Maine’s Capitol – Simple Yet Elegant


When I arrived at Maine’s State Capitol building which is in Augusta, Maine, I immediately felt like I was in Maine with this seal to greet me.  The capitol building itself was very simple and yet elegant.  As I was exploring the inside, I managed to capture the view looking out one of the beautiful windows.

window from inside maine capitol.jpg

As you can see, the capitol sits on a hill so there is quite a view out the window.

The dome from the inside is not decorated like many, but you can see below just how simple, yet elegant, it looks.inside dome

I love the windows in The House of Representatives which is pictured below.

house of reps.jpg

Likewise, the senate had the same shape of windows and was also in keeping with the entire theme of simple yet elegant.


Last, but certainly not least, is the view from outside, and the dome is a brown shade!

Maine Capitol from distance.jpg



And in what city is the Capitol Building of Pennsylvania?!

Approaching the Capitol I was a bit embarrassed when I had trouble recalling the capital city of Pennsylvania until my college-age son had trouble with it too.  I found out I was going to be close by on a job so decided to fly into Harrisburg so i could visit the Capitol building there.  Yes, Harrisburg and not Philadelphia is the capital city of Pennsylvania.

capitol grounds

I visited in early May and missed most of the spring flowers, and the landscaping for summer had either not been done yet or hadn’t had time to grow.  The fountain on the other side was also not operating.  I did manage to get in the above shot the colors of Spring.

outside capitol

The green glass tile dome was just beautiful and unique.  I am partial to my Iowa Capitol gold dome, but this was very easily the next best dome I have seen so far.  Each side of the entrance is flanked with a white sculpture of men appearing to hold up the wall.  I’m not sure I like the white against the grey stone, but it does make it stand out.

Once inside I was blown away by the opulent interior.


The following photos were just looking straight up into the dome.

Inside the dome

I eventually made my way up the stairs and had my breath taken away not only from the hike up the stairs, but from the breath-taking view as well, when I walked into the House Gallery.

house gallery1

It was hard for me to imagine arguing or heated conversations in such beauty.  On each side of the room, there was a row of stained glass portals up in the rafters.  I tried to capture their beauty in the picture below.

portals house gallery

I also got a shot of the stained glass dome in the center of the supreme court, although not well centered because I wasn’t sure if pictures were allowed and didn’t want to ask permission since someone might say no!

supreme court dome

As I came back out into the main hallway above the staircase to the second floor, I captured a picture of the beautiful white staircase.

stairs from top

Once back down on the first floor, I noticed that even the underside of the staircase was carefully decorated.

underside of stairway

I shall leave you with a few more of my favorite shots:

Beautiful Skylights at Kentucky’s State Capitol

Kentucky State Capitol buildingSo much time has passed since my last blog! I have a new job now where I am traveling around the country conducting various trainings.  Until I learn all the components of my job, I have to spend a lot more time preparing for the actual engagement so now I know what a first-year teacher must feel like.

But enough about me and on to my visit to Frankfort, Kentucky.  I was so excited to get this assignment since I doubt I would ever get another chance to check out the Kentucky State Capitol building.  Frankfort is  halfway between Lexington and Louisville, and it is a small town compared to other capital cities.  Although the outside building was nondescript as capitol buildings go, the inside was very beautiful.  The skylights set this capitol building apart from others I have seen. Statue and skylights inside Kentucky State Capitol Marble and granite were everywhere, and the different skylights were just beautiful.  The below picture was a stunning stained glass skylight that was inside one of the end rooms.  (I think the House of Representatives?) state representatives skylight Kentucky State Capitol I arrived after class, so the building was just closing.  This was the only room I got into because they were vacuuming and closing up.  As it was, another couple and I undid the barricade and walked into this room so I had to hurry and take a quick shot.  Of course, we put the barricade back, but all the other rooms were actually locked so I was unable to view them. inside view kentucky State CapitolIn the above photo, there are kids on the balcony  which gives some perspective on the grandness of the pillars.  Below you can see what the inside of the dome looked like.  20140429_160828

Did you notice that the color of the inside of the dome changes?  I’m not sure even I would have noticed had I not been told by the desk lady as she was leaving.  The dome color changes very subtly, but it does get very pink at times so I might have noticed by then.

