Huntsville, Alabama – May 2019 – Chinese Lanterns at the Botanical Gardens

On a recent road trip we found ourselves in Huntsville, Alabama for one night, with our hotel about a mile from the botanical gardens. While looking for something to do that evening we discovered that the Chinese Lanterns were in town at the aforementioned gardens.



We arrived about 45 minutes before sundown to check out the gardens. The fountain was catching the setting sun just right to make a rainbow.



The family of geese were heading home for the evening.



As the sun was setting we stopped by the stage to watch the martial arts demonstration.



Now that the sun had mostly set, the lanterns were vivid in their illumination.



The setting in the botanical garden provided a more interesting setting than we were used to, with ponds to display (and reflect) the lanterns.



There was a large display of one we hadn’t previously seen.



The main display on a pond was fantastic.



Huntsville is a much smaller city that Columbus, yet they put on a nice show.



We usually see the lanterns around Christmas in Ohio when it is very cold. It was nice to check them out in summer attire.






Cleveland – March 2019 – People, Art & Machines

Mid March means it is time for the Piston Powered Show at the IX Center in Cleveland. As the name indicates this show features all things with a piston: Cars, Motorcycles, Trucks, an Airplane, Tanks, Snowmobiles, and even a Steam Shovel – plus a few things without pistons.

Most of the cars are ‘by invitation’, which means they are the best of the best. To make it to be one of the best in a custom car show you must have good graphics – and this show has that. It also has a great collection of people who have as much character as the vehicles – all filling the million square foot (93,000 square meters) building.

As you enter the vast hall you are immediately greeted with some really nice restorations.




As noted previously, many had customized paint jobs including this mid 1960s Chevy El Camino hood.




A number incorporated famous graphics, like Speedy Gonzalez.




This customized Willy’s sedan had a matching mannequin.




The participants came from numerous states in a 500 mile radius of Cleveland, including this great paint job from Kentucky.




For some the audience made a good match for the car.




A Zombie car – because why not.




The Zombie car’s door art.





Most of the motorcycles were customized Harley’s, many containing skulls.





Some craftsmen were displaying their skills – he was cutting leather.




This car was a repeat from a couple of years ago that was my posting’s feature photo – still one of the very best custom designs I have ever seen.




An aptly named 1957 Chevy.





A group of local technical high schools were having a competition to tear down and rebuild an engine in less than 30 minutes. Not sure why these guys were wearing helmets though.





While most of the custom bikes were Harley’s this great sport bike paint job features a customization of the ‘Guardians of Transportation’ sculptures on a large Cleveland bridge. Ironically I was wearing my ‘Dia de la Muertos (Day of the Dead)’ T shirt that featured the same sculpture in a skeleton look, so I fit in with the theme on all the bikes.




There was a classic wooden boat display as well. The boats themselves are works of art!




As is this sweet 1948 Buick Convertible.




Even a plain old 1960s Ford Station Wagon can be made to look great.




There were a couple of internet radio stations present – this one is a community station that, among other things, featuring racing.




I am not positive what it is, but I am certain it is NOT a Prius.




Mixing classic art and hot rods.




Many had names.




Most had pistons, but not this turbine jet car.





Some cars like the ‘rat rod’ rusty, beat up look – some like the pristine restoration. This Paddy Wagon was somewhere in between, but still cool.





Also featured were a number of artists showing how they make the great graphics we saw on all the vehicles.




All obviously have very steady hands.




The detail is amazing.




His shirt says it all.




It is amazing on the metal how little paint it took to go a long ways.




This guy had great pedal cars.




Not sure how a bowling pin got into a car show – but hey it is Cleveland.




Ready for St Patricks Day.




The emcee, and auctioneer, had character. She was auctioning off the finished pieces for charity.

Once again the Piston Powered Show was a great way to spend a day inside checking out a great collection of vehicles, people and art.







Cleveland – March 2019 – Chasing Away Those Winter Blues, Slovenian Style

Cleveland has always had a large population of people from throughout eastern Europe, including Slovakia. As a result there are a number of festivals coming from those regions.

