Happy Easter!

We had a great day today at the Bunker House.! My brother, his girlfriend and their daughter came by for a light lunch and Zoe really enjoyed hunting for Easter eggs.  I hope everyone had a great day today, whether you celebrated Easter or just enjoyed a Sunday of being alive.  Because life is great, and we need to remember that.

Easter Rose Budgs

Easter Rose Budgs

Happy Easter from the Easter Bunny!

Happy Easter from the Easter Bunny!

The weather was perfect for today (dare I say "hot"?) in the 70s.

The weather was perfect for an egg hunt today (dare I say “hot”?) in the 70s.  I think it got up to 79, and although the air smelled strongly of it, most of us in town didn’t see more than a few drops of rain.

My Saturday!

I was in the cooking mood today!  Also, in the catching-up on Boss and starting Girls mood…  All of which made for a fun day!

For lunch, I sauteed a pound of ground beef with orange and red bell peppers, and – of course – onions (don’t worry, I didn’t eat it all!).  Delicious, and oh-so simple.  For dinner, I made my friend Laura’s Vegan Three-Bean Chili, but served it over broccoli slaw instead of corn chips – all the crunch with none of the guilt!

 

#roscato #wine with mostly-#organic #threebean #vegan #chili and #broccolislaw // #whitagram

A post shared by Luke Bunker (@lukebunker) on

A few of our tulips have also started to bloom!  I wasn’t able to get great pictures, what with the sun beating down on them because I was too lazy to wait for the right light, but here’s a peek!  I’ve been seeing some of the trees around town start to bloom, so I might head over to the library tomorrow… redbuds and crabapples, oh my!

On Friday evening, before they really opened up...

On Friday evening, before they really opened up…

On Saturday, with mid-day brightness...  The tales of a lazy photographer continue...

On Saturday, with mid-day brightness… The tales of a lazy photographer continue…

Sandhill Cranes at Sunrise on the Platte

Sandhill Cranes at Sunrise on the Platte

My friend and I made an early morning trek on fresh snow to a bridge above the Platte River at the Fort Kearny State Historical Park (NE) a couple of weekends ago. It was nearly pitch black outside and you could see clusters of people on the bridge, wrapped tightly in blankets and gripping their cameras and binoculars. We heard the cranes begin their morning chatter before the sky began to illuminate and thousands joined the larger flock. I waited for more light and stabilized the camera on the bridge to get this shot. Thanks to an ignorant photographer who flashed (and, therefore, flushed) one group, we didn’t get the most dramatic flight scene, but it was still special to see this part of one of the world’s last great migrations.

Washington, D.C. – Day Two – National Mall & Smithsonian Museums

After watching egregious amounts of back episodes of Barefoot Contessa and Pioneer Woman, and spending a good half of my weekend cleaning my living space and watching The Wolf of Wall Street (OMG, the debauchery!!), I’m just now getting around to continuing my blog posts from my trip last month to Washington, D.C.  I’m headed to Nebraska this weekend to meet my friend, Laura, for Sandhill Crane sightings, country road photography, and all-around fun.  Her birthday is Thursday, and I found a birdy gift I think she’ll just love!

Formalities out of the way, let’s get back to the main point of this post:  Mister “Macho Traveler” thinks he knows where he’s going, and ends up making an accidental trip into the wrong museum, but it ends up working out A-OK.

With rain pouring from the sky at a rather alarming rate after lunch at Good Stuff Eatery, I left my aunt back at The Library and took the short metro ride over to the Smithsonian/National Mall.  By the time I got off the train, the rain had turned to a light mist (D.C. weather is about as weird as weather in Southwest Kansas, which is saying something).  I photographed the Capitol and Washington Monument from afar with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone before making my way to the “National Gallery of Art.”

The U.S. Capitol building and Smithsonian Castle.

The U.S. Capitol building and Smithsonian Castle.

The Washington Monument, still being "dealt with" after being damaged during the 2011 earthquake that struck the area.

