Posts tagged flowers

Bodega Bay, CA – 5/29/17

Drove through rolling landscape towards Bodega Bay. Doubleclick any photo to enlarge.

Spent the windswept afternoon, exploring the cliff-bottom beaches overlooking an assortment of sea stacks – those weird  pillarlike masses of erosion-resistant “rock detached by wave action from a cliff-lined shore and surrounded by water.”

Arch Rock

Goat Rock is huge – connected to the coast by land turned into a parking lot.  This whole Sonoma Coast area has lots of beaches, but not for swimming due to the dangerous rip currents.

Goat Rock

Never saw the seals nesting – too windy to walk all the way. There’s a great Kortum Trail on the cliff-top meadow above the beaches, but the wind was wild. And the views were spectacular:

Next stop, Bodega Head, where there were reportedly pods of whales. I swear wildlife hides when they hear us coming. But more ridiculously windy views:

Drove down around to Hole in the Head, a beautiful beach area where Pacific Gas & Electric began excavations in 1958 to build a nuclear power plant – next to the San Andreas fault. Public protest and opposition to this is considered the birth of the anti-nuclear movement. In ’64, the Atomic Energy Commission gave a negative review, and the project was abandoned – leaving a nice little pond and an apt nickname for this stupid plan:

Ended the night with dinner at Lucas Wharf, where we would have had a sunset view if it weren’t so overcast:


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Painted Ladies, Golden Gate Park, Cliff House + 5/29/17

Stopped to enjoy the sights on the way to Golden Gate Park. Look, a cable car! (never rode one – the wait to board was insane, and the bus prices were much better!)

Rode past Japan Town, and waited for a bus by a tree-stump chair (doubleclick any photo for full size):

Victorian homes along the way were impressive, especially the one with giant tree festooned in wind chimes:

Reached Alamo Square, a hilltop park that looks out on the famed Painted Ladies Victorians, built 1892-1896 – well known from the opening credits to Full House.

Another bus, and we reached Golden Gate Park, 20% larger than NYC’s Central Park, at over 1,000 acres – and 3 miles long! Hiked a short way through fuscias to the Conservatory of Flowers:

Inside were all kinds of tropical plants, plus a butterfly den:

Interesting sculptures in the dell outside the Conservatory. Segway tours of the Park are popular:

Golden Gate Park is home to so much:

We walked past the crowds at the Academy of Sciences, and into the DeYoung art museum, which is hosting an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love 1967.

The deYoung, and its special exhibit, were very expensive (and time consuming), so we checked out the lobby, and took the free elevator to the tower’s observation deck. Also experienced our first “All Genders simultaneously” public restroom – no urinals, all private stalls, all genders sharing the mirrors/sinks. And the universe did not implode.

Next stop – the Park’s Japanese Tea Garden – gorgeous!

More sculpture by the deYoung, on our way to the next bus:

Headed towards the Pacific side of San Francisco, walking up the hill along the ocean.

… towards the Cliff House, an historic (1858) restaurant with ocean views.

Next to the Cliff House are the ruins of the Sutro Baths (1894-1964), a massive public bath house, and freshwater swimming facility. It included 6 saltwater swimming tanks of varying sizes, shapes, and water temperatures, tiers of bleachers seating thousands of spectators under glass and steel. This is all that’s left:

There are delightful hiking trails from this Lands End visitor center, down to the ruins or along the cliff:

Then you round a bend in the trail, and get this:

Next bus – past another interesting church:

Back downtown to Union Square :

… and the historic St. Francis Hotel, which was badly damaged in the fire following the 1906 earthquake. The staff provided meals to the people displaced by the 1906 catastrophes right in Union Square, bottom photo on right:

Classy lobby, bar, and a famous grandfather clock, admired by Shirley Temple in the photo. The plaque describes the hotel’s history of washing guests’ coins so they wouldn’t soil their elegant gloves. And they still provide that service. Really.

Finally, found Maiden Lane, which houses the only San Francisco building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It had been an art gallery, shop, many things, but is currently unoccupied. It has a curved stairway/ramp, similar to his design for NYC’s Guggenheim Museum:

I think that’s enough ground covered for one day.

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San Fran’s Beat Neighborhood and Coit Tower 5/28/17

Where it all began – visited North Beach to see City Lights Bookstore, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, who published Alan Ginsburg’s Howl which led to the landmark obscenity trial (poetry = not obscene). Scenes from City Lights:

Scenes from the neighborhood:

Then off to Coit Tower, with its impressive WPA-era murals and even more impressive views. The hills, the stairs, even some streets are just named staircases!

