Sunday, January 31, 2010


Illinois is a large state, ranking fifth in population in the US.  62% of the state's population resides in its northeast corner, namely in Chicago or in the greater Chicago area. I've visited Chicago multiple times, but have barely been outside its city limits except to visit Evanston, immediately to the north, and Oak Park, immediately to the southwest.  (I think.)

The first time I visited Chicago, around 1985, I went on the Wendella Boat Cruise.  Not only was it interesting to go through the locks from the Chicago River out onto Lake Michigan, it was fascinating from an architectural standpoint.  A lot of modern architecture was born in Chicago, and it was a subject I knew absolutely nothing about. That same trip I went to stay at my friends' in Oak Park, and went on a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's house there.  More architecture, more learning.  My head spun.  I've never thought about architecture the same since.

One of the other things I really like about Chicago is its airport.  There was one Christmas I was travelling so much, I ended up doing quite a bit of my Christmas shopping in O'Hare airport during a layover, or waiting for a delayed flight - I don't remember which.  Whenever I am traveling through there, I always like going through the trippy corridors (see postcard above right), with the ever-changing neon lights and the music and the people movers.  It's borderline psychedelic.

A recent post of Michael Jordan's statue in Chicago can be found here.  I don't think the statue was there the last time I visited.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Good things about Idaho:  Fly fishing, huckleberries, and of course the giant spuds. It is a beautiful state and does have an interesting shape.

Bad thing about Idaho:  it has street slang built into its name - Who's the ho?  I da ho or u da ho.

This might be my dumbest post ever, but I'd rather go hot tubbing than write today!  Sorry readers, especially Idaho lovers.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hawaii, Revisited

Yesterday, I had hoped to post a postcard of every Hawaiian Island, or at least the ones for which I have postcards, but it was a long day, and I could only eke out a quick post. So today, I bring you all the Hawaiian Islands. Wish I were on one, or more specifically, in the waters off of one, right now, sun on my back.

From north to south, the northernmost island of Hawaii is Kauai. This is a postcard of the Na Pali Coast, which you can see via helicopter, boat, or trail. 30+ years ago my then boyfriend, now husband, and I hiked to the first beach on this trail, and spent a few days camping in a cave. It makes you think twice when you're hiking down the trail to the beach, and there's a tidal wave warning sign, complete with a bright yellow post that says something to the effect of "If the ocean recedes rapidly, get immediately up past this pole". It was a looooong way down to the beach. Tidal waves were always one of my recurring nightmares as a kid, so a sign like that makes me pause, just for a moment.

The next island from north to south is Oahu, the most populous island, and home to some of the best surf spots in the world: Sunset, Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay. A postcard from Oahu kinda hasta have Diamondhead on it. Either that, or a picture of surfers on Waikiki Beach. Here's sunset over Diamondhead.
Molokai is next, primarily known for the leper colony on its north shore. The colony, Kalaupapa, was located here because the sea cliffs provided natural isolation from the rest of the island. The story of one young girl's compulsory deportation to the leper colony is told in a book called Moloka'i. The mandatory isolotion policy was in effect until 1969.

Next up, Lanai. Truth be told, this postcard was written by somebody visiting Lanai, but I can't be positive that the picture is of Lanai. Lanai is known as the "pineapple island" because for years, practically the entire island was a pineapple plantation, and until 1990, there was only a single hotel on the island.

Further South is Maui. This postcard showing a humpback whale breeching is not an unusual sight during the winter and early spring in the waters off Maui. There are whale watching boat cruises, in which you can get relatively close to the whales, but you can also just stand on the shores and watch for them.

The big island of Hawaii is not only the largest island in Hawaii, it's the largest island in the United States. My cousin lives there, and when she got married, our entire family went for the celebration. While there, we took a helicopter ride over the volcanoes. It was my first helicopter ride (okay, I've only had two, but this was the first!) and incredibly thrilling, complete with headphones playing Apocolypse Now type music, and a rounded glass front, so you could look down through your feet (I got to sit in the front).  This postcard is of the Thurston Lava Tube, which is in Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park.

There are two additional Hawaiian islands, but I don't have postcards for them: Kaho'olawe and Niihau. Kaho'olawe was used by the US military primarily as a training ground and firing range, until 1990. Now it is only allowed to be used for native Hawaiian cultural and spiritual reasons. Niiahu is privately owned, and the general public has only been allowed to visit the island on a limited basis since 1987.