Below the dome, there was a display of porcelain dolls representing all the governor wives in their inauguration gowns.  The only gown I could guess what era it was designed in was the Roaring 20’s, but then again, I’m not a fashionista!  I enjoyed seeing how the fashion styles came and went and then came back again.

governor wives porcelain dolls

It had rained off and on the whole time I was in Frankfort but cleared off just in time for my trip to the capitol, so I wasn’t too surprised when as I left the capitol building and got into my rental car, the rain drops started in again.

Rain, Rain Go Away! — Council Bluffs/Omaha


Looking back at the months of May and June, it is hard to remember now, during a drought, how I yearned for a weekend without rain, but this trip to Council Bluffs/Omaha is a great reminder.  Originally I planned on celebrating our wedding anniversary (29 years) by camping at Lake Manawa State Park.  With sporadic rains in the forecast, I booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn which is attached to the Horseshoe Casino so we’d have something to do during the rains.

Hilton Garden Inn

We lucked out on our room because we got a free room upgrade to a suite with a whirlpool tub!  It does pay to be a Hilton Honors member!  Even thought I drove in rain to get to Council Bluffs, I totally expected it to clear off, especially since we had two days to pick from for our visit to the Omaha Zoo.  I planned on visiting the Omaha Old Market area one evening too, which I had yet to get to explore, but that did not happen due to constant rain.  We played some slots, checked out the poker room, and ate at the buffet in the casino that first night.  I will say I was very impressed with the casino buffet!  It definitely was one of the better ones!

Omaha ZooI just had to have hubby take this picture at the zoo of me standing in the rain because this totally sums up our entire zoo experience.  After staring at the rain coming down for an entire day and evening, I finally said, “Screw it, we are going to the zoo in the rain!” on our final day there, so off we went.  It really never stopped raining the entire day.  I do love this zoo and had not been there for 10 years so we managed to enjoy ourselves in spite of the rain.

Manawa Trail

Of course, on the day we checked out, the skies cleared.  So I told Hubby we were going to at least drive around Lake Manawa on our way home so we could see if we’d like to come back.  Once we got there, of course I decided I had to at least go a short distance on the bike trail to get the flavor of the trail while hubby stayed there at the lake to try his hand at fishing.  Yes, optimist that I am, I had packed fishing poles along with the bikes.


This train was fun to watch as they slowly were loading it with coal maybe or at least getting the cars linked together and getting it ready to leave, I assume.  There was a lot of clanging going on anyway!  The trail was very isolated and eventually would have linked up to the Wabash Trace bike trail that goes 60- some miles south towards Missouri.  However, I knew I needed to turn around before that!  Once out of the park itself, the trail had an industrial feel to it, but I will leave you with the picture below of a nice portion of nature.  On a side note, when I got back to the car, hubby was sound asleep in the car so unfortunately the fishing was not very good probably because of all the rain.

Manawa Trail ViewIf you would like to read about a Council Bluffs visit I had last year with no rain, click here.

It’s a party on the Great Western Trail!

Great Western trail signDuring one of my Tuesday overnights in Des Moines, I brought my bike along with me since rain was not in the forecast and went for a ride on the Great Western Trail after work.  (Des Moines is just filled with biking trails and really should be a city on any biker’s list to visit!)  My friend and I decided to meet at a trail head off Park Avenue.

trailhead Great Western TrailAs you can see in the picture, there is a gravel road that runs along side the trail, so once I waited for a lot of bikers crossing at the intersection (they were coming from Water Works Park), I turned left and started driving down this gravel road and began wondering if the road would run out before I could find a parking place!  I waited to take the picture above until after my ride was over so there are gaps where when I first got to the trail there were no gaps at all!

SAMSUNGSo imagine this picture, only with nonstop cars on both sides.  That is how it was when I got there.

