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Friday, November 2, 2012

Cinque Terre Floods

It's been just a little over a year since the 25 Oct 2011 floods that ravaged the towns of Vernazza and Monterosso in the Cinque Terre region of Liguria, Italy.  My wife and I fell in love with the Cinque Terre region when we visited there with my little brother three summers ago. We spent six nights in the village of Riomaggiore, the southern most village of the Cinque Terre.  This gave us plenty of time to explore the five towns of the Cinque Terre, along with the town of Levanto, just north of the Cinque Terre.  The mind-blowing scenery, the incredibly nice and down-to-Earth people, the locally grown food and locally produced wine, the beautiful blue waters of the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea along this portion of coast known as "The Italian Riviera" - it all makes the place extremely special and such an incredible place to visit and spend time.

Because I nearly lopped off the end of my index finger slicing an onion the other night, it's a little difficult to type right now.  I will let Mr. Rick Steves tell you a bit more about what has been happening with the recovery effort in Vernazza and Monterosso and the rest of the Cinque Terre:
Updated 10/8/2012
On October 25, 2011, an unusually severe rainstorm brought flash flooding and landslides, to the Cinque Terre towns of Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare — filling the streets with rocks, mud and debris up to 12 feet deep. Three people drowned in Vernazza and one in Monterosso.
Today, most shops, restaurants and hotels in Vernazza and Monterosso are back welcoming visitors — the result of a remarkable recovery process. Throughout the winter and spring of 2012, the Italian government, local residents and relief workers teamed up to remove literally acres of mud from both towns. Since then, the streets and sewer systems have been re-engineered, and the ground floors of most of the affected businesses have been renovated. Outside the town centers, however, much work remains to repair structures, rebuild terracing, and prevent future flash-flooding.
I recently completed three new designs for three different Cinque Terre villages, each piece coming in a choice of two color combinations.   Even though it has been a few years, I still have a lot of photos to go through from that trip.  I'll get to them one of these days........ ;)  Until then, however, here are the newest for this area of Italy.
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Thursday, October 18, 2012


I'd been meaning to do something with the picture this poster is based off of for the last two years.  Seeing some show on Hulu, that I can now no longer remember the name of that was set in Chicago, acted as a reminder - some scene where they were down in the Loop area walking under one of the L-train bridges.  While working on this poster, I got to thinking that Chicago would be a pretty cool city to live in for a year or so.

I'm not much of a city boy, preferring my exposure to the larger collections of humans in short doses. However, living in Europe has changed my perspective on this somewhat.  In most European countries I've visited, almost all towns over 1,000 people have something in common.  It doesn't matter if you're in the Alsace of France or Bohemia in the Czech Republic.  I think it is so cool that you can walk to get almost all of your basic necessities.  Most of these towns have their butcher, their baker, and their..... a small grocery store (no candlestick makers, unfortunately) that are easily accessible on foot. You don't find that in small town America much anymore.  With the proliferation of the big box stores and the death of downtowns, automobiles are almost always a necessity.

It's only in the bigger cities of America that one can live a more Euro type lifestyle.  I'm not talking about wearing scarves year round or clothes that are two sizes too small.  I'm talking being able to walk to get fresh fruits and veggies nightly, being able to get fresh meat every day, fresh flowers, fresh baked bread, the daily newspaper, sit at a cafe sipping an espresso and watching the world go by.......

The downtown Loop Area of Chicago has all of the above and more.  Since I was mainly in the city for work, the six days I spent there simply wasn't enough.  However, I felt at home in Chicago.  It just seems like a place that will keep on surprising you and a place that would be a lot of fun to live, if only for a short time.  Ultimately, the flatness and extremely limited access to actual mountains, would be deal breakers for planting roots.  Not even the tasty fresh water waves of Lake Michigan can make up for the absolute lack of terrain variation.  Still, Chicago is one of the top cities I've visited in the US, perhaps even number one.  I hope to get the chance to go back to explore the city a bit more thoroughly in the future.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween at Castle Veldenstein

Castle Veldenstein - with a Halloween twist

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Castle Veldenstein, which sits prominently above the town of Neuhaus an der Pegnitz in the Oberpfalz region of Bavaria, has a long and varied history.  Currently, the castle and it's inner grounds are used as a restaurant, serving up the standard Bavarian menu to travelers stopping by while exploring the Pegnitz River area.  Burg Veldenstein also offers the unique opportunity for travelers to stay overnight in an authentic castle.  Next to the castle is the Veldenstein brewery, brewing one of the more popular beers of the region.

