Poetry Travel

St. Anthony’s Padova

St. Anthony’s Basilica

Only in the stone churches of Italy

in Padova perhaps, do children stay young

joyful in stone white faces plastered

near heaven in the church dome.

The gold shimmers like an evening lake

Blue, red and white, diamond pictures of the sun

set against a focal point blue sky

makes the crucifix with gold spirals

reach to me.

Around the rubbed skeleton of the dome

pillars are where the stone angels play, and

when the bells toll, they are laughing.



Menaggio to Padova Italia

Day 12 and 13 of our Honeymoon, 2010

One year ago we were traipsing around Padova Italy.

Coming to Padova

Cracked streets broken by white trash graffiti

Galileo’s university left in disrepair

To the edges of Padova, Italia.

The city, a third left, a third under construction

The last third in beautiful architecture

Stone faces stare into mine

Stone churches, upkept ruins

Moonlit river under the walls of old barriers

The old city interior is filled with marble

Pillars, monuments and people walking around

To stare in the glass stores

We stayed at Alla Fiera to come home to breakfast in the garden

Padova, Day Two

We walk around the botanical gardens

We are in academia, the buildings forsaken many years ago

To the study of life, and not the upkeep of it.

Through the quiet arched courtyard, near the

Scrovegni Chapel there are many carvings in stone

People and words, people and

Old worlds revealed in what was used to keep track of history

The old wooden seats of the chapel are thick and crumbling

Blocked off to us

Giotto studied happiness in the painted faces of his angles

And anguish in the uncontrollable face of sadness and agony

Tears run down these cheeks in gold threads

Outside of St. Anthony’s Cathedral

Women sell scarves to cover shoulders

The sky is brilliant blue

And we step into the cool stone church

Where groups of old women walk in dark corridors

Blessing themselves, chatting in low unison voices

Like a chanted script

Look at Scrovegni ChapelThe Basilica of St. Anthony, and Alla Fiera Hotel.


Day 11, To Monte Grona

We climbed today, to a church in the clouds. We woke up early and had breakfast listening to the church bells ring. We walked around an empty piazza, before most people were awake. there are some people having breakfast behind the window of a glassed-in archway.

There was a vertical stone graveyard set into the facade wall.

A bus ride into Briegli shall take us to begin our hike up Monte Grona. We are to hike into the hidden mountains and learn that no one knows what to call hiking in Italy. ‘Footing?’ maybe.

We began our ascent. It was a day to be spent in the clouds. You could not see 20 minutes ahead, or 20 minutes behind. Time was only for now, the turning edge of a mountain, the purple fluted flower and bumble bee sucking as I pass. The fist-sized rock that most of Monte Grona consisted of was difficult to climb.

The Recipe of a City

Lakes that lap green grass shores

stone walls with burrowing arch caves

pathways against long walls

twelve friends who opened a hostel at our age

bad music

a waxing moon over the tip of Bellagio

embrace the differences

even those you know so as to be accustomed

thankfully we are all different

I’ve come to Italy to get my nerve back

The black lakes calms by night

a medium place, in between a border

where I am expected to speak my given language.


Day 10, Como to Menaggio

Day 10, the day we slowly went around Villa Balbianello castle, the beautiful garden that held the wedding between Anakin and Padme. I’ve heard the expensive silk sheets were too rough to sleep in, but were so beautiful. It was my favorite Sunday so far -the crisp waves, bright lake, glow of our faces against the reflective water.We toured the lake of Northern Italy, experiencing Como from a slow paddle pace. We crossed the big body going North for a few hours. Vorrei due biglietti per la Menaggio.

(I hadn’t seen episode two of Star Wars, I’m afraid to admit… but was quickly given a lesson and prompted to learn more about the Star Wars tours starting here.)

~ Villa Balbianello ~

You must live in Italy and not learn it from burying your nose in books. We tried ordering parts of a meal at different places, appetizers, drinks, desserts, more drinks just to talk. We’d tried to find places by asking for directions and I felt so proud of myself for asking and receiving an answer. An answer that Phil could understand better than I could. I began to realize how we depended on one another in understanding what we were going through and how it took different personalities to understand feeling what was going on around us.

