Columbus – July 2019 – Bird Walk at Audubon Park

Audubon Park is located just south of downtown Columbus in a reclaimed ‘brown field’, aka – old industrial areas. The transformation to a nature preserve is amazing.



We were there on a Saturday morning for a ‘Beginning Birding Hike’. Our guide Erika was knowledgeable and enthusiastic.



We started out with the easy ones in the feeders.



While ostensibly we were there to check out the birds, the flowers and plants were interesting as well.



Not to mention twin turtles.



The bees were busy…



Of course I was too busy taking photos to pay attention to what type of bird this was!



As always wandering off from the crowd, who came away with more knowledge about birds than I did.



The boardwalk across the wetlands provided more flower and plant photo ops.




More birds..





The small, but passionate group was very focused.



An egret,



And a blue heron.



Despite the heat it was a great way to spend a couple of hours, thanks to the parks and our guide Erika.





Buenos Aires – June 2019 – Views of the City

It was a great 10 days in Buenos Aires. I am not certain what I was expecting but whatever it was, BA exceeded it!

The Nueve de Julio Avenue is the center of the city. Created in the 1930s by wiping out an entire city block wide, and nearly 3 miles long, it is an impressive sight.



The city exists because of the huge estuary of the Rio de La Plata, creating one of the world’s great ports.



The city is full of great architecture starting with the Retiro Train Station.





The Torre Monument is in the plaza in front of Retiro. The tower was completed in 1916 by the same architect who built Big Ben.



Just down the street is the Kavanagh Building, an Art Deco masterpiece.



One of the highlights of the city is the number of ‘Palacios’ remaining from the early 1900s. While there were once more than 100, less than 40 remain, but those that still stand are magnificent.













In addition to the Palacios there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of impressive buildings.

















The city was the first city in South America to have a subway, starting over 100 years ago.





As with any city, not all are enjoying the good life. Buenos Aires has some ‘Villa’s, basically shantytowns for the very poor. The city says they have a plan to help improve the lives of the people living in the Villas, but only time will tell.



No visit to Buenos Aires is complete without a stop at the Obelisk.



For now it is time to fly, but not before joining the crowd to watch a soccer game while waiting on the plane. True Buenos Aires!






Buenos Aires – June 2019 – A Walk Down the Avenida de Mayo

Of all the important streets in Buenos Aires, none is above Avenida de Mayo, May Avenue. Named in honor of the May Revolution of 1810 that lead to the Argentine independence, the street takes you from the Plaza of Congress to the Presidential Palace.

The Congressional Building graces the far end of the plaza.





The plaza has a massive fountain and a collection of statues.



The view from the plaza looking down Avenida de Mayo.



The Confiteria El Molino, an Art Noveau coffee house was completed in 1917. All of the marble, ceramics an glass was imported from Italy.

The windmill was in honor of the Molino Lorea, the first flour mill in Buenos Aires.



Across the plaza is the Senate Building.



Most of the buildings along the street have character.






None have more character than the Palacio Barolo. Once South America’s tallest building, the entire structure is an ode to Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The height of one hundred meters corresponds to the one hundred cantos of the story. There are nine access points within the building, representing nine circles and nine hierarchies of Hell.

The 22 floors of the building reflect the number of stanzas in the poem. Even moving up the building takes one through hell, purgatory and paradise.

The building is a beautiful masterpiece.







This relatively plain, Spanish mission looking building is the Cabildo. It was used as the center of government during the colonial era. Since 1610 there has been a government building on this site, with this one dating from the late 1700s.



The Piramide de Mayo, or May Pyramid, was originally constructed in 1811 in celebration of the revolution. It was renovated in the 1860s.



During the ‘Dirty War’ of the 1970s dictatorship in Argentina, up to 30,000 people ‘disappeared’, without a trace, including many children. During this time 3 people together was considered a mass assembly, with possible arrest.

Beginning in 1977 women began together in the plaza in public defiance of the ban on public gatherings, they wore white head scarves to symbolize the diapers of the ‘lost’ children. This is memorialized in the pavement of the plaza.

Many of the children taken were given to families of those in power, and raised as their own. To this day the ‘Mothers of the Mayo Plaza’ continue to pursue to reunification of the now older adults to their rightful families.




The Casa Rosada (Pink House), is the office of the President. While it is officially the Presidential Home, in reality the president lives elsewhere in Buenos Aires.



Soldiers from the Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers march from the Palace every few hours.



The Metropolitan Cathedral is the state church for Argentina. Before he became Pope, Francis was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in this cathedral.



The interior is impressive.






The tomb of General San Martin is located in the Cathedral. As the Father of the Nation of Argentina, he is honored with guards.

Argentina at times has had a volatile history, but they seem to make sure all aspects are remembered, and the Avenida de Mayo is the best way to understand what makes up Argentina of today, by understanding their past.



Big Bend National Park, Texas – May 2019

Big Bend National Park is one of the more remote parks in the continental United States, but with some effort – we arrived!




The early morning drive down from Marathon provided an excellent sunrise, giving the mountains great coloring.








Eventually we made our way back down to the Rio Grande River Valley.



Our west Texas days constantly provided interesting cacti views.



The Rio Grande in this area is really just a decent size creek, but the kayaks were setting out for the day.



Our first choice for hiking along the river, the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, was closed due to wildfires, so we headed instead for the Boquillas Canyon Trail.




As we made our way along the river an elderly man on the Mexico side serenaded us with songs in an effort to get us to come down to the river bank so he could sell his wares.



The canyon walls continually closed in until we couldn’t go any further unless we went in the river.




We returned to cross the border into Mexico (detailed on the next post) passing more colorful mountains along the way.




With wildfires closing a number of the more popular spots in the park, we chose to go up into the basin and check out the Window View Trail. Again we were treated to interesting vegetation.








Being in the basin we were surrounded on all sides by the mountains.




This view is ‘The Window’.




While it was disappointing that the wildfires impacted the park, there was plenty to see and do for the day.






Houston – May 2019 – Smithers Park

Smithers Park is an urban art oasis in southeast Houston. Named in honor of a couple folk art philanthropists, the park resides between a residential and commercial area, next to the legendary Houston folk art area known as the Orange Show.




The park has art from over 300 people, mostly self taught. The day we were there a few were working on their current projects.




The band shell was impressive, with an interior of mostly cut up road signs.



The mosaics are a collection of random materials.



All are very original in their design.




Bordering the entire length of one side of the park is a 400 foot long ‘Memory Wall’.







The surrounding neighborhood is predominately Latino, and as a tribute there is a ‘Day of the Day’ couple sitting at a table.





At first you think this is a small grass oasis, until you look closely and see the guitar neck in mosaic beyond it, and the grass is the body of the guitar.




Additional images of art on the Memory Wall.









A mosaic dog trying to get food off of the table, that itself is covered in mosaics.



Kilroy is here.



The Tiger mosaic is very impressive.




We end with a view of the back of the band shell, where you see it is a giant fish. Smithers Park is a great stop if you find yourself in Houston.