Thursday, January 28, 2010


This is one of the older postcards in my collection which was sent directly to me, rather than a relative.  I was still in high school, and this was sent by a friend who went to Hawaii with the church youth choir.

The card includes not very secret secret code about rapscallion-like teenage activities engaged in at the time, but the best part about this card is that the sender taped "actual Hawaiian sand" onto the card when she sent it.  I must have been very impressed with this idea at the time, and actually still think it's cool, as I've saved this card all these years, and I received it well before I really started collecting postcards.  You can see the piece of yellowing scotch tape on the card on the left, which still has a few grains of sand on it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My sister lived in Atlanta for almost 20 years, and we visited her there a handful of times.  Once we were on a family road trip, having driven to Atlanta from Bethany Beach, Delaware.  I remember that I read the 5th Harry Potter book aloud to my kids almost the entire drive from Charleston,  South Carolina, to Atlanta.  That was a lot of reading aloud.

While in Atlanta, we went out to the mountains and spent a day canoeing on a river that looked sort of like the postcard on the right, except that the river was very low and at times we  had to portage the canoes.  It was a typical canoe trip, complete with water fights between the canoes (sneak attacks, of course), graceful lurches in and out of the canoe, and lots of laughing.  We also attended a Bo Diddly concert in Chastain Park in an outside amphitheater.  People brought picnics, some complete with candleabras, and enjoyed his music sitting outside in the very hot, very sticky summer air.  For a San Franciscan, more accumstomed to foggy summer nights, to be outside under the stars and clouds, with fire flies blinking about was excellent.

It was a surprise to me that the city of Atlanta has a population of less than 600,000 inhabitants.  My guess would have been over a million.   However, its metropolitan area is 8th in the country with 5.4 million people.

I love the postcards that feature a state map.  On this map, you see the things you would expect on a map from Georgia:  golfers, wind surfers, and a hunter.  HUH?  Well at least the peach blossoms, pecans, a southern belle, and a mansion that looks like Tara are what you'd expect.  I also see the the Okefenokee Swamp is at least partially in Georgia, straddling the border with Florida.  It is one of the largest swamps in the world.

The postcard maps always remind me of the reports we did on states in elementary school:  major cities, key crops, iconic symbols.  Or even of the murals we painted on butcher paper on the walls.  I particularly remember the one we did for Mexico. (I realize Mexico is not a state.)  Growing up in Southern California very near the San Gabriel Mission, we were aware, if not knowledgeable, about a lot of the iconic symbols of Mexico at the time - donkeys, sombreros, missions, cactus, etc.  Think cheesy Tijuana souvenirs from the 60s and you'll have an idea of what that mural looked like!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


For whatever reason, I don't think of Florida as being part of the South.  It is as if it's its own region..  Howevever, if you've been on the panhandle part of Florida, you know that's a place that definitely feels like the South.

The postcard on the left is from Talahassee, on the panhandle.  I've been there once. 

Talahassee was the closest airport to Ochlocknee, Georgia, the location of one of two white clay mines in the world (the other being somewhere in China)., and the source of clay for a brand of cat litter, Control Cat Litter. [Many cat litters are made of clay.]  I was the account executive at the ad agency that did the advertising for Control Cat Litter, and the brand manager decided we should all visit the source of this special clay, to see if we could find any information that could be used in advertising messaging.   I don't remember that we did, and it was a long way from San Francisco to that clay mine in Georgia.  I do still have a lump of that clay in my office.

The Control Cat Litter brand no longer exists, but as usual, I discovered something interesting while searching the web to see if it was still around.  Ever heard of Geophagy?  It means eating dirt, or clay, and this white Georgia clay appears to be of particular interest to geophagists, if such a term exists.  If you're interested, you can purchase it here.

The postcard on on the right, of Key West, included a message on the back that said:  "If you ever come to Florida, skip everything else and come sraight to Key West."  I imagine it to be a bit like San Francisco in the tropics, but smaller:  lots of eccentric, colorful, and interesting people drinking a bit too much booze, but sporting killer tans, and wearing Hawaiian shirts and flip flops.  It may not be reality, but that's how I picture it.

Monday, January 25, 2010


It's a good enough time as any to begin another week of United STATES postcards, beginning with Delaware. Delaware is the second smallest state in the US, but the 6th in population density, and was the first state to sign the Declaration of Independence which, of course, is the basis for their license plate claim : "The First State".