For this cold Saturday we went to check out Kurentovanje’ – which is a Slovenian festival to chase away winter. Held at the Slovenian National Home on the east side of Cleveland, the hall was full of activities.





The band was playing polkas. They were very talented, and the audience appreciated it.








Numerous ladies had recently made headdresses









The highlight of the day is the parade. I have found for the best photos it is imperative to go to the staging area as they gather.

I am not really sure about someone sitting on his ‘throne’ with a shield, skull staff and motorcycle helmet, but it was just the beginning of the strangeness (and fun).





This pleasant young lady was soon to become the devil.





There were a number of groups dressed in historic ethnic attire.





The Krampus crowd came back from Christmas.









Another band was warming up, or just trying to stay warm.







The Polish apples?







Finally the parade started…. Slovenian flags were everywhere.





The parade featured all the ethnic groups, as well as the local high school drum and dance team.

















The Kurent wranglers were keeping them all in line.












The Kurentovanje Festival and Parade was yet another great celebration. Hopefully they do indeed scare winter away soon.








Columbus – December 2018 – Annual Visit to the Dragon Lights

So my friends at WordPress have changed their editor, so we shall see how this posting comes out!

What has become an annual tradition is a December visit to the State Fairgrounds for the annual Chinese Dragon Lights. In my opinion they are far more colorful and brilliant than any Christmas light display.

There were over 30 displays, all with the fabric framing and back lighting.

This year each had a small sign detailing the display, as well as a small ad. It is good to see they have the support of the business community so we are assured this will continue to be an annual event.

Not expecting to end up there on this evening, all the photos here were taken with an iPhone!

In addition when we went into the pavilion for the entertainment, it was packed. Without a zoom lens, this year’s blog posting is strictly the exterior displays.

The new editor does not allow additional spacing between the photos.

Still despite the photos from an iPhone, and the quirky new editor, the display are vivid online, as well as in person.

This display seems to make it’s way around the midwest each year. Earlier in the year it was in Cleveland, so it is not a ‘Christmas thing’.

To accompany the panda display they had televisions with a live view of panda’s at a zoo in China.

The tunnel lead to the ‘grand finale’

While there were a number of new displays, the castle was a repeat, but worth it.

Always a great evening – the Chinese Dragon Lights.

Columbus – December 2018 – Zoo Wildlights

It’s December which means the annual Columbus Zoo ‘Wildlights’ is back.

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We arrived early enough to check out the aquarium.

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The penguin habitat was still open (it closed at 5).

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They apparently were ready to go in for the night as they were honking very loud and often.

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The Reptile Building was open. Most of them were very active.

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The ‘Farm’ was open as well, as it was inside of a barn.

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Finally we passed a sleeping bear.

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A quick stop by the historic carousel…

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And it was sunset.

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Time for the lights.

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The lights are nice, but the animals are always the best part.

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Columbus – December 2018 – Krampus Returns

It is that season again – Krampus! For those who have forgotten, Krampus is a horned figure used to scare little German kids into behaving during Christmas so they get presents.

Columbus has a small, but colorful, Krampus parade.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 8 Kona Coffee Festival

As noted previously the Kona region is famous for their coffee. Each November they have a festival to celebrate this, as well as the local culture.

Our emcee was a hoot, sort of a Hawaiian Cheech Marin.

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In addition to the coffee there were other activities occurring, including a lei making contest. The judges were very thorough, checking for stitching and display.

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All were beautiful and very different from the stereotype that you see in the media of the ring of flowers.

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There were numerous coffee growers offering samples, as well as educational displays.

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The highlight was the entertainment though. We saw a number of dance performances.

The region has a number of immigrants from Japan and the Philippines, which is where these ladies came from.

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This group had a very lively audience participation dance.

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Many of the dances were similar, yet unique in their own way.

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All ages participated.

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The final dance was a traditional hula.

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Afterwards they posed for a group photo. Hang loose dude (the hand gesture)!

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Once the dances were complete a Hawaiian guitar band took the stage. They were very talented.

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We even met the queens.

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But it was time to catch our home for the next 7 days, a small boat that will take us to new adventures. But first another great sunset.

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