So we rode the water, it was a cool fall day outside. Phil meandered from our booth to the outside deck and back while I drew trying to understand shade, detail and overall scene. Phil and I drew together. Near the end of our trip north we watched people run off at Cavatca. Lots of people got off the boat at Bellagio. Fashion so far had been a flashback of the American 80’s –hightop pink sneakers, stir-up pants with heels… seriously?

Italy in Como was more globalized since I was here last. Como wasn’t a place for guests, that was for the northern parts of the lake. At the Menaggio port we took lunch –two wines, due biletti del vino, una pizza with tuna salads. On this part of the lake a lot of people were out on their motorcycles. The hotels against the water ave gorgeous interiors by what we could see through into the tall glass windows. Lots of tight panted, lacy topped women with scarves and dogs were walking around. We found our hostel, La Primula,  accommodations but everyone was breaking for the afternoon so we left our things to come back later. Josh from Australia was sitting with his laptop on the porch waiting for a friend, Stephanie, to show up.

Phil and I walked around Menaggio.  We came across a vintage car show and I studied the  curtain dressing on the exterior of the buildings. Then we took a boat to Bellagio.

There is a campus there and a highly recommended place to eat at in a cove of the northern lake. Bellagio sits on a peninsula into the lake. Apparently this area was for affluent Italians or other world travelers looking to escape into the hidden mountains, the Dolomites.

There are two main thoroughfares to Bellagio –one by the lake and the second up many stairs. Most of the peninsula was private for the residents’  gardens of rosemary, kiwi and figs. We sat beneath a metal canopy –Carlsberg, and had coffee laced with Amaretto to watch children run around recklessly. We ran up and down the streets steps, finding a new shop at nearly every stair. Some two-table cafes or wine shops had tables straddling the stairs by way of a home-made platform. Phil bought a cap in one of the shops. We roamed for a while, glad to be warm, alone and without a plan. I found a skirt I liked and wanted to mimic some day. I took a picture while we were waiting to board the boat back to Menaggio and embarrassed Phil when the flash went off.

It seemed like someone could make enough money in a summer to support themselves the rest of the year. Bellagio had the strictest of historical renovation standards –the look of it’s main street –it’s face, could not change at all.

Italy had intrigue in the structure of the streets, shops and residences. Not only was the language a barrier but cragged mazes, steep cliffs into the water, walls of billowing curtains to keep out the sun, walled gardens of stone, canopies of trees over paths leading only to the water, a boat and one residence. The sky was turning purple on our way back home. From here we could see our steep hike planned for tomorrow.


Day 9, The Rainy Barter

Waking up in Como Italy

Day 9

Falling through the cracks

memories around blind corners

skipped pages in a book

a day that is not a holiday marker

any other time of the year

not Valentines ,  St. Patrick’s’ Day

Mardi Gras, Easter, Memorial Day, the 4th

Labor day, Halloween, Thanksgiving

or Christmas

was like the day we entered Italy.


As a married couple

needing nothing else

but the rain, each other,dinner

and a place to sleep.


The next morning, day nine

wet drenched Como

thunderstorms circle the Duomo ceiling

stories and stories above us

galoshes and children covered in plastic clothes

Phil barters for an umbrella

wanting just to buy one

but caught between a language and a price

he can’t understand.

The man who served us coffee calls out

from a horizontal window in the rain

to the vendor Phil is trying to purchase an umbrella from.

We win somewhere closer to the barrista’s price

the two of us go on, huddling in the rain.


We collect language along with appetizers

from place to place, five spots for dinner

just to talk to the people of Como more.


I can speak Italian if Phil can listen

and together we can have what we want.


I wrote a year ago:

The saturated color of buildings and the wet bottoms of pant legs climb up to my heightened sense of curiosity. How do I spend time wandering? I have to have a certain amount of time secured if I am to really let go and enjoy doing nothing. Sensing my whereabouts and wandering from pannini eating to puddle dodging. When the rain comes, the world is smaller, and less likely to be waiting on you outside.

We stayed at In Riva Al Lago. People in the Duomo searching for their faith or something better to do. All anyone wants is for it to be done yet the focus is lost on what you are doing. I question, How do I like to spend my time and how should I spend it when I’ve employed myself with a job to do? With no worries there is always a way.


