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MONTHLY CHALLENGE / SIGNS

Signs From My Phone

Funny signs, Signs That Recreate Memories, and Travelers’ Prayers.

Queen Bobbleheads, London, 2014. A sign of times past. Photo by the author.

I decided to limit myself to photos on my phone for January’s Globetrotters prompt. Not only that, but I’m limiting myself to a few years of photos, 2012–2016. I could dig through photos and slides for more, but I needed a challenge — to create a story from just this one source and time frame.

Prayers for Travel in Peace

While visiting Florida in 2012, I took pictures of two pendants, which are signs you can wear. I can’t read Hebrew or Spanish (or perhaps Ladino, the part-Spanish language of Sephardic Jews from the Middle East, Spain, and Portugal). Still, from what I learned of the Spanish first words, they both appear to be the Travelers Prayer, the Tefilat Haderech.

Travel Prayer in Spanish or Ladino. Photo by the author.
Travel Prayer in Hebrew. Photo by the author.

Chabad translates it thus:

May it be Your will, G‑d, our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that You should lead us in peace and direct our steps in peace, and guide us in peace, and support us in peace, and cause us to reach our destination in life, joy, and peace (If one intends to return immediately, one adds: and return us in peace). Save us from every enemy and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts on the trip, and from all kinds of punishments that rage and come to the world. May You confer blessing upon the work of our hands and grant me grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us, and bestow upon us abundant kindness and hearken to the voice of our prayer, for You hear the prayers of all. Blessed are You G‑d, who hearkens to prayer.

Signs of Fun

I used to challenge myself to hike over all 10 creek crossings on a trail on Guanella Pass in Colorado. The trail is called Three Mile Creek. A friend and I discovered it years ago, and I’ve done the hike with a few friends over the years. But I only made it across all 10 creek crossings to arrive at a big open meadow, a couple of times. The trail goes on from there and is a backpackers’ delight. I am not that ambitious. During this trip, my friend Kari and I noted each creek crossing with our fingers to number them. A sign of progress.

In this photo, taken in August of 2012, we are on the way back at crossing #4:

Your faithful author at creek crossing #4, Three Mile Creek, Grant, Colorado, 2012. Photo by the author.

I love seeing signs from businesses that have a note of fun. I’m not sure this one was meant to be funny, but to a city girl, well, yes, it is.

Sign in a window somewhere in Colorado, 2012. Photo by the author.

This one was definitely meant for fun. It was across the street from a motel where a friend and I stayed in Durango, Colorado in 2013 before we took the Durango/Silverton train.

Vet hospital sign in Durango, Colorado, 2013. Photo by the author.

Artists like the one below make me laugh out loud. I wish I’d taken a picture of his/her name, but it’s lost to time. In 2013, I went to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver. It’s an annual invitational for artists from across the country. I took pictures of several of this artist’s pieces. Here are two. The first would be good for a shop that has a sense of humor.

Piece of art at Cherry Creek Arts Festival 2013. Wish I’d kept the name of the artist. Photo by the author.

The next one is just naughty.

Artwork, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, 2013. Sign reads: “Yolanda’s Yellow Party Dress was a big hit with all the boys.” Photo by the author.

Signs of love and joy

These are not literal signs, they are pictures that show signs of joy, love, and friendship.

The first is of me at the Denver Botanic Gardens just a couple of weeks before I embarked upon my first European trip in 2014. I had broken my ankle a bit over two months prior, which is why you see me in a small brace. I detailed that trip in another story. Yes, it was a happy day, and just about a month before I met my now-husband, Andy.

The author at the Denver Botanic Gardens. September 1, 2014. Photo by the author.

On a trip to Florida, visiting my parents, I caught this shot of my mother and her beloved Quaker Parrot, Cracker. This is a sign of love to me. My mother passed a little over a year ago. Cracker was one of her last goodbyes the night before she died.

My mother and her beloved Cracker in 2013. Photo by the author.

Signs of the past

These are business or other signs that may or may not still exist. I have others, including that of an Esso gas sign in Ohio, but that would mean leaving my phone and digging.

This scene is from a souvenir shop in New York City in 2015. Political bobbleheads and a warning from the store not to touch. Photo by the author.
Blatant signs that smoking is bad, in a shop in London, 2014. Photo by the author.
Business signs, Staten Island, NY. What? They don’t have to dial an area code first? Photo by the author.

This is a Coca-Cola sign in Salida, Colorado from 2015. It was on the side of a building in the old central part of this now artsy and happening Southern Colorado town.

Old building sign for Coca-Cola, Salida, Colorado, 2015. Photo by the author.

Below is the side of a restaurant in Denver that is now gone. It was Le Central, also known as the “Affordable French Restaurant.” It was on the corner of 8th Avenue and Lincoln in Denver for many years. This photo is from its last week before closing in September 2015. There were lines to get in every day. I miss that restaurant. It held memories of interesting dates when I tried to eat mussels (very messy), where I took my sister when she visited, and where we frequented for lunch for comforting Croque Madame sandwiches when I worked for the main PBS station in town. I’m still sad that it’s gone. No other French restaurant that’s affordable or with anything like Le Central’s warm, welcoming menu has ever replaced it…

Waiting in line at Le Central shortly before it closed for good. Photo by the author.

Road Trip Signs

In the Spring of 2016, Andy and I drove from Colorado to Tucson, Arizona to visit some of his family. These are some signs we saw on that trip. Pretty entertaining…

Sign in Santa Fe, NM. I believe it was inside the Silver Saddle Motel, where we spent the night. I recommend this motel for its ambiance. Photo by the author.
Well, there’s one sign for Texaco here, but the whole scene is a sign, isn’t it? Hatch, New Mexico. Photo by the author.
Fourth Avenue, Tucson, the Hippie Gypsy, 2016. Photo by the author.

We did a side trip to Tombstone and Bisbee one day. I wanted to go to Tombstone, as I have studied the life of Wyatt Earp’s 3rd wife, Josephine Marcus Earp. They met in Tombstone and she was there for the famous gunfight. I had to see some of the sights myself.

Tombstones are signs, yes? This is the famous Boot Hill in Tombstone, AZ. The town is pretty much a tourist trap now, but it was fun. Photo by the author.

Bisbee, AZ is the home of a large copper mine, and artists, among others. My husband lived there in his youth, and he wanted me to see it. It was an interesting trip to his past life when he made artistic items to sell at fairs.

Sign in Bisbee, AZ. Photo by the author.
Sign of hippies past. Street art, Bisbee, AZ 2016. Photo by the author.

Sign of Liberty

I’ll end this story with a sign/symbol of our country that I wish more people appreciated and understood, the Statue of Liberty, taken from the Staten Island Ferry in 2015.

Sign of welcome to immigrants. At least, it used to be. Statue of Liberty, 2015. Photo by the author.

First off, thank you to Anne Bonfert for the challenge this month!

I thank Joe Guay - Dispatches From the Guay Life! for posting his sign story, as it made me aware of the prompt, and got me thinking of directions I might take. Here’s his story:

Also, Kenny Minker for his clever take on the prompt:

Sondra Singer is a writer, musician, and storyteller who spent too much of her life in advertising sales. She writes about various subjects including memoirs, personal essays, and politics. Please clap if you like her writing, follow, and subscribe. And check out her website, here.

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Signs
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