Beware the eyes of Texas


Texans definitely have a swagger. Even if you spoke to no one and only observed the signs, you'd still get a sense of their confidence.

In addition to this colorful warning at a rest area, scores of no-litter signs proclaim, "Don't mess with Texas."

I even saw a sign on a desert highway in the panhandle that said simply: "MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLE."

Don't think a Texan is gonna come bail out your behind!

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

Cool old architecture where you wouldn’t expect it

Waycross, Georgia, population 15,000 is at the northeastern tip of the massive Okefenokee swamp — reason enough to love it.

But it is also home to lots of funky architecture, including buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.





There were several vacancy signs and not much activity on a weekday, in this little city.


I didn't even inquire about work at the third-generation family owned paper.

Through Boston, I walked the line

With Johnny Cash in my head, no less.

The so-called "Freedom Trail" links historical monuments on a cool 2.5 mile walking tour through Boston's center.


It was raining most of the time, but I didn't bust out my umbrella. Seattle-born people are hardcore that way.


A beautiful array of old American flags in Massachusetts' capitol building includes one displayed backwards to show its more neatly embroidered side.


Further down the road, Granary Burial Ground, founded in 1660, is the city's third-oldest cemetery.


Our tombstone engraving norms sure have changed. This close to Halloween, I found the old style sort of creepy!


Old and new buildings in a skyline are one of my favorite things… keep reading for a closeup of the glass skyscraper.


Boston's Quincy Market is a great people watching and grub getting hangout.


But the very Italian North End district won my heart.


Easily could have spent all day here listening to people chit chat in Italian and Boston accents.


Paul Revere sort of resembles Paul Newman, don't you think?


Paul newman

In front of an historic church, a modern memorial to lost Iraq War vets


And that spectacular building, again….


When I'd had my share of walking around and reading plaques, I hopped on the subway and headed outbound to meet a friend at Harvard.


As I walked through Cambridge toward a campus entrance, I saw a perfect looking apple someone had forgotten about. It was sitting on a ledge inside the school, separated from the outside world by iron bars. The apple and the tree in the background made me contemplate the knowledge we attain through higher education.


At least the W.A.S.P.y university's motto is "Truth"


And it's not considered Ivy League for nothing. 


Taking a bite of Pittsburgh

City cross section

Pittsburgh is layered in steel and bricks and flavored by sweat and ethnicity. Until the mid-70s it was perpetually coated in coal dust from the steel mills that dirtied even the shoes and collars of office workers.

Steel from here helped build the country and fight two world wars.

Today, only one plant operates on the outskirts of the city; the cutting-edge technology and manufacturing have moved overseas.

Health care, education, technology and financial services make up the primary industries, yet Pittsburgh retains its blue-collar soul.

It is a juxtaposition of the mid west and east coast, culturally, and the birthplace of public television and its early ambassador, Fred Rogers; along with hipster artist Andy Warhol and Heinz ketchup, the source material for one of Warhol's installations in the sixties.

There are an estimated 2.4 million in the metropolitan area and just over 300,000 in the city, where multiple bridges span the convergence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers into the Ohio River — a geographical triangle that anchors downtown.

The city also is sectioned into a 90 distinct neighborhoods, with dozens of unincorporated suburbs just outside.

For a west coast chiquita like myself, Pittsburgh was a lot to bite into.

Churches, bars, bridges, tunnels and hills coalesce into the skyline. Dense and architecturally diverse, it's a back-alley photojournalist's dream.

But I quickly realized I wouldn't be able to capture everything. I can only offer you a taste.

We ship 

Above and below, buildings in the colorful, ethnically diverse Strip District


In the touristy part of downtown, near the rivers, "tomorrow" is a tantalizing promise that never comes and steel mill artifacts are repurposed to make a dancing water fountain.

Free crab 


The houses here are all very different. A lot of humble (but colorful) brick…


…next to turn-of-the-20th century romanticism.


Synagogues punctuate the traditionally Jewish neighborhood, Squirrel Hill.


And there are so many old churches here, some have been converted to restaurants. At least one that I saw is now a bar. (The sacrilege!)

The alter 

At the University of Pittsburgh, the Cathedral of Learning is an impressive testament to working class residents who donated money during the Great Depression to help build what, at 42 stories, is now the tallest "school room" in the western world.

It's an inspirational place to study, though I was more excited when I thought the stars were as "dew," than when I realized they're as "new."

Sign bones 

Oh well! Here is a closeup of the Cathedral's bones

Cathedral bones

And a detail shot of the Ukrainian classroom, one of several dozen rooms decorated in a distinct historical ethnic or national style

Ukranian room 

Pittsburgh is the start of older United States history on my journey. Old and new are integrated…

New cathedral

with varying degrees of success, aesthetically.


U of Pitt's mascot is the panther, which just so happens to be my soul animal. Go Pittsburgh!


Steubenville, Ohio – I can smell the east coast from here!


Steubenville, Ohio, population 19,000, is separated from Pennsylvania by a few miles and a sliver of the top of West Virginia. It has a distinctly more east-coast feel than all the other places I've visited.

The population has staggered a bit in recent years with the slowing of the steel industry. But the town has a pretty cool feel. It's hilly and green, with some 'birth-of-America' era history.

The fort you see below was originally built in 1776.


This bell replicates one from 1873.


A bridge in the distance is being retrofitted to allow cars again.


And despite whispers of past political corruption here, Justice hangs her scales above it all.


There are 25 murals painted on walls downtown, including this one in a courtyard park that once served as a cultural center for Steubenville's black 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