Traveling Back

After spending a weekend in Michigan celebrating a wedding, visiting family, making new friends and visiting gardens I am inspired to talk about traveling, and the impromptu things you come upon when you are open-minded.


Backpacker Contest

Dropping my husband off in the wilderness for a week reminds me that I never published the backpacker contest we entered. The latest news with my husband and ‘Penguin’ is that they are out of the Shenandoah Forest, making good milage, but not having any luck sleeping at night.

Our Submission to be a Backpacker Field Scout

(Click the above statement to see our video)

We didn’t win but lost to a very worthy gal. Check out Colleen’s submission!



One night in Harrisonburg VA

Harrisonburg Virginia, population 45,000, the night of July 4th -The city was crawling with people. The fireworks were put off until about 10 at night, and then the announcer announced, in jest I thought, that the fireworks were canceled, please drive home safely. Really? Yes, the town did go dark after that, which made me leave my outdoor spot at the Artful Dodger, and take to my hotel on the hill.

The drive to drop my husband off on the AT to meet his best friend for a 90 mile, one week hike, was just as Virginia should be. Sunny one minute, and foggy the next. The Virginia farm houses were boasting their red white and blue ribbons and flags. It made me reminisce about my college years in these mountains. We drove through the slow two lane drive in the Shenandoah Forest on Skyline drive.

I enjoy towns this size, that of Harrisonburg‘s. There are enough people to support local food and brew, I can benefit from catching a farmers market, and strolling the town to check out the local businesses. It seems like every great historic town could support a bakery / cupcake shop, a bike shop, at least 3 architecture firms, 10,000 Villages, a college like James Madison, and an art stop coffee shop with many patio restaurants sprinkled in between.

And that’s only what I like to do in a day.

About Me Travel

Party of the Decade – 30th

I turned 30 in the air. My husband and I were flying back from a week spent in Colorado Springs.

We were welcomed home with cupcakes and pie dessert, made in part by my like-a-sister-friend and her 3-year-old niece. They sang and I blew out candles and we all caught up, it was great.

I came into my office Monday to banners and big balloons! What fun 30 was going to be if these were my first few weeks!

I’d just spent time at high altitude enjoying the sun and friends the week prior. We’d gone snowboarding at Monarch Mountain under a blue sky at 12,000 feet.

Boulder is a low-rise city. I hadn’t realized that. Perhaps it was to preserve the prestigious view of the mountains, though we couldn’t see them through the clouds (what?!) the day we were there.

Adam’s Cafe Saturday night in Manitou Springs: I didn’t realize it when we were eating our delicious fig, brie & onion appetizer, but later realized it when reading the community section of their website, that there is a community table, where anybody and everybody can choose to sit and meet anyone else wanting to converse with someone new.

It is a rich and eclectic but tidy Indian decorated restaurant beside a stream in downtown Manitou Springs.There were deep Indian culture art pieces gilded in gold frames. We sat at a round maple table with vintage chairs in the corner.

The week spent in Colorado held many opportunities to try lots of craft brews (in between water.) We watched a documentary, Beer Wars, on the rising of craft brew popularity.

I breathed well during the trip with big gulps of air, expanding my lungs and ribs as deeply as I could just to take it all in. A highlight hike was the illegal Incline. One mile to climb 1800 feet. Many people, about 100 a day, take the journey and if you go at a slower pace some people get to be very open about themselves. There is something along side physical exhaustion and true honesty that goes hand in hand. Everyone feels better after going outside!

I wrote about my husband and I’s rating system with Hikes in a past post titled Interlaken, A town for Extremists. I just added The Incline as a difficulty level of 8. The good thing about this hike was that it was relatively quick!

10    Mt. Saint Helens Summit 8 mi (1 day)
9   Grindlewald -Fulhorn- Schinge Platte – 14 mi (1 day)
8    Gresalp to Murren via Sefinefrugge -10 mi (1 day)
8    Katahdin Summit (AT) 9 mi (1 day)
8    Beaver Brook (AT) NH (to Beaver Brook Shelter) 1.5mi
8     The Incline, Manitou Springs CO

7    Laurel highland Hiking trail (Ohiopyle to Rt. 653) 19 mi (2 days)
6    Warrior Trail (Greensboro to Covered Bridge) 12 mi (1 day)
5    Dolly Sods (Little stone coal -Big stone- breathed mt. Lionshead) seven mi (1 day)
5    Monterosso to Riomagiore (IT) Cinque Terra – 5mi (1 day)

Phil and I kept climbing after the top of the Incline, high enough to look over Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, high enough to see the east side of the ridges flattening out. We could see the Garden of the Gods from up there and see the reddish land sliding down into the city.

