Darn, I thought to myself as I checked my blogs for Santorini. I’ve done a lot on the island. I can’t seem to help myself— it is so beautiful and unique. I really thought about doing something different today, but I had promised Santorini. Plus, as noted, I can’t resist. When I found a post on the churches I had done in 2013, I decided to put it up in hopes that there might be a few photos I haven’t shared on my blog four or five times. 🙂Still, even if you have seen these, they are always worthy of seeing again!
Europe is filled with great churches that are known as much for their art and architecture as they are for religion. Our cruise through the Mediterranean would take us to some of the world’s most renowned cathedrals. While the churches on the Greek Island of Santorini are no match for the splendor of what you find in Venice, Rome or Florence, they have a subtle beauty and uniqueness of their own. The following photos are meant to capture something of their beauty.
FRIDAY’S BLOG: Assuming the weather cooperates, I thought it would be fun to share my seven different offices on the property. If I am feeling the least bit stir crazy during the lock down, I move! (Grin.)
Peggy and I are continuing to self-isolate ourselves, as are so many of you. Medford, Oregon, the medium sized town where we do most of our shopping, is on the edge of becoming a coronavirus hotspot. (Nowhere is safe.) We have zero desire to go there and have enough food— and wine— that we don’t have to for a couple of weeks. I even have older blogs to repurpose. (Grin.) Something like 900. I’ve been blogging for 10 years. Last week I re-posted a blog on the Greek island of Corfu. Today is Mykonos. Stay safe.
The maze-like town of Mykonos (Chora) was designed to discourage invasion. It was easy for invaders to get lost in the narrow, winding streets that ran into other narrow, winding streets that ran into other narrow, winding streets.
Modern day invaders, otherwise known as tourists, also find it easy to get lost. But that’s half the fun. Except for finding a restroom when you really, really need it, there is no danger. You can easily spend an hour or several wandering along the town’s crooked roads and paths. There are beautiful white buildings slathered in stucco to admire, shops to explore, and cats to photograph. You may even find a Greek musician playing the bouzouki, a mandolin-like instrument that produces what most people think of as Greek music. Picture Zorba dancing.
We managed to get both lost and separated. There was no hope of finding each other in the labyrinth, but fortunately we had a plan. We would meet at the island’s famous windmills. Long since retired, five of them remain hunkered down on a ridge south of town. Mykonos is noted for its winds. The locals even have names for them based on their intensity: bell-ringer, chair thrower, and knock you off your horse. We experienced a brief example of chair thrower but fortunately missed knock you off your horse.
The windmills used cloth sails to capture the winds and run mills for grinding grain. Local bakeries then turned the grain into sea biscuits, aka hardtack, which is flour and water baked several times into a consistency of hardness just this side of rock. The value of sea biscuits is they are basically indestructible. Before modern refrigeration, they were used on long sea voyages. Throw in a lime plus a generous dollop of rum and it was dinner. Producing these ‘delicacies’ was the island’s main industry.
Following the coastline back into town we came upon Little Venice (pictured above), a community where sea captains of yore built mini-mansions perched on the ocean edge. Since it neither looks like Venice nor has canals, my thoughts are its name is derived from its proximity to water. Either that or a real estate agent was involved. The community is quite colorful, however. I’d be glad to call it home.
Mykonos has some 70 churches to meet the needs of its 7000 residents, which seems like a lot. I am reminded of the number of Baptist churches found in the rural South of the United States. When I was traveling through East Texas on my bicycle in 1989, I estimated there was one for each family. The Mykonosians had a unique use for their churches, however. They enshrined the bones of their dead relatives in the walls. I doubt the Baptists do this but it might give new meaning to the old saying, “the family that prays together, stays together.”
Scrunched between Little Venice and the harbor is the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, the most unusual church on the Mykonos. Once upon a time five different chapels existed side by side. Then they morphed together into what has become one of the most photographed sites on the island, with reason. We contributed our share of picture-taking.
The small harbor area of Mykonos definitely fits the description of picturesque. It was our last stop (except for lunch) on our way back to the ship. That’s where we met Petros the Pelican.
Unfortunately, it was Sunday and the local fishermen had taken the day off. We satisfied ourselves with admiring the boats. The area also features a small beach that would be crammed with sun worshippers in the summer. Now all it featured was golden sand and blue sea.