We planned to ride 8 miles of the trail to Cummings, IA, but I think the entire trail goes some 33 miles.  Also, this trail is extremely busy — at least on the portion we were on — so the two pictures above are rare times when there were no bikers, joggers, or walkers around.  It was beautifully shaded most of the time too.  I do not ride fast at all, personally preferring to look around  and enjoy the scenery, so I was constantly having to concentrate on going straight as the speed demons zipped by me, although they did shout out warnings as they were passing.  Everyone is very friendly, and there is definitely a party feel all along the trail.

Cummings Tap from trailThe shot above was taken from the trail looking at the Cummings Tap which was having an event for the bikers.  The party was just getting started so we got off our bikes and joined in.  There was even free water which I was excited about (although most people seemed interested in ice-cold beer)!  The white tent had all sorts of different meats and toppings for tacos.  I bought one and had chinese chicken as my meat, and then look below to see all the toppings I had on it.  It was delicious!  


After having a bite to eat and some ice water, my friend went on and I turned around and headed back to my car, enjoying the bird songs in between the radios and stereos of the passing bikers.  I even got to watch a deer for a while coming down to take a drink before it was scared away.  A beautiful ending to a pleasant evening in Des Moines.

Marshalltown to Grimes Farm in June

I am behind in my posts so while Iowa is now suffering from a drought, in June the rains would not stop and we experienced flooding which made it very hard to get out and camp or even get out to ride bikes!  On a rare dry June day — that actually happened on a weekend — my first bike ride of the season was on the Marshalltown bike trail.

June wildflowers

I like to start out by driving to the Y in Marshalltown and parking in their lot since it is so big and also a water source on return!  Taking the trail westward, it is more on the edge of the downtown area so I can get out of the city pretty quickly.  I like riding to the Grimes Farm which is a conservation area with a visitor’s center and some nice picnic areas to sit and eat a snack before heading back.

Continuing past Grimes Farm onto the new section which goes along Highway 30 and then up 330 to Melbourne, I wanted to be sure that I biked 5 miles out before I headed back.  As you can see in the picture below, there is absolutely no shade on this section and it is very hilly so I did not last long as the sun was unrelenting!

bike trail on the way to Melbourne

Once back at Grimes Farm, I stopped and ate my almonds and cheese stick while watching a cute little chipmunk sneaking up on me before skittering away and colorful birds flitting around.  This time I went into the Visitor Center and was very impressed with their displays!  It was nice being in some air conditioning because did I mention it was HOT out?!

The trail back to Marshalltown is very shady and woodsy, and I quickly became obsessed with how big the Queen Anne’s Lace was!  I don’t think I have ever seen it that tall.  So I am going to end this post with a very rare selfie, (since I hate pictures taken of myself, let alone me taking it) because I want to give a reference for how high the Queen Anne’s Lace was!  For more posts on the Marshalltown, Iowa, Trail, click here.

Selfie with Queen Anne Lace

Hualapai Mountain Park – Kingman, Az

view from top of mountain

My last adventure during my trip in February that I am finally getting around to sharing was a fun hike we did in the county park of Hualapai Mountain Park. (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it!)  The dichotomy of being in this dry desert heat and yet having snow in the mountains fascinated me.  Being from Iowa, the idea that I was surrounded by desert and hiking in short sleeves and yet having to worry about slipping on the snow just blew my mind.


We got there about lunch time so decided to eat first in this really charming restaurant that was a part of the park.  One whole side of the room was glass so we could observe a herd of Elk right outside the window as we ate.


The food was good and the view entertaining!


After a huge lunch, it was off to hike the meal off.  Wow, did we burn calories going up basically the side of a mountain through various switch backs.  However, the snow added some additional calorie burn as it was so slippery!

snowy mountainside

I had hubby pose for this funny picture, and I also like how it gives some perspective of how huge that boulder was.  We, of course, went around it.


Fell in love with the tree below!


Once at the top, wow, the views were incredible.  I’ll leave you with a few views.

view from top

hubby at top

view from top 2