The Washington Monument, still being “dealt with” after being damaged during the 2011 earthquake that struck the area.

I say it this way because I honed in on a domed building on the Mall, walked up the stairs and – instead of seeing banners of renaissance art – saw pennants with butterflies and other natural creates.  “WTF?!” I thought to myself.  It turns out I’d arrived at the National Museum of Natural History, not the National Gallery of Art like I’d expected to spend a leisurely afternoon at.  Apparently disoriented (I mean, seriously?!) and short on time, I decided to go for it and snap some pics (I remembered there was an elephant and a dinosaur or two from a childhood visit).  Turns out this was a good move, as a major part of the museum is slated to close later next month for a $48 million, 5-year renovation.  I guess I’m glad I got to see them while I was still somewhat young!!

The entrance to *a museum on the Mall*, also known as the National Museum of Natural History.  Or so I've been led to believe...

The entrance to *a museum on the Mall*, also known as the National Museum of Natural History. Or so I’ve been led to believe…

Elephant display at the Natural History Museum.  How dramatic!!

Elephant display at the Natural History Museum. How dramatic!!

Dinosaurs, Oh My!!

Dinosaurs, Oh My!!

"I am Lion, HEAR ME ROAR!"

“I am Lion, HEAR ME ROAR!”

I couldn't *not* get a photo of the Hope Diamond, now could I?!

I couldn’t *not* get a photo of the Hope Diamond, now could I?!

Does anyone else find this ironic??

Does anyone else find this ironic??

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From Where I Stand:  Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.

From Where I Stand: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.

After a brief jaunt through the museum, I headed outside, met by a rainless sky and a Stomp-like performer’s music.  I decided to slowly make my way east on the Mall towards the Capitol building on the way to my aunt’s office and the end of my day in the city.  In a way, I did get to visit the National Gallery of Art.  It turns out the two are very close (let the rationalization begin…), and I made the time to walk through the Sculpture Garden, which I hadn’t done in the past.  The sculptures were quite fascinating, and I took Hipsta shots of my favorites and have posted them below.

Roxy Paine's "Graft" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Roxy Paine’s “Graft” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Alexander Calder's "Cheval Rouge (Red Horse)" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Alexander Calder’s “Cheval Rouge (Red Horse)” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Hector Guimard's "An Entrance to the Paris Métropolitain" • • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Naturally, as a Francophile and lover of these Metro entrances in Paris, I freaked out.  Just a bit, though.

Hector Guimard’s “An Entrance to the Paris Métropolitain” • • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Naturally, as a Francophile and lover of these Metro entrances in Paris, I freaked out. Just a bit, though.

Louise Bourgeois' "Spider" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Louise Bourgeois’ “Spider” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's "Typewriter Eraser, Scale X" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Ice Rink!!  Too bad no one was on it - can you imagine how many awesome photographs I could have gotten?!!  Oh well...

Ice Rink!! Too bad no one was on it – can you imagine how many awesome photographs I could have gotten?!! Oh well…

Robert Indiana's "AMOR" • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Robert Indiana’s “AMOR” • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Stay tuned for the final posts (you didn’t think the time would come, did you?) from my trip to D.C.!

Washington, D.C. – Day Two – Dupont Circle & Capitol Hill (Part I)

As promised, although delivered much later than I had wanted, here is a continuation from last week’s blog post about my short visit to Washington, D.C.:

After a morning of briefly exploring Georgetown, I texted my aunt (who works at the Library of Congress in the Geography & Maps Division) to see if we were still on for lunch (we were).  We had emailed earlier in the week and wanted to give Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery, a burger and shakes place on Capitol Hill, another try.  The last time I was at GSE had been to try their signature Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake during a December 2010 visit.  Since it is only a block or two’s walk away from my aunt’s office, we set a time and I slowly made my way across town, with thoughts of greasy burgers and heaps of flavorful fries on my mind.  Well, on my mind more than is usual, anyway.  😉

Hipsta in hand and snow on the sidewalks, I made my way from Georgetown to Dupont Circle and points beyond...