WEDNESDAY’S BLOG: Santorini. I’ve posted on this more recently but this beautiful island is always worth revisiting.
The massive, 12-mile-high Mt. Mazama blew its top 7000 years ago. Local Native American legend claims that it had gone to war with Mt. Shasta, a hundred miles to the south. Mazama lost. It wasn’t that the massive explosion used up all of its bullets, aka lava. The problem was that using the magma emptied out the large chamber beneath the mountain and the weight of the Mazama brought it crashing down into the empty chamber, leaving behind a large crater or caldera to use the technical term. The caldera filled with water and voila! Crater Lake was born.
Peggy and I visited the National Park a week ago. It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive from our house. We drove up by ourselves and were careful to keep the virus-safe distance from the relatively few other people who were visiting. One individual insisted on invading our space, however…
We had visited Crater Lake twice last summer and were eager to see it in the winter covered with snow. We were really glad we did. For one, it was as beautiful as we had expected it would be— and, two, the park closed on Tuesday because of coronavirus. The odds are that it will be closed until long after the snow melts. Here’s a map and some of the photos that Peggy and I took.
Seven years ago, Peggy and I made a trip to Europe and cruised the Mediterranean along with her brother John, his wife Frances, and two of their friends Lee and Kathi. Now that our wings are clipped due to coronavirus, I decided a little armchair travel might help satisfy my thwarted desire to travel. Instead of ‘wandering through time and place,’ I am wandering in place. You are invited along…
“The sea is high again today, with a thrilling flush of wind. In the midst of winter you can feel the inventions of spring.” Lawrence Durrell
I was visiting the Pioneer Bookstore in Placerville when I was first introduced to Lawrence Durrell and the Greek Island of Corfu. The bookstore was a favorite hangout of mine during my senior year in high school in 1960 and George Yohalem, the owner, had become a mentor, helping guide my 17-year-old mind to a number of good books. He and his wife Betty had retired to the foothills of California after long careers in Hollywood where George had worked as a screenwriter and she as an actress.
I had picked up a new book that had just arrived and read the first couple of pages. Since it looked interesting, I carried it over to George for advice. “It’s quite good,” he had told me, “but don’t tell your mother that I recommended it.” That caught my attention.
The book was “Justine” by Lawrence Durrell. The quote above is the first line in the book and Durrell is describing Corfu. He had lived there from 1935-40 and fallen in love with the island. “Justine” became one of my first ventures into serious literature and definitely my first venture into erotic literature— thus George’s admonition. The book transfixed me, not so much by the sex (well, maybe a little), but by the sheer mastery of the language and the sense of the exotic. I was picked up and dropped into Corfu and then Alexandria… the main setting for “Justine” and the other three books in the Alexandria Quartet. It was magic.
Durrell wasn’t the only author to find Corfu a touch exotic. Homer had the ship wrecked Odysseus land on the island during his long journey and Shakespeare used it for the setting of Prospero’s magical realm in The Tempest. In Corfu’s long history Corinthians, Romans, Venetians, French and English had occupied the island as a gateway to both the East and West. At one point, the feared pirate Barbarossa laid siege to Corfu and succeeded in enslaving a substantial portion of its population.
Corfu’s location in the Ionian Sea sets it apart from its Greek cousins Santorini and Mykonos in the Aegean Sea. We found no more sparkling white washed buildings perched on treeless terrain. Corfu is an island covered with over a million olive trees and its buildings are multi-hued with a well-lived-in look. Two massive forts serve as bookends for its main town, also known as Corfu. We wandered through its winding narrow streets, visited an Asian museum housed in a colonial British mansion, checked out a Greek Orthodox Church, and climbed the steep hill to the top of the Old Fortress overlooking the town.
There are some things that I am almost guaranteed to photograph when I travel…
FRIDAY’S POST: We made it up to Crater Lake National Park last week, practicing social distancing the whole way. Snow added to its natural beauty.
This coming Thursday we were flying out to Fort Lauderdale in Florida to climb on a cruise ship that was going to take us through the Panama Canal. There were to be stops along the way in Costa Rica, Columbia, Nicaragua and Mexico. Peggy was super excited. She had lived in Panama in the late 70s BC. (The BC here stands for Before Curt. DC is During Curt. We are hoping to avoid the AC.) She wanted to see her old home at Fort Amador, to revisit where her daughter Tasha was born, and visit the Canal again.
