Travel Log: Somewhere in Montana

Copyright 2016, Photo by Laura Riggs

When S and I decided to move from Oregon to Florida, we packed our stuff up and hired a moving truck to haul the load so that we could sightsee some of the country.  After our 8-day trip, I can decidedly say, we live in a big, damn country.  There were parts that we decided we could skip next time we get a hankering for a road trip, but a must-see for anyone is Montana.  I don’t know how they do it, but the sky truly seems bigger there.  Maybe it’s because the prairie is expansive and quiet; just the place to go to free yourself from the anxiety that naturally occurs when we are burdened with the responsibility of day-to-day life.

Even as the prairie collides with the fast rise of the Rocky Mountains, there is enough space for the sky to open up and let the sunlight pour down on the evergreen trees and the crisp, clean river that cuts through below.  I can see why people show up for a weekend getaway and never leave.  One can find great peace in the solitude. Some of the locals told us that it gets down to 20-below in the winter, so that may be the time for me to leave.

It could be because there are fewer people, buildings and roads to scar the natural landscape.  You get a glimpse back in time of what life may have been like for our ancestors (as well as life for those our ancestors stole the land from), before the Industrial Revolution.  We saw so many animals, who have long since been driven out by the steam of ‘progress’,  but can find great fields of tall grass and wild flowers to roam.  We spent two of our nights here, and mouths were agape for most of it, as we stared in awe of the beauty, power and genius of nature.  When most people want a relaxing vacation, they opt for the beach.  For me, it is the mountains.  To just sit and breathe, and be quiet, so that I can listen to what the universe has to offer.


Travel Log: Venice – Grand Canal (3)

I took this photo in October 2011, when I had the good fortune of visiting this beautiful, but sinking, island before it is gone.  According to the BBC, both the rate at which Venice is sinking, combined with the threat of rising sea levels, the city has felt an 11-inch shift over the past century. This has resulted in Venice flooding ever more frequently – 100 floods in the past year alone – leading to further erosion of the city.  Most of the shift can be directly attributed to climate change (suck it, Republicans – the struggle is real!)

If there was any doubt that 45 is a giant hunk of shit, well….here’s your sign…

  • The POPE believes the science is settled
  • Exxon thinks we should keep the agreement (as do other large companies)
  • North Korea is on board. NORTH KOREA, y’all!
  • We are now one of three (yes, 3) countries not participating: Syria (they get a pass), Nicaragua (they thought it wasn’t tough enough), and the US (because the Cheeto-in-Chief is a racist, misogynistic twat who wants to undo anything Obama did – good, bad or indifferent – in hopes of erasing the fact that we elected a BLACK MAN as POTUS)

Guess what, Shitgibbon? You can’t erase it, because me, and all of the people like me, who voted for Obama know that we voted for President Blackenstein, and we know the truth. And the truth is this: you just sold our children’s future up the river with your little, vengeful temper tantrum, so you can take your “pro-life” stance and suck it. If you are truly pro-life, then you would want to protect the thing that houses all of it.


Travel Log: Obidos – Rua Direita (2)

This is probably one of my all time favorite photos, taken on the Rua Direita in Obidos, Portugal, during my visit in 2011.  The photo has remained relatively untouched, other than I’ve added a soft vignette border.  There isn’t anything particularly spectacular about it, but I love the contrast of blues and white, specked with hints of flowers the residents planted along this path.

Established by the Romans sometime in the 5th century, Óbidos is one of the oldest cities in Europe.  Following the Romans, came the Moors, then the Christians, and finally the first King of Portugal took it back from all of them in 1148, during his conquest of the Estremadura region.  His son gave the title to the Queen in 1210 and the town has been known as Óbidos: Vila das Rainhas (the Town of Queens) ever since.  Carrying this noble title, the citizens living within the town centre have made a commitment to the constant upkeep needed for the buildings and walls, that are centuries old.  There have been a handful of occasions when the town went through a reconstruction phase: additions to the castle in the 14th century by King Dinis; the Church of Santa Maria (the patron saint of Óbidos) was built in the 15th century so that the King and Queen could marry (they were 9 and 10 at the time….creepy); renovations after an earthquake in 1755 (resulting in the loss of much of the Arab and Medieval architectural influence from the the buildings, walls and churches); and finally, the nearby Battle of Roliça, fought during the Peninsular War in the early 1800s.

Óbidos has fared pretty well over the years, and is one of the few towns left in Europe where the ancient buildings and city walls remain in tact.  As I rounded the corner of my walk through the village, something about these stairs gave me pause.  The wind stopped and the chatter from my fellow pedestrians grew quiet.  In that moment, I could hear the whispers of history, winding down the stairs to fill me with hope.  The ancients spoke softly that day, to remind me, “the most beautiful things can grow from ruin.”

Travel Log: Lisboa

Other than a little brightening on the blue, this photo has virtually no filter. I took it in September 2011, during my first trip to Lisbon. The economy had collapsed and there were quite a few people lining the Rua Augusta, begging for money. I saw many more standing in unemployment lines, that were blocks long, in the city center. The city was dirty, and covered in fog. As I stood, staring out at the Rio Tajo, the sailboat came into view and I quickly snapped as it passed under the Santuario Nacional de Cristo Rei.

I didn’t stay long in Lisbon, but the rampant sadness and poverty afflicting the centuries old port, that had come on the heels of the financial, caused by fraud of big banks has always stuck with me.

It seems our law makers never learn from these disasters, and are always willing to loosen regulations designed to protect their citizens from swindlers, for the sake of lining their pockets with a few more bits of gold.

The people deserve better.