Travel

My First Days at Franklin University Switzerland

When people learn that I went to school in Switzerland, I can’t help but feel a bit snobbish. Perhaps this is because Switzerland connotes fine watches, extravagant ski trips and indulgent chocolate for most. But that’s not why I chose to attend Franklin University Switzerland (then Franklin College Switzerland).

I wanted to travel more than anything, and this American school in the heart of Europe makes experiential learning a part of its curriculum with academic travel. Taking the study abroad experience to the next level, every semester, students participate in a class studying site specific topics culminating in a two-week travel led by their professor.

I was lucky enough to attend Franklin for all four years. That means I participated in eight academic travels!

After reading my friend Kate’s reflection on her time at Franklin, I thought I would share some of my first photographs and impressions of Switzerland and more specifically, Lugano, where the school is located — near the Italian border.

The bus ride from the airport was a blur.

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Lake Lugano and some rowers for scale.

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One of the “regal thieves” Kate mentioned in her blog post: purportedly imported along with palm trees to lend the Paradiso municipality an exotic feel.

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An elderly Swiss man wearing sensible shoes resting on one of the iconic red benches that line the lake.

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During orientation week, student leaders were tasked with keeping all new students awake to prevent debilitating jet lag from setting in. We were required to sign up for various activities and I opted for a walk to nearby Gandria, a quaint quarter of Lugano.

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The view of Lake Lugano from the dock in Gandria.

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Illuminati? In Switzerland, you better believe it.

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Ticino (Ti-chee-no) is the name of the canton, or region, Lugano belongs to.

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Ticino is heavily influenced by bordering Italy. Italian is the primary language spoken there.

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I was enchanted right away. Switzerland is so beautiful it was hard to believe I wasn’t dreaming, and to this day, I’m not entirely sure I was ever there.

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Photography, Travel

Picture Perfect Breakfast in Montana

If there’s anything I love more than breakfast food, it’s my friend Kate’s pictures of breakfast food.

In her reluctant hometown of Helena, Montana, Kate has captured some of the most delectable pictures of dark diners I have ever encountered. For years I have lusted over her beautiful photographs — which you can find on her blog Ze Photographist —  but it wasn’t until this summer’s road trip that I was finally able to experience her favorite haunts first hand.

Behold, No Sweat Cafe, with its handwritten menus, motown music and strict “no cell phones allowed” policy

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This breakfast table was crowded with multiple cameras and good friends.

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The most picturesque buttered toast I have ever seen.

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Walking away from the cafe, Kate pointed out downtown Helena’s restored brick wall advertisements and the spot where the used bookstore leaves free romance novels out on the street.

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KQED

Ed Drew’s ‘Native Portraits’ Drawn from Talking Circles, Fixed on Tintypes

On July 21, Spayne Martinez walked into the California Historical Society at the corner of Annie and Mission Streets in San Francisco. As an Academy of Art University alumna, she probably walked past the building countless times on her way to class in SOMA, but never with a 12-foot picture of her on display in the front windows. Inside, Martinez enthusiastically greeted Ed Drew, the photographer of behind Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes, on view at the CHS through Nov. 27.

"Spayne"2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.
“Spayne”2014-2015 Tintype by Ed Drew. Courtesy of the artist and Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco.

Martinez beamed as she pointed out her son strapped to her back in the portrait and her cousin’s portrait a few frames down. As a professional portrait photographer herself and a tribal community member of the Klamath Basin, Martinez has a unique insight into the photographic representations of Native people.

Continue reading on KQED Arts

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Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 5: Last Day in Yellowstone

Once Philip and I found the best campsite in Yellowstone (see Day 4), it was hard to face that we would have to leave the park.

Here are some photos from our last full day, which we spent hiking and fishing. We had no luck with the fish, but we did spot a buck and wrangled a small snake!

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Read my other Road Trip Travelogues here:

Day 4

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

 

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Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 3: Reunion at Lost Lake

After saying an abrupt goodbye to my college friend Kate in our second year at Franklin College Switzerland (now University), I wish someone could have told me that I would be reunited with her in Yellowstone 5 years later! It wouldn’t have softened the blow of her absence, but it would have given me something to look forward to, aside from her amazing blog post updates.

