Thursday, April 30, 2009

Acoma Pueblo Confidential

Acoma Pueblo--the oldest continuously inhabited native
communities in North America dates back to the 11th century!
(Click image to enlarge)

One of the great things about traveling through the southwest is the native culture and history. Sadly, many of America's native peoples have been relegated to reservations where conditions and resources are poor. Some of the Native Americans have found ways, besides or in addition to casinos, to support their communities and cultivate their heritage. The Acoma Pueblo is one example of a native tribe continuing their traditions. This pueblo on a mesa is one of the oldest inhabited communities in North America and dates back to the 11th century. The name of the pueblo in the native language is Aa'ku and means "a place prepared." If you're ever in New Mexico, absolutely visit this pueblo. It's worth every penny!

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

El Morro Confidential

Native American petroglyphs at El Morro National Monument

After Acoma/Sky City, we went to El Morro National Monument hoping to see some petroglyphs. Unfortunately, we arrived about 30 minutes before the park closes, so we were only able to hike the inscription trail. Still, it was a cool sight to visit and we did see one or two native petroglyphs among all of the Spanish and immigrant inscriptions carved into the sandstone walls.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Northern New Mexico Confidential

Breakfast at Cafe Pasquales in downtown Santa Fe

I'm folding Santa Fe and Taos and all the little towns and villages in between into one entry: Northern New Mexico.

Church in Las Trampas, NM, on the road to Taos

We went to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, but unfortunately the museum prohibits photography, so I have no pictures from there. Trust me, though, when I say we saw some amazing art not only by O'Keefe, but also by Thomas Moran, Thomas Hart Benton, and Edward Hopper, among others.

Peppers and Blue Door in the style of Rothko

On the road to Taos, we passed through the village of Las Trampas, which had a neat church and a traveling nurse from Easton, Maryland, who recommended seeing the Acoma Pueblo. Tomorrow's post will feature pictures from Acoma.

Rugs and Jars in Taos, NM

In the meantime, enjoy these photos and the slideshow from Santa Fe, Las Trampas, and Taos! As with all the photos on my blog, click the images to enlarge and see more detail.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Carlsbad Confidential

Carlsbad Caverns National Park: A Natural Wonder 700 feet beneath the earth!
(Click to enlarge)

First stop in New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The cavern is the second largest cave chamber in the world, where the Big Room alone is 4,000 feet in length, 625 feet wide, and 300 feet deep. In other words, it's really, really big! My photos didn't turn out the best, because I forgot to take my tripod in with me. Despite the poor pictures, I can tell you it was quite impressive.

Between Carlsbad and Santa Fe, we saw a couple of interesting sights including the grave of Smokey the Bear and the Valley of Fires--a geologic wonder full of solidified lava flows from lava vents in the valley floor. See the slideshow for more pictures from the caverns and to see these other sights along the way.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Monday, April 27, 2009

Coleman Confidential: Family Edition

Edith May Bullock--my great aunt
(Click images to enlarge)

My father's family hails from north central Texas, so part of this trip included stops in two towns in Coleman County--Coleman and Glen Cove. My 95-year old grandmother, who lives in California, gave me the phone number for her 93-year old sister, Edith, who lives in Coleman. We stopped to visit Aunt Edith and she took us to dinner at Dairy Queen.

Peanut Ridge, the farmstead in Glen Cove
where my grandmother and her four siblings grew up

The next day, we drove out to Glen Cove to see the cemetery where my great-grandparents and several other family members are buried.

The bed of my Great-grandpa May's old truck

After visiting the cemetery and leaving an ebenezer--or stone of remembrance--on each grave I could identify as belonging to a family member, we drove into Glen Cove proper to find the property that was the farmstead my grandmother grew up on. I met a man named Bill Henning who remembered my great-grandparents and my great uncle Clayton. He showed me where the old farmhouse had been and pointed out the truck bed and front axle of my great-grandfather's truck that he used to haul wood. The windmill and water tower, as well as a shed and stable, are all that remain of the original farm.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

West Texas Confidential

Alternative energy in West Texas oil country
(Click image to enlarge)

After visiting Glen Cove, we hit the road and headed for West Texas. Originally, we were going to hook up with one of my very favoritest photo bloggers ever--Debi Cates--but due to illness, we had to skip meeting Debi. Still, we drove through some interesting country. What struck us were two things: the oil fields and the windmill farms. Many West Texans seem to have a strong opinion about oil as an energy source and seem none too happy with current Obama Administration policies aimed at alternative energy sources. And yet, there are large wind farms in this part of the state, too. It's sort of like the dog who's growling at you while it wags its tail--you're not sure which end too believe!