Castle Veldenstein hasn't always been used for such benign purposes, however.  Hermann Goring (yes, that guy) actually grew up at the castle, even constructing a bunker in the castle wall just prior to the start of WWII.  You can read a full history about the castle by clicking HERE.

When I was growing up, Halloween was one of the best holidays a kid could ask for.  What?  I get to hang out with my friends, dress like a vampire, and get to go beg for tons of free candy?  Sign me up!  Even when I'd far surpassed the dress up age, Halloween was always a good time.  In high school, it was egg fights and after egg fight parties.  In college, well, I don't remember those Halloweens too well.  Must have had some fun!

While living in Japan, Halloween was almost non-existant.  I do think I remember seeing a package of that fake spider web stuff, some silly string, and some Dracula teeth at a Circle K that was near my house  - and fireworks.  Lots of fireworks.  It took some getting used to, but the Japanese seem to use fireworks for almost every occasion deemed important.  Like, say, 'Tuesdays."

I never got too many trick-or-treaters at my cabin in Alaska.  The first Halloween I spent in the great white north fell on a day that decided to be -30 Fahrenheit.  Yes, that is a minus sign in front of the 30.  In interior Alaska, trick-or-treating still does take place, regardless of the weather.  For some reason, the most popular costumes seem to be those where you can dress as warm as you want.  I mean, there is nothing cuter than seeing a 4 year old girl dressed up as, "north slope oil rig worker".  Ah, doesn't she look precious?

Halloween is a holiday that is picking up in some European countries.  Many of the bars, pubs, and clubs where I live in Germany host Halloween parties now.  When I first arrived six years ago, perhaps only one or two establishments did so.  Hey, nothing says Halloween like a little sauerkraut and some weisswurst.  Bob for apples?  Nah, bobbing for pre-formed balls of headcheese floating in a washtub full of Weißbeir is much more fun!

This year, Halloween should be taking on a brand new meaning for my wife and I.  With our twins being nearly 9 months old when the holiday occurs, there isn't a lot we can do with them yet.  I don't think they'd enjoy the techno music, nor the smell of hundreds of cheap colognes mixing together with the stench of alcohol sweat, at the Josefhaus.  I've got a feeling, though, that my wife is going to have some fun playing dress up with them on that evening.  I just hope she still lets me have my backyard pagan bonfire......

Siena and Névé in their pumpkin hats

Friday, October 12, 2012

The First Hard Frost of the Season

In honor of the hard frost of 11 October 2012, the frost that killed pretty much everything in the garden that wasn't protected, I give you more ice - the longest glacier in the European Alps,  The Great Aletsch Glacier.  From Wikipedia:

"The Aletsch Glacier, or Great Aletsch Glacier, is the largest glacier in the Alps.  It has a length of about 23km and covers more than 120 square kilometers in the eastern Bernese Alps in the Swiss canton of Valais"

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The photograph the above poster is based off of was taken from the Jungfraujoch, a saddle between the 4,158 m (13,642 ft) Jungfrau and the 4,107 m (13,474 ft) Mönch, two prominent peaks stoutly standing next to their better-known cousin, the Eiger.  The saddle is reached by a cog railway that climbs from the tiny hamlet of Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch Railway Station, the highest railway station in Europe at 3,454 meters (11,332 ft).  After arriving at the station, one of the more popular destinations is the Sphinx viewing platform, which can be reached with a short walk and elevator ride up out of the railway tunnel.  On a nice day, this is the view that greets you as you step outside on to the large platform:

The scale of the scenery in these Alps is absolutely massive, making the engineering accomplishments of the railway and the Sphinx station all the more impressive.  To give a demonstration of the scale of this place, notice the two large 'holes' in the snow in the bottom and middle right of the above photo.  Now, look at the bottom hole, taking notice of the small dot just to it's right and just to the right of the faint trail (click on above image to enlarge).  That is a Snow Cat.  Not exactly a small piece of equipment.  The below image is a better view of it.  This was taken with my 70-200 Canon telephoto lens at full zoom from the end of the Sphinx platform.  The Snow Cat is still tiny. 

