While traditionally Dia De Los Muertos occurs on November 1st and 2nd, in Tucson they defer it to the next weekend. A beautiful early November evening was perfect for the people of Tucson to gather to honor and remember those who have died.
Dr Chip Thomas is a native of North Carolina who went to Diné (Navajo) Nation decades ago as a fulfillment of a National Health Services Corps scholarship he had received. He arrived in this area in 1987.
Decades later he began to paint large scale murals on abandoned buildings throughout the area. Early on he painted what he believed to be an abandoned roadside stand, only to find it was still used and the new art attracted more business. These stands are crucial to the economic survival of the community.
The mural in Gray Mountain is on an old motel that had been owned by a group known as the Whiting Brothers, who had a chain of motels all along route 66 and elsewhere in the west.
The art is a tribute to the Diné Nation and their struggles and heritage, and was completed by Dr Thomas as well as Diné artists.
The Scioto River in downtown Columbus was the scene of a ‘Water Lantern Festival’. This festival’s goal is to celebrate life and inspire the human spirit (in a non religious way)
We arrived as the sunset was just beginning to set, which was a treat in and of itself.
There were lots of people sitting in the promenade writing personal messages on their lanterns.
People from all walks of life were participating.
Each had purchased a lantern and a kit to decorate them, along with the candle.
Some were kind enough to share their messages with me.
We crossed the river as is continued to get dark for a view with the buildings as the background.
The Town Street Bridge with it’s subtle lighting.
The view of the crowd and buildings was magnificent, but we quickly realized the city lights reflecting in the river made it impossible to really pick out the lanterns as the first ones were launched.
So we returned back across the river and watch the participants bring their lanterns to the shore.
It was also apparent that most were being pushed along the wall.
We made our way to the river’s edge where they were being launched.
It was a beautiful scene,
Some families sent theirs out in groups.
Many had message dedicated to people who had passed away, but some were just wishing others, and the world, good will.
The view from the river level was really cool.
A large crowd gathered on the Broad Street Bridge to watch.
The event was to take place a few weeks ago, but that entire weekend it poured rain. This evening was perfect weather.
From above the wall you can see the candles in each lantern.
The view from the Town Street Bridge (and with a good zoom) showed the line down the hill, and the previously launched ones.
The lanterns with lights from a nearby building reflecting in the water.
It was a peaceful scene, with the music and people enjoying their lanterns with messages of hope or tribute.
A great ending to a busy Saturday.
The best time to visit Niagara Falls if you don’t want people in your photos – before daybreak on a Sunday. The roar of the falls drew us to the edge of the park to see the white water before it crashed over the edge. The glow of the buildings from the Canadian side of the falls cast some light on the falls but it was a shadowy image for us to see. Niagara Falls seemed exceptionally larger to me than the falls we saw in Quebec.
I believe it is the expanse of the gorge and the enormous volume of water flowing from Lake Erie into the Niagara River over the falls that is so amazing. Niagara Falls is actually three waterfalls; Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and American and Bridal Veil Falls on the American side of the gorge.
After a return to the hotel to get breakfast and checked out, we headed out for some more views of the falls. We parked the car in an empty lot and walked across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada for a better view. The bridge gave us a great view of Horseshoe Falls and as the sun rose above the falls; the lighting improved the beauty of the scene even more.
Since we were going back into Canada we had to pass through immigration, where we were reminded that we had to stay behind the little black line on the floor before approaching the window, even though we were the only people there. But they let us back into the country, and we proceeded up the hill onto the Ontario side.
The area was nearly empty and perfect for photos. The sunlit mist rising from the gorge was very pretty. The Ontario side is very well landscaped, obviously built for the crowds that regularly view the falls from this vantage point. But on this early Sunday morning we had the place to ourselves.
One of the attractions is a zip line down into the falls. I have read that the tacky commercialization of Niagara Falls in the 1800s lead directly to the push to create the National Park Service, and it is clear that in the 150 years since the people of Niagara Falls still haven’t learned their lesson. Even with the beautiful landscaping of the park along the Ontario side, they still obstruct the view with zip lines.
Usually met with objections one of my favorite photo subjects are people posing for photos. This morning I was presented with a perfect opportunity, one man fussed with his turban while the other man, a version of Joe Dirt, played with his rooster-comb styled haircut.
But you can only have so much fun, so we decided it was time to walk back to America, and we headed across.When we had crossed the first time a couple of hours earlier I had noticed the immigration entrance was void of any cars at all, so it was surprising on our return to come up on the bridge and see traffic stopped fully across the bridge.
As we walked on I noticed all of the entrance lanes had red lights lit, indicating they were closed. It was then I realized it was September 11th, at the time that the first airplane hit the World Trade Center.
From the walkway on the bridge you could see the immigration workers standing at attention around the flags, which were at half staff, in tribute to the tragedy.
Once they completed we walked inside where I complimented them on the sincerity of their tribute, and they seemed genuinely thankful for the compliment, and we passed quickly through and on to our car.
Our long drive back to Columbus went without event, and we arrived home safe and sound and extremely pleased with yet another fantastic road trip. This passion has allowed us to see amazing places and meet lots of cool people, and as soon as we are home we are looking forward to the next one.