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Sunday, April 26, 2009

San Antonio Confidential

The Alamo--Where the Legend of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie Was Made!
(Click to enlarge.)

Before we left San Antonio, we went back into the city to photograph its most famous landmark: The Alamo. The light wasn't the greatest, but this Texas sight lived up to expectation in terms of what I had in my mind's eye. The Alamo--or Mission San Antonio de Valero--was the site of a Spanish mission and home to missionaries and Indian converts in the 1700s. In the 1800s, the Spanish stationed soldiers there who called it Alamo, meaning cottonwood. To read more about the key role this site played in the battle for Texas independence, go here. And to see a few more ho-hum pictures of the Alamo, as well as some of the lovely spring flowers surrounding the mission, see the slideshow.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Hill Country Confidential

Contrary to popular belief, Texas isn't all flat or all urban sprawl
(Click image to enlarge)

One of my road trip goals was to visit the town my father's family came from. It's located in central western Texas, off the main roads. Originally, I was going to go through Dallas and stay with a friend there, but someone recommended the Hill Country to Maya so we decided to get off the interstate and check that out. Turns out, it was a good choice. Most of the roads were two lane and the towns few and far between, but the country was beautiful! If I lived in Texas, this is where I would live--between San Antonio and Coleman.

Hill Country--the beautiful part of Texas
(Click image to enlarge)

Fortunately, they've had a lot of rain recently, too, so everything is lush and green. Here are just a couple of pictures from the road, as well as some of the wildflowers we saw along the road side.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

LBJ Confidential

The boyhood home of Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States
(Click image to enlarge)

Traveling through the Hill Country took us to Johnson City, Texas. This bucolic town is the location of President Lyndon B. Johnson's boyhood home. It's now a national historic park maintained by the U.S. Park Service, along with his ranch a few miles out of town. We stopped in for a quick look and a tour led by park ranger Lou.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Missions Confidential

Mission San Juan y San Miguel
(Click image to enlarge.)

Leaving Louisiana behind, we continued westward and entered the great state of Texas. I wish I had a picture of the 14+ lanes of freeways and expressways and interchanges in and around Houston. That was some insane roadways, boys and girls! Houston is notorious for some of the worst traffic in the nation, but I think traveling through the area on a Saturday proved advantageous. We made it through and past this sprawling--and I do mean s...p...r...a...w...l...i...n...g--metropolis in no time. The destination for the day: San Antonio. The goal: to photograph the Alamo--scene of the battle for Texas independence from Mexico. Unfortunately, it was Fiesta San Antonio, which meant the streets around the Alamo were closed and traffic was horrific. So, we skipped the Alamo and went down to the southern end of the city to see the missions down there.

Mission Concepcion
(Click image to enlarge.)

Mission San Jose y San Miguel De Aguayo is "the queen of the missions" and begins a line of missions established by the Spanish in 1720 along the San Antonio river. We visited Mission San Juan and Mission Concepcion.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

New Orleans Confidential: The Daylight Edition

French donuts--or beignets--with orange juice and
the Cafe du Monde's special blend: coffee with chickory
(Click image to enlarge)

After the eye-opening fun that was Rue Bourbon, the next day shed a better light on New Orleans, and the charm and beauty of the Crescent City came out in the streets surrounding the French Quarter. Of course, you can't go to N'awlins and not have beignets at the Cafe du Monde. That's how we started the day.

After beignets, we strolled through Jackson Square and then over to Saint Louis Cathedral.

Saint Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square
(Click image to enlarge)

Here are a few extra pictures showing the inside of this beautiful church.

