Sunday, July 25, 2021

Minneapolis Skyline


Before I retired from Wells Fargo Bank, I managed a training department with a staff of trainers who trained employees on how to use different data systems.  My staff of trainers were located either in Phoenix, Minneapolis or Des Moines Iowa.

On one of my many trips to Minneapolis to observe a training session, I snapped a few photos of the Minneapolis skyline.   I always thought that Minneapolis had an attractive downtown with a variety of high-rise buildings.

On one of those trips, I went to a play at the Guthrie Theatre which is located next to the Mississippi River. At the theatre, they have a lounge area overlooking the river and a variety of bridges.

This particular trip happened a few weeks after the Interstate 35 bridge had collapsed back in August of 2007.  From that lounge at the Guthrie Theatre, I could see what remained of the bridge.  That was a tragic event and a reminder that much of our highway infrastructure is in need of repairs.

One of the viewing windows at the Guthrie Theatre was covered with a yellow film.  I decided take another skyline shot through that yellow tint directly into the setting sun.  It made the sunset look rather dramatic.  

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Spaceport America


Just last Sunday, Richard Branson flew on the groundbreaking voyage of his Virgin Galactic designed SpaceShipTwo.   You might have read or even watched the live feed of Richard Branson's trip into outer space.  Spaceport America located in the vast New Mexico desert is where the trip began and where he landed upon return to earth. Six years ago, I drove to New Mexico to visit this futuristic place.  

I heard one commenter say that the launch location was in the middle of nowhere and that's a pretty accurate description.  When I went, I had to make a reservation in advance to meet at a specific location in the town of Truth or Consequences.  From there, a tour bus took the small group on a one hour drive in the desert to arrive at the spaceport.  In the photo above we had just arrived at the security gate and everyone got out to snap a few photos.

This building is the Virgin Galactic headquarters so the team that flew into space would have left from this facility.  The inside was still under construction when I was there so I didn't get to go inside.

Another building at this location housed the spaceport headquarters and the fire department.  The headquarters is where the entire spaceport facility is managed from.  I believe that Space X and maybe one or two other companies have now built their own facilities here.  This command center would control launches and test flights to avoid conflicts and accidents. 

Our tour guide took us out onto the extra long runway.  It looks like it goes on forever!

It was an amazing experience and one I would love to repeat one day.  Given how much space travel has evolved in the last 6 years, I bet there is a lot more to see and learn.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Overnight Stop


It's been almost three years since I drove to New Mexico to visit the Very Large Array.  I stopped to visit interesting places on the way there and on the way back but, I spent the first night on the road in the town of Show Low Arizona.  The town offered the best option for accommodations between Phoenix and my destination.  

Show Low is small town of only about 10,000 inhabitants but its location about half way between Phoenix and Albuquerque makes it a good stop for travelers along Highway US 60.  About 100 miles east of the Salt River Canyon, I entered the town of Show Low Arizona.  I wasn't expecting to find something to photograph here but as I entered the town, I spotted this very large Queen Anne Victorian house.  I learned later that it houses office space and one occupant was a real estate agent.

After checking in at a very nice Holiday Inn Express, I wandered around the hotel grounds and spotted a couple of interesting wood carvings.  This friendly bear was one.

This other bear was extending a warm welcome.

For my dinner, I wanted something a little nicer than the usual fast food places so I asked the woman at the front desk where would be a good place to eat.  She recommended Los Corrales which was conveniently located less than a mile away.  It was a colorful place with lots of real Mexican touches in its decor.  I loved the bar stools.

In the waiting area, there were these wonderful benches decorated with idyllic Mexican scenes.  I had to wait for the right moment to snap these two photos because these benches were always full of people waiting for tables.  Los Corrales was a popular place to eat.

After dinner I took a little drive around the town looking for something interesting but I think this wonderful house was the best I could do.  

If you are wondering how Show Low got its name, there is a legend that there were two men who were partners in a very large ranch and the two decided there wasn't enough room there for the two of them.  They decided to settle the split with a card game called "seven-up".  The winner would stay on the ranch and loser would go.  The game went on and on with no winner until one of the men said "If you show low, you win." The other man turned over the deuce of clubs and won the game.  So the town is named Show Low and the Main Street through town is Deuce of Clubs.  

