Tag: Snow

Meeting Our First Grandchild

Meeting Our First Grandchild

Fruita, Colorado – November 21, 2018

Our first grandchild, Michael, was born at virtually the same time as when I landed in La Paz, Bolivia for the first time.  He was born while his father was at sea.  On Veterans Day; father, mother, and baby were finally reunited.

Shortly before Tyler returned from deployment, he said he and his family planned a trip to Colorado around the Thanksgiving holiday.  With that knowledge, I was able to make arrangements to leave work for a little over a week and head to Colorado.

The anticipation was enormous! I had not seen my wife for nearly four months because she had been in Colorado. I had not seen Tyler, Hillary, or the rest of my family for close to 15 months. I had never met Tyler’s wife, Victoria, and, of course, I had only seen Michael in photographs.

A very comfortable, sleeping baby.

My countdown for my Colorado homecoming finally made it to mere hours as I sat at home on the evening of November 19.  My taxi was due to pick me up at about 00:15 on the morning of the 20th.

Right on time, my taxi arrived. I was tired because I had only dozed while waiting. Regardless, I wheeled my luggage, laden with Bolivian gifts, to the curbside, and placed it in the rear of the car. The woman who was my driver spoke virtually no English. But even with me being 90 percent illiterate in Spanish, we were able to communicate. One of her first questions to me, in Spanish, was whether I wanted her to go via the Llojetta route or take the Autopista. I said I did not care, and it was up to her as the driver. She selected the Llojetta route.

When we turned off of Avenida Costanera onto Avenida Mario Mercado, we began our climb to El Alto. We went up and up. In fact, there seemed to be no end to up. The only difference in our climb was when we encountered a speed bump or a sharp hairpin turn. Other than that, it was all up! Because of the steep road, much of that part of the journey was in second gear.

Our house in La Paz is at 11,180 feet (3,408 meters).  The El Alto International Airport is at 13,300 feet (4,054 meters); quite an altitude gain.

We finally crested onto the top of the El Alto mesa.  There were still several more kilometers to go to get to the El Alto International Airport, but at least it was all reasonably level.

It was around 01:00 when we arrived at the airport.  I paid my 200 Bolivianos (US$29), took my baggage, and went inside the terminal.  By 01:40, my check-in was complete.  Ten minutes later, I was at my gate, waiting patiently for my 04:30 flight to Lima, Peru.  That flight was right on time.

About an hour and one-half later, the plane landed at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima, Peru.  Since I was merely transiting Lima, I did not have to go through passport control.  However, I did have to go back through security screening.  I left the screening area after a very brief wait and made my way to Friday’s for breakfast.  I must have been hungry because it tasted so delicious.

Departing the restaurant, I made my way to the gate for my flight to Orlando, Florida. I arrived early. I watched as the security and airline personnel set up another security screening area at the gate. This is standard practice for a flight departing an international location, heading to a United States airport. Once again, I had no issues and a very short wait for the screening.

Soon after the screening, the airline employees began to scan the passengers’ boarding passes and allow us onto the waiting bus. When the bus was full, we rode to the waiting Latam aircraft. Onboard the plane, I settled into my seat and waited for the five and one-half hour flight to begin. It ended up being a comfortable and uneventful flight.

Passing the Florida coastline on the way to Orlando.

Once I was off the plane in Orlando, Florida, I went to passport control. As usual, that was a breeze. I waited in the Customs area for my one bag to come off the plane. My customs form dutifully filled out in detail, rested in my pocket. I lifted my bag from the carousel and went to the exit. I did not see anyone collecting the Customs forms. I asked a passing Customs officer to whom I should give my paper. She said they no longer use those forms…

To get to my next gate, I had to exit the terminal. That meant I had to go back through a security screening. I usually have TSA Pre-Check status on my boarding pass. The boarding pass issued by Latam in Bolivia did not have that notation as the lady at the TSA Pre-Check line pointed out to me. She said I could go to a nearby kiosk and try printing another boarding pass. I declined. That ended up to be an error in judgment.

I entered the line for security screening. Today was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in Orlando, Florida. By the way, Orlando is home to Disney World. The screening area was absolutely packed with holiday travelers and many, many families sporting Disney World attire. The line snaked back and forth for a distance at least equal to the steep road to El Alto.

I found myself sandwiched in the line between two of the Disney World families. The family behind me had a child in a stroller. I lost count of the number of times the stroller bumped into the back of my legs. The family in front of me was a husband, wife, and two children in the eight-year-old range. I am not sure just how much of their home they brought with them or how much of Florida they were trying to take back to their home, but I did not know TSA had that many plastic x-ray bins. I pictured myself finally approaching the x-ray conveyor, looking wistfully at an automaton TSA employee, and merely shrugging my shoulders because there were no more bins in the entire zip code. Somehow, additional containers did show up. When I could finally approach the conveyor, I placed my items in the bin (note that word is not plural) and stepped through security. At this point, I request the reader to stop, take a deep breath, sigh, and revel in my successful trip through the Orlando security checkpoint. I celebrated the fact that there was no bruising on the back of my legs from the stroller.

Quite blissful, I made my way to Ruby Tuesday for a well-deserved glass of sauvignon blanc and chicken sandwich.

My last flight of the day was to Dallas, Texas. I quickly boarded the plane and had a relatively quick trip to DFW. The flight arrived in Dallas at about 23:05 Bolivian time. I could not make it to my final destination because there were no more flights to Grand Junction that day.

I waited at the baggage carousel to collect my bag. With my suitcase in tow, I walked to the lower level, called the Marriott for a shuttle, and waited. I made it to the hotel at about 00:00 Bolivian time. That meant I had been traveling for about 24-hours. I was delighted to lie down and sleep.

Early the next morning I got back on a shuttle and went back to the airport. I checked my bag, grabbed some breakfast, and found my gate, D14. While I was sitting at the gate, I saw a plane arrive. The plane stopped short of the jet bridge because the ground crew was not there to guide the aircraft. After 10 or 12 minutes, the ground crew arrived and guided the plane to a proper stop. Just as that happened, I received a text on my phone. With about 45 minutes left before my flight was to begin boarding, the departure gate changed to Terminal C. That was disheartening. However, it turned out to be ok because I did not have to go back through security.

A wishbone sculpture in one of the DFW terminals. It seemed appropriate for Thanksgiving!
The D14 jet-bridge at DFW airport.
An American Eagle plane arriving at D14. I mistakenly thought this would be my plane to Grand Junction, Colorado.
The pilots waiting patiently for a ground crew to guide them to D14.
Stopping on the mark at D14.