I took more than 100 pictures of New Orleans, but this is all I have time to post. If I get a chance, I'll come back to this city and post more pictures of the beautiful ironwork, building and door colors, and people that make this one of America's most unique cities.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Friday, April 24, 2009

Oak Alley Confidential

Oak Alley Plantation--the South's most photographed plantation--derives its name
from 28 oak trees that lead from the Mississippi River to the front porch.
(Click image to enlarge.)

After New Orleans, we ventured out along the Great River Road and headed for Oak Alley Plantation. Located in Vacherie, Louisiana, Oak Alley is one of the most photographed plantations in the South. The plantation gets its name from 28 oak trees that were planted in a double row perpendicular to the Mississippi River in the early 1700s. These magnificent oaks--estimated to be more than 300 years old--provide the canopy and framework that makes Oak Alley picturesque. To learn more about this beautiful, old sugar cane plantation, go here and here. And a shout out to my sister for recommending this as a must-see.

Left: Alligator--breaded and fried in cornmeal. And no, it does not "taste like chicken"!
Right: Chicken and sausage gumbo--a Louisiana specialty.

For lunch, I had the fried alligator--a first for me--and the chicken and sausage gumbo. Yummy!

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Meridian Confidential

Shan Little: Metal Artist and Director of Events at the Chili House

Halfway between Birmingham and New Orleans on I-20/59 and just over the border in Mississippi is the town of Meridian. At the exit for 31st Avenue, there are the typical interstate offerings for culinary fare and sustenance. Rather than eat lunch at Cracker Barrel or McDonald's, though, we drove into downtown Meridian and had lunch at the Chili House across from the post office. It was there that we met Shan Little*--a metal artist and Director of Events at Meridian's spicy gustatory spot. In fact, she made both of the metal pieces featured in today's photos. Shan is also the newest addition to my 100 Strangers series.

Repurposing a 55-gallon drum lid : Created by Shan Little for the Chili House
(Click image to enlarge)

If you want good eats, stop in Meridian at the Chili House where the motto is Good Mood, Great Food! And, if you're interested in blues and bikes, be sure to be in Meridian on June 13 when Shan and the good folks at the Chili House will be hosting Meridian's first Bike & Blues Festival. The event will feature bikers from all over, as well as music by The Dominoes and the Ned Addy Band. The event is free. If you want more information, contact Shan.

* For the record, her name is really Shan. It isn't short for Shannon or anything else. Just Shan.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

New Orleans Confidential: The Twilight Edition

Sunset at Jackson Square: The Basilica of New Orleans
on the banks of the mighty Mississippi

A few hours after lunch in Meridian, we arrived in the Crescent City--New Orleans. (Or N'awlins, to the locals.) I've been to a lot of big cities in the U.S. in my short life, but none quite like this one. Let's just say that Rue Bourbon was "interesting." If your nasal passages weren't being assaulted by the none-too-subtle odor of last night's vomit and libations, your ears were being assaulted by overly loud jazz and blues at one bar in competition with the overly loud jazz and blues next door. You're accosted by hawkers for peep shows, licensed charity solicitors, and Mardi Gras-festooned fellows who ask to have their picture taken and then demand a buck for the privilege. You can walk past a prostitute leaning in a doorway putting on polka-dotted panties over fish net stockings or be propositioned by a guy with a tuba. Fun.

Okay, truthfully, not all of New Orleans is that tawdry, tacky, and cheap, and Bourbon Street is only one part of Sin City, but this place makes Las Vegas look like kiddie camp by comparison. That said, I'll be exploring the French Quarter a bit more tomorrow and hope to bring you the sunny side of New Orleans. In the meantime, here's the sunset from Jackson Square and a few photos of some of the architecture and characters that lend N'awlins its charm.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Cullman Confidential: Ave Maria Grotto

Joseph and the Baby Jesus
(Click image to enlarge)

One of the places Virginia took us was the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama. The Grotto is a collection of miniature buildings created by a monk named Fr. Josef Zoettl. To learn more, click here.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Cullman Confidential: Abbey Cemetery