View from the hill – Golden Gate Bridge:

Coit Tower and its murals:

And the views:

From here, you can see how squiggly Lombard Street is:

Walked down from Coit Tower through hanging gardens:

And we found ourselves in Levi Strauss Square – went in to see their little history display in the headquarters, including Albert Einstein’s leather Levi’s jacket:

Then we walked along the waterfront to Pier 39 – a crazy crowded outdoor kitchy mall, plus sea lions!!

I think the sea lions come to watch the crowds of tourists:

Dinner was clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. Loved the chowder, not a huge fan of sourdough. It’s sour!

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Denver Botanical Gardens – 10/15/16

Spent a few hours strolling through the Denver Botanical Gardens, 24 acres of varied gardens – water, woodlands, Japanese, South African, ornamental, southwestern, Bonsai, cutting. Gorgeous sunny fall day, illuminating the autumn yellow aspen trees. doubleclick to enlarge any photo.


They’re currently holding a month long Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibit featuring  colorful and elaborate ofrendas (offerings) created by members of the Denver community as tributes to loved ones.

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Even though it’s past peak floral season, the plantings are gorgeously colorful.


Plus orchids indoors:


Lots of water features and fountains, and koi:

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fountain towers

fountain towers

These are in the cutting garden:


The Rose garden has a elipse with Dale Chihuly’s towering work named “Colorado:”


Note the fall-colors in the ivy covering the building, behind the Chihuly:


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Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, near Ft. Devens, MA – 8/26/16

Took a short hike along the Nashua River in Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. We entered from Harvard, off Route 110, and parked near the boat launch area. The refuge covers over 1,600 acres and straddles about 6 miles of the river, so we saw just a tiny but lovely corner.

That sign with all those things you can do there? We did hear a lot of gunfire, but the shooting may have been coming from Ft. Devens, just across the river.

Stretches of the trail had boardwalks, but with this drought, they spanned crumbly dry dirt or weeds. The trail had a few informative markers, too, and views of the river from a high bank.

Love the way the pines reflect in the water:


steep river banks, built up by silt deposits:



The only wildlife we saw in this refuge was a toad who jumped in the river, and some mushrooms.

Nice hiking, flat, easy, a little buggy, and hardly anyone else on a Friday morning, just ferns in the woods.




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City of Presidents – Quincy, MA 8/7/16

Full tour of Adams National Historic Park in Quincy, MA. You start at the Park headquarters in an office building at the center of town – the building also houses the Harvard Vanguard medical office on Hancock St. Here’s the doormat at the headquarters:


There’s a good 20 minute video on the properties and the 4 generations of Adamses who called these sites home.  A trolley drives you from site to site – and Park Rangers meet the trolleys to give visitors the history and tours at each location.

First, on Franklin St., is the birthplace of John Adams, 2nd President of the US, built in 1681.


Right next to it is the house that John & Abigail moved into when John’s older brother inherited this one. It’s where John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the US, was born:


Both houses are “saltbox” style slant-roof homes with a central fireplace. Sorry – no photos inside. Abigail ran the farm, raised the children, ran a school, and a store, reselling items John sent her, and wrote many of those marvelous letters here while John was in Philadelphia working on Independence, and then in Europe to raise funds for the Revolution and sign the Treaty of Paris. In between those travels, John wrote the Massachusetts Constitution in his law office in this home in 1780 – it’s the oldest continually governing Constitution in the world, and the basis of the US Constitution.

With the peace treaty signed, John & Abigail lived in London while John served as the fledgling country’s ambassador. John & Abigail returned to the states, and moved to the larger house and farm Abigail had bought; they dubbed it Peacefield. Doubleclick any photo to enlarge:

Peacefield became home to 4 Adams generations – John & Abigail, John Quincy & Louisa, Charles Francis (Lincoln’s ambassador to Great Britain during the Civil War) & his Abigail, and Henry Adams the historian. Each generation added to the home, expanding it from what Abigail compared to a tiny “wren’s nest.” Again, no photos allowed indoors, but the grounds and gardens are lovely.

This is the ivy-covered Stone Library, built by Charles to house his father John Quincy’s 14,000 book collection:

And a photo of a photo (from the Visitor Center) of the interior of the Library:


That’s John Adam’s presidential portrait above the glass doors. Adams was too busy to sit for the portrait, so the artist copied Washington’s portrait, made it rounder (but not shorter), and stuck Adams’ face on it.