At the new gate, I boarded the plane, sat back for a smooth ride, and was in Grand Junction by 10:30 local time, Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Leslie and Hillary met me at the airport.  Soon we were in Fruita, Colorado, Lorraine’s home, the base of operations for this high-level visit.  I began eating my way across Colorado with some Gardetto’s Snack Mix, one of my favorite things on this planet.  We busied ourselves with last-minute preparations for Tyler, Victoria, and, of course, Michael.

Enjoying time on the patio with Bella.
Mother and daughter.

On the morning of Thanksgiving Day, we drove to the airport to pick up the newest members of our family, Victoria and Michael. We quickly caught a glimpse of the proud papa, Tyler, carrying our very first grandchild, Michael. We very happily saw, met, and hugged our new daughter-in-law Victoria too. It was so lovely to have them at the same place on Earth as Leslie and me.

Once we were back in Fruita, poor Michael was passed around like a rugby ball…well, we did not toss him around; but he indeed found his way to many people at the house! Hillary and Shane stopped by so, now the only couple missing was great-grandma and great-grandpa Juvera. That was remedied the next morning when they arrived at the airport. Suddenly Michael had two more fans to whom he could be passed.

Grandma and Michael.
Great-grandma and Michael…oh, and Bella.
And this grandpa loves this boy!!
Great-grandma J.
Great-grandpa J.
Asleep after a feeding.
Auntie and Michael playing like a boss!
Just a little tired.
Grandma holding her dear, sweet grandson.
Time for his close-up.
If one wants a good selfie, don’t let the grandpa take it!!
Father and son.
Auntie Hillary with her newest nephew, Michael.

Since everyone was finally together, Friday was Bolivian Santa day.  I had brought gifts from Bolivia for everyone.  There was Bolivian chocolate for each family.  The guys received wallets, alpaca socks, t-shirts, key chains, a refrigerator magnet, and a Marine Security Guard Detachment coin.  Everything was from Bolivia.  The women received hand-woven, baby alpaca shawls.  The remainder of Friday was spent visiting with all of our family.

It was also an Ugly Christmas Sweater day. Hillary had purchased ugly Christmas sweaters for all of us. I set up the tripod, and we captured the moments.

Gifts from Bolivia and happy recipients.  These are mantillas or shawls.
The family reunion photo with ugly Christmas sweaters provided by Hillary. From left to right is Lorraine, Victoria, Tyler with Michael, Terry (your humble writer), Leslie, Hillary, Shane, Joleen, and Claude.
Great-grandma Joleen and great-grandpa Claude joined in the photo.
Great-grandma Lorraine joined in the photo.
Grandpa and grandma with number one grandson, Michael.
Modeling our ugly Christmas sweaters…

Saturday was a day for more visiting with relatives.  Early that morning, Tyler, Victoria, and I stopped at the Aspen Street Coffee Company to get some go-juice.  Later in the day, Tyler and I went to the barn to sort through some of his stuff.  In one of the boxes, he found his baby blanket!  That is now 25 years old!  It seemed strangely appropriate now that Michael is on the scene.

Inside the Aspen Street Coffee Company in Fruita, Colorado.
The proud papa displaying his newly discovered baby blanket from a quarter-century ago!

Just as important was the preparation of our Thanksgiving meal. That evening, I took the opportunity to take a selfie of the group. It may not be the best photograph, but it will forever mean a lot to me. Michael is just off-camera in his bouncy chair.

The Thanksgiving feast!

On an evening trip through the town center of Fruita, I was struck by the beautiful Christmas lights on display.  I had never seen that before.

The Christmas lights in downtown Fruita, Colorado looking west.
The Christmas lights in downtown Fruita, Colorado looking east.
A Christmas bicycle in Fruita, Colorado.

Sunday morning, Leslie and I took great-grandma and great-grandpa Juvera back to the airport for their return to Colorado Springs.

One morning in Fruita, it was cold and foggy. I looked outside and saw there was a beautiful frost on nearly everything. That meant it was a great time to go out with my camera.

View of a fence post with frost in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog, fence, trees, and a paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog, fence, and trees in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on a top-rail of a fence in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on the top rail of a fence in Fruita, Colorado.
Fog as seen through a very frosty and somewhat symmetrical gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of a very frosty and somewhat symmetrical gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Looking toward a barn gate in Fruita, Colorado.
Another frosty plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
A frosty fence at a horse paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on a plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on a plastic hay bale tie in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on a fence and weed in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on the bare branches of a globe willow in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on the bare branches of a globe willow in Fruita, Colorado.
A frosty water spigot in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost, fog, and trees in Fruita, Colorado.
Frost on an evergreen tree in Fruita, Colorado.
Detail of frost on an evergreen tree in Fruita, Colorado.

Once the fog lifted, one could see that the Colorado National Monument had received some snow.  I was very picturesque as seen from Fruita.

A view of snow on the Colorado National Monument.
Looking toward the Colorado National Monument, one can see the Independence Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument.

Since Victoria had never been to Colorado, we had to take her to the Colorado National Monument.  At the entry station, the ranger told us no Desert Bighorn Sheep had been spotted that day; however, we should stay alert.  There was a chance we might see some.

We drove up to the visitor center, stopping periodically to view sights from the various overlooks.  At the visitor center, we stopped to go inside and explore.  We also stepped out to the Canyon Rim Trail to look down into the adjoining canyon.

Looking across the Colorado River Valley from the Colorado National Monument.
Tyler and Victoria at the Colorado National Monument.
A jet passing by the Balanced Rock formation in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Balanced Rock in the Colorado National Monument.
Pointing the way to the Canyon Rim Trail near the visitor center in Colorado National Monument.
A view of a cliff from the Canyon Rim Trail overlook.
A twisted cedar tree in Colorado National Monument.
Detail of the sandstone bricks used in the construction of the visitor center in the Colorado National Monument.
A red sandstone cliff near the visitor center of the Colorado National Monument.

Back in the vehicle, we continued toward the East Entrance to the Colorado National Monument. I was driving and focused on the road. Suddenly Leslie shouted there was a sheep alongside the road! Sure enough, a Desert Bighorn Sheep ewe was lying beside the road, casually chewing her cud. I stopped immediately. Tyler, Victoria, and I piled out to take photographs. Just as we finished, I saw another vehicle approaching. They were slowing to take photos as we had done.