I was equally excited. Just watching Peggy would have been enough. But Panama, Columbia and Nicaragua were new countries for me and I am always up for seeing new places. Cartagena has been on my bucket list for a long time. I figured I would get enough blog material to last up until summer! But it wasn’t to be.
We watched nervously as coronavirus made its way from China into other countries. Given the nature of the disease and its rapid spread, the President’s words that we had only 15 cases in the US that would soon number zero rang hollow. It seemed to us like it was time to gear up and get ready, not play down the danger. It was hardly rocket science, or so it seemed to us.
Nothing focused our concern more about the trip than people being stranded on cruise ships with a highly contagious disease. Countries were refusing to let them land. Reluctantly and sadly, we came to the conclusion that the trip wasn’t worth the risk and cancelled. A few days later Princess Cruise Lines cancelled all of its cruises. That’s how fast this pandemic has developed.
As my post goes up this morning, I expect that our Governor, Kate Brown, will issue the same stay-home order for Oregon that our neighbors in Washington to the north and California to the south have. Our trips into town will be limited to quick in and outs to buy groceries and other necessities. (And no, we aren’t hoarding toilet paper.) We will practice the same social/physical distancing and hand washing/use of sanitizers that people throughout the world now find themselves doing. And we will try ever so hard to avoid touching our faces. The mere thought of it makes my nose itch.
We are lucky in that we live on five acres out in the boonies with our property backed up to a million acres of national forest. Social/physical distancing doesn’t get any easier. Our property is excited that we are going to be around to give it more attention than in normally receives— and the star thistle is bummed that I will be around to yank it out by the roots. It’s a nasty plant that spreads rapidly like coronavirus, kills off native plants, and sucks up precious groundwater. I’ll probably do a blog on it. Woohoo. Also on my to-do list: go looking for Bigfoot. There’s a reason why the world’s only Bigfoot trap is located three miles from our house. And I may go searching for gold. Why not. An old gold mine is located a few hundred yards behind our house up in the forest. Maybe Bigfoot hangs out there. I’ll let you know.
And speaking of blogging, it is hard to imagine a more positive activity in these perilous times we are facing. For one, it is the ultimate in social/physical distancing. Two, it keeps me occupied. And three, most importantly, it allows for safe social interaction with a number of people I have come to consider as close, Internet friends over the past several years. So keep blogging, stay safe, and don’t scratch your nose.
NEXT POSTS: Still thinking about Wednesday. I may take you back to my journey down the Pacific Crest Trail, or off to Europe. Since travel is out, I have plenty of posts to remind me us of the how fun, interesting, and exciting travel there can be. Friday will be special. Peggy and I just made a trip up to Crater Lake National Park to see what it looks like in the winter. One word comes to mind: beautiful.
I took a detour on my trip down Highway 395 from Reno to Mt. Whitney last summer to drive east on Highway 50 to the town of Fallon, Nevada. I was excited to visit the Grimes Point Archeological Area with its ancient rock art five miles east of the town. They represent some of the oldest petroglyphs in America. The oldest are located approximately 60 miles away at Pyramid Lake.
I’ve enjoyed sharing petroglyphs with you. I can guarantee there will be more if for no other reason than the fact that Peggy and I enjoy them and are always searching for new sites. There are thousands throughout the Western United States. I can’t resist a few more from the Petrified Wood National Park and Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
NEXT POST: I’ll take you on a visit to Crater Lake National Park.
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is serious business for those who decide to backpack the 2650 miles from Mexico to Canada in one season. Think of it as hiking a 26-mile-marathon each day while carrying your food, water and camping gear on your back over mountains, across deserts, through snow, and every imaginable kind of weather. As such, it is not an exercise in wilderness appreciation; it’s an exercise in human endurance. It is one of the toughest, most grueling physical challenges in the world. People involved in can be forgiven if they don’t have time to stop and smell the flowers.
This isn’t to say they don’t have an appreciation for the incredibly beautiful country they are hiking through. It’s impossible not to. But this appreciation is limited. When Peggy and I were backpacking through the Three Sisters Wilderness of Oregon as part of my 750 mile trip, we met Big Red, a giant of a man who summarized it well. “I’ll camp on a beautiful lake,” he said, “and I’ll think, ‘Wow! I would love to spend a few days here.’ But I can’t. I have to get up the next morning in the dark and be on the trail by dawn. Otherwise I’ll never finish.”
I felt the pressure myself, even though I was moving along at around 15 miles a day. At 75, my shorter days were the equivalent of the longer days being hiked by the 20-40 year olds. I was glad I had my camera along and was committed to recording my journey with digital photos. It forced me to stop and smell the flowers— and to admire the beauty of my surroundings. Plus it was one hell of an excuse for a break even though I rarely allowed myself more than a minute or so to capture a subject and had mastered taking my camera out and putting it away while walking. (Okay, some subjects required 15-30 minutes!)
The flowers along the trail were gorgeous. I shared some of these when I blogged about the journey. I’ll be sharing more over the next few weeks as I use my photo-essay Wednesdays to feature pictures from the PCT. Enjoy.
FRIDAY’S POST: My final rock art post for now featuring petroglyphs from Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Petrified Forest National Park and northern Nevada.
A note to our blogging friends: As the world reels from the Coronavirus,Peggy and I want to wish each of you the best in making it through this world-wide pandemic, the likes of which we have never experienced.Our travel plans, like yours, have been put on hold as we hunker down at our Oregon home, avoid as much social contact as possible, and wait for the worst to pass. Assuming we are able to avoid the virus, I will continue to blog, possibly relying on older materials. In the meantime, be careful and be safe. Curt and Peggy
Peggy and I parked Quivera in a small parking lot for the Petroglyph National Monument that we found behind a fast food restaurant. Fifty yards up the trail we began to find petroglyphs. Archeologists believe that there are around 25,000 in the 17 miles.
It is estimated that the majority of the petroglyphs were carved between 1300 and 1680 CE by ancestors of present day Pueblo people, but some of the petroglyphs have been dated back to over 2000 years ago. Many of the petroglyphs we found at the Monument are similar to others we’ve found throughout the Southwest. For example, does the following rock art look familiar?
Peggy and I visited the site at absolutely the wrong time for photography: high noon. (Being the old hands we are with our cameras, you think we would know better.) As a result, a number of the photos like cat/badger woman aren’t as clear as we like— even with photo processing.
WEDNESDAY’S POST: Flowers of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I find petroglyphs mysterious and magical. My attraction to the so-called primitive art started when I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa way back in the 60s. I use the words ‘so-called’ because the art carries an inherent power and a simple beauty— both of which were recognized by artists such as Matisse and Picasso in the early 1900s— that defies the word primitive.
Petroglyphs and pictographs have the ability to transport us into another world and time— and, in so doing, enrich our lives.
While I have two more posts on petroglyphs from other sites we visited on our Southwest tour last fall, I am wrapping up my posts on the Three Rivers Petroglyph National Recreation Site today. It is a special place that contains over 21,000 petroglyphs representing prehistoric Jornada Mogollon rock art created between 900 and 1400 CE. Peggy and I visited the area once before and will likely visit it again. Judging from our photos, we still have another 20,000 or so petroglyphs to find! (Grin) Aside from that, the beauty of the area alone would draw us back.
MONDAY’S POST: Think you have to go traipsing off to remote corners of the Southwest to find petroglyphs? Think again. The Petroglyph National Monument sits on the edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can be there within 15 minutes from downtown.
I’ve been hard at work on my next book: It’s 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me. In it I tell stories from 50 years of wilderness adventures ending with my 750 mile backpack trip down the Pacific Crest Trail to celebrate my 75th birthday. I’ve reached the point now where I am about to embark on the last section, my hike down the PCT. In preparation I’ve been going through my photos of the trip for inspiration as well as to jog my memory.
As I reviewed photos, I was struck by the idea that they would make appropriate content for my Wednesday Photo Essays. Rather than follow my days, which I more or less did in the blogs I wrote about the adventure, I’ve decided it would be fun to do a categorical approach and look at flowers, trees (mainly dead trees that have unique personalities), rock formations including mountains, and streams and lakes. There may be other categories as well. Today, I am going to include trees and brush I found particularly interesting. (I have a lot more but will alternate with flowers, etc. to keep things interesting.)
FRIDAY’S POST: I am going to do a wrap on the petroglyphs from the Three Rivers National Petroglyph Recreation Area. (I still have two more petroglyph posts covering other areas we visited on our fall Southwestern tour.)
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