Cambridge, Massachusetts – August 2019 – Insider Tour of MIT

I am fortunate enough to know someone who has spent considerable time at MIT, and she was kind enough to show us around to sights on campus that most visitors don’t realize is there to be seen.

We started out with some familiar sites; the Kresge Auditorium. Designed and completed in the mid 1950s by Eero Saarinen, it is an excellent example of mid-century modern.






Next door is a chapel, also designed by Saarinen.






The Rogers Building serves as the center of MIT. It’s atrium is beautiful.



The windows facing Mass Avenue are equally impressive.




The Frances Russell Hart Nautical Museum is tucked away on an upper floor of the main building. It contains a number of intricately designed model ships.






As you wander the halls you come across all sort of great sights.



















While this might look like any other hallway at MIT, it is very special. It is known as the Infinite Hall, running the length of the main building and leading to a second building.

You have heard of Stonehenge, perhaps Manhattanhenge (a posting is available), and even Carhenge.

This otherwise nondescript hallway twice a year is the location of MITHenge – the sun shines straight through the entire distance, lighting up the floor. I need to come back in November!




The outdoor space is enhanced with sculptures. MIT is a very cool place, and thanks to an insider we saw some cool sights (all completely open to anyone, you just need to know where to look).






Montreal – July 2019 – Botanical Gardens

The Montreal Botanical Gardens is one of the finest, if not the finest, botanical gardens in North America. It has a large number of specialty gardens, such as a Chinese Gardens (covered in a separate posting), as well as numerous thematic gardens – including one dedicated to poisonous plants!

Overall the gardens are amazingly beautiful, and well kept.


























































Marysville, Ohio – July 2019 – Music Machines

For more than 60 years Dave Ramey has been one of the best in the country in restoring old music machines. These mechanical devices date from the early 1900s, and feature a number of instruments including pianos, banjos, drums and others.

Dave’s business has been located in Marysville, Ohio for more than 10 years. In an effort to encourage people to check out downtown Marysville, they have placed the machines in a number of the small shops. All you have to do is show up, use one of the free nickels, and get a song from a cool machine.


































Buenos Aires – June 2019 – Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World

Buenos Aires, Argentina is said to have more live theater than any other city in the world. In my 10 days there I even saw an impromptu performance on a subway, which at first I thought was a real argument.

With all of these theaters it is bound to have one or two that go out of business – like this one.



Ah but Buenos Aires is smart enough not to tear it down. Adolfo de Vincenzi purchased the theater and restored it into a bookstore called the El Ateneo! This translates in English to anthenaeum, which was a school in ancient Rome. The word is commonly used for libraries, etc.

The results were spectacular. Numerous publications, including National Geographic, have named the El Ateneo these most beautiful bookstore in the world. I agree.



In addition to the main level, two of the upper levels have books.



The cafe is located on the stage.



The old lighting controls are also located in the cafe.



No matter the angle of view, it is amazing.







In addition to housing the children’s section, the lower level has a small display detailing the history of the theater.



As with many old theaters, the ceiling has a great mural.













The El Ateneo – a true Buenos Aires treasure.






Fairview, Oklahoma – May 2019 – Little Mountain on the Prairie

As you drive across the flatlands of Oklahoma one feature you do not expect is a redish mesa rising 200 feet above the prairie, but that is exactly what Gloss Mountain does.



In fact there are a few of these features in the area just outside of the small, appropriately named town of Fairview.



The hike up the mesa was on some sketchy looking stairs, but they worked – from the top you have a panoramic view of the area.






These unique features were formed long ago when the area was under a sea that left behind layers of shale and siltstone, with a top layer of gypsum. There is something known as selenite in gypsum that is glossy, hence the name.



The mesa’s were formed from erosion over thousands of years.





From here you have a seemingly endless view across the flat lands.





Once you reach the top you pass numerous fields of wild flowers.





Gloss Mountain – an unexpected and fun hike in the middle of Oklahoma.








Avery Island, Louisiana – May 2019 – Jungle Gardens

With Avery Island’s location in southern Louisiana the main agricultural business is sugar cane.



With the year round warm, wet weather it is the perfect climate for nature to grow. In the late 1800s the son of the founder of Tabasco sauce, Edward Avery McIlhenny, created the botanical gardens known as Jungle Gardens.



The gardens cover 170 acres of Avery Island.



There isn’t a large number of different plants, flowers and trees, but the gardens are well laid out, and immaculately kept up.



As with most of Louisiana, water is always nearby.



Including this nice pond, with a warning sign to not feed the alligators (which seems like anyone would know that).



We did NOT feed this alligator.



The turtles were safely out of harms way.



A few buildings remain from the early days of Tabasco pepper growing.




This drive is appropriately named Wisteria Lane, as you make your way under the Wisteria arch.



The highlight however is Bird City. In 1895 Edward raised eight egrets in captivity, releasing them in the fall for their migration. The next year they returned with more egrets.

Ever since then thousands of egrets return to Avery Island in the spring and reside there until late summer.

When we arrived for the Tabasco tour we were one of the few who opted to purchase combination tickets for the factory tour and the gardens. It was money well spent!