A Desert Bighorn Sheep along the road in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Colorado National Monument.
There was an inch or two of snow in places at the Colorado National Monument.
Looking across the canyon to the Canyon Rim Trail.
View of the Independence Monument from Otto’s trailhead in the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument from Otto’s trailhead in the Colorado National Monument. The Grand Mesa is in the distance.
Snow, cedar, and pines in the Colorado National Monument.
Mountains in the distance as seen from the Colorado National Monument.
Detail of a cedar tree in the Colorado National Monument.
A dead cedar tree in front of a Mormon Tea plant in the Colorado National Monument.
Independence Monument and the view looking north and west from the Colorado National Monument.
A closer view of the Independence Monument in the Colorado National Monument. The town in the background is Fruita, Colorado.

Continuing our eastward journey, I was surprised at how much snow there was on the road.  By the time we got to the East Entrance, the road was completely dry.

When we left the Colorado National Monument, we called Hillary and Shane to tell them we were on the way to the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita.  They met us there.  For the meager entry fee, a visit to the museum is a must if one is in the area.  The interpretive and interactive displays help put the prehistoric history of the area into perspective.

The truck outside the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
One of the displays in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
In the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado. This is where the work of exposing fossils takes place.
A rather gruesome depiction of mealtime in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.
A depiction of a stegosaurus in the Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado.

Our time in Fruita coincided with a full moon.  I was able to get a reasonably good photograph of the moon one night.  It reminded me of the pictures I took of the moon while we were stationed in Islamabad, Pakistan.

A full moon visible in Fruita, Colorado.

No trip to Fruita is complete without a visit to the Main Street Café in Grand Junction, Colorado.  When we go there, we always try to get the table that is in the display window.  The day we went, that table was open, so grabbed it quickly.  It had been eons since I had a milkshake.  I corrected that oversight with a strawberry milkshake.  It was absolutely everything I thought it would be!

Yep! That is a strawberry shake! You too can get one at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Ready for lunch at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
He just finished his lunch at the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
A Marilyn Monroe advertisement in the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
One of the “window display” seating areas in the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
An art installation just outside of the Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado. The cafe is visible in the background with the checkerboard sign.

After lunch, we walked along Main Street; stopping at the Main Street Minerals and Beads shop and then the Robin’s Nest Antiques and Treasures store.  That antique store is one of our favorite stops in downtown Grand Junction.

The Main Street Minerals & Beads shop in Grand Junction, Colorado.
The building housing the Main Street Minerals & Beads store in Grand Junction, Colorado dates from 1890.
Our favorite antique store in Grand Junction, Colorado. A Robin’s Nest of Antiques & Treasures.
A partial view of the Reed Building in Grand Junction, Colorado. It dates from 1908.
An artfully disguised utility box along Main Street in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Wednesday morning after Thanksgiving, I was up early as usual.  I could tell the sunrise was going to be good.  So once again, even though it was cold, I grabbed my camera and headed outside.  I think the results speak for themselves.

Looking across a paddock in Fruita, Colorado watching the sunrise.
A closer view of a lone tree in Fruita, Colorado during a sunrise. The Grand Mesa is visible in the distance.
A wider view across the paddock in Fruita, Colorado.
A lone tree in Fruita, Colorado silhouetted by the sunrise.
The sunrise was very pretty on this cold fall morning in Fruita, Colorado.
The home in Fruita, Colorado.
A globe willow tree in front of a barn in Fruita, Colorado.
Looking across a paddock in Fruita, Colorado toward the Colorado National Monument.

Later that morning, we took Tyler, Victoria, and Michael to the airport so they could begin their 11-hour journey home.  They made it home about an hour late, but safe and sound.

When we returned from the airport, Leslie and I finished packing our baggage.  We were due to the leave Grand Junction the next morning.  We had so much stuff we had to ship some items to Bolivia to keep from having overweight baggage.

That next morning, we drove to the airport.  We left the vehicle in the parking lot for Lorraine and Hillary to retrieve later that morning.  We went inside the airport, checked-in, and went to our gate to await boarding.

We boarded and left on time.  It was a very smooth and uneventful flight to Dallas, Texas.

On the final approach to the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas.

Once we were in Dallas, we had enough time to get breakfast at Chili’s.  It was particularly marginal, but it was food.

When we got to our gate, we only had a short wait before we boarded the American Airlines plane bound for Orlando, Florida.  Once again, that flight was comfortable and uneventful.  We had a row of three seats to ourselves, so we were able to spread out.

A happy passenger waiting to depart from DFW in Dallas, Texas.
While our plane was taxiing at DFW airport in Dallas, Texas, another plane was landing.
A runway marker at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas. Our plane ultimately took off on runway 35L.
A Delta jet at the DFW airport beginning the takeoff roll.
The passengers on our plane at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas waiting for the takeoff.
An American Airlines jet at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas beginning its takeoff roll.
Another American Airlines jet at the DFW airport in Dallas, Texas beginning its takeoff roll.

The comfort ended at Orlando.  A wheelchair attendant was at the door of the plane to collect Leslie.  He pushed her to the desk at the gate, said he had to go clear the plane and left us there.  We did not quite understand that.  In all of our travels, once the wheelchair arrives, we are off to our next destination with no stops.

The young man finally returned and began walking with us down the concourse.  I asked to confirm that he knew where we were going.  He replied yes, to baggage claim such and such.  I said no, we had a connecting flight to Lima, Peru.  He stopped, checked his iPad, and said we had to leave the secure area to check in with our carrier, Latam Airlines.  That was disheartening since I already knew how challenging the security screening was at Orlando.

Regardless, he got us to the Latam desk. I showed our tickets to the woman at the counter. She said we were all set and we could go to our gate. Since Leslie and I had not originally planned to travel together, we had different itineraries. That meant our seat assignments were not together. I asked the woman if she could seat us together. She flatly said no. That surprised me. She said we might be able to change seats at the gate. I pointed out that Leslie needed assistance. She told us to wait at a designated point, and someone would take us to the gate shortly.

We waited at the designated spot for nearly ten minutes.  Finally, I asked another Latam employee how we were supposed to get to the gate.  Ultimately, they called someone, and we began our journey to gate 82.

As we got to the security screening area, we entered the wheelchair assistance line. I thought that meant we would be expedited through the queue. Boy was that an incorrect thought. I could have sworn that some of the families in line wearing Disney World attire were the same families I had seen a week earlier. Even though we were in a short and “fast” lane, it took an excessive amount of time to get through security.

Departing security, our attendant got us to the gate reasonably quickly.  Just as we arrived, they started boarding.  By our way of reckoning, we just barely made it to our plane.

