Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake
Crater Lake, Oregon, is a six-mile wide expanse filling a volcanic crater nearly 2,000 feet deep. The water is so blue, and the wind so biting!

 

 

Crater Lake Watchman Trail
A short hike took us to the peak of the Watchman, which offered views of Crater Lake from above.

 

 

Crater Lake
It’s hard to capture the beauty of this incredible lake, rimmed on all sides by peaky terrain.

 

Crater Lake Wizard Island
In the summer months, it’s possible to take a boat out to Wizard Island in the middle of the lake.

 

Crater Lake Phantom Ship
The “Phantom Ship” — the remains of volcanic activity left this small island resembling a shipwreck.

 

Crater Lake
Clouds settling over the lake lend a mystical aura.

 

 

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Sunlight and Solitude at Navarre Beach, Florida

Navarre Beach is a quiet stretch of the beautiful Gulf Island National Seashore, a strip of narrow barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico. Pristine fine white sand, clear Caribbean-blue water and warm, mild currents. It’s pretty dreamy.

Located between the more popular tourist destinations of Pensacola and Destin, Navarre is called “Florida’s Best Kept Secret” because of its quietude.

Just me and the ocean.

Dappled morning light, an overcast day.

Fishing at dusk.

Biloxi, Mississippi

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Wikipedia calls Biloxi the “Poor Man’s Riviera,” but I prefer “Vegas Lite.”

I’d first heard of Biloxi in Mississippi Masala, a 1991 Mira Nair film starring a scandalously young and sexy Denzel Washington. His character falls in love with an Indian girl from an overprotective, tradition-bound family, and they discuss running off to Biloxi for a romantic getaway. (I don’t remember whether they actually go or not.)

Biloxi is a Gulf Coast destination famous for shrimp boats and casino hotels, the Beau Rivage in particular. Hurricanes have done their damage to the city and its population, but it remains a bustling resort town and its casinos are still thick with smoke and the sounds of slot machines.

We started out at a lunch buffet at the Grand Casino. It’s the South, after all, and it ain’t a meal if it ain’t buffet-style! I’d forewarned my parents that buffets are wasted on me unless I can eat s-l-o-w-l-y. When it comes to eating, I’m a marathoner, not a sprinter: I can eat bite-sized portions for hours on end, but I feel sick if I try to stuff it all down. So we quite literally sat there for close to two hours as I helped myself to three heaping platefuls of fried chicken and catfish, prime rib, salad, dessert and more. My faves: the fried chicken gizzard was surprisingly juicy and sweet, and the shrimp were ginormous and fresh!

Biloxi Lights Biloxi Lights

The city of Biloxi has a fun display of Christmas lights in what appears to be a town square across from the Hard Rock Casino.


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The cartwheeling gingerbread men were my faves.

So much so that I tried to be one.

We headed next to the Beau Rivage, which defies the “Poor” in “Poor Man’s Riviera” with its elegant decor.


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Beau Rivage Decor

The Beau Rivage also has a theater, where we saw an ice skating production. The skaters were impressive; the four principals were all US National medalists and really quite good, especially the pair. Though their skill was evident, they were definitely limited by that tiny rink!


Lastly, I played the penny slot machine. I did NOT understand how it worked, and I lost 200 pennies in no time. Gambling is not so much my thing.

*Photography is not allowed inside casinos, so as to protect the dignity of those who while away too many hours there. So I asked one of the casino managers to take a photo for me. Not bad, sir!

New England: Martha’s Vineyard & Cape Cod

The great thing about this trip was that I didn’t have to plan anything. After a year of planning way too many travels, what a treat! Major kudos to the Bro for being our tour guide.

The downside? Since I didn’t have to do any of the planning, I didn’t retain as much information as I normally would. So New England to me is just a blur of lighthouses and lobsters.

And great news: apparently there’s a glut of lobsters this season thanks to global warming, so head on up one of these last summer weekends and treat yourself to a melty-buttery-lobster!

MARTHA’S VINEYARD

Taking the ferry from Somewhere, Massachusetts. (Bro, if you’re reading this, help fill me in on the details here? Haha.)

Lobster roll! There was also some New England Clam Chowder involved here.

What was forecasted as a “chance of rain” turned into a hurling-cats-and-dogs-sideways torrential downpour. When it’s sunny in Martha’s Vineyard there’s so much to enjoy, but when it rains and you’re chilled to the bone it’s just kind of miserable. So this lighthouse and a bus ride is unfortunately pretty much all we saw of Martha’s Vineyard!

CAPE COD

The Nauset Lighthouse, the one featured on the Cape Cod kettle cooked chips bag. Incidentally, we went to see the potato chip factory–free self-guided tours, and free bags of chips! You’ll leave smelling scrumptiously of oily potato chips.

A bit of background that I actually remember: this lighthouse had to be moved a few hundred feet back from the shore due to erosion.

The visitor center at Salt Pond had a bit of interesting background about the geology of the Cape. The Cape is the little part of Massachusetts shaped like an elf’s very pointy shoe. Surrounded by water on all sides, the Cape also has a string of freshwater ponds called kettle ponds–little inlets left behind when glaciers receded ages ago.

The sand was burning hot, and the water was freezing cold. No such thing as a happy medium in Cape Cod, eh?

PROVINCETOWN

Rainbows everywhere! Provincetown, which is located at the very northern tip of the pointy elf shoe, is the gay-friendliest town I’ve ever been to. But I haven’t visited the Castro district in San Francisco yet, so I may revise that statement soon.

 

We went to the Lobster Pot for lunch, where we had a clambake. Which strangely enough, featured a huge lobster with a few small clams on the side. So why is it called a clambake?

I miss you, London.

A monument to the Pilgrims, who stopped here briefly first before touching down at Plymouth.

The beach and boats at Provincetown.

In the evening we went to the Coast Guard beach, where the smell and smoke of distant campfires wafted invitingly down the beach.

The sunset… at which point those lighthouses actually become functional.

Goodbye lobsters! And thanks again to Bro for making the trip happen.