I have a bit of a guilty conscience about the traveling I do. I think about my carbon footprint growing each time I get on an airplane. Trips to protected national and state parks also weigh on my conscience, reminding me of how fragile these ecosystems are, as their protection comes for a reason. In the same way, time spent on incredible beaches not yet visibly polluted by mankind feels like a luxury, yet at the same time, a responsibility. On the other hand, I am grateful for improvements in transportation that not only help us but also help the environment, like the wonderful train system in Europe, where each train service has a way of reminding me how much more environmentally conscious train travel is in respect to other options.
Overwhelmingly, though, my travels give me a simple love for the world, which I am celebrating today on Earth Day along with many of my fellow bloggers. The diversity and scope of this earth is hard to even compute in a logical way, and I am grateful to have my camera lens to use as a way of sorting through and putting together all of the pieces of our wonderful world.
The first pieces of my discoveries are those moments in my travel adventures that have been so big that they’ve taken my breath away, such as the enormous mountain landscape in the Rocky Mountain National Park,
and these giant trees that seem to almost dwarf the Washington Memorial,
or me emerging from Piazza San Marco and taking in the Adriatic Sea in Venice,
the valley that I love that falls below Assisi, which must have been such an inspiration for St. Francis,
the feeling of seemingly being on top of Rome,
the drama of the Italian Dolomiti,
the landscape of Utah,
or just a simple bend of the road on Highway 101 south of Santa Barbara that opens a whole other world.
Along with the “wow” moments are the moments of serenity that have given me the time to reflect on just how amazing the world can be, like Ojai’s incredible “Pink Moment” that I’m lucky to witness every year at the Ojai Playwrights Conference,
or the island of Ponza’s incredible sea,
and the beautiful countryside in the center of Salzburg,
and the equally enjoyable countryside just outside of Ben Wheeler, Texas,
as well as at the Chiemsee lake in Germany,
and Lake Como, Italy,
and at home in El Centro, California.
Perhaps my favorite moments on Earth are the ones that just grab me and make me happy to be alive, almost as if I’ve stepped into a bit of heaven, like here on the Lincoln Highway in Pennsylvania,
and at these enchanting gardens outside of Castelfranco Veneto,
and on my way down to the sea in Cinque Terre,
enjoying lunch with some of my favorite people in the hills of Bologna,
at the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg,
taking in mountains and public art in Trento, Italy,
and the cherry blossoms blooming at Lake Como, Italy.
In addition to all of the glee and appreciation that I get from discovering all there is to appreciate about the world, there are also a lot of times when I am saddened by what I’m seeing happening to the earth. Luckily, I know I’m not alone in my frustration. These moments really overtake me when I’m visiting the big cities on the sea like Naples, where so much of the beauty is obscured by smog and buildings,
or when I’m reminded what’s happening under the sea,
or finding trash covered beaches in Puglia that makes me wonder what our American beaches would look like without the great volunteers and public money that keep them in better shape,
or finding big pieces of waste where you least expect them.
But my travels also show me what we are doing right. I am very respectful of the diligence that many Italians have with recycling all of their trash meticulously. Or the absolute attention that the Austrians give their environments, inside and out. And the hard work of architects to incorporate our necessary buildings into our beautiful environments. When it comes to architecture, I can think of no better example than Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania,
and in Siena, Italy, I experienced a similar harmony which was gorgeous, whether purposeful or not,
and not forgetting about the work of artists like this one on exhibit at Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland, who did such a great job of projecting our love and fascination with the creatures under the sea,
or these locals in Cesenatico, Italy, who created their own respect for the sea – the city’s economic livelihood – as a public art display for all to enjoy.
I hope that what has come through the lens of my camera has brought you a little bit of the emotion that these discoveries have brought to me…as well as a little reminder of what Earth Day means and the challenge in and importance of preserving these incredible places. Thanks for reading. 🙂