The Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station
Only a 30-minute drive west of Duluth, Minnesota, on the edge of the St. Louis River, is a little logging town in the North Woods called Cloquet. This town began as a group of small settlements around three sawmills: Shaw Town, Nelson Town, and Johnson Town, and today it has a population of a little over 12,000 people.
Many people would be very surprised to learn that this quiet little town has a unique tie to America’s greatest architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Cloquet, is the location of the only functioning gas station ever designed and built by Mr. Wright. It is also the only piece of Wright’s Broadacre City project ever to be constructed.
This is the closest I have been to a blue heron…
With wildlife, I’m convinced that no matter how much you try to plan ahead it's really just dumb luck that you are in the right spot at the right time.
I have visited many botanical gardens around the United States but Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the Big Island of Hawaii is hands down my favorite! This is a pristine 40 acre rainforest garden. While this one of a kind garden contains over 2,000 species of tropical plants; it is so much more than just a botanical garden. It is also a stunning tropical nature preserve and sanctuary that features a multi-tiered waterfall, several streams, and an amazingly beautiful ocean front walk along Onomea Bay. This garden is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful locations in Hawaii; a distinction I think it well deserves.
The adventure begins 2 miles before you even reach the Garden…
Step back over 160 years in time at the beautiful Historic Bowens Mills. Once a thriving community, farmers brought their grain here to the 1854 grist mill to be milled into flour and meal. Visit the antique apple cider press that sits ready for another fall apple season.
In the western portion of the state of Nebraska you’ll find Western Trails Scenic and Historic Byway. This is a historic 144 mile route from Ogallala to the Wyoming border that roughly follows the path the pioneers took almost 200 years ago. While there is much to see and do here, I have chosen the amazing geological formations that those brave pioneers saw along the way to be the topic of this post.
With my interior design background, I always take a special interest in any unique and interesting architecture. The Painted Churches on the Big Island of Hawaii certainly fall into that category. If you are an architecture and/or art lover or just love to visit churches, these churches are definitely a must see. Be aware, these churches don't give away any of their secrets on the exterior, it's necessary to go inside to discover their beauty!
Funny story, on one of our visits to St. Benedict's, my husband was out in their amazing garden mostly trying hard to stay out of my way. :-D He was enjoying the quiet and the birds when a car hurriedly wheeled into the parking lot. This guy jumped out of the car and loudly proclaimed, "I'm not sure why they call this the Painted Church, it's just white!" Before my husband could tell him to go inside, he was back in his car and had sped away.
ATTENTION: Car Lovers, Auto Geeks and Gearheads...
If you have never visited Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford for a car show, you don't know what you are missing!
Little House on the Prairie
I have a confession to make; I was 50 before I read the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I can hear the collective gasp of all the shocked women that are currently reading this post….blasphemy, I KNOW!
In my defense, when I was about the age when all the other little girls were madly absorbing these books, playing "Holly Hobbie" dress up and dreaming about being Laura, my local librarian marched me over to the adult section of the town’s public library and handed me an Agatha Christie novel. I never stepped foot in the children’s section of the library again.
When I look back, I’m really not sure what I was doing when the television series came out because I didn’t watch that either. Oh, I saw an episode or two but without the background of the books; I just really didn’t get it. Maybe, it was just too “girly” for me; I hated pink, didn’t play with dolls and was the only kid in my neighborhood with a complete football uniform, shoulder pads and all.
Needless to say, my husband was more than a bit skeptical when I tossed out the idea of driving up to DeSmet, South Dakota, for a “Little House on the Prairie” weekend.
Visiting Waipi'o Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii had been on my bucket list since 2006. At that time, we were on a seven month assignment on Maui and had hopped over to Hilo for a weekend visit. We planned to hike the volcano, see waterfalls and drive down into Waipi'o Valley. I had done all the research, rented the jeep, was raring to go, and then we simply ran out of time. Not realizing how much larger the Big Island was to the other islands, I failed to plan for the driving time. Plan accordingly, from Hilo, it is an hour and fifteen minute drive and from Kailua-Kona, you are an hour and a half away. That's no stopping to take pictures or sightseeing but straight drive time.
Fast forward 11 years to 2017, when I received the news of the Big Island assignment my first thought was, "I finally get to see Waipi'o Valley!"
When you hear someone refer to “The Bridges of Madison County” I bet your first thought is the movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. If you are an avid reader, it’s the best-selling novel that preceded the movie by a few years. Many people are not aware that those beautiful covered bridges Clint’s character went to photograph are located in a picturesque area of Iowa less than an hour drive from Des Moines.
The official name for this area is Covered Bridges Scenic Byway. It is one of Iowa’s newest scenic byways. At 82 miles long, this byway is packed with beautiful natural areas and unique destinations like John Wayne’s Birthplace. There’s enough to see and do in Madison County to easily fill a 2 or 3 day weekend.
If you are like me, you may need to make a second trip just to see and experience it all!
National Geographic calls the spring migration of the Sandhill Cranes through central Nebraska “one of the greatest wildlife phenomena in North America”. If you are a birder, a wildlife photographer or just a nature lover, I really consider this a “must do” for your bucket list!
In 2017, I was lucky enough to spend the entire migration season in Nebraska with the Sandhill Cranes. It had been on my bucket list for quite some time. I had gotten a small taste of it about 10 years ago when my husband completed a 2 month assignment in Grand Island. That year, we left at the beginning of March when the cranes were just starting to arrive but what I saw in those first few weeks literary blew my mind!
Sometimes what's going on behind the scenes is just as good as the image created....
Where To Next?
My husband is a medical traveler. He fills in at hospitals all over the United States that are short-staffed. Contracts typically start at 13 weeks long, but sometimes they can get extended for up to a year.
It's a very different life. I like to say it's a little like a substitute teacher only with temporary relocation. Sometimes those locations are absolutely amazing and sometimes, not so much; but, it is always interesting. I have discovered so much beauty in areas of the United States that some people might think they would never want to visit. We have been very lucky getting some great locations, so I have no complaints!
I am the 8th photographer in 4 generations of my family. Back in 2006, my husband accepted a job traveling, and I jumped at the chance to go with him.
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