We boarded the plane, and Leslie took her seat at 18J, an aisle seat. I continued to 26C, another aisle seat. The boarding was somewhat chaotic. I kept an eye on Leslie. I saw the middle seat next to her remained open. As it so happened, the middle seat next to me also remained open. When it appeared boarding was complete, I asked one of the flight attendants if I could sit next to my wife. She agreed, so we were able to sit together.

The flight from Orlando to Lima, Peru was uneventful but lengthy. At only about five and one-half hours, it was certainly not the longest flight we have taken, but it is still a long time to be cooped up in an aluminum cigar. We eagerly awaited the in-flight service and a glass of wine…wait a minute…Latam airlines do not serve alcohol…what?!?! We may never fly them again…

I was ever hopeful that when we arrived in Lima, we would have enough time to go to Fridays and get something to eat and drink…wrong.  The airport was bustling.  We made it to our next gate with about 20-minutes to spare.  The only good thing is I asked the gate attendant if Leslie and I could sit together.  She moved us to the front of the plan, row 2, and seated us side by side.

The pilot making preparations to depart Lima, Peru on the way to La Paz, Bolivia.

The flight from Lima to La Paz, Bolivia was one of our shorter trips.  We arrived in La Paz at about 03:15 Bolivian time.  One of the Embassy employees was there to meet us and help us through customs.  When we had retrieved our luggage and got in the vehicle, it was nearing 04:00.

Our driver selected the Autopista, a not-quite-finished highway. WOW! After taking that, if another driver ever asks if I want to take the Autopista or the Llojetta route, it will definitely be the Autopista! It was much quicker, and fewer hairpin turns, no speed bumps, and travel was at a reasonable speed.

We made it home at about 04:30, after nearly 24-hours of travel. We had that long-awaited glass of wine and crashed into bed. We were together and at home!!

Fruita to Colorado Springs

Fruita to Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, CO – March 15, 2017

It was quite unusual for us not to be up and on the road at the crack of dawn. On this particular trip from Fruita, Colorado to Colorado Springs, we decided a 08:30 departure time was just fine. The 300-mile journey usually takes about five and one-half hours. That may sound like a long time, but it is such a beautiful drive and the time goes by quickly.

The roads were clear for the entire route. However, on some mountain passes, where there was still a tremendous amount of snow, there were some wet patches. The snow was beginning its spring melt. As we crested the Continental Divide at Hoosier Pass (11,539 feet – 3,517 meters), I remarked at how amazing it is that the droplets of snowmelt on either side of the pass end up in different oceans. The snow on the east side melts and drains into the Mississippi River, then the Gulf of Mexico, and finally mixes with the Atlantic Ocean. The snow on the west side melts and flows into the Colorado River, then the Gulf of California, and finally mixes with the Pacific Ocean.

Sign at the summit of Hoosier Pass near Breckenridge, Colorado.

Our norm for the trip had been stopping for lunch at the Pizza Hutt in Fairplay.  That was especially true when our children were young and accompanied us on our trips back and forth.  Leslie and I were excited to stop there for lunch, relax a little, and reminisce about previous family trips.  That would not be the case on this trip.

As I turned to approach the Pizza Hutt, I saw a large for sale sign.  The Pizza Hutt was just an empty building now.  We were still hungry.  I turned around and drove back about one-half mile to the Subway in the gas station.  We ordered our subs and sat there to eat.  We were both still stinging from the disappointment.

On the way out of the gas station, we bought some bottles of water.  We mentioned our disappointment regarding the Pizza Hutt affair.  She shared that her boyfriend had worked there.  The owner of the franchise shut it down because of employee embezzlement.  Armed with that knowledge, we got back in the car and completed our journey.

Every time I travel to Colorado Springs, my trip is not complete unless I visit the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. During our visit, we saw several art students on the upper floor; each of them sketching what they saw. We struck up a conversation with one of the young men. We discovered his father is a professor at Colorado College. His name is Andrew Ramiro Tirado. He made the piece “Lacuna.” A photograph of that piece appears here, followed by some of my other favorites.

Lacuna, Andrew Ramiro Tirado, 2012, reclaimed wood, steel, and paint.
Detail from Persian Wall Installation, Dale, Chihuly, 2006, hand-blown glass.
polychrome 3, Herbert Bayer, 1970, acrylic on canvas.
Avant la Pique (Before the Lance), Pablo Picaso, 1959, linocut edition 39 of 50.
La Santa Cruz de San Francisco de Asis (The Holy Cross of Saint Francis of Assisi), Krissa Maria Lopez, 2002, aspen, homemade gesso, wheat straw, micaceous clay, natural pigments, and prewax.
Saint Drogo, Patron of Coffee Houses, Jerry Vigil, 2011, acrylic paint on carved basswood.
Destruction by Fire #4: Fall From Grace, Rudy Fernandez, 1995, mixed media – lead, wood, paint, and ceramic.
Large Wall Flower, James Surls, 2002, poplar, pine, and painted steel.

While I was in Colorado Springs, I went on a photo trek with two good friends, Ron Krom and James Harris.  James has a website showcasing his photographs.  One can find that at James Harris Photography.

The site we selected was Helen Hunt Falls. That waterfall is in Cheyenne Canyon on the southwest side of Colorado Springs. I always enjoy photo treks because I always learn something new. I used my new knowledge to try to improve my photography skills.

The upper falls at Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs.
Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs.
Closer view of Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs.
An old pine stump near Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado Springs.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier, New Zealand – February 20, 2016

Our bed and breakfast hosts made a delicious breakfast for us on the final morning of our visit to Queenstown. After breakfast, we settled our bill, piled into the SUV, and hit the road again.
I planned to travel just over four hours on Highway 6 to Fox Glacier. Unfortunately, about 10 miles out of Queenstown, TomTom raised her head. Instead of continuing on Highway 6, she directed me to turn onto the Crown Range Road toward Cardrona and Albert Town. As I noted in several other posts about our South Island trip, I decided not to argue.Just after leaving Highway 6, the paved road began a steep climb over the mountains. Many switchback turns helped us make it to the summit. The route took us through one of New Zealand’s old gold mining districts. Traveling through Cardrona reminded us somewhat of the old gold mining towns in Colorado.
On the other side of Cardrona, I saw several cars parked on either side of the road. I could not quite tell what was going on. At the instant I reached the cars, I realized why the cars were there. They were admiring and photographing the Bra Fence. Yes, you read that correctly, Bra Fence. An avid photographer and a male, I wanted to stop. My three female passengers vehemently overruled that desire. So, it was on to Albert Town.
Just before Albert Town, we entered a beautiful area of New Zealand, the Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea area. The area looked amazingly like that around Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado. However, the lakes are enormous in comparison to Blue Mesa. Lake Hawea, the smaller of the two New Zealand lakes, is about three and one-half times as large as Blue Mesa. Lake Wanaka is an impressive five times larger. At the closest point, the two lakes are only about one kilometer apart (just over a half-mile).

