Today marks one year from the day that the 35W bridge collapsed.
That evening, lives were lost, and many others were changed forever.
Let's (always) remember those 13 people who lost their lives to this tragedy! And pray for their families and for all the survivors, rescue workers, everyone else affected by the day's events and now for the builders of the new bridge that will be complete in the near future.
A mural to remember that day and to honor the victims will be unveiled today in Minneapolis. Other memorial events are also scheduled today.
I often dream of the summer I spent in Italy. When I was 21, I traveled to Italy to study the language and travel. I spent my time traveling and getting to know the Italian people and what made them who they are. My four-month trip ended in Rome. Although there for several days, I didn't explore that much due to unexpected circumstance. However, I fell in love with the country and have longed to return. So, when I discovered Angela K. Nickerson on Twitterand she introduced herself and her first book to me, I was ecstatic to learn more about Rome, Michelangelo and her adventures writing the book.
Published by Roaring Forties Press, Nickerson's debut book A Journey into Michelangelo's Rome is a guidebook/art history book with historical perspective, travel advice and glorious imagery and maps to light your way, whether you've been to Italy, are on your way or taking a trip from your armchair. This book takes a fascinating look into Michelangelo's world, how he became a famous artist and how Rome and Florence inspired him to achieve artistic excellence.
Angela K. Nickerson is a freelance writer, photographer and international tour guide. She travels regularly to many countries and enjoys visiting Italy as often as possible.
Below is my interview with her. Be sure to check out her book!
Thanks Angela for taking the time to share with us!
How did you get your starts as a travel? Photographer?
International tour guide?
I have always loved to write and to travel, but I became an English teacher because I also like a steady income. When I left teaching full time and started writing, I naturally gravitated to travel stories. And as a traveler, photography came naturally as my best souvenir. So those two aspects of my career grew together. As for guiding: well, that came about at the same time. When I left teaching, I had a flexible schedule at last, and I started working as a tour manager for Gateway Festivals and Tours in Monticello, Minnesota. For Gateway, I have taken groups to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, to perform in Washington D.C., to Ireland's rolling green hills, and of course, to Italy.
I've been to Italy many times because my father-in-law lives in Rome. It started to feel like a second home, and my friends kept asking when I was going to take them to Italy. Finally I just started organizing trips. So now I take several groups a year to Italy where we focus on Michelangelo's work, but we see all the glories of Florence and Rome. For more information about my tours, visit my website.
What made you take on this book?
It is the natural fusion of my great loves: travel, art, writing, and Italy. Roaring Forties Press put out a call for proposals, and I just knew that Michelangelo's Rome was the perfect combination. Fortunately, my publishers agreed!
Did you know a lot about Michelangelo and his work prior to researching and writing this book?
Actually, I did. When I was teaching, I developed a class called "The Bible as Literature," And in order to create a framework for my students, we focused on the Biblical stories portrayed in the Sistine Chapel. So, I knew a lot about the Sistine Chapel and the forces behind creating it. But I was delighted to learn more. I was most interested in Michelangelo's later years, actually. He lived 89 years and was respected and admired as an older man. I found his letters and poems so enlightening and personal, and came to feel as if I know him some little way.
How long did it take you to research and complete the book?
From the time I signed the contract to the time I held it in my hands was two years. But in publishing there is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait time which can be frustrating!
What was the most fascinating thing you learned while researching and writing this book?
Michelangelo sculpted until his very last days of life. He was incredibly prolific, but his work was very personal. His final sculptures were intimate portraits -- not the grand dares of his early years. And he wrote poems while he sculpted. The two art forms were inseparable for him.
What was the most challenging thing about researching and writing this book?
Not being fluent in Italian. I have never had the opportunity to formally study Italian, and while my husband speaks it fairly well, neither of us are fluent. I know enough for the important things: to eat and to shop. Someday I would like to move to Italy so that I can truly master the language - and read Michelangelo's letters in the original Italian.
If a traveler has never been to Italy before, what advice do you have for them?
