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Archive for the ‘retrotravels.net’ Category


Breck’s Book

Filed Under entomology, local travel, photography, retrotravels.net

Like most boys, I loved catching bugs when I was a kid. Spending time growing up in Oregon, Minnesota, and California, I’ve probably seen my fair share of creepy crawlies. I always have my camera handy nowadays to take a portrait of an insect when I’m outdoors and last weekend was no exception. I spent an extended weekend in the Bay Area with my family (including my beautiful 6-month old niece) celebrating Easter together. On Easter Sunday, we headed up Niles Canyon to Sunol, California – the epitome of a sleepy town. In fact, I think we doubled the population when our party of six arrived. Sleepy? More like unconscious.

But what better way to spend a beautiful Sunday than outdoors with your family in a town surrounded by rolling green hills abloom with wildflowers? Here are a handful of photos I took:

California Poppies
California Poppies

Willow Mining Bee on California Poppy
Willow Mining Bee on California Poppy

Soldier Beetle on Plant
Soldier Beetle on Plant

I was on a plane back to Southern California just four hours after these photos were taken. When I arrived home, there was a package waiting for me on my doorstep. It was a book I have been anxiously awaiting, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Because I like old things, especially books, I searched for and found an old copy of a insect field guide online. And now, a month later, I was holding a 1921 copy of Lutz’s Fieldbook of Insects. It was first published in 1918 but started to fade from history after its last printing in 1948, five years after it’s namesake – Frank Eugene Lutz – passed away. But Lutz and his book were not the main reasons I was excited to receive this book. It was the name written in the front of the book, most likely the name of a previous owner: Walter J Breckenridge.

This man has not faded from history. Known as “Breck” to those who knew him, Breckenridge spent most of his life promoting nature in one form or another. In the 1950′s and ’60s, he produced feature-length nature films and presented them across the Midwest to auditoriums filled with children and adults. He is a published author of wildlife books and an artist, adding images of fauna to his books as well as others. You could catch Breck answering questions and sharing stories at the Bell Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, where he served as the director for twenty-four years. From a Bell Museum publication:

Breck’s influence is still much in evidence at the Bell, where dioramas he constructed even 60 years ago continue to draw museum goers. But his impact extends well beyond the University campus. In Minnesota, Breck’s scientific work and advocacy led to the creation of the state Scientific and Natural Areas Program and to the establishment of parks, wetlands, and wildlife areas including Nerstrand Woods State Park, the Spring Brook Nature Center, and the University’s own Cedar Creek Natural History Area. His encyclopaedic knowledge of winged, scaled, and four-legged creatures, his unceasing fascination with them, and his artistic talent helped create and illustrate definitive reference works on birds and reptiles as well as evocative oils and watercolors that captured the character and habits of osprey, prairie falcons, Canadian geese, and many other birds with astonishing acuity.

Dr. Walter J Breckenridge lived a long life, passing away just a few months after his one-hundredth birthday.

Fieldbook of Insects, Frank E. Lutz (1921)
Fieldbook of Insects, Frank E. Lutz (1921)

“WJ Breckenridge”
WJ Breckenridge

IMG_9733 Fieldbook of Insects - Plate LXXV detail

I was hoping that there would be some marginalia within the pages of the book. Some reminder that one of Minnesota’s leading ornithologists used the book on his trips in a meadow. Maybe a passage about an butterfly he spotted or notes on identifying a beetle he found underneath a dead log, but it is clean for the most part. There are a few small sketches here and there, quite possibly by Breck, but nevertheless, this book is a treasure and will be a proud addition to my antique guidebook collection.



Filed Under kahunna.net, photography, retrotravels.net

It’s been a while since I’ve written any updates here in The Journal, but rest assured I have been updating this site and my other sites regularly. I’ve been going on quite a few weekend road trips this year and brought along my new Canon 30D. You can view my favorite photos from these trips in my new Gallery. For the new year, I re-designed my entire travel website, kahunna.net. I hope you find the new design easier on the eyes as well as easier to navigate. More stories and photos from my travels will be added soon.


Looks like I’m still at square one with retrotravels.net. I’m still thinking of ways to make it work, but for now, it’s going on the back burner.