Panoramic view of Lake Wanaka.

Even though the lake area was beautiful, the next area we traversed, Mount Aspiring National Park, was spectacular. The National Park is a west coast rain forest. It is impossible to describe the unending shades of green throughout the forest. The moisture from a light mist seemed to enhance the colors. As our altitude increased and decreased, the amount of fog increased and decreased as well.

One of the many waterfalls in Mount Aspiring National Park.

Highway 6 followed alongside the Haast River through the majority of the National Park. The lower in elevation we went, the wider the Haast River valley became. The river joins the Tasman Sea near the village of Haast. We stopped there to have lunch. I decided to have a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. In New Zealand, they call those a ham and cheese toastie.
After lunch, we were back on the highway. We still had another 60-plus miles to attain our final destination of Fox Glacier. Because of the twisting, turning, roads in New Zealand, our planned four-hour journey became a six-hour sojourn. We finally made it to our hotel around 15:30.Fox Glacier is a small village. We found out at dinner just how little. The population is about 200 people. Virtually all of those are involved in the tourist industry. One of the largest cogs in the tourist machine is the heli-tours. While we were there, dozens of people were always waiting for a helicopter to take them to the top of Fox Glacier. We opted to drive and walk.
The next morning, after breakfast, we set out for Fox Glacier. The glacier’s namesake is Sir William Fox, a past Prime Minister of New Zealand. Backtracking on Highway 6 just one mile, we turned left on Glacier View Road. In about two miles, we arrived at the parking area at the end of the road. There was a well-manicured path leading into the rainforest. It was about a ten-minute walk to the viewing area. Walking through the rain forest, we were all amazed at the various floras. Of particular interest to me were the ferns. As new shoots of the fern grow, they sort of unroll and spread their fronds. The Maoris believed the unrolled fern was a sign of life, new beginnings, or rebirth. That sign figures prominently in Maori art, referred to as koru. One of my photographic goals, while I am here, is to get the perfect shot of a live koru.
At the end of the trail, the “viewing area” was simply a small opening in the trees. Regardless, one could look easterly, up to the Fox River valley. In between clouds, since it was somewhat foggy, we could see the blue face of the glacier. We also saw a parking area across the river. There were dozens of vehicles and motor homes. We decided we would go there and see if we could get a better view of the glacier.

On the trail to the Fox Glacier overlook.
The trail through the rain forest.
The trees absolutely dwarfed our vehicle.

Driving the Fox Glacier Access Road, we saw a sign that noted the glacier had been there in the 1700s. At first, we did not understand what that meant. Then it dawned on us that the face of the glacier had been at that point in the valley. That was probably one mile from the parking area and about two miles from the current face of the ice.
From the parking area, a string of people hiked toward the glacier and back again. Leslie, Hillary, and I wanted to walk a little way to try to get a better view of the glacier. Lorraine opted to sit on a rock near the parking lot and wait for us. We continued for a couple of hundred meters or so. We were able to get a magnificent view of the glacier. We also saw a gruesome sign warning people to not stray off marked trails for fear of being crushed by ice falling from the glacier.

It can be quite dangerous to stray from the marked trail. Several people have been killed over the years by falling ice.
For perspective, look at the hikers on the trail at the lower center of the frame.

A few photographs later, we hiked back to Lorraine. When we got back to her, she asked if we had felt the earthquake. The three of us looked at each other and replied we had not. Lorraine had felt it while she sat on the rock. We must have been walking at the time. I checked later and found the earthquake was a 3.8, very slight. That is just one more reason we did not feel the quake.
We decided we wanted to go to the beach that day. We left Fox Glacier and stopped in town to get the makings for sandwiches. We took the groceries and headed to Gillespies Beach. It was only about a 14-mile drive, but most of that was on an unpaved road. Just as Gillespies Beach Road left the river valley, there was a rather ominous warning sign. I did not think the way was as bad as what the sign seemed to indicate.
At the end of Gillespies Beach Road, there was a small parking area. We opened the back of the SUV and had our picnic lunch. Then we walked down to the beach. The beach was not sandy. Instead, there were pebbles and small stones making up the beach. However, turning around and looking to the east, we saw the Southern Alps, including Mount Cook. With an altitude of 12,217 feet, Mount Cook is the highest point in New Zealand. It seemed bizarre to be on the beach and yet see these extremely tall and snowy mountains.

One of my favorite New Zealand photographs. Mount Cook is the peak on the left. Mount Sefton is in the center. Mount Sealy is on the right.
The view toward Australia across the Tasman Sea.
John Quinlan’s tombstone.

Gold was discovered near the beach in 1865 by a miner named Gillespie. As with gold strikes in other parts of the world, men descended to the location in droves. Some miners invariably died there. The burial place is the nearby Miners Cemetery. We walked the five-minute trek to look. Many of those interred there were from either Ireland or Scotland.

Done exploring, we drove back to the hotel to prepare for the next day’s departure.

View from Knights Point Lookout.
View from Knights Point Lookout.
A rather ominous sign as one enters the forest on the way to Gillespies Beach.
The path for the two-minute walk to the Miners Cemetery at Gillespies Beach.
Two finials on one of the iron fences at the Miners Cemetery.
Detail of an iron fence around one of the graves at the Miners Cemetery.
John Quinlan’s final resting place at the Gillespies Beach Miners Cemetery.
The Southern Alps as seen from Gillespies Beach.
Driftwood and grass on Gillespies Beach.
Rocks on Gillespies Beach.
A piece of Fox Glacier sitting in the Fox River.
The small dot in the sky near the center is a helicopter. At times they were as thick as the mosquitoes.
Some of the rock gouged out by the glacier.
Preparing to walk higher toward the glacier.
The lower portions of Fox Glacier.
Looking down the Fox River Gorge toward the Tasman Sea.
A danger sign along the trail.
The Fox River.
Water cascading near the Fox Glacier parking area.
Fox River bridge.
Flowers along the highway.
One of the many one-lane bridges.
The road through the rain forest.
Multiple koru.
A koru.
A silver fern.
Everything was so green.
A fern.
One of the stunning cliffs in the Fox River Gorge.