Hipsta in hand and snow on the sidewalks, I made my way from Georgetown to Dupont Circle and points beyond…

I decided to take P Street from Georgetown/Rose Park until I arrived at Dupont Circle, where I’d catch the Metro up to Capitol South and surprise my aunt at her office (I had gotten in too early the previous evening to see her).  I saw lots of neat things (and, as you’ll see, people) along the way!

Being from Kansas, a Wizard of Oz mural in the middle of Washington, D.C., was, well, too awesome.

Being from Kansas, a Wizard of Oz mural in the middle of Washington, D.C., was, well, too awesome.  See Toto in the lower left?

The architecture in D.C. is something anyone - architecture enthusiast or otherwise - can appreciate and marvel.  I tried to figure out how to process and crop this photo, and settled on this composition because it showed off the interesting shapes and details of the building.

The architecture in D.C. is something anyone – architecture enthusiast or otherwise – can appreciate and marvel at. I tried to figure out how to process and crop this photo, and settled on this composition because it showed off the interesting shapes and details of the building.

People of Dupont Circle:  KGB? CIA? Secret spy?? Can anyone tell I've been watching too much Homeland and The Americans???

People of Dupont Circle: KGB? CIA? Secret spy?? Can anyone tell I’ve been watching too much Homeland and The Americans???

People of Dupont Circle

People of Dupont Circle

People of Dupont Circle:  I'm sure he's just talking on the phone, but it looks like he's learning a new language.

People of Dupont Circle: I’m sure he’s just talking on the phone, but it looks like he’s learning a new language.  Plus, look at those guys on the bench back there!  D.C. is full of characters, just dying to be photographed.

Bicycles Galore...

Bicycles Galore…

HOT NOW:  A Tale of Krispy Kremes...

HOT NOW: A Tale of Krispy Kremes…

An Intimate Moment...?  Well, maybe they're iMessaging each other, LOL.

An Intimate Moment…? Well, maybe they’re iMessaging each other?! LOL

After making my way to Dupont Circle (and observing all of the interesting people along the way), I made a transfer at Metro Center and got off at Capitol South Metro and walked across the street to the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress.  I took some photos of the exterior of my aunt’s building and met her at her office.  After chatting for a bit, we made our way (by this point, it had started raining) to Good Stuff Eatery, met along the way by some very intense-looking USMC runners.

"What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable than that of liberty & learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?" - James Madison This quote is on the entry facade of the Library of Congress James Madison Building, where my aunt works.

“What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable than that of liberty & learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?” – James Madison
This quote is on the entry facade of the Library of Congress James Madison Building, where my aunt works.

Frank Eliscu's "Falling Books" at the entrance to the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Frank Eliscu’s “Falling Books” at the entrance to the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The Good Stuff Eatery Cow Bell...  I ordered directly beneath this, so, yeah...  Let's hope it's attached well!

The Good Stuff Eatery Cow Bell… I ordered directly beneath this, so, yeah… Let’s hope it’s attached well!

The Good Stuff Melt @Good Stuff Eatery • Melted Cheddar & Muenster, Caramelized Onions & Mushrooms With Good Stuff Sauce I also decided to indulge with Spike's Village Fries Topped with Fresh Thyme, Rosemary & Sea Salt. I was feeling pretty happy that I'd chosen to walk all over that day, is all I have to say.

The Good Stuff Melt @Good Stuff Eatery • Melted Cheddar & Muenster, Caramelized Onions & Mushrooms With Good Stuff Sauce.  I also decided to indulge with Spike’s Village Fries, Topped with Fresh Thyme, Rosemary & Sea Salt.  I was feeling pretty secure in my decision to do my photo walks earlier that morning in the hopes that it would help make a dent in the calories I was about to ingest!!