Baedeker’s Northern Italy [1928]

Filed Under retrotravels.net

One of the websites I’m working on thinking very hard about making is retrotravels.net. It would concentrate on journeys taken during the Golden Age of Travel (1880-1937), mainly through marginalia and ephemera found in old guidebooks from that period. I have a large collection of these types of guidebooks filled with interesting anecdotes and items collected during their travels to distant lands.
Recently, I acquired another guidebook. This one appears to have been updated by multiple travelers from 1928 to 1950. The reseller said he forgot exactly where he got the book, “perhaps at the Tivoli (NY) library sale or from a town member in their town-wide yard sale,” he said. I know this is a shot in the dark, but if you have any relatives that traveled to Italy named F.L. McGinnis (date unknown), Clara Laughlin (1950) or one Mr. Howard from the Bard College area in New York, do drop me an note, won’t you?

Title Page Front Cover & Spine pg 362-map Map of Rome detail (pg 236) pg 236-237



Filed Under retrotravels.net, urban-explorers.com

A couple of weekends ago while I was studying an old Bingo set I bought on eBay, an idea for an urban challenge popped into my head: how difficult would it be to locate specific terrazzo found on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles by the smallest to clues? I’ve spent many-a-weekend afternoons photographing my favorite street, but only recently started concentrating on the interesting textures found beneath the soles of one’s shoes. I grabbed my camera, a couple bingo chips, and headed downtown. It was just my luck that it was something around 1000 degrees downtown, but after an hour of taking a handful of close-up shots of the Broadway sidewalks, I had what I needed. I posted the following challenge on my blog over at retrotravels.net:


Each BINGO game piece was photographed on Broadway Boulevard in Los Angeles in front of famous landmark buildings from a bygone era. Can you name each location? I also posted it on Flickr and shared it with the blogdowntown photo pool, hoping that the challenge takes hold. Eric Richardson over at blogdowntown.com has picked up on my challenge on his site, helping to gain support. There has been a mixed reaction to the challenge. Some have mentioned that they plan on going downtown with a printout of my collage to try to identify the historic urban terrain. One guy had given up before he had a chance to begin, saying that it is impossible since “the shots are are too tight to identify” and not enough detail is given of the area. Hm. I guess he didn’t see how the texture, the metal lining, and the colors of the marble terrazzo are as unique as the buildings they lie in front of. This challenge wasn’t made to be easy, folks! It won’t be solvable online no matter how well you are at googling. Get out there and take a walk down Broadway! After all, the whole point of this challenge is to hopefully introduce you to the amazing strata of history located downtown. As you pack a water bottle and a camera (I want pics!), I’ll wait patiently for you, wondering if there’s an Angelino out there willing to solve this challenge.UPDATE! ~ June 16th, 2006 – Eric Richardson of blogdowntown.com solved my urban challenge! I would have loved to see him walking around trying to figure it out. He did such a good job, he even identified exactly where I had photographed most of the bingo pieces. Kudos goes out to Eric for his interest in my little game!



Filed Under eurotrek.net, kahunna.net, retrotravels.net, soundsdowntown.com, urban-explorers.com

Here we go! The first entry in my website’s blog! Exciting, isn’t it?!? Nah, I didn’t think so either. I guess I’ll start this off with the reason why I added yet another blog onto the Internet. It’s simple, really: organization! Right now I’m creating/adding to/helping with a handful of projects that I’d like to share in one area, making it easy for you, the wonderful reader, to explore and hopefully keep track of them. Here’s the short list of the websites I’m currently working on:

  • kahunna.net – my pride and joy. Created in December 2001, this site is a non-commercial site dedicated to helping budget travelers discover meaningful travel by sharing what I have learned. It mainly showcases my photography.
  • retrotravels.net – a project I’ve been trying to translate from book to web for a while now. It isn’t too easy taking marginalia and ephemera from old turn-of-the-last-century travel guidebooks and webbifying them. Stay tuned.
  • eurotrek.net – also a travel-related site. At the time I am writing this, the site is just a forum where travellers from around the world can go to share their experiences or ask for advice on budget travel. I am one of four partners working on this site.
  • soundsdowntown.com – although it is not yet available, this site will provide downloadable walking tours of my city, Los Angeles. It is a partnership with Melanie Orndorff, a fellow Angelino who shares my passion for the exotic history of the Los Angeles area. This site will be used with…
  • urban-explorers.com – one of my long-term goals is to create a guided tour company concentrating in the downtown Los Angeles area. This goal is still on the horizon, but when it is ready, you now know where to find it!

All progress on these websites will be featured here on this site.