Tallinn, Estonia – January 5, 2015

Our flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Tallinn, Estonia took about two, uneventful hours. We landed around 16:30, but it was already quite dark, snowy, and cold. We walked from the gate to the baggage claim area and began our wait.
The various bags continued around and around on the carousel. I noticed the man I had met in Frankfurt standing at one end of the carousel. Shortly, he and his wife retrieved their bags and headed for the exit. Meanwhile, Leslie and I continued to wait. Finally, Leslie’s bag showed up, but mine did not emerge from the bowels of the airport. We took what bags we had and exited the terminal to meet our Embassy driver. We told him of the missing baggage. He went with us to the baggage counter to file a claim for the missing bags.
We left the warm confines of the terminal and braced against our first bout of winter in several years. It was freezing for two people that have spent the last couple of years in a Caribbean climate.
On the way to our apartment, the driver went by the Embassy. That was so I would have some idea of how to walk to work the next morning.
Another five minutes, and he dropped us at the apartment. It was only about one-half mile from the Embassy, at Tuvi 12/2. The apartment had three bedrooms and a commanding view of the Baltic Sea to the northwest. There were also two terraces, one off the breakfast area and one off the living room area. At the entry, there was a powder room. Just down the hall from the powder room in one direction was a full bathroom. Down the hall, the other way was a room with a Jacuzzi tub, shower enclosure, and sink. That room also opened on to the living room terrace. Beside the shower was the entry to the sauna.

The apartment building in which we lived.
To the north, one could see the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral from our apartment.
Panorama to the east from our apartment.
The icy and snow-covered park near our apartment.
Northwestern view from our apartment.
An interesting looking building on Tõnismägi, near our apartment.

All of the bathroom areas, as well as the front entry, had tile floors, all heated by in-floor hot water loops. The sauna became my morning coffee room, at least for my first cup.
When I arrived at the office the next morning, I got into my work email. It is worth noting at this point that we had been waiting for our Pakistan visas since March 24, 2014. When I opened my work email account, I saw an email that had the timestamp of 16:30 the previous day, stating I had my visa and Leslie’s would follow shortly. How ironic I finally received my Pakistan visa when we landed in Estonia!
After finishing the workweek, Leslie and I decided to take Saturday to explore Old Town Tallinn. We walked the three­ quarters of a mile from our apartment to Old Town. Since it had rained a little the previous night, some spots were very slick with ice. Just entering the Old Town area, we saw an outdoor ice-skating rink. I found it interesting that every song played was from the United States, circa the 1950s and 1960s.

Colorful buildings along Rüütli (Knight Street). The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is in the background.
Colorful buildings along Rüütli (Knight Street).
Bird-shaped barriers along Rüütli (Knight Street).
Approaching Old Town Tallinn.
The cafe building at Kullassepa and Kuninga.
A cafe at the corner of Kullassepa and Kuninga.
The view to the north along Kullassepa.

We made it to our destination, Town Hall Square, where a Christmas market was on its final day. I understand it ran into January because of the Russian Orthodox Church calendar. Regardless of why, the market held many sights and experiences. To begin our shopping experience, we bought some of the obligatory warm wine, known as Glögg. At about a 25% alcohol level, the wine packed a punch.

Glögg is a surprising potent, warm wine. It was for sale at nearly every booth at the Christmas market.
More glögg for sale!
One can also buy Christmas trees at the Christmas market.
This sign lists everything happening at the Tallinn Christmas Market.
The Christmas market with the steeple of Holy Spirit Church in the distance.
Looking to the west on Dunkri.
A nativity scene along the side of the Town Hall building.
This sign lists everything happening at the Tallinn Christmas Market.
Many Christmas items for sale in the market.
A wider view of the main plaza.
Two women and two children walking in the main plaza.
The Town Hall building with its tower.
Looking to the north along Mündi.
City Hall and a Christmas tree dominate the Christmas Market.

As we wandered around, we bought several trinkets and souvenirs to bring back with us. One of the items I purchased was wild boar sausage. Later that evening, it went quite well with our wine. It did not have a gamey taste. It had a somewhat summer sausage taste with a very definite smoky flavor.
The town hall building had some unique rain downspouts; they looked like a green dragon. They stick out from the building quite far. I would hate to walk under them during a shower because the spouts looked large in diameter. On the side of the building, I saw a religious painting surrounded by the masonry of the building, something one would not see in the United States on a public building. I saw a nativity scene on the side of the building too, but that was much less surprising. Lastly, an attractive young woman was sitting on the steps with a friend, just strumming a guitar. I thought that made a good photo.

A dragon downspout at the Town Hall building.
A young woman playing guitar on the steps of the Town Hall building.
People gathering outside the Town Hall building.
The artwork on the side of the Town Hall building.

The cityscape in and around Old Town is unique. The home and buildings sport a variety of pastel colors. That, combined with the sharply pitched, red tile roofs make for a quaint scene. Many of the refrigerator magnets sold in the tourist shops mimic those scenes.
At about noon, we finished our shopping and looked for a lunch spot. At random, we selected the “Old Estonia” restaurant, overlooking the Town Hall Square. Lunch started with smoked salmon rolls with a cream cheese filling. A little bit of lemon and fresh dill topped off the rich but delicious course. At the same time, Leslie ordered each of us a large mug of beer… a one-liter beer! At first, I could barely raise the glass containing Saku beer, a locally brewed variety.
Our main course consisted of roast pork with French fries (seapraad friikartuliga). That had to have been the best pork I have had in quite some time. The plate had a bed of large, flat French fries and four very thick and generous slices of pork. The accompanying reddish-clear sauce complemented the pork well. Neither of us could eat it all. We took a large portion home for dinner.

The Olde Estonia restaurant.
Taking a sip of the one-liter beer.
The first sip of the one-liter beer in the Olde Estonian restaurant.
Cheers from the Olde Estonian restaurant.
Leslie was dwarfed by the beers!
An Olde Estonian portrait.
Happy to be inside where it was warm.
Mirrors in the Olde Estonian restaurant.
Artwork above the bar in the Olde Estonian restaurant.
Artwork above the other side of the bar in the Olde Estonian restaurant.

After lunch, we stopped in the Town Hall Pharmacy, the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in all of Europe. I got in on the last of a tour, but I did not hear anything substantial about the shop other than the board game inlaid in the tile floor. They had copies of the game for sale. I opted not to buy one. Outside the pharmacy, mounted on the wall, is the iconic sign. It was a must for a photo.
Above the pharmacy was an antique store. I went up the stairs to check it out while Leslie waited below. In the antique store, I found an early 20th century Russian Orthodox crucifix, made entirely of brass. I bought it for Leslie to add to her cross collection.