Later in the week we visited a quarry where limestone had been pulled but the Rockies red rock was left to look like the pyramids in Egypt. Could the pyramids have been carved? Or were the apparatuses to build them long ago biodegraded into the nearby sand as to keep the secret?

Hey! Don’t jump!

One day we spent time at a mansion on the lake, The Broadmoor… the Oglebay of the Rockies. The main building is of the Italian Renaissance and the interior held many ornate wonders. The lake lies behind, and it all looks toward Cheyenne Mountain. The architectural detailing that pulled me to go was the painted underside of their porte-cochere.

Indian Native Castles

a midnight journal by

Montezuma’s castle

in lattice work ceilings

deep blue starry nights

spanish influence with a Navajo ornateness

ceramic fountains and flower pots

the yellow stripped pool pavilions

I felt trapped in a majestic maze

some sort of mystery among the spirits

thin panes of glass in doors peering

into the next fire lit room

a sun-drenched place

at the windy side of the lake.


Community Travel

The Grass is Greener where I Live

…a week spent in Colorado Springs.

Colorado is a dusty place with a western flair in the front lands where we were in Colorado Springs. My first time in Colorado mesmerized me.  The cave dwellings are here, the healing springs in nearby Manitou Springs, the Broadmoor, a resort by the lake with Rocky Mountain backdrops which will host the Women’s U.S. Open this summer is located here. The Garden of the Gods has a garden of vertical red rock slabs coming from the earth in hundreds of feet high. Colorado is a mystical place where I could sense past tribes, an old culture living in the mountains, a place that still held a maze of spells out to it’s visitors. My husband and I spent a week with old friends and here is what we uncovered.

Stone pillars in the airport walls.

The wind trying to break in our apartment at 3am

it was only rolling down the mountains just west of us.

We visited the Garden of the Gods

the dirty windy rock and sultry flat plains

before the Rockies in bright reddish colors.

We ate at the Pantry, in the gravel front yard where the screen door slammed behind our waitress and I gazed into the bright big sun I couldn’t hide from.

The shadowed part of the Green Mountain had waterfalls coming from below the melted ice. We scrambled lightly on the lush side of the mountain staring up into the open skies and rock. The day was spotless, very blue and slightly chilly. We’d walked along a cabin road with wood carved statues of bears.

Through old Colorado City we drove through flat neighborhoods where houses had turned to boutiques. Some young creative shops were booming –Squash blossom, Out of the Box, and Envi.

There were clay pot places and great western antiques. Signs were reminiscent of the old West and Las Vegas. On every drive you could see the dusty trails and pale ground cover going somewhere, perhaps all leading to the west, onward along Pikes Peak road to the Peak itself.

Then, there was Manitou Springs…

“Manitou,” a Native American word for “spirit,” describes this beautiful mountain community. Eleven named mineral springs throughout town are fed by the snows of Pikes Peak. Long before white men traveled here, the Ute, Cheyenne and many other natives considered this area sacred.  -Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau

The businesses boasted locally owned, not to Colorado but to Manitou Springs, and I began to think to myself about what made it special. Obviously being a hub for the Cog Rail up to Pikes Peak, and the mountains scored a beautiful backdrop, but if I were coming here to shop or drink at a local brewery, these things didn’t necessarily have to be there. I began to think about super imposing my town of St. Clairsville over the streets of Manitou.

Manitou brought visitors to town often with different parades, traditions, legends and events they held to celebrate them. What did St. Clairsville have?

Running at home, upon our return, I imagined all of our storefronts of St. Clairsville boasting a home brewery, an art gallery, a bead shop, a Hip Vintage Stop, Momentum, a potter… but all of our storefronts were dark and empty for a sunny Sunday evening.

We didn’t get to the Cliff Dwellings but next time that will be on my list. My visit also made me want to reread The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook.