Photo Essay: A Celebration of Partly Cloudy Skies

by Ekua on February 18, 2013 in captured on memory card

“Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.”

- Rabindranath Tagore -

When I travel, I often head right into my destination’s rainy season. My short breaks occur when closer destinations tend to be rainy and my long breaks occur when the destinations I want to visit for an extended time tend to be rainy. I’ve come to embrace this and enjoy the way exploring new places in the rain naturally slows down my travels.

Sudden rainstorms have led me to duck into galleries or cafes or under awnings where I begin conversations or sit for awhile and observe and gain a deeper understanding of the culture. Warm stormy weather invites me to splash around the rain in impractical ways and sometimes put on a funny tacky poncho I’d never been seen in at home.

And when it’s not raining, the rainy season skies have a wonderful complexity about them; blue and white and gray masterpieces, moody but vibrant sunsets, and double rainbows (all the way).

The Big Island, Hawaii

Before we even landed in Hawaii, we were greeted with paradise; there were rainbows over the ocean and looking down at the water while flying from Oahu to the Big Island felt like we were a few steps away from viewing the Earth from space. And of course, once we were on land, lovely skies and rainbows continued to appear in abundance.

Flying over the ocean in Hawaii

Double rainbow in Hawaii

Late afternoon sky in Hawaii

Washington

When I decided to visit Seattle in April one year, I didn’t expect much from the weather, and sure enough it rained for most of my trip. Flying in was pretty spectacular and every so often there were little holes in the clouds where there would be glimpses of snow-covered mountains. While Seattle remained overcast and rainy the whole time I was there, stopping to check out the daffodils and tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival while driving to Vancouver, Canada provided a little break from that and great views all around.

Flying over clouds in Washington

Daffodil fields at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Northern Washington

Cuba

This was yet another place that drew me in from the air. As the plane approached Havana, fluffy clouds created unique shadows all over the brilliantly green landscape. While I was in Cuba, there were little bursts of tropical rainstorms almost every afternoon which turned out to be the best time for a siesta or sitting in a rocking chair on a porch and having a conversation until the storm passed. The colorful chatter was often followed by an equally colorful sunset.

Flying over Cuba

Sunset in Maria de la Gorda, Cuba

Oaxaca

Two years in a row, I visited southern Mexico in the summertime rain, and in Oaxaca was where I really started to pay attention to how much beauty clouds add to landscapes. It was the first time I felt inspired to make the sky the main subject of a photo and I’ve seen that I’m not alone in enjoying Oaxaca’s dreamlike summertime skies.

View from Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico

Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

Sky in Oaxaca, Mexico

Sky in Oaxaca, Mexico

Berlin

The summer when I visited Berlin, it rained heavily and I’d often see abandoned broken umbrellas strewn about the streets. Some of those days, it rained all day long, and the city felt so much more gloomy than I expected. Any day that was remotely sunny felt so inviting and you could see all over the city how the contrast brought about strong urges to be outside and enjoy the impermanent sun.

Strausberger Platz on Karl Marx Allee in Berlin

The Spree River and Museum Island in Berlin

The Berlin TV Tower

Prague

Prague was a side trip from Berlin with a little bit better weather. The city of Prague looks like something from a fairytale, and partly cloudy skies added to the magic.

Charles Bridge, Prague

Vltava River, Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague

Namibia

I could see that Namibian skies were going to be spectacular as we flew in to the Windhoek airport. As we drove across the country, there was hardly anything on land, but the clouds in the sky gave the scenery so much character. While we certainly enjoyed some cliche African sunsets with the requisite silhouette of an acacia tree, the one I enjoyed the most was when the sun disappeared behind a patch of thick clouds, beautifully illuminating them on the way down.

Okonjima Wildlife Reserve, Namibia

Namutoni sunset in Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Driving through the Namib Desert, Namibia

Chicago

Early September proved to be a great time of year to visit Chicago. A bit of rain and mugginess lingered from the heart of summertime, but mostly there were pleasant lake breezes and majestic clouds hovering over the city skyline.

Cloud Gate sculpture in Millenium Park, Chicago

The Chicago city skyline and Lake Michigan

View of Chicago's downtown at sunset

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Indian Bazaars February 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

This is quite a collection of skies, and from so many different places! They are different skies and yet in a way, it’s the sky that assures you that nothing has changed, the sun still rises, the sky is still above you.

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Ekua February 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Your comment reminds me of a thought from a young adult novel called the Outsiders. In the story, there are two groups battling (for no good reason) and two kids from opposite sides end up bonding and note that though their lives are different, they both watching the same sunset every evening. It’s nice to think about the elemental things that unify the world. Thanks for stopping by.

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Alison February 19, 2013 at 1:48 am

I love this positive outlook on traveling during the rainy season!!

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Ekua February 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Well, I feel lucky to have been to all these places so weather doesn’t seem like that big of deal when the opportunity to travel arises.

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Sunee February 19, 2013 at 11:10 am

Ooh, I just love these photos! And here’s something else we have in common – we both seem to be rain goddesses ;)

I don’t know if you’ve read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but there’s a very minor character in there called Rob McKenna. “…Rob McKenna was a Rain God. All he knew was that his working days were miserable and he had a succession of lousy holidays. All the clouds knew was that they loved him and wanted to be near him, to cherish him and to water him.” I just really love the imagery of the clouds adoring this guy so much that they follow him everywhere and rain down on him all the time to show their love. :)

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Ekua February 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I’ve had a number of people recommend that book, but I have yet to read it. I’ll have to add it to my long running list of books to read… it’s always interesting to hear the parts of that story that people pick out and tell me about!

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Wow you sure have traveled to some amazing places! LOVE the double rainbow shot!!!

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Ekua February 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Yup… I don’t think I’ve done any compilations of photos from so many different places before and I enjoyed bringing together so many years of travel in this post. So grateful for both the sunny and cloudy skies all over the globe!

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Mindy and Ligeia February 19, 2013 at 10:48 pm

What a great post. Gorgeous pics too! :)
Oaxaca and Namibia are two places we’d love to go and those pics really look inviting. :)

One of the benefits of traveling during a rainy season is that there are less tourists and it’s when the country is at its greenest! Come to Thailand and hike around the north. We think you’d love it and it will give you some great shots to add to your list.:)

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Ekua February 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm

I highly recommend both places. Namibia is one of the most unique places I’ve visited and Oaxaca is one of my all time favorites!

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Hannah Baldwin February 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Great collection of photographs. Your Namibian sunset if spectacular and that picture of downtown Chicago at sunset is really lovely. Where was it taken from?

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Ekua February 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Thanks! The Chicago one was taken from a great rooftop terrace at my sister’s friend’s apartment building. In Lincoln Park, I think.

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Xenia February 25, 2013 at 4:10 am

Your photographs are very beautiful and professional looking. I really must learn to take better pictures myself so I finally invested in a DSLR camera and a photography class.

I am glad to see pictures of places in the USA here. I enjoy travel blogs, but often many people seem to think that the USA does not hold interest or beauty. I would love to find a travel blog where the person used to live in Europe is an expat traveling throughout America and Canada. Now that would be different and a welcome change.

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Sojourner February 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I love the theme of this photo essay! Partly cloudy skies can be the most beautiful skies. Great pictures!

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