I can't say the name "Delaware" without song lyrics running through my head: "What did Della wear, boys? What did Della wear?" The answer was something about her "new jersey". I always thought it was a camp song until I looked it up. The song was recorded by Perry Como, which you can hear here, and there are additional verses about states beyond those about Delaware and New Jersey. However, the song appears to have originated as an election jingle in the early 30s as part of a presidential election, probably that of FDR's first campaign. How it was used is hard to imagine.

I'm lucky enough to have been to Delaware multiple times, as good friends have a beach house in Bethany beach and they invited us to visit, more than once. (Thanks, Jack & Lor!) The view from their porch in Bethany Beach is pretty much that of the postcard on the right. For my previous post about Delaware and Bethany Beach, click here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Giant Potato

Recently, a reader asked if I had any postcards of jackalopes or giant Idaho potatoes. Here's the potato!

My grandfather and mother used to go to Idaho every fall for fly fishing and duck hunting. Usually, they would send us a giant spud or jackalope postcard. While this card isn't from that time - those cards have long disappeared - the date on the back of this card is 1979, and I'm not really sure who the Carolyn is who sent it to me. But my name and address at the time are on the back, so I know it's mine.

My friend Michelle used to live in the town of Driggs, Idaho. It is just on the other side of the Tetons from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The drive-in in Driggs is called "The Spud", and parked in front of the drive-in is a flat bad truck with a giant potato on it, exactly like the one in the picture above. (If you look at this YouTube video , you can see the truck and the potato.) On Wednesday nights, The Spud charged by the car, not the person. My friend had an old Winnebago, and when we were visiting, probably 10 or 12 of us piled in, and headed to the Spud. It was awesome.

So, faithful reader, this Spud's for you, per your request. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010


Another bucket list alert, this time for Iceland. I am intrigued by Iceland on a variety of levels.

One is its geographic isolation. Yes, there are more isolated places, but Iceland sits out in the middle of the North Atlantic, and only the North Atlantic Current keeps it from being friggin' freezing (to quote Dr. Evil).

Another is its geologic make-up. It is a land of volcanoes, geysers (although there are more geysers in Yellowstone than in all of Iceland), the largest water fall in Europe, and a more temperate climate than its latitude would suggest.

Finally, I'd just like to be in a place with names like "Reykyavik" and "Haukadular". I want to hear how these words, and others, sound spoken by the people who live there.

Before its financial meltdown in 2008, Iceland was ranked the most developed country in the world according to the UN's Human Development Index. It might not be #1 today.

The stamps on this postcard. were also interesting.

Wondering what "Brokk" meant, I looked it up, thinking it was a type of horse. It turns out there is only one breed of horse in Iceland, not surprisingly the Icelandic Horse, brought to Iceland by the Viking settlers in the 9th century. The horse is uniquely five-gaited and "brokk" is the name of its trot. It has never been bred with any other type of horse, and is the only horse that can live on grass alone. (At least that what the first site says - what about Wild Mustangs????)

Today is Postcard Friendship Friday, so if you have a chance, check out some of the other postcard sites.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India

The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India. Wow! I'd like to have dinner at that table by that pool.

Check out the website for the resort here. As my friend says in her postcard, it is "surely one of the most ravishingly beautiful hotels in the world". I don't think she is exaggerating.

The city of Udaipur itself was rated "The Best City in the World" in a Travel & Leisure poll in 2009. Known as the Venice of India due to the preponderance of lakes, it is home to numerous castles, particularly from the Rajput era (11th-13th centuries).

Interesting to note that Rajput refers to a major warrior group in India, and includes Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. At the time of Indian independence, more the 600 of the 800 princely states in India were ruled by Rajputs.

I suppose I am becoming an armchair traveler (or desk chair in my case). I know the term, I've used the word, but I'm living the meaning: be exposed to a place, look it up, research its location and history and any other interesting tidbits, and voila, something new learned. In fact one of the postcard bloggers from Postcard Friendship Friday calls her blog "Sandy, the Armchair Traveller". I understand better now what she's trying to say and do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Slavonski Brod, Croatia

Once again, my view of myself as geographically knowledgeable and otherwise worldly is shattered.