The landscape that serves as the accumulation area for the mighty Aletsch Glacier is one of those places where it feels as if your head might explode from scenery overload.  Where to point the camera first?  How long can my bare hands last outside of my thick and warm mittens to take photos in these -35 C temperatures?  Those are just a couple of the questions that come to mind when you first see the visual buffet laid out before you.  At the opposite end of the railway station from the Sphinx platform, even the casual traveler can get their boots (or sneakers as we saw on a few people) on the snow, and get some varied scenic perspectives.  Here's my wife posing with the Swiss flag at over 11,000 feet in -30F or so temperatures.  The drop off behind her?  Ehhh, few thousand feet or so straight down to Kleine Scheidegg.  This is one way to beat the train down to K.S. with confidence - and save yourself the cost of the return ticket!

The gateway to recreation and sightseeing of this section of the Swiss Alps is the village of Interlaken, although there are less touristy and more quaint villages to stay in higher up the mountains, accessed in some cases only by train.  Although I have only been to the area during the winter, I do own a copy of "The Eiger Sanction" and can attest to the beauty of the area during the Spring and Summer seasons - based solely on watching said movie once!  It's kind of scary just how little Kleine Scheidegg has changed since 1975 when the movie was made.......... but that is also part of the charm of the region, making it a great place to visit in the Alps.

The Aletsch Glacier (on White) - Click Here to Purchase

More Posters from the Interlaken, Switzerland region:
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Oregon Collaboration

Although I grew up in Oregon, I know very little about the Columbia River Gorge or Mt. Hood.  I believe I've only been through the gorge twice, making the obligatory stop at Multnomah Falls both times, and seeing little of anything else beyond what was whizzing by through the car windows.  I've been a more frequent visitor to Mt. Hood, having skied Timberline in both the summer and the winter along with climbing the mountain early one autumn, having an exhilarating ski back down to the lower end of the Palmer Snowfield.  I've even been on the backside of the mountain - twice! - having spent a night each time at the Tilly Jane A-Frame, exploring the surrounding area and the Elliot Glacier.  From both of these trips, I can state for a fact, a six pack of good microbrew is enough to get two people quite inebriated when the drinking is being done at nearly 6,000 feet elevation!

One thing I do have from those trips is good memories.  One thing I do not have is good pictures.  Recently, an old friend, who I used to play YBA basketball with when I was but a wee lad, contacted me asking if I had any posters covering the Mt Hood or Columbia Gorge areas.  Since I base most of my work off of my own photography, and since I really hadn't been in to photography when growing up in Oregon, I sadly had nothing to work with.  However, I knew Sarah, my old friend from my youth who had made the request, had a great eye and was quite adept with a camera.  I also knew she had many, many fantastic shots of the areas in question.  I know, because I have been following Sarah's Flickr feed for almost 5 years now.

With Sarah's permission, I searched through her photostream on Flickr, identifying a number of candidates.  Below is what I have come up with so far.  I've nearly completed another Gorge Poster, and plan on spending some time on a new Mt. Hood piece tomorrow also.  It's been a lot of fun working on these pieces from Oregon.  Makes me a tad homesick - and also makes me realize there is so much more of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, the United States, and the rest of the world that I'd like to visit more in-depth.  So many places, so little time.  For now, however, this is a great way for me to learn more about certain locations without being there.  I'll take it.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Low Countries

Two new posters from the Netherlands (Amsterdam and Leiden), along with one new poster from Ghent, Belgium.  I'll do a write-up on these cities and give a little more information about the posters in the near future.  Click to enlarge the images.

Spring day view of the Saint Nicholas Church in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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Evening light on the West Gate on the outskirts of the old city of Leiden, the Netherlands
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Early spring morning in central Ghent, Belgium
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Oregon Americana

I recently got back in touch with a great friend from my days at Oregon State University.  We'd done a decent job of staying in touch over the past twelve years, even having a fantastic week-long Alaskan adventure a few years back.  My eventual move to Germany, however, made it harder and harder to keep up with the goings on of each other.  However, with the marvels of modern technology, we finally did make contact again via Skype a few weeks ago.  It felt so good catching up with a friend who I respect and value so much.  Those types of friends are hard to come by in life, especially when one gets older and moves around as much as I do.  It's nice to know, even if we haven't spoken in two years, that certain people will always be there for you, ready to offer advice, discuss problems and solutions, and just shoot the shit and talk about old times - as if you'd just spoken a few days earlier.

I remember taking a trip with Isaac, and his girlfriend at the time, to Silver Falls State Park on a beautiful sunny summer day back in 1999.  At the time, I was all about hiking, biking, skiing, and climbing.  The only camera I had at the time was some point and shoot 35mm piece of garbage where half of the pictures would come out black or double exposed.  Isaac was the flip side of that coin.  He loved photography - and he was great at it - with an eye for capturing a scene that not many people have.  I remember becoming annoyed with Isaac on the way to Silver Falls because he kept wanting to stop and take photos.  I just wanted to get up in to the woods!  "Don't you have enough pictures of that damn bird's nest!", I would yell out the window.  