Don't try to do it all. You just can't. I take groups of travelers to Italy, and I often see other vacationers wandering around looking rather lost and overwhelmed -- especially in Rome. A huge guidebook like Frommers or Lonely Planet does not help you make decisions about where to go or what to do, nor does it create the scaffolding necessary to understand the links between the Forum and the Vatican (and there are so many!). That's what A Journey into Michelangelo's Rome does: it provides a framework so that this dramatic and rich country with 3000+ years of history is not overwhelming. I love helping travelers make those connections.
Having been to the Midwest, do you find any similarities between Midwesterners and Italians?
I lived in Minnesota for 10 years before moving to California, and I miss the Minnesota (and Midwestern) Nice. Italians are just as nice, but in an even warmer and more hospitable way. In Italy I have been invited into people's homes and welcomed as if I was family by people I've never met before. But where Midwesterners tend to avoid confrontation, it isn't unusual to see Italians engaged in heated arguments. That stereotypical temper is true, but it is followed by passionate making up and a genuine love that runs deep. And a generous spirit - well, that's another thing Italians and Midwesterners share.
What is your next project? Will you write another book for Roaring Forties Press in the future?
I am not ready to talk about it publicly yet, but it will be about Italy, art, and travel.
Where else have you been in Italy?
My travels have taken me to the major cities in Northern and central Italy including Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan. I am hoping to spend some time south of Rome, exploring the beauties of Southern Italy soon. Italy is divided into 20 regions - each with its own foods, flavors, history, and traditions. It will take a lifetime to enjoy them all!
Where is your next trip?
Well, I am writing you right now from The Sea Ranch on the coast of California in Sonoma County. I am here enjoying the intersection of California's redwood forest with the Pacific Ocean.
But I am taking a group to Italy in October, and there is still room on the trip. Check out the Traveler section of my website for more information about my tours.
Where can Midwest travelers buy your book?
It is available at all major booksellers including Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.com. But check out your local independent bookstore! Cherry Street Books in Alexandria, Minnesota hosted me for a great evening. And I recently did a signing at St. Olaf College's bookstore, too. And if your favorite bookstore doesn't carry A Journey into Michelangelo's Rome, ask them to them to order it for you. They will be happy to do it!
Is there anything else you would like Midwest travelers to know?
You are very fortunate. Currently the Vatican Splendors exhibit is at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio. In September, the exhibit travels to Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Go see it! What a wonderful taste of Italy in the heart of the Midwest!
I'll be flying back to Milwaukee from Portland, Ore. this Friday. And, instead of turning around and heading straight back home to Minneapolis, I'm going to stay at brother's place for the weekend and head to Summerfest.
Summerfest claims to be the world's largest music festival in the world. Now, I'm not so sure about that, but I would say it is the largest in the Midwest. Stevie Wonder. Leeann Rimes. Stone Temple Pilots. John Mayer. Rascall Flatts. John Mellencamp. Rush. Steve Miller Band. Tom Petty. The Jonas Brothers. Tim McGraw. Alicia Keys. Along with almost 700 other musicians/bands will perform from June 26 to July 6 this year.
Located on Milwaukee's Lake Michigan shore, there will be 11 stages along the 75 acres of Summerfest. Bands will perform from noon to midnight every day. Plus, there will be other special attractions, family activities, fun fest fare and exhibitors with giveaways.
I'll be going Friday and Saturday this weekend. If anyone else is going, let me know and we can perhaps meet up and salute summer and Summerfest with a Leinekugel's. Cheers!
I'm going to Portland, Oregon this weekend for a week to visit my sister and her family. I've never been there and haven't even started researching attractions/sites/restaurants that I should check off the list on my first trip there. Does anyone have favorites or recommendations?
I'm in charge of the itinerary and want to make sure we are exploring fun places - outdoors, dining, sites, nightlife, arts, etc. We might even venture up to Seattle, so if you have recommendations there too please send them my way. Comment or e-mail me. Thanks everyone!
I'll head up to Duluth, Minn. shortly. Just for an overnight trip. I booked a Vista Fleet dinner cruise for us to celebrate Father's Day.
