I’m sure, like me, you are inundated with emails and messages with articles about all the things you can do virtually. So many creative people, companies, and organizations have stepped up and created so much content you could literally sit in front of your screen 24/7.  It’s overwhelming.

I’ve been trying to do a few online classes, tours, and workshops and it can be daunting. Here are a couple of exceptional virtual experiences, including a podcast, webcam, train ride, and sounds of nature, for you to dip-in your toe and give it a try. I hope you enjoy them, Karen

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Wildlife Viewing

This LiveCam website is fantastic for all ages, from this link you can explore an entire world of different wildlife webcams. Let’s start with the Gorilla Forest Corridor in Kasugho, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. On the page, scroll to POP LIVECAM; it will also show highlight footage. There are many options to explore on this incredible website by explore.org.


Celebrate America’s Story with the Tenement Museum Podcast

For one of my favorite podcasts, listen to stories of real families who settled into New York tenements from all over the world, courtesy of the fabulous Tenement Museum. Equally as well-done as this must-see museum.


IMG_4643Sounds from my neighborhood: The Everglades

For some quick gratification try out this interactive site, Sounds of the Everglades. You and pick and play different combinations of sounds from nature. This is another great one to share with kids.


Glacier Express.Switzerland.DSC_0449Take a ride through incredible Alpine scenery

There are lots of virtual train trips, so let’s start with a great one through the Bernina Pass, from St. Moritz, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy – All Aboard!


 

 

 

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A fleeting moment: Eye contact through the bush.

(Ngala Private Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa)

South African Sunset, Sabi Sands

“Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears”

– from the Broadway play Fiddler on the Roof, written in 1964 by composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick.

Sunset in the Okavango Delta, BotswanaSunset on the Hudson River, NYCSunset on the Zambezi in Zambia, AfricaSunrise over Grandfather Mountain, Linville, NCSunset on the Ganges in Varanasi, IndiaOff the coast of Madiera in the North Atlantic OceanSunset in the cloudsMoon over Miami

Altitude with Attitude.

Grandfather Mountain Vista, North Carolina

I love mountains and this time of year we are usually packing to head to our home in the beautiful, tranquil North Carolina High Country. But, not yet. So today since mountains have been on my mind, I’m sharing a few of my favorite pics with altitude.

I have one more treat to share. There are thousands of links to virtually visit museums, listen to concerts, and keep yourself entertained. For me, enjoying nature is a most basic pleasure. Change up your mindset and get in touch with some of the beauty our country has to offer with this amazing collaboration between Google and our National Park Service: The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks

Keep your masks on and Stay Safe.

Ireland.Cliffs of KerryHawsbill, North CarolinaBeacon Heights, North CarolinaMt. Everest and the Himalayan MountainsGrandfather MountainVictoria Falls, Zambia, AfricaAlaska Glacier BayKerry, IrelandBlue Ridge Pkwy, North CarolinaRoom with a view, Linville, NCLinville Ridge Country Club, North Carolina

Friendship

Africa Okavanga Delta 2

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this odd and reflective time of “staying safe at home” I think we all focus on what’s most important – our family and our friends.

Friendship is a precious gift and I am fortunate to have been blessed with some amazing friends in my life. Like our family, most are quite spread out geographically and I miss the lunches, trips, golf, and card games that were the settings for so many talks, shared confidences, and laughter. Communicating through electronics is just not the same – although I am very thankful we have those options to keep in touch.

Today’s blog is a tribute to my friends and since I don’t think many would like to see their picture on this public blog, I have collected a few favorite wildlife pics to serve as stand-ins.

Stay safe.

B.DSCN4125A.DSC_0481A.Camel.EgyptA.DSC_0260B.DSCN2744Atlanta AquariaumButterfly6NC.Mallards 12IMG_2926IMG_4510DSCN2351Alaska.OrcasDSCN2054IMG_4504

A Springtime for Reflection

IMG_7031It’s Passover and Easter and time for new life. Time for flowers to bloom. In the midst of “Safe at Home” it seems like a good time to rejoice in some natural beauty. These pictures are all favorites of mine, some from trips to far-away places and others from my two very different backyards. I hope they evoke a special memory or feeling and make you smile.

My hope is that, as a society, we will have hit a reset button and emerge to an even better way of living, being kinder to one another, and the world in which we live.

DSC_0448A.NC.Wataugua Farmer's Market.IMG_1508IMG_E6873IMG_6060Flower LupineIMG_5854Santorini - CopyDSC_0454DSC_0099DSCN3837DSCN6767OrchidA.IMG_6882A.DSC_0234 - Copy

 

Our Lifeguards in a Covid 19 World

Miami Bayfront Park, lifeguard stand.

We have a new kind of lifeguards in our altered world. The amazing people who staff our nation’s hospitals. In this week’s post, I want to thank those exceptional men and women.

