There are few places where I can instantly relax. For some reason, the Grand Canyon is one of those places. I arrive and instantly feel calm. And when I'm there, I force myself to get up and watch the sunrise every time. It really is the best time at the canyon. The other tourists are not yet out in full force, so it is one time when you can really watch the scene and take in the sights without a lot of others around.
This photo was taken just to the east of Yavapai point one morning. The sun lights up the entire face of the canyon in the morning light. I was sitting with others and we were chatting watching the sunlight. We could hear something walking behind us and found three elk wandering down the trail and finding the good eats for their breakfast. It was awesome that they weren't afraid of us and continued to munch until they heard a couple wandering down the trail toward them. It is experiences like this one that draws me back often.
labels: arizona, usa
location: grand canyon, grand canyon national park, grand canyon village, az 86023, usa
This past week I was at a building in AZ and noticed the fantastic mosaics that had been installed on the walls into the entrance of the building. I thought about how mosaics are such a lost art form and how beautiful they can be.
Then I remembered this mosaic that is in the Vatican. Each stone couldn't have been larger than 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch. And even smaller in some of the fine detail areas of the piece. Always loving peacocks, I loved how they were included in such detail. (My mosaics made out of paper squares in third grade art class were generally discernible blobs on color on paper.)
I think that is why this art on the floor stopped me in my tracks.
As I mentioned here, we went on a short boat ride to arrive at 300 Peaks National Park. Or Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park for short. When we arrived, there was a sandy beach and a little visitors center where you could get a bite to eat or sit in the shade.
There are many things to do here, but one of the items I recommend is to check out some of the caves nearby. So you walk up a mountain on one of the well marked trails.
And once you've walked up, you can start to walk down into one of the large caverns. The trail is well defined, but be careful with loose rocks as others may be walking on the trail below you.
And when you arrive, you just might see a little something like this inside. It is huge inside of here. And yes, that is a bunch of trees growing inside of a mountain. Check out the people walking in the middle of the beam of light to get a better idea of the scale of this place. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. Our group was giddy as we walked around and checked it out.
According to what I've read, there was a service in this space which was attended by the king. He was bit by a mosquito and died of malaria shortly after.
labels: national park, thailand
location: khao sam roi yot national park, sam roi yot, prachuap khiri khan 77120, thailand
Yuyuan Garden is a beautiful garden in the middle of the Old City of Shanghai. The garden was built in the mid 1500s and finally declared a national monument in the 1980s. The garden is filled with traditional buildings that I've wanted to see ever since I was a kid.
The details of the buildings are amazing. I love the tile roofs. I noticed that some hadn't been cleaned in awhile. So little green plants were growing between the tiles. I loved how the light highlighted some of the plants.
There is really no better place to be than Northern MN on a beautiful summer day. After spending time in the middle of a desert, this part of the world feels like it was built in technicolor.
The landscape is filled with small towns. I wish I could say this is one of the smaller towns in the area, but I have noticed a handful of signs showing town population in single digits.
But I love this sign. I would expect it on the outer ring of a major city. Instead this sign marks the 483rd Avenue from the epicenter of some town that likely has the population of 47 people.
Valparaiso is a city that shows its past. Once a major shipping destination as discussed here, the city started to decline when the Panama Canal opened and ships were no longer required to navigate around Cape Horn.
In many ways, the city reminds me of San Francisco with the steep hills and homes built on every square inch of the city. It also has an arty vibe which is used to highlight the sentiment of the young people in the city.
But mostly I loved seeing this city was willing to share its soul. It had a past which was evident when others made it visible via their art.
location: valparaíso province, valparaíso, valparaíso region, chile
I love this petroglyph that was discovered on a trip around the four corners area. I especially love the man that is carried off by the bird. Wonder what happened to inspire the artist with that image.
Volcano National Park is a cool place to visit if you have the time to check out the Big Island in Hawaii. The Kilauea Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. According to the Go Hawaii website, the volcano "current produces 250,000 - 650,000 cubic yards of lava per day, enough to resurface a 20-mile-long, two-lane road daily. As of January 1994 (18 years ago!), 491 acres of new land have been created on Hawaii Island."
This top photo shows the Halemaumau crater, a huge expanse filled with smooth lava.
The Thurston Lava Tube is over 500 years old and is large enough to walk through. When large lava flows rush from the Volcano, the sides cooled quickly forming these tube walls.
A lush rain forest greets you at the end of the tube.
But many visitors like to see where the lava met the ocean. This arch is a commonly photographed site. A few hundred feet away, you can see where the lava overtook the asphalt and city street signs. A bit further and you could see the lava pouring into the ocean in its unpredictable way.
In the 90s, I was in college and studied at a university in Europe. During a long weekend a few friends and I took off to spend some time in London. Being surrounded by English was such a treat! We could speak so easily! And be overheard by those who sat around us. Oops.
During that trip, we walked to Trafalgar Square. This was when people could still easily buy birdseed and feed the pigeons. There were thousands of them and if you carried any birdseed, you'd be engulfed in birds. (Gross.) It was really something to see.
Evidently around 2005 they determined it was a health concern to have so many birds (some estimate 35,000 birds) in this one square. They prohibited the sale of seed and brought in birds of prey to discourage the pigeons from coming back. But I did like taking photos of that site. Everyone with their cameras capturing their friends who were barely visible under a fine coating of bird.
labels: england, london
location: 62-65 trafalgar square, city of westminster, london wc2n, uk
If you have a spare time in Phoenix, I highly recommend this trip! This is a view of Canyon Lake on the way to Tortilla Flat. Canyon Lake has a couple of marinas and places where you can watch the boats as you eat lunch. I once learned that Arizona has the highest percentage of boat regristrations per capita. In the midst of the desert, there is a lot of water.
With a current population of 6, Tortilla Flat is the last stagecoach stop on the Apache trail still in existence. It's a short drive from Phoenix, but gets you out in the desert.
If you have enough time, take the whole day and finish the entire 13 miles of the Apache Trail through the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest. Currently the trail is a gravel road (at times it is only a lane wide as you wind down a mountainside, so it isn't for those who have a great fear of heights). You will see some amazing sites along the salt river with the trail ending at Roosevelt Dam. This trail is beautiful in the spring when the valleys fill with wildflowers.
labels: arizona, phoenix, usa
location: tortilla flat, az 85119, usa