Kate’s stories about her home in Montana had always captured my imagination, and I knew I wanted to visit her there long before I made the trip a reality this summer. But before Montana, there was this little pit stop Philip and I wanted to make at a place called Yellowstone. So Kate and Logan, her gentleman caller, obliged us by meeting us for night of camping and a day of hiking in Wyoming!

After a night of catching up over s’mores and Montana brews, we ventured into the Northern reaches of the park. We stopped by Tower Roosevelt for a peek at the falls and some incredible basalt formations. Then we went on to hike the Lost Lake trail. Our first inclination was to hike towards a waterfall. When the trail petered out, we doubled back to find the Lost Lake, but not before catching sight of the fall we sought.

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Kate took photographs on this hike as well, which you can find on her blog Zephotographist under “Foxes, Frogs, and Hiking: A Day in Yellowstone.” I think it’s really interesting to compare the different subjects we chose to photograph on the same hike! She’s much better at taking photographs of people!

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After Kate and Logan left, Philip and I continued on to Mammoth to see the hot springs. We stopped to eat ice cream on a patch of grass not occupied by lounging elk.

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We also ate some pretty disappointing food in a cafeteria. Luckily, these old pictures of tourists in Yellowstone hanging on the walls more than made up for the bland meal.

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After a long day of driving around the park and spotting wildlife (a mamma black bear and her two cubs!) along the roadside, we settled into yet another new campsite. I found this little face on a log and it made me smile.

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It was a great day.

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Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 2: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

After driving into Yellowstone park in the middle of the night and cuddling my bear spray all night long, I had no idea what to expect upon waking up. I know it definitely wasn’t Philip telling me we had to move our tent because the campsite we had snuck onto was reserved for the day.

Luckily, the nice folk who worked at the Madison campground were able to find us another reservation at the Bridge Bay campground. After setting up our tent and making breakfast, Philip and I set out to take in the park. Driving past Yellowstone Lake, it was hard to believe that what we were seeing was real.

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And it didn’t become any more real after we saw our first bison. They may look like lumbering creatures, but the alacrity with which they crossed this river, proved just how swift they really can be.

 

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There is nowhere else I have experienced such wide open expanses. What struck me most about Yellowstone was the grand scale of this wide open nature. You really did feel closer to the clouds at this elevation.

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Our first hike was a loop through the back country starting by Artist Point at the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where there are beautiful views of the falls.

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In the back country they tell you to hike in groups of 3 or more, make noise and carry bear spray. Thinking about all of this while walking a trail close to the edge of canyon made me a little nervous, but the views were worth it.

Luckily, there was a loud prepubescent boy walking on the same trail with his family, so all that made me nervous was watching him walk too far out onto the cliff’s edge.

After noticing trees with scratched and worn away bark, I began to realize that Yellowstone may be the first place I have ever been to that has been shaped just as much by wildlife as it has been by humans.

If you look closely, you may seem some hairs sticking to these claw marks. Philip and I assumed at the time that it must have been grizzly bear hair, but it could have been brown bear or even another animal altogether. I like to think it was grizzly though.

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Later, we would learn from my friend Kate that the larger markings were most likely created by a horned animal like a bison or male elk.

We also saw some tracks! A Google search leads me to believe that these are Bison tracks, feel free to correct me in the comments!

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As we followed our trail loop away from the canyon we entered a wooded area towards Clear Lake. And of course I had to stop to take some pictures of the wild flowers.

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It was pretty marshy where we were headed.

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We could see the natural gases bubbling underwater. And when we arrived at Clear Lake, the water was a vivid turquoise blue caused by chromatophore bacteria.

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I really liked the driftwood on the beach of this small lake. Philip and I sat for a minute on one of these logs but were driven away by the pungent sulphur smell.

Shortly after, the landscape changed completely and we walked along an ashy white plane with very little growing. We walked past this hole in the ground and listened to what sounded like boiling mud. We tried recording the sound but it was too hard to capture the fullness of each plop.

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Overall, it was an amazing first day in Yellowstone National Park!

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