Here’s Abigail’s Yorkist rose tree, “set out by Abigail Adams in 1788:”


And the apple trees, looking back at the old house:


Adams apples!


Forgot to ask about this giant hay mound around a post at the back of Peacefield – it’s at least 8′ tall:


Carriage house on the grounds houses offices and restrooms:

Next site is the Church of the Presidents, just a block’s walk from the Visitor Center:

The Adams Pew is marked with red white and blue flowers and flags:


The church’s basement houses the crypt with the tombs of John, Abigail, John Quincy and Louisa:

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John’s flag has both 15 stars and 15 stripes – the number of states at his death. We learned that the President of the United States sends a wreath to be laid on the tomb of every past president on their birthdays. Navy officers present the wreath in a formal ceremony, open to the public. The slides include the invitation to the John Quincy one on July 11; John’s ceremony is October 30.

In front of the church is this statue of Abigail and young John Quincy. She’s holding paper and quill for writing her now famous letters to John including this March, 1776 one to the Continental Congress requesting that they, “…remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”


Across from the church is the Hancock cemetery where John was first buried before removal to the crypt. Lots of Adams relatives, including his father Deacon John:

The whole area is under construction to create a public park replacing the road between the church and cemetery. John himself is supervising:


Final stop is Abigail’s Cairn, marking the hilltop where Abigail and 7 year-old John Quincy watch Charlestown burn and heard the gunfire during the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. Her letter to John in Philadelphia describing the battle reached the Continental Congress 10 days before the official report. Despite 241 years of growth and change, you can see the Boston skyline (which blocks Charlestown) above the houses and trees:


If anyone had suggested an outlandish series of coincidences end to John’s story, it would have been dismissed as trite melodrama. But it is fact.

John Adams died at age 90 on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, in the wing chair still by the window at Peacefield where he watched and waved to the 4th of July parade. His final words “Thomas Jefferson survives,” unaware that Jefferson, his friend, fellow patriot, rival, and friend again, had died a few hours early, also on the 4th of July.

What a country, founded by ordinary farmers of miraculous genius!

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Blue Hills Reservation – CCC camp – 7/3/16

Back to the Blue Hills Reservation – so many trails we still haven’t hit. Parked along Route 28/Randolph Ave., at a trailhead between Hillside and Highland Streets. We’re heading for Little Dome and Great Dome in the northeast Milton/Quincy section of the Reservation.

Just as you enter, there’s a sign noting that this was a Civilian Conservation Corps encampment, one of 28 in Mass. which housed/employed 100,000 young men in MA alone who built the trails and roads while protecting the forests and learning valuable skills. Thank you, once again, FDR!


A secondary trail forks over to the campsite, with low granite walls, almost like curbstones…  [doubleclick photos to enlarge]

and a monument to the CCC:


The trail leads around a very shallow pond, especially with the lack of rain this spring, where there are lily pads growing up through the grasses – and some growing in water as they should:

Occasional wildlife:

top of wings


underside of wings have  big green dots.

You’ve got to love how well-marked the trails are, with intersection numbers that mostly correspond to the numbers on the map. Plus occasional landmark/distance signs:


We still manage to take wrong trails, get mildly misdirected, since not every trail intersection is numbered. We missed the short loop around Little Dome and found ourselves circling Great Dome for a longer hike than planned. But we saw lots of granite mounds, glacial erratics, and high rocky walls.

We also saw evidence of human self-centeredness and disrespect for the natural environment:


So, clearly, the painter of this was hell-bent on losing his own reputation.  The best I can say is that at least it wasn’t the worst vandalism he could have  chosen.

Ah, back to the natural, un-defaced scenery:


But there’s this strange grass-covered embankment behind the trees, spreading up above and back:


Could there be a road up there? But we didn’t hear any cars, and we had climbed up around these Domes. Then a vehicle passed up there – a golf cart! We must have been at the edge of the Granite Links Golf Course.

We never saw horses along the trail, but we know they were there:


The map shows a symbol for a little building at the edge of Little Dome.  We thought it might be related to the golf course, but no – it’s a Spectra Energy gas transmission station:


And they do not want anyone trespassing:


The building itself, and the noises it made, were enough to scare us away. But snakes? Why did it have to be snakes?

These stones block any vehicles from approaching the site, but you have to figure that Spectra Energy vehicles can get through, since we were walking in tire tracks:


We headed back down the main trails. About 2 hours of total hiking round trip. And we saw only 1 other hiker on the way up, and 2 more, plus a trail runner, on the way down.

Amazing solitude for a beautiful site within minutes of Boston’s 600,000 population.





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