Photo of the Day (8.8.09)

At first glance, this cliff looks precarious and tall, but when you look even more closely, you can see just how precarious the dwellings that sit atop it truly are. While I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live atop a cliff, I don’t think I’d ever be so daring as to do it.

This shot was taken on the lovely island of Corsica in France by mikegoldstein, whose photographs span nearly half the globe — from southeast Asia to the warm beaches of Europe. I’m in awe of the contrast between light and dark and the medium tones of the water that balance this photo so perfectly.

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!

Northeastern Montana: More than land to blast through

I’ve driven through northeastern Montana twice. The second time was last summer. Each time my husband, kids and I have blasted through on our way to elsewhere–once to East Glacier and once to Billings. With the miles it takes to get that far from central Ohio, putting the pedal to the metal is a tendency.

As we pass each town separated by wide expanses of scenery topped by endless sky, “That looks like a neat place. I wonder what it’s like?” My attention, however, is more on our friends who are waiting for us at the end of journey. After reading this travel article in the New York Times, I’m thinking that the next time we should stop longer than it takes to fill the gas tank..

First, I didn’t realize how rich in dinosaurs this region is. My son is sooooo determined to dig for dinosaur bones. Here it’s possible. When we were in Miles City, one of the region’s towns, and the only place we stopped, the only digging was by my husband who dug a pheasant that we hit back in North Dakota out of the grill of our car.

Along with digging for dinosaur bones, fishing for paddlefish is another area offering. Plus, there are several museums that pay tribute to the natural and human history and life of this part of Montana. Next time, we’re parking the car and getting out. The article is a keeper since it tells exactly where to go.The article’s slide show is a perfect enticement.

Photo of the Day (7-15-09)

Monday, when we passed through Moab, Utah as part of our Great American Road Trip 2009 from New Mexico to Montana and back, I was hoping to snap such a shot of the glorious scenery. In my dreams. Teewinot, however, took this one near Moab. The view is looking towards Fisher Towers and La Sal Mountains. “sigh” Everyone needs to drive through Utah. It’s simply stunning.

If you have any stunning shots, send them our way at Gadling’s Flickr photo pool. One might be chosen as a Photo of the Day.

Great American road trip: Wisconsin curds and Georgia O’Keefe

Even when whizzing through a state on the way to somewhere else, it’s possible to make observations. One can discover something new or remember a detail known, but forgotten.

As I am writing this, we are whizzing through Wisconsin on our way to Minneapolis after a night at La Quinta Inn in Madison. This is one leg of our road trip to Montana. No time on this leg for stops–except to pee and fill up on coffee and gas. We’re on a schedule with people to visit by dinner.

Still, I want Wisconsin to have more impact than the breakfast we had this morning which was just like the breakfast we had at a La Quinta in Denver two summers ago.

La Quinta Inns might be the same everywhere, but I’ve noticed a difference in barns. In Ohio, where I live, most I’ve seen are white. In Wisconsin, red seems to be the most common. I’ve also thought about the cheese curds that I bought near Wisconsin Dells three years ago when we also took this route. We didn’t have time to linger back then either.

At a rest area stop this afternoon, I picked up a brochure for Sun Prairie, the birthplace of Georgia O’Keefe. Sun Prairie is not far from where we are at the moment. Her grandparents who were Irish immigrants who settled here in 1848. O’Keefe was born in 1887 and grew up not far from her grandparent’s farm. According to the brochure, O’Keefe’s family’s house burned down in 1976, but there is a historic marker in its place. The town also has celebrations in her honor.

As we’re whizzing through Wisconsin, I’m noticing the scenery and can see why O’Keefe might have been attracted to New Mexico where she spent years painting the desert. Although Wisconsin’s land is covered with green lushness, the shape is similar to many of the hills in the Southwest. There is a craggy quality. Peel off the trees and you could be at the back of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque. Wisconsin and New Mexico are like the yin and yang of landscape.

Years ago, a woman I knew who lived in Albuquerque said she was moving back to Wisconsin, her home state, because New Mexico was too frightening and harsh because of its lack of trees. Wisconsin is like a mother, she said-with fewer sharp edges.

I’ve heard people from the desert who live in the Midwest speak of feeling boxed in and smothered by trees. They miss the vistas.

As we flew by the Dells’ exits, my son salivated over the water parks. Every hotel seemed to have one. “Can we come back sometime?” he wondered.

“Yeah, maybe.”

He’s heard a lot of maybes. Fortunately, hotel water parks are not particular to Wisconsin’s scenery. I sure wish we had found the time, though, to stop for those cheese curds.

Starring Brad Pitt … and Southern Alberta

Drive an hour outside of the city limits of my hometown of Calgary, and you’re apt to come across some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen. From rolling foothill’d prairieland to towering, ragged mountaintops that are so high they block out late-afternoon sun to vibrant desert hoodoos, we seem to have it all (well, except for warm winters and beaches — I wish.) So it’s no surprise that Hollywood comes here often to shoot movies which call for wild, expansive, breathtaking scenery.

Ever see Brokeback Mountain? How about The Assassination of Jesse James? Legends of the Fall? Though none of these films are actually set in Alberta, they were all filmed here, under the endless prairie sky. And in each case, the scenery plays a starring role in the film — how can it not?

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took seeing it in the movies to make me realize how gorgeous this part of the world is. Being a habitual city-dweller, it’s hard to see much beyond pavement and rooftops and headlights. It took seeing it through someone else’s eyes to realize that not far from my own doorstep lies pure, divine heaven on earth.