Location unknown, Florida

Touring orange groves by train, on foot, or by automobile used to be a very popular attraction, judging by the number of postcards on the subject. I have been visiting my in-laws in Florida for over 25 years now and the idea has never come up once, evidence, I think, of how we have lost connection with where our food comes from.

Punch Bowl Falls, near Bonneville, OR

In the course of sending out these waterfall postcards, I learned that there is a waterfall typology, though it seems to have been developed and maintained by amateurs rather than professional geographers or geologists. Among the categories are plunges, horsetails, cataracts, multi-steps, blocks, cascades, and fans. And punchbowls, of which this one is considered the archetype.

Bangor, ME

I feel like this card had to have been printed in the early-to-mid 1950s, but it wasn’t sent until 1967. Someone writing someone to tell them they were pausing here and hoped to be in Canada by nightfall. I imagine it was purchased at some grimy gas station off the interstate from a rotating metal display rack, the only linen postcard left amongst a sea of blurry Kodachromes of moose. The only problem with that story is that this one was in absolute mint condition – it doesn’t look like it spent a decade being exposed to cigarette smoke and hot dog vapors.

Yosemite National Park, CA

I don’t know if I’ve said this already, but for me these postcards represent my travel for this year, both in space and time. Today I imagine myself emerging from the nearly-mile long Wawona Tunnel, where I am greeted by El Capitan to the left, Half Dome in the distance, and Bridal Veil falls straight ahead. Incredibly, the parking lot is entirely empty. I ease my 1937 Packard Super Eight to a halt and take in the view, making small talk with a couple of hikers.

Mt. Washington Cog Railway, Bretton Woods, NH

In recent years, this has been the site of the Railway to the Moon Steampunk Festival. I recently had to explain the term steampunk to a neighbor who thought I might have been talking about steamer trunks. Steamer trunks are pretty steampunk, agreed. Postcards, no so much. I think this crowd would prefer telegrams. On the whole, I don’t think I did a great job of explaining it. I might have to go to their 2021 event and attend the Steampunk 101 lecture.

In Italiano:

Di recente, questo è stato il sito del festival Ferrovia diretta alla Luna Steampunk. Negli ultimi tempi ho dovuto spiegare il termine steampunk a un vicino che ha pensato che forse volevo dire baule (il gioco di parole non funziona in italiano). I bauli sono steampunk, è vero. Le cartoline, non tanto. Penso che questo gruppo preferirebbero i telegrammi. In fondo, non penso che ho fatto una buona spiegazione. Magari devo andare alla festa nel 2021 e partecipare alla lettura pubblica “Steampunk 101”

(Lo steampunk è un genere della letteratura di fantascienza. Le storie possono svolgersi nel passato oppure nel futuro, ma la tecnologia è solo prima circa del 1930 (gli aeroplani e
la radio esistono, ma non i computer e la televisione o qualcosa di digitale e il carburante è il carbone). Qualche esempio classico sarebbero l’opere di H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, le storie diSherlock Holmes, Il dottor Jekyll e Mr. Hyde).

Chautauqua Lake, New York

I have always been puzzled by the number of Native American names that survived. It doesn’t seem like something the American colonists would have desired or even cared about much. The Brits had renamed everything in Ireland, for example. This lake’s name, with its nice triple repeat of the letters au, comes from the now-extinct Erie language. Because the language was eradicated before it could be documented, the meaning is unknown, but two longstanding folk traditions are ‘bag tied in the middle’ and ‘place where fish are taken out'” (source)

Zona Arqueológica de Teotihuacán, San Juan Teotihuacán, Mexico

This city lasted from somewhere around the year 1 to the year 500. Somewhere as I child I learned that ancient civilizations tended to last about 500 years. I threw this idea into a search engine and found a very lengthy blog post on the site Owlcation tackling this very question. A review of 74 civilizations found an average length of 349 years with a range of 14 to 1,100. Plenty of commenters quibbled with the definitions of “civilizations”, of course.