R.I.P. Aloyius Stolz, O.B.S.
(Click image to enlarge)

Adjacent to the Ave Maria Grotto is a cemetery for the abbey. There were Stations of the Cross and a cemetery for the monks of St. Bernards.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Cullman Confidential: Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament

Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament
(Click image to enlarge)

After the Grotto and the Abbey Cemetery, we went down the road a piece and visited the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Georgia Confidential

Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson are memorialized at 
Stone Mountain, Georgia, on the largest bas relief in the world.
(Click image to enlarge)

We basically drove almost straight through Georgia, but we did stop long enough (less than 30 minutes) to see Stone Mountain. Carved by the same man who carved Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain is the largest bas relief in the world and pays homage to Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson--the Confederate States of America's most loved leaders.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Birmingham Confidential

Japanese Tea Garden : Birmingham Botanical Gardens
(Click image to enlarge)

Arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, this evening where we are staying with the lovely and hilarious Virginia Jones of Birmingham Daily Photo and Paris Through My Eyes. If you ever want to meet a great photo blogger, make a trip to Birmingham and hang out with Virginia!

We arrived a little early, so took an hour or so to visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. We were a little late in the season for cherry blossoms and azaleas, but still managed to capture a few decent photos of this beautiful public space.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Biltmore Confidential

The Biltmore House: The Gilded Age Home of George and Edith Vanderbilt
(Click image to enlarge)

Today's portion of the trip is brought to you by the Vanderbilt Family and the Biltmore House and Gardens in Asheville, North Carolina. The use of the word "house" to describe this building is a laugh. The "house" is actually a castle and was built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1888 and 1895. It contains what, at that time, were considered state of the art conveniences, like indoor plumbing. While most homes in America in 1895 didn't have indoor bathrooms, the Biltmore had 43 of them with deep cast iron tubs and flushing toilets.

The house contains 250 rooms and is the largest private residence in the United States to this day with 175,000 square feet and 8,000 acres of land. It is still owned by the Vanderbilt family and employs 1,800 individuals to maintain and show the home. Occasionally, the descendants of the Vanderbilts stay in the castle. The home is one of the finest examples of Gilded Age architecture in the U.S. and contains a 10,000 book library and fine art, including 16th century Flemish tapestries, woodcuts by Renoir, portraits by John Singer Sargent, a 1916 Skinner organ in the dining hall, and handloomed Jacquard wall coverings and draperies from Lyon, France.

Springtime means flowers and the gardens at the Biltmore are spectacular!
(Click image to enlarge.)

This time of year also features the Biltmore's annual Spring Flower Festival and the tulips were in glorious bloom all over. Definitely worth the price of admission to visit this beautiful home and its gardens.

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Charlottesville Confidential

Jefferson's Monticello--one of America's most beautiful and fascinating presidential estates.
(Click image to enlarge.)

This road trip started with a visit to Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Monticello--Italian for little mountain--is situated in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley and constitutes 5,000 acres of lush Virginia countryside. It was here that one of the most brilliant minds in American history lived and worked as a farmer, statesman, and patriot.

To learn more about Jefferson and Monticello, go here, here, and here.

Three of my favorites quotes by or about Jefferson:

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." - Thomas Jefferson, 1800 in a private letter discussing party conflict

"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." – John F. Kennedy, Remarks at dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere, April 29, 1962

And, finally, on his gravesite, the epitaph Jefferson wrote for himself:

Here was buried Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
Of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom
And Father of the University of Virginia

Jefferson died on July 4, 1826--the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His fellow patriot and co-signer, John Adams, died four hours later in Quincy, Massachusetts. Jefferson was 83. Adams was 90.

Just a few more pictures from Monticello.

Tomorrow: One of America's castles...

Photo copyright: Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Two Things Challenge: Free / Range

On the Road

This week's challenge was Free / Range. The photo above is mine, while the one below was taken by my friend, Amy, who is joining us for the first time at 2 Things Challenge. Want to see how others interpreted this challenge or would you like to join in on the fun? Visit 2 Things Challenge.

Gate : Lorton Penitentiary : Lorton, Virginia

Photo copyrights: Janet Kincaid (top) and A.A. Krauss (bottom), 04/09.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Let Us Raise A Standard...

My very last picture of Washington, D.C., taken from the car. which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God. - George Washington


Today, I finally drove out of Washington, D.C., and am now underway to Washington State. The photo above, while not great, is literally the last picture I took in Washington, D.C.

I've loved writing this blog and hope to continue posting photos here from my archives and any subsequent visits. I especially appreciate those of you who have diligently read and commented. Thank you!

For the next couple of weeks, I'll be on the road and posting photos here from my travels across the United States. Please visit and see what I'm seeing, then join me in May at my new photo blog, Whidbey Island Confidential.

In a week or so, I'll post an entry here about the top ten sights and activities I recommend when visiting our nation's capital.

Bon voyage, D.C.!

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Conversation in UV
(Click image to enlarge)

The reflection of this guy's friend in his sunglasses caught my eye at the World Pillow Fight last weekend in Dupont Circle. Snap!

I'd like to include this as one of my 100 Strangers, but as I didn't ask this guy his name, it's a nix.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential / Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Friday, April 10, 2009


Conversation in Silhouette...

This man and woman were in deep conversation the other night outside the Gift & Film stand near the Lincoln Memorial.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential / Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Simple elegance

Last year, I went crazy and took a ton of pictures of the Cherry Blossom Festival. This year, I went a bit minimalist and focused on the blossoms themselves and the people visiting our fair city. Here are just a couple of examples of the beauty to be had in Washington in the springtime. Click on the images to enlarge them and see their detail and elegance.

Blossoms in bokeh

Springtime beauty

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential / Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


C.J. paints one of Washington's iconic memorials framed by cherry blossoms.
(Click image to enlarge.)

Continuing the 100 Strangers challenge, went to see the cherry blossoms this weekend and came across this young lady who was painting the blossoms and the Jefferson Memorial. C.J. is a student at Georgetown Day School and, according to her mother, she'd been there most of the morning painting.

Beautiful weather + Cherry blossoms = Art

In other news, one week from today, I'll be leaving Washington, D.C., and moving to Washington State. I'll be living on Whidbey Island and will continue my photography and blogging from there. Starting on May 1, check out Whidbey Island Confidential. Between April 15 and May 1, I'll be blogging from the road, so be sure to visit D.C. Confidential for the second installment of U.S.A. Confidential. I'll continue to blog here as I pull pictures from my archives and as I make visits to D.C. throughout the year.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential / Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two Things Challenge: Solemn / Playful

Ron Henderson, owner of Pulp, passed away from cancer February 15, 2009

This week's Two Things Challenge was Solemn / Playful. I chose as my interpretations a picture of a tribute to Ron Henderson, owner of Pulp on 14th Street. Ron's little shop of cards and unique gifts is a staple in the DuPont Circle / U Street Corridor / Logan Circle shopping district and a fun, happy place. Sadly, Ron's battle with cancer ended in February this year. His employees posted this tribute to Ron in the entrance of Pulp. If you get a chance, stop by the store and sign the condolence book on the counter.

Promoting world peace by pillow fighting!

The second photo was taken the same day in DuPont Circle at the World Pillow Fight Day. It was a blast to watch grown-ups and a kid or two pummel each other with pillows around the fountain! In fact, I think three things: First, D.C. should have a pillow fight every week. It would be a great way to relieve all the stress around here and everyone would go away with a smile on their face. Second, Congress should be required to come down to the circle once a month and let us pummel them with pillows for taking their sweet time about legislation. And third, all wars should be fought with pillows.

If you want to see how others interpreted this challenge or if you'd like to join in, visit Two Things Photo Challenge.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential / Janet Kincaid, 04/09

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Checkmate: Some speed chess and lunch with a view.
(Click to enlarge)

Continuing with 100 Strangers, I give you three strangers and an extra. Mike, Victor, and David were playing speed chess the other day outside the Brown Bag, but it was the guy in the window who first caught my eye.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential/Janet Kincaid.