The burger and fries were greasy, of course, but oh. so. damn. delicious.  I felt like my heart might stop at any minute, so I opted not to have a shake, remembering my experience a few years ago where I, Luke A. Bunker, could not even finish a milkshake from there because it was so sweet.  Looking back, that was a good call.

In my next post, I’ll share some photos I took at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (there’s a somewhat funny story there), as well as the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court Buildings.

My Life-Pausing Trip to Washington, D.C.: An Introduction

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I just came back from a wonderful long weekend and transformative experience in Washington, D.C., visiting family and enjoying the Travel & Adventure Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Unlike most trips, this was an impulsive one without a great deal of planning and analyzing (normally I go nuts over every little detail, due in no small part to my obsessive-compulsive and perfectionist tendencies).  Like most trips, though, I felt anxious and worried 1-2 days ahead of the trip, thinking, “What the hell was I thinking?!”  This is not an uncommon thought, believe it or not!!  It’s weird that I still get cold feet (having a limited travel budget and time off from work does that to a person), but I guess I’ll chalk it up as another of my rather unique, err, “quirks.”  The short time period (I was flying in late Thursday evening and coming home first thing Monday morning) and my uncertainties about enjoying the travel expo – especially since I was going by myself – sent doubting thoughts creeping into my brain.

Upon the eve of my departure, after attending the second day of the show and spending time with my family, it became clear that I was meant to go on this trip.  Where I’d normally hug my backpack close to my body on the Metro or on the streets, I felt free and secure; where I’d normally have every little thing accounted for on a schedule and detailed itinerary, I went with the flow and realized that “mistakes” – like walking into the wrong museum – can color your experience and make for fun surprises!

I think the expo and listening to, meeting and talking with the speakers (Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, Pauline Frommer, Andrew McCarthy & Don Wildman) gave me clarity that travel is where I should be, that it is what I should be doing, saving and sacrificing for.  I say often that I want to spend less on material “stuffs” and use that money toward travel.  In reality, I just haven’t done that.  But, due in part to the newfound clarity I was awakened to through being completely enthralled and inspired by the travel speakers, as well as feeling confident and comfortable in my travels throughout the city, I’ve decided that I don’t need to have the fanciest apartment or the newest car – travel is life, and life is what I want, not “stuff” that I’ll forget about years from now…

I believe this trip/experience also gave me confidence.  It wouldn’t have been shocking for me to want to meet and get autographs from famous people, but actually doing it freaks me out.  After each encounter at the travel show, however, anxiety gave way to excitement.  What helped was the realization that they, too, are just normal people who, like me, love to travel.

Upon further reflection and discussion of the trip with friends and coworkers, I’m a bit floored that it felt so life-changing.  Andrew McCarthy, one of the speakers, said travel is transformative, powerful and emotional, and that “[Travel] matters.  This is important.  It is the impetus beneath everything.”  This trip was just that and really encouraged me want to pursue travel as more than just a hobby and thing I like to do, compelling me to blog, write and photograph until I can be up on that stage sharing my stories, experiences and travels with the world.  One of my coworker friends said she hasn’t seen me this excited in quite a long time!  We’ll see how it goes…  🙂

**Stay tuned for in-depth posts on my experiences in D.C., including the Travel & Adventure Show!

Snow & Rings

Snow & Rings by Luke A. Bunker
Snow & Rings, a photo by Luke A. Bunker on Flickr.

Today was my friends’ anniversary, so they asked if I could take a few photos of them. I’m without a DSLR at the moment (gasp!) and normally say “no” to those types of requests, but I felt called and at ease to do it and I’m so glad I did! They are a great couple and we got some great photos with the snow that is still sticking around (with more on the way. Yay.). Happy Anniversary to Brady & Cara!

Tonight’s Dinner

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Organic Penne Pasta with Garlic Alfredo, Chicken, Peas, Organic Red Pepper Flakes, Fresh-Ground Black Pepper and Fresh-Grated Romano. Yum!

I have really enjoyed cooking more at home lately. Not only am I saving money, but I have more control over what is in the food I choose to put in my body.