It's funny how things change over time.  Something I once had absolutely no interest in has become one of the loves of my life.  I love taking photos.  I love working with photos.  I love creating the travel posters I do with the photos I take.  Most of all, I like sharing my photos and art with others, because there usually is an interesting story behind most pieces.

Because of my current medical state (bad back and totally out-of-whack IS joint), I am not able to get out and travel, let alone take many photos.  I do have over a years worth of backlogged photos to still work with, and I look forward to doing so when my back and body allows.  One thing I am very open to, though, is using other's photos (with permission, of course) to create new posters, most likely of places I haven't been or at least can't get to currently.  The below image is such a photo, taken by my friend Isaac in Eastern Oregon.  I really like the serenity of this scene.  It reminds me of my summers growing up in SW Oregon, exploring the hills and forests around my local area.  I look at the picture below and I can hear the grasshoppers and crickets chirping away and can imagine my childhood friends and I racing down the grass-covered slope, injuries be damned, on pieces of tattered cardboard.

I really hope to be able to work with more of Isaac's photos in the future.  For now, I'll just say, thanks for letting me use this one, Isaac.  Great catching up with you buddy.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New, Easier to Use Poster Gallery!

I've just finished up a new easier to browse poster gallery showing all of my artwork that is currently up for sale.  Under each poster, I've also included a link that will take you to that image's Adventure Travel Art store page.  There are two benefits to this;  One, you can now preview the posters in a large size straight from this blog.  Two, there is a direct link from the blog's poster gallery to the ATA Store where a variety of  products can be purchased.  

You can navigate to the main poster gallery page by using the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.  You can also use the navigational links to the right which will take you to each individual country or region.

Soon on this blog, I will also be featuring one or two poster each week accompanied by a short story about the place.  I thought it might be fun to add a story describing why I may have chosen to do a piece of a certain place or any other interesting anecdotes or history.  

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.  I'm always happy to hear new ideas!

Example of image in the new poster gallery.  Click on image to enlarge.  Click on caption below image to visit the ATA store and purchase products containing the image.
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Pier Scheveningen, just outside the city of Den Haag, the Netherlands.  The original pier was destroyed during World War 2.  The current version of the pier was built in 1959.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Siena, Italy

It took about a year and a half, but I finally managed to find some time to work on art from one of my favorite cities in Europe - Siena, Italy.  We visited this small city in February 2011, essentially having the entire place to ourselves as tourists.  We spent hours wandering the narrow alleyways, pedestrian-only streets, and exploring the beautiful main plaza, the plaza where the famous "Il Palio" horse race takes place twice each year.  If you ever find yourself in Florence, taking a side trip for a day or two to explore Siena is definitely worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Brugge, Belgium

A new poster that I worked on during the twins' nap time.  I think this ended up taking two weeks to finally finish!  As the girls have gotten older, their naps have become shorter, not leaving much time to work on any new pieces.  I have plenty of ideas jotted down, but probably won't be able to start on anything for a few months.  The twins do indeed take up that much time!  But, it's been great, and so much fun watching them grow and develop!

Ah, Brugge.  What a city.  We were just near Brugge two weeks ago visiting the city of Ghent. Another incredibly beautiful city with some amazing historic medieval architecture.  I love the cities in Belgium I have visited and hope to be able to spend more time in them in the future.  I will be working on some pieces for Ghent, Bastogne, and Brussels within the next six months along with some new pieces for new locations in Holland.  If you are ever in Europe and get the chance, make sure to spend a few days in the Benelux area.  I don't think it gets enough credit when compared to some of the heavyweight countries in Europe such as Italy and France.  The architecture is unique and beautiful, the area abounds with ancient and more recent history, the people are educated, welcoming and friendly, the food is great, and - don't tell the Germans or the Czechs - Belgium's beer is the best in the world! What's not to love?