I've never hung out with my dad for a long period of time, especially not for an overnight thing. Sounds funny, right? Well, the pops and I have never really been close. We're never different and don't quite have a whole lot in common. However, he's alone now (his wife passed away about a year and a half ago), and I'm alone now (recent break-ups have left me done with the relationship scene), so I thought what better time to hang and find activities we can have in common.
I was up North last year around this time and took this photo of the Vista Fleet. I talked to my Dad about it then and asked if he'd enjoy it. He said he'd love to go...someday. Well, someday is today.
We'll board around 5:30 p.m. tonight and cruise for two hours. We'll tour the Duluth Harbor, check out any tanker ships that are in the harbor, go out onto Lake Superior and explore and be served a, hopefully, wonderful prime rib dinner. I'm sure it'll be a splendid time. Then, my dad said he wants to take me to President's and Grunk's to introduce me to his fishing buddies. I guess President's and Grunk's are bars he frequents in Superior, Wis. Oh boy! ;-)
Down on beautiful Main Street in SE Minneapolis, the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts will take place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. this weekend.
Over 250 juried artists will display and sell their work. Everyone from photographers, painters, sculptors to mixed media artists will be there. And, musicians will be playing throughout both days on five performance stages that will line Main Street on the Mississippi River.
Food vendors will sell you your favorite festival treats, such as sweet corn, mini donuts, brats, cheese curds and fresh squeezed lemonade, and much more. And, Whole Foods will present the Culinary Arts Quarter, where you can sample unique treats and purchase fresh and natural meals.
Kids (and Dads): There will be lots of fun activities to participate in. One that sounds super fun: Presented by Kiddywampus, kids and parents can do Action Planning, on Jackson Pollack-inspired outdoor canvases!
And, Dads, who are in to cars, there will also be an Art of the Car show at the festival. Over 100 different, classic, imported and restored cars will be on display each day for your viewing pleasure!
The fifth annual Minneapolis MOSAIC will celebrate the richness and diversity of the arts and cultures of Minneapolis through a summer-long celebration. Beginning tomorrow night, more than 100 culturally diverse events will showcase the rich diversity of music, dance, theater, the visual arts, film and the literary arts in Minneapolis.
On Saturday, June 7 in downtown Minneapolis, MOSAIC will kick off with a full evening of free entertainment. From 6-10 p.m. on Hennepin Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, there will be over 40 live acts filling multiple stages, visual arts exhibits, children's activities, a premiere of a Minneapolis diversity film and food from Midtown Global Market to enjoy.
and others. This year’s art commission, an original film presented by Best Buy,will premiere at 6:45 p.m. at the State Theatre with additional screenings at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. In addition, artists and performers will fill Pantages, State and Hennepin Stages Theatres throughout the evening.
The celebration spills out into the streets with dance, music and art. Festival-goers can take in the sights and smells of Midtown Global Market food vendors, art exhibits and activities. At the kick-off event, you can also register to win a trip for two to the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film and Musical Festival in Austin, Texas.
For a schedule of MOSAIC events throughout June, July and August, visit Minneapolis MOSAIC.
I can rarely check a bag anymore without paying something extra. Usually it's because I try and jam everything into one bag, and it ends up over 50 pounds. Well, lately, the trend has been changing to $25 for the second bag. Recently, I've been flying American and heard from a ticket agent that the second bag would follow other airlines' suit with a charge of $25.
So, to my dismay, I report that AA has announced that they'll now charge $15 to check each bag. OMG! We don't even get to check ONE bag for all that we pay for airline tickets. Ugh!
With the downward spiral of the economy coupled with the craziness of the fuel prices, the airlines are looking for ways to compensate. What this means is we, travelers, suffer even more. I can't imagine that this trend of extra fees will end anytime soon either.
The trick then to getting a deal on airfare is going to be to get more and more diligent about surfing the net and signing up for airfare watchs through Hotwire and AirfareWatchDog and through airline loyalty programs, where airlines will promote deals to members first.