The postcards I received in September showed mountains from all over the world. There were the Blue Mountains of Australia, the Table Mountain in South Africa, Machu Picchu in Peru, the beautiful rock formations and canyons in Utah, the High Tatra in Poland and cards of the Saxonian Swiss (a mountainous area in Germany) and the Czech Swiss (its equivalent in the Czech Republic). And then there was a painting of a fantasy landscape, a deep canyon surrounded by steep cliffs, carved into the rocks by an acidic river.
After the beach theme in July I asked for island cards in August. Both requests were related to my island and beach vacation in July. I spent a week on the beautiful island Rügen in the Baltic Sea. Besides the wonderful (but very crowded) sandy beaches the famous white chalk cliffs are a good reason for a visit to the island. The white rocks offer a spectacular sight, and the lush greenery on top is National Park Jasmund, part of the UNESCO site Ancient Beech Forests of Germany. Naturally, I bought a stack of postcards for my collection.
Having been on Rügen once as a child, I vaguely remember looking at the cliffs from a viewpoint in the park. This time I chose a different perspective, looking up from the ocean during a boat tour along the coast. The boat can’t get too close, though, as the cliffs are always in danger of breaking off. That’s why it’s not a good idea to walk along the beach below the rocks, either. Or anywhere close to the edge. As beautiful as they are, the cliffs are best viewed from a distance.
As for the island cards I received in August through Postcrossing, they were a nice and interesting mix. I got cards of exotic island paradises with turquoise water and white beaches, islands in the middle of a lake, even a tiny island in a lake in the park. And also a card of Seattle, not technically an island as far as I know, but at least framed by a lake and the ocean, so it’s close enough.
Whenever it seemed feasible, I tried to spice up my solo adventures with a few group journeys. Of course, while staying in the USA, a bus trip seemed the best option to visit all the national parks I had in mind. So I did day trips from whatever city I was staying at (e.g. Yosemite from San Francisco) and longer round trips joining a travel group. One of those brought me to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone and all the way to Mount Rushmore before returning to Salt Lake City. Another took me from San Francisco along the coast to Joshua Tree National Park and then on to the Grand Canyon, through Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon and Zion to Las Vegas.
I was covering quite some distance on board of buses, soaking up all the views passing by the window. And while we made plenty of photo stops along the way, I still felt the need to take a few shots out of the bus window to capture some of the beauty I was seeing. Always knowing that these snapshots with a blurry foreground and window reflections disturbing the view could never match the real thing. So mostly, I just relaxed and enjoyed watching the landscape glide by. When you go on a bus tour in the USA, there’s plenty of time for that.
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In my post about the Independence Hall in Philadelphia I mentioned how excited I was to be there, shortly after I finished my degree in American History. The same was true for Boston. Many of the events leading up to the American Revolution took place there. Accordingly, I was looking forward to visiting some of the original locales. The best way to do this if you visit Boston for the first time is to follow the Freedom Trail: A line of red bricks starting at the Boston Common and leading the way through the city past historic locations like the Massachusetts State House, the Old Corner Bookstore, the Old State House and Faneuil Hall, ending at the Bunker Hill Monument.
Along the way you’ll learn about the Sons of Liberty, the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride and the Battle of Bunker Hill. In various cemeteries you’ll also find lots of names you may have read about in your history book. For me, the Boston Freedom Trail made my textbooks come alive.
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In my official Postcrossing profile, I started a game, requesting cards on a specific topic. I’m curious to see what kinds of different associations people connect with a certain topic or word. The theme for July was “Beach”, seeing as I was headed to the coast myself. The incoming postcards were quite interesting – and very different. A painting of a beach in Australia, a city beach by the river Elbe in Hamburg, two stranded starfish and a tiny penguin looking out at the ocean. Then there was a mole digging through what might be sand and a seabird with an interesting method of catching fish. I also added my own vacation card from Rügen.
Receiving all kinds of different postcards is fun on its own. Still, I thought I might try and match the received cards with a (postcard-worthy) picture of my own. Although I did spend my summer vacation at the beach, I didn’t take any real beach photos this time. Crowded beaches are not really my favourite photo motifs, and I think the sunbathers wouldn’t be happy about people running around with cameras, either. So I choose an older picture, an early morning shot from Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The shore was empty just after sunrise, except for a few like-minded souls enjoying the early light and the eerie calm of a deserted beach.
The lightly coloured houses are built right up to the egde of the cliffs. The soft limestone underneath has been washed out by the ocean and the houses look almost as if they were suspended in mid-air. You get the best view from the water, so we made a boat trip along the coast to see the town to its full extent.
You all know the presidents’ heads at Mount Rushmore. But have you also heard about the Crazy Horse Memorial? Located only a few miles away from Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota, this statue of the Oglala Lakota war leader Crazy Horse is bound to be much larger than the likenesses of the four US presidents. Once it is finished, it shall be 172 metres high and 195 metres long. However, even though construction was started in 1948, so far only the face is finished.
In the nearby museum you can see a small model of the memorial. Conveniently placed by a window, you can look past the model right at the statue emerging from the rock. This view gives a good impression of how the memorial is supposed to look. But there’s still a lot of work to be done before the famous chief sitting on his horse will be carved out of the mountain. It is estimated to take another 100 years to finish. Until then, this might just be the best view of the statue – looking out from inside the museum.
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