Posts tagged Frank Lloyd Wright

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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Rocky Mountain National Park – 10/21/16

The Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, west of Estes Park,  is just a 40-minute gorgeous drive from Boulder, CO, so no excuses! First stop is the visitor center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, notable for its distinctive lines and natural local materials.

Frank Lloyd Wright's visitor center

Frank Lloyd Wright’s visitor center

We were hoping to get up to the tundra, but they told us the Trail Ridge Road was closed beyond Rainbow Curve due to snowy conditions – to be expected in late October. Oh well, we’ll drive as far as we can.

Trail Ridge Road is the highest-elevation continuous road in the US, at over 11,000′ for over 8 miles, and topping out at 12,813′. Lots of scary edge-of-the-world switchbacks, and breathtaking views.

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We reached Rainbow Curve, and the gate was open!!! A plow had just come down, clearing the road, and cars were heading up into the alpine tundra. Up we go!


edge of the world

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Tall stakes mark the road for plowing – snow must get pretty deep here!



Tundra trail – a nature walk showcasing the hardy plants – mostly lichens – and animals that can survive at 12,000′.


mushroom rocks

mushroom rocks

Bright sun but windy and frigid.

We head down from the unexpected tundra treat. Important comfort note: even though the road was open, and there were a couple of visitor centers along Trail Ridge Road, they and their restrooms were closed.

Next stop was Hidden Valley, a lovely little spot which used to be a ski area (with open rest rooms!). It’s still the center of winter recreation, and the only place in the Park where sledding/snow-tubing is allowed – on the bottom of what used to be the bunny slope. Nice stream through the valley, and no snow down here during our visit:

Wildlife along the way:

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Next stop: Alberta Falls trail, a 1.2 mile round-trip hike – one of the most popular in the park. Double-click any photo for full size view.

Views along the way:


Glacier Creek tumbling down as Alberta Falls:


Pose for photos, then head back down along the icy creek.

More elk on the road out of the park, as the sun sets slowly over the Rockies:

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Dinner in Boulder at a fantastic Mexican restaurant – Rincon Del Sol. Excellent, friendly service, and one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever had.






good food – good company!


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Barcelona Thursday 12/11/14

Went back to the Cathedral to tour the inside (free in the AM). It’s dedicated to Saint Eulalia who was martyred at age 13 – so they’ve kept 13 geese in the cloister/garden since the 1400s. Plus chickens which roam all over the Nativity scene.

On to the Picasso Museum – no photos allowed. The Museum houses Picasso’s complete 45+ works in tribute to Velasquez’s Las Meninas, from full 10-figure versions to studies of one head.

Next we go through a lovely park with a zoology museum and horticultural hall, to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf.

And then – The Mediterranean! December, but warm enough for wading. Saw two paddle-boarders in wetsuits and one topless swimmer, but it was only in the 50s. Lots of joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, sand sculptors (pan-handlers with talent), dominoes.

From the beach to the Columbus statue at the foot of the The Ramblas.

On to Gaudi – some of the strangest architecture I’ve ever seen. Starting in the 1870s, Antoni Gaudi began designing buildings (and every detail inside) in Modernista style, based on natural forms. His buildings are all curves, and swirls, undulating patterns, and covered in mosaics. Meanwhile, Frank Lloyd Wright in the US was also basing his architecture on the desire to fit into the natural landscape of the prairie – and he came up with all straight lines, low blocks, and no curves. Did they know of each other’s work? And if so, what did they think of it?

In the Eixample neighborhood you find the Block of Discord – featuring 3 buildings side-by-side, by different Modernista architects, in different flamboyant styles, all with a “can you top this?” vibe. Of course, Gaudi’s Casa Batllo tops it all.

Just up the block from Discord is Gaudi’s Casa Mila (la Pedrera), his 1910 apartment building featuring an interior courtyard, underground garage (who had cars in those days?), elevators, and no load-bearing walls. All undulating, twisting, turning. He even designed nature’s door-handles by squeezing clay in his hand to see what shape it took on – then built those shapes out of brass. You start the tour up on the roof where he built odd shapes and turrets to conceal the chimneys and other functional works – which he shows don’t have to be flat, boring cubes. And metal railings on balconies can look like twisted, knotted rope.

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Finally, night – another protest march, more lights, and food options on the Ramblas. Plus a Joan Miro mosaic on the walkway.

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Phoenix, AZ – Desert Botanical Garden, Arizona Biltmore

Phoenix is an odd city, with a number of mountains inside the city limits. Not sure if it was always that way, or if the city boundaries kept being extended as development expanded out to and beyond the mountains.

Also in Phoenix is The Desert Botanical Garden  – a feast for cactus-fans! So many different types of cactus, and great educational signs about the ways different plants have adapted to life with little water. Did you know that the tall saguaro cactus has those vertical ribs as part of its water-conservation system? The ribs allow the cactus to expand, like stretching out accordion pleats, to store more and more rainwater. One big saguaro can hold  a ton of water!

Another fun spot is Hole in the Rock, a short hike up and through a… hole… in a rock. Then off to another city mountain, for a hike starting at the “40th Street Trailhead” – how urbane!

We also stopped at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, the Jewel of the Desert, built in 1929 by a team that included Frank Lloyd Wright as a consultant.

Last dinner in the southwest – at Lucille’s BBQ.

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Montezuma’s Castle-Taliesen West

It’s Architecture Day, on the way from Sedona to Phoenix. First stop is Montezuma’s Well and Castle, with cliff dwellings roughly 800 years old, built by the Sinagua peoples. The well is a huge freshwater pit, fed by an underground spring, in the middle of the desert, with some cliff dwellings (and graffiti from the 1800s). Geologic, historic, and zoological marvel.

A few exits down the road is Montezuma’s Castle, a massive, 5-story cliff dwelling. They no longer allow tourists to climb ladders into the castle for safety, vandalism, and preservation reasons, but researchers have found evidence of a thriving trade culture here with South American parrots, seashells, jewels, plants and other non-local materials.  Apparently ancient people came here for the valuable local product – salt!  mmm…

Our next stop was another architectural marvel – Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, studio, workshop, and school, Taliesen West. The entire place was built by his students, practicing design and building with local materials. Many features were experiments, some that worked, some that didn’t, many showing signs of students’ on-the-job learning. Most of the furniture was designed by Wright, more for the look than the comfort!

Checked in in Phoenix, then headed to Mesa, AZ, home of Arizona State, for the shopping/dining/drinking mecca.

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