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My favorite photo — Paris

My favorite photo — Peru

Great expectations but little time in a beautiful city

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood several times this weekend, and, each time, we took the one less traveled by.

And that made all the difference.

The first accidental divergence happened during the beautiful Navarino Nature Center 5K Fall Color Run/Walk Saturday morning, when Vince unintentionally ran an extra 2 1/2 kilometers and still managed to score a second place medal.

The second accidental divergence happened during our post-game stop at Yoder’s, the Amish Bakery outside Cecil, when we stumbled into a farm auction and some of the best donuts we’ve ever tasted.

Knowing how way leads onto way, we made the less traveled path our theme for the weekend. With our friends Scott and Tami , we wandered happily around Shawano Lake, popping into the Sand Bar for lunch, and watching a few pivotal scenes from a vintage movie at the Berry Lake Club.

In leaves no step had trodden black, we took less travelled paths through woods just beginning to deck themselves out, strolled past quiet ponds and counted stars above an open corn field.

With Robert Frost on the mind, and Jack Frost on the toes, we enjoyed the first days of Wisconsin’s prettiest season.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two road diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that had made all the difference.


Vince accidentally looped around a 2.5 kilometer path on the course twice, and still managed to take home the second place medal in his age category, a nod to both his training regimen and underpopulated division.


Al’s Taxidermy served as a silver sponsor of the race.


I’m not sure how they finished, but the Navarino Wonder Women rocked the starting line.


Ahhhh! Fall in Wisconsin is so beautiful!


These three sweet girls were among many people having fun off the beaten path at the Amish barn auction.


We stumbled onto this auction and enjoyed the best donuts we’ve ever tasted.


This roller organ was one of the many, many cool antiques for sale. We didn’t know how to bid, so we just sat back and watched for a little while.


Then we hit the road really less traveled.



Sometimes, this isn’t the best advice.

The Old Man and the perfectly preserved Sea-side home

Evidence of Ernest Hemingway’s demons remains scratched into his bathroom walls and, for a moment, I had to look away.

A journalist, then novelist, whose honest exploration of the human psyche (most often his own) earned him both a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize, Hemingway courted specific details for his characters.

I like details too, so I turned back and observed.

Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s Cuban home, still looks as though its celebrated resident might lumber through its perfectly preserved rooms. His typewriter rests, waist high on a book shelf, with easy access to a pacing author.

Trophies from his big game hunts decorate the living room walls. American magazines from 1959 still fill the rack. Though empty now, his swimming pool looks as inviting as it did back in 1957 when Ava Gardner reportedly swam naked in it. Up and down the walls on either side of his bathroom scale, Hemingway’s meticulously recorded weight, scribbled there with various pens, still hints at a troubled mind.

Hemingway wrote both For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea while living at the house, before a crippling bout of writer’s block stole his words.

“Can you imagine a writer with his talent unable to write a single word?” asked the docent who gave us a tour.

Back-to-back plane crashes left both Hemingway and his fourth wife Mary Walsh Hemingway seriously injured though not, as had been widely reported in 1954, deceased. He spent some time at Finca Vigia locked in his bedroom, recovering from injuries, drinking Mojitos and reading his own obituaries.

Reconstructed with care, Finca Vigia offers a telling look into one of America’s most talented and troubled authors.

Hemingway bedroom

Hemingway’s bedroom, including the typewriter he kept on his bookshelf, remains exactly as he had left it.

Hemingway headline

The headline on this newspaper reads “Heminway, wife killed in crash”. I’m not sure which would have been more insulting to him — the premature announcement of his demise, or the misspelling of his famous last name.

Hemingway's bathroom

I took a quick glance at the bathroom and had to turn away…

Hemingway's scale

I thought the meticulously kept hand-written weight notations on either side of his scale hinted at a sad obsessive compulsive tendency and I wondered how pleased he’d be for the whole world to see.


He didn’t invent them, but Hemingway did love a Mojito and we sipped one or two during our time in Cuba as well. Cuba still loves Papa Hemingway and so many bars and restaurants in and around Havana claim to have served him that our guide joked that it would be difficult to find one that didn’t make that claim. When Hemingway died, the fishermen in Cojimar, a nearby village, wanted to pay tribute to him, but they had no money. So, they collected small pieces of brass from their boat propellers and anchors and melted them down to create a bust.

The librarian and Hemingway's library

I snapped our own library media specialist, Kathy, in front of Hemingway’s well-maintained, 9,000 volume library.

Hemingway's boat

Hemingway’s boat, the Pilar, rests in a place of honor above his unused tennis court. On the left you can see grave markers for four of his beloved dogs. I found it interesting that the passionate big game hunter shared his home with 57 cats and six dogs.

Hemingway's pool

You could easily imagine Papa Hemingway cooling off in this immaculately maintained swimming pool. (Had there been water, I’d have jumped in myself. Cuba in July is hot!)

Hemingway house

Hemingway’s home now looks very similar to…

Hemingway's dining room

…Hemingway’s home in 1957. This is the exact same table, game trophies, and dinnerware you see in the dining area above. The picture is shot from the opposite angle as the one above.

A good Cuban cigar

Cuba — A people to people cultural exchange

Florida and its amazing technicolor dreamcoat

Even more than the sunshine, our friends south of the Mason Dixon line seem to be hording the crayons this time of year.

With mango tango sunrises, mountain meadow water, cerulean skies and jungle green palm trees places like Florida wrap their mitts around the 120 count box, while up here in the Midwest, we’re stuck with a couple fat stubs — white, black and gray.

That’s why a quick trip to Florida can be such a feast for the eyes. We pale Midwesterners emerge from southbound planes and cars squinting like Cool Hand Luke after 30 days in the box.

“The light! The light!”

We stumble around a little, slap on a thick layer of sunscreen, and venture forth.

That’s what I did anyway.

Following a morning rain,  I grabbed my camera on our last day in Florida and went for a walk, giddy with the opportunity to document all of that color reflected in warm rain puddles.

I couldn’t bring the crayons home, though it’s always miraculous when the colors slowly find their way back to Wisconsin.

But, I did score a picture or two and, on dull, gray afternoons, I’ll close my eyes, draw back the curtain, to see for certain what I thought I knew…Florida and its amazing technicolor dreamcoat.

Palm trees reflection

I loved the reflection of the palm trees in the rain puddle. Can you spot me in this photo?

Racing reflection

This racing themed home, with its fancy gate, also made a cool reflection in the rain puddle.

Reflection in an alley

That’s the beach on the far side of this alley. I just thought the perspective and the puddle were cool.

Reflection in orange

An amazing technicolor dreamcoat of a house.

Short's Beach

I loved this colorful direction sign on the beach and the fact that this raft rested near it. Check out the boats in the distance too. I liked the whole composition of this frame.

Sunrise in Florida

I sat on an empty beach one morning shooting the sunrise. I’ve seen better sunrise pictures (mostly from my brother in-law Chip) but I did like the boat on the horizon and the glorious color of the sky.

The grandma and the kite

And, speaking on colors, I enjoyed watching this grandma and her twin granddaughters fly this colorful kite on the beach after the rain.