June, 2010 Archives

It’s summer, almost – the solstice is just around the corner.  There’s an ounce of truth (for most of us professors) to the old quip.  You know the one.  The graying at the temples, pipe smoking, tweed-jacketed professor wryly offers (to anyone still listening): “There’s three things I love about teaching: June, July & August.”

Summer.  Time to pack a bag and hit the road.  Other than a week around Christmas my school vacations do not overlap with my wife’s (also a teacher) or my kids.  In fact, everyone has different weeks off (even the kids, who attend different schools).  From late August to late June we are grounded.  So we travel come summer.

This year we head to Utah and Zion and Bryce and then, a few weeks later, to Montreal and Quebec City.  My wife loves to travel light.  She’d be happy with a toothbrush and an extra pair of underpants.  But I’ve already packed a tripod and a monopod.   And I’m bringing a laptop, not something I do on a regular basis.  But I’m only bringing one camera, one lens and two batteries.   I love to photograph while traveling.  I like to make my own postcards.  Not high art by any means.  But seriously high fun.   I often write a travelogue to go with the pics.  Susan Sontag would have a field day with this photographer (along the lines of: he needs a camera and notebook as buffer, so he doesn’t have to actually interact…).

What follows are a couple travel pics – postcards.  Recent summer excursions to Nova Scotia, Mexico, Amsterdam and New Mexico.   Stay tuned for postcards from the canyons of Utah.

They say there are 750,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, one for every man, woman and child. The Dutch zip around on bikes dressed to the nines or balancing small appliances as they weave among pedestrians and zigzag through traffic. Almost as prevalent are the houseboats. There are around 2,400 families living in houseboats on Amsterdam’s canals. Many of the boats are as leaky and listing as the bikes are rusty and bent. But if you could rock to sleep and pedal to work, wouldn’t you?

Lockeport, Nova Scotia, population: a little over 700. It has a working fishery, a little harbor, and a mile-long crescent beach featured on the back of the Canadian $50 bill. Like much of Nova Scotia it could be described as Down East Maine on steroids – powerfully picturesque. After dinner the harbor was deserted except for one zippy, camouflaged motorboat.

New Mexico. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe. A 1.5-mile, one-way trek into a narrow canyon with a steep (630-ft) climb to the mesa top for excellent views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande Valley.

The Mayan ruins of Tulum are located on steep cliffs along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. While never the biggest of about 40 Mayan cities scattered across Central America, it may be the most picturesque. Tulum was probably built between 1200 and 1450 and the Maya lived here until the 1600s when the city was abandoned. 3,600 feet of 20-foot high wall protects three sides of this city fortress and the azure Caribbean the other. Inside the walls lazy Iguanas now mingle with the day-trippers and shutterbugs