A portion of the interior of the Revali Raeapteek, the pharmacy that dates from 1422.
A game on the floor of the Revali Raeapteek.
A coat of arms in the Revali Raeapteek.
The exterior of the Revali Raeapteek.
The sign hanging outside the Raeapteek pharmacy.
People at the arched entry to the small walkway to the smallest store.
The view to the north on Vene.
A group of people walking on Vene to or from an event.
Pedestrians on Apteegi coming from the direction of the pharmacy.
The flags are above the entrance to the Hotel Telegraaf on Vene.
Some graffiti in an alleyway off of Vene.
Several shops along the alleyway off of Vene.
A woman talking on her cell phone.

Essentially behind the pharmacy is the Holy Spirit Church. It is a Lutheran church dating to the 14th century. I wanted to see it because on the face of the church, just above the main entry door is a clock. It is the oldest timepiece in Tallinn. For one Euro each, we entered the church. Some of the woodcarvings inside are amazing — the altar, painted by Bernt Notke, dated from the 15th century.
At about 15:30, when we left the church, it was getting dark. As we walked through Freedom square, on the way back to our apartment, we came upon a candlelight vigil for the Charlie Hebda massacre in Paris. At the time, we did not know what was happening because we had yet to hear the news of the tragedy.

Tourists photographing the smallest store.
One of the smallest shops in Tallinn.
Artwork outside the Saiakangi kohvik (cafe) in Old Town Tallinn.
The yellow building is direct across the street from the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
The clock is just above and to the right of the main entry door to the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
The clock on the exterior of the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church) dates from the late 17th Century.
A stained glass window in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
Carving on the side of the stairs to the pulpit in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
I could not quite make out the words on this item in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
A small piece of stained glass in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
A stylized crucifix in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
This ornamentation is directly above the pulpit in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
A blue-themed stained glass in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
Wider view of the altar in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
The organ in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
Another small piece of stained glass in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
Paintings on the front of the balcony walkway in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
A candle in front of the altar in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
Detail of the altar in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
An impressionist painting of Luke (left) and John (right) in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
Carvings on the front of the pulpit in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
Looking along the main aisle to the altar in the Püha Vaimu Kogudus (Holy Spirit Church).
A plaque for Balthasar Russow, a beloved Lutheran priest. Below his name reads, “From 1563 to 1600 the priest of the Holy Spirit Congregation.” Below that is, “Therefore, the Livonians may say with the Holy Prophet Daniel: You are fair and your judgment is right.”
A memorial for the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in Paris, France quickly formed at the Estonian Free Army site.

We made it back to our apartment that evening without any of the icy treacheries of the morning walk.
When we awoke on Sunday, we saw that it snowed overnight. From the apartment, it appeared that three or four inches had fallen. Regardless of the snow, we set out for the Russian Orthodox St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. A church we had a good view of from our bedroom window. On our way, we saw a bust of Johan Pitka in a small park. He was a Rear Admiral responsible for forming the Estonian Navy.

The Johan Pitka, 1872 – 1944, memorial.
A very stern looking and cold sculpture of Johan Pitka. He was a Rear Admiral responsible for forming the Estonian Navy.
A man walking his dog on Sunday morning. The Maiden’s Tower is on the left.
Outside the walls near the Maiden’s Tower, one could see the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The Maiden’s Tower was closed.
Obviously, something is sold from the wagon, but not on cold, snowy Sundays.

Nearing the church, we saw dozens of people going inside. We figured it must be time for mass, so we decided to take a detour. We ended up at the Maiden’s Tower, hoping to have a coffee in the cafe. Unfortunately, it was closed. Near the tower, down several stairs, we saw a sign for the LT Kohvik-baar. We descended the steep stairs and went inside. When we entered, we found ourselves in an entryway with a couple of doors and a steep staircase leading down one more level. We could tell we needed to navigate those stairs to get to the coffee/bar. The handrail of the stairs consisted of a thick rope strung through several iron eyelets. A knot before each hole kept the rope from ending up in a heap of hemp at the bottom of the stairs. The handrail offered virtually no assistance on the descent. It seemed better suited as a lifeline with which to pull oneself back to the surface when exiting.
Nevertheless, we found ourselves in what may have been a cellar storage vault or a dungeon some 600 to 700 years prior. Before entering the vault, one passed by a small bar from which the served beverages emanated. We both had a coffee.
The only furnishings consisted of nine or ten tables with chairs. The vault had a half-round structure, built entirely of stone blocks. At its highest point, the ceiling could not have been more than eight feet high. One lone window poked through the stone wall. The windowsill, sides, and header tapered down through the two-foot thick wall to its final dimension of roughly ten inches square. The hand-rolled glass made it difficult to see well through the window. It all made for a very quaint an intimate space. Besides the server/bartender and us, no one else was in the establishment. I do not know if that was due to the storm or the fact that it was a Sunday morning.

The snow-covered walkway to the LT Kohvik-baar.
The dungeon-esque seating area of LT Kohvik-baar.
The lone server in the LT Kohvik-baar (the LT Cafe Bar) sat behind a computer screen.

Leaving the coffee bar, we carefully made our way back up to the cathedral. We found the front of the church faces the Estonian Parliament building. The stairs to the cathedral were very steep and, without handrails of any sort, rather treacherous in the continuing snowstorm. At the top of the stairs, we saw through the windows in the doors that everyone inside was standing. We assumed the mass was over, so we walked inside. I was instantly stunned by the ornate beauty of the church. While it dates from about 1900, it feels like a structure three or four times as old. My disappointment at not being able to take photos nearly left me grumpy.