It might be a small place but it has a colorful history.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Planning For New York


One of my favorite things to do is to plan for a trip somewhere.  Finally, after 18 months of staying close to home, I'm able to once again plan for a trip.  The plan is to go to New York in mid-October for a week of enjoying all that the Big Apple has to offer.

Flight reservations are made and hotel accommodations secured.  I'll once again be staying at the Marriott Marquee right on Times Square.

Theatre tickets have been purchased for three different shows.  I haven't been inside a theatre in well over a year and a half.  It will be a treat to be back.

You can bet that I'll be visiting many of the fabulous museums that the city offers.

I'm looking forward to walking around Manhattan enjoying familiar sights and discovering new ones. Now I just have to hope that our pandemic recovery continues and all goes well as the year marches on.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Desert Wildlife

My photos today are from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum just west of Tucson in southern Arizona.  The museum is a 98-acre combination zoo, aquarium, botanical garden and natural history museum.  It has two miles of walking paths through natural desert environments and contains 242 animal species.

Above is a lookout point.  A place to look over the desert below.  To the left a canyon area.

Walking through the canyon area, you will find all sorts of animals such as this section with bighorn sheep.  They blend in so well with the rocks, I almost missed them.

A little further on, I spent some time watching the antics of a large Prairie Dog population.  They were popping in and out of their underground homes and chasing each other.  This fellow looks like it might be time to go on a diet.

There are two very large aviaries.  The first one is filled with a variety of birds native to the desert southwest.  I captured these cardinals watching from a high perch.  The male cardinal was playing hide-and-seek behind the tree.

The other aviary is filled with several different species of humming birds.  This one is simply a magical place to visit.  I spent quite a lot of time watching these busy creatures spending time between the flowering plants inside the aviary and the variety of feeders.  There are benches in this aviary and I enjoyed just sitting and watching them.  Every now and then, one would fly right up to my face and look me in the eye.  The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a place where everyone can find something to enjoy.


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Guest Photographer: Exploring a Volcano


Last week, my post was about my friend Julie's recent trip to Iceland and featured scenes from the capital city of Reykjavik.  This week I'm featuring some photos from her adventure photographing the volcano.

The top photo shows Julie with her camera pointed at the volcano and to the right is a scene showing the hikers walking to the viewing spots.

I love this photo of the photographers all lined up to take their photos.  Julie said that the volcano bubbled and simmered and then approximately every 20 minutes it would erupt with a spectacular show.

This shot taken off the viewing screen on Julie's camera give you and idea of how spectacular it was.

This shot shows some of the lava flows. 

Here is another shot of an explosive eruption.  

Julie also got to see some of the beautiful scenery in Iceland.  She found a beautiful waterfall and some Icelandic ponies who were curious about the people and their cameras.

These last two photos are a bonus.  As Julie's flight was leaving Iceland, someone told them they were passing over Greenland if they wanted to get some photos.  Julie took these two shots out of the window with her iPhone.  Aren't these amazing?  I love them. 

I want to thank Julie for letting me share these photos.  What a fabulous experience to get to see a volcano erupting along with all this wonderful scenery.  

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Guest Photographer: Julie Pace


My good friend Julie took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Iceland in mid-May and joined a small group of photographers on a quest to photograph a volcano.  While she was in the country's capital, Reykjavik she took quite a few photos around town and texted them to friends.  

I saved some of the photos she sent and asked her if I could do a post featuring them.  I'm pretty sure that I'm never going to get to Iceland so this might be the only chance my little travel blog gets to share these scenes.

These photos were mostly taken with her iPhone while she walked around Reykjavik and explored the city.

If I'm not mistaken, she took this photo from her hotel window well after midnight. She told us that this was as dark as it got the whole time she was there.

Dominating the skyline in Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja (Church of Hallgrimur).  This church was designed by architect Gudjon Samuelsson.  He is said to have been inspired by the Icelandic basalt lava flows around the island nation that create step-like layers.  

Construction of this church spanned four decades from 1945 to 1986.

Julie took the elevator to the observation deck at the top of the church tower to get these awesome, panoramic views of the city.

One thing that strikes me looking at these photos is how crystal clear the air is.

Back on the ground again, I loved this photo she sent of the two tulips growing outside this rustic fence.

These are some of the photos Julie shared while in Reykjavik.  Next Sunday I'll show some scenes from out of the city and some from that volcano she went there to photograph.  There will be some pretty amazing shots featured next week.