Below:  The Family in Ghent, Belgium

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Three Sisters from Mt. Bachelor , Oregon

Three new posters showcasing the Three Sisters in Central Oregon's High Cascades.  What a day this was!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Diamond Lake, Oregon

With my wife's parents visiting the past two weeks, I've found myself with a little bit of spare time.  Not much, but enough to put the below poster together during the time they've been here.  I have the picture this poster is based off of hanging above my bed amongst a number of other winter and outdoor themed photos.  This one always stood out to me, however.  The original photo is from a quick stop I made at Diamond Lake in December 2006 while on the way to Sunriver in Central Oregon.  My love for snow and winter activities were heavily influenced, if not completely formed, by trips we would take to Diamond Lake when I was a kid.  I cherished these trips to the mountains, having the opportunity to play outside all day in the glorious white snow.   Even though it's now spring, and the sun is shining, it was fun working on this one and thinking back to those trips and those times.

Monday, March 19, 2012

If only they slept like this for 8 hour stretches....

It's hard to complain, however.  The girls have been doing pretty well at night by anyone's standards, and both my wife and I are thankful for that.  However, our sleep schedules have been turned upside down, affecting me quite a bit more than I would have thought.  I've always been an early riser, but also someone who needs a good, solid 7 or 8 hours of sleep to function properly.  That's just not happening now, with stints of 2 to 4 hours of sleep being the norm, and an eventual emergence from bed around 10 in the morning.  But, we are settling in and starting to get used to the new routine with the girls.  Work for me, though, is another matter.  I have managed to do some clean-up and file maintenance over the past two months, but that is about it.  I have plenty of ideas for new travel pieces that I am itching to try out, but the time just hasn't been there to work on them.  Hopefully soon.

Sisters sleeping - Siena on the left and Névé on the right.
We did manage to make our first real trip with the girls a couple of weeks ago, visiting the town of Cesky Krumlov in the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic.  My wife, our dog Osu, and I had previously visited this unique and beautiful town along the Vltava River two years prior and had always wanted to go back.  Although the weather in the Czech during the month of February isn't all that great, this proved to be a great time to visit Cesky again.  We figured it would be a good test for us as new parents who love to travel, especially at this time of year when the crowds would be low to non-existant.  Besides a few Chinese and Japanese tour groups that had traveled south from Prague for the day, we basically had the town to ourselves.  Just us and the locals - and we immensely enjoyed our time there.  The girls, overall, did great, the stroller vibrations from the cobblestone alleys and streets in old town Cesky lulling any fits of fussiness in to submission.  If you ever do find yourself in Prague or anywhere else in the Czech Republic, consider a day trip to Cesky Krumlov.  Better yet, book for a couple of days, staying in one of the many refurbished, roomy, and affordable apartments in the town, or one of the many renovated hotels.  Summertime can get busy, especially during some of the more popular festivals, but a trip to Cesky is always worth it!

Further information on Cesky Krumlov and the surrounding area 


Osu took this picture ;)


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Twins Have Arrived!

We are happy to announce the arrival of our twin daughters, Névé and Siena, born on 31 January 2012.  Both mama and the girls are doing great!  A few days prior to the  birth, I was wheeled in for some emergency back surgery.  Not the best of timing, but a certain necessity given my state of incapacitation at the time.  We are all doing well, resting at home, and getting to know one another.  The girls, of course, have now become my number one photo subject, and it's been fun sneaking pictures of them napping and doing things that little babies do.  I have managed to do a little work to this page during this time also.  If you'll look to the right, you'll see a column with the heading, "Poster Categories".  Click on these links to view different pieces of art from varying areas around Europe.  Clicking on the individual posters will then take you to the NW Art Mall where the art can be purchased.  As always, if you have any questions, please let me know!

Now, time to sneak a nap in before the girls wake back up.............

Monday, January 16, 2012


No, not the Norse hall of the dead, but the German Walhalla Temple, located near Regensburg, Germany and perched high above the Danube River.  This Walhalla, created by the loveably nutty Bavarian King Ludwig, is a hall-of-fame celebrating distinguished and famous Germanic people and personalities throughout history.  This was our first time visiting this memorial as it had never piqued my interest enough for a stop while in the Regensburg area or on trips to Passau and places beyond.  I wish now that I would have made the easy detour from A3 to spend 30 minutes scouting this location.  Or had just driven the 10 minutes up the street from our friend's apartment in Regensburg...... The view from the south-facing platform surrounding the temple was easily worth the price of admission (which is free, by the way).  A short hike from the parking lot affords the photographer with an array of unique angles and scenes to shoot.  Even the harsh light of midday provided good opportunities for fun shots.  The unobstructed view over the Danube River Valley makes this a great place for shooting at sunrise, sunset, and during most astronomical events.  I look forward to exploring this site more fully in the future.  Just the little time we spent up there yesterday put my back out of shape and had me knackered, but I'm glad we went.