The front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The art on the front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The detail on the front of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The detail on the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

The church has no pews. Instead, nearly everyone stood in a large circle. The large circle of people surrounded another, smaller circle, which happened to be a choir. Boys and girls ranging in age from 10 to 16, all dressed in traditional Russian costumes, made up the choir. The songs appeared to be Russian Christmas carols.
Walking around the circle, we finally made it to a good vantage point. There, in the center of the ring, sitting on one of the only chairs in the church, sat the priest. He was lost in the enjoyment of the singing. As we stood watching him, the choir began to sing Silent Night, the first pass in Russian and the second in English. It was so beautiful and moving that it nearly brought tears to our eyes.
While the choir sang, we walked around just a little. The level of decoration was incredible, particularly on the screen separating the people from the altar. During the mass, the priests conduct much of the service from behind the screen, out of view of those gathered.
We noticed two beautiful icons as we wandered around, both depicted Mary and baby Jesus. They were each about two feet by three feet in size. The faces and hands were painted in oils, while the remainder of the figures and background were ornately done with silver. Those made each piece look quite impressive. In front of each piece, as well as maybe another dozen icons were brass stands. The stands had a circular bit on top, each with multiple small candleholders. The candles were about 3/8 of an inch in diameter and six to eight inches long. As we watched, many people approached the icons with a candle, made the sign of the cross several times, bowing each time, and lastly lighting the candle and placing it in a holder. The candle stands provided an ambiance I had never seen before.
The snow came down much harder as we left the cathedral. Just to the north of the church, we found a souvenir shop that seemed to specialize in amber jewelry. On the front door, I saw a sign; Kodak tooted. Being a male, I had to take a photograph. What could be better than international fart jokes?! I looked it up later. In Estonian, that phrase translates roughly to; Kodak sold here. Regardless, I thought it was funny. In the store, Leslie found an amber charm for her Pandora bracelet and an amber ring.

Walking along Toom-Kooli, we got our first glimpse of Toomkirik (Dome Cathedral).
Detail of the clock on the steeple of St. Mary’s Cathedral.
The door to a gift shop.
Even though it is sold here, it is no doubt embarrassing…

Another block or two north brought us to our final planned destination for the day, the Dome Church, located on the Kiriku Plats. It is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin, currently the seat of the Lutheran Church in Estonia, dating from some time before 1233. Entering the church, one sees seemingly endless coats of arms hung on the walls and building columns.
We paid two Euros each to enter. The attendant said I could take all of the photos I wanted, with or without flash in small part, that made up for my disappointment in the Russian Orthodox cathedral. In years past, when noblemen died, the hand­ carved coats of arms accompanied the casket and procession through town to the church. Once at the church, a crypt in the floor received the coffin, while the coat of arms hung on a wall or building column as close as possible to the place of burial.
Both the altar and the pipe organ in the church were spectacular, but the coats of arms stole the show.

The main aisle leading to the altar in the Dome Cathedral (Toomkirik), also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral.
A panorama view of the altar in the Cathedral.
The main entry door to the Cathedral.
Some of the coats of arms funeral shields on display in the Cathedral.
Paintings on the gospel pulpit.
The organ in the Cathedral dates from 1878.
Detail of the top of the altar.
The bas reliefs and coats of arms funeral shields near the altar.
Marble bas reliefs near the altar.
The altar in the Cathedral. The painting is Christ on the Cross by Eduard von Gebhardt, circa 1866.
One of the coats of arms funeral shields in the Cathedral. The dates read 1808 – 1863. The shield is that of Georg Wolter Baron Stackelberg.
Trying to decide whether or not to come into the Cathedral.
The aisle to the main entry door.
The white marble sarcophagus of the Russian admiral, Samuel Greighi’s. The Roman numeral dates on the sarcophagus read 1735 – 1788.
Joseph Haier’s “Madonna with the Christ’s Father” (1861).
The rather smallish coat of arms funeral shield of General Adjutant Admiral Baron Ferdinand Wrangell, 1797 – 1870.
Flags and coats of arms funeral shields over the white marble sarcophagus of the Russian admiral, Samuel Greighi’s.
Detail of brass items in front of the name plaques in the Fersen Chapel inside St. Mary’s Cathedral.
The tomb in the Fersen Chapel and name plaques inside St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Coats of arms funeral shields were very abundant.
The coat of arms funeral shield of Baron Eduard von Mandell. The dates read 1830 – 1899. Note the seven loaves of bread and three fish.
The coat of arms funeral shield of Alexander Baron von der Pahlen. The dates read 1819 – 1895.

The snowstorm had increased in intensity yet again as we left the church. Walking along the sidewalk, we saw a small frontend loader scooping snow and dumping it in a small dump truck. That activity had to take place, or the roads in Old Town would quickly become impassible.

A souvenir shop across the street from St. Mary’s Cathedral. The domes of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral are visible in the background.
Two women walking on the icy Piiskopi (Bishop) Lane toward the back of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Removing the snow behind the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The old building containing the Boga Pott Restaurant.

We continued to another set of steep stairs. At the top of the stairs, we found the LB bar. We decided to go in, have a glass of wine, and warm-up. We sat by a small fireplace; unfortunately, it was not lit, maybe because we were the only two in the bar.

Coming through a small arch to the top of the sidewalk known as Lühike Jalg (Short Leg).
The sign for the L8 (Late) Bar.
It was a cold and snowy Sunday.
Looking down the stairs of the sidewalk known as Lühike Jalg (Short Leg) from the landing in front of the L8 Bar.
The lone server at the L8 Bar.
Light through the Merlot.
Enjoying the warmth and a glass of wine in the L8 (Late) Bar. It is at the top of the sidewalk known as Lühike Jalg (Short Leg).

At the bottom of the stairs, after leaving L8, we entered Hindricus Pood – Galerii. I bought some beautiful handmade postcards done on handmade paper. The building, not the gallery, has been around since 1393.
When we left the gallery, the snowstorm was now a blizzard. We fought our way to the grocery store. After we purchased what we needed, we called a taxi and headed home to the warmth of our heated tiles and wonderful sauna.

The snow-covered sign for the Helina Tilk shop.
A woman on the sidewalk known as Lühike Jalg (Short Leg), passing by the Helina Tilk shop.
Leslie coming down the sidewalk known as Lühike Jalg (Short Leg).
Women walking up the sidewalk known as Lühike Jalg (Short Leg) in a bit of a snowstorm.

After my last Friday in the Embassy, I walked to the National Opera Theater. It has a unique parking arm that looks like a hand holding a baton. From a photographer standpoint, it was a must-see. Walking home from there, I took the opportunity to take some random photographs; including St. John’s church at Freedom Square, some of the street trolleys, a boutique sign, and an advertising sign. All had a definite Tallinn charm.

The Estonia National Opera building.
A memorial to the Estonian Free Army.
An office building in Tallinn.
BonBon Lingerie for women and men.
A different style of love seat at the optometrist…
The side of this trolley is advertising Farmi Yogurt.
The ER Boutique says it like it is, Forget the Rules if you Like it Wear it.
I believe the top sign reads, “Definitely Ahead!” The bottom sign reads, “For the Names!” It is an advertisement for the Socialist Democratic party. He is the Minister of the Interior.
One of the street trolleys during the evening commute.
A conductor’s baton is used as the barrier arm for the parking lot next to the Estonian National Opera building.
The conductor’s baton.