Slideshow from Texas – everything is ______ here



Like this couple making their way across the Guadeloupe River, near Center Point



As evidenced by Doug Northern's fair food




Like the Alamo, which reminds visitors "never to surrender nor retreat"





In the way purposely nonconforming Austin juxtaposes its artsy stores and restaurants with a glistening modern skyline



As the changing winter sky above endless miles of ranch land



The way only a trip to downtown San Antonio at Christmastime could be

The beginning of the beginning


It was beginning of the beginning for the United States of America and the beginning of the end for native tribes' societies when the Pilgrims landed here in 1620. It was also December, so while I am kicking myself for being here in near freezing weather in mid-October, they were even less prepared.


Plymouth Rock is symbolic, but I found the portico built over the rock in 1921 to be equally important. Here, 300 years after those tired refugees walked ashore, a firmly established nation erected a symbol of permanence. We had yet to face the Great Depression, wage battle with nuclear weapons or experience terrorism on our own soil.


To this day, the town of Plymouth is an energized place.


Groups of school children embark on physical history lessons.


While the shoreline is haloed in a crowd of boats.

The quiet just north of Boston

Manchester-by-the Sea is a cute little town in Massachusett's North Shore region
that swells with vacationers during summer. An unseasonably early cold
spell returns its beaches to nature.

Man 1


Nearby in Topsfield, a typical looking church illustrates the boxy colonial style that predominates in area towns with settlements dating to the pilgrims.

Toppsfield church

Alone for just a second,"Tall Tex" surveys a busy crowd at the annual Topsfield Fair.

Tall tex

Southeast Maine Americana

The mermaid-blue Atlantic Ocean is full of sailors and submerged history. Maine is the first state I've been to on the Atlantic coast. The ocean looks just like it did years ago when I was in Portugal.


Today, a U.S. Customs House built during the height of Portland's role as a trading port in the late nineteenth century, still processes imports and exports.


Sea gulls — which I'd nearly forgotten about — socialize in Portland's historic Old Port District, a cobblestoned array of businesses, restaurants and stores catering to residents and tourists, who arrive by car, foot and Leviathan-sized cruise boat.



A friendly sign speaks to me…


"And may you avoid the traps of your foes!" they should add.


A monument to "Liberty Ships" — built in South Portland en masse to deliver supplies to World War II troops — rears over a small section of Maine's craggy coast.


I love this covert McDonald's in Freeport — forced to tone things down to comply with zoning laws.


While in Yarmouth, map software company DeLorme wins the award for largest rotating globe. My second cosuin, Portland architect J.P. Pondelis, took this photo of "Eartha" floating above me.


On my journey, I have driven past many cemeteries. As I proceed east, they just get older, like this collection of headstones in South Portland. "There goes another sleeping city," I think.


And since Halloween is fast approaching, I ordered you guys a ghostly house and some fog in the Portland area countryside.


Leaf peepin’ in New England


Fall foliage is one of those difficult things to capture. Bob Ross could do a better job with his paintbrush than can I with my Canon camera.

But driving about 45 miles per hour on the back highways New England provides an everchanging technicolor dreamscape. Fleetwood Mac is my soundtrack.


"Come on baby, now don't you be cold / Just remember that love is gold," sings Christine McVie.


Monet also could have done some justice to Durham, Maine's Roundabout Pond, a small recreational area 30 miles north of Portland.


Parting images of Pittsburgh…


I was sad to say goodbye to Steel City, though I caught some major highlights during my visit, including the Smithfield Street Bridge, which has crossed the Monongahela River in one form or another for almost 100 years.


Here it is again, viewed from the vantage point of another mill artifact…


A pedestrian walkway on the bridge is industrially practical and yet so imbued with the history of the people who built it, that it is undeniably poetic.


It enabled several Crayola-happy images for me.


But I  said my goodbyes in the midst of the G20 Summit, an international economic thinktank that for two days pitted protesters against police and turned downtown into some sort of Orwellian seeming ghost town, since all the bridges in and out of the city were closed to regular traffic.


Here's one of several troupes of patrolling officers in the South Side neighborhood, the eve before the event.


The South Side is a colorful, eclectic district. I got Mahalia Jackson and Wumpscut CDs at an awesome used music store, saw draft beers advertised for as little as 86 cents on game days and pitied the owner of this RV and trailer combo, after experiencing my own harrowing driving experiences on Pittsburgh's crazy side streets.


My great aunt, Ann Donoghue, left, and Irene Toma (Sam Toma's wife) shared a wonderful Lebanese dinner with me in the South Side.


Earlier, I'd had my first ever taste of Lebanese food on Squirrel Hill with Kevin and Krista Mallon, who lead a vibrant Calvary Chapel just outside the city.

Kevin and krista

When I got to Pittsburgh, my hair was blue. When I left, it was back to boring brown. Think I'll blend in better this way.


A quieter network of trails

There is a network of trails that Amish and others use to get between towns without having to hit the highway. Here is a paved trail that passes the Wal-Mart in Millersburg.


And this hand-built covered bridge spans the Mohican River near Killbuck.


It's called the Bridge of Dreams because it was built against odds by members of the community.


Good bye Nashville, for now

Nashville has a beautiful skyline. I love how this cross section shows the old and new building styles.

Old and new

There was an Old Crow Medicine Show concert in an outdoor amphitheater down by the river the night I walked around downtown.

Nashville music1

Actually, the city of Nashville constantly emits musical notes! Here is the same shot, with some blur.

Nashville music 2

And while I'm getting artistic, an iris…

Iris of nashville

which was created when I swirled the energy around Joseph and Charlie  — two local musicians you met earlier.

Iris explained

Beth Walker, another musical fashionista from earlier, made a second appearance in my evening at a local dive bar. She was there, and then she was gone.


And there were plenty of interesting people to watch, including Lemyng, 21, a student and bar back at popular local coffee shop and music venue Cafe Coco.


At a different restaurant I tried some brewed-in-Nashville beer that was excellent! Full-bodied, sweet and not at all bitter.


Nashville (or NashVegas as the locals call it!) was a style oasis for me on my journey through America's back highways.


And there is lots of bold imagery.


Joes1 (2) 
A traditional Nashville night-out experience:

Country band

A bridge over the river


A lifesize replica of the Parthenon, built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897


And a couple more 'back alley' images…

Street Stairs