Friday, May 25, 2012

Light As Art

For many years, we have enjoyed this seasonal treat that we see when visiting Longwood Gardens in the summer. These large water lily pads have always been fascinating. Recently, we visited again, and discovered a display in a pond on an opposite side of the gardens. I assumed they had begun planting the water lilies in the pond near the Italian Gardens. On closer inspection we found an entirely different fascinating display.

Yep, it is a sea of CD-ROM collections somehow attached to round discs. The reflecting side picks up the light with an ever-changing rainbow of colors. Hubby observed that they must be an old collection of AOL discs. We used to have a never-ending stream of mailers with their CD enclosed. I always thought there must be a better way to use a CD as I tossed many into the trash. Bruce Munro gets an A for creativity in my book. He asked people to send him their old CD-ROM collections and he received thousands.

The new exhibit at Longwood Gardens is very clever, inspirational, and creative. It is an installation of different types of plays in light and color by Bruce Munro of UK. The night light exhibit opens in June, but we were able to see the daytime exhibit on the lake near the Italian Gardens. It is best viewed during the day as one roams around the lake with the sun reflecting from different angles. As you walk and the light changes, the CD-ROM collection reflects changing colors. It's really beautiful. 

It is an astounding visual effect and very hard to capture in photography. It is best experienced in person. YouTube has a video of some of his displays. 

Even though it is a really cool concept, and I would like to see it again later in the summer, I still prefer Mother Nature's water lilies on the other side of the gardens.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'd Rather Be .........

Sunrise Over the Atlantic Ocean
We've seen the slogans here, there and everywhere and everyone would fill in the blank differently, depending on her/his  favorite hobby. I would fill in the blank with my favorite activity: I'd Rather Be Cruising. Someone recently asked me why I like cruises and I tried to explain the charm it holds for me. I can't think of anything I don't like about cruising. I could easily take up residence on a cruise ship if money were no object, but it is, so I have to content myself with the occasional trip.


The thing I notice most about the interesting people I meet on cruise ships is that the ones I talk to at least, really like cruising. I assume people who really don't like cruises don't show up on cruises. Either you love it, or you hate it. I enjoy talking to lots of new people and getting to know them. I think the people are the most interesting part of a cruise. I am an observer of people and try to imagine who they are, what they do, what they like, etc. It always surprises me to find out how wrong I am in my guesses. It is a great lesson to me personally, not to make assumptions about people and never judge a book by its cover. I like to be open to talking to new people and learning what they're all about. People are so friendly and eager to talk to each other.

The National Museum of Bermuda
My latest cruise stopped at Bermuda and several islands in the Caribbean. We like to explore and look for interesting historical spots and take self-guided photographic excursions. We have visited Bermuda before so we tried to see something different on this trip. We explored the National Museum of Bermuda. We learned more about histories of the island slave trade; yacht racing; and the role of Bermuda in WWII because a German submarine was captured and secretly towed to Bermuda for hiding and further study. Bermuda housed POW's from the Boer, First, and Second World Wars.

Prisoners in Paradise

Having recently cruised into Puerto Rico twice, I have a new appreciation of San Juan. We docked within easy walking distance of two beautiful old forts, Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

Between the two fortresses is the Old San Juan with charmingly colorful building fronts down long, narrow, cobblestone streets. We walked for hours and explored shops and parks.

Even if the cruise ship never docked during the trip, for me, it would be great to be on the ship for days and days. I didn't even mind the night we passed through a tropical storm in the Atlantic. I like to explore the ship, take part in the events, or sit on the balcony and look for flying fish and dolphins. We were able to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the bridge and the galley, both of which are enlightening. There is always something interesting to do on a cruise ship. Some people like to be part of a car enthusiasts crowd, or maybe a motorcycle crowd, or fans of Burning Man, or rock concerts or professional sports events, and I like to be part of the cruise crowd. After taking hundreds of photos, I will restrain myself and post only a few. I post a slide show at another site and it is available if anyone wants to request it by e-mail.

Sunset viewed from the Atlantic Ocean

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front

That sounds like a good book title. Yes, I know it is and everyone should read it from time to time. This is not a book review, however, it is about travel.  Considering that I live in the East (in the U.S.), when I travel West, I find that it is very different from the East. Travel energizes our spirits as nothing else can match. Maybe that is why we spend more time planning a trip than any other activities that we do during the course of our lives. It is also more tiring than any activity I do during the course of my regular days.

Weeks in Nevada remind me that moisturizer is my best friend and that water costs about as much as liquid gold or at least as much as booze. Altitude doesn't bother me, but dryness is a constant companion in the West of the U.S. 

The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas
Naturally, five hours on a plane must include a trip to Vegas--love that glitz and glamor and gambling.


The glitz can be found in extravagant, crystal dripping opulence at the new Cosmopolitan hotel/casino on the strip. How quickly they put up a new hotel. It wasn't there the last time we visited.

The glamor can be found at the production of Phantom of the Opera at The Venetian. It closes in September so it was a good opportunity to see it again while it is still in Vegas. All of the shows are a big draw at Vegas and the Penn and Teller comedy/magic production at Rio was worth the trip. Most shows begin with people being told to shut off the cell phones, but they take it to a new high. Their first trick ended with the cell phone ringing inside a fish, so a word to the wise was sufficient in that show. We skipped the Cirque shows on this trip since we have seen all of those. We will catch a few next time.


Bellagio display, Las Vegas
More glamor is on tap at the Bellagio with ever changing lobby displays and the outdoor evening music/light fountain shows. The Monet exhibit at their Gallery of Fine Art was visiting from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and well worth the time we spent browsing through it. The art shops of Peter Lik, Vladimir Kush, and Chihuly lure tourists to some unusual displays. A little culture in sin city--imagine that. It's expensive stuff that won't be on my walls, just in my mind.


Real flowers in a frame-Bellagio, Las Vegas
The gambling is ever-present and fun from time to time. I was able to play the slots for three hours one afternoon and only spent $5. The very entertaining Casino Royale is a throw back to Vegas of old and I wouldn't have it any other way. Such nostalgia--low ceilings, low lights, loud music, chiming slots, smoky haze that I could do without, but it feels like 1950.

Half-size Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas

Where else can you have breakfast in the desert, lunch at a deli in New York, and dinner at a sidewalk cafe in Paris? We like to stay at Planet Hollywood which used to be the Aladdin attached to the Desert Passage, which they now call the Miracle Mile. 

I love the restaurants which are unique and feel like the great outdoors, but have clouds painted on the inside of the roof. It seems like an evening in the streets of Paris inside the hotel/casino of the same name. The upside of indulging in all the great restaurants is that there is so much walking, I lost two pounds.

We like to make Vegas a place to meet friends who live in the West and can drive to meet us. It was a busy visit with friends as well as a family reunion in Reno. That's another city with gambling everywhere, but we weren't there to gamble. However, we saw a great local stage production of Anything Goes at the university. 

Wynn Hotel-Casino, Las Vegas

I always find the West to be tiring, but relaxing, and entertaining. I love doing Vegas "My Way."