To start, Slavonski Brod is in Croatia (or here, if you're more interested in Croatia from a traveler's perspective), very close to the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I don't expect myself to have heard of the town, given I've never been to the town, or even to the country of Croatia. However, when I looked on a map to see where it was, and the map only showed its location in Croatia, I had to look on another map to get the name of its neighboring country. Arg. I think I better start taking the geography quiz more often, especially for Eastern Europe and Africa.

Next, I looked up Ivan Mestrovic, who is on one of the stamps. He is an artist considered to be "possibly the greatest sculptor of religious subject matter since the Renaissance, and the first living person to have a one man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City". Did you know this? I did not. [BTW, he's not alive now, having died in 1962.]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Role Reversal

A reader asked if I had any jackalope or giant trout or other rural legend images. I do, somewhere, but haven't located them yet.

In the meantime, here's a rural legend for you: deer bags man. There are so many goofy aspects to this picture: the trussing of the man on the front bumper, the pose of the deer in the driver's seat window along with the expression (or lack thereof) on its face, the multiple plaids in the man's outfit.

The whole thing gives me a good chuckle on this rainy rainy Tuesday.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Privacy Postcards

Here's a novel concept. Or, perhaps it's not novel, but it is the first example of this I have in my collection.

From top to bottom, the first two images show the front and back of the card, with the image folded over the sender's message; the second two images show the front and back with the flap opened up, creating a larger visual on the front, and revealing the "private" message on the back.

Actually, the cards are called Fold 'n Please cards, from a company called Nouvelles Images. On their website in the history section, they assert that Jacques Blanc (founder?) foresaw the growth of interest in art, and in 1957 was the first to ask artists for permission to put their work on postcards.

That's definitely nouvelle!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Route 66

My friends recently drove from St. Louis to San Francisco, and followed old Route 66 at least part of the way. This card is pretty typical of a contemporary postcard from Historic Route 66.

Anybody who knows me, knows that I am a major road tripper, long and short. As part of this passion, I've become a big fan of Road Trip USA. Route 66 is Route #11 on the website. I've traveled small pieces of it, but not a lot.

However, I have traveled 95% of Route #1, from Seattle through to San Diego (into Baja for that matter; it's just not called Highway 1 in Mexico); Route #9, the "loneliest highway in America" from San Francisco to Grand Junction, Colorado; Route #7, the Great Northern, from Everett, Washington to Kalispell, Montana; and Route #6, the Atlantic Coast, from Ocean City, Delaware to Charleston, South Carolina.

One of my travel dreams would be to drive on Route #10, the Southern Pacific to the East Coast, and follow Route #8, the Oregon Trail, back to San Francisco. Or at least a good portion of both of them.

What's your favorite Road Trip?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

La Boulange, Bay Area

La Boulange is a San Francisco Bay Area mini-chain, with about 10+ locations in San Francisco and Marin. (Until I posted these cards, I always thought it was called La Boulangerie.) In any case, while the locations are part of a chain, each one feels like a neighborhood bakery.

This is underlined by the free postcards available in any of their locations. Each bakery is represented in its own oil painting, in its distinctive location, some with the name of the street featured on the bakery awning.

I also like the back of the cards (all the same), where the stamp amount is shown in Euros and the motto of France is printed on the stamp: Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.

The coffee and breads aren't bad, either!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Americana, Brazil

This postcard, which arrived through Postcrossing, shows the "Igreja de Santo Antonio", located in the city of Americana in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

What's most interesting about this card is not the church itself, but rather the discovery of the city of Americana in Brazil. Turns out after the Civil War, a group of people from the Confederate states immigrated here, because they wanted to live where slavery was still legal. Wikipedia puts it more gracefully: "In Brazil, however, slavery was still legal, making it a particularly attractive location for former Confederates." About 10% of the population of the city are descendants of this original group, known as Confederados, and there is a Fraternidade Decendencia Americana which still meets quarterly, in a cemetary no less.

The group brought with them a watermelon called "Georgia Rattlesnake". Burpee Seed Company considers it an heirloom watermelon. I wonder if it's still grown today?

BTW, it's Postcard Friendship Friday, so check out the other postings from the participants.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection on 5th Avenue in New York City is home to a permanent collection of more than 1,100 works of art from the Renaissance to the late 19th Century.

