Saturday, October 31, 2015

Antique Show Creepshow 2: The Creepening

And now... This.

Hey, everybody! Into the car! We're going to an antique show!

Seriously, GET IN.

Can you bring a friend along? Sure, bring a friend!

You'd rather ride your bike? Fine. We'll meet you there.

Oh, your magic bicycle. Sure. As long as it gets you there.

Just watch out for pedestrians!

And try not to get caught up in any tomfoolery.

Say... Christmas is right around the corner, and the Antique Show is a great place to find gifts for everyone on your list!

Great-Grandma will be all over this picture of someone she probably went to school with....

Dad'll just love this Cycling Daddy... or perhaps the alcohol-guzzling ship's captain?

Smoking Grandpas are sure to be a hit with the elderly....

Are there any infants on your shopping list? Do they have appendages? Great!

Maybe pick up a little something for your Disney-lovin' cousin....?

... that IS Mickey, isn't it?

And don't forget your worst enemy....

I hope you found some great deals! Only 55 days till Christmas. Have you been naughty or nice so far this year?

Remember, he's watching.

*Santa photo by Heather M.

Friday, October 30, 2015

In Conclusion...

Trip Blog Index!







Posted While Aboard...

Washington, D.C. Area


Delicious Kevins

My world travels came to an end three weeks ago, and my travel blog posts are concluding as well. This makes me a little sad. I loved that trip. Being home is a semi-disappointing reality, like waking up from a terrific dream. I love my family and home, but... the wild blue younger! I need more of it! So I need to get back to working, back to saving money, so that I can do more....

But before I start blogging again about TV shows and antiques and all other manner of goofy things, I want to make a few last-minute remarks and reflections about my trip.

1. I am so grateful to God for providing me with safety and good health. I know I was praying for both, I'm sure my mom was, and I believe others were, too. Even though I was sometimes in weird situations, like where I had to walk back to my hotel in a strange city in the dark, I always made it safely. One ship, one small boat, four planes, five trains, several buses and shuttles, two taxis, lots of subways, and miles of walking, and I had no injuries to report (beyond cutting my finger on a cheap umbrella), no robberies or pickpockets, and no sicknesses beyond some dizziness during the first part of my cruise. That said, on my final flight home, I started to get a sore throat, which, after returning home, turned into a cold which turned into Bronchitis. But that all happened afterward.

2. Many people have asked me what my "favorite thing" was, and honestly, there were so  many great moments and "things" that I can hardly say.

Best food? Switzerland. The bread and cheese were divine.

Most beautiful? The Alps, notably on the train ride from Switzerland to Italy.

Coolest thing I saw? The Last Supper in Milan was a big deal. Lots of little things -- the Olympics complex in Barcelona, the Alps, the panda in D.C., castles in Germany and Italy, the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument, etc. etc. 

Most fun? The cruise. That's hardly fair to the other places, really, because that was 11 nights, the longest I stayed anywhere on the trip. With all the shows and events and things to do (and eat!) on board, along with the advantage of not having to unpack or walk long distances, I was able to really relax and unwind and enjoy myself.

Places I would definitely want to visit again? Germany for sure. I want to see more. Italy, especially Rome and the cities I didn't get to see. Boston... well, all of New England.

Places I wouldn't visit again? Probably Venice. That was on my bucket list, and now I've seen it. It was beautiful, but I'm not sure I will ever feel the particular need to go back there (especially when Rome, Florence, and so many other places are calling my name.) 

"Maybes"... Barcelona. There's certainly more to see, there, and it was a nice city overall, but it wouldn't be at the top of my list.

3. Smushed Pennies/Coins acquired: nine. One in Germany, eight in Washington D.C., seven of them involving pandas.

4. Things I neglected to pack that I had to buy en route: Razor, sewing kit, flipflops, non-sneaker shoes. (Well, I had packed flipflops but they were old and started to disintegrate circa Italy.)

5. Things I packed that I hardly ever needed or used: Swimsuit, swimsuit cover-up, hand sanitizer.

6. Things that surprised me about Europe:

*Public restrooms sometimes cost money (my cousin warned me about this)

*Bathroom stalls nearly everywhere I went were super private and secluded, not like in the U.S. where anyone can peek under the door or see you through the cracks.

*Airport security is more lax. No shoe removal.

*Language barrier wasn't really an issue in most cities. I did pick up some Italian before I went, and I knew some Spanish, so both of those helped a little. However, a lot of people there were bilingual. It was only in the German-speaking countries that I felt like a dope. Note to self: learn some German before the next trip.

*National Archives Museum photo by Wes D.

Delicious Kevins

Signs. They try to tell you something important, and sometimes they fail. This is perhaps especially true in places where the people reading the signs may not speak the native language, such as in tourist-centric cities and in the vicinity of famous landmarks. The people who made the signs, being aware of potential language barriers, may have tried to make the signs simple and their message clear.  Sometimes they succeeded. Other times? They just made me laugh.

Here are some examples of signs that caught my attention on my travels....

In Boston:

"Slow children?" Okay, well, that child is clearly running, so I don't think he's slow. And if he is slow, I'm not sure I should be worried about him at all. I could outrun him, even if he is a zombie or something.

