’s a big world out there,” the headline reads, “so we’ve narrowed it down for you.”

First on the list is Mexico City.

From there, Bordeaux, France.

Number fifty-two is Beaufort, South Carolina.

You should scroll through the article just to see the fantastic photos (some of them move, so look closely). And notice that is one destination for every week. (A gal can dream!) So you’ll need to get started right away.

My friend’s daughter is leaving very soon. “I traveled around Europe alone when I was young, so I have fully supported this plan,” my friend says, “but as the time draws near I realize there’s a world of difference between going out alone and watching a precious and beloved child set forth.” Nonetheless, said child will go. I’m excited for her. Bon voyage!