 At our new ground zero are the physicians and nurses who are on the front lines fighting this battle against the coronavirus. It’s not only the doctors and nurses we need to recognize, but a few decades working in hospitals and healthcare communications also taught me plenty of behind-the-scene details.  So many others are at risk. We need to also thank the housekeeping staff who scrubs the rooms, transporters who move patients from place to place, lab techs who run tests behind the scenes, administrators who struggle with capacity, quality and logistic issues, the plant ops crew who keep facilities in working order, dietary staff cooking to feed patients and exhausted staff, respiratory therapists, radiology techs, and so many more. Each hospital is a universe all its own and let’s not forget all those contractors who work regularly in hospitals like the electrical contractors who, literally, keep the lights on and the monitors humming.

Give thanks to them all.

Serenity . . . .

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.” 

Every day I am inundated with emails about planning my next trip, how I should book now and pay later, urging me to “dream” about where I want to go. Well, for now, I don’t want to go anywhere and I also don’t want to think about all the places I was planning to visit. I’m staying put and doing my best to stay healthy and calm.

In the interest of sharing my feelings, here are a few seaside photos that bring me a sense of serenity. I hope you enjoy them. – Karen  

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Hillwood Estate and Museum, Washington DC

Note to my readers: Even though we are all homebound these days, I hope you will still join me in my quest of experiencing new places and cultures.  For today, I planned a post from our recent trip to Washington DC and Hillwood Museum. If you enjoy the content below and are interested in visiting Hillwood yourself, you can explore their collection with Hillwood from Home. You can also watch their featured videos on YouTube. Stay safe, Karen


Anyone who loves museums, mansions, Russian art, French furniture, and/or expansive gardens is in for a real pleasure when they visit Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.

Marjorie Post was the heiress to the Post Cereal fortune. When she was married to E.F. Hutton, they transformed Post into General Foods. A later husband was the Ambassador to Russia during the 1930s and Margorie’s 18 months in that country sparked a love of all Russian art, iconography, porcelain, and artifacts. Hillwood was created when she bought the mansion in 1955, and spent three years remodeling, working with a curator from the beginning. Margorie designed the space to become the museum she envisioned, planning all along to leave her home and 25-acre estate to the state for public access.

I loved seeing the two Fabergé eggs in her collection and the Russian porcelain display. I hope you can get a bit of an idea of the house from the few photos below.

Hillwood Estate and Museum, Washington DCMarjorie’s story is as interesting as the house. And although I’ve been to her Mar-a-Lago home, I still enjoyed learning even more about her life. The hour-long docent-guided tour was delightful and when you are in her bedroom suite, you can see her closets, the safe where she kept her jewels, as well as a rotating display of her gowns and incredible jewelry. The ballroom in the house was set up for movie screenings since her Hollywood connections (her daughter was actress Dina Merrill) facilitated getting first-run films to show her guests.

Hillwood Estate and Museum, Washington DCIn the kitchen, you could see stacks of Jell-O molds in the glass-front cabinets, because all of her fabulous dinners included that iconic General Mills “delicacy”. The dumbwaiter in the butler’s pantry was used to bring up china and crystal from her extensive collection stored in the basement.

It wasn’t the optimal time of year for us to tour the gardens, but the greenhouses were filled with blooming orchids. The visitor center had a great gift shop (but the soda vending machines did not work). On the grounds, there is a nice café and we enjoyed a very quick, but tasty, lunch. The location is convenient, adjacent to Rock Creek Park. The estate is hidden with entrance gates tucked off the road. I got our tickets online so we could skip any on-site queue, but it turns out we visited on a quiet weekday.

Next up – as friends and family have, I need to sail on her yacht the Sea Cloud.

 

The Spy Next Door.

International Spy Museum, Washington DC

International Spy Museum, Washington DC

When I was about 12, I sneaked a book out of my parent’s bedroom. It was Ian Fleming’s James Bond thriller, The Man with the Golden Gun. I read the book late at night and successfully returned it without detection. There has been no turning back for me – I’ve been fascinated with spies, real and fictional, ever since.

My trip to the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. was a super-treat. The museum surpassed my expectations. History buffs will enjoy the focus on spy-craft through the centuries, from the Trojan Wars, Washington’s spies during the American Revolution, how spies shaped the Civil War, and more. I learned so much.

International Spy Museum, Washington DCWell-placed videos help set the stage and creative design guarantees visitor engagement. Fascinating artifacts from both World Wars and the Cold War are on display, as well as personal stories of spies known and not. Double agents, traitors, the pickaxe that killed Trotsky, cleverly hidden cameras, listening devices of every description, poison-tipped pens, cyber-spying, invisible ink, and code-breaking. It’s all here. And, interactive modules play off the ID cards on lanyards distributed as your ticket allows you to experience real-life scenarios. Even the attack on Bin Laden.

I will return.

Of Note:
Advance info I read said to allow 2 – 2.5 hours, but I felt we could have spent all day. A senior discount is available. Although fabulous for school-age children, those with babies need to know they are not allowed to use strollers but must carry the baby or use one of the back-packs provided at the museum. Spymuseum.org

International Spy Museum, Washington DC

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