Same neighborhood:

Oh, you want me to drive slow(ly)? Because of the slow children who may be in the road, but may actually be running and not be being slow? WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE SLOW, ME OR THE CHILDREN? I give up.

In Milan:

I like how whoever designed and/or erected this sign clearly went on Google images and just grabbed the first four pictures that appeared. There are watermarks on the hamburger picture, which is visually superior to the other pictures (more like MS paint icons), and the red circle-lines don't even all go in the same direction. 


"Please behave respectfully," say the words in English.

Hmmm. So it looks like that means:

*No throwing things at the birds
*No sliding down the stairs
*No throwing litter at other litter. 

Got it!

In Venice:


*No wearing ugly bathing suits?
*No sitting on steps while wearing ugly bathing suits?
*No throwing ice cubes or possibly sugar cubes on the ground?
*No ball games?

At least, that's what the icons are telling me. What do they really mean?

The fun police are watching. NO FUN! EVER! Exceptions: gondola rides and buying beads.

Zoos are a great place for funny signs, because they often involve DANGER, which, when not actually happening to you or your loved ones, is pretty funny.

Here I am reading about what peril (perill, peligro) may occur should I nonchalantly hop the fence, while that lioness there looks particularly peaceful and content. As if she's daring me to defy the sign. "Go on," she says, "I won't bite you. Hop the fence, do!"

But heck. Just about everyone knows lions are dangerous. It's almost as if the sign doesn't even need to exist. But this one...?

Pelicans bite? Holy crap.

Rumor has it, bears bite too. So don't do this, potentially moronic parents....

How can we make it any clearer? Adult + little person + over fence = NO! 

Although the following sign was probably meant for zoo visitors, I like to think it's actually intended for the zoo's pandas to adhere to also:

No, seriously, pandas. We'll feed you at staggered intervals. Stop trying to help yourself to the goods!

Meet the otters! All named after delicious things you can find at Whole Foods:

Kevins! Yum! I wonder if Kevins taste like asparagus water?!

And how bout them crocodiles?

"Evil" and "cherished": two extremes, neither of which actually pertain to my feelings toward crocodiles. After careful consideration, I'm somewhere in the middle.

A few non-signs that amused me on my travels....

At the Smithsonian Museum Of American History, an old ad for 7-Eleven:

Why not? You can see them from anywhere in the store.
That's a 7-Eleven drive-in grocery for you. Park right at the door... leave the youngsters in the car... pick up everything you need... and they've never once been out of sight. How many times have you given up any thought of going in the grocery for that something you needed... because taking the car pool in with you was out of the question? Try our little "park-at-the-door" store next time you have a car full of youngsters.

Open from 7am till 11pm... 7 days a week. 7 Eleven."

There's no "i" in team, and pretty soon, there'll be one less "u" in "agriculture."

In Barcelona, while on a tour bus, I was hoping to get a Wifi signal. Suddenly, I got one, and it didn't even require a password or watching a lame video or me signing away the rights to my firstborn child.

 I looked up, and realized... My little iPhone 3 had located the mothership! 

In Germany, they don't just have gummy bears. They have gummy everything. Even cows in lederhosen...

They also have cheap Lego there. And... really cheap non-Lego, too:

 I'll leave you with one more picture whose sign offers some essential advice:

If you're being chased by a hammer, pickaxe, or similar instrument, this is NOT the time to be slow! RUN TOWARD AN EXIT.

I mean, duh.

Back In Time

The Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Dorothy's ruby slippers? Cute. 

Giant American Flag made out of Lego? Nice.

Really old house, with antique furniture, relics, and hundreds of facts about the houses' residents over the course of 200 years?


The Smithsonian exhibit Within These Walls was like a dream come true for me. 

About half a century ago, this house was standing somewhere in Massachusetts and about to be demolished. Instead, it was brought to the Smithsonian and put on display in a large room where people can make their way around the house, looking in through its windows and some cut-away portions to see what living quarters looked like why back then. Furthermore, there are models, posters, and signs all around the house that allow you to more fully understand who lived here and what their lives would have been like.

When it was first built, this house had X number of rooms. But over time, more were added. Signs in the exhibit point out how researchers figured which rooms had been added later, and approximately when. Visitors can actually see how the materials in the flooring or the walls were different in various parts of the house.

So architecture buffs? You're in for a treat.

If you're interested in a American history, there's plenty of that, too. Several of the houses' residents fought for abolition or women's suffrage, and there's tons of information in this exhibit to give you a good idea of what that entailed. During World War II, the residents, like many Americans, raised a victory garden and recycled scrap metal to help with the war effort.

If you're fascinated by domestic life way-back-when (ie, if you ever wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder and get your water from a well and cook on a wood stove), there's enough here to keep your imagination swirling: antiques and replicas of the household items that were used by people who lived here, as well as information about how they would have done laundry, cooked food, or even fixed their hair. 

There's just so much to look at!

Of course, there's plenty more to see at this Smithsonian museum. Within These Walls may have been my favorite exhibit, but I did enjoy others, particular one about the history of food and its consumption in America:

The Smithsonian Museum Of American History is a great place, and well worth a days' visit if you're in Washington D.C.