While it is not the largest museum in the United States, it "has played a very significant role in collecting and connoisseurship in the United States. The types of paintings collected by Mr. Frick deeply affected the taste of Americans in the decades after his death — first and foremost, that of Andrew Mellon, his close friend, and other collectors who gave to The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., founded by Mellon." (From the Frick Collection website)

There is an interesting array of painters represented here, a few of whom I'd be particularly interested in seeing:

There are multiple works by Whistler (of Whistler's Mother fame).

Thomas Gainsborough, of Blue Boy fame which hangs at the Huntington Library in my home town, has a number of paintings at The Frick.

There is a series of paintings called "Arts & Sciences" by Francois Boucher, which includes pairings like "Fowling and Horticulture", "Architecture and Chemistry", "Astronomy and Hydraulics" and "Singing and Dancing".

Finally, who wouldn't want to see paintings by Turner and Constable?

Perhaps next time I visit New York........

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

British Columbia

Another card from a Postcrossing participant, this time from British Columbia. The sender is pointing out where there is a wine region of British Columbia ("start in Osoyoos and head up the Okanagan to Salmon Arm").

A postcard like this always reminds me of how much I don't know about the world. I am aware of British Columbia, I've always wanted to see Vancouver, but there's a lot more to the province than just its major city. The description from the website link above describes the Okanagan Valley as "begins in Canada's only true desert environment adjacent to the US border". I wasn't aware there was any desert-like environment in Canada, let alone adjacent to the US border.

The site also describes Ice wine, which is wine produced from grapes that are left to freeze on the vine before they are picked and pressed. Interesting.

British Columbia becomes yet another place to add to the list of places I'd like to see some day. This postcard collecting business can cause wanderlust!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Truckee, California

It's raining here today, so I imagine Truckee might look like this right about now, or at least later today when the storm clears. Here's something fun to look at: a highway webcam, at the Truckee exit off I-80! Looks more like rain than snow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

One More Royal Post

Whatever happened to Fergie? Or as she was more formerly known, Sarah, Duchess of York? For that matter, whatever happened to Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie?

You can follow the links, above, or here's a quick summary. Sarah has the Sarah Ferguson Foundation, which is dedicated to advocating for "wellness and motherhood" and is active in publishing and broadcasting, both as a writer and producer. Prince Andrew (who has his own website here) serves as the United Kingdom's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment. He's an avid golfer, and a regular goose hunting companion of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Princess Beatrice is a university student who occasionally engages in princess-like behavior - gracing a variety of functions with her presence. She looks a lot like her mother. She is the fifth and first female in the line of succession to the throne. Princess Eugenie is a university student as well.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Royals, Continued - A Minor Royal

HRH Prince Edward
, a younger brother of Prince Charles. Once third in line for the succession to the throne, he is now seventh. It's not likely he'll ever be King.

I sent this postcard to my husband (then boyfriend) the very first time I ever took a trip that necessitated a passport - my friend Carol and I went to England for about nine days. We had a blast, staying mostly in London, but renting a car for a couple of days to visit Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon. This card reminded me that in Stratford-upon-Avon, after a very nice dinner in a Shakespearian era restaurant, we went into a local bar, where we found more than one Boy George look-alike, complete with hair, make up and clothes. Having always been a huge Boy George fan, this was one of the highlights of our trip, and such a contrast to the history and culture we had up to this point immersed ourselves in.

Makes me laugh, just thinking about it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blast From The Past

While looking for a Union Jack themed card yesterday, I came across this portrait of the ex-Prince & Princess of Wales. They both look so young! Bad hairdos, too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Union Jack

Today is Postcard Friendship Friday, and the theme is (loosely) the Union Jack. The hostess of PFF found some very cool Union Jack Converse High Tops on line, and is looking forward to wearing them.

In any case, my contribution to the theme is this postcard ad for the BMW MINI, first launched in April 2001. It was the successor of the original Mini (note deliberate difference in capitalization), produced by British Motor Corporation from 1965 through 2000. The original Mini was similar in cult status to the VW Beetle, although the VW Beetle predates the BMC Mini by almost 40 years.

Notice there is a head sticking out the driver's side (British driver side) window of the car. On the back, the card says "Helen Bell. Flag Maker." The only Helen Bell I can find is a folk singer in England. Conceivably, everybody (but me) knows Helen Bell, and this is a bit of a joke. The timing of the release of her first album, and her finalist status on the BBC Radio Young Folk Award in 2000 